RPG Playtest – Afterlife: Wandering Souls

Things got a bit busy for me, so this is a few days later than expected, but hey, at least it actually got written! Progress! That said, I do owe Liz an apology for how long it took to get this done, I really did want to get it posted earlier in the campaign so it could potentially help more with funding. Anyway…

So a few years back, my friends Terry, Evan and I ran a playtest session for a game called Afterlife: Wandering Souls, by Angry Hamster Publishing, the same company that created Witch: Fated Souls, a game I reviewed back in 2016 (for those who can’t be bothered reading the review, I really liked it, and it’s only grown on me more over the years). Afterlife was supposed to hit Kickstarter in 2017, but was delayed for an overhaul after the playtests were run. Well, it’s finally up on Kickstarter, and honestly, it was worth the wait. Before we get into the system though, what is Afterlife: Wandering Souls? Well, the Kickstarter campaign sums it up pretty well:

Afterlife: Wandering Souls is a macabre fantasy game set in surreal plane known as the Tenebris. You take on the role of a Wanderer—someone who died, but didn’t end up in Heaven, Hell, or any other traditional afterlife.  Devoid of any memories of your life on earth, you find yourself in an endless desert filled with gateways. Search different planes of existence for clues of your former life – or a semblance of one. Along the way you’ll encounter strange inhabitants, alien cultures, and other humans who’ve lost all hope and are bent on destroying you. 

Most of the action in Afterlife takes place in Mirages (cities located within the Tenebris itself, inhabited by natives who were never humans) and Limbos (extremely varied and sometimes very strange planes of existence accessed from gates within the Tenebris, where the inhabitants may not even know there’s a world outside of their own). The travel between Mirages and Limbos is usually handled in a fairly streamlined manner, referred to in the rules as Encountering the Dark, where the GM presents a scenario and each player takes a turn determining how they want to try and overcome it, building on the results of earlier actions by other players.

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A deer, a pirate and a mutant join a kult – Kickstarter Round-up

Woo! First post of 2016, and the first post in far too long. I’ve really got no excuse, I just let things get away from me, and before I knew it, it’d been six bloody months since I’d posted. So, yeah, sorry about that.

Anyway, to ease me back into posting, I figured I’d start with something easy that I haven’t done in quite some time. A Kickstarter project round-up! The timing works well too, because goddamn am I ever backing a lot of projects right now. For this round-up and any future ones, I’ve decided to only talk about projects that I’m 100% guaranteed to be backing, and that I’m extremely confident in the ability of the project leads to actually not only deliver their product, but to do it at a high quality, since I’ve felt a bit guilty over some previous projects that I pushed hard that ended up being very disappointing to me (not going to name names, but there’s been a few seriously shocking results). As is usual for me, most of these projects are RPGs (I tend to back RPGs or boardgames for the most part), but there’s one comic in there.

Now, in the interests of not making myself start silently screaming in horror over how much money I’ve sunk into Kickstarter recently, I’m not going to include the three projects that finished in the last day, I’ll just be covering the four projects that are still in the funding stage… So let’s start this party off with the project I’m currently most excited about…

KULT: Divinity Lost

Project Ends: 8:00 AM AEDT, 01/04/2016
Current Status: Fully funded, and smashing through the stretch goals!
Expected Delivery: December 2016

I’m not even sure where to begin with this one, I’m so excited! I guess a little history is in order. Kult is a Swedish RPG that was first released in 1991, though its first English edition wasn’t released until 1993. If anyone reading this remembers the Satanic Panic that certain areas of the USA had over D&D, they’ve got an idea of some of the ridiculous and unwarranted controversy that Kult had to deal with in the years following it’s release (in brief, media outlets in Sweden linked it to a number of disappearances, suicides and so on that involved people who played the game… it even got mentioned in the Swedish parliament in relation to a motion to stop tax-payer funding for youth groups that play RPGs). Controversy aside, the game was praised for its depth and handling of religious and philosophical content and ideas in a mature, if somewhat disturbing (it’s a horror game, what do you expect, puppies and rainbows), manner. The setting is our modern society, but what we perceive as our world is in fact an illusion, created by powerful being known as the Demiurge to hold humanity prisoner and stop us from regaining our divinity, while the players take on the roles of various characters from all walks of life who have started to see through the illusion and discover the stranger nature of reality. I won’t go deeper into the setting here, there’s a lot to cover and I don’t have all night, but for a decent overview of it, check out the Wikipedia page. The system had some really innovative ways of dealing with mental balance and featured magic systems based on real life mystical traditions, so it’s a pretty fascinating read. Honestly, it’s one of my favourite RPGs of all time, though I’ve rarely been able to get groups together for it.

The cover of the original English edition of Kult, featuring some of my favourite game artwork

The cover of the original English edition of Kult, featuring some of my favourite game artwork

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Interview with Eloy Lasanta, Third Eye Games

So, in my last post I talked about AMP: Year One, and the current Kickstarter campaign for AMP: Year Two, the first expansion book for the game. Well shortly after that, I got in contact with Eloy Lasanta, the creator of AMP: Year One, and he graciously agreed to let me bludgeon him with questions in order to assuage my curiosity about his work as a game designer. So a big thanks to him for that!

If you haven’t read the previous post, you should go and do so right now… but just in case, a quick bit of background. Eloy created Third Eye Games back in 2008, and since then has written and published a number of well received games covering a very diverse range of genres and themes. He’s a prolific and successful user of Kickstarter as platform to get his new projects up off the ground. As well as working on his own games, Eloy has written for a number of other publishers including Margaret Weis Productions, Varja Enterprises and House Dok.

So, let’s get down to it. Without further ado, I present the Grassy Gnoll’s interview with Eloy Lasanta.

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Tink: How exactly did you get involved with role-playing games? Did you start young, or come to it later in life? 

Eloy: It depends on your definition of young and old. I wasn’t raised on it like many kids that I meet when I venture out to conventions everywhere. I started in high school around the age of 13 with RIFTS and didn’t play any other games for a long time. Eventually, I check out other things and it’s all downhill from there. A lot of World of Darkness and the like. Lots of fun was had.

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AMP: Year Two Kickstarter is up and running

Hey guys,

Just wanted to talk a little about a Kickstarter project I’m backing at the moment. AMP: Year Two, is the first expansion book for AMP: Year One, a game by Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games.

Eloy is a very talented designer who I first encountered through his previous game Part-Time Gods, a brilliant RPG about playing as people who have gained a spark of divinity, and their struggles to balance their humanity against their divine power. So once I heard he was making a supers themed game, well, I was 100% in. Sure enough, when it arrived, it was everything I’d wanted it to be.

So, let’s take a look at it shall we?

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Interview with Phil Day, creator of Sol tabletop RPG

Hey there guys,

Well, it’s a new year, and I’m back to writing. Not gonna make any promises about regularity of content, but we’ll see how we go. Hopefully I can coax Jimbles into coming back and doing some more posts as well.

Anyway, for those of you who aren’t Canberra based, we have a yearly convention here called CanCon that covers card games, board games and war games. I’m actually not sure if it has much of an RPG component, I’ve never really seen groups there for it, but it could just be that I’m not looking in the right areas. Happens on the Australia Day long weekend every January, so it was on not the weekend before last. I don’t normally play in any games at the convention (I gave up competitive play for card games a few years ago, and carting around my army for Hordes is too much effort on the bike), but I make a point of going and checking out the vendors. There’s usually some good deals on games, and I often find a lot of more obscure RPG books (or even just some older stuff that isn’t as easily found these days). Anyway, while making my rounds of the various stores, I found a table advertising a Kickstarter campaign for an RPG called Sol. Of course, being me, I had to stop and see what it was all about. So I got to chatting with Phil Day, the creator, and Kirk Hone, the chief play tester about what the game had to offer. While I didn’t have a huge amount of time to talk with them, I got a bit of a feel for the game, and started to understand just how passionate about it they are.

