October 19, 2017

Thoughts on FFG's Legend of the Five Rings Beta

So as many may have heard, Fantasy Flight Games has released a beta version of their spin of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG.  If not, you can grab it here from FFG's own website or you can snag a copy from DriveThruRPG.

So first off, I will admit to not being that impressed with the system.  One thing that people have noted and railed against was that the game uses custom dice rather than the classic d10s that prior versions L5R used in the long-standing Roll and Keep system.  Seeing as how FFG likely only bought the rights to L5R as a property and not the actual R&K mechanics from AEG, it's no surprise that they'd use a dice mechanic of their own making.  In fact, many folks (myself included) suspected that FFG would use the Genesys dice system, as that had by and large been tested and validated by means of their Star Wars RPG, with the Genesys dice being much the same but using slightly different symbols. Instead, FFG went with creating an entirely new set of custom dice, this one using just d6s and d12s.  At least with Genesys, odds are good that you'll be able to use the dice there for different settings, and for those of us that already have a bunch of Star Wars dice we can go ahead and use those (something I will probably do as I'm already very familiar with reading those symbols to get the results of a roll).

My own take on the current state of the L5R Beta is simply that there seems to be a lot of added complexity for no reason other than to add complexity.  A prime example is formal iaijutsu dueling, which in the previous L5R games by AEG were resolved with three rolls (Assessment, Focus, Strike) and unless the battle was to the death, once those were resolved the matter was settled.  Under FFG's system, dueling feels like it's more fitting for a western-based RPG replicating the back-and-forth of the famous duel between Inigo Montoya and Westley in The Princess Bride instead of the single stroke contest that the samurai-genre is well known for.

Another issue is that starting characters don't feel very capable, as the dice mechanics are skewed to very heavily favor Skill ranks (which use the d12s) over Ring rating (which use the d6s) and characters don't get to start with that many ranks in skills.  Easy solution here is to simply provide the PC with a small number of extra skill ranks, so hopefully FFG does something to address other than to say "if you want more capable PCs, simply start with more XP."

Now, I did manage to play a short session of the L5R Beta this past Saturday, with a friend running a modified version of Heroes of Rokugan II: Champions of the Sapphire Throne module "Writ of Justice."  Our party composition was rather interesting, consisting of a Kakita Duelist (myself), a Togashi Tattooed Monk (wandering kung fu fighter), a Kuni Purifier, and a Shosuro Infiltrator (cover was traveling performer).  Certainly an interesting and diverse group, with my PC winding up as the closest thing to a proper "face character" simply due to what skills were available and the general lack of being able to select skills outside of the presets that the beta schools provide.  While there were some hiccups in making the characters, they did turn out to be an interesting bunch, and were this 4th Edition L5R I'd certainly be looking forward to playing more sessions with this particular cast.

So, after having played at least one session of this new version of L5R, I'm still not convinced that it's something I want to continue playing, especially as I'm not at all found of the "forced social outbursts" that the current Strife mechanics enforce, as we had much of the group breaking their composure and displaying dishonorable behavior more often than any of us would have liked.  I know that it's probably far too late for any sort of changes to how the dice are laid out, but in all honestly the rate at which PCs gain Strife compared to how they lose it needs to be revised, or at the very least the rules on "outbursts" need to be addressed; I'm very much of the camp that simple dice rolls shouldn't dictate how a character reacts to a scene, and unless it's from a mystical source the most they should do is help inform the player how their character might react to given stimuli.

But ultimately, I think I'm at a point in my gaming preferences that I'd rather stick with systems that don't overwhelm you with options on how to resolve in-game challenges, and that's something this version of L5R does, is overwhelm the player and GM so many different ways that skills can work.  Again, it feels like complexity for the sake of complexity without really providing anything meaningful to the story being told.  And to be frank, if that's the sort of thing I'm after, I'll go play 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons, since the high degree of complexity that it had with regards to combat works with what the game was meant to be.

Given the limits of my own time, especially with working on my own Force and Destiny campaign and working on modules for next year's GamerNationCon (I may just scale back to two modules instead of the three I was initially leaning towards), I'm not really keen on learning the ins and outs of a complex set of RPG mechanics when they don't really provide a satisfying return on investment.  I was willing to learn the complex rules of FFG's Star Wars RPG because it proved to be a very fun experience, a high return on the investment of time made.  But for a setting that I don't see myself doing much gaming in to start with, FFG's Legends of the Five Rings just falls flat.

October 16, 2017

The Building of a Crane Duelist (Legend of the Five Rings Beta)

So as I mentioned in last week's blog post, for the Legend of the Five Rings Beta one-shot that I played in, I created a Kakita Duelist for my PC, who generally wound up being the party face due to how skill selections played out.

For this week, I'm going to go through the 20 Questions character creation process as outlined in the initial release of the beta rules.  It's entirely possible that aspects of the process will have changed between when I made my character and now, but I'm going to stick with the original process.

So let's get the ball rolling...

Part 1: Core Identity (Clan and Family)
#1) What clan does your character belong to?
So looking through the options, I decide I want to go with elegant and refined, so the easy choice is Crane.  Scorpion was also a possibility, but got dismissed for reasons you'll see later on in the process.  Being a Crane, this gives my character a +1 to his Air Ring and 1 rank in Culture, and a starting Status of 35

#2) What family does your character belong to?
Since I already chose Crane as my clan, going through the options I decide to pick Kakita, as I've always enjoyed playing iaijutsu duelists in my prior L5R outings.  This choice gives my unnamed PC a +1 bonus to his Fire Ring as well as 1 rank each in Aesthetics and Meditation, and sets initial Glory at 44.

Part 2: Role and School
#3) What is your character's role and school?
Since I'm leaning towards being a duelist, that means my character's role within the Crane is that of a bushi, which makes my school choice simply as Kakita Duelist is the only bushi school available to the Crane in the beta rules.  This provides a +1 bonus to both the Earth and Air Rings, as well as 1 rank in five skills of my choice, for which I select Courtesy, Fitness, Martial Arts [Melee], Meditation, and Sentiment, and sets initial Honor at 50.  This also gives me the Iaijutsu Kata and Weight of Duty Shuji (social technique), and the Way of the Crane school ability.  For chuckles, I choose an attendant as part of my starting outfit (do need somebody to handle the menial tasks that are beneath a Crane samurai's concern after all)

#4) How does your character stand out within their school?
Okay, so for this one I went more with a mechanical choice than a character-driven choice, deciding to take a +1 increase to my character's Water Ring so that he's fairly well-rounded in his Rings rather than being strongly focused in two and deficient in two.

Part 3: Honor and Glory
#5) What is your character's duty to their lord?
Well, being that a large part of a Crane duelist's job is to serve as a bodyguard and stand-in for the Crane diplomats at court, I decide my character serves as yojimbo and companion to his lord's niece, a demure yet elegantly lovely young Crane courtier, with whom my character is enamored with though he knows that she's far too high of station for him to pursue.  And so my character's Giri is described as "Yojimbo to my lord's niece, a demure yet elegantly lovely young Crane courtier."

#6) What does your character long for?
Now I could just go the easy route and say that my character longs for the hand in marriage of his lord's niece, but instead I decide to go with another classic staple and decide that my character wants to become the most renowned duelist of the era.  This sets my character's Ninjo as "Become the most renowned duelist of the era."

#7) What is your character's opinion of their clan?
Before even looking at the options, it's easy to determine that my PC has a positive view of the Crane and how they do things (after all, it was Lady Doji that set the standards for proper civilized behavior in Rokugan, and who is he to disagree with a Kami?)  While disagreeing would net me a free skill rank, agreeing with the Crane outlook instead gets me a +5 increase to Glory.

#8) What does your character think of Bushido?
I picture this character being a firm believer in the tenets of Bushido, though probably not to the zealous extreme of the Lion Clan, which increases my character's starting Honor by 10.

Part 4: Strengths and Weaknesses
#9) What is your character's greatest accomplishment so far?
I figure being an iaijutsu duelist, that my character is very quick to react to danger, and so select the Quick Reflexes as his Distinction, having used his speed to win several iaijutsu contests during his time as a student at the Kakita Academy.

#10) What holds your character back the most in life?
This one gives a character an Adversity, for which I pick Sworn Enemy, with the idea that it's a young samurai of a different clan and higher status that is also enamored with the young Crane courtier that my character is charged with protecting.  I'm not sure which clan yet, though Scorpion is a strong contender as is Lion (particularly if the enemy were of the Matsu family).

#11) What activity makes your character feel most at peace?
This choice gives my character a Passion, and for this I pick Wordplay, so that rather than being stoic and stolid, my Crane bushi has a penchant for amusing phrasing of words and statements that can seem complimentary but frequently have added meaning to them.  It's also an in character excuse for me to make puns and quips at the table, so added bonus!

