io9 let slip that Fantasy flight, who gave us the multiple core book bullshit for Star Wars that Last Unicorn did with Star Trek, not to mention proprietary dice, is doing pre-orders for a reprint of the original West End Games d6 Star Wars RPG. You know, the real one.


Here’s the link to preorder!


I think this question is supposed to be “…and never played.” At least that’s how I’m taking it.

Hands down, this is Jovian Chronicles by Dream Pod 9. It’s an anime giant-robot setting with a lot of hard science trappings. Think The Expanse meets any Japanimation space show. The setting is wonderfully rich and interesting, but also has the problem of having a built in metaplot that — along with the tons of background material — can be daunting for a GM. Where to start?

Also, in the new millennium the idea of the Singularity, of transhumanism, etc. meant that the anti-AI “Edicts” that was central to the JC setting seemed horribly outdated. Now, I would suggest the worry over AI and joblessness is playing into the conceits of this game universe.

It’s got gorgeous ship designs and rich world-building, and an absolutely shit set of mechanics.

We picked up this week with our 5th edition Dungons & Dragons campaign in the aftermath of the fight between the characters and a pair of Furies. It was looking like a TPK in the making when the monk character, Icio, called on his patron angel, Michael, to bail them out. What they got was a full throwdown between lesser gods that half wrecked the official residence of the Praetor of Aquileia. With two players down — one at a convention in England and one on route to GenCon, I decided to concentrate on the three players’ concerns.

The next morning found Carrus getting his staff of blacksmiths working on the armor and weapons they had taken from the furies. With 20 rolled, he was able to deduce that the weapons and armor aren’t metal, but perhaps some kind of porcelain — light, heat and cold-resistant, and tougher than the best iron. Yet Michael’s arrows went through them like butter, burning a clean hole through the material. The swords the Furies used went through Marcellus’ breastplate similarly cleanly. He hasn’t worked out all the secrets, but he is on the path to learning how to make the stuff.

Marcellus left his tent to find Icio waiting for him. This “Anathema” which had so rattled the Furies and Michael is of great concern to him. Could she really be a relation? What the hell was she? They gathered up Carrus and went to search the city for her. (We assumed Calvinus was busy trying to soothe his father’s concerns about powerful mystical creatures ripping up his town, while Augustinian was researching the information on her.)

They find her in a mariners’ inn by the wharf, sequestered on the third floor away from the other guests. The owner of the inn was terrified of her, but did not want to anger her. After having him clear out the inn (Marcellus is enjoying his imperium), they knocked on the door. The Anathema was waiting, and was open to their questions. Her attitude toward the entire affair was blasé, and she seemed entirely unconcerned to have armed men in the room with her. Marcellus noted she seemed to have a pretty good handle on the entire situation.

What they learned: she claims to be in the service of Hades (she tends to call the gods by their Greek names) and was sent to aid them in their quest. Icio asked her parentage — he calls her brother, but he doesn’t think she means in Christ. She tells him they have the same father. He is not the son of Zaccharius the carpenter; he is the son of Michael. She is the daughter of Michael and Soteria — the mother of angels. Soteria has a much older name: Hecate, the goddess of magic, possibility, and choice. The Anathema is what the various sides call her for she is not supposed to exist — just like the barukhim and nephalhim, the children of angels and demons with humans — she is a child of “good and evil.” Her given name is Chthonia. (No, you don’t actually pronounce the “ch” in a chth blend — it’s “Thonia”.)

If Sataniel manages to raise the Shadow, the various realms would once against be accessible, and the gods of old would be able to interfere in the affairs of Man. Satan could engage in his war against Heaven. When they ask her for her aid, she tells them that is her purpose.

On their way back to the camp, they were waylaid by one of the vigiles, the town guard. There is a problem on the north wall… they arrive to find a small force of satyrs and centaurs! Led by Calacites (King of the Satyrs of Dalmatia) they have been searching the countryside for his daughter: Carona. Instead of being an orphan who fled the destruction of her village, she was drawn out into the world by her curiosity. He has come to save her from the world of Men.

This led to an uncomfortable and amusing exchange where Carrus had to confirm she was here, and in the end — with a choice between having his pregnant girlfriend taken away to live with the satyrs or keeping her with him, he suggested marriage. The satyrs, knowing what a monumentally bad idea this is, managed to contain their mirth and Calacites accepted. We ended the night with his marriage to Carona.



The only rules set that I use with little or no alteration is Cortex. The original Cortex, not the Fate-ified Cortex Plus. The way the game is constructed, there is little that needs tweaking to work well, and the one or two issues I have with it have rarely gotten in the way of play. I did have to cobble together mass combat rules to deal with large space and land battles more quickly, but that didn’t really change the core mechanics.

I ran Marvel Heroic without any house rules, and the same with James Bond. I haven’t done any tweaking with the Ubiquity system of Hollow Earth Expedition, although i can see where the combat system needs streamlined and cleaned up badly.

I have been pretty by-th-book on Dungeons & Dragons, but that’s because I’ve got a rules lawyer in one of the players who has run it much longer than I have.

This is a curious question, as it can be taken a few ways. Do they mean adapting the rules to a different setting, or adapting the setting to fit a rules set?

Let’s start with the first option. I have, over the course of 30 years, used James Bond: 007 RPG from Victory Games for a number of different settings. I’ve run Cyberpunk using the rules, which required the creation of cybernetics rules. I’ve used it for Stargate, which required creating ways to render aliens in the mechanics. It’s a versatile set of rule that can be poked and prodded, but which start to fall apart as scale gets above, say, a coast guard cutter, for spaceships or vehicle combat.

A setting that begs for better mechanics is Space: 1889. The original GDW rules were bolted onto their Sky Galleons of Mars boardgame, more or less. I ran this setting using the GDW game, then using a home-modified version of Castle Falkenstein until about 2006. The new release of the setting by Clockwerk in Germany and Modiphius in the UK, uses the same Ubiquity system as Hollow Earth Expedition, and works well.

As with other questions we’ve had this year, my response is “All of them?” A more precise answer would be, whatever one you have on-going material for.

I’ve played a lot of long games, but they usually last about two to three years before they run out of steam. The longest campaigns were ones where the world and the PCs changed from time to time. The Star Trek campaign I ran from 2000- 2005/6 was actually three tightly connected campaigns, one taking place coterminously with another, or a follow on “series.” I had a Babylon 5 game that lasted about three years, and a Stargate one that had a similar run. The first ended when the story did, the second faded away. The longest continual campaign was probably the recently ended Battlestar Galactica game, which eventually knocked all other games out of rotation as it powered along for five years despite players coming and going, births and other life intrusions.

I think the question is “What can you keep fresh?” The BSG game was fantastic, fun, and came to a very satisfactory end. But I miss it sometimes and keep thinking there were things I could have done with it.

The question for today was “Describe a game experience that changed how you play.” I really don’t have a response for this one, so I’m going to go with my own question: How Has Gaming Positively Affected Your Life?

There’s the usual hackneyed responses about having made so many good friends through the hobby (and I have), but here’s a few really concrete ones:

First, I learned how to think quickly and creatively because I usually get stuck with GM duties. This also ties into the second positive effect on my life: I learned how to tell stories well, both verbally and written.

Related to that second effect, I 3) developed an interest in many things and have maintained by curiosity throughout my life because I have a real hankering for verisimilitude, which 4) led to my branching out into writing and teaching history.

That intellectual curiosity about, well, everything started with the old James Bond games in the ’80s. I wanted not just the feel of the movies, but some level of realism in those games. (I’d eventually go into the intelligence game and get out just as fast.) Cars, boats, planes, guns, intelligence agencies and their operations, I wanted to know everything I could about them.

With Space: 1889 I dove deep into Victorian history, which was my main focus until my doctoral work. A hard switch to modern American history coincided with taking an interest in Hollow Earth Expedition and the 1930s. I immersed myself in Star Trek to run a game for almost five years. Now I’m heavily researching Late Antiquity Rome and early Christianity for the D&D game, but the impetus for the setting might have come from having taught Early Western Civilization a lot over the last six years.

Fifth and tied to that “friends” truism: I met a lot of my girlfriends, and both wives (not at the same time) through gaming, although not always directly. Gaming got me laid. A lot. Even my wife, who wasn’t a gamer, I met through my gamer pals of the time. My daughter is playing in the other room as I type, alive because of gaming.

I once clinched a job in a small firm doing intelligence work because the president was a gamer.

Has gaming positively affected my life? You bet!