Wendy’s Feast of Legends Leaves Indy Devs Cold

So, yesterday Wendy’s (yes the fast food place) released Feast of Legends, a role playing game. And if you go off my twitter feed, it was the end of the world. Several independent game developers were angry at this publicity stunt. They were mad that a fast food company got more exposure in one day than any game developer gets in their entire time of making games. Others were angry that the a mega corporation that doesn’t treat its workers well co-opted the hobby.

The image shows Wendy's Feast of Legends, the subject of this post, and a game that has annoyed some indy game developers.

I am not here to weigh in on the ethics of what Wendy’s did by releasing Feast of Legends. On one hand, I can totally understand the complaints from the indy world. Many independent game developers struggle to get their product out there. Plus, they spend a lot of time, love, and money creating their games. For a fast food joint to come in and steal their hunger, as it were, has got to sting. I get it.

And this goes into the idea of the redhead led fast food restaurant has co-opted the hobby. I am not sure I agree with that take. Did they make a silly game that is both serious and a parody? Of course they did. And, did they have a lot of money to throw at it? Again, yes they did. Does that mean they are trying to corner the RPG market or slight game developers? I don’t think so.

Besides, as it states in this Forbes article, Critical Role played a hand in making this game happen, and that is a popular and well respected bastion of nerddom. I know not everyone enjoys CR (and I have never seen an episode), but lots of people do.

In the Face of Wendy’s Feast of Legends, What’s an Indy Dev to Do?

Does CR’s involvement in the game mean that a corporation can’t co-op a hobby? Of course not, but it makes it less likely. I don’t think indy devs are going to lose buyers because of this free pdf game. In fact, it might act as inspiration for some. Sure, they can’t use the exact ideas from this book, but they can easily adapt it to another franchise. In fact, someone else I follow on twitter was doing just that. It may have been tongue in cheek, but he tagged several big fast food chains in an attempt to get them to bite on one of his pitches.

But beyond getting mad, or trying to get a company to hire you to write an RPG, what can you do? Well, of course, if you are a creator: keep creating and keep promoting. I know it’s tough, and it can be frustrating to have a burger joint come along and put out something that shits on your efforts. But, you have to ask yourself: does Wendy’s Feast of Legends really shit on my efforts? I think the honest answer to that is no.

And of course, people can get mad about this. No one needs my permission to have feelings. So, yeah, get mad, and then put that energy to use. Petition fast food places to support indy developers. Or, promote your work and the work of other creators you know. Game designer or not, check DriveThruRpg and find games you can buy, try, and spread the word about.

By its very nature, independent game design is always behind the 8-ball. We need to support each other in ant way possible. But you know what? Part of that support is focusing on what we can do for our community.

Keep Trying and Don’t Let the Evil Corporation Get You Down

So, yeah, Wendy’s made Feast of Legends, and that made some people upset. It also tickled a lot of people’s funny bones (mine included). I don’t laugh because of the possible perceived damage to the indy developers. I would never laugh at that. It’s a hard job that usually comes with minimal monetary rewards. However, I do laugh because the game is silly. It’s full of bad puns and ridiculous locations, and I kind of want to play it.

We can so often become so wrapped up in what we’re doing that we get angry at the success of others. And true, Wendy’s is a major corporation with lots of money, but I think getting mad at them is a waste of time and energy, both of which are precious commodities. Again, though, I am not here to tell anyone how to feel or what to think. So please, don’t think I am.

If you have made it this far, thanks for reading. Please leave a comment if you have something to say about this.

Deadlands: Hell On Earth Role Playing Game

When I was in college I ran a Deadlands Hell on Earth table top role playing game for a group of friends. There were five players and me, the GM. We played almost every week, on a Sunday. We were often hungover from Saturday night shenanigans. And Friday night. And Thursday night. We drank a lot.

The image shows the cover of the main rulebook for Deadlands: Hell on Earth

When we started, I was in a pretty good place. Sure, I was single (had been for a while) and a drunk (also for a while). But, I was also doing well in school, had made lots of friends, and mostly felt good. Depression reared its ugly head every now and again as is its wont.

And, I was happy to find people to play RPG that weren’t D&D with. We maintained the game for about 18-24 months. I don’t remember exactly because it’s been over 15 years since that time in my life.

I do remember that the group was good. We had a decent mix of experienced and new players, but everyone invested themselves in the game, which is important. If you’ve never played RPGs before, know that player involvement makes everyone’s jobs easier, especially the GM’s.

The first few sessions went well, if memory serves. We played about three hours each time, and there was laughter, excitement, and character deaths. I wrote the adventure and let the players guide the story, as is my style. There are other ways to play Deadlands: Hell on Earth, certainly, but that’s how I ran my game.

Showing Up to Deadlands: Hell on Earth Became a Small Struggle

Eventually, things got more difficult. My depression kicked in more than before, and school responsibilities took over the group. Still, we made an effort to show up nearly every week. Sometimes we would only play for an hour. Other times, we would get together but not play. It was those times that I especially felt bad. See, if the players show and you give it your all and it’s a bad session that’s one thing. It’s something else if they show and you go through the motions. I am not saying that’s what I did, but it felt that way to me sometimes. As I am sure it did to the players.

There were times when I didn’t want to play. I felt down and depressed and didn’t want to put the work in. Other times I didn’t know where the story was going, or why we were still playing. I realized then, as well as now, it was my issues. Depression, lack of self-worth, burnout. My friends always seemed willing to get in the trenches and sling some dice. For that, I am and was appreciative.

How Do You Measure RPG Success?

Thinking about it now, we had more successful sessions than not. I wrote a lot of the campaign we played, but I also used pre-written modules. It was, I think, a good mix of both.

Overall, I think the game was successful as evidenced by the fact that the players continued to show up to play, and we usually seemed to be having fun. Not always, but that’s life, right? Eventually, as it happens, life got in the way and the game died. Friends quit. I moved away.

I will always remember it fondly, though. It was the longest game I’ve ever been involved in, and the bonds of friendship are still there.

What’s the longest you’ve ever been in a single campaign? What keeps you coming back? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading this small reflection on a time in my life that I look upon with happiness despite the negative feelings I sometimes had.

Genesys Magic: Powerful Spells, Generic Worlds

In 2017 Fantasy Flight Games released their Genesys Role Playing game. As a generic system, it is suitable for any world you can dream of. All you need is your imagination. I love the Genesys system for a variety of reasons, but one of the things I love most about it is how it handles magic.

The Genesys core rulebook. Here you will find how to cast powerful magic.

In so many tabletop role playing games, magic can be confusing, under-powered or overpowered, or both. Often time it depends on how much a character can learn, and what spells they prepared. This is all well and good, as far as it goes. However, it often falls into the trap of spell casters being weak at low levels and super strong at higher ones.

The Genesys magic system solves this issue in an intriguing and novel fashion. Unlike Dungeons and Dragons or other games with magic, Genesys does not have spell lists. Characters don’t learn or memorize spells. They don’t have spell slots to fill or even spell levels.

How Does Genesys Magic Work?

When you want to cast a spell in this system, you just say you are going to cast a spell. Simple, right? In fact, it might be a little too simple, but that’s where the fun comes in. Under the rules, characters can cast spells for any reason, mundane or fantastical.

However, when you cast something that would replace a skill, the target number is higher. The reason for this is to keep magic from becoming a catch-all replacement for other skills. Basically, it keeps spell casters from abusing their mystical abilities. So yes, a player could use magic to unlock a door, but the task is more difficult for them than someone using a lock-picking skill.

I can hear you asking: If you don’t learn spells, how can you cast them? That’s where the genius of this system shines. As I wrote above, you simply say you want to cast a spell and roll the dice. Sure, there’s a bit more to it than that, but not much.

