Showing posts with label Gallant Knight Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gallant Knight Games. Show all posts

Monday, July 03, 2023

Geekerati Video: Chatting with Alan Bahr About Swords of Meropis and Tabletop Role Playing Games

 Alan Bahr is publisher and lead designer for Gallant Knight Games and his company recently launched a crowdfunding campaign for a storytelling game called Swords of Meropis. Alan was inspired by Sword & Sandals films like Jason and the Argonauts and wanted to make a game that captured the feel of those classic fantasy tales.

In this interview, I chat with Bahr about the inspiration behind Swords of Meropis and the basic mechanics underlying this storytelling focused role playing game. Bahr is no stranger when it comes to designing games focusing more on interaction than on tactical combat, but this is one of his first designs that fully utilizes what I call a “player focused” storytelling approach.

It’s an approach that really came into design focus with Better Games’ series of Free Style Role Play games in the 1990s. While there were some earlier games that incorporated storytelling elements, like Greg Stafford’s inspired Prince Valiant Story-Telling Game (originally published in 1989), the Free Style Role Play system games like Conrad’s Fantasy, Where Fools Dare to Tread, and Good Guys Finish Last by Better Games really pushed the boundaries of player agency and narrative focus in a way that would be immediately recognizable to a player of Apocalypse World and other modern storytelling focused games. Better Games were a major contributor in the Southern California gaming scene in the 1990s and their ideas were ahead of their time.

Just take a look at this character sheet for their horror game Where Fools Dare to Tread.


Since this is a starting character, there are no numbers on the sheet except for the task resolution chart. As the character gained experience, the only numbers you would see would be bonuses, such as a +1, to the skills. I’ll be doing a deeper dive into the mechanics of Better Games’ Where Fools Dare to Tread in my extended analysis of Candela Obscura by the Critical Role team, but you can easily see how cutting edge this game was mechanically.

Alan and I don’t discuss Better Games in detail, but it is a game in the same vein as Alan’s design for Swords of Meropis. The focus is on player agency and storytelling, but with mechanics that allow for solo gaming as well as troupe based play.

Check out the conversation. We talk about a lot more than his upcoming game and our discussion ventures into how while we often hear and see role playing game play presented as art, we don’t often enough think about game design as art. Just as live streaming performances and home games are moments of theatrical art, so too is good game design an example of artifice.

Take the time to watch and/or listen and please make sure to share if you enjoyed the discussion.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Geekerati Reviews: For Coin & Blood 2nd Edition by Gallant Knight Games


In 2018, Gallant Knight Games published a role playing game entitled For Coin & Blood. The game was designed with the intent of capturing the freeform mechanical feel of first generation fantasy roleplaying games and the narrative tone of Grim Dark fantasy novels and shows. It was a game inspired by Original D&D and the writings of Kate Elliot, Joe Abercrombie, Sarah Monette, Glen Cook, Anna Smith Spark, Scott Lynch, and others.

The first edition of For Coin & Blood was well received by critics and gamers and remains a "Gold" seller on DriveThruRPG, the internet's largest digital rpg store. As successful as the game is, it was an early design by Alan Bahr and there was room for expansion and improvement. Bahr's done a lot of game design between 2018 and 2020 and he thought it was time for a second edition that reflected the lessons he's learned over the years and he wanted to release that edition in a printed edition as beautiful as he thought the updated rules deserved.

So he did what any independent designer does in these situations and launched a Kickstarter. In fact, that Kickstarter launched today (August 31, 2020) and will be running for the next 10 days (until September 9th). You'll have to act fast if you want to get one of the premium books from the Kickstarter, though I'm certain the game will be sold via DriveThruRPG afterwards. One thing to note here as you read this review. If you want to get a printed copy after reading this, make sure to back the Kickstarter. As good as the printing quality of DriveThruRPG's books are, and they are good, they are nothing compared to the print shop printing Gallant Knight puts together on their full print run products.

Now that the background is taken care of, how is For Coin & Blood as a game?

The TL;DR is that it reflects every ounce of design knowledge Alan Bahr has learned over the past few years and is an excellent and evocative design. One that I immediately backed on Kickstarter after reading my review copy.

Now for the longer review. What's Good, what's Bad, and...what's Awesome about this game.

The Good

The first thing that jumps out about the game is its setting. Grim Dark is a great theme that has an abundance of fiction game masters and players can look to for guidance on how to play. Some of the best fiction in Fantasy is in the Grim Dark genre. My own personal favorites include Glen Cook's The Black Company series, the Thieves' World anthologies, David Gemmell's Waylander tales, Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos tales, Andy Remic's Clockwork Vampire Chronicles, Simon R. Green's Hawk and Fisher stories, Kate Elliot's Crown of Stars series, and a long list that includes Michael Moorcock, Brent Weeks, Karl Edward Wagner, and so many more.   

As great as the setting is, Grimdark roleplaying sessions can wander down the path to excess. Thankfully, Alan Bahr provides a little advice on how to be more Joe Abercrombie and less Edgelord von Torturestein. Adding to the advice on running the game (there should be more), For Coin and Blood 2nd Edition provides a nicely detailed setting. It also includes two tales of tone setting fiction by Steve Diamond and Mari Murdock

Mechanically, the game uses a modified version of the d20 based role playing game we all know and love including some of the most recent innovations like Advantage and Disadvantage. In doing so, it has mechanics that appeal to both fans of newer heroic roleplaying and older more tactical and freeform gaming.

For example the skill tests used in For Coin and Blood echoes the assumed mechanics of Moldvay/Cook (aka B/X edition) of Dungeons & Dragons.  Hidden in the depths of that games mechanics was a foundational skill system where 1d6 being rolled against a difficulty. You can see it in the break down doors/bend bars, find secret doors, and locate traps rules of Basic/Expert D&D. In For Coin and Blood the basic skill roll tends to default to a need to roll 4+ on a six sided die. This is true for all of the narrow class skills that are specifically listed in the character classes. There is one exception. The thief  has a broad skill bonus that adds to a broad set of thief related tasks. There is no specific breakdown of thief skills, nor is there a default given in the thief class section. The lack of specific skills is fine, as we'll see in the discussion of "professions" below.

In addition to the skill system echoing B/X D&D,  Alan Bahr adapts the "die tree" from The Black Hack for use on skill tests and a couple of other game mechanics as well. The die tree, or step die mechanic, is a very neat mechanic that has its roots in Earthdawn and Alternity. Instead of giving a player a +1/-1 or +2/-2 modifier that is added to a roll, a die step mechanic has the player roll the next higher/lower die. A +1 die step would mean a player who normally rolls a d6 for an outcome would roll a d8 or d4 depending on whether they received a bonus or penalty.

The game's attribute modifiers are similar to those of OD&D instead of more modern versions. In For Coin & Blood only scores 15 and higher give a mechanical benefit and only those below 6 give a penalty. What this means is that the game is more Archetype focused and less stat focused. Statistical bonuses are "cooked in" to the things players are expected to have and thus exceptional bonuses are exception and players don't need to roll high statistics to be "on curve" for play. I love that the game focuses more on Archetypes than statistics, tot that this will stop me from a very long boring discussion below in the "The Bad" section when it comes to statistics and character creation.

Like many games, For Coin and Blood uses a combination of armor class (defense) and armor as damage reduction. In this case armor doesn't contribute to "defense", the number required to hit the character, at all and only provides damage reduction. This is similar to the system used by Wizards of the Coasts Star Wars Saga Edition role playing game. In this case, Alan Bahr added armor attrition and shield rules inspired by The Black Hack as well.


The Bad

There's not a lot to critique from a non-mechanical perspective, if I was to add something to the text I would add a good deal more advice on how to run the setting to keep it "Grim Dark" and not "Murder Hobos on Parade." This is the genre of Michael Moorcock, Steven Brust, the Thieves' World crew, Brent Weeks, Andy Remic, David Gemmell, Glen Cook, Karl Edward Wagner, and Cameron Johnston. While some of these authors incorporate certain types of disturbing violence into their fiction, they usually don't wallow in it. For Coin & Blood does have a strong disclaimer at the beginning that provides context, but I'd like to see more DM advice in this regard. As someone who has played in "evil" campaigns before, I've found they are more rewarding when they deal with moral complexity rather than focus on being gorefests. There are those gamers who want to play F.A.T.A.L. and this is not the game for them. This is not an edgelord game and those who want that style of play should look elsewhere. Still, it could use more advice on how to handle sensitive situations or provide a bibliography to existing resources.

I love 99.99% of the mechanical decisions in this game, but there is one mechanic I really don't like and that is the system of attribute determination during character generation. Alan Bahr has a favorite character generation system for OSR style games. He's used it in a number of his other "Venerable Knight Games"  publication. The system does allow for some flexibility, but depending on how you use it results in very focused characters and never really seem to accomplish exactly what Alan is hoping to do.

