Toast of the Town: A Review, and Some Nostalgic RPG Ramblings

Posted: February 27, 2016 by patricksponaugle in Gaming, Opinion, Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

Recently, a friend of mine, John, sent me a note letting me know that he was going to be releasing in the very near future (on March 1st) a 40 page pdf, for free. And not 40 pages of grocery lists or whatever, but an adventure module for his tabletop role-playing-game, Risus.


My buddy John is otherwise known as S. John Ross of Cumberland Games and Diversions. And he’s an awesome human being. Possibly completely constructed of sea foam, moon beams, and that wonderful glaze on the doughnut you managed to grab before Pam from Accounting got her mitts on it. You know what I’m talking about.

John’s module was called Toast of the Town, and although it’s an adventure written for his Risus fantasy setting Uresia, I think it’d be appropriate for any gaming fantasy campaign. (I was going to say any gaming system, but I want to encourage you people to check out his game Risus and the Uresia setting.)

Risus itself is freely available in PDF form, and there are dozens of fan websites that support the game. Don’t believe me? Hah! You can just go check out the Risus Wikipedia page, and then sheepishly admit that I’m right.

The Toast of the Town…

I read John’s delightful adventure, and I will talk a bit about it. I don’t want to spoil any plot details, because that’s not cool, but I’d like to make some meta-comments first.

I want to talk about the week I’ve been having.

Relax, this won’t be tedious. This week has been pretty cool from a table-top RPG aspect, and John’s request to shove the Risus adventure into my eyeballs… oh, I’m not kidding about that…


… his request was one of several events this week to get me all nostalgic about playing Dungeons and Dragons (or whatever your system of choice.)

Recently, on the Secret Masters Podcast, comedian Jared Logan had Thomas Middleditch on as a guest talking gaming. Middleditch is on HBO’s Silicon Valley, but he’s notable to me for having a long running GURPS campaign that’s legendary.


Middleditch was also recently a guest on Dan Harmon’s Harmontown podcast, and Harmon complained bitterly that he wasn’t allowed to play in Middleditch’s campaign. That’s how cool their gaming sessions are.

I need to write something one day about Dan Harmon’s long-running drunken D & D sessions on his podcast (okay, it’s Pathfinder and also Shadowrun, but who’s really paying attention – they’re drunk…) and also about Harmonquest. Which is like the Harmontown drunk D & D sessions … but animated.

Anyway, Logan and Middleditch’s talking about gaming, from the point of view of improv comedians, made me feel all warm and fuzzy about my misspent youth playing games, being a hero, killing orcs. (Or totally being killed by kobolds getting ridiculous critical hits on me. It happens!) It also makes me feel less like an outsider when people in show business share the same hobby that I enjoy.

And I like when the hobby is examined genuinely, instead of being treated like a cliche.

A few days ago, I read an article from Ashley Hagood, renowned video game reporter and game diarist.


She’d written a charming and engaging article on her experiences with co-op video games and table top roleplay gaming, through the lens of her shyness. It was a great read, and conjured memories of my early days of gaming when all of my awkward buddies and I had to figure out just what we were doing in this collaborative story-telling experience.

So, when John sent me the preview link to the Toast of the Town pdf (it’ll be available in a few days, as of this writing…) I was primed to get back into the headspace of someone looking to run an adventure for their dungeon dwelling associates.

I was not disappointed.

Toast of the Town is a module that’s a reasonable fit for parties of starting characters and all the way up to fellowships of experienced and grizzled adventurers. I could imagine it being useful for any game master with an established party, or trying to get a game up and running from scratch.


I think it’s a good module for beginning game masters as well. There is a fair amount of books available for people to learn of the craft of game mastering, like XDM X-treme Dungeon Mastery or the Lazy Dungeon Master. Those are great books, but while checking out Toast of the Town, I felt that John’s 40-page adventure should be included in that roster.  John weaves in practical lessons for game mastering organically in the module. There’s casual advice along the way as the elements of the non-linear story are described, advice that could (and should) be extrapolated out to fit any gaming session.

In general, I’m not a fan of gaming modules.

Well, check that, I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t recall if I used many adventure modules during my days of gaming, I was probably too cheap.

But I loved looking at them for background materials and inspirations for my own adventures. Something like Toast of the Town is great, because it’s so well written it makes me want to dust off my dice and graph paper, and get the gang back together for some heroics and derring do. It’s been too long.


If you really need me to tell you more about it (people… he’s releasing it FREE, that should be incentive enough) – Toast of the Town is an adventure where the party of adventurers have reason to come to a small lakeside town. There’s an obvious Call to Heroic Action which they can certainly take at face value, but they are also given the proper melodramatic hook that there’s something else going on in the town.

I found it a fascinating setting. It’s something that could be played stand-alone, but is part of a larger story John is setting up, so I for one am looking forward to reading more.


I was greatly pleased that John asked me to check out his adventure module. Back in Ye Olde Twentieth Centuree, I spent many an enjoyable hour with John running a game (usually a system with lightweight rules, so the story was the important thing) down at my friend Brian’s house in Virginia. Good times, good times.


Most images were stolen from the Risus adventure module Toast of the Town. Stolen with wild abandon and gun blazing.

The Secret Masters Podcast logo is from their Facebook page, the image of various video-game characters was more or less lifted from Ashley Hagood’s Twitter page. You should follow her! She’s cool. (@robotheartbeat)

I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there.


© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved

  1. Haylee says:

    I look forward to a possible post on Harmontown – it’s the reason we started playing. Alas, we’ve remained novice, infrequent participants. Perhaps, if you say your friend’s game is suitable for us fledglings, we can give it a shot and kick start our adventures again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 The base Risus game is 6 pages long, so it’s a super short read and light on rules. But stuff like that gets expanded on. Ah, Harmontown… I don’t even know what I’d say, other than to say “hey, this thing called Harmontown exists!” Although I could tell about the time Spencer read my Shadowrun recap for the group.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting! Always fun to read about the worlds people create for role playing. Thanks for the shout out as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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