Firefly Podcast: Balls and Bayonets Brigade

Hey faithful listeners!

We wanted to let you know about a new podcast you might be interested in. Aser is GM-ing a Firefly game on Firefly Podcast, and Megan and Rob join as players. This podcast will be coming out every other Wednesday and is on iTunes and Stitcher. You can find it online @FireflyPodcast or Facebook. We have a lot of fun exploring the ‘verse and hope you’ll join us!

The Balls and Bayonets Brigade is a realplay podcast in the Firefly ‘verse using the Margaret Weis Productions Firefly RPG Cortex Plus system


What’s Cool on Kickstarter

If you’re tired of using dice (which I will never understand), Deck100 provides a new way for you to get a dice roll. You draw two cards – at the top of the first card is a dragon, and the color of that dragon indicates what column you use for your result on the second card. There’s also extra features on the bottom of the cards…but I still haven’t figured out what the Dragon icon means.

“Yes, we know. Gamers love their dice, and we’re asking you to use something instead of dice. Well, we love dice too. Dice are special, and generate special results for us when the need is great, right? Well, cards can be just as special (an individual’s Tarot deck is a very personal possession).

Why would we ask you to cards instead of dice? I offer four good reasons by way of example: 1) these cards provide the same numerical results as dice but also create opportunities to impact a game in other, simultaneous ways, 2) sometimes you play RPGs in an environment not conducive to rolling dice and cards don’t spill as easily, 3) younger players who might be a bit, uh… exuberant with dice can more easily flip over a card, and 4) gamers love new mechanics and experimentation, so why be limited to dice?

With the easy flip of a card you can generate a random result for any die from d100 to d2, including combinations of d6 results. Each of one hundred Deck100 cards has columns and rows for individual polyhedral dice results d20, d12, d10, d8, d6 and d4. Instead of merely replacing the function of dice in your RPG, Deck100 cards provide the same results as dice, but these cards augment this aspect of play in order to provide more options and opportunities for Gamemasters and players alike.”


Narrative Encounters for FATE Accelerated
These books offer quick encounters, loot, and monsters for your high fantasy game.

“If you enjoy worlds of high fantasy, and if you appreciate the “grab-and-go” qualities of a role-playing game like Fate Accelerated Edition, then rest assured Narrative Encounters will provide you with everything you need to play a game of swords and sorcery and without much preparation. That’s because Narrative Encounters complete dramatic, cinematic scenes that give your players reasons to act and to interact with the world around them, and they’re easy to jump into. Drop Narrative Encounters into your campaign for added flavor, use them as supplemental material for an existing scenario, play them out individually as stand-alone scenes, or use them as inspiration for fleshing out your own adventures.”


Reliquary Redux
These classic games are gorgeous. The board is etched leather and the markers are stone or wood.

“After the success of the Reliquary Collection on Kickstarter, we set to work researching even more games that we could add to this collection! We’re back with 6 classic games that you already know and love! We just had to “Bibelot-tize” these definitive games to add luxury, durability, and portability. *smiles* They are hand-crafted and LASER etched on our hallmark suede leather pouches with real marble pieces and natural wood dice. And instead of paper rule books that can get lost or damaged, we’ve accented them with amazing black metal tags displaying the name of the game on the front, and a QR code (and the hyperlink text) to the rules on the back. Just scan the code, or enter the hyperlink into a browser, and you’ll be able to access the rules, with variations and history of the game, anywhere!”


Littlest Lovecraft: The Shadow Over Innsmouth
Do you want a cute picture book of The Shadow Over Innsmouth? Now’s your chance!

“Hey everyone! We’re back again with our new Littlest Lovecraft book – this time it’s an adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth (one of our all-time favorite Lovecraft stories!). As always, it will be a full color, fully illustrated book, written in verse, right around 64 pages long. We’re starting off aiming for softcover, perfect bound printed books, but our first stretch goal is to upgrade to the matte hardcover we’re so fond of!”


Still active!

Faith: The Sci-Fi RPG
Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion
Adventure Scents
Three Monkeys pt. 1: Into the Abyss
Dice Day Monthly: Unique RPG Dice to your Door
Board Games for Troops Overseas
Dagon by HP Lovecraft and Ben Templesmith
RPG Pencil Dice
Entropy: Thematic Fast Paced Game of Risk and Deception
Halfsies Dice
DEAD SCARE: An RPG of Blood Splattered White Picket Fences

March Release Schedule

What are we playing this month?