The image shows the special dice the genesys system uses, and you will need them to cast powerful magics.
Genesys uses special dice, but don’t be intimidated. They are easy and intuitive, and once you grasp them the doorway to fun opens.

First, you decide what kind of spell you want to cast, or what the effect you want to happen. For example, if you want to charm an NPC into following your bidding, you describe what that spell would do. Genesys is a narrative system and is therefore quite open in terms of what players can and can’t do.

Example of Social Spell Casting

Let’s take the example of the charm spell I mentioned above. In the rule book there are categories of spells, but no specific spells. The categories are attack, augment, barrier, conjure, curse, dispel, heal, and utility. Most of these categories are self-explanatory, but none of them clearly indicate where our charm spell would come into play.

So, let’s say we want to charm our opponent using utility magic. First, we find our magic skill: it will either be Arcane, Divine, or Primal (the three types of magic in the basic Genesys rules). Then we decide upon the difficulty of the task.

Looking at our character sheet we see that charm is a social skill. This automatically increases the difficulty by one purple die. This is an opposed roll against an opponent’s Cool skill, so you would add one to their skill in order to account for the increased difficulty.

Now, we need to differentiate between the effects of the spell version of charm is compared to the skill. Because we are dealing with magic, the GM might rule that the spell is harder to resist than the skill and award the caster a blue boost die. Or, the GM might decide that the charm effect last longer or allows the caster a greater amount of control over the target if they succeed.

Once the dice pool has been assembled, you roll the dice, read the results, and decide what happens. Success could mean that the spellcaster can issue orders to the target, or turn them into a friend. As a potential drawback: failure could mean the targeted opponent cannot be the target of a charm spell or skill for a certain amount of time. It’s up to you, and that’s what makes Genesys so fun.

What About Combat Magic in Genesys?

Most players don’t play spell casters in order to run around charming town folk or unlocking bolted doors. Yes, you can use the mystic arts in these situations, but let’s face it, if you’re playing a magic user, it’s because you want to wreak havoc with powers no mere mortal should possess. Well, not to worry, this system has you covered in warm blankets on a cold day.

There are several possibilities for destructive combat magic under these rules. And, once again, the rule book is just the beginning. Really,your imagination (and how far the GM will let you take things) is your only limit.

There are several types of combat magic in this system, but I am going to focus on spells used for attacks as they are the most likely to come into play.

Casting a combat spell is similar to the mode used for casting a social one with a few key differences.

This picture shows the chart for powerful magic spells in the Genesys core rulebook. There are several options for spell enhancement mentioned on the chart.
Gaze at the wondrous possibilities for powering up your spells, and this is only the beginning. Click picture to enlarge.

As with any skill check using the Genesys system, you first have to find your relevant skill. In this case, it will be one of the mystical skills: arcane, primal, or divine. Once you know that, you have a better idea of how successful your spell will be.

Once you have determined your skill level, you now need to decide how powerful you want your spell to be. All spells start at difficulty level one (1 purple die). For additional effects, you add purple die to the die pool to simulate the increased difficulty. You can increase the range of your spell, add a quality such as fire or ice to it, give it an area of effect property, or more.

The Price of Spell Casting

Magic has a price in Genesys, no matter how powerful it is. There are a few reasons for this. One, if magic was not limited in some way, player would easily abuse it. That’s nothing against players, just a fact about people. If you give someone something that can break the world, they will probably try to do just that.

Two, if magic had no limits, then there would be little reason to play anything other than a spell caster. By adding limits to magic, the creators have ensured that the other classes remain viable options.

Third, magical limitations make the player think twice about using spells when other options exist. Magic should not be a means to solve every problem a group encounters, and it definitely shouldn’t be an easy means to do so.

