“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Sessions 40.40 to 42 — Leaving Bazran Hai, Oni, and Ki-rin

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Sessions 40.40 to 42, which were held on 14, 21, and 28 December 2014:

Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….

Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the D20 Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Ed./D&D3.0 Oriental Adventures, Pathfinder, and FATE 3eLegends of Anglerre, plus house rules, Skype, and an online dice roller, as of autumn 2014:

  • Moon Jung-Mo [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki; eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk (eastern Grey Elf) merchant; with a young wyvern Niruth; LNg, Lvl. 10
  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; with talking horse Yip; LNg, Lvl. 10
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) with tiger companion Amaya and a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 10
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 10
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things but plagued by family and ancestor spirits; LNg, Lvl. 10
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 10
  • Tokoro Gawa [Drew S.]-male carp Hengeyokai Hulinyuan (amphibious shapeshifting Ranger) seeking to protect streams; with otter companion Mala; CGn, Lvl. 10

“1 to 10 August 1227 B.C.E.:” The wanderers interrogated a Yuan-ti spy who was disguised as a gardener, and they delivered him and Saigo’s grandfather to the rulers of the Zedu kingdom. The adventurers then agreed to pursue a dragon of corruption in the northeastern wilderness.

At the “Dragon’s Beard” hotel in Bazran Hai, the onetime diplomatic escorts discuss what they would do with the titles and land offered to them by Zedu’s rulers. Jung-Mo says he would like a private base of operations, far from prying eyes.

Sonny plans to recruit followers and start a dojo (martial arts school). Like Jung-Mo, he hopes to restore his clan’s honor. Toshi prefers a defensible location, preferably in a valley between the Bamor Mountains and the Therud Forest. He notes that a shared stronghold should be possible.

Ember puts in a request for a dragon-sized tower, while Soske’ intends to raise an army for the next war against the forces of chaos. Saigo hopes that becoming an aristocrat would help his chances of wooing Princess Nayoko.

Tokoro returns to the more immediate concern of fighting the evil Wu (Druids) of the Scarlet Order. Ember studies the report of Gen. Shinso, Saigo’s grandfather, about the reddish dragon. It is most likely chromatic, she says, but the exact typeis unclear.

Wu Jen Toshi and Shukenja Soske’ spend the next week in Bazran Hai enchanting items for their companions. Jung-Mo names his young wyvern Niruth (“Storm Bringer”) and trains it on the outskirts of the mountain city. The Ninja looks for other Nannuattan, but they have gone to ground.

Sonny reaches out to Lady Yun Aei-Yong before the ambassador’s return to the Empire of Gokuri. The Kensai also runs into Brother Jo, a Shengtese human Monk who once traveled with him.

Samurai Saigo spends time with his father, Gen. Hirokazu, and Princess Nayoko. The Samurai learns that Nayoko’s brother, Prince Mutsuhito, will be escorting Lady Yun home.

Hulinyuan Tokoro keeps watch with his otter Mala and explores the winding caverns and underground river beneath the Korobokuru (eastern Dwarven) capital.

Ember goes to the temple of Shang-ti, emperor of heaven, and kneels and prays to be restored to her true gold dragon form:

“I am sorry, father, for what I have done in the past. My time among the mortals has changed me significantly. I’ve learned about true love and the value of friendship. If not for myself, but for safety of my friends that I care greatly about and the innocent lives I can save. I am now in need of my powers. I fear this evil dragon we are about to face has fallen deeper into corruption, killing the innocent and befouling the earth, which has given him great power. Please grant me the strength I need and break the bond of this collar!”

As the crane Hengeyokai speaks, tears fall from her eyes and fall onto the holy ground before her. Ameratsu Mitemi, a Bamboo Spirit Folk (eastern Sylvan Elf) priest, sees Ember and tries to reassure her.

Soske’ stops by the temple and asks Ameratsu about Mi-Shao-Shur, the chthonic (Chaotic Evil) deity of the Yuan-ti who had infiltrated Bazran Hai. The Sohei says that if the followers of the dragon are similarly chaotic, their ranks could include aberrations, demons, and other shapeshifters.