#12) What concern, fear, or foible troubles your character the most?
And lastly one's choice here gives the character an Anxiety, and this one proved tough.  I initially leaned towards Irrepressible Flirtation, in no small part to convey his trouble with keeping his feelings towards his charge within the realm of propriety, or with Jealousy given his Ninjo, but I ultimately go with Painful Honesty, to reflect his commitment to Bushido, and that while he might make clever insinuations about a person, there's always going to be a grain of truth to them.

#13) Who has your character learned the most from during their life?
For this one, I'm going to say that it was his sensei that my character learned the most from.  And as I want my character to be a very capable duelist, I opt to take an extra rank of Martial Arts [Melee], bringing that skill up to two ranks, as well as the disadvantage of Whispers of Poverty, for which I decide is reflected in my character opting to dress in a somewhat subdued manner compared to the ostentatious style that many Crane prefer leading others to incorrectly conclude that he lacks the resources one would expect a member of his clan to have.

Part 5: Personality and Behavior
#14) What detail do others find most striking about your character?
Well, apart from his more modest style of dress, I go with my character having the classic Kakita look of the lean bishonen, with a polite smile and striking eyes that have an almost predatory cant to them.

#15) How does your character react to stressful situations?
Okay, this is a part of the game I'm not enthused with, as it plays into the Strife mechanic that I really dislike.  Still, it's part of the process, so going with part of what's described directly above, and that his eyes taken on a much darker aspect and his expression hardens from that of cheerful bishie to the fierce warrior that he is, with his verbal remarks often becoming far harsher.

#16) What are your character's preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organizations, and traditions?
For a character that I'm really only planning to play once, I'm not going to go into a lot of depth on this one, so I'm just going to say that my character leans towards the general Crane attitudes of the other Great Clans, as well as having the previously mentioned relationship with the young Crane courtier he's been charged with protecting.  I also put a bit more thought into his Sworn Enemy, and decide to buck the trend and make it a Yoritomo courtier, who would be of lower status given the Mantis are a Minor Clan at this point in time, but said enemy is obviously more politically savvy, making for a contrast of brains vs. brawn.

Part 6: Ancestry and Family
#17) How would your character's parents describe them?
Again, more of a RP-heavy question that isn't important for a one-shot character, so I'm just going to say that they're proud of his accomplishments thus far, but hold him to a high expectation given the Crane Clan's long legacy of expert duelists and gallant bushi.

#18) Who was your character named to honor?
I'll go with a great-great grandfather as the person, and rolling on the Samurai Heritage table I get a result of 3 for "Wondrous Work" (netting my character +5 to his Glory), and a 6 for a free rank in Composition, which works nicely for his Wordplay advantage.

#19) What is your character's name?
Finally we get to the "what's your character's name?" section, and frankly I think this should be pushed up in the question order, probably to be under Part 1 and as question #3.  After a fair bit of musing, I decide to grab a name from the Bushi character booklet that Katrina Ostrander made for her L5R 4e module at GamerNationCon 2017, and pick the name Takahiro.

Part 7: Death
#20) How should your character die?
So putting aside the temptation to use Tyrion's answer from Game of Thrones, I figure a fitting end for one that lives by the sword is to die by the sword, perhaps perishing in a manner not unlike that of his school's founder, that being of wounds inflicted during an iaijutsu duel of great importance.

Phew, okay now that I've worked my way through the 20 Questions process, here's what the final version of the character's stats look like.

Kakita Takahiro, Crane Duelist
Clan/Family: Crane/Kakita
School: Kakita Duelist
Rings: Air 3, Earth 2, Fire 2, Water 2, Void 1
Skills: Aesthetics 1, Composition 1, Fitness 1, Martial Arts (Melee) 2, Meditation 2, Courtesy 1, Culture 1, Sentiment 1
Techniques: Iaijutsu, Weight of Duty
School Ability: Way of the Crane
Giri: Yojimbo to his lord's niece, a demure yet elegantly lovely young Crane courtier.
Ninjo: To become the most renowned duelist of the era.
Glory: 54
Honor: 60
Status: 35
Focus: 5
Composure: 8
Vigilance: 3
Starting Outfit: Daisho, yari, traveling clothes, ceremonial clothes, traveling pack (blanket, bottle of sake, chopsticks, coin purse, daisho stand, pillow book, sweets [4 servings], spare kimono, week's reations, wide-brimmed straw hat), attendant, 10 koku
Distinction Advantage: Quick Reflexes (Fire)
Passion Advantage: Wordplay (Air)
Adversity Disadvantage: Sworn Enemy (Earth), Whispers of Poverty (Water)
Anxiety Disadvantage: Painful Honesty (Air)

October 13, 2017

Once Upon a Harvest Moon (7th Sea 2e Adventure)

So quite a while back, I found myself in need of a one-shot adventure for my online gaming group, something we could play while our scheduled GM was indisposed.  Luckily, I had some advance notice of this, giving me time to consider options.

