Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Doctor Who Revival among all of geekdom continues, including among us in RPG land. Coming up with how to run something in this setting (infinity of settings, really) is rightfully considered something of a real challenge. Here’s some help.

All of Time and Space Volume 1 is the first collection of scenarios for Doctor Who Roleplaying Game. This 96 page, full colour hardback provides a convenient collection of four high quality Doctor Who scenarios so that you and your players can dive right into the adventure!

“I am not a bad man. I am not a hero. And I’m definitely not a president. And no, I’m not an officer. Do you know what I am? I am an idiot, with a box and a screwdriver. Just passing through, helping out, learning. I don’t need an army. I never have, because I’ve got them. Always them.” – The Doctor

All of Time and Space Volume 1 takes the Doctor and his companions to strange new lands and into conflict with even stranger alien foes. From alien artefacts in the Tomb of Cleopatra to ghosts in the tunnels beneath Victorian London, from silver rats and strange plagues in Elizabethan England to a mysterious space station straddling parallel universes, adventure is never far away when you’re the Doctor and his companions!

Spectrum Games specializes in genre-emulation games (Cartoon Action Hour; Slasher Flick; Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul); games designed from the floor up specifically around the concept intended, with a heavy emphasis on a media-driven experience (TV, movies, comic books).

This highly-anticipated new entry on their digital shelves opens with a dedication to Glen A. Larson (Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century).

`Nuff said.

Science fiction (n.): fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component.

Now, add disco. This is Retrostar.

Retrostar is a story-driven roleplaying game that faithfully and meticulously emulates the science fiction television shows of the 1970s. The game is powered by the Intention System, which places a sizeable portion of the narrative control in the players’ hands, while still maintaining the traditional roleplaying game structure.

Like all of Spectrum’s “genre emulation” games, Retrostar is not simply a universal RPG that just happens to be adorned with genre-appropriate art. Every single design decision was made with the purpose of bringing to life the sci-fi TV shows of yesteryear, right at your gaming table. The rules even take into consideration the fact that these shows were created with very limited budgets at their disposal!

Everything you need to play Retrostar is included in the rulebook. Some of the features include:

Simple and Elegant Task Resolution: The core of the Intention System revolves around rolling a certain number of six-sided dice (usually between two and four) and adding together either the two lowest results or the two highest results, depending on the rating of the Trait (Adventure, Thought or Drama) being used, the situation at hand and a few other factors. The higher the roll, the better. Based on that total, the character will either fail or succeed, though whether the player has to briefly cede control of the character is also determined here. There are more wrinkles to it, but that’s the gist of how it works.

Series Creation: The Showrunner creates the Series in which the game will take place and there are full rules and guidelines for doing exactly that. You’ll devise a setting, set up Dials that will help you generate Episodes on the fly, create supporting characters and flesh out all the fun details (terminology, styles, common special effects, etc.). It’s a great deal of fun, without a bunch of complicated rules and number-crunching to bog the process down.

Time and Budget Management: In order to reflect the time restrictions these shows faced, the players are limited to twelve rolls (called Intents) in a given Act, of which each Episode has five. Characters will receive a certain amount of SFX—the exact amount is determined by the Series’ “SFX” Dial—to spend in order to activate cool effects that would require expenditure of the show’s budget (impressive stunts, special effects and so forth).

The Spotlight: Just like in the TV shows of old, the heroes are all given a chance to have the spotlight shine on them. In Retrostar, this is represented by a communal pool of Spotlight Tokens that can be spent to showcase an appropriate aspect of a PC and giving them bonus dice for an Intent. For example, if a PC has a phrase in their Background that says “Best friends since childhood with Malcolm (the name of another PC)” the player can grab a Spotlight Token when Malcolm is in trouble…


I’ve never really hidden the fact that nepotism is a tad rampant here at the Pick, which is why I also go out of my way to find the odder, less-spotlighted products to also give some shine to.

Today, however, it’s back to being that Friend in High Places, because my friend Bill Keyes has his amazing Savage Steampunk setting, The Widening Gyre, now available in both PDF and available as print-on-demand! It’s not “merely” steamy, mind you – this is a very deep, intriguing setting written by someone with a deep appreciation of both history and alt-history, and it shines through in his work.

Welcome to The 19th Century That Never Was!

It is a world of wonder, of horror, of adventure, of magic, of strange technology and unprecedented cultural revolution. This is the age that nearly was, filled with radium-powered flying machines, clockwork automata, and steam-driven computers. It is an age of dark magic, sinister secrets, and unholy cults. It is a time in which the world teeters on the edge of disaster, where the enlightened scientific mind battled against ancient superstition and ignorance, in which the souls of all mankind hung in the balance.

The Widening Gyre presents an original steampunk campaign setting designed for use with the Savage Worlds rules. Recommended for experienced GMs and players looking to game in the Industrial Age As It Should Have Been, this worldbook includes…

A comprehensive and immersive campaign background detailing the fantastical Victorian world of The Widening Gyre.

-Character archetypes to play a wide variety of 19th century adventurers − Airship Pirates, Clockwork Men, Consulting Detectives, and more!