It starts straight forward enough with characters having six core attribute rated from 3-18: Might, Learning, Insight, Fortitude, Agility, and Charisma. Before we continue, I thought I'd let you know that I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about this, so you might want to skip down to the "Awesome" section below. There is a lot that's awesome, but for some reason the stat generation system rubs me the wrong way. What's even more ironic is that because of the Archetype and not Attribute approach of the game, the generation system really doesn't have much effect on gameplay.

Having said all of the above, here is the basic stat generation system.


Essentially, you roll 5 dice and then you order them as you wish following the above algorithm picking the highest die for your "most important stat" and the lowest die for your "dump stat." You'll note that Alan writes, "this will give you one particularly good statistic, one weak statistic, and four that range between average and good." Well...this is not exactly true and depends on how you arrange the stats.

The following analysis is based on a bit of Rmarkdown code I wrote for demonstration purposes that you can find here. If you don't have R-Studio and only want to look at ALL the output, you can find it on this webpage. But I will also be nice and show you some real examples below. 

In essence, you have a few choices as a player. You can choose to be the Specialist who has one fantastic stat and five stats that are for all intents and purposes average. You do this by rolling 5 dice, sorting them in order and using the above algorithm to generation your stats. For the sake of argument, let's say you roll the following array (I've already sorted them from high to low).

So you've got a 6, 5, 4, 3, 3. This is actually a pretty good roll. If we assumed these were added to the average on 2 dice of 7, we'd have a 13, 12, 11, 10, 10. In For Coin & Blood, none of those would be exceptional. But that's not the system. We start with 12, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10 and follow the algorithm above. Doing that, going from high to low in order, we get the following array.

One very high number, a bunch of straight up average numbers, and one low number but not low enough for a penalty (penalties start at 6 and lower).

What if we mix it up a little and still put the highest value on our prime stat, then second lowest, then middle, then second highest, and finally lowest on our dump stat? That sounds interesting right? This is what we get.

The numbers look more interesting, but there is still no real impact on play except that we are still specialized in our max stat. Remember, there are no penalties for 8s and no bonuses for 12s.

Let's mix things up a little bit more and go a little counter-intuitive by not putting our highest stat in our prime stat. This time we'll put the middle stat in the first spot, the second lowest in the second slot, the highest in the middle, the second highest next, and the worst last. This gets us the following:

In a regular d20 game, this might be the most interesting to play. This is close to the "Generalist" array from various versions of D&D. The only thing is that in For Coin & Blood, all of these stats except the 16 are still "average" and provide no bonus. Adding salt to the wound we could have a mechanically better, but aesthetically less appealing, array with a max 18 instead.

I know that I praised the game for relying on Archetypes rather than Attributes for what really matters in the game. I still believe that, but that's why I find this system odd. The algorithm is clunky for new gamers. You add dice and subtract prior dice as you go and as your reward you either get a specialist with one good stat or you end up with something very close to what you would get from just rolling 3d6 and being able to put them in any order you want. It just strikes me as inelagant in a game that is otherwise very elegant.

My second complaint is relatively minor. There is no base number given for various thief related tasks in thief section. The rules section states that the default for most actions is 4+ and that the narrator should modify this for effect. The game provides a very useful chart to do this, but it would be nice to have mention in thief class.

The weapon rules are AWESOME (see below), but the weapon degrading rules look like they need modification to update the mechanic from a "weapon die" system to a "class die" system. Given that one can easily assume that Sellswords and Knights are knowledgeable on how to care for their weapons than Magi etc., this is only a one sentence change to remain consistent.

Not a lot of complaints, just one overly long one.

City Raid Illustration by Ger Curti
Illustration by Ger Curti

The Awesome

First and foremost, I love so much about this game that I had to stop listing the "Awesome" rated stuff before this review became a "just copy the rules" review. 

