Shooting Zebras - Bad Example, Episode 2 Part 1

02 June 2009 | Hisham | | Bad Example, GOKL Actual Play, RPG Actual Play, Role Playing Games, Star Wars

Bad Example In The SpacelanesI ran the second episode of Star Wars: A Bad Example In The Spacelanes last weekend with the GOKL crew. Without Adrian, Tickley the Jawa Jedi would be relegated to behind-the-scenes NPC while the rest of the crew did their thing.

In Bad Example In The Spacelanes Episode 1: Pilot, Or Lack Thereof, some stuff happened which you can read here.

Here follows the story of the game that was ran:

Episode 2: Crab Meat Beach Party

Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

The shipping line to the mining community of Port Barrow on the planet Sriluur was under constant raid from pirates. Because Port Barrow was being developed and industrialized by the outlander human Tam Gromer, it was relatively shunned by the rest of the planet. However, after the arrival of the crew of the yacht Bad Example, three pirate YT-1760 freighters had been taken out of commission. Two had been captured and one destroyed.

Fearing a retaliation from the Five Skulls Pirates, the crew of the Bad Example planned take down the pirates at their base.


The drum-beat strains of the night remain in the rhythm of the newborn day. The captured pirate YT-1760, still stinking of garbage, and the battered Luxury 3000 yacht Bad Example sat side-by-side upon Port Barrow's landing field. Several kilometres into the city a column of smoke drifted upwards from the town's junk yard since the previous afternoon where the other YT-1760 crashed. The junk yard owners had been celebrating all night for their glorious bounty that had literally fallen from of the sky.


A Bad Example In The Spacelanes, Part 2

05 May 2009 | Hisham | | Bad Example, GOKL Actual Play, RPG Actual Play, Role Playing Games, Star Wars

Continuing the adventures of the crew of the Bad Example on Sriluur...


Meanwhile, Aden, Ssssawar and Annie crossed a bridge over the river that led to the waterfall only several metres due west. Their destination, Spacer's Bistro, was on the other side of the river. Port Barrow had the expected large percentage of Weequay population in the streets, they saw. But there were also other species, including humans, several Rodians here, a few Duros over there. The Bistro was a domed building overlooking the cliff. There was a large window pane which allowed for spectacular view of the canyon and other mountains in the range.

It was still early, so there were not many patrons in the Bistro. A green and black clad human was drinking alone in a table. There was a Weequay passed out, presumably drunk at another table. A Rodian was at a table near the window downing shots of some kind of drink. The crewmates were largely ignored by the bartender who continued cleaning his glasses without skipping a beat when they walked through the door.


A Bad Example In The Spacelanes, Part 1

04 May 2009 | Hisham | | Bad Example, GOKL Actual Play, RPG Actual Play, Role Playing Games, Star Wars

This will be the title card on our movie adaptation! Last Sunday I ran my first face-to-face, over-the-table Star Wars RPG game since 1999, with the GoKL crew. It was a tramp freighter campaign, set in the Rebellion Era, using classic D6 rules. I was quite anxious about it seeing it's been a while since I was in practice - discounting the IRC chat-based Sabredart and Chronicles of the Wild Gundark campaigns I had several years ago.

There were seven of us. I was gamemaster and there were six players. We rolled 6-sided dice to detemine the outcome of our actions, and the players decided what to do based on the scenarios and encounters I described to them over the game. It was fantastic collaborative storytelling.

Ultimately, this was the story that came out at the end of the game:

Episode 1: Pilot, or Lack Thereof

Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... the galaxy is in turmoil. An Empire tightens its iron grip upon a million worlds. A rebellion arises to topple the corrupt government. But for quadrillions of beings, life goes on as usual. Demand exists. Supply is required.

With their cargo of machine parts, the crew of the Bad Example, a converted star yacht, arrives at its destination: The planet Sriluur and the township of Port Barrow.


Teaching Kids to Roleplay is Only Natural

25 September 2008 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games, Trawling The Net

I have been GMing some very simple scenarios with Irfan. Mostly it's been dungeon crawls through caves with traps and obstacles, trying to find his way out. Today I read this article from Geekdad written by Daniel Donaho, which has some ideas in how to make things more interesting when playing with children.

Here's an excerpt:

The Early Years (4 – 7 years)

Is four-years-old too young to play an RPG? Not if you have a couple of older children (say 6 or 7) play with. Of course, if you want children to abide by all the rules exactly and have a detailed knowledge of movement and encumbrance rates and initiative then you are setting yourself and the kids up for failure and a pretty uninspiring time.

The focus at this age should be on the “role-playing”, rather than “roll-playing”. Gary's polyhedrons and then some

You need a game that will take anywhere from 20 – 60 min. It should have a clear and simple narrative. Young children really grasp the idea of a linear story and strong characters. So, rescuing someone or something, or climbing to the top of a mountain. These things make sense and are interesting goals for young children (as long as you throw a few encounters along the way). This age group also responds well to using miniatures. They find it easier to role-play characters they can see. Though, they can do it with paper and pencils around a table, but they prefer to have a representation of their character.

For this reason, sometimes it is good to get them to draw their character. Also, no matter what the game as them to choose three words to describe their character and explain they have to act like their character. Sometimes you get words like “red”, but to see a child role-play “red” can be a very comical experience.

Like I said, be flexible around the rules. That said, it is amazing how quickly children this age picked up on the idea that rolling the dice was crucial to an outcome. So they’d say, “I attack him, where are the dice?” without drawing breath. Only in the beginning will they need to be reminded to roll. They pick it up quickly. Now, surely developing an appreciation for the dice is a fine achievement and a valuable lesson for any future role-players.

Keys to RPGing with 4 – 7 year-olds

  • The story - Focus on a clear linear narrative
  • The characters – Great to have miniatures, or pictures of characters
  • The Rules – Keep them simple, don’t worry about them too much. But, introduce the concept of rolling the dice helps to produce an outcome (either positive or negative)

 With regards to the final line of the quote above, my rules with Irfan are pretty simple. Roll 2d6 to beat the target number. An easy task is 4, moderate 5 and difficult 6. He enjoys it enough to draw out the maps of the cave in advance, then call me in to GM him. I can't wait for him to start playing Star Wars or GURPS or investigating the latest shenanigans of Nyarlathotep.


I Want To Play In This Campaign

03 September 2008 | Hisham | | Comics, Humour, Role Playing Games, Trawling The Net

PVP Online's latest comic regales us with a description of one of the greatest ideas for an RPG campaign.

Click on the thumbnail to the right to read the entire strip, and to see what I'm talking about.

I believe I'd very much like to play Jesse Mach of Street Hawk in that campaign.

Anyone else willing to be Stringfellow Hawke, B.J McKay, Sheriff Lobo and Colt Seavers travelling the country to thwart the evil plans of an evil Mr. Belvedere? We'd have the Street Hawk, Airwolf and Sheriff Lobo's police cruiser poisitioned inside B.J. McKay's 18-wheeler, ready to be deployed at a moment's notice, like The Highwayman series.

We'll be fighting wave after wave of Melmackian troops led by Gordon "ALF" Shumway, under the direct command of Mr. Belvedere's lieutenant Arnold of Diff'rent Strokes.

"Whatchoo talkin' about, ALF?"

You know you want to play this.


Arakyd Diamondback Droid Stats

12 August 2008 | Hisham | | Artwork, Role Playing Games, Star Wars

It was during the Enteague Sector campaign for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game which I GMed perhaps fifteen years ago. A new team of the Strikeforce Enteague, consisting of younger members, had to investigate the Malc Toldreyn Library on the planet Neeuderni to solve the campaign mystery arc of why an Imperial Admiral (no names here, cause in retrospect the NPC naming convention I used at around this time sucked) wanted Ham Slacker the tongue-tied engineer dead.

Naturally, the Imperials attacked during the investigation. Radio communications on and around the planet was jammed. It turned out that the Imps had deployed a Diamondback droid which is designed to jam planetary and interplanetary communications. The group borrowed the local defence forces' CloakShape fighters to attack the droid, which had its own defences in the form of anti-fighter cannons.

I 've rewritten down the D6 stats slightly modified from my original pencil notes and uploaded them to Phil Hatfield's site D6 Universe for posterity's sake.

