Sunday, June 28, 2020

Ma-a-aps, Ma-a-aps, Ma-a-aps

I suck at making D&D maps and it makes me sad.

I've tried a couple of programs, and they are easy enough to use, but my maps always look terrible to me. I hem and haw over how much forest, or how many villages, or other stuff that probably doesn't matter all that much in the long run. These elements, however, form a series of mental blocks that cause me to throw my hands in the air in defeat.

An alternate method, and one I used to use back when I ran Stars Without Number, is to generate them randomly. (My generator of choice is Wizardawn) Of late, however, I don't feel a connection to a map I generate randomly, it's not "mine." I don't know why this wasn't a problem back in the day. (Probably because I was gearing up for grad school and I didn't have time to let things like that bother me.)

I'm going to make another attempt tonight with Hex Kit, a program I got in the hugediculous bundle hosted on itch.io earlier this month. The program itself is not complicated or difficult to use... I just hate the maps that I make.

I don't recall this being such a problem when I was a kid, or even in college. Perhaps it's because I didn't have the exposure to map making greats like Dyson Logos and Niklas Wistedt. Maybe I have the map-making equivalent of the mindset that some people have where they think they can't DM because their game isn't like /\/\att /\/\ercer. (That's a whole other can of worms I'm not going to open up.)

I'll give it a last shot, and if I hate them then fuck it, I guess we'll use the Known World or something.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Shifting Gears

I'm putting my Troika game on ice after we finish the present quest tomorrow.

It looked a certain way in my head, but it's just not turning out that way. Sometimes it's cool when a game takes a direction you didn't expect, and sometimes it's just bleh. This is one of those blehs. If I do return to Troika someday, I want to turn up/emphasize the Spelljammer/Saga vibe I was trying to go for. This might require me to write entirely new backgrounds. I was doing that before the plague hit, but I don't even know where the file is.

I will be running some Old School Essentials for a chunk of my old college gaming group. That's pretty dope. I'm just trying to decide how much of the Advanced Genre Rules book I want to use. Going to go bottom up for the setting, that's for sure.

I hope all of you blog-comrades are doing well.




Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Titanic Adventure

I was pretty sour on one of the scenarios in GURPS Time Travel Adventures, but there's another module in that book that's actually pretty dope. 

The rundown: It's Time Corps again. Your team is going back to the Titanic. You have a list of passengers whose lives benefit your present timeline. Some of them survived and you just need to make sure that happens again. Some of them died and you need to make sure they get int the flippin' lifeboats this time. You also have a list of people whose existence benefits the other timeline. The ones that died need to do a repeat performance. The ones who lived need to get murked. 

Of course, there's another team from the other timeline doing the exact same thing. They're trying to murk your passengers and save their own. You don't know who they are, they don't know who you are. 

This adventure is set up as a massive time table of passengers and where they are every hour if not interrupted. The players have absolute free reign to move around the boat, investigate whoever, follow whoever, plan assassinations, etc. They can strike early and try to keep it super discrete, or they can attack once the ship hits the fan. (Haaaa gods I'm so fuckin' funny) 

The GM is given plenty of info for contingencies and schedule disruption of the NPCs and the evil time agents.  

This is pretty much a total 180 from the other scenario in the book. Yeah, you don't get to go on a scenic tour de time, but you can also approach the situation at hand with plenty of agency, and there aren't NPCs to literally solve your problems for you if you can't get he job done. The scenario even entertains the idea that the PCs might even come up with an idea to save the ship. This kind of intervention is what gets you automatically teleported back to the present and handed a GAME OVER in the other scenario. Sure, your superiors back in hometime will be pissed that you made such a big change, but you don't automatically lose because you fucked up the story. 

A couple spoilers below: 



There's a werewolf on board. The PCs are unaware. The other team is unaware. The GM was probably unaware, because the writeup for this setting in the main Time Travel book doesn't indicate that the supernatural exists in this world, beyond some time-related psi abilities. The werewolf is actually bad for both timelines. 

There are "time looters" from a third present continuum that is never before mentioned and left with very few details. They are after an artifact/antique item that's on board. 


I'm totally down with the Titanic adventure. It also predates That One Movie by like seven or eight years. The only fault I can really give it is that there are a lot of moving parts between the agents, the timetable of where all the NPCs are, the timetable regarding the ship hitting the 'berg and sinking, and the X factor shit listed above. A GM would need to study the module and get very familiar with the big picture before running it. 

I suppose even the 90's can knock out a decent module or two, even if finding them can be an arduous process. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Reading 90's Modules, or, In Which I Have Learned Nothing

A couple years ago, I had a series of blog posts where I bagged on some 90's Ravenloft modules.

After today, I'm starting to wonder if 90's modules just sucked in general. 

I had the idea of making some pre-gens and doing one of the modules from GURPS Time Travel Adventures for my group.

 The adventure uses the Time Corps setting from the main GURPS Time Travel book, which is basically duelin' quantum present days that share a common past do time espionage to reduce the probability of the "other" present from existing while increasing the probability of "your" present existing. It's a pretty neat premise, to be honest. 

...but holy fucking set pieces, Batman! This module almost smacks of latter-day D&D adventure design: here's a couple set pieces that you will visit in order. The set pieces aren't as reliant on straight-up combat, but they are pretty rigid in terms of what can actually go down there. 

Spoilers ahead. Not that it matters, because very little your character does is going to have much of an impact 

Set Piece 1: Tel Aviv, 1973- PCs need to get find out why a nuke blew up the Great Pyramid of Giza in '73. There's a guy intel thinks is a spy for the other timeline. You have to get into an Israeli prison to get info out of him. Despite the organization that the PCs work for, they don't get cover IDs. A group of Israeli civilians are supposed to break into a prison. 

The PCs will find the guy, and right when they do, Syrian terrorists attack the prison. They do this only when the PCs are about to get info out of the guy, no matter when this happens. The spy gets shot, no matter what, and scrawls a cryptic clue on the wall in his own blood. If the PCs dick around or can't get into the prison, this event will happen anyway. The PCs can literally just chill and let this resolve itself.  

Interlude: The PCs clock back to their home time. If they're not smart enough to figure out the crytpic clue, an NPC will literally do it for them. 

Set Piece 2: France, 1798.  The PCs get disguised as French soldiers and sent to figure out if Napoleon is actually a time agent. No, really. This time you get plausible cover IDs and there's a French officer time agent to vouch for you. 

This piece consists of you watching an NPC agent give Napoleon mind control wine. (Basically) You can't stop him. He has a case of bottles of mind control wine, and mind control wine in a poisoned dart in his ring. He gets Napoleon and you get to watch. 

Later that night, mind-controlled Napoleon sneaks into the pyramid and arms a nuke...that's already in the blocks dun dun dun. You can't stop him because your time officer guy turns traitor for...reasons. He also has a gun and if the PCs try to stop Napoleon, he starts taking headshots with a skill level of 20. If you know anything about GURPS, you know how fucking stupid it is for a guy to have a skill level of 20. Oh and if you shoot Napoleon you all automatically teleport home and get yelled at at the adventure is over. You guys, I hear the author hissing, Quit ruining my stoooooooory. 

More like Napoleon Dynamite, amirite? 

Interlude 2: You go back home. Your superiors kind of don't give a shit about the guy who turned traitor and possibly shot some PCs in the head. Time travel make some people crazy, you know? Anyway, strap in bitches because you're going to ancient Egypt to stop the bomb before the pyramid is finished. 

Set Piece 3: Ancient Egypt. You've got to get on a work gang as unskilled laborers and find the bomb. There are three people who are stone cutters who are basically wearing "I am an evil time agent" t-shirts, but you have to investigate because your bosses will get mad if you just guess and murder. (How would they even know?) They have backup in the form of a dude who's been hiding in the wilderness who is ridiculously well armed. I think his weapons actually violate the time bullshit rules of the setting but fuck it, cool fights are cool, right? The module at this point grudgingly offers you a way to circumvent the set piece fight, but you can tell it's real sore about it if you do. 

The third set piece is almost cool. The PCs actually have freedom in how they approach the situation. You don't get to disarm the bomb though. You have to summon NPCs via a note to the future, like you're Bill and fucking Ted. 

The epilogue is that you boosted your timeline's probability and fixed the historical shift that had the pyramid blow up. The author gives the GM the option of just having the pyramid blow up anyway, in case you wanted to make sure your game table is empty next weekend because that entire adventure was basically watching the author jerk himself off, and I guess you got to make a stealth roll and do a combat or something. 

In the end, two thirds of this module is killing time until the cut scenes end. It actually kind of feels like when you're about 50 minutes into Metal Gear Solid 2 and you suddenly get to do something. 

If I'm going to run this, I'm going to have to take the very, very basic idea and just make a flowchart or something. Might have to add some other time periods in case the PCs don't feel like getting shit spoon fed to them. Maybe I could run the (actually much better) Titanic scenario in the same book. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

KantCon Cancelled

Welp, I knew it was coming, but I'm still pretty bummed to learn that "my" convention isn't happening this year. They're talking tentatively about doing something online, but I am 0% interested.

At this point, someone can just stick me in a cryo-pod and wake me up in about a year.

Fizzle

Looking down my blog roll, a lot of them have gone dark. The highlights of my blog reading are Christian's Legends of Gath and Dyson Logos' maps. I'm actually starting to miss G+, even though I was just a lurker there. I tried MeWe and for some reason it just doesn't do anything for MeMe*. 

I put a stake through the heart of my VtM game. I feel bad for the one player who actually made a character instead of faffing about. Not bad enough to run a one-on-one game, mind you, but I do feel a little bad for her. 

My Troika game is once every other week, which is just not enough gaming. I find myself kind of detached from games where there's longer than a week between sessions. Troika has also turned out to be a lot sillier than I usually like my games. 

I don't really want to play rpgs over Discord. I just don't like it. I've been looking into solo gaming stuff, GM emulators, etc, which I find kind of sad to be honest. I've been invited to play in a couple of games, but I don't like to play. I like to GM. Playing just... I find it frustrating.  I've even considered hanging up the dice for good. (Figure of speech, as I can't remember the last time I played in a game session that involved actual, physical dice.) I have a lot of unfinished/unplayed games on my GOG account. My bestest friend (a player in the Troika game) has asked me not to quit the field entirely. 

I don't think I'm going to finish GURPS Arabian Nights, either. No gentle way to say it: it's fucking boring. I had high school history books that read with more punch. I suppose I could skip to the crunchy bits, but to what end? 


*Not as good as my EnnWe crack from awhile back, sorry. 


Monday, May 25, 2020

Heroes & Other Worlds- Thoughts and Mods

Heroes & Other Worlds is a pretty dope little retro clone of The Fantasy Trip. 
I've been dinkering around with it. 

Thoughts: 

-Not actually a big fan of the experience system, especially the detailed version. Too much bean counting, and I don't like experience point systems that are based on how well the player rolls dice within the game session. 

-The starting money is reaalllly low. That's probably a design choice, but the PCs are going to star out with shitty equipment. 

-I would like to convert the spells from GURPS Magic. I'm not sure what the rationale behind what spells are at what IQ levels in TFT/HOW, so it's probably just going to have to be arbitrary on my part. (Maybe I can use the number of prerequisite spells as a guidepost) 

-Hear me out: Allow HOW characters to take up to 20 points of GURPS Disadvantages (maybe from a very short/limited list) and allow them to use the points to 1.) buy advantages (again, from a very limited list) 2.) buy extra attribute points at the rate of 10 disadvantage points for 1 extra attribute point, or 3.) Do the same for skills and spells at the rate of 1 skill/spell point for every 5 disadvantage points. No quirks.