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The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

All discussions regarding Electronic, Board, Card, and RPG Gaming, including industry discussion, that don't belong in one of the other gaming forums.

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Blackhawk
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sun Apr 05, 2015 8:11 pm

Well, I murdered my 11-year-old's paladin this afternoon. The fight ended with him dead, two party members unconscious, and only one left standing.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by miltonite » Sun Apr 05, 2015 8:36 pm

Good thing there is magic and rebirth that can always create very fun changes.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sun Apr 05, 2015 11:16 pm

They are too low and way too poor to afford such services. He's fine with rolling up something new.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri May 29, 2015 5:14 pm

Now that I'm back in the D&D market for the first time since the 90s, I'm finding that a have an absolute loathing for how they handle business. The rules are great, but their money-grubbing is pissing me off.

First, miniatures. You have two choices. The first is pre-painted plastic crap that is flimsy, poorly sculpted, and badly painted, sold only in blind packs so that if you need a half dozen (whatevers) for a game, you have to buy fifty or sixty miniatures to get them. The other option is limited run (1500) collectors miniatures that cost $30 each. Both are absurd ways to get a decent quality set of gaming pieces. I will, of course, continue to use non-D&D miniatures for most things (a D&D dwarf fighter is pretty much the same as any other), but there are tons of D&D trademarked creatures for which there are no substitutes.

Second, support for modern tech stinks. They are the only - absolutely only - pen and paper company I've looked at that refuses to sell electronic copies of their books.

Next up? Maps. If you buy one of their adventures, you get the small maps in the books, but if you want image files of them, you have to buy them separately. Pathfinder does this, too. Price? $13 for digital. D&D? You have to buy the maps individually directly from the artists. Price for one adventure's worth of maps? Another $50.

Wizards of the Coast seems like they're trying to be the next Games Workshop.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Isgrimnur » Fri May 29, 2015 5:17 pm

They're Hasbro. How many versions of Monopoly do they sell now?
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri May 29, 2015 5:27 pm

Isgrimnur wrote:They're Hasbro. How many versions of Monopoly do they sell now?
Ah, but that is different versions of the same product. I have no problem with that. I don't mind themed products (how many chess sets do you really need?)

This is more akin to making Monopoly use custom dice, of which you must roll three on your turn, but only including one. You can roll it three times, or pay $6.95 each for more. Oh, and you can use pebbles or pennies for the players, unless you want to either pay $10 for a chance to maybe get a thimble (or you may just get four tophats), or $69.95 for a full set of them.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Isgrimnur » Fri May 29, 2015 5:42 pm

Long ago, I swore off anything that had a collectible element to it for reasons much the same. I've violated that to play Marvel Puzzle Quest, but for the most part, I have avoided any entanglements. Though the siren call of LCGs and X-Wing miniatures is strong, I only own the base set of that and Netrunner.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri May 29, 2015 5:48 pm

I don't mind collectible, so long as I can buy what I need for my collection. Blind packs for game parts is silly. This isn't baseball cards. I mean, I don't mind having to buy more ships if I want more options in X-Wing. I'd mind if I had to buy a blank box and get my fourteenth Tie Fighter when all I needed was an A-Wing.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri May 29, 2015 5:50 pm

Oh, and I do know about Coolstuffinc and Miniature Marketplace. The fact that it is necessary (and that there is no quality choice between dollar store and Tiffany's) is what bugs me.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Isgrimnur » Fri May 29, 2015 5:52 pm

You'd probably be better off at a FLGS or ordering them from somewhere like CSI to cater to exactly what you need, but yeah, it's a crappy method. I remember being aghast at it when I started seeing stull like the Axis & Allies Miniatures game doing it and realized that it was a trend that I did not want to support.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri May 29, 2015 6:33 pm

I bought a dry erase battlemap ages ago for drawing maps for D&D. My friend has been collecting minis for years, but otherwise I have been using paper tokens that you can easily find for free online. Besides, 5E is back to the theatre of the mind so maps and minis aren't needed (wink).

