Next Stop: CincyCon!

We will be traveling just a few miles down the road to join CincyCon in YOU GUESSED IT Cincinnati, OH on March 2nd and 3rd… Yes… it starts on the 1st…. but I work…, yeah.

Check out their site:

If you are going to CincyCon, let us know! I’ll be running a handful of events this year. You can pre-register right now for CincyCon, but I don’t think you can schedule events just yet. Keep checking their site for more details.

Anyway, here are the general descriptions to the games that I will be running:

New Blood (2-hour session)

Reclamation is a post-apocalyptic horror RPG that combines sci-fi, fantasy, and horror themes with a unique card-based action system. In this introductory session, you will get the chance to learn about the dark setting of this RPG, the game rules, and take part in a heated action sequence as you and your fellow survivors try to do the unthinkable—cross the street without being devoured by the vile forces of the mortis-horde! Character sheets provided. Rules will be taught.

The Red Witch (4-hour session)

In the dystopian ruins of Earth, there are agencies that promise peace to the masses in exchange for fealty. You are a member of the Protectorate, one such organization with sweeping influence over the eastern remnants of the United States. So when survivors begin vanishing on the outskirts of your militia’s domain, your security team is sent to investigate. The mission appears routine, but in this dark and poisoned world, there are malevolent forces breeding in the shadows—transformed by the iniquities of the past and hell-bent to drag others into their madness. Reclamation combines sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian horror with a unique card-based action system. Character sheets provided. Rules will be taught.

The Pardoning of Sins  (4-hour session)

In this post-apocalyptic adventure, you are a death row criminal offered a second chance at life by the fanatics of the CDC Witch Hunter cult. “Your sins shall be pardoned…” if you journey to the dystopian remnants of the Cincinnati Zoo and discover what happened to the CDC’s “peace” envoy that went missing while trying to conscript the locals to their banner. But beware! The nuclear fallout has not been kind to the men, women, and abominable creatures that call this mutated zoo their home. How far will you go for freedom when the price of truth is blood? Reclamation combines sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian horror with a unique card-based action system. Character sheets provided. Rules will be taught.


Tommy’s Top Six

Tommy Brownell has a long-standing blog titled The Most Unread Blog On the Internet. Ever. where he just recently posted his top six RPGs of 2012. Reclamation made his list, and we greatly appreciate the honor. Check out the post!

What’s in Store for 2013!

I haven’t posted in quite some time. I wanted to start strong in 2013, but unfortunately, my massive marketing campaign that I had planned for Reclamation revolved around our Mayan destruction back on the 21st and pitching my RPG as a survival guide to help you navigate the horrifying hell-scape that had become of Earth…… F***!!!!  haha.

Actually, the last several months, dating all the way back to October, have been wild – one giant rollercoaster. My real job hosted a conference that took almost all of my time and attention. I then found out that I am going to be a father!!!!!! My wife is due in June (which does not bode well for Origins, but oh well) and then of course all of the holiday shenanigans. Unfortunately, Reclamation had taken a backseat on my priority list, but I hope you can understand given the circumstances.

I also rocked out some serious gaming over the holidays, and I would be interested to hear what you all played as well. My wife got me Far Cry 3 for Christmas, which I knew nothing about other than the excellent reviews it was receiving, and sure enough, it really is like Skyrim with guns. Lots of fun. In terms of board games, we got Dixit, Gloom, Smash Up, and Ascension. They are all fun in their own way – Smash Up and Ascension are INCREDIBLE! Maybe I’ll write short reviews about them in the future.

But back to Reclamation……………….

We will be going to CincyCon in March 2nd and 3rd to demo more games of Reclamation. I’ll post game descriptions later. If you don’t own Reclamation yet, go to drivethrurpg and buy it… or at least put it on your wishlist! I may be running a few deals here in the near future. It is unlikely that we will make it to Origins this year with the baby on the way, but I have every intention to show up big at GenCon this year.

Also… I’ve been working on something new… something that I’m really excited about…REALLY EXCITED. It started as a supplementary guide, and it has since taken on a life of its own. Again… details forthcoming! (can you tell I’m trying to keep a bank of things to blog about?!)

I wish you all the best for 2013!

