I Implore you, Kickstart this Geek: Bedlam Hall

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It twas merely a little over two years past that a small confederacy of role play designers, known under the droll moniker of “Monkeyfun Studios, LLC”, put forth a role playing game entitled Spirit of ’77. This bizarre little game placed an onus on its players of crafting stories one might find from that era of ill repute known colloquially as “the 70’s”. This game premise inevitably succeeded and procured more than enough funding to be a successful enterprise. Thus the myriads began to frolic as odd men and women from popular culture of that time. I even found myself dabbling in a distraction or two, once wearing the mantle of character similar to Colonel Sanders of all people. It twas naught but silliness, though I’d be remiss if I did not make mention that it could be said I rather enjoyed the experience. Let it not be said that I am without a sense of humor.

It appears that Spirit of ’77 will not remain the only production from this company however, as even now a new venture has taken shape. A member of this illustrious group, David Kizzia,  has designed a game entitled Bedlam Hall and placed its creation, once more, into the hands of potential investors via the website Kickstarter. Apparently it has generated some interest as it has reached already the agreed upon amount to which was needed for its funding. Were I one to resort to such base celebratory expressions as “whooping”, or “hollering”, now would be such a time as to exhibit such behavior. I will however simply offer a stoic nod and offer my felicitations.

What is Bedlam Hall you may ask? Well, if one cannot seek the answers themselves I suppose it behooves me to make it my duty to inform. I am but a servant in such regards after all. Bedlam Hall has the purpose of placing its players in the roles of much put upon servants in the great household of the Blackwood Family. They will then have the esteemed pleasure of serving at their masters’ beck and call diligently, and securing for themselves the prestige of being useful members of the staff. It is truly that simple, nothing else to worry one’s head about. What’s that? Rumors of the macabre? Well now, certainly every great family holds its own secrets and machinations. Who are we to question their day to day activities? We are there to serve and if that includes having to survive meager bouts of insanity or a run in with some eldritch horror, that strikes me as part of the job and need not be remarked upon! Honestly, you should be more careful not to besmirch the good Blackwood name!

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There are many ways to invest in this ghoulish enterprise but let me regal you with the price points that most intrigue me.

15

At merely fifteen dollars you can find yourself receiving this property in a digital format. This strikes me as the ideal manner to lay purchase on this product if you are of the same like as myself and fear overextending your meager, servant’s, earnings. It is at this level I found myself investing and I shall wait patiently to receive my earned reward.

40

 

If you’ve a mind to be a mite more spendthrift my suggestion would be to find your way to the transaction value of forty dollars. At this level not only would you receive a physical book and the digital copy, but it allows you access to all of the treacherous stretch goals I will go on to further explain if you’ll permit me to elaborate below. Keep mindful of the fact that this price point is by no means the most costly you can find yourself within. If you’ve the financial means to do so your potential rewards for backing can be quite intense!

 

As I made mention above this funding ask has already been met with success. Therefore if you were to wish to involve yourself with its investment you would find, with certainty, in receipt of a final product. At this point they are even successfully unlocking what many call “stretch goals”, or rather items in excess of the initial product itself. Currently those who have invested at a price point of fifteen dollars or more will also find themselves obtaining an adventure entitled Terrible Tale #1, my my no attempt to bury lede on that title eh? There are more terrible little goals in store in the event funding levels reach such heights. If, God forbid, they reach a level of funding that exceeds twenty thousand dollars we will all be subjected to a truly monstrous horror. There would be actual efforts made to create a roleplaying game surrounding the concept of a “Gruel Truck” in some fanciful setting. Why they would subject us to such a morbidly frivolous, indecent game is beyond me. It is simply out of taste! What improper individuals would want such a thing?! Alas, if things keep going as they are you may just see this come to fruition. Lord help us all.

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If it were put upon me to suggest whether or not to back this project I would be forced to lay bare my honest opine on the subject, and emphatically implore you to do so. It is with no regrets that I personally made purchase myself after all and it would be silly of me not to expect the same of you. Do yourself the justice of acquiring this offering will you? I do not doubt you will find yourself pleased. Now, off with you. You’ve a Kickstarter to explore!

Your humble servant,

Melvin

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I suppose you’ll be wanting a “sneak peak”, if you will. Well, if you must. Here is an example of a potential character one might play.

Kickstart that Geek! Dreamchaser

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Find the Kickstarter HERE!

I had a conversation with Pete Petrusha, creator of Dreamchaser and owner of Imagining Games, on twitter about his game. After getting the chance to play it, with notorious RPG Academy hosts Michael and Caleb, I stated that we had “played pretend with just enough crunch to make it a specific game”. I eventually followed it up with mentioning that “That’s all Tabletop games are right? Playing pretend with varying degrees of crunch”. Now, I’m not even the 100th person to say this, it is no special revelation, but there is something special about the Tabletop RPG Dreamchaser that call to mind the “let’s play pretend” aspect of these games more than anything I’ve played in recent memory.

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Dreamchaser is a Tabletop RPG that eschews a specific setting, concrete character classes, or even character abilities. The game outs the onus on the players and the GM to craft these things solely through their own imaginations. Players are encouraged to dream up simple scenarios they might have always wanted to do in an RPG that, for whatever reason, systems in the past haven’t been conducive to. Keeping things within simple phrases, maybe they’ve always wanted to “Climb the (mountain, world tree, tallest building)”, or defeat the (dragon, BBEG, evil god)” you get the idea…maybe even they simply want to “Make the perfect sandwich”, though that is not nearly as simple as it seems from what we found out! This then becomes how your story ends, and getting there requires some milestones and your own imagination.

Obviously it’s is an open system, and one that puts no small amount of pressure on the players to help with crafting the game the group plays. I have not always been a fan of this personally. Many players love it and you’d think I would as well given my background in Improv Theatre and general love of both playing and running games. Frankly though, when I play I like to react to my environment, and effect change to the narrative in that fashion, more than I like to be the impetus of everything going on around me. If I wanted to control the narrative, I’d simply run the game. For example, when I played G.I. Joe Wushu almost a year ago on the RPG Academy Podcast I had fun but the constant need for me to explain the details around me was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t think I’d like playing another game where the I had to be a driving force for so much of the plot itself, but I was wrong.

 

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Where Dreamchaser succeeds is how it handles these player driven narratives in a more collaborative fashion. Sure there are aspects of the game that only you can come up with (mostly character details), but even from the onset when people are adding their “dreams” to the pile of potential picks they get to play off each other’s choices and come together with the ultimate end game scheme. Throughout the game there are numerous times where everyone works together to drive the story along, but it is almost always collaborative. Every now and then, in a heated situation, a player will have to strike out on their own and relay the scene to everyone else but by then the player has developed skills and abilities that can be easily used to narrate the sequence. Add in a simple rolling system, 2d10’s where you are attempting to roll beneath whatever target number is being dictated by your skill and style of approach to the confrontation, and you have just enough crunch to ground the game into a pretty smooth flow.

