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 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.


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. 


-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. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Vampires, Witches, and... Djinn?

So, one game every other week is just not cuttin' it for me. 
I wanted to do something very different from Troika (which is still going strong.)
I decided I wanted to revisit the roaring 90's. 
I'm teetering between running Vampire: the Masquerade 2nd edition using only the main book and some selected stuff from the Player's Guide. 
I might also do the Eden version of CJ Carella's Witchcraft. 
I might also do a mini-campaign of one and switch to the other. 

Delving back into VtM marks my first attempt to do so since undergrad, a relic of my super cringey ivory-tower-gaming phase. It's also my first attempt at anything White Wolf since 2016, when I threw up my hands and gave up on the super awful Beast: the Primordial. 

 My gaming sensibilities have changed, almost beyond recognition, since college. Fuck all that highbrow shit, I'm taking cues from The Crow, Blade 1, and the wonderful VtM computer game from 2004. 

I'm still considering Witchcraft, which I have not run, though I have run three other Eden Studios games and I know my way around the Unisystem. 

Unrelated: I am reading through GURPS Arabian Nights. No, I don't know why. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Ideas at Three in the Morning

1. Convert Nightbanespawn to Savage Worlds, given that Savage Worlds handles Palladium concepts much better than Palladium does. (See: Savage RIFTS) This probably involves the Savage Worlds Superpowers Companion and the Horror Companion, though I'm not sure how easy that will be to use with SWADE. Probably pretty easy, bro.

2. Convert Witchcraft to be Powered by the Apocalypse, and no I have no fucking idea how I would do that.

3. Convert GURPS Magic (3rd edition) spells to Heroes & Other Worlds.

4. Hurl myself from the roof, although this would likely just give me a painful and expensive trip to the ER rather than the sweet release of death.*

*I'm not really going to do this. I have to be here to take care of my kitty.

Friday, April 24, 2020

A Strangely Topical Twitter Exchange

...well, topical to me, at least.

Tweeter 1: Cricket is the GURPS of sports.

Tweeter 2: Counterpoint- I've met someone who likes cricket.

Fuckin' savage, mate*.

*I'm not British.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Troikin' On

I ran Troika again tonight. I find that I often employ Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd edition to fill in some of the blanks. (Other blanks I just fill in myself, because let's face it- this system is absolute bare bones.) Sometimes I need a more traditional monster, or I need a cost for some item not found in Troika. The dungeons all come out of the One Page Dungeon Contest's 2019 collection, and so far I have found a dungeon for every occasion.

I put a lot of love and work into my NPC voices, especially since two players are legally blind and we're all playing over Discord due to the pandemic. Tonight I got some post-game praise for my "totally fed up yet very polite middle aged Irish lady innkeeper" voice. (What a title!)

I marvel in this group's ability to unknowingly and blithely wander past almost every single scrap of treasure in this game- a shit situation balanced by their propensity for dodging the worst bullets their circumstances have to offer. Tonight, one player managed to get one of two benign encounters on an encounter table that is almost entirely cockatrices.

We did broker the idea of switching from alternating weeks to every week. The game I was alternating with Troika died off (and probably not even because of the pandemic, let's be real) and we all find ourselves with a dearth of free time on our hands. I might also start up a second game just for variety. I suppose I could do both...

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

In Which I Gander at GURPS Again

Anybody who knows me well at all knows that I'm a bit of a masochist. Sometimes this takes the form of mental self-flagellation by way of revisiting game/rules systems that I don't like, especially if I had an acrimonious split with said system. In these recent times of madness, that took the form of me dusting off GURPS. Specifically, I decided to take a gander at GURPS 4th edition.

I broke up with GURPS 3rd edition sometime in undergrad, when I lived in the dorms... so that had to be circa 2001 or 2002. I put it so far out of my mind that I sort of still perceive GURPS 4th edition as "new" GURPS, even though it's old enough to drive, older than my freshman students, and I think possibly old enough to have been out longer than GURPS 3rd was. 

Man. I didn't even make it twenty pages in. Far less, I think.

GURPS 3rd edition has the energy of a college professor you thought was alright: methodical, detailed, a little bit plodding, very prone to sidebars, but you felt like you learned something. GURPS 4th edition has the energy of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. (Hate that show, by the way.) It starts off shouting at me about what Tech Level my character is relative to the campaign tech level and how that impacts the character. It nags me about just how fluent my character is in the languages they speak. It's very important to know if they have just a slight accent or a very thick accent. Oh, and have I given any consideration to the effects of non-standard gravity worlds on my character's effective ST score? Well no, I haven't. I kind of figured we could get into character creation first and then if I'm playing a game where that kind of thing is germai- nope, here's the formula for ST in non-standard gravity. Oh, hey, remember Dai Blackthorn? Yeah, the character from 3rd, the thief- WELL now Dai is an agent for a pan-dimensional police force and he can teleport and jump between worlds-

I put it away, my brain somehow reeling from reading a goddamn gaming book.

Not to be completely bested, I downloaded a free copy of GURPS Lite from Warehouse 23. It felt... incomplete. I remember paging through GURPS Lite back in the 3rd edition days and feeling like it was more playable. Luckily, W23 has GURPS Lite 3rd still available, so I grabbed it. It was definitely more complete. It had a shell of a magic system for one, whereas GL4 had no magic at all. Perhaps GURPS Lite 3rd was what I was looking for all along.

Then, just paging through it, the guns at TL 9 are unable, on average, to penetrate the armor at TL 9.
Le sigh.

I have Hereos & Other Worlds. While it is a retro clone of The Fantasy Trip and not GURPS, there's just enough proto-GURPS in there to perhaps fulfill that itch without all the detritus that would eventually pile on to metastasize into a game system that tries to get me to calculate the surface area of a humanoid automaton.

I suppose, with the right skill list and maybe some pilfered (if adjusted) weapons tables, H&OW could also be browbeaten into doing genres besides fantasy. (I'm really kind of hung up on the other worlds part of the title.) In the meantime, GURPS will have to go back into the dusty shelves, both physical and digital.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

KantCon Optimism

KantCon, my beloved convention and the only thing remotely resembling a vacation in my life, is scheduled for July. Will we be out of quarantines and lockdowns and such by July? Honestly, I don't think we will.. but I submitted my games anyway. At this point, I need something to look forward to. If nothing else, I'll run them as one shots.

What I signed up for:

Starships & Spacemen, 2nd edition. Every year since I think 2013*, I've run a game of S&S using the same crew and ship. (Very often many of the same players, too.) This year's session is called "Imposter Syndrome" and involves rooting out a sinister element on a space station.... are they dopplegangers? Are they infested with alien mind control parasites? Are they robots? Space-Communists? Videni spies? Is it all just paranoia?

Zweihander- I used to run a weird/grimdark fantasy game every Friday, but as of last year I changed my game of choice to Zweihander from another game that I no longer play or support. In this year's game, an infamous pirate is supposedly lost at sea. When his ship is rumored to have run aground, treasure hunters scramble for the ultimate payoff... but the countryside is presently plagued by undead and the almost-as-dangerous inquisitors tasked with rooting out the source of the scourge.

Cartoon Action Hour- It went over so well last year, I'm going to try it again. I'm running three mini-sessions of Eagle Force (discount GI Joe), Converters (discount Transformers), and Genetically Altered Xiaolin Toads (if you can't figure this one out, hang your head in shame.) I plan on serving surgery cereal at the table again.

Savage Worlds Adventure Edition- I still want to kick the tires on my SWADE book, and this is the chance. I'm reheating a one-shot of my twice-defunct Royal Society Files game, which is basically steampunk ghostbusters.

On Sunday, I will host board games like I usually do. This year I'm doing Strange Synergy and Hero Quest.

I know very well there might not be a tournament. I just need to think about something right now that isn't plague-related.

*Except 2017, which is perhaps the most garbage year of my entire life, and missing KantCon that year was just one of many reasons.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Shuffling Along with Troika

My Troika! game passed session 3 this last week. We play only every other week, though I'm tempted to remedy this. Originally we alternated weeks because I was running an in-person game as well, but that game is toast due to the whole global pandemic thing.

Troika is a breeze to run. I'm still looking for a good tool to do the initiative system online. Originally, I used a random name picker "virtual wheel" that I've used in my oral comm classes to determine which kid or group of kids has to present next. While the wheel's clicky sounds and air horn sound effect are fun in class, they are not fun when I'm trying to keep a combat moving along at a decent pace. I want a tool that is quick and simple, but still allows me to easily add or remove combatants as people die, monsters get summoned, folks run, etc.

Troika is running a little bit more silly/comedic than I had originally intended. I wanted it to be just a quirkier Spelljammer, but instead the game has a good deal more absurdity than I intended. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. (If you've read my blog, you know I'm a notorious, sour-faced fun-hater.)

