February Release Schedule

Goblins

What are we playing this month?

February 12, 2015Final Girl: Dead After Hours
Something goes horribly wrong at the annual office party, as usual.

February 22, 2015A Rune Awakening Episode 1: Everyone Loves a Festival
In our first release on the new podcast feed, a group of people with disparate backgrounds come to Sandpoint to celebrate the opening of a new cathedral and the new beginnings of a town once plagued by trouble. Unfortunately, no one told the troublemakers.

Check out “City of Needles”

Last week Megan and Aser were invited to join in a Numenera campaign at City of Needles for a couple of sessions. We had a lot of fun playing a mad nano and, well, a bard that go back to a house we could have sworn was just a nightmare. Check out this campaign written as a serialized novel to discover our exploutsand follow @ProfTesla on Twitter!

Heart of the House pt. 1
Heart of the House pt. 2

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

Ako Dice
These metal dice look pretty awesome. They’re available in two colors and are made out of aluminum.

 

The Last Days of Anglekite
We haven’t played any Dungeon World games for TRF yet – but this setting looks like a lot of fun.

“The Last Days of Anglekite is a Dying Earth-style weird fantasy setting for Dungeon World in which you play members of the Anglekite Adventurer’s Guild, the last line of defense for a dying world threatened by catastrophic powers. The Last Days of Anglekite has everything you need to play out an epic struggle to save a world at the end of its time, drawing from weird sword and sorcery tales and over-the-top fantasy by authors like Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, and Michael Moorcock.”

 

Nefertiti Overdrive: High Octane Action in Ancient Egypt
So many RPGs are set in a medieval European setting, so I think writing one in Ancient Egypt is pretty interesting.

“Defying physics and common sense, you are legendary heroes protecting the royal house of 25th Dynasty Egypt from both internal enemies and the marauding Assyrian army. Do you want to leap from crocodile head to crocodile head before planting your sandaled foot directly in the face of an Assyrian giant bearing an axe bigger than you? Do you want to rebound off the side of a pyramid and fly into the centre of a mob of badguys, whom you then lay low with your lightning-fast fists?

Then you are our kind of people. Nefertiti Overdrive is a role-playing game of crazy wire-fu action set in Ancient Egypt. This is a game about kicking badguys in the face, or using a fallen foe as a step to get your character high enough to drive her knee into another bad-guy’s face.”

 

Heal Dice!!
These dice are intended to be used by your party’s healer so that you can get a visual just how much good you’re doing.

 

Pencil Dice
Just in case carrying around a d6 is too arduous, you can just use your pencil to make your rolls!

Episode Delay!

Sorry guys – we’re running low on space on LibSyn and we’re battling some significant audio problems, so the next episode won’t be out until the 1st. We’re going to be done with what we have recorded on a single track soon and we’ll be in much better shape. We’ll also be getting more space as we start our new feed! I can’t wait to  release this episode – I think it’s one of my favorites for the Not So Strange campaign.

-Megan

What’s cool on Kickstarter

I spend a lot of time looking for cool new things to get on Kickstarter, and this is what I think is worth looking into!

Unspeakable Words
They played this game on Tabletop and it looks like a lot of fun – plus there’s all kinds of Cthulhu tokens.

“Unspeakable Words™ is the Call of Cthulhu Word Game designed by James Ernest and Mike Selinker. In the game, you and your opponents will attempt to form words from the letter cards in your hand. Each letter is worth points – the amount of points is determined by the number of angles in the letter (where the hounds of Tindalos are lurking!). You may try to make the highest scoring word possible, but… you’ll have to test the strength of the word against a roll of the 20-sided die. Roll equal to or higher than the value of your word and you’re safe… but roll less than the value of your word and you lose a precious piece of your sanity, represented by an adorable Cthulhu pawn!

Each letter is uniquely illustrated with a horrifying character from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, which adds to the dark whimsy of the game.”

Rise of Cthulhu: A Card Game of Influence and Horror
The cards in this game are beautiful – I love the artwork.

“In Rise of Cthulhu you play as the leader of a cultist faction wishing to awaken Cthulhu and the other Old Ones to rule this world. But a competing faction races against you to be the first to awaken these chaotic masters.”

Shadowrun: Hong Kong
This video game is fully funded and looks like it will be a lot of fun, especially with all the stretch goals being met.

“HONG KONG. A stable and prosperous port of call in a sea of chaos, warfare, and political turmoil. The Hong Kong Free Enterprise Zone is a land of contradictions – it is one of the most successful centers of business in the Sixth World, and home to one of the world’s most dangerous sprawl sites. A land of bright lights, gleaming towers, and restless spirits where life is cheap and everything is for sale.

The lure of a quick payday draws you from Seattle into the neon glow of Victoria Harbor… and into a corporate conspiracy nearly thirty years in the making. A terrifying threat looms on the horizon – a supernatural force that corrupts and consumes everything it touches. Dragged into the shadows of Kowloon City, you will need to forge new connections and gain “face” to survive.

Hong Kong contains fantastic elements for a new Shadowrun setting: an underworld of triads, tongs, and gangs to navigate, wild magic to harness, and bleeding edge cybertech to equip. Plus, Hong Kong’s culture is steeped in “guanxi” – a network of influence and relationships based upon a combination of social status, and prestige. All of these elements add up to a great new setting for running the shadows.”

World’s Toughest Chainmail Dice Bag
In case you need a sweet new bag to contain your dice!

Exploding Kittens

“Exploding Kittens is a highly strategic kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game. The deck is made up of cards that let you avoid exploding by peeking at cards before you draw, forcing your opponent to draw multiple cards, or shuffling the deck.”

Unraveling of the Ninth World Episode 2: Hell is Other People

Upon learning about the menu at No Hope, our three “heroes” resolve to find a way out of Hell as soon as possible. Visit @1TweetNumenera on Twitter.

Shoggoth

Direct Download!

Why The Cypher System is a Blind GM’s Best Friend

One of the principal selling points for the Cypher System is the ease with which a GM can pick it up and be running epic games of action, intrigue and suspense in just minutes. The thing is, that many of the steps that Monte Cook Games took to achieve this happens to make the game a dream to run as someone with a visual impairment.

Simplified Movement:
Distances in the Cypher System are abstracted to immediate (within arms reach), short (10 to 50 feet), long (50 to 100 feet), and beyond 100 feet. This means that out of the box, the system doesn’t rely on movement grids, map squares or require you to establish ranges. Moreover, line-of-sight and other conditions are defined solely by the narrative. This means that with an imaginative group of players involved in the story the GM is telling, combat can move smoothly without having to manipulate miniatures or tokens as part of the core experience.

Simplified Bonuses and Penalties
My Cavalier in Pathfinder often has bonuses to his attack roll from his strength, the weapon he wields, abilities he and other party members are using, and circumstances of combat: so he can have a +9 to to a d20 roll as a level 3 character. The Cypher System’s measure of difficulty, in steps ranging from 0 to 10 with training, assets and circumstances decreasing the difficulty by steps, and bonuses only ever adding 1 or 2 to a roll makes managing the math at the table a trifling concern. I grew up having to manage complex equations in my head, but I’m glad that when I’m telling players what to roll, I don’t have to with the Cypher System.

The GM DOES NOT Roll:
Accessible dice rolling apps and random number generators aren’t that hard to find, and there are now even Braille dice on the market, but what requires even less time- not having to roll at all. The GM sets targets for the players to roll against, and when non-player characters enter combat against one another, players are designated to roll for them. It’s an elegant distribution of responsibilities that keeps the story flowing nicely while preserving the gaming aspect of the experience for the players.

Braille d20 from 64 oz Games

Braille d20 from 64 oz Games

All of this makes running The Strange for the podcast a breeze. I’m still what I’d consider a novice player, let alone a GM, so I think I’m still prone to making simple mistakes. But the consequences to the experience for the players I think have been far less than they could have been thanks to the features of the Cypher System. Blind or otherwise, if you’re interested in making the jump from running a character to running a game, I’d urge you to consider Numenèra or The Strange as terrifically accessible starting points, in more ways than one.

Announcing New Podcast Feed: TRF Excursions and Recursions

It was just about a year ago that The Redacted Files was busily maturing from a good idea for a single campaign of D20 Modern into the multi-headed beast that it is today: as some of us fell in love with providing people with the Cthulhu mythos sprinkled into a number of systems and settings, along with the theme of a few brave if flawed heroes trying to protect their people from secrets better left undiscovered. Fast forward to today and find us in the middle of several ongoing campaigns and cranking out a steady stream of one shots, introducing that special TRF twist wherever we can.

