Sep 182017
 

keepcalm_wereback.jpgAfter a long break and a change in co-host, the RPG Room Podcast is back to talk all things related to RPGs, from design to controversies.

In this episode, we talk about the future of the podcast, a bit about online issues and ask you, our listener, what you would like to see and hear from us.

Hope you enjoy it and looking forward to hearing from you!

You can listen to this podcast in iTunes and Stitcher too. You can download the episode from here.

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Jun 012017
 

The Worm Within is the first novel in the Chronicles of Future Earth, a setting created and written by Sarah Newton.

By Paco García Jaén

Based on Earth in a very, very distant future where civilizations have come and gone and the world has suffered for millennia, left-behind ruins, glimpses and legends of what once was, the novel narrates the events that take place after an ancient and powerful threat is accidentally awoken. At the Chronomancer’s Tower, forces are set in motion to find the source of the threat. At the Autarch’s palace, machinations grow as self-interests move the wheels of intrigue bringing the end of the world closer than anyone thought possible.

This novel follows Iago, a young apprentice with a hidden past, and a group of companions delving into the world’s past and present to stop what could very well be the beginning of the end of a new cycliad.

And it is quite a journey.

Before I go on with the review, I must offer a disclaimer. I have known Sarah for as long as I have known of Chronicles of Future Earth – 17 years. This was her setting for an RPG we played and we went adventuring in the very universe this novel introduces. And I loved every second.

Well … not the time when my friend destroyed a few shelves of ancient books with his finger just to find which ones were magical. I was shocked someone could be so careless with books.

Anyway … the point is that we had a great time.  I have been a huge fan of the setting since even before it was published and I am good friends with the author. I am also very aware of her other novel and game in the Mindjammer setting, and know how well she writes. So I was bound to like this novel.

I just didn’t expect I was going to like it so much!

When I received the advance preview copy of the novel, it took the best part of 10 minutes to start reading it. And it took Sarah the best part of 20 minutes to throw me into the action. Pretty much from the start, fearlessly, the novel throws you into the world and the characters with just a few brush strokes to paint the very basics of both characters and their surroundings.

To start with I found that a bit disconcerting. Names of lost eras come and go. Places, creatures, people, objects, societies… it all comes in a whirlwind of activity that takes some time to process. This is coupled with the fearlessness of the author to throw you right at the deep end of the action pretty much from the start. A bit of chaos of information that little by little takes shape as eventually one becomes fully familiar with the ideas of pantheons, magics, politics and geography, as well as characters and a very well accomplished sense of ancient history.

The thing is, even though it feels a bit chaotic, it actually makes perfect sense in the context of the novel. An unknown situation is what the characters face and an unknown situation is what the readers get. As the plot unfolds, things become clearer for both characters and readers at the same time, thus helping with the pace and the familiarity with the threat, as well as making a better connection to the world and its history. By the end of the novel, you feel you have been there a long time and, without even realising, you have become very familiar with the world in the book.

The map at the beginning, even though a bit small due to the constraints of the book, gives a very handy visual clue to the journey the protagonists follow, as well as the scope of the world, considering it only represents a fraction of the whole place.

This is also important because it gives us a very clear idea of how well the world is created. How much sense it makes. And, personally, it makes me curious to know more about the cities, mountains, rivers and territories.

The plot is not something revolutionary, and it doesn’t need to be. Something has been found that puts the world at risk and it falls on the shoulders of the few and the unprepared to defuse the situation, or at least try. Taking place in two different locations and involving two different sets of characters, the plot evolves amidst intrigue and slightly predictable subterfuge in a crescendo of action that keeps you entertained throughout the novel.

Characters are very well crafted. Even though I can’t help but think we haven’t seen all they have to offer, relationships are explored and personalities grow with surprising detail that goes from the genesis of their friendships to their sexuality and emotional involvement. From the naive innocence of Iago the apprentice, to the churlish dignified traditions of the Pilogiarch or the troubled past of the priestess Appia, all of them show their vulnerabilities without shame or remorse and they grow stronger because they become closer to us. Suddenly someone from a dodgy background can be just as noble and someone who comes from a place of knowledge can have his world turned upside down.

One thing Newton doesn’t shy away from is, actually, fantasy. I know this sounds silly, but bear with me.

It is much too often that I read fantasy novels and they don’t get out of the Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and Halflings. Medieval fantasy can be a bit trite at times. The Worm Within is not. Far from elves, here we have Viriki and other species, more alien and insectoid than mammal. And they are not just alien in their looks, but also their customs and behaviours are well reflected, giving us societies that, although vastly different, live together and mix well with each other.

Nods at real life situations are scattered around the book. So much so that it feels in places like it’s giving a very subtle yet powerful slap in the face of bigotry and shows a diversity that feels as natural as appropriate.

I could keep going on about this book for hours. Seriously. With a plot that engages without being overtly revolutionary, there are enough twists and turns in this novel to hook you and make you want more and more. And I haven’t even gone into how well written it is. How meticulously the words have been chosen to convey the right meaning and the right tone. And how that writing is used masterfully to reflect the changes in societies and social strata within the societies.

The sheer richness of the environment will be more than enough to paint some wonderful and mighty pictures of scenes that feel you are in them and leave you wanting more. And just as well because there is a trilogy to be finished.

This is the start of an absolutely fantastic new series and I would recommend anyone to jump on the wagon right away because this is already brilliant … but the best is yet to come.

May 232017
 

chaosium-logo

A company that has been going on for longer than most, Chaosium has brought some of the most emblematic and beloved franchises to the RPG world.

Glorantha, RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu… all of them prolific lines that have been supported by many thousands in many languages over many years.

And yet, the company has also gone through some very rough times in the last few years. So much so that a lot of people thought it would go under. However, it was rescued by a rather terrific group of people, one of them I had the pleasure of interviewing.

Jeff Richard is the Creative Director for the company and, being an accomplished game designer with a passion most would envy, he has a lot to say, not just about the past, but about the future of the company.

And he is a fun guy to boot!

You can listen to this podcast in iTunes and Stitcher too. You can download the episode from here.

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Thank you for your support.

May 072017
 

troll-creepy-troll

I have mentioned in the past that I have a troll in Spain. Someone who actually dislikes me and I have had a few arguments with because he is an asshole.

This is not me saying so, though. He himself says so at the start of each video with a stupid disclaimer in which he insists on saying that because what he says is just his opinion and that is his channel, if people don’t like they can go and fuck themselves (he literally says that) and that his opinion is uninformed; the sort of conversation one would have around a table in a pub.

Bullshit.

Well, he made a video “review” of my Protocol crowdfunding campaign.

Because that is what he does. He goes to Verkami or KS or any other and rips the campaigns to pieces for no reason other than he can. All of it under the guise of “it’s about time someone called on people for what they do wrong”. Because that is what the world needs… more people saying bad things.

To be honest, I was not interested in is so-called opinion. But I followed my friend Pablo’s advice and listened to the video.

And I am actually a bit lost now. Not sure how to take it.

He actually likes it. A lot.

He praised the video and how well I sell the product. The explanation videos on how the game works. The testimonies from people who have played the game. The stretch goals.

The only “negative” things he said is that I don’t mention the quality of the final book (which I actually and that 8€ “for what is just 8 pages of A4 paper stapled together” is too extremely expensive (thus missing the point of value vs. price and production costs and sales vs. profit margins).

Essentially his “review” was just an 18 minute overview of the project and why he liked it, even though he doesn’t like narrative RPGs. Apparently he rather watch a piece of wood rot than play one of those, even though he loves to watch that sort of games in YouTube.

So, on the one hand, I am really proud that I have created a campaign that not even a troll can dislike (maybe that is why is going so well).

On the other… I have to get to grips with the fact that my troll likes something I do. It’s like getting the respect of your nemesis. I don’t want it. It’s like having the class bully approving of your hobbies and yet still bullying you.

I don’t know… I am just going to dwell on it while I tidy up and clean my apartment.

May 062017
 

James_Bond_007_role-playing_cover

James Bond RPG came out a very long time ago and, even though no longer published or popular, it is a very relevant game today. It is interesting that some games that have been out of print for a long time can, and indeed have some ideas that a vast amount of more modern games could learn from.

Perhaps having ideas was easier all those years ago. Or simply the industry was more audacious than today. Or we pander to the “easy design” a bit too much. I don’t know.

But the fact remains that when one reads Chris Klug’s James Bond RPG, it is not easy to find a spy game that fits so well both to the genre and the IP.

It was thus an honour to have Chris on the show to talk about dilemmas in RPGs and the extent of their importance.

This one, my friends, I can say is one of the good episodes.

Enjoy!

You can listen to this podcast in iTunes and Stitcher too. You can download the episode from here.

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Thank you for your support.

Apr 182017
 

dark naga

Very often we find encounters during our adventures that are, quite frankly, appalling. Truly unsatisfying either because they are too hard, too easy, the monsters don’t really matter or, simply, it makes no sense.

Designing encounters is a tad harder than it might appear, so I invited Kevin Watson, from Dark Naga Adventures, to come to the podcast, since he has designed more encounters and adventures than most and he knows his salt.

Hope you enjoy the interview!

You can find out more about Dark Naga in the following links:

Dark Naga WebsiteDark Naga Facebook pageDark Naga Kickstarter page

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