RPG Meme

1. What is the first RPG you ever played?

Marvel Super-Heroes, courtesy of my neighbor, Rob Bowell.

2. What RPG do you currently play most often?

I’m playing a bunch of Riddle of Steel lately.

3. What is the best system you’ve played?

Unknown Armies is definitely up there. I dig that game something terrible.

4. What is the best system you’ve run?

Hm. Sorcerer.

5. Would you consider yourself an: Elitist/ Min-Maxer/ Rules Lawyer?

Nah, I’m pretty open minded but if a game isn’t my style, I hate wasting my time at a table where I won’t have fun.

6. If you could recommend a new RPG which would you recommend? Why?

I’d really like to take a look at Cats by Wicked Dead Games. Cats have been a near-constant theme lately and Jon Wick’s games are solid.

7. How often do you play?

Lately, once a week, rarely more.

8. What sort of characters do you play? Leader? Follower? Comic Relief? Roll-Player/ Role-Player?

Comedic, yet dramatic / shaker upper.

9. What is your favorite Genre for RPGs?

I love ’em all.

10. What Genres have you played in?

Western, horror, fantasy, super-hero,

11. Do you prefer to play or GM? Do you do both?

Ideally, I’m GMing once a week and playing once a week.

12. Do you like religion in your games?

Sure, sometimes, but ideally fictional religions.

13. Do you have taboo subjects in your games or is everything “fair game”?

As long as the issues are discussed with the group.

14. Have you developed your own RPG before?

Supplemental stuff but no game of my own.

15. Have you ever been published in the Gaming Industry? If so…what?

Contributed to Fury of Shadow boxed set with more to come.

Monkeys on Mars

Monkeywrench is the kids’ RPG in which the players are monkeys on board a space station trying to get free.

Check it out and other free games at Zak Arnston’s wonderful site: http://www.harlekin-maus.com/

Conflict resolution is a simple d6 roll, 4, 5, and 6 are successes and 1, 2, and 3 are failures. Failures also mean aquiring a counter, that means their monkey is hungry, grump or crazy, that they must take into their role-play.

A few weeks ago I was running a Monkeywrench game with a very excited and creative third grade girl and in the middle had to leave to see to job responsibilities. The boy who I ran on the last Monkeywrench game was more than pleased to step in and take over as narrator.

But I never found out what happened. He told me that she got off of the space station, which is good. I had worries.

Today she asked if we could continue her monkey’s odyssey as it escaped.

Let’s call her Tarzana.


I asked, “What happened?”

“I escaped the space station with a space suit, a laser gun, a space ship and seven monkey clones with spaces suits, laser guns and space ships. I got away from the space station before the asteroid hit it,” Tarzanna informed me.


This girl wanted to take it to her former captors and when I asked her what she wanted to do, she told me she wanted to head directly to Earth.

She landed on the moon first and replaced the American flag with a monkey flag with a force field so thta the humans couldn’t destroy it. The monkey flag, by the way, is a yellow monkey, holding a banana on a green field.

I know this because when she mentioned the monkey flag I demanded that play stop so that she could draw the flag.

The boy from the first game wandered to the table and began to hand out bananas at appropriate times, until I aked him to take over the role of one of the Monkey Clones. He said, “Tarzanna, I’m your favorite clone.”

She agreed.

Then they began to stick it to the Man.

I ruled that they could get rid of the Hungry, Crazy and Grumpy counters if tehy rolled a six but a roll of a 4 or 5 just meant trading them back and forth.

In a blunder she blew up the moon, attempting to fiddle with the force field in a fight against human ships. I had to bite my tongue not to call them Simian Terrorists.

There was quite a bit of laser gun violence against humans but I just did some creative interpretation of the conflict resolution to both lessen the violence rating and show its harsh consequences without just entirely gutting the game.

Tarzanna realized that I was really lenient about how much could be accomplished in a single roll of the d6 if she turned to other means that weren’t violent. She began to push the boundaries after several attempts to reach earth in her space ship were foiled.

“I’m going to Mars to set up a Monkey society.”

*die rolls*


Enter Monkeys on Mars.

The game ended with the two kids drawing a picture of the capital city of the Monkeys on Mars and a delegate from earth landing to make a peace treaty with the Martian Simians.

Tarzana said, “No peace unless you unload 20 billions tons of bananas onto Mars immediately!”

She had the Hungry counter.

I was so proud.

They were quite excited about role-playing as leaders of their monkey society. This game has only just begun.

Geek News

Jeff has begun a lovely Ithaca Gamer’s Forum from which I am staging the Get Your Geek On-a-thon also known as the G.Y.G.O.-a-thon 1. If all goes well I will run another one in January. Stay tuned.

Janaki played in her second game last night, a cool Harry Potter RPG homebrew made by Pete. It was fun. We all played Slytherin.

Janaki played an abandoned cleptomaniac werewolf orphan, Kurt played Meek the Disenchanted (need I describe his PC more?), Lily played the Hermione of House Slytherine, pining for Snape. I played Syndey Mason, whose father, a gargoyle-maker, forced him to play Quidditch, a game Sydney detests.

We broke into the Gryffindor House and trashed the joint and then put a wayward star cat but in its constellation. All in all a fun night of getting our geek on.

G.Y.G.O.-a-thon 1

The following e-mail was forwarded to every gaming group and gamer in Ithaca whose e-mail I had access to.

Let’s see how the response is.

More cute stories about kindergarteners later.

The first ever Get Your Geek On-a-thon is taking place on November 20th in the office space beyond Odyssey Games above Autumn Leaves from noon until 8 o’clock. This is a tabletop role-playing game event designed to gather the many groups of gamers from all over Ithaca.

This event is about learning new systems, meeting new folks. No gaming geek should have to languish through an Ithaca winter without a weekly tabletop game to help ’em through the gray months.

I have asked friends of mine to run games and hope that future G.Y.G.O.-a-thons will have different faces behind the GM’s screen. The games being run at the GYGO-a-thon 1 will all be one-shots.

Below are the descriptions of the four games being offered at G.Y.G.O.-a-thon 1 with a corresponding link beneath each description. The link leads to the game’s thread within the G.Y.G.O.-a-thon forum. Each game will have its own thread with [G.Y.G.O.-a-thon 1] and the game’s title in the subject header. The first to post a with desire to play in the thread will be the first to be considered signed up for the game. The seats at each table are limited, so register and post your sign up sooner rather than later.

When choosing a game I encourage you to play at a GM’s table who you have never gamed with before but if some cross-over happens so be it.

The games don’t cost a thing but we will ask for $1 donation and Odyssey games has graciously offered to pay the difference for the rented space.

Here is the game line-up:

The Head that Wears the Crown
System: Ars Magica 5th ed.
GM: Matt Ryan
Number of players: 2-6

Synopsis: The wizard Nacamonius was sent to investigate the rumor that
the wizard Janus Redly has been secretly working for Thibaud IV, the count
of Champagne. Both members of the Order of Hermes, which explicitly
forbids magi (wizards) to work with mundane rulers, Nacamonius went to learn if
the rumors were true and dispatch Janus Redly from that position. Two weeks
ago, Nacamonius left with a two shield grogs (warrior protectors) for
the city of Troyes, royal court of Thibaud.

He has not returned.

A rescue party has formed to retrieve the beloved magus, consisting of
both Nacamonius’ apprentices, a friendly abbess, a screwed Breton mistral,
and two armed militants, all members of Nacamonius’ home covenant. They
must enter Troyes, which is having its annual fair, and find their master.
You are a member of that rescue party.

Player Notes: No knowledge of Ars Magica the game is necessary; I will
give you pregenerated characters and show you how to play. This is your
chance to try out the new edition, scheduled for a November release.

[Sign up for The Head that Wears the Crown at: http://s7.invisionfree.com/IthacaGamers/index.php?showtopic=40%5D

Vampire the Requiem Intro
System: Vampire the Requiem
GM: Jeff Lauer
Number of players: 3-5

The World of Darkness is born again and Jeff wants to know how it works at the table. Put your fangs to work and lower your Humanity as White Wolf’s new Vampire RPG is given an honest test run.

[Sign up for Vampire: The Requiem Intro at: http://s7.invisionfree.com/IthacaGamers/index.php?showtopic=41%5D

The Gift
System: Burning Wheel
GM: Judd Karlman
Number of players: 4-8

The Elven Delegation has been dispatched to the Dwarven Ibunith Hold to congratulate the new prince on his coronation. The Gift is a game of intense political negotiations. One group plays the Dwarven Host, the other plays the Elven Delegation. Both groups try to navigate the complex structure of tradition and etiquette while keeping an eye out for treachery and opportunity. Can you guide your group to diplomatic victory, or will a breach of etiquette cause a sudden end your line?.

[Sign up for The Gift at: http://s7.invisionfree.com/IthacaGamers/index.php?showtopic=43%5D

The Great Escape
System: The Riddle of Steel
GM: Mario Cerame
Number of players: 3-5

You and a handful of others have been implicated in a crime you didn’t commit. You now are a prisoner on a Mediterranean island, looking forward to a slow death in a dark cell. But… someone has cooked a dagger into your loaf of mouldy bread. You must escape and present God’s justice through a trial by combat. The rest is our tale to tell in muscle and steel.

This one-shot adventure looks to introduce players to the rich and acclaimed combat system in The Riddle of Steel, as well as highlighting other elements of the system. Magic will not be featured in this one shot. Dice and characters will be provided, although of course players may bring their own d10’s if they wish.

[Sign up for The Great Escape at: http://s7.invisionfree.com/IthacaGamers/index.php?showtopic=42%5D

If you can’t make it due to other obligations or don’t get into a game, please don’t worry. We hope to do this again if this one is a success or you could start your own. If the games fill up, don’t be afraid to put yourself down as an alternate in case one of the players can’t make it.

The threads for each game will not only be for signing up but for each GM to announce any house rules, decide who will play which pre-made characters or for the GM to find a time and place to meet in order to facilitate character generation.

I hope this gathering of geeks is a fun success that we can repeat again this winter.

If you have any problems or have any suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me at this address.

Get your geek on,

Judd Karlman, G.Y.G.O.-a-thon Coordinator

Gaming Geek Postings

In which I provide links to the posts I make under the handle, Paka, in various gaming forums.

Practical Dungeon-keeping is my way of providing some kind of cultural back-story for dungeon-crawling.

New Gidea is the last town I ran in the fine game of Dogs in the Vineyard.

At some point I will run a Burning Wheel one-shot with Jeff and JJ. I’m inspired by the idea of the adventures of Legolas and Gimli when they were traipsing around Middle-Earth together. Kinda like Thelma and Louise but y’know…with an axe and a bow.

Paula and Robert and I will be finishing up our Dictionary of Mu mini-campaign we’ve been playing over the summer.

And in this last one people post really nice things about me. Garsh.

That’s what my geek mind is posting about now.

Dogs in the Vineyard and other tidbits

Oddly, my favorite RPG find at Gen Con was the first game I demo’ed upon arriving at the Forge booth. Dogs in the Vineyard is a game in which the players are quasi-Mormon holy gunslingers in a west that never quite was. My first game, Eden’s Prophet, went really well and the Story Hour write-up is making me want to write Christian YA fiction.

Jeff, JJ and I are going to start a round-robin GM’s Gaming Group so that we can get our geek on.

I’ve got a job at an elemtnary school’s after-school program and just as I accepted there was a job that was entirely perfect for me in the paper. We’ll see how it goes.

Applications to grad. school should go out this week.

Elvis beckons.

Life is good.

Ithaca’s population just doubled.

Bring on autumn.

Old School D&D

The same core guys who I gamed with in Junior High still meet in the same house where we all gamed when we were 13 years old. Today I sat at that table and gamed with ’em, rolling polyhedral dice while playing pretend, cracking the same jokes, and wincing when Jay farts.

Nothing has changed. It is like a weekly museum dedicated to my teenage Saturday afternoons. It was a total blast. It was horrifying.

Pete still hits half a dozen or so dick jokes per game. Today the finest was:

“Holy shit, his dick has more than seven hit points? Don’t I at least take off the tip with that hit?”

Monday Chargen and Volunteering

For the past two weeks we haven’t had our traditional Thursday night 7th Sea game and so I have run two one-shots. Last week was a gangster yarn and this week is an odd Suburban Fairy Tale. Today we made characters, wrote our characters in crayon and watched the local kids play around the house as we made up characters on the porch.

The wind was throwing our character sheets around, it was lovely.

We’ll take the characters out for a spin this Thursday, should be fun.

After making up their grade-school sorcerers, I went to the Tompkins County Public Library, where I volunteer weekly. Usual stuff, sorting books out of the return bins, re-stocking the video shelves and seeing to my adopt-a-shelf space, where the graphic novels are kept. No Lone Wolf and Cub volume will be out of order on my watch, I tell you!

I spent most of my time among the children’s videos, which were a chaotic mess. After creating this elaborate grade-school fantasy, it was odd to be among the videos that are grade-school fantasies: Dark Crystal, Neverending Story, Black Beauty, the many adventures of Arthur and the dozens upon dozens of Pokemon tapes.

I didn’t touch Kline today but I’ll do a morning and evening double-dose tomorrow, along with some conditioning with Zorro at Sunset Park.

Post-GRE Gaming

After the GRE’s I went right over to Jeff and Julie’s house in order to do some good ole gaming. I ran Mu’s Bed and I think I’ve finally gotten a hold of the Sorcerer rules and the setting is really coming alive. Good stuff.

Jeff, Julie, JJ and I (too many J’s) had a lovely cajun-style fish dinner and then apple pie before hunkering down to game. It was a solid group and I’m glad it was only 3. The game moved fast and it felt like we got a decent amount done.

I’m happy with my pacing as a GM nowadays. I don’t feel like I have a whole lot of lag-time or pointless role-play that doesn’t further the story in any way. The stories feel lean and tight, always moving and complicating and forcing the players to make decisions.

I think that’s the question I’m asking myself nowadays, “What could happen in order to compel the players to make a tough, dramatic decision?”

Fun night and a good post-GRE distraction.

Tomorrow will have some friendly sparring with Mike and maybe Kurt in front of the recently singed Prudence Risley and spring-cleaning in honor of JiJy’s arrival.

I worked hard this week and it is nice to take a weekend like this when Ithaca is all beautiful and seductive.

Newlyweds in Mu’s Bed

I have been writing a supplement for Sorcerer. I’ll be playtesting that next week after a long hiatus when playtesting stalled with a different group.

I will be running it with Jeff and Julie, a married couple, as the only two players. I’m not sure how that is going to work out. We’ll see. Should be an interesting gaming dynamic.

The following is the e-mail I sent them introducing them to the setting.

Sorcerer is a game that quite frankly intimidates me as a GM but I think I’ve got a good handle on it now.

Mu’s Bed E-Mail