One of the things that For Coin & Blood revives is the old money earned = XP earned mechanic from old versions of D&D. What I'm about to write may seem counter-intuitive, but this XP system actually reduces the "Murder Hobo" nature of adventuring. Monsters in older versions of D&D are rated in XP for "defeating" (usually being killed) and in how much treasure they have. In new versions, you pretty much just have the "defeated" XP value. What having the money = XP mechanic does is it immediately gets people to ask, "can I get the treasure without fighting?" Why? Because monsters usually have more in gold than their defeat XP value. When you add the old rules for "Encounter Relations" from B/X, Charisma becomes the "get rich and not kill ever" stat and ends the cycle of "Breach, Sleep, Clear!" that D&D can become. Sadly, Alan doesn't incorporate the Encounter Reaction chart, but given how much time is spent on sections itemizing how much characters get paid for certain activities, the money = XP system really ups the "let's find other solutions than killing" aspect of the game.

For Coin & Blood has a new statistic called Infamy that reflects how well known the character is. This statistic affects the jobs characters can get and which organizations they can join. Characters can gain and lose reputation in a way that echoes the old Marvel Super Heroes game. Infamy also affects how much players get paid for missions, gives them an XP bonus at high levels, and by affecting payment it also affects XP directly. It also provides a lure for those who want to oppose the players. The higher your Infamy, the more people know who you are and the more foes you have. Great idea!

Alan borrows a great idea from Shadow of the Demon Lord with the inclusion of Professions. What's a profession? It's what your character actually does for a living and is separate from class and can be anything you want it to be. It could be related to your class, a thief could be a "cat burglar" for example, but it need not be related. Maybe your Thief is a Bodyguard or Wandering Young Noble. You get to choose freely and fit it to whatever backstory you want. Profession does have some mechanical benefit. It aids characters in making skill tests. Any skill tests associated with your profession more likely to succeed because you get a one step die improvement on the skill roll. Very nice. Allows for flexibility and player agency.

Alan decided to incorporate one of my favorite gaming mechanics by including class based weapon damage. Instead of having weapons do a fixed amount of damage, swords doing 1d8 for example, weapon damage is based on class. Classes that are martial in nature do more damage than those unfamiliar with them. This is a nice way of letting Mages use swords without altering balance. They still roll d4 for damage, but they get to look cool doing it.

The game has so many cool classes and each has interesting mechanics. I particularly liked the Diabolist and their Pacts. The system of pacts was very evocative and flexible and fit within the Grimdark theme exceptionally well. I also absolutely loved the inclusion of the Executioner class...can we say Gene Wolfe inspired?

The game has one of the best fantasy incorporations of firearms from a mechanical perspective. Keeps the fearful lethality of the weapon (via crits and another nod to Marvel Super Heroes) and does this without amplifying the damage dice rolled.

The system for how magic weapons and magic armor come into existence is really evocative and narrative. When players roll a critical hit, or survive one in the case of armor, they may devote XP to the item. When they've devoted enough XP, the weapon gains properties. It's a very nice "low magic" mechanic and I adore it.

I could go on and on, but I'll just list three more things I thought were very good design elements The rules for Legacy experience for when characters die and the player transitions to a new character, the concept of Grim effort which literally ties lifeforce to success, and the Organization rules really round out the product.


My overall opinion is that this is a fantastic role playing game that I'd love to see get play time with my group. There are areas for more development, so I'd love to see some expansions, but this thing packs a lot of punch.

What are you waiting for? Go back the Kickstarter.

Oh, and this is VERY different from the 1st edition. That edition is good, but 2nd edition adds so much.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

SENTRY FORCE #0 Provides an Entertaining Glimpse at Tiny Supers' "Gallantverse"

Gallant Knight Games ran the Kickstarter campaign for their Tiny d6 based super hero role playing game Tiny Supers in July/August 2018. I've chatted about Tiny Supers on the Geekerati Podcast, but haven't done a full review of the game. The tl;dr version is that the system has quickly become one of my top 10 super hero rpgs ever. It's easy to learn and very flexible. I loved the system so much that in the blog post for the Tiny d6 episode of the podcast, I did quick conversions of two members of the Fantastic Four (The Human Torch and the Invisible Woman).

I'll do a full review of the Tiny Supers game later this week, but last week Gallant Knight Games' own Alan Bahr sent Kickstarter backers a copy of Sentry Force Prime #0, the first (and hopefully not only) comic book based in their in house Gallant-Verse super setting. I've had a chance to read the comic, several times and in a couple of formats, in order to give it a thorough examination. Before I get deep into the weeds of my analysis of the book, I'd like to give you my overall impression of the book.

TL;DR/Overall Impression

I like it a lot. It's not perfect, and suffers from what I call "pilotitis" when discussing television shows, but it is a fun and engaging book. I love the illustration style and I am impressed with Alan Bahr's attempt at writing a "team origin story" for his first ever comic book script. The short and sweet? Buy it and make sure you read the pdf in "2-page mode" in order to get the most out of Nic Giacondino's art work.

The Good, the Bad, and the Awesome

There are two things that are essential in order for a comic book to "work, you need good writing and good art and in that order. Sentry Force has both. They aren't perfect (as will be discussed in "The Bad" section) but they are good.

When I was an undergrad I took a couple of creative writing classes with an award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author. Over time, she became one of my most supportive mentors and I am eternally grateful to her. One of the most important lessons she taught me was that "writing a novel is hard, but writing a short story can be even harder." What she meant by this is that readers of novels will allow the writer to meander, but readers of short fiction demand tight, lean, and compelling prose. The medium itself demands it. While comic books may have the benefit of beautiful art, their word count is small and if you are writing a fully contained origin story for one-shot title, you've given yourself quite a writing challenge. There's a reason that the Avengers comic book was written after the characters had their own stand alone books, and there's a reason the Marvel movies started with solo stories rather than jumping right into the first Avengers film. It's easier to create one compelling protagonist at a time than to try to connect readers with multiple protagonists in one go.

It's a difficult challenge to meet, but author Alan Bahr manages this task. The Sentry Force is filled with an interesting array of characters that fit a nice array of super hero archetypes while retaining a touch of their own personality. Velocity, the techie "Iron Man" proxy and the hero who assembles the team, is presented as a man desperately outmatched in a city on the edge of collapse as new villains emerge. He's running as fast as he can to keep the city safe, but he cannot do it alone and what heroes there are in Sentry City have yet to work together in any meaningful way. Velocity wants to help, but all he can do is triage. A fitting metaphor as in his secret identity, he runs a medical supply company. The character is a nice balance of arrogance, vulnerability, and desperation. He might also be, as is revealed in the comic's "voiceover," one of the causes of the rise of meta-humans. Bahr crams in a lot of backstory without a lot of exposition. That gives depth to the setting, but it also leaves room for interpretation and development. Did Velocity's tapping into the Tachyon Bridge merely result in the creation of his Velocity armor, or is it a partial explanation of the emergence of meta-humans? I'm guessing it's just the first, but the second possibility could be developed into some fun story lines.

The first Gallant Knight Games product I backed on Kickstarter was the Powder Mage Roleplaying Game based on the excellent book series by Brian McClellan. It was a very good attempt at adapting McClellan's fictional world to the Savage Worlds rules set. It was especially rich as a Black Powder Mage Universe world guide. In another world, that might have been the only Gallant Knight Games product I purchased, but that would be a world where Alan Bahr didn't work with great artists. From the first time I saw concept art Michael Leavenworth put together for the 2nd Edition of the Tiny Dungeon Role Playing Game, I knew I had to back that game. From their, Bahr introduced me to a number of talented illustrators who's work was different than that being used by other role playing game companies. Of the Gallant Knight Games pool of artists, one stands apart from the others in my esteem. Nicolas Giacondino is the Jack "King" Kirby of the Gallant Knight Games stable. His work is consistently evocative and fun and brings to mind many of my favorite comic book artists. When I see a Giacondino page, his work brings to mind the layouts of Keith Giffen and the art of Matt Wagner, Chris Sprouse, Ty Templeton, and Mike Wieringo. All of these artists have clean line work and demonstrated that the 4-color illustration style of the Silver and Bronze age of comics could be as sophisticated and dynamic as the best of the Iron and Digital Age illustrators.

You can see the influence of these artists on Nic's work in many places, but one place I wanted to examine briefly is in how Giacondino approaches page layouts. Take a look at these three pages with art by Matt Wagner, Keith Giffen, and Nic Giacondino. It should be noted that I intentionally chose one of Giacondino's "least interesting" pages in order to make this quick demonstration, but it should also be clear from even this basic page that Giacondino understands how to tell a story graphically. Each of these pages is a riff on the classic "9 panel page." Two of them are expressly 9 panel pages. Giacondino's page uses the structure of the Giffen (center) page, but uses narrative techniques demonstrated in both the other comics. Notice how Giacondino starts at a wide anger and zooms in one step at each step of the conversation. He's playing with point of view and demonstrating the increasing intensity of the argument between the characters. It's similar to what Wagner is doing in the panels from MAGE #1, which alternates from mid-shot to close-up to match the information being transmitted in the dialogue.

One of the things that stands out in the Giancondino piece, though this really should wait for "The Awesome" section, is that he hand inked the pages. Inking by hand and not digitally or by color coding gives his illustrations a nice depth of space more closely aligned with the Wagner illustration on the left than the more flat-space dominated Giffen art from LEGION OF SUPERHEROES in the middle. Even in a "boring" Giacondino panel, you see variety and texture. We'll see more of his work as I move through "The Bad" and "The Awesome." I do have one small quibble with the page and that is with the lack of window frame behind Camila Cantor. The yellow space behind her is a paneled window and those panels are shown on the next page and add needed background to the page.

Which brings me to "The Bad" elements of the book, none of which are too bad but all of which need to be discussed honestly if I want you to trust my opinion about comics and other media. I really liked this book, but has roughness around the edges.

The first patch of roughness comes in the use of exposition. Bahr doesn't use a lot of it, but there is one case where it needed significant tightening. In presenting Velocity's backstory on page 3, Bahr has the following two sentences back to back. "We were exploring tachyon physics to cure muscular disability and illness, but we stumbled onto the Tachyon Bridge..." and "I had to shut down the research, lock it up, and control it, because what we unlocked with the Tachyon Bridge was bigger than anything I'd ever dreamed of." What is striking here is the repetition of the term Tachyon Bridge. The second sentence could easily read, "I had to shut down the research, lock it up, and control it, because what we unlocked was bigger than anything I'd ever dreamed of." By eliminating the repetition of "with the Tachyon Bridge" it reads quicker and cleaner. There are a couple of small things like this. They aren't deal breakers by any means, but they demonstrate a writer learning to write in a new medium. Comic book story telling needs to be tight and this is a little loose. To be fair to Bahr, I've been reading some older Gardner Fox books (his CROM comic book if you must know) and Bahr's work here is significantly better than Fox's on that title. Let's just say that when you're work is better than Fox's, at any point in his career, you're doing fine.

The second patch of roughness comes in the art work. I know I praised the art earlier and I'll praise it more because Nic is AMAZING, but he's not perfect. Let's take these two pages of action. Where Velocity foils a bank robbery by the villain Darklight. We've got great action flow on the first page, but then WHOAH! What's happening? That top panel on page 5 has me wondering who's PoV we are seeing from. It's not the guy Velocity saved. We can see him on the top of the panel. Who is looking at the world upside down and why? It really pulled me out of the action. Which is too bad, because the action of the panel is fantastic if confusing at this PoV. I can see what Nic is attempting using the split faces on the top of the page, and that's nice, but a small modification really helps the page pop in my opinion.

Sentry Force Pages 4 and 5 (as Published)

What if we didn't feel it was necessary to keep the compelling split faces as the top of the page and instead let them go to the middle of the page? As you can see, since Darklight is in the upper left of the panel when we flip it right side up, we cannot put the face there. We have to have the faces on the bottom of the panel if the action is right side up. And look at that action! It's dynamic. Bullets are flying, Velocity is running to the action, and our hapless customer is falling. The scene has emotional appeal and it brings to my mind the combat panels from the interior of the 2nd edition of the Champions role playing game, and that's a good thing.

Page 5 Image Flipped and Mirrored

Let's add this flipped panel back to the original page and give it a look. To me this is an improvement, especially when viewed in 2-page mode. The action from page to page, and these pages are paired in Acrobat, look dynamic and there is no confusion of the action in my mind. Your mileage may differ. You may prefer the original layout on the page, but this works better for me. Regardless of which works better for you, the illustrations by Nic are a lot of fun.

Sentry Force Pages 4 and 5 (post Tweak)

And that brings me to "The Awesome." There is so much that is great about this book. It starts with a complete vision for the setting. Alan Bahr has stories he wants to tell and he wants you to experience them. Whether we get them as an RPG campaign or as a comic book, I'm sure we will see more of the Gallant-verse. Bahr is a font of ideas on a Walter Gibson (the creator of the Shadow) scale. He's always writing and publishes RPG products on a schedule almost unmatched in the industry. Bahr and Wiggy Wade-Williams are old school writers who pump out quality material on a schedule. I'm in awe of Bahr's abilities and his imagination. He's put together a great team and a compelling universe with characters ranging from the Magician Asher Solomon (a mash-up of Constantine and Dr. Strange who is now one of my favorite super-wizards), Bulwark (a "Brick" and a little more), the Eagle, many more, and...the super-heroine Gallant (the Gallant-verse's "Superman" equivalent). These characters are all discussed in detail in the excellent Tiny Supers RPG and Bahr has provided a fun Gallant-verse adventure in the back of Sentry Force #0 for you to play.

