Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Genuine Article

Today, the Sunday group decided to put Rebel Worlds on hold to play AD&D for awhile. I really, really enjoyed it. The edition we are playing is sort of a mish-mash of 1st and 2nd edition, though I'd say it leans heavily in the direction of 2nd edition. Actually, being a (mostly) 2nd edition ranger saved my new character's ass when I was able to calm down two hostile carnivorous apes. A good time was had by all, even if the party had a gnome who apparently craves human flesh and an invasively lecherous half-elf.

...and I am totally feeling the AD&D. It was nice to have my OSRIC book out. It still manages to be serviceable even though a lot of the rules we used are from 2nd ed. I maintain that the two editions are largely compatible. (Mindy is open to some of the 1st ed classes like monk, for instance)

I feel so scattered lately. I've been trying to read through Monte Cook's WoD, work on my SWN-to-Shadowrun conversion, finally finish OpenQuest... I don't understand why Gamer ADD is so pervasive. I must throw off these shackles of the mind! Graaaah!

...except that I am expecting TSF, yet another game, in the mail.

At any rate, I am totally recharged by playing AD&D. I have broken out of my gaming funk, I think. I find myself poring over my old AD&D files. Yesssssss.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Getting in on the Secret

Lately, Tenkar has been teasing us on his blog with tidbits about this game called The Secret Fire. Aside from its ponderous and intriguing name, the game has also apparently earned accolades from Gail Gygax and Monte Cook, who I place about as far apart on the roleplaying game design/appreciation spectrum as can be. I had mulled over it, since I need another fantasy game like I need a fourth nipple, but then....
double sale all the way. A temporary reduction in price by the publisher AND a 20% discount on Lulu proved to be too much savin' for me to pass up, and so I expect my copy of TSF in the near future.

...oh, and one odd thing: in the past, my hits mostly game from either a popular search engine whose name starts with G, or from JB's blog, B/X Blackrazor. Lately, however, I've been getting all kinds of hits from some site that appears to be a facebook for people who dye their hair and have piercings. I cannot fathom why I'm getting traffic from such a place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SWN/Shadowrun Conversion: Workin' on the Matrix

I'm still working on this, but I will tell you my thought process:

I'm treating the decker as the Shadowrun analog to the thief. He sneaks into places he isn't supposed to be without being seen, he can deliver nasty sneak attacks, he can open doors and other "locked" things, he can filch valuable data in an underhanded fashion, he can make devastating surprise attacks, and he must be wary to detect and disable traps left to cause him harm.

I'm also contemplating two treatments of the Matrix,: analog and modern.

Analog Matrix is that of Shadowrun 3rd edition and older, as well as a lot of 80's and 90's cyberpunk fiction: the Matrix is a virtual world that users can interface their minds with directly via datajack.

Modern Matrix is an omnipresent web of wireless networks, most with "agmented reality" holographic popups visible to those with the right gear. Everyone has their own little "Personal Area Network" comprised of all their personal electronics, as well as any gear and cyberware with wireless capability.

My goal is to leave the decker running in real time with the rest of the crew, and to create a simple combat system that is similar to the regular combat system, as well as a system for resolving common Matrix tasks, which I am going to keep as analogous to thief skills/thieving tasks as possible.

At this point, I don't think I'm going to do technomancers....but I might change my mind.

GM Training Montage Meme Thingie

Alright, this is a blog bandwagon I'll finally jump on.
Here's my DM advice. A lot of this stuff I've only really learned in the past couple of years. I must also point out that much of this advice I actually learned by being a teacher. Teaching and GMing are frighteningly similar at times, in terms of the thought processes and skill sets you need.

1. Be prepared, but also be prepared to gleefully throw out everything you've prepared and go with something you just thought up that is better. Don't run from it. The stuff you think up off the fly is often some of your best stuff.

2. Energy, energy, energy. If you phone it in, they'll be on their phones (or iPads or reading core books to games you aren't even playing, etc.) You don't have to be a masterful voice actor or spew purple prose descriptions for every place they go, but your excitement should be palpable. I'd also say that you should be out of chair as much, or more, than you are in it.

3. Give 'em choices, and let those choices actually matter. Sometimes they don't want to shatter the Orb of Darkness. Fine. It's your job to deal with that. Maybe they want to pawn it. Maybe they want to keep it. If you want it shattered no matter what, better let NPCs do it and do it off screen, lest the players decide to stop them to save the Orb. This ties in very closely with bit #1, above.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Inventory of Pipe Dreams

Stuff I should be working on:

1. RIFTS to SWN... barely started. Still working on classes.
2. Shadowrun to SWN...almost done. Need to finish Matrix, Cyberware, gear, and bestiary stuff and we good to go.
3. Death Frost Doom to SWN... not started.
4. My fucked up space dream rendered as a SWN module...not started.

Stuff that died that I'd like to bring back:
1. My D&D 4th edition campaign setting and plot, but converted to Pathfinder.
2. My Traveller campaign setting and plot, but converted to Stars Without Number.
3. My actual Stars Without Number campaign.
4. My AD&D 1st edition campaign.
5. My old 3.5 D&D campaign setting, converted to Pathfinder.

Stuff I'd like to run someday, in no particular order:

1. A Pathfinder game, straight up high fantasy.
2. A Pathfinder game, Renaissance-era
3. A True20 game in the vein of Shadowchasers and Nightwatch.
4. A game of AD&D 1st edition or B/X D&D inspired by Beowulf and Nordic/Anglo-Saxon type legends.
5. A NWoD game that is sort of an updated Orpheus.
7. An NWoD game that is sort of an updated Halls of the Arcanum.
8. Monte Cook's World of Darkness
9. A Palladium Robotech game, set in the Shadow Chronicles era.
10. A Starship Troopers-esque game of Stars Without Number
11. The Mechanoid Invasion Trilogy, from start to finish.
12. Metamorphosis Alpha converted to Mutant Future, possibly with the "storyline" (aka progression of increasingly disastrous events) from the most recent edition of the game.
13. A game of Changeling: the Lost
14. A game of Vampire: the Masquerade converted to Vampire: the Requiem.
15. A naval Stars Without Number campaign that makes heavy use of Skyward Steel and follows the adventures of a ship called the Armiger. The PCs play two characters eash: one senior officer and one Expend- er, I mean, Away Team Member.
16. A game of OpenQuest set in something resembling Scotland.

