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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Role-Playing Games

Game Day: Setting up a KOTOR Campaign

by Ken Newquist / September 26, 2008

As my group's D&D Dark City campaign winds down, the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game is ramping up. This week sees the group off because of a combination of family colds and Celtic Fest (which, given the rainy weekend forecast, will likely result in more colds, but I digress) but we've spent last few days thrashing out the KOTOR campaign. 

With Saga Edition rules and KOTOR campaign guide in hand, we've figured out some of the basics.

Gaming in the Verse

by Ken Newquist / September 23, 2008

Prepping for my "Unification Day" adventure for the Serenity Role-Playing Game at Nuke(m)Con 2008 sent me wandering the web for inspiration, references and shortcuts.

Unfortunately, the official Serenity web site at is dead, but it seems Margaret Weis Productions is working on moving material from the old site to their new one. The most important of these is the PDF of the Official Serenity Character Sheet. The site also has news on the new Serenity Adventures book, which features a number of related scenarios for the game. The PDF is available now, the print version will hopefully be out soon.

The official site is down, but the unofficial one at may be the next best thing. It's got a beautiful poster map of the Serenity solar system, 3D renderings of ground and air vehicles, weapon reference cards, and deck plans for 28 different ships. There are also two rules quick reference sheets, but unfortunately during the playtest I found they had too many house rules to be useful.

Nuke(m)Con 2008: The Wild, Weird West

by Ken Newquist / September 22, 2008

Like a twister carving its way through a Midwestern cornfield, Nuke(m)Con has come and gone. My gaming group held its annual (well, almost annual) home-grown convention over the weekend. In a break from previous years, which typically saw a mix of Dungeons & Dragons and board games, this year's Nuke(m)Con had a western theme.

RPG Review Digest: WoD, Pathfinder Dice, 4E Revisited, Castle Zagyg, Alpha Omega

by Ken Newquist / September 17, 2008

Last week's surge of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition reviews has abated, but there's a few new ones out there. What I find interesting about the reviews that are coming out now is that folks have had a chance to digest and (more importantly) play the game. As a result, people are getting past the surface reactions to 4E ("oh my god! it's a paper MMORPG!", "oh my god, it's so much better than sliced bread it's like it went back in time, and became sliced bread!!!") and starting to get into actual play issues.

Radio Active #71: Summer's End

by Ken Newquist / September 15, 2008

Logo: Nuketown Radio Active

Summer's over and Nuketown Radio Active's back in the saddle as I talk about a different kind of game day, dodge a bullet with a crashed hard drive, get ready for a Western-themed NukemCon 2008.

My promised review of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition has been bumped to Radio Active #72, and instead I talk a little about the challenges of reviewing the game, and what my gaming group's decided to do with the new edition.

Reboot your game with Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition

by Ken Newquist / September 14, 2008

There's an old Star Trek acronym called "IDIC", which stands for "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations". Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition was all about IDIC, with infinite combinations of characters played out across thousands of campaigns and dozens of different game systems.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition is about FDFC -- Finite Diversity in Finite Combinations. It's about focusing the game on a certain style of play, making it faster, easier and more streamlined, but at the cost of limiting player options.

The 30-level Sweet Spot

The goals of 4th Edition have been articulated many times by its designers.
They wanted to expand D&D's sweet spot -- the happy place where rules complexity balanced perfectly against ease to play from the 5th-12th level of 3E to 1st to 30th in 4E.

Game Day: Shoot'em, Nuke'em

by Ken Newquist / September 12, 2008

 Deadlands ReloadedNuke(m)Con is coming back with guns blazing. After a one-year hiatus, my gaming group's homegrown convention returns September 19-21 with a slate of western-themed role-playing games.

We'll be playing Serenity, Dogs in the Vineyard, Aces & Eights and Deadlands: Reloaded. We're also running two high level Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 adventures on Friday and Saturday. During these adventures, which will involve two tables being run concurrently with two DMs, the Blackrazor Guild "A Team" will be launching a strike against Turrosh Mak, the Despot of the Orcish Empire. Character levels will run from 15th to 21st, which will make it one hell of a challenge for both players and DMs. It also represents the first time in a long while that some of the oldest characters in the campaign have seen play, so it should be a blast.

The Art of the Lunchtime Gaming

by Ken Newquist / September 9, 2008

One of the things I've always envied about the folks working at Wizards of the Coast is their ability to have a lunch-time game. In thinking about it, the single biggest challenge in running a lunch game is not time, but players. If you can find enough co-workers to get a game together, then time management, rather than time, becomes the challenge.

So the question becomes ... how do you run a game in only an hour?

Mike Mearls has discussed his lunch games in the past on the D&D podcast, and his approach is to basically run it as a series of one-shot scenarios. It sounds a lot like a glorified miniatures game, which isn't necessarily a bad thing ... but not quite what i"m looking for. Incidentally, you can read about his lunchtime OD&D game here.

I figure you've got about 45 minutes of actual game time during a lunch session. I'd want a game that's got a good mix of role-playing and combat, allocating perhaps 15 to 20 minutes for each, with about five minutes of wiggle room. Two sessions a week seems reasonable, say on a Tuesday and Thursday. That'd give you a total of about 1.5-2 hours of gaming a week, which isn't huge, but if it's consistent you could get a nice, fast-moving campaign ot of it.

RPG Review Digest: Forgotten Realms, Battlestar Galactica, LOT5R

by Ken Newquist / September 7, 2008

Since I mentioned last week that I thought the RPG blogging community should do more reviews, I thought it might be a good idea to follow-up on that and see what's available this week. It turns out it's a good week for reviews, with a slew having been posted for the new D&D 4th Edition Forgotten Realms campaign book. There are also reviews of the new 4E DM screen, a Legend of the Five Rings source book, and the Battlestar Galactica RPG.

I also came across the blog post "Where To Get You Some RPG Reviews", which runs down the best places to find role-playing game reviews on the web.

Asgard Project: High-level D&D 3.5 Playtest #1

by Ken Newquist / September 6, 2008

Rather than just complain about how difficult high level combat is in D&D 3.5, my gaming group's decided to do something about it. We've created a playtest group who's willing to put in the extra effort it takes to play a high level game ... and to figure out what, if anything, we can do to make the process work better.