Interviews – Episode 2 – Chris Birch

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Oct 042012

The CarpeGm Interview Series – Episode 2 – Chris Birch




Notes – “World War Two…with tentacles!”  I was able to sit down and chat (via Skype) with Chris Birch of Modiphious about his new publishing imprint and campaign series, Achtung! Cthulhu.  Enjoy!

Media – 

Achtung! Cthulhu
Starblazer Adventures
Fate RPG
Legends of Anglerre
Sarah Newton
Joystick Junkies
Atomic Sock Monkey Press (PDQ System
Spirit of the Century (Evil Hat Productions)
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (FFG)
Defenders of the Realm
Hollow Earth RPG
Feng Shui RPG
Flames of War
Realms of Cthulhu (Reality Blurs)
Call of Cthulhu (RPG) (Chaosium Inc.)
Trail of Cthulhu (Pelgrane Press)

Chris supported:  Orcs Nest Games Shop

P.S.  Chris is a brilliant conversationalist, and sadly, I had to cut the interview a little short, as I had to go to my real job.  Unfortunately, once the mics were turned off, the conversation went on for another 15 to 20 minutes about gaming and geek culture in general.  By the time I realized the gold that was slipping through my fingers, it was to late.  With that, good listeners, I leave you with a solemn promise….From this point forward, the mics WILL NOT be turned off until all communication has ceased!!!

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Episode 12 – Engage!

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Sep 272012

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Hosts – Dan, Bryan, Mack, Tyler, Steve

Topic – In this episode, we discuss ways to keep your game group engaged when there has been a significant change in scheduling,and we answer(?) a listener email.

(:44) On our horizon

(11:19) Game savers

(21:03) EMAIL!!





 D&D Next playtest
Metagamers Anonymous
Heroes of Newerth
League of Legends
IDW Publishing
Lasagna Quattro Formaggi
Obsidian Portal
Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast
Savage Worlds
Martha Stewart tv movie (IMDb)
Star Wars Saga Edition
Traveller (Mongoose)
Prime Directive RPG
Rogue Trader
Battle Fleet Gothic
Spelljammer (apparently, people still play this)
Scumbag Shang Tsung

Mack Supported Shai-Hulud (Wikipedia)

Notes – Because of a pressing schedule, a late start, and tangential (yet substantive) discussions, we did not quite make it to to our topic in this episode.  Stay tuned…the Sci Fi episode is coming!

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Episode 11 – Dissecting “The Dark Knight Rises”

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Sep 052012

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Our listener contest is still going on.  Go to for more info!

SPOILER ALERT!  This episode contains major spoilers for Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises!

Hosts – Dan, Mack, Bryan, Steve, Tyler

Topic – We lovingly tear apart the final movie in the Batman theatrical trilogy.  Discussions include:  our likes, dislikes, observations, and plot holes.  As well as an extended conversation about settings as characters in your games, a bit about a Gotham City Police Department campaign, and finally, how we would have chosen to end the trilogy.

(1:10) On our horizon

(8:31) Forthcoming interviews

(10:05) Our listener contest

(11:30) The Dark Knight Rises – our likes and observations

(19:55) our dislike about the movie and a collection of plot holes

(43:00) Settings as characters

(48″26) Alternate endings for the franchise ( how we would have done it)

Media :


Adventure Time (IMDb)
Borderlands 2
WOW Mists of Pandaria
Avengers VS. X-Men
The Game Room
Cullen Bunn
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe
Ninja – Legend of the Scorpion Clan
Batman Begins (IMDb)
The Dark Knight (IMDb)
The Dark Knight Rises (IMDb)
Kingdom Come (DC Wiki)
No Man’s Land (DC Wiki)
Justice League (IMDb)
Man of Steel (IMDb)
Dragon Ball Z
Leverage (TV)(IMDb)
Leverage (RPG)
The Boys
Civil War (Marvel Wiki)
Danger Club

Dan supported Modiphious (Facebook)

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Star Wars : Edge of the Empire RPG

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Aug 292012

A new Star Wars table top RPG…….intriguing. 


Star Wars®: Edge of the Empire is a standalone roleplaying game experience that places players in the roles of hard-hearted bounty hunters, roguish scoundrels, charming smugglers, or fearless explorers trying to survive and thrive on the edges of civilization…and the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire beta test is your chance to be among the first to play!

This limited edition, 224-page softcover rulebook provides you a chance to lead these galactic explorers. Read on for more about the beta, skip below for an overview of Edge of the Empire, or head to our webstore to order your copy!