-Rules for wild steampunk technology and sorcery, including weapons, armor, vehicles, bizarre Victorian devices, and magic spells.

-Full stats for dozens of characters the heroes will encounter on their journeys, ranging from helpful allies to evil technologists to monstrous beasts from a darker era.

-New Skills, Edges, and Hindrances.

-A full bestiary with over 40 monsters and opponents.

-A fully detailed campaign, six full adventures, and four variant campaign ideas.

-Nearly twenty Savage Tales, a dozen one-sentence adventure ideas, plus an easy-to-use adventure generator to help put together quick adventures on the fly.

-Enter a world of adventuring daredevils and academics, occultist thrill-seekers and Savants both heroic and insane, in which a secretive organization of benevolent technologists seeks to prevent the dark monsters of humanity’s past from overwhelming its bright and burgeoning future.

It’s been entirely too long since I last featured some of the fantastic DIY tabletop terrain from my good friend, Tom Tullis and Fat Dragon Games. Everything looks different when the white of winter is in play…

WINTER ADVENTURES allows you to create massive winter layouts, quickly and easily, while offering our exclusive FOLD-FLAT tree designs for easy storage.

This set includes:

• Bare tree (simple)

• Bare tree (complex)

• Coniferous tree

• Wooden bridge

• Snow/Ice bridge

• Snow/Ice caverns

• Waterfall

• Outdoor tiles including water & frozen water options

• Full color instructions

• Beginner’s Guide to Card Modeling

The Roleplaying Game Creators Relief Fund (RCRF) is a special fund, administered by long-time game professionals who seek only to ensure when a crisis strikes, we can be there to help our colleagues in their time of need. Naturally, this means we need to constantly bring in donations of funds so we have something we can contribute, whether it’s for a medical hardship, a burned-down home, or any number of other circumstances where a writer, artist, publisher, editor, or anyone else who helps bring your favorite games and gaming materials to life may need a helping hand to get by.
This holiday season, we are extremely thrilled to offer a special bundle, worth nearly $260.00 in value, for only $25.00! Featuring contributions from companies like Pinnacle Entertainment, Spectrum Games, Melior Via, DWD Studios, Third Eye Games, Green Ronin, John Brazer Enterprises, Rite Publishing, Legendary Games, Silver Games, and Schwalb Entertainment, there are over thirty products spanning the full breadth of gaming today! Each and every product was donated for free so that we could take 100% of our revenue and apply it to building up the RCRF funds.
This would make a great “gift pack,” either for yourself or your favorite Game Master, so be sure to grab it while it’s available for the holidays! If you want to know more about the RCRF, please check out our website at

If you’re playing DUST, or looking to dive in, here’s a great starting point – pre-gen characters, lots of information added to the setting library, and a full campaign of adventure.

From a London invaded by Axis forces to the pre-Mayan ruins in the Amazon jungle, from the secrets of the Grand Canyon to a mystery as old as The Bible, Operation: Apocalypse takes you on a whirlwind campaign pitting an elite Allied team against the Axis, SSU, remnant Nazis and a mysterious cult in search of the legendary Seven Seals. Mysteries never before revealed about the Dust backstory are uncovered by the player characterâs as they discover new parts of the Dust world and secrets mankind has forgotten for twelve millennia.

Highlights include:

– Details on Dust nations such as America, Turkey, Thailand and the Philippines
– An expansion on the Dust background and introduction of a new alien species fighting the Vrill!
– The secret history of the two species and their intergalactic war
– New information on all three blocs including an epic action set-piece on a top secret Axis aircraft carrier
– Full compatible with Dust Tactics, you can play some of the larger military battles in the game with your miniatures and Dust Tactics or Dust Warfare rules.
– An expansive, deep campaign in the tradition of Masks of Nyarlathotep, Operation: Apocalypse will satisfy old fans and new alike.
– Pre-generated characters to get you playing right away

Requires the DUST Adventures Core Book

DUST Adventures RPG is a rules-light exciting roleplaying game set in Paolo Parente’s DUST Universe and inspired by the epic tales arising from the DUST Tactics miniatures game.

This one is specifically for those running Monte Cook Games’ The Strange, as it provides quick, jump-in material for getting a night’s game on. Note that this also makes it a great gift idea for your favorite GM.

What’s the hardest part of running a roleplaying game? It has to be the preparation. You can’t just spontaneously say, “Let’s play a roleplaying game” unless someone’s already spent hours preparing an adventure for the group. But what if running a great game didn’t require any more effort for the game master than it does for the players? What if you could get up and running in—literally—just five minutes?

Strange Revelations makes prepping for an RPG no more difficult or time consuming than setting up a board game, while showcasing the wonder and weirdness of the many recursions lying in the Shoals of Earth. This is a must-have for beginning and veteran GMs of The Strange.

These aren’t adventure seeds—they’re complete adventures in an innovative format that requires minimal prep. Run them as one-shots or drop them into your ongoing campaign when you don’t have time to prep your own adventures. You can even run them together as a campaign for months of effortless play!