If I wanted to go into "The Awesome" as much as I wanted, I would do a page by page breakdown of all the interesting characters and detailed examination of Nic's artwork. It's really a lot of fun to look at, though I'd desaturate the colors a little to make the very strong line art pop a little more, and he manages a couple of "Perez Pages" where the panels are filled with a horde of characters who manage to be distinct and dynamic and for me the ability to do "Perez Pages" is the measure by which all comic book artists are measured.

Instead of doing all of that, I'll just leave you with the panel introducing Gallant. It's pretty darn EPIC. It has all the emotion and power I want from a character introduction.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Episode 162: Not So Tiny Conversations About Tiny d6

It's time for Episode 162 of Geekerati and this one is a doozy, coming in at approximately 2 1/2 hours of content.
Segment 1:

The first segment of episode 162 is a 30 minute interview with Alan Bahr of Gallant Knight Games who joins us to discuss GKG's wonderful catalog of role playing games. During the interview we go into a detailed discussion of Tiny Supers, Tiny Dungeon, and GKG's other Tiny d6 role playing games. We also discuss how Alan's company runs the gamut of the indie rpg world from OSR style games like For Coin and Blood to one shot pick up and play narrative games like Beach Patrol. It was a great conversation and our experience with the Tiny Supers role playing game inspired us to write up quick statistics for The Human Torch and The Invisible Woman using the Tiny Supers rules set. You can find those characters down below and we'd love to hear your thoughts on how you would adapt the characters to the Tiny Supers system.

Segment 2:

Since we were highlighting Tiny d6 games in our main interview, we thought it would be a great opportunity to expose listeners to a delightful Kickstarter project launched to support Tiny Dungeon 2nd Edition. The Micronomicon Kickstarter features new spells, new archetypes, and more importantly new "micro-settings." John D Payne and Gregory Israel stopped by to chat about this wonderful project and to share their love of the Tiny d6 system in general. It's a wonderful discussion.

John D Payne is the editor of The Micronomicon and he has a Patreon account which supports his game design efforts. The Patreon has a large number of backer supported extras that you might want to check out.

Gregory Israel's designs have been featured in the Tiny Dungeon 2nd Edition rulebook and in issues of Tinyzine, an official online magazine that supports the Tiny d6 line of games. Gregory is also the author of Between Sun and Shadow, a setting for the Tiny Dungeon system.

Segments 3 and 4:

Segments 3 and 4 contained our regular Something Old and Something New segment. This week, I  highlighted the Beach Patrol game from Gallant Knight Games as the Something New and Tales from the Floating Vagabond by Lee Garvin as the Something Old. Both of these games are humorous in nature and can be used to emulate the action of 80s and 90s shows. I had intended to include a review of Extreme Vengeance by Archangel Studios as well, but that will have to wait for a future episode. Hopefully an episode where we interview Philip Reed or Tony Lee who were involved with that particular project.

Segment 5:

We were finally able to reveal one of the exciting changes to the Geekerati podcast in Episode 162 with the addition of the Dungeons and Dilemmas segment with writer and director David Nett. Nett was on the vanguard of gaming related webseries and his Gold series set a high standard, particularly its second season Night of the Zombie King. We are honored to have him as our regular game mastering expert Dungeons and Dilemmas.

Segments of this episode discussed the products and blogs below.

Products Discussed/Featured in this Episode

A Glimpse at Two Quick Tiny Supers Characters

No post should be without gaming content if we can help it, so here's this post's weekly does of gaming goodness.

While the Fantastic Four has never quite been able to translate successfully to the big screen, they are among Marvel Comics' most iconic characters. The brother and sister team of Johnny Storm and Sue Storm-Richards are particular favorites of the Geekerati crew, so we jumped at the chance to convert them to the Tiny Supers role playing game system as a way to test it out. It's a pretty good fit, but maybe your take would be a little bit different. Feel free to give us your ideas for how you would adapt these or other characters to this quick and easy to play super hero role playing game. Is Johnny a "Striker"? Is Susan Richards best defined as a "Defender"? Would you use a different mix of powers?