It’s official! The next Library Roleplaying world will be…


That’s right, pardner!  Our next stop is a visit to the Weird West.  That’s right.  Weird.  As in “not of our own.”  No, this isn’t the Old West the way you read about it yer history books.  Well, some of it’s the same.  But when the dead rose up at Gettysburg and started walking around…well, let’s say history decided to take an unexpected detour.

You want it summed up real pretty?

After almost two decades of bitter fighting, the American Civil War has ground to a standstill. The Confederate States are still free. California has fallen into the Pacific Ocean. Rail Barons fight bloody battles to decide who the victor will be in the race for a transcontinental railroad, while a superfuel called ghost rock advances technology by unpredictable leaps and sometimes dangerous bounds. The Sioux have retaken the Dakotas and the Coyote Confederation dances the Ghost Dance on the High Plains. Some even say the dead walk among us. 

Does that about do it for ya?

So what’s in it for you?  Well, Tenderfoot, I’m so glad you asked.

You want magic?  Check.

You want steampunk?  Check.

You want monstrous, soul crushing evil that will eagerly suck you down its gullet and pick its teeth with a cactus needle?  CHECK!

But…it’s a western?  You’re darn-tootin’, Greenhorn.  Western with meat.  Meat that bites back, that is.  You fellers take up the roles of steely-eyed gunfighters, card-slinging sorcerers called hucksters, mysterious shamans, savage braves, mad scientists, and others who battle against evil and attempt to prevent the Final Reckoning.  So check that pea-shooter on your hip and steer your horse into the setting sun.  Because these days, the west needs heroes in the worst way.

I ain’t gonna sugar-coat it fer ya.  ‘ole Joe is already set to work measurin’ pine boxes fer each of ya.

Deadlands uses the Savage Worlds rules we’ve been using for years now.  Both are published by Pinnacle Entertainment.

What I’m Reading…

The Silver Skull, by Mark ChadbourneI recently finished The Silver Skull, a novel by Mark Chadbourne, part of his Swords of Albion trilogy.  In all, a pretty good read at a hair over 400 pages.  The novel follows the exploits of Will Swyfte, England’s greatest spy.  Swyfte is Elizabethan England’s equivalent of James Bond: dashing, rakish and quick witted.  While the threat of the Spanish Armada looms over England, Swyfte and a few other stalwarts work behind the scenes to protect Queen and kingdom from the true threat: the Fae and the Unseelie Court.

It’s a solid novel, well paced and tightly written.  Its not without its faults – the threat and villainous plot feels almost anachronistic in this day and age – but these are outweighed by what the novel does right.  It’s also a first novel, so one has to forgive the author a certain amount.  I’ve added the follow up, the Scar-Crow Men, to my future reading list.

If that sounds right up your alley, start bugging the librarians at LPL for a copy.

What I’m playing…

Most of you have been around long enough to know my roleplaying game hobby extends beyond this library program.  I’ve been playing RPGs since the early 80′s, and regularly since my sophomore year of college (1992).  My regular game group meets every other Friday night, and has for many years.  We took a few temporary breaks to have children (it’s very hard to come up with anything coherent when you are only getting about 2-3 hours of sleep between feedings and diaper changes), but we’ve always managed to bring it all back together.

Just another day, kicking the Adversary in the teeth!The game we are currently playing is Witch Hunter: The Invisible World.  Its a game that is equal parts swashbuckling adventure and macabre horror, taking a lot of cues from one of my favorite pulp literary characters, Solomon Kane.  The players assume the roles of soldiers of faith against the things in the dark, scratching at the door in the night.  These characters are members of apocryphal orders of church knights, most considered heretical by their faiths and denominations.  Witch Hunters all work in the service of God, but come from every faith; Christian, Judaism, Islam, etc.  Character types range from the beleaguered priest, to the bravo swordsman, from the caring midwife, to the sharp-witted cutpurse.  The supernatural has left its mark on each of them, and so they have taken up a higher calling despite the odds.

The genesis for this campaign began about a decade ago when I began playing another (my first) swashbuckling RPG, 7th Sea.  It was (and is!) terrific fun but got me thinking how cool it would be to run a darker sort of game set in colonial America.  That led me to reading Solomon Kane which inevitably led me, via Savage Worlds, to the Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane (SWoSK) and All for One: Regime Diabolique (which for a short period served as our program world milieu).  Witch Hunter actually predates both of these by a couple of months, but after about 2 years of regular SWoSK play, I decided I needed a system that was heftier and a bit less ability-oriented than Savage Worlds and had a more substantial world setting.  And since I’d already been adapting huge chunks of Witch Hunter to my SWoSK game, and since the publisher was kickstarting a long awaited 2nd edition, I decided it made sense to migrate over to a new system and world setting with parallel themes to what my players and I have been enjoying for years now.

