Tuesday, September 29, 2020

High Trust in Blossom Grove

Published adventures very rarely stand out as both entertaining fare to bring to the game table and paragons demonstrating design philosophy. One might argue the dungeon-delving paradigm embodied in B2 The Keep on the Borderlands accomplishes this. Certainly most of the adventures in Michael Prescott’s Trilemma Adventures (which I featured earlier) vividly present settings and situations characters can explore and with which they can freely interact. S. John Ross demonstrates his high-trust ideals in his latest adventure, Slimes in Blossom Grove. Intended for his Risus: The Anything RPG and his Uresia: Grave of Heaven world, it’s easily ported to any fantasy roleplaying game and setting. It demonstrates in written form elements to encourage high-trust gaming at the table regardless of system or setting and serves as an example of imbuing high-trust ideas into published adventures.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

WEG Memoirs: Mister Donut

Several times during my five years working at West End Games I received an early morning phone call of the utmost importance. Since I had to supplement my meager salary with tons of freelance work (like most of the editorial and graphic design staffers) I was usually up early, anyway, to work in an hour’s writing before getting an early start at the office. So the phone call wasn’t waking me up or anything, but it required me to leave even earlier. Usually the caller was production manager Rich Hawran, though sometimes owner Scott Palter himself. They needed me to perform an extremely urgent task before coming in to work: buy doughnuts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Same Great Experience, Smaller Package

The board game world offers some amazing experiences, but the prospect of learning a booklet of new rules and spending several hours immersing themselves in an hours-long game can discourage some newcomers from pursuing the hobby...and even longtime gamers don’t always have the patience or time to invest in comprehending and playing a new game. As an advocate of introducing gaming to newcomers and kids, I’m always looking for games that don’t seem too overwhelming or complex, yet still offer a satisfying play experience. So I was happy to discover a few titles one might consider lighter, younger siblings of well-established games – Ticket to Ride: New York and Pandemic: Hot Zone – North Americawhich provide similar themes and gameplay as the originals without taking several hours to learn and play.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Every Star A Destination

I’m constantly flattered when fans fondly recall West End Games’ Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. They spot references to West End creations in current Star Wars media. They remind us how much they enjoyed projects on which we worked. And occasionally we get to return to that period a long time ago (more than 20 years) far, far away (in remote Honesdale, PA) when we worked full-time and freelance to produce two or three Star Wars game products a month for a burgeoning crowd of gaming and film fans. I was lucky then for these opportunities and I’m lucky again to relive a little of that excitement creating game material to reach a similar audience. The recently released Star System: Every Star A Destination scenario collection includes an adventure I wrote, “The Jungle Prophet.” West End Star Wars line editor veteran Eric S. Trautmann approached me about contributing to the book – a D6 System homage to the popular Instant Adventures supplement suitable for sci-fi roleplaying games – to commemorate the game’s 30th anniversary and the re-issue of a slick reprint slipcase edition.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

WEG Memoirs: Foreign Language Editions

Es war einmal vor langer Zeit

in einer weit, weit

entfernten Galaxis....

Back in the mid 1990s, when West End Games had the license to produce Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, the company also had the rights to sub-license its game materials to foreign publishers. The arrangements included the usual approvals process – especially for any changes in layout, format, and artwork deviating significantly from West End’s versions – after which West End received several copies of the published product, some of which we forwarded to Lucasfilm for its archives. I’m sure a copy went into whatever file or library West End kept at the time. As one of the few if only people on staff who had any knowledge of the German language, I usually received a spare copy of German releases from the publisher Welt der Spiel; eventually I acquired some products in other languages, too. All these years later I still have most of these foreign-language editions. They’re more nostalgic novelties now, but they remind me of the amazing reach the game once enjoyed