Friday, January 31, 2014

Raggi One-Two Punch!

So, my 2nd run of Tower of the Stargazer has to wait until the Wednesday after next, but I plan to surge ahead with my Online Crew this Saturday morning for The God That Crawls.

Sister Hester, sole survivor of my original Tower run, will be returning with some new, and hopefully luckier, companions. I look forward to Evanne's reprisal of the grim-faced, dour witchfinder.

In other news, I'm probably buying the Rifter #65 for the cover. Yes, the cover. I feel a little dirty on the inside.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Clock Tower

Let's talk about Clock Tower.

The original Clock Tower was for the SNES, and I don't think it ever came out in the US. The ROM has been translated and is floating out there on the internet. The sequels came to the US, but they aren't nearly as good.

Clock Tower is the only video game that has ever given me nightmares. I haven't played it in years, and I still have nightmares about it from time to time.

Okay, so why am I talking about a video game on my RPG blog?

Because the other day it occurred to me that Clock Tower, with a few minor tweaks, would be a dandy scenario for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. It would be a low level adventure, or, oddly enough, an adventure for 0-level normal people. (The four girls in the original CT, only one of whom you actually control, are just ordinary teenagers.) It's got everything you need in an LotFP scenario:

-Horrible killer traps you should've seen coming.
-Jacked up weirdness.
-Disturbing secrets.
-Chances to be murdered in truly awful ways.
-Unexplainable weirdness.

I won't post specific incidents, because 1.) People I play with sometimes read this blog, 2.) You should play the ROM, and 3.) Seriously, go play the ROM.

And now I go back to my glacially slow attempt to adapt Chill to BRP. Toodles.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mechanical Thoughts on My Previous Post

Warning: Totally Half-baked 

Stage 1- Exposure

White Wolf rules: PCs may possess up to 2 dots in any Numena. (Except for True Faith, which can be at any level)

Chill Rules: PCs can possess any Disciplines of the Art at Student level.

BRP- PCs can possess any ability I have designated as Tier 1.

Stage 2- Infection
White Wolf- PC can become a Ghoul or add the Feral, Revenant, or Witch template. (Note to self- will have to design templates) They can now possess abilities up to the third dot, and can take Disciplines, Gifts, and Arcanoi.

Chill Rules- PCs can have Disciplines of the Art at Teacher level, or Evil Way Disciplines that require an EWS score of 30 or less.

BRP- Add template, Tier 2 abilities available.

Stage 3- Transformation
White Wolf- PC can become a full fledged vampire or shapeshifter. Disciplines and Numena up to 5 are now allowed.

Chill Rules: PCs can play as a monster and can access Evil Way Disciplines that require an EWS of 50 or less. Art Disciplines can now be taken at Master Level.

Stage 4- Apotheosis.
White Wolf- Numena can now be taken above level 5. PCs now take on the Clan Weaknesses of 3 different Clans, all Disc count as Clan Disc .

Chill: PC can set their EWS score to 100 for purposes of learning Disciplines.

BRP: Tier 4 powers available, template alteration. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Brain Vomit

So, my wife's WoD game is on indefinite hold.
In the meantime, I am swirling in indecision about what to run next. I've considered Witchcraft 2nd edition, Chill (the Mayfair version), and World of Darkness using my own vastly different setting and a bizarre mishmash of "old" and "new" rules. I've also considered running Chill using BRP as the rule system.

Here's some brain vomit/rough ideas. My wife didn't like it; she said it was missing something. Maybe looking at it in writing will help me develop it a little more.

One organization's rather scientific view of things:

The "supernatural" is a form of energy that seeps into our reality from another dimension. This energy can cause drastic physical and emotional changes in humans and some species of animals. Individual tolerance to these energies seems to vary, though no pattern has yet been determined as to why some individuals are highly resistant and some are highly susceptible.

Stage 1- Exposure. These individuals have been exposed to the supernatural, usually in an indirect fashion. They have been bitten or suffered a minor wound at the hands of a Stage 2 or higher, or they have been subjected to a mind-influencing phenomenon (hypnotic gaze, possession, etc.) or have been physically altered by a phenomenon. (The subject of a "spell", etc.) Some individuals seem to retain a trace amount of this energy and develop minor abilities, along with perhaps one or two strange mental or physical alterations. (Sensitivity to sunlight, minor allergy to silver, inability to digest cooked meat, etc.) These individuals are tagged and cataloged, but allowed to live a relatively normal existence. We presently believe that these individuals can be cured of their condition. Research is underway.

Stage 2- Infection. Repeated exposure beyond Stage 1 can sometimes progress the condition to Stage 2. There also some Stage 3 type subjects (Classification vampire, for instance) who can infect normal humans with no prior exposure to this level.
Stage 2 is believed to be the last stage of the condition that is reversible. Symptoms are similar to Stage 1, but tend to be more severe; additionally, Stage 2 subjects seem to be less diverse in their abilities, coalescing into one of several subcategories. (See files on Ghoul, Feral, Wight, etc.)

Stage 3- Transformation. Individuals at this level of infestation are no longer classified as human, but rather have experienced permanent and dramatic physiological changes. Classifications such as Vampire, Werewolf, Shifter, Revenant, etc. Many of them operate on a physiological level that defies current scientific understanding, such as a complete lack of aging, advanced regenerative capabilities, ability to function without activity in one or more vital organs, etc. Stage 2 subjects who have multiple exposures will typically become Stage 3, though the level and number of exposures vary drastically.
At this point, we do not believe Stage 3 subjects can be cured. There are measures to help them with the more troublesome aspects of their condition, but ultimately it is recommended that even "muzzled" or conscripted Stage 3 subjects be euthanized once we find and nullify the source of the energy leaking into our universe.

Stage 4- Apotheosis. At this stage, individuals begin to develop truly frightening abilities. They also seem to be able to exert some control over lower stage subjects. We do have a few conscripts who are at this level, but they are heavily muzzled and only deployed in emergencies. Any Stage 4 subjects who prove difficult to muzzle are terminated. Stage 4 seems to be a natural outcome of Stage 3, though what accelerates an individual to this level is still the subject of intense debate. Some Stage 3 subjects progress quickly, others seem able to stave off the progression. We believe, however, that all Stage 3 subjects will eventually become Stage 4.
Stage 4 subjects seem to have a propensity toward dangerous personality disorders: extreme sadism, violent phobias, dissociative disorders, and psychopathy are alarmingly common.

Stage 5- Aberration. Very little has been confirmed about Stage 5. Individuals who reach this level are rare and highly destructive. They seem to bend the physical laws of the universe with their very existence. Contact between field teams has always resulted in the destruction of the Stage 5 or the total loss of the field team. Stage 5 subjects seem to lose all of the strict characteristics of the sub-catagories; a vampire or werewolf who reaches Stage 5 is effectively no longer a vampire or a werewolf, retaining some of the abilities, but typically becoming something else entirely.
The abilities manifested by Stage 5 subjects are formidable: psychokinetic activity on a massive scale, changing regional weather patterns, mental influence over groups, near-instantaneous regeneration, and abilities which we have difficulty defining. They also suffer from extreme psychosis and have proven nearly impossible to communicate with. In terms of cognitive abilities, they vary widely. Some seem to be little more than ravening beasts, others have shown staggering intellect and cunning.
We do not attempt to muzzle  or conscript Stage 5 subjects, however, the Director is very interested in capturing one alive. While we have obtained the remains of Stage 5 subjects, we find that they rapidly deteriorate, some just melting or vanishing entirely shortly after termination.
It has been observed that some Stage 5 subjects seem to suffer chronic degenerative conditions that kill them off without any intervention necessary. The downside is that these terminal Stage 5 subjects often become uncontrollably homicidal as they approach expiration. 
It is presently unknown how Stage 5 is reached. Some Stage 4 subjects progress quickly, while many seem to arrest the infestation at Stage 4. There are some cases where a Stage 3 subject seems to have progressed immediately to Stage 5, but documentation is incomplete and we cannot confirm this.

Player characters belonging to this Organization can be normal humans or Stage 1-3 supernaturals.

Only some of the above information is correct.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tower of the Stargazer!

This last week, I ran Jim Raggi's "Tower of the Stargazer." I actually used LotFP rules-as-written, with the exception of allowing clerics to Turn Undead as an ability rather than as a spell.

Our four heroes:

-Alistair Von Der Meer, Esquire (fighter) - A noble whose military commission was purchased by his father. Idealistic and bold.

-Sister Hester St. John (cleric) - A grim-faced witchfinder, actually once tried for witchcraft until she faked a religious experience and managed to blame several innocent women.

-Saskia (magic-user)- A village wise girl, both admired for her herbcraft and feared for her supposed witchery.

-Nightwick (elf)- A capricious and callous Fae creature of debatable gender and dubious morality.

-Wimbleton (normal man, NPC) - The ever-loyal and slightly homoerotic manservant of Alistair. 

...and a fifth hero because Alstair died early on:

-Brigid, scrappy orphan (specialist)-A fearless girl with a knack for machinery and an odd curiosity about books, despite being illiterate.

The adventure itself is a dungeon crawl, although it has some decent challenges that even experienced players might stumble over. There's plenty of opportunity to be killed and maimed, but the module has a much softer hand than things like Death Frost Doom or The Grinding Gear.

The party explored, touching and examining nearly everything... until a disastrous encounter or two, after which they became more cautious and thorough in their explorations.

The short version: Everybody died except for Sister Hester, who didn't collect so much as a coin from the accursed place. Sister Hester will be an NPC in my version of the LotFP world. (Or maybe just a recurring pregen character)

The long version: (here there be minor spoilers)

*Alistair got surprised and failed a save vs. poison in combat.
*Everybody else failed because Sister Hester threw some switches in the wrong order and she was the only one who made her saving throw. Everybody else died from the resulting damage.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Three OSR Things I Won

I want to talk briefly about three things I won in Tenkar's recent 12 Days of Xmas giveaway. Thanks to Tenkar and to the donor of the prizes, whose name I won't post all up in the internet.

So! Three things:

-Paperback copy of Swords & Wizardry Whitebox. I already had this on PDF, and I have a hard copy of Complete, but it's always nice to have an extra copy of the rules, and I find the compact size endearing.

-Whitehack: I love that this is a complete game in 32 pages. I love the "vocation" mechanic, which lets you have mechanical differences between a fighter who is, say, an archer vs. a fighter who is a cavalier. I might steal this mechanic; it seems to be the perfect balance between wanting to differentiate characters of the same class while not ending up with a RIFTS or 3.5 (at the end of its run) colossal number of classes, many which trip over each other.

The only thing I don't like about Whitehack is that spells cost hp.  You could easily do away with this by giving Wise (i.e. spellcasting) characters spell points like hit points. Perhaps  one could steal the mechanic from the original Das Schwarze Auge, where magicians can raise either their hp or their spell points when they level or could buy spell points for treasure buy training at a guild between adventures.
I really love the class/vocation system. It might be a little rules-light for my taste, but I'd at least give this a shot.

-Heroes & Other Worlds: This is basically a retroclone of Melee and Wizard, neither of which I ever played. However, being from the pen of a young Steve Jackson (the original games), I can see a prehistoric version of GURPS. Now, I hate GURPS, but Heroes & Other Worlds is delightfully simple, particularly the skill system. I'd totally play this and in fact find myself fascinated by it's beautiful simplicity. I could see myself fiddling with this to create a very simplified game engine for other genres, too.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with these prizes. Each of them has good ideas and things that are filch-worthy for my own games. Thanks again to Tenkar and all his donors.

Next blog entry: an actual play of Jim Raggi's Tower of the Stargazer.