Ameratsu warns Shengtese human Soske’ not to expect predictable tactics or chains of command as among Gokuri’s armies, where Bakemono (Goblins), Oni (Ogre Magi), Draconians, and Minotaurs serve the Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elves).

Back at the local Magisterium (magic school/library), Jung-Mo asks for Toshi’s help in researching dragons and potential vulnerabilities. The Shan Sao and Nannuattan agree that stealthy scouting will be at least as important as weapons or spells when dealing with the dragon’s monstrous minions.

While roaming the city, Tokoro recognizes Hojo Etsuko, a River Spirit Folk (eastern Grey Elf) who serves the same master as he does. She had been swayed against Shengtese human farmers by Desc Soo-Ann, a Nannuattan hunter from the Shadow’s Claw clan disguised as a courier.

Tokoro follows Hojo out to the main bridge leading into Bazran Hai. The carp Hengeyokai briefly loses her in traffic, but he hears sounds from the boards beneath his feet. The Ranger pries up a board and sees Hojo sliding down a rope, which is nowhere near long enough to take her to the bottom of the chasm.

A flying creature with the head of a dog, the body of a sheep, and the tail of a lion flies beneath her, and Hojo joins the rider and leaves. Tokoro returns to the Dragon’s Beard to tell his friends about the strange encounter.

Jung-Mo wonders if Ember knows of other friendly or metallic dragons in the area. Soske’ asks Saigo to contact fellow Samurai to join their fight against the chaos and dragon. As Toshi puts the finishing touches on magic items, the group gets provisions and prepares to head east to mountain outposts.

Rather than take Jung-Mo’s carriage (and Niruth’s magical cage) into rough terrain, the party buys some carts and sturdy ponies. The team rides out from Bazran Hai but makes slow progress in the Bamor Mountains.

That night, Sonny and Tokoro take the first watch, followed by Jung-Mo and Ember. Soske’ and Saigo are set to take the third and final watch. Toshi studies spells and writes letters to his betrothed, Suki Amarna, by the campfire.

During the second watch, alert Ember spots something large moving on the rocky slope beneath the campsite. Stealthy Jung-Mo and Tokoro go to investigate. They see a two-headed giant. One head is ugly and speaks crudely, and the other is well-groomed and more eloquent.

Tokoro sneaks back to wake the rest of the party, and Toshi and Ember shift into bird form. The Wizard identifies the creature as an Atamahuta Oni. Soske’ wants to take the fight to the unnatural enemy, but Saigo and Tokoro want to let it go.

Jung-Mo continues to follow the Atamahuta, and Ember casts Heat Metal on the Ogre’s double axe while flying as an owl. Toshi shifts back into Shan Sao form and readies Magic Missile. Tokoro rapidly fires a volley, hitting once.

Soske’ casts Ancestral Weapon and asks for a bow vs. Chaos. Jung-Mo sneakily attacks the Oni, striking it with an arrow. Sonny slides down the slope toward the fight, followed by Saigo.

Toshi’s Magic Missiles injure his hated foe, and Tokoro hits again with arrows from his Thunderbow. Saigo slashes the Atamahuta with his katana, as Soske’ casts Divine Power on himself.

The Oni strikes Saigo with his Urgosh, chilling the Samurai with magical cold. Ember retaliates with Flame Strike, which unfortunately also affects Saigo. Sonny unleashes his Vorpal whip while Jung-Mo darts among the rocks.

Rather than bury his allies beneath an overhang or hit those in melee with Arc Lightning, Toshi casts Lightning Bolt. Tokoro and Saigo both miss, but Soske’ continues wounding the humanoid.

The Atamahuta Oni casts Wall of Fire, injuring Jung-Mo, Sonny, Soske’, Saigo, and Tokoro. Ember treats Saigo with Cure Serious Wounds, and Sonny’s whip decapitates the giant, removing its dumber head. Jung-Mo finishes off the Oni. The victorious band finds and divvies up the following items:

  • Armor, banded mail + 2 — to sell
  • Gems, assorted, worth 1,000 tael (2,000 gold pieces)
  • Mithril coins, worth 3,500 tael (7,000 g.p.)
  • Ring of Animal Friendship — claimed by Jung-Mo
  • Urgosh (Orcish double axe, 1d8 + 2) — to trade as part of cover
  • Wand of Desecrate (as per 3rd-lvl. caster) — Soske’ destroys

Toshi gives about 500 tael (1,000 g.p.) to each party member, plus a similar share to a party fund. Sonny, Ember, Saigo, and Toshi, who didn’t claim any magic this time, get 1,250 g.p. each.

