Simple: To get my daughter into the hobby. She’s already fond of adult-level board games, and she loves sitting in to roll dice for me on game night. She wants to play the Star Wars campaign upcoming, and wants to be a death trooper. So there’s that.


I’m assuming they mean what game released or that I noticed this year has “had an impact” on what I want to play, or has had bits ripped off to cram into the systems we’re using right now.

If the first — Tales From the Loop. I’m an early ’80s kid and the movies it’s evoking were the movies I was watching in high school. I love the art, although its art book quality was why I was initially put off until I thumbed through the dead simple rules one day at the local game store. They’re so good, I bought the Bundle of Holding on Mutant Zero, which is where the mechanics evolved from. I’m liking what I’m seeing in MZ, although the nuclear wasteland mutant theme isn’t really my cup of tea, there’s a lot to like there. So Mutant Zero would be another.

I wanted to like the 2d20 system powering Star Trek and Conan, and John Carter and which we were on the initial playtesting. We found the mechanics were overly complex and the writing to describe them so unbearably bad as to be nearly incomprehensible. When you can’t quite figure out the basic resolution mechanic, there’s a problem.

Funnily, all of these examples are out of the Mödiphiüs stable.

As for RPGs that have influenced actual play, it’s the return of d6 Star Wars, which was rereleased by Fantasy Flight Games (whose new SW game has the same annoying proprietary dice thing a lot of games are doing these days, and whose half dozen “core books” are a blatant rip-job on their customers.) I cribbing Hollow Earth Expedition‘s take the average mechanic for the massive dice pools that come with starship combat, rather than buying a gross of d6s and a wheelbarrow.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll probably guess my answer on this one.

This question depends on what kind of recognition. I think James Bond: 007 was one of the best examples of innovative game design for the introduction of Hero Points, for a relatively realistic combat damage system, and especially for capturing the flavor of the source material.

If we’re talking about a RPG system that didn’t get enough recognition and was unceremoniously dumped for essentially a better version of Fate, I’d have to say Cortex. It’s one of the few systems that can flex well for almost any setting, yet keep a certain level of crunch that Fate and Apocalypse World don’t have. The math of the system is solid, character creation is excellent.

I’ve got two top pics on this one: Space:1889 and Battlestar Galactica.

The first is a great setting and Clockwerk has been doing yeoman’s work on producing new material for it. Using the Ubiquity engine is also a plus, as the group knows it well. The original game mechanics were crap. The setting, however, was so good it led me into studying history.

Second, the only campaign I’ve ever missed — Battlestar Galactica. It was such a good game, with great players, characters, and one of my best bits of GMing that I’d like to give it another shot. After all, all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

Hands down, I liked the playing card based randomizer of Castle Falkenstein. It was simple and elegant, and allowed the player to plan their actions knowing what they had in their hand. Looks like a fight’s coming, but you’ve got good cards for a social test (like talking your way out of the fight?” Try it.

The combat system was a hot mess, but we did a house mechanic that worked quite well.


I really like Cortex’s use of dice from d2 to d12 to set the level of an attribute, trait, or skill. You wind up rolling two or three dice and adding them. If keeps the bell curve of probability that feels natural to me, while causing it to shift for the quality of what’s being rated.

When used in combat, having the number you succeeded by as a base damage, then add a weapon die replaced the old d100/Quality Result rules of James Bond for me, as well. It does the same thing, but without a table. The less I have to reference these days, the better.

I don’t tend to be inspired to play by a specific game mechanic. The last time something like that happened would have been the use of playing cards for randomizers in Castle Falkenstein.

Are there mechanics I like? Yes — James Bond introduced me to point generation for character creation. I won’t do random again. It also introduced the concept of the Hero Point — a piece of game currency to adjust the outcome of a roll or absorb damage. What we used to call the “get out of death point.” Most games have it now, but JB:007 was the first that I know of.

Also, I love the bidding system for initiative and difficulty during chases in the old James Bond game. I thought it would be interesting to extend that to combat to get some of the “Have you jumped through the air firing two guns while screaming ‘Argh!’?” versus the cool, steady shot of the gunfighter in Unforgiven.

I like “take the average” from Hollow Earth Expedition and plan to use it for other dice pool games, like the old d6 Star Wars I’ll be running soonish. (For every two dice, you can just take a 7.)


Way back in the ’80s and ’90s we used to use music to set the mood. Sometimes it was just something in keeping with the mood — a soundtrack from a movie, usually. For a while there, I was creating mix tapes to be used at key moments because Miami Vice had made pop music mood-setting a thing. It’s funny that now that I can easily mix and match music and key it at the appropriate time with my laptop, I don’t.

I have occasionally queued up the 1920/30s channel on the internet radio for the Hollow Earth Expedition game, but generally, I’ve stopped using music. Maybe i should try it again.


I’ve gotten complemented on running a good game, here and there, but i can’t think of anything that stands out that is for public consumption.

I’ve got to be careful as the players might see this.

Technically, I think the next game is a continuation of our Hollow Earth Expedtion, but I figured I’d focus on the next new game we’re going to play. In that instance, it’ll be Star Wars.

Firstly, it won’t be using the Fantasy Flight system because 1) I find the multiple core books based on a theme to be wasteful and money-grubbing, and 2) this carries into the proprietary dice — something that appears to be a big thing, right now, in gaming. Yes, I know you can use a normal die and pretend the [number here] is the special symbol, but that that’s not the point. Specifically designing your game to suck more money out of your customer is. So we’re going with the West End Games’ d6 system, which I did buy from Fantasy Flight, who reprinted it as a special edition. And I do mean reprinted. It’s still got references to photocopying things.

So we’re playing like it’s 1987 all over again.

Right off the bat, I wanted to contain the “canon” to what we knew from the original trilogy, but add elements from SoloRogue One (the best of the films, in my opinion), and bits of The Clone Wars series. The prequels? NO.

The basic premise wasn’t pitched by me, but by one of the players in our group who wanted to see what I’d do with the setting. He had suggested that an imperial campaign that used my distrust and disdain for big government would be interesting, a sort of The Wire meets Rogue One. Originally, I was skeptical of the idea, but after floating it about a while in my head, I decided that there was something I could do with an entire galaxy.

The campaign is set only a few years after the Clone Wars and the declaration of the Galactic Empire. The Empire didn’t seize power; it was voted into existence and for good reason: the chaos on the edges of the Old Republic led to widespread slavery, oppression, crime, and violence. The Jedi Council, now discredited as a bunch of religious fanatics who had acted as a kind of “shadow government” and which had attempted to seize control from the Grand Chancellor under the color of trying to stop “the Sith”, a Force order to which they were opposed, has been either destroyed or dispersed. The Jedi are extinguished, the people have been promised, but this isn’t the case. Jedi continue to hide and plot.

The characters are all Imperials or civilians with ties to the same. These are not cardboard cut-out villains, but people who experienced the failures of the Republic personally and are looking to spread law and order throughout the galaxy. We have a political officer who has been displaced from Coruscant and is now in command of enforcement efforts in an important sector; an intelligence officer who specialty is locating Jedi conspirators and their supporters, and who suffered some humiliation under these self-appointed “generals”; a surveillance and law enforcement droid; a former clone trooper who has been “decommissioned” into the local enforcement community and who secretly allowed his Jedi general to escape General Order 66; and a “death trooper”. There’s one more player who needs to build a character — probably a pilot of some kind. It is Star Wars, after all.

The setting will be an industrial planet, probably Kuat, the world where most of the drive engines for the new Imperial Fleet are built. I’m going for a cyberpunk/political thriller/ police procedural combo that will stay focused on a world or two for a few episodes, before expanding out into the galaxy.

One goal is to break the Jedi/Sith duality. That was an aspect I liked of The Last Jedi was that not everything needs to be about the Skywalkers, andthe Jedi aren’t necessarily the guardians of the “One True Way.” The Force tries to find balance and when it tips to far toward light or dark, the Force tries to rebalance. I want to have other Force traditions that are light and dark, but also neutral. That don’t use one aspect of the Force or the other.

I wanted to show an Empire that isn’t just posturing evil baddies like Tarkin and Krennick, but that include people who are trying to do the right thing, and think a large bureaucracy and military can fix things — do-gooders who think you have to break some eggs to make an omelet, but mean well. Like many ideologues.

Should be interesting.