Friday, December 26, 2014

Sourcebook Control Freaking

One of my hangups as a GM is that I don't like allowing material (spells, equipment, etc) from books that I don't own. I have players who occasionally want to bring in things from Sourcebook X, and if I don't own it, my inclination is to say no.

Some RPGs just spit out book after book of gear and guns. (Shadowrun being a particular offender) As a GM, I am just not interested in piles of equipment. By the end of 3.5's run, and by the end of my patience with 3.5, I felt awash in an endless sea of extraneous bullshit.'s the other thing. I've had players offer to pirate, buy, or loan me the sourcebooks that contain whatever feat or toy they want to use. I already have enough shit I need to read without extra stuff being stacked on it. I also don't like the feeling of obligation this creates in me, as some stuff just isn't suitable for my game.

So I ask you this, fellow GMs: am I overly controlling with regards to allowing supplemental material in my games? I do admit that I have a desire to keep a tight control on the gear, spells, classes, races, skills, or whatever else goes into my game, even if that material is "official" and offered by the original party that published the game.

Disclaimer: You guys telling me that I'm a control freak probably won't change anything. I just want to see if I'm alone in my control freakishness, or if I have control freak brothers-in-restricted-arms out there in Blogaria.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Which of These Should I Run Next?

Presently I am running my sort-of Deadlands Reloaded game and my Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death campaign. While I have no intention of concluding them within the foreseeable future, I am always thinking up what to run next.

These are things that are presently rattling around in my noodle. I also have different systems in mind of each.

-A fantasy adventure crawl set in a mythic fantasy realm lightly flavored of northern Europe, with lots of runes and forests and druids and pseudo-vikings. Also, cavaliers and witches.
 Systems: OSRIC, D&D 5e

-A trippy ass 70's style D&D. Pointy hatted wizards and magical mushroom forests and stuff.
Systems: Swords & Wizardry.

-A modern urban fantasy/horror game about supernatural factions fighting over big places of power. Equal parts Feng Shui, Dylan Dog, and Nightwatch. Maybe throw in some Dresden Files and Iron Druid.
Systems: Cryptworld + Creature Feature + Majus, Fudge, Savage Worlds, Silent Legions/BXWOD

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Silent Legions Beta

Recently I backed my second Kickstarter ever, the Silent Legions rpg by the inimitable Kevin Crawford, the mind behind Sine Nomine Publishing. I've perused the beta rules so far and find them quite to my liking. I especially like the magic system, and find that it would be appropriate for a sufficiently horror-themed D&D game without requiring much in the way of alteration.

My recent musings on a B/X World of Darkness substitute would actually dovetail well with some of the material I've read in SL. I'm still working on B/XWOD, but it currently exists as a series of scattered and frequently changed Excel sheets. Soon, with the advent of Winter Break, I will have a wealth of free time to work on it.

Beyond the Supernatural continues this Thursday as our party tries to unravel the secrets of a ghost-riddled town. On Friday, my sort-of Deadlands Reloaded game continues, with the Larimer family scheming to gain mystical and financial control of Denver from rivals various and sundry. Sunday will see the continuation of Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death and the hunt for the remaining members of the enigmatic Circle of the Moon.

On we go.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ravenloft Rides Again

Yesterday I resumed my online Ravenloft/Gothic Earth campaign with Meghan and James. I ran a very, very, very heavily modified version of the werewolf adventure from The Book of Crypts, because most of the stuff in the BoC is just awful. In fact, I've modified it so heavily that really you could say I just took the premise, "village with a werewolf problem," and ran with it.

The players devised an absolutely brilliant solution to the town's werewolf problem. Having captured a forbidden tome containing a spell called Curse of Lycanthropy, the party's adept undertook the dicey task of learning the black spell and then researching a reverse, Cure Lycanthropy. Instead of simply slaying the beasts*, they are hunting them down during the daylight hours and de-cursing them with magic. Frickin' brilliant. The party also saved a poor villager from being wrongfully condemned with a well placed charm spell and some fast talking. 

I love how this group solves problems. Granted, they have little choice: there are only two of them and neither one is particularly combat-oriented.

Next week the party will hopefully manage to bust up the rest of the sinister Circle of the Moon, and perhaps hunt the beast that even werewolves are afraid of. (Dun dun dun)

*Well, they had to slay one... that's how they got their hands on the book with the cursing spell in it. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Deadlands Campaign Pt 2

The second leg of my pseudo-Deadlands campaign is underway.

December, 1878
City of Denver, Colorado Territory

The late Joseph Larimer, Jr., founder of Denver and sorcerer of considerable power, has passed away from serious illness. He willed most of his fortune to his eldest children, who struck out from Denver to found their own legacies in the corners of the globe. Rachel and Matthias, the youngest but perhaps most capable of the brood, are left in charge of the family manse and interests in the city. The Larimer family isn't the only power in Denver, however. The city is both the physical and metaphysical gateway to the West, and as such, several factions vie for control of it:

The Gilpin Family- Eternal rivals of the Larimers, family patriarch William Gilpin used political maneuvering, magical charms, and treachery to wrest the Governor's seat of Colorado Territory away from Joseph Larimer. Much like the Larimers, the Gilpins have a history and tradition of sorcery in the family, with William himself possibly surpassing the elder Larimer in power.

Cult of Auroria- A secret society of sorcerers who are in league with an entity known as Auroria, the Tattered Angel. The PCs vanquished the cult's branch in Creede, but it seems that a cell continues to operate in Denver. They seem to have some kind of feud with the Larimer family, but the current generation doesn't seem to know why.

The Denver-Pacific Railroad Company- This rail company is owned by industrial giant Smith and Robard. They are allied with the Larimers and intend to be the only rail access to Utah and California.

Wasatch Rail Lines- Owned by Hellstromme Industries, Wasatch is based out of Utah but has the same ambitions as Denver-Pacific. While not located in Denver, it is suspected that they have agents there to undermine their rival company.

There might be another faction or two in town, but I have two players who read this blog, so that information will remain unknown for the time being.

Our Player Characters:
Rachel Larimer- The youngest daughter of Joseph Larimer Jr and a budding sorceress. Rachel has also proven quite adept at dealing with the family's enemies.

Matthias Larimer- Youngest son of the Larimer family and also a sorcerer. Matthias has a clockwork prosthetic arm from a spell gone awry.

Bill- A hired gunman with hideous scars and a bristling hatred of supernatural creatures. Originally a hired gun for Matthias Larimer, Bill currently serves as the head of security for the Larimer manor.

Sebastian- The family butler and personal bodyguard of Rachel Larimer.

My game really only superficially resembles Deadlands at this point. I pretty much toss out Deadlands canon whenever it suits me.

I wonder which problem the PCs will tackle tonight...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Random World Crafting

Because I apparently needed another project to work on in my endless march of unfinished projects, I've started laying the groundwork for my next D&D world. I want to get away from all of my previous thought processes regarding world design, or at least as far away as I can without getting a brain transplant. To that end, I've decided to use a lot of randomness and force myself to connect the dots.

-Dungeon Geomorphs (Goodman Games)
-Adventure Design Deskbook (Mythmere)
-The Dungeon Alphabet
-The Dungeon Dozen 

These are packed in my mighty Bag of Holding, and from them I shall forge a world that probably won't make much sense, but will probably be awesome. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dungeon Dozen + DMG

My shiny, shiny copy of the Dungeon Dozen arrived yesterday. I'm already delighted by multitudinous tables that reside therein. I mean, who doesn't want to roll on an Apocalyptic Visions Seen in a Crystal Ball table? This only makes me want to run my nascent idea for Swords & Wizardry that much harder. 

My copy of the 5e DMG ships today. It's supposed to arrive Thursday or Friday. I plan to really dig in to 5e over my winter break, which approaches with all the speed of a drunken walrus. (Next Friday, next Friday, next Friday...) I have ideas rattling around in my head for a 5e setting, though part of me feels this strange need to make my first foray into a new edition of Ye Auld Gaime to be something fairly...standard. We'll see what shakes out of my addled dome once the semester is concluded.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Horror on the Brain

On the heels of my B/X World of Darkness idea...

I backed Kevin Crawford's Silent Legions Kickstarter because I love all things Kevin Crawford and I love horror games. I have a copy of the beta rules, and while I have only had time to give them a cursory glance, I am pleased with what I see. I might adapt some B/X magic to it, selecting the spells very carefully to be genre-fitting. (So magic missile is out, but Protection from Evil is in, etc.) I might take it a step further and add the white/gray/black magic rules posted on Akratic Wizardry or adapt something similar of my own design.

My Ravenloft/Gothic Earth Skype group is slated to being playing again this Sunday after a two month hiatus. I'm actually tempted to try and convert the game to Silent Legions, but I might stick with my AD&D2/LotFP mashup, if only for consistency. I'll mention the idea to my two players and see what they think.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The World of B/X Darkness?

For months, perhaps years, I have hemmed and hawed over a replacement for World of Darkness.
While I still think that using the Unisystem or using Cryptworld + Creature Feature + Majus might be the best substitute, I also thought of this...

B/X World of Darkness.

Fighters are werewolves.
Thieves are vampires.
Magic-users are witches.
Clerics, ironically, are cambions. (Half-devils)

Special powers and skills are done in the style of skills from Xplorers. I'm thinking that vamps and wolves will have four skills each. (Stealth, Speed, Shapeshifting, Gaze for vampires and Claws, Regeneration, Speed and Tracking for werewolves.) Witches and Cambions get spells plus two other abilities. (Making magic talismans and a familiar for witches, body weaponry and mortal domination/turning for Cambions, which works on the cleric's turn mechanic.)

I've worked up some basic experience tables in Excel, though I want to tweak them a little more before I post them. Of course, this does nothing to flesh out who a character is beyond their monstery type. I might tack on a LotFP-esque skill system for those who absolutely need to play a vampire hacker or werewolf cop or whatever and have it be mechanically significant.

So there you go, yet another solution to my WoD dilemma that seems a lot more feasible than my FUDGE game. I love FUDGE, I really do, but it has a vexing tendency towards front-loading the work, and it just doesn't seem as good for conversions in light of my other, more recent ideas.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Mighty d12

I collect games, perhaps to an insane level.

What I'm trying to do now is not buy any new games, but rather buy tools for the games I already own: modules, system-neutral books like Dyson's offerings, etc.

I sold off my West End DCU (for three times what I bought it for) and I'm buying Dyson's Dodecahedron since it's 50% off on Lulu. (HC50, half off hardcovers, GO NOW.)

At KantCon this previous summer, I had fondly held, caressed perhaps, a copy of the Dodecahedron. However, I wasn't ready to part with thirty-five shekels for it. I will happily part with fourteen plus shipping, however.

Alas, if I had more disposable income, I'd probably get the updated OSRIC in hardback as well. Curse this holiday season and my vehicle registration. Curse it, I say!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Savage Worlds Tribe 8, Part the Third

Alright, so I've rethought the magic system. You can take any power as long as you can justify it/flavor it to your tribe's domains. There are obviously some that won't work; the healers and midwives of the Evites are unlikely to be able to use Blast or Zombie. Sell me on it and you can take it.

I'm not sure if I'm going to use Guilds. They seemed like a tacked on thing that didn't really add anything to the game. I mean, I like the idea of different factions within the eighth Tribe, but the ones as written didn't really do it for me.

Also, setting changes: This isn't post-apocalyptic Canada. (The only time I'd consider running post-apocalyptic Canada would be RIFTS. Missssssiles!) In fact, it's not even post-apocalyptic Earth. Nobody knows exactly what the world before looked like or what it was. In my mind, it's some vaguely cosmopolitan, soulless world of high technology and low scruples. It doesn't matter, because defining the world before is sort of contrary to the game's theme of the past being dead and the eighth tribe striving to build something new.

Finally, bestiary: Stat up some monsters. Some z'bri are growly beasties with claws and fangs. Some are alien horrors with magic of their own. Reskin monsters from Deadlands or whatever.

Man, converting stuff to Savage Worlds is easy. Why didn't I ever fly this route before?

This kind of makes me want to convert my other dusty old DP9 games to SW... although I think Heavy Gear would be better done with SWN, perhaps. Maybe I need to read over the mecha rules in the SW Sc-Fi book. Gear Krieg seems like a natural fit for SW. Jovian Chronicles could go either way, SWN or SW.

Hobby. Mental Illness. Who even knows anymore?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Savage Worlds Tribe 8 Part Deaux

Alright, so last night I looked up the affinities in the Tribe 8 rules. Each Fatima's tribe has two different affinities for using magic. I then referenced the powers in the Savage Worlds Deluxe corebook and assigned powers based loosely on the affinities. This is my first draft. Some powers I'm on the fence about; for instance I could see Yagans having Entangle as summoning a horde of bony hands from the earth. At the same time, I'm trying to keep the tribal powers different with as few "repeats" as possible.

There are also "Guilds" within the 8th tribe that grant further affinities, but I'll cover them later. I might revise the system to give starting PCs two powers from their Tribe list and one from their Guild list. I might also revise Dreaming to work more like the Blessed edge in Deadlands Reloaded rather than the basic Miracles edge from the core rules. 

Oh, and I also avoided "blasty" powers for the most part... I might revise that , might not. In my mind, Tribe 8 magic doesn't look very blasty. 

 Armor, Banish, Barrier, Boost/Lower Trait, Burrow, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Dispel, Divination, Fear, Fly, Puppet, Zombie

Evites- Empathy/Life
 Beast Friend, Boost/Lower Trait, Entangle, Environmental Protection, Greater Healing, Growth/Shrink, Healing, Mind Reading, Shape Change, Succor, Summon Ally

Magdalites- Sensuality/Conflict
Boost/Lower Trait, Confusion, Disguise, Drain Power Points, Mind Reading, Puppet, Quickness, Slumber, Speak Language, Stun, Succor

Dahlians- Motion/Illusion
 Blind, Boost/Lower Trait, Confusion, Deflection, Disguise, Fly, Invisibility, Light/Obscure,Mirror Self, Quickness, Slow, Speed, Telekinesis, Teleport, Wall Walker

Agnites- Capriciousness/Inspiration
Beast Friend, Boost/Lower Trait, Confusion, Darksight, Drain Power Points, Growth/Shrink, Havoc, Invisibility, Light/Obscure, Mind Reading, Slumber, Speed, Summony Ally, Sentinel

Joanites- Devotion/Fury
Armor,  Boost/Lower Trait, Damage Field, Deflection, Havoc, Healing, Smite, Summon Ally, Sentinel, Warrior's Gift

Shebans- Truth/Wisdom
 Banish, Blind, Boost/Lower Trait, Confusion, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Dispel, Divination, Farsight, Fear, Light/Obscure, Mind Reading,  Puppet, Speak Language

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Savage Worlds + Tribe 8= ???

....well, actually you just get a Tribe 8 with a set of rules that I don't totally hate. About ten years ago, I was working on a conversion of Tribe 8 to Fudge, but... I think Savage Worlds might better fit my vision of T8.
(Or I'm just lazy. Fudge requires a lot of work. Probably lazy. Let's go with that.) 

So first, you pick the tribe you were born into before you left or got exiled. Each tribe gives you a little bonus, either a free skill at d6 or an attribute that starts at d6 rather than d4.

Baba Yaga/Yagans- d6 in Dreaming (Dreaming is basically the spellcasting skill)
Eva/Evites- d6 in Healing
Magdalene/Magdelites- d6 in Persuasion
Dahlia/Dahlians- +1 to Agility
Agnes/Agnites- +1 to Spirit
Joan/Joanites- d6 in Fighting
Tera Sheba/Shebans- d6 in Investigation

Aside from that, you just make a standard Savage Worlds character. 

Let's talk about Dreaming.
Dreaming is my less-WTF-name for Synthesis, the magic of T8. Synthesis involves manipulating the River of Dream, so we're just going to call it Dreaming. Bam.

In order to use Dreaming, you must take Arcane Background (Dream). The associated skill is Dreaming, which is tied to Spirit. It functions similar to the AB (Miracles) skill from the rule book, with the following changes:
-The Powers a character can use are restricted by their tribe
-Specifically, Boost/Lower Trait is restricted in terms of which Traits you can affect according to your tribe.

I don't have the SW book with me, so I can't divvy out the powers to the tribes just yet. That will be my next post, I believe.

Odd how easy this conversion is compared to my laborious attempts to make this a Fudge thing.  All hail Savage Worlds!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

White Wolf + Unisystem = ???

So, here's a question that is not likely to be answered by the typical readership of this blog.

Could you do White Wolf/World of Darkness using the Unisystem die roll mechanic?

Here's the deal: I don't like chucking huge fistfulls of dice every time I want to do something and then bean-counting the successes.

Unisystem rates stats and skills generally on a 1-5, with higher stats possible for superhuman creatures.
White Wolf rates stats and skills 1-5.

Both systems call for Stat + Skill. White Wolf assigns a difficulty number (fixed at 8 in the latter version of the game) and Eden has you roll vs. a basic difficulty of 9 for an average task.

So... why couldn't I just borrow Eden's dice mechanic for White Wolf?

If I have Wits 3 and Computer 3 and I'm trying to get my hack on, instead of rolling 6 dice and counting successes, I roll 1d10+6, with 9 being the baseline difficulty. (Actually I think I'd bump it up to 10.) If you need to figure out how well a character succeeds, just check the margin of success (as opposed to counting successes in White Wolf.)

Any thoughts? And yes, I'm aware probabilities won't be exactly the same. I also don't care.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bundle of Holding +2 and DtF

So, I picked up my second ever Bundle of Holding, my first being Stars Without Number last fall.I'm still picking and scanning through the contents, but overall it was very much worth the $20 I dropped to get all the extra books. My favorite item so far is Death Frost Doom 2nd edition. It's even more jacked up than it was before and definitely has more of a Lamentations "feel" than the original, more system-neutral iteration.

In unrelated news, I had a 50% off coupon to the local used bookstore, so I picked up a cheap copy of White Wolf's Demon: the Fallen. (DtF...insert childish giggling here.) I never actually owned this one back in the day, but since I still like the content of old WW books, I thought I'd add it to my collection. It's one of the few OWoD core games that I never played.

Deadlands continues to chug along. BTS has been canceled the last couple of weeks, leaving me jonesing to get back into the fray.

Game on!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tz-Ar-Ai, an Alien Species for Stars Without Number

Two years ago, I posted my original races for SWN- the Eldreth and the Solii. (Which originally I made for a short-lived Traveller* campaign, but later re-statted for SWN) My third original race, which I have periodically tinkered with, has never been posted. I'm restless today, and so here they are:

Tz-Ar-Ai  (Pronounced something like tizz are eye by humans)

Appearance and Biology:
Tz-Ar-Ai physiology varies by gender. Males stand around 6-6 1/2 feet, with females usually standing about a foot taller and with narrow, cone-like heads.  They are slightly insectoid in appearance and genetics. Their bodies are covered with a bony, plate-like structure. Females have small, vestigial wings reminiscent of a grasshopper's. The coloration of the Tz-Ar-Ai ranges from bleached bone white to a dark slate gray. The plating often displays subtle structural differences and patterns of another color. Other species often have a difficult time telling the difference between Tz-Ar-Ai with similar plate coloration.Tz-Ar-Ai often carve permanent markings into their plates, often reflecting membership in religious groups, sayings that the individual lives by, names of children, etc. The process is similar to a human tattoo, but Tz-Ar-Ai consider their markings sacred and never carve a flippant mark into their plates.

All currently living Tz-Ar-Ai are afflicted with a degenerative disease unique to their species. This makes them physically frail and sickly, and limits their lifespan to about 60 years. (According to their history, their healthier ancestors lived for 180 or 200 years.) The disease confounds all present medical treatment, and even proves resistant to psionic intervention. The disease manifests shortly after reaching adulthood and is incommunicable to other species.

Tz-Ar-Ai females lay clusters of eggs, which can be fertilized by any male Tz-Ar-Ai. Most of the eggs do not hatch, likely due to the disease that plagues their species.

The Tz-Ar-Ai have lost much of their history. They understand that they were a powerful species, prone to psionic ability, and that their ancestors had access to a multitude of arcane and esoteric psi disciplines. Their society had psi-tech that in some ways rivaled that of the Terran Mandate.

