In what’s become something of an annual tradition, I’m taking a look back over the year in a RPG retrospective. By that, I mean to talk about stuff that happened over the last year in various RPGs I’ve been involved with over the year. And events at ORC Edinburgh of course.
I’ve had little chance to do much PC or Xbox gaming this year, although I loved the free mod of Half Life‘s Black Mesa (which has a cracking remixed soundtrack for free too) and played through it. It recreates the original Half Life game but with new graphics, audio and game-play. Worth a look – the next part Xen will be worth the wait I reckon. Still no news on Half Life 2: Episode 3 either. I’ve also backed the Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter (see below), because I loved that game so much on the BBC micro (and, yes, I did reach Elite status).
Edinburgh’s tabletop gaming scene got itself a new venue in August – the Edinburgh Games Hub. Their Tollcross basement has become something of a Mecca to all kinds of tabletop gamers – CCGs, boardgames, war-games and of course RPGs. I myself can be found there on Thursday nights, continuing the adventures of Diogenes “Basilisk” Valexos in our Rogue Trader RPG. I’d have provided a link but their website has been hacked and shows no sign of getting fixed any time soon, but you can find them on FB at https://en-gb.facebook.com/GamesHubEdinburgh. They also have a boardgames and miniatures shop in the basement, 6S2Hit.
As well as Rogue Trader, which I didn’t make it to half as often as I would have liked, we started the year off playing on the Dresden Files RPG on Wednesday nights, followed by the Pathfinder (Isador) game. My workload hit nightmare levels though and I was forced to drop the Wednesday night games.
Yet again, I didn’t make it to Conpulsion, the Edinburgh RPG convention run by Edinburgh Uni’s RPG club, GEAS. I really must try and make it there. I’m considering running my eBranch game there as a one-off next year. It uses the Call of Cthulhu rules, and features physic spies and Brian Lumley’s Wamphyri vampires. It is set in the New Forest, close to Southampton where I was born.
ORC Edinburgh – RPG Retrospective
No RPG Retrospective would be complete without me mentioning ORC – Edinburgh’s Open Roleplaying Community. ORC Edinburgh saw many new faces and also a number of new games, and we had a lot of fun at the pub meets throughout the year. This gave us a chance for many of the community to socialize outside of scheduled games and actually lead to the creation of at least one group. However, the last one wasn’t quite so well attended and the venue let us down somewhat.We’ll need to think about an alternative next time.
We definitely need more GMs at ORC – we had games running at the Meadow Bar, the Games Hub, Illegal Jacks and also Cafe Renroc. Unfortunately these were often on the same day – many of our GMs are also players too, but some of us (like me) rarely get the chance to play. This is partially my choice, but some of the other GMs would love a chance to kick back and let someone else do the work (and so would I really). And of course anyone wishing to try their hand at GMing should feel free to do so.
Call of Cthulhu was definitely popular this year at ORC. We had two home-brew campaigns running (and one still is) and the also Cubicle 7′s Shadows of Scotland campaign – which was over-subscribed at one point! I’d thought about running my Arunstoun setting, but didn’t need to in the end. It did feature in Cthulhutech though! I considered running Masks of Nyarlathotep, but it has significant flaws and pretty much suffers what I call Cthulhu Syndrome where the PCs get drawn to a remote location for a minor reason and the players just know the Mythos is involved.
I put my Cthulhutech game, Through the Looking Glass, on hiatus (to give me a break really). The Dark Edinburgh setting really worked and I’ve been looking forward to getting my mitts on the new Burning Horizons supplement. With Pacific Rim out in 2013 (Guillermo del Toro‘s new movie featuring giant robots – mechs or mecha), I can see there being a few mecha-based games turning up in the future (Cthulhutech or otherwise). Wildfire, the makers of Cthulhutech have had a bad year with distributors so I hope things pick up for them in 2013!
Pathfinder was also popular this year at ORC and continues to be a successor to D&D. The campaign paths of Jade Regent, Raging Swan, Carrion Crown, and Kingmaker all put in an appearance, along with Dee’s Critical Missions home-brew. Nuno’s Shapes of Grey home-brew setting returned in Pathfinder form too. For those of us looking for an alternative to 4th Ed. D&D, Pathfinder provided the necessary fixes it seemed.
This naturally brings me to 4th edition D&D (4e). Oft-requested by players, yet only a handful of people were willing to run games. I’m not going to go in a debate about the version wars, as I’ve posted about that elsewhere. EmbraCraig continues to run Perils of the Nentir Vale at the Games Hub fortnightly, but Jill has wrapped up her War of the Burning Sky game. Radonir’s Scales of War continues to run, although he had some early recruitment problems with players.
At ORC, I began running the WFRP Enemy Within Campaign. As campaigns go, its tough to beat – there’s a lot of background info, not fluff for once, and I’m enjoying running it immensely. I’ve a good bunch of players to work with too, most of whom are enjoying themselves immensely I hope. I started recording the sessions but they’re such a large size that I’ll need to work on compressing them down to a manageable size.
However, my biggest disappointment of the year was Marvel Super Heroes (the original set from the 80s). We had a full session of character generation, but a third of the group then dropped out. As a result I (somewhat petulantly, I admit) decided to cancel the game in its entirety. I’d planned to run the Nightmares of Futures Past storyline, having fond memories of when we played it back in the late ’80s.
We even had a game of Vampire: The Masquerade scheduled to run at ORC at one point. For one session. Then the GM involved disappeared. VtM is one of those games that seems to be something of a Macbeth for ORC RPGers! Every time someone mentions they want to run it something happens, and the game only lasts a few sessions. Many of hose who liked the original VtM have now moved onto the Embraced and Isle of Darkness LARPS (I’d never be able to suspend my sense of disbelief for LARPS – I’d continually have to bite my tongue). I’ll possibly be running Werewolf: the Apocalypse in the future so who knows? Maybe we will get a proper Vampire campaign at ORC too!
And of course there’s D&Dnext, the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons RPG. Surprisingly there’s not been much interest in the Playtest packs at ORC. I think that everyone has largely adopted a wait-and-see attitude, possibly brought on by the whole 4e debacle. There’s a couple of games going on, but no one is seriously participating right now.
We also ran a few pub meets that I’ve mentioned elsewhere – these have rapidly proved to be a great way to meet other players in a non-RPG setting. So that’s the year at ORC really. Here’s to another year of great RPGs there!
2012 for me was the “Year of the Kickstarter”, or more likely “Year of the Stretch Goal”. Also “Year of the Stretched Bank account”. I backed a number of Kickstarter campaigns, some of which are still ongoing.
- Werewolf the Apocalypse: 20th Anniversary Edition – I had to really. Some many fond memories of running that World of Darkness game!
- Reaper Miniatures Bones – where I picked up A LOT of miniatures. I’ll never get around to painting them.
- Horror of the Orient Express for Call of Cthulhu. A classic reprinted, with new handouts and materials.
- Legendary Realms Terrain – this terrain looked great but didn’t make its funding level unfortunately.
- Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary. Why not?
- Shadows of Esteren: A medieval horror RPG – a game which looks amazing.
- FATE Core rules. It’s the least I can do if I intend to use it (STILL ONGOING on KS).
- Kingdom Death: Monster boardgame. A seriously freaky game, with some seriously freaky miniatures (STILL ONGOING on KS).
- YOU ARE THE HERO: a celebration of 30 years of Fighting Fantasy (STILL ONGOING on KS).
- ELITE: DANGEROUS. I’m of two minds about this, on the one hand Frontier have laid off staff and the KS is probably asking for too much, but I’d love to see a proper version of Elite again (STILL ONGOING on KS).
So that’s it. My RPG Retrospective. Sorry if I rambled on a bit, but it has been quite a year. Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!
I’ve recently taken part in my first podcast. Podcasts are a relatively new experience for me. I’ve never had the chance to participate in one before, so when Brian from Hazard Gaming contacted ORC about participants for his Penny Red podcast I thought I’d have a go. I’m not sure how well I interviewed for Inside the Roleplayers Studio, but at the very least it was an interesting experience for me. It isn’t up on the Penny Red site yet, and I’m not sure if the background noise from the Gaming Hub may have drowned out what I was saying. Brian basically talks to RPGers in towns he visits and incorporates the interview into the Penny Red podcast. Gamers in Edinburgh also can listen to the Nearly Enough Dice podcast at http://nearlyenoughdice.com as well, focussing on groups and events of all kinds – not just RPGs, but boardgames, wargames and other subjects of interest.