U-Con (Ann Arbor)

This past weekend we attended U-Con in Ann Arbor for the first time. First of all, I want to say hats off to the staff that puts together the event. While it is indeed a smaller con, it was excellently run and managed. There were no confusions at registration. Tables were clearly marked with their events. The exhibit hall was small but well-positioned, and I really like how they had a game library where you could just sit down with a few friends and play games that you’ve never heard of before. Misty and I definitely played a few games that will be going on our Christmas list, and a few that she said we probably will not be able to make it to Christmas before we order, lol. Also, a big thank you to John and Christine Du Bois for letting us stay with them. GO EMU!

That being said, we came to U-Con for another opportunity to demo Reclamation. I ran several games over the weekend and they were generally well-attended. I am excited by how willing people are to try a card-based game system (a cardinal sin against the great realm of dice), and also how quickly they pick up combat, which is admittedly handled differently than in many other RPGs. I am still relatively new to running games at cons, but from my limited experience, I have truly come to appreciate how a different group of characters can have a radically different impact on the result of the game. For example, in the New Blood adventure (which is only a two-hour demo), there are of course limited options available, so that one always ends in the general way that I intended, but there are differences. Basically, the protagonists must slip away from a party unnoticed to investigate a home where the family inside never showed up for the event–which is uncharacteristic of them. Each group finds  a different way out of the party. Some groups do a little social reconnaissance on the family before going to the house; others rush right in. Once there, they explore the house in different ways and react to some of the “strange” differently as well.

The biggest surprise of the weekend was “A Pardoning of Sins” where the protagonists are death-row convicts offered a second chance at life by the CDC Witch Hunters. The group is given an overarching objective and each person is given their own side-mission that must be completed in order to complete the quest. The protagonists quickly learn that they are dealing with a very dangerous faction with ulterior motives, but they find themselves with their backs to the wall with no other choice than to tread on and see what happens next. I do not want to spoil all the surprises, because frankly, I intend to run this adventure at more cons, but let’s just say that their are many many many many ways for the protagonists to proceed through the storyline, and most directions end with disastrous consequences. You’d think I would run a simpler/happier adventure where everyone gets a big pat on the back at the end, but that’s just not how I run games, lol. I like gritty, dirty, and frankly, borderline impossible. However, this weekend I saw the first true “protagonists win” conclusion to this adventure. Frankly, it was awesome! I had so much fun playing with that group; it was a good reminder about why I love role-playing. I had just flown in from Dallas because I had been at a week-long conference hosted by my actual real-world job, and I was exhausted driving up to Michigan. However, the people at this con made it worth it!

If you’ve never been, I would highly recommend U-Con. Both Misty and I really enjoyed ourselves, and provided that my real-world conference doesn’t conflict with the date of the con next year, we will definitely be making our way up there again! It also doesn’t hurt that I’m an EMU alumni, and my old stomping grounds are just a mile or so away.

Back from Pandoracon!

In case you were not aware, my wife and I went to Pandoracon this weekend to demo Reclamation to anyone willing to sit down for a few minutes to listen. To be honest, I had many reservations going into this event. For starters, I was not entirely sure there would be a table waiting for us, and even if there was, I wasn’t sure anyone would take any interest in the game as this was not a “gaming” convention per say. Rather, it was more of a hybrid steampunk/art/sci-fi event with everything sort of intertwined with Doctor Who. And sure enough, when we got there, it did not appear that there were any roleplaying games present with of course the grand exception of DOCTOR WHO!

The convention ran from Friday to Sunday, but at my real job we are preparing for our upcoming Users Conference which means there was no way that I could take that Friday off to be there three days. Anyway, I drove to the Crown Plaza in Blue Ash immediately after work, and sure enough, they had a table reserved with my name on it. My wife and I collected our badges and went home. My friend then came over and brought a banner that his brother made for me which was very well done. In fact, I will try to post a pic of our humble little booth (right now it’s on my wife’s iPhone).

The next morning we show up, set up, and then just wait… I thought for sure this was going to be a long weekend of just sitting there, stewing in my own disappointment and embarrassment, as people walk past over and over again… but as it turns out, we had many people come up to the booth to ask about the nature of the game. I lost track of how many people took our business cards, and we even had people who sat down to actually run a 1-hour demo.

