Mon. Mar 27th, 2023

So, as promised, here is my “recap” for the GenCon games I played:


  • Starfinder – Liked what I saw. Was basically what I expected with it being “Pathfinder in Space”, but there were some interesting adjustments like two different ACs (energy AC and physical or kinetic AC.) Didn’t realize (though I should have) that this game was organized play with 3 of 5 players having characters already, and they were definitely optimized. I played a bug cleric who traveled around with his larval son in a jar … which was weird but neat weird.
  • 13th AgeI really, REALLY liked this game. In fact, it is definitely my favorite d20 game thus far. Cool elements they include are Escalation Die (so as the fight progresses, it gets easier to hit for PCs … and does some bad guys as well), the mook mechanic (mooks have hit points but they go onto a collective pool so damage that drops a NPC rolls over into the pool; 10x NPCs with 10hp ea have a pool of 100. Doing 20hp dmg kills two mooks); some spells have recharge ability; etc. Favorite thing in this is the One Unique thing where you define the thing that makes your character unique in the world – for example, I was playing a dark elf but the adventure was very dwarf-centric, so I decided my One Unique Thing was that “Both of his biological parents are dwarves.” So yeah. Really, really liked this game.
  • Legend of the Five Rings – This was kind of a mess. Two GMs were out due to medical emergency (appendicitis for one who was supposed to be my GM, the other was her husband) so we started more than hour late. One player was being kind of a dick about these GM woes and became really passive-aggressive to the actual GM we had … even though he was 30 to 45 minutes late himself. Overall, it was interesting system that, in my opinion, is slightly too in love with itself and setting. Very roleplaying heavy with some major limitations- like playing roguely murder hobo types? Not for you. In fact, I think its TOO roleplaying heavy at times. And since I suck at Japanese pronunciation, that’d be really tough to get through, I think…


  • Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition – This was fantastic. GM was very engaging, group was fun, and dice were inconsistent, especially for pilot which made for a very enjoyable romp. Amusingly, an offhand remark by a player from beginning of adventure ended up saving most of our lives. Less worried about running this now though we didn’t really get space combat opportunity so I’m still not sure about that angle. Combat went by fast and easy.
  • The Expanse RPG Interesting mechanics. 3d6 with 1 being the “drama” die … you add them together vs a target number. If successful and two die are doubled (a pair of 5s, FREX) you gain “stunt points” equal to drama die number that must be spent immediately. Drama die also determines other stuff but less clear on specifics with that. No real hp. You’re just normal, injured, wounded, or unconscious/dying. This was obviously an intro adventure and I’m certainly curious about the coming “adventure arc” (to see what I can raid from it for my Verge game), but I’m not sure how likely I would be to play this for a long time.
  • Mutant City Blues – Gumshoe game involving superhuman cops. Very fun, though all of the players (myself included) had clearly watched too many police procedurals because we flew through the adventure, picking up on clues and guessing at stuff very, very quickly. In the end, we arrested our people and threw them in jail. Good times. I’m a big fan of the Gumshoe system – looking forward the Night’s Black Agents game we’re starting up next week in our face-to-face game – so this was a lot of fun.


  • D&D 5E – Had a blast in this ten hour game. Learned a bunch about 5E that I did not know including “half orc monks at 10th level are fun as hell”; “paladins critting can burn spell slots to power up their smites”; and “ten hours is a LONG time to play a single game … but nowhere near long enough to play out all of Red Hand of Doom.” Also, 5E has a much different feel than 3.5/Pathfinder. Overall, though, this was a lot of fun.
  • Cypher – This was a strange system to me but for the most part, I enjoyed it. The GM never rolls any dice and stats are pretty minimal, but the mechanics worked nicely and both the GM & the story were quite good. This was definitely NOT a tactical game, but rather a more narratively based one. I’d be very interested in giving this another try at some point but I’m not sure how well it’d work for a longer term campaign.


  • HarnMaster – Really liked this game. A lot easier than I expected it to be, while also being rather lethal. Very interested in seeing more of this. Uses d% with target being under skill level. Difference here was there were four effective rolls – 5s under skill roll (05 or 10 or 15, etc.) are critical success, rolls under skill are marginal success, rolls over are marginal failures. 5s over (95, 00, etc) are critical failures. These are contested – so marginal success on atk is blocked with marginal success on defense, beaten by crit success. Wounding reduces skill capability (minor dmg = -5%), etc. Very neat.