Then came the disease. The Body-Scourge, as rendered in their language. Current Tz-Ar-Ai can only speculate that it was a bioweapon specifically targeted at them by an enemy of some kind, though no trace of this ancestral foe remains today. As the disease slowly rotted their bodies, the governments of the Tz-Ar-Ai homeworld, An-Nr-Tar, came together in a desperate attempt to save their race. Several castes were designated with tasks designed to ensure continuity of the species: One caste of psionic healers with the ability to absorb the maladies of others, one caste of scientists, one cast of powerful bio-psi and telepathic psychics to place the rest of the species into a sort of suspended animation while the scientists searched for a treatment and the healers martyred themselves to keep the scientists whole for just a little longer.

Nobody knows quite what happened after that, because of the Scream. The Tz-Ar-Ai called it the Soul Scourge.

About one hundred years after the Scream, relatively few surviving Tz-Ar-Ai woke up. The scientists were gone. The healers were gone. The guardians remained, though they were thoroughly insane. The awakened survivors found they were still afflicted with a weakened body, but they were no longer dying off. Their young still developed the disease, but it seemed now immanently survivable.

Their history is gone. All knowledge of what happened during the Slumber is gone. They are a people without a past.

Psychology: The Tz-Ar-Ai are a grim people. Some are obsessed with uncovering the secrets of their past. Some desire to find a cure for the condition so that future generations don't have to suffer. Some search for a new place for their species. Some have given up and believe that it is only a matter of time before the Tz-Ar-Ai are gone.

Most cultures on the Tz-Ar-Ai world are deeply religious, and psionics factors heavily into their religion. They see it as a divine gift from the Creator, Her own omnipotent power given to them in some small degree. There are many different religions on the Tz-Ar-Ai world that focus around different psionic abilities and the saints or angelic beings that created them. While the central worship of the Creator is nearly universal, there are many different animistic traditions, ancestor worshippers, pantheons of saintly, siddhartha-like beings, etc. Tz-Ar-Ai often follow multiple religious practices, and some have even assimilated alien religious beliefs into their own personal spirituality. Many of the markings on a Tz-Ar-Ai's plates have religious or mystical significance.

Due to their grim and often philosophical and mystical natures, many other species consider the Tz-Ar-Ai to be off-putting, aloof, or just plain depressing. Others romanticize them as zen-like wizards. The truth, of course, varies widely, as no two Tz-Ar-Ai have exactly the same belief or life philosophy.

The Tz-Ar-Ai are best seen through Doomed and Mystical lenses. Their species sometimes seems backward or hopelessly impractical to other species. The Tz-Ar-Ai don't look for the reason why in terms of the scientific, but rather the cosmological. The Tz-Ar-Ai are acutely aware of their position: a race without much of a past, and unless they find a cure or treatment, not much of a future.

Tz-Ar-Ai as Player Characters:
*Tz-Ar-Ai have a -1 to their Constitution modifier, and suffer a -1 to all saving throws vs. Physical Effects.
*All Tz-Ar-Ai begin the game with one mastered Level 1 psionic power, regardless of class. Tz-Ar-Ai Warriors and Experts will never improve beyond this one ability (unless the GM allows multiclassing and they pick up a level in psychic.) Tz-Ar-Ai psychics may master additional abilities as normal.
*Combat/Psi-tech is a class skill for all Tz-Ar-Ai.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Races Without Abilities

Today I was thinking over my old Stars Without Numbers games, one with my old Sunday group at Mindy's and the other that I ran with Nathan and Dan. In each of those games, a new species was brought into the setting by the actions of the characters. I decided that next time I run SWN, both of these races will be available as PC races. race, however, doesn't really have any special abilities beyond absorbing minerals and light for food instead of the normal digestive processes most humanoids have to do. It begs the question: Will players play a race entirely for flavor? Must every race be designed with powers and ability modifiers?

An interesting thing to consider before my next foray into SWN or some similar game.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Icons Assemble!

So, I bought a hard copy of Icons: Assembled Edition.

I'm about halfway through the book, and I like what I've read so far.

Yes, it has qualities a la Fate, but they are only part of the system. There are stats everyone has, pretty standard RPG combat (rolls to hit, defense, Stamina points, etc) and even a default assumption that you will be generating a character via random roll. All of these are far more to my tastes than the hashtag orgy that is Fate. In fact, the text gives me ideas on how to to take the one or two bits from Fate that I like and tie them into a simple Fudge game or the like.

The only bit I'm not super clear on the concept of pyramid tests. It seems to be an unnecessarily jargon-y version of extended rolls/tests in other games. I'll just reread that part.

What I really like is that the random heroes and random plots sections can help me whip out an on-the-fly supers game, which could be handy at cons or the like.

A solid purchase. I'm glad I gave in.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cryptworld + Majus + Creature Feature = ???

I think I may have finally found the World of Darkness replacement I've been searching for.
I downloaded Cryptworld, a clone of 1st edition Chill, because it was on sale.
I picked up Creature Feature (the book that lets you play the monsters) at a Half-Price Books in Overland Park when I attended KantCon last summer.
I downloaded Majus today after waffling on it for awhile.

So... Cryptworld provides the framework, Majus the rules for, you know, mages, and Creature Feature lets you play vampires, werewolves, mummies, and ghosts.


I think I may have finally replaced WoD. Granted, it kind of invalidates all the work I did on my Fudge Darkness game, but... mission accomplished?

We shall see...

Incidentally, I have 2nd edition Mayfair Chill and some supplements for it, but I don't know how compatible Mayfair and Pacesetter are off the top of my dome.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Icons... A Near-Impulse Almost-Purchase

So, I don't like Fate.
Not Core.
Not Accelerated.

I've already blogged about this and shan't waste time repeating the hows or whys.

That being said...

I was wandering through my Fate last night when I chanced upon "Icons: Assembled Edition" and found myself paging through it.

Despite being based on Fate, this feels like a game I could roll with. It has ability scores (using an adjective scale quite similar to Fudge, the venerable ancestor of Fate) It uses a 1d6 + whatever roll. It seems to have relatively normal/traditional mechanics for damage rather than all this stakey/consequency stuff. (Though there is some of that.)

 Interestingly, it seems that the creator of Icons is the guy who created Mutants & Masterminds, which I once briefly flirted with and quickly abandoned. It seems he wanted to get away from the crunch and clunk a little bit. I'm intrigued.

Not sure if I'm $35 intrigued, but still.... intrigued nonetheless.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Six Shooters Vs. Gatlings and Other Tales of Woe

Deadlands rolls on.

We had two players rejoin us who hadn't been able to play for a couple of months.
Tragically, both of their PCs died.
The party engaged an automaton head on. Three lessons could be learned from this encounter:

1. Sometimes you should talk before you shoot,
2. Simply trading shots with an opponent who (literally) outguns you is just askin' for it, and
3. Sometimes it's better to just stay down when you're down.

The automaton actually had a bit of a story behind it, but the players done blowed it up, so I'm going to shrug my shoulders and move on.

Admittedly, my Deadlands game is really more like Wild Wild West + Ron Edward's Sorcerer + The Sopranos + one of those "Tycoon" simulator games. I have these rules for resources and wealth points and research points, players have different buildings they can use to produce things, etc. I think I'm going to keep it running like this until the PCs have managed to secure the entire town of Creede, after which we can look at changing things up or carrying on as-is.

The PCs have a stable of hired NPCs now (an occultist and some hired guns), an occult library, a demon summoning circle, a necromancy lab, and a silver mine to pay for it all.

While markedly different from my other DL games of days past, I'm enjoying it immensely.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Closing Thoughts on Running Rifts

So my Rifts game has gone into cryo-stasis so that Steven can continue Thursday night Beyond the Supernatural 2nd edition. The game actually ran quite a bit longer than was originally intended; my initial plan was to run it two or three times while Steven recovered from a minor medical procedure. 

Rifts is a huge game. I mean, it's got 34 world books, fourteen (I think) dimension books, and plenty of weird "other" books (the Coalition war series, etc.) It has hundreds, literally hundreds, of character classes. It has a dozen or more types of magic. It has more guns than a NRA convention.

I think that part of the key to running a Rifts game that doesn't fall apart or leave the GM a gibbering, broken mess is to run a Rifts game with focus. Find a corner in the huge, sprawling mess that is the Rifts universe (megaverse, technically) and explore that corner. You don't have to use 34 world books, or even five, if you don't want to. A lot of the people I've games Rifts with seem to feel a weird pressure to allow any-and-eveything in their Rifts games. I get that the whole Palladium thing is that all this bid'ness is uber-compatible, but the reality of it is that these books were written by numerous authors and have been written over the course of 25 years. The power level, scope, and mood of the books vary widely (which is a good thing, by my reckoning.) Not all of that stuff plays well together, thematically or mechanically.

Rifts is a big ol' kitchen sink. I find that it works best when you pick something you want to do specifically. My Madhaven game was basically a sci-fi fantasy dungeon/hexcrawl. Steven's Dinosaur Swamp game was Jurassic Park with rocket launchers. You could run a low power urban game in Chi-Town that resembled Shadowrun. You could do trippy-ass post-apoc science fantasy with Rifts England. You could do the Coalition War.

So, this post was quite belated, and JB if you're reading this, I apologize. 

My Rifts game will be back next time Steven needs a break, be it in a month or be it in the summer. (Homie doesn't like running horror games in the summer, which is fine by me.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Less Multi Means More Tasking

Work + Grad School + Running three games = Doing five things at less than full potential.

1. Going to be transitioning the Thursday game back to the austere guidance of Steven. I know that in about two-three weeks he intends to resume Beyond the Supernatural, and I am totally down. Hopefully I can pound out a few more tower levels and let my PCs kill or join a Necromancer before I hand the reigns back.

2. The Sunday Ravenloft game is going to move to every other week.

I figure running 1.5 games (Friday night Deadlands and every-other-Sunday Ravenloft) will result in much, much better games.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Central Casting Dungeons, or, How to Spend Way Too Much Time Making a Boring Ass Dungeon

When I first moved to this town, I played in a campaign that used Central Casting to generate characters. We ended up with a guy who had a horse tail and a pair of twins, though one was born in an alley and one in a cave. Everyone was so poor they started with no equipment. One character owned another.

It fucking sucked, and we hated our ridiculous characters from the get go.

