Slasher Flick RPG Review

Like Slasher/Horror movies where the characters are always getting split up and making bad decisions? Have I found a game for you! Slasher Flick from Spectrum Games is a Slasher/Horror flick ‘Genre Emulation’ game that allows players to take on the roles of characters within a slasher flick. One player takes on the roll of the Director which is similar to a Game Master or Dungeon Master in other tabletop RPGs. The other players all control a Primary character along with one or more Secondary and Tertiary characters. Players earn Genre Points for having their characters say and do things that would happen in a typical slasher flick. Characters invariably end up in a multitude of Kill Scenes with the Killer/Monster/etc. where they must earn Survival Points in order to make it out of the scene, otherwise they die. Both the Kill Scenes and character death happen, as you expect in a slasher flick, pretty frequently. Overall this game is quick to learn, fun to play and does a great job doing what it set out to do, emulating slasher movies.

The game’s mechanics are fairly simple. Whenever a situation comes up that has opposition or a chance of failure the player in control of the character has to make a roll of four dice. Get 2 or more matching numbers and you succeed, otherwise you fail. Hard rolls can drop the roll down to three dice and conversely having a skill can increase your dice pool to five. All rolls in the game are based around four basic stats: Brawn, Finesse, Brains, and Spirit. Every character has these rated either Poor, Normal or Good. The better a character is at something, the smaller the die they use for their roll. So if a character is Good at Brains they roll six sided dice (d6) where a character that was Poor would roll ten sided dice (d10). Primary characters typically have better stats and more bonuses where Secondaries do not.

One of the most fun things about Slasher Flick is that it rewards players for having their characters do non-optimal things that would happen in a movie by awarding Genre Points. Hear a noise in the basement and have your character go down alone while saying “I’ll be right back!” You earn a Genre Point! Sure that character may die but that gives the player more Genre Points to help their remaining characters and possibly win the game.

Kill Scenes are what the game, and Slasher Flicks for that matter, is all about and they run quite well. The mechanics work like anything else in the game, roll dice and look for matches, but there are several twists thrown in which can swing results. The general idea is that a character must earn a certain number of survival points during a Kill Scene to end the scene and make it out alive. If a character drops to negative Survival Points though they die! I have to admit that after reading the rules I was afraid the Kill Scenes would drag on a bit, and they do take a bit of time, but they actually run very smoothly and to be honest are the most fun part of the game. I’m speaking from only having played as the Director though so perhaps my love of killing PCs in Dungeons and Dragons is showing.

If you and your gaming group enjoy a good horror movie and are looking for a fun way to spend a session I highly recommend the Slasher Flick RPG. There are numerous scenarios available and the Director’s Cut of the game that I bought also has a ton of pregenerated characters you can either use directly or just for inspiration.

If you’d like to hear an example of how the game plays stay tuned as we’ll be releasing a podcast episode of us playing our first game, Murder at Red Beard Resort, in the next couple of weeks. You can also find a full list of Slasher Flick products here.

Interface Zero 2.0: Cyberpunk Savaged

KickStarter is quickly becoming the land of awesome RPG products and Interface Zero 2.0: Full Metal Cyberpunk is yet another example.  The original Interface Zero released back in 2010 as a near future Cyberpunk setting for Savage Worlds.  Now Gunmetal Games is ready to release an updated and improved version of the game along with new settings like Christ Church New Zealand and Atlanta Georgia (home of the Goblin Beat)!  Fans of hacking, cyber ware, robots and books like Neuromancer should take notice as this looks to be a great system.

The original version of the Interface Zero setting was an award nominated hit and 2.0 promises a sleeker  more streamlined version of the same system.  As if that by itself wasn’t enough there are stretch goals (some of which have already been met) to have well-known industry veterans create source books for different locations.  As of this moment the Japan source book stretch goal is close to being reached and it will be written by none other than all around great guy and friend of the Goblin Beat, Stan! Brown.

As with any good KickStarter project there are also plenty of add-ons and Interface Zero 2.0 has some sweet ones.  Firstly, the obligatory custom wild die, which can be had for $2, print editions of the book, custom bennies, custom playing cards and even hardbound copies of the book are available.  Recently they have also added an Explorer’s Edition available as an add-on, the price of which varies depending upon which backer level you select.  If you haven’t seen the Explorer’s Edition bound books before  they are 6.5″ x 9″ and fit great in the hand.

