RPGaDay – Days 8 to 15

By Dan Zappone August 8, 2023 13 Min Read
RPGaDAY2023 Prompts Image#RPGaDAY2023 Prompts

RPGaDAY – Day 8 Favourite CHARACTER – Orange Julius and a robot without a name.

Of Witty Primates and Rogue Robots: Unforgettable RPG Characters

The realm of roleplaying games has been a canvas for some of my most vibrant, imaginative escapades. If I were to take a stroll down memory lane, two characters would stand out amidst the pantheon of heroes and misfits I’ve encountered: Orange Julius, the quick-witted orangutan from the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” RPG by Palladium, and an unnamed renegade robot from a homebrewed “Hero System” sci-fi game using “Danger International” and “Champions” as its base.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG Cover Image

Now, Orange Julius was no ordinary primate. This hyper-intelligent orangutan was the linchpin of a group of equally sharp-witted animals, all yearning for freedom from the lab that had inadvertently sharpened their intellects. But what made Julius truly unforgettable was his penchant for puns. Every strategy session or team huddle was punctuated by his pun-laden banter. And while his plans bore the mark of genius, they often took chaotic, unpredictable turns. It’s almost as if the universe had a sense of humor and enjoyed twisting his well-laid plans. Nevertheless, each escapade with Julius was a hilarious rollercoaster, making him a favorite in our sessions.

Danger International Cover Image

On the other side of the spectrum was our unnamed robot. Imagine a law-enforcing automaton stripped of Asimov’s guiding principles of robotics. What remained was a machine with undying loyalty to its allies, paired with a frightening sense of autonomy. One particularly riveting episode had our party cornered, teetering on the brink of defeat. Yet, thanks to our robot’s deceptive, non-combatant appearance, he slipped through enemy lines. Once there, he unleashed a whirlwind of martial fury, leaving our foes bewildered and severely incapacitated. And in the aftermath, as law enforcement arrived on the scene, he coolly quipped, “To Protect and Serve.” The irony was not lost – a robot, unburdened by the laws of robotics, still serving up justice in its own unhinged way.

RPGaDAY – Day 9 Favourite DICE – Metal Dice by Dragondice and Bescon

A Journey to Discover the Rolls of Glory: My Favorite Dice by Dragondice and Bescon

RPG Dice Image

Dice – the heart and soul of tabletop gaming. Out of all the dice I’ve encountered in my tabletop escapades, a special mention must go to the metallic wonders by Dragondice, a brand I originally stumbled upon during one of my birthday splurges. These weren’t just dice but nickel ones, shimmering with an almost magical allure. I recall that initial purchase and the sense of awe; the weight, the shine, the flawless roll – it was love at first sight.

But, as is often the case with items of such bewitching beauty, I yearned for more. This hunger led me on an investigative quest spanning months. I sought the original manufacturer and hoped to delve deeper into their metallic offerings. To my delight, my persistence paid off when I discovered Bescon, the artisanal creator behind my cherished Dragondice. Once found, my collection expanded with gratifying rapidity. I didn’t just stop at the nickel; my hoard grew to encompass a kaleidoscope of metallic hues – the regal copper and bronze, the opulent gold and silver, and then the genuinely captivating aged versions of these metals. Each set brought with it its unique charm. Still, the original nickel ones held a nostalgic corner in my heart, prompting me to snag an additional set.

Now, as I gaze upon my treasure trove, it’s not just about the role of the game. It’s about the journey, the pursuit, and the thrill of discovery. Whether it’s the original nickel dice by Dragondice or the varied metallics by Bescon, each one is a testament to the craftsmanship and a cherished chapter in my tabletop tale.

RPGaDAY – Day 10 Favourite tie-in FICTION – Wormy

A Wormy Dive into the World of RPG Tie-In Fiction

Partial Panel from Wormy Comic Image

As someone who’s delved deep into the universe of roleplaying games, tie-in fiction has often served as an enticing yet somewhat unexplored terrain for me. While I’ve encountered a few stories sprinkled across magazines and have only ventured into one full-length book, “King of Dragon Pass,” one piece of tie-in fiction stands tall in my memories: “Wormy” by David A Trampier, professionally known as DAT. This quirky comic strip, nestled in the pages of Dragon magazine, was the beckoning light at the end of each issue, a delightful treat I eagerly anticipated.

“Wormy” was a unique blend of the familiar and the bizarre. Though its connection to Dungeons & Dragons was tenuous at best, it brought a refreshing twist to the conventional RPG narratives. The comic strip wasn’t just about fantastical adventures or battles with menacing creatures; it encapsulated an uncanny world brought to life by DAT’s exceptional artwork. Every frame was a visual feast, with details that invited readers to linger and absorb the rich tapestry of the universe he created.

“Wormy” was a gleaming example of creative freedom in the vast panorama of tie-in fiction, where stories often walk a fine line between staying true to the original and forging a distinctive narrative. It was a testament to how a simple comic strip could transcend its source material, leaving an indelible mark on its audience. For many like me, Wormy wasn’t just a tie-in but an essential part of the RPG experience, a delightful fusion of art and storytelling.

RPGaDAY – Day 11 WEIRDEST game you’ve played – Archetypes of the Cuff

When Gaming Takes a Turn to the Unconventional

Nephilim Cover Image

Gen Con, where the vibrant energy of gaming enthusiasts reaches its peak. One can anticipate the expected, but sometimes, the unexpected takes the limelight, as was the case with the weirdest game I’ve ever participated in. Picture this: late into the night, with alcohol-blurred edges, I found myself seated across from an equally inebriated Jeff Richard. He was our guide through a gaming experience that’s stayed etched in my mind for its sheer strangeness.

In what felt like a wild mashup of disparate influences, we dived headlong into a storyline that straddled the line between the eerie confines of a San Francisco psychiatric ward in the psychedelic era of the late 1960s and the mystical realm of ancient Sumerian gods. The essence of Nephilim meshed with deep-seated Jungian archetypes, touched by the subversive vibes of Ken Kesey and the eccentricities of Andy Warhol. The gameplay itself was… unstructured. Sparse rules (if there even were any), infrequent dice rolls, and plenty of tangents had us drifting in and out of the game’s universe. But as random as it may sound, this wasn’t just about gaming. It was an amalgamation of storytelling, bonding, and indulging in the pure joy of unfettered imagination.

In truth, the game felt like an avant-garde piece of art – perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but a memorable experience nonetheless. The game might’ve been unconventional, but the camaraderie was genuine. At the end of that hazy session, I carried an unforgettable gaming tale and a handful of friendships born out of the weirdness. And isn’t that what conventions are really about? Embracing the unexpected, both in games and in life.

RPGaDAY – Day 12 Old game you STILL play – Traveller 

Starry Nostalgia: Travelling Through Time with “Traveller”

Traveller Box Read Cover Image
Traveller Box Front Cover Image

When thinking about the vast universe of RPGs that have graced my tabletop over the years, “Traveller” shines the brightest. Often referred to as “Classic Traveller” now to distinguish it from its later iterations, this old gem continues to be a game I relish playing, adhering loyally to its original rules. Its charm and design have carved an unshakable niche in my heart, making it the oldest companion in my RPG journey.

My path crossed with “Traveller” in an intriguing sequence. Fresh off my immersion in wargames and already possessing a copy of “Mayday” (a thrilling sci-fi shipboard combat game), my interest was piqued by titles like “Gamma World” and “Basic D&D.” Then, “Traveller” arrived. Its allure was immediate — the simplicity of six-sided dice, the liberation of a classless structure, and a skill-based progression that felt organic and detailed. The character creation process wasn’t just a mechanical exercise but a deeply narrative one, breathing life into the characters with vivid backstories right from the get-go. And with the sci-fi cinematic scene blossoming, thanks in part to the iconic “Star Wars,” there was a rich tapestry of inspiration to draw from. This milieu made “Traveller” not just another game but a canvas where fantasies intertwined seamlessly with strategy.

Decades have flown by, yet the cosmic allure of “Traveller” remains undiminished. While I’ve dabbled with countless games over the years, a timeless quality to “Traveller” draws me back, urging me to embark on another spacefaring adventure, if only for a brief campaign. It stands as a testament to the enduring magic of well-conceived RPGs.

RPGaDAY – Day 13 Most memorable character DEMISE – The Duelist

The Unexpected End: A Duelist’s Eulogy

The Duelists Poster Image

In roleplaying, characters become extensions of ourselves – personas through which we live fantastical adventures. Yet, one of the most defining moments in an RPG character’s life isn’t their exploits or victories but their inevitable end. It’s a poignant culmination of hours spent developing and adventuring, brought to a close in a single moment. And while I’ve witnessed many a character’s demise, none was more memorable, more gut-wrenching, than that of my duelist – a tragic tale interwoven with both irony and absence.

Inspired by the fierceness and artistry of Gabriel Feraud in Ridley Scott’s “The Duelists,” I crafted a duelist whose blade danced with grace and whose gunplay echoed precision. This character danced on the precipice of danger, emerging victorious from a series of duels, each more intense than the last. However, as fate would have it, the one session I couldn’t attend turned out to be his last. Entrusting my brother-in-law with my character’s fate, I only had one plea: “Just don’t get him killed.” Little did I know that my return would be to mourn, not to play. In my absence, the suave duelist I had so carefully crafted not only found himself amidst a citywide brawl but met a grizzly end at the hands of an enraged mob.

The sting of losing a character is a feeling familiar to many RPG aficionados. Yet, the circumstances surrounding my duelist’s demise made it uniquely unforgettable. Instead of a heroic or tragic end befitting his journey, his death unfolded without me – a stark reminder that our characters’ fates can twist and turn in the most unexpected ways in the world of RPGs. This particular demise stands out not for its gallantry or drama but for its peculiar blend of absence and surprise.

RPGaDAY – Day 14 Favourite CONVENTION purchase – Art, Previews, and Dice

RPGaDAY – Day 14: The Special Allure of Conventional Treasures

Image of Art Show at Gen Con

Ah, conventions – the mecca for gamers, a grand bazaar of the rare and wondrous. Amidst the frenetic energy, the anticipation of new releases, and the buzz of fellow enthusiasts, I’m always on the hunt. Mind you, not for just any trinket, but for those elusive gems, I can’t snag at my trusty local game store or with a quick click online. These items transform a convention from a mere gathering into an expedition of discovery.

Top of that list? Preview copies of games yet to hit the general market. There’s an undeniable thrill in cradling a game that the broader community is still eagerly awaiting. It’s like savoring a book before its official release, relishing in the narrative while others mark days off their calendar. Then there’s the matter of dice. For a gamer, dice aren’t just random number generators; they’re trusted allies, extensions of our gaming personas. Finding a set distinct in design, weight, or even origin story adds another layer to our tabletop tales. 

But if we’re talking crown jewels of convention hauls, something else quite matches the majesty of original artwork. Holding a piece crafted by the hands that have breathed life into beloved games with their illustrations? That’s a tactile bridge to the fantastical worlds I’ve spent countless hours in. It’s not just art; it’s a fragment of the game’s soul. In essence, while conventions are a swirl of playtests, panels, and networking, these exclusive finds linger long after, making every convention trip an adventure in its own right.

RPGaDAY – Day 15 Favourite Con MODULE / ONE-SHOT – Leadville

RPGaDAY – Day 15: A Heist to Remember in Leadville

Leadville Colorado's Magic City Cover Image

The world of RPG is expansive, with countless modules and one-shots available to dive into, but some stories just stick with you more than others. Not too long ago, I was fortunate enough to dip my toes into one such extraordinary scenario, the captivating Call of Cthulhu adventure crafted by the talented Claudia Loroff. What sets this scenario apart isn’t just the setting but the richly layered narrative that strings you along from the start.

Set against the rugged backdrop of Leadville, Colorado, the story unfolded with us players taking on the roles of downtrodden frontier folks. Hardships had led our characters down paths they might never have chosen, ultimately converging on a shared, daring goal: robbing a specific item from the local bank. And oh, what a thrilling heist it was! Every decision, every strategic move had my heart racing, with our band of misfits orchestrating a near-perfect crime. The true genius of this module was in the details, with Claudia drawing us in, letting us taste the intoxication of success.

However, as is often the case in tales of ambition, our flaw was our own avarice. Just when the finish line seemed within grasp, one final act of greed during our escape transformed the adventure. The biting chill of a mountainous winter escape was nothing compared to the cold realization of our fatal error. The game was masterfully constructed, serving as a poignant reminder that sometimes, even in RPGs, hubris can be a character’s greatest adversary. With its thrilling highs and lows, Leadville will always stand out in my memory as a session where the journey was just as rewarding, if not more so, than the destination.