We’re also trying something new this time around by going virtual.  While the Friday group has always been evolving, we’ve lost several good players to distance.  I also have some friends who, because we live so far apart, I never get to game with them anymore.  So at the recommendation and guidance from another friend (my GM-guru), we off the tabletop and onto Roll20.  It’s been a challenge, and we’ve had to learn new ways of doing things.  I actually spent money on a gaming headset rather than rely on my old phone earbuds.  But its been a lot of fun to reconnect with players old and new and added a whole new dynamic to our game.

While it’s not the primary mission of our program, one of the things I love to see are players taking the next step, seeking out RPGs on their own and building their own groups, either as players or GMs.  For those of you so inclined, I can’t recommend any of the games I’ve mentioned in this post enough.  SWoSK is a self contained game with all the rules you need to play and enough adventure support to keep your group laughing death in the eye for years.  Like the idea of swashbuckling horror but Savage Worlds just doesn’t do it for you?  Both All for One and Witch Hunter offer very different (and well supported) visions of the same sub-genre.  (All for One now has an official Savage Worlds version, too!)  And if you don’t mind hunting through the aisles at Half Price Books, 7th Sea will rock your world every which way to Sunday.  Want to game but got no group?  Heading off to college in the Fall and want to roll dice with your friends back home?  Roll20 has you covered.

Now get out there, roll some dice and have fun!

Heroes of Ash and Flame Roleplay

Heroes of Ash and Flame Roleplay

brom-01Join us Monday, February 17, for Heroes of Ash and Flame. 6:00 pm at the Lewisville Public Library.

Heroes of Ash and Flame is reserved for teens, ages 12 to 17.

Feb 2 Game Cancelled…

Hey everyone,

Due to a family emergency, I won’t be able to attend the game tonight.  Sorry.  We will make it up later in the month.

January 20: Martin Luther King Day

The library will be closed on January 20 in observance of Martin Luther King Day.  There will be no game that night.

Instead, we will be playing on January 27.

Hope to see everyone then!

HoAF Update Preview #3: Elven Tests of Loyalty

Elves of AthasDespite my constant descriptions of elves as “marauding, lying, cheating, Bedouin gypsies,” some of you insist on playing them anyway.  Fair enough.  More healthy snack options for thri-kreen hordes.  But one aspect of roleplaying an elf is almost always sidelined, which is something I wanted to remedy with the book update.  Tests of Loyalty among elves has been part of the Dark Sun milieu since back in the 2nd edition days.  Updating the HoAF player’s book gave me a chance to include more detail on these finally.  This is pretty much straight out of the original DS boxed set.

From Elves (pg 29):
The trust of an elf is not easily earned. An elf’s roleplaying revolves around his self-reliance and relationships with outsiders. Outsiders include anyone not of the elf’s tribe-even other elves. Thus, an elf should not wish to gain friendship and trust with every character he meets; on the contrary, he tests the trustworthiness of outsiders who display some redeeming characteristics (redeeming to an elf, that is). Elves also perform such tests on outsiders who try to befriend them. Elven characters should put outsiders to tests of trust or loyalty whenever possible rather than trust them from the onset just “because they’re other player characters.”

An elf will also recognize displays of trust and loyalty that are not planned in advance. If an outsider fails one or more tests of trust, an elf player character should not consider him a friend and should never retest him. However, if a series of tests are passed, the elf player character can declare the outsider a friend—no further tests will be necessary unless the friend severely breaks that trust.

Subtle Tests of Trust Include:
► entrusting an outsider with a confidential piece of information,
► leaving a valuable item out in the open, in clear view, to see if the outsider takes it,
► arranging a secret rendezvous, then making sure the outsider shows up in the right place and on time,
► asking the outsider to deliver a message or item.

Life-threatening tests of trust include:
► letting oneself get captured by gith to see if the outsider attempts a rescue (this is a favorite among elves of the stony barrens),
► faking unconsciousness after a battle to see what care the outsider provides,
► making certain part of the water supply is lost on a cross-desert journey, then seeing if he gets a fair share of what’s left,
► challenging a particularly deadly enemy to see if the outsider stands with him or flees.


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