I've played through the first Numenra adventure as a player with my Sunday group, and we've just launched into our second full-blown adventure. Meanwhile I'm prepping to run the same introductory adventure for my lunchtime group. I've played Numenera enough to know I like it ... but I don't love it.
With our Second Darkness campaign on hiatus for a week my gaming group decided to try out Numenera, Monte Cook's new game of science fantasy set 1 billion years in the future. Numenera is one of the lead contenders for our next RPG campaign, with three members of the group participating in the Kickstarter and another pre-ordering the core rule book.
After braving the rings of fire, the digital quicksand, and the firewall of eternity, I managed to download a copy of the D&D Next playtest. Unpacking the zip file and looking over the files, I had to smile. There was the cleric of Pelor. And a cleric of Moradin. A high elf wizard. A dungeon called "Caves of Chaos".
A strong wave of nostalgia hit me, bringing with it memories of cracking open an ancient Red Boxed set and finding a module called "B2 Keep of the Borderlands" inside. A thousand memories of my Greyhawk campaign came rushing forward, carrying names like Kalib, Scrappy, Merwyn, Tanevier, Obsidian Bay and the Cult of Death Undying.
And all that was without opening the PDFs.
The Dragon Age RPG intrigues me. With a lightweight rules system, mana pool-based magic, and a killer background setting, it seems like the sort of game that could help pull me back into fantasy role-playing. After spending a night learning more about the game for a Knights of the Dinner Table column, I decided to order the game. It arrived Saturday afternoon, and I wasted no time in getting to the unboxing.
When it comes to western-style Computer RPGs, the single best designers around have to be Bioware. They created the fantastic high magic, D&D-spawned Balder's Gate, the Star Wars-themed Knights of the Old Republic, the Oriental adventure Jade Empire and the space opera Mass Effect.
This fall they're returning to their fantasy roots with Dragon Age: Origins, a surprisingly blood-drenched sword-and-sorcery RPG. I say "surprisingly" because although my friends have been talking about it for months, I hadn't actually gone looking for any of the promotional videos. After being approached about reviewing the game at Nuketown, I decided to go and browse YouTube for Dragon Age: Origins videos, and found a small horde of them.
At Origins 2009 I had the pleasure of playing in an Introduction to HackMaster Basic session run by Steve Johansson, one of the designers (Dave Kenzer, another designer, was running the other table). Full disclosure: I'm a staff writer for Knights of the Dinner Table but when it comes to HackMaster I'm as much newbie as anyone else.
HackMaster Basic ($19.99, Kenzer & Co.) is a new beginning for HackMaster; the first edition of the game was based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with a number of supplementary (and often humerous) mechanics tagged on. After losing the D&D 1E license , KenzerCo decided to reboot HackMaster with their own game engine.
The end result, featured in HackMaster Basic, is a mix of old and new. It's touted as being the very best in old school gaming, but in truth it manages to sneak in a number of innovations into the old beast. The end result is something that I think could work for a lot of folks who enjoyed the older editions of D&D, but are looking to mix up their games.
My gaming group held our first 4th edition playtest this week, pitting a group of first-level characters against a wandering band of goblins. The battle took place among a couple of low hills, with the adventurers surprising a band of goblins eating roasted dog around a guttering campfire. There was no role-playing component to the encounter; this was strictly a mechanical test.
Setting up the Skirmish