We’re not content doing the same thing over and over though, and so we’re launching a new feed for games that don’t necessarily have to include Lovecraftian elements, but that our cast wants to dabble in nonetheless. We hope you’ll join us as we experience staples like Pathfinder, community favorites like Fiasco and Final Girl, and hot new titles like Night’s Black Agents. We also plan on trying to be the first out there with actual plays of new games (including many that Megan has kickstarted over the last year) to give you our take on some wonderful new releases coming down the line.

And fear not, The Redacted Files proper is going strong with plenty more Numenèra and The Strange soon to feature added mythos goodness, more indy horror and loads of Trail of Cthulhu, Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition and perhaps a bit more of an old crowd pleaser in the works.

 


For now, expect TRF Excursions and Recursions to be out within a month or so with a playthrough of Pathfinder’s epic Rise of the Runelords campaign. Our very own Megan Peterson will be delivering one super-sized experience, with no fewer than six members in the regular party for A Rune Awakening. This group of veteran players includes podcast newcomers Patrick West, James Austin, Jonn Perry, TRF fan Tassia Accioly, as well as returning cast members Landan Smith and Aser Tolentino.

The current plan is to alternate between releases each week. This will mean less mythos, but more games overall. These plans aren’t set in stone though and we’re always open to offers of help to get more done quicker.

We’re very excited to be bringing you new games more often, offering greater diversity and quality in the experiences we share, and hope you’ll enjoy them with us.

Game Review: The Strange

The Strange
One of the greatest things to come from starting The Redacted Files, though nothing in comparison to meeting Megan of course, was the discovery of just how diverse the tabletop gaming genre really is. We’ve tried something like a dozen games sofar, and bought tons more. I’m new to the whole space, so it’s not like I’ve had time to get tired of anything yet: but even so, I did start to wonder at how many games used D20, and how many did it in essentially the same way. And don’t get me wrong, it’s very fun, but how many games are there that have skills based on attributes that modify a D20 roll? There are versions of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Call of Cthulhu that work the same way as Dungeons & Dragons. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but variety is good. And nothing seemed so different yet familiar as Numenèra.

Numenèra’s Cypher System is a marvel of elegant simplicity. Your health is tied up in three point pools: might, speed, and intellect that deplete in that order when you take damage. If a pool reaches zero, you become less capable to the point that you’re essentially only able to crawl away when you have points in just one. But that’s not all, aside from getting training, using equipment or coming up with circumstantial reasons (I have the high ground) for making your rolls easier, you can choose to burn points from your pools. It’s terrific to see it in action, as players run through the cost/benefit analysis on the fly and bet it all for the big win, trading in their half their might points for extra damage or to guarantee a hit with that superweapon they’ve been keeping in their back pocket, or ensure that official definitely sees things their way.

Aside from rolling in skill challenges and combat, the Cypher System handles everything else in a similarly abstracted but meaningful way.. How much your character is carrying doesn’t matter unless it’s important to the plot, all weapons of a given category always do the same damage be they heavy crossbow or greatsword so long as they hit. And distances are described as merely being immediate, short or long.

As far as a GM’s ability to tell an interesting story, there are a few more interesting twists. the experience system works off of discoveries and plot developments players encounter in game: and, the points they earn can be cashed in for more immediate benefits than character improvement like re-rolling a result or having the benefit of a skill for a limited time. What truly set Numenèra apart though, was that the game master does not roll. Instead she sets difficulties for tasks, which the players must roll against. Trying to bluff a town guard, roll against his ability to sense deception. Need to avoid having an angry mutant cave your head in with a maul, roll speed defense against his creature level, plus any applicable bonuses and penalties. It is one of those systems that seeks to get out of the way and let the GM and the players try to tell a good story. Where it succeeds better than most in my opinion, is that it remains a fun game while doing so.

So we all fell in love with Numenèra. The game had a brilliant system and was set in an incredibly well-realized science fantasy world a billion years in the future where high technology from past civilizations is as little understood and tenuously controlled as magic in the hands of people scrabbling to survive in otherwise medieval conditions. We played several sessions of it on the podcast and loved it: but then I began to wonder, what would it be like to run Star Trek in this? :P And then Monte Cook Games brought us The Strange, and we found out.

