#RPGaDay Day 17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but never played?


Day 17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but never played?

Back in 1984, as a college freshman at Ball State University, I stumbled upon a magical place in The Village. Perched on the top floor of a tiny strip mall overlooking Papa Lou’s Chug-A-Mug, was the equivalent of Mecca for 18 year old me.

Wizard’s Keep was the first real gaming store I ever had the pleasure to set foot in. It smelled of cigarettes and old books and it was a little slice of heaven, believe me.

There was a homemade terrain table with sand and faux-grass, always populated by various painted miniatures. There were board games and manuals and miniatures and paints and models and… well, you get the picture.

My very first purchase there was a Degree in Medieval Metaphysics from Miskatonic University. My second purchase was a roleplaying game that, to this day, I have never played.

ice middle earth

Filled with fantastic art, Iron Crown Enterprises’ Middle-Earth Roleplaying captured my attention. Roleplaying in Middle-Earth? After six years of playing Dungeons & Dragons, this seemed like a no-brainer. I immediately snapped this up and the only other supplements in stock —


ice middle earth shelob

And yes, I still own all three. The map is framed and hanging in my son’s bedroom, while the rulebook and module are shelved along with the rest of my Tolkien collection.

ICE’s Middle-Earth was a complicated, low magic game that utilized a d100 system.

Very different from the Original and 2nd Edition flavors of D&D I was used to, I was still thrilled by the game.

The only problem was, I didn’t have any friends at school who played.

So, I read the works, chewed on the game system, and then, when summer came and I returned home, I fell back in with my old Dungeons & Dragons Club. Though we played a couple of other games that summer and summers to come, we never dove into Middle-Earth.

But that’s okay. I have fond memories of purchasing it and reading it in my dorm room back at Palmer Hall. It served its purpose.

#RPGaDay Day 15: (Alt)What part of a session do you look forward to the most?


Day 15: What part of a session do you look forward to the most?

For me, as a DM, the best part of any session is the interplay between characters. I love it when players immerse themselves in their roles and converse with their comrades or interact with npcs.


Nothing makes a campaign come alive quite like a little political intrigue or back alley dirty dealing, and if you can get your players to leave the real world at the door and commit to the shared fantasy then more the better.

That type of immersive play isn’t for everyone. Some people just like to roll dice, slay monsters, and fill their pouches with loot, but when you get a party that lays it all on the line and cloaks themselves in character, then real magic happens.


RPGaDay Day 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended play?


Day 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended play?

I ascribe to the side of the fence that views the game master as the author of the gaming narrative. The players are the protagonists. As such, an rpg being open-ended or not falls less on the game and more on the game master in question.


I run the occasional one-shot game. Occult Detective has certainly fallen into that category thus far, due to it still being playtested. I have run one shot Conan adventures for Modiphius, but again, in a playtest environment. I have also run the occasional “holiday” game, usually Hallowe’en, using Call of Cthulhu.

The thing is, all of those sessions could have become an open-ended adventure by the simple flick of an internal switch.

Open-ended games are a state of mind.

dndlogoThat being said, my game of choice has been Dungeons & Dragons for just shy of 40 years. In that time, I have run more than a dozen campaigns. Some died natural deaths, others were retired, but I always approach a game as an unfolding adventure. That’s where my narrative strengths lie.

I look forward to doing more of that tonight.


#RPGaDay2017 Day 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.


Day 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

Growing up, D&D was much more of an adversarial game — DM vs Player, sometimes Player vs Player. It wasn’t necessarily how I ran my games, but there was a bit of that element to sessions I orchestrated. It was the Gygax style. The modules were designed that way. That type of thinking was fostered and encouraged.

I slowly tried to edge further and further away from that mind-set, but I recall a session in the late 80s that was a tipping point for me. I found myself punishing players, often times for performing perfectly reasonable actions, for no other reason than it was ingrained into my way of thinking.

This one particular night, eight of us were crowded around the small dining table in our basement apartment. We were in the thick of a campaign, inspired quite heavily, to be honest, by Darkwalker of Moonshea.

The adventuring party had traveled overland, on horseback, when they stumbled upon a cave. Tying their horses up, they entered, exploring the complex and battling a fair number of underdark denizens.

Upon returning to the surface, all their mounts had been killed by goblins.

There was no reason for me to have done that other than to be cruel, to punish them for… what exactly? For daring to own a horse? For going into a dangerous lair, and survive, only to be stranded without transport.

One player in particular had roleplayed her ass-off with her horse — naming it, taking time to feed it, bath it, brush it. And I killed it.

That game was the last straw for me. I felt bad for weeks afterward. that session killed the last smidgen of adversarial DM that lingered in me and I am thankful for it.


#RPGaDay2017 Day 12: What RPG has the most inspiring interior art?


Day 12: What RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

One of my favorite things about rpgs is the artwork, how it informs and inspires, so this question is a tough one because there are so many great games to choose from.

Mulling over the games I own — all the various D&D, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, The Riddle of Steel, Middle-Earth, A Song of Ice & Fire, and on and on — I’m going to settle on <insert drumroll>…


Let’s face it, Modiphius really pulled out all the stops, hiring some of the best known, and Conan-connected, artists in the field. Take a look at some of Tim Truman’s work and you’ll see what I mean—



tim truman

Here are some more samples —






This is a book that positively drips with inspiration, from the remarkable cover art and throughout all the interior renderings. It’s a beautiful book and a terrific game.

Heck, I’m getting excited just thinking about it.


#RPGaDay Day 11: Alternate: Do you prefer set-length or open-ended play?


Day 10: Campaigns: do you prefer set-length or open-ended play?

I set out to answer today’s RPGaDay question — “What dead game would you like to see reborn?” — and waxed on and on about how little time I had for living and breathing games to concern myself with games that bellied up, then brought the one game I’d like to see round about again — The Riddle of Steel. Then I did a little google fu and discovered, quite to my surprise, that it is sort of still around, albeit on life support and in intensive care, which threw off the whole premise of my longish diatribe.

So, here’s a quick dip into one of the RPG Brigade’s alternate questions.

Set-length or open-ended?


Yeah, you know the answer to this already. I’m an open-ended guy. As a pantser, I like my worlds to live and breathe, and encourage that in my players. Oh sure, there are chapters, and my games feel more like a serial or multiple seasons of television than day to day drudgery, but I work hard so that the overall story feels more episodic, like a soap opera, only with swords and spells and the like.

I’ve nothing against set-length games. I’m sort-of running two set-length/open-ended hybrids right now. See, I’m planning a huge campaign that will start next year, so for now, I’ve got my players jumping through smaller hoops until I bring the big hoop out to play.

Anyway, that’s today’s answer. See you back here tomorrow…