Back on the trail, the travelers discuss their plans to infiltrate territory controlled by the Scarlet Order. As they cross the Rodyui Stream and enter the hamlet of Rodaki, the would-be heroes pose as a merchant caravan.

Jung-Mo is disguised as “Xiaoming Chida,” a River Spirit Folk trader of mundane and “special” items. As an arms dealer, he plans to check for Yakuza or Nannuattan connections. Jung-Mo keeps his wyvern in its magical cage, where it appears to be a simple songbird.

Sonny uses his middle name “Nobuto” as an alias and serves as a “marginally competent” sellsword and drunkard escorting the merchants. Toshi sends his tiger Amaya to discreetly trail the team and poses as “Tiye Akamoto,” an herbalist selling medicines, tobacco, and poison.

Ember takes on the identity of “Jinsong Chida,” the meek daughter of Xiaoming, leading to much teasing from her and Jung-Mo’s companions. Soske’ poses as “Shishi,” a soothsayer and fortuneteller.

Saigo joins Nobuto as a ronin (masterless Samurai) and guard. Tokoro isn’t worried about his otter Mala attracting any undue attention as he volunteers to be river trader and scout “Mu Kawa.” Toshi/Tiye helps the group to dress down for the part.

As Xiaoming and company set up stalls in Rodaki, they are accosted by a Korobokuru (eastern Dwarf) wearing leather scale armor. Oinuma Eiji welcomes the traders and buys a jeweled dagger from the Chidas.

Oinuma directs the newcomers to the “Sacred Ewe,” a combination town hall, temple, and inn. Mu Kawa notices a wok-like bowl atop the building. It contains the largest fish from the Rodyui Stream.

Usami Sakuko asks Shishi to read her fortune. She has a grandchild bring a sacrificial pig, and Soske’ casts Augury. The shaman sees the old woman choking on a bone and warns her. In return, Usami invites him to join her family for dinner.

Nobutu and Saigo watch the carts as the others disperse at dusk. They notice that the Korobokuru, who are normally at home in the dark, rushing indoors. A night watchman urges them to seek cover but doesn’t explain why.

Ziaoming and Jinsong dine at the Sacred Ewe, where they see shepherds and miners drinking heavily. They prepare to leave for a midnight stroll, but Oinuma recommends against it. He offers a bench in the common room as a bunk for the night.

Shishi and Tiye eat with Usami Sakuko, whose family tells the spellcasters of a “guardian spirit” watching over the hamlet. Their description is similar to that of aKi-rin.

Mu Kawa climbs onto a roof to get a better look at the bowl of fish. The Ranger waits until he sees it rattle. A creature with golden scales, a long neck, antlers, sparking hooves, and a flaming tail appears. As it hovers over the Sacred Ewe, Tokoro climbs over.

The brave scout asks the Ki-rin its purpose. The hovering creature says that it is protecting “its people” and that they may meet again if Mu Kawa continues traveling through its territory. It then disappears into the night, having eaten the fish.

The next morning, the dragon hunters compare notes. Jung-Mo checks on his wyvern. Sonny wonders if the “Ki-rin” might actually be the chaos dragon or one of its minions in disguise. Ember worries about other dragons, and Toshi notes that Ki-rin aren’t usually carnivorous.

Soske’ agrees that it’s strange for such a creature to ask villagers for tribute. Saigo points to a map and says that the Scarlet Order’s reach may extend from the Dragon Pass almost as far south and west as Bazran Hai. Tokoro prepares the pack animals to continue eastward….

Bruce, I’m sorry that we missed you last night, but I hope to see most of the gang at tonight’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” session. I also hope that everyone can make our additional telecom game this coming Friday.

