Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Return

Well, look who decided to write a blog post.

I have been bereft of gaming lately. My wife's first WoD game didn't go so well (mostly because the entire group made a bunch of anti-social dicks for characters), so we're rebooting in January.

Various things (mostly grad school) have been keeping me from the Thursday group and their Heroes Unlimited game. The few times I'm able to make it, it is invariably canceled.

I have been invited to play in a Numenara campaign with a bunch of strangers that it starting right after Ecksmas. 

In the meantime, I've amassed a ton of unnecessary extra gaming books, most notably the entirety of the Doomstones campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition. I've also stocked up on RIFTS world books due to the delightful clearance rack at my favorite used bookstore. Oh, and thanks to you watchdogs in in Blogaria, I loaded up on Lamentations PDFs yesterday: The full version with sweet and often horrifying art, Tower of the Stargazer, Hammers of the God, Weird New World, Carcosa, and Isle of the Unknown. I may just break down and by literally everything else I don't have.

As an aside, I am freaking delighted at Tower of the Stargazer and I can't wait to run that mofo.

While my ambitions to run Witchcraft 2nd edition have cooled, I find myself with a sudden powerful desire to run Chill. (Mayfair Edition) I'm actually not a huge fan of the Pacesetter system, as I find it rather bland and uninspired, but it's simple enough and serviceable. I'm also oddly attracted to BRP after finding a cheap copy of the corebook.

...heeeeey, anybody know of a conversion from Pacesetter to BRP?

...didn't think so.

...well, at least after tomorrow I'll be on winter break and able to actually do leisure-type things. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Zoroastrian Stuff is Cool

It occurs to me, on occasion, that Zoroastrianism contains awesome ideas to mine for a campaign world.

I'm certain I'm not the first one to have this idea. I think Dungeons & Zombies had a setting that borrowed from some of this stuff.

My next D&Desque game might have some Zoroastrian flavor, methinks.

Daevas, Towers of Silence*, that kind of thing.

*Yes, I know that's not their true and proper name, but dammit it sounds cool.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Cameo

Okay, so I just quit blogging for three and a half months.

Not a whole lot to update.

LocalCon sucked, unfortunately. I ran one half-assed game of X-plorers.
I skipped NukeCon.
The Thursday group gets canceled as amuch as it gets run, and our very busy GM is stepping aside. (Now one of the other guys is gearing up to run low-power pulp-era Heroes Unlimited)
My wife is plotting a new World of Darkness game, her first in five years.
I haven't run a thing in months.
I never did finish any of the PDFs I was reading: Mummy, Witchcraft, FATE core. Grim.

I may or may not continue the blog. I do read my blogroll pretty regularly, but I almost never find I have anything to say comment-wise.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Boned and Conned

My Bones kickstarter rewarrds arrived like a week ago. I kicked in at the Vampire level and also opted to get the boatload of extra orcs and the minis case. Yeah. I should've ordered two cases. I think  I fit maybe half the minis I got in that case.

So I now officially have all the minis I will ever need to run D&D or a fantasy game of any sort, and, oddly enough, Stars Without Number.

I'm trying to decide if I even want to attempt the time and money sink that would be painting these bad boys. Given that I'm going to be out of town for much of this month and that I'm currently working on my Master's, I'm going to say probably not. I also don't want to ruin them with my utter lack of painting skill.

Unfrotunately I'm campaignless at the moment, so I have all these minis and nothing to do with them.

I just got back from KantCon in Lenexa, Kansas. I went last year and had a ball. I went this year and also had a ball, plus I got to see my good friend who moved to Lawrence.

I played All Flesh Must Be Eaten and it was glorious. I even won "Best Player" one of the two rounds and the GM gave me the module. (He wrote it himself and it was pretty damn good)

I also ran Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess using a mishmash of B/X, Swords & Wizardry Complete, and some homebrew stuff. It was a hell of a lot of fun. I had one new gamer at the table who did not care for it and abandoned the session, but everyone else loved it. I don't think LotFP is really a good introduction to roleplaying. I love Jim's stuff, but I'm comfortable taking the stance that it maybe isn't a great into to the hobby. Also, with only one PC fatality, I can't help but feel like I failed as a GM. (Ha!)

 I also ran Starships & Spacement (the 2nd edtion) and can't wait to run it again. I kept the feeling like Old Trek. I also shook the table during the ship battle, which delighted the players. I used a scanario for the Decipher Star Trek RPG I found online, modified very heavily. I have to say that from reading it, my impression of Deciphertrek isn't good. The scenario requires so many tedious rolls on extremely nuanced skills that I actually got bored reading it, stripped out half the material,and said "fuggit, let's get into a fight with some Kling- er, Zangid- and then get sent to a parallel universe." The session ended with an epic (and epically rigged) honor duel between the First Officer and a Zangid warrior, with just a weeeee bit of help from one of the ship's medics.

Oh, and two 1st level NPC red shirts got vaporized, as well they should have.

My next con is my beloved local con, which is coming up in three weeks. I'm going to run some stuff in the open gaming room, but I'm not entirely sure what. Having played Eden games makes me want to bust out some stuff from the "I never freaking run this" category.

I'll have a lot of time to think bout it during the next two weeks.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Save Vs. Homework....failed

Yeah, so I'm in grad school now.
I don't have any time or energy for anything else.
Sundays switched to Shadowrun 4th edition, which I hate so I dropped out and I have too much homework. anyway.

Thursdays we have paused Beyond the Supernatural to play RIFTS. The first session was super awesome.

I'm supposed to write a game for a con in early July but haven't started.

My BONES are supposed to get here this week.

My news S&W stuff is already collecting dust.

 I keep rereading the same sections of Fate Core because I've forgotten what I read.

The new SWN supplement has been out for like two weeks and I haven't bought it.

Grad school will be over for the summer until two weeks. See you in two weeks.

I'm going to go get five hours of sleep now before I start researching semiotic approaches to multimodal literacies. Or something.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Unexpected GM Duty

Our Thursday GM had to bail on us with very little notice, so I took the reigns so we'd have something to play. I ended up running Realm of the Technomancer for the second time.

Well, sort of. I kind of forgot the module at home. Luckily, I was able to use the tools at Wizardawn to give me a couple maps and keys to cobble together. (Especially since Wizardawn has tools that specifically let you merge Labyrinth Lord stuff with Mutant Future.)

This time,  I ran it from the fantasy end again (using basic red D&D), but I added a couple of displaced Mutant Future characters using the conversion section from the back of the book to scale them to D&D levels of power. The usual fantasy party had an amnesiac synthetic soldier and an opportunistic mutant heading into the dungeon with them.

I ran the basic concept of the module from memory, but I changed a lot and I also had to remove some things because I only had a three hour time slot. We had fun and only one character died-  and that was because his player forgot that clerics can wear armor. (He doesn't play old D&D very much) We still had fun and I have some ideas for next time I run this module.

I also hinted that the outsider characters might come from Tarraxian as a little Easter Egg to Josh, who played in that Gamma World/AD&D game I ran a couple of years ago.

I really enjoyed the evening, plus it's good to know I can still run a half-decent game on the fly if I have to.

Friday, May 24, 2013

On Damage

I have pipe dreams of running some Swords & Wizardry this summer. Although I have a copy of S&W complete, I've been thinking about "White Box" style damage, but with some caveats.

Some of the common rules I've seen and liked have included:

-Two handed weapons roll 2d6 and take the best, with the exception of the quarterstaff.

-Dual wielding characters receive +1 to hit.

-Damage based on class, allowing any character to use any weapon. 

Some other things I'm considering as well:

-Fighters (and fighters only, no sub-classes) receive a damage bonus based on level. (+1 per so many levels, maybe every three?)

-Everything does 1d6 damage, but fighters get to roll twice and take the best. (In this case, two-handed weapons would probably just do +1 damage instead of best of two... rolling three and taking the best of two has a certain clunkiness to it that I don't like) 

-Weapons have conditional bonuses and penalties based on things they are good at/things they are not so good at. For instance, daggers are good at fighting in close quarters such as an alley, pole-arms are good for fighting in an open space. In favorable circumstances, a weapon receives +2 to hit, and -2 in unfavorable circumstances. This requires a lot of on-the-fly rulings or else bookkeeping for what weapons is good for what and not-so-good for what. Eew. I can see the appeal, but I suspect keeping track of it will be unwieldy, plus I'll have players constantly trying to bullshit me. :)  ("A troll's leg is kind of like a tree, and axes are good at cutting trees down, so I think I get the +2!") 
I stole this idea from a post by Vincent Baker around ten years ago, although he was talking about firearms in games.

-Give every weapon one special ability.... so maybe flails ignore shields, crossbows treat armor as one category lighter, etc. Again, this is slightly book-keepy, but not as bad as the previous idea.

Given that I'm all about the simplicity lately, I'll probably go with either fighters roll damage twice or one of the options from the first bunch. Historical simulation is at most a tertiary goal of mine when I run D&D, after all.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

BTS, Dinosaur Swamp, and Unadulterated Joy

Tonight our Thursday game at last resumed our Beyond the Supernatural campaign. We were a little unfocused, but given that the GM just finished his degree and tomorrow is the last day of school in my district (I'm a teacher), our minds were not firmly lodged in horror. Still, it was a fun session and I love the characters and the way the group plays. We just found out that one of our players had to drop out, which is too bad, but we'll soldier on with three PCs for the time being. I finally made it to level 5. (Level isn't really that big of a deal in Palladium, though)

Although we just started up after a hiatus, the GM is actually planning on finishing off this investigation and then shelving the game for the summer. He doesn't like to run horror games in the summer, so he's planning on running a June/July campaign of RIFTS set in Dinosaur Swamp.

Fuck yessssssssssss. 

This campaign is going to be metal. I need to start thinking about what character class to play. I'm thinking maybe a Juicer or Mega-Juicer, but I know that our GM loves RIFTS magic-users and would like to see a magic-user in the party. I have a few weeks to decide, but in the meantime I'll be combing through Dinosaur Swamp, RUE, and gods-know-what else to find a suitably metal character to play.

I figure that, what with me starting my Master's this summer, I'll probably want something as cerebral as shooting dinosaurs with laser guns in my downtime.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Scandalous Confessions

-I think ascending AC is a good idea and makes more sense than descending.*

-Ditto with Fort/Ref/Wil as saving throw categories or just S&W's one save with conditional modifiers.*

-I think level limits for nonhumans are contrived and dumb.

-I really hate gaming sessions that consist mostly of logistical stuff like buying gear and hiring new henchmen. Get it over and let's get back to adventuring, please.

-I don't really like Rush all that much. They have a couple of okay songs, but I really don't see what the big deal is.

-I vastly prefer Larry Elmore's artwork to Erol Otus' artwork.

-I like White Wolf's World of Darkness games.

-I haven't read most of the authors in Appendix N.

-I can only name a couple of Led Zeppelin songs.

-I have a limit to how much gonzo I can have in a game.

-Sometimes I just can't "say yes or roll the dice." Sometimes the answer is no.

-I'm probably shaving my beard in the next week or two.

...but don't worry, I'm not a totally lost cause. I'm not sharing narrative control with my players.

*Just because they make more sense doesn't mean I use them.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Death Frost (Pulp) Doom: 4th Run

So, the Thursday game gets canceled three hours before it's supposed to run. I stepped up and ran Death Frost Doom, since it's one of the only things I can run with almost zero notice. 

This time, I tried something a little different. I ran it as a pulp 30's style adventure. I used B/X as the basic rules, gave every character a couple of X-in-6 skills. I made one character a "mystic" with simplified spells operating on a spell point system and one character a doctor who could heal a certain number of dice of hp per day. All weapons did a d6 damage, single Saving Throw number, etc. I used the "hit 20" system and encumbrance from Stars Without Number. I guess you could say it was an unholy mishmash of Lamentations, B/X, and SWN. 

It was a TPK, but not for the reasons that usually results in TPKs when I run Death Frost Doom. I don't want to spoil it for those who aren't familiar with the module. The PCs basically took a hit for the good of the world. 

That might be the last time I run DFD. Next time I have to step in for the Thursday group, I will either run Realm of the Technomancer (letting them choose which side of the module they are on) or I'll run the introductory adventure from Xplorers. (With my usual modifications) 

Oh, and Purple Lotus Powder. Dang. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

NWoD Rework: Hunters Revamped (no pun intended)

So, I've talked to a couple gamer pals (and am waiting to hear back on another) about my WoD chronicle framework, and one of them brought up a legit concern:

The Expert, Magician, and Monster type characters are all customizable. The Hunter type, on the other hand, is not... you get the Conviction advantage and that's that. I thought perhaps creating a few subcategories of Hunter might give the interested player some options and not leave Hunter types being fairly cookie-cutter in terms of special ability. Here's my initial breakdown-

*Conviction- As written. These are Hunters who rely on themselves or are driven by something internal: revenge, hatred of the unknown, the desire to protect normal people/Amurrrica/whatever.

*True Faith- Yes, the old school ability from early White Wolf days. This would be Hunters who believe in something greater than themselves and draw on that for strength. It could be God, Allah, maybe even Unbending Science.

*Access to gear merits. These are Hunters who are either weapons geniuses or have enough pull within the PCs organization to request a little something extra. I'm probably ripping off the ideas from the gear merits included in HtV.

I'm not entirely certain what else I could offer Hunters. Magicians have more archetypes to choose from and monsters are pretty much whatever the player and I can agree to. Still, it's a start.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

SWN Cryo-Stasis Engaged

I just wanted to mention that my SWN game, which has been running in some form or another since July, is now in cryo-stasis. My two players have a lot going on in their lives, and come fall I won't be able to do Tuesday nights on account of my Master's classes. The campaign was a lot of fun, and I have all the material stowed safely in a folder, so in my mind we're simply in cryo-stasis, ready to be thawed out when our schedules align.

In the meantime, I'll be working on my newWoD game, plus I have a lot of fantasy gaming goodness due on my doorstep in the near future. (S&W Complete Hardback, Monstrosities, and my boatload of miniatures from the Reaper Kickstarter last year) I've also taken on the idea of doing one-shots and things for the Thursday group for when we can't play or normal BTS campaign. (Which seems to be a lot lately, but what can you do?)

The tale of the Hydrin Clans isn't over yet. We'll see what happens to our intrepid space explorers some other day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

WoD Rework Solution

Alright, so awhile ago I wanted to make a stripped down version of WoD that better fits my gaming tastes. JB challenged me to fit it on one page. Try as I might, I couldn't do it.... but the exercise did give me an idea on what I want to do with the game  and system. This is my very preliminary character creation setup, and you have to be basically familiar with the WoD, but here it is:

Character creation: Create a normal person. You had a brush with the supernatural. Now you work for an organization that seeks to stem the influence of non-human creatures over humanity.

Pick a flavor:

Hunter: +1 Stamina or Resolve, and you get the Conviction advantage from Mirrors.

Magician: +1 Intelligence or Charisma, and you can buy magician or shaman traits from Second Sight.

Expert: +1 Wits or Composure, and you get Skill Tricks instead of specialties.

Monster: +1 to any particular stat, and you have three Powers and three Weaknesses. Let's talk about what you are and how the specifics work. You also have a Power source and a way that you have to recharge it. It's probably going to be a bit of a pain. (For vampires, you have Blood and you refill it by feeding on the living, etc.)

Morality is replaced with Sanity (for humans) and Humanity (for monsters) Humans are trying not to be driven mad or jaded into unfeeling monsters by the horrible truths of the WoD, monsters are trying not to become mindless slavering beasts or whatnot.

All characters have Reason, which they can trade for extra crazy powers, a la the Forbidden Lore section of Mirrors.

Combat: New weapon damage/armor rules, initiative rules, defense/dodging, etc.

Virtue and Vice: You customize your own, and you aren't stuck with the Seven Deadlies/Seven Heavenlies.

We're keeping the old experience system. Sorry, hipsters.

Despite the rules lite nature and the focus on what you do as a supernatural, you need to make a character who was a person before they were exposed to the supernatural.

