Monthly Archives: December 2017

Welcome to Rules Don’t Matter Week at the SPOD. While I don’t strictly adhere to that philosophy (for me, the rules are the language by which we communicate with the game and each other, and poor communication = poor gaming experience), in this case, the theme refers to Picks that have no rules associated with them. These are products that are designed specifically to grant GMs and players all kinds of useful and creative ideas to drop into any game you’re playing.

The Vara Chronicles is the latest release from Tricky Troll Games, described by author Nathan Carmen as “another systemless setting, this time inspired by fairy tales and folklore. A lot of these sort of settings tend to be gritty and dark like the Brother’s Grimm but we strove for something in between that and the modern fairy tales seen today. There’s a greater emphasis on brave heroes and daring adventures than there is on grit.” Sounds great to me!

A world of adventure awaits!

Long ago an enchanted mirror was shattered, unleashing its power upon the realm of Vara. The inhabitants now face monstrous creatures who represent the darkest parts of men’s souls. Only the Knights of Valor stand between the people and these wretched beasts, and only time will tell if good prevails!

The Vara Chronicles is a sytemless setting inspired by old fairy tales and folklore from a time when villains were despicable creatures, and heroes were true beacons of hope. Inside you’ll find…

14 Locations each with key features.

4 Types of human cultures in the form of City, Farm, Mountain, and Forest Folk.

11 Character Archetypes to spark the player’s imagination.

An Adventure and Village Generator.

A Bestiary containing 30 vile villains and creatures.

And Much More!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

We close out Cops & Robbers Week with a great Pathfinder support product from Adamant Entertainment crafted to help you design criminal organizations for your fantasy campaign world. It includes five fully-fleshed groups to drop right into the setting – to either lure your PCs into criminal activity or plague them with insidious antagonists.

Adamant Entertainment, the first Pathfinder support publisher, presents a system for creating criminal organizations in Pathfinder, as well as five sample organizations ready for use in any campaign.

From Original Sin to The Oldest Profession, people have been ignoring the moral constraints placed upon them since there have been people. For some it’s a conscious choice to display their freedom and individuality, while for others it springs from a moment of passion; still for others, it’s simply a means of survival. Some make flaunting the rules a habit and become very, very good at it, whether it’s murder, theft, blackmail, or providing banned substances. Even primitive cultures can deal with individuals like this, often resorting to shunning or banishing the offenders. But as societies become more complex and sophisticated, so do the criminals, many of whom see banding together as the best way to ensure their long-term survival.

Criminal organizations in a fantasy world can be especially tricky. Not only do they have access to spells and devices to aid them in disguise, stealth, and escape, but some are also able to call upon deadly magics and truly powerful otherworldly beings. 

The Five Families presents a system for creating criminal organizations in a way that they can be treated just like a character — with ability scores, skills, feats, and hit points — ranging in scope from a back-alley gang found in a single city, to a secret society spanning the entire world.

In addition, five sample organizations are presented:

  • The House of Nath:  A crime family that controls all criminal activity within the capital city, and has outposts in most of the major towns in the kingdom.  Woe to the outsider rogue who starts thieving without the House’s blessing…
  • The Carnival of the Air:  A magical troupe of confidence tricksters and swindlers who operate out of a travelling carnival run by the mysterious Lord of Misrule.
  • The Daughters of Repose: A devout sisterhood, devoted servants of the Goddess of Fate and Death, for whom assassination is the ultimate act of religious duty.
  • The Minders: A cabal of scholars and agents who gather intelligence on behalf of those who can pay, or to extort money from wealthy victims.
  • The Skrinn: When the city was built on top of the warrens of the ratfolk, they stayed — and now offer their own particular brand of alchemy to the citizens of the surface world, trading in poisons and illicit drugs.

Each sample organization is detailed with fully-statted example personnel and NPCs, magic items, strongholds and adventure seeds. 

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

The last couple of Picks for Cops & Robbers Week were pretty focused on the law-and-order side of things, so today we take a look at a game that is entirely about being the Robbers… and Thieves, Assassins, Cutpurses, etc…. Blades in the Dark is a multi-award-winning and critically-acclaimed game that really drills down into concepts and game play elements specifically oriented on putting a crew together and playing out schemes and capers while struggling to survive against rival operations.

Blades in the Dark is a tabletop role-playing game about a crew of daring scoundrels seeking their fortunes on the haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city. There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and, above all, riches to be had — if you’re bold enough to seize them.

You and your fledgling crew must thrive amidst the threats of rival gangs, powerful noble families, vengeful ghosts, the Bluecoats of the city watch, and the siren song of your scoundrel’s own vices. Will you rise to power in the criminal underworld? What are you willing to do to get to the top?