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I think Pete has something special here. Granted if you’re a crunch lover who genuinely likes the rigidity of systems requiring tactical moves, group balancing, etc. you’ll not find as much of that here, and that’s ok. However, if you want to play a game that leans toward a player driven story-line with a strong enough mechanic backing it to allow for surprises and interesting challenges, you’ll find it here. Plus, the fact that Imagining Games found a way to incorporate starting from the end to truly make the game about the journey adds a remarkably satisfying gameplay element to it. For a game so new, it feels polished.

In my opinion, this game is a no brainer. Buy it, love it. Adore the amazing artwork! Here are my suggestions for levels to back at.

I personally backed this Kickstarter (something I don’t always do, even if I adore the product). I loved the game and I trust Pete to deliver. However, I don’t have a lot of capital so I backed at my reccomended “poor guy” level “Electric Dreams”.

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As you can see, it gets you everything you need to play the game. It just doesn’t provide that satisfying tangibility of a physical book.

If a physical copy, but don’t want to raise your cost much maybe the softcover version is more your speed at prices in the $24-$30 ranges. In my opinion though, if I had the money I’d hit up the “Pretend Box

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For a level that’s pretty much the “get it all” level, $65 is a pretty great price point.

So head on over to the Kickstarter folks! Let me know your thoughts below and, by all means, if you have any questions about the game you feel I didn’t address ask away. Having had the unique pleasure of playing I can likely give you an answer or I can always punt to Pete who I’m sure will answer quickly. Take care dreamers!

-Melv

Storm King’s Thunder

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Since the onset of 5th edition Wizards of the Coast has endeavored to bring us grand adventure concepts, Dragons, Devils, Demons, a villain of legend. In Storm King’s Thunder they certainly don’t go smaller in scale, and I’m not just talking about the physical size of the main adversaries either. Even beyond the size of the giants faced throughout we are faced with the Savage Frontier, one of the most enormous untamed regions in all of the Forgotten Realms, and a tale as big as any Shakespearean drama. Something is amiss with the giants of the land, they are simply out of control. The characters may be dwarfed in size but someone will have to help stop the madness, the smallfolk must be put to the task.

Storm King’s Thunder represents the fifth such Super Adventure produced by Wizards of the Coast since the switch to it’s 5th Edition of the game. In the past many of these adventures included heavy involvement from third party game makers, like Kobold Press or Sasquatch Game Studio. This time, beyond having additional assistance from the whole WotC team & Forgotten Realms elite R.A. Salvatore, this story is almost exclusively Chris Perkins’ baby. Frankly it is yet another strong entry into the Super Adventure pool of games available for DMs to run for their player. I’m excited to say I’ll be running it myself.

Quality of the Product

Now that their are five adventures, spread over six books, I can really start to showcase these books on my shelf. I’ve put some of these books through the ringer too. Lent them to kids at the Library, paged through them multiple times, and they have really held up well over the years. I have no reason to suspect this new addition to the ranks will fare any worse.

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The artwork isn’t just pretty to look at. The art team recognized it’s duty to really add to the grand feeling to it all. As mentioned above, the story structure of this adventure has a real Shakespearean feel to it, and they did well to bring that feeling to the page with some amazing two page spreads and some we fleshed major players.

The Campaign

The course of this campaign will bring characters from level one to level ten and beyond. It is interesting to note that, without giving too much away, the problems being faced here all stem from a major shift among the race of giants themselves. The players represent the smallfolk of the world trying desperately to save themselves from that fall out, and it may just require issuing a helping hand to some giants themselves to return some order. Things will get very messy for the more diminutive races of the world if they don’t step in.

A quick read through of this adventure makes it feel a mite linear but there are actually several points where the characters will be choosing a path that, while not changing the story as a whole, certainly offer a different perspective. Things are not as Sandbox driven as the previous two installments, but I honestly can’t see why the players would care. If they are interested in helping out the choice to continue this adventure is never going to feel forced, it really does flow very well.

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Additional Content

I want to give a particular shout out to the layout of this book and to some specific design choices. I love that right at the beginning of the book the DM is given a rundown on the main NPCs for their arsenal. This “Dramatis Personae” section is a two page breakdown of the NPCs, each getting a brief description and direction to where in the book you can find more information on them. I’m also a huge fan of the Adventure Flowchart, for a quick reference of the various chapters each portion of this book has and for information on what level your characters should likely be when they get there. I wish I could show this, but that would be a bit of a spoiler for those prepping to play this game.

The Appendixes are very helpful for the DM, as one would expect. Of these Appendix A is the most interesting as it gives helpful advice on how to bridge other adventures into this one. I particularly like the way they suggest weaving Out of the Abyss and Storm King’s Thunder together.

A glaring omission for Storm King’s Thunder is the lack of any character options at all. To me it has become apparent that WotC has made the decision to allow the Dungeon Master’s guild be the main resource for players, and by that I mean if we want player option we have to make them ourselves. I was really hoping for at least some new character backgrounds for the Savage Frontier. The closest we get to something like that is a section at the beginning of Chapter 3 that adds details to the denizens of the Savage Frontier. I will note that while writing this I asked Chris Perkins himself about the decision not to include character options this time around and he directed me to the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. I need to actually look at this book, pretty sure it’s the only one Wizards didn’t send me for review.

In Conclusion

Another solid outing. I continue to be impressed by the content WotC is churning out, if a bit let down that it is solely focused on selling to the Dungeon Master. This adventure shows me that while Wizards can utilize third party studios really well for great content, they don’t need them. There are some excellent, creative, minds at work in this company. I’m excited to see what comes next!

-Melvs

 

Kickstart that Geek! Sun Spots – A Call of Cthulhu RPG Scenario

The Sun Spots Kickstarter will run until October 9, 2016.

My aim was to write this review last Thursday, but life got in the way. Apparently Dave Sokolowski did not need my article in the least to get funded! First off, congratulations on funding Dave. Secondly, let’s see if I can’t garner just a tad more attention eh?

Lovecraftian horror/lore/gaming is a particular love of mine. Sadly, I rarely dabble in that third category though. I’ve read the rulebooks, and I’ve played in a Call of Cthulhu game from time to time, but never as much as I’d like. So naturally when Dave gave me the chance to dig into some of his material for this Kickstarter I loved getting the chance. What I didn’t know going into this review was the story behind it’s gestation. It would be unfair to say that this is the only Kickstarter I’ve reviewed that was a true labor of love, all Kickstarters are, but I found Dave’s backstory particularly endearing. The project was initially set to be handled with the assistance of famed Cthulhu mastermind Keith “Doc” Herber, whom Dave had only just begun a report with when his untimely death shocked all. So Sun Spots comes to us as a bit of a testament to Doc’s work, and what I see so far looks great! He Who Laughs Last Cover.indd

Sun Spots is a Horror themed RPG Scenario that uses the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition ruleset. Set in the 1920’s the adventure begins as a simple mission to find a missing person only to unfold into something far more grand, and terrifying. Rival powers surround the players who find themselves in the unseasonably warm town of Red Valley. Things seem normal at first but that is soon to pass.