March 1, 2015 – Final Girl: Dead Con
It’s all fun and games until someone summons an adventuring party.

March 8, 2015 – A Rune Awakening Episode 2: Village People
The team settles into Sandpoint and begins to deal with the aftermath of the goblin attack

March 15 & 22, 2015 – Trail of Cthulhu: The Millionaire’s Special
Three wealthy passengers on the Titanic are faced with the wrath of a mummy, and struggle to survive her and an oncoming disaster.

March 29, 2015 – A Rune Awakening Episode 3: A Glassy Guy
The party hurries to find a prominent member of the Sandpoint community when she disappears after receiving an alarming note from her half-brother.

Final Girl: Dead Con

A group of gamers have the fight of their lives as an adventuring party is summoned to an RPG convention.

Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Heavy Interlude”

Direct Download!

(If you’re interested in hearing about the evils of D&D like Megan and Rob did on Adventures in Odyssey, you can listen here.)

Making Games Accessible: Love Letter


Love Letter!

Recently I won a raffle and got a free copy of the game Love Letter from Alderac Entertainment Games and the accessibility kit made by 64 Oz Games. After learning about 64 Oz Games through Kickstarter, Aser and I have been excitedly following their work – we have Munchkin and Dominion assembled and ready to play and the two braille d20s Aser uses came from them as well. I wanted to show off my winnings, and when I go see Aser next week we’ll post a review for the game.

Accessibility Kit Contents

Accessibility Kit Contents

Each accessibility kit comes with written instructions and QR code to look up the instructions digitally, a set of Grade 2 Braille instructions and descriptions of the cards, plastic card sleeves, and Grade 2 Braille stickers. There’s some work involved to combine this all into an accessible game, but fortunately this game only has 16 cards, not over 500 like Dominion.

Cutting out the stickers

Cutting out the stickers

Once you have your cards and kit you cut out all of the stickers. I can read Grade 1 Braille visually, but I still ask Aser a lot of questions to make sure I’m sticking the right sticker on in the correct orientation. I made some mistakes when I tried to put together Dominion by myself and it was a pain to correct them.

Sticker and Sleeve

Sticker and Sleeve

Once you have your stickers cut out, you can stick them directly on the card or on a card sleeve holding the card. Aser and I decided to put everything on sleeves to protect the cards. The sleeves make the cards slippier, and the Braille causes them not to stack flatly, but that can be fixed by using card holders. The great thing is the stickers are see-through so sighted players can read the cards easily as well.


The Aftermath

Once all the cards are in their sleeves you’re ready to go! There isn’t much text on these cards so the Braille fits on them easily. For other games, like Munchkin, the Braille is a short descriptor of the card and we were given QR code stickers to put on the back that Aser can scan to get the full description.

We’re huge fans of 64 Oz Games and the work they do to make it so Aser and I can enjoy all the board games we want. You can find them on their website, or support them on Patreon. Thanks so much for the free kit! And a special thanks to Alderac Entertainment Group for the copy of the game. We can’t wait to play and we’ll let you know how it goes next week.


Glimmer Review: In Strange Aeons

Ever sat back and looked at your cypher-wielding party battling abhumans and thought, “you know what this needs, something really weird…” If so, In Strange Aeons may be just what you’re looking for. In Strange Aeons is a Numenera glimmer released by Monte Cook Games that introduces the Mythos into the Ninth World. So it’s pretty much the best of all worlds for me.

ISA introduces new character options, Mythos monsters, creature re-skins, and mechanics for adding insanity to your game of Numenera. I added some of these to the Beyond All Worlds side quest that I ran. I also plan to pour more of it into the Mysteries of the Ninth World campaign as we continue into an adventure of my own design.