That was the other new experience – the Gaming Hub in Tollcross looks pretty good. It has a huge basement, a lot of boardgames, and is going to prove very popular with those playing CCGs, RPGS, wargames, and boardgames! It is also air-conditioned, something that I’m all to grateful for – some gamers are far from fragrant in the summer! The EGH also has decent seating, food, and drink and the tables are perfect for games. There are even small “breakout” tables for overspill books or playing pieces.
During the interview I was asked about the supplement that I’m most looking forward to – right now that’s got to be the next Cthulhutech supplement entitled Burning Horizons. Dealing with space and the lost off-world colonies, it will also feature the Great Race and the war against the Rapine Storm in Australia. Wildfire’s lack of distributor may mean that this has been delayed since last year, and that they may have to offer it as Print on Demand (or POD), which may mean that the book won’t be of such good quality as their current products. During the podcast I mentioned some of the controversy surrounding Cthulhutech, but I’m not sure I did such a bang-up job of clearing things up. The “rape camp” controversy always seems to be focussed upon. The concept is briefly mentioned in the text relating to the inhuman Esoteric Order of Dagon’s Deep One and hybrid members. Cthulhutech is a game of horror, and as we are all too aware such places have existed within human history – in Bosnia most recently and other places. I, along with everyone who have some sense of decency, find the concept abhorrent – it is mentioned in the game, and adds to the horror, that’s all. No game should condone any form of sexual enslavement – CT doesn’t – any GM that allows their players to play through such actions should have their heads examined…
Anyway, moving on. I’m also looking forward to the Judge Dredd movie. It looks like casting for Judge Dredd has been inspired – when they told Karl Urban that Dredd never removes his helmet, Urban replied “We wouldn’t be having this conversation if he did.” Here’s hoping that it works out!
July 2012 Update
Well, its been a while since I’ve blogged anything, but that’s largely because I’ve been so busy! These “Gaming in Edinburgh” posts I do are obviously largely geared toward events at http://orcedinburgh.co.uk, but I try to keep things up to date where possible in regard to gaming in Edinburgh generally.
I’m working on a few things right now, and I’m planning to wind up Cthulhutech soon for the summer. Possibly a D&D 5e playtest when the Meadow Bar returns. I might even get in some wh40k wargaming if the weather stays the way it is, and the new edition is worth me picking up. I’m also prepping another article on using video-conferencing technology. I figured I could get some use from my HND in Audio-Visual Technology !
At ORC right now, we’re got a few games looking for players:
- Matt’s looking for players for Cyberpunk 2020.
- Nuno is looking for players for his Shapes of Grey Pathfinder game too.
- I’m looking for another player for my Cthulhutech game set in Edinburgh, and I’m also looking for some more players for Marvel Super Heroes.
- Oh, and we’re having a birthday bash for ORC Edinburgh on 7th July at The Advocate pub. Seating may be limited, but its usually good fun and a chance to talk to folk outside of a game.
Other stuff going on
There’s a new gaming venue opening in Edinburgh on the 3rd August: The Games Hub Edinburgh (https://www.facebook.com/GamesHubEdinburgh). Based in Lauriston (close to Tollcross, for those unfamiliar with the location), this cafe is going to host a number of board games, CCGS and RPGs once it has opened. The owner is a former staff member from Edinburgh’s Black Lion Games, so he’s pretty familiar to most of Edinburgh’s gamers!
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with this cafe, as it opens the same month that the Meadow Bar usually becomes a venue for the Festival. This usually displaces a couple of ORC games as a result, including mine. I usually make use of the time to catch up on some projects that I might have put to one side
Oh yeah, and the Edinburgh Festival will kick off soon, with the Fringe starting not long after it. This will likely mean that any games at the Meadow Bar will decamp elsewhere for August, although Illegal Jacks will likely still remain active as an ORC venue.