So what do you think, ready to get your Cyberpunk Savaged?  Check out the video below for more information.

Call of Cthulhu Cards

These Call of Cthulhu playing cards are the product of the KickStarter from Albino Dragon. The cards themselves are produced by Bicycle and are of the same great quality you would expect from any other set of their playing cards.
The design on each card however is unique to this deck and was created from the ground up to have the look and feel you would expect from the name. The backs of the cards available to the public now are all red with stylized images of the Necronomicon, the Elder Sign and various other Mythos inspired tidbits. There was a green backed version as well which unfortunately was limited to those lucky enough to find and back the KickStarter before its conclusion. Hopefully they’ll do another run down the road with green but these cards are still very nice.

The custom box the deck comes in is well crafted in various shades of green, leaving no doubt about the eldritch horrohp_cthulhu_card r inside. Inside there are a couple of bonus cards, one double backed card and one with an image of H.P. Lovecraft being caressed by a motley assortment of Elder Thyngs.

The back of the Lovecraft card also has a list of what creatures are located on what card. Each of the face cards has a creature from the mythos upon it, Hastur, Cthulhu, Dagon etc. are all captured upon their own card. The Aces also have some nice artwork although there are no actual creatures upon them and the Jokers have creatures upon them as well (Nightgaunts?).

Those of you who listen to our podcast will note that we have recently been running Realms of Cthulhu adventures. Realms of Cthulhu uses Savage Worlds as the base rule system for Call of Cthulhu inspired games. The big pay-off with these cards is that Savage Worlds uses playing cards for the initiative system. So you can actually use this deck of cards when playing Cthulhu games, which is the exact reason I purchased a deck of these cards.

Any Cthulhu fan will enjoy these cards but I would go so far as to say that any horror/Cthulhu fans that play Savage Worlds should feel bad about themselves if they don’t have at least one deck of these cards.

Cthulhu fhtagn!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Adventure Quest: Learning & LARPing for Kids

Every once in a while you hear an idea that is so simple and makes so much since you can’t believe you didn’t think of it yourself.  That is what happened to me when I first found out about Adventure Quest (no not Adventure Time).  Adventure Quest started out as an after school/camp activity created for kids which basically lets them play in a kid friendly, LARP environment where they learn to solve problems through critical thinking, play fighting with foam swords (my kids do this part on their own anyway) and learning about history and mythology.

This one activity actually gets kids to run around and play outside, teaches them about subjects which will help them in school, and helps them learn how to better interact with their peers and adults.  Now the folks at Renaissance Adventures have created a KickStarter to allow them to create game books for anyone to run their own Adventure Quest games with special emphasis on parents, educators, gamers and even entrepreneurs that would like to run the games as part of a business.  On top of that they have also created a RPG version of the game.  According to their claims you can seamlessly go from LARP to RPG and back with the same adventure/story.

The idea of having my kids engaged in playing games outside instead of asking to play a video game is intruiging to me.  If you’d like to know more check out their KickStarter page and see what you think.

 

Realms of Cthulhu

Realms of Cthulhu is a Savage Worlds setting book created by Reality Blurs for the express purpose of giving players a way to play games based upon H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos within Savage Worlds games.  The book also goes a long way towards helping players and GMs convert Call of Cthulhu materials into Savage Worlds compatible ones, which opens up hundreds of adventures and supplements for Realms of Cthulhu.  Those of you who have listened to our Midnight Harvest podcasts will probably have noted that we use this book for that adventure.

The hardbound book is well put together with pictures and little extras that really lend to the overall feel of the book.  Setting rules are laid out near the beginning of the book, the most obvious of which is the Sanity rule, which is a Savage Worlds adaptation of Chaosism’s Sanity rules.

What’s Insiderealms_of_cthulhu

The book starts out with information that everyone needs to know including details about creating an investigator, changes to skills, hindrances and edges as well as new ones specifically created for RoC.  This is followed by information about available equipment during the three different time periods covered within the tome: the 1890’s, 1920’s and modern.  This is a great quick reference, especially if you are playing in one of the earlier time periods and need to know what type of weapons actually existed during those times (no machine guns in the 1890’s!).

The aforementioned Sanity rules are included in the Setting rules section along with one of my favorite rules: Fate is Unkind which disallows players from using a benny if he/she rolls a double one.  This rule has a tendency to raise it’s head at the most exciting of times.

After that we get into the murky waters of the Keeper’s section which includes detailed information on the Cthulhu Mythos, how magic works within RoC and a great chapter devoted to helping you craft your own Mythos Tales.  The book also contains a full adventure, detailed information about a slew of Mythos Creatures and a short section specifically dedicated to helping you convert from Call of Cthulhu to RoC.

The Verdict

This book is a wonderful resource for any Savage Worlds player interested in playing a Horror/Suspense style game.  While those looking to create Cthulhu style games may get the most out of RoC any group that enjoys playing in a realistic setting with horror and suspense elements will find a wealth of information and help within the pages.  While it is possible to buy this book (along with most Savage Worlds books and supplements) as a PDF I would encourage anyone truly interested to grab an actual copy of the book.  Being able to flip through the tome while your players look on, with dread Cthulhu staring at them from the cover, can really add some tension and fun to the game.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

More Noir

Can’t get enough Deadlands Noir?  Then you are in luck as Pinnacle has just released the first official adventure for the new setting, The Old Absinthe House Blues.  The adventure has the investigators trying to unravel theDLN_Old_Absinthe_House_Blues mystery disappearance of a new songstress from The Old Absinthe House in The Big Easy.  The description sounds interesting and for only $9.99 you can pick up the PDF.

Along with the adventure Pinnacle also released a free PDF full of pre-made Noir characters called Deadlands Noir: Archtypes.  All of the main character types you would expect are here, the Private Dick, the Hobo, the Reporter and Deadlands specific ones like The Arcane Detective, the Patent Scientist and the Harrowed.  There are nine characters in all, complete with backgrounds, equipment and powers (when needed).  In true Pinnacle fashion this PDF is freely available so check it out and get a taste of what Deadlands Noir is all DLN_Archetypes about.

Personally I’m tempted to do a Realms of Cthulhu mash-up with this adventure and see what happens!

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land

The Wasted Land is a based turn-based strategy game created by Red Wasp Design and based on the Call of Cthulhu rules set.  I picked this game up to play on my iPhone for two reasons, 1. it had the word Cthulhu in it and 2. it was based on the rules from the Chaosium game.  $4.99 is a high price tag for a mobile game these days but thankfully there is a free version of the game on iTunes which lets you get a feel for the way the game plays before shelling out all of that dough.  There is also an Android version for those of you interested.  In my case the free version definitely did its job, giving me enough of a taste of the game to convince me that guiding my group of investigators through the battlefields of World War One in search of a dark cult was well worth the paltry price of $5!

KaulsDiary

The Good

Wasted Land does a good job following the basic rules of Call of Cthulhu.  The story-line is also engaging and adds an extra element of depth to the turn-based strategy action.  I was as interested in finding out what happened during the next mission as I was in blowing up more reanimated corpses and Leng Spiders.  I also enjoyed being able to customize the investigators between battles, spending experience gained during missions to increase skills I decided were important to particular characters.  By the end of the game I had a well trained team of specialist mythos-killing machines.

The difficulty of each game was also well balanced.  I never found myself breezing through a level on auto-pilot.  The threat of failure and character death was always real and kept me on my toes.

The Bad

Several elements of game-play were frustrating.  Some are attributable to playing the game in a touch-screen environment, like having difficulty clicking on the correct characters whenever large scale melees break out, and others are simple game flow problems that could use some work.

One of my main issues with the game is I have no idea what some of the skills are used for, even now after I’ve finished the game.  Knowledge of Cthulhu Mythos for example seems like it would be very important to a Call of Cthulhu game but I have no idea how it is actually used in the game and whether or not I wasted experience increasing the skill on some of my characters.  I also never figured out how to add extra ‘AP’ (action points) into an attack to increase the chance of it succeeding.  In the tutorial you are told you can do this but not exactly how.  I tapped on every part of the screen I could think of but was never able to get this to work.

Lastly I found myself frustrated by the fact that there is no way to ‘give up’ on a level and go back and re-equip your group.  I ended up playing one level 3 times because I had chosen equipment poorly and had no way to go back and change out what my team was using.  It would make the game infinitely more playable to allow the user to go back and retool their group after a failed mission.

