Spark RPG to be Podcast

I am pleased to announce my intention to podcast my flagship game of the Spark RPG.   This means that, as of this point, I believe I am the first to take such an approach.  I think that I will be able to teach the game in a much more effective manner this way, by running through examples and explanations for all of the content in the same way as I would for my own players.  This would also allow me to provide a fully accessible game for those with visual impairment and help me polish my presentation of the game.

This will not occur in the immediate future, as I need to finalize all of the content prior to recording a word, but will show up in the future.  I hope you will join me when episode one is released.

Audio content courtesy of The Boom Effect

Just recently, I have participated in an auction for an incredibly good cause known as the Boom Effect.  This consisted of a massive auction of creative works and professional services.  I am pleased to announce that I was able to successfully win two of the auction bids.

We can look forward to a lovely audio promo for Spark, about a minute in length, which should be appearing in the coming months.  The lovely and talented Kimi Alexandre will be providing this promo for your listening pleasure and I am grateful for her assistance.

Along with the promo, we will additionally be gaining an astounding custom-made original music theme written by James Durham, composer and Parsec-award-winning podcaster, whose music has played at venues like the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, to wide acclaim on the radio, in indie-film, video and dance productions.  This will be used for an upcoming podcast, tentatively being given the title of “Digital Fireside Stories”.  Think of a better title?  Leave a comment and let me know!

I am additionally proud to say that I have been able to offer my personal scientific expertise to the lovely Paulette Jaxton.  She donated an impressive total toward Sonic Boom’s trust fund and I am pleased to help her out with future creative efforts.


Savage Worlds – A Pulpy Alternative

This will be my first offering for my reoccurring Alternative Games feature and it is a good one.  Savage Worlds© is a product produced by the talented folks over at Pinnacle Entertainment, well renowned for their Deadlands© RPG system.  The Savage Worlds system is a simplified variant of that behind Deadlands, designed to enable “Fast! Fun! Furious!” gameplay (in their words).

Savage Worlds Book, Explorer Edition

From Pinnacle Entertainment Group

Explanation of The Alternative

Savage Worlds has a great many elements which are similar to that of Spark.  Attributes are associated with Dice sizes, so that the better a character is at such an attribute, the larger the size of the Die.  The attributes in this system consist of Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength and Vigor.     Those attributes affects some of the derived traits and interact with the costs of skills when they are purchased.    Skills are also on the same die scale as attributes and tests involves rolling either the skill die (if they have it) or the base attribute (if they don’t).   If the single die rolls good enough compared to the static target number, the character succeeds.  If the die rolls the highest possible, it “aces”, meaning that you can roll the die again and add that number to the total.

Any individual is classified as being either a Wild Card (for important named character) or an Extra (for minions and other lesser unnamed foes who are far less effective).  All PC’s are Wild Cards, meaning that they get to roll an additional D4 on every test, statistically helping the characters to a decent extent.   Extras drop like flies, but Wild Cards are durable and potent individuals.

The system accounts for Bennies, a resource given to the players each session to affect fate and increase their chances to succeed on important confrontations.  Likewise, these Bennies are given the ST so they can support NPC’s at important times.

Each character is principally differentiated by their Edges and their Hindrances.  These are the mechanical benefits or drawbacks for their specific characters and the book gives lists of all of the common ones, remarking that more Edges and Hindrances are found in setting books.   Edges have specific requirements and prerequisites, often appearing to be special tricks or capabilities of the characters which have more in common with Feats (AD&D) then with Fortunes (Spark).    Edges also allow for players to use Powers, gained from a proscriptive list of generic effects listed in the book.

The Merits of The Alternative

Savage Worlds is an award-winning product and has earned its place among the forefront of the crowd.   It was built on the foundation of miniatures gaming and has a robust combat system, allowing for a wide variety of different kinds of combatants and tactical options.  There are rules and tables covering every eventuality, from dehydration in the jungle to a chase scene in the streets of New York.   The system lives up to its promise of being fast, fun and furious when physical conflict comes around.   The combat system ideally functions with a battle map, miniatures and the appropriate templates, allowing the mighty heroes to stand against hordes of minions led by mighty leaders.  The disparity in power between the Extras and the Wild Cards means that players can slay countless foes with relative ease.

