Bedlam Hall Kickstarter

Well, they’ve gone and done it now, haven’t they? David Kizzia, one of the twisted minds at Monkeyfun Studios, reached into the inky depths of his imagination and drew forth Bedlam Hall, a new game of macabre Victorian role-playing. And, you, the unquestioning acolytes, powerful to resist his dark sorcery, answered the call to support the Kickstarter for the game.  Shamefully, I must confess to being weak myself and giving in to the siren song. But, I am not here to lament the decisions of the past; I am here to bring a message of hope for the future!

Unfortunately, I am too late to prevent Monkeyfun Studios from bringing Bedlam Hall and all the calamity it will carry with it into the world. The Blackwood family still holds much influence over the generous though misguided denizens of Kickstarter. However, there is still hope that we can prevent the horrors of Bedlam Hall from leeching out into our reality. That hope is Gruel Truck.

What is Gruel Truck? Very simply,  it’s an RPG where you play a retired adventure working in a food truck. Like the movie Chef, but with John Rhys-Davies instead of Jon Favreau.  If the campaign reaches the $20,000 funding goal every backer above $15 will receive a copy of Gruel Truck! Backers who opted for a physical copy of Bedlam Hall will receive a physical copy of Gruel Truck and a paper hat!

David and his minions at Monkeyfun have left a glaring weakness in their campaign to infect our minds with the horrible mysteries of Bedlam Hall. Gruel Truck will fill us with such light that the crooked shadow of that other game will never be able to darken our souls again. It won’t be easy, though. The Bedlam Hall Kickstarter only has eight more days until funding is closed. Now is our moment. Now is when fight back against the darkness. Do it for the children. Do it for humanity! Support Bedlam Hall and BRING GRUEL TRUCK TO LIFE!

Cold Shadows Kickstarter

I am a big believer in backing tabletop gaming projects on Kickstarter. I’m willing to accept the small amount of risk involved in crowdfunding projects. However, I feel much better when I can throw my support behind a project from creators with a proven record of success. That’s why I was happy to back Cold Shadows, a new game project from Alan Bahr. I have discussed Alan’s minimalist science fiction game, Tiny Frontiers and its expansion Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters here before. Cold Shadows will be his first game since he joined Nocturnal Media. I had an opportunity to correspond with Alan over the last week and pick his brain on the new game and what’s on the horizon for him and Nocturnal Media.

What Is Cold Shadows?

Alan described Cold Shadows to me as his first “non-Tiny” game. Cold Shadows uses a new rule set built off of Blood & Honor and World of Dew. In fact, Alan has teamed up with Ben Woerner, author of World of Dew, to write this game. However, Cold Shadows is not set in the world of samurai. Instead, the setting invokes the world of classic Cold War novels from authors like Robert Ludlum and John Le Carre. But, why an espionage game? I asked Alan if there was a specific aspect of espionage stories that lends itself to a tabletop RPG. Here’s what he had to say:

“I do think there’s a unique style of thriller story that RPGs have yet to fully tap into, and the sense of betrayal and watching the story unfold, is almost like a movie. As participants, you have full view of all the secrets and character arcs, but your characters don’t get to interact with them as much. It leads to a very unique style of game.”

Cold Shadows does offer a unique style of game. The GM, the Narrator in this game, provides a plot and controls all the outside forces in the world, but ultimate control of the story is left to the players.  The players roll dice from a pool they develop to determine which of them gets to narrate the outcome of actions in each scene. Player control of the story allows Cold Shadows to be played with only one player and the Narrator or without a Narrator at all.

Risks and Rewards

Alan has more than earned my trust when it comes to delivering on Kickstarter promises. Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters funded at the end of September last year and I received my rewards this week. That is less than five months for delivery.

Like Alan’s previous games funded through Kickstarter, the draft rules for this game are complete. This will greatly reduce the time between the campaign ending and delivery of rewards. Cold Shadows has already reached its funding goal so there is no risk that the project won’t fund. With twenty days left in the campaign the team has already unlocked twenty stretch goals. These include chapters that detail different notable Cold War cities such as Tel Aviv, Moscow and Washington, D.C.  The Nocturnal Media team has brought in Tobie Abad, C.A. Suleiman, Shoshana Kessock, and many other impressive writers to pen these chapters. The Kickstarter page only lists stretch goals up to $25,000. However, Alan let me know that there are more stretch goals which include upgraded Trust tokens, pre-built adventures and more books.

Rewards for Cold Shadows start at $10. Pledging at this level will get you PDF copies of the core rulebook and the Black Book. This supplement includes information for NPCs, enemy agencies and more. Higher reward levels offer more rewards such as a softcover copy of the core rulebook, a set of custom Cold Shadows D6 and Trust tokens. I would recommend the Tinker, Tailor, Backer, Spy level at $40. That level will get you the print book, tokens, dice and all PDF rewards.

What’s Next?

I pestered Alan for secrets about what he has in store for the future. He himself would make a good spy because he didn’t crack. What he did tell me was that Nocturnal Media has acquired the Tiny Dungeon ruleset and relaunched it as Tiny D6. This means that we can expect expansions to Tiny Frontiers and new Tiny settings. According to Alan, the company plans to launch new Tiny D6 material directly, but will also use Kickstarter for bigger launches.

Alan will also be traveling with Nocturnal Media to Gen Con this summer. He will be running game demos and promised an announcement there about a brand new RPG. If you’re going to be attending this year don’t miss out on a chance to check out everything that Nocturnal Media has to offer.

Awarding Noncombat Experience

“Dragons! Shall we slay them for XP rewards?” “Nay, establishing trade routes is all the reward we seek.”

A few months back I wrote a post about why you should switch over from awarding experience points to milestone leveling.  One of the comments on that post was “I love math so I want to still use XP leveling, but I’m also building a campaign with little to no combat in it. How can I award non-combat XP?” The Dungeon Master’s Guide does cover this subject briefly under Creating Encounters (pg. 80) and Noncombat Challenges (pg. 261), but I am more than happy to provide my take on the subject. Continue reading Awarding Noncombat Experience

Shadow of the Demon Lord: RPG Backlog

The Demon Lord wears many masks. It is the One Foretold,
the Destroyer of Worlds, the Hunger, the Shuddering One,
the One Who Whispers, the Shadow in the Void, the Dark
Between the Stars, and the Unspeakable One. Its will alone
snuffs out the stars and its shadow ends realities.

In this edition of RPG Backlog I will be looking at Shadow of the Demon Lord, the first game designed by Robert J. Schwalb for his company Schwalb Entertainment. You may recognize Schwalb from his extensive resume of game design that includes multiple editions of Dungeons & Dragons, Numenera, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the Song of Ice and Fire roleplaying game.  He started his own company in 2014 and Shadow of the Demon Lord is the first of what will hopefully be many games from that company. Continue reading Shadow of the Demon Lord: RPG Backlog

2017 Will Be The Worst Year!

Yes, because of all that other stuff, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Hello, everyone! I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything and I apologize for that. Hopefully, now that things have settled down in my non-gamer life the posting here will be more regular. Not better, mind you, but regular. Since it’s January, I wanted to take a look ahead at what I’m looking forward to in 2017. Continue reading 2017 Will Be The Worst Year!

Craft & Dragons: Dice Bag

Welcome to Craft & Dragons, a semi-regular segment here on The Worst blog, where we explore the adventure of making cool stuff!!

When coming up with this season’s D&D craft idea, I wanted to design a project that would challenge people to try something new (well, new to some people) – sewing! I wanted to make it simple enough so that it could serve as an introduction to sewing construction, but at the same time be perfectly practical for any gamer.

For me, there was only one answer – the ubiquitous dice bag! Continue reading Craft & Dragons: Dice Bag

How Movies Taught Me How to Avoid a TPK

One of the worst sins that any Game Master can commit is the Total Party Kill. Sure, I make jokes about TPKs all the time. But, in my actual games I would never wipe an entire party. A TPK ruins a game and can even ruin friendships. Luckily, I found an excellent resource for learning how to avoid that TPK; movies! Movies are full of tropes and plot contrivances that allow characters to escape certain death. All I needed to do was spend hundreds of hours of my life watching them. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!! Continue reading How Movies Taught Me How to Avoid a TPK

3 Reasons to Use Milestone Leveling

Look, I’m not going to lie to you all. When other GMs and players used to talk about how much better milestone leveling was I rolled my eyes. I’ll stick with good old experience points, thank you very much! However, in the middle of my last campaign I started to get tired of tracking XP for every encounter. So I gave milestone leveling a try. And guess what? It turns out that I was wrong all along! Here are three reasons to use milestone leveling. Continue reading 3 Reasons to Use Milestone Leveling

Running Terrible Games So You Don't Have To

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