I hope that all of your holidays have been happy so far. I’m glad to be home after the past month or so of travel, and I look forward to continuing our adventures into 2015!

Fun and games in June and July 2014

As usual, the start of summer has been busy. On Saturday, 21 June 2014, Janice and I went to the Compleat Strategist in Boston for Free RPG Day. We then met role-players Beruk A., Rich C.G., and some of Rich’s friends at Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge, Mass.

I picked up free fantasy supplements for Castles & Crusades, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and Pathfinder, as well as quickstarters for the superhero Valiant Universe and cyberpunk/fantasy Shadowrun. Clearly, I’m still in a retro-clone, old-school Renaissance (OSR) frame of mind.

Other recent acquisitions include Arrows of Indra, Celestial Empire, and the FATE (Core) Freeport Companion, all of which should be useful for my long-running “Vanished Lands” campaign, which is currently using D20/FATE house rules.

As you may have seen by now, I ran four games in one week! After the latest Creation Star Trek convention in Boston (more on that later), I ran my usual “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom team on Sunday, June 22. The Player Characters encountered monsters while scouting an army approaching the city of Sogewa.

On Monday, June 23, the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Expedition” face-to-face group continued its adventures. That adventuring party has traveled through time to free some slaves.

Byron V.O., an alumnus of the Boston-area groups who now lives in St. Louis and participates in “A New Dawn” via Skype, stayed with Janice and me after a business trip back east. On Friday, June 27, I ran an extra “Vistel’s Expedition” session, and Byron and I were pleased at the strong turnout.

Byron V.O.'s June 2014 visit
“Vistel’s Expedition,” summer 2014

On Saturday, June 28, I ran “Star Trek: Restoration,” and it was nice to host a smaller group for the first time since moving from Needham to Waltham, Mass. The crew of the U.S.S. Rotha was involved in a tense standoff with Romulan warbirds!

After that afternoon session, we met Thomas K.Y. & Kai-Yin H. and Josh C. for a solid Italian dinner at Fiorella’s in Newton. Byron, who is always a good houseguest and fun gaming companion, left on Sunday, June 29.

On Monday, June 30, Josh ran a one-shot of Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade, using FATE Core (reminding me of what I like and what I’d tweak). That wuxia (Asian-style fantasy) scenario was among the one-shots and miniseries my groups have tried out each summer in between longer campaigns.

Pregenerated P.C.s for “Hammer, Don’t Touch This!” — Josh C.’s Tianxia one-shot at Brian W.’s home in Newton, Mass.:

  • Ma Wei Sheng” [Gene D.]-male eastern human, wandering nobleman, taciturn warrior determined to get out from his family’s shadow and make a name for himself
  • Smiling Ox” [Beruk A.]-male human, master of the Demon Hammer, boastful brute with large appetites and a heart of gold
  • Sister Chuntao” [Brian W.]-female human, Bodhist nun and former thief, conscious of checkered past and seeking harmony, with monkey Sun
  • Jasmina” [Sara F.]-female tiger, talking animal with scars and a strong sense of justice
  • Han ‘Dragon Dog’ Ping” [Bruce K.]-male human, enthusiastic young adventurer and working-class hero
  • Yee Wong” [Rich C.G.]-male human, old Daoist wizard, immortal but absent-minded and irascible alchemist
  • Wolf-Eyed Yue” [Brian S.]-female human, wild woman and member of the secret White Widow sect devoted to helping women defend themselves

The Boston-area and telecom games took a break around the Independence Day weekend, during which Janice and I hosted one of our nieces. During the latest “JasonCon” on Monday, July 7, Jason E.R. (whose “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario using Icons: Great Power recently ended) graciously hosted Rich’s School Daze, a narrative, rules-light game typically focusing on high school archetypes.

P.C.s for Rich C.G.’s third School Daze session, held in Reading, Mass.:

  • Emo Wallach” [Gene D.]-male human goth, junior at Trowbridge High School specializing in art and comfortable in dank spaces; discovered a dead dog and classmate during a stormy night at Camp Crystal Lake; later a friend of “Reasonable Squid” reporter Cynthia Hoskins
  • Chuck Taylor” [Jason E.R.]-male human jock, Trowbridge senior and friend of “Fighting Krakens” water polo Coach Bronkowski and his bullying son Murphy, helped defeat a homicidal alien with surprise tire-iron attacks; after a change of heart, became a nerd defender
  • Brandon Shaw” [Bruce K.]-male human, shop yank and Trowbridge junior, prone to bad humor; fancies himself a ladies’ man and good with an axe in a scrap
  • Alan Morris” [Brian S.]-male human Trowbridge senior and budding filmmaker; friend of Henry Lee Jackson, an old hermit with a hook hand; recorded attack by assistant camp leader “Ms. Bellum,” who was actually a mantis-like alien; dating Chuck’s younger sister Tracy
  • Feskilado ‘Fesky’ Mepeselph” [Erik R.]-male human Trowbridge senior, science and clank/electronics expert; snuck pet dogs and cat into camp; later found beheaded, and cat Severus was revealed as an alien guardian

I expect “A New Dawn” to resume this coming Sunday, July 13, and Bruce K. will begin his “Eberron/Pathfinder: Reign of Winter” miniseries next Monday. So many games, so little time!

In related news, the Dungeons & Dragons (5e/”Next”) Basic Rules have been released. While there are no earth-shattering revelations, especially after a lengthy playtest period, I’m pleased that Wizards of the Coast released this as a free PDF.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, this looks closer to what I would have preferred for D&D4e, with a mix of AD&D2 style and D&D3.5/D20/4e rules. We’ll still have to wait and see whether D&D5e will tempt role-players away from Pathfinder, OSR, and various indie systems.

Dungeons & Dragons 5e gets release dates

It has been a little while since I’ve posted here about Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition. Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast has announced release dates for D&D “Next.”

Dungeons & Dragons miniatures
D&D5e minis

WotC is dropping edition numbering from the titles of the latest core books, although I think that many experienced role-players will continue informally referring to this iteration as “D&D5e.” We’ve already seen much of the rules during the lengthy playtest period, but let’s hope the kinks have been worked out.

I’m not sure what I think about the cover art. It reminds me of later AD&D2e through D&D3.x/D20, with representational art rather than fake leather. I do have fond memories of the illustrations in past editions, but these look a bit exaggerated in terms of action — D&D should be a tabletop RPG with action scenes, not combat game with occasional role-playing.

Even with discounts through Amazon.com and other retailers, the high price point is daunting but not surprising. Also, shouldn’t we support our local game shops? What do you think about D&D “Next?”

For now, our D20/FATE house rules are working fine for both adventuring parties in my long-running “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign setting, so I’m in no hurry to pick up D&D5e. Still, I am curious about whether it can bridge the gaps among fans of other editions (not to mention Pathfinder) and whether it can encourage more than a temporary uptick in interest in our hobby.

There are more than enough other indie systems, genres, and scenario proposals to keep our groups busy!

Boston-area role-playing games, late spring 2014:

Game changes, late summer 2012 edition

While I’ve been too busy with work lately to do more than post updates regarding my various role-playing games, I realize that it can be confusing to casual readers of this blog who aren’t in my current groups. Here’s some context.

Buckaroo Banzai
A motley but fun group of adventurers

Changing venue

Over the past eight years, my face-to-face groups got used to meeting at my apartments in Needham, Mass., because of their spacious basements. It was convenient to have an area dedicated to our games, with large tables, shelves of reference materials, and miniatures and dice all in one place.

Fortunately, Brian W. and Rich C.G. have graciously taken over hosting duties since my move to Waltham, Mass., this past spring. They both live between my office and home and are still relatively central for the rest of the gang. We may not have as much at hand, but the collection of people is more important than rulebooks or battle maps.

Strange new worlds

The eight or so people who meet on Monday nights have also dealt with the usual seasonal shifts in games. After running alternating crews in my “Vortex” homebrew space opera (using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer and Bulldogs) for the past two years, we’ve been trying one-shots and miniseries through the summer.

