Showing posts with label GMless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GMless. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

10 QUESTIONS TO: Marco Arnaudo


Marco Arnaudo has recently released Four Against the Great Old Ones, a pen-and-paper solo game that pits intrepid investigators against Lovecraftian cults and entities in the 1930s.

But who is Marco Arnaudo? Marco is a scholar of history and culture, a family man, a martial artist, a carnivorous plants enthusiast, and a big time solo-player!

Now, let’s see how good professor Arnaudo is at answering questions.

Nessuna descrizione disponibile.


1 Hello Marco. Tell us about Four Against the Great Old Ones as if you were trying to sell it to your aunt!

My aunts are all dead or insane, so it’s perfect; it’s like they played the game already. FatGOO (also known as “Fat Goo”) is a solo and cooperative narrative game set in the world of H. P. Lovecraft. It is based on the core engine of Four against Darkness, but it is a standalone game, and contains significant deviations adopted to fit the theme. The players start controlling a party of four investigators, and may recruit many helpers along the way. A great ritual is rumored to take place in 40 days to summon one of six possible cosmic horrors. The players must discover the clues to identify the location of the ritual, and must rush there to prevent the completion of the ritual. Happy now, aunt Pina?


2 Let’s talk about design. How long did you work on it? Was it a night job? How would you describe your creative process?


I’ve been playing FaD for a long time, and I had been toying with the idea of a Lovecraftian version for almost as long. Originally I thought of a dungeon crawler in which you’d explore a modular temple, but it felt too derivative, and did not really capture the spirit of Lovecraft’s cosmic dread. In the last year I reread basically all of Lovecraft’s works (including the collaborations), and made notes about the elements I wanted to include. Once I did that, and I was inspired by Four against the Titans to use an outdoors map, I started filling up encounter tables for different locations using my notes. I probably started doing this last January. At that point, I playtested it furiously to tighten and smoothen all parts, create connections between locations, ensure that it was balanced (by which I mean: lethal), and most importantly check that it was fun. By May I had a solid draft, which I sent out to external playtesters. They gave me further recommendations but overall said they really enjoyed the game. And here we are!!


3 Let’s get deeper into design. Four Against Darkness is a dungeon crawl game, and you adapted it to become a more story-driven game. Which was the hardest part of designing FAtGOO? And which was the easiest?

A big change I implemented from FaD to increase the narrative sense is that most events can be resolved only once per game. In FaD you can encounter hordes of goblins over and over again, and that’s ok, but how does it make sense to keep meeting Herbert West or Keziah Mason multiple times, always as if for the first time? I think by making most encounters unique I vastly increased the narrative element of the experience.

The hardest part was to fit all the most fascinating locations from Lovecraft’s world in a single map. I could set the story in the U.S. only, but then how would I include the settings of At the Mountains of Madness, Under the Pyramids, or The Temple? or I could use a world map, but then I would miss the original focus, which still is the U.S. The solution I found manages to hold together these two perspectives (I think!).

The easiest part was where to place most of the content. I wanted to be as faithful to Lovecraft as possible, so things generally speaking are in my game where Lovecraft placed them in his works. In some cases the location is undefined or underdefined in the original works, so I adopted my personal interpretation, and that was fun to decide.


4 Let’s talk about the publishing side of it. How did you get to publish FAtGOO with Ganesha Games?

Since my game was based on FaD, it was a natural choice to approach Andrea Sfiligoi and ask him if he’d be interested in publishing it. Which he did, hooray!


5 Are you satisfied with the reception it got so far?

It has only been 2 weeks or so, but all the reception has been very positive. Early players have spotted some mistakes that had escaped proofreading, and that we were able to correct before we produced the first printed copies. People seem to be having a good time with it, which is the point of course!!


6 Are you thinking of making more games? Are you already working on something game-related?

I am working on the first expansion for Fat Goo, Carcosa Rising, based on elements of the mythos coming from Bierce and Chambers. I also recently had a skirmish miniature game accepted by a major publisher. It is called Pulp!! and it is set in the fabulous world of the pulp fiction of the 1930s. It should come out in 2021, or 2022.


7 You are quite fond of solo and of historical games. Can you suggest a beginners-friendly game, and one for expert players?

For beginners, any game in the States of Siege system. For advanced players, D-Day at Omaha Beach.


8 You frequently play with your kids. How old are they, and what games have engaged them the most? Any tips for playing with kids?