The Verdict

Overall I really enjoyed this game and will most likely buy the $2.99 add-on which lets you play an additional set of scenarios, this time as the bad guy!  I would recommend this game to anyone fond of turn-based strategy, Cthulhu, or horror genre games.  The few problems I mentioned above were annoying but weren’t bad enough to keep me from finishing the game, which is saying something because I normally get bored with games long before I’ve completed them.  The story and the escalating level of Mythos involvement were both well done and kept me highly interested from start to finish.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Savage Worlds Deluxe EE

This past summer I along with several other members of the Goblin Beat went to DragonCon here in Atlanta.  One of the items I came back with was a copy of the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition rule book.  I had heard of Savage Worlds before but none of us had ever played the game so after attending a panel talking about the future of Savage Worlds and where the brand was as a whole I couldn’t resist picking up the book one evening.  A week or two after DragonCon was all over I finally got around to picking up the SW book and reading through it and wow was I impressed!  I’ve been playing pen and paper RPGs for twenty years and I have never found a rule system as simple, intuitive, fun and fast paced as Savage Worlds.

I quickly setup a campaign for our podcast using Savage Worlds rules and the world of Warhammer 40k as the setting, and I think it is safe to say that everyone loved the rule system as much as I do.  Savage Worlds uses regular playing cards for initiative, where the highest value card goes first, the next highest second and so on.  I bought a dark set of playing cards from Bicycle to go with the feel of our game which helped to set the mood as well.  Combat is fast even when using our dry erase grid map, and everyone learned how to use their characters within the first round of combat, which took less than five minutes with four players!

Bennies were another big hit with the group.  In Savage Worlds each player starts every session with three bennies.  You can use anything to represent these but we bought a few packs of the actual Savage Worlds bennies, which are specially made poker chips.  Any time a player’s character fails a roll they can spend a benny (short for benefit) to roll again.  They can also spend a benny when their character is hurt to make a ‘soak’ roll and ignore the damage.  Bennies also work great as mid-session rewards for players; if they do something amazing or do a great job role playing their character you can reward them immediately with a benny.

The mechanics of the game are also simple, every trait and skill that a character has is given a value of d4, d6, d8, d10 or d12.  To use the given trait or skill the player rolls the associated die and on a 4 or higher they succeed.  There are a few cases (such as opposed rolls) where this gets a little more complicated but that is the main mechanic in the game, and it is simple and works great.  It is so simple in fact that I also now run a campaign once per week for my kids, where they are local heroes in a small town in a fantasy setting.  They all picked the game up within the first few minutes as well and are constantly talking about how much fun they have, and the youngest is only four and a half!

Currently I’m preparing another campaign using the Realms of Cthulhu setting for our podcast that we will change out with the Warhammer 40k and our normal D&D podcasts.  If you have read many of the reviews on our site then you know I am a huge fan of the Cthulhu Mythos and I’m extremely excited to get started with those games.  Look for a review of the Realms of Cthulhu setting guide soon.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Nemezis: Savage Worlds in Space

If there is one thing you can never have enough of it is cool settings for Savage Worlds campaigns.  Nemezis allows you to take your adventuring into a future where mankind is being attacked by the forces of Dark Gods bent on the destruction of humanity.  This book is 161 pages long and contains setting information, new equipment, monsters and of course everything you need to know about the evil deities  and their nefarious schemes.  There’s also a large section about cybernetic implants and nanotech that is used to improve your characters in various ways, from anti-gravity systems to elastic bones.  We originally picked up this book to use as an addendum to our home brewed Warhammer 40k setting but it would definitely be fun to use the settings just as they are described within the book.  I’m especially excited about throwing some of the more interesting creatures from the bestiary at my budding Space Marines in our next playing session!

source: peginc.com

A Brief History of D&D Goblins

This morning the HGIC (Head Goblin In Charge) gave me the stink-eye as I slunk into my work area under one of the tables in The Goblin Beat conference room.  That in and of itself isn’t very unusual but then he hit me in the face with a wadded up piece of paper.  Again, not unusual, what was unusual was that there was a printed out article from Wizards of the Coast dated almost two weeks ago on the paper.  I was extremely surprised first because I didn’t know the HGIC could work the printer and second because the article was about Goblins in D&D over the last 40 years and I would have expected him to bring it up on the day the article appeared.  In any case I implore you to check out the article “Goblins! A Brief Look Back at Goblinoids” from issue 416 of Dragon, no subscription required.  If you don’t I’m afraid what might happen to me…I don’t want to go the way of Matt’s stuffed Dalek!