What I have in front of me now could already suffice for a fully fleshed scenario were I to want to run the game myself. Frankly it seems this Kickstarter is mostly to round out the edges and fully realize the potential of Dave’s vision. As stated on the Kickstarter page itself the funding will help pay for more art, better maps, and even some last touches of editing.  I see no reason not to expect this project to be fully realized, especially because the thing has already funded.

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Currently the Kickstarter is at nearly $9,000, very close to doubling its original mark of $5,000. Already obtained are the following two stretch goals:

  • $7500: More Art — Add four more b/w half-page illustrations by our amazing artistReuben Dodd.
  • $8500: GM Kit Part 1 — Provide Playtest notes illuminating the various lessons learned throughout the years of playtesting this, as well as provide a full transcript of the first playtest from 2008. This will be available as a PDF with every pledge $10 and above.

At the $10000 mark we will see this stretch goal realized:

  • $10,000: Red Valley Visitor’s Guide — I will work with Gregory Geiger to incorporateJake Coolidge’s hand-drawn map of Red Valley into a 1920s-style visitor’s guide handout. This will be available as a PDF with every pledge $10 and above, and will be provided as a print copy for the Deluxe level ($70) and above.

As always I like to peruse things and see what levels I would be personally drawn to. Here are my picks for backer levels of interest.

Digital Spot – $10 or more

Receive a PDF copy of Sun Spots via DTRPG, plus all stretch goals. Also have your name added to the list of Kickstarter contributors.

INCLUDES

  • PDF Copy of Sun Spots via DTRPG
The Digital Spot is your typical PDF buy in offer, and I’d say you’d be getting you money’s worth and then some with this thrifty option. Perfect for those of us with a little less scratch in our pockets.

Deluxe Hard Spot – $70 or more

Receive a hand-signed, hardcover version of Sun Spots, plus a digital copy via DTRPG, all stretch goals, and your name listed as a Kickstarter Contributor. You will also receive hard-copies of the three maps and any scenario handouts.

INCLUDES

  • PDF Copy of Sun Spots via DTRPG
  • Hand-signed, Hardcover book of Sun Spots
  • Hard-copies of 3 maps & any scenario handouts
 The Deluxe Hard Spot is your go to for the luxury purchase in my estimation. Hard copies galore! The perfect purchase of a connoisseur.
Head on over to the Kickstarter when you get a chance, or at least spread the word to ensure your fellow Cthulhu loving friends hear about it. Looks like it’s going to be a great game!
If you want to know more about the project beyond what’s written here of on the Kickstarter page, head on over to Dave’s webpage Weird8.
-Melvs

Piracy in Theah! John Wick’s 7th Sea

“Let’s play a pirate game!” Who hasn’t either heard this exclaimed or shouted it themselves when contemplating their table’s next set of adventures eh? Over the years there have been a number of games suited well enough for a game on the high seas, generic systems like Savage Worlds, or maybe even a game that integrates the concept within like Iron Kingdoms. None have ever been quite as quick to the tongue as 7th Sea however and now, fresh from a successful Kickstarter run (and the starting of a whole new company, John Wick Presents) we have finally received a second edition of the game. Let’s be honest though, this is more of a re-branding of the titular title, utterly new and cinematic in nature, the new 7th Sea is upon us.

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The version of this product I will review is the pdf format of the game, available from Drive Thru RPG for $24.99. At this price point you will receive:

  • The Core Rulebook in a Low and High resolution format
  • Character Sheet
  • Two World Maps
  • The Quick Start rules

You’ll find zero complaints from me regarding the design, layout, and imagery of this product. It is flat out gorgeous. It really makes me consider getting my hands of the physical copy of the book some day, if for no other reason than to have it sit on my shelf looking pristine while I use the pdf for game-play so as never to touch it. As is evident from the style chosen to introduce those behind this book (a well drafted mock up of a movie poster) there is a push to showcase this work as a grand cinematic feature. This style choice does not disappoint, I had some real fun parsing these pages and loved all the artwork within.

After an introductory work of short fiction, the well written “A Day’s Work” by Jennifer Mahr, that goes a long way into giving its audience a feel for the world of Theah and its heroes (no worries I’ll not ruin it, great read) we get ourselves into the meat of the book.

Chapters one and two are all introductory pieces into the 7th Sea and an expanded introduction into the world of Theah itself. The continent of Theah is loosely based on our real world version of Europe and Asia of the pertinent time periods to the age of piracy. An interesting tidbit we receive right off the bat is an emphasis on how the world of Theah handles diversity, in that peoples of all nation, sex, and creed are to be treated equally. This is a great idea for the game table anyway, so including it in game (with a good rationale for why it is that way) is a nice touch. Further through chapter two we are introduced to the various nations (their etiquette, governments, and even food, clothing , and customs), Religion, Guilds, Pirates and Privateers, and more. Some of the items touched on here are broadened in their own chapters, like Secret Societies. Spanning just over 100 pages these chapters give you just what you need to have a feel for the setting.

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I adore every chapter’s two page splashes. Some utterly epic work.

Character creation, as described in chapter three, comes across fairly simple with enough choices to address even the most fiddly of players. An interesting process starts this creation off. A list of twenty questions helps to guide a player into fleshing out just who their character is. Questions like “How would you physically describe your hero?” might assist you in the mechanical aspects of the upcoming creation and yet there are also questions like “Is your hero in love?” that speak to more “fluff” related items. After reading through this section I can easily see how a veteran of the game might simply skip it but I’d urge any player to use this list as a jumping off point, it really looks like it might add some much needed depth!

Honestly, once you have a concept for your character (something the aforementioned section will produce) the remaining choices simply fall into place. Traits detail core strengths, next your character’s nation and background add bonuses to and Advantages, then you enhance Skills gained through your Background or add new ones, and add some extra Advantages. These are the major mechanical aspects, and your concept will help you choose them quickly. After that there are two items to add on to a character that I feel are pretty unique. Arcana is essentially a version of horoscopes that add extra bonuses to certain styles of play, and then you come to Choosing a Story. This last bit is much more abstract, as you aren’t bound by the suggestions they lay out, but as I mentioned there are suggestions (and a helpful template). Your story appears to be the mechanism for how your character advances in “level” or rather how one increases certain Traits\Skills or earns new Advantages. Complete your story, earn the pre-ordained reward. I will note that there is one last step of some finishing touches to work on after this though, wealth, languages, secret societies, etc.

Chapter four addresses the mechanics of play. There is a simple three step system to recall for any situation. The GM sets the scene, a player may decide to take an action and if the GM feels that action is what’s called a “Risk” the player will need to roll dice, lastly the results of those rolls to resolve the Risk. Obviously things may get more interestign than that but thems the basics. One thing I like is the section starting on page 172 that lays out a fictional back and forth between a GM and a player to showcase how such situations play out. I’ve seen this trick done many a time in RPG books and I always like it.

Once the die are cast and totaled, called the Approach in this book,  the GM must then decide if the player has succeeded and created an Opportunity for the players, a Consequence, or both. Great care is taken to ensure any GM knows that it is far more interesting to mix the two and to liven them up from a standard “You\They take wounds” situation where possible. Make it cinematic.

Getting deeper into this chapter the rules allow for all sorts of adjustments, from both the GM (ala something called the Danger Pool) or the players (Hero Points, Flair, Pressure). Details get rounded out about dealing with wounds, because sometimes the Consequence truly is taking a sword to the gut, and there is even a nice section on setting up a “rush of furious activity” known as a Dramatic Sequence. The mechanics can seem a heady at first, but the deeper you read (and after parsing the various examples) you’ll get the gist rather easily.

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All I’ve spoken on only encompasses the first two thirds of this book. The next four chapters cover various character options, the many styles of sorcery available, dueling maneuvers, how to sail a ship, and the various secret societies a player can belong to. Then, to wrap things up, we have a strong finale chapter dedicated to assisting GMs (from novice to veteran).

7th Sea is a very different game from its roots with its original Roll and Keep system, and it stands to be seen which players may prefer. The new system is well fleshed out though. Attention has been paid to the minutia, and we have a very complete game. It is an interesting blend of fiddly mechanics and emphasis on storytelling that I find myself interested to dive into. I get the impression my regular gaming table would not approve of the “leveling” mechanic in the game, but I honestly love the idea of setting out to actually complete story arcs and goals, and then being rewarded for doing so.

If you find yourself craving that cinematic feel of piracy on the big screen, this is your game. If you love the idea of taking a character along a storied path, this is your game. If nothing else the book is chock full of excellent artwork, and fantastic lore usable in any piracy game. There’s a reason this project raised over 1.3 million on Kickstarter, it is grand!

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Get out there and sail those seas!

-Melvs

 

 

Gaming in Gothic Horror

Gothic Fiction

Obviously this topic is on my mind of late, as my upcoming Ravenloft game lurks ever present in the back of my mind. A horror is tough to run at a table, let alone going further down the niche of Gothic style horror. So what sets this style of play apart from your regular gaming campaign? What kind of work behind the scenes and on game night must you do to correctly set the tone? Well, here’s hoping some of the ideas I have for my upcoming Ravenloft run might assist you.

UNDERSTANDING GOTHIC HORROR

I think the first step for something like this is to understand just what Gothic horror represents as a genre. While all your regular horror tropes may appear in this subgenre, your slashers, beasts, death, and despair, a truly Gothic setting must also up the ante on pure tragedy. It’s villains are best when served up as either heroes gone bad or someone who gave into their craven desires and then strive for said desires, never to be sated. Ravenloft is filled to brim with horrifying figures of tragic circumstances. Strahd von Zarovich is the prime example, namely because so few do not know his legacy, he forever seeks someone to fill the place of his one true love whom he will never again be with. His jealousy and rage caused his downfall and he became the horror he is to this date.

I think one of the best things in the Curse of Strahd Adventure Path was the fact that the vampire lord was not idle, true villains of Gothic horror rarely are. They are not eveil lords content to sit back in their strongholds awaiting the PC’s to storm the gates after conquering their minions. In a Gothic setting if you draw the eye of the monster you seek, you will become wrapped in their games.

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Gothics are often referred to as Romances, and with good reason. Even if there is not the physical love between two or more people it is all about “romantic” ideals. Look to the typical hero of a Gothic tale. Victor Frankenstein can hardly be called a hero but his romantic notion to bring the dead back to life created his own horror on Earth. The best of heroes in a Gothic setting are typically less capable than you would see in other genres. The hero of Dracula was Professor Van Helsing, not the crossbow wielding adventurous guy you may have seen in other depictions, but instead an older gentleman with his own set of flaws. He doesn’t discern the true nature of the issue until it is too late for one life and he is not capable of saving all in his care as he drives them to track Dracula back to Transylvania. Heroes in these stories are rare, they are also often flawed.

Essentially the truly Gothic tale will be one where the heroes clutch and claw about, looking for the cause of the dismay and confusion that surrounds them, only to eventually have all the clues snap into place. The best realization of the horror that surrounds them then should be a simultaneous feeling of dread and despair, sometimes even for the monster they seek.

HOW TO BRING THAT TO THE TABLE

To give a Gothic game that truly dreamlike grandness it deserves can be hard, both the players and the GM often need to be invested in the story. This isn’t the type of game that lends itself to a “battle a week” format very well. There needs to be a leadup to that point, and it can often work best when the fight isn’t even entirely fair. Though I will say I have no intention of going full on Lovecraftian on them, if I wanted them to have no chance I’d just run a Call of Cthulhu based game.

I know I’m already urging my players to have connections to one another but I think I’m going to go one step further and have them, for whatever reasons their characters have, residents of the same small village. In this move I plan to start their troubles somewhat small, get them involved on a personal basis early on. Their characters will know, and presumably care, for every member in the village. I can’t go too much further into this though because some of my players actually read this stuff.

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Potential game night location

For some of the ambiance, I plan to incorporate music and sound into my game as much as possible, utilizing Battlebards as I’ve mentioned many times over the last few articles. Hopefully I can even dim the lights or something but I have learned that D&D by candlelight doesn’t work well, people just can’t see a damn thing. I’ll ask that phones be placed away from the table, I can’t stand people on their phones while I’m running a game.

In game I’ll be pulling creatures from the Children of the Mists supplement I described in my previous article a lot. Ravenloft can be a place of straightforward dangers like banditry and such, but I want my enemies to have dark purpose and I hope to convey it.

IN CONCLUSION

There are a ton of things I could throw onto this page about my plans but it might ruin some of what’s to come. I hope the guys go for it, I’m pretty excited. Stay tuned to the site because I’ll probably work up a few post game write ups, or at least let you know some of the things that have worked\not worked for me. If you have advice for a burgeoning Gothic Horror GM, let me know in the comments! I don’t profess to be an expert yet, this is my first run at it.

-Melvs

5e Ravenloft Resources

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I’m gearing up for a Campaign set in the Ravenloft setting, so I’ve been scouring the DM’s Guild for a few resources to help out. Since I went ahead and purchased many of them sight unseen I thought I’d let you all know my thoughts. I will say before I even spell out details about each product that I suggest them all as a purchase.

NEW CLASSES, ARCHETYPES, & RACES

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Author: Jeremy Forbing                     Price Point: $2.80

Ravenloft Archetypes I: Nightmares of Barovia

In this fiendish supplement the character choices presented typically take on a darker tone, as they are representative of character options for actual denizens of the Ravenloft setting. When Curse of Strahd hit the scene it was all about characters from Forgotten Realms being drawn into the Demiplane of Dread, not so here.

There are no new classes to speak of in this supplement but there is at least one new archetype for each of the core classes represented in the pages. Archetypes like the Oath of Blood for a Paladin striving to hold off their vampire nature after suffering the curse or the Reanimated archetype for a Sorcerer who has already died but now roams the plane as a risen magic user particularly stand out as unique to the setting.

There are three new races to choose from. The Vistani, bold choice to go full blooded, the Crag Dwarf, a version of the classic dwarf that has evolved a bit of dexterity not seen in its cousins, and the Dusk Elf, which represents more of a stylistic choice than a trait based one (thought it does offer access to some supplement specific feats).

RVNLFT ACH 1 - art

There isn’t a ton of art, but where there is it’s really good stuff.

Other items of interest in the supplement are new spells, feats, and even some monsters and NPCs for the GM of your game to play around with.

My review would be that the archetypes are strong, setting specific, choices. essentially they are worth the price of the book alone. The only thing I didn’t like about the book were the races, the author boldly went for something new rather than cribbing from the past but it just didn’t pan out. The remaining character options are great though!

RVNLFT ACH 2

Author: Jeremy Forbing                   Price Point $3.28 

Ravenloft Archetypes II: Core Domains Adventurer’s Guide

I liked the first foray into new Archetypes from Jeremy that I figured I’d pick this one up as well. I am not disappointed. Not only does this second helping include more in the way of character options for players but we get a healthy dose of setting lore for GMs to utilize.

Once again every character class gets a new Archetype to play around with. I especially love the Rulership Domain for Clerics, just thinking of playing as some zealot of the Lawgiver is giving me flashbacks to being an Inquisitor in an old Warhammer Dark Heresy RPG I played in. Other options added are more Races and subrace options, we finally see the Caliban which is represented as a variant of the half-orc here. The Ravenkin is a really neat idea too, no where near alike to any character class you’d normally play as. You are basically an intelligent, slightly larger, Raven. Crazy fun spellcaster class.

The new GM stuff is my favorite thing though. Love getting my hands on any details I can regarding the Core.

There are some redundancies in this book, as in things seen in the previous one. So keep that in mind.

HEROES OF MIST

Author: David “Jester” Gibson       Price Point: $3.00

Heroes of the Mists

Over the years I have turned to the website The Fraternity of Shadows often for game prep in Ravenloft, and often just to read some good gaming concepts. My buddy Jacob B. introduced me to the site when he was running Ravenloft for us in 4th Edition D&D because he was using a version of the 4th Edition Ravenloft Campaign Setting crafted by David “Jester” Gibson, the author of this entry into the DM’s Guild.

So, obviously this is a different version of the same thing the previous two items offered. Character options for the most part and a smattering of GM tools. If I were to choose between Heroes of the Mists and the Ravenloft Archetypes books I’d go with this product here, although it would be a tough choice. Jester, and the gang over at The Fraternity of Shadows, are simply more familiar to me and are a bit more closer to the original feel of Ravenloft.

The most glaring flaw is the lack of a table of contents but after reading through you get a great selection of Races, Class options, etc. but in this supplement they do a great job of adding in Backgrounds and even some setting specific items\magic items.

Towards the end of the pdf there is an excellent chapter to help a struggling GM run a game in Ravenloft. Teaching you the basics of mood and even adding in rules for Madness and Horror.

MONSTERS

Children of the Night

Authors: David “Jester” Gibson & Andrew “alhoon” Pavlides                                     Price Point: $3.00

Children of the Night

There’s only one supplement I felt I needed to grab for setting specific monsters and that was Children of the Night, also from our friends over at The Fraternity of Shadows and their publisher 5 Minute Workday Publishing.

Once again written by David “Jester” Gibbons, with help from another Fraternity member Andrew “alhoon” Pavlides, Children of the Night contains over 100 pages of just the right type of skin crawl inducing beasties you need to fuel your late night excursions into the Demiplane of Dread.

The vast majority of these monsters are updated versions of creatures found in the pages of Ravenloft supplements of old. The mechanics all appear to be well fleshed out for the new 5th edition, I can’t wait to throw some of these guys at my players.

death's head tree

The artwork is simplistic but that actually adds to the feel of the manual, as if it were hand drawn by a chronicler of these creatures.

PREMADE ADVENTURES

SONG OF ARACOS

Author: Lucas Curell                         Price Point: $4.95

The Song of Aracos

*This review is lifted straight from my review of Curse of Strahd*

From Ember Design Studios LLC. author Lucas Curell, The Song of Aracos is considered to be a companion piece to Curse of Strahd that takes a paragraph from the introduction in CoS, written by Tracy Hickman, to heart…

 

 

“Strahd isn’t a villain who remains out of sight until the final scene. Far from it – he travels as he desires to any place in his realm or his castle, and (from his perspective) the more often he encounters the characters, the better. The characters can and should meet him multiple times before the final encounter…”

— Curse of Strahd pg 10

The adventure is a ghost story, written for five characters of 6th-level and centers on a child’s struggle to reunite with her mother. After an introductory piece of fiction, that perfectly fits the Ravenloft flair I love, the adventure starts right out of the gate with some action with an encounter that makes pulling the players into the story-line easy for the DM. From there the players are led down the rabbit hole of helping not only another man recently trapped in Strahd’s realm but a spirit in need of respite. The trouble is, Strahd is well aware of the character’s movements and of those who seek their aid, and he is not one to lay dormant as the playthings in his interest make their moves.

Curell weaves elements of the main Adventure Path into his adventure with deftness, you’ll never feel that your playing through something not of WotC’s make. He even includes the randomization of the Taroka Deck. The setting, and NPCs involved all fit perfectly with Strahd just as terrifying as ever. Adding in a win and lose circumstance for the players matches up well with the way such things are handled within the actual Adventure Path. I especially like the potential rewards that players can obtain from doing well.

In my opinion this is a must have for anyone planning to run Curse of Strahd for their table, though it can be used as a stand alone adventure. Honestly, it’s a perfect example of what a great idea it was for Wizards of the Coast to open up their content for talented creators through the Dungeon Master’s Guild. Head on over and pick it up!

Rats in Street

Author: Lucas Curell                             Price Point: $4.95

Rats in the Street (5e)

Rats in the Streets is the newest offering from Ember Designs Studios for a party of adventurer’s of 3rd level. I loved The Song of Aracos so much I had to get my hands on it. After paging through it I think it will make a great side quest for one of the game nights in our Ravenloft Campaign.

While mostly an urban adventure, with much less stress on the horror elements present in Song, we do still have some of the trappings of Ravenloft. Namely in the lead villain’s cursed nature.

The fact I plan to use Rat’s in the Street for Ravenloft goes a long way in showing its versatility as an adventure for your table. This is a great little urban crawl for any group that gives them a satisfying romp against a gang of criminals terrorizing the streets.

By the time my table gets here they might actually welcome something a bit more straight-forward as a fight against a group of street toughs. Though, there are plenty of fun surprises in store for them too.

Scrupple

 

So there you have it, those are the items I picked up to help me out. Plus, I plan to utilize Battlebards heavily now that I have a hang of their site. Not sure what I’m talking about when I reference Battlebards? See my recent review.

 

BATTLEBARDS-PREMIER TABLETOP AUDIO & TOOLS FOR YOUR CAMPAIGNS

Battlebards

Over a year ago I had the chance to do a Q&A session with the team behind a little Kickstarter project trying to give us the auditory means to shape atmosphere at our gaming tables. Today the Battlebards website finds itself deep into its Beta launch with a slew of new options coming to the fore. Thus, though I’ve been using music and sound effects from the site ever since launch, I felt know was the perfect time to do a bit of a deep dive into the site and see just what new tools I can play around with.

Before I get into the music I wanted to give some props to the site’s blog (because of course I’d be interested in the blog portion of any site, even one dedicated to awesome musical additions to gaming). When crafting an article for the blog the site creators don’t simply note that a new track is available, or that an update has occurred. Instead the pieces are usually really engaging write-ups. Currently at the top of the page you’ll find a post that gives us insight into one of the composers used on the site. The composer is Stefan Totsev, who crafted the haunting\uplifting melody “Monks of the Sun God”. I love gaining insight into people’s backstories and this is just an excellent treat. Beyond that there are numerous mentions of new tracks, deals on the site, and even a few guest spots from other notables. Even if you aren’t a subscriber (yet), the blog has a lot going for it.

Store

Let’s get into the music though, shall we? When I backed the project I actually purchased a decent chunk of tunes but after actually paying attention to the store I now see that my library of nearly 200 tracks is a paltry sum. There are currently 871 tracks available for purchase individually or you can pick them up in bundled forms by choosing from 77 albums. The albums are broken down into categories so you can easily pinpoint what you might want. If you just want mood music (the arena I’ve been most successful in) simply do a store search for “Music” under Albums. If you’re a bit better about adding actual sound effects to your games you can grab from things like “NPC Scripts”, or “Sound Effects” (Shields breaking, bowstrings, sword clangs etc.).

One thing Battlebards is not is stingy with their sampling. To my knowledge you can listen through the entirety of an album before deciding to purchase it. You can hit play on anything you wish to sample and throughout your stay on the site the track(s) will play using an audio player that remains stationary on the bottom of the site, until you decide to try out another sound. I’ve been listening to the Underground Lake City album the entire time I’ve been writing this, I own one of the four tracks and want to know if I need more (I was running Out of the Abyss at one point, the track “Underground Lake City – Lightness Shores” was used often). If you listen long enough you’ll notice the phrase “Battlebards dot com” being intermittently cropping up to break the immersion, can’t have you just playing from the site for game night eh?

Sample

I will say that the ease in which you can search for music in the store holds gives way to validating one of my frustrations with the site. In the section housing what you’ve purchased, the “Library” tab, you don’t get that same level of functionality. What I have on my end is a list of my 192 tracks, that appear to be sorted by artist, with no other method of sorting available. Granted, the idea is to download tracks into your own audio playing software, and I have done this, where you can sort with greater ease. It still bugged me that I couldn’t do a quick search for a specific track I wanted right then and there though. If you have a full albums of something you can go to the Albums tab where you can click on the “tracks” number to give an album breakdown, but I don’t think all of my tracks show up here. If I’m ever to make a playlist on the actual site to be used on their Soundboard, I’d really like to be able to break things down into smaller chunks.

Library

I keep wanting to click “Audio Type” to re-organize this list!

Speaking of the Soundboard, it is one of the newer aspects of the site. In this area you’ll be able to bring up a fully completed playlist to incorporate into one of you games. I played around with this a ton and this is exactly what I’ve been missing when trying to have something on hand to incorporate multiple sounds at a time in my games. You can pull up to two playlists up at a time, perhaps one for Music and Soundscapes while the second incorporates your favorite Sound Effects. Here’s another deal, in the Soundboard there’s a MUCH easier way of adding to a playlist than using the Your Playlist tab. I can simply add tracks to a playlist using the option on the left, and lo and behold they actually have it broken down exactly how I wanted it done in my library too. So while my ire with the library still stands it is greatly lessened by the ease in which I can utilize the soundboard. There are still some bugs here though as it appears one of my recently chosen tracks seems to have disappeared behind the “Play All” banner in the second column. This is going to be a huge boon to my audio usage at the table though.

Soundboard

What a few Playlists look like

Adding Soundboard Tracks

Clicking the “plus sign” to the left opens up your tracks

The last new item I wanted to talk about is the Mixer. This is something I’ve been very excited about since day one. I always pictured myself making some killer tracks on this thing and it seems I’m fully able to do so! That is…if I had a single skill in my body to do so. Seriously, I played around with this and it is apparent I’ve a long way to go in order to make use of it myself. That’s on me though, the mixer seems very intuitive. It is still in development so the ease of adding tracks can be tricky unless you know to actually create a mix first (would love to be able to play around with mixing then save a mix after, but that’s only a quibble). One of the mixes I did recently was adding a few extra sound effects to the Monsterscape track “Common Giant – Combat – Fighting the Hill Giant” It was a real simple mix that makes it sound as if an Arrow Barrage takes the giant down.

Mixer Demo

Obviously people are going to do far better than I at crafting some seriously awesome sounds with this mixer, even if I never do. Stands to be seen how exactly Battlebards allows the mixer to be used. Will we one day be able to import our own sounds and sell through the site? Either way, even if it is only ever for private use, I’m having a blast toying with it.

Frankly, I don’t know how much longer Battlebards will have the right to keep that word Beta on their site. Things are beginning to be very well polished over there. I imagine once they finalize the Mixer they are going to have to consider themselves fully fleshed out. I’ve had a blast on the site during this review and I think you will too. Signing up on the site is 100% free, i’d suggest anyone to so it if for no reason other than to listen to some of the cool works they have. Once signed up, you’ll probably want to buy a track or two and for that, you’re in luck.