I bought a lot of the map tiles and monster token sets that they produced for 4E and they are probably cheap now. Sure the tokens aren't as good as minis, but they work well and the map tiles are really good

Pretty sure the miniature lines are completely separate from the rest of the D&D team (Chris Perkins and Mike Mearls don't strike me as nickel and dimers... Hasbro... Definitely)

Also, eBay often has miniatures

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zurai » Fri May 29, 2015 7:24 pm

Blackhawk wrote:but there are tons of D&D trademarked creatures for which there are no substitutes.
No there aren't. Reaper has knock-off minis for Mind Flayers, Beholders, Carrion Crawlers, and basically everything else. There are also free paper minis you can print out for everything under the sun, and if you can't find something you want you can make your own.

I can understand (and agree with, re: WotC PDFs) your other arguments, but there are so many different mini options out there.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri May 29, 2015 7:37 pm

Regarding the PDFs of the maps, I am not sure if that's them. I am following Mike Schelley on Google+ and he makes many of the maps for the D&D adventures and he'll tell us that we can buy the high def maps from his website. So, it might be he is setting the price? Seems like it would be WotC setting the price, but then I would think they would have exclusive selling rights

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri May 29, 2015 9:00 pm

It is Mike Schley setting the prices, yes (and Sean MacDonald who did the other half), but WotC are the ones who set up the system where they could charge three times what the competition charges. The artists aren't wrong to charge for their work. On the other hand, they are getting paid twice, and WotC is making it much more difficult and expensive to use technology with their games. Nobody is outside of their rights here - they're just making really obnoxious use of them. Seriously, $1.75 for a copy of the cult's symbol?

I use digital maps all the time. I have a PC set up on my TV, which is right next to where the gaming table is set up. I open up the maps ahead of time in Photoshop, then trace around each room, create a layer, and fill with black. Layer 1 is room 1. Layer 2 is room 2. You get the idea. During the game I open the photoshop file up on the TV computer and just toggle each layer off as the party enters the room. It works like a sort of manual fog-of-war, revealing the map as they go with minimal prep time and zero hassle.

Others use the maps for reference, to print out in scale, for projection, to print out as handouts, and for things like Roll20. A lot, lot, lot of people are using technology to supplement their game these days.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri May 29, 2015 9:11 pm

I know as I have used various online systems for running games. I have also seen all those maps for free on less legal sites. Since one of my players has a whole bunch of Dwarf Forge terrain we've been using that. I will use electronic stuff if I run a game online, but almost never do that. My group prefers old school when we play in person. I also have Campaign Cartographer and will just make my own versions of the maps if I need to. I even have Mike Schelley's symbol set so I can mimic the style somewhat. I will never pay for a map... just can't bring myself to do it, so I guess it doesn't bother me because I immediately dismiss it and make do with what I have and the version of the map in the adventure

There were also people in the Google+ map making and D&D communities that made electronic maps and battlemats for the published adventures
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri May 29, 2015 9:18 pm

If I had a bunch of Dwarf Forge I'd be using that, too. We still do old school for the gameplay - encounter areas are drawn out on a grid mat (or are drawn on transparency sheets in advance if I know what I'll need.) I just use the digital map to aid the party in exploration and reinforce my descriptions.
IceBear wrote:I know and I have seen all those maps for free on less legal sites.
I saw a bunch for Phandelver that way, but haven't noticed any Princes of the Apocalypse out there. Not that I looked. :ninja:
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri May 29, 2015 9:21 pm

Take a look at Campaign Cartographer. It's actually quite easy to use and lots of YouTube video tutorials. I can mimic the maps quite easily and quickly now (granted I have the City and Dungeon Designer addons)

I have just seen the requests for the PoA maps so they should be showing up soon.

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The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Fri May 29, 2015 9:46 pm

I have thought about this but I really only run Paranoia (and hope to have an AAR on the 2 sessions at Origins). I print out google photos of key characters/areas on 1/4 sheet cards and binder clip them to the GM screen as I go. For rooms, it's an 8.5x11 sheet of paper or two--or dawn on a map.