Insanity Mechanic:

I think this is handled very cleverly. Instead of adding a new pool to track (like the stability and sanity pools in Trail of Cthulhu), ISA uses the character’s existing intellect pool. Using their mechanic, when ever the party encounters something from the Mythos, they must make a sanity roll where the difficulty is equal to the level of the creature. This means upon encountering a Shoggoth they must make a difficulty 7 role. If they fail the roll, they lose a number of intellect points equal to the level of the creature. If a character moves down the damage track due to sanity loss, she immediately loses a point permanently from her pool and regains 1d6 +1 points back. If she loses all of her intellect pool, the character loses their own descriptor and gains the Mad descriptor. They also get to increase their pool to 1d6 + tier and gain an intellect edge. If they lose all of their pool again, then the character cannot recover.
ISA also offers ideas for GM intrusions for your characters as they encounter they Mythos and encourages players to decide to switch over to the Mad descriptor if they feel that is the way their character is going. You can also introduce inabilities as characters grow obsessive, which is balanced by increasing another skill, like knowledge in a certain area.

Character Option:

ISA introduces two new character descriptors – Mad and Doomed. Mad comes into play within the Insanity mechanic, and when a character drops low enough in Intelligence they take the mad descriptor in place of the one they chose at charaacter creation. This descriptor causes the character to become less mentally stable – they gain an inability in intellect defense. However, they also can be given insight by the GM that will give them information that they have no reason to know. The other descriptor added is Doomed. Doomed gives you benefits for perception and speed defense, and you have an asset to resist insanity. However you can’t refuse a GM intrusion, and you don’t get XP when you take one. To quote the glimmer, “The universe is a cold, uncaring place, and your efforts are futile at best.”

Creature Reskins:

If you don’t want to use one of the plethora of Mythos monsters given in the books,  you can improve an existing one using the skins provided, which include0cc 6-Non-Euclidian, Squamos, Tentacular, and Unnamable. For instance, if I want to have a Squamos abhuman, they gain +1 to their armor, and have improved abilities in swimming, jumping, and escaping. However, they will have a harder time peacefully influencing people.

Creature Stats:

ISA gives stats for Deep Ones (and therein, stats for Dagon and Mother Hydra), The Great Race of Yith, Mi-Go, and Shoggoths. (The Strange Bestiary introduces even more Mythos goodness including  Night Gaunts and Elder Things).  I think moving forward I will edit the stats a bit – I thought the Shoggoth was too easy for my party to defeat in Beyond All Worlds. By increasing the hit points and its armor, I think it will become more terrifying.


I think ISA really understands how to add the Mythos to a game. Monte Cook states his intent:

Making something “Lovecraftian” doesn’t just mean adding more tentacles. It isn’t just about monsters from space. Lovecraftian horror is cosmic horror. It is the terror that comes from the realization that the universe is vast, inhospitable, and uncaring. Humanity’s desire to find our place in it is fruitless. We have no place. We are insignificant and meaningless specks in the unfathomable reaches of both space and time. Worse, there are entities so monstrous and vast that should we come to comprehend them—even a little—we would go mad, and should they ever notice us, they might destroy us with but a thought.
This fits Numenera particularly well, actually. Humans of the Ninth World who begin to think about the billion or so years behind them, and the immense civilizations that have come and gone in that time— each so much greater than the Ninth World that humans can’t even comprehend them—can easily begin to feel the grip of cosmic horror.

The glimmer is full of tips on how to run a good horror game and how to really bring the Mythos to life in your game. Making something Lovecraftian isn’t just about introducing tentacles, like In Strange Aeons says, it’s a feeling that this glimmer will help you invoke.

In Strange Aeons is written by Monte Cook and is available on DriveThruRPG and Monte Cook Games for $2.99.


Game Review: Lovecraftian Shorts

H.P. Lovecraft, as a man and author, has inspired a great deal of controversy in the days since his death. However unpleasant his views may have been when seen from a more enlightened point of view though, he doubtlessly occupies a unique place in the world of horror fiction. From subtle psychological torment, to pulse-pounding chases, Lovecraft’s stories could easily place you up against world-destroying fiends and leave you to wonder what really just happened? Now, the rules light game Lovecraftian Shorts gives you and two friends the chance to invent such a tale of your very own: don’t forget to use the word cyclopian.