What is Star Wars: Edge of the Empire?

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is the first of three epic roleplaying game installments. Each will be a standalone core rulebook, but will complement the other two to form a single game system. Each of these three planned core rulebooks presents the Star Warsgalaxy from a different point of view, and they all take place during the height of the Rebel Alliance’s struggle against the Galactic Empire.

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is the first of these installments, focusing on the fringes of society, the scum and villainy of the galaxy, and the explorers and colonists of the Outer Rim. In this game, players take on the roles of hard-hearted bounty hunters, roguish scoundrels, charming smugglers, or fearless explorers trying to survive and thrive on the edges of civilization. In the second installment, Star Wars: Age of Rebellion, the players take the fight to the oppressive Galactic Empire as cunning spies, cocky pilots, and dedicated soldiers in the Rebel Alliance.

Finally, in Star Wars: Force and Destiny, the players become figures of legend: the last surviving Force users in the galaxy. Hunted by the Empire, they must stay alive, and more importantly, stay true to the ideals of their forebears—the fabled Jedi. Each of these independent game lines stands alone as a unique gaming experience while fully integrating with the others to form a single unified system. For more on Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, skip below to read our overview.

How can I get my copy of the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beta?

Simply order your copy of the book from our webstore or pick it up at Gen Con Indy 2012 (while supplies last). Certain participating North American retailers will carry theStar Wars: Edge of the Empire Beta in early September, as shipping will begin the week of August 27th, 2012. (Retailers: Are you interested in carrying the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beta in your store? Learn how!)

International customers should check back in the coming weeks, when we’ll post an update about international availability.

Below, it says that Star Wars: Edge of the Empire uses custom dice. How do I get those for the beta? What else do I need in order to play?

Each beta copy of the book includes a sticker sheet, with all the sides of all the dice you’ll need. Using this sheet of stickers and your own polyhedral dice, you’ll be able to create Edge of the Empire‘s custom dice.

Alternatively, you can choose to download the Star WarsDice app for your iOS or Android mobile device. This convenient die roller includes dice for the X-Wing(TM) Miniatures Game and the Star Wars RPG line, as well as seven common polyhedral dice for all your gaming needs.

Aside from the beta rulebook and the dice, no other components are required to play Star Wars: Edge of the Empire.

How will the beta differ from the final product?

The Star Wars: Edge of the Empire beta is a fully developed and playable product, and it includes all the rules and materials players need to enjoy countless games of Edge of the Empire.

However, it is important to note that some of the elements in this beta are not representative of the final product. The beta contains comparatively very little art, and nearly all of the background material has been removed to ensure a more concise playtest experience.

How often should my group plan on playing?

As often as possible! It would be ideal if your group makes time to play at least four sessions over the course of the beta period (we will announce the end date soon). Before your first session, it is a good idea to prepare by reading through the rulebook to make sure things go smoothly. Since you will only have a limited number of weeks to submit feedback, holding a session every week would be best.

What kind of feedback is FFG looking for?

The sort of information that is most useful to us is specific, well thought out, and concise. Good feedback states the issue at hand and accurately cites page numbers and rules contradictions therein. We are primarily concerned with issues that affect gameplay, such balance or clarity issues. We will be adding weekly updates to our website as the testing progresses.

How do I submit my feedback?

There are two main methods for you to submit your feedback. First, we have a public forum on the FFG website You can use this board to discuss the beta test with the other people involved, post questions and feedback, and get news updates from the Star Wars Roleplaying Game team. Second, you can submit any specific reports or feedback directly to the development team at the beta test email address ( When submitting your feedback via email, it is most helpful to us if you consolidate all of your questions and comments into a single document for your entire group, waiting to send it in until you have collected all feedback into a single document. This will help the development team here more easily organize and process all of your comments.

UPDATE: When do I need to submit my feedback?

We will stop officially accepting feedback on December 1st, 2012.

Explore the Galaxy from a Whole New Perspective

“If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.”
–Luke Skywalker

Life isn’t easy at the edge of galactic civilization. Money, food, and other necessities are often in short supply. It takes a great deal of cunning, drive, and luck to survive, let alone get ahead in life. Many beings live through grit, determination, exploration, and often illicit or dangerous activities.

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is a roleplaying game that captures the visionary essence of the Star Wars universe, while focusing on its grim and gritty corners. In control of a character exploring the Outer Rim, you’ll do business in places where morality is gray and nothing is certain, living on the fringes of both the galaxy and its society. In an Edge of the Empire campaign, bounty hunters, smugglers, mercenaries, and explorers not only rub elbows with doctors, politicians, and scholars, but they find themselves thrust into adventures alongside them. During these adventures, you and your fellow fringers will often find yourselves facing any number of challenges, from repairing a damaged starship or slicing your way past a security panel to exchanging blaster fire with hired gunmen out to collect a bounty. With little law or order on the Outer Rim, you must rely on your innate abilities, trained skills, and special talents to survive.

To begin, you’ll take the role of one of eight unique species, then choose a career and specialization as distinctive as your individual play style. As a Bounty Hunter, you might take on the Gadgeteer specialization, and keep a trick up your sleeve for every possible challenge. Or, you might master the wilderness of countless worlds as a Survivalist, and specialize in tracking your prey wherever he chooses to hide. Looking for something more subtle? As a Colonist, you’ll play as one of the Core World’s elite, an educated Imperial citizen seeking a new life far from the bustle of Imperial Center. But are you a Doctor, bringing your healing arts to those who need them most, or a Politico, introducing law to the lawless wilds?

With eight species, six careers, eighteen specializations, and countless other defining characteristics, your character creation options are limited only by your own imagination.

In the Outer Rim, Everyone’s Running From Something

“You just watch yourself. We’re wanted men. I have the death sentence on twelve systems.”

One of the cornerstones of the Edge of the Empire experience, Obligation represents a debt, nemesis, duty, or other motivating factor that drives your character’s efforts on the fringes of galactic society. After all, while many beings venture to the Outer Rim to satisfy a pioneering spirit of exploration, others are not so free. Obligation is a mechanical and narrative concept, established during character creation, that answers one all-important question: Why are you here?

Whether it’s blackmail, favors owed to a crime boss, or good old-fashioned debt, Obligation is the shadowy predator that stalks you throughout your successes and failures. A group may share the same Obligation, or it may be a deeply personal factor in each character’s background; it may be a tangible entity such as spice addiction, or something deeper like an unpaid favor to a dear friend. Over the course of a campaign, however, it’s always there, putting pressure on the group and providing the Game Master with a range of useful and engaging plot hooks. At the start of each session, the Game Master randomly determines if someone’s Obligation will be “triggered,” and if so, whose. Will that pesky Bounty Hunter make another attempt to capture you, interrupting your delicate mission? Will your pilot’s addiction flare up when you need him focused? Or, will simple stress over your doctor’s criminal record on Nar Shaddaa leave everyone a bit preoccupied?

At the same time, a character who willingly takes on additional Obligation opens up doors for himself and his crew. Additional Obligation during character creation can mean more starting experience or vital credits to purchase a ship. So go on…borrow a bit more money from that Hutt. What’s the worst that could happen?

Unique Custom Dice Present Unparalleled Storytelling Options

“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our own point of view.”
–Obi-Wan Kenobi

Featuring unique custom dice, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire presents a range of compelling storytelling options. Every roll of the dice has a tale to tell, providing results well beyond mere success or failure. With these custom dice (proxies or mock-ups are required for the beta, and charts are provided in the book), a range of deep and engaging story outcomes are always possible.

Six main dice, three positive and three negative, make up the core of the Edge of the Empire custom dice system. Ability, Proficiency, and Boost dice provide beneficial symbols, and represent a character’s basic aptitude, advanced training, and environmental advantages. Conversely, Difficulty, Challenge, and Setback dice provide negative symbols, and represent a task’s inherent complexity, active opposition, and environmental disadvantages. Through a straightforward system that takes all conditions into account, players and Game Masters quickly build a dice pool for each task, then they roll and let the dice help guide the growth of the story.

Where other RPGs’ dice systems determine success or failure as a binary state, Edge of the Empire’s custom dice allow for a rich tapestry of narrative possibilities. For example, you might succeed in wrestling a Gamorrean to the ground as you planned, but in doing so your blaster might fall from its holster and slide just out of reach. On the other hand, you might utterly fail in your attempts to lie to an Imperial customs officer, but in doing so discover that he’s open to bribery. The ever-present potential for success with complications or failure with advantages adds a compelling layer of realism to all your endeavors.

Adventure Awaits on the Edge of the Empire

With comprehensive rules for character creation, gear, combat, Force-sensitive characters, and even a full adventure, the Edge of the Empire Beta book includes everything you and your group needs to get started. Gather your crew and start the adventure today!

Episode 9 – Silk, Spurs, and Steam!