In this stand-alone game, you’ll find:

  • Rules to create your scoundrel using the following character archetypes: the Cutter, the Hound, the Leech, the Lurk, the Slide, the Spider, or the Whisper.
  • Rules to create your crew, built from types like AssassinsBravos, a CultHawkersShadows, or Smugglers.
  • A robust core mechanic which puts the fiction first—the strength of a character’s position (desperate, risky, or controlled) matters just as much as the character’s ability scores.
  • A lightning-fast mechanic for planning criminal operations to cut through the usual slog of planning at the game table.
  • Rules for alchemical experiments, gadget tinkering, and weird occult powers—including rules for playing Ghosts and other strange beings.
  • A setting guide to the haunted city of Doskvol, with all the maps, factions, NPCs, schemes, and opportunities you need to run an exciting sandbox game.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Here we are in the middle of Cops & Robbers Week with another excellent look at being a police officer in extraordinary circumstances. Featuring the investigation-oriented GUMSHOE system, Mutant City Blues puts the players in the roles of cops attached to a special unit that deals with criminals who have extraordinary powers. It’s crime-solving and takedowns in a world turned just a bit upside-down.

This one is highly-rated and well-respected:

“I loved the way that this linked in with the esoterrorist system. The quade diagram and the ability to create great drama with the system WITHOUT depending on the players getting the clues…..just asking the right questions. When I set it in Detroit with all the google earth maps the setting seemed to really materialize for my players and what they were doing. Great system!”

Steve Kyer, RPGNow.com 5/5 Stars.

“This game was my first exposure to the GUMSHOE system and it made me fall in love with it! This game is extremely fun. I really love how all the mutant powers are related to each other on a diagram, giving more plausibility to super-powers and how they would develop. The world is rich and full of color and interesting ideas. I highly recommend this game.”

Devon Kelley, RPGNow.com Featured Reviewer 5/5 Stars.

A stand-alone GUMSHOE game of contemporary super powers

Ten years ago, 1% of the population gained mutant powers.

1% of the citizens means 1% of the criminals!

…and you’re the cops who clean up the mess.

EVER SINCE the Sudden Mutation Event, people have been able to fly. Phase through walls. Read minds. Shoot bolts of energy from their fingertips. Walk into dreams.

Police work will never be the same.

AS MEMBERS OF the elite Heightened Crime Investigation Unit, you and your fellow detectives solve crimes involving the city’s mutant community. When a mutant power is used to kill, you catch the case. When it’s a mutant victim in the chalk outline, you get the call. And when it comes time for a fight, you deploy your own extraordinary abilities to even the odds.

WITH NEW HUMAN CAPACITY has come new science. Your squad brings forensic science to bear on the solution of mutant crimes. Need to know if a suspect is the victim of mind control or dream observation? Perform an EMAT protocol to detect the telltale signs of external influence. Was your victim killed by a light blast? Use Energy Residue Analysis to match the unique wound pattern to the murderer, as surely as ballistic science links a bullet to a gun.

Does your crime scene yield trace evidence of two separate powers? Use your trusty copy of the Quade Diagram, the infallible map of genetic relationships between mutant powers, to tell if one suspect could have used both—or if you have two perps on your hands.

IF CHASES, INTERROGATIONS and mutant battles weren’t enough to handle, you also serve as a bridge between the authorities and your mutant brethren. To successfully close cases, you must navigate the difficult new politics of post-mutation society, and deal with your own personal issues and mutation-caused defects.

MUTANT CITY BLUES runs on GUMSHOE, the acclaimed investigative rules set powering the hit new game Trail Of Cthulhu. GUMSHOE offers a simple yet revolutionary method for writing, running and playing mystery scenarios. It ensures fast-flowing play, always giving you the informational puzzle pieces you need to propel your latest case toward its exciting final revelations.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

We continue to explore matters of crime and punishment with Cops & Robbers Week, today focusing on Melior Via‘s Thin Blue Line for Savage Worlds. Lovingly crafted by a man from the very streets he writes about, this setting deals with modern day supernatural horror and the realities of being a police officer in the oldest neighborhood of a Rust Belt iconic city.

“Watch your step rookie, or you’ll end up in Corktown.”

Calamity brews in Detroit. Paranormal activity is on the rise. An angry spirit, a dangerous creature, or a pack of desperate cultists hides under every sewer cover and within every abandoned building. The officers of Corktown Precinct are the only thing standing between the city and paranormal onslaught. Corktown has a secret, though. Its crew of supposed washouts are either psychics or have encountered the paranormal. These damaged, over-worked, and under-paid officers must keep paranormal activity in Detroit under wraps and out of sight. No mean feat in a city as old, large, and haunted as Detroit.

Corktown officers face constant threats from mundane crime, paranormal forces, as well as their inner demons and growing madness. Do they have what it takes? Can they stand against the growing threats, or will they be consumed, along with the city they guard?

The Thin Blue Line is a modern horror setting that requires the Savage Worlds Core Rulebook and the Savage Worlds Horror Companion for use.

This is the full setting for The Thin Blue Line – A Detroit Police Story. It includes detailed information on the setting’s NPCs, paranormal creatures, adventures and an adventure generator, and cursed items.

Buyers also receive PDF character sheets in Printer Friendly and Full color versions. These include standard and form-fillable variants.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

With the recent release of CAPERS (Preview Edition), I am calling this Cops & Robbers Week at the SPOD – a week dedicated to playing either criminals or those who track them down and bring them to justice.

CAPERS is all about playing gangsters during the 1920s… but with superpowers! Then again, the coppers have `em, too!

NOTE – This is a preview edition meant to give you a taste of what’s coming via Kickstarter, and to give some feedback for the design. It’s a full game experience, though.

CAPERS is a superpowered RPG of 1920s gangsters. Players portray gangsters and bootleggers looking to make thieir fortunes in a wolrd of illegal alchohol, gambling, prostitution, and racketeering.

And you have superpowers. But so do the cops and feds.

This preview edition of the CAPERS game gives you everything you need to give the game a whirl. Full rules, some setting info, a smattering of powers, an introductory adventure, and some pre-generated characters. This version features simple layout and b/w artwork. The final version of the game will be much fancier and 150+ pages of full color super-powered gangster fun.

NerdBurger Games will be Kickstarting CAPERS on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 to fund final artwork, layout, and a few other things. So stay tuned!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

And we head off to Japan for the last Pick for Around the World Week, this one representing one of the most critically-acclaimed and popular tabletop RPGs from the Land of the Rising Sun. Tenra Bansho Zero tags all the major touchstones of what the original creator called a “hyper Asian” kind of game that lovers of anime and Final Fantasy will grok and love.

Almost a decade ago, Japanese artist and game designer Junichi Inoue sat down to create what was, in his own words, a uniquely and unmistakably “Hyper Asian” Japanese world: a world of magic and technology, of samurai and Taoist sorcery, of powerful mecha and cultured geisha. The world was named Tenra, and the game was named Tenra Bansho, or “Everything in Heaven and Earth.”

With a rulebook dripping cover-to-cover with high-quality anime-style art, a setting rich in culture both real and fantastical, and a revised and simplified rules system that focused with precision on roleplaying and character drama, this game took the Japanese tabletop RPG market by storm and spearheaded both a renaissance and revolution in the Japanese gaming industry.

Years later, this unique and revolutionary game has finally been painstakingly translated into English for play in the West!

Tenra Bansho Zero is a unique tabletop roleplaying experience, and it features the following:

PDF Optimization

This product contains two versions of the game:

  • The original high-quality art-filled, full-color setting and rules books, together in electronic tablet-optimized US graphic novel size (700 total pages)
  • A text-only indexed version of all of the content of the setting and rules books at US Letter/A4 size for easy reference and printing (510 total pages; with large font and spacing for readability; effectively 150 pages of text for normal book proportions)

Breathtaking Art

Over 300 unique pieces of art appear throughout; there are 33 full-color manga story pages that introduce players to the world and setting features, and ten rules explanations, also in manga form, assist with fast rules retention. The art is done by the formidable hand of Junichi Inoue, the fine brush-work of Hiroyuki Ishida, the comical impact of Hayami Rasenjin, and more!

With layout for the English edition by industry expert Luke Crane (Mouse Guard RPG, Burning Wheel RPG), you’ve never seen a game like this.

Incredible Content

Two books: A full-color Setting book and a black-and-white Rules and Play book. The books together boast a page count of almost 700 total pages! The huge amount of art, combined with the detailed deep-dive explanations and play advice, will give you your money’s worth in usable content.

Incomparable Richness

A rich Japanese setting involving a planet in a constant state of war, where magic fuels technology and the culture is an analogue of the “Warring States” (Sengoku) era of Japan. Mecha, sorcery, samurai, geisha, monks, cyborgs, annelid-users, and more make this game a truly unique – and deeply Japanese – experience.

Quick to Learn

A simple-to-understand rules system utilizing regular six-sided dice, cleverly explained in both detailed text examples and amusing full-page manga art. On top of a woven system of skills, attributes, action, and combat is overlaid a deeper system of kabuki theater-style play: Focusing very specifically on play through Acts, Scenes, and Intermissions, the players of this game are both the actors and audience: As actors, they focus on roleplay in a scene with other actors; and as audience (much like the audience of a kabuki play), they focus on the drama that unfolds, rewarding the players for dramatic actions and cool ad-libbed lines. 

Speed

An entire campaign, a story from start to finish, can be told over the space of one to two sessions! You can then choose to play the same characters in another tale, or perhaps retire them to look at another facet of life on Tenra.

All-in-One

The original Japanese game had a core rulebook, a supplement, and later several mail-order-only mini-supplements. The data/rules content and much of the art has been ported and folded into the English book set (originally $145 USD for all of that material if you were to buy it when it came out), including errata and designer suggestions.

This is a truly updated version of the game!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!