Category Archives: News, Rants & Reviews

Xmas in July & Locals Update

Time for a little self promotion, folks.

DrivethruRPG’s Xmas in July Sale is ending soon and yes, we’ve a few things up over there. Zip over there and see if there’s anything you like.

Things are coming together over at the Locals community. I’ve finally got Stripe up and running so you can leave a tip over there if you wish. And stuff will be happening over there. I’m planning on weekly behind the scenes posts or those things that are so crazy that I just don’t want to put it on the blog. Plus I may post a video there now and again. And no it doesn’t cost you anything to join up. And I haven’t put anything behind a paywall yet. Let’s see how things go over there.

And with that may you all have a wonderful weekend of gaming fun.

Goblin Slayer RPG

Bet you weren’t expecting this coming from here. So yes. I did grab up the English translation version of the Goblin Slayer RPG. Sure it was mostly out of curiosity. I wanted to look at an RPG that was made outside of the American mindset. How knows? Maybe I’ll find something interesting.

Let me get this part out of the way first. There are absolutely no rules nor mention of any goblin sex. Got it? None. Nada. Zip. It’s a Fantasy RPG that would pass DrivethruRPG’s content policies. So just get your minds out of the gutter.

Goblin Slayer is a thick book. Over 600 pages. That may seem like a lot but if you consider that it’s Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Manual, Campaign Setting, a couple of adventures, and a bunch of fluff text then it’s not so bad. Now, I will say that some of the organization leaves me confused. There’s a whole glossary of game terms in the beginning that is a bit confusing to me because the definitions are a bit self referential and needed to find specific rules later to make things add up.

Let’s get to the game part because that’s why you are here. At it’s core Goblin Slayer is based the original Japanese RPG Sword World. It’s 2d6 based class and skill based system. Don’t worry that will make sense in a second. While it is 2d6 based the mechanics don’t line up with common American 2d6 systems like Cepheus. In Goblin Slayer, the average difficulty is 15. Here’s how task resolution basically works: 2d6+Attribute+Class Level (if appropriate)+Applicable Skill. Combat is opposed Attack and Defense rolls with Armor reducing damaging, And spells have a roll to cast system with a target number determined by the spell.

I think the best way to illustrate things is start with character generation. There’s three ways in the book: Standard Characters (pregen), templates, and full on random. We’ll use the random because it will make things clearer.

There are 12 Attributes but it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Characters have 4 Primary Abilities (Strength, Psyche, Technique, and Intelligence) and 3 Secondary Abilities (Focus, Endurance, and Reflex). Each of the Abilities has a range roughly from 1 to 4. What you roll to determine each depends on the character’s race. The Primary and Secondary Abilities are laid out in a matrix and you add the two together for the number that you use for task resolution. So your “working” Abilities are Strength Focus, Strength Endurance, Strength Reflex, Psyche Focus, Psyche Endurance, Psyche Reflex and so on. What each applies to laid out with clearly for example Psyche Focus is used to cast spells, Psyche Endurance is used to maintain spells/concentrate, and Psyche Reflex would used to resist spells.

So let’s talk Classes and Skills. Classes are pretty much what you expect except there’s no Thief but the Scout kind of fulfills that role. There is a setting reason for this. Characters are supposed to be members of the Adventurer’s Guild. The Guild doesn’t look kindly on criminal activity and collateral damage. Having the Guild look bad isn’t good for the bottom line and bad press isn’t a good thing. So the characters class sort of acts like a suite of skills. Add your level to what makes sense. You’re Fighter so add it to attacks and defense rolls in combat. Then there’s Skills. To put in standard D&D terms, it should read Skills & Feats. Some skills just act as Skills like Weapon Skill. You get a bonus when using that type of weapon. And, yes, if you are a Fighter then you would add both to your roll. But others act more like Feats. Things like more Life Points (Hit Points), special combat maneuvers, knowing more spells or spells/day, and other things like that. So things like that. Got it?

Now we’re going to hit something interesting in character generation. Roll 2d6 three times. One number determines your Life Points, one; your Movement Rate (modified by Race) and one; your spells per day. You chose where those numbers go. So if you’re a Fighter the you’d probably put your best numbers in Life Points and Movement but if you’re a spell caster you’d want to put that highest number towards Spells/Day. Oh, yes. Some of you may be asking about races. There’s Human, Elf, Dwarf, Lizardman, and Rhea (basically Halfling).

I know I can’t go into every facet of the rules in this little review so next I’m going to hit a couple of things that I found as just neat. First, there’s the Attrition Track. Each round of combat, you check of box. Extended combat starts wear a character down. Sure you may be a bad-ass, high-level adventurer but if you fighting wave after wave of goblins all day you’re going to slowly start loosing your edge even if the lowly goblins don’t have enough skill or do any significant damage. The other neat thing is in spells. There’s Catalysts (Material Components) for some and it’s spell out. There’s also Chants (Verbal Components) and those are spelled out to. Carbunculus Crescunt Iacta. That’s Fireball.

Now I will say something about the spells. They may have been in alphabetical or some other logical order in Japanese. But not in English. So it is a bit disorganized to my eye. The same goes for the Skills Chapter.

Now there’s also a meta-game currency, Fate Points, to alter rolls. But there’s a couple of catches. First, the GM determines how many are available based on the difficulty of the adventure. Second, it’s a single pool for all the characters and everyone needs to agree to let somebody use the points. And third, the aha part, characters gain bonus XP based on the number of unused Fate Points.

I’ve ranted enough so let me sum things up. Is Goblin Slayer the best RPG ever and do I want to run it right now. No. It is good game. And sure, it would be fun to run and just might. Heck, it’d fun to play too. I’ve no regrets about picking it up. Even if I don’t play it there’s ideas that I can adapt and setting material that I can use for inspiration.

I grabbed my copy up from Amazon.

What’s going on in the OSR?

I don’t want to start any rumors nor do I want to do some wild speculation but I can’t help thinking that something is up.

First, we had the very quiet announcement that Matt Finch was heading out on his own with Swords & Wizardry. There were only small announcements. Nothing at from Frog God games. And nothing in what I would consider the usual venues. At best, there were responses to questions and nothing more.

Then last week, Dan Proctor announces the shut down of the Goblinoid Games website and social media presence. There’s something in the works but it’s kind of mystery.

These two things are probably not connected in any way. But I can’t help but wonder. Deep down I wonder if the rising tide lifting all ships isn’t quite working out as well as many had hoped. WOTC pretty owns the RPG market. One Bookshelf and Roll20 are forming a joint venture. Getting anything even noticed outside the 5E sphere of influence is going to be an uphill battle.

I don’t know. I just have the feeling deep down in my gut that things are get to interesting in the coming months and probably not in a good way.

White Box Wednesday: Deep Thoughts

I was thinking this week about the strength of the those White Box games are their simplicity. And heck you technically only need two dice.

So sure there may be some who that all that minimization reduces options for characters. Old hands will tell you no. You are limited by what it says on your simple character sheets. Yeah don’t have some cool ability that has some cool name.

This streamlining also helps the GM. It’s much easier to roll back an adventure for a more complex game like 5E or Pathfinder to a simpler system. Heck, if you’ve got a bit of experience you could do it on the fly. That opens up so much material for the GM. OK, sure the exact play experience won’t be the same. It will be different. There will very well be different outcomes. But at it’ s essence an adventure is just a story outline. And the rules aren’t as important as the plot. And rules are just math. Some rules take more or less math to reach basically the same conclusions. So why not make it easier on yourself.

Go out there. Roll some dice. Kill monsters. Take their stuff. And have fun.

My Picks for Cool Games In 2022 (So Far).

So far. Like I said. Ennies Voting is live. I’ve seen a lot of folks saying, “Meh. Nothing there.” I feel that way too a bit. Usually, there’s at least one product that I think is cool. This year. There’s a couple I like just nothing that goes over the top. So I decided to do this little post as personal picks for the coolest games that I’ve stumbled across this year. And like I said, so far. And here they are in no particular order.

Deathbringer: Two pages of hardcore condensed rules. It boils things down to the basics and is easily hackable. Sure I am a Patron of the Dungeon Craft Youtube channel, so I do get to see a bit more. Deatherbringer brings a solid grim-dark set of rules to the table that you can meld with your game of choice.

EZD6: You don’t need d20’s to have fun. This game throws you into the middle of the action. You can run it without a bunch of page flipping and consulting obscure rules and tables. Beginners and veterans both can have a great time playing this. This game stresses fun and keep the action moving.

Shadowdark: Once again, I’m talking about this one. As of this writing the core book isn’t released. A beta set of the rules were available but now you can grab a pdf of the quick start for free. This game is solid old-school. It does add some of the more modern mechanics but the older design options play center stage. There’s a lot I like about this game. I’ve taken some the concepts and added them to my own Franken-Game. Personally, I cant’ wait to get my hands the final book which should be coming soon.

So those are top three picks. Now, I’ve a few things that are on the way so I’ll rant about those later when I get them in grubby grognard hands. Who knows may be there will be more games that make it to the best of 2022.