May 252014


A while back Erik Tenkar asked how do you roll for initiative at the table. I play in his games (occasionally) and he just uses 1d6 for the enemy and 1d6 for us players, and it works perfectly fine. At my table though I like to take things from new games and mix them into the ye olde school systems that I play. My favorite initiative system has to be regular playing cards with the Jokers in them.

If you haven’t seen this in some of the newer games, (I think Savage Worlds does it this way) it works like this:

Have each player draw a card and draw a card for each “group” of enemies they are facing. Then begin the count down from the Ace to the Deuce. Jokers can go when they please and get a +2 bonus to whatever it is they are attempting to do. My one house rule is that if a player draws an Ace they can choose to go first or last.

When their number comes up they act and put the card in the discard pile. After a Joker is drawn the deck gets shuffled.

You can find a ton of really nifty and themed poker cards @ DriveThruCards.

Pretty simple and fairly fast paced and easier than keeping track on who rolled what.

(I’ll probably start posting more ways I mix the old and the new.)

Oct 182013

tremulus was a Kickstater that I wanted to participate in so bad but didn’t have the funds. Now it’s on Drivethru/RPGNow for $15. Not bad considering the good things I’ve heard about it.

While you are there don’t forget to pick up the Classic Playbook for free.

From the blurb:

tremulus is a storytelling RPG where you and your friends get together and create a haunting story in the vein of HP Lovecraft’s works.

Want to See Something Really Scary?

We all do. tremulus lets you and your friends make terrifying stories together. No experience necessary. And dice? You only need a pair of regular old six-sided dice, like you find in most family board games. If you’ve never played any roleplaying games in the past, then this is a great game to start with.

“tremulus looks creepy and intense. It’s the kind of thing you think you want to avoid at all costs, but instead can’t help but be drawn toward…” 

-Monte Cook, Co-designer Call of Cthulhu D20 Roleplaying Game and the creator of the upcoming Numenera

What if I Know Nothing About Lovecraft?

If you know what scares you or your friends, that knowledge and the guidance found in tremulus will give you more than enough to get going. (It’s not homework, but if you haven’t read any of HPL’s work, go find some. You’re in for a real treat.)

“Sean Preston wrote a game that reflects the horror play style I’ve always had to shoehorn into existing systems. tremulus takes you from zero to full immersion in mere minutes, and its narrative unfolds like a story penned by Lovecraft himself.” 

-Ron Blessing, Co-host of RoleplayDNA and Smiling Jack’s Bar & Grill (and the much missed The Game’s the Thing…let’s bring this back).

Is it Easy to Learn? (Short answer: Yes!)

Novices and experienced gamers alike can sit down and start playing right away. All the information you need to play your character is found in your playbook, so there is nothing to memorize, and once you get going it becomes second nature. And you only need 2d6.  All rolls are player-facing and serve to drive the story forward.You never roll without a reason. (And the Keeper never rolls at all.)

“Deceptively simple, never dull, tremulus is not for the faint of heart but the inquisitive soul. It makes it dead easy — frighteningly fun, even — to tell stories to scare the hell out of yourself.” 

 -Matt Forbeck, Award-winning game designer and author 

Based on the Apocalypse World Engine

The rules of tremulus are based on Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World and influenced by elements of Fiasco and FATE. New elements drive the game into more investigative directions, handle sanity loss and madness, and streamlines the role of the Keeper (the game master.)

“tremulus takes classic Lovecraftian gaming and combines it with the growling, dangerous engine of Apocalypse World. The playbooks have all the flavor you want and everything you need to play on a single double sided sheet. Every decision that sends poor Dr. Meridian on the spiral of lost sanity and health is in the hands of the players. Perfect for a spooky one-shot, a campaign built through play or something to get jaded fans of Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying excited again.”

-Rob Wieland, Flames Rising

Mechanized Narrative

When some folks think of storytelling games, they think of games without a central game master or dice or task resolution system. This is not always the case. There are a wide variety of storytelling games. tremulus has a game master called the Keeper, and each player has a character (as defined by their playbook). Rolls determine success, partial success, or failure of their actions (called moves). Wanna surround yourself with wordnoise about tremulus? Check out RWR: Episode 1: The tremulus Edition!

“tremulus is one of those rare games where things can go horribly, horribly awry, and you love it all the more.”

 -Clint Black, Savage Worlds Brand Manager

Low to No Prep Before Play

You’ll find it remarkably easy to get going. In fact, if you use the playset found in the book (the town of Ebon Eaves), you don’t have to do any prep whatsoever.

“tremulus is probably among the most entertaining and unique games I ever played. If you are interested in Lovecraftian horror this is definitely the game for you. While other games are fun as well, tremulus is the only Cthulhu roleplaying game I know that allows the Keeper to run a game with no prep at all. I can’t wait to hold the final copy in my hands!”

 -Michael Wolf, Stargazer’s World

Ideal for 1 to 5 Players (and one Keeper)

With horror games, small groups are usually better, but too small and they don’t work at all. tremulus handles a broad number of players effortlessly. During the playtesting of the game, it was discovered that tremulus not only plays well, it plays exceedingly well with just one player. This complements weird literature perfectly, as there is often only a central, solitary protagonist. As with any game, more than five players can be a bit much, and can actually detract from the atmosphere of the story. For group play, the sweet spot seems to be three or four players.

Why Does It Work Well with Small Groups?

tremulus works so well for small groups because all characters begin with the same common moves . These allow them to do all the things you’d expect protagonists to do to one degree or another. The special moves each character has are specific to their role, be they a doctor, dilettante, or detective. Each player also gets a Lore move unique to their character as well.  (No. We shan’t be talking about Lore moves here quite yet. Yes. We’re horrible. And we’re sorry.)

Flexible Character Choice and the Playbook

Choosing the type of character you want to play is integral to the roleplaying experience. In tremulus, you have eleven classic characters to choose from in the core book. Additional playbook sets and playsets are available. Each of these choices has an attendant playbook, which is all each player needs to play the game. There is a brief background, choices of name, looks, and so on, and places to keep track of attributes. Everything you need as a player will be included on a tailored, printable playbook. There is niche protection, as no two players may use the same playbook, and when death or madness occurs, you can just get a new playbook and jump back in.

What Playbooks Are Found in tremulus?

There are eleven classic archetypes: The Alienist, The Antiquarian, The Author, The Devout, The Detective, The Dilettante, The Doctor, The Heir, The Journalist, The Professor, and The Salesman.

More archetypes are found in the themed sets of playbooks and playsets available separately.

Over 250 pages of horrific goodness!

Be sure to also add the FREE classic playbook package to your cart for printer-friendly characters!

Sep 202013

Like most of the other Fate goodies (here and here) the Fate System Toolkit is pay what you want. I think it’s a noble thing they are doing with the PWYW especially after such a successful Kickstarter.

From the Blurb

Rules, glorious rules! The Fate Core system is flexible, hackable, and adaptable to any world you can dream up. This Fate System Toolkit is packed with system ideas to bring those dreams to life.

Learn how to hack the skill system to better suit your terraforming campaign. Get ideas on how to create races and societies for your woodland elves, subterranean aliens, or afterlife police force. Customize our magic starters to create your own system, and use our gadget starters to bring your gear to life (only not literally).

Whatever genre you’re gaming, you’ll find a wide array of customizable concepts and optional rules in the Fate System Toolkit to take your campaign to the next level.

Fate System Toolkit.
Raise your game!

Fate System Toolkit is an expansion for the Fate Core System.

Sep 042013

Either yesterday or today this website turned 1 year old. I was hoping to have done something special for the birthday but I can’t think of anything.

In other news I’m getting married! Shooting for a Halloween wedding date. If you would like to help out I have a Fundraiser to help with some of the costs. If you would like to donate you can do so here:

Aug 122013

After talking to my better half last night, we came to the conclusion that I have gamer ADD and that I’m a Gamer Snob. I expect her to roll up characters for games I never get around to running and I am not willing to do the same for her. (That problem is easy, she wants me to play anything Palladium and I just don’t care for it.) But, I’m going to suck it up and roll up a character for one of them. (Not sure which one though.)

Anyways back to the topic, I know Gamer ADD is a problem in these circles. How do you guys cope with it, how do you pick a system/setting and stick with it for more than just character generation or a one shot. She wants to play in a lasting campaign and I just don’t think I have it in me anymore.

Help Internets, please help.

Jul 232013

My new OSR crush. Something about making the characters with the lifepaths. I find it very fascinating. I haven’t actually played it yet but I did make a few characters. It sells itself as pick and play without prep, or much prep actually. From what I read so far you can do just that. Pick it up @ RPGNow.

Without Playing it I give it:

5 Signs

The dark ones have found me and gifted me with this bit of their glory. Worship at the altar of this perfection.

Jul 172013

I’ve been a fan of savage worlds for quite some time. I picked it up long ago when it was that grey 8.5×11 book and kept up with the editions to the current deluxe version. I got this email and thought I would pass it on to you guys. Get it while it’s hot.

Savage Worlds Sale

In celebration of Savage Worlds TENTH ANNIVERSARY, we’re having a VERY RARE sale!

Most of our Savage Worlds settings and adventures are 25% off for two weeks only–from July 15th to July 30th.

If there’s something you’ve been thinking about getting for a while, this might be the time to do it!

Pinnacle sales are like chupacabra sightings—rare, unpredictable, and elusive at best–so act fast!

Click the banner above or follow this link: Pinnacle on DriveThruRPG