Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Relive your mis-spent childhood with G.I. Joe by Jay Libby

The GI Joe RPG is a free roleplaying game setting based on the American GI Joe ethos. It is a pulp-military game where you get to play with gadgets so cool you could extinguish the sun with them. Based on the free Fuzion system, GI Joe will take you back to when you crawled around the on the floor playing out the greatest adventures your imagination will allow.

Who is GI Joe?

For those, like me, who have only heard of G.I. Joe through endless reruns of American situation comedies allow me to explain. G.I. Joe is an action figure /comic hero (TV series too?) who belongs to an American special forces unit to 'defend freedom against Cobra, a ruthless, terrorist organisation that is trying to take over the world'. GI Joe is actually an organisation in itself, operating from 'The Pit'- an underground lair where they keep all their stuff (and a reasonable name for my bedroom when I was a young lad). Cobra is lead by the aptly named Cobra Commander, a villain of limitless budget and fairly barking mad technology. Being a filthy Limey, I can't comment on whether GI Joe the RPG breaks canon or ruins your childhood, so please do let me know in the comments. If you find yourself weeping for the horrendous and bloody butchery of once treasured memories then I can only offer my apologies.

Character Creation

You'll be thrilled to read that character creation puffs along familiar tracks. Jay suggests that it takes 15 Greenwich minutes but I would take that with a healthy dollop of salt - as there is so much to choose from and volumes to write down. You start with your type, which determines how good the character is going to be. This will depend on the kind of game you're going to run. It allows you to start with initiates or more hardcore heroes. You then add experience - this further piles on more points to spend. You then choose a career (class), which provides skills and so on. The more experience your character has, the more skills and so on they get. These careers make up the majority of the book. I did chuckle at the Air Force career having 'parachuting' as a skill. From my limited experience of military flying: if you have to jump out of the aircraft, you're probably doing it wrong!

Focus comes next, which can be either physical or mental. These affect your statistics in a predictable sort of way. You pick a profession and a persona - all which affect your stats. Then you get talents, which are natural abilities that cannot be taken away, such as night vision. Perks are things that you can call upon, such as allies and wealth. Armour, weapons and vehicles are all bought too. The list of stuff to buy is superb, as you would hope. Bug trackers, dagger shoes, Pen Grenades and so on. Phew! Quite a lot.


G.I. Joe is based on R. Talisorian's free Fuzion ruleset. Which is good because the rule description for the player and GM is minimal at best. I'd recommend having a look at Fuzion separately (yes, I will too). There are some good player help boxes that illustrate how good the skills are. Fuzion is a medium-crunch system that is very much planted in a traditional form of roleplaying.


I've really only brushed over the main rulebook so far. Jay has split the game into a series of books, with NPCs, vehicles and so on. The game does not have its own web page but that doesn't really matter as it is hosted on The Yo Joe forums, which looks like a good place to ask questions on GI Joe in general. Jay seems to be active over there, so if you have a question, I imagine he will respond!

Time for a moan

GI Joe is mostly bereft of pictures and that is a shame because I think that if anything is going to bubble memories up from their depths it'll be the pictures. Jay says it's to keep file size down but I'd rather have them and suffer the large download. Much more of a problem is that there are coloured backgrounds across the page that will use a lot of printer ink. I'd like to see a more narrow border and black on white for the body. This is especially bad as some of the pages aren't filled entirely - leaving large areas of colour that will print as black. It does look cool on screen but the print is not ideal. I would also like to see some up-front descriptions of what the characters will be doing and this leads me on to my biggest gripe. You really need to know a lot about GI Joe to run it. For those of us that don't know the canon too well, there isn't a lot to help you run it.


GI Joe successfully represents the pulp-military feel of the kind of universe I imagine GI Joe exists in. Although there is not a lot of canon in the game, try putting GI Joe into Google and you will find all you need. The villains are villainous, the heroes are heroic. There is a plethora of military gizmos, guns, tanks, munitions and armour. If you are familiar with the ethos of GI Joe (which most of my readership will be) and you're keen for some pulp (and slightly camp) heroic-ness then the GI Joe RPG is for you. Many thanks to Jay for his eye for detail and effort into producing a super game for free!

In other news

Some willing victims budding designers have signed up for the 24 Hour RPG Contest. They have chosen their topics and have until the end of June to get their entries in. Some brave souls (BortJr, talysman, Peril Planet I am looking at you) have already finished and congratulations to them! The bar is very high indeed. Fancy giving it a go? Free to enter and you might win 30 pounds worth of Amazon vouchers!