I've reproduced it here for my own reference.


So what IS a Role-playing Game Anyway?

28 April 2008 | Hisham | | ACS Memories, Role Playing Games

I have a Role-playing Games category right over there at the left sidebar on the front page of the site. I'm sure there's a lot of visitors to this site that will probably shrug and say, "I dunno", or half-heartedly answer, "Something like Dungeons and Dragons?"

Well, Dungeons and Dragons is a role-playing game (RPG is the popular acronym attributed to it), true. But it's more than just D&D and we'll get to that later.


Starships of the Galaxy by Uncle Gary

10 November 2007 | Hisham | | Friends, Role Playing Games, Star Wars

Starships of the Galaxy Saga EditionAnother one of Irfan's Uncle Gary's writing project has been officially been announced by Wizards of the Coast, which is Starships of the Galaxy for Star Wars Roleplaying Game - Saga Edition Core Rulebook the third edition of the d20 gaming rules.

The book was a collaborative effort between Gary, Owen Stephens and Rodney Thompson.

I've seen the Saga Edition Core Rulebook on display at Kinokuniya the other day, but I haven't bought it yet. I've heard good reviews about it and maybe someday I'll get a crew together to sit down and play it. Heck, I've only played the d20 revised core rule book version via a Play-By-E-Mail game that didn't really finish.

Maybe I'll start a new crew beginning with this little guy beside me not really quietly playing with the N-1 fighter I got 8 years ago free with a Happy Meal.

But the real question about the book is: does it have the stats and a write-up for the super awesomely fast Millennium Hawk in there?

You can't have a starship book without the Millennium Hawk for sure.

Meanwhile, Gary's brought me to the attention of the planet Irfan at the Star Wars Wiki, which is the planet he named for our Irfan back in 2004 in the article in the now-defunct Polyhedron magazine. Here's an old Hishgraphics blog article mentioning it. I've actually tried once looking for the entry for Irfan at the Star Wars Wiki, but it was more than a year ago so the article might not have existed then.


And On The 501st Post, Shane Meets Apollo

28 October 2007 | Hisham | | Friends, Misc Sci-Fi, Role Playing Games

Yes, really.

Shane Meets Tom Zarek

Awesome wikked.

Take it away, Shane:

Today was the Winnipeg Comic Con.

Richard Hatch was the big reason I wanted to go. JUST to get a pic of him and I together and an autograph. I did that very early on in the day, think I was third in line. I knew later he had this acting/improv/rpg character creation session.

I went, thinkin that there was gonna be a million people and I'd get stuck in the back and not even get to interact with him. The room turned out to be very small, and there were only about 50 people. Me, sitting up front. He starts asking why people are here. I raise my hand. Suddenly, I'm talking to Apollo. One on one....I'm mentioning about being a GM and wanting to crerate better stories. He then talks about how RPGing and being a GM is harder than acting sometimes.

We do some warm up exercises, one of which is to get us warmed up, Richard is up on two chairs yelling 'FRAK!'. We yell 'FRAK!' back to him. He then yells 'FRAK OFF!'....we return the favor. He then yells 'FRAK YOU!' and we yell back 'FRAK YOU' best we can, between roars of laughter. He then starts stretching his legs saying 'It's the Tom Zarek workout hour'....I laugh till it hurts.

He then starts doing some improv situations with the crowd. First round, I get passed by. No biggie. Second round, passed by. The second round begins and I'm sitting watching, it's starting to go slow and the people in it aren't very good. Suddenly, there's a voice behind me 'Do you want to go up and be the mafia guy?''s Richard in my ear. I get up and start the stereotypical mob boss voice. Richard is in tears.

The next improv round, Richard pulls me up again. Before we know it, the two hour time limit on the room is over and the next seminar is going to start. Richard thanks us, and tells me how funny I am. I poo. Right there. Great con, great day.

If you ever get the chance to meet him, DO IT!

One day, Shane. One day. Best 501st post evar!


Fragments From The Rim

20 September 2007 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games, Star Wars

Fragments From The RimAll my life I've loved the idea of the Star Wars universe. When I discovered that there was a Star Wars Roleplaying Game published by West End Games back in 1987 I was excited. But this won't be about how I got into RPGs, but the review of one of the best SWRPG supplements ever:

Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments From The Rim

Here is a list of why this supplement by Simon Smith and Eric Trautmann rocks:


The Return of SWAG

15 September 2007 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games, Star Wars

SWAG bannerFive years ago today, a bunch of tabletop roleplayers and artists and web programmers who met by chance on SWRPGNetwork's Holonet Forums and shared a common dream (well, two really) finally launched the Star Wars Artists' Guild after months of planning. One of the founding members was me. The Guild was created in order to create Star Wars artwork for the RPG, whether it be D6 or d20 or even if you made GURPS or Wushu or Fate games out of the setting.

Today, in the hands of Kris Vanderwater, SWAG is relaunched (using Drupal replacing the old pMachine as its content management system) and all that's old is new again.

Thanks for your effort in relaunching the site, Kris, and Happy 5th SWAGDay. And also thanks to everyone from Bob Rogers, Chris Curtis, Derek Jones, Daniel Falconer and all the others who helped conceive and ran it initially on SWRPGNetwork until it had its own home on the net, to all its contributors and fans throughout the years that kept it alive.

Here's the new link to my SWAG Gallery.

A little secret: The reason why I always remember SWAG's Anniversary is that it's exactly a week ahead of Irfan's birthday! Yaaay!


Gary's Book Nominated for 3 Ennies

19 July 2007 | Hisham | | Friends, Role Playing Games

Children of the Horned Rat - Black IndustriesCongratulations to Gary Astleford for getting the book he co-wrote for Black Industries, Children of the Horned Rat nominated for 3 Ennie awards. The nominations are for Best Interior Art, Best Writing and Product of the Year.

Product of the Year is a hell of a big deal, of course, but I am very proud of him for the nomination for Best Writing. I seem to remember a conversation with Gary a long time ago. It was on how gaming products nowadays focus too much on rules, or intersperse rules with fluff on the campaign world... as opposed to try not breaking the fourth wall and write the book as if it was genuinely from that campaign universe. Then finally have all the custom rules for the book and such be an afterthought but easily accessible and indexed when required.

Now, going by the subtext of the Best Writing award, which is, "Awarded for the book containing the best prose and descriptive text (ie."cream" or "fluff")", I'd like to think Gary had a lot to do with it.

Congratulations, man.

Skavens are cool.

Was Brown Jenkins a skaven?


You Rolled Poorly

11 May 2007 | Hisham | | Humour, Role Playing Games

Some weeks ago I wrote an entry on role-playing game motivational posters. Last night I discovered a website that allows you create your own by uploading your own pictures and entering your own lines of text. (Doesn't even have to be about RPGs, even.) So here we are with my own RPG motivational poster.


A Noumenon Review at RPGNet

20 April 2007 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games

...single-handedly wins the prize for being the weirdest RPG in our hobby’s historyI rarely write for my supper, so when I see a good review for something which I participated in I get very elated. Noumenon, the RPG published by Abstract Nova, was reviewed by Jocelyn Robitaille at RPGNet on the 30th of March and I missed it... until just now.

For an idea of the RPG setting flavour, take a read at the reviewer's first couple of paragraphs, "Imagine J. J. Abrams’ Lost mixed with Alex Proyas’ Dark City and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but written by William S. Burroughs and with a pinch of Silent Hill thrown in for good measure. Now, picture a game that makes Nobilis look like D&D in terms of how easy it is to grasp. Combine those two pictures in your head. Are you there, yet? Good.

"You now have a rough idea of what Noumenon is like."

I am proud to have contributed to something described as such, even if just a couple of hundred words.

I would guess my bit would have appeared in this part of the review:

The third chapter, “initiation”, presents the first floor of the Silhouette Rouge, called the Prima Materia. Imagine a big central room (the Grand Foyer), and three hallways leading to seven doors each. Initiation, the lengthiest chapter of the book by far, is dedicated to presenting each of the twenty-one rooms of the Prima Materia, which are supposed to form the basic alphabet of the Silhouette Rouge. The writing style for each room varies wildly, as does the content. Some deal with the story of the Lost One, others present ethical dilemmas, yet others allow the PCs to discover about their past life, some lead to epiphanies while other still are simply mysteries or physical challenges. Mind you, I’m still not exactly sure which room deal with which. Finally, the chapter shortly describes a spiralling stairway called the Conch that leads to the upper floor of the Silhouette Rouge.