Beyond the system-specific merits, there are also a number of areas in which the publisher has excelled.  Firstly and most impressively, they have produced the “Explorer’s Edition” of the core book which is a digest size version of the core book.  This essentially contains the entire game in a 160 page small soft cover book and manages to get a price tag of  $9.99 each.  It is often worth buying multiple copies of the explorer edition due to how economical they are; I purchased two of them myself.   Their decision to make an affordable, portable and attractive book certainly wins my praises.   They also produce a number of premade setting & adventure supplements which they call “Plot Point Campaigns”.

The Merits of Spark RPG

With Spark, we have taken a different approach in the game design process compared to the fine folks at PEG.  One of our key goals was to have physical conflict; social interaction and mental puzzle-solving hold equal prominence.  In Spark, physical combat is less emphasized and is dealt with in a more abstract fashion.   Rather than rolling on a critical hit table for instance, the Spark system generalizes and assumes that the group may interpret the dice rolls appropriately for the situation. Combat progresses quickly even in the hands inexperienced players, as Spark has fewer mechanics and has less of an emphasis on miniatures.

The major advantage with Spark is creativity during the character creation process. The player decides what Trainings, Tools or Glories would best suit their character, potentially coming up with innovative and unique traits.   These traits are then named and written upon the character sheet as opposed to picking the traits from a proscriptive list. As a result, each character is unique and memorable and there is more flexibility during game play for interpretation.   The Spark RPG is built on the principles of natural language description rather than categories or numbers, potentially more comfortable for the right brained among us.


Savage Worlds is an excellent system, ideal for dynamic pulp-style action with plenty of tactics to keep you entertained.   If this sounds attractive to you, I would suggest you try to purchase their Explorer Edition; the price is most certainly right in my opinion.  If you prefer a non-pulpy game system with less focus upon physical combat, you may appreciate Spark once released.    Even if you fall into the latter camp, I would still recommend picking up at least one copy of Savage Worlds as it excellent quality for a remarkably low price.


Pinnacle Entertainment Group

Savage Worlds Wikipedia Page

Introducing the Alternatives

I will soon be beginning an ongoing feature focusing on alternative games. Rather then fall back on the classical marketing tactic of claiming to be better than all of my competitors, I am instead mentioning those game systems and publishers who produce notably high quality products. Should you not fancy the games I produce, it is quite likely that you will prefer some of these other options. I will compare and contrast them with my flagship game (Spark RPG) so that you can make informed decisions.

All of these posts will by filed under the Category of “Alternative Games” so if you click on that option on the right sidebar, you will be able to see all of this series. I hope you find it helpful and interesting and I would love to discuss my analysis with some of the other publishers being mentioned, if they would like to drop me a line.

Gamers help Haiti at Drivethru RPG

Normally I try not to attempt to convince people to make a purchase, but this cause is incredibly worthwhile and of enormous value. While I did not have a game prepared to donate to the cause, I have donated a bit of additional money for MSF and now own $1080 worth of PDF’s.

This is an astounding opportunity both to help suffering people and collect a wide variety of interesting RPG’s. I strongly recommend it if you financial situation permits.

Gamers Helping Haiti $20 Donation with Coupon

Gamers, Let’s band together and see how much we can raise to help the people of Haiti.

Donate $20 and get a coupon for over a thousand dollars in RPG titles. After you make the donation, you will receive the coupon code in your email. It will also be available in your order history.

A listing of the free products available with this coupon can be found on our Gamers Help Haiti page .

Add any of the products to your cart, and use the coupon on checkout. Any products that are part of the Haiti relief package will be discounted to $0.00.
Unfortunately the overwhelming generosity of the gaming community is hampering our ability to deliver the orders purchased with the bundle coupon to you. Your products will be safe in your order history, so if you could wait a day or two before downloading them, it would be much appreciated. Please contact us if you have any questions.

If each of us gave just $20, think of what kind of an impact we could make.

Funds raised will go to Doctors Without Borders Haiti Earthquake Response. Please see our homepage to watch our donation total as it rises in support of the Haitian people and their community.

Help us spread the word on Facebook and Twitter! If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, post the following: Gamers Help Haiti! Join with other gamers & donate now:

For more information about the earthquake and Doctors Without Borders, visit: