Category: GM’s Pick of the Day

Synthwave. Stranger Things. David HasselhoffKung FuryBaywatchVoltron. The 80s won’t let us go, and I, for one, don’t want them to.

Enter Tales from the Loop.

“RPG Tales from the Loop lets you channel Stranger Things and ET.” – The Verge

“Tales From The Loop could very well be the RPG phenomenon of 2017.” – Geek & Sundry

The landscape was full of machines and scrap metal connected to the facility in one way or another. Always present on the horizon were the colossal cooling towers, with their green obstruction lights. If you put your ear to the ground, you could hear the heartbeat of the Loop – the purring of the Gravitron, the central piece of engineering magic that was the focus of the Loop’s experiments. The facility was the largest of its kind in the world, and it was said that its forces could bend space-time itself.

Scifi artist Simon Stålenhag’s paintings of Swedish 1980s suburbia, populated by fantastic machines and strange beasts, have won global acclaim. Now, you can step into the amazing world of the Loop.

In this roleplaying game in the vein of E.T. and Stranger Things, you’ll play teenagers solving mysteries connected to the Loop. The game rules are based on Mutant: Year Zero, which was awarded with a Silver ENnie for Best Rules at Gencon 2015. 

Key features:

  • Create your unique player character – including skills, items, prides, problems, and relationships – in mere minutes.
  • Explore the secrets of the Loop in two main game settings – one based on the Swedish Mälaren Islands, the other on Boulder City, Nevada.
  • Investigate mysteries and overcome trouble using fast and effective rules, based on the Mutant: Year Zero game engine.
  • Play the four complete scenarios included, tied together in the campaign named Four Seasons of Mad Science.

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!

For those still filling out their original Palladium Rifts electronic collection, here’s a recent addition to the online catalog you’ll want to snag for sure. Truth be told, though there’s plenty in there for a GM, this is a hugely useful resource for players as it collects hundreds-upon-hundreds of things from other books into one easy-to-hand reference.

The ultimate Rifts® reference and sourcebook

All the weapons, equipment, body armor, power armor, robots, vehicles, skills and psionics from Rifts® World Books 1-22, Sourcebooks 1-4, and Siege on Tolkeen 1-6, collected into one big reference. Plus maps, lists of O.C.C.s and R.C.C.s, and more.

  • 503 weapons, including explosives, plus E-Clips and ammo notes.
  • 300 skills listed and described.
  • 290 pieces of equipment
  • 104 suits of body armor.
  • 182 vehicles.
  • 86 suits of power armor.
  • 58 robots.
  • New and optional combat rules and examples of play.
  • Comprehensive index of O.C.C.s, R.C.C.s, P.C.C.s, and monsters.
  • Experience tables for scores of character classes.
  • Designer notes, rules clarifications and reference notes.
  • Game Master tips and hints for running Rifts®.
  • Maps, adventure ideas, and a lexicon of terms.
  • 352 pages of reference material galore.

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!

One of the most successful television programs of all time, M*A*S*H is famous for so many things – including lasting longer on television than the actual war it’s based upon lasted. A comedy with frequent and poignant dramatic elements, M*A*S*H united families around the world to both laugh at and think strongly about what war really means, and what it does to those who must endure it.

If there’s one thing the Apocalypse World Engine does well, it’s facilitate engagement with elements of story via gameplay that go beyond “I roll to hit the thing.” This may be one of the most interesting blending of RPG mechanic and storytelling you’ll see in a long time.

MASHED is a tabletop roleplaying game that uses Powered by the Apocalypse rules to explore the value of human life and the stresses of war—but it’s also about relationships. And courage. And laughter. And love.

Although your characters spend long hours performing surgery, MASHED compresses these into short events to focus on the most dramatic moments. Much of the game actually occurs outside of the operating tent, at times when the flow of casualties has ebbed. Here you may fall in or out of love, fight the orders of ineffective top brass, set up pranks, help your South Korean allies, pick fights, seduce your way through the unit, pull rank, and much more.

If you can find ways to relax amid the horrors of surgery and war, you might get rotated home with your sanity intact. Just remember that you’re practicing medicine in a combat zone—and death isn’t confined to the operating tent.

“MASHED weaves history and military procedures through the game in a totally fitting way, doesn’t dwell on or ignore the challenges of the era for modern eyes, and features a brilliant use of countdown clocks and wounds. I cannot wait to see this finished and on the table.” – Meguey Baker, creator of 1001 Nights, co-designer of Apocalypse World

The download includes the MASHED RPG (262-page PDF) and all of the complete handouts designed for print-and-play:

  • 7 playbooks (Angel, Corpsman, Cowboy, Cutter, Doc, Grunt, Padre)
  • 1 character creation guidebook
  • 1 moves summary playsheet (basic and medical)
  • 1 patient playsheet (including 4 patients; 2 per side)
  • 1 tents playsheet (with instructions and handout; 2-sided)
  • 3 CO field manuals (quick reference guidebook, first session workbook, event workbook)
  • 1 personnel tracker (22 pages)
  • 1 calendar covering June 1950 to July 1953 (38 pages)
  • 2 printable camp maps (with and without labels)

The Concept

“Part game, part history lesson, MASHED captures the human drama of battlefield medicine within the context of the Korean War.” – Marshall Miller, creator of The Warren

MASHED is a tabletop roleplaying game for 3+ players, one of whom serves as the Commanding Officer (CO). A single game session can be as short as two hours, or extended into longer multiple sessions to eventually cover all three years of the Korean War.

The game informs and educates through play, helping the reader learn more about the Korean War and the costs that war imposes on those who live through it. However, as Joss Whedon once said “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” With that in mind, the book covers the entire Korean War in seven phases, with 30+ threats, 80+ events, and dozens of story questions featuring light comedy, gallows humor, and mature situations, all of which can be combined in new ways to create a multitude of scenarios.

How It Plays

“MASHED uses a system that beats down the characters so they find solace in each other, places it into historical fictional context in which you’re all the foreigners, and primes you for dramatic and challenging play.” – Fraser Simons, creator of The Veil

The rules are based on Vincent and Meguey Baker’s innovative Apocalypse World game engine and inspired by other Powered by the Apocalypse games such as Night Witches, Blades in the Dark, The Warren, Monsterhearts, and others. The core mechanic involves rolling two 6-sided dice and adding a single character stat against results of 10+ (success), 7-9 (success with complications), or 6- (things get worse). 

Major mechanical additions and differences include: Roles (personalities with unique moves), Stress points to affect personalities and change Roles during play, and medical moves with triggers that reinforce the need for teamwork during operating room events.

When an Operating Room event occurs, you and your surgical team use medical moves (Assist, Diagnose, Prescribe, and Treat) in conjunction with a special patient playsheet. You use moves to try and stabilize the patient before the countdown runs out, but failed moves can impose consequences and complications that you’ll have to work together to resolve.

When you create your character, you choose one of seven included Playbooks that provide a template for your character. Each playbook (Angel, Corpsman, Cowboy, Cutter, Doc, Grunt, and Padre) covers one of the MASH’s medical or other Army personnel types, and includes a variety of options for you to customize your character. 

You also choose from one of eight character Roles that represent their personality (Bully, Casanova, Clown, Gray, Misanthrope, Operator, Sky Pilot, and Stickler), each of which contain unique moves (actions). Your playbook stays the same throughout the game, but accumulating Stress points can change your role, thus representing how the war affects your personality. You can embrace the transition to a new role or try to relieve this stress by taking actions appropriate for your current role. Your Role also affects your interactions with other players and how well you’re able to connect with them.

A Note on the Historical Fiction

Your 8099th MASH unit is fictional, but the phases of the war and many of the possible threats, events, and questions are historically inspired. MASHED includes a detailed bibliography of over 60 non-fiction books, interviews, medical journals, and other publications that provided information and inspiration in equal measures.

All names, characters, organizations, places, products, incidents, and locales are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

MASH is the acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. MASHED is not based on or derived from, and should not be implied as being an official or authorized part of, the M*A*S*H media franchise. M*A*S*H is a registered trademark of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation.

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!

Still recovering from a fantastic time at StarFest this weekend, but I had to let you know about this latest offering for Cypher System fans directly from Monte Cook Games. If you want to use this system to make your world and your story ideas come to life, then this book is a vital part of your toolkit.

Where will your campaign take you? What worlds will you build?

The dusty, ruined remains of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The black expanse of a hard-SF solar system. The gritty streets of film noir. Wherever your vision takes you, the Cypher System can take your campaign. Building on the genres explored in the Cypher System Rulebook, Expanded Worlds gives you tailored rules, advice, tropes, and character options for seven setting genres, along with tools you can use to build any campaign you can imagine.

In Expanded Worlds you’ll find:

  • Advice, equipment, and new rules for running Cypher System games in post-apocalyptic, mythological, fairy tale, childhood adventure, historical, crime and espionage, and hard science fiction settings.
  • Character options, setting guidelines, creatures, equipment, artifacts, and more.
  • Over 40 new foci, such as Changes Shape, Makes Prophecy, Conducts Rocket Science, Hacks the Network, Is Wanted by the Law, Plays Too Many Games, Helps their Friends, and Hunted by Moths.
  • Over 35 creatures and NPCs, including master detectives, midnight scrabblers, cannibals, mad scientists, cryptic moths, glowing roaches, princes and princesses of summer, killer clowns, hydras, and the Father of Monsters, Typhon himself.

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!

One of the greatest things about DriveThruRPG is the capacity to mix “Amazing Deals On Lots of Gaming Stuff” with “Exceptional Opportunity to Help Others.” That’s what this special bundle is about, as you can get 32 products valued at over $230 for…

TWENTY DOLLARS. 

$20 for… what? Holee… you know what, just look below. Grab this while you can, and I promise there’s something in there that will make it worth your while. Meanwhile, here’s who you’re helping, and why –

This is a support product for the Hershey family as they deal with the medical bills and treatment. Unlike other bundles and charity work I’ve done, this bundle is to help out my own family. . . mainly my wife’s ongoing medical expenses and needs. For the last 10 years, she has battled with Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and chronic kidney stones. Paying her medical bills and keeping her as healthy as possible has been a tremendous task, and when emergencies come up, it can be very stressful to meet the needs to get her the help she needs. This bundle will run till the end of the week, check it out, and pick it up if you can. It has a lot of great products from some of our favorite publisher friends. – Rick Hershey

Rick Hershey is a good guy, a talented creator, and a friend. You do me honor if you buy this.

A selection of products you will find within –

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!

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany AKA Lord Dunsany is one of the most influential figures in the history of fantastic fiction. His more than 80 books and hundreds of short stories and other works inspired almost everything that followed as “modern fantasy,” and his influence can be seen in almost every fantasy RPG we have today. Now we’ve got an entire RPG specifically designed to reflect his works and his ideas.

“Downloaded for free, read it, went back and paid in. I’ll confess to being a pinch bit skeptical but this really is a nice framework to build a Dunsanian fantasy world around. The games bleeds magic and captures a nice level of what I consider a somewhat hallucinogenic fantasy world.” – James M (DriveThruRPG customer)

Welcome to TEQUENDRIA, a world where desert cities move through the sands like a snake, where ancient gods threaten to rise from the ocean, and where legends are forged in magic and steel.

TEQUENDRIA is a fantastical roleplaying game inspired by the works of Lord Dunsany, the grandfather of modern fantasy. In this game you may become a grim Gravekeeper of Zum, a soul-weilding Icur sorceror or even an artificial Doomgaunt. Travel the wilds of Yann where the winter will bite as fiercly as the wolves, or delve in to the ancient Pits of Snood and face the demons within. Magic courses through the veins of Tequendria, meaning every creature is somewhat capable of casting spells. Above the clouds of the world adventurers can take to their aether in mighty vessels, visiting strange alien worlds like Dim Carcosa and the Snurk Pits of the Bounds of Leng. 
  • Play as 20 different weird and wonderful archetypes (roll them randomly if you like)
  • Everyone can cast spells 
  • Setting information for the world of Tequendria
  • A bestiary of deadly creatures
  • A selection of fiction by Lord Dunsany

TEQUENDRIA uses the Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying system, whose mechanics are streamlined and beginner-friendly, but allow for customisation. 

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!

While I readily admit I am pretty much done with the Dark Fantasy genre, I think I’ll give this one last Pick in the field.

Because – PRETTY! Seriously, the art alone is worth a look. There’s also the heavy influence of off-the-path traditional influences (specifically from Slavic and Mediterranean sources).

Nonetheless, gang, can we please look for some other stuff to get excited about? The dark thing is… done.

 

Become a Vasall in Awaken, join the world of battles against the darkness, political struggles and discover the price of retaining humanity in the ruthless world!

Awaken is a tabletop roleplaying game set in a dark, war-ravaged fantasy world heavily influenced by Slavic and Mediterranean folklore, where the forgotten mythologies have resurfaced as Vasalli, powerful humans gifted with abilities capable of changing the course of history.

Inside the Awaken rulebook you’ll find: 

  • A dark, war-ravaged fantasy universe influenced by Slavic and Mediterranean folklore.
  • A complete game system with intuitive and light rules, which help you tell a story rather than burden you down.
  • Streamlined rules for Character creation and guidelines for
    Narrators, including examples of antagonists.
  • A Story suitable for venturing into the world of Awaken.

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!

Back to the usual eclectic approach for the Picks this week, and opening up with a supplement for the Nemezis line from GRAmel that features dark magic in a technological world gone mad. GRAmel is a great company based in Poland bringing a fresh perspective and exceptional design to our hobby.

The universe of Nemezis is a technological one. Omnipresent global networks and advanced technologies, including genetic engineering and
nanoid treatments, redefine humanity and its limits. People are great at self-destruction. 

This sourcebook is about those humans who are against main characters from Nemezis Core Rulebook – cultists of the Dark Gods. 

In this pdf you will find:

– Goals of Cults, 

– Cult Generator,

– Magic in Practice,

– How your players can join the cult,

– Cult descriptions (from structure to goals or their influence), 

– Gunsang – new place in Nemezis universe, of course with it’s secrets!, 

– New spells, 

– Demons, new monster type for Cults/Horde, 

– New insight into Nemezis, 

– And 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!

I decided to return to the Dungeon Masters Guild to wrap up 5e Week here on SPOD, and I Picked one of the most popular titles on that site – Heroes of the Orient: Player’s and DM’s CompanionD&D fans have long enjoyed importing mythic, fantastic, and historical elements from cultures of the Pacific Rim and beyond, and the author here decided a strong adaptation of what’s come before to 5e was a great way to use the terms of service for the Dungeon Masters Guild. Good on you, Marc Altfuldisch!

This 75-page handbook contains lore, flavor, and rules for creating adventures in the Orient.

Included are also:

  • 6 new races, a new dwarf subrace and an oriental human variant
    • Nezumi – humanoid rats with 3 subraces
    • Hengeyokai – shapeshifting animals with 10 subraces
    • Spirit Folk – descendants of humans and spirits with 3 subraces
    • Vanara – monkey-like humanoids with prehensile tails
    • Hakuma – humans with oni heritage and 3 subraces
    • Serafu – small lizard-like folk with 4 subraces
  • 2 new classes
    • Kensai – a ki-using warrior with a strong bond to a single weapon (includes 5 archetypes)
      • Blademaster – focuses solely on the blade, capable of moving into battle quickly and taking on many enemies at once
      • Master of the Unseen Hand – bolsters melee prowess with telekinetic powers
      • Samurai – an honorable warrior that focuses on versatile stances
      • Shinobi – specializes in infiltration, misdirection, and utilizes the most maneuvers
      • Villainous Class Option: Ravager – a kensai that has been warped by Taint
    • Shogun – a commander who enables new strategies for his allies (includes 7 archetypes)
      • Crawdad – focuses on martial defense
      • Heron – focuses on mobility
      • Pegasus – focuses on mounted combat
      • Phoenix – focuses on magical defense
      • Spider – focuses on trickery
      • Tiger – focuses martial prowess
      • Wyvern – improves the abilities of the base class without focusing on any one area
  • 27 new archetypes for existing classes
    • Barbarian 
      • Path of Brawn – focuses on rage damage and mobility
    • Bard 
      • College of the Geisha – more expertise and good with enchantment and illusion spells
    • Cleric 
      • Shamanism Domain – gains powers depending on a spirit patron (either ancestral, animal, demonic, or primordial)
      • Shugenja Domain – gains elemental powers, focusing on either air, earth, fire, or water
    • Druid 
      • Circle of Chaos – utilizes the Wild Magic Surge table
      • Circle of Elementalism – casts elemental spells efficiently and summons mephits
      • Circle of the Fey Touched – has several fey powers
    • Fighter
      • Bushi – a warrior of the common people, skilled at combat and versatile through stances
      • Hogo-sha – a protector both in and out of battle
      • Satsugai – a swift and ferocious warrior, foregoing heavy armor to better navigate the field of battle
      • Witch Hunter – specializes in fighting aberrations, fiends, and undead
    • Monk
      • Way of Ancient Symbols – gains magical tattoos, offers a ton of customization
      • Way of Purity – a pacifist monk with shapeshifting and utility
      • Way of Righteous Fury – can enter a Ki Frenzy, much like the barbarian’s rage and the bladesinger’s bladesong
    • Paladin
      • Oath of the Stalwart Defender – focuses on defending himself and his allies
    • Ranger
      • Ishi – inspires his allies on the battlefield
      • Niten Master – focuses on dual wielding
    • Rogue
      • Shadow Spy – a master infiltrator and gatherer of intelligence
      • Skirmisher – emphasizes mobility and ranged attacks
    • Sorcerer
      • Void Disciple – manipulates reality and time
    • Warlock
      • The Great Phoenix – grants the warlock powers from the Fires of Life
      • The Great Sylvan – grants the warlock sylvan powers, becoming one with nature
      • The Great Turtle – grants the warlock protective powers and the ability to transform into water
      • The Great Wyrm – grants the warlock power over lightning and thunder, smiting foes in the patron’s name
      • Seishin Mystic – possessed by a spirit, the seishin mystic has an internal patron, rather than an external one
    • Wizard
      • Wu Jen – focuses on the old elements, choosing between earth, fire, metal, water, or wood
      • Villainous Class Option: Maho-Tsukai – a blood mage with three distinct paths: mage, magus, and necromancer
  • 6 new backgrounds
  • 11 new feats
  • 52 new spells.

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!

From the days of yore (when Iron Crown Enterprises introduced their Law series), we’ve had a collective fascination with elaborate random charts for dealing with the extremes of combat. Critical Hit Publishing – aptly named, to be certain – brings you a deck of 75 cards to enhance your 5th Edition game with the insane potential found in a natural 20. Of course, for those who want insanity at the Natural 1 end of the scale, there’s a whole deck for you, too.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses and eye, then it’s a critical hit!

There are many players and GMs out there who feel most role playing games are already quite lethal enough without adding insult to injury. This is obviously not the way we feel at Critical Hit Publishing. In fact, adding an additional layer of risk and lethality to combat can not only enhance the overall excitement of the game, but it can encourage role play in several ways. Firstly, role playing is enhanced by compelling players to consider alternatives to combat. After all, when there is a chance that a lowly orc could slice off a character’s hand in combat, they might want to think twice before simply slaughtering their enemy. Secondly, critical hits can often leave scars or even permanent maimings. It is much more interesting to have a character with an eye patch if you know exactly where and how the eye was lost. Such maimings can offer opportunities for characters to develop prejudices, fears, vendettas, and other personality traits that can become pivotal to the story. And thirdly, critical hits can inspire players to create meaningful descriptions of their actions in combat. So rather than simply saying: “I attack with my sword for 6 points of damage,” they might describe the swing, the look on their face or the face of their opponent, and the result. When the players really start to enjoy describing their scenes, even a massive fumble becomes a fun part of the story, and I guarantee that it will be discussed long after the game is over. “Hey, do you remember that time Borek broke his sword fighting that orc chieftain and he ended up killing him with just the pommel!”

This deck contains 75 unique critical hits that range in severity from simply losing a turn while juggling your weapon to an obliterated head. These large, tarot-sized cards come with instructions, definitions, healing options for critical hits, and a rule variant that allows players to use Inspiration to reduce the effects of the crit. These cards can be used for any weapon, as well as ranged attack spells.

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!