We’re closing out Story Games Week with this brilliant concept from My Favorite Game Designer, Len Pimentel. I am very proud to have this on the digital shelves for Evil Beagle Games, and it represents the core philosophical underpinnings of many of Len’s ideas about solid crunch mixed with player-empowerment to engage the world and earn the capacity to express their ideas for the narrative*. TNT (The Narrative Toolbox) is exactly that – as set of tools meant to work for any kind of roleplaying setting and experience, and I suspect this will be the perfect kind of gateway for those coming from more traditional gaming experiences to explore this new style.

(*) – Such as can be seen in our upcoming projects, Six-Gun Fury and Prowlers & Paragons: Ultimate Edition. You can see earlier elements of these ideas in Magnum Fury and the original Prowlers & Paragons.

TNT (The Narrative Toolbox) is a rules-light, narrative-heavy roleplaying game.

The game mechanics are focused on one thing: narrative control. The rules don’t attempt to simulate how things work in the game world. They assume that everyone understands how the game world works and what kinds of things are possible, depending on the genre. What the rules DO help you decide is who gets to take control of the narrative and describe what happens next in the story of the game.

Based around the concept of universal character archetypes and the roles they play in adventure stories of all genres, TNT is effectively a universal roleplaying game that can be used to play any kind of story about any kind of characters in any kind of world.

If you can dream it, you can do it in TNT.

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

While I’m at MALCon/Westercon this weekend, Story Games Week continues with this clever concept that places the participants in the roles of both characters within a dramatic series and as script writers (with the GM functioning as the “showrunner”). Based heavily on the concepts of Robin Laws’ DramaSystem (featured in Monday’s Pick), Frank Lee expands the concept of characters in a fictional drama series into a longer-view, ongoing and more structured experience. Welcome to Premier Series: The Roleplaying Game of Dramatic Television.

Have you ever wanted to be able to play a roleplaying campaign that plays out like one of your favorite dramas on television? Now you can! With Premier Series you will create your own “show” to serve as the world of your roleplaying game, the players taking on the roles of the main cast and series writers, with the GM working to control things as the showrunner.

This book provides tools to help you create a compelling series pitch to get started, formulate on-going storylines, generate fully rounded dramatic characters, and more. Your episodic gaming sessions will allow PCs to adventure in daring action sequences, and confront each other in tense emotional struggles, all while pursuing greater goals as the series heroes or anti-heroes.

Premier Series is inspired by DramaSystem written by Robin D. Laws, who opened up the concept of fictional dramas serving as a roleplaying universe. For those familiar with that game, this product has some similar concepts, but is designed around more extensive storylines and more series focused plotlines.

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

Happy Independence Day, America! Today’s choice for Story Games Week comes from a truly independent thinker when it comes to game design, jim pinto of post world games. Employing his innovative Protocol system for GM-less story game play, Praxis: The Black Monk is a powerful gateway to a style of RPGs that’s gaining a lot of traction in the hobby. This is a game for those who wish to delve deep into narrative in which they not only play a role, but have a desire to express story for others to engage with.

In The Black Monk, the characters are people living in a desolate, but vibrant world where time seems to have lost meaning. Living for decades, perhaps longer, in isolation from others, the people of Elysia toil in work, only to be visited once a year by the Black Monk.

In between these visits, their lives are interrupted by sometimes trivial and other times confusing events. Everything seems to fit together like an elongated jigsaw puzzle, but no one can see the starter pieces stretching across the horizon.

But they don’t complain. There is always more work. The village needs workers.

Then one evening, the sun stayed in the sky all day. When there should have been night, the sun remained. And now it feels as though it’s been years since the Black Monk came. But perhaps it was yesterday. Nothing is right…

Is that blood?

Praxis is a series of story roleplaying games that thrusts characters into dramatic situations and is based on the principles of the Protocol game system. Each game uses the same set of rules, with vastly different parameters, start-points, roles, plot twists, and finales. Praxis does not play like a traditional roleplaying game. It does not require a gamemaster. There is no script. No endpoint. No cumbersome or extraneous mechanics detracting from the story. An entire epic can be played in under four hours.

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

As we continue to explore Story Games Week, I’m pleased to bring your attention to the Series Pitch of the Month Club (Annual Subscription) for Robin D. Laws’ and Pelgrane Press‘ DramaSystem (as first introduced in Hillfolk). I am particularly pleased, of course, because I had a part in this, with my own Series Pitch, No Crowns. The subscription gives you a Pitch each month by an all-star cast of great creatives in the RPG industry, 2000+ words with which to then move forward with what should feel like a well-crafted Netflix or Amazon Original Series dramatic experience.

