Category Archives: Computer Games

#rpgaday2015 day 17 – favourite fantasy RPG

I don’t know that I can answer this one really. I’ve played fantasy systems, but I wouldn’t ever really say that fantasy was my go-to roleplaying genre. I’m more into modern or futuristic games in the main.

I’ve of course played D&D (3rd and 3.5) but didn’t really find it an enthralling setting (though I do get occasional urges to go monkey with the spell system again). I’ve played Heroquest, Earthdawn, HERO Fantasy, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st and 2nd). I’ve massively enjoyed some of those games, but I don’t know that I’d call any of them my favourite fantasy RPG.

Other games I have sitting on my shelf, or games I’m anticipating include Fireborn (the RPG of being dragons reborn as humans) and Karthun: Lands of Conflict which is based on the fantasy RPG campaign in D20 Monkey. Thing about Karthun is that it’s not actually an RPG, but a setting. It’s a complete rewrite of setting based around some of the ideas in D&D [1] with completely different takes on how things work – and the Kickstarter (which I backed) is also providing a GM’s book with guides on using the setting in various systems including FATE, 13th Age, Pathfinder, D&D 5th, Dungeon World, and Savage Worlds – I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the PDF to give it a look through.

To take a different tack, my current favourite fantasy RPG is Skyrim (yes, it’s a video game). I’ve not counted LARPs in this, where the majority of the LARPs I’ve played have been fantasy games and I am finding it difficult to decide which of Skyrim and Empire I enjoy most – it’s a tough call. Currently I think Skyrim wins because I don’t feel particularly extroverted at the moment and what I do at Empire requires a certain level of extroversion (which is a strange word).

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. this interpretation based on reading the webcomic

#rpgaday2015 day 5: most recent RPG purchase

My most recent RPG purchase… Huh. I don’t actually know.

My most recent LARP purchase (of a personal rather than business kind) was my new buckler, bought from Eldritch at the last Empire, but I think I should go for a tabletop answer here.

On the assumption that Kickstarters count, my last RPG-related Kickstarter was Space Roller, which just funded in the last week. Sci-fi dice with glowing centres.

My last RPG Kickstarter was the Planet Mercenary Kickstarter, which is bring the world of Schlock Mercenary to the roleplaying table. Still in production.

The most recent RPG that I’ve had arrive after purchase is Feng Shui 2, otherwise known as one of the only Kickstarters I wish I’d backed out of instead of leaving my pledge in. Still, I have my copy now and it’s sitting on my shelf waiting to possibly be read at a later date.

The last RPG video game I bought was probably Skyrim, which is absorbing all of my time. On a related note, my Skyrim saves were on the cloud, so losing my HDD did not lose me all of my progress.

The hidden consequences of HDD failure…

So, loss of my storage drive doesn’t seem too bad at first.

I lost my local Copy/Dropbox folders (but they’re in the Cloud, so no problem) view it now.
I lost my Downloads and Torrents, but I can always re-download things I downloaded before – biggest issue there is going to be remembering where I was with some series.
I lost my game installs, but they’re all on Steam so I can just reinstall them no problem.

Then it hit me. All my game installs. Which means that my Skyrim progress is lost… dammit. I was so close to One-Handed 100 and now I have to start over? I mean, I can do things better the second time around, but having to restart is just annoying – losing everything I’ve built up is just annoying.

So, I want to run a game

As I’ve posted elsewhere, I’m looking to run a game. What I want to do is be able to run it as and when both my players and I are available/up for it. So some weeks we could play three sessions, and other weeks just the one (or not at all); I want to be able to run without some players and potentially with a completely different group session to session, so I want it to be the sort of game where you can complete things in a session while still having the potential for an overarching campaign. I also want to play it online, without a lot of rules getting in the way of online RP.

