Hey everybody!
It’s time for another game day blog here at spalanz.com, and today I’m doing something a little different, as I ramble about the amazing series from Geek & Sundry, Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana!

So I know I’m a bit late with this, the series having ended back in August, but I’ve inexplicably only now been able to actually catch up with this! Well, finished watching it last week, but anyway.

I love a good roleplaying game, so when it was announced during the funding for season 3 of Tabletop they were going to produce a RPG show, I was really intrigued. I mean, most of the joy of playing in a RPG campaign comes from the imagination as you weave this tale with the group. So how would that translate to the show? Well, “fabulously” is the answer there!

If you have watched only one of the ten episodes from this series, you’ll see the amazing way in which footage of the group is interspersed with full-on art depicting the action, combined with the special effects that make this almost like a real tv show.

But what about the game?

The RPG itself is the relatively straightforward d6 Fantasy AGE system from Green Ronin Games. I’ve talked about RPGs briefly here, so moving on from that, the system uses three six-sided dice, one of which is a different colour, when completing any skill tests. If doubles are rolled, the differently-coloured die is used to give the player stunt points, which can be used to make the test more interesting that merely pass or fail. It’s quite a straightforward system that seems to allow more focus for storytelling than for working out dice results, as is sometimes the case other systems. This really shows in the show, where the characters roll the dice, a pass or fail is determined, stunt points are applied if rolled, then the story advances with what that roll actually meant.

For me, this is where the show really shines as a truly beautiful creation. Watching Wil take the group through the story he has come up with, from the relatively inane saving of the beer quest, to the fight with the hellions and all the way up to the battle with the Prophet, it reminds me of just how amazing a role playing game can be – not just as a game, but as a whole experience. The structure is classic, throwing more and more at the characters as they level up, and allowing plenty of player-creativity as the story moves along. Indeed, I was quite surprised by the ninth episode, which almost does away completely with the latter, and takes on the mantle of a choose your own adventure, almost. While I’ve played that sort of RPG before, it’s usually done because the players aren’t coming up with enough story by themselves, and yet we’ve obviously seen the group is more than capable of doing this.

The setting is also worth mentioning as being astonishingly interesting. Wil says it was inspired by Thundarr the Barbarian, though that was a little too old for me – I grew up with He-Man, which is another of these science-fantasy type shows, so I still feel a little bit of nostalgia creeping in by watching this. Inspiration aside, it’s awesome to see the sense of history and the dramatic depth come out as the show moves ahead. While in retrospect I felt that the confrontation leading up to the finale could perhaps have benefited from a greater sense of mystery, with the players uncovering information as they moved through the story, it nevertheless felt like a really immersive experience just as a spectator!

I don’t get to play RPGs any more, so I haven’t bought the book for this game. However, it looks like it’s certainly worth checking out, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for season two!


Happy Free RPG Day!

Hey everybody!
It’s June 20th, so that means: Free RPG Day! It’s the eighth such day this year, where publishers print small modules or adventures designed to grow the number of folks playing RPGs, which I think is just superb! I’m celebrating by taking a look at the brand-new Force and Destiny beginner game from Fantasy Flight Games!

Star Wars Force and Destiny

The third and final iteration of their Star Wars RPG line, Force and Destiny brings Force-users into the game properly (previous rulebooks included basic information on Force-users, but this is where you really get the meat for such characters).

The beginner game features two books, including a pared-down version of the rulebook (which will be out later in the summer, if they hold true to form), along with an adventure book that details how the beginner game unfolds. Alongside this, there is a short pamphlet that features an introduction to the game, including an iconic opening crawl to be read beforehand:

All of that is aimed at the Games Master. There are also four character “folios”, pre-generated characters designed to let players get into the game without going through character generation for themselves (this usually forms the bulk of the rulebook, after all):

Star Wars Force and Destiny

And finally, we have maps, tokens, and specialist dice:

As with all Fantasy Flight products, this game looks beautiful. I believe the beginner games are pretty basic, designed more to give players the introduction to the game than to really set the world on fire, and most people seem to get them for the maps and, at one time, as an easier way to get more dice.

FFG’s Star Wars RPG uses custom dice designed to make things easier to tell the story, rather than simply focusing on numerical targets as with the Saga Edition RPG, for instance. So you roll to see if you succeed at a test, and the dice will not only tell you that, but also just how well you succeeded or failed. Or you might succeed, but something else goes wrong. It sounds like a really excellent way to tell the story, and I’m hoping that it won’t be too long before I can get to try this out for myself!


The adventure features seven encounters designed to tell the story of a rescue mission undertaken by the four heroes who have folios in the box. The first four are fairly straightforward things, designed to get new players (including new GMs) comfortable with the RPG experience. There is an interlude, which demonstrates levelling-up a character, and while it’s not online yet, there is also mention of a follow-up mission called Lure of the Lost, as well as two more character folios for download. This follows the previous Beginner Games with having more content while we wait for the main core rules to arrive.

The rulebook here is a mere 48 pages long, so around 400 pages shorter than the main core rules will be! It features just enough information that should allow players to have further adventures with the system beyond that included in the adventure book, so we have rules for talents and equipment, as well as NPC adversaries the GM can throw at the players. The map is double-sided, so you can play with different locations if you so wish, as well.

All in all, it’s a great little product that should get people up and running in the game system, even providing stuff to allow you to go beyond with more adventures. Obviously it’s no substitute for the core rulebook, but it’ll do the job for new players while providing veterans with enough to keep them going. Highly recommended!


If you’re wondering just what the hell all this RPG stuff is all about, and struggling to see how rolling some dice can be any fun whatsoever without any kind of board or card additions, then I suppose this is the ideal opportunity to show you this. Following on from the success of Tabletop, Wil Wheaton has now got the fabled RPG show up and running, Titansgrave! I finally got round to watching the first two chapters last night, and it was insanely good – take a look here if you don’t believe me!

Titansgrave sounds like a truly great series, it definitely has the right sort of folks to make it a classic for me, at any rate. Certainly looking forward to seeing how the series shapes up from here on, anyway!

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