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.