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Jul 262012

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Hosts – Dan, Mack, Steve, and Bryan

Topic – In this episode, part 2 of our settings series, we discuss the trappings of wild west, Victoriana,  steam punk, and a few other derivatives of 1800s settings, and ways to use them in your games.  We also review, not 1, but 2 games, Thunderstone Advance, by AEG, and Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards, by Cryptozoic Entertainment.

(00:00) Battle Jesus

(1:30) Metagamer’s Anonymous

(3:29) Our current geeks

(6:19) Bonus game review – Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards

(14:36) Settings breakdown

(18:25) Wild west

(22:50) Victoriana

(26:14) Spin-offs

(31:11) Examples from other media

(46:30) Full game review – Thunderstone Advance

Media – 


Metagamer’s Anonymous
Magic – The Gathering
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards
Civilization V
Deadlands Reloaded (Pinnacle Entertainment)
Fiasco (Bully Pulpit Games)
GURPS (Steve Jackson Games)
Aces and Eights (KenzerCo)
Back to the Future 3 (IMDb)
Tall Tale (IMDb)
Wierd West (Robertson Games)
Wild Wild West (IMDb)
Sherlock Holmes (IMDb)
Jules Verne (Wikipedia)
H. G. Wells (Wikipedia)
The Difference Engine (Wikipedia)
Red Dead Redemption
Space 1889 (Heliogarph)
Postcards From the Dungeon (Podcast)
The Dark Tower
Dominion (Rio Grande Games)
Ascension (Gary Games)

Thunderstone Advance

Newsroom (HBO)

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Episode 8 – The Truth About Fantasy and Magic

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Jul 122012

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Hosts – Dan, Bryan, Tyler, Steve , Mack

Topic – We discuss the uses of settings in your campaigns, list a few fantasy tropes, and outline the different types of fantasy settings.  This episode also contains a break down of different types of magic and ways to portray them in your games.

(:34) Changes we are making

(2:31) A little about settings in general

(3:10) The truth about truths

(8:27) Fantasy trappings and tropes

(14:44) Fantasy variations

(39:49) What does magic mean to your world?

(43:02) Variations in magic systems


The Game Of Thrones
The Princess Bride (IMDb)
Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (IMDb)
The Crow (IMDb)
Pirates of the Caribbean (IMDb)
Willow (IMDb)
Conan the Barbarian(Wikipedia)
The Dresden Files
R. A. Salvatore
John Carter of Mars
Harry Potter
Futhark Runes
Skyrim (wiki)
Full Metal Alchemist (IMDb)

The Legend of Korra

Notes – is changing it’s look soon, We will be needing art.  We prefer to use art from the members of our community.  A formal announcement will be made soon, but if you’re interested, contact  Thanks for listening!

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Jun 142012

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”141314″ shadow_color=”000000″ border_color=”0a678f” radius=”6″]There are many forms of nerds in the world. Different geeks have different streaks, and we tend to run in packs. There’s the Sci-fi crowd, setting their phasers and channelling the force when not hunting replicants or bringing glory to the God Emperor of Man. And then, there’s the Fantasy crowd who spend their nights slaying dragons, fending off the nefarious forces of Mordor, or conquering the land of Westeros. There are even more types and sorts, but at bottom there is something integral to us all.

That something is how we interpret and organize our data of choice. What separates a true nerd or geek from someone who is simply enthusiastic about something is how they organize the data. For example, I am an enthusiast of flight. I love planes of all shapes and sorts because to me they are a true symbol of man’s ambition. We cannot live in the sky, there is no food or resources… even the water there is in a form that we cannot easily make use of. But the allure of flight is one that I enjoy. I will not, however, claim to be an expert of aerospace engineering. I may know a thing or two about physics and the basics of aerodynamics, but I doubt Boeing is looking for someone of my qualifications. I am enthusiastic about flight, but I am not an expert, and expertise is where gaming can truly shine.

There are other bloggers and contributors to this fine website who I can vouch for being exceedingly knowledgeable in the fictional histories of their choice. The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Fire Fly… these are mythologies in the truest sense. We tell stories of the Batman and Joker, Elim Garak, and The Doctor and the Daleks as if they were tales of Zeus and Hades or Thor and Loki (well we tell stories about them as well). But we do not simply tell stories, we also nurture and craft the setting in which they are told.

The amassed history of some of the settings in which some of our games take place is as lush and varied as that of real world civilizations. But what makes a history?

Certainly, the major events must be recorded, hewn into the stone of our minds with great care and precision. All the dates, the details, who were the heroes? Who were the villains? This deep set memorization is quintessential to being a “proper” nerd.  But a civilization is much more than just a history, and there are some details which are often overlooked, even by some of the most learned members of our community.

Lets talk about Fashion, come now… it’ll be Fabulous.

Everyone KNOWS what Sauron looks like.  Ring Wraits, Nazgul, Uruk Hai… all of these vile entities are quickly recognized even by children.  And why is this? Well, the answer is simple.  A number of very talented people took the time to truly think about the sort of symbolism that was the stuff of nightmares across multiple cultures.  We’re seeing this more and more, an emphasis on making the costumes in our favorite television shows and films not just seem cool but seem “right”. For example:

-Bronn of Game of Thrones.  Bronn states in multiple instances that he refuses to wear a golden cloak, the symbol of House Lannister, his employers.  He wears simple, hardworn leather armor over the peasant’s clothes that have been permanently darkened by dirt, mud, and blood.  This is integral to his character.  Bronn is no high-born Lord or a Knight. He is not a rank and file soldier either.  Bronn is a mercenary.  The manner in which he dresses is such that he will not draw attention, and so that he can move and fight without being hindered.  He has been known to fight with a sword, and a bow, but the one weapon he always has with him is a knife, kept at the small of his back (a place that he could reach it even if he were flat on his back).  The knife itself is a Kukri, a blade of Nepalese origin that can be used to clear brush, skin animals, chop meat and vegetables, pry things open, take a man’s head off, and even to dig with in a pinch. The blade is still issued to the Nepalese Army for its use both as a weapon, and as a utility tool.  So every part of Bronn, from his outfit to his selection of weaponry, says,  “I’m not just hear to fight, I’m here to survive.”

And now for something COMPLETELY different…

A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about The Phantom Menace.  I won’t go into those here.  But one thing that many overlook is the costumes of Queen Amidala.  In her portrayal of the Queen, Natalie Portman wears some of the most spectacular and over the top outfits to be featured in the franchise.  They feature lustrous silks, intricate beadwork and embroidery, feathers and furs.  They speak of opulence and wealth, but it’s the smaller details that say the most about the character.

Rangaswamy Satakopan, a winner of the George Polk Award, has been quoted saying that the Sari is the most impractical garment known to man. For those of you unaware, a Sari is a garment from India.  It consists of little more than folds of silk, always lovingly embroidered and detailed with all manner of jewelry, and in some cases gems.  A sari is a garment of beauty and elegance, but in terms of function it is sorely lacking.  Satakopan wrote:

“In summer, the folds stick around the legs.  In winter, it affords no protection from the cold.  When it rains, it can collect mud and filth at the hem.  Only one hand is free while wearing it.  It has no buttons, so if the hem is stepped on or slips, the whole garment may slip down. It cannot be worn during sport.”

I’m paraphrasing, but, the point is that a Sari is a garment for someone who does not work. The same can be said of nearly every one of Queen Amidala’s gowns. The long and full sleeves, the full train, the beads… these are not the sort of things that you would find in the outfit of someone who works.

I have been in far too many games where, the one conducting the narrative, simply describes someone’s outfit as “they’re wearing armor” or “they look nice.”  Some authors even resort to these descriptors.  Simply put, with the kind of freedom that magical or science fiction settings can afford, we must go beyond simply “nice looking.”

Tabletop roleplaying games are amazing things.  But, where they can break down, is when the categorization and classification that is required when amassing the information of the setting and the narrative do not have a visual component.  As a Dungeon Master, Game Master, or Keeper, it is someone’s duty to be able to describe what’s going on.  Not just the gore and magic, but the characters themselves.  Even players could take heed, after all, they are the ones that dress their characters.

I hope you found this first commentary thought provoking.  In the weeks to come, I intend to expand on some of the points outlined here.  The contrast of functional and non-function outfits, the usage of different materials, concepts of uniforms, and some of the historical aspects of each.

Thanks for reading. I’m Mike and I make pretty dresses.[/cc_full_width_col]

May 152012

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Hosts – Dan, Bryan, Mack, Steve, Tyler


We discuss the tropes of different storytelling mediums and ways to convey their “feel” to your players as a GM.

(2:07) – Literature

(18:19) – Movies

(26:00) – Television

(39:30) – Video Games

(46:25) – Comics and Graphic Novels


This topic may have been too big to tackle with one episode.  Perhaps a little later we will break this down into a couple of episodes and discuss each of the mediums more deeply.  That should allow us to give more advice on the individual mediums.  Live and learn… please post comments on the forums or send an e-mail with your thoughts.

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