There is currently a coupon code for some great free tracks on the Battlebards site, exclusively from The RPG Academy Network, to celebrate the upcoming release of an Album called “Pirates – And the Grand Ocean“, but you can’t get it right here sadly (don’t want to just throw a Coupon Code into the wilds of the net for easy Google searches!). Here’s what you need to do, check out one of many fine podcasts in the RPG Academy Network because this code is going to crop up in some, maybe all of their shows. I know for a fact that the newest line of podcast material from The RPG Academy called “Detention” (hosted by The Caleb G.) will house the code info soon, if not already.

Another way to get the code? Leave a comment below and I’ll get you the list of codes by another means!

The codes will get you the following discounts, they are good through the end of the year (Happy hunting!):

If you buy the $10 or $24 package, the first code gets you 1 free track
if you buy the $50 or $100 package, the second code gets you 5 free tracks
If you buy the $150 or $300 package, the third Code gets you 16 free tracks

You have to have a battle bards account to claim anything. it’s free to set up with an email

That’s all from me folks, let me know if you have any tidbits to share from your own Battlebards wanderings. Remember, comments will get you Codes!

-Melvs

P.S. Battlebards has also produced 16 videos thus far on their YouTube Channel, many of them go to great lengths to showcase how to use certain functions on their site. If you are having trouble with something they may have produced a video on it! I know I need to check out this video right here to learn more about mixing.

Meta Arcade Brings Tunnels & Trolls to the Small Screen

20160806_112610.jpg

Meta Arcade teamed with Tunnels and Trolls for a cool app I’ll explain in detail later

Tunnels and Trolls has the prestige of being the second tabletop roleplaying game to ever hit the scene, and is working on being something of a first adopter in the digital age by teaming with Meta Arcade and the Meta Arcade Adventures Platform. T&T is well known for its “choose your own adventure” games that first allowed players to run themselves through a solo adventure of their own making equipped with all the same rules you’d know from any tabletop rpg. Now Meta Arcade founder and CEO David Reid has created the bones of a platform where players can run through digital adventures that utilize the Tunnels and Trolls rule-set, bringing these adventures straight to your phones, tablets, and home computers.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Reid at Gen Con about the partnership and their plans going forward, and had a chance to test drive the game itself (more on that in a bit). His excitement for the project was palpable, in fact he grew up playing T&T, he explained plans to not only bring its users games to play but open up access for anyone to publish their own works for others. The adventures, or even campaigns, would then be for sale through the app allowing for creatives to market their own work. Players will also be able to keep the PCs they create, the treasures they earn throughout, and the levels they amass taking on adventure after adventure.

20160806_112802.jpg

Playing the demo at the Gen Con booth was excellent fun. I expected a strong game play experience but was even more impressed by the pure immersion I was allowed once I donned the headphones. The sound effects and music blended with the on screen game play excellently and I soon found myself rooting for my poor hapless PC as she attempted to survive the rigors of T&T’s Naked Doom. The adventure was grueling as my character attempted to traverse through a dungeon she was dropped into with nothing, not even a stitch of clothing, to protect her. I defeated a cave troll, survived a number of traps, and actually made it to the end on my first attempt! I made one last poor choice however as I attempted to take on the guards at the end. I ended up facing nine and for once even lucky dice rolls couldn’t save me.

20160806_113810.jpg

Dead. But hey, look at those adventure points! 3,399!

Once this app is widely available I have every intention of owning it, hopefully I can even craft an adventure or two myself. Be on the lookout for a followup as I make my attempts on the final app, I signed up for the beta after all.

About MetaArcade
MetaArcade, founded by industry veteran David Reid in 2016, is a Seattle area indie developer dedicated to empowering communities of creators through accessible self-
publishing platforms.
For more information, follow MetaArcade on Facebook and Twitter @MetaArcade, and visit www.metaarcade.com
About Flying Buffalo
Flying Buffalo, founded in 1970 and based in Scottsdale, AZ, stands amongst the industry’s most veteran publishers of tabletop games. Among its many notable series and titles are Tunnels & Trolls, Grimtooth’s Traps, Nuclear War, and Mercenaries, spies, and Private Eyes.

-Melvs

P.S. The fine folks at the Flying Buffalo\Meta Arcade booth were handing out some sweet swag, each person who test drove the app got to take home a copy of “Grimtina’s Guard” a solo adventure written by Ken St. Andre himself (pictured below). Here’s the deal, they also gave me five extra copies! First come, first served. Leave a message in the comments telling me either why you wish you could have gone to Gen Con or what your favorite part about it was and I’ll mail you a copy (we’ll work out the details somehow).

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Invisible Sun-Luxury Gamecraft in an Age of Minimalising

When Numenera burst onto the scene back in August 2012 it was apparent that Monte Cook Games endeavored to be different from the status quo, and ever since that day their efforts to bring us games that border on the surreal has been met with success. There is something about every project they’ve put out that screams “care and attention was paid here”. Certainly they aren’t the only company that does so, but anyone who has ever spent much time reading their thoughts on their games, watched a panel prior to introducing a new one, or even met the MCG team knows they put more than a little of their soul into a product. The Invisible Sun RPG is going to be an interesting beast to say the least. I have to imagine the Kickstarter campaign will succeed, it is already well on its way (currently $153,984 pledged of a $210,653 goal with 557 backers). I also feel it has a lot of potential to be pretty divisive, not necessarily in a negative way but it is definitely going to get a conversation started regarding the trade offs of quality game craft and the accessibility of your game. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

invisiblesun

That damn cat

WHY DOES IT HAVE HANDS!?

At Gen Con MCG announced Invisible Sun, and it was immediately apparent they were going gamble hard with some real innovation. Promises have been made to up the ante with modes of play (Action, Narrative, and Development), all things GMs may have utilized before but from what I can tell this game will have rules built into the system for such things.  Players, and their stories will take the lead here with a GM that guides them through a world they have “awoken” back into. The world we know is referenced as a “Shadow World” and the players are trying to get back to the “Actuality”. Other than that we know the game will be based in a “surreal” fantasy setting, & their marketing prior to the Kickstarter was filled with cryptic messages, hidden real life geocaches, and fantastic concept art (except that damn cat…*). Needless to say I have been very impressed thus far.

many face

Character Concept

 

The Kickstarter itself launched today and at first I was confused. Whenever I check out a Kickstarter for review my first step is always the backer levels (not uncommon), I like to have an idea of my preferred backer level and the best bang for your buck. You won’t get that from me this time. The Invisible Sun Kickstarter makes it plain, this packaging of the game is the luxury model. I have no clue if later iterations will be priced for the individual purchaser but for the time being it seems the lowest price point, the “Call the Black Cube” level, is set at $197.00.

My first reaction at this lofty price was to scoff, but I dug deeper and realized they intended the Black Cube to be something an entire game group can go in on and have ownership over. Not the first game company to encourage a backer level that involved multiple folks chipping in, but I’ve never seen someone make it their opening act. After that the price just skyrockets until it reaches a price just south of 6 grand (and someone has actually laid that grip down). When the inference was made that they were going to bring a lux product to the table, they didn’t disappoint. From the looks of things, even the $197.00 model will be packed with great stuff…and just what’s in that box you ask (perhaps with feigned terror as you quote a certain Fincher flick)? Well, they answered that just today, and, in my opinion, it is worth every penny.

Black Box

This is everything you get in the Black Cube

The Books: The box contains four beautifully, intricately presented rule and setting books called The Key, The Gate, The Path, and The Way. These contain everything you need to start an Invisible Sun campaign. You’ll also find them to be filled with hidden puzzles, codes, and mysteries all their own. While solving these isn’t crucial, it will enhance your experience.

Sooth Deck: A special deck of 60 round cards used to facilitate gameplay and inspire GM creativity.

Board: A durable, folding cardstock board featuring the Path of Suns, on which the GM plays the Sooth cards.

Testament of Suns: An imposing resin sculpture that holds a Sooth card that is active long-term for all to see.

Spell Cards: 200 cards detailing the spells characters will cast in the game.

Ephemera Cards: 300 cards detailing the minor magic and one-use incantations characters will use in the game.

Artifact Cards: 100 cards describing the magical accoutrements characters will obtain and create in the game.

Tokens: More than 100 tokens of different types to use for the different kinds of player rewards, Vance spell management, and more.

Dice: 4 gorgeous 10-sided dice marked with game-specific symbols. One is a “mundane” die, while others are special “magic” dice.

Secrets Envelope: A sealed envelope with some of the deepest secrets of the setting. This is different than the secrets that all vislae (backers) will get in addition to the game, tied to the active sun on the day that they cast their spell to summon the Black Cube.

Cloth Map: A gorgeous map of the City of Satyrine.

Poster Map: A two-sided map showing the Actuality and the fantastic realm of Indigo.

The Guiding Hand: A GM’s notebook that guides the GM through creating a campaign of their own, with ideas, suggestions, and prompts.

Player Handouts: Dozens of useful things, from quick-reference rule cards to a plethora of handouts and clue-laden props.

Character Tomes: The four orders of magic, plus the order-rejecting Apostates, each get their own unique four-page character tome. The game contains six blank copies of each type of tome, ready to use to create characters.

Grimoire Pad: A pad of 30 handy sheets for players to record their spells, secrets, and more.

Bookmarks: Four special bookmarks, each tied to a different book, not only help mark important pages, but list frequently referenced pages for important topics. And might they be part of a larger clue to yet another mystery? Everything’s fair game.

Pregenerated Characters: Five iconic characters for the setting, ready to use as player characters.

Sun Medallion: Every game contains one of eight metal medallions, each tied to one of the suns of the Path of Suns. Fate will decide which medallion you get, as there will be equal numbers of each made.

The Cube Itself: The Black Cube is a mystery box taken right from the game’s setting. This incredibly sturdy box folds in a unique design, and it includes a special compartment for the books and a plastic tray to hold the cards and components of the game.

Searchable Electronic Reference: Every copy of the game comes with a digital download of the rules and setting material. You can read it on a tablet or other screen and easily search the file to find what you need.

Secrets: Are there still more mysteries hidden in the box somewhere? Probably, for those who look carefully.

A hallmark of this Kickstarter campaign, and frankly the game itself, is mystery, magic, and secrecy. MCG started strong with ciphers and geocaches and promises that the game itself will contain many secrets to be unveiled. There is even a difference in what backer secret you’ll receive based on what sun, of the nine suns, was “active” during the time you backed the project. From what I understand the books will likely hold puzzles and ciphers as well. It all just sounds so cool!

literary geocaching

When referencing the game on the Kickstarter page the opening line reads thusly

Invisible Sun is a tabletop roleplaying game of surreal fantasy. It’s dark. It’s moody. It’s adult.

keys

This image here really grabbed me.

They play up the immersion factor, claiming it truly isn’t for everyone. This will be a game for a group to really dig their teeth into and develop some damn story arcs! It really seems to go about checking off every box in my personal list of desires in a game. One aspect I find very interesting is what I touched on above regarding the third mode of play the “Development” mode. Essentially this is something many of us GMs have handled on an ad hoc basis, a player may want to have their character accomplish some task or flesh out a bit more of their backstory away from the table. There’s been many times I’ve exchanged a few emails with my players about such things and we’ve come up with something cool that may effect the game once we get back to the table. Well Invisible Sun purports to have this as a far more literal aspect of play. I’m truly intrigued to see how this is actually implemented. It seems there will be at least some concrete rules surrounding this mode of play because, as mentioned in more depth here, Monte has explained that these actions taken away from the game table will have in game consequences. I love the idea, enough to have done it myself in my own way, so I’m fully on board to see how it can become a full on addition to a game.

Path of Suns

Really wish I’d caught on to all the cool Geocaching before the Kansas City one got found.

I’ve been digging around the internet all afternoon, researching the many aspects of this Kickstarter, and I could probably come up with far more interesting tidbits to bat around but honestly, do yourself a favor and check things out for yourself. Even if you’re currently priced out like so many others, it’s all worth looking into. I’d also like to say I’ve been very impressed with the reaction by many of those who simply cannot figure out how to afford to get in on this. It has mostly been a message of “I can’t afford your product, but I still believe in your message here, and wish you the best with this deluxe game.” It would be oh so easy to get angry, and frankly jealous, that you can’t afford to get in on the fun, but I’ve seen very little of that. I hope the tenor of feedback remains that positive. I even saw one commentor who believed in the vision so much, despite being unable to back at even the lowest level, that he paid in $10 just to help MCG succeed! I’m not recommending such an action, but hey kudos to that guy.

So if you are interested in a big, luxury, gaming product, in this era where new games on the scene have been marketing in a more streamlined fashion, Invisible Sun seems to be your bag. If you can afford to, I’d suggest taking a chance on this beautiful project. In just over a year’s time your players could be free of the Shadow and in the realm of the Acuality!

BAKER LEVELS OF NOTE

Baker 01

Initial level, that Cube does indeed come packed!

Baker 02

Here’s the real deal item. I say that because of that little bullet point in the middle. You know there will be Stretch Goals folks, you know there will be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Melvs

 

*The cat is actually really cool it just creeps me out.