Sunday, July 31, 2011

Coming Up For Air

Hey, all.

I've been a bit silent as of late because I had some surgery last week. (No worries, it was a minor procedure) The last week has been lost in a haze of pain and now a haze of painkillers. (Thanks, doc!) I even missed my Sunday game, which has not happened in....longer than I am presently able to recall.

I want to send out a belated thank you to Christian, of Destination Unknown. I received his 'zine in the mail right around the time I went under the knife. Small but mighty, the 'zine is essentially pure creativity and I appreciate the DIY aesthetic of it. I should show it to my wife, who used to be quite into 'zines via an old friend of hers. I think I actually forgot to tell her about it, but my mind was in other places. (And as soon as this pill kicks it, in will be right back in said places, so I'd better crank this blog entry out but quick.)
In return for the 'zine, Christian has asked for a donation, a trade (presumably another zine?) or a letter. I think I might write a letter...that's something I haven't done in years and years. Perhaps I'll send him some D&D material of my own. Christian, if you're reading this, do you have any particular preference when it comes to RPG content?

I've been in a steampunkity mood lately, and so while I've been confined to the couch, I've been reading GURPS Steampunk, which is the only GURPS book I still own. I eventually came to loathe GURPS, but I loved the Steampunk sourcebook for its' surfeit of wonderful ideas and imagery. (Also, it has a lot of good information on things Victorian) I will say, however, that there are plenty of instances in the book that remind me exactly why it is I have sworn off GURPS. I really don't need a formula for figuring out how many watts or joules my steam engine can produce, nor do I need formula and tables for the accuracy of artillery fire. I can see how there are certain stripes of gamers who are all about the meticulous and want their games to have hard science and plausible math behind them... I'd rather just get to the part with the saber duel atop the airship. (The airship being a huge damn McGuffin in any case) I don't need to know the acceleration of the time machine or how many cubic feet of fuel it needs to operate...just get in the damn thing and go shoot some dinosaurs, will you? (Remember to stay on the floating metal path, though...)

In my haze this last week, I have been contemplating Stars Without Number for a Shadowrun-esque game. It would be possible to do it "out of the box" using Polychrome, but I have elected the way of pain, and have decided that it needs to keep the fantasy elements. I've sketched a few things in my notebook (around the sketches of my RIFTS SWN conversion), but I'm a bit stuck on how to proceed with classes: I could go the original SWN route of Warrior (to cover all you badass street sammies), expert (to handle deckers, riggers, and sneaky types)Caster (in place of psychic, to handle mages and shamans) However, the truly masochistic part of me wants to start writing up classes that emulate some of the most common types of characters in the game: Street Samurai, Adept, Decker, Rigger, Mage, Shaman, Mercenary, etc. I also did a quick work-up of the races, which I will probably post later. I will also admit that this is heavily inspired by JB's posts about a B/X Shadowrun.

Well, that's all the stamina I have at the moment. I'm going to go lie down. I'll catch you all later this week. If anyone has posted anything especially cool, please email it to me or leave me a link in the comments; I will try to catch up on all the back reading I have to do around here but I can't make any promises.



  1. I hope you get well soon.
    I played GURPS awhile back and the only book I have left is the Hellboy sourcebook. There comes a certain point where you get sick of all the rules complexity.
    On steampunk, I like OGL Steampunk for D20 by Mongoose. But once again there's the complexity of pages of feats and class abilities.
    I really wish I still had a copy of Castle Falkenstein. I sold it for some reason.
    Haven't read SWN or Shadowrun, but a B/X Sci-Fi game does sound interesting.
    Now get some rest and feel better.

  2. Off the top of my head, I might do a SWN Shadowrun like this:

    Take the races as given. Apply bonuses or penalties to the stat modifiers- so trolls might get +2 Strength mod, +1 Con mod, -1 Int mod, -1 Wis mod, -1 Cha mod, for example. The average troll with Str 10 will thus have a +2 modifier, as strong as the strongest normal human.

    Sell modifier-boosting cyberware for stats, +1/+2 versions for lots/ridiculous lots of money and +2/+4 system strain.

    Casters lose one of their highest-level spell slots for each 2 System Strain of cyber, down to a minimum of 1 slot of each level they can cast.

    Shaman prime attribute is Cha, Mage prime attribute is Wis. They have access to any B/X magic-user or cleric spells they can find an appropriate teacher for. They can "prepare" a number of spells per day of each level equivalent to the MU spell progression table, plus their uncybered prime attribute modifier. Those are the spells they have access to on that day, having done the necessary warmup and mental refresh for them.

    Casters can cast prepared spells as often as they please, but after each spell, they need to save versus Mental Effect at a penalty equal to the spell's level. On a failure, they take 1 System Strain. When this happens, they become Fatigued, and take a -2 penalty on hit rolls and -1 on skill checks. Removing the Fatigue requires an hour of rest. A Fatigued caster who blows a second strain test falls unconscious for 1d4 rounds before waking up Fatigued again. Casters at maximum System Strain can't cast at all.

    Those are some angles off the top of my head. Individual class tropes like Street Sams/Hackers/Fixers etc. might merit their own classes, or you might just set up Training Packages that are unusually generous to PCs that adopt a specific type.

  3. I hope you feel better soon! Letters are great. I love to hear what people have been up to game-wise. I am so glad you liked the zine. It was a pleasure to write and send. As far as content, how about you describe a fantasy NPC that I can work into an article?


  4. @Nemo- I also used to have a copy of Castle Falkenstein, but it never really grew on me. I couldn't get past the whole "no dice" part of it.

    @Sine- Man, that's great for being off the top of your head. I think I'd also allow casters to "overcast," which lets them cast a spell as though they were of higher experience level. However, they suffer an additional penalty to the drain save equal to the difference in level, and they they take extra drain equal to the difference in level if they fail, half that total if they succeed. For instance, an elf mage is 5th level, but he needs to overcast fireball as though he were 8th level (so he can do 8d6 damage) His drain save will be at a -6 (-3 for a third level spell, -3 for casting three levels higher) and if he fails it, he will take 4 System Strain. (1+3 extra for casting three levels higher) Even if he succeeds, he still takes 2 System Strain from taxing himself so.

    @Christian- Rad. I will write you a letter, but I might wait a day or two until I'm feeling closer to 100%. You'll also have to email me your address, as I'm not sure I still have the envelope.

    Thanks for the well wishes, everyone.