How does Genesys solve this problem? Well, it makes magic dangerous to use by inflicting immediate strain damage to the caster. Strain is a measure of your ability to undertake difficult tasks. You can recover strain fairly easily, but it also runs out quickly, and if you run out, you fall unconscious.

Additionally, using magic to accomplish mundane tasks is more difficult than using a similar skill. Furthermore, if the GM deems appropriate, the character can suffer further strain from spell casting, or have any other number of damaging effects occur. All of these are ways to mitigate the potential game breaking ability of magic.

Worth a Try

If you have been looking for a different kind of magic system that allows for supercharged spells but is easy to use, check this one out. Overall, the Genesys system is fun and sensible. Their version of magic is no exception.

Have you used this system? What are your thoughts on it? What do you think of my thoughts on Genesys magic and what it can do? Let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading.

Curse of the Infernal Body Clock

The curse of the infernal body clock is an idea I had for a curse type spell for a tabletop role playing game, such as Dungeons and Dragons, or any setting with magic. I got the idea from something somebody said on twitter about not being able to sleep, and I came up with this as a joke. However, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. So, I decided I would write about it.

The Infernal Body Clock

Lore: Created by the sorceress Milgraf Alfgahee, the curse is an inconvenience at best and deadly at worst. Alfgahee created the spell because she was tired of adventurers invading the forest where she lived. They came at all hours, stomping through the dirt, snapping and trampling the foliage, and generally being careless jerks.

Now, Milgraf was a powerful sorceress, but she was also a pacifist, and because of that she didn’t want to directly harm those who trespassed in her forest. Still, she couldn’t just sit back and allow them to move through her home without reproach. So she did what any good magic using pacifist would. She created a spell that would do the violent work for her.

the image shows a bunch of poorly drawn and painted trees which is the home of the creator of the curse of the infernal body clock
Milgraf’s home, poorly rendered


Creating the curse of the infernal body clock was simple. People need to sleep, and they need to be awake. Milgraf thought if she could somehow control that, then her home would be safe. So, she searched her woods for a variety of ingredients that she could use to force sleep on her enemies. But, just putting them to sleep wasn’t enough.

She also wanted to make it difficult for them to go to sleep, or to wake up. An adventurer who can’t resist falling asleep in the heat of battle will surely meet his doom quite easily. And an adventurer who can’t wake up when it’s time runs the risk of alienating her traveling companions and having a falling out with the group. Both of these circumstances fit Milgraf’s purpose perfectly, and so she created the curse of the infernal body clock.

Once she gathered the needed materials, she cursed her forest, ensuring any who caused harm to the place would fall victim to her vengeance. Thus began the story of how her woods were haunted, but that is a different story for a different time.

How It Works

The curse sets the victim’s body clock to a certain time of day. When that time passes, the victim must make a difficult check against their willpower, or willpower like ability. As this is a generic curse, which stat you use will depend on the system you are playing.

If the check succeeds, everything is fine and the victim of the curse can go about their business until eight hours have passed. After this eight hour period, the victim must make another check. This continues every eight hours. If the victim is asleep, the check is to see if they wake up. If they are awake, the check is to see if they fall asleep. Once the victim is asleep, they are nearly impossible to wake up–the circumstances of which are left up to the Dungeon/Game Master.

Breaking the Infernal Body Clock

The only known way to break the curse is to convince Alfgahee to lift it. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to be willing to do that. Until she is, anyone suffering from the curse must continue to suffer. Sure, maybe an act of divine intervention, or powerful magic could lift it, but no one knows for sure.

One thing is for sure, the curse is dangerous and inconvenient. It has the potential to topple the most powerful fighter in a matter of moments, or to break up adventuring parties due to inability to perform basic duties. It’s like magical narcolepsy, and there are plenty of fun situations in which it could be highly entertaining.

So, that’s the curse of the infernal body clock. I hope you liked reading about it, and if you end up using it, or something it inspired, in one of your games, let me know how it went.

Thanks for reading, and for putting up with my bad artwork. I am not an artist.