New Year, New Game 2013

New Games 2013

Photo by StarsApart – Flickr

This post was written for the second annual New Year, New Game blog carnival hosted by Gnome Stew as part of the 2013 New Year, New Game challenge.

Looking Back

The Iron Tavern participated last year in the New Year, New Game blog carnival. Last year I talked about some of the things that made it hard for me to get out of my groove and try out new games. I also listed the three games I wanted to try at the table in the year 2012. They were:

The One Ring
Dragon Age

How did I do? Well, I did not get the chance to play any of the games on the list I made last year. The year was not a loss however! I did play two new RPG games in 2012 and added several others to my collection.

New Games for 2012

What games did I play? First up was Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. This one is obvious to regular readers of The Iron Tavern as I have made many posts about it. I bought the book because I wanted it for the artwork. Then I started reading the book and I wanted to play it. I ended up in a brief game on Google+ Hangouts and was hooked. From there I started running a few one-shots on Google+ Hangouts and finally broke down and started running a weekly DCC RPG game on Google+ Hangouts and Roll20.

A little later in the year one of my DCC RPG players mentioned a game available for free download called Dungeonslayers. I ended up playing in a Christmas themed Dungeonslayers game that he ran. The game was a good time, something about the opposed roll mechanic that made each round of combat something a little more than rolling a 20-sider and seeing if you hit and then rolling damage. That game has evolved into a regular weekly game as we moved into 2013.

Added to my collection in the year 2012 were numerous Castles and Crusades books and Barebones Fantasy. Only the lack of time prevents me from playing either one of those. I would actually like to see one of those systems replace my default Pathfinder game, but I need to try them out to see which seems a better fit for my go-to game.

New Games for 2013

Despite not playing any of the games I mentioned wanting to play in my post last year on this topic, I am going to risk listing the games I want to play in the upcoming year. I have already mentioned two of the games from the list of three. First:

Castles and Crusades. This game has been around for quite some time. I’ve started collecting most of the hard covers, I am just waiting for an opportunity to play it. I am attracted to it because it is a lighter than my current go-to game of Pathfinder, but so close to the D&D feel that it seems a really good fit. Add in I can easily convert 3.x/Pathfinder adventures down to it and 1e and 2e stuff up to it, I’d have modules to select and choose from for a very long time.

Barebones FantasyBarebones Fantasy. This game has been getting excellent reviews over at RPG Now and across several of my social media circles. A rules-light game with simple mechanics and an interesting “skills” system as class. I’ve done a read through of this book and really want to give it a spin this year. Just waiting for a time that a G+ game opens up at a time that I can participate.

Fiasco. This game was on my 2012 list as well, but I am keeping it around for 2013. This one doesn’t seem to be catching the same talk on social media it was last year, or maybe I have gravitated to different circles. In either case, I would like to try it out to see what it is all about.

New Games, New Year

New games, New Year was a good thing for me. It got me thinking about breaking out of my normal groove. And though I did not play the games I had listed in 2012, I did get out there and play some new games. Not only were these new games a great time, but I met a lot of great people playing them. I

I have made new online friends and met several of them in-person at Gen Con. I’ve drifted to new social circles that are full of people doing cool things. So even though I did not actually play a single game on my list from 2012, I did get out there and play some new games, met some new people both virtually and at cons. I call that a success.

So, get out there and play some new games! Break out of your rut of playing whatever your game of choice is now and try something a little different. It has been a blast for me and I have met a lot of great people by expanding my gaming circles a bit!

New Beginnings… Or Campaign Reboot

RPG Blog CarnivalThis month’s RPG Blog Carnival to open the year 2013 is aptly themed “New Beginnings” hosted by Kobold Enterprise. Suggested topics to get folks thinking are,

  • Retcons/New Ages in home brewed or commercial settings.
  • Epiphanies about projects and their new directions.
  • New starts for characters, or even whole campaigns.
  • Insights on the hobby, or aspects of it.

It only seems fitting for me to post on new starts for campaigns with recent changes in my local group’s game.

How we got here

Regular readers of The Iron Tavern know I have been running a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG campaign for several months now online. Meanwhile I’ve been playing in a regular Pathfinder campaign in my local face-to-face group. My local group rotates dungeon masters with most of the duties falling to me or another individual in the group. To be fair, the other person runs much more than I do, but I’ve done my share of running.

I started a Kingmaker campaign in 2010 for the local group. From there we moved to Council of Thieves and then on to Serpent’s Skull – all played under the Pathfinder ruleset. The Serpent’s Skull campaign came to a close in December of 2012.

Adventure Paths

In actuality the Serpent’s Skull campaign sort of fizzled out. I think I group was burning out on Pathfinder to some degree. If not on Pathfinder, we were at least burning out on adventure path style campaigns. By that I mean in adventure paths your course as characters is laid out pretty clearly before you. There are side-treks the characters can take and other areas to explore and many GMs will encourage this. But in order to continue with an AP the GM has to get you back on track along the way at some point. So while there might be diversions along the way, ultimately you have to get back on track. Almost like traveling from waypoint to waypoint.

Over the course of time I think this nature of adventure paths wears on the GM. While nice to pick up the six adventure path installments and know you have nearly a years worth of gaming material at your fingertips, it takes some work from the GM to keep things on course. As a player there can be a sense of what you do doesn’t matter as at some point your characters have to be at a certain place for the next book to be applicable.

Now don’t get me wrong. The Pathfinder APs are great. I think they are well written and layout exciting stories and adventures to play. The NPCs are frequently interesting and some of the monsters within have unusual tweaks to make them stand out. The APs always include interesting material that is tangentially related to the campaign and can be used elsewhere too.

However, after playing several and running one Adventure Path, I think it comes down to feeling like you are playing someone else’s story. Someone else’s adventure. I think having played three of these in a row started to lead our group to a bit of burnout.

New Beginnings

This brings us to our group’s new beginnings. Several in my local group have heard me talk about Dungeon Crawl Classics and how much fun I was having with my online group. The other DM in the group found a copy of the Limited Edition DCC RPG book at the local Half-Price books (I hate him for that). He started reading and thought it might be a good change of pace for our group.

Add in that he is a tax accountant with a schedule that goes crazy from January through April and that my wife is amidst a bone marrow transplant procedure for the next several weeks and a lighter rule system starts to look even more attractive. DCC RPG is rules-light with a lot of the “work” being looking up critical hits, spell results, and such on tables for wild and crazy results. That “work” does not take a  lot of prep reducing the load on the GM.

The GM for our DCC RPG game is also planning for it to be more episodic in nature as well. I think that will lead to a less pre-determined path and our characters can once again take the story where we want it and not where a campaign arc planned out for multiple levels necessarily wants to take it. It also allows for some player misses with less impact on the story overall.

Our group’s new beginning for 2013 is the start of a new campaign with a new ruleset. I know I have felt re-energized by this change of systems and I think several others in our group are looking forward to the upcoming campaign. Time will tell how the change plays out for us!

Fulgrim’s Backpack

What is in your backpack?

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is titled “What’s in your backpack?” asking for what folks have in their real life backpack or their character’s backpack. I found the topic interesting and was initially going to talk about the art of selecting items for a character’s backpack or what a standard load for the backpack should consist of.

But then I started thinking. That is all fine in theory, but what happens as a character progresses? What really happens to the items they carry in their backpack? So I decided to let one of my characters empty out their backpack and see what they have accumulated over the early levels.

Fulgrim Ironforge

With that, meet Fulgrim Ironforge, a 4th level Barbarian from the Pathfinder RPG System. Let’s see what he has to say.

“Backpack? Ye want ta’ see in me backpack?” the dwarf with a shaved head and long, thick brownish beard says looking up his chair. “I ‘spose I got time fer that.”

The dwarf slides a worn leather backpack from one side of the chair. Several straps hang from the pack with similarly worn brass buckles, scratches scoring the surface of the metal. A battered tankard clanks against one of the buckles as the dwarf finishes sliding the backpack in front of him.

The dwarf reaches to one of the side pockets of the backpack and begins to draw things forth, placing them on the table. From a side pocket he pulls out a ball of twine, several pieces of chalk, and a whetstone. “Can mark ye way wit da chalk if needed. Dat twine, never know when it might be handy.” Fulgrim states as he moves to another side pocket.

From that pocket he pulls out a dingy cord about three feet in length, stained with dark red and rust colored spots and places it on the table, followed by a vial of thick, silvery liquid. “De cord is a good way ta’ keep yer weapon on ye if somethin’ try to take it from ye. Dat silvery stuff can ‘elp against stuff resistant ta normal weapons.”

Fulgrim moves on to the next side pocket and slides out a much used deck of cards. The edges are worn and marred with dirt. He shrugs as he places them on the table “Somethin’ ta play in de evenings.”

Finally the dwarf opens the top flap of the backpack and begins removing items from the pack. Several vials, a flask or two are placed on the table. A silken rope is placed next to the vials as Fulgrim rummages around in the backpack more. “Flask ‘o de finest dwarven liquor fer de cold nights.” Fulgrim says, still rifling through the pack.

Fulgrim pulls a blanket out that seems unusually bulky, even for a blanket. He smiles as he places it on the table and slowly unfolds it revealing several caltrops, a hammer and a water skin. “De blanket keeps de spikes from pokin’ a hole in de pack. Helps muffle de sound too, keeps ’em from clankin’ in when ye don’t need ’em ta be.” Fulgrim adds.

Reaching further in the dwarf pulls out several more items, several small pouches of powder, trail rations, flint and steel and another waterskin. “Dat looks ta be it.” Fulgrim says.

Fulgrim gazes at the items on the table for a moment, “Guess it don’t hurt ta be prepared!”


Here is a list of what was actually in Fulgrim Ironforge’s pack:

  • Alchemist’s Fire Flask
  • Antitoxin
  • Blanket
  • Caltrops
  • Chalk (x3)
  • Flask
  • Flint and Steel
  • Hammer
  • Marked Cards
  • Tankard
  • Oil (x3)
  • Powder (x3)
  • Rations, 1 week
  • Rope, Silk (50′)
  • Twine (50′)
  • Waterskin (x2)
  • Weapon Blanch, Silver
  • Weapon Cord
  • Whetstone x3

I tend to load my dwarven characters up with more supplies than I do other races.


I think it is interesting to see what characters tend to keep in their backpack. I tend to vary mine from character to character. Some are pack rats and fill their pack full of miscellaneous items and others only pick up the bare essentials. Fulgrim is just one glance at one character to see what is carried

New Year, New Games

photo rights to canonsnapper

The folks over at Gnome Stew are hosting a New Year, New Game blog carnival as part of their 2012 New Year, New Game contest. This post is The Iron Tavern’s participation in their blog carnival.

New year, new game. Sometimes groups get in their groove and neglect checking out new games. I am extremely guilty of this. In fact, of the people in my local weekly gaming group, I am likely the one most guilty of not playing a lot of new games. I tend to get pretty focused on a system and not drift too much from that.

I always have good intentions of course. But with what limited gaming time I have, I try not to spread myself too thin or not want to give up a gaming night to another system that I would be learning from scratch. This results in me sticking with my game of choice at the moment.

Now over the course of 2011 I did get to play some games outside of my normal preference of the fantasy genre. The Kingmaker game I am running went on hiatus for a few months and this presented a great time for others in my group to run a few things. So we saw Supernatural run, Call of Cthulhu and a mini-arc Star Wars campaign. Okay, I admit, I’ve played Star Wars before, but the others were new to me. I had a good time playing the different games and I should make a more conscious effort of trying games outside of my norm more often.

Given the routine I get in, let’s look at some of the things that do get me interested in breaking that rut and trying something new.

The biggest thing? One-shots. Tell me the game is a one-shot and I am much more open to trying a game. The risk with a one-shot is minimal, if I don’t like it I only spent one evening on it and still managed to hang out with friends. If I do like it, then we can go from there and maybe work the game into rotation more frequently.

Next up is the excitement from the person proposing the new game and how good they do selling it. Want me to be interested in trying out a different game? Tell me how it is cool, what makes it unique? Do you seem excited when you tell me about it? The pitch for the new game is a big factor in how warm I am to trying it. Sell me on it.

Finally, I like for the person that will be running the game to know the rules pretty well. A lot of questions come up in one-shots. How does this work? I want to do this, what do I need to roll? What skill do I use? Do I want to roll high or low? Quick answers to these questions keep things moving quickly and keep things from getting bogged down during play.

I have been pretty spoiled by our de facto RPG expert in our group. He is very well versed in all things RPG and is an encyclopedia of rules knowledge of a myriad of systems. When he’s pitching a new game system I am much more apt to say yes.

Now that I have covered what gets me most interested in breaking my routine and trying a new game, let’s look at what I most want to try out in 2012. I have three games on that list. FiascoThe One Ring, and Dragon Age.

Fiasco interests me because I keep hearing great things about it on various social networks. It is also outside my norm from what I understand, yet it still intrigues me. My RPG expert in my group is familiar with it, now I just need to talk him into running it!

The One Ring is a game I have purchased and also have interest in either running or playing a small mini-campaign in. Followers of The Iron Tavern have seen me talk about the game before, but it looks like it does an excellent job of painting a Tolkien world through game mechanics. The combat system also looks interesting too me and quite different than many of the d20 systems I am used to.

And finally, Dragon Age has recently caught my eye. The artwork on the cover of the upcoming 3rd set is very impressive and I downloaded the Quickstart Guide as a result. It looks very promising and might be a viable option for remote play over Google Hangouts or Skype due to less dependence on a battlemat.

In closing, here’s to breaking out of your normal gaming routine to try something a little different in 2012!