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Archive for July, 2012


Joe Reviews “In Harm’s Way: Pigboats”

As most of you already know, I’m quite the history buff, which means I enjoy historical games as well as pseudo-historical games. In Harm’s Way: Pigboats is a historical game set in World War Two. Specifically, it covers submariners in the Pacific. There is some really cool stuff in this book!

This game is meant to describe the kinds of stories one would tell about sailors on a submarine in WW2. What kind of story is that? Well, it’s about a few different things. First is the execution of the mission. One player is the Skipper of a particular boat, and part of the story is the action one sees while being a submariner. Second, In Harm’s Way: Pigboats is about how a man advances in the United States Navy during WW2. There is a really cool mechanic called “Notice” which works sort of like social XP, allowing one to advance in rank by gaining the positive (and enduring the negative) Notice of your superiors in the Admiralty. Third is Shore Leave, and what you do with your time. Interactions between regular Navy, Marines, and even Army men while on leave are ripe for stories about camaraderie or inter-service rivalry. Fourth is the Honor and Practicality dichotomy. Everyone has 20 points
(ten in each) to start, and as one become more honorable or pragmatic, the balance can shift towards one or the other. Finally is the interaction of the players. Many military stories are about a group of men who don’t get along but then resolve their differences through bravery in war. This game does this, too, although not explicitly like the previous actions.

Gaining Notice, fighting the boat and shore leave are all mechanics that are present in the system. Fighting the sub is almost a mini-game in and of itself, since one needs to know all sorts of things about the condition of your boat as well as worrying about what the enemy is doing.

In Harm’s Way: Pigboats actually has four different systems (all variations on a theme) in it. The basic rules are percentile, d6-d6, d6 pool, or d20 based. Respectively, the systems are known as StarPerc, StarZero, StarNova, and StarPool. Essentially, these are granular percentile systems with varying increments of difficulty. For instance, selecting the percentile option gives a lot more fine adjustment in TNs than the d20 version. What I like is the idea that the granularity can change the feel of the game, without having to convert anything else. A pistol does +15 damage no matter what system you’re using. The Notice, Sub fighting, Shore Leave, Honor, and other sub-systems (no pun intended) also seamlessly work with any of the four dice systems.

My favorite section of this book is the “Extra Credit” section. This part of the book discusses exactly what actions are performed on a sub. It gets into some pretty neat details about what each action feels like, all without getting too technical. In Harm’s Way: Pigboats is an awesome game.

Playing this game offers some cool challenges, as it seems to be built for troupe play, in which everyone has several characters of different ranks (Officer ranks, of course). One way of playing the game is to run a Wolf Pack in which everyone has different characters on the boats, giving everyone the opportunity to play Skipper! In Harm’s Way: Pigboats is a game I can heartily recommend as worth your money and your time. It’s a great game with a whole lot of potential as a fun game in between serious and beer and pretzels. It’d be a good filler game or campaign game!


The author has posted 14 actual play reports as a free PDF! They are available at Pigboats’ official page.


Episode Twelve: Character Sheets

This episode is full size! We are back on our game, and speaking of which, we ddecided to talk about the ubiquitous character sheet. We debate different types of character sheets, the merits of editable PDFs, and

Please let us know what you think about characters via email, post about it on the Forums, tweet us on Twitter, or discuss everything further on Facebook.

Episode 2-12

Favorite Games of the Week

Hell on Earth Reloaded
The Esoterrorists
Green World

Currently Playing

We played Dresden Files, second to last game of the series! We also played a failed game of All Flesh Must Be Eaten, discovering that our group can’t do survival horror. So, on to Sorcery & Super Science!


We are going to be giving away T-Shirts and Buttons this year at GenCon!

Also, please send us a character so we can show you how we create a session from scratch.


Wil! You are awesome and we love hearing from you!

Mr. Gone, your character sheets are beautiful, and we’re glad you offer them for download. Thank you!

BedrockBrendan! Our discussion is in this thread, specifically this post.

The GURPS stuff we mention is available here.

Joe loves China Mieville, and has based his Dresden Files monsters are the big bads in Perdido Street Station.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the show! You know who you are!

Music Section

“Roll the Dice, Make my Day [Stick Jones Remix]” (Stick Jones)
“Compared To That” (Brian Bromberg)
“Backlight Sunflare” (Lotus)
“Delhi Belly” (MarchFourth Marching Band)

Games Mentioned

Dresden Files RPG
GURPS 4th Edition
GURPS Character Assistant
GURPS Big Lizzie
Castles & Crusades
In Nomine
Castles & Crusades Character Reference Sheets
7th Sea
Deadlands Classic
Deadlands: Reloaded
The Book of Unremitting Horror (GUMSHOE version)
The Book of Unremitting Horror (d20 version)
Mutant City Blues
Trail of Cthulhu
Beasts and Barbarians Adventure Bundle
Vampire: the Requiem
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Dead Reign
Sorcery & Super Science!
Millenium’s End


Episode Eleven: Herding Cats

This is a shorter episode, due to circumstances not under our control. We discuss how to keep attention from wandering, using mechanics or skill. Both methods are valid, of course, and while Joe errs on the side of system on this one, Nicky holds fast to using GMing technique.

Be sure to email us, check out our Forums, “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Episode 2-11

Favorite Games of the Week

Bad Attitudes
Into the Unknown
The Dark Woods

Currently Playing

We haven’t played a game in two weeks. The Summer is upon our group, and so we end up having a dearth of games. It’s sad, but it happens.


We are being deluged with spam on our site, so if you post here on the website, it may trake a few hours for th epost to appear. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Eloy! Your games are awesome, and we’re hoping to add Part-Time Gods to our currently playing list soon.

Music Section

“Roll the Dice, Make my Day [Stick Jones Remix]” (Stick Jones)
“The Grapes of Wrath” (Marvin Etzioni, John Doe)
“Manifest Destiny” (Brand X)

Games Mentioned

Dresden Files RPG
Part-Time Gods
Sorcery & Super Science!
Hunter: The Vigil
Star Wars
Children of the Sun
Og: Unearthed Edition
White Plume Mountain
Castle Ravenloft
Tomb of Horrors
Legend of Drizzt


Joe Reviews Missing Magic: Potions

Every once in a while, there is a little, low-cost gem thrown out into the RPG PDF sphere: and the Missing Magic series by Asparagus Jumpsuit is full of them. Potions is a great little book that does exactly what it claims to do.

Missing Magic: Potions claims to be a detailed look at 34 common potions for Pathfinder, and it delivers. The potions are common spells distilled into liquid form, and each has its appearance, taste and smell described. Some sound really nasty while some sound appetizing, but they all sound fairly realistic. What I mean to say is that they all sound like actual concoctions of some kind, and while the taste and smell is not always in agreement, one could easily use those clues…and make up their own based on them.

Each potion is a pretty useful spell in its own right, and It is really cool to see them done up with taste and smell. When a GM is running a dungeon crawl, these descriptions are a good way to give a PC something to see or smell before detect magic is cast. In fact, if you are consistent in your GMing, you could get players to recognize certain potions by those attributes!

The potions may not be as palatable as a fine wine, but they certainly sound like something someone might (or might not!) try to drink. If I were to learn that my player undid the stopper of something and smelled “beer and seawater,” I’d be hesitant for my PC to use it right away. Describing the tastes and smells is a really good idea, and makes the book well worth the $3.

I heartily recommend Missing Magic: Potions, and for the price you can hardly go wrong!