With all of these Pitches, “you and your group weave an epic, ongoing saga of high-stakes interpersonal conflict that grows richer with every session. Its DramaSystem rules engine, from acclaimed designer Robin D. Laws, takes the basic structure of interpersonal conflict underlying fiction, movies and television and brings it to the world of roleplaying. This simple framework brings your creativity to the fore and keep a surprising, emotionally compelling narrative constantly on the move.”

Series Pitch of the Month Club subscription

Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of our Hillfolk Kickstarter backers, we are able to bring you the DramaSystem Series Pitch of the Month Club – 2000+ words of setting material written by a stellar cast. Each month for a whole year you will get a new pitch – new subscribers will get all pitches to date.

Here are all the Series Pitches due:

1. No Crowns
Sean Patrick Fannon (Shaintar, Star Wars: Edge of Darkness) unleashes the struggles of democracy and free market capitalism in a high fantasy world.

2. Narcocorrido

Jesse Scoble (Wizard101, Game of Thrones d20) sings a narcocorrido for you on The Devil’s Highway: narco traficantes and border patrol circle each other in the canyons and deserts between North and South.

3. Honor Among Thieves

John Wick (Legend of the Five Rings, Seventh Sea, Houses of the Blooded) steps into a world of sorcerers, crowded cities, corrupt nobles, eldritch assassins and big payoffs in Honor Among Thieves. In a world where everything is illegal, everything is a crime, and it only pays to be a thief.

4. Hold the Chain

By Matthew McFarland. You are the entertainment in the gladiatorial arena of a steam-powered flying city on the brink of revolution.

5. Encore

Rob Wieland (Shadowrun, Star Wars Saga Edition) shows you his jazz hands, following the dreamers, has-beens and never-will-be’s who make up the cast of a touring jukebox musical.

6. Iron Tsar

ASH LAW (The Reliquary) cranks up Iron Tsar: engineers battle zombies in the Imperial court of a magical 1920s Russia.

7. Sheep’s Clothing

Jérôme Larré (Qin, Tenga) takes you inside the Sheep’s Clothing of a tranquil bedroom community for cops—as a massive Internal Affairs bust threatens dozens of its key citizens.

8. Art and Murder

Written by the creator of the DramaSystem, Robin D. Laws. In a post-scarcity economy, there remain only two routes to status: Art and Murder. As guardians of the Great Museum, you struggle to protect the world’s cultural patrimony from outside marauders—and your own ambitions.

9. Niflgap

Raven Daegmorgan (Orx) invites you to sail the black tides of the cosmos in Niflgap. As the universe dies, you, the fractious Norse gods, set forth in starships from lonesome Midgaard, hoping to find salvation in the void where armies of the hungry dead writhe endless beneath black suns.

10. Promised Land

By Caias Ward (Strike Force 7, Noumenon) In a far-future religion based on enlightenment through genetic engineering and organic technology, a squad of young cadets struggles with their commanders, their fellow cadets, the outside universe and crises of faith.

11. Terminal X

Hal Mangold (Atomic Overmind, Green Ronin) loses your luggage in Terminal X: A fractious circle of modern sorcerers wage a subtle turf war within one of the world’s busiest airports, while fending off  occult forces threatening to erode the very source of their power.

12. Campus Desk

John Kovalic (Dork Tower, Munchkin) returns to ink-spattered halcyon days with Campus Desk:  students behind the Daily Forward, newspaper of Wisconsin State University, figure out life, love, and burying the lede.

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

My friend Dave Weinstein returns to his roots as a writer and analog game designer with this interactive exploration of morality, ethics, crime, and punishment called Witness to the Execution. I am very proud to see him get this off the ground, as he’s a clever guy and someone I enjoyed figuring out story ideas with back when we both helped run Triangle By Night in North Carolina, many moons ago. With this Pick, we’ll call it Story Game Week and explore some titles that delve into this special RPG style*.

(*) – Sorry, Jeff, but these totally count as roleplaying games. No one gets to gatekeep this.

The wheels of justice have turned. Starting on the eve of the execution, we explore the events that brought us to this point, and determine collectively whether the Governor will grant clemency.

Witness to the Execution is a Storygame for 3-5 players. 

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

Arguably the best thing Scott ever created, Gestalt: The Hero Within is a super-powered universe with a very powerful and defining premise you’ve likely not seen expressed quite so well in any other setting. I had the pleasure of playing in this setting with Scott and a bunch of other great folks back when I lived in L.A. in the 90s (you’ll see a reference to Special Agent Arthur Cromwell AKA Paladin in the book; that was me), and while I admit to being a bit thrown by the premise at first, it didn’t take long for me to fall completely in love with it and realize just how brilliant a creator and storyteller Scott is. In the Gestalt universe, you’re not just playing people with mythic and legendary abilities – you are literally playing myths and legends, either as a human that connects to the concept or as the concept made manifest spontaneously. Either way, your powers derive from the collective consciousness of the planet’s sapient species.

The heart and soul of Scott’s creativity lives in this world, making it a perfect capstone to Scott Bennie Week. The Mutants & Masterminds version is featured, but there is also the original Champions/Hero System version.

Where Men Become Myth – and Myths Become Men

“Gestalt” is Scott Bennie’s unique world of superhuman archetypes. Superhero comic books contain worlds of Archetypes, individuals who represent important symbols. They are populated by characters who represent concepts such as Heroism, Strength, Speed, Cleverness, The Elements, Kindness, Cruelty, and Ambition. All fiction deals in archetypes or symbols, but comic books apply them more consciously than most fictional forms.

The Gestalt campaign takes the idea of “character as Archetype” one step further. In this campaign world, Gestalt-Earth, the characters are the symbols. A physically powerful superhero might not just be a strong guy – he could be an embodiment of Strength. A Gestalt martial arts master isn’t just a superb fighter – he’s also a human representation of his chosen art. The master lives its philosophy at all times, getting into situations where he demonstrates his art and its virtues, championing those who follow the art, and using the art to advance his or her personal fortunes.

While characters in the Gestalt-Earth setting look and act like superheroes, in many ways they fulfill the role of mythological gods, becoming the champion of concepts and portfolios.

“Gestalt: The Hero Within” uses M&M Second Edition.

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

For most fans of his work, Scott Bennie Week cannot be celebrated without a major nod to his work on Championsespecially the 4th Edition era. One of his most standout books is Viper, a complete presentation of the most impactful super-criminal organization in the entire setting. Not only does he do a brilliant job detailing and designing the various elements, he gives us all a book that serves as a blueprint for how to run a massive organization with world-domination in mind and incredible tech with which to achieve it.

Viper is the complete sourcebook for the most powerful villainous organization in the Champions Universe. Only the Viper source-book give you background on everything necessary to the exhaustive history of Viper. Also including new agent types, new weapons, new vehicles. And even New supervillains! Featuring a revision of the classic Viper’s Nest campaign.

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

Much of our celebration of Scott Bennie Week consists of superhero products, because that’s what Scott is best known for among many gaming fans. He and I share a love of the genre, and he adds both heart and expertise to every endeavor in this field. A patriotic Canadian, Scott ensures the Atlas of Earth-Prime: Canada is true and representative of his home country. Regardless of what system you’re running, there’s a ton of inspirational material that you can import into your own superhero game.

Visit a world not our own, but strangely familiar, a world of heroes and villains, of wonders and dangers, and limitless adventure! The Atlas of Earth-Prime is a trip around the world of the Freedom City and Emerald City settings for the Mutants & Masterminds Superhero RPG, looking at different regions and their heroes, villains, features, and opportunities, giving you a whole world to explore for your game. All for less than the cost of a new comic book!

The Atlas of Earth-Prime goes north, where the Cathedral of Pain haunts the streets of Quebec and Dominion City hovers high in the air. Learn the secrets of the Centurion’s Sanctum, the mysterious Aerie of the Avians, and the torments of Project Inferno, and go up against the decidedly im-polite Team Canada, who are looking for a good fight, and maybe a chance to be heroes, too. All this and the menace that is…the Mad Maple!

The contents of this PDF are also available in a compilation of all our Atlas of Earth-Prime material

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

Here’s the thing – I am not a religious person. Scott Bennie is, and he’s a living, breathing example of everything my momma taught me a Christian should be. Walks the walk, loves all, does not pass judgment, just wants a good world that is safe and loving for all. He knows his stuff, too, as this rather remarkable product attests to. As we continue to celebrate Scott Bennie Week, I wanted to point out Testament as a product that truly gives you the tools to bring the Christian Bible’s stories and legends to the table – whether you’re a believer or not, there’s a ton of amazing stuff here that can bring a whole new flavor to your fantasy or historical gaming experience.

Yeah, it’s 3.0 (not 3.5), but easily converted to 5e use.

You’ve Read The Book, Now Play The Game!

