#RPGaday Number 10: Favorite Tie-In Novel or Game Fiction

Another Engel entry here. Engel: Creatures of the Dream Seed is actually the monster manual for the d20 version of the Engel RPG. But, it is arranged so that all the stats are at the last third of the book. The first two-thirds are a picaresque novella in which a travelling monk encounters all sorts of horrible monsters. The illustrations alone are worth the price of the book, but the tale is actually quite intriguing. In fact, knowing nothing at all of the Engel setting, this book alone sold me on the whole thing (fortunate, because it really is a cool sandbox to play in). If you like monsters, especially insect-based monsters, I highly recommend this book. The d20 stuff is pretty forgettable, but the fiction and the pictures are top-notch. 


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Most Memorable Character Death

Akman Thoolmalia was an character I played for quite some time in a D&D 3.5 game. He was a multiclass Cleric/Wizard, with Prestige Classes of Wild Mage and eventually Archmage. Illumians get sigils that make them good at multiclassing, so they always appealed to me; the sigil combination I chose for Akman allowed him to spend his Turn Undead attempts to add Metamagic abilities to his spells. The Nightstick was an item that granted its owner four extra Turn Undead attempts per day–even just sitting in a backpack. Akman had some of those.

Now, channeling Turn attempts into Metamagic is supposed to turn all spells into full-round actions. I helpfully didn’t notice that (nor did the DM) and proceeded to cast quickened twinned empowered fireballs everywhere all the time. He also used Wild Mage abilities to roll twice on spells that have some element of random choice–prismatic spray and the like. He used Archmage powers to have disintegrate as a spell-like ability.

None of this saved his life.

So there’s this big lich in Eberron, name of Vol. And she had some big dungeon full of powerful magic users, you know, typical D&D shit. The party’s going after her, because that’s how alignment works. Combat at this point is basically: wait until Akman’s initiative, then combat is over. At least, he can do that a couple times. A roomful of minions becomes fireballs. A pair of evil clerics gets prismatic sprayed into acid. By the time we get to the big wizard henchman, Akman is down to the point where combat is taking multiple rounds. He becomes the target of some spell that eviscerates him and ties him up in his own guts. No biggie, the party kills the bad guy, and the spell only took half of Akman’s hit points.

Vol herself is next, and she wins initiative, and successfully casts feeblemind, dropping all of Akman’s mental stats to 1. She takes a round of hits from the rest of the party, and starts running toward a portal. We reach Akman’s initiative. I’m looking down at my character sheet, trying to figure out if Akman can do anything at all here. He can’t cast spells, because his stats are too low.

He does, however, still have that 1/day disintegrate as a spell-like ability. I have him point at the portal and try to blow it up.

The DM’s eyes go wide, and she pauses for a second. “Portals reflect all spells back at their casters. Please make a fortitude save.”

I rolled a 1.

My first RPG, back in 1981 or so. My friends and I took turns checking out the one copy they had at our local library. Soon we were spending our paper route money at the only local book store that carried AD&D books, and making occasional trips to Portland, OR to buy lead miniatures.

In 20 years, I’ll still be playing: Apocalypse World. It’s a solid system with many, many well considered hack and modifications that leave the core components in place. I find it sharper and more accessible than FATE but with a similar staying power and, thanks to a dedicated community, similar variety.

My favorite licensed RPG: Mistborn Adventure Game. It was made in close coordination with Brandon Sanderson and has supplements that add new and interesting canon to the series (giving it unusually strong integration with it’s source material compared to most licensed RPGs! Usually the feedback goes one way or the other, but not both!). The mechanics are slick with a nice FATE-like balance of narrative focus and crunch. The game cleverly limits it’s dice-pools and does some interesting things with them; it’s not quite perfect and the probability curves aren’t as elegant as in, say, FATE … but it really restored my faith in dice pool systems after SCION scared me away from them.

It’s a beautiful implementation of the source material, and it’s a pretty slick and functional game in it’s own right.