As might be expected, gameplay begins with character creation, something so simple that it can be rolled randomly. You can use as much or as little of the suggested character creation tables as you like. When combined with a d10, they can provide your character with a first and last name, an occupation, a hobby, and a signature piece of equipment. None of these details have any mechanical impact on the game whatsoever. They can help inform your decisions though in how to play your character. For our playthrough, Rob was a criminal who liked fishing and carried a magnifying glass. Megan was a writer who collected thimbles and carried a newspaper. And I was a priest who enjoyed falconry, who for some reason, carried a grappling hook. Megan and I rolled the same last name, so we played as brother and sister.

With characters established, players move onto the game proper. The story unfolds in nine scenes, with players taking turns until each has narrated the events of three. Each scene has a title, determined either at the beginning of the game or on the fly. Similar to Fiasco, the player who has the spotlight narrates the scene while he or she plays his or her character just like the other players.

Unlike Fiasco’s voting mechanic, the narrator elects a point when success or failure of his character would be pivotal to progress of the story. He or she then rolls a d10 to determine success. A score of 8 or better yields success. The score can be increased by any character choosing to employ one of their bonuses to confer a one time boost to a roll. If failure cannot be avoided, the player can elect to either be hurt or go insane. Each confers a penalty to all subsequent rolls. The twist is that insanity leads to success.  If the challenge is not dealt with, it falls on the next player in turn to overcome the obstacle. The scene does not end until success is achieved. Luckily, penalties do not stack. however, if a character is both hurt and insane, and rolls less than an 8 again, they die.

When the ninth scene ends, the story is over. The game can be played in about an hour and flows quickly once the players internalize the rather straightforward rule set. This is a game best suited to smaller scope adventures, as nine scenes really isn’t much to work with all things considered. We had trouble coming up with appropriate scene titles at the outset, but did better as we went. With bonuses expended and all characters mad and hurt, the concluding scene made for a chaotic and dangerous end to the story.

Some may be put off by the limit of one die roll per scene, or the free-form nature of the storytelling. Players may veto any narration of what their character is doing, or anything that goes against the flow of the story when they are acting as narrator. In our play-through, Rob, Megan and I:

1. Went to the beach and saw Deep Ones rise from the sea,
2. Climbed up a rope with the help of a mysterious stranger to reach a car and flee,
3. Raced through a town overrun by monsters,
4. Talked our way through a military blockade,
5. Encountered the mysterious man again and noticed something odd about him,
6. Remembered the man’s true nature at the cost of Rob’s sanity,
7. Defended against an attack by the mysterious man come to silence any witnesses to his true form,
8. Convinced the military not to use Rob as a means of locating the evil entity behind the attacks,
9. Unsuccessfully failed to fight off final attack and died dragging the menace down into the sea.

When players work together in this game and are familiar with each others’ styles, it is very easy to build momentum and pile on the gory details. The game can be a lot of fun as three makes for an easy conversational feel with everyone getting a turn to pitch in their two cents. And as with other improvisational, GM-less games, it is remarkably surprising how satisfying the ending can be.

Lovecraftian Shorts makes for an easy recommendation, particularly at its very modest asking price. It makes for an ideal game when groups are short a player or three friends merely want to kill an hour with some fun, light role-play. It is highly recommended.

Our play through was released as an episode earlier this year. You can buy the game for $1.99 at DriveThruRPG.

Rob Weeks is the driving force behind the Balls and Bayonets Brigade Podcast. You can find him at @ZombieSlag on Twitter or @FireflyPodcast.


What’s Cool on Kickstarter

RPG Pencil Dice
I know, I hear you saying “Megan you posted pencil dice like two weeks ago.” These are different! Well, you can still get pencils that will function as a d6, but these also let you roll class and race, hit location, magic answer, direction, treasure, and alignment.

“With the success of Pencil Dice, we asked you the BACKERS, what you would like to see, and RPG PENCIL DICE were born.

When you are playing a tabletop RPGs, you have to make a lot of decisions, and some of them are pretty tough. So why not have a few RPG PENCIL DICE hanging around that help you with snap decisions. ”


Entropy: Thematic Fast Paced Game of Risk and Deception
Once again, the artwork is what caught my eye for this game. I think it’s stunning. The game also looks interesting, with lots of chances to screw over your opponents.

“Five parallel worlds have collided and you play as one of five characters jettisoned from their world into a place called the Nexus. Through the use of unique character abilities and special actions, players must find fragments of their reality and be the first to piece them back together in order to find their way home.
Entropy is a fast-paced competitive card game of risk and deception, combining simultaneous action selection mechanics with order resolution.”


