|| I am a role-player, I always have been and will be until God decides it's time for me to go home. Being forty-six (46) years old, now, I find that I become cantankerous, and just difficult to live with if I don't have my role-playing games. Reading about new worlds, and new things to do in those worlds, and being able to run an RPG with friends and family is a great joy of my life, and I intend to keep doing it as long as I have my hands and the abilities of sight and hearing. I suppose having a good imagination and a strong mind -if not the memory- are requisites, as well, but I think long after I've gone deaf or blind, my imagination will remain and all of the things my friends, family, and I have done together through this story-telling medium will remain, and the stories have been good. Finally, because the real-world sucks so terribly and it's so hard to know what to think or believe, sometimes, I'll take my imaginary world over this real world, any day; it's a LOT easier to handle.
MY GAMING LIFE
When I began my gaming life in Junior High School, in '83, I think, I never thought it would have taken me to the places I have been, both in and outside of my imagination, the real-world and the others. Yes, I'm old, no need to make much of it, because I still love to play and have a great imagination, indeed. I have two boys of my own, both older than I was when I began playing, and they've been introduced to it, as well. As many others in my age group, and younger have done, I began with Dungeons & Dragons, by TSR, and have since played many other games by many other developers. No matter how many computer, console, card, or tactical combat sims I play, however, nothing compares to role-playing which is, typically, my only opportunity to escape the rigors of this world for the adventurous climes locked within the imagination.
This page is to share some of those experiences, to continue playing others, and to share things I've developed for various games since. Please note that the listings which follow are, eventually, meant to work into additional web pages, though this may take some (indeed, a great deal of) time to accomplish...
Until Earthdawn came out, Torg: Role-Playing the Possibility Wars (1990 by West End Games) had been one of my favorite games. The background of the game is amazing, the idea behind Possibility Raiders coming to earth to steal all of our abundant, though finite possibility energy, or that which allows us to move forward as quickly as we do with technology and expanding to even further possibilities. I ran this game three distinct times before online gaming solutions came about, and then I ran a basic game on Roll 20 for about eight months in 2016; the system was somewhat clunky, especially using the Destiny Deck within, but all of the mechanics were necessary to run the game successfully, and with the correct feel. That feel is supposed to be cinematic, supposed to allow the heroes to feel as though they're participating in a wild movie like True Lies or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow -which I believe to be based off Torg-, though the game can also be a visceral experience, especially in the horror realm of Orrorsh. I have longed to run this game, again, face-to-face with friends and/or family, and now I might have the chance.
Ulisses Spiele North America (originally a German company) have picked up the license and produced Torg: Eternity. This is a highly streamlined system that replaces many of the clunky old rules with sensible ones, instead, such as reducing tables from the repeated mess they used to be to something smaller and easier for the GamesMaster to manage. The damage system will be easier to deal with, though I'm skeptical it's any better than the original system; in O-Torg the bonus you received for your action total was also applied to your effect total, a matter of better success applying to better damage or effects, whereas Eternity now makes it so every five points of success allows you to roll a "Bonus Die", which explodes just like the D20s still used for the game, to provide better damage. In this case, your damage could explode well beyond the level of your success which, for a VERY cinematic role-playing game, makes sense; I'm uncertain which model I'll use. Many other things have been improved, as well, and after the new year (2017-2018), my family and a family friend will begin a new game in the invaded world of Core Earth by the Torg.
Beyond the absolutely necessary and welcome fixes to the original game system, Ulisses have also re-vamped the war, itself. In 1990, when I picked up my first boxed set for Torg, the war was very exciting to contemplate, being very Star Wars-ish and Indiana Jones-ish in scope, but there was little in the way of specificity to draw me, as the GM, to want to play in any particular reality covered in the World Book. The people of Ulisses Spiele, especially because many of them worked on the original game, came to understand the deficiencies of desire-to-play in these realms or, for that matter, to play in the games version of our Earth, and are now taking great pains to develop these realities in better detail, and to offer that desire-to-play element. For example, the Living Land used to only be a Land of the Lost-esque reality in which a mad dinosaur-man named Baruk Kaah ruled over a jungle where life, and death, have much more meaning than we in our world give it, indeed being the central tenet of a religion. Though all of that remains, there are a few other changes that have made playing in the Living Land a good deal more inviting, and I can't wait to do just that. The other realities are also receiving overhaul's from the original game, and I am equally excited to see those, when their time comes.
Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, 2nd Edition, by Black Industries and Green Ronin, and Millennium's End/Shadow Games, below, run a very close race for second-place only to Earthdawn. Though I have so much more experience with Warhammer and ME than Earthdawn, this game is still lacking many of the things in the back-story that seem to come naturally to my favorite; as well, Warhammer is most assuredly a far darker world than Earthdawn, despite the post-apocalyptic nature of that game. I tend, however, to run Warhammer without the bleak outlook of the background, though with all of the other rules in place and, of course, the deeper into danger my character's move, the bleaker I have, and will represent the situation.
I ran a tabletop campaign recently, from early-mid 2009 to mid-late 2010, though a mistake I made stopped that, recently. It was called Aid for Roezfels and we were three-quarters of the way through that first campaign before I pulled that boner. The most successful game I've ever been able to run has been known as The Legend of Goe Orthrond, which will resume once I am able to get my life back together, and get this web site, in the process, updated and looking like it should. Once this is back up and running -lurkers have always been welcome- we will finish Legend first, and then Roezfels after that, likely followed by the beginning of a module campaign; after all, Green Ronin and, following them Fantasy Flight Games -at least until they switched out to the severely dumbed-down 3rd Edition-, produced some excellent adventure modules that I would love to be able to play through, to interweave them into the lives of the characters.