Along those lines, I’ve picked out three settings that I like and would like to run a game in.

orpheusThe first is Orpheus, a game I’ve loved for over a decade – one of the first tabletop games I played. In Orpheus, a cryogenic research company called The Orpheus Group was developing cryogenic technology for medical research, and have developed the first cryogenic process that allows for a stable freeze and thawing of living beings. In their tests of this process, they discovered that their human test subjects reported back having dreams while they slept – dreams that they were watching the Orpheus staff at work. This wasn’t considered particularly noteworthy until one of them recounted incidents that had happened in the lab in perfect detail – incidents they had no way to know about without having been there or being told. Further research was done, and it was established that the cryogenically frozen subjects experienced astral projection and could perceive events around them. Experimentation continued and revealed that post-life entities (PLEs, or ghosts) were also present in the astral state that the sleepers found themselves in. Not only this, but PLEs and the astral projections could wield supernatural power. In a stroke, The Orpheus Group had proven ghosts were real, and that they could affect the world in unknown ways. Studies continued, but this discovery explained every story of supernatural happenings throughout history, and a paranormal investigation division was set up. Orpheus became a paranormal service organisation, investigating and dealing with hauntings for a sizable fee. You, as players, are members of the investigation teams who are either projectors (living people who project their consciousness from their body) or PLEs (ghosts) working for fantastic sums of cash and dealing with the supernatural on a regular basis.

Demon HuntersThe second is Demon Hunters. I’m never going to explain it better than the guys who made it, so here’s the Brotherhood of the Celestial Torch Orientation Video which came with the field operative training manual (RPG).[1] Basically, you’re a bunch of misfits who fight the agents of Hell (the Order of the Infernal Sceptre). All the monsters and dark things from your favourite films and TV shows are real, and it’s the job of the Brotherhood to take them down before they get to humanity. On the bright side, you have access to a Warehouse 13/Ark of the Covenant-style warehouse of infinite size that might just have the tools you need for the job – if you can find them. It’s a comedy-action-investigation game, and I have both the original RPG and the playtest version of the new edition (the new edition still being finalised).

Cowboy BebopThe third setting I’m contemplating is essentially Cowboy Bebop/Outlaw Star. Bounty hunters/freelancers roaming human-colonised spaaaaaace in search of enough money to buy fuel, food, and ammunition while they try for the big score that’ll set them up for life (assuming they don’t blow it on an act of charity/abandon it to save someone/give up the treasure for love/die in the process.

System-wise, I’m looking at FATE-based solutions. I’ve got a homebrew conversion for Orpheus to FATE Accelerated, the new Demon Hunters edition is based on FATE Accelerated, and the Bebop-style setting can either be run with FATE or something else. FATE Accelerated should be pretty easy for people to pick up, without getting in the way of the story, and it should also allow people to create characters pretty quickly so they can get involved without a length character creation process.

As I said, I’m looking to run things online. Thoughts are to use Google Hangouts for communication, and maybe use Roll20 as well (this will involve me learning Roll20).

I’ve had a few people express interest, but I’ve not had any indication of a setting preference. If you’re interested, and have a preferred setting out of these three (or have an alternate idea I might be interested in), let me know.

Featured image choice is solely because Outlaw Star kicks ass, and I have to watch it again.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The orientation video along with the original films are now available to everyone on the Dead Gentlemen YouTube channel. Incidentally, go watch everything they and Zombie Orpheus Entertainment do.


All the way back in 2012, I backed a game on Kickstarter called Godus. Coming from people who made games like Black & White, I was pretty sure I’d get an addictive god game. I feel I was right.

I’ve been playing it on and off since I got access to the beta, but this weekend was the first time I’ve played it for a long stint. I finally got my civ producing and got out of the tutorial area and into the next world.

Damn, it’s exhausting being a god. I tend to find that you’re either in a position of running around desperately collecting resources, or you’re practically running on unlimited resources until the next crisis hits. The latter part is when you can engage in proper world-sculpting (literally) as you can afford to spend 100,000 Belief destroying a mountain to get at the ancient temples buried beneath it.

Not that I did that. Twice.