There were giants in the Earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in onto the daughters of men and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. –The Book of Genesis

The world of the Bible comes to life in this campaign setting for 3rd Era rules. Play a wandering Babylonian magus, a sorcerer in the service of Pharaoh, a Canaanite maker of idols, or a prophet of the God of Israel. Walk the streets of ancient Jerusalem, stand beside King David as one of his Mighty Men, smite Philistines, ponder the mysteries of gargantuan tombs, look upon the dwellings of the gods, and battle demons, dragons, plagues, and the legendary beasts of Babylon. Testament gives you everything you need to immerse yourself in the Biblical Era, including:

  • A dozen new core and prestige classes, including the Levite Priest, the Egyptian Khery-heb wizard, and the Desert Hermit.
  • Over 30 new monsters, including Nephilim, Tempter Devils, and Zebub-Spawn.
  • Over 50 new feats and over 100 new spells.
  • Rules for barter, curses, piety.
  • Guidelines for leading a small tribe through the hazards of the Bronze and Iron Age world.
  • The Biblical Battlefield Resolution System, a new way to fight epic combats.
  • Full cultural details on ancient Israel, Canaan, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, including history, beliefs, holy days, architecture, and more.
  • Dozens of new magic items and artifacts.

Part history, part mythology, Testament is the 3rd Era setting that’s both instantly familiar and yet unlike any game world you have ever experienced.

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

Scott Bennie is a friend of mine, who I’ve seen far too little of in recent years. He’s also a veteran writer and designer in the tabletop RPG and computer game industries, one of the very best of us in terms of both talent and character. This week, I want to celebrate just a handful of his many great products, and introduce you all to a human being who made our hobby better in so many ways.

Scott had a hand in a whole slew of D&D products in the 80s and early 90s, including the (in)famous* Castle Greyhawk. His work on this product is part of what established him as a fun-loving creator and much sought-after freelancer.

(*) – Played for laughs throughout, many thought this product was meant to “spite” Gary Gygax’s original creation. However, the interest in playing up the “fun factor” of dungeon delving, puntastic riddles, and odd puzzle solving was the goal of this all-star cast of creators.

Deep beneath the keep of Castle Greyhawk, a really nasty device is creating mutated, unpleasant monsters that are running wild throughout the castle and the twelve-level dungeon beneath. The call has gone out for heroic, fearless, and perhaps foolish adventures to out-hack, out-slash, and sometimes even out-think hordes of doughmen, headless mice, manic bee queens, really bad dead things, burgermen, crazed chefs, and movie moguls. If they survive these and much odder obstacles, the characters still have to find the nasty monster creator and put it out of business.

Castle Greyhawkcontains 13 detailed levels for adventuring and exploration. Each is a separate adventure written by different author and each has its own unique brand of baffling weirdness. Some levels involve solving puzzles and some require good old hacking and slashing. The adventure can be played separately or all together as a grand quest to free Castle Greyhawk from the evil, rotten hordes that are plaguing it. The common theme of this dungeon is that no joke is so old, no pun so bad, and no schtick so obvious that it can’t be used to confuse and trip up PCs!

13 Adventures for Character Levels 0 to 25.

*****

Product History [Excerpts]

WG7: Castle Greyhawk (1988) was theoretically the seventh adventure in the World of Greyhawk series and (theoretically) depicted the infamous Castle Greyhawk. It was written by a huge collection of authors and released in January 1988.

An Adventure Anthology. Though Castle Greyhawk presents a single dungeon, it’s actually an adventure anthology, with each level written by a different designer. The first D&D adventure of this sort was B9: “Castle Caldwell and Beyond” (1985), but it was a singular experiment at the time. For some reason, TSR suddenly became very fond of anthologies in 1988, with other releases including DL15: “Mists of Krynn” (1988) and OP1: Tales of the Outer Planes (1988).

Not Expanding Greyhawk. Gary Gygax may have created the Castle Greyhawk dungeons as early as 1972. He promised publication as early as 1980, but only got as far as publishing adventures based on “demiplanes” that were connected to Castle Greyhawk. In the end, there were three: EX1: “Dungeonland” (1983), EX2: “The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror” (1983), and WG6: “Isle of the Ape” (1985).

Parody & Humor. Though it wasn’t the original Castle Greyhawk, this Castle Greyhawk was enjoyed by some for its parody and its humor, which included references to Star Trek, the Marvel Heroes, the Three Stooges and much more. Some parodies and other D&D humor had appeared in April issues of Dragon previously, but as a fairly humorous supplement, Castle Greyhawk was pretty unprecedented.

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