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Tag Archives: Role-Playing

Tracer Rounds: The Nostalgia of Mystara

A photographic journey through an adventurous youth ~

Brant Guillory, 10 July 2017

Most images enlarge when you click them

This started as a set of pics for a personal inventory of the RPG collection.  It turned into about half of the collection – this isn’t even all the TSR stuff! – but I wanted to at least get a some of the collection archived.  Once I had the pics, though, I figured it was time to bring back at least one random episode of Tracer Rounds, and share some pics and commentary on the Mystara collection.

As an aside, for folks who are really interested in Mystara, you should check out the Bruce Heard episode of the GrogCast, wherein we ask about his background with Mystara, and get a few good inside stories from the glory days of TSR.

Mystara, for those that don’t know, was the expansion of the game world that was first introduced in the X1 module that accompanied the expert-level set of the original no-prefix D&D, starting around 1981.  As the rules grew from basic to expert to companion and beyond, the rules series became known as the BECMI series.

How many of us started our adventures here?

Origins 2017 – Cthulhu

Our intrepid horror-gamer tackled a long weekend of Cthulhu-themed RPGs.  Did he escape with his sanity? ~

Avery Abernethy, 3 July 2017

H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu and other horror stories were not very popular during his lifetime and he died a pauper. His heirs did not maintain the copyright to his works which made his stories and the world they inhabited common property for anyone who wished to use them. All of Lovecraft’s works can be obtained free in ebook format.
As Lovecraft’s works grew in popularity, many authors either wrote additional stories and books in this world or adapted his work into other series. Noteworthy examples are the Monster Hunter series by Larry Correia, Princess of Wands by John Ringo and The Laundry Files series by Charles Strauss.

Because the work is in the common domain, there are a lot of Cthulhu games, game systems, supplements and books. Two different RPG systems are based on the Cthulhu mythos (Call of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu). Many other game systems incorporate elements of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu world including Chill, GURPS Horror, and Munchkin Cthulhu to name but a few. For people who like a little horror in their gaming, there are a lot of options out there and Lovecraft’s mythos is probably the most popular influence.

 

Classic Reviews – Empires of the Shining Sea

Bringing back another review, but if you’ve not read it, it’s new to you! ~

Brant Guillory, 10 May 2017

First Impressions: This is a meaty book… for some that’s good, others not so good. Thumbing through the book you find everything but a currency converter. Just out of curiosity, I went to the index to see if there was one I just missed, and, well, darn if the damn book didn’t have an index either. The maps are standard Forgotten Realms maps. Some people like the style, some people loathe the style. On the plus side, anyone who’s ever looked over a Forgotten Realms map before knows what they’re looking at on the map.

Classic Reviews – Revisiting “Secret of the Silver Blades”

Back to a classic Forgotten Realms setting ~

Avery Abernethy, 17 April 2017

Secret of the Silver Blades is the SSI Gold Box follow up to Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. I recently replayed this on a modern computer and my thoughts are on playing this game in 2017, not 1990 when it was released.

I recently replayed this on a modern computer and my thoughts are on playing this game in 2017, not 1990 when it was released.

I enjoyed replaying Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. Both had an interesting overall plot line that engaged me and kept me going through the long series of battles and leveling up my characters. Regretfully, Secret of the Silver Blades has such a poor plot that I could never really engage with it.

In Silver Blades your party (either imported from Azure Bonds or newly rolled-up) teleports naked to village. The village made a sacrifice to a teleporter and your group is hopefully the answer to the prayers of the village. The small town gives your group some pretty nifty equipment. They also heal, identify your magic goodies, and provide basic equipment for free every time you come back to town.

GrogHeads Reviews Appendix N

Review of “Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons and Dragons” from Jeffro Johnson ~

Avery Abernethy, 12 April 2017

Appendix N is the list of books in the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide that Gary Gygax referenced as primary influences on the development of Dungeons and Dragons. Jeffro Johnson secured these books and read them. Mr. Johnson had two goals for Appendix N. First, identifying how each novel inspired specific aspects of D&D and other early role playing games. Second, Jeffro’s observations on how each specific novel inspired an aspect of D&D and the enjoyment that a modern reader would have with these books which were published from the 1910s to the 1970s.

Classic Reviews – Revisiting of Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds in 2017

Checking in on the original digital D&D classics ~

Avery Abernethy, 08 February 2017

The first computer adaptation of the Dungeons and Dragons game was Pool of Radiance released in 1988. The success of Pool of Radiance led SSI to release a series of D&D games often referred to as the “Gold Box” games. Almost thirty years has passed since their release, but they are still sold by www.gog.com in a package containing an additional six titles for $9.99. But are these games worth playing today on a modern computer?

Both Pool of Radiance (Pool) and Curse of the Azure Bonds (Curse) use the first edition D&D rules. These have some confusing conventions for gamers unfamiliar with the system. Armor class starts at 10 for someone with average dexterity wearing normal clothing. Plate Mail and Shield will get most characters to Armor Class 2. But add in magic items and your characters can have negative armor classes, up to -10. When you toss a fireball in this game you need to be able to assess the radius of effect, there is no convenient shadowed outline of the blast radius. Make a mistake and your front line fighters get singed. This will take a bit of refresher reading for someone who played D&D back in the 1980s. Players who never played tabletop D&D or the computer games based off that system will have to study the manual.

2016 Readers’ Choice Award Winners

The nominations came in throughout 2016.  After our annual January voting, we bring your the Readers’ Choice Award Winners for game-year 2016 ~

Gold Medals!

Congrats to our winners!
OVERALL TABLETOP GAME – Star Wars: Rebellion
OVERALL DIGITAL GAME – Twilight Struggle, digital edition

Digital Wargame – Twilight Struggle, digital edition
Digital RTS – Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
Digital RPG – Uncharted 4
Digital FPS – Battlefield 1
Digital Family / Sports Game – FIFA 17
Digital 4X Game- Civilization 6
Digital Expansion / DLC – Order of Battle: US Marines
Tabletop Wargame – Wing Leader: Supremacy
Tabletop Strategy Game – Star Wars: Rebellion
Tabletop RPG – Star Wars: Force Awakens
Tabletop Euro / Family Game – Terraforming Mars
Tabletop Reprint – Silver Bayonet 25th Ed
AAR of the Year – War in the Pacific AE – KyzBP & UCG

At GrogHeads, we give our readers the final say on the best games of the year, and here are the 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards…

We try to be as responsive as we can to our readers, and include every nomination, checking only for only one criteria: released in the correct year.  We open the threads at the start of the year (2017 threads are already open!) and leave them up even into the first week of the next year.  Somehow, even with an entire year to nominate games, we still get hate-mail from around the web asking “why wasn’t _____ on the list?”  The answer is the same every time: no one nominated it!  It’s your award, and you dear reader, get to pick your own choices.

This year’s winners?  Here they go.  And remember, all of them were selected by you!

GrogHeads Readers’ Choice Overall 2016 Tabletop Game of the Year was Star Wars: Rebellion, a game we discussed at length on the GrogCast last fall.  Falling Sky, the latest in the COIN series, finished second.  Ventonuovo’s visually stunning Moscow ’41 took third.

The GrogHeads Readers’ Choice Overall 2016 Digital Game of the Year was the adaptation of the excellent Twilight Struggle tabletop game.  Second place was claimed by Strategic Command: WWII in Europe, and third overall was XCom 2.

In response to reader inquiries, we also added a new feature this year to recognize excellent After-Action Reports from games.  Although we did not limit the category to those AARs that appeared on our site, it’s interesting to note that all three of the top finishers were in our forums, rather than on our front page, indicating that we clearly have to some talented writers in our forums.  The overall winner of the inaugural AAR of the Year for 2016 was  War in the Pacific AE, authored by KyzBP & Undercovergeek in the GrogHeads forums.

2016 Readers’ Choice Award Voting

Have your say about your favorite 2016 games ~

GrogHeads Staff, 18 January 2017

It’s time to get your votes in for the Readers’ Choice Awards for game-year 2016.

The only required items are the overall digital / tabletop games, at the end of each of those categories.

This year we’ve made a few changes:

  • We’ve consolidated the overall number of categories within the tabletop/digital divisions, to try to keep them as consistent as possible year-to-year
  • We’ve added an “AAR of the Year” category, at the request of the readers and members of our forums
  • We received no nominations for miniatures rules/expansions, so we’re not doing away with them as a category, but we can’t give you what you don’t nominate!

Chat about it below, or in our forums, or hit our FaceBook page >>