Halfsies Dice
Dice! That’s pretty much all that’s needed to make me look at a Kickstarter, and these are very pretty. They have a ton of colors they’re working to unlock as stretch goals.

“These all-new dual-colored dice feature one color on one half, and another color on the other half, with a smooth blend where the colors meet. Aesthetically pleasing and well balanced, these dice will make a great addition to any collection.

All Halfsies Dice are two-toned, semi-translucent, have a pearlescent swirl effect, and are professionally manufactured in high impact resin with smooth corners for a clean and balanced roll every time.”


Beam: The Smart Projector
I’ve always loved the idea of using a projector to make a map to play on in tabletop games. This one is small and just screws into a light socket. Too bad I can’t afford it and play most of my games online!

“Beam can turn any flat surface into a big screen. It is a powerful projector equipped with a smart computer, all inside a beautifully designed casing.

You can play games, watch movies or share content from your smartphone or tablet. Beam will assist you in your daily activities, like wake you up in the morning with the latest news and your agenda or show you your social updates when you come home.

Beam is easy to set up and control with the Apple or Android app. You can screw it into any light socket or use the included power cable to place it on any flat surface.”


DEAD SCARE: An RPG of Blood Splattered White Picket Fences
In this RPG you play as the women and children of the 1950’s, defending your home and surviving the zombie apocalypse. And one of the stretch goals is a postcard story written by Shanna Germain – co-creator of the Cypher System. I like that this game limits the PC options to women and children and forces creativity in defending what’s theirs.

“It’s 1953 and the United States is under siege.You, your family, your neighbors, and your friends have to fight the shambling dead as they trample your begonias and drag ichor all over your new front porch. They’re clawing at the door, and it’s not just because they want your apple pie recipe.

DEAD SCARE is a tabletop roleplaying game that explores an alternate United States in the early 1950s. It’s Powered by the Apocalypse and combines subverted 1950s American idealism with a blood-spattered zombie apocalypse.

It began when President Truman was the first public target of a Russian bio-weapon the Russkies designed to turn people into flesh-eating zombies. Everyone watched it on TV that night, and nothing in the good ol’ US of A will be the same ever again.”


Still active!

Numenera: The Strand
Death Saves: Fallen Heroes of the Kitchen Table
World of Darkness: Dark Eras Prestige Edition
Ako Dice – Now available in multiple colors and as Fudge Die!
Pencil Dice – Now available in multiple colors and as Fudge Die!
Faith: The Sci-Fi RPG
Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion
Adventure Scents
Three Monkeys pt. 1: Into the Abyss
Dice Day Monthly: Unique RPG Dice to your Door
Board Games for Troops Overseas
Dagon by HP Lovecraft and Ben Templesmith

Support TRF on Patreon

We wanted to announce that we have launched a page on Patreon to raise money to make the podcast better. We’ve worked very hard over the last half year to improve the quality of the episodes we release. Core cast members have paid for new hardware to make the show sound more professional, and invested more time in editing multi-track recordings of shows to deliver cleaner audio. We’ve also recently upped our bitrates, which results in higher bandwidth costs. In short, we’re in the red, by a fair bit.

We’d like to ask for your help so the people behind TRF can breathe a little easier about expenses. We’re definitely committed to continuing however this turns out though, and keeping TRF’s feed as prolific and free as it’s always been. If we get just a little help though, we’ll be able to justify spending more time on the project. With substantial support, we’ll be able to do more to make TRF bigger and better.

In exchange for your kind contributions, we’re working on special bonus content and ways you can have a hand in the show’s production. Want to get episodes as soon as they’re ready for release, hear names you’ve created used by our GMs, or have one of the cast GM a game for you and your friends? Then head over to our Patreon page. Just a small contribution can get you access to some neat stuff and help make TRF something we can all be proud to work on.

–Aser, John, Megan and the TRF Crew

A Rune Awakening: Everyone Loves a Festival

Everyone gathers in Sandpoint to celebrate the consecration of a new temple, but the goblins have other plans.

Music by Kevin MacLeod “Five Armies”

Direct Download!

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