When I saw Central Casting Dungeons at the used book store, I should've known better, but it was like five bucks and appeared to be a big book of generating dungeons.

Really. Bland. Dungeons.

Far too much of the book, and far too much of the dungeon room generation entries treat us as if we have no idea how to draw a square or rectangular room on a piece of graph paper.

There's a table to tell you what metal a dungeon's smith specialized in.

The alchemist's room? Yeah, nothing except rolling to see what the dimensions of the room are.

Maybe I'm just spoiled by shit like the One Page Dungeon context and the early Raggi stuff and all you crazy bloggers and The Dungeon Alphabet... CCD (ha!) is just a big book that generates elaborately dull dungeons.

I suppose I should be thankful that I merely find this book bland, as opposed to the bile that usually rises in my throat from previous experiences with Central Casting books.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Further Rifts Thoughts

So, JB asked me for further explanation on how I run Rifts with my sanity intact.

1. At the core, you're playing heavily house-ruled AD&D. You have classes, experience points, alignment, levels, hit points, saving throws, attack rolls resolved with a d20, etc. When the rules seem to get all sideways on you, just take it back to D&D.

2. House rules I use: 1 Mega-Damage=10 SDC. Pass-through damage from Rifter #30. If you don't have Rifter 30, just swap this out instead: For every 10 MD your armor takes, you suffer 1d6 SDC. Double it for impact weapons like missiles/rail guns. Half it if you're wearing heavy armor. Close enough.

3. This is meant to be a ball-out, over-the-top game. The Coalition are like the bad guys from an 80's toy line. Juicers are guys who have FUTURE STEROIDS pumped into their bodies and wear mohawks because...metal. Play this game like you're playing a heavy metal album cover from before the 90's.

4. Bring your descriptive and adjudicative A game when running combat. For Pete's sake, the characters are carrying firepower enough to level buildings. Reward them for doing bat-shit insane things.

5. When the rules make something silly happen, make a ruling. Change a number. Do whatever you need to do.

6. Don't feel obligated to include all the books, or even most of them, in a given campaign. My Rifts game takes place in and around Madhaven, which is the ruins of New York City. There's no stuff from Rifts Russia or Rifts Australia or Skraypers or anything like that. The books KS releases detail the entire world. There's more than enough material in the core book and one or two splats to fuel a campaign.

I'm not sure if this is what you were looking for, but they are a few more specific points that I use to keep the game in perspective. The first rule overrides all the other rules. You are playing something akin to Arduin, but with cyborgs. (Did Arduin have cyborgs in it? I confess I am ignorant when it comes to all things Hargrave.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Running Rifts With One's Sanity Intact

I still haven't really figured out how to throw reasonably appropriate monsters at my RIFTS group. I just kind of pick monsters that sound cool. They usually get utterly trounced. Combat is really kind of an afterthought in a game where dudes lug around particle canons and nano-swords made from bio-wizardry and what the fuck am I even talking about juuuuuuuuuuuice!


Right now I'm all about the environment in the game. I try to give my players cool shit to interact with. I think I had some Lamentations-esque rooms in my necromancer tower last night. (Lamentations-esque meaning creepy and unsettling, not pushbuttonruincharacter.) The players also managed to ruin both a "safe recovery" room and a potential source of information though general carelessness. Ooooops.

I play fast and loose with the rules. The Ley Line Walker in the party has managed to semi-accidentally learn two Necro-Magic spells, and I offered a non-spellcasting player the chance to acquire the ability to use Necro-Magic. Both of these things are technically against the rules, but meh. I am constantly hand-waving things in RIFTS, because to do otherwise is to court madness.Wit h Rifts, you pretty much have to go style over substance. I think of RIFTS as more of an attitude rather than a set of rules.

The game is a little horror-ish right now, but hey, necromancy should probably be a little horrifying, right?

Tonight I am filling in for our Deadlands GM. When I fill in, we actually play a different campaign that is also somewhat divergent from "default" Deadlands. My Skype group is also set to resume on Sunday after a month long hiatus, the game being my house-ruled Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death/Gothic Earth game.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Brief But Stunning Confession

I want to give 5e a try.

I predict, at this point, that I will like it more than 4e and 3.x, but that will not like it as much as as BECMI/1e.

I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to try it, or with whom, but I do want to give it a try.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PC Conflict

In my RIFTS game, we have the following characters:

-A good aligned human Ley Line Walker (that's basically a wizard for you non-Rifters.)
-A good aligned D-Bee who uses weapons and armor created by biowizardry (another type of magic.)
-An evil aligned D-Bee whose species hates magic. 
-A selfish aligned* D-Bee whose species hates... well, every other species.

As you can imagine, there are intra-party conflicts. Not only between one another in terms of goals, life-view, etc, but in terms of how they react to the setting and the NPCs.

I have to say that my Rifts group is one of the few groups I've GMed for who manage to do these three things well:

1. Play up their character even when it brings them into direct conflict with other players,
2. Play out that conflict realistically rather than escalating it to immediately into PC vs. PC combat
3. Keeping PC conflict from going OOC.

The players don't ignore or compromise their characters' beliefs, personalities, etc and they manage an attitude of "I don't like you, but we're in this together and we can't survive it without the group."

*The player has refused to pick an alignment, but his character acts in a pretty consistently self-centered fashion, so I've mentally assigned him this alignment.

What about you, dear readers? What are your good experiences with PC-vs-PC conflict? I mean, I could fill an entire blog with the bad experiences I've had as both player and GM, but let's talk about the times when the players made it something that adds to the game and makes it more interesting.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Most Unexpected

So, my wife took me out of the equation and ordered up the PHB for 5th edition. It arrived over the weekend.

I've read the first seven chapters, and so far there is a lot to like.

Some initial impressions:

-There is a palpable design shift from the "Everything is Core" attitude of 4e to an "Everything is Optional" point of view. Multiclassing and feats are presented as optional rather than integral. Also, feats replace ability score improvements, so you can actually have PCs who like feats use them and players who aren't get something else instead. 

-I like what they've done with the paths that classes can take. You can create a great deal of versatility within a single class instead of having to have a million classes.

-The new art style is hit or miss  for me, but I'll give it this: characters have weapons that look like they could actually be physically wielded in combat. Also, armor isn't covered with vestigial buckles, spikes with spikes on the spikes, and twelve daggers strapped to each limb.

-I love the beautiful simplicity of advantage/disadvantage and its various uses.

-The attitude of "many worlds, many campaign settings" that the book espouses. They use a lot of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance examples, but they also mention "your DM's world " a lot.

-Ability scores are capped at 20 for PCs, and the maximum possible score for anything is 30. (gods and monsters included, apparently) 

-I like that task resolution is based primarily on ability scores, with skills as a modifier.

-Backgrounds are neat.

Obviously, it's a brand new release and this could turn into splatbook hell, but I'm pretty optimistic. I'd play this at a convention. I might even run it once in awhile.

One final disclaimer: I'm not to the magic spells yet. That could make or break my opinion.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

On (Not) Embracing Your Fate

I just finished Fate Core. It took me three tries and three months, but I finally sat down and read it in its entirety.

Do not like.

I recall really liking an oooooold draft of Fate I have from like 2004, but this...

I don't know. It's like the Twitter of RPGs. Everything has a goddamn hashtag.

This storm has Really Strong Winds.
This knight Has a Duty to Uphold. 

Like, does all this stuff have to be tagged and explicit?

In all seriousness, it's just a little too narrative for me. They discourage character death unless it's "dramatically appropriate" and talk about setting up "scenes." Just... no, not my thing.

Unless the System Toolkit has some major changes to it, I think I'd just stick to Fudge, maaaaaybe with swiping the base idea of the aspects but using them more along the lines of character race/class in Donjon.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

When You Got It Good

I frickin' love my campaigns, my players, and their characters.

That is all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

RIFTS Session 4, Deadlands Un-Canceled, Percolating Sorcerer, Etc.

Ran RIFTS again tonight.
Yes, I make fun of RIFTS.
I make fun of KS.
I make fun of Palladium and I think their rules are shit.

...and yet, I love running this campaign, and it isn't even in an ironic fashion.

Exploring ghost haunted post-apocalyptic ruins full of mutants and horrible monsters is fun. I creeped Scott the fuck out when he cast See the Invisible. (Pro-tip: Don't cast StI in ghost-infested ruins.)

Yes, I have house rules.

Thing is, though, that if you just keep the mindset that RIFTS= AD&D + Heavy Metal, you'll be alright.

(Also scaling Mega-Damage-to-SDC from 100:1 to 10:1 helps. Lots.)

Tonight's session also had no combat. Yeah, it's the same RIFTS we're talking about.

In other news, my two DL players have decided to attend only one day of LocalCon and asked me to run the Friday DL game as scheduled. Game on.

Finally, Sorcerer.

I like it. Yes, the presentation is murky and oft-times arrogant, but shove all that aside and the game itself is something I'd give a go. Thing is, I want to add vampires and other supernatural stuff to it, which I'm not sure exactly how to do yet and probably misses some point of the game or something.
Really dig the actual sorcery system, though. Dig dig dig it.

Other stuff I want to blog about when it isn't like four in the morning: 5e, the most fucked up vampire game I have ever read, the FUDGE game I've been slooooowly working on for months and months and months.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In Which I Read Sorcerer

Alright, so here's the deal.

I've been reading Sorcerer, the game by Ron Edwards. Specifically, a version that he has annotated.

Anyone who's read this blog knows that indie games aren't my thing: for one, many of them focus on such utterly specific play experiences that I'm just not interested. (Gray Ranks, The Mountain Witch- which aren't Edwards's work, but I digress) For another, I don't necessarily see "telling a story" as the point/objective of roleplaying games, and a lot of indie games are designed specifically to be exercises in collaborative storytelling.

If you're not into telling a story, or telling that particular story, the game seems an airy thing of no substance. You get some gamers together to play The Mountain Witch.  They don't want to go up the mountain. They want to go overthrow the local daimyo.
Well, you can't. This game is about a bunch of ronin who go to kill the Mountain Witch.
I'm not saying that's any better or worse than a Pathfinder Adventure Path, for what that's worth.

So, what attracts me to this game, Sorcerer?
Two things:

1. The PCs are classic sorcerers: they summon, bind, and deal with demons in order to gain power. Lately I've been mentally turned off to the wizard-is-a-guy-who-shoots-fireballs type of thing. Also, as I've stated in prior years on this blog, I like magic systems that are a little bit dangerous to the user of magic .

2. The cover. I bought OpenQuest for it's cover. I bought my first issue of the RIFTER, #54, because of its cover. The cover to the annotated Sorcerer is beautiful.

The rules are actually pretty light, though they trip overthemselves sometimes in the explanation. It involves dice pools, which usually I don't like. I'm still digesting the combat, but I think I have the sorcery system down.

The game wraps itself unnecessarily in the personal philosophy of its author; I don't think doing it Ron's way is as essential to Sorcerer as he presents it to be. You could rock this as a rules lite alternative to something White Wolf-esque, although I find myself compelled by this aspect of it: The author is all about letting the action get driven 100% by the players, without any prep from the GM. Beyond some help making the characters, the GM isn't supposed to prep. Each character gets a "Kicker" (a needlessly slangy term for an immediate, life-screwing problem) and then let the players go. 

Oh, and one more area where the author and I can come together: Don't roll the dice unless it matters. This is something I've started edging toward in various things I run; something I'd like to continue to move towards, actually. I have a post brewing with my thoughts on this, but it will have to wait for now.

I'm not quite finished with the book, and my opinion on it isn't fully formed yet. This is definitely note the sort of thing I play, not because of the subject material, but because of the presentation and how the game operates. I find I have the itch to try it out.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

RIFTS Madhaven, Session 3, Deadlands: The Ties That Bind Session 3

The session went pretty well. The PCs explored some old, mostly ruined buildings. Some of the searching was fruitful, some wasn't. Right now the party is just kind of wandering, but having now encountered a ley line walker who makes his home at the top of a surprisingly intact skyscraper, they may have a patron/enemy.

Sadly, our Juicer has to step away from the game for awhile. We'll be looking for a replacement for the time being.

I'm still running the game as sort of a hybrid dungeon/hex crawl. There are multiple factions within the ruins and they will act organically regardless of the PCs and what they do. Of course, the PCs have the chance to affect whatever they choose to get involved in.

The Deadlands game was fairly unfocused for most of the session. We only had two players and I'm guessing that's what we're pretty much at. I'm making the game a little more political and occult focused than most DL games. The PCs have a base of operations, a list of problems, and a list of resources. Rachel Larimer and her faithful servant Sebastian are set up in the troubled town of Creede, Colorado, where they must protect the Larimer family interests from opponents both mundane and mystical. The players seem to dig the setup, so I'm going to run with it.

Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death is on hiatus for a few weeks due to scheduling conflicts.

Sadly, the end of summer approaches. As I start my fifth year of teaching and my final year of grad school, I'll have to be scaling back my gaming activities. For the next few weeks, I'll have to wring as much gaming goodness out of this setup as humanly possible.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

KantCon, in Retrospect

Another fun KantCon. Next year I think I'm going to just run things, rather than play.

Deadlands was a very good run. The GM was high energy. Combat was slow because we had eight players, but it was still enjoyable.

I didn't buy anything from the vendors, though I walked by the Black Blade booth repeatedly.

I found out about another con fairly near to this one, TsunamiCon, that I might go to in November.

Nuke Con called me a few hours ago and asked me to run some games there. (That isn't until December, though.)

Time well spent. I enjoy KantCon more than my regular local con these days. In fact, I doubt I'll be attending it this year for various reasons.

Now, back to the normal week and to getting ready to run RIFTS and Deadlands this week.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


This is my third KantCon; I've been attending the convention since 2012.

The day before the convention, my wife and I visited the used bookstore here. I scored the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III, which has some nice and unusual monsters to toss at my Skype Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death group when we reconvene. (Likely in September due to conflicting schedules, but we'll see) I also picked up the Creature Feature supplement for Chill (the Pacesetter version, whereas all my other stuff is Mayfair.) 

...the cover of Creature Feature has a werewolf with a chef's hat and a salt-shaker giving us a thumbs-up while he ogles an oblivious, physically fit couple in a hot tub nearby. That shit is even cooler than the dragon with night vision goggles from RIFTS Conversion Book 1.

Yesterday I participated in three games. In the morning, I ran a scenario for Starships & Spacemen (2nd edition) using a scenario of my own design, "Betrayal at Kallanax!" It went really well, and has given me ideas for how to expand the scenario should I wish to run it again.

My second game was Jim Raggi's Hammers of the God, and for the first time I used the LotFP ruleset without any tinkering on my part. I rather like how it runs. To my horror, there were no casualties, due in part to some ridiculously good luck and a very interesting application of a cure light wounds spell. We ran a bit short on time, but the PCs were close enough to obtaining one of the treasures.

The final game I played in, rather than ran. It was AD&D 1st edition and the reissue of Tegel Manor.
First off: holy crap Tegel Manor is nuts. Not a bad idea, but nuts.
Second: I really don't like playing in games as much as I like running them.
Third: Specifically, dungeon crawls bore me to tears as a player. The most enjoyable parts of the session were the few interactions between the characters. 

Today I couldn't drag myself out of bed, so I missed my first game. The second game was a Swords & Wizardry powered Barsoomian adventure with much death and mayhem. The DM borrowed the Might Deeds mechanic from DCC and the press/parry options from LotFP, plus added a somewhat LotFP-esque skill system.Tonight I am scheduled to play Deadlands Reloaded, though I am very tired.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to play in a morning game of FATE, after which I'll be departing for home.

Black Blade is here. I was tempted to pick up a hard copy of The Dungeon Dozen, but I can't get past the price tag.

It is/was a fun con, and I definitely plan to be back next year. I think next year I'm going to do mostly running instead of playing. I'm a born GM and I really do my best gaming and have the most fun when I'm in that role, rather than that of a PC. 

Monday, July 14, 2014


Today I picked up a pristine boxed set of Planescape. I had a 40% off coupon for one item at the bookstore, so I actually got it at retail price instead of "collectible" price.

I love the art, the slang, the attitude of Planescape.
I think AD&D is totally the wrong rules set for it, but the setting is cool.

I like the sect/faction mechanics.

It's also the only setting where I will ever again abide the presence of aasimar and tieflings. Because, you know, context.

A worthy addition to my growing collection of boxed sets. Huzzah!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Deadlands: The Ties That Bind "prequel" session

Deadlands was supposed to start in earnest tonight, but only two players were available. We played anyway. I decided to set this session one year prior to the beginning of the campaign. (So this was an incident that occurred in 1878.)

William Larimer, founder of Denver, rarely had the energy to handle his family holdings in his old age and poor health. When he heard reports that the town of Creede was becoming a violent, bloodthirsty pit of a town, he started to worry about one of his more productive silver mines. He summoned his youngest daughter, Rachel, and charged her with finding out why the marshal in Creede was being so lax. Sent to accompany her was Sebastian, the family's butler and guardian for as far back as she could remember.

I ran a modified version of the "Lover's Quarrel" one sheet on Pinnacle's website. Rachel and Sebastian were able to root out the cause of the problem and destroy it, though the town is going to be needing a new lawman. The family silver mine isn't out of peril yet, but Rachel has proven herself a worthy problem solver to her father, and Sebastian has cemented his position as a trusted guardian.

The next session will flash forward to 1879, with the reading of William Larimer's will. That was supposed to be the first session, but I'm rolling with it.

...and for you history buffs, yes  I know I'm playing fast and loose with William Larimer. This game has flamethrowers and zombies in it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

RIFTS Madhaven Session 2 And Thoughts on Running RIFTS

First of all,

RIFTS is a logistical headache. Combing through Madhaven, I found references to things that required me to have access to RIFTS Africa, RIFTS Dark Conversions, RIFTS Sourcebook One, and whatever book has Glitter Boy Killers in it. Luckily, I happen to have a pretty expansive RIFTS library, as does Steven, but still, it's kind of a pain in the ass.

RIFTS combat is slooooooooooow. A chunk of the evening was spent fighting a combat that took less than 45 seconds of in-game time. I tried to compensate for this by describing things as vividly as possible- the sounds, sights, physical sensations of combat. I tried to bring my descriptive A game and the players seemed pretty entertained. Still power creep in RIFTS is evident. Combat using weapons from the core book against monsters from World Book 29? Yeesh.

RIFTS experience system is... yeah, you guys want to call B/X D&D bean counting? Bitch, you haven't counted beans until you've awarded experience in a Palladium game. The system is based on things PCs did during the session, which I like, but it's highly micromanage-y, is utterly arbitrary, and the chunks of points characters get for things are mostly small. I think I'm probably going to handwave it for the most part. There's no way I'm going to track every "clever but futile idea" each player has during every session of the campaign.

Now, it may seem like I have nothing but gripes, but I actually really enjoyed the session.  I tried to make it vividly descriptive and I tried to keep combat fun despite how much of a time sink it was. I have a lot of ideas for the various ruins, the factions within Madhaven, and the delightful fun I can have with the overall psychic spookiness of the place. Madhaven will be my sandbox with many "dungeons" and locations inside of it.

...and, let's face it: RIFTS has some balls out cool shit, and my players know how to be cool with it. We had a Juicer jump off a moving motorcycle to try and Superman-punch a giant wolf with his forearm mounted vibroblades. We had dudes whipping around in hovercycles loosing plasma bolts and fire spells in a moving battle. Giant wolf jumping at you? Have your amphibious genetically engineered mount tail slap that mofo right out of the air.

We haven't even gotten to the meat of the campaign, the urban core of Madhaven. I have a lot of ideas for what's going on in, around, and under the city and the PCs will be able to explore or ignore at their leisure. 

I'm disappointed that I won't be able to run it next week, but I will enjoy being at KantCon. This campaign will give me something to look forward to afterward, though.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Three Games

*Thursdays- RIFTS Madhaven

I'm doing this sandbox style. I'm treating the city of Madhaven as a megadungeon, with various buildings, tunnels, ruined bases and the like being sub-levels. I've found that Wizardawn has added some lovely tools since last I checked it, including a lot of stuff geared at post-apocalyptic gaming. For one thing, they've given me a wonderful megamap with nine-hundred some potential locations. If you've never looked at Wizardawn, I implore you to check it out.

*Fridays- Deadlands: Ties that Bind

This game is set in Denver. All the characters are relatives of William Larimer, Jr., the guy who founded Denver but got screwed out of being the first Governor of the Colorado Territories. I'm fudging the history on the men and their families and turning it into a game about two supernaturally-aware families struggling for control of the physical and metaphysical aspects of Denver, the gateway to the West. I'm playing fast and loose with the history (because, you know, Deadlands) and really just borrowing some of the real stuff for added flavor.

After several delays, I'm finally starting the game in earnest this Friday. 

*Sundays- Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death

So I'm running this via Skype with two old and dear friends. We're using MotRD Ravenloft, but with a skill system more akin to Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I'm running the actual modules out of the campaign boxed set, with interludes between them. So far the interludes have been based off some of the less moronic modules in The Book of Crypts, which have to be altered to fit 1890's Earth, anyway.

I can only keep this up because it's summer break. The first two games are temporary anyway; come August I will cede Fridays back to Josh and come fall I will cede Thursdays back to Steven and likely cut Sundays down to every other week. But for the time being? I'm rocking it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

In Which I Run RIFTS

Tonight I ran RIFTS for the first time, which may seem surprising given how much RIFTS stuff I own. The first session was a little slow and consisted mostly of getting the party together and getting to know the characters. I whipped up a quick random rumor table, a la old TSR modules. (Some true, some false, some partially true, etc)

Our party:

Sirslamarock (Yes, that's one word) - Malvoran RCC.  A polite and refined humanoid war machine, searching for ancient weapon technology in Madhaven.

Nameless- Yeno Gunsligner. More like a "fingerslinger," owning to his natural energy projection abilities. This character hates all non-Yeno lifeforms and refuses to give his name to lesser beings. He wants to see if the Madhaven has a ley line or technology that can help him get out of this vile dimension.

"Mal' - D-Bee Scout. His true species will be kept secret as the player has requested for now. Mal seems to be a human of extra-dimensional origin. He is trying to find treasure in Madhaven so that he can pay the father of his true love to marry her, since he is beneath her caste. (This is a tradition of his people) It the meantime, he enjoys just learning about this mysterious land, North America.

Xavier- Ley Line Walker. Presently the only native Earth human in the party, Xavier seeks the mythical White Rose, said to grow only in Madhaven, to study it and see if he can concoct a potion of longevity using its mystical properties.

Chud- Juicer. This character will be joining the party next week. His motives are unknown. He'll be the second native Earth human in the group.

As I run the game, I just keep telling myself: "Fun over rules, also, just remember this is really heavily modified AD&D."

I have a lot of ideas for this game, and I'm going to try to make it something of a sandbox within the city of Madhaven. I've found a couple of cool post apocalyptic city maps and I have a few ideas for dungeons within the city, as well as some faction based politicking. Hot damn.

Quick Post: Dwarves and Magic

Dwarves don't like magic spells.

Dwarves like magic items.

For dwarves, craft is everything, legacy is everything. What is a spell? A few words, some gestures, a flash in the pan. Ah, but craft something enchanted, and that will be around for ages. Can you pass a spell down to your sons? No, they are momentary recitations, stolen scraps of lore you don't comprehend enough to hold in your mind beyond a single usage. Does one forget how to swing a hammer, or wear a helm?

Dwarven magic-users do not adventure, for they have no need to purloin the knowledge of their craft from others. They learn it over centuries of dedicated study and tradition as firm as the mountains from which it came.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nobody Bats 1,000*

Having read through Doom Cave of the Crystal Skulled Children, I have two things to say:

1. I'm glad it was free
2. Better Book Title: Push Button to Ruin Character and/or Campaign.

I know a few people in Blogaria who would say that statement #2 applies to all Raggi's work, but my impression of Doom Cave is that the character-fuckery is a lot more arbitrary. Normally I enjoy LotFP stuff, but this one leaves me cold. I enjoyed Better Than Any Man far, far more.

Also, regarding the seemingly recent (to me, anyway) trend of "Fuck up your entire campaign world" traps in Raggi modules, I state this: Players losing characters over foolish decisions or bad luck are part and parcel to the game. Me losing my campaign world over the players' foolish decisions or bad luck? No, thanks., don't get me wrong. If my players orchestrate an epic success or epic fuckup that destroys the world, fair game.... but destroying the world because they messed with a widget in a dungeon and got a shitty roll? Homie don't play that.

*I don't follow baseball, or any sport for that matter, so I'm not even 100% sure what this analogy means.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sleepy Statements Before Sleeping

I like running games at conventions. It's pretty much the only thing I want to do at conventions now.

I got the new free LotFP adventure. I have mixed feelings about it. More on that later.

I am running RIFTs this week. Juuuuuuuuuuuice.

More later when I'm not sleepy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On Overthinking

I've been working on DarknessFudge, a lighter alternative to World of Darkness using Fudge, for months. I've been working on and off, and despite my efforts to keep it simple, it's already bigger than I wanted.

...then last night I stumble across a Fae-based rpg, somewhat reminiscent of Changeling, that a person did on one page using Fudge.

...and now I feel like kind of a tool.

I mean, it's pretty simple, sure, but it works.

Maybe I need to rethink how I'm working this.

Of course, I have little time to do so, with BritishFest coming up and my having agreed to take over two campaigns while the GMs are out of the action.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Delicious looking, but not what I'm looking for...

I wish Fudge wasn't called Fudge.

My search engine gets so confused.

Also, from the look of page updates and the like, I'm pretty sure nobody has played, run, or done anything with Fudge in at least a decade, unless you count the creation of FATE.

I have FATE on PDF, but it just doesn't do anything for me. Maybe I need to give it another shot.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ravenloft Gothic Earth: Session 4

Yesterday I ran an altered version of The Dark Minstrel from The Book of Crypts. I changed a bunch of shit.

...firstly, because The Dark Minstrel is a stupid name.

I ended up making the villain kind of silly and eccentric, which I think made him creepier when Dr. Corrigan discovered that his host had a slight addiction to murder.

The pair were able to figure out that the harpsichord held the key to their escape. I removed the painting that pretty much shows it to you. Because, you know, if I were an immortal dude with only one weakness, I would definitely hang a painting depicting me dying from said weakness in full view of my unwilling guests. (God these modules are fucking terrible.)

The session was a bit more silly than scary, but it was still entertaining. Next week we'll continue the adventures of Dr. Corrigan and Madame Zoltara.

This week I start my RIFTS game. I'm also running a bunch of shit at a con this weekend. I've lost my frickin' mind.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Red Jack'd

On Sunday, we concluded Red Jack. I changed a bunch of things from the module as written. I think our two characters are the perfect duo for Victorian shenanigans. Now I'm going to adapt one or to modules from the Book of Crypts to serve as an interlude until the next adventure from the boxed set. Loads of fun.

This week I am supposed to assume the GM mantle for Josh until he returns. I'll be cobbling together a short Deadlands campaign to tide the group over until August.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Palladium Triple Play

Yesterday I took a run to the used bookstore with the missus. I found the Compendium of Weapons, Armor, and Castles, Compendium of Contemporary* Weapons, and Aliens Unlimited. I snagged them up for seven bucks apiece. My bookshelf now groans with the weight of my Palladium collection.

 There was also a Planescape boxed set for fifty bucks, which was tempting, but... who knows. I still have a coupon tucked away.

*Contemporary as of about twenty years ago, but whatevs.

Today I run what is likely the final installment of Red Jack. After that, I will be adapting the scenarios from The Book of Crypts to be 1.) Set on Gothic Earth, and 2.) Not be brain-bleedingly stupid in their execution. I'll run our duo through a few of them before continuing the campaign from the Red Death boxed set.

Friday, June 13, 2014

From Zero to Sixty

I've been running my online Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death game.
Starting next week, I'm taking over Josh's Deadlands group while he is away for the summer. (Though I intend to start a different campaign, just sticking with Deadlands.)
Now, Steven needs to step back from GMing for a couple of weeks, so I am running a mini-RIFTS campaign on Thursdays.


Now, I know this situation isn't sustainable in the long term, but it's summer. I only have two weeks of class left, and the Thursday and Friday situations are just temporary.

I do still have to prepare for the rapidly approaching BritishFest.

Too much gaming? It's a good problem to have.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Go Ravens!

I just found out about the new Savage Worlds setting, East Texas University.

...and I'm kind of excited about it. 

That's all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Alright, Enough of this Crap

The key to making The Book of Crypts into something other than aged toilet paper:

1. Take the very basic idea of each module
2. Imagine what Jim Raggi or Zzarchov Kowalski would do with that same idea.
3. Bam.

Further Module Sins: You Keep Doing It Wrong

"If the characters do not decide to stay the night, they find the storm has suddenly worsened and the town has no other inns."

...and thus, the second module in The Book of Crypts renders itself just as hidebound as the first.

Other sins of the module include:

-PCs on a werewolf hunt coming across a village called Moondale. Seriously, Moondale? Why not just call it Wolfington? 

-The assumption that the PCs will not suspect the failure of an NPC ally to show up to investigate the first murder with them, and also assuming that the locked door to his room will provide any serious deterrent to a party of adventurers.  

-"In the morning, the characters find Eldon asleep and the woman dead. If questioned, Eldon says that she screamed out once in the night, but by the time he reached her, she was already dead."
And then the guy just went back to sleep? Are you fucking kidding me? The PCs have no chance to hear the scream? What if the PCs insist on guarding this girl? And again, the guard found the chick he was supposed to guard dead and just went back to fucking sleep and the module just assumes the PCs will basically shrug their shoulders at this. 

-More NPCs who die automatically regardless of what you do to save them.

...and actually, I quit reading it at this point. On to the third module, but it doesn't look good for this book. At least it was only three bucks.

Seriously, though, you ARE doing it wrong.

Yesterday, I was perusing the used section of the FLGS near my house when I chanced upon a battered copy of The Book of Crypts for three bucks. This is an old Ravenloft supplement of short adventures, nine in all. I grabbed it, thinking I would adapt them to my Gothic Earth Ravenloft campaign to use as interludes between the modules in Masque of the Red Death.

...I read the first one this morning and it was fucking terrible.
Fucking terrible. 

If you are writing an adventure and you include a phrase such as "No matter what precautions the PCs take, she is still abducted..." Stop writing. Stop writing and don't start again until you come up with a better idea that rewards, rather than disregards, cautious and clever preparation on the part of your PCs. Seriously.

Also, if your bad guy holds someone hostage, and then moments later admits he has no intention of killing his hostage, prepare to have the rest of his monologue interrupted as the PCs jack him.

Hopefully the other eight won't be as terrible, but I'm starting to think that all 90's era TSR modules are just inherently terrible, Ravenloft or otherwise.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Red Jack: Part II

Today I ran the next leg of Red Jack with Meghan and James. Their characters are quite entertaining and are well suited to the adventure at hand. We had one of the most entertaining fights I've had in a game in quite awhile. Nothing like several Victorian white people sort of flailing around an alley at each other. I will say this: the PCs fought smartly when faced with an opponent who would have presented difficulties had they simply traded blows. The low hp total of the two characters causes them to get very creative when it comes to fighting, and very often they avoid fights that other groups I've played with would've approached with far less tactical ingenuity.

We weren't quite able to finish, so I'll be concluding the adventure with them next Sunday. I might see if people want to hop on for the next module in the campaign.

I had to rewrite, re-imagine, and add a number of scenes to the game on the fly, because as I mentioned before, Red Jack is a cool idea but a poorly written adventure. I removed one encounter entirely because I prefer the PCs figuring out things themselves to NPCs who basically do this if the PCs stray from what they're "supposed" to do. I also got rid of the "NPC you are talking to gets insta-murdered by bad guy and there is nothing you can do about it" bit, because that shit annoys me, too.

I played the score to From Hell in the background softly, and some parts it really seemed to fit. (My players couldn't hear it very well, but it was doing it for me.) Yeah, I know 1890's Boston isn't strictly Victorian, but suck it.

I look forward to next Sunday's romp through misty alleyways with top hats.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


So I'm signed up for KantCon.

Friday I'll be running Betrayal at Kallanax!, a scenario that I'm going to do with Starships  & Spacemen 2nd edition, followed by a run of Jim Raggi's Hammers of the God using the LotFP rules.

The rest of the weekend I'll be playing a variety of games, including AD&D 1st edition (Tegel Manor, bitches) FATE, and Deadlands Reloaded. Hot Damn.

Tomorrow I will be continuing Red Jack with James and Meghan via Skype.

If you're going to be in the KC area in late July, you should consider KantCon. This will be my third year attending. It's a pretty amazing con that is pure, 100% gaming. (Which is really all I do at cons anyway besides room parties)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Simon Vincent Rides Again

With a surprisingly light workload this summer, I find that I am able to rejoin Steven's Thursday night Beyond the Supernatural campaign. I'm once again playing Simon Vincent, socially inept psychic medium/crime scene investigator.

Tonight's session was mostly combat, though Steven does a pretty good job of making the otherwise extremely tedious Palladium combat system come to life. Our party vanquished a demon from come crazy non-BTS sourcebook and a monster of Steven's own design that is essentially Psychic Leatherface.

It will be fun playing in this game again. It's very heavy on roleplay and Steven comes up with some damn interesting situations.

I also realized that, with stars and stops and hiatuses, that I've been playing Simon on and off for two years. Weird. I seldom stick with characters in tabletop gaming.

Monday, June 2, 2014

BRP Horror?

Quick question, blogging compatriots:

Is there any horror game or horror setting out there that uses Basic Roleplaying system that isn't Call of Cthulhu or any of its spin-offs? While I enjoy Lovecraft's stories, I'm just really not into the Cthulhu mythos as a gaming thing. I think it's overdone and I think geek culture has turned Cthulhu into a punchline.

A quick search of the internet is showing nada. I'd also be interested in conversions of other horror games to BRP. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Masque of the Red Death, Session 1 (Red Jack Pt. 1)

Today I started up my Sunday Skype group again. The session consisted of chargen and the first part of Red Jack, the first module in the Masque of the Red Death boxed set.

I love, love, love the characters that my friends made up. (See below if you care)

I hate, hate, hate the way Red Jack is written.

I actually changed a lot of shit, because while the idea is pretty cool, the module is written very poorly. After I finish it, I'll blog a list of things I changed. Let's just say that this module is excruciatingly low on player agency and player decisions really mattering at all in the end.

I am also running the game using a skill system more in line with Lamentations of the Flame Princess than the AD&D 2nd edition non-weapon proficiency system.

I do think that this campaign would work extraordinarily well as a Savage Worlds game, either straight up or as a thing for Deadlands and/or Rippers.

James is rocking Dr. Stuart Corrigan, 3rd level Tradesman (Physician) - The product of a privileged Beacon Hill family, Dr. Corrigan wishes to discover cures to incurable diseases. He was intrigued by rumors that the male bodies found in the South End murders have no apparent cause of death. (Whereas the female bodies found with them have a very apparent cause of death: being stabbed like a hundred times)

Meghan is rocking Madame Zoltara, Oracle of the Orient, 3rd level Adept (Charlatan) An orphan-turned-pickpocket-turned fake gypsy, Elizabeth Bishop has stumbled on to the secret of real magic. She's investigating the murders because of the rumors among the carnival folk that an evil spiritual presence is involved.

I'm also going to just throw this out there: Charm Person is an amazing goddamn spell.

Having survived one encounter with a crazed murderer, gathered a few clues, and ensorceled the police detective in charge of the case, our intrepid investigators will begin next session trying to get information at Muldoon's, a  wretched hive of scum and villainy located deep within South End.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Gaming at BritishFest

I've signed up to run games at BritishFest, a new local con dedicated to all nerdy things from the UK. Being what it is, I have themed my offerings appropriately:

Friday evening I am running Beyond the Crystal Caves (AD&D 1st edition), TSR's first UK produced module that contains an number of Shakespearean literary influences.

Saturday afternoon I'm running A Rough Night at the Three Feathers, an old scenario originally published for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition. I'm running the 2nd edition adaptation that was printed in the anthology, Plundered Vaults. Can't get more British gaming than Warhammer, right?

Sunday morning I am running Space: 1889. While not a British game, it does take place in a pseudo-Victorian setting, so I think it will fit nicely. I'm adapting an old scenario I found on the internet, though I need to change it considerable as it was meant to be the introduction to a long running campaign.

I'm hoping I get to play in a session of The One Ring that is supposed to be running as well. I have about a month to prepare yet, but I intend to be ready to roll.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

An Observation about Masque of the Red Death

...the Ravenloft thing, not the Poe thing.

I just noticed last night that Shane Hensley wrote much of the boxed set for MotRD. If you didn't know, Hensley created the Deadlands setting. I can totally see the parallels between the Gothic Earth setting and the Red Death and Deadlands with its Reckoners/Manitou.

There's a even a picture in A Guide to Gothic Earth that features a posse of undead cowboys that looks like it could've been pulled straight out of the original edition of Deadlands.

This means that my Ravenloft boxed set can also double as a sourcebook for Deadlands detailing the rest of the world. Sweet jesus.

This also brings to mind the time I set out to convert the entire Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Index to original Deadlands... I'm all about that Red Widow. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Phase Without Number: The Mega-Damage Elephant in the Room

So, I want to run a game for my Skype Group set in Palladium's Phase World/Three Galaxies setting, but I don't want to use the Palladium system; I want to use Stars Without Number.

I've been thinking about how to do Mega-Damage in a D&D like system, and I have come to the following conclusion: Screw it.

This is how it works: Tech Levels.

Weapon and armor of the same Tech Level work normally against each other.

Weapons vs. armor of a higher TL-  For every TL higher the armor is, the weapon inflicts half damage if it hits. A TL 2 weapon is going to do 1/4 damage vs. TL 4 armor.

Weapons vs. armor of a lower TL- For every TL below the weapon, the armor is treated as being one category lighter, or 2 AC worse if you're going by the book. So, TL 4 armor that grants AC 4 grants only AC 6 vs. TL 5 weapons. The worst an armor can provide is AC 9, the equivalent of unarmored, meaning that the weapon essentially blows straight through the armor.

Will it work? No idea, but I'm going to try it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Further Thoughts on Ravenloft and Space Opera

I've always loved Ravenloft. I started reading the (admittedly terrible) novels in junior high and even into high school, when I had otherwise washed my hands of fantasy fiction. (I turned kind of snobby for awhile. It was a thing. ) I only played Ravenloft as an RPG a handful of times, mainly because I became convinced that AD&D was absolutely the wrong system for the setting. I always thought that perhaps FUDGE was a better fit, and I did in fact run a Ravenlofty FUDGE game once in college, just a one-shot deal.

However, LotFP has actually given me the idea that Ravenloft is fine, just fine, with AD&D or a D&D clone as the engine behind it. The flavor of Ravenloft doesn't exactly gel with the default flavor of LotFP, but I think it's close enough for me.

There are a few conceits from yesteryear that I have abandoned.

1. The PCs should be able to beat the monster in a straight fight.
2. PC death is something to avoid. 
3. All the "interesting" monsters are too powerful for starting characters
4. PCs don't want to play spellcasters in a setting with unpredictable magic.

 Today after I finish work, I plan to take a look at the Guide to Gothic Earth and see how well the classes in it map to LotFP, as well as how easily I can make the proficiency system into an X-in-6 setup.

Now, on to Space Opera...

This is what I'm thinking: RIFTS Phase World/Three Galaxies, but using Stars Without Number as the rules. I'm taking the basic ideas and concepts, not trying to convert e'erthang.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Terror in the 1890's, The Fruits of Collection, and Other Things

I was at the used bookstore recently when I came across the Ravenloft boxed set Masque of the Red Death. I always kind of wanted it, and although it is somewhat water damaged, it's serviceable and a damn sight cheaper than what people are asking for it secondhand online.

Then it struck me: convert the proficiency system to something more LotFP-esque and run this motherfucker for my online group.

They have recently been asking for space operate, but I will first ask them how they would like a classical gothic 1890's romp... followed by space opera.

Also, in a few days I will be in physical possession of every RIFTS World Book except for #32, which is at the printers. I feel a mixture of accomplishment and a powerful need for a bleach bath.

The last day with students is this Friday, after which I plan to kick it into gear and get something ready to go for BritishFest and KantCon. I like GMing. I like it boatloads, exponential boatloads more than I like playing a PC, and it's time to get this on.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sorry, I'm a few domars short...

As much as I'd love to own the new restoration of Metamorphosis Alpha...'s eighty fucking dollars. What, a buck for every year it's been around?

I'm not hating on Jim Ward, or Metamorphosis Alpha, or Goodman Games. I'm just saying... if I'm going to pay eighty bucks for a rulebook, it had better be a.) gold plated, or b.) come with a slave.

The PDF is available for six bucks, but damn I'd have liked a dead tree version... or one that costs less than a new car battery, at least.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What the Fuck Are You Supposed To Do in Traveller?

 In my gaming pre-history, I read about Traveller in a book about RPGs that J. Eric Holmes wrote. He had an example of play from Traveller that involved flying cars and floating turnips. It seemed pretty cool. (Minus the turnips. I was a serious child back then.)

In 7th grade, I bought the boxed set to MegaTraveller. I ran it a couple of times, but I really had no idea what I was doing. I recall an adventure that consisted entirely of a layover at a casino space station that ended in a gun battle with snake men...and really very little in the way of consequence.

I also recall an adventure where I placed a crashed starship for the players to find, and I recall a massive indifference to said starship.

Shortly thereafter, we migrated to Gamma World (then in its 4th edition) because elephant men and tiger men with plasma guns is fucking cool to 7th-8th graders.

...not going to lie. Still cool at 32.

I didn't touch Traveller again until I gave the Mongoose version a shot in 2011.  (I blogged about it on this very blog, in fact.) At the time, I was totally inspired by the Mass Effect game series (the third installment hadn't yet taken the wind right the fuck out of my sails) and I wanted some starfaring adventure.

....what I got was pretty much my players constantly doing cargo runs to barely pay the mortgage on their ship, but the cargo runs ended up leaving them no time to address the various events I had sprinkled around the sector to provide adventure, including a fanatical cult bent on ripping open a lost jump gate to usher in some truly horrible cosmic event. (This would've actually slotted seamlessly into Stars Without Number's implied setting. Alas.)

When I occasionally read about people playing or remembering Traveller, it almost always includes some kind of economic enterprise that the PCs are involved in.

So, Traveller veterans, answer me this: Is Traveller seriously just a game set in a Niven-esque universe were a bunch of middle aged retired dudes truck around reselling shit like some kind of galactic Ameriprise outfit? Is it, in essence, a game about interstellar mid-life crisis? Is my perspective on Traveller just whacked out?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Just Saying.


In all seriousness..... no, actually, I am being serious.

I could be less acerbic and say that I am presently satisfied with vintage iterations of D&D which I already own on my shelves at home, but what's the fun in that? This is the internet.
And the bands I listen to are cooler than the ones you listen to, so suck on that. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014


The number of games on my shelf is TOO DAMN HIGH. 

...and yet, today I snagged a copy of Cyberpunk 2020 for five bucks.

I had the chance to get both corebooks for Wayfarers for ten bucks total, but I passed. I may collect games, but I am beyond saturated with fantasy games.

Josh is going back to KS this summer, but until then he is running Deadlands on Friday nights. I'm playing a former US Army ornithopter pilot with a prosthetic arm and a prosthetic leg. (Any one you can walk away from, they said...) Josh plans on running a follow-up game of Deadlands Noir upon his return this fall. I have offered to run for the group in his absence, though I don't know what I'll run yet. (Probably something Savage Worlds, to keep them in the groove) I consider Josh to be the Deadlands Master, so I'm very much looking forward to this.

I have all but dropped out of Steven's Thursday night game, which makes me sad because he is a killer GM and possibly the foremost Palladium expert I have ever met. (For one thing, he can take that mess of rules and make it run.) I have numerous school functions that invariable fall on Thursdays, plus lately it seems that night I am always tired and stressed.Perhaps the approaching summer break will allow me to rejoin.

My Sunday online group goes neglected, though perhaps no longer since I have no graduate school stuff owning my soul. That group was never regular, so at least there's that. They still need to experience the coalesced joy that is A Thousand Dead Babies.

With only a month and a half before KantCon, I need to get my ass in gear for something to run. My X-plorers idea churns in my head, and I'm thinking about busting out some Dungeon Crawl Classics or something as well.

Game on!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Betrayal at Kallanax, the shadow of an idea...

This summer, I am attending KantCon once again. I've decided that I'm going to run some of the delightful Dungeon Crawl Classics one-shots I've been accumulating. (Most likely Intrigue at the Courts of Chaos, The One Who Watches From Below, and Frozen in Time.)

I've also go this name rattling around in my head, "Betrayal at Kallanax." I have no idea what it is. It have no idea what system its for, though I get the vague notion it should be an X-Plorers scenario.
It's entirely possible the name came from a half-remembered PC game, Betrayal at Krondor, that my friend James had when we were wee lads. Oh, well. Still using it. 

The last time I had a name with no module, it turned into The Temple of Zirugar, which in turn became a trinity of modules run with B/X D&D, Mutant Future, and Stars Without Number at OSFest three years in a row. It also created the character of Zirugar, a sort of Dr. Who type character who serves Law, doesn't regenerate, has no compunctions about killing and puts his companions' brains into robots so they can serve him for eternity. (Wow, okay, so not really like Dr. Who at all...)

So now I have images of bubble-helmeted space explorers, a giant spire-city on a lunaresque landscape, and the notion that somebody- maybe even the PCs- is about to screw somebody over.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Darkness FUDGE- Powers and Sorcery (Initial Thoughts/Ideas)

Alright, powers needs a different name. They are basically inherent supernatural abilities, like werewolves being crazy strong or vampires not aging. These are things that just are.

Sorcery is magic. You channel forces, you have to spend power, and reality is twisted to your whims. Sorcery has to be deliberately learned with a few exceptions.

Two conceits:
-Witches/Sorcerers cannot have Powers. (Disciplines? Help me find a word.) They are physically human, so they don't just regenerate or see in the dark or whatever.

-Werewolves cannot learn Sorcery. Sorcery causes werewolves extreme nausea and physical discomfort.  (This does raise the interesting question of what happens if a witch/sorcerer gets bitten by a werewolf...but we'll tackle that later.)

I'm currently drawing up three models for powers/sorcery:

1. Each power or path of sorcery has three levels of ability: Basic, Greater, and Elder. (And yeah, I kinda cribbed this idea from both Chill and After Sundown.) You have to take each level before you take the next level, each level costing one Power slot. (Taking Greater Regeneration costs two power slots.) Sorcery will probably be called Initiate, Adept, and Master.

2. Sorcery is a Hard skill, or rather each Path is. The effects from White Wolf powers are mapped to the FUDGE Fair, Good, Very Good, Great ,Superb. So, if you wanted to do Path of Cursing level 4, you'd have to get at least a Great result on your Path of Cursing skill roll. Powers would be more "fixed" in effect.

3. Powers and Sorcery gribbed from After Sundown: Basic powers are 1 Power, Advanced are 2, Elder are 3.

Below is a tentative list of powers. The Sorcery Paths are being cribbed from old White Wolf books. (Blood Magic: Secrets of Thaumaturgy, Sorcerer/Sorcerer revised, Ascension's Right Hand)

Power List-
-Natural Weapons: Claws, teeth, or other body parts you can use to inflict trauma. 
-Scale: Your attribute is put on another Scale, per FUDGE rules. This will usually apply to Physique (super strength/toughness) or Speed, but could possibly be argued for other attributes. -Natural Armor: Scales, armored skin, chitin, or whatever. Reduces damage, looks scary.
-Flight: Either winged or mystical.
-Fleshcraft: Warping skin, muscle, and bone to transform others. Might make this a sorcery actually.
-Night Vision: You can see in the dark.
-Telepathy: Send/receive thoughts.
-Telekinesis: Move objects and exert force with your mind.
-Regeneration: Heal faster, possibly reattach limbs and regrow organs.
-Hypnotize: Put someone in a trance, perhaps leave a suggestion they must follow.
-Charm: Make another desire your affections and friendship.
-Enrage: Trigger blind, berserk rage in another. (Might expand this into emotional manipulation)
-Illusion: Create images that aren't real, but can fool others.
-Veil: Invisibility/concealment
-Acute Senses: Supernaturally powerful sense. (Each is a separate power)
-Psychometry: Gain psychic impressions from objects/places.
-Shapeshifting: Change into a beast or animal.
-Doppleganger: Assume the appearance of another.
-The Sight: Sense magic and magical beings.
-Luck: Bring great fortune to another.
-Hex: Put a curse of ill luck on another.

I feel the need to categorize them. Curse you, White Wolf!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Intrigue at the Courts of Chaos plus Against the Darkness

Yesterday, I rocked Intrigue with my online group. (Well, three our of five of them.)

The adventure was designed for six 1st level characters, but we had three 2nd-3rd level characters, so it was all good. I also converted it from DCC to Lamentations, which was actually so easy to do it's hardly worth mentioning.

The God That Crawls crew returned for this adventure: Sister Hester St. John, (grim-faced witchfinder) Daniel Bakersford,  (surprisingly well-educated common soldier) and Spencer Willingham. (Scholarly magic-user) They all survived relatively unscathed, though they have earned the ire of some of the powers in the universe. I'm also not sure if Sister Hester and Spencer can adventure in the same party without the use of charm person, but we'll see. (They had a distinct disagreement on what course of action the party should take)

My next plan is to run A Thousand Dead Babies, which may take more than one Sunday to resolve.

I also have other plans for this group that includes some non-D&D stuff.

Also, weird coincidence: parts of this module are made decidedly easier if the party found the right combination of potions from The God That Crawls. I feel I can say that without spoiling much.

So, the day before I rocked Intrigue with the online group, I went to a local gaming convention. I played Against the Darkness. It's a legit little game, only 60-some pages and pretty easy to roll right out of the box. The short version: Vatican-sponsored badasses with holy powers fight demons and evil dudes and such. The system appeared to be kind of Savage World-esque at first, but it's actually more like the Unisystem but with variable dice and no wonky 10s's/1s's business.
...meh. It's an okay game, but you could do the same thing with Savage Worlds, or FUDGE without too much trouble. The scenario was fun enough and I enjoyed the GM.

Still hammering away at Darkness Fudge.