Does Campaign Cartographer finally have space art?
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri May 29, 2015 9:53 pm

There's the Cosmographer addon, and the British guy whose videos I watch on YouTube makes a lot of scifi maps (think he recently released a scifi rpg using ships he designed with CC) . Over the videos he makes various symbols that he later uses in his spaceship maps (plus I believe there are user scifi symbols to download)

Here's a link to one of his videos (unfortunately this one is plugging one of his pay for addons, but as he says he made all the symbols using the base product and earlier tutorials show you how) :

https://youtu.be/ec8CTPAX2pw

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Cylus Maxii » Tue Jun 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Thanks for the link. I have older versions of CC and have thinking about upgrading and also buying Cosmographer add-on. I'll watch some more of his videos. That one was very easy to follow.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:13 pm

I find his original videos were nice and slow and built on each other. The later ones seem to assume you've watched the first ones are sped up with text explaining what's going on rather than him talking

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by NickAragua » Tue Jun 02, 2015 5:08 pm

I tend to, on general principle, avoid buying miniatures and other props. Before it was because of the cost. Nowadays, I have no place to put them anyway.

Last time I ran a D&D campaign, we used a paper grid, later upgraded to a dry-erase (sing in high pitched voice) BAAAAAAAATLE GRIIIIIIIIIID and my old Legos to represent characters and monsters. I think I used a crocodile with 2x4 blocks on the top part to represent a dragon. Every lego dude had to have skis or a 2x4 block at the bottom because otherwise he'd fall over. And, god forbid anyone sneezed on or clipped the table. At one point, the Lego monsters got subbed out for plastic zombies from some random board game. Eventually, one of our players got into the habit of biting the heads off the zombies and chewing on them, so we dumped like half a bottle of hot sauce into the plastic bag... but all we got for our troubles was a bunch of sticky plastic zombies.

If I ever run another one, I'll use the figs and probably map pieces from Descent: Journeys in the Dark, as those are oddly suitable for fantasy D&D.

My point is that you don't *have* to buy anything other than the core rule books and whatever canned adventures you want to play.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:21 pm

100% agree (I originally used a checker board, coins and Stratego pieces). That said, many people are like my friend and love building and painting miniatures and terrain. I was running a D&D game on the weekend and we were using Dwarf Forge terrain. While it looks great, I could have sketched out the map on my battle map in a third of the time. But it's what my friend likes

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:30 pm

If I didn't already have miniatures, I wouldn't be using them. Other than the Bones from the Kickstarter, 95% of my miniatures collection dates from before my divorce eight years ago. I buy maybe (maybe) four or five new miniatures a year, generally all player characters for specific campaigns, or an extra piece tossed in for free shipping.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:38 pm

I love pre-painted miniatures and paint my own Futuristic ones for Paranoia. I buy a couple of painted miniatures from the Bulk 40K dealer at Origins Game Fair every year, a few prepainted figures and a set of figures to sit around in the painting pile.

I always regret not forcing my parents to take me to the Lake Geneva game stores to buy miniatures. One of my prize possessions as a kid were a set of 3 painted heroes and 1 Troll that I bought at a city arts fair. My brother would steal and hide them when he was pissed at me, and it would drive me crazy.

I am teaching my 5 and 8 year old daughters to "paint little dudes" with dad. The older one has already prepared her own dungeon map on posterboard, but coming up with a list of creatures that I have figures for has become a challenge. She's conflicted by wanting to go on the adventure, or running the monsters in the dungeon to kill her uncle's characters dead. It's very funny to watch her try to convince him to play the dungeon and let her hide in the back row until he dies...because it's going to happen when he's "surprised by the Troll under the bridge who will eat him while I sneak by to take all the treasure." Something tells me she's not coming back to rez his corpse.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:38 am

BTW someone was looking into getting Traveller a little while back and I see you can get Classic Traveller in this Bundle of Holding (under $7 for the basics and under $20 for everything)

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/TravellerLBBs

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Mon Jun 29, 2015 2:35 pm

IceBear wrote:BTW someone was looking into getting Traveller a little while back and I see you can get Classic Traveller in this Bundle of Holding (under $7 for the basics and under $20 for everything)

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/TravellerLBBs
That would have been me. I grabbed the Mongoose Traveller core book. I love it, but I don't think it is a good fit for my group (I'm also a little intimidated at running a sci-fi RPG - I've never run one, and never been a part of one.)
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:16 pm

Fantasy AGE (the system Wheaton is using for Titansgrave) is now out

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/153 ... t_filtered

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:25 pm

So, my Savage Worlds group is ending the campaign (GM fatigue), so I'll be running some D&D 5e for them instead.

The party, starting tomorrow, consists of a ranger, a cleric (life domain, not war), a thief, and two sorcerers.

I hope nobody has to, you know, get hit or anything.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:36 pm

They tend to be tougher than you think (darn annoying PCs)

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:44 pm

Maybe, but I've played enough 5e now to know that you're getting disadvantage to all of your attacks at level 1, you may be in for a heap of hurt.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:28 pm

A year ago I didn't have a game to my name. Now I'm DMing two campaigns and playing in a third. All are monthly, so it is less than a game per week, but it is still a lot to keep track of. At least with the Savage Worlds ending I'll only be involved with one set of rules (5e.) I keep getting looks from my players when they ask me if they can do something and I tell them the rule from the wrong game.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:24 pm

Blackhawk wrote:Maybe, but I've played enough 5e now to know that you're getting disadvantage to all of your attacks at level 1, you may be in for a heap of hurt.
I feel like an if is missing from that. My 1st level players didn't have disadvantage anymore than when they leveled.

Every time I had a PC on the ropes health wise my rolls became atrocious. I think I had two characters unconscious twice when they played the starter set adventure. The dragon would have killed them but they managed to talk their way out of iy

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:04 am

There was an 'if' missing, yes. I meant the disadvantage that ranged attackers have in close combat if there is nobody clanky to hide behind. One of the players realized the problem, though, and switched his ranger to a half-orc fighter.

We still had three players go down during the beginning of PotA tonight (although one rolled a 20 on a death save and helped finish off the mobs.)

In the starter set [SPOILERS] I twice had three out of four characters down. One time was the dragon, which the last character managed to drive off with three characters down. One crit-failed a death save, though, and died. The second was in Wave Echo facing Black Spider. All four survived, but the last bugbear went down with three characters making death saves and one on his feet (the same warlock that stayed up during the dragon fight.)
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:15 am

Not sure what I did wrong but the fight with Black Spider was very anti climatic for my group. One of them made the comment that "Glasstaff was tougher than this guy". In our game Glasstaff escaped from the Redbrand hideout without the party ever seeing him so I had him at Cragmaw Castle. He took over control of the goblinoids after the party managed to sneak in the backdoor and kill the King with little trouble.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:45 am

Nah, they made a mistake that made that fight harder. Nezznar offered them a deal ("Work for me clearing this place out, I'll take what I came for and go.") They didn't take the deal, but they did step out into the hall to discuss it. Their mistake was that they went out of sight of Nezznar, at which point he sent one of his bugbears into the next room for help - which brought the digging bugbears plus the doppleganger into the fight.

Cragmaw, on the other hand, was insanely easy for them. They scouted the sides and found the hidden door, then made the first left and walked straight into the 'boss' room, killed the two in there, grabbed Gundren, and walked right back out. Two rooms out the whole place.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Sun Jul 19, 2015 12:16 pm

Blackhawk wrote:Nah, they made a mistake that made that fight harder. Nezznar offered them a deal ("Work for me clearing this place out, I'll take what I came for and go.") They didn't take the deal, but they did step out into the hall to discuss it. Their mistake was that they went out of sight of Nezznar, at which point he sent one of his bugbears into the next room for help - which brought the digging bugbears plus the doppleganger into the fight.

Cragmaw, on the other hand, was insanely easy for them. They scouted the sides and found the hidden door, then made the first left and walked straight into the 'boss' room, killed the two in there, grabbed Gundren, and walked right back out. Two rooms out the whole place.
That's exactly what my players did in Cragmaw. However, we were using the provided characters so one of them wanted to drive off the rest of the goblinoids to bring law to the area and another wanted to sanctify the altar. Their mistake was returning to Phandelver with the dwarf so when they came back Glasstaff had increased the defense patrols so the group pretty much had to fight everyone at once. Even then Glasstaff managed to almost escape...he was actually killed by an owlbear that was chasing the halfling rogue. Owlbears and the halfling rogue were sort of running gags the entire time we ran the game

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by TiLT » Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:15 pm

So, am I the only one around here who plays the Warhammer 40k RPGs? I've found that both myself and my players have gravitated towards that setting over time, and now it's the game that gives us the best experiences. True to tradition, I'm always the GM.

The WH40k RPGs share a common base system that is tweaked and focused towards specific parts of the setting, based on the type of campaign you want to run. The setting is simply too vast to even begin to attempt to sum up in one core book, so this is a sensible approach. The current WH40k core books are: (in release order)
  • Dark Heresy 1st Edition - The players are acolytes for the Inquisition, the most powerful organization in the Imperium. This particular system is often referred to as Call of Cthulhu in space, which is apt. The players are weak and constantly face impossible odds to defeat an enemy that will inevitably win. It's all about pushing back the darkness for another day to keep an ungrateful Imperium running for just a little longer. This system is now very outdated and uses a variation of the rules that are very close to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition. Later core books have tweaked the rules to be a much better fit for the setting.
  • Rogue Trader - My group's favorite, perhaps if only because it's the one they've played the most. I actually ran a complete campaign from beginning to end with this system, which lasted us roughly 2 1/2 years. In Rogue Trader, the group has a Warrant of Trade and a powerful ship that gives them near unlimited power... as long as they stay outside of the borders of the Imperium. They may trade, conquer, wage war, explore, or anything else that would be appropriate for a game in which you're for all practical purposes privateers in space. The rules have aged a little by now, but can be easily adjusted by looking at later WH40k books and picking a few select rules from them. There's been some demand for a second edition of this system.
  • Deathwatch - The players are Space Marines from a variety of different chapters, all uniting despite their differences to battle the foes of the Imperium on behalf of the Ordo Xenos branch of the Inquisition. This is a power fantasy version of the setting, the extreme opposite of Dark Heresy. It's a little limited in scope, but it can be very rewarding if you're into Space Marines.
  • Black Crusade - You play agents of Chaos, plotting to bring down the Imperium of Man from either within or without. Mutation and corruption is your goal, but you must also please the Ruinous Powers or risk having the corruption devour your soul before you have your chance of becoming a daemon prince. This is the game with the greatest scope, allowing you to play anything from millennia old Chaos Space Marines to powerful Chaos sorcerers with the power to destroy entire planets (and themselves). I haven't played it, but this seems to be a system with a lot of potential for the right kind of group.
  • Only War - Wherein you enlist in the Imperial Guard, essentially serving as cannon fodder in a galactic war you neither understand nor control. You create your own regiment to fight for, and commit to grand warfare where you're just a small cog in the machine, struggling to convince your superiors that no, all you asked for was half a dozen auspex units, not a crate full of lasguns.
  • Dark Heresy 2nd Edition - The game I'm currently running. It has the same core concept as the first edition, but benefits from years of tweaking and playtesting through the other systems. It's the most refined edition of the game yet, and is a lot of fun.
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IceBear
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:00 pm

I ran one of the adventures that came with the first edition of Dark Heresy but I don't think my players cared for it too much :(

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hentzau
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau » Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:13 pm

I'm trying to run a 5E game with my family. They all came up with really fun characters (Fighter, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard, sticking to the basics), but I'm having a really rough time of it. I'm trying to run them through Princes of the Apocalypse, but I just can't get my brain wrapped around the adventure. We've had 3 sessions, and each one is only about an hour and a half, so we haven't gotten anywhere, because I just can't present the adventure properly. Plus, I'm looking to my wife to kind of be the leader of the group, but she's only about 50% engaged in any particular session.

The freaking adventure is just so hard to run!
"Women are naturally secretive, and they like to do their own secreting." - Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia

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