All posts by William L. Munn

About William L. Munn

Stories. Games. Storygames.

What’s New in 2021?

Hey, uh… so. I’ll dive right into it.

I’ve got some tabletop roleplaying games out in the world that people can check out!

First is Arium, and if you’ve been following along on social media, you know that Adept Icarus ran a crowdfunding campaign last Fall to get it into print. Now it’s available IN PRINT and digital formats over here on the Adept Icarus website! The game turned out really well if I do say so myself. Here are the two core books released so far (and some of the internal art).

A little about Arium: it’s a love letter to creating worlds and giving RPG groups more control over the story, places, and people in their games. I got to work closely with a team of incredible folks to put it together, and that experience alone is worth the effort.

Arium: Create is all about creating that world, and you’ll have fun doing it. As I’m fond of mentioning on Twitter, WORLDBUILDING IS PLAY (or at least it should be.) The crew that wrote, playtested, and ultimately published this book has ensured that it is a 100% true statement. Besides being fun, Create‘s rules will ensure that the entire group loves what they, uh, create. How do I know this? We’ve put it to the test with tons of game sessions with diverse groups. Without fail, gamers love the world they put together, and while the rules of the game enable this, they do it in the most natural way possible. Everyone jots down ideas quickly (it’s timed), and then they look for ways to combine those ideas to make them even more awesome. Finally, the group votes, and only the favorites of the entire group make it into the canon of the world. It’s fast, easy, and a total blast.

Arium: Discover brings streamlined and easy-to-follow rules for roleplaying that will work with pretty much anything a group can imagine. If your groups haven’t branched out much from 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, that’s just great! Discover won’t be a huge leap in terms of learning new ways to do things. If you’ve tried tons of different games, you’ll see some things that are familiar from games like The Great American Novel or FATE, but you’ll also see some of the typical patterns of old-school RPGs. The goal with Arium: Discover is to keep things streamlined and enable your group to tell the story they want to tell, in the world they want to tell it in. It’s streamed on many different Twitch, Youtube, and Facebook Live channels, and folks tend to love it!

So yeah. Check out Arium! Onward to the other big game that’s released both digitally and in print for quite some time. Yes, I’ve been neglecting this blog. It’s Zorro™: The Roleplaying Game by Gallant Knight Games. This game is, by far, the most ambitious project I’ve been a part of to date, and I was both a writer and a producer for the game. In many ways, Zorro™ prepared me for the work on Arium, and I owe GKG owners Alan and Erin Bahr a ton of appreciation for taking a chance to involve me heavily in the project. It was the experience I needed!

It was a privilege to work on a game from this iconic franchise about the first Latinx American hero. Not only that, he’s one who I’ve enjoyed watching on the small and large screens from my early youth to today. I got to write critters, quickstart characters, and even an adventure seed (and more) for this book, to say nothing of working with amazingly talented folks in the RPG industry. The writers, the editor, the layout, and of course the publisher were all top-notch, and I can’t say enough good things about them! Their skill and professionalism encouraged me to up my game (pun both intended and not intended) in ways I could scarcely have imagined prior.

All in all, it’s been an action-packed couple of years. If RPGs are your thing, check out Arium and Zorro™!

Coming up this year, I’ll continue to work and help deliver Arium crowdfunding stretch goals: Arium: Bridge, Arium: Flash, and Arcadia Planetary Amusement Recreation Kingdom. They are all in varying states of completion. You can follow along with the public Arium Kickstarter updates here, if you’re interested. Also, I’m adapting my old short story, Rue From Ruin, to an RPG ruleset called Wretched & Alone by Chris Bissette. For those who read any of Rue, you’ll know why I think it’s a perfect fit from name alone. Oh, and it will maybe, MAYBE have a soundtrack too. Keep an eye out for that someday!

What’s Up With Arium? Actual Plays.

Hey all! Zorro: The Roleplaying Game is now available in digital format via DriveThruRPG. Did you know? A link, if you’re lazy like me: Zorro.


While the final bits of the Zorro project are in the publisher’s hands, I’ve turned my primary focus to Arium (my RPG passion project) over the past couple of months. Well, primary focus after time spent dealing with unforeseen work and life circumstance. And scavenging for toilet paper. You get the point.

Some good news: the Arium team is marching toward completion, and while that is in progress, we’ll be hosting a weekly actual play on the Adept Icarus YouTube channel. Swing on by if you’d like an idea of what we’ve been up to!

Watch Arium Actual Play Episode One!

RPG I Love You: Cold Shadows

WILL RAMBLES

Hey folks! It’s been a while. I’ve been avoiding writing “reviews” since I officially joined the indie publisher club. This is not an RPG Review (although I’ve had one queued up for Cold Shadows for a while). I’m doing a new thing I’ll call an RPG I Love You where I’ll point out games I love and the reasons I love them. Honestly, I’ve never reviewed an RPG I actively dislike… it’s not really how I roll. Maybe there’ll be some mention about the things I DON’T love in an RPG I Love You, but that’s not the focus. Oh, and one more thing, the rating system I’ve done in the past is gone. Kaput. Finito.

Now that we’re done with the meta stuff, let’s see if I can still do this…

Cold Shadows is one of the games whose Kickstarter ran while Gallant Knight Games was an imprint of Nocturnal Media. Sadly, the death of RPG industry legend and luminary Stewart Wieck of Nocturnal came before the final product delivered. As fans of role-playing games, we are all in debt to Stewart on a level similar to that of Gary Gygax and Greg Stafford and the other progenitors of our favorite hobby. Mr. Wieck’s contributions are multitude, and when he was at White Wolf, he changed the industry forever with the World of Darkness line of games.

This RPG I Love You is dedicated to Stewart.

ColdShadows

I LOVE YOU, COLD SHADOW

Today I’m looking back on the Kickstarter edition of Cold Shadows, the narrative Cold War spy roleplaying game by Gallant Knight Games.

Cold Shadows enables groups to tell John LeCarre-style spy stories full of tense scenarios where agencies are the greater whole and agents serve the agency’s purposes– mostly.

It’s based on the Blood and Honor ruleset by John Wick Presents. I’ve played that one as well, and I’d recommend it for groups looking to tell narrative samurai stories. If your tastes run more toward samurai noir during the industrialization of Japan, you should also check out World of Dew by Woerner’s Wonderworks. Ben Woerner was heavily involved in Cold Shadows as well.

This game, like its predecessors makes certain assumptions about both the group and the GM and their capability to narratively describe things on the fly. Additionally, its focus on Agency first and above all is not just lip service, it’s driven both mechanically and thematically throughout the game.

If your game group likes a realistic spy stories and a good roleplaying good challenge, you’re in the right place!


Size and Production Quality 

Very nice book with quality semigloss paper and good binding. It’s not the biggest RPG in my collection, but there is plenty of content between the core book and the additional goodies (Cities in Shadow and The Black Book). Probably approaching couple hundred pages total in digest size format. Additionally, the page layouts are very thematic and aesthetically pleasing.

Art

The cover art you seen. Interior art is mainly photographic and thematic. It fits the style well. I’m a big fan.

Content and Rules

The theme of the content is very nice, although it can be challenging to find what you’re looking for in the book. Luckily, it’s not huge, so a little page flipping won’t be too painful. As previously mentioned, the rules are based on Blood and Honor. It’s a roll and keep system I haven’t seen in any games besides this line.

The gist is this, you have a pool of D6s for a given task based on your character’s setup. You’re going to choose how many you want to roll to try to hit your target. The remainder you keep, and each one allows you to say true things about your success (provided you did succeed). It can be a lot of fun when the group gets into this.

There are also subsystems for all sorts of assets spies might have access to in and around their bases of operation. This is a lot of fun to peruse and set up.

Overall, I think the system is extremely cool, but I’ll also allow that it may require an adjustment period for some players. Dropping a group of murder hobos into Cold Shadows probably won’t lead to a satisfying experience.

GM Tools and/or Pre-made Adventure

There’s a ton here, and I’m sure to miss something. Between Cold Shadows, Cities in Shadow, and The Black Book, there is plenty of content and information to run a game set all over the world and in varying time periods. I won’t go too into depth, but I will say if you have a historical campaign based in this world, there’s a ton of good content here written by some very talented folks. For the game itself, there are lots of fully realized agencies and cities you can put on the “board” for your players to explore.


Final Thoughts

I’m happy I was a backer of Cold Shadows. I even had the opportunity to do a bit of writing for The Black Book. It’s an excellent game (the best spy game on my shelves, and yes, I have a few). I had a chance to play a short campaign run by one of my teammates at work. Super fun time.

If you’re having trouble finding a copy, Cold Shadows and its supplements can be found on DriveThruRPG.

TOR No More

I can’t write this without the feels.

The One Ring Roleplaying Game (and its 5e ruled companion, Adventures in Middle Earth) by Cubicle 7 are soon to be no more. TOR 2e was fast approaching, and is cancelled. We’ll never see the glorious Moria boxed set we were promised.

I am heartbroken. Some of you may remember the review I wrote for TOR. It’s one of my favorite games of all time. https://liamwrites.com/2018/01/10/rpg-review-the-one-ring/

This is all apparently due to some licensing dispute whose details remain wrapped in shadow. https://www.cubicle7games.com/unexpected-tor2-update/

The elves (Cubicle 7) are leaving Middle Earth.

It’s taken me nearly a full day to recover enough to react. Now it’s Thanksgiving in the US, so I’ll try to end on a positive note.

Everything TOR and AiME is on sale via the Cubicle 7 website at a steep discount, and this is the last chance to own it. The game line is fantastic, and I already own everything in it. Maybe you could too? https://www.cubicle7games.com/?s=The+One+Ring&post_type=product

The What and Why of Crowdfunding A Roleplaying Game

Crowdfunding is new in the grand scheme of things, and completely new to many of my family/friends. I’m going to do my best to explain it, and why spreading the word to anyone you know who likes roleplaying games (RPGs) can be a huge help in our Zorro campaign.

Zorro: The Roleplaying Game is crowdfunded on Kickstarter (we get the money we need to make the game from people who want to see it made) AND funded (we have the minimum amount of money we need to publish the book). This is great! People love both Zorro and RPGs!

However, we have quite a few additional things we’d like to add to our game book if we had a little more money for economies of scale (printing books is considerably cheaper the more copies you make and we are making a gorgeous full-color hardbound 200-page book).

These crowdfunding campaigns fail or succeed based on the interest of a few people who want to see them made. Right now we have about 500 people backing for an eBook or hardcover copy. Every additional person who backs puts us that much closer to our stretch goals.

So, what would help?
Spreading the word to anyone you know who likes RPGs.
Being patient with my continuing crowdfunding posts for a few more days until we are done with the Zorro Kickstarter campaign.

For those playing the home game, here is a nice link you can share!