Archive for the ‘Games’ Category


gloomI just got to play Gloom tonight at InkNerd‘s house. You can probably tell from his blog, he and his wife are really cool. The game was fun — it was like someone made a card game out of Edward Gorey’s The Ghaslycrumb Tinies. And sometimes when we maimed or killed people off, we made up little poems or stories!


Edward Gorey has entire blogs devoted to him, so I won’t say more except that later I’m going to review the scary children’s mysteries of John Bellairs, whose books were originally illustrated by Gorey.


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Another Pulp RPG

2ft_revI haven’t reviewed it yet, but my post from a few days ago about “motivation systems” could have included this new system called Two-Fisted Tales: The Pulp RPG that uses “schticks” and “defects” to influence roleplaying. For instance the addiction defect makes an alcoholic character who hasn’t had a drink get shaky hands and can’t shoot as well. But his schtick could be that  he’s incredibly convincing when telling lies.

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indiana_jones1I saw Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this week, and now I REALLY want to buy the Hollow Earth Expedition pulp RPG.

I love the motivation system in HEX — something I feel is missing from Call of Cthulhu. A preset motivation system turns your character into a stereotype, which is a good thing, especially for beginning role-players. By exagerating characters’ personalities, players can better focus on how the character would react instead of how they would react.

About a month ago, unaware of motivation systems, I asked all my CoC players to describe their characters’ personal philosophies and their hopes and fears so we could use them for better story-telling, but I didn’t know how to actually integrate it into the game. This is where motivation systems help. They incentivize roleplaying by rewarding players with points for acting out two or so positive and negative traits for their character.  These traits can be fatal flaws that always trip up the characters or irresistable urges that guide the characters’ actions in a story. Active role-players are rewarded by the Keeper with “drama points” that can be used later to improve die roll results (allowing impossible but thrilling events) or even to allow a player to briefly redirect the story. For example, a player might volunteer to have his stereotypically clumsy character trip and drop the golden idol at a key moment in exchange for ‘drama points’ he could use later in the game to jump a motorcycle over a canyon. Both events add plenty of drama!

Motivation systems seem to be the current pulp RPG zeitgeist, because the pulpy Trail of Cthulhu and the upcoming Pulp Cthulhu both use motivation systems to improve role-playing and pulp-style action. Based on reading about the three games, I think HEX captures pulp action the best. Besides using a clear motivation system, it also replaces precentage die rolls with a series of coin tosses that keep the math low and the action high.

The main reason I won’t buy HEX right away is I don’t want to make my players switch game systems. I have high hopes for Pulp Cthulhu, but if needs be, I plan to graft a motivation system into our game for better role-playing.

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Gotham Gaming Guild

Rob from Gotham Gaming Guild has posted an invitation to NYC rpg players on nerdnyc.com. They’re going to meet near NYU at Think Coffee every other Friday night, starting 2/27/2009. I’m signed up to play in a Call of Cthulhu game.

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