I've always liked NPCs. Those who know me might even say that I'm obsessed by them. There are times, it seems, that I'm more interested in NPCs than PCs. I've been known to get bogged down in describing some "off-camera" scenes involving NPC action. I've also been known to over-extend a bantering session between a PC and a NPC - sometimes the play-acting and dialog are just too good to let go, though such things may ruin the pace of a game. But, I'd also like to think those are exceptions, not the rule. And I'd like to think that my obsession with NPCs help make my games cool.

Metal Gear Solid. Rambo. Rambo II. That other movie with the guy who fought in that one place that one time. At least one of these should flash through your mind when you think of the popular culture conception of a "mercenary." If you've ever wanted to run a mercenary campaign, The Modern: Mercenary Manual from Ronin Arts contains a plethora of rules that will have you parachuting behind enemy lines, negotiating mercenary contracts with morally bankrupt dictatorships, and, most importantly, shooting stuff. A lot. With guns.

Time for a throwback to days of yore, when Dungeons & Dragons books, filled with demonic imagery, bare breasts and scary-sounding spells like "Tasha's Hideous Laughter", were accused of inciting teens to suicide. A mother has blamed the CCG Yu-Gi-Oh for her son's death.

TimeLords: where you can design yourself. Thrust through time and space by an artifact you don't understand. To go home, you must survive long enough to learn to control the awesome forces at your disposal. But by then, would you want to go back? (A word of warning: TimeLords is a game that strives to be as realistic as possible.)

By sharing with the players your questions and processes in creating the world, you begin to establish the group as a self reflective container. Tell the group a description of the world and how it is a personal reflection of you: what your biases are, or what issues you are going to be looking for. Tell them that they don't have to bring those issues out in the game, but that this is what you are interested in. Often people follow the lead... the deeper and more personal that you set the tone, the more likely they will be to reveal about themselves.

One of the most hotly anticipated games of the new millennium has been R. Talsorian's Cyberpunk 203X, the third incarnation of the definitive Cyberpunk RPG. After some rethinking, restructuring and much grumbling by fans (myself included), it appears that there's finally a neon light on the horizon.

No one should feel they have to play in a bad game. I'm sure you've heard the story as often as I have. "I have a crappy DM, but I have to play in his game if I want to play at all." Here are three basic steps to getting the game you want: pick your players, pick your game, set the stage. Get the game you want.

 
 

Nik Naks are extra ingredients that can be added to any gaming campaign. These won't be found in the Player's Handbook... they're homegrown. This article, a followup to the well received "Nik Naks", includes three new additions: "Played By", "Quote of the Night", and "The Toss Game".

Should you allow a player to play a non-human character or not? In this article I attempt to list some of the pitfalls associated with playing these characters and how to avoid them in your sessions.

The inside book jacket explains that "(t)his book is a celebration of that phenomenon (D&D, natch) and a tribute to the millions of players who brought the Dungeons & Dragons experience to life." When I think of tributes, I think of missing man formations flying over stadiums, of 21-gun salutes and taps played on a lone bugle. As a tribute, this book is the equivalent of a handful of cellophane balloons released from the rooftop of a car dealership just before noon on a Sunday, with Kool and the Gang playing on a cassette deck nearby.

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