How Gaming Made Everything Better

I’ve come to gaming only recently compared to pretty much everyone else involved in The Redacted Files. However, as I take a break from editing what is scheduled to be our 65th actual play episode release, I have to think that I probably have the most of anyone in the bunch to be thankful to gaming for.

Simply put, I was in a bad place before I started gaming. I’d seen what had been a promising career and several fundamental aspects of my personal identity crumble as the last of my usable vision simply…went away. I was pushing away friends with whom I suddenly had nothing in common and was spending a lot of time just reading and waiting for something to happen. In all that media consumption though, I began listening to more podcasts again, and began reaching out to some of the folks who I found liked similar things about what we were listening too. What happened after that is nothing less then a turning point in my life, I started doing stuff again.

I started talking with some folks about playing a game on Hangouts, and maybe doing a podcast. I tried being more positive and open, and sharing the spark of optimism I was cultivating whenever I had the chance. And one of the people I found this way changed my life for the better, in pretty much every way imaginable.

I’ve played in so many games now, averaging at least three a week since the podcast hit its stride. And gaming has given me so much in return to for the time and passion I’ve poured into it. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people that are part of this amazing community, had the chance to examine and poke at what makes me who I am in any number of interesting role-playing scenarios, and gotten the chance to tell stories that entertain. Most of all though, I’m grateful for Megan, without whom so much of all of this, of all of me, never would have come to fruition.

Thank you so much for reading. We here at TRF are overjoyed to be able to do what we do and that’s all because of our incredible listners and supporters. Thank you so much and have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Kobolds Ate My Baby: Thanks-Voring

The head of a Kobold

As a special Thanksgiving episode, listen to the crew experience a Thanks-Voring edition of Kobolds Ate my Baby as a crack crew is sent by King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) to find some succulent babies for a Thanks-Voring feast.

Featuring Aser, Brian, Jonn, Megan, and Patrick. Music by Kevin MacLeod, “The Path of the Goblin King.”

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Game

I discovered role-playing games when I was 10 and my friend was given a Basic set of Dungeons and Dragons on his birthday. I waited impatiently while he read the rules and we got started playing around midnight. I made a character and he ran the included dungeon all night and into the morning. Needless to say, I was hooked, and spent a lot of time playing D&D, Top Secret, Gamma World, Metamorphosis Alpha, and Boot Hill up until the end of sophomore year in high school. After that I put my games away until freshman year of college, where we played Stormbringer and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

At the end of that year, real-life concerns so completely filled my waking moments that I couldn’t get into RPGs anymore. I didn’t have the mental toolkit at the time to separate my problems and anxieties into appropriate compartments, so my creativity suffered and ability to imagine myself elsewhere suffered greatly. I didn’t join or run a game for many years, and I gave away a great deal of games and books. In retrospect, it was a sad time of bad decisions and poor health choices.

For a while the only game I played was poker, but weirdly and thankfully, that led to Magic: The Gathering when I read Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids by David Kushner. The deck creation and evocative art somehow restarted a creative spark in me. About two and a half years ago, I discovered a game store in Chicago–not in the suburbs, but just two L rides away–that had a huge library of games you could borrow and play at the store. After a while, I realized people were running “one-shot” RPGs, a concept that was new to me, having only really played in games meant to be long campaigns. I started joining these games when I could, and even got into a longer-running D&D 3.5 campaign which inspired the name of my blog. I was very happy to be playing games again, and it forced me to meet new people, which is not the easiest thing for me.

Then another game store opened, right in my neighborhood. I spent some quality time there and met some people who became good friends. They had moved here from out of state, and had been using something called “Google Hangouts” to keep in touch with old friends and play games. It took me a while, but eventually I got into Hangout games myself. I learned how to use Roll20, I became part of the community of gamers on Google+, and I started writing again.

For this, I am truly grateful. In the last couple years I have met an incredible number of intelligent, highly creative, and often very funny people not just in Chicago, but all over the world. I’ve met and gamed with Vietnam veterans, published authors, academics, artists, game designers, programmers, and an attorney that gets my geeky interest in military history and equipment.

My hobby has been immeasurably enriched by the ability to meet others over the wire. Of course I wish I could invite the folks from The Redacted Files to sit at my old poker table with me and drink some dark beer; of course I wish my friends in Chicago could meet my friends in the UK over a game and some curry. And if I win the lottery, believe me, I’ll be shuttling a lot of people around! But the community in Google+, and the Hangouts they use, have allowed me to have the second-best thing: great games with great people, while drinking my imperial stout and travelling to faraway places and times.

Interview with Jaye Foster from 6d6 RPG

Art from the kickstarter depicting seas monsters around a Greek ship with mountains in the background

We had the pleasure of talking to Jaye Foster from 6d6 RPG about the system and their new Kickstarter for Age of Legends. You can learn more about the 6d6 system on their website. We really love the inspiration of this setting and the ease of play of the system. Check it out before the Kickstarter ends on December 5!

Direct Download!

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a digital version of the fantasy scenario. I haven’t played Warlock of Firetop Mountain, but I really like the look of this game. Particularly the hopping of the miniatures as the move through the dungeon. I like the idea that it’s a digital version of you playing a tabletop game. It keeps the grid and the bases on the miniatures and just looks like a lot of fun. You can play through several different scenarios, and the next stretch goal is to get Battlebards on board to help with music and sounds!

A miniature hops down the stairs in a dungeon

“The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a digital re-imagining of the classic adventure gamebook written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. Tin Man Games is bringing it closer towards its tabletop role-playing game roots, complete with a rich interactive 3D map, collectable digital miniatures, an updated combat system and the ability to explore Firetop Mountain with multiple characters. This is our first step towards our grand vision for the Fighting Fantasy universe and we want YOU to be part of it.”


Cthulhu Tales
I really like the idea of this game, with you trying to explain to the staff of a hospital why you don’t belong there as you tell your story, and the others disrupt you to make you sound less sane. I think it sounds like a fun story telling game, and I would play it in a hearbeat!

Three cards showing Cthulhu, Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth

“Cthulhu Tales is a storytelling card game for people who enjoy the weird tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, love games and have a sense of humour with a touch of darkness to it…

Incarcerated in a sanatorium, you must convince the staff that you are sane by telling the story of the terrifying events that led you there. The other players try to disrupt your tale to make themselves look more sane in comparison, and the success of your tale determines which misguided therapies and medication are administered by the terrifying medical staff. These treatments are the way the game is scored, the player ending with the least amount of treatment is the winner, and is free to go.

Cthulhu Tales is very much a game, rather than simply a guided storytelling activity – it features structured and elegant rules for the telling of the tale, and for Hazard card interruptions. Players use the symbols on the cards to determine whether a card can be played, and its effect on the Narrator’s tale. The die introduces an element of luck into the proceedings – perhaps that Viscous Black Slime was merely a passing detail, or perhaps its arrival was the precursor to something far more sinister and madness inducing…”


Yrisa’s Nightmare, A Pathfinder AP
There’s not a shortage of material for Pathfinder content, but new adventures are always welcome. Yrisa’s Nightmare is written for both Pathfinder and 5e, and includes pre-gens for both. I haven’t been able to do any real horror in Pathfinder, so adventures like this make it easy to integrate.

Example of the PDF layout of the AP

“Highhouse Yroden has been cursed. Apparitions stalk the streets, gnolls lurk in the nearby wilds, and a dragon has taken interest in the town. Yet the curse runs deeper still. Nightmares plague the townsfolk’s dreams and madness grips their waking minds. If something doesn’t happen soon, Yroden will be no more. Yrisa’s Nightmare is an adventure written for 5e and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The project includes:

-An adventure suitable for 4-5 2nd-level characters that includes a mix of action, roleplaying, and mystery. You should expect it will take 2-3 sessions (3-4 hours each) to complete Yrisa’s Nightmare.
-A new monster, the Blackclaw Gnoll. These servants of the demonic prince Zalintar Blackclaw are an unholy merging of demon, dragon, and gnoll.
-A fully detailed settlement: Highhouse Yroden. Yroden is stocked full of interesting NPCs and will be released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Additional content for Highhouse Yroden will be provided via an online supplement.
-Five pre-generated characters for 5e and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
-A pile of awesome extras waiting for us to hit our stretch goals. These add ons are focused predominantly on fallout arising from the events of Yrisa’s Nightmare.”


Luma Dice
These dice are really pretty, and I love that the pips on each side are different LED colors. You can also change the battery which means they will be usable for as long as you get new batteries.

Rolling the dice. It's metallic with different LEDs for each pip

“Playing games should always be a fun and magical experience. Our job is to deliver you the most exciting dice for playing all your tabletop adventures!

We have turned traditional dice on its head. Each side of dice lights up with different colored lights. The dice itself is carved from a solid block of aluminum and uses an accelerometer to detect motion to turn the lights on and off again when not being used.

Whether you’re into Dungeons & Dragons, board games or just a collector we think you’ll love LUMA DICE as much as we do.”


Still active!

Machu Pichu Dice
DCC RPG 4th Printing
What Lies Beyond Reason, a PF adventure path
Lovecraft, P.I.
Side Quest Pocket Adventures
Fhtagn: Rock Opera of Doom
Braille Dice
Age of Legends
Bring Back MST3K
Jellyfish Aquarium

A Rune Awakening 6: Collecting Ears

Warchief ripnugget rides his war lizard, who has spikes affixed to his tail.

Scrambling to recover from tragedy, the adventurers make their way into Thistletop for revenge.

Featuring Aser, Jonn, Landan, Megan, Patrick, and Tassia. Mysic by Kevin MacLeod, “Five Armies”

Direct Download!

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.

Braille Dice
We’re huge fans of 64 Oz. Games, and we’re pretty excited to see another kickstarter from them, this time focusing on visually impaired RPG players. They’re releasing a full set of polyhedral dice, a tactile grid, dice bags, and more. All of this goes towards buying them new equipment to make gaming more accessible. The next stretch goal will help them purchase a Thermoform machine, which will help make overlays for board games, or more affordable tactile grids for RPGs. Even if you don’t want Braille dice, you should look at some of the cool rewards and pick up a pair of earrings or a keychain.

Pictures of each of the available 7 polyhedral dice.

“We intend to create a high quality set of 3D printed Polyhedral Dice with a brand new 3d printer. These dice will be usable with a wide variety of RPG games and would be both functional for blind players and a great novelty item for sighted RPG players interested in being inclusive.

We’ve printed sample models using the model that we’re looking at buying and we’re pretty happy with the way they turned out. We have already shown we are committed and capable of helping the blind community join gaming with our last Kickstarter that let us open our store.

What we need now is enough capital to make our dream of doing the same for RPG dice come true.”


Age of Legends
I love mythology, and I love that this RPG is diving right into Greek mythology for its inspiration. I also really appreciate that they’re re-imagining Ancient Greece, and are updating things like gender roles to make it a bit more enjoyable for everyone at the table. I’ve never played a 6d6 game, but I’m really intrigued by this setting.

Anubis is shown in profile next to the words

“Zeus and the Olympic gods are meddling in the mortal world for the first time in 800 years. The players are champions granted special powers by their patron god to defeat the agents of the Titans. But life is never simple when Olympian gods are involved.

Age of Legends is a complete setting for the fast, flexible and easy-to-learn 6d6 RPG. If we hit our funding goal the book will be 128 pages laid out in 6d6’s clean and distinctive style. Stretch goals will add additional content including extra gods, character paths and monsters.

Our stretch goals will grow the book to more than 200 pages. All supporters benefit from the stretch goals and will receive the expanded PDF and hard copies.”


Bring Back MST3K
So….I’ve never watched MST3k, I know about it through cultural osmosis, but never had the chance to see it myself. Luckily for me, and everyone else, they’re crowdfunding to bring it back!

The robots from MST3K stand with Joel Hodgson.

“Once upon a time, a television series called MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 was born. We debuted on Minneapolis’ KTMA, local television, on Thanksgiving Day 1988, as the world was in the final throes of Teddy Ruxpin-mania. That was almost thirty years ago, but for some reason, people still seem to like the show – it’s a mitzvah!

Our show has had a long, strange run. Across a UHF channel, a cable network, cancellation, a feature film, then another cable network, the show lasted for 12 years, two generations of hosts and puppeteers, 2 Emmy nominations and a total of 197 episodes before we got canceled again for good in 1999. Sadly, it was just as Prince predicted.

But maybe that’s not where it all ends.

Starting today, we finally get a chance to bring back MST3K. With your help, we can create a new season of MST3K, prove there’s still an audience, and maybe even convince a network to bring us back for more.”


The beauty of this board game is what caught my eye first. I really love the pieces and the minimalist black board with gold. But it also looks like fun to play!

The board game and all the pieces, including colorful money.

“Choose your figure, and with money in hand, enter the game at Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo. As you travel through 15th century Renaissance Italy, you are faced with strategic decisions: Do you buy the Mona Lisa or invest in one of Leonardo’s brilliant inventions? Do you acquire a Palazzo in Firenze, or aspire to be the Pope in Roma?

Suddenly, the tension mounts as Death appears! It’s the Black Plague, a fact of life in these dangerous times.

Continue your journey, collecting Art and Property, amassing a fortune to ruin your opponents! You must have both luck and skill to succeed, for your position in the game can switch in an instant!”


Jellyfish Aquarium
I love Jellyfish, and would love to have them as pets, but it is pretty cost prohibitive due to how delicate they are. However, the tank is beautiful, and a great way to display these guys.

The aquarium is sitting on the counter with three jellyfish

“Everyone can benefit from a moment of peace. Uncover your moment with a Jellyfish Cylinder Nano aquarium, the easiest and most affordable aquarium that makes keeping jellyfish simple for anyone.

-Special laminar water flow pattern not possible in regular fish tanks mimics the natural open water habitat of jellyfish
-Integrated mechanical, chemical and biological filtration in an accessible, hidden compartment makes it simple to operate and keep clean
-Driven by a whisper quiet air pump that oxygenates the water and introduces no heat, keeping the jellyfish comfortable at room temperature
-LED changes the colors of the jellyfish with the click of a remote control button
-Made from durable, crystal clear acrylic hand-molded by the same factory we’ve been working with for five years
-Comes with all the accessories you need so you just add water: LED, remote control, sponge filter, salt, air pump, pipette, activated charcoal, nitrifying bacteria starter, and hydrometer”


Still active!

Machu Pichu Dice
DCC RPG 4th Printing
Bullseye d6
Aethera Campaign Setting
What Lies Beyond Reason, a PF adventure path
Lovecraft, P.I.
Side Quest Pocket Adventures
Fhtagn: Rock Opera of Doom

Call of Cthulhu: Of Grave Concern

A mausoleum covered in ivy stands alone in a cemetary

An antiquarian answers a summons from a colleague only to find that the message comes from somewhat farther away than the other side of town. Also, this one has a ritually sacrificed hobo, how much more classic Call of Cthulhu can you get?

Featuring Aser and Megan. Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Alchemist’s Tower”

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.

What Lies Beyond Reason, a PF adventure path
I’ve only ever run Pathfinder for the adventure aspects of the game, but I’m interested in AP that will introduce some darker themes, so this new project caught my attention.

A man looks at an inn the distance on a dark, stormy night

“What Lies Beyond Reason is an epic adventure designed to take characters from humble beginnings to renowned heroes. It explores themes of madness and obsession, of betrayal and consequence. It features epic locations, implacable enemies, and moral & ethical challenges. It offers players an opportunity to face unspeakable horrors in a high fantasy setting.”


Crimson Creek
This game reminds me of Final Girl, one of our favorites here. Plus it’s semi-cooperative, which I’m a big fan of. It looks like a perfect little game to pick up with your other slasher flick loving friends!

A sign that reads what happened at Crimson Creek?

“It’s a familiar story. You’ve heard it before. A group of friends head off for a weekend escape, to a cabin by the lake, in a quaint sleepy town, just a few hours north of the city. But as night falls, what was meant to be an amorous filled weekend, quickly turns into a hellish nightmare. A crazed maniac is slicing and dicing his way through the unsuspecting party. You shield your eyes thinking “Don’t go in there. Don’t go in the barn.” You can’t believe the obvious missteps these foolish kids are making. You would never make such careless mistakes. But then again, you start to wonder, “Would I survive?”

Crimson Creek is an homage to 80’s slasher films. It is a 2-6 player semi-cooperative pocket horror deduction game that takes 30-45 minutes to play. Where players run to safe locations, peek from hiding places, and search for clues all while trying to survive the blade of The Hatchetman.”


Lovecraft, P.I.
I’m always curious about literature that reimagines Lovecraft as some sort of super strong, strong-willed investigator, because it never seems to fit with what I know about him. Regardless, I love Noir and Lovecraft as a hard-boiled PI seems like an interesting read, especially in a graphic novel.

A comic book cover: Lovecraft PI: Paranormal Investigator. Lovecraft points a gun at the viewer, below him are a Femme Fatale, a gaping fish head, and an occult book.

“LOVECRAFT P.I. is a story that re-envisions the macabre worlds of H.P. Lovecraft while mashing them together with the hard-boiled detective novels of Dashiell Hammett. In this world ‘Ward’ Lovecraft is a Paranormal Investigator with the Miskatonic Detective Agency, an unsentimental and stubborn man who is short on temperament and long on occult knowledge.”


Side Quest Pocket Adventures
This small cooperative dungeon crawl game looks like it’s a great go to for when your GM just needs a break, but you still want to go on a dungeon crawl. Like I said above, I love cooperative games, and it looks easy to set up, play, and transport.

AN example of gameplay, cards are laid out including locations and character cards.

“Side Quest is a pocket-sized game that packs a big punch. With a single deck of cards and a couple of dice you will battle your way through a decision-packed dungeon. Which monsters will you fight and which will you run from? Should you grab some loot before you rescue the damsel? Which gear will help your heroes reach the end of the dungeon and which will help you fight the boss that blocks your exit?

This is a fully co-operative game where working together is key. The game is played horizontally, with a row of location cards placed next to each other. Hero cards go under these to show where the Heroes are, while Monsters and Loot cards go on top. Each turn the dungeon is populated with random Monsters and Loot cards, so you’d better deal with them quickly! Do you grab the Death Sabre that just dropped? Or attack the Zombies that are about to feast on your friend? ”


Fhtagn: Rock Opera of Doom
Since I covered the Cthulhu Death Metal album, we have to give credit to the Cthulhu Rock Opera (of doom) that is now being funded on Kickstarter. They’re creating a film, a stage performance, and of course the music.

Heads of three bald women, with impossibly long necks look at the viewer.

“Do you love Lovecraft? I mean really love H.P. Lovecraft, as in think warm thoughts about Cthulhu and Dagon every time you walk by the fish aisle at your local grocery store. Do you like campy horror comedies with rockin’ soundtracks? Do you love great rewards from the creators of cool films? If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you will love Fhtagn: Rock Opera of Dooom! With your help and donations, this movie / stage show will become an awesome reality.

Fhtagn: ROD is an independent horror comedy movie and musical stage show from filmmaker Fabian Rush, creator of the youtube webseries “Alien Face Bashers” and several other features. Fabian is also the singer for the industrial rock band Synthetic Nightmare.

Fhtagn: ROD is a culmination of multiple entertainment forms, all aimed at celebrating the brilliant stories and characters envisioned by horror master H.P. Lovecraft and the many writers and artists that have since added to his mythos.”


Still active!

Boogie Dice
Kill Doctor Lucky
Machu Pichu Dice
Crucible: A Coin-based Fantasy RPG
Chaos Apparatus Dice
Headspeace RPG
Strange Arcade Shirts
DCC RPG 4th Printing
Bullseye d6
Aethera Campaign Setting

Trail of Cthulhu: Flying Coffins

A Byakhee in the sky watching a biplane

A squadron of the RFC during The Great War encounter more then Germans in the sky.

Featuring Aser, Brian, Megan, and Phil. Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Classic Horror 1.”

Direct Download!