Stat It: The Matrix/WWII Crossover

I begin this post with some sad news: Zach Best passed away a month ago. Zach has changed my tools for solo roleplaying for the better and I have mentioned how that is in another post.

A tradition on Solo RPG Voyages is for me to play a war-themed game for Remembrance Day. However, I’ve decided, in tribute to Zach Best, to play a game of There Is No Spoon, the first game I tested out the CRGE on.

Though I am not completely forgoing the theme of war. The scenario is that a Redpill is in a WWII simulation and that the crew is assigned to go rescue him, give him the pill, and obtain him. His war skills are desirable for fighting the Machines.

But, who are our Hovercraft Crew? Well, I’m going to be using a combination of UNE and possibly BOLD to flesh out five characters, then create them for the game. Yes, this will be a Stat It. We’ll be doing the classic 6 point rule. Continue reading

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Spotlight: Zach Best

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this post.

If I recall correctly, I first met Zach Best when I was doing the Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week. During it, Zach gave me a request to playtest his own engine, which you guys may remember as the Conjectural Roleplaying GM Emulator. I fell in love with the easy to understand rules, it’s simple resolution tables, and creative twists that resulted from it.

As a result, CRGE became one of my go-to Engine, eventually overtaking my previous go-to, Mythic. The result was me taking some materials from Mythic to create CRGE Kai. And I enjoyed solo playing with not just that, but also BOLD and UNE, which contributed a lot to several games, even without CRGE as the engine.

Thus, when I read that Zach Best, the creator of CRGE, BOLD, and UNE, had terminal cancer, I felt horrible. I haven’t really been keeping up with my solo RPG gaming, but I do tend to pop my head in the solo RPG community, so hearing that we might lose one of the nicest people I’ve seen in that community, I was pretty sad.

I may not have known him all that much compared to some of the others, but Zach Best left such a huge impact on my Solo RPG Hobby that, looking at it, I realize just now how huge it is.

Over at my Solo RPG Voyages Stats, I have used either CRGE or CRGE Kai in a combined total of 15.2% of all my current RPG Voyages. Although it translates to about ten games, keep in mind that I have about sixty-seven voyages under my belt, making it a hefty number. It makes CRGE the third most used Engine next to Tiny Solitary Soldiers with an 18.2% (12 Voyages) which I use mostly for wargame-based RPGs, and Mythic with a whopping 24.2% (16 Voyages). Like I said, Mythic was my go to before CRGE graced my presence. That’s how much I loved the system. If I had no other idea of what to use or I didn’t feel like going random, I’d go with CRGE or CRGE Kai.

Had I never been asked to beta test CRGE, chances are I would have stuck with Mythic, but possibly not enjoying keeping up with the Chaos Factor or the Threads as I had keeping up with the Surge Counter and where those Threads are heading.

CRGE was also the engine that was used in my favorite RPG session I have ever done: A Flower For Mara. The RPG gave me a lot of memorable moments. The story behind this was that I wanted to play the game, but because of it being meant to play in live-action and requiring people delving into their actual pasts, I had to get creative.

BOLD, the Book of Legends and Deeds, was used to flesh out the stories of Mara’s family, including Mara herself. This would allow the characters to have their own backstories without me having to go personal. Thus created my first memorable moment: I ended up having a character with “Harsh Power Play”, which implied they had ulterior motives. And so, after being given control of that character, I wrote that they were the villain in this story, which was kind of baffling considering how A Flower For Mara had no heroes or villains.

UNE, the Universal NPC Emulator, was used to make the conversations pop. Mainly to figure out what each NPC said to my character. It led to my second memorable moment. One of the NPCs, Thomas, was freaking out over the ghost of Mara. My PC, Ajax, confronted him on this and, soon, the two formed a pact to help people move on from Mara’s death, as it was obvious that her ghost had been appearing to several people.

Finally CRGE contributed to what may be my most memorable moment. Long story short, Mara’s daughter Zoe was actually Ajax’s daughter. The villain ended up discovering this and went to tell Zoe this. This leads to an Unexpectedly (CRGE’s version of a plot twist) so bizarre, that it remains my go-to quote for why I love using Engines to dictate the plot.

Limelit. The rest of the scene goes great for the PC’s. The estranged daughter of my character’s old flame just found out he’s her real father after all these years, is about to beat the snot out of him, and the rest of the scene goes perfectly for him.

Let me repeat that. My character’s about to get beaten up by his own daughter. And yet it goes great.

I was able to spin a devastating conflict into a moment where Zoe feigns attacking Ajax so as to fool the villain, as she found out about her true father prior to the event. This led to a complete 180 where Ajax, once a single person grieving for his role in Mara’s untimely death, now having support from her grieving family as they try to stop the matriarch from tearing them apart.

CRGE, however, gave me another surprise. Just when I thought Naomi, the villain throughout the story, would have Ajax trapped by exposing him as the indirect cause of Mara’s drug overdose, it turns out that she has no idea of Ajax’s role. However, a critical fail leading into Limelit caused what could have been a tragic ending into a more bittersweet one about forgiveness and redemption.

It felt less like I was playing an RPG and more like I was watching a made-for-TV movie unfolding. This feeling I never had with any other game I played. And it’s all thanks to Zach Best and his creations.

However, not everything in this post is sad and gloomy. There’s a way we can help Zach. On DrivethruRPG, there is a bundle in which all the proceeds will go to support Zach and his family during this difficult time. The bundle contains a lot of RPGs, some of which, like Kaigaku, I’ve heard nothing but good things about.

Let me put it to you this way: for the same price you pay for just Kaigaku’s Premium Edition, you’re essentially buying three RPGs, a 13th Age Supplement, a sandbox adventure that can be used for any RPG, a 5E supplement, two Numenera adventures, and a small book regarding Alex Yari and Jacob DC Ross’ remembrances of Zach’s work. And more stuff are being added along the way, making it a mutual gift that keeps on giving.

Before you ask, I have checked. The bundle becomes free once you purchase it, so if you bought it before new items have been added, don’t fret.

It’s a good deal that can also help out someone who gave so much to the community.

Thank you Zach, for all the support that you have given to all of us.

[SGAM 2016] Let’s Play Chainmail! Part 2 – Don’t Give Up The Ship

Alright, so let’s be blunt right now. Trying to play the game with the original Chainmail rules was just confusing. A lot of cross referencing would have to be done and in the end, it wasn’t exactly as clear cut as I wanted it to be. So, I spent a good chunk of this month working up some new rules for the game.

Unlike with Braunstein, Chainmail did come with its own rules, but the problem was that I couldn’t comprehend them in a way I could easily put it into practice, and thus, I decided to create a new system while keeping the spirit of it in check. Perhaps this is history repeating itself, as Chainmail was originally adapted from some rules as well.

When we last left off our commander, Robert, he ended up taking over Bodenberg with the help of some pixies that might have ended up being necromancers. So yeah, Robert’s first action is to confront the Gnome on that, since he owns them. Continue reading

Dreading Dread

Happy Halloween, everybody! Today, I’m going to be playing Dread! Now, for those who don’t know, Dread is a horror RPG where task resolutions are done via pulling blocks from a Jenga Tower. Yes. You read right. You play a game of Jenga in order to play an RPG.

Now, I have done a video where I play a solo Dread session using an actual Jenga Tower and the GM’s Apprentice deck, but it was pretty lackluster in my mind. I mean, it had very funny moments in it, like how I said that the Tower will fall five seconds before the Tower actually falls, but it compared to moments like conspiring with a family to oust their wicked mother who’s trying to tear them apart or negotiating with a demonic god to stop her from destroying Babylonia, the game felt more like I was running on fumes.

Thus, I’m gonna play Dread as a text recap. That said, allow me to explain the writing process to a Solo RPG Voyage session.

The process is mainly me using a word processer to type out the game mechanics and my reactions/strategy/narrative. At the same time, I would use a program to help me run those mechanics. In particular, Roll20 or Tabletop Simulator, though Roll20 is less resource heavy. The session report can go from a meager three hundred words to almost five thousand, but the writing time it takes can differ.

See, I play the game as I’m writing the report. I don’t play the game, then type in my report. Any roll I make is told on the report. Depending on how fluid the game is, this process can take anywhere from a single day to even a week. Most of these is the reason why I tend to fluctuate between having a weekly schedule and having months of hiatuses with occasional games.

So, with a lengthy time that can go anywhere from a single night to a whole week, especially with a busy schedule that I have in real life, I can’t exactly have a large Jenga Tower standing on my table next to my laptop. Especially if it can simply fall over when I’m not focusing on playing Dread.

Long story short, I won’t be playing Dread in the sense that I’ll be using the Tower. Instead, I will play Dread using the Mythic GM Emulator rules I made for Dread, which, to my theory, will emulate the Tower.

On top of this, I will also play a published adventure that is included with Dread: Beneath the Full Moon. Spoilers for those who haven’t played it, but the title is pretty indicative of what the antagonist is gonna be. The Engine I will be using is Mythic GM Emulator, as I will also use it for the Tower.

Now, part of the reason I chose to play a published adventure is so that I can use a premade questionnaire. This is how one creates a character, or rather, fleshes them out. When I played Dread solo before, I had no questionnaire to fill out. Hell, I never had a scenario beyond “you get a house infested with a ghost. Oh and zombies”. To assist us is our trusty BOLD. Without further ado, let’s flesh out some marrow! Continue reading

Stat It: Bliss Stage

Finally, we get to the RPG I’ve been wanting to play for Valentine’s Day. While I have hinted towards the game in my previous Valentine’s Day special, I figured I’d draw the suspense before my inevitable unveiling. When I first discovered this game, I fell in love with the premise and how the setting could set up to be a nice Evangelion-esqe story.

The plot? Right now, aliens have invaded Earth with a force that has put a huge chunk of the human population to eternal sleep. The survivors were unable to keep the economy, society, or any remote stability afloat, and so everything on Earth fell into chaos. To make matters worse, the aliens usually sent out robotic drones to pick off survivors.

However, a small band of survivors managed to grab one of these drones and reverse engineer them to create their own mechs. To put simply: to fight the monsters, they have created a monster, ANIMa. And so, they wage war against the aliens. Now is the time to fight back. This game’s story alone makes me want to play it. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Bliss Stage. Continue reading

Let’s Finish A Flower For Mara

Alright, let’s finish off A Flower For Mara. For those who haven’t, please read my previous part, as it sets everyone up. For those who want a quick skimmy, here you go:

Mara’s dead. The game would have been about people grieving for her had it not been for a few Oracle rolls telling me that her mom had a hand in the recent ‘hauntings’ (though they’re more like ghostly visits) and that I should investigate further. What this results in is Naomi being an evil mastermind and the group is banding together to talk about their feelings to make the ghost of their regrets go away.

We also discovered that Zoe isn’t Caleb’s father. It’s Ajax’s, my PC. And that Joshua just… gave up grieving. No. I’m not making this up. He just… gave up. Zoe’s took the whole truth of being Ajax’s daughter rather well, but only because Naomi is actively trying to tear the family apart. Why? Out of revenge for what everyone did to their daughter.

Now, in keeping with the tone of the RPG having a TV-show sort of feeling, I would probably do a Previously On segment, but that’ll be me splicing together different scenes together to replicate what I just gave above.

So far, Zoe and Joshua set down their flowers. The others are well aware of setting the flowers down. And now we’re going into Fall. It’s gonna be hard to figure out what to do, since everyone is now allied with each other. We also have to make sure Naomi doesn’t impede us. Though the real question is why we don’t just pull an intervention and shove her into the same room as us, hold her down, and pretty much settle everyone’s differences.

This… is a hard nut to crack. I really wanted to play the whole year out and finish this on the final act, but I think we’re gonna finish in the Fall. So, I’m gonna skip to the final confrontation with Naomi, since I assume that the next few scenes is everyone putting their flowers down and admitting their griefs as soon as possible.

So, Thanksgiving. Continue reading

Let’s Overdramatize A Flower For Mara

I can understand LARPs. I really do. Most people tend to refer to roleplaying as being in a play, but in reality, it’s more like playing a game, but you and your friends make up an epic story to justify why you have to get through your obstacles. LARPing, however, is the quintessential idea of roleplaying, at least with what people say about it. There’s no literal rules like in most RPGs, and even if there is, there’s usually a reason that makes it fair for everyone, like how you’re required to make weapons soft.

Most people make LARP scenarios. Some of you can recall me mentioning one where you have a final conversation with someone before they finally pass on. Seems grief is a popular topic, as there’s another LARP based around the death of a loved one: A Flower for Mara. The story’s simple: you have a cast of characters having four acts to voice out their grief, concerns, sorrows, and all that other stuff, all while Mara tries to have them cling onto their regrets.

Like Fiasco, the scenario sets up inter-character conflicts and ulterior motives of intrigue, which I like very much. Seeing Thomas wanting to get to reading the will ASAP much to Caleb’s chagrin due to it being too soon (and also because part of the will discusses what becomes of his house), only for Thomas to confess later that he’s more concerned with how Caleb would make use of the house that has been in their family for a long while and would rather have some of the heirlooms they have be put in the museum so that they’d be treasured in an attempt to get his father’s approval is a pretty sweet moment.

Though, A Flower for Mara’s tone is less comedic than Fiasco with the whole grieving storyline. One of the game’s main concept is each character having a grief that motivates them. Here’s the thing: the grief has to be a real thing that happened to the player. The game warns that playing A Flower For Mara will hit close to home for some players.

That said, there is room for comedic moments in the game, as the playtest shows and you don’t have to reveal your Grief if you don’t want to. So what am I going to do with this RPG, per se? Well, in celebration of GM Day (which I missed by so many miles) and the CRGE being released, I’m gonna do a double whammy. Using A Flower For Mara as a Driver, I will also use BOLD, UNE, and CRGE to play through a LARP. Before we begin though, there are a few things I wanna get clear.

The first being griefs. At the risk of shooting down the message A Flower For Mara is trying to convey, namely it being a story where people get to converse and act out feelings of sadness and grief, I’m gonna change up the nature of them. Although, considering that I’m playing only one character and everyone else, Mara included, are gonna be controlled by UNE, it’s probably gonna be a given.

Each character will have a grief that’s unique to them and will serve as a driving motivation for why they act that way during the grieving process. This ties into my second thing I want to settle. Zoe’s age. As stated in the game, Zoe’s age impacts everything because she is Mara’s daughter. I need to determine this before I determine griefs because Zoe’s grief might just be “this is the first loved one I lost”. With that, let’s get to our first CRGE question:

Continue reading