My annoyances with the game mostly come from the fact that it’s still in beta, so it’s buggy. The game would just freeze and crash on me occasionally, but the in-built auto-save (the only way to save) is fairly good at meaning you don’t lose much. The other big thing that was annoying is actually your followers. Being stupid at heart, they would continually follow wrong routes or get stuck in places they shouldn’t be – often because the path was a micron too small so they couldn’t get through – but if it looks wide enough, how are you supposed to tell that?

Overall though, it’s an engaging game that does require some elements of strategy and planning (who knew you had to plan out your community set-up? I’d recommend it to people interested in that type of game – though you might want to wait until it’s out of beta…

[[This post originally intended to be posted on March 30, but it got stuck in drafts and is being posted two weeks on. I’ve managed to stay away from it over the last two weeks – mostly because of LARPing]]

A Dark Room

I don’t know why I should be the only one enthralled by this, so I present to you: A Dark Room.

A Dark Room is a simple browser-based game that works from a simple point-and-click interface (though certain aspects are better done through keyboard controls).

It starts off quite slowly, with no apparent goal or purpose, but as time goes on, there’s this story told to you through nothing but environmental cues. There’s no old man who shows up and tells you a story – it’s left for you to piece together.

All you get to start with is a dark room, and the ability to start a fire. From there it tells a story that quite possibly varies from imagination to imagination.

One of the things I like about it is the simple aesthetic. I’m reminded of the early days of Fallen London when the best review about it described it as “mostly beige, mostly text”, and it was the story that made it a success, not fancy graphics.

A Dark Room is done entirely with JavaScript and CSS with no fancy graphics in the time old tradition of the oldest RPGs, and that simplicity hasn’t stopped it winning awards for its concept and design.

Go, play it, and come back and tell me what you think the story is.

It’s also available on Android (unofficial ports) and iOS (for £0.79).

The Secret World

Started playing The Secret World last night. It’s been a while since I played an MMO. I think it might be safe to say I’m hooked.

I’m playing as part of the Illuminati (sex, drugs and Rockefeller) as a chaos mage. As other people have commented – it really is like an Awakening, more to the point, a Seer of the Throne awakening*. I’m still going through the starting stuff, but I’ve found that it’s not particularly “grindy”, nor is it particularly repetitive. I’ve been on a few fetch quests, and a few “go here and do this” quests, but those were the side-quests,  not the main quest. I like how when you complete a quest, you send a report back to base and you quite often get snippy little responses back about how while you’re off mission, at least you’re not wasting your time.

Discovering my limits is tricky. I can usually handle half a dozen zombies without a problem, but sometimes a couple more is enough to take me down. And the big feckers… well, I can take one of them down solo – shame I keep attracting them in threes…

If anyone wants to get in touch, I’m playing as Valcyn on the Arcadia server.



*Mage: the Awakening references, for reference


I’ve been playing Ingress for a couple of weeks now. I’m enjoying playing, though sometimes I fall out of love and can’t be arsed with switching it on. Other times, it’s taken me out and gotten me to do things I normally wouldn’t like going up and around Calton Hill – something I’d never really done before despite having lived in Edinburgh since 2004.

It’s a big game of red vs. blue, really – a perpetual war over key points on the map that must be secured and held against the enemy, with one difference: it’s actually green vs. blue. There’s a storyline that goes with it and a lot of commitment from both players and organisers, but the central mechanic is beautiful in itself. Portals, those key points that must be secured, are linked to significant locations in human culture. Places of beauty, of history, of culture. Places like Calton Hill, Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument, the Scottish National Gallery. They can crop up on any statue, any monument. And I’m almost at my point here: this is a game that encourages geeks to get out into the world and explore, to find new and interesting places. Admittedly, it’s to go there and capture or fortify portals, but you’re getting people out of the house and going to places they might not have done before.

That it works, that people are going and doing that is worthy of praise in and out of itself. That there’s a community built up and you’re meeting and talking to new people as well – that’s even better.

If anyone wants to give it a try, I have a few invitations. You’ll need an Android device (though there is apparently an iOS port), and a Google account. Let me know.