Given that it was close to Halloween, I wanted to something that had a horror theme to it, while also really wanting another shot at running 7th Sea 2e for my group, given the fun we'd had when I ran a one-shot.  But also being a backer of the Kickstarter of the Shadows of the Demon Lord RPG, I also wanted to make use of one of the adventures that were provided as a backer reward.  Which, seeing as how Eisen in second edition is a bit less of "war torn wasteland" and a bit more "dark uberwald crawling with monsters," it seemed like a pretty viable combination.

The SotDL module I wound up choosing to use and modify was "The Apple of Her Eye," a Novice-level adventure written by gaming industry legend Steve Kenson (seriously, is this man even capable of creating a product of sub-par quality?) which I felt would be of suitable challenge for a group of freshly-made 7th Sea Heroes.  I obviously changed the name to prevent any of my would-be players from stumbling across the source adventure and thus spoiling the tale, but I also had to adapt it from a fairly crunchy "move then roll" system to a less crunchy "roll then move" one, which made some bits rather interesting, especially as there really wasn't much of anything in the way of actual guidelines in creating a 7th Sea adventure, just some general suggestions.  Of course, this was meant as a one-shot, so I wasn't that worried about it, and instead was more concerned with my players having fun.

And they did.  One of my usual players is a mother, and a core aspect of the adventure really hit home for her given it involved children and a not-so-pleasant fate for them (something that is probably the norm for Shadows of the Demon Lord, but then pretty much everyone in that setting is doomed to a not-so-pleasant fate).  Another of my players, who is a big fan of the Witcher series loved it, saying that it felt very much like a sidequest he might have chanced upon in Witcher 3.

So yeah, mission successful.  And certainly successful enough that I decided to run it as a scheduled event at GamerNationCon 2017, adding a few more pre-gens (five instead of the original three) and tweaking a few things to make the adventure flow a bit smoother and perhaps make it a bit more challenging.  I will say this, having a Hero with access to Hexenwerk makes things generally easier for the party, and I am curious to see how the adventure turns out if none of the Heroes have Sorcery.  For the most part, fun was had, though the mood towards the end was soured by one player that was more focused on ordering food on their phone, something that didn't really sit well with a couple of the players.  Ah well, such is the peril inherent in running games at a convention, though I will probably institute a "no smartphone/tablet" policy unless it's being used as a dice roller or to reference rulebooks at any future games I run.

That all being said, here's the link to a seasonally appropriate 7th Sea 2nd edition adventure for the time of year:

Once Upon a Harvest Moon

As was the case with "An Idol Venture," I'm including the five per-generated Heroes that I created for the adventure, with the character sheets being fairly simple.  Still, each of the characters worked out well for the adventure, and folks had a lot of fun playing them.  Also included is a reference sheet for the Major and Minor Unguents that the Hexenwerk Hero knows, so whichever player has that character doesn't have to reference the books to see what their Sorcery does.

If you're interested in Shadow of the Demon Lord (which is itself seasonally appropriate for this time of year), you can check out the main website at http://schwalbentertainment.com/shadow-of-the-demon-lord/, as well as DriveThruRPG for PDFs of the books and numerous adventures, including "The Apple of Her Eye."

August 31, 2017

RPGaDay Question #31

Question #31: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

First thing that immediately sprang to mind is GamerNation Con 2018, or what I choose to think of the "The Best Four Days of Actual Gaming."

While weather caused me to miss the inaugural GamerNation Con, I've been able to make it to all the subsequent cons, and Yoda willing I'll be making it to the 2018 edition as well. It's a small gaming-centric convention, and the small size really helps as you get a much better sense of camaraderie with the folks in attendance.  Plus, the Guests of Honor have been pretty cool individuals, and I even got to help induct Rodney Thompson (he of Star Wars Saga Edition fame) into the Rebel Legion as an Honorary Member, as well as play in games run by Sam Stewart (just the tip) and Katrina Ostrander/Lee, which were both a lot of fun.  I've got a couple of modules in mind to bring to run for next year, and am eager to see what other folks bring.  I suspect there will be a lot of Genesys games using assorted homebrew settings, which while cool will take away some of the charm that GM Phil's "Edge of the Wasteland" Fallout conversion has.  Though at least Phil can always claims "First!" in terms of his Fallout conversion being a "proof of concept" for FFG, which I'm sure is something that Phil will never get tired of reflecting upon.