Stuff I Played in That Died and I Wish Would Come Back:
1. My wife's second and third NWoD chronicles.
2. Jason's Rippers campaign.
3. Mindy's original RIFTS campaign.

Stuff I'd Like to Play In:
1. A game of Rolemaster, run by someone who knows what they are doing and will guide me, gently, through it.
2. Ditto for MERPS, plus the GM is a Tolkien/Middle-Earth expert.
3. A game of RIFTS that doesn't make me want to walk into traffic. Perhaps one run by someone with Zachary Houghton's love of and expertise with the game.
4. Beyond the Supernatural
5. Heroes Unlimited
6. A game of AD&D 1st or 2nd edition.
7. A game of Witchcraft.
8. Any game that runs more or less regularly for a year.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bookstore Prowling

I hit up the used bookstore today, for the first time in a long time. I ended up picking up a copy of Monte Cook's World of Darkness, a book about which I have been curious for some time. I've perused it this evening and I have to say that I really like the setting. I dig the Iconnu/Nightmare Wave/Intrusion business, I dig the alternate take on vampires and werewolves, and I dig that humanity isn't totally helpless against the unknowable. I haven't really gotten into the crunch/rules yet, though. I will probably go back to reading it after I post this, as I am getting tired of staring at the computer screen tonight.

I could have easily spend more money than would have been good for me. I did notice a few other things:

-Someone finally bought that RIFTS Gold Edition that has been sitting on the shelf for... I don't know, a year?

-On the other hand, those two copies of Terra Primate are still there, and one of them still costs more than the other, even though there is no discernible difference in their physical conditions.

-A truckload of RIFTS stuff has appeared. It makes me want to start tinkering again, but down that road surely lies madness.

-Old World of Darkness stuff was there, including Project Twilight, which I always wanted to get back in the day but never did. Of course, now I don't think I could buy a book with the word "twilight" in the title in the context of vampires and werewolves...

-Two more Rolemaster boxed sets, which are different than the one I bought there two years ago. I don't know my editions of Rolemaster very well, and after my disastrous experiences with the MERPS and that other RM boxed set I bought, I have no wish to investigate further.

-Vintage FASA Dr. Who RPG. I'm not really a Dr. Who buff, though, and I'm damn sure not going to pay $75 for a roleplaying game.

-A copy of The Dark Eye basic rulebook (the official English translation of Das Schwarze Auge), but my German friend has insisted that they translated the "crappy edition" of the game.

-A boxed set of the Birthright campaign setting. They wanted $50 for it, but the label warned that it didn't have any of the war cards. No war cards?! Screw that.

They are having a sale over Labor Day weekend, and if I'm not mistaken, the discount might be stackable with my teacher discount. This might well weaken my resolve and send me back there.

Tomorrow is the Sunday game, but given how behind I am on grading and whatnot (yes, already) I don't know if I'm going to be able to make it.

Random Table: Chinese Restaurant Names

Roll a d8 and a d10 and consult each table to create a random Chinese restaurant. Optionally, roll twice on the first table and once on the second table for a slightly more epic name. This table is capable of creating the names of eleven actual Chinese restaurants that I know of, so you know it's legit.

Roll Name Element 1
1 China
2 Hong Kong
3 Shanghai
4. Mandarin
5. Imperial
6. Golden
7. Dragon
8. Jade

Roll Name Element 2
1. Palace
2. Garden
3. Cafe
4. Express
5. Buffet
6. One
7. Dragon
8. Wok
9. China
10. Road

Thursday, August 18, 2011


My attention has been wholly consumed by the first week of school. I haven't posted and I'm behind on all your blogs. I'm getting my first unit finished up and trying to find enough books to keep my second unit on schedule.

As I posted last semester, Beowulf makes me yearn to play AD&D something awful. I always get thinking about curved ships and endless winters and big dudes with axes and spears. It gets me thinking about giants lurking in the mountains and foul beasts from the depths of the earth whose misshapen forms defy classification. Stuff like that.

One of the math teachers here plays 2nd edition, it seems. We talked about it briefly, but the first week is so hectic. I'll swing by the math wing when things have settled a bit. I wonder if any of the rest of the faculty secretly play...

I picked up one of the first installments of an adventure path for Pathfinder, just to see what all the fuss is about. I haven't had a chance to open it yet. This is the first night I haven't worked all evening in preparation for the next day. The premise was cool enough for me to check it out, and I am forming another post in my mind about "Easter Eggs in the Sandbox," but I'm kind of tired of the term sandbox... at any rate, it will probably be awhile before I can actually use it. The bones of my failed Pathfinder campaign are still strewn across my basement table.

I watched Macross II the Movie on Netflix recently, and afterwards purchased the Palladium Macross II RPG book online. It cost me a penny. The book is currently en route. The Robotech/Macross corner of the Palladiumverse is the only place where Megadamage doesn't make me want to smash my face into this thick ass desk.

My current gaming wishlist: Savage Worlds Deluxe, Stars Without Number Mongoose Edition, Darkness Visible, Pathfinder Ultimate Combat.

I find myself feeling kind of disconnected at the Sunday game. Recent and frequent cancellations, an upcoming hiatus from one of the core group, and the very sudden death of a recent acquaintance of Mindy's (who was involved in a gaming group that used the same meeting website as we do) have left me feeling sort of "bleh," to use a highly descriptive term. I find that the last couple of sessions, I have been particularly irritable, unfocused, and not at all happy with my performance as a player. A couple members of the group have asked me when I will be running a game again (and what), but honestly I don't have an answer. For now, it seems like I almost enjoy reading gaming books and working on gaming stuff more than actually gaming.

I know the crew (some of them, at least) read this blog, so I'm sure they'll read this entry, but I'm sure my restlessness has been apparent. Maybe it's just a bad month.

Oh, and Shadowrun is still in the works. I just haven't had much time to work on it this week, plus I need to talk about other stuff on this blog from time to time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Change of Subject

Since I have been posting on nothing but Shadowrun for quite awhile now, I believe I'll take a break.

Work still continues on the project, but I will leave those blog posts unpublished until I'm totally done with the project.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Shadowrun Project: Magic System- Astral Shenanigans

Astral Perception
This doesn't require any roll. Switching perception only takes a second and a Magician can still take full actions before or after switching to Astral or back to normal perception. While perceiving Astrally, all skill rolls involving interaction with the physical world suffer a -2 penalty. The Magic skills can be used to examine the Astral signatures of spells, spirits, talismans, etc.