In case you haven't been able to tell, this has been my most successful Play-by-Forum game, to date.
My most recent role-playing acquisition (May 2015) is a game based in the world of Middle Earth, created by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is a good game, if somewhat esoteric; some of the mechanics are hard to get used to, but the game in and of itself is rewarding in the accuracy to Professor Tolkien's vision of what most people read in his works. Character generation is less about selecting a particular race and class than it is about being part of a culture of the world, such as a Woodman of Wilderland, Hobbit of the Shire, Elf of Mirkwood, or Man of Lake-town, including cultural Virtues, Rewards, and more to distinguish each character created within the game. Each of the concepts developed as a result of your character's birth in the game are used as important components of gameplay, and some can be used to grant automatic success, gain Advancement or Experience points, and more.
This is my favorite game of all time, though it has a few compatriots that I deem very close seconds to it; these are listed, below. Though I've really not had the opportunity to play long in, or to run this game in a full campaign in all the time it's been out, just the stark imagery, the post-apocalyptic fantasy setting, the Star Wars-esque nation fighting, versions of the Old Republic and the Empire in fantasy form, keeps me coming back. One day, I am hoping to find a group my sons and I will be able to participate with where we will be able to play together in a world so fantastically vivid, with game mechanics that, although clunky, actually aid in pushing the game along, and then I can die truly happy.
I did explain that I had played some in the game, and that was in the hey-day for RMK, where Shane, Jeff, Lee, Ryan, Trey, myself, and sometimes others would join us, as well, and we would go anywhere from a couple of hours on a Friday night all the way up to the whole weekend playing. Lee managed to run the game in such a way that it was a blast to be in it, and I would love to get back to that sort of play one of these very long days. Finally, I managed to run much of a campaign while I was in Germany; had I not deployed to Bosnia in '96, we would have finished that campaign.
When Charles Ryan and Chameleon Eclectic put out the 2nd Edition of this game in '93 -I eventually got my hands on a 1st Edition copy from '91- and I saw the tagline on the front cover, I was instantly hooked. Modern Role-Playing in the Techn-thriller Genre became the thought foremost in my mind as I struggled through this very difficult game system. Roughly one month before leaving for my Army tour in Germany and Bosnia, I ordered everything available for the game at the time, including the Operative's Kit from the back of the main rulebook, with an ME T-Shirt and identification card.
While in Germany I ran Millennium's End twice a month, alternating with Earthdawn the other two weeks, for several soldiers, my wife in that time, and a thirteen year old young man with an extremely keen mind, named Jason. The job was something of an offshoot of Nightwalker/The Villee Affair, an official adventure module for 1st Edition Millennium's End, where the players had to fake their way, using DEA badges, attitude and cleverness, onto the local docks in Miami -where Millennium's End primarily takes place- to attempt the recovery of a microdot -I used ancient tech on purpose- leading to the next section of that adventure campaign. We had just completed the Sea City portion of my campaign before I was deployed to Bosnia.
The Aliens Adventure Game was first put out in 1991, by Living Steel producers Leading Edge Games; though it was designed as, almost solely, a combat game rather than a role-playing game, some of the best games I have ever run, some of the most fun we've ever had as a group, especially as the original Rocky Mountain Knights, was in this game. Several times per year, from the time I purchased this book in Westminster, Colorado, in '92 I was able to run this game for RMK, known in-game as Colonial Marine Corps Strike Team V3-306-1S2 (aka 23 Actual // Metallus Gravus); their missions and, hopefully their stories will be told on this site.
In 2004, I began a Play-by-Forum version of Aliens, starting Strike Team MSFE-3CMD-07 (Strike Dawgs) which I asked my friend Jon Paul S. to take over for me shortly thereafter. He attempted to run the game for a short time, but real-life issues soon took that away from him, and so I allowed Tony C., another good friend of mine from a long time past to take over and keep things running. Unfortunately, within three months, the game was on the ropes, the players were no longer posting and, by the middle of 2006 I had taken the entire site down. Hopefully the site, if not the forums, will be back up soon.
I picked up Dark Conspiracy perhaps a month after it came out in '91. I had never really been a fan of Game Designer's Workshop, but this game truly looked interesting. As with so many games from that time, I took quite a lot of time to read through it, enjoying particularly all of the commentary throughout. Lester Smith has a way with words that appeals to me, so I read it all, and promptly found and purchased everything I could, whether it was already out or due to come out; if nothing else, I was thrilled to read everything I could and, thus, it became an important game in my life. Lee, who was RMKs lead GM at the time, ran the game for us a few times, and I tried to run the game for others a couple of times, but outside of that not many people seemed to be all that interested in playing it.
So, why bring it up, now? First, because it's an extremely good alternate future horror game, looking on things that go bump in the night as aliens from alternate dimensions rather than the typical creatures of the night we have come to know and... well love, hate, whatever we choose to do with them. For my part, a monster is a monster. Second, because there's a resurgence of interest in the horror genre in the past decade. Finally, because Dark Conspiracy 3 is being made or, at least, 3 Hombre's is supposed to be making it. I have, in all of these years since first picking up the game, built a few things to assist me in running it that might be helpful to others or, even, to myself in the near future.
From 1985 to 1997, I ran a tabletop mercenary unit that went by a few names, but became Armageddon Unlimited in September/October 1997 for online play in MechWarrior II: Mercenaries and NetMech '95, MechWarrior III and Pirate's Moon, and finally MechWarrior IV: Mercenaries and NBT-Hardcore from that time to this. Now, as MechWarrior Online, the latest version of my favorite science fiction game universe of all time, has gone live and is growing steadily, I intend to also run Armageddon Unlimited there. If you would like to find out more, click on the image, above.
|LAST UPDATED: 30 November 2017; more to come