My current campaign model is an open world (worlds, more accurately) liberally sprinkled with random table weirdness and dungeons from the 2019 One Page Dungeon Competition PDF. Converting monsters (or statting them up wholesale, given that a lot of the OPDC's dungeons provide no stats) is pretty simple, since foes in Troika (and it's progenitor, Advanced Fighting Fantasy) have but two stats.

I hope all my blog pals are staying well and sane.

Monday, March 16, 2020

In Which I Run Troika! a Second Time

We continued our Troika! game this last week.

I was tempted to chronicle the events of the game session, but:

1.) Nobody cares, and

2.) Having attempted to do so with several IRL friends, I have determined that there is no way to describe the game session to those who have not played without it sounding like an acid trip. (I made this same observation about Gamma World a few years ago.)

Instead, I shall offer insights based on the experience of running the game from a GM's perspective.

Observation 1: Making monsters on the fly is trivially easy, in that they need only ratings in Skill and Stamina. Anything else you want to hang on the monster is basically just window dressing.

Observation 2: The "token picking" initiative system creates a very random, chaotic feel to combat. This is a very refreshing change from games where a stat allows some characters or enemies to consistently dominate initiative, or the "I go, you go, I go" trap that even older editions of D&D can fall into.

Observation 3: The option of eating Provisions to restore Stamina keeps the party from over-camping/resting after every single encounter. While this is not (yet) a campaign centered around the crawling of dungeons, it seems like it would lend itself to keeping up the pace if the PCs decide to engage in such endeavors.

Observation 4: While at first I and the players balked at rolling Skill for... well, everything... I find that it keeps the game moving forward. Players don't try to use spurious logic to attach skill bonuses to everything. Nobody hems and haws over whether this is a roll of Diplomacy or Etiquette or Savoir-Fair or Fast-Talk. More seriously, it really helps me decide on what exactly needs to be a roll at all. (Turns out, not actually very much sometimes.)

Observation 5: More a personal observation than anything else, this game is turning me back on to the idea of classless games. (Troika's Backgrounds are sort of like classes, but not entirely.)

The game has been an enjoyable experience so far. I've been reading up more on Advanced Fighting Fantasy, Troika's illustrious ancestor, as well...but more on that at a later time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Dungeon Bank

I find that I am increasingly tilting toward being a "zero-prep" DM, or at least one who prepares very minimally for games. To this end, I picked up the 2019 One Page Dungeon Contest compilation from DriveThru for a paltry sum of three dollars. Reskin (or not), shuffle around, sprinkle liberally into my version of the millions spheres for Troika!, or use them as a pick up game of White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game* at a moment's notice. 

I am presently plodding through the dungeons over my meager lunch break, for my own edification and certainly not because I have a Troika! game in six hours that I have done zero preparation for. 

Some of the dungeons are novel. Some are mini-games into themselves, with mechanics and everything. Some are pretty traditional. Some are fucking hipster bullshit. Some are actually unplayable. They aren't all fantasy, which works out really well with my Troika! game and how I envision the setting. Some of the sci-fi dungeons will do nicely without really needing that much alteration. 

What I'm doing is building a dungeon bank. I'm really terrible at mapping. My brain just isn't good at laying things out spatially like that. Having a dungeon bank allows me to have strange and deadly places ready to go. I used to do this with Wizardawn  back in the days of my dearly departed and fondly remembered Stars Without Number campaign. The players were always ending up in bunkers, space stations, alien ruins, etc. and I found that I needed a repository of maps, lest the players end up exploring the exact same building, reskinned into infinity. (Looking at you, Mass Effect 1.) 

At present, I plan to simply create a folder on my Guugle Drive and upload the PDFs I buy, perhaps with some typed up notes for reskinning purposes. I might also print a selection of them and stick them in an honest-to-gods physical folder. 

Well, I should get back to my dungeon evaluation. Time's a-wastin'. 

*Haha I wish. My home group won't touch anything that resembles old D&D because they are lame. 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Troika! Initial Impressions from the Game Table

Troika! is fun to run.
Troika! is easy to run, even if the initiative system is a little weird.

While it turned out a little zanier, and probably close to the original vision, then I had intended, it was nonetheless a good time. I used the module included in the back of the book, which is delightful and bizarre. We sussed out some hooks for further adventure. The game now stands open as a sandbox.  I'm looking forward to next session.

PS: For those of you who are stuck playing online, I recommend this tool for initiative, just type in a character or NPC's name as many times as they have initiative tokens, plus and "END OF ROUND" entry. It worked beautifully, though it takes a second or three to set up.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Totally New and Previously Unexpressed Opinion

I fucking hate gaming online.
I. Fucking. Hate. It.

That's all. Resume your evening.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

My Recipe for Troika!

My game of Troika! (Numinous Edition) begins tomorrow. I must confess I've only got the slightest notion what I'm actually going to do with it.

As mentioned in prior posts, I am definitely not British enough to understand the Troika! vibe on a core level. I have instead replaced it with my own aesthetic. My recipe is as follows:

*Spelljammer- Basically I'm taking the premise of "space D&D with magic ships" and using it as the chassis for this game. I'm stealing some actual elements of the setting and reflavoring liberally.

*Saga (graphic novel) - While a love story, Saga is also batshit weird space fantasy. It has kind of a kitchen sink approach to aliens, magic, and other weirdness. Imagine RIFTS if the author were much, much hornier.

*SaGa Frontier (Playstation game) - Unrelated to Saga. SF has a setting composed of "Regions," which are kind of like planets or dimensions. Some have magic, some have technology, some have both. SaGa also has some cool stuff in it that I'm just going to straight-up steal.

The campaign has no story premise; I'm going open world/sandbox up in this. We'll see how that works out with this crew. Right now I'm just making up spheres and reskinning adventures and locations for players to visit and kick around in.

In terms of actual "under the hood" stuff:

-Stellar Adventures, a sci-fi rpg written using the Advanced Fighting Fantasy rules and published by the company that presently publishes AFF 2nd edition. I grabbed this for planetary generators and for starship/vehicle combat rules, should they come up. It will need some reskinning to turn the ships into Troika!'s golden barges and ships reminiscent of those from Spelljammer.

-The Floating Dungeon of Varrak Aslur, an adventure published for AFF. The dungeon setting is pretty novel but it's definitely bog-standard fantasy stuff. I'm reskinning it, but I needed to see what a dungeon using this rule system is "supposed" to look like. I'm mildly troubled about how to pronounce the wizard's last name: "A slur?" "ASS lure?"  Actually I think I'm going to go with ass lure.

-Keep of the First Scion, which... yeah, I'm kind of sorry I paid $1.80 for this. It's a one page dungeon that's mostly the author's hand-written scribbles and a half-formed idea or three. I could've gotten a fountain soda with that money. Still, I wanted to see what people were doing when writing for Troika! and not AFF.

I have also been working on some custom backgrounds that might fit the setting (as I envision it and plan to run it) a little better, but I haven't had time to come up with 36 of them yet to make a complete table. I have completed the Star Goblin (spacefaring tinkers and thieves) and the Silver Alchemist (they turn silver into other stuff, and sometimes it's even the stuff they intended.)

I guess we'll see what takes shape tomorrow!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Bit of Hard Reflection

Man, D&D be tedious sometimes... or perhaps I've simply lost my touch.

The session completely stalled out after the PCs decided to climb down a well (after the ranger and barbarian noticed  and examined explicit signs that a big fucking snake probably lived in the well) and the barbarian got bitten and poisoned and fell off the rope. With a third of the party on the rope, they couldn't effectively fight. They managed to scare off the snakes and barely save the barbarian from drowning/bleeding out. Since nobody in the party has any healing spells or potions  (and they missed the potion in one room because they aren't very careful searchers), they had to retreat and drag their party member back to town. They got laughed at by some townfolk. They then spent an inordinate amount of time doing whatever they possibly could to avoid paying a few silver for a room. We called it there.

I'm sure there' s a lesson about caution in exploration and the learning curve of new players, but for the most part I was just kind of... meh. Maybe next session will be better. Maybe I actually just don't like D&D very much anymore.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Tale of Two Parties

I have two gaming groups, one inherited (willed to me, in a way) and one being my "home" group. Recently they made characters for 5e and Troika! Numinous Edition, respectively.

The D&D party consists of a human fighter, human warlock, orc barbarian, half-elf rogue, and tiefling ranger. It was decidedly less-cringey than I had anticipated, though in fairness I did ban all races from outside the PHB, dragonborn, and drow. (I did allow full-blooded orcs, so don't say I never gave ya nothin'.)

The Troika! party consists of a Yongardy Lawyer, a Void Squid, and a Rhino-Man (actually a Rhino-Woman, but the player decided that outsiders can seldom tell the difference.) I wanted to stick to just the rulebook, but my s.o. jumped the gun and rolled up a character using a program that apparently incorporates 3rd party background. Troika! being what it is, I find I'm less concerned with allowing non-core elements into the brew.

What's weird, to me, is my different tolerances in the different games. With the D&D crew, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at having a fairly "standard" party. I couldn't help but note the tactical composition... oooh, they don't have a healer and barely have any magic at all, but they've got plenty of combat characters... etc.

Conversely, I'm glad that the Troika! squad avoided rolling up some of the more vanilla* backgrounds like Burglar or Questing Knight. (Okay, they are vanilla relative to most of the other backgrounds in the book.)  I have virtually no idea what the party is capable of (aside from a vague notion that the rhino and the lawyer are good at fighting), and I'm largely unconcerned as to how this will affect their adventures.

*I actually love vanilla as an ice cream flavor ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Friday, February 7, 2020


Tonight: Character creation for D&D shall commence 

Wednesday: Character creation for Troika! shall commence 

It is so ordered.

Friday, January 31, 2020

And Now For Something Completely Different

I am putting away a game that I've been running off and on since 2018. Not forever, just need a palette cleanse, as it were. I'm all urban fantasy/horror'd out.

I am replacing this cryogenically frozen game with Troika! (Numinous Edition)

From reading the book, particularly the beginning adventure, and from perusing the community on the internet, I have determined that I am not British enough to run Troika! as it was envisioned. The game as presented and the game as I will run it are likely to be two very different animals. I had even briefly considered just doing Advanced Fighting Fantasy, buuuuuuut I think this group will buy in more if the venue is bizarre space fantasy rather than pretty bog standard elves and wizards and shit.

I mean, there will definitely be wizards. Definitely. I can't guarantee elves, though, and I kind of like the idea that 1.) they all perished in some kind of elfpocalypse, or 2.) despite widespread lore describing them, nobody in the million spheres has ever seen an elf, nor can anyone produce any conclusive evidence that they ever existed. Still, everyone knows someone who has a friend who once went on an adventure with an elf.

My significant other is quite leery about rolling up a random background, as she comes from the customization-crazy world of Pathfinder. I have made a compromise: she rolls the dice, and then can choose to reverse the numbers if she pleases and take the other background instead.

I haven't decided if I'm going to use the adventure included in the book as a campaign starter or not.

 I think the aesthetic I'm going for is "Spelljammer, but after having eaten rather a lot of hallucinatory mushrooms."

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Carrying On

I GM'd tonight for the first time in... fuck... like two months at least. It was fun. I hope to do it again more often.

I'm wrapping up the game I've been theoretically running since August because we only play 1/3 of the time and I need to get my head into new spaces.

I'm starting a new game with a new crew. I'll return to this one eventually, but I need to shift gears for awhile.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

MeWe? More like EnnWe

hahahaha get it haha

A couple of weeks ago I signed up for a MeWe account, hoping to perhaps find some of the gamer folk I followed on G+, perhaps find some local gamers, etc.

I have joined some communities of various games I'm interested in, but none of them are really very active.

I did a search for my city name and all I came up with were three different gun fap- ah, excuse me, gun enthusiast groups. Searching my state added another gun group, some guy advertising that he's in a sexless marriage, and maybe some white supremacists. How depressing, albeit unsurprising.

Expanding to other nearby areas netted me an anti-vaccination group. What a fucking wasteland. 

I found a couple of people from the blogosphere, including some whose blogs have gone dark... but their MeWe is about as equally inactive. 

All in all, my initial impression is... that this isn't something I'm going to invest any time or energy in.

In the meantime, I'm still working through my newly purchased stuff and will get some more constructive thoughts posted at a later time.

Friday, January 3, 2020

A Dozen and One Adventures

I was at my FLGS this evening when I chanced across a dearth of used Al-Qadim materials. Most of it was, shall we say, "nostalgia priced," but I did pick up A Dozen and One Adventures for ten bucks. That map isn't in the best shape, but a cursory check on the internet revealed that the POD option is fucked and missing materials that WotC apparently doesn't care to fix.

Now, I've been burned before on AD&D 2nd edition adventure collections. Some years back I picked up some adventure anthologies for Ravenloft and they were hot fucking garbage. I've heard better things about the AQ modules, so I decided to take a risk. I'm too tired to do more than leaf through them at present, so I'll have to post my thoughts once I've digested them.

As for ever actually seeing any AQ action, I have two players (who sadly live in different towns), who will play just about anything I run. Hell, now that I think about it, one of them was in my Ravenloft/Gothic Earth game that I ran back in 2014. (The campaign was a lot of fun, once I tweaked the hell out of the modules.)

There we go, my first gaming purchase of 2020. My late '19 purchases are on the way to my house, but they have to cross the pond, so I'm guessing I'm not going to get them for at least another week.