Oh, and I'm stealing the Twilight/Gloom idea from the "Night Watch" series of books/films. Magicians and Monsters can enter it naturally. Hunters and Experts have to use special devices or some kind of Zen training or something. We'll work out the exact details later.

There you have it. I can always add more detail later, but I think I'm just eager to hit the ground running. It doesn't fit on one page (since you have to add all the WoD rules and power descriptions), but the specifications for character creation do.

Things I'm toying with:
-Adding Psychics a la Second Sight.
-Making Forbidden Lore users into their own "class"


Sunday, May 5, 2013

S&W Goodies

I'm currently waiting on hardback copies of S&W Complete and Monstrosities. I am bummed that I missed the recent sale, but I'll live. 
I'm also waiting for my Reaper minis crate from backing the Kickstarter last fall. 

I have all the ingrdients for an awesome fantasy campaign. 

...except for the campaign part. 

Something about Swords & Wizardry always causes my brain to bubble with possibilities. I think it's the fact that the game presents many optioins and never closes the door on anything. Of course, B/X and their ilk never closed the door on anything, but I don't know... there's some kind of intrinsic appeal to the way S&W presents itself. Different games, even iterations of the same rules, have a different flavor and "feel" to me. It's hard to explain, but AD&D looks different in my head than B/X or S&W. 

In theory, I'll have time to start a new campaign, seeing as how the school year is over in just three weeks. (ohholygod) In practice, though.... probably not. I'm taking the first two classes for my Master's in June and in July I have two separate confereces to attend, two gaming conventions, and a camping trip with the missus.

Where there's a will, there's a way. I'll find some way to put these gaming goods to work, even if I have to wait until August. (For the week I'll have to myself before staff must report back) 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Candyland a La Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess

Our Thursday night BTS GM couldn't make it this week, so I stepped in and ran Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess. (I'm going to be running it at a convention this summer, so I used this opportunity to play test it.) We had a party of four characters and three henchmen, with a final casualty tally of two henchmen, two PCs. Given the source material, I ran the game a wee bit less seriously than I normally do. I might spring Death Frost Doom on them next time the GM is unavailable.

My spoiler-free thoughts on Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess:

-It's gonzo. Like, seriously gonzo. If you don't like that kind of thing, it would be easy to turn this into a horrible bloodbath of grimdarkness, but I think you'd be losing some of the charm. Don't get me wrong: there's some grim stuff in this module, but it is soaked in black humor.

-My favorite part of the module is actually the "prelude" to the main event. There are some seriously interesting encounters in the Dark Forest.

-Unless I missed something, one of the antagonists is detailed but actually not placed anywhere in the module. He has a write-up and a stat block, but I never figured out where he was supposed to be. This wasn't really that difficult to fix, but it just seemed to me an odd omission. (Unless I just missed it somehow)

-In an era where people have mangled the use of the word "literally," Zzarchov (I forgot to mention he is the author, not Raggi) keeps the meaning of the word intact. Kudos to you, sir.

-The spell Rainbow Bolt is almost unsurvivable for the level spread this adventure was written for. Then again, given that it's a Lamentations adventure, this is to be expected. Just take heed that one of the bad guys has a "if this hits you, you die" spell. The other new spells are delightful and twisted.

-This adventure is a railroad. The PCs basically travel along a straight path to the adventure's conclusion. There isn't a lot that lets them go off the map. It's good for one shots and convention games. I will say that the linearity of this adventure makes perfect sense within its context. A sandbox purist, however, could easily drop this as a jacked up little sidequest located in any forest hex on the map, and the fairy world could easily be expanded if one were so inclined. It should also be noted that the PCs have several options on how to resolve the situation.

-A semi-spoilery note: (you've been warned) My PCs found a way to prevent the Maypole Dance, and it was damn clever, I daresay.

-The PDF is four bucks. If you don't like it, it isn't a huge loss.

I look forward to running this again during convention season. I might shift some things around, but this is a pretty solid module that you can have ready to run in probably twenty minutes.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rainbows, Fairy Dust, and... Away Teams, maybe.

I have submitted a request to run "Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess" at a convention I will be attending this summer. I already have some delightful ideas for pregen characters.

I am also considering running Starships & Spacemen 2e, but we'll see. I have to come up with a good idea first. I suppose I can pretty much rip off any idea from classic Trek or TNG and modify it.

Oh. Just got an idea, right now. Yes......

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Quick Musing on Ravenloft

I've loved Ravenloft since I was in elementary school and got a Ravenloft choose-your-own-adventure style book. (I can't remember the title or really what it was about aside from a vampire bad guy named Erik Blacksteed and the coverart featuring some elven-looking fighter in a red tunic who is -so- not the loser character they stick you with) I really enjoy the Ravenloft Remix posts over at Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque.

I have always thought AD&D was completely the wrong system for Ravenloft.

Don't get me wrong- I love AD&D in both of its incarnations, but the system has always felt like the wrong fit, and did even when I was but a lad.

If I were to do Ravenloft again (unlikely, but not impossible) I think I would go one of two routes:

1. Use FUDGE, since you can kind of do anything with it if you fiddle with it just enough.
2. Use the pseudo-fantasy alternate WoD described in "Mirrors."

The second option sounds more appealing, since a.) the work is already done, and b.) they even have two "dark fantasy" races that are fare more suitable to Ravenloft than the AD&D roster of Tolkienesque creatures., NWoD had rules for most, if not all, of the necessary creature types... .vampires, Frankenstein-ish monsters, shapeshifters, ghosts, goblins (of the fae variety) and so on.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

New Round, I Roll Initiative

I haven't played or run much in the last few weeks. Various things have stymied my participation or that of my players. I'm actually working on a new campaign in my spare time, since I don't know which situations are going to improve and which aren't.