A big, hearty, thigh-slapping thank you to Chgowiz for advertising the competition and also for writing up a rather smashing Examiner article on freeness. If you don't follow his blog, may I recommend you do, it's a great read. I secretly puffed up and proud that I've been featured thus. Alright, not so secret anymore. A long time supporter of the blog, so special thanks indeed!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

24 hour RPG Competition - Win Amazon vouchers!

Dust off those brain cobwebs and write an RPG in 24 hours and give it over to the world. If you manage to stick to our rather bizarre set of rules you could be in the running for £30. Yes, that's thirty of your Great British Pounds in tasty Amazon vouchers!

Rules? What rules?

There's not hard...
  1. Pick a topic from the list

  2. Let the monkeys know which one you've picked

  3. Spend 24 hours writing a roleplaying game on that topic.

  4. Make sure you include an NPC called Keeton (the glorious benefactor of 1KM1KT) in your game.

  5. Upload your game to 1KM1KT by 00:00 (GMT) 1st July 2009.

  6. Make a thread on 1KM1KT about your game. (Optional but we'd like you to)

  7. Check back on Friday 17th of July 2009 to find out who the winner is, or check on The Free RPG Blog.

  8. Oh, and obey all the other 24 hour RPG rules

That's it? Easier than herding cats. More interesting than philately. Better than the horizontal mambo. Well, nearly.

I want to help!

Well, that very neighbourly of you. A link here or to 1KM1KT would be lovely, or you might like to consider one of these lovely advertising nuggets.

Will you be actually be making one?

Yes. It might well near kill me but I'll be making one. I won't be entering it in the competition to win the Amazon vouchers because, well, that would be bloody stupid. I'll let you know of the weekend I'm doing it and then Tweet as I go.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

News - Dominion updated, Directory expands and mumblings over at 1KM1KT

In this issue, there's a Dominion Rules site update, The Free RPG Blog Dictionary reaches 100 links, I ask for your opinions on a free RPG anthology for charity, I hint about a competition I'll be running and I give some thank for feedback.

News! There is enough of it to make worthy a blog entry, so feast your eyes on this diminutive list of good news. In a world so ram packed full of bad news, let's all eat, drink and be merry on a clutch of the opposite.

Dominion Rules new Website

You might remember my review of the superb Dominion Rules by the Mysterious Anonymous Benefactor (MAB). If not, I will orgive you only momentarily because Dominion was a tour-de-force in free fantasy RPGs. I liked it then and even though I've read a metric tonne of stuff since, I still like it. A lot.

It's with some pride and a shed full of smugness that I declare that MAB has taken on some of the comments I had about the Dominion Rules website. It now has site search and a news section as well as a forum for interest parties to put in their tuppence. It is, as I imagined, all done with an exceptionally high quality. I also hear that the next version, 3.1 will be coming soon. I wait with much baited breath.

It would not be a blog entry without some whining. I'd rather like an RSS feed of the news, so that I can get Google Reader to tell me when there has been updates. A minor quibble. Great work, MAB! Whoever you are...

The Free RPG Blog Dictionary reaches 100

Why is this fool celebrating 100 links? You can bookmark 100 links in an afternoon! It is something of a milestone for me because these 100 links are carefully ordered, organised and thought about. Furthermore, they exist. You can click on every one of those and they'll actually be there. More static directories can't share that. So, the next target is... 200 links and as I have not finished running through the big directories, this really will not take long.

Do you think a printed, charitable anthology of the best Free RPGs is something you'd buy?

Over on the free RPG Community 1000 Monkeys, Kumakami has had a superb idea: To create a Lulu anthologies of free RPGs adding a charge to go to charity. It's a marvellous idea! Would you buy such a thing? I would but I know I'm odd like that. We have no idea what games would go in it but I would check them all in detail first, create a lovely cover and we'd edit it before selling. Of course, authors will be approached and asked permission first and we would make sure that a few of us could see the Lulu account to ensure that the profit went to charity. The charity? A peaceful international one, such as The Red Cross would probably serve as I doubt the book would sell millions.

Please either post your comments below or on 1KM1KT.

Coming in the near future...

Finally, 1KM1KT's Keeton Harrington (he's quite mad, you know) has kindly agreed to let me run a 24 hour competition in the name of this blog and 1KM1KT together. The inmates of 1KM1KT are working on the details at the moment and there will be a cash prize. Why? Because I want to try a 24 hour RPG and I like the idea of people doing it with me. When? In the next couple of months, you'll see my lack-of-subtlety advertising posters.

Thanks for the feedback

I've been blessed with some great feedback from some community sites. Many thanks all. I will be building it into the blog over the next few weeks. The two features I think need to happen first are a better navigation (the archive is a little hidden at the bottom) and a comment system where you do not need any kind of registration.