I got to meet a lot of incredibly friendly gamers. I was offered opportunities to be interviewed for gaming podcasts, I was introduced to other conventions coming up in the near future that I am going to be looking at attending, and just overall, it was incredible. I am always floored by just how amazingly friendly and interesting this community truly is. From the Middle School teacher from Chicago who spends his free weekends traveling to cons to sell his steampunk apparel, to the engaged couple to our right with a girl that can draw incredible dragons, to the woman across the way with an awesome game, jewelry, and supplemental guides who gave me a lot of good suggestions on how to demo at future cons, I just really found that I had a lot of fun at this event!

I’d like to thank Aloysius Fox who put together Pandoracon, and I would also like to thank everyone who stopped by to let me geek out for a few minutes on this game to which I have poured so many years of my life.

Red Widow Pre-gen Backgrounds

Here they are! The backstories to the pregenerated characters for the Red Widow campaign. The actual character sheets will be done in the next day or so. Let me know what you think! Again… these could be used for anything. I tied most of the backstories into the protectorate since everyone in the Red Widow adventure are lackeys of the Protectorate, but these could always be modified for other storylines and adventures.

Paragon Bruiser

Alec Farris is no stranger to blood and suffering. When he was but a child, his live cell was targeted by the wrath of a horde-thane. As the archon’s minions stormed the office building that his family called home, his parents stowed him away in a small closet. That night, Alec listened to the blood-curdling screams of his loved ones being ripped apart by the slaves of The Black Dream. Alec remained frozen in that closet for days—almost dying from malnourishment and sleep deprivation—before the closet was abruptly opened by a CDC Witch Hunter who was investigating the aftermath of destruction.

The CDC operative took Alec back to HQ and nursed him back to health. Alec remained with the CDC for almost ten years, learning their ways, their traditions, and most importantly, learning their zealous hatred for the mortis horde. During this time, the radiation also sculpted his flesh into perfect form; the fallout had marked him with perfection. The CDC treads lightly with those marked by the fallout, so they decided to contract Alec Farris out to the Protectorate for a two-year contract. This would test his mettle on the field and his ability to control his “gifts” which would be necessary if he were to return to the CDC to become one of their elite weapons against the horde. Alec knows that he has much to learn, but everything he does is to prepare for the day when he gets to once again confront that archon that made his family bleed, and return the favor.

Survivor Archivist

Brendan Phelps is an adventurous, young spirit with no fear of the Dystopia; he epitomizes the collective zeal of the GTP generation. His father was a renowned Outreach Missionary by the name of Arturo Phelps. His achievements were many: discovering fertile valleys for settlement, vast stockpiles of firearms and other resources, finding new species of herbs vital to post-Cataclysm medicine, etc. Inspired by his father’s efforts, Brendan volunteered himself to the Protectorate at the age of 14 for a 4-year contract. During that time, he would study under the Archivist branch of the Protectorate and learn the trade of survival and exploration to one day follow in his father’s bold footsteps.

But just a year ago, Arturo went missing. He had traveled far west beyond the Dead Zone in search of an artifact of immeasurable power. He had written cryptic letters to Brendan about it in the past. “I believe it is out there… buried in the sands… it will be a beacon of light to the new world.” Brendan wanted nothing more than to rush to his father’s rescue, but desertion from the Protectorate is often a death punishment. Brendan has resolved himself to acquire as much knowledge as he can in his last few months indebted to the Protectorate, because as soon as his term is over, his quest for his lost father will begin.

Pariah Demon

Born into affluence, Desmont Lafayette was so sheltered growing up that he had actually never faced the mortis-horde. He lived in a massive haven—a fortress of humanity and a bustling city of culture and wealth. His family held much influence in the city; they understood the ebb and flow of political power and always made sure that their House was respected and never challenged. That is… until Desmont began to show his “mark.” The Lafayettes had manufactured a culture of fear against those who were marked by the fallout.  “They are a danger to our way of life!” championed Gregory—the patriarch of the Lafayettes. So when Desmont began to transform, Gregory (in his mind) had no choice but to excommunicate his son, and so he did.

Desmont lived as a vagabond for almost two decades. He has tasted the poverty of the Dystopia and longs to return to a throne of affluence. Therefore, when he stumbled across a Protectorate outpost in the middle of nowhere, he gladly conscripted himself to their efforts. The Protectorate offers wealth and recognition to those who serve their will without question, and Desmont is desperate for any opportunity to climb the ladder of power. Perhaps one day he will get to revisit his estranged homeland… but this time with an army at his back.

Magi Chaplain

Seth of the Burning Truths is an elderly man that has found his purpose late in life. He once lived in constant fear; his house surrounded day and night by droves of mortis dregs pounding relentlessly at his doors and windows. He lived alone with his fear, and that festered and congealed in his soul until it became too much to bear. Seth slipped into The Black Dream, gathered all of the gasoline still stockpiled in his basement, and set his home on fire. The fires swirled around him and consumed him, but in that painfully liberating moment, Seth had a vision—the fires turned white as snow and the light acted as a beacon that summoned angels from heaven. The angels slayed the mortis creatures, then knelt before him and said that The Architect has need of service. “Find his truths in the flame, and bring victory to The Architect’s people!”

Seth awoke from his Black Dream Vision horrifically burned from head to toe—but alive! From that day forward, he has been obsessed with fire and seeking out the fundamental truths of the universe. Each night he sets a fire and stares into it for hours and hours, trying to divine in the secrets of the Architect. It seems strange, but several Magi rites have been revealed to him in this manner, which only bolsters his dogged resolve in this endeavor. To further his works for humanity, he volunteered his services to the Protectorate to defend other survivors from the horde, and to enlighten them to his Burning Truths.

Host Tinkerer

Isaiah Washington was born a few years after the Nuclear Cataclysm with a severe case of autism. However, Isaiah was incredibly bright, and his father—a pre-Cataclysm college professor—took painstaking efforts to give his child a proper education. His son learned at a remarkable pace. Isaiah demonstrated an eidetic memory—he remembers every word of every page he ever reads. The problem began when his family was forced from their boarded home to join a growing live cell. While this new family offered shelter and peace of mind, it exacerbated Isaiah’s social deficiencies. Soon after, he ran away from home.

For all intents and purposes, Isaiah should have been found by the mortis-horde and destroyed, but he luckily crossed paths with a Host-carrier who believed his brilliant mind would be an asset to the Fold. He performed the Ritual of the Machine on Isaiah. When he regained consciousness, Isaiah could hear the Whispers in his head calling out for him to collect every book that he could, read every line of every passage, all for the glory of the Fold. He has been doing this ever since.

The People Bank… to pre-gen or not to pre-gen

As I prepare for Pandoracon (with still no idea on how that is going to play out), I am finishing up the loose ends of the Red Widow campaign that I provided in my last post for anyone interested. Again, this is a scripted adventure that plays out in 4 scenes. As part of that, I intended to create 5 pre-gen characters so that people can just sit down and start playing. This got me thinking… would making a bank of pre-gen characters help groups get to playing Reclamation? After all, the first time you sit down to play this game (or any RPG for that matter), the learning curve can often be a bit intimidating.

Character Generation + New Rules + New Setting= AHHHHHHH!!!

Ironically, making characters is one of my favorite parts of the role-playing experience. For a game to be exciting, there has to be more than just an excellent storyline in mind on behalf of the gamemaster; the players MUST be invested in their characters. They have to want their own personal stories to unfold in tandem with the overarching plot of the FateDealer. You get this when the players have taken ownership of their characters, and frankly, that is hard to do when the character has just been handed to you. When I go to conventions, I of course expect pre-generated characters because I don’t want to spend forever making a character–especially if it’s a game I’ve never tried before. Let me just get in there and try it out already!!!

That being said, I have had a few people ask me if I planned to provide pre-gen characters on my site, and when I asked on FB, I got a few responses as well. So for anyone out there reading my little blog, I have a few questions for you:

  1. How far would you want to see a pre-gen character taken? Is it just the core stats and background? Do I give starting inventory? (Obviously if I give someone 60 resource points worth of stuff, that would be weird if you wanted to use the pre-gen for a survival game). Do I choose the Gifts of the Fallout?  ok… that was more than one question… consider it question cluster #1!
  2. What about personal backstory? Should I provide one? If so, how long? I kind of thought maybe a short paragraph for each one, because ultimately, that could be disregarded by the player with a new one introduced altogether.
  3. What others things would you like to see from me in terms of extending the accessibility of Reclamation? A little off topic–I am making these pre-gen characters and I’m providing a few sample adventures to get people started, and of course, I’m trying to ramp up my convention attendance. What would you find helpful? If you’re struggling with the combat system (which is admittedly very different), would cheat sheets or other visual aids help? What about FD campaign sheets where they can fill in information about the story, track monster stats, etc.?