Friday, May 10, 2019

Five Inspirations for King of Storms


The Invisibles

The Cloud Atlas

Elliot and Margo from The Magicians

Easter from American Gods

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Continuing my 12 New Games Self-Challenge

Slowly continuing my journey through this year's 12 New Games Each Year.

The games I have played or run so far include:
1) Bubblegumshoe
2) Headspace
3) Cold Shadows
4) Praxis: King of Storms

Cold Shadows was quite a wonderful session. The group was a nice mix of players as each contributed to the growing narrative in their own unique ways. For the game, I drew inspiration from Matt Kindt's amazing Mind MGMT comics, which mixed spycraft with human-centric stories and weird science.

Praxis: King of Storms on the other hand was an interesting mix of magic, drama, and humor. We really enjoyed setting the game in the modern ages instead of its usual fantasy setting, and that gave it a powerful relatable vibe. The game started to remind many of us in the game of American Gods. The group is already hoping for a chance to go through all five Black Monk books by jim pinto.

At work, we're looking at the possibilities of getting games moving again. More so with the new employees who have joined us.  I'm tempted to try setting a session of The Sword, the Crown, and the Unspeakable Power or two for the group. Or perhaps get people to try Prince Valiant, or even Tiny Wasteland.  An officemate, however, is a huge Battletech fan, and the idea of running that old classic is oddly tempting. The opportunities are nearly endless.

Very happy also with these dice. If only shipping them overseas wasn't such a pain. They were definitely dice that fit perfectly with the Praxis game we played.

Monday, May 6, 2019

My Statement

This statement is made solely on behalf of Tobie Abad, and does not speak for anyone who works alongside him, TAG Sessions, or our partners in the game industry.


Today the admin team behind the Philippine Table-Top RPGs Facebook Group decided to have me removed as a member due to allegations made against me last week. The actual complaint consisted of four statements - two by individuals who used to be close friends and two by other members who were more likely relying on secondhand information as I have had limited interactions with them thus far. On May 4 I submitted a 17-page document refuting the allegations against me at the request of the admin team but the removal was the outcome of that supposed investigative process. As the admin team stated that they “...are not a legal court that is supposed to judge the moral character of any individual,” their decision feels like it was based on an effort to err on the side of caution more than anything else.

I do not agree with the decision and hold that the allegations against me are false. I do not fully understand the motivations behind these continued attacks on my character over the years by the same group of former friends. Regardless, I will continue to contest their assertions to be untrue.

I have been running tabletop RPG sessions for over 30 years for a wide range of players both locally and abroad. I have learned a lot when it comes to the complexities of running games for a variety of people with different backgrounds, interests and comfort zones. Given the social nature of this hobby, I’ve always held that honest communication between everyone at the table is integral to ensuring that everyone is comfortable and ultimately having fun creating a story together. This communication is not limited while together at the table but extends outside of it.

If my accusers feel that gaming with me for years had turned out to be an unpleasant experience in hindsight, I apologize that I was not able to do more to address that at the time. But despite the many channels of communication available and my repeated efforts to ask about their feelings regarding the games time and time again, it seems there was a lack of clearly communicated concerns, leaving me with nothing to act on or address in terms of how I moderated those sessions.

Like any other GM, I could only act on the information I was given and that break-down in communication had inadvertently resulted in a bad gaming experience somehow. Sadly, this unfortunate series of events led to an even worse break-down in the friendship. I can only surmise that the negative feelings from their experience have somehow fueled this extended effort against me despite years of no communication or contact and now all that has been blown out of proportion into this narrative of alleged abuse.

All I can say is that I never intentionally tried to cause emotional duress of any kind for this group of players. I apologize nonetheless for any pain that may have been experienced because that is the furthest thing I would want for anyone to experience in a tabletop RPG or in life in general. I wish things had ended differently or at the very least learned of such concerns directly instead of through the court of public opinion and the weaponization of social media.

Upon reflection, I suspect that this fracturing of the friendship, that I did not understand the nature of at the time, unfortunately, spilled over into our working relationship in a volunteer gaming organization. It was during this time that the accusers blocked me on social media and this further complicated efforts at communication and possible resolution to their concerns or at the very least an amicable parting of ways.

Over the past 3 years, I have remained silent despite the continued social media posts in an effort to just put this all behind us and move forward. There have been vague posts and there have been slanderous ones that have explicitly named me and still, I have not resorted to fighting fire with fire.

Given the efforts to besmirch my character, I feel the need to reiterate the following facts:

Every game I run is tailored to players. Even before the first session starts, I engage in lengthy discussions to determine what the players would like to explore along with what topics they prefer to avoid. I employ the same approach whether preparing for a long-term campaign or one-shots with strangers.

Player agency and sharing narrative control have always been things I value in my game sessions. I firmly believe the best sessions are when players and GM work together to create a memorable story.This is why I advocate for more people to try newer indie systems - particularly those that have taken interesting approaches to making shared narrative control a key mechanic in the game experience.

I believe that role-playing games, like film and literature, can be powerful tools for exploring difficult subject matter. But I also understand that what is acceptable varies from player to player and thus consent from everyone at the table is paramount. When I started gaming, we generally trusted one another to communicate boundaries in the game but I’m glad that the hobby has progressed to incorporate the use of Safety Tools such as the X-card and others. And anyone who has gamed with me in the last years would know that I fully embrace and endorse the use of these tools to ensure gaming remains inclusive and safe.

There are many more things to say, but for now, these are the most important points I want to address in this statement.

I stand by my integrity that my statements are true and remain prepared to explain my side and defend myself as needed in the appropriate venue. I do not believe in public smear campaigns and airing dirty laundry. Despite the lost friendship, I continue to respect the time I once spent with my accusers when we were all still friends and I regret all the other people in the community who have been dragged into this mess.

I shall continue to celebrate the tabletop gaming hobby be it through running games or sharing my knowledge with the community. I will miss being able to network with fellow gamers through the Philippine Table-Top RPG Facebook group, but I am thankful that there are other channels available to me to reach the larger community beyond social media. I will continue to work on creating games for the industry in general and welcome opportunities to celebrate Philippine culture through gaming when I can. I will not choose the path of hatred.

For those of you who wish to contact me, whether it is to set a game schedule or discuss anything else you have in mind, you can reach me through the following channels:

TAG Sessions Facebook Page
Twitter @AllTobieNoShade
tobito_abad [at]

I am thankful for my partner Rocky, whose unwavering support and level headedness has helped me through this difficult time. I am also thankful for the many friends who have reached out and shared their support. Your trust in me shall not go to waste.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Jianghu Teaser: Burning Mountain Ring

The game features over fifteen different factions that players and Villains can be part of. Each grants the Honorable Hero a Secret Move that they can use.

But more interestingly is how the Grand Master is given access to additional information on how they can use that Faction in their games. When I was working on the book, I wanted to make sure gaming groups were empowered to find ways to make the game and its setting their own.

For instance, for the players, they get this information on the Burning Mountain Ring. 

Only the greatest and the strongest can claim to be part of the Burning Mountain Ring, the one true Martial Brotherhood in Sihai. While not everyone is part of this Society, those who do gain their favor find themselves gaining respect and reputation typically reserved for legendary heroes. It is said that its founder, Ubiquitous Dan, once watched his dear friend Relentless Fus who fought against the natural order of things and sought to conquer even Heaven itself at the peak of the Burning Mountain. 
Ubiquitous Dan was forced to learn all the Secret Arts necessary to challenge his dear friend and bring peace back upon the land. The Burning Mountain Ring now stands as a structured system of Ranking, allowing those who reject the natural order to channel their desire and passion towards improving themselves, rather than destroying the world. They send out invitations to those deemed worthy to join their tournaments and train others in expanding their understanding of the martial arts. Many warriors of the Ring have come face-to-face with agents of the Door and the Cult, earning their ire. The general consensus also sees the Triangle as laughable in their lack of actual strength.
Secret Move: Awareness of Deadly Intent
Cost: Free
Ambushes and murder attempts are like screaming children in a library for members of this faction. When anyone seeks to do commit violence upon a Burning Mountain Ring warrior, their intent is unconsciously sensed as the warrior’s fighting spirit senses a kindred soul. At any point someone seeks to do you violence, you sense it. It does not matter if you were asleep or intoxicated, the very aura of deadly intent is a palpable presence you cannot ignore.

Whereas for the Grand Master, information on the Burning Mountain Ring is given in this manner.
Burning Mountain RingReputation: Chaotic Fighting Ring Type: Directionless Sect Alignment: Heroic Conflicting Factions: The Obsidian Door, Inquisitive Dog Triangle, Invincible Ghost Gang, Cult of the Conqueror Worm
Said to have once been called the Wulin, the Burning Mountain Ring is a fractured echo of what was once an incredible gathering of the world’s greatest warriors. Now, it stands more like a fighting ring where many prove their mettle as they beat on their rivals. Ubiquitous Dan stands at the peak of the mountain blinded by the clouds and distance from the world. He still mourns the loss of Relentless Fus and has left the lower ranking warriors to run the sect. The Invincible Ghost Gang is poised to challenge them and might have what it takes to bring true change to the organization.
Secrets or Story Hooks: The GM can use any of these secrets as true in their game:
  • Relentless Fus still lives. Despite his hubris and punishment, Fus now survives as an amnesiac man living alone at the edge of a city’s limits. When endangered, he instinctively fights with martial skills he has no remembrance learning.
  • Ubiquitous Dan is no more. The Dan that remains is a shadow double, created by the Crying Prince who has infiltrated the sect and conquered it from within. It uses the sect as secret font to recruit his agents.
  • Heroic Secret Move: The Palm of Peace
  • Said to be the penultimate expression of mastery of all the possible secret Martial Arts, the Palm of Peace causes all within an entire region to lose any aggressive or destructive intentions or motivations for an entire day. Performed last by Ubiquitous Dan after he realized Relentless Fus had died, he brought twenty-four hours of peace by simply completing the strike upon the very strands of destiny.
Key NPC: Ubiquitous Dan Heavy set and powerful, most mistake Dan at first glance as some loitering untrained worker who made a wrong turn and slipped into the arena by mistake. But a single punch is usually enough to knock anyone onto their senses in seeing how Dan is one of the few high-Ranking warriors that are still active. He has a soft spot for goats and has been known to stop and make an effort to pet any he sees, once going as far as leaving the honored seat during the opening ceremonies of a festival to greet a kid carried by one of the guests.
Views: Dan once respected the Golden Emperor and his goals to unify the world. The Fighting Ring was meant as a means for aggression and disagreements to find an organized and controlled means of release. He truly believes in honorable combat, choosing to fight with his eyes closed, and using only one hand while balanced on one foot when he was challenged by a weaker opponent.

 Traits: Artisan (Mysteries of Yin and Yang, Formless Arts of the Face), Scholar (Qi Cultivation), Warrior (Lightfoot)
 Weakness: Priest (The Birth of Seals)

 Roleplaying Notes: Laugh openly. Praise others for their physical and martial prowess. Decline any challenges unless the other deserves to be treated a lesson. Waive away complex philosophical arguments and always flex your fingers and arm muscles before you fight.

 As an ally: Express your disdain for violence beyond fights within the Ring. Offer to teach those who are untrained in martial combat. Openly praise those who are fearless in celebrating their attachments to each other.

 As a Villain: Call those who know are powerless to best you, “little goat,” as a double-edged form of endearment. Never threaten. Just state the facts on how you will defeat the other. Then do it if they persist. You would rule Sihai if you wanted to, but for now the

 Traits: Artisan (Mysteries of Yin and Yang, Formless Arts of the Face), Scholar (Qi Cultivation), Warrior (Lightfoot) Weakness: Priest (The Birth of Seals)
Roleplaying Notes: Laugh openly. Praise others for their physical and martial prowess. Decline any challenges unless the other deserves to be treated a lesson. Waive away complex philosophical arguments and always flex your fingers and arm muscles before you fight.
As an ally: Express your disdain for violence beyond fights within the Ring. Offer to teach those who are untrained in martial combat. Openly praise those who are fearless in celebrating their attachments to each other.
As a Villain: Call those who know are powerless to best you, “little goat,” as a double-edged form of endearment. Never threaten. Just state the facts on how you will defeat the other. Then do it if they persist. You would rule Sihai if you wanted to, but for now the Golden Emperor can worry about that. You’ll be there when someone finally defeats him to take it from the victor.

Support the Kickstarter today and help us hit our stretch goals!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Jianghu Excerpt: Embrace the Moments of Silence

As the game is Powered by the Apocalypse, a common practice is for the game to advise the GM and the players on The Agenda, which guides them on how to explore the game.

For Once Upon a Time in Jianghu, this is the Agenda:


Everyone playing the game shares a five-part Agenda:
  • Make the world feel epic and dramatic
  • Play out what virtue and heroism demands
  • Struggle against personal want and duty
  • Define heroism and display it
  • Embrace moments of silence
Let's get a peek on the last one:

Embrace Moments Of Silence
There must be balance in the stories you tell. As a powerful contrast to moments of amazing combat and flashy moves, seek moments of nostalgia and peace. A silent moment walking in the flower fields. A peaceful scene of gazing out of the window to watch the frogs swallow dragonflies. If the players show interest in certain characters or locations, be sure to utilize them more often in later sessions. Pay attention to reflecting the passage of time in the game, as well. Children eventually grow older. Older characters eventually pass away. Let their choices shape the world and change it.

It is “huai jiu” or “nostalgia for the past” which you want to invoke in your games. It is this unbearable yearning that comes from the understanding one possess an unrealized heart.  And this, in a way, is the essence of a true wuxia hero.  On a related note, consider this a reminder also to embrace moments of silence as an opportunity to give other players a chance to have the spotlight. Narrative games can be daunting for some players, who might find the freedom to direct the story a bit intimidating at first. Know when to step back into the background to give those players enough time to adapt to the game and have moments where their characters become prominent of a scene. Help each other out in making sure everyone has a great time playing the game.

Support the Kickstarter for the game today!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Jiangu - Kickstarter is Live!

Once Upon a Time in Jianghu
A wuxia-inspired game that is Powered by the Apocalypse by Tobie Abad
The Kickstarter is live!
Hoping for your support!

Victory Condition Gaming: Once Upon a Time In Jianghu

OMG it is viewable!
A thousand thank yous to Victory Condition Gaming for featuring me in this episode. Thank you so much for giving me a chance to talk about Once Upon a Time in Jianghu! I am super excited to be in this episode and boy do I fumble over names a lot!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Gallant Knight Games: Announcing ONCE UPON A TIME IN JIANGHU

Gallant Knight Games is excited to announce that Tobie Abad’s Once Upon a Time in Jianghu will be seeking funding on Kickstarter next Tuesday, April 23rd

Created by Tobie Abad, project managed on Kickstarter by Ben Woerner of Woerner WunderWerks, and published and distributed by Gallant Knight Games, Once Upon a Time in Jianghu is a wuxia-inspired storytelling tabletop roleplaying game that utilizes a heavily modified version of Powered by the Apocalypse.
Set in a mythical and new, yet familiar world, Once Upon a Time in Jianghu is lovingly crafted by Tobie Abad, and features a talented roster of contributors who will be providing stretch goals as well as additional content:
  • Sen-Foong Lim
  • Banana Chan
  • Rob Abrazado
  • Elizabeth Chaipraditkul
  • Andrew Peregrine
  • with art by renowned Spanish artist Daniel Jimbert
Gallant Knight Games, Woerner WunderWerks and Tobie Abad are excited to put this game in your hands!

Full Announcement here:

Monday, April 15, 2019

2019 Design Week PH: See you this April 28!

The Design Talks of Design Week Philippines April 2019 will feature speakers who will share their insights on the current state of tabletop games including the story behind the work, their design process, the movement being built,
the challenges, the role of design in achieving its goals, and the future of the tabletop game
Join us in an exciting exchange of ideas at the Teatro in Intramuros on April 28, 2-3 PM.
Admission is free. Register here:
See you there!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

April 2019: TRPG TALK BREAKFAST at Kanto Freestyle

Was extremely grateful and appreciative to be part of the TRPG Talk Breakfast session last April 13 at Kanto Freestyle. It was very empowering and heart-warming to be with gamers who truly were welcoming and passionate about the hobby and its ability to connect people.

Saw familiar faces, met lovely new people, and got to know creative new faces whom I am excited to soon be able to run games for and enjoy time with - schedules permitting, of course. It does remind me that despite the fear and the trauma, finding the courage to step out, reconnect with the community, and embrace their love and support is needed to heal the scars that continue to ache (and sometimes, bleed). I will forever be grateful. And I excitedly look forward to more gaming and to more time with the wonderful growing community of friends, gamers, and new faces!

2019 April : TAG Bites : Praxis, The King of Storms

Had a spectacular session of jim pinto's praxis game, King of Storms! Players for today's session included Titus as the Troll King, Bianca as the Iron Widow, Reyo as the Scion of the East, and Sophia supposedly as the Child of the Sea, but I messed up and forgot to print it out, so she ended up becoming the Prince of the Dead. This left me playing the Heir to the Sun.

We opted to have the game set in the modern day, giving it a fantastic American Gods feel with us gathering at some New York sky deck bar whenever we wanted to discuss godly things. The One King was dying and we all knew one of us was bound to become the new One King. Secret god-babies, information wars, and secret dealings with the Crones lead to the Prince of the Dead sacrificing her own daughter and the son of the Troll King and the Iron Widow to force me, the Heir of the Sun, to take her place and allow her to ascend to the One King's throne.

It was a blast, with us using all three Story Milestones, as well as a Plot Twist, and a Finale. The Troll King had a final valiant attempt to kill the Prince of the Dead, turned One King, but even the bullets from the people he had empowered were barely able to hurt her. With a gesture, the Heir of the Sun turned Prince of Dead then killed the Troll King. He did not find himself in the realm of the dead, however The Troll King felt pulled to a higher plane and there plots for his eventual revenge.

I will confess that in this game, I had a FANTASTIC time playing the Heir of the Sun with his abuse of libations and his impossible expectations from others. Given the world building also had us declare him and the Iron Widow as besties, we ended up patterning their relationship to that of Elliot and Margo from the fun show, Magicians.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

2019 April: TAG Bites: 7th Sea

Finally had a chance to run 7th Sea second edition for some of the awesome people who have been reshaping the tabletop industry in the Philippines.  Thomas, Nathan, and Mykey had a chance to dive into the wonderful world of Theah. Kyle, who was to join us, sadly had to reschedule due to work.

To make things even more interesting, I used Evan Perlman's Sea's 7 adventure as the jumping point with the players all being recruited to take part in David Swansea's plans to steal a golden idol from the Casino Imperial, which is sailing in international waters. Each having their own personal reasons for taking part, the heroes soon discover that many of their past rivals are on the ship as well. And while the golden idol seemingly is the target of the goons onboard, the true item of value is a cache of letters also hidden in the same vault.

Letters of the Queen to a Montaigne lover.

In the end, each hero finds their true calling. Hugh Garant, the Negotiator from Avalon, confronts the Queen and after learning he is powerless to truly end her oppression of the common folk, finds himself receiving an invitation to the Rilasciare.  Ibarra Locovitche Gissanlie, Eisen war doctor and hexe, desperate to find a home for the children living in the Walden, makes a terrible deal with the Unseelie host to transform into a home that lures children into its walls. He lives a life caring and educating the children... but loses his humanity in the process and finds the end at an Ungetumjager's blade. Finally, Jeralt Andorsen, Vesten Guildmaster who had hoped to recover the family rune armor that were sold during their hard times, finds himself reunited with the man who had purchased the armor and refused to sell it back. The man was too injured, this time, to get away and Jeralt smiled at how good endings do sometimes come to those who wait.

2019 March: TAG Bites: Cold Shadows - Vignettes

Super grateful to have had an awesome TAG Bites session of Cold Shadows today. Thank you to Lanz, for being the empathetic turncoat Analyst, Titus for being the former KGB sleeper agent with a heart, Cjmn for being the deputy Director who tried valiantly to save the agency, and to the new player Ron, who was the Hitter without Resolve (and allowed me the honor of running his second rpg session ever). Sadly, Titus had to rush off before we took a photo.

To more double agent shinanigans soon!

Friday, April 5, 2019

2019 March TAG Bites: Paternoster: Houses of the Blooded

Had a fantastic opportunity to introduce the incomparable Houses of the Blooded game to three new players. Paolo, Arianne, and Kyle were the players for TAG Bites this March.  A fourth player, Aina, was sadly unable to join us (Aina, I promise we will reschedule for you someday soon!)

Paolo was Armenisu Adrente, Blooded of the Wolf and Baron of Stormbreak. Arianne was Aldernavi Throne, Blooded of the Falcon and Baron of Evergreens. Kyle was Vesuvius Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent and Baron of the Western Weeping. The three were playing Ven who had heard of the death of Count Kether, whose Province borders their own. In a bid to claim the lands, they all had proclaimed themselves Kether's only child.

A fourth who also made such a claim, invites them to her own Castle, and the four enjoy a simple Banquet that is more than it seems. True enough, Kether reveals in time that he had falsified his death to see who would be deserving of his attentions and all whom had not bothered to find him "justice" find themselves at the bloody end of a poisoned cup.  He had a grand time in the game, with Paolo indulging in his tendency to rely on his sword skills, with Kyle using Sorcery like only the Serpents know how, and with Arianne just wishing everyone else opted to explore the Ruins like she wanted. Our favorite NPC for the night was Somma Mwrr, Vesuvius' twin who had switched places with him and sadly met an untimely death in her bid to keep her brother's secrets. Tragic and cruel. Just as Houses of the Blooded games always should be.

A Single Moment : Giu Lo Schermo with Lua

To quote their post in Youtube:This is the spin-off of GiĆ¹ lo Schermo with the legendary Luca Cecchinelli, with whom, for months, we are killing two-person role-playing games. This time our choice fell on "A Single Moment". "A Single Moment" is a role-playing game for two players that, in one session, will put us in the shoes of two samurai crossing their swords in a deadly duel. In the end, only one of them will remain standing. The whole game is a set of blows in the present and flashbacks recalled from the past to understand who our protagonists are and what their motivations are. "A Single Moment" was written and published in English by Tobie Abad on April 25th.

Very grateful that they opted to try my game! Thank you!

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Duelists (Reflections)

Another awesome session using Reflections. As per the site:
This player-versus-player, improvised one-shot is run using the Reflections system, which is based off of the RPG "A Single Moment" (by Tobie Abad). Gotta love how people can find ways to make a game even more awesome. Thank you for playing!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Highlander: There can only be One

It is always nice to see people enjoying games. More so when in one way or another, the games they are playing were inspired in some way by things you were part of.

As per their site:
This is a single-elimination style tournament, starting with eight Immortals. Each session will discover the story of two such beings, through their history with one another... and the duel that forever ends their relationship. This player-versus-player RPG series will be run using the Reflections system, which is based off of the rpg "A Single Moment" (by Tobie Abad).

Catch the full playlist here:

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Reflections in the Force

It is always nice to see people enjoying games. More so when in one way or another, the games they are playing were inspired in some way by things you were part of.

Check out this awesome Reflections session set in the Star Wars. For those who might not know, this player-versus-player RPG session will be run using the Reflections system, which is based off of the RPG "A Single Moment" (by Tobie Abad).

Friday, March 22, 2019

Connection Lost on Duet December

Was extremely happy to find an actual play session of my two-player game, Connection Lost, which is one of the many amazing games in the You & I: Roleplaying Games for Two book, released by Ginger Goat. A total of 15 different games are waiting for you in this book, with incredibly creative authors such as Josh T. JordanLucian KahnAmber & Rick DeanAura BelleStephanie BryantTobias StraussSharang BiswasJamie GardnerEpistolary Richard WilliamsMoyra TurkingtonTaylor LaBreshJohannes Opperman, and Sara Williamson in these pages.   I highly recommend you get this book if you get the chance!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Explored Blades in the Dark again

Got another chance to explore the mystifying world of Blades in the Dark with Rocky, Adrian, and Jonette. Adrian mentioned to me that Jonette was hoping to start running her own games and he felt that Blades offered a system she might enjoy using. I was, of course, more than happy to help out. I decided to name this session, The Task.

We had a quick one shot session, with the group being tasked to break into a Chapter House where specific people were staying for the Governor's gathering. Adrian played Brace "Cricket" Vedat, the Hound from Tycheros who used Opium to put himself to sleep. Rocky was Tocker "Frost" Kessarin, the Lurk from Dagger Isles who was a nobleman himself at some point in his life. Jonette was Valeta "Slip" Vedat, a Whisper from Severos who served as the group's leader.  Known as the Purple Rose, they were based beneath The Vulgar Cat and took assassination and disappearance jobs as needed.  Their client happens to be Rosslyn Kellis, Frost's rival, who in her dying moments tasks the group to eliminate her rivals. They soon learn, however, that they have competition in the eliminations as the Lord Emperor himself sends his own assassins to eliminate his political rivals that same night.

The group succeeds and escapes, but realizes that Kellis timed the task not with her own death, but with the knowledge of the Lord Emperor's plans. Who would, after all, notice a few extra deaths?

Jonette definitely took to the narrative and the system well. I'm excited to be able to introduce her to more games in the future.

Monday, February 25, 2019

2019 Feb Tagbites: Curse of the Yellow Sign - Act 3

A huge thank you to Titus and his friends for enjoying a TAG Bites session this February 2019. This session was Act 3 of The Curse of the Yellow Sign, which completes their journey through John Wick's Curse of the Yellow Sign Collected three-act adventure which uses the BRP (Basic Roleplaying).

In this game, the group were passengers in the Archimedes 7 Colony Ship which encountered some form of radioactive field that disrupted its many functions and awoke some of the passengers too early. This was a five-hour one shot session with six players. I am extremely grateful that the players were all very appreciative and happy with how the game turned out. Of the six, there were only two clear deaths (one from a selfish plan to stay alive, while the other in a suicidal bid to save the rest) while the remaining four may have condemned themselves to a slow and horrific death in order to save the world and take the terrible smiling god away from ever hurting anyone ever again.

The game had a lot of drama, a good dose of laughs, and a deep and intimate honesty in touching fear, anger, and despair.  Thank you, John Wick, for creating such an amazing game.   

Again, thank you to my wonderful players (clockwise from left): Titus, CJ, Lorenzo, Hannah, Reyo, and Sophia.  You were all amazing fantastic players.

Til the next TAG Bites, thank you and keep playing!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A new year, a new 12 games

It is 2019 and so far, I've hit TWO new games for this year's 12 New Games Each Year.
The games were:
1) Bubblegumshoe
2) Headspace

Bubblegumshoe was played last January at Taktyl Studios, where I got to introduce the concept of tabletop RPGs to a few new players. The game was an fun quirky session with each player choosing one of the key character types from the book (to speed up play). There was Valerie  who had a Tight Family relationship, Chandler the Maker, Cash the Loner, Selena Ford the Leader and her protege, Danica.  The group finds the police at the school grounds the night after they were decorating the gymnasium for the upcoming school dance. The janitor was found dead in the gym. They  quickly learn that the Principal, Roberts, was hiding a hairy screaming thing in the basement which turns out to be some kind of orangutan. As the Animal Services takes the beast away, and the kids congratulate themselves on making the school safer. Valeria, however, remembers much later the photographs on the basement wall which reveal that orangutan wasn't just an animal, but an animal with a human brain, and it was that human side that killed the janitor due to the provocative choice of school dance decor.

Bubblegumshoe was written by Emily Care Boss, Kenneth Hite, and Lisa Steele. The game was the Winner of the 2017 Gold ENnie for Best Family Game!

You can check out Bubblegumshoe here:

Headspace, on the other hand, was played in the early part of February.  For this game, we originally were going to have five players but one had to cancel due to familial emergencies. So we ended up with four players: Tech, Handler, Infiltrator, and Ronin. The group had a fantastic plan on how to bring down Disney Bezos by attacking their virtual spokesperson, SAM, cutting their funding from a corrupt rich philanthropist named Adam, and by destroying the mainframe for the chips that were keeping people from entering the flooded areas and seeing the truth on how much destruction hit the coastal areas.

As they proceeded in the Mission, however, they quickly discovered things went sideways with the realization there was a SECOND team targeting the same things they had in mind. Worse, this second team thought they were the agents the corporations sent to stop them.  Thankfully, in the end, the operatives were able to accomplish their mission with the help of Angel, the Ghost operative still in their Headspace.

Headspace is written by Mark Richardson.
Learn more about the game here:

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

TAG Sessions: 2018 in review

Looking back at 2018, productivity wasn't as good as I had hoped. Despite giving my attentions to writing for the year, I sadly had to brave through certain challenges that suggest maybe I need to still make a few more adjustments.

The year opened with Prince Valiant (link) being released and me being part of the  Prince Valiant : Episode book! (link)

I still struggle to accept the fact that I was in a book which included luminaries such as Justin Achilli, John Wick, and more.

Then there was the invitation to be part of CONclave at iAcademy.

It was nice being able to share knowledge about game mastering once more. Despite reports to the contrary, I haven't turned my back on the local scene to focus on my writing. But I guess that's the more acceptable narrative for some, simply because it implies I'm selfish enough to keep knowledge to myself. Truth of the matter remains, I'm more than happy to participate and share knowledge when given the invitation to do so.

Was also very grateful at Greasy Snitches (link) inviting me to be part of their victory celebrations afterwards. I remember going to this alone (my partner was out of the country) and being terrified of coming face-to-face with certain people. Thankfully, the night went well actually and it felt nice to be part of the community again.

There was some love in the form of media nods.

The first being a mention as one of the people who have been influential in shaping the local gaming industry (which is awesome given I'm not one of those ultra connected or talented folks out there).

The second mentioned my game and Project Tadhana's games as ways to explore the Filipino and Asian experience. Special congratulations to Nathan Briones whose hard work and sheer talent can be seen in every single page.  You truly uplift your team to new heights and create inspiring work!
Read this one here:

I also tried dipping a bit into fiction writing.
Thanks to the Community Creators options offered by the Storyteller's Vault, I wrote so far two mini novels for Vampire the Masquerade and one for Exalted.

Red Sickening Lights, Manila (link) and Blood Red Pearls (link) are Vampire the Masquerade stories set in the Philippines. Red Sickening Lights, Manila is the first book of the Reconquista saga, a story that explores the Camarilla’s attempt to regain control of the Philippines, a Ventrue Justicar’s search for an old enemy, and the unexpected bonds that form between two people. It is an insidious tale of revenge, obsession, and love.

I'm pretty proud of these, despite the fact they're probably just okay for most fiction readers. If there's more response to the books, I just might release a Manila by Night setting book based on these stories for others to enjoy too.

The reception wasn't as huge, but at least I was happy to see there were some readers. The vampire stories were even the reading material for a Vampire RPG group called the DSC Tabletop Gaming Club.

Sid's Real Life (link) on the other hand is my love-letter to Exalted and my attempt to give it a different feel than what most expect from that game. This book is a romantic comedy and yet also houses an incredible unfolding story. Inspired by shows like Pushing Daisies and The Office, this book is quite different and I'm very proud of it.

TAG Sessions was also part of a few events this year.
There was the Retrocon 2018 which was a mini-convention held in The War Room. Sparking from what literally began as just a conversation online about missing old games, a bunch of us very quickly created a humble yet fulfilling RPG event.

We had fun exploring a lot of old school rpgs. I ran a Marvel Super Heroes game and had quite a host of players. 

Then there was our participation in the 9th Philippine International Literary Festival! That was quite an amazing event, with us also meeting a few more local tabletop game designers.

We had a booth, and I was also asked to be the moderator for a talk in the event. It was an amazing feeling. I do hope it won't be the last time a government sponsored event has tabletop present in the festivities.

This year marked the end of one of my favorite campaigns too, our 7th Sea duo-campaign that had two different groups part of a singular awesome story.

I'm going to miss those fun sessions. It was a super blast exploring Theah and having that massive conspiracy narrative. The undertaking was incredible and I was very happy that everyone enjoyed the game big time.

The Eclipse Phase: Forks mini-campaign also ended and admittedly it has given me a larger appreciation and respect for the game system.

Was also part of a few more Kickstarters this year. These included:

Josh Jordan's John Silence, an amazing surreal non-violent RPG.

Alan Bahr's Tiny Supers, which makes playing superhero rpg sessions amazingly easy.

The North Sea Epilogues, which brings an RPG element to the North Sea universe of games!

I was also asked to guest in the podcast, Jianghu Hustle.   

You can listen to the episode here. I was able to share my love for the old movie, The Legend of Zu, which was a funny moment given the hosts of the show watch the OTHER Legend of Zu movie! We ended up talking about both and exploring the world of Xianxia stories.

There was a second podcast I guested in, but I haven't heard yet if its been released so I can't say anything about it yet hehe.

Itras by: Menagerie, which I wrote for, won Indie Supplement of the Year for 2017. In this book, I was able to contribute a Manila-inspired setting to the Itras By world. From having an Indie Groundbreaker Runner-Up award, to being part of something that won a Silver ENnie, I'm feeling pretty happy with this other award. There's always that Imposter Syndrome voice whispering that you didn't really earn it, but the fact it happens again and again helps one be more accepting of it.

Tadhana finally has gone digital and to support Project Tadhana's worldwide reach, I wrote a romance inspired story for them, called Kundiman,  for free. I truly believe in their work and I am very happy to see them reach a wider audience.

There's the angle of work that was written and finally released this year. These include work from freelance gigs or kickstarters I was invited to some time ago.

Tiny Frontiers Revised (link) offers an awesome easy-to-get-into spin on the science fiction genre for RPGs. For this game, I wrote up a sort of inter-galaxy Amazing Race microsetting for it.

Cold Shadows (link) on the other hand is an incredible narrative-first system that allows one to play John le Carre (link) style spy stories.  I wrote up a solitaire, one on one, and other variant rules for the game.

Cities in Shadow (link) is the city setting companion book for Cold Shadows. I helped write up the Manila chapter for those Philippine based spy stories.
While Dreamchaser: RomCom (link) added a romantic comedy genre book to its game lineup. I totally don't mind that more and more people reach out to me or ask me to write-up romantic comedy material for their games. There should be more games where love is a welcome story angle.

Tiny Wastelands
(link) is your post-apocalyptic go-to game for quick and dirty gaming. I wrote up an animal focused supplement for it for those who'd want to play something inspired by Isle of Dogs, Tokyo Jungle or Watership Down.

You & I: Roleplaying Games for Two (link) is a fantastic collection of 15 different types of games for two people. I was very happy to get a chance to be part of this.

Fragments of the King (link) is a Lovecraftian supplement book for John Wick's Curse of the Yellow Sign game. I was asked to write up a Philippine-inspired play on the Yellow King mystery.

Un Momento Unico (link) is the Spanish edition release of my game, A Single Moment.

I remain at awe looking back at all the stuff I've worked on so far and how far I've gone from simply being a guy who loved playing games. And I do hope to at least inspire more local writers and creators to reach high and tap an international market. The world needs more Filipino creators and voices.

 And there's the Community Creators stuff I've released for 7th Sea.  These, in many ways, were me finding ways to also share the ideas that appear during game sessions. I'm very grateful at the interest they've generated.

Red, Red Winter (link) is a Winter Horror adventure set in the mountains of the Highland Marches.

Young Heroics (link) is my sourcebook for having children as heroes in your 7th Sea games.

The Syrneth Codex (link) was my Syrneth artifacts book of ideas, with an exploration on a character called Warren Cassaday, who kinda was my version of a Doc Savage/Indiana Jones Hero.

The Silent Devushka (link) is an Ussuran Horror Mystery adventure which has inspiration from old Russian fairytales.

Serafina's Choice
(link) is my Vodacce Rescue Mission that goes in a different direction that most would have expected.

And the Single Sheet Sourcebooks. These were my attempts to make quick and easy resources that GMs can use to get ideas or prompt new twists into their games. These can all be found in DrivethruRpg.

Finally, on my indie game publishing, I have a bunch of projects that are in different states of being done.

First, my Studio Ghibli inspired game, Cat's Dream, which was already 95% done suddenly had to be delayed when I wanted it to have a bit more meat and time had to be focused on two other major projects. But I'm hoping to get this out.

Secondly, there's Once Upon a Time in Jianghu. After a lot of consultation, writing, and playtesting, the final version of the game is almost complete. The edits Rob Vaux sent to me were eye-opening and I'm mapping down every chapter to answer the questions he brought up. This game should also hit Kickstarter mid or late 2019.

Finally, there's the A Single Moment, The Director's Cut.
This practically ate my entire year, and watching what was once a tiny forty page book has now expanded into a tome with guest writers and lots of settings to explore. Keep an eye out for this book which should be hitting Kickstarter anytime in the coming months!

So thank you, 2018.
This review tried to stay objective and keep things simple.

But here's hoping 2019 will be less... rough.

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