Astral Projection
While in Astral form, Charisma is used in place of Strength, Intelligence is used in place of Dexterity, and Wisdom is used in place of Constitution.
Fast Astral movement is 3+Wis mod x 1000km/hr.

Astral Tracking
This is a Perception check, modified by Wisdom. If you're tracking something passive like the signature of a spell, you get a +2 bonus for spells or effects of levels 4-6 and a +4 bonus for stuff that is levels 7-9. (It's hard to hide powerful mojo)

If you are tracking something that is evading you, like a spirit or an enemy Magician who is trying to cover up his Astral sig, they get an opposed Magic/Sorcery test to hide from you. Dual-Natured beings or spirits may substitute Stealth if that skill is higher.

Astral Combat
Resolve as normal combat, but make sure to use Astral attribute equivalents as outlined above under Projection. Damaging or healing a character's Astral form affects hit points as per normal.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Shadowrun Conversion: Magic System- Conjuring/Banishing

This is the second draft of my spirit rules.
I find that I need to strip my posts down to the bare minimum and not drop these text walls. If you know Shadowrun, you know Mages can't summon Nature Spirits. I don't need to explain the game, just the converted mechanics.

Summoning a Spirit

To summon a spirit, the Magician states what type of spirits he is summoning, how many Hit Dice the summoned spirit will possess, and then makes a skill roll of Magic/Conjuring, modified by Charisma. Shamans might get a further bonus to the roll from Totems. The Magician takes a penalty to the roll equal to the difference between the spirit's Hit Die and his own. A Magician daft enough to conjure without at least Magic.Conjuring 0 is at -2.

On a success, the spirit appears immediately and owes the Magician one favor/service, plus one for each point by which the Magician made the roll. (So if his total skill roll is 11, he gets four favors: one for success and three for making the roll by three.) On a failure, nothing happens. A really mean GM might have a hostile spirit appear on the roll of snake eyes.

Either way, the Magician needs to resist Drain. This is a Mental Effect save, modified by Wisdom. The spirit's Hit Die are treated like a spell level, so a Magician has -2 to summon a spirit with 4-6 Hit Die, -4 to summon 7-9 Hit die, and so on. In addition, if the Magician summons a spirit with Hit Die greater than his own experience level, treat it as though he were overcasting a spell. (-1 for each spirit Hit Dire in excess of his experience level)

On a successful Drain Save, the Magician suffers no Drain. (Unless he was overcasting) Failure results in the same Drain as having failed a Drain Save when casting a spell. If the Magician is rendered unconscious by Drain, the spirit departs and owes him no favors.

Mages can bind a total number of elementals equal to three modified by Charisma.

Banishing a Spirit

Banishing a spirit is done through a series of banishing attacks. Each such attack consumes a Magician's combat round. The Magician must be able to see the spirit, which means he might have to switch to Astral perception. (Details on Astral mojo forthcoming)

To resolve the attempt, consult the Turn Undead table in D&D. Treat the Magician as a cleric of equivalent experience level and the spirit as an undead of equivalent Hit Dice. The Magician makes a Turn Undead check, though he can modify it by his Wisdom modifier and his levels in Magic/Conjure. (Trying to do with without the skill is at a -2)
On a success, the spirit loses a Hit Die and may not act this round if it has not already acted. If reduced to 0 Hit Dice, the spirit has lost the contest.
On a failure, the spirit may chose to immediately strike back. If it does so, the Magician temporary loses a level of Magic/Conjuring. If this would bring his skill below level 0, he temporarily loses a point of Wisdom modifier. If this would bring his Wisdom modifier below 0, the Magician has lost the contest.

A spirit that loses a banishment contest is immediately banished. A Magician who loses the contest loses consciousness for 1d4 rounds and cannot use any of his special abilities (spells, conjuring, Astral abilities) for 24 hours. The Magician regains lost Wisdom modifiers at the rate of one point per hour, and then lost levels of Magic/Conjuring at the rate of one point per hour.

Taking Control of a Spirit
If the spirit is "wild" or otherwise acting independent of a Magician's direction, treat this exactly like a banishment contest, but if the Magician wins, the spirit is immediately treated as if he summoned it. It owes him 1d3 favors, modified by Wisdom. (Not Charisma, because he has forced his will on the spirit rather than cajoled it) A Mage may choose to bind an elemental in the usual fashion and dismiss it for later service. After a contest of this nature, the Magician may allow the spirit to immediately regain up to its full Hit Dice.

If the spirit was summoned or is bound to another Magician, an extra step is required. First, resolve the contest as if it were a banishment contest. If the wresting Magician wins, he now makes an opposed roll against the enemy Magician. This is a contested skill roll between both Magicians' Magic/Conjuring skill, modified by Wisdom. The aggressor suffers a penalty equal to the difference of the defender's experience level and his own. (Yes, this is a bonus if the defending Magician is lower level.)

Example: A 4th level Mage trying to wrest an elemental from a 6th level Mage rolls at a -2 to skill. If an 8th level Mage tries to snatch an elemental from a 1st level Mage, he rolls at a huge +7.

If the aggressor wins, he gets control of the spirit, and it owes him 1d3+Wis mod favors, effective immediately. He can also restore the Hit Dice of the spirit. If the aggressor loses, he suffers the same result as failing to banish.

Savage Worlds House Rules

It seems I've been cluttering up my blog with my Shadowrun Conversion project, so here's something to break up the endless SR/SWN stuff.

I was reading Savagepedia the other day and I came across these two house rules that really struck a chord with me:

1. Removal of the Guts skill. Characters roll their Spirit trait when they are exposed to frightful or gruesome situations, or when someone tries to use the Intimidate skill on them. (Or anything else that would've called for a Guts roll) This house rule also adds a Bravery Edge, which adds a +2 to Spirit rolls made to resist fear or Intimidation. (Again, anything that would've required a Guts check) You can also add a Cowardly Hindrance, Minor or Major, that gives characters a -2/-4 to those types of checks as well.

2. Removal of the Throwing skill. The site suggests using a straight Agility roll, or possibly Fighting for big, muscle powered projectiles like hand axes or spears while using Shooting for small, agile thrown weapons like daggers or shuriken. I'd be inclined to go with the latter option, making the Agility roll used for grenade-like missiles such as rocks vials of holy water, or, you know...grenades.

A couple of my own house rules, while we're on the subject:

1. Characters who take Elderly and have Strength and Vigor at d4 incur a -2 penalty to all Strength and Vigor rolls; this is mainly to keep people from min/maxing with the Elderly Hindrance. I'm not sure I'd actually use this, because the Hindrance does lock your Strength and Vigor die at whatever you left them at during character creation, so the character is never able to improve those stats, even if he changes his mind later.

2. Removal of the Faith skill for Blessed. Use a straight-up Spirit roll instead. This was inspired by the "No Guts" rule I always thought it was a little weird that faith is a skill. You can add an Edge called Pious or Chosen or something that adds +2 to Spirit rolls made to invoke Miracles if you want.

3. Weird Science skill- Keep it. In fact, use is more often. The rules call for Weird Science only being used for passive devices, like those that grant Armor or somesuch. Devices that have ranged attacks should us Shooting, or vehicles should use Pilot or Drive. I was thinking that Weird Scientists should be good with their inventions. If another character picks up the device, they should use an analogous skill, but perhaps the Weird Scientists should be allowed to use WS for their attack rolls, pilot rolls, etc. as long as they are using a weird device. I don't really think this is unbalancing, and Josh used this house rule with Mad Science when he ran Deadlands.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shadowrun Project: Spirits Part 2: Summoning Elementals

As I mentioned in the last post, only Mages can summon Elementals. (Remember that they cannot summon Spirits of Nature)

Before summoning, a Mage needs to figure out what Hit Die of elemental he's going to try to conjure up. He needs a summoning circle and has to procure components that cost 1000 Nyuen for each Hit Die to be summoned. The ritual also requires a source of the correct element: a bonfire for fire elementals, a large mound of dirt for earth elementals, etc. The ritual requires a number of uninterrupted hours equal to the Hit Die of the elemental to be summoned. The Mage rolls Magic/Conjuring, modified by his Wisdom. The Mage incurs a penalty equal to the difference between the Spirit's Hit Die and his own experience level. On a success the elemental appears and is bound to the Mage. It will perform a number of services equal to 1+ the number of points by which the Mage succeeded on the roll.

Unlike Shamans, Mages can have multiple summoned spirits bound to them at once. A Mage can have a maximum number of elementals equal to three, modified by his Charisma modifier. If he wishes to summon more elementals, he must first release one he has presently bound to him. A released elemental departs immediately and is not obligated to perform any remaining favors for the Mage.

Mages need not keep a bound elemental following them around. An elemental who is bound into service may be sent away and instantly called up when the service is needed. A Mage can only call one elemental per combat round, but it requires little concentration and the Mage can still take action normally during the round.

Shadowrun Conversion: Totems, Draft 2

I had an earlier draft of Shamanic Totems where I tried to accurately mirror the abilities from Shadowrun, but it was a godawful mess. This is draft 2. I have boiled some of the common abilities down into categories, which I define after the list of Totems. Each Totem has one or two advantages and disadvantages, followed by a bonus to conjuring spirits of a specific type. (More on conjuring spirits in a future post) There were subtle nuances to some of the Totems in SR, and in fact Cat and Raven have become identical due to my simplifications, but better simple than not, says I. Like I said, I had a more detailed system but it was quite a mess.

Since I have outlined all the Advantages and Disadvantages below, feel free to make your own Totems. Just pick one or two Advantages and Disadvantages and pick a spirit you get a +1 bonus to conjure. Make sure to run it by your GM first, kiddo.

Note: Coyote has no advantages or disadvantages. He is the game's "opt out" if you don't really feel like fiddling around with all this crap.

*Bear: Healer, Berserker. +1 Forest spirits
*Cat: Trickster, Passive. +1 City spirits.
*Coyote: None
*Dog: Detector, Single-Minded. +1 Field and Hearth spirits.
*Eagle: Detector, Cyber-Sensative. +1 Wind spirits.
*Gator: Warrior, Detector, Single-Minded, Unsubtle. +1 Swamp, Lake, and River spirits OR +1 City spirits.
*Lion: Warrior, Merciless. +1 Prairie spirits.
*Owl: Night/Day. +1 to all spirits during the night, -1 to all spirits during the day.
*Raccoon: Trickster, Passive. +1 to City spirits.
*Rat: Detector, Trickster, Passive. +1 to all Spirits of Man.
*Raven: Trickster, Passive. +1 Wind spirits.
*Shark: Detector, Warrior, Berserk. +1 Sea spirits.
*Snake: Healer, Trickster, Passive. +1 to any one Spirit of Man, chosen at level 1.
*Wolf: Detector, Warrior, Berserk. +1 Forest OR Prairie spirits, chosen at level 1.


Detector: Any spell that has "Detect" in the title, or has the principle purpose of gathering information or locating something has double duration and area.

Warrior: +1 point per die on all direct damage spells.

Healer: +1 point per die on all healing spells.

Trickster: Foes have -2 to any saving throw against spells meant to deceive, enchant, or otherwise trick.

Night/Day: Casts spells at +1 experience level during the night, -1 during the day. A 1st level Shaman has -1 pt./die on all spells that roll dice for effect, half duration/area on those that don't.

Berserker: When the Shaman takes damage in combat, he must make a Mental Effect save (modified by Wisdom or Constitution) or go berserk for 1d3 combat rounds. Berserk shamans must attack the source of the damage with a weapon or a spell that deals damage. If the Shaman kills the source of the damage, the rage dissipates. If the source becomes unavailable or is felled by someone else, the Shaman turns on the nearest creature. Killing or incapacitating any creature will instantly end the rage.

Passive: -1 point per die on direct damage spells.

Single-Minded: Must make a Mental Effect save to change targets during combat or to change what action they are currently taking. On a failed save, they must use their next action shaking off the single-minded nature of their totem before committing to the new course of action.

Cyber-Sensative: Double System Strain from installed cybernetics.

Unsubtle: Foes have +2 to any Mental Effect saving throws on spells meant to deceive, charm, etc.

Merciless: -2 points/spell level on healing spells.

A Little Bit of Gaming Wisdom

I was flipping through some of my gaming books today when I came across this passage. I'm not going to identify the book, because I think the passage itself is more important than where it came from. Of course, I'm sure more than one of you will probably recognize the source right away, or be able to guess it pretty easily.

These last few months have been filled with a few frustrating gaming moments for me. I'm not a big fan of telling people that they are "doing it wrong," but I daresay that if you read this passage and disagree with it, or if your play style flies in the face of it, you and I will probably find playing at the same table to be a mutually irritating experience.

"Skilled players always make a point of knowing what they are doing, i.e. they have an objective. They co-operate - particularly at lower levels or at higher ones when they must face some particularly stiff challenge - in order to gain their ends. Superior players will not fight everything they meet, for they realize that wit is as good a weapon as the sword or the spell."

Shadowrun Project: Magic System Pt. 1- Spells

I thought long and hard about converting Shadowrun magic spells. I decided that I'm just going to use the D&D Cyclopedia catalog of spells. Lazy? Maybe. Don't care.

Okay, so here's how it works... this system is partially inspired by Kevin Crawford's recent offerings on mages in SWN, as well as some things that have been rattling around in my head.

Magicians start the game with a number of spells equal to three plus their Intelligence modifier. These spells can be taken from the Magic-User or Cleric list of 1st level spells. You can also toss in the Druid spell list, if'n you like your D&D Cyclopedic.

Preparing Spells

Magicians can hold in their mind a number of spells determined by the Magic-User table from D&D. They get bonus spells equal to their Wisdom modifier for each spell level they are capable of casting, so a 3rd level Shaman with Wisdom 15 can hold three first level spells and two second level spells. Magicians need an hour each morning to get their spells prepared; mages study their books and tomes (or data slabs or laptops or whatever) while Shamans commune with the spirit world (smoke hallucinogenic substances) or whatever.

Casting and Drain

Once their spells are prepared, Magicians can cast them whenever they need to; there is no limit to the number of spells they can cast per day. However, every time a Magician character casts a spell, he must make a saving throw against Mental Effect. The Magician may add his Wisdom bonus and his level in Magic/Sorcery to the saving throw. If the Magician doesn't have Magic/Sorcery, he suffers a -2 penalty to the save. In addition, the save suffers a -2 penalty if the spell is level 4-6 and -4 if the spell is level 7-9.
If the Magician succeeds, all is well. If he fails the save, however, he incurs Drain. The Magician suffers point of System Strain and is Fatigued for one hour. A Fatigued Magician suffers -2 on attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. A Fatigued Magician who fails another spell save falls unconscious for 1d4 combat rounds. A Magician whose System Strain is maxed out cannot use any magical abilities at all.


A Magician who is truly desperate may overcast a spell, casting it as though he were a higher experience level for purposes of damage, duration, area, or other effect. The Magician decides what level to cast as , and the spell goes off as if he were a Magician of that experience level. However, overcasting takes it's toll. A Magician who overcasts must immediately make a Mental Effect save as normal, but he suffers a penalty equal to the difference between his actual experience level and the level at which he cast the spell. If he fails, he suffers the usual point of System Strain, plus a number of points equal to the difference between his level and the level at which he cast the spell. However, even if he succeeds on the save, he takes half the amount of Strain, rounded up.

Example:Johnny Jupiter is a 6th level Mage. When he gets jumped by a Go-Gang, he needs a big ass fireball. He opts to cast fireball as though he were 10th level. The fireball goes off and does 10d6, behaving exactly as if Johnny were 10th level. Johnny makes his usual Mental Effect save, but he suffers an additional -4 penalty, the difference between his actual level (6) and the level he used to overcast (10). If Johnny blows the spell, he's going to take 5 System Strain (1 for the usual penalty of failing a spell save, plus the difference between his level and the level at which he overcast) Even if Johnny makes it, he's still going to take half that amount. (Three System Strain in this case. I guess you soft hearted GMs could round down to 2 if you really wanted to...)

For those of you who aren't familiar with System Strain, it is a mechanic from SWN. All you need to know for the purpose of this game is that characters can tolerate a maximum number of System Strain points equal to their unaugmented Constitution score. A character who is maxed out on System Strain cannot use any magical abilities at all, nor may they benefit from any spell that causes System Strain in the target. (Magical healing is the most common of these) It is impossible for a character to exceed his System Strain tolerance. System Strain fades at the rate of one point per day. Really nice GMs might allow an extra Strain to be recovered if the character spends the day doing nothing but resting. (No research, Matrix surfing, etc... just rest.)

Learning New Spells

Magicians learn new spells in different ways. The spell levels that a Magician may learn spells from is the same as the D&D Magic-User table, so a Magician can't handle 2nd level magic until he reaches the 3rd level of experience. Mages must learn new spells from the tutelage of other Mages who are more learned, or he can try to learn them himself if he gets ahold of a tome or memory device that contains a spell formula.Nice GMs may allow a Mage to learn one or two spells for free when they gain an experience level, provided they are able to return to their mentor or a local Hermetic Circle for a few weeks of study. A not-so-nice GM might do away with these freebie spells, with Mages exacting a price in terms of favors/quests, magical talismans, exchange of spells, or plain ol' Nuyen for their tutelage.
Shamans learn spells from communing with the spirits. As above, a nice GM might give the Shaman a free spell or two every time they gain an experience level. Aside from that, Shamans have to summon a spirit, who will likely exact some sort of price. A Shaman might also bind a spirit and force it to teach him a new spell before he will release it, though this tactic shouldn't be employed too often, less the Shaman make a lot of local spirits angry. A the maximum level of spell a spirit can teach is equal to its Hit Die. (Detailed information on summoning and spirits is forthcoming) The GM is also within his rights to say that a certain type of spirit must be summoned to teach a particular type of spell. A Lake spirit is probably not a good candidate to teach you fireball, for instance...

Mages and Shamans might have access to the same spells, but they cannot learn spells from one another. A Mage's cure light wounds is an elaborate arcane formula executed by the Mage's will, while a Shaman's cure light wounds is the invocation of a merciful dove spirit, or perhaps just a channeling of pure spiritual energy. Of course, their wounded Dwarf mercenary buddy doesn't really give a crap about the particulars, just so long as somebody patches him up quick.

Spell Particulars
There are a lot of D&D spells that don't work so good for the Shadowrun world. I will eventually need to sit down and review the individual spells for any edits (or outright deletions) that need to happen, but here are a few general guidelines for the differences between D&D spells and Shadowrun:

Magical Healing: Just as biopsionics cause System Strain in SWN, so does it also cause Strain in my Shadowrun conversion. A character who is the recipient of magical healing receives one point of System Strain per level of the spell that was cast on him. (Cure light wounds, for instance, inflicts but a single point of Strain since it is a first level spell.)

Reversible Spells: These are separate spells. They must be learned separately and prepared as though they were an entirely different spell.

Summoning Spells: Spells that summon elementals or spirits, such as Conjure Elemental or Aerial Servant are not available. Summoning is something that Magicians can do inherently and will be covered in a later post.

Raise Spells: Not allowed. The dead stay dead. For that matter, Speak With Dead doesn't exist, either. Animate Dead woks normally, of course.

Alignment Spells: Also not allowed. I hate alignment and I'm not using it in my SR project, so these spells are history.


More magic system stuff I still have to do: Spirits and the summoning/banishing thereof, Astral Perception/Projection/Combat, Magic Items (and the creation thereof), Magical Research, Hermetic Circles, Shamanic Lodge,s Shamanic Totems.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Shadowrun Project: Magician Class

Prime Attributes: Wisdom or Charisma
Hit Dice: d4
Magician Class Skills: Culture/Any, Magic/Any, Perception, Profession/Any, Tech/Medical
Experience and Saving Throw progression as the Psychic in Stars Without Number.
Special Abilities: Spells, Conjuring, Astral Perception/Projection. All Magicians have these three special abilities. In addition, they must choose whether they are Mages or Shamans. Shamans have an additional special ability: Totem.

Training Packages:
I divided the Training Packages into those suitable for Mages and those suitable for Shamans. With the GM's permission, some of them could be crossed over; perhaps a tribe or gang has a "War Shaman" who is similar to a Combat Mage. There is also one generic Training Package that is suitable for either of the two types of Magician.

Shadowrunner Magician: Culture/Runner, Magic/Any one other skill.

Mage Packages

Combat Mage: Combat/Any, Magic/Sorcery, Stealth, Tactics

Wage Mage: Bureaucracy, Business, Culture/Corporate, Magic/Sorcery

Street Mage: Culture/Street, Magic/Sorcery, Stealth, Survival

Occult Investigator: Culture/Any, Magic/Any, Perception, Security

Shaman Packages

Tribal Shaman: Culture/Tribal, Language, Magic/Conjuring, Persuasion

Street Shaman: Culture/Street, Magic/Conjuring, Stealth, Survival

Environmental "Activist": Demolitions, Culture/Corporate, Magic/Conjuring, Security

Healer: Culture/Any, Magic/Any, Persuasion, Tech/Medical

The actual rules for magic, spirits, and all that good stuff is to follow.

Shadowrun Project: Expert Class


Prime Attribute: Intelligence or Dexterity (Yes, this is different from basic SWN)
Hit Dice: d6
Class Skills: All except for Combat skills, Sorcery, and Conjuring.
Experience Tables and Attack/Saving Throw progression as per SWN.
Special Ability: The Expert can take Like A Charm from the SWN corebook, or select one of the following alternative special abilities-

Specialist: The character gets +1 to all rolls involving one specific skill. In the case of skills that have several specializations, (Tech, Lore, etc.) the character must choose one specific specialization of the skill. Experts cannot take this ability for any Combat skill, unless the GM rules otherwise. (Note- I was considering making this a +2, but on a 2d6 skill system, that might be a little excessive. Thoughts?)

Fast Learner: The character earns four skill points per level, instead of three.

Prodigy: Pick one skill (for skills with multiple specializations, select a specific one) The character does not need to train this skill in order to advance it. May not be used for Combat skills. (Not in love with this one, personally...might drop it.)

Training Packages:

Shadowrunner Expert: Any six skills, four of which much be Expert class skills.

Decker: Bureaucracy, Computer, Culture/Matrix, Persuasion, Security, Stealth, Tech/Cybertech, Tech/Electronics

Rigger: Combat/Gunnery, Computer, Culture/Any, Security, Tech/Any, Tech/Electronics, Vehicle/Any, Vehicle/Ground

Private Detective: Bureaucracy, Culture/Any, Culture/Criminal, Perception, Persuasion, Security, Stealth, Tech/Electronics

Face: Bureaucracy, Business, Culture/Runner, Culture/Street, Culture/Any, Perception, Persuasion, Stealth

Infiltrator: Athletics, Computer, Culture/Criminal, Perception, Security, Stealth, Tech/Any, Vehicle/Any

Hit Man: Combat/Any, Culture/Any, Persuade, Security, Survival, Stealth, Tactics, Vehicle/Any

Street Tech: Computer, Culture/Any, Perception, Science, Security, Tech/Electronics, Tech/Any, Vehicle/Any

Shadowrun Project: Warrior Class

Below is my write up for the Warrior class as applied to a Shadowrun world. I based the Training Packages off of archetypes present in Shadowrun 2. If I missed anything you think should be in there, please let me know. (Or post your rendition of it in the comments!)

Prime Attribute: Strength or Dexterity

Hit Dice: d8

Special Ability:Pick one of Veteran's Luck, Deadly Accuracy, Badass, Weapon Specialist.

Warrior Class Skills: Athletics, Combat/Any, Leadership, Perception, Profession,/Any, Stealth, Survival, Tactics

Note: Experience Table, Attack Bonus, and Saving Throws as per SWN.

Training Packages:

Shadowrunner* Warrior: Any four skills, at least two of which must be Warrior class skills.

Bodyguard: Athletics, Business, Combat/Any, Perception, Persuade, Tactics, Vehicle/Ground

Mercenary: Business, Combat/Firearms, Combat/Any, Culture/Any, Perception, Tactics

Street Samurai: Athletics, Combat/Any, Combat/Armed, Culture/Street, Perception, Tech/Cybertech

Tribesman: Combat/Projectile, Combat/Any, Culture/Tribal, Language, Stealth, Survival

Ganger: Combat/Any, Combat/Unarmed, Culture/Street, Culture/Criminal, Security, Stealth

Former Corporate Enforcer: Business, Combat/Firearms, Culture/Corporate, Tactics, Vehicle/Any

Physical Adept**: Athletics, Combat/Armed, Combat/Unarmed, Combat/Thrown, Perception, Stealth

*The "Shadowrunner (Class)" Training Packages are meant to be the equivalent of the generic "Adventuring (Class)" Packages from SWN.
**A quick note about the Physical Adept: They don't fit well within my adaptation of Shadowrun, seeing as how I am using one class for Mages and Shamans...a friend suggested I make them warriors. Given that they don't have their badass powers anymore, I went ahead and gave them a crazy training package with more combat skills than the others.

Shadowrun Project: Background Skill Packages

Some possible Background Packages for my Shadowrun Project:

Shadowrunner: Culture/Runner plus any two skills.

Gang: Combat/Any, Culture/Criminal, Culture/Street, Stealth

Corporate Enclave: Bureaucracy, Business, Culture/Corporate, Computer

Tribal Lands: Combat/Projectile, Culture/Tribal, Language, Survival

Highway Nomad: Combat/Any, Culture/Any, Survival, Vehicle/Ground

Corporate Arcology: Bureaucracy, Culture/Corporate, Science, Tech/Any

T'ir T'angire: Culture/Elf, Language, Perception, Persuasion

Ork Burroughs: Combat/Unarmed, Culture/Street, Culture/Ork, Survival

Go-Gang: Combat/Gunnery, Culture/Street, Tech/Electronics, Vehicle/Land

Military: Combat/Firearms, Combat/Unarmed, Culture/Any, Tactics

High Society: Culture/Corporate, Leadership, Persuade, Vehicle/Land

Yakuza: Business, Combat/Any, Culture/Criminal, Persuade

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Shadowrun Project: Skill List

I have attempted to cobble together a skill list from Shadowrun 2nd edition and Stars Without Number. Both have skills that are irrelevant in the other game, or simply not covered. For the sake of completion, I have omitted skills that I don't think are really necessary in Shadowrun. If you really think your Ork Street Sammy needs History or Artist, by all means, please take it. I have also redone the way Combat skills work, category-wise, to better match up with SR 2.

Okay, skills:
Combat/Gunnery (Vehicle mounted and heavy weapons)
Combat/Projectile (Bows and crossbows)
Combat/Throwing (Grenades and hand hurled weapons)
Combat/Armed (Melee)
Combat/Unarmed (Plus weapons such as shock gloves, brass knuckles, etc.)
Culture/Runner (This is the equivalent of Culture/Traveller in SWN)
Culture/Race (Ork, Elf, etc.)
Culture/Neighborhood (Redmond Barrens, etc.)
Tech/Medical (covers biotech)

*After an initial draft, I've decided that the Magic skills serve two purposes: First, they serve as "lore" skills to show what the magician knows about these given subjects, and they also add to the Magician's saving throw vs. drain. (Originally Kevin Crawford suggested that mages add their experience level, but I think I will go with this instead.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shadowrun Project: Character Classes Part Deaux

Okay, so after a couple of drafts, I have come to the realization that traditional character classes for Shadowrun is problematic at best.

I have decided to go the Stars Without Number route: the three classes are Warrior, Expert, and Magician. Each class will have a number of Training Packages that cover a number of the standard Shadowrun tropes, as well as a "Shadowrunner" custom training packages that lets you pick your skills, but you get less of them.

It's coming together pretty nicely. So far, I've outlined them as follows:

Warrior: Shadowrunner Warrior, Bodyguard, Mercenary, Ganger, Street Samurai, Tribesman

Expert: Shadowrunner Expert, Decker, Detective, Rigger, Infiltrator, Face, Weapons Expert

Magician: Shadowrunner Magician, Combat Mage, Wage Mage, Shaman, Street Mage, Street Shaman

I'm still not sure what to do about Adepts and Technomancers. JB suggested leaving Adepts on the cutting room floor, and I'm not adverse to this. I might also make Adepts a warrior training package. Technomancers I am leaning more and more toward excluding entirely.

I have also compiled a list of skills, keeping the essential Shadowrun stuff and ditching some of the SWN skills that aren't really relevant to a pre-space cyberpunk milieu. I've also added some skills to reflect the presence of magic, since SWN as written has no skills that address things like magical lore.

I am thinking about putting in Background packages a la SWN...perhaps things like Corporate Enclave, Warzone, Tribal Homeland, etc. to show where a character came from prior to embracing the shadows.

I have come up with a few alternate abilities for the Warrior class as well. Instead of Veteran's Luck, a 1st level warrior may opt for these options as well:

*Deadly Accuracy: Reroll one missed attack roll per combat.
*Weapon Specialist: Select either +1 to all attack rolls with ranged or melee combat, or else +2 to attack rolls with a specific class of weapons (sword, pistol, etc.)
*Badass: Roll d10 for hit dice (d12 if troll) and reroll any hit die roll of 1 or 2 when new hit points are determined.

Those are just a few ideas...perhaps warriors can select an additional ability at 5th and 9th level. (Or maybe just one more at 9th)

I have a few ideas for experts, but I haven't put anything on paper yet.

Spirit summoning and banishment will be resolved using a modified version of the D&D Turn Undead table.

Shadowrun Project: Character Classes

I like games with character classes. I know they are kind of an archaic concept, but I like them anyway.

I was tempted to go the Stars Without Number route and just use Warrior, Expert, and Magician. The nuanced occupations of SR would just be training packages. (Street Samurai and Mercenary for Warrior, Decker and Rigger for Expert, etc.) I might still do that. For the time being, though, I'm messing around with using different character classes. Here's my list of character classes. What do you think I missed? What classes do you think are unnecessary?

Street Samurai
Infiltrator (think old school thief/sneak)

Now, a few concerns/caveats:
1. In my mind, the Merc looks different than the Sammy, but what about in terms of ability? Aren't the both just essentially the Fighter of this setting?
2. Yes, I want to keep deckers and riggers separate. SR4 has essentially combined them, but I like having them be different animals.
3. Ditto with Mages and Shamans. SR4 combined the two, but I like having two different flavors of spell caster. I'm thinking Mages are better with spells and Shamans are better with summoning/spirit work.

I have the Samurai, Mage, Decker, and Rigger worked up. My Shaman is done except for filling out some of the totems, and Adept is almost done but for a few more powers. I haven't started on any of the other classes yet.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Shadowrun Project: Decking/Hacking

I'm going to wager I'm not the only one who doesn't like the way decking was done in pre-4E Shadowrun. My beef isn't with the complexity, but rather the division of game time: for the most part, the non-deckers sit around doing nothing while the decker runs through a little mini-dungeon as his Matrix avatar. Shadowrun 4e does away with this via Augmented Reality, where the decker (hacker in 4e, much to my chagrin) is manipulating what are essentially 3D popups, usually via a wireless network, in real time. Deckers (er...hackers) with extra time to burn can go into Virtual Reality, which is similar to the old school Matrix rules.

I like the idea of keeping the decker operating in real time with the rest of the group. Yes, someone plugged into a computer with their consciousness manipulating the internet at the speed of thought would be able to do things much faster than their meat body counterparts, but I'm looking for gameability here.

In our recent Shadowrun campaign, it struck me that the decker is, in many ways, analogous to the thief of the classic D&D party; Count Hackula often opened doors, disabled/hijacked security cameras and other devices, and tried to gather information on what was ahead of the party. One could argue that these abilities were quite similar to Open Locks, Find/Remove Traps, and Detect Noise in D&D.

So... a thought I've had this afternoon: why not just simplify the decker in terms of Thief-type skills? What if I cooked up a list of Decker Skills akin to Gather Information, Download Data, Disable/Hijack Security Device, Hack Door, Decipher Code, etc.?

I was thinking I could stat these along the lines of my recent Thief Rework, where the skills are all rated at X in 6 chance. The decker would receive a certain amount of points to allocate at 1st level, receiving additional points at every level thereafter.

On second though, I might want to do this as an open ended system, rather than X-in-6. Perhaps the decker has a total bonus to a given skill, say +3 to Download Data. We could do a Target 20 system a la Stars Without Number, where different nodes of data, doors, etc. have a Security Class, similar to the armor class of a character. The decker rolls a d20, adds his skill bonus for that particular skill, adds the Security Class of the object/program in question, and if he nails a 20, he succeeds. I think I like this a lot better. You could use Security Class 9 descending, with 9 representing your neighbor's wireless internet with the password 12345 and Security Class 0 representing a high security Corporate database. (Perhaps you could even go into negative Security Class, a la negative Armor Class from AD&D.) Perhaps the decker will have a base Hacking bonus which increases with level, a la the Attack Bonus used by characters in combat, with points allocated for specific hacking tasks, like finding data or hijacking security. Perhaps different decks add different bonuses to the various hacking tasks, as well.

Matrix Combat will have to be another post. I imagine it will run in real time for simplicity's sake. (But only deckers may participate in Matrix combat, meanwhile the decker is too preoccupied to take part in any real combat that might be happening with is team) Armor Class and Hit Points of the decker's avatar will be largely dependent on what deck he's running, perhaps with some bonuses by experience level. this rate, I will just end up converting every single game I own to a freakish hybrid of B/X and SWN. Holler.

B/X or SWN Shadowrun: Karma

Karma is the 7th stat in B/X or SWN Shadowrun. It is rolled dead last. Humans roll 3d6 for Karma, Dwarves/Orks roll 2d6, and Elves/Trolls roll a meager 1d6. This is to balance out the special abilities that other races get. Elves may seem a little underpowered for the Karma hit they are taking, but remember that in the world of Shadowrun, Elves are the race that don't have to put up with bigotry nearly as much. (In fact, there are even humans who pretend to be Elves out of envy!)

Karma is used to add to attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. There are two optional uses for Karma as well: aiding in ability score checks and reducing damage taken.

Attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks: Karma spent adds on a point for point basis. You spend two Karma, your attack or save gets +2. Now, for your customizational pleasure, I have introduced three flavors of Karma for this usage:
1. Hard Karma: Karma must be declared exactly prior to the roll. If you want +2, you've got to declare you are spending two Karma before the die hits the table. If you would have made it without the Karma expenditure, or if you fail anyway, you've wasted the Karma.
2. Soft Karma: You can declare Karma use after you make the roll. If you're just one point shy of making it, spend that Karma and you've succeeded.
3. Medium Karma- You have to declare that you are spending Karma before you make the roll, but you don't have to declare how much until the roll is made. However, you must spend at least one Karma if you declared you were using it, regardless. (So, if you roll a 3 when you needed 17 to hit, you know you can't possibly spend that much, but you have to waste one for declaring Karma usage. Similarly, if you roll a nat 20, you still have to spend a Karma even though you succeed anyway.)

Ability Checks: If you use the classic d20 roll under system, the Karma points actually subtract from the roll, making it easier for you to roll under your stat. If you use a 3.x DC system or the Target 20 system, they add to the roll. You can go Hard, Soft, or Medium, described above, depending on your taste as GM.

Damage Reduction: Karma spent reduces the damage inflicted by an attack on a point-for-point basis. I recommend going Soft Karma on this one, though you certainly don't have to. It is possible to reduce the damage to 0 by spending Karma.

Those are the uses of Karma. How fast Karma comes back is up to you. You could award Karma at the end of an adventure, say 1-5 points. You could simply state that Runners who survive a run get 1d6 Karma back.(Or some other random amount you determine) Maybe Karma only refreshes once the character gains an experience level. Hell, maybe Karma never comes back. (In which case I'd suggest going Soft Karma all the way) My personal preference would be that Karma refreshes at a new experience level, but your mileage, as they say, may vary.

B/X or SWN Shadowrun: Races

Take 3: Based on B/X D&D stats.
Yes, this is Take 3. I wrote Take 1 while coming off pain killers and it was just god awful. It was ugly, inelegant, and way too complicated. I have scratched it and put this in it's place:

-Elf: +1 Dex, -1 Con. Elves have low-light vision.
-Dwarf: +1 Con, -1 Cha. Dwarves have thermographic vision. Dwarves also get a +2 to all saving throws vs. poison or disease.
-Ork: +1 Str, +1 Con, -2 Cha. Orks have thermographic vision.
-Troll: +2 Str, +2 Con, -1 Int, -1 Wis, -1 Dex, -2 Cha. Trolls have thermographic vison. Trolls do 1d4 with their unarmed attacks instead of 1d2. Trolls have a natural AC of 7. (Assuming descending 9 system) Trolls roll a hit die of one type higher than that of their character class. (So if the Street Samurai class rolls a d8 for hit points, a troll samurai is going to roll d10s, while a troll mage rolls d6s, etc._

Take 2: The SWN Version
These use Stars Without Number as a base. In SWN, some alien races get a bonus to a score's modifier, rather than the score itself. For instance, a troll with Strength 10 (normally a 0 modifier) has +2 modifier, making a troll with Strength 10 the equivalent to a human with Strength 18. On the other hand, a troll with Strength 15 (a +1 modifier) has a total modifier of +3; stronger than any human could ever hope to be. (Without cybernetics or other enhancements, that is...)

Human: No modifiers
Elf: +1 Dex mod, -1 Con mod, Low-Light Vision
Dwarf: +1 Con mod, +1 Physical Effect save vs. disease/poison, Thermographic Vision
Ork: +1 Str mod, +1 Con mod, -2 Cha mod. Thermographic vision.
Troll: +2 Str mod, +1 Con mod, -1 Int mod, -1 Wis mod, -2 Cha mod. Thermographic vision, Natural AC 7