Now, we could find out what it was like to be crewmen on a starship exploring the galaxy, or knights on an epic quest, or scientists racing to discover the cure to a zombie virus, all in the same game. Because in The Strange, practically every fictional reality believed in by enough people is real, somewhere in the Strange: a network of dark energy older than Earth itself and underlying our own plain of existence. And for people who are “quickened,” going to those other worlds is as easy as closing your eyes and thinking yourself there. It’s not quite that simple of course, and there are dangers involved, not least of which is the ever present threat of planetary annihilation from residents of the Strange hungry for new worlds to devour. Ever wondered why we seem to be alone in the universe? They’re why. What’s worse, everyone who’s learned of the Strange, from greedy recursion miners to shady government agencies are out to use what they can buy, borrow or steal from handy recursions or even the Strange itself here on Earth.

So how does it play? You can hear our actual plays here. As of this writing, we’ve run half a dozen sessions and all involved seem determined to run several more. I ran the adventure included in the core book for a scratch group and have been spinning a yarn for our players ever since that I hope listeners have found entertaining. Not having to roll is very liberating, as it gies me the freedom to try to keep ahead of the players as they react to the fluid situation created by the dice rolls. I like to think this makes me less vulnerable to dramatic die rolls as I can adjust difficulty on the fly as things happen. Also, throwing in creatures to fight or NPCs to interact with is as easy as coming up with a creature level. The world provided for players to explore are well-populated with people to interact with, monsters to slay, and plenty of hooks to drag players into long sessions full of questionable choices. Unfortunately, since the book is about as long as that for Numenèra but with infinitely (literally) more worlds to cover, there isn’t as much detail, including really important things like foci specific to the different kinds of recursions you’ll encounter. Moreover, many included recursions are the thinnest of skeletons that require the GM to fill in a lot of blanks. This is the sort of thing that can be addressed with supplements though. And if the recently released Bestiary and the way Numenèra have been supported are any indication, there’ll be plenty more to chew on in short order.

In short, I’ve fallen in love with the game, but just wish there was more of it, and cannot wait for more Cypher System games and the forthcoming system rule book so I can try coming up with a setting just for TRF.

Purchase on Amazon
Visit the Official Website

Kickstarter Updates

Here are some projects on Kickstarter I think look promising!

Cephalovepod Letterpress Valentines Card

I got the previous card made by this group for the #CreeperXmas2015 gift exchange, and can’t wait to get another piece! I had to get two so I’d have one to give to my Valentine and one to keep for myself.

Lovecraftian Science
“Since September 2013 I have posted numerous articles discussing how Lovecraft used science in his stories.The first series of articles was an expansion on some of the ideas and concepts I presented on the Biology of the Old Ones at the NecronomiCon.Subsequent articles have included investigations on a story-specific basis, as well as on specific subject matters, such as the solar system, the use of Einstein’s theories in Lovecraft’s stories, the role of fungi in Lovecraft’s fiction, and how Lovecraft would actually modify his stories to agree with emerging scientific ideas and discoveries.Some more academic and philosophical subjects were also discussed such as how Lovecraft attempted to use science to justify some of his racist views and how his materialism philosophy impacted his work.”

Real Precious Stone full 16mm polyhedral dice sets
“We have made a few samples of these using hand carved techniques. However, for mass-production, we will need to invest in a quality steel mold that will guide the stone carving into more precise shapes, which will later be hand polished to finish the manufacturing process. Using this steel mold to guide the process will also help with the precision of our stone dice.

This is where KickStarter comes in. The steel mold to make the dice more precise is costly; the materials themselves (being semi-precious stones) are also very costly. This KickStarter will help us make the mold and start with manufacturing 4 different stone materials: Clear Quartz, Hematite, Synthetic Opalite, and Red Jasper.”

Necronomicon Horror RPG
“This is a horror themed sandbox, storytelling game steeped in demonology and the occult. It can be played extensively for missions, experience and quests…or as a Halloween/horror themed party as a one off. It is a frightening game that requires team work, cunning, strategy and a great deal of imagination. This isn’t just a Cthulhu mythos game but links the horrors of Lovecraft to medieval deadly sins and modern horror. It creates a horror tailored to the player’s deepest fears.”

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