Other things I'm looking forward to for 2018 is the resuming of Eric Brender's Mutants and Masterminds 3e Emerald City campaign.  Even if it does wind up being the swan song of Spider-Man and the Stormbreakers, it's been a blast to of a campaign to play, with a pretty cool set of characters, though my favorite of the PCs is probably Mayfield, a Golden Age style Superman that never lost his Idaho country farmboy roots.

I don't know for certain if it's going to start up this year or not, but I am looking forward to the Kickstarter for 7th Sea: The East, the sister game line to 7th Sea 2nd edition.  I've checked out the quickstart document for 7th Sea: The East, and on first brush it looks pretty neat, with a few system tweaks that I wouldn't mind seeing make it over to the main game.  I've generally enjoyed the 7th Sea 2nd edition product line, even if I've not gotten to play it nearly as much as I would have liked.

I'd be remiss if I were to omit the previously mentioned Genesys RPG, Fantasy Flight Game's translation of the Star Wars narrative dice system into a setting-agnostic game.  While I'd so love to see Mechamorphosis make a return as an official sourcebook for Genesys, I'm not holding my breath.  Depending on time and interest, I might kitbash my own conversion of the Not!Transformers d20 game that FFG published back during the days of the d20 boom.  I don't know how much actual usage I'll get out of Genesys as my regular gaming group is pretty happy with Star Wars, but we'll see.

Well, that about wraps up not only this post, but also RPGaDay 2017.  I'm not sure that I'll do this again next year, but it was a fun experience.  Now admittedly, I did cheat a little and take advantage of posting these to my blog to write a bunch of my answers in advance (usually no more than a few days), which worked out as there were some days where after coming home from work my brain felt like a lump of clay.

At any rate, I hope at least a few folks found my answers at the very least amusing if not interesting.  Thanks for playing along, and see you on the flip side.  Or maybe better yet, see you at GamerNation Con 2018!

August 30, 2017

RPGaDay Question #30

Wow, almost forgot to post this one.
Question #30: What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Honestly, most of the genre-mashups I'd like to see have already hit publication.

For instance, Horror+Western is covered by Deadlands, while Horror+Noir is covered by Deadlands: Noir, and Horror+Post-Apoc is addressed by Deadlands: Hell on Earth, so Pinnacle's got my back there.

Lovecraft-themed supernatural horror and anime is addressed by the sadly underrated CthulhuTech.

Then there's just the simple fact that Star Wars, as the embodiment of the space opera genre, is itself a mashup of genres that it covers a lot of bases.  Heroic knights with laser swords and quasi-psychic powers squaring off against faceless minions of a cruel tyrant with quick-drawing smartass scoundrels, sassy nobles that can handle themselves in a fight, and non-human mascots at their side goes a long ways.

7th Sea might have a Renaissance-era Pirates and Swashbucklers feel to it, but it can easily be adapted to cover themes of horror and/or exploration, especially in 2nd edition where the Syrenth are far more of an unknown and the mystical elements of the world have much more of a sinister cant to them.

Welp, one final day to go in RPGaDay for 2017.  I have to say this has been interesting, and certainly gave this ol' blog of mine a lot more activity in the span of a month than it usually sees over the course of a year.  But as for what the future holds?  Well, guess we'll just have to see, won't we?

August 29, 2017

RPGaDay Question #29

Question #29: What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

Far and away that has been the FATE Core Kickstarter by Evil Hat Productions.  Quite honestly, Fred Hicks could teach a class on how to properly run a professional Kickstarter campaign.  Not only is he transparent about where things are, he's been savvy enough to avoid over-extending Evil Hat's ability to fulfill the various goals.

A close runner-up are the various Maps of Mastery campaigns run by cartographer Christopher West.  While I may not use maps quite as much as I used to these days, I still back every single one of his Kickstarters, and he's got the process more or less down to a science.  He doesn't go crazy with stretch goals, though a part of that may be due the fairly short length of some of his more recent Kickstarters, as he's only got so many days to reach the intended goal.  And since he's created the maps ahead of time, there's generally not a huge delay on getting the maps either, which is always a plus.

While it's had some hiccups and delays, the Kickstarter run by John Wick for the 7th Sea 2nd edition was handled pretty well.  I figured from the get-go that their proposed production schedule was very aggressive and required that nothing go wrong to cause delays, something that veteran gamers know almost never happens as something hiccup or another occurs that causes delays and products to be rescheduled.  Still, they've been very good about producing the supplements in roughly the order proposed, with the only switch-up being they released Heroes & Villains prior to Pirate Nations.

Now to be fair, I don't tend to back a lot of Kickstarters, mostly as I've become adverse to pledging money for RPGs that I may very well never get to play.  Thus far, I've only gotten burned twice, one was due to the backer suffering some catastrophic real life issues regarding his mental health that were beyond his control, and I don't begrudge the man for not being able to follow through given that by the time he was able to resume working on it, all interest on both the part of him and the backers had passed.  Which is a shame, as it looked like it had a lot of potential.

The other "burn" thus far has been the Mekton Zero Kickstarter by R. Talsorian.  Honestly, I really should have known better for a company that's become increasingly infamous for not being able to follow through on a timely manner.  There's still periodic updates, but the last few that I've seen have been more about their woes with the minis line, which I frankly don't really care about as I'm more keen on the RPG.  Hopefully they'll get things sorted out and have an actual rulebook put together, but I've kind of given up on having it anytime in the near future.  Which is a shame as the few times I was able to play Mekton Zeta, it was quite fun even if the rules could be horribly abused by savvy players that knew what they were doing.

Only two more days in this marathon of questions, so check up here tomorrow for what won't quite be my final answer.

August 28, 2017

RPGaDay Question #28

Question #28: What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?

To start with, Monty Python and the Holy Grail isn't very commonly referenced in our Skype group, which is currently the most enduring gaming group I've had over the past several years.  I think the main reason for that is enough of us have been gaming long enough that quotes from said movie are more annoying than amusing at this point.

Frankly, there are times it feels like I'm the one that makes the most movie quotes, and I tend to draw on a number of different cinematic sources, though I do have a few that consistently draw from.

Of course, it's hard to go wrong with The Princess Bride, as just so much of that movie is quotable in and of itself, even more so if playing a swashbuckling-themed game such as 7th Sea.  During the running of Erebus Cross with a short-lived group, my Castillian Duelist dropped many a line from the film, including switching up the "You seem a decent fellow, I hate to kill you / You seem a decent fellow, I hate to die" exchange, with Estevan saying the second part when about to face off with an honorable Vodacce swordsman in the employ of an unscrupulous merchant.  Playing a character that was a romantic idealist and a bit of smartass (that last part covers an unsurprisingly large number of my characters over the years) gave me plenty of chances to quote either Inigo or Westley at various points of the adventure.

I suppose that if I ever wind up running a pirate-themed 7th Sea game, then I can expect the various Pirates of the Caribbean flicks to be mined for quotes.  But it's not happened yet.

I also favor the sayings of Doctor Peter Venkman, another smartass character (sensing a theme yet?), especially the "nice thinking Ray" when a fellow PC does something foolish or unwise.  And there's always Egon's "Sorry Venkman, I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought" for situations that get really hairy and other PCs are turning to my character for suggestions on what to do.

Star Wars comes up a fair bit, given one of our more recurring RPGs is Star Wars, especially the wit and witticisms of Obi-Wan Kenobi as well as the nigh-obligatory "I've got a bad feeling about this!"  Han Solo lines also get some love, but not nearly as much.

But frankly, I think our group tends to draw more from pop culture, with various memes being dropped, such as "Morrigan Approves +10" when my Human Paladin in Eric's D&D 5e Curse of Strahd campaign pretty much entered into a pact with the essence of a corrupted mad archangel housed in an amulet.  Or one of our players, Rick, dropping a YouTube link to an audio clip of "dark side points gained' from KOTORII whenever a PC does something dark/evil in the game.  It also depends on what movie has come out recently that at least a few of us have seen, especially the Marvel movies if we're in the midst of playing Mutants and Masterminds.

I think for us it also depends on the setting and characters, as we tend to skew more heavily towards playing our roles and not making quite so many fourth-wall breaking comments like quoting media that don't exist in the setting.  Of course, I'm also the guy that played a character that was Harry Dresden Lite in a Dresden Files RPG that spouted pop culture references like they were going out of style, much the mixed enjoyment and chagrin of the players and their characters; I believe there were a few times the padre thought my far younger White Council wizard's brain had been utterly fried given some of the pop-culture nonsense I was spouting off.

That's all for today, so check back tomorrow for another answer in the RPGaDay question series.