They are 8 and 10. They both like fantasy games and eurogames, and the 8yo also likes historical wargames. The trick to playing with kids is: let them win the first game, to get them hooked, and then play honestly. Also, get them started ASAP, and ignore the age indications on the box. They have zero value.


9 Now let’s get back to your aunt. Please explain to her your book, Storytelling in the Modern Board Game: Narrative Trends from the Late 1960s to Today!

Ok aunt Pina, you haven’t read a single book in your life, and you only speak Piedmontese, but you are really going to enjoy this book in English. Also you hate games, so this is really an opportunity for you to branch out and discover how games learned to tell stories between the late 1960s and now. First wargames influenced the invention of role-playing games, and RPGs in return lent their narrative perspective to board games. The book tells the development of narrative trends in tabletop gaming in the constant interaction between board games and RPGs.



10 RPGs. What are your favorites?

Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. It may make me sound basic, but it is what it is.


11 I know, they were supposed to be 10, but I have one more question before we say goodbye. Please point us to a song you think we should listen to.

Too Many Friends by Placebo!





Great song. Thank you Marco! Bye!

Saturday, September 5, 2020

About Four Against Darkness


Four Against Darkness is a great game by veteran designer Andrea Sfiligoi, author and publisher of an enormous amount of RPGs and miniatures games such as the hugely popular Song of Blades and Heroes, or my personal favorite Battlesworn.

4AD is a pen and paper solo dungeon crawler, which can also optionally be played as a gmless group game. It is a WILDLY successful game (see that MITHRAL badge on drivethru? Now check those 242 ratings on Amazon...), and has received a rich line of supplements, and a few spin-offs into other genres and play styles.

What I like about it is that rules are simple and straightforward, with the level of crunch and detail that I find enjoyable for a solo game! 

The core book contains all the basic rules which are needed in order to play, and a  dungeon which, probably, is the weakest part of it, as it feels too generic to really be engaging. This very problem is fixed with the expansions, each of which offers a focused story or dungeon, with full flavor, and story events triggered while you play.

The spin-off games derive from 4AD, but include all the rules needed to play, and usually expand them to fit different themes, settings and narrative structures, and as such are stand-alone products. They include titles such as the atomic age sci-fi Four Against Mars, or the survival horror Alone Against Fear.

The latest spin-off, one that looks VERY interesting (and I'm definitely going to grab soon) is the stand-alone game Four Against the Great Old Ones. Designed by Marco Arnaudo, it is an adaptation of the 4AD "engine", turned into a Cthulhu themed game where investigators must find clues and foil the plans of insane cultists in the 1930s US before doom happens.


As I said, Four Against Darkness is an ever-growing line. I hit Andrea for some sneaky preview of the an upcoming supplement, and he passed me a succulent preview!

The next 4AD product is Labyrinth of the Lurking Lepidopterae, an adventure written by Erick Bouchard who's already authored Warlike Woes and Greedy Gitfts of the Guildmasters, with illustrations by Andrea Sfiligoi.

Here's the description Andrea gave me:


Labyrinth of the Lurking Lepidopterae
This adventure occurs on the western continent of An-Mòr, north of the fungi-infested land known as the Sun-Kissed Vale, and to the west of King Ven’s dwarf kingdom of Kestar Kell. A merchant family from the southern isle of Enotria, the Van Pontoretto, is trying to cut the grass under their Dorintian rivals by finding new trade routes between the realms of Man and the dreaded Sun-Kissed Vale, rich in fabulous alchemical ingredients and delicious edibles. The safest path goes through Kassar Du, the mythical Green Door to the underground kingdom of Kestar Kell, but unfortunately it is forbidden to you. Maestro Van Pontoretto (that’s his actual name) has run afoul of Lyonette of Midlands, king Ven’s Guildmistress of the Armorers Guild. Rumors speak of crookery and romantic entanglements. Whatever the cause, the miner dwarves will not let the Enotrians nor your agents enter their lands, nor will they tolerate armed soldiers at their frontier.

The Labile Labyrinth
Fortunately, there still lies a path the Dorintians dare not thread – the Labile Labyrinth, a shimmering canyon between harsh mountain fangs inhabited by the sinister moth people and their insane queen. Ever since the gods cursed the moth folk to lose their flight, they have become vicious, forcing captives to obsessively collect insect wings when they are not killing trespassers outright. If a safe path could be established for caravans, the lucrative trade with the fungi folk – for they are not all dangerous psychopaths – would drive a hard blow to the Dorintian traders, and especially the Orfeld Company which has been denying the Von Pontoretto for far too long. All that’s needed is to establish a beachhead by having a first convoy arriving safely at the Outpost, the only known passage from human lands to the Sun-Kissed Vale. In the name of profit, free trade and maybe Enotrian patriotism, your party has been tasked with escorting a caravan of four chariots, half a dozen workers and as many llamas across this wicked and treacherous land.
Will You Survive the Labile Labyrinth? Four hundred gold pieces for escorting a caravan across a valley populated by butterfly people. Who could refuse that? Of course, it won’t be that simple. The moth folk fiercely defend their valley with treacherous traps and bruising brigades. Not to mention the menacing mushroom men, weird temples, shape-changers and the ominous Tower of the Screaming Virgins. Things wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the quarrelsome, alcoholic, lustful and dishonest crew members who you will have to keep an eye on. Add the bad roads, broken wheels, stolen cargo, tactical ambushes… and the llamas. Oh dear. Requires only the core Four Against Darkness book. This book contains adult humor, flamingos and lecherous llamas.

And here's also a preview of the cover, with art still not finalized, but nice to see!

Nessuna descrizione disponibile. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

About Gold & Glory - Seven Deadly Dungeons





 Gold & Glory - Seven Deadly Dungeons was my first project I designed completely by myself, crashing together my love for Savage Worlds and OSR games.

From the blurb:

Welcome to a world of legendary heroes and daring feats or, more probably, to a dishonorable story of ill-fated treasure hunters who’ll soon bite off more than they can chew… unless they manage to return home with enough gold to carouse wildly until their next expedition!

Gold & Glory is  a toolbox, to enjoy the Fast, Furious and Fun rules of Savage Worlds in a game of classic dungeon exploration, in the spirit of the Old School Renaissance, with no other book needed besides Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.

It is ideal to play one night games as well as longer campaigns and allows you to play with no preparation at all.
Gold & Glory: Seven Deadly Dungeons includes:
  • A random character generation system to start playing in no time
  • New equipment for dungeon delvers
  • Magic and Miracles Arcane Backgrounds to create classic arcane characters in the FFF spirit of Savage Worlds
  • Downtime activities such as Carousing and Magic Research, tied to the Experience system, to keep your heroes busy between one expedition and the next
  • The Dungeon Deck system to generate your dungeons while you play
  • Seven deadly self-generating dungeons for your heroes to explore!
  • More than 30 new monsters to face and a heap of magic items to loot!

All Gold & Glory interior art and covers are by ink master Francesco Saverio Ferrara (check his works on Facebook!), and we also used some maps by acclaimed map artist Dyson Logos to complement the layout.

Gold & Glory has received a widely favorable reception, with several dozens of five-star reviews, both for the SWDeluxe and SWADE version.

Even now that two years have passed since release, I must admit I'm really happy and satisfied with how the random character creation system works. That, and the Dungeon Deck that generates thematic dungeons while you play, are two of my most accomplished designs, in my view.


Design aside, I'm also happy with the variety of the seven dungeon adventures I squeezed into the book, a mix of vanilla fantasy, dark fairy tale, and horrific visions. They range from the rather classic swamp temples of the Serpent Shrines and the abandoned dwarven city of the Dwarf Prince Demise, to the Moldy Caves, infested with undead bandits and moldy abominations, to the non-euclidean Witch House with its grim fairy tale vibes, to the verdant, puzzling nightmare that is the Green Maze, to the steampunkish, ooze-infested Iron Vat, to the Hellraiser tribute that is the Halls of Pain.
And thanks to the Dungeon Deck system, each of those will play different every time, with a unique map and always new combinations of events, hazards and rewards.

The Gold & Glory book is also expanded with the following:
Solo, GMLess and One-on-One Adventures: A supplement with rules, options and suggestions to play with no GM. The obvious complement to a system that is already prepless on its own! It also features an Abstract Clues system and options for hired Allies, which can be used in any type of fantasy games!


The Old School Gaming Guide: A guide aimed at explaining the core concepts of “Classic Dungeon Games” and how they interact with the Savage Worlds rules through the Gold & Glory book!


The Dungeon Template: simple empty form organized with all the infos and tables of the G&G dungeon format, which you can fill with your own unique creations.


The Character Sheet Pack: A character sheet specifically designed to make character creation ultra fast, with checkboxes for all the main results of the G&G random creation system.




And then there's a whole lot of dungeon adventures written by guest authors such as Diogo Nogueira, Richard Woolcock, Andrea Mollica, and Courtney Campbell... but the "deadly dungeon hosts" will be the subject of another post!

          

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