One of those rooms should have been one of the two vignettes I submitted to the editor.

Click here to read the full review. Look at the Noumenon credit list on the right column, yo!

Click here for my previous entry on Noumenon's sample download.


Motivational Posters, But....

08 April 2007 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games

You've seen those motivational posters? The black bordered ones with the inspiring and or beautiful picture of nature, or a cute child or a kitten. Below the image is usually a word or a phrase of the facet of humanity requiring the motivation. Below that line, in smaller type, is a line of blissful and inspiring words as chicken soup for the soul...

Anyway, a bunch of nice people over at RPG.Net has come up with a thread in their forums to create more and more of these spirit-uplifting posters. And a kind person has collected these posters and put it in a gallery at his website which you can check out here.

Feel free to browse, absorb and digest some of the fantastic wisdom which, hopefully, can help you when you face bad times in your life.

Here are some choice posters for your preview:

Beautiful, they are....


Cracken's Collection of What?!?

25 January 2007 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games, Star Wars

Cracken's Collection of Crazed Crackpots Cover Clangs CowbellsIn the tradition of West End Games' series of sourcebooks such as Cracken's Rebel Field Guide, Cracken's Rebel Operatives and Cracken's Threat Dossier (all of which are books written in-universe by the fictional General Airen Cracken), I now bring you the non-official mini-sourcebook pdf for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game (D6 rules version)...

Cracken's Collection of Crazed Crackpots.

It's created 100% by open source software. The artwork was made with The Gimp, the layouts were done in Scribus, and some elements were saved in EPS and ported from Inkscape. And it's compressed into a zip file by Ubuntu's onboard archiver.

It's basically a book about some dangerous escapees from a nuthouse. Stats are included for D6 roleplaying goodness. Take it seriously at your own risk... and sanity. Apologies for not having the time to create a back page.

Oh, and Airen Cracken doesn't really appear until the end.

Right click and save at this here link. The zip filesze is 1.8 MB.


Giant Purple Dinosaur? Not Really

13 October 2006 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games, Star Wars

In the Jann Tosh / Mon Julpa story arc of the Droids series the heroes encounter a 3-metre tall monster called a durkii in a dungeon pit, not surprising since the durkii was apparently a pet of the evil Tammuz-an vizier Zatec-Cha.

It was large, purple and had an unpleasant demeanour, but had no stats.

I hope this entry rectifies that oversight. At least in D6 terms.


Really All It's Quacked Up To Be

27 September 2006 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games

So what's one animal you can think of that's not a maneater, can't overrun the entire world and physically incapable of killing humans on this planet?

I'm thinking... ducks.

So it came to pass I started thinking of a silly RPG sourcebook which will be available for free download named The Apocalyptic Invasion of Flesh-eating Mutant Ducks RPG, which will employ West End Games' D6 game engine which was used for its old Star Wars RPG system.


Spending Nothing For RPGs

18 September 2006 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games

The best things on the net are free!

Well, not exactly true but roaming the internet I did come across a list of 500 free role playing games. Some are dead links. Some are very lean. Some are PDF, some are HTML and some are Word files. Some are official free products from RPG companies.

I'm going through the entire list on my own t...

Ooo, lookit... the out-of-print Time Lord RPG. Be right back.


A Colonial Viper Pilot in d20

07 September 2006 | Hisham | | Misc Sci-Fi, Role Playing Games

d20My friend Shane Welin is now in a d20 game with a difference. The rules might be powered by the run-of-the-mill d20 Modern / Future engine but I believe this is the first time I know of a campaign set in the world of Battlestar Galactica whose third season will be aired this next month.

His player character stats is listed below, but I'll see about getting stats for Vipers (Mark IIs and Mark VIIs), Raptors and Raiders up here as well.

Anyway, here's Shane's Hal Rogero (still no callsign) in d20: