Rogues: Bent Twig

By Joe R Lansdale. 

Couldn’t have more of a different tone from the previous story. This one is all smart mouthed world weary detective noir set in modern Texas. The dialogue is really interesting, and full of colour. No idea if folk really speak like that as my knowledge is based almost entirely in Smokey and the Bandit. 

Also, properly violent. Tarantino violent. 

This story displays the thug end of the rogue spectrum, with wit and vigour. Makes you wince though. Gaming wise there are possibilities for Unknown Armies or modern Cthulhu what with the corrupted church stuff. The protagonists do actually behave like PCs, so perhaps lift the plot for a short one off. 

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Rogues: Inn of the Seven Blessings

By Matthew Hughes

A classic fantasy jape that includes rogues, small gods and power crazed sorcerers as well as a side order of cannibals. Good fun, if occasionally clumsy in execution. Some highly pinchable stuff for gaming mind, you could virtually run the plot as a scenario in itself. Loot this for names and ideas. 

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Rogues: What Do You Do? By Gillian Flynn

The second story in the collection is by the woman who wrote Gone Girl, which was bloody brilliant. This tale is just as messed up. The opening really sets the tone;

I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.

It gets darker from there. It’s a modern day setting, but it takes a creepy rather supernatural turn as it goes on. I preferred the first half where our con artist protagonist gives us a glimpse of her trade, and some amazing internal monologues (which is Flynn blatantly showing off her characterization skills). In the one half it becomes more of a thriller, but one that takes story into places I don’t quite believe in. And the ending is incredibly sudden, leaving questions that frustrate more that tease. 

For gaming, there’s great characters in this, as well as a couple of cool locations. The plot would be tough to import directly into an RPG scenario, but the themes are very liftable. 

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My favourites, in everything. Coming to a collection of short stories of the same name very late in the day. Edited by George RR Martin (and another person who I’ve never heard of) who whips out an overview of rogueiness for an introduction. 

First up Joe Abercrombie with Tough Times All Over. He manages to squeeze at least a dozen effortlessly brilliant RPG characters into a few dozen pages. Each described as if he were simply doing this for practice. Lesser authors would take one paragraph and turn it into a trilogy. A perfectly balanced serial of pass-the-contraband that immediately makes me want to never attempt writing again. 

Tough Act To Follow more like. 

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Retainers released into the wild

I’ve written a mini story game. It’s called Retainers and its up on Drivethru right now. 

In this game you play the hirelings that go along on fantasy adventures, and the exploits they talk about when in each other’s company. It’s for two or more players who have a knowledge of the tropes of fantasy roleplaying games. No GM necessary.

The party leaders are the Adventurers, those who have money, fame and levels. As mere hirelings the Retainers will have at best a stipend, an overloaded pack, a 10’ pole and a short life expectancy.
You are a vital part of the adventuring economy though. You support the new adventuring party through those tricky first dungeons. You are the labourers, the carriers and the muscle that turns the wheels of commerce in the cities. In the wilderness you are the guides, the healers and the rumour mongers.
You carry, guard, leap, climb, test, taste, and poke. But you never advise. And you rarely get the glory.

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The Smart Party Cometh

Myself and my good friend Gaz have once again hit the microphones and delivered up a hot slab of gaming podcast goodness to warm you up on these cold January nights. 

In this episode, we swoon over the classic game Unknown Armies and wonder if this is what people mean when they say Urban Fantasy? Probably not, but it’s still a brilliant game. 

Head to our site for more!

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New Year, New Ideas

Me and my old mucker pontificate on the big old Venn diagram marked ‘Gaming’. In other words, does playing Camel Up make you want to play Spirit of the Century? (Quick answer; yes)

The Smart Party

Episode 22 – Taking Ideas From Other Games
(a.k.a New Year, New Ideas)

The tinsel is in disarray and the clammy grip of work clutches our hearts, but fear not, for The Smart Party are back with another Podcast! This week we talk about what we can glean from those gamey Christmas presents we got; how can boardgames inform our roleplaying style? What use are card games? Are games really all that different?

January is a lean month, becoming a Patreon can help us add a bit of cheese to the beans on toast we’ll be surviving on.

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