I’ve enjoyed playing with different genres and rules sets, including Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks” (superheroes using Cortex: Marvel Heroic Role-Playing), Rich’s School Daze one-shot, and Brian’s Dungeon Crawl Classics fantasy retro-clone demonstration. I also got to run a playtest of Dungeons & Dragons Next (Fifth Edition) and play in Rich’s Way of the Wicked scenario for Pathfinder.

We had more ideas than time in which to explore them all! I held off on returning to my “Gaslight Grimoire” steampunk setting, and we didn’t get to Bruce K.’s conversion of the OGL Conan to Pathfinder or Rich or James B.’s Call of Cthulhu or Arkham Horror game.

Telecom turnover

My Sunday night teleconferencing group has also endured changes in membership. Just as I had been running “Vortex” for the Boston-area people, the virtual teams had been playing in my “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting.

For the past few months, Josh C. ran his “Spelljammer: the Show Must Go Onswashbuckling fantasy, using FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre. Even though D&D(4e) and Pathfinder are the most popular systems right now, my groups haven’t used them much lately.

Because of busy lives and “gamer attention deficit disorder,” I’ve found rules-light systems such as FATE to be easier to deal with for character creation and running via Skype or Google+. On the other hand, after another break, most of us are eager to get back to longer-term stories where we can develop characters and settings.

The new normal?

We’re dealing with end-of-summer schedule snafus, but we know what we’ll be playing this coming autumn. The latest Sunday night telecom team has picked “Vortex,” with a few Player Characters continuing from the previous face-to-face crews.

On Mondays, I’ll be running the “Vanished Lands” at Brian’s place. This time around, the group chose D20 retro-clone Basic Fantasy Role-Playing and a carnival-themed adventuring party — about the 39th in that world!

Josh’s “A New Beginning: Mystic Adventures in the Big D” (modern supernatural/urban fantasy set in Dallas using FATE 3e Dresden Files) will meet on alternating weeks with my game. Jason plans to eventually run his “Barsoomian Adventures” planetary romance, probably using Savage Worlds.

I’m sure we’ll also try other tabletop RPGs when we have out-of-town guests or when we can’t get quorum for one of the regular games. Nobody can say that we don’t have a rich fantasy life!

Ennies and recent favorite RPGs

Fellow role-players, as we continue to discuss our current games and what we might play next, don’t forget to vote for this year’s Ennies! Here’s how I voted:

While I haven’t played many of these, I own several, and I’ve looked at many more products and Web sites. I explain why I chose what I did below.

RPG dice
A pile of polyhedral dice — most tabletop role-players’ fancy


Standouts include Paizo and others’ continuing strong support for the Pathfinder system (a.k.a. “D&D3.75”) and Obsidian Portal, whose wikis our current face-to-face and telecom groups have been using.

I haven’t yet played The One Ring, but it has impressive production value, as do supplements such as DungeonMorph’s cards and the “Mass Transit” series of maps. Many of you have received the news and Game Mastering advice I’ve forwarded from Gnome Stew and EnWorld.org. I enjoyed Rich’s “Way of the Wickedone-shot.

Modern and superheroes

I voted for DC Adventures: Heroes & Villains Vol. 1 (using D20/OGL Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Ed.) over the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game even though we’re using the latter in Jason‘s “Glassworkssuperhero miniseries. I thought Green Ronin’s relatively timeless approach to DC’s iconic characters was better than Margaret Weiss Production’s dice-intensive take on recent Marvel continuity. I’ll leave the various Cthulhu supplements to the horror authorities among us.

Science fiction

I’ve used various SFRPG supplements in developing the “Vortex” space opera, including Ashen Stars: Dead Rock Seven, Eclipse Phase: Panopticon, and Star Hero. Even though FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer has been our baseline, Bulldogs! is a much clearer presentation of similar rules.


I’m not sure that Wizards of the Coast’s polls are the best way to get feedback for “Dungeons & Dragons Next” (5e), and Mongoose still has too many errors in its rulebooks, even if I like that it’s keeping Traveller going. Cubicle 7 has let support for Starblazer Adventures and Legends of Anglerre slip, so I voted for the publishers of my other favorite supplements of the past year.

What were your favorites? In addition, don’t forget to vote for which of my campaigns you’d like to see for the face-to-face groups in the coming year! Happy gaming, -Gene