Strange Revelations includes:

  • Ten adventures on Earth and across numerous recursions, complete with maps, NPCs, and all the details you expect.
  • An innovative format for adventures: five minutes of prep gets you started, with no need to read pages and pages of text in advance.
  • An escape from a post-apocalyptic cannibal wasteland, a horror-themed board game that exerts bizarre powers over its players, a medieval wardrobe that opens into a hellish realm, and much, much more.
  • Great advice on running adventures with little or no prep.
  • Beautiful, full-color Show ’Em illustrations to reveal to players during the adventures.
  • Six pregenerated characters that get you playing in minutes.
  • A handy rules cheat sheet to make things run even more smoothly.

I am very fond of tools that help GMs with the task of preparing and running a game, and Tabletop Adventures has a wide variety of products oriented towards that very goal. This is their latest offering, and it may be one of the best ideas I’ve seen along these lines in quite a while.

Also, they are the kinds of folks who understand the powerful value of a good index!

People are the life of every city. How do you quickly populate a fantasy game city with interesting characters? Shards of the City answers that question!  With 25 full encounters and events (including plot hooks to draw the adventurers in for future interaction), and another 50 colorful descriptions, there are more than enough people here to enliven a world for a long time.

Shards of the City focuses on encounters with humans, to make it useful in the widest variety of game settings, but other races could be easily substituted in most of the encounters. In the meantime, the occasional orcish weapons seller or goblin bartender will keep player characters on their toes. All material is system-neutral, and indexed for ease of use.

The 25 major pieces in Shards of the City can be building blocks of a scene or adventures. They each feature a one-sentence overview for the GM, three different perspectives on each encounter (approaching, coming closer, and up close and personal),GM notes as needed, and a variety of plot hooks to draw the adventurers and the NPC or event together for future interaction. The other 50 pieces are descriptions which could apply to most quasi-medieval fantasy cities; GMs should use them purposefully to add color to a scene.

For extra value, a handful of descriptions of “Exotic Locales,” places far from the average European setting. Finally, Tabletop Adventures has again provided a useful index, to help a GM find something specific or just browse for inspiration.

Quite a few recent Picks have been pretty Savage, so today I am bringing my friend Ed Greenwood‘s efforts to the fore with this rather interesting D&D-related product… that’s not specifically D&D. I mean, it is, but it isn’t. Just… read and see what I mean.

The Forgotten Realms is the most successful and widely known Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting ever created, and it owes its existence to creator Ed Greenwood.

This 160-page book describes the campaign setting as it lives and breathes in the imagination of its creator. Through the alter ego of Elminster, Archmage of Shadowdale, Ed Greenwood presents the Realms as a setting where companies of crazed adventurers are born and have rich lives, and where they get to call the shots. In this book, Ed presents a world where friendships are forged, endless intrigues unfold, and heroes wage war against the monstrous inhabitants of famous dungeons and untamed wildernesses.

Product History [Excerpts]

Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster’s Forgotten Realms (2012) is an edition-neutral sourcebook for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in October 2012.

Farewell to 4e. (Take Two.) Two months before the release of Elminster’s Forgotten Realms, Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue (2012),
appeared as an edition-neutral sourcebook, marking the end of the D&D 4e era (2008-2012). This was a trend that Wizards had also following during the transition between D&D 3e and 4e (2007-2008); it was intended to keep supplements relevant even past the lifespan of a game edition.

Now, Elminster’s Forgotten Realms put the final nail in 4e’s coffin: not only was it another edition-neutral book, but it was also the first book to do away with the D&D 4e trade dress. Its cover and interior instaed mixed elegant blacks with constrained parchments — a big change from the brighter colors and plainer whites used during the D&D 4e era.


Origins. Wizards had a simple concept for Elminster’s Forgotten Realms: get Realms creator Ed Greenwood back in the game. They wrote:

“We basically went to Ed and said hey, why don’t you take all your campaign notes, all the information you’ve been putting together for your FR campaign and let’s compile it into a book. Show us the Realms as you’ve developed it in your campaign setting and let’s get that to everybody. It’s our celebration of the Forgotten Realms and pulling back the curtain to show you what the designer of the campaign setting has done.”

Up here, north of the Equator, it’s gettin’ seriously cold and wintry for many of us. GRAmel wants to remind you what it means to be warm… and hot. Hot as an episode of Magnum, P.I..

Once upon a time in the Caribbean…

In Tropicana, characters are adventurers, rogues and troubleshooters, on the narrow border between law and something else.

They are detectives and spies, gamblers and mercenaries, exotic dancers and celebrities in need, traffickers and thugs, pilots and soldiers, surfers and tourists, students and activists. They will surely find themselves in trouble, be hired to handle trouble or actively look for trouble. And trouble in San José is always big, complicated and twisted.

And after any adventure, they like to have boat drinks and smoke cigars together by the poolside.

Tropicana is a game of action heroes, special agents and troubleshooters in San José, a rogue state consisting of a tropical metropolis, its wild jungle hinterland and a small archipelago of paradise islands.

Fight criminals, investigate ancient mysteries, solve cases, seduce the most beautiful men and women!

Now grab your gun and a mojito and join the spies, billionaires and rebels in this gangsta’s paradise!