Based on the quick chat I had with them, I was intrigued. It sounded like a fairly simple system, with a focus on letting the GM (or in this case, Adjudicator) tell stories without having to worry about a vast library of rules and the ways everything interacts with each other. . Don’t get me wrong, I love my Pathfinder and Shadowrun games, but they do tend to get pretty complicated at times. I’d say it’s not uncommon to have to pause Pathfinder sessions I run at least two or three times a session for around ten minutes at a time, just to look up and find out how certain rules actually work. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just what happens when games have so much content. So sometimes it’s nice to see a single book system that’s designed to have simple core rules, and runs on the old school ethos of “if the rules don’t cover it, the GM makes the call”. Yes Rule 0 still exists, but these days it’s often used as a way of saying “for the sake of time, the GM will make a call now and research how it should have worked later”, rather than “the GM thinks rule of cool says it should work this way, and he’s not being unfair about it, so why the hell not!”. I guess what I’m saying is that as more rules are available for games like Pathfinder, players inevitably want to use them, and often aren’t happy to be told that certain things don’t work in the game they’re playing in. I get that, after all, if I spend money on something, I want to use it, but it can definitely bog things down. So the more I thought about this game, the more interested I was. When I got home (with a pile of books and games strapped to the pillion seat of my bike), I jumped online and checked out the Kickstarter (take a look for yourself HERE). I was interested enough to pledge straight away, and also sent Phil a quick message mentioning that I’d be interested in doing an interview about the game. When I popped back out to the con the next day to spend yet more money and give my cousin his first exposure to a gaming convention, I stopped by the table again to hash out some details with Phil.

So, a couple of weeks later, here we are. I present to you, the Grassy Gnoll’s interview with Phil Day, creator of the Sol tabletop RPG.

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Review – “Pariah, Missouri” Vol. 1: Answering the Call

“Welcome to the Weird West.”

That’s the first thing I thought when I read volume 1 of Andres Salazar’s comic Pariah, Missouri. For anyone who doesn’t know me well enough to tell, that’s a good thing. A really, really good thing. While I may not get many chances to play in it, Dead Lands has long been one of my favourite RPG settings, and the mix of western and supernatural influences in Pariah, Missouri, scratches the same itch for me. I’m by no means a fantasy purist, in fact the best way to describe it is that I love nothing more than having my chocolate (the fantasy genre) mixed with peanut butter (sci-fi, horror, westerns, whatever genre floats your boat). Note that this only applies to my tastes in fictional media (games, novels, movies, and so on)… bring any actual peanut butter anywhere near me, well, pray the gods have mercy, ’cause I sure as hell won’t. It’s not that I’m allergic or anything, I just really hate the taste of peanuts. Anyway, let’s get this back on track and into the actual review.

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Interview with Morgan Boehringer, Independent RPG Designer & Publisher

As I mentioned at the end of my last update, I’ve got another interview for you today.

Morgan Boehringer is a freelance RPG designer based somewhere in the Blue Mountains here in Australia. Not exactly sure where, but having been up at Jenolan Caves for a wedding back in March, I can honestly say that if his home looks anything like the areas I was riding through, then it’s a beautiful place. Jammy bastard… Where was I. Ah yes. He can be found lurking around the Paizo Messageboards under the name Oceanshieldwolf, and is the mind behind Forest Guardian Press, a third-party publisher that focuses on content for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, with his first product, the Direlock class, already being available from Paizo.com. He’s also been involved in various projects run by other publishers, and is currently developing content for the Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock Kickstarter.

For an unaltered image in all his unfettered, shirtless and tattooed glory, see below the interview

For an unaltered image of Morgan in all his unfettered, shirtless and tattooed glory, see below the interview

I interviewed Morgan earlier this week about his work as a designer, and the Strange Brew project. Thankfully, he lives in the same time zone as me, so we could actually do a real-time interview. Time differences are of course one of the biggest inconveniences of living in Australia… well, that and the drop bears… and the ridiculously inflated prices we’re expected to pay for goods and services compared to the USA… you know what? I’m going to stop there and just get down to the reason we’re here.

The point is that we were able to chat online instead having him answer a set of questions I’d emailed to him, getting answers back, and emailing further questions that arose from his responses. It led to a very different feel to the interview. I deliberately didn’t plan it out too much, so that we could just see where the conversation went. I think it turned out well. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a better way to interview, but it’s good for something different, and I have a preference for it.

So, let’s get down to it.

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