Category Archives: Cypher System

What Am I Playing Right Now?

Since my GM hiatus started back in June 2017, I used the opportunity to play in as many games as possible. For a very long time I was basically the go-to GM for many of my friends, but I didn’t get to play as often as I liked. Being the GM is fun, and it’s something very dear to me, BUT sometimes you just need to stay on the other side of the GM’s screen for a while. So, what games have I been playing during these almost 12 months?

Mutant Year Zero & Gen Lab Alpha
my0If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know that I am a fan of post-apocalyptic settings in general and the Mutant games by Free League in particular. Mutant Year Zero is definitely one of the most exciting and immersive games I’ve played so far. Since I am playing one of the bosses in our Ark (which is a derelict aircraft carrier), the game is sometimes pretty political. My character, Washington,  is an idealist, trying to build a new civilization on the ruins of the past. He strongly believes in compassion, reason, and justice. In a way he sometimes feels like an anachronism. I have to admit that Washington shares a lot with myself, aside from the fact that I don’t have the Mind Terror mutation in real life. Zwinkerndes Smiley

MY0 has all the elements I love: drama, politics, intrigue, exploration. Matthias, our GM, is also doing an awesome job running the game. He even manages what usually fails spectacular: while he’s running the game, he also plays his own player character. This is usually a recipe for disaster, but in Matthias’ case it works great.

I’ve already wrote about our Genlab Alpha game in my review of the core rules, so I will skip it here.

Shadowrun 3rd Edition
This is a game I’ve been playing for years now. And even though I think that the rules are a mess, the game itself can be a lot of fun. Planning runs, trying to get to our goals without even raising an alarm is a lot of fun, and sometimes we even managed to have some flawlessly executed heists. But usually things go terribly wrong and everything ends in a messy fight. Since we usually ignore some of the more tedious rules  (like bioware stress etc.), our characters got very powerful, very quickly. While some games might break down with characters that powerful, our GM just raises the stakes a bit. Our Shadowrun campaign is over-the-top and great fun, but all good things must end eventually, so we decided our current adventure will be the last. We’re dealing with dragons and their machinations this time, which is IMHO very fitting for our last bow.

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Player-facing Rolls

Yesterday night I played the John Sinclair Abenteuerspiel for the first time. It’s a German roleplaying game based on the popular John Sinclair pulp horror novel series. In the game you play monster/ghost hunters employed by the Scotland Yard. Is it as campy as it sounds? You betcha! But that’s not what I want to write about today.

The system used by the game features player-facing rolls which means all rolls are made by the players and none by the GM. I’ve seen this in only a couple of other games (mostly Monte Cook’s Cypher System games like Numenera, The Strange, et.c) and the more I encounter it, the more I like it.

A bad habit which this feature immediately eliminates is cheating dice rolls by the GM. I’d guess most of us have done it and over time you realize it’s a bad idea. You might think you’re helping your players, but in reality you take their victories and their defeats away from them. Some players might not care, but it may totally ruin the game for others.

It also quite literally puts the dice back into the players’ hands. It their dice rolls that count. The GM is just setting difficulties and running the show. This can also be very relaxing from a GM’s standpoint. You don’t have to worry about killing your players because of a couple of dice rolls seemingly defying probability. The players also are less likely to see you as their opponent. You don’t roll the dice, they have fate in their hands. Overall it might not change much, BUT it feels different.

What is your stance on the dice taken away from the GM? Please share your thoughts below!

#RPGaDay2017 Day 23: The layout of the book

Wednesday post for #RPGaDay2017. We’re in Europe territory now… The Final Countdown!

Ok, you’re not here for the lame jokes, but for today’s question, which is:

August 23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

Jaw-dropping is such a strong concept. I associate it with something truly extraordinary, and RPGs have really come far from the early days, it is amazing. And there are some notable examples of amazing layout.

Take the books by Modiphius Entertainment. Their books rarely disappoint Look at a sample page from the new Star Trek RPG.

They feel like something right out of Star Trek!

The recently released Starfinder is another example. I don’t have the hardcopy, but you can see the great layout on the PDF. Really didn’t expect any less form Paizo, but they have taken their expertise and taken it to the next level. Just look…

But my pick for true jaw-dropping layout goes to Monte Cook games! Their layout is no only elegant, easy to read, with generally great art, but the cross referencing, the rule clarifications and page references in the margins means that understanding the game and getting additional information when you need it is easy. This is style and function combined into one.

The companion to this series of posts are our vide responses to the questions of #RPGaDay2017 over at the Desde la Fosa YouTube channel. Me and the team at Desde la Fosa are recording our answers in Spanish. If you speak the language we appreciate the views, if you don’t, we are thankful for any shares.

Which is your choice for jaw-dropping layout? Let us know here in the comments or tag us in social media.