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.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Darkness Fudge: Skills and Gifts

Tentative skill list:
Academics, Animal Handling, Perception, Computer, Craft*, Athletics, Business, Drive, Fighting, Investigation, Empathy, Firearms, Language*, Melee, Artistic Ability*, Medicine, Larceny, Occult, Stealth, Streetwise, Survival, Science, Engineering, Rituals, Throwing 

Academics- Humanities/book learning
Animal Handling- Animal empathy, training, and care.
Perception- The ability to instinctively notice clues, sneaking enemies, etc.
Computer- Programming and hacking. (The ability to use a computer is assumed)
Craft- A skilled trade. Taken separately for each. (Electrician, Mechanic, etc.)
Athletics- The ability to run, jump, climb, swim, etc.
Business- Conducting deals, haggling, handling finances, etc.
Drive- The ability to maneuver a vehicle in dangerous situations. (Ability to drive is assumed)
Fighting- Unarmed combat, from barroom brawling to trained martial arts.
Investigation- Conducting research, deliberately searching an area.
Empathy- The ability to "read" people's emotions, motivations, and deceptions.
Firearms- The ability to shoot guns.
Language- Taken for each language. The ability to speak a language beyond your native.
Melee- Fighting with hand-to-hand weapons.
Artistic Ability- Being skilled in an art/performing art. Taken for each mode of expression.
Medicine- Treating wounds, identