Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Play a New RPG Month

The folks over at The Dice of Doom podcast started a great project a year ago. Their idea was to try a new RPG every month for a year. They have played a variety different games so far, and talked about what they liked and didn't about each on their podcast. Now they are throwing down the challenge to all of us. Step out of your comfort game, and try something else.  To Play a New RPG in the Month of October 

Every Wednesday I am at my local brick and mortar store to run DnD encounters. I talk with about 20 different players about games and RPGS. They continue to surprise me by their lack of knowledge about any game system beyond WotC Dungeon and Dragons 4th edition. While I am overjoyed that they are at least playing something I wish they would expand their minds and try something different. There are so many different game options out there. I think that is where something like Play a New RPG Month is really going to shine. In order for it to do its job however, it is up to all of us to get the word out. Otherwise it is likely just going to be a bunch of people who would already be playing different games anyways.

I’ve made a list of my top five picks for Play a New RPG month. Each of them was picked for a variety of reasons but one of the main deciding factors were their ability to play in a single session and the cost. Almost all of them can easily extend them into a longer session but I want to try as many different new systems.  I know this is a slightly different take on it, but I figure if you try it and you like it or are at least curious about it then you can always go back to it and see what else it has to offer.  The second time around you can get more into personalizing the characters. With pre-gens and relatively simple systems you can grab something and run with it. I’ve also tried to keep each of my picks relatively inexpensive if not free. With all of that in mind here are my top five picks for Play a New RPG month

Top 5 Picks

1) – Fiasco
Fiasco is GMless game from Bully Pulpit Games where you as a group tell the story of something that started out simple enough and then went horribly wrong in every way possible.  One of the examples from the website kind of sums it up.  “Your girlfriend thought you could scare your wife into a divorce while you were on vacation.  Now you find yourself on the run from Mexican drug dealers in rubber gloves with pit bulls.”

You can order the Print $25 or just the PDF for $12 directly from their site. Bully Pulpit games also releases a new playset every month for the game so you can have wide variety of settings to play in.  So far they have everything from life as a rock and roll star, to being trapped in a sinking submarine.  The most recent release was a Dresden Files playset that was put together with the help of the people from Evil Hat Productions.

Of all the games I’m hoping to try this month, I think I am most excited about this one.

This is available as a free download, at the above link, from One Seven Design. Everything you need to play the game can be found in a single 16 page book. You’ve got 5 pre-made characters, information about the world, the rules, and a ready to run adventure. It is ready to run with little to no prep on the part of any GM and can easily be adjusted to run in anywhere from 1 – 5 sessions.

The story revolves follows Lady Blackbird as she tries to escape an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe.  She’s hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to get her to her true love Uriah Flint, the king. However, half way to their destination the Owl is captured by the imperial Cruiser and all aboard are charged with flying under a false flag.  Now as they sit in the brig, it is only a matter of time until she is discovered.  That is where the game starts off and where it goes from there is almost anyone’s guess.

3) – Dread
Ok I’m cheating on this one a little bit. In reality nowhere in the book does Dread refer to itself as an RPG. It is a game of Horror & Hope in the form of macabre storytelling.  It is released by The Impossible Dream and they have a few sample adventures on the site for free down and the game itself can be downloaded from Drive thru RPG

You start the game off by answering a quick questionnaire about your character to flesh out the basic frame work of your character.  Then as a group you begin the basic telling of the story.  When a character tries to do something that is beyond their capabilities they must pull a block from a Jenga tower and put it on top.  So it builds up an increasing level of suspense because each and every time they have to make a pull it becomes that much harder.

4) –Paranoia
Paranoia was originally released years ago by West End Games.  It has since been released in a variety of fun, termination filled editions. Now it rests in the hands of Mongoose Publishing.  Most gaming sites define the genre of the game a humorous Sci-fi. Although I have seen the game played as a deadly serious, dark future game, and the players had a great time, it is certainly meant to be more slap-stick and funny.  It is set in the distant future. The world is pleasantly run and governed by your friend the computer.  You wake up one morning to a message that informs you the computer has transferred you from beloved, safe, job to the important position of Troubleshooter. There you will be able to root out commie evil, mutants, and members of secret societies all for the betterment of life in Alpha Complex.  This would of course be a great honour if you were not already a mutant yourself, and a member of a secret society as well. 

 The game forces the party to work together in an atmosphere of mistrust where they must hide their own secrets while trying to expose the secrets of others. Sometimes the best way to do this includes killing the character that you think has figured things out and blaming everything on them.  So character death is quiet common in this game. The regularity of death makes the fact that you are a clone and come in a 6 pack very useful.

This game very nearly didn’t make the list. The reasoning had nothing to do with the game itself and everything to do with my inability to find a cheap or free source for the rules.  After extensive searches of the internet I came across Noble Knight.  They are selling Citizen’s Guideto surviving Alpha Complex which was released a couple of years ago for $5.  It will give you a quick overview of the world and the game system as well as a short adventure.  If you want something more paper to play with or you just want it faster check out the used section of your local gaming store.  There have been so many editions of the game put out of the years there might be something there.

Come on admit it you love zombies as much as the next person.  To be honest I only know a single person who can honestly say they don’t love Zombies, and she is one of the most squeamish people I know.  As part of Free RPG day back in June, Eden Studios released a free adventure, which included a quick start guide, called the Waking Dead.  The concept is a horrible rip off of the television show the Walking Dead, but it still makes for a fun adventure. 

The gaming system shown in the quick start book was dead simple to learn and a lot of fun to play. If you missed the free RPF day adventure you can still download it for free from their website

Bonus things to play:

A) – RPGkids 
This bonus one is for all the parents out there.  Role-playing games teach kids so much; it helps to improve imagination, dice math, acting, how to double cross your friends, all sorts of great stuff. Some of my proudest moments as a parent were watching my daughters out LARP and out think experienced players in the Vampire LARP we ran. The problem with most game system is that they are way too complex for most kids to understand. The 24 page PDF rules are available on his site for only $2.99 and are good for children ages 4 and up. It also comes complete with a pre-made adventure including maps, and tokens.

I want to fit this somewhere in October. It is just difficult trying to line up the three different families and getting the kids together to play.

B) – Board games
It is a little bit outside of the traditional Role-playing game theme but why not spend a night with your friends and play for a few board games.  There are a number of really good board games out there including; Robo Rally, Zombies, Pandemic, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, the list just goes on and on.

If you happen to be lucky enough to be part of a regular gaming group, ask around the group and see if anyone else has experience in a different system. Maybe they’ll be willing to step up and run something for the group. In all likelihood if it is the case that you have someone will to run it then get out of their way and let them go to it. They’ll likely have all the books they need and may even be excited by the opportunity.


Here is my Play a New RPG Schedule as far as confirmed games go.  I’ll try and do updates on each of the systems as time allows.  I’m also hoping to find a way to squeeze in a session of Pathfinder (By checking out the local Pathfinder Society) and RPGkids. At this point it is just a matter of sorting out the time. Also be in Fargo ND for the weekend of the 21st thru to the 24th for Valleycon, so who knows what gaming I’ll find there.

Sept 30th – Dresden Files
Oct 1st – Zombie Apocalypse LARP
Oct 7th – Fiasco
Oct 14th – Lady Blackbird

Be sure to take some time and check out the Play a new RPG website and to visit their forums. You can find both at  The AngryDM also did a great write up on Play a New RPG month over at his blog 

What are your plans for Play a New RPG Month? Please share your gaming plans with us and let us know how they go.

Quick editors note: Dragon Age would have been in the top five easily but I wanted to avoid Fantasy games since that was such a common genre of play.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding Paranoia, you can find a Really cheap rulebook that has All the information you need for players called "Little Red Book" (XP edition) It's around $10 if ya can find it. I picked it up not too long back from my local bookstore (Which also happens to be the only brick and mortar store I've been to that carries anything Paranoia related)

    I strongly recommend it over some of the older content though as the newer content is just that good. There's a review of it as well if ya need more info.