I haven't been blogging much, because I find that my opinions on gaming are calcyfing. I have a pretty good idea of what type of games I want to run, and what kind of games I want to play. I might switch this to a content blog, or maybe I'll just trickle off into the aether like so many others.

I'm considering trying to get into the whole gaming via Google thing, but I'm not really sure how to get started. I parse through some of the communities and my eyes glaze over from the numerous posts. It also seems that a lot of people post "Hey I'm running a game in like two hours, want to play?" and am not often in a position where I can just jump on that. I'd prefer something a bit more regular. I would also vastly prfer to play a traditional "folks around the table" type game, and I'm going to focus on that first.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Shadowrun Characters at 3AM, Tenra Bansho Zero, and other thoughts....

I will be brief...I'm tired and my iPad has 5% battery remaining.

I hate building characters. I didn't always, but I've reached the point where I just want to roll up something randomly and go with it.

Building my Shark shaman for Mike's Shadowrun 3rd edition game, I found that there were skills and spells I probably should have to fit the character concept, skills like Underwater Combat, Diving, and spells such as Oxygenate.

...and yet, I really don't want to take them because I am probably never going to get to use them. Those skill points would be better spent bumping up my gun skills or taking unarmed combat. Those spell points I put into Oxygenate should probably go into Armor or Melt Face (not an actual SR spell, sadly) or something like that.

Shadowrun also annoys me because very often I find that I have to design my character around being able to have some kind of ability that lets him go more than once a round, because going once a round when everyone else gets to go three or even four times a round fucking sucks. 
With this particulary character, I think I've found a way around it, but I feel like a dirty dirty rules lawyer for having done so.

Last time I played in a Mike SR game, I was a decker, so my not being able to roll in combat wasn't quite as much of an issue because my character was usually not physically present; he was opening doors and feeding them intel and hijacking drones and other mischevious party support things.

Totally Unrelated (And now at 4% battery)
Tenra Bansho Zero.
I would have loved this game in college. I would have played the shit out of it with one of the groups I've had in college, but that group doesn't exist anymore.
TBZ has a couple of things that kind of irk me, like being told how to play the game "right" (that annoys me just as much as Pathfinder games where you warm the bench if you don't have a totally optimized l337 buildddddddd) and the notion that you should steer your players away from something if you need them to be somewhere. I understand that TBZ is going for a different gaming experience than a lot of the games I play now. The game is designed to be very story-centric, to play an entire campaign *in one game setting* and divides the games into scenes and acts with mechanics focusing on passing though this cycle of timekeeping. I used to dig on that kind of thing. I don't now.
I will say that this game has a very cool setting, though, and the mechanics aren't bad (even the frou-frou meta-stuff.) I'll likely never get to run this (I doubt any of my present gaming groups would be even a little interested in this) but I'm glad I bought it, if nothing else the ideas are cool and the art book is gorgeous.

One more thing....
Because I'm an adult (seriously) and my friends are adults and we have professional-type jobs and some of us are in school and some have kids and blahblahblah, I'm warming up to the idea of mini-campaigns. Our lives are only going to get busier as time goes on, not the other way around. (I'm starting my Master's this summer, for instance) I also own something like 70 different roleplaying games. At this point, the only way I'll ever get to experience even a fraction of them is if I deliberately design short campaigns with a clear goal in mind. This does not preclude sandboxing things; the original NES Dragon Warrior basically said "Ok, go kill the Dragon Lord." You had quite a bit of freedom to wander around at your leisure. I might also run some games that have a little bit more of a story to them than usual, but I want to keep it flexible. The thing that makes tabletop better than any console rpg is that you can only program so many endings or choices, but players can craft their own story based on what they want to do. I like being reactive.

Okay, that wasn't at all brief and I have 2% left, so I'm going to call it a night. Game on.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

World of Darkness Rework- Initial Notes/Thoughts

So, I'm gradually working on a modern World of Darkness game. I want to scrap the official game lines and come up with a setting that features many different types of supernaturals. I want to use the NWoD mechanics (with a few house rules) and basically swap in "lite versions of the various supernatural creatures. I was thinking that players have the option of creating characters who fall under the broad categories of human, vampire, shifter, fae, and demon. Each broad type would have some basic rules associated with them, plus several sub-types to choose from for greater variety.

I talked about doing this a long time ago, but the project just got pushed to the back burner. (Don't they always?) Lately I've had WoD on the brain, so here are some basic thoughts for how I might retool the system to suit my nefarious purposes.

Here is a transcription of my initial notes. There isn't a lot of substance, just some basic ideas. I do know that the game will probably have some of these things as features"

-All powers are called Disciplines, though there are different types. (Magic Disciplines represent spellcasting abilities, for instance) Some supernaturals are restricted in what Disciplines they can take, while others can learn certain types of Disciplines more easily. (Mages can learn magic type Disciplines easier than a vampire, for instance)

-Vampires can be out in the sunlight, but are extremely weak and suffer penalties to Disciplines, plus they can be killed by "ordinary" means. (Dracula, if I recall correctly, was killed with knives when his coffin was opened up during the day) This is mainly to prevent vampire PCs from being a huge pain in the ass to the rest of the group. (If there's one vampire in the party, everyone must essentially be nocturnal)

-Instead of Blood Points, Gnosis, Mana, whatever, all supernatural beings simply have a stat called Power. Power is used to fuel Disciplines and certain special abilities. The difference is how the different types of characters regain power" vampires have to drink blood, mages must meditate, etc. Here is another balancing factor- vampires are more physically badass, but it's harder for them to regain Power than it is for a mage.

This is what I was thinking for character types. Again, these are just my preliminary notes.

Allowed Character types:

Mage- Humans born with the potential to control magical energy. They gain bonuses to use magical Disciplines.
Psychic- Some rare humans have innate powers of the mind. They bonuses to use psychic Disciplines.
Hunter- Some hunters seem to be imbued with almost superhuman abilities when it comes to battling the supernatural. Others are just badasses. Hunters get to pick between being able to use certain Disciplines and having access to hunter combat skills.

*Shifter: Beings halfway between this world and the spirit world.
Werewolf- Able to change into a war form, wolf form, or human form. They can use Spirit Disciplines. Weak vs. silver, suffer from lunacy.
Feral- Other types of shifters. (A la Changing Breeds) They have variable Disciplines, weaknesses, etc. depending on the breed.

*Vampire- Undead that feed off of the living. They suffer loss of power in the sun. Weak against fire, garlic, and blessed objects.
Nosferatu- Hideous, inhuman vampires. They have access to Disciplines involving brutality, shapeshifting, and stealth.
Toreador-The seducer vampires. They have access to Disciplines of dominance, speed, etc.

*Fae- Mysterious beings from the mythical Faewilds. Weak against iron and often subject to strange "contracts" that limit their behavior.
Changelings- Fae who live in our world in a mortal guise. They have access to powers of deception, illusion, and ensorcelment.
Faeblooded- Beings of mixed human and fae ancestry. Their powers are more limited, but they suffer fewer restrictions and their weaknesses are mitigated.

*Infernal- Demons, dark spirits, etc. They are injured by iron and can be driven back by holy symbols.
Possessed-Demons who have taken a human's body as their own.
Hellblooded- Creatures of mixed demonic and human ancestry. Though less powerful than their full infernal brethren, they are also less stymied by demonic weaknesses due to their diluted blood.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SWN Back in the Groove

I am totally feeling my SWN campaign again.
Turns out that I've actually had mild, untreated bronchitis for several weeks. Now that I'm on antibiotics and on the road to wellness (instead of the road to pneumonia), I find that my energy and enthusiasm for things is renewed.

I also find that I am mishmashing a number of sci-fi game elements together. My SWN game now contains things from X-Plorers and may soon include elements from Starships & Spacement 2nd Edition (which I bought in PDF form last weekend) and Hulks & Horrors (which I downloaded last night)

Too many great sci-fi games to play? Play them all at once. 

Last night was also my second session of using my tablet to run a game, and I find it to be incredibly efficient and generally aweseome. I still roll real dice, however, because fake digital dice just aren't the same. (There is also the fact that I have a pound and a half of dice or so and by dammit I intend to use them.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Embracing IPad's Devil Sorcery

I ran my SWN game last night, using my tablet for all the maps and notes. Maps game from Gozzy's and Wizardawn and I just left them open in my browser and took screenshots of them afterward for next time. Notes were handled using a free document processing app. It was a pretty good experience.

Rather than slog through a detailed mapping process, I started using sort of a MUD or MUSH-like approach to describing rooms and exits from rooms. That seemed to go pretty well. I didn't worry so much about surveyor-like descriptions of room size and hallway length.

I feel better about my SWN game, having run it again. There were some ideas I got in my head shortly before game time, and some ideas in my head during the game.

I'm going to give the tablet another run as my GM helper next week. I should note that I rolled real, actual dice and didn't use a dice app....because screw that. I have a huge tin of colorful dice and I intend to use them. I'll also keep the erasable battle mat at the table, though we only had one combat this time and it was dispatched with a single well-placed blow. so we had no need of a tactical grid. (Though we could have, had the players made some different decisions...)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Change of Alignment

Tablets rule for gaming.

I have turned a complete 180 on my feelings toward PDFs. All the PDFs I've won or been given by various authors are now viable mediums of gaming goodness instead of useless curiosities. 

In other news:

-Steven's BTS game is amazing and I love it. 

-Mindy's AD&D  game is going well. I'm still not big into Forgotten Realms, but it hasn't detracted from the game. Mike is feeling it, though. 

-My SWN game feels uninspired and I wonder if I'm losing steam. 

-Dan wants to start up an online Fantasy Hero (4th edition?) game using rptools or roll20. I'm disinclined to use roll20 because I either have to pay or use my dreadful desktop computer. 

-That's all I got. This blog feels even less inspired than my campaign. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

No Game Tuesday and Other Tidbits

This is my third week of not running SWN. Various factors have confouned my little group. I'm starting to wonder if I'm losing steam for it, though... missing a week used to be terrible for me, but now I find it doesn't bother me as much. I have been running SWN since July; maybe I need a break.

I will be involved in playesting a miniatures skirmish game, though I don't think I'm at liberty to say much more than that. I normally don't do miniature wargames, but I'm making an exception for this one.

I got a new iPad, and it's already changed the way I feel about getting gaming books on PDF. This pad is going to be a frickin' gaming library. I've also snagged some game related apps, like Purple Sorcerer's excellent DCC app. (Pay eighteen bucks for a single set of Zocchi dice? Fuck. That. Noise.)

I'm playing AD&D 2nd edition with my old Sunday group every other week. Forgotten Realms bores me to tears as a setting, but it's good to see them again.

BTS was off last week due to it being V-Day and all of us being married. This week it's probably off because we're supposed to have Snowmaggeddonpocalypse. We'll see.

I saw a lot of neat stuff at my most recent trip to the used bookstore. I almost bought a copy of 1st edition WFB just for the art and for collector's sake. I almost snagged Basic Roleplaying, too... but in the end I restrained myself and just picked up RIFTS Warlords of Russia and Mystic Russia.

There's a nearby gameday in another two weeks. I might run something at it. I had great luck with X-plorers at the last one, but I'm feeling something fantasy. Maybe I could try to run one of the introductory scenarios I picked up for The Dark Eye. Maybe I could try to do The One Ring, since I'm still sore that I drove 45 minutes to play it and homie didn't even show up.

This blog is slowing down. I just don't have as much to say anymore. I might start just posting content I come up with, or I might let it dribble off altogether. Aren't blogs over with, anyway? Isn't like, Gewgle Plus the new hawtness?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Nearby Game Day

Today I drove to a game day hosted by local con. (They have periodic game days throughout the year in and around my town) I specifically drove 40 miles because someone had scheduled a game of The One Ring. He didn't show. I was annoyed.

However, I did end up running a pick-up game of X-plorers, which several people played and enjoyed. Most of the people who played were mainly familiar with 3.5/Pathfinder, but they had a great time (even the guy who died horribly) and were delighted by how fun and light the system was. I'm not sure it will replace Stars Without Number as my sci-fi game of choice, but it was an interesting alternative. (Also, let's be honest: these two games are like 85% compatible) I ran the party through the Cleopatra Station module that comes in the boxed set. I did town it down a bit, because there were only three players and nobody rolled up a Soldier. (I didn't tone it down a whole lot, of three PCs died, and one of the survivors had a single hit point left)

While I was very disappointed that I didn't get to play The One Ring, I did have fun running X-plorers, and I may have turned a player on to it. (He snapped a picture of the box and was very interested to learn that he can download the basic version of the rules for free)

Oh, and I played what was perhaps the most epic game of Talisman I have ever played, but I don't go into details. Suffice to say it couldn't have been scripted to be any more epic than it turned out.

The next game day is next month. I'm considering taking X-plorers out for another spin, but I have a lot of options now...maybe I should do The One Ring....or The Dark Eye...

My old Sunday group (that I haven't played with since July) is starting up a new Forgotten Realms AD&D 2nd edition game tomorrow. I'd like to attend, but I have a grade report deadline on Monday and it will depend on how much grading I get done tomorrow. I'm down to play AD&D 2nd edition, though I have to confess I'm not really all that interested in the Forgotten Realms.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Good news, etc.

My friend made it through his procedure. I'm immensely relieved. I've been in contact with him since it was over.

I'm going to try to make time to play at least some Sundays with the Sunday gang again.

In other gaming news:

-Spears of the Dawn is out. As a huge fan of Kevin Crawford's work, I'd like to obtain a copy. I think I'll wait until the hard copy is available, though. I'm old fashioned like that. Of course, I have yet to pick up Other Dust....

-Having taken leave of my senses, I ordered a used copy of The Dark Eye. I recently bought a computer game based on the game world and I want to see the guts behind the system.

-BTS is ridiculously fun. I like that the game has achieved a nearly perfect blend of investigation and combat. Steven also has a way of turning skills into a sort of "situational combat" that has tension without being tedious or seeming artificial.

-SWN rolls along. I'm doing some work for the game today since I have the day to myself.

Game on.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pulling for a Fellow Gamer

Mike contacted me this last week. He's in the hospital and it's serious.
Mike is a member of the Sunday group I used to play with. (He was also in the first iteration of my SWN campaign) I gamed with him for about two years, plus various other nerdy pursuits

I'm not a very spiritual person, but my thoughts are with him and with his family. My fingers are crossed.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Back to BTS

Since my schedule now permits, I have rejoined Steven's Thursday night campaign of Beyond the Supernatural. This is actually my second week playing with them. It's been a lot of fun so far. Steven is a GM who is able to mitigate the wonkiness of the Palladium system. Our team is currently investigating a pack of shapeshifting bear monsters who rather inconveniently dissolve into earth and bugs when we kill them. (Well, convenient in that there are no bodies to dispose of, inconvenient in that it is very difficult to learn anything about them)

I've had a big time World of Darkness (or just modern horror/supernatural) bug lately, and while this isn't quite there, it does satisfy that want to an extent.

On a related note, I think I have more modern supernatural/horror games than any other type of game, which is silly because I've played very little of that genre in the last five years. I have many of the Classic World of Darkness games, some of the new ones, Chill, Witchcraft, Armageddon, and probably one or two that I'm forgetting at the moment. I played a boatload of White Wolf games in college, but after I moved here I found that most of the local gamers I could find were more into D&D-style fantasy. My wife ran a few short World of Darkness campaigns, but the last of those ended several years ago.

My own "WoD Clone" progresses at a glacial pace, since I have a number of other things in my life that need my attention and are a much higher priority.

In other news, I've just about finished the first book of The One Ring, and I really like it a lot. I'm also waiting for the new Robotech rpg book to hit my doorstep, and I bought a computer game based on the English translation of Das Schwarze Auge. (I briefly considered picking up the English rules since I found them cheap, but they never published any supplements for it.)

Man, is it spring break yet? I need more time to read all this stuff!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tournament Play Damage

Recently I acquired an old but serviceable copy of Ghost Tower of Inverness.

Originally designed as a tournament module, it has some slightly different procedures for play. One of these procedures is that monsters always do mean damage (rounded up). A monster that normally does 1d6 damage with a particular attack will always do 4 points, 1d8 always does 5 points, etc.

I was wondering to myself... would that be such a bad adaptation for normal campaign play?

Hmm. Something to think about.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SWN: Exploring Ifertam

So begins SWN Part III in earnest.

I used the excellent resources over at Wizardawn to generate the map of planet Ifertam. I then took a snapshot of the map with Pearl Crecent's Page Saver and emailed it to my players mid-session to simulate the results of their detailed survey scan. (Their present ship has the advanced survey scanners from SWN, which, according to the book, can provide an accurate terrain map of a planet.) Look at me, getting all multimedia up in here.

Upon receiving the map, the players were like kids in the proverbial candy store.
"Crashed starships.....dude, a crashed starship with an alien settlement near it?! Are those giant mushrooms?" Etc.

Yes, although hired for an intel job (discover why everyone on this planet apparently went insane 23 years ago), it appears that there are many points of interest they want to hit on this planet. It's a sandbox within a sandbox, if you will. (Yo dawg, I heard you like sandboxes...)

The session included a battle with an energy grenade-hurling cyborg (courtesy of Wizardawn as well) followed by some CSI: Stars Without Number. The session ended with the discovery of a mysterious black box that had no apparent way to open it and that proved resistant to scans.

We can't game next Tuesday, so my poor players have to wait an agonizing two weeks for the answer to their obvious question.

Although the map is relatively simple, I was amazed at how much my players were digging it. I'll be spending the next two weeks trying to fill that map with things worthy of their excursions. I have a feeling that they are going to be spending some on this planet, even if they obtain their mission objectives relatively soon.

In other gaming news:
*I am rejoining the Thursday group this week for Beyond the Supernatural 2nd edition
*My copy of The One Ring is due on my doorstep tomorrow!
*I am expecting a used copy of the old AD&D module Ghost Tower of Inverness in the next week or so.
*Kevin Crawford hinted on Twitter that the PDF for Spears of the Dawn might be ready this weekend. 
*Nuke-Con is having two community game days: one in February and one in March. Though I have a pretty miserable record of attendance for the convention itself, I do love those game days and will try to be at both. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Precious?

A brand new copy of The One Ring RPG for twenty bucks?

Don't mind if I do.

Friday, January 4, 2013

SWN Campaign: Part III

Having discovered that the cyberpunk planet of Guangxi was actually an elaborate game played by a cabal of secretive AIs, the players got a little squeamish and decided to try their fortunes elsewhere. Aboard their ship is an AI who decided to escape the endless chess game against his "uncles" and has confined himself to an Echo-class armature.

For the time being, the characters have returned to the Hydrin Fleet to plot their next venture. The Fleet has turned out to be a home base/staging area for the PCs to return to between legs of the campaign.

The first leg of the campaign was based off of Kevin Crawford's excellent Hard Light module, available on DriveThru. It was pretty heavily dungeon delve-based. (The PCs weren't all that interested in the political situation on Brightside, though they did sort of end up resolving it inadvertently.) The second leg of the game, now concluded, was very much like a mini-campaign of Cyberpunk 2020 or Shadowrun. (Well, less Shadowrun, since there weren't fantasy races and magic and whatnot.) What, I wonder, will the third leg bring?

The PCs could stay in Atragon sector and work for the Clans for a time as they endlessly play the middle in the war between the haughty Arcanian League and the scheming Technocratic Unions of Runaris. The PCs could search through the resource-laden but hazardous tomb worlds that the aforementioned polities fight over.

The PCs could go back to Ceres and get involved in the war between the expanding Empire of Galaran and the nascent Entente of Four Worlds. They could find adventure on any of the independent worlds that refuse to join the Entente and refuse to submit to the Empire. In the further reaches of the sector, news spreads of a hochog warlord who claims to have found the long-lost hochog homeworld and claimed dominion over it.

The PCs could venture into Dark Space, guided only by the coordinates of a mysterious Ushan structure, lost for millenniums unknown, that sent them a garbled message when contacted.

 And let us not forget the strange alien they bested in the wastelands on Guangxi. After trying to salvage the wreck of its strange craft, the PCs were alarmed to find that the craft bore on it the Seal of the Dragon- a symbol of the inscrutable ancient enemy who, according to legend, destroyed the original Hydrin homeworld and set them adrift in the stars.

These are just a few of the options. There are many adjacent sectors of space into which they can venture. We'll see what happens next Tuesday. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

So Begins Gaming in 2013

I spent the afternoon and evening of New Year's Day running my SWN game. Unfettered by work schedules, we played a near-double length gaming session. We also have a pretty dramatic role-playing scene that came about, and we got a lot done without rolling very many dice.

Gaming, for me, is about exploration and not about sticking to some kind of pre-planned narrative, but I find that I really enjoy the narratives that can come up organically during play. I find that it's much more satisfying to be surprised at what events come about from the PCs and their actions and reactions, rather than having a foregone conclusion (or list of conclusions) toward which the PCs are steered.

The "Farewell" game has been moved to Friday, which is good because Pathfinder tends to overwhelm me with all of its fiddly bits.

Tomorrow is Josh's last Savage Worlds game. I might ask if I can sit in even though I missed the rest of the campaign entirely.

Gaming three times in one week would not be a bad way to end winter break.