Don’t Turn Your Back Preview


I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of Don’t Turn Your Back, the third board game being published by Evil Hat Productions. It’s currently on Kickstarter with a week or so to go as of this writing.

Don’t Turn Your Back is a combination deck building card game and worker placement board game where the cards in your deck act as the meeples you place on the board. The theme is that of Fred Hicks’ RPG Don’t Rest Your Head – insomniacs who find themselves on the brink of insanity in the Mad City, a macabre world where dreams have power. Eric B. Vogel, the designer for Zeppelin Attack, returns to Evil Hat with another lean deck builder.

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Firefly Review from Game Geeks

Have you seen the Game Geeks RPG YouTube show? They’ve done a lot of reviews of games over about a decade. It’s not surprising that they reviewed Firefly, given the popularity of the setting, but I was surprised that Kurt Wiegel reads out two passages from the book as examples of cool material – both of which are Distinctions that I wrote.

Game Geeks are right in their description of Distinctions. They aren’t feats and are closer to aspects in Fate. Yet they’re a bit more. I like to think of them as aspects with stunts attached to them.

Around the 5:00 mark Kurt starts talking about Distinctions and reads out the flavor text, “Ain’t everybody in the ’Verse keen on civilization. You and yours lead hard, free lives on your own.” I squeed at work. Audibly. Like, loud enough to get funny looks from the other IT guys.

From there he gets into the basics of the system. I’d disagree with him as to the death spiral; Firefly actually has a lot of mechanics that empower the players and allow them to handle complications pretty handily. He gives big props to the episode guide, something that was a big gamble in the book design. Happy to see that well received.

The coolest bit happens around 9:20 when he starts talking about how much he likes Distinctions in the game and he goes on to talk about one of the weirdest Distinctions I wrote: Brain Leech.

Being a professional writer is still new enough to me that this sort of thing gets me all excited and more than a bit embarrassed. Still, I’m proud of my work on Firefly and it’s great to see other people enjoy it, too. Thanks, Kurt! I hope to give you fodder for many more reviews in the future.

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Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a board game of tactical missions that can be played in an asymmetrical campaign mode that will remind you of dungeon crawling RPGs and a skirmish mode that a more traditional miniatures war game. I’ve had the opportunity to play both modes, though the skirmish was a single bout using the starting rules. Continue reading

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2015 Resolutions

This comes a bit late, mostly because I don’t usually do resolutions but a few good ones struck me earlier this week. I thought I would commit to them publicly.

Focus On My Own Writing

Firefly has been and continues to be great but I want to stretch myself and grow as a writer and designer. It’s high time I focused back on my own projects. This is already in the works with Three Rocketeers. There are three other projects I want to work on seriously this year. First is Heroes Fall. It’s going to be much, much different from the things I’ve posted here already because it’s being burned to the ground and rewritten as its own thing instead of a game Powered by the Apocalypse. Second is getting an RPG for The Red Panda Adventures worked up into a solid enough state that I can pitch it to Gregg as a potential official Red Panda RPG. Lastly I want to write more fiction, specifically in the setting I’ve been developing for the last seven years that was the basis of my pitch for The Cavendish Crew in the Evil Hat Patreon.

Try to Write for Star Wars

I have a friend who writes for the Star Wars RPGs from Fantasy Flight Games. He’s offered to put in a good word for me with his editor. It would be a dream come true to work on Star Wars. Overcoming my anxiety and building up the courage to give that a try is definitely on my list. Rejection would hurt but not trying would gnaw at me for the rest of my life.

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X-Wing Miniatures: Ghost

On twitter I got into a discussion about the Ghost from Star Wars Rebels. The conversation started about how Ghost would be represented in X-Wing Miniatures but quickly turned into me defending my hypothesis that Ghost has a cloaking device of some sort. It may not be true cloaking device of the type we saw in Cat and Mouse (Clone Wars, episode 2.16) or featured on the TIE Phantom.

Ghost is Hera's ship but has become the home for the entire crew of Rebels.

My argument comes from two primary sources: A New Dawn and episodes of Star Wars Rebels.

The Ghost makes its first appearance in A New Dawn, along with its owner Hera Syndulla, covertly observing the heavily trafficked shipping lanes between Gorse and its moon Cynda. The key word is covertly. “The green-skinned Twi’lek in her stealth-rigged starship…” A New Dawn advanced reader’s edition, pg. 22. We are led to believe that no one notices the Ghost despite there being literally hundreds of ships in the area, one of them being an Imperial Star Destroyer. The next page describes Hera copying the transponder code of a freighter in the space lanes, which is pretty cool. I can’t find them but I think there are a few more sly references to Ghost’s ability to avoid detection.

The other information comes from Rebels. In the Rebels pilot A Spark of Rebellion, the Ghost is able to fly up to an Imperial Star Destroyer and enter one of its hangars before it is detected. That’s not just a transponder being switched. There’s some sort of active stealth technology at play. I don’t believe it’s a sensor jammer because we’ve seen in Return of the Jedi that jamming signals can be detected. Throughout the show there are hints that the Ghost is special and has some superior capabilities. They’re very coy about it so I think there’s some sort of reveal that’s being led up to.

At any rate, I think there’s going to be a reveal on Rebels at some point that the Ghost has a cloaking or stealth device beyond normal capabilities. And it should be awesome.

Ghost in X-Wing

The Ghost is unique in that it has a small shuttle craft, named the Phantom, docked to it most times. Granted, it’s about a third larger than the Millennium Falcon so there’s space for a shuttle. It would be great to see that represented in X-Wing miniatures. Two models in the package: a Ghost and a shuttle. The Ghost would have Hera as the elite named pilot at either pilot skill 8 or 9.  The shuttle would feature Kanan with a pilot skill of 7. Both ships would have the usual complement of other pilots. We could get Chopper, Sabine, Zeb, and Ezra crew cards.


The Ghost has a turret but its heavy guns are in the forward and rear arcs. I see that as 3 attack in those two arcs with a turret upgrade slot. It’s not the most maneuverable ship so let’s call it 1 agility. 7 hull and 5 shields would round things out. Give the ship the focus and target lock actions. It’s got two crew slots and a systems upgrade. The Ghost title for the ship would add the cloak action to the toolbar and run 5 or 6 points. The base ship would be expensive, maybe 34 points for a 1 or 2 pilot skill pilot.

The Phantom would be a small-base ship with 3 attack, 2 agility, 2 hull, and 2 shields. Start it at 15 points for the base model since it’s somewhere between an X-Wing and a Z-95. Things change with the action bar and upgrade slots. The shuttle gets the focus and barrel roll actions with crew and turret upgrade slots (don’t look at me, says it has a turret!). Maybe have the Phantom title give it the cannon upgrade since there are some ludicrously large guns on that bad boy.

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Metatopia 2014 Recap: Part 5, Novapunk

The last game I played at Metatopia was Novapunk, a forthcoming dystopian cyberpunk fantasy game from Legendsmiths. Shane Harsch, whom you may remember from my write up of How to Make Hacking Interesting in RPGs from my Friday Metatopia panels, is the designer and was our GM.

I was probably the most unlikely playtester imaginable for Novapunk. It’s very much a new take on the Shadowrun style of of cyberpunk-meets-fantasy and I have never played Shadowrun. It’s not even in the lengthy list of games I’ve read and never played. The first I’d heard of Shadowrun was in 2010 or so and I know just enough to have a basic concept of what the setting is. Oh, and it uses a lot of d6 dice.

Unlike other play test sessions I forgot to write down the names of everyone involved. Rob Donoghue and Brennan Taylor were present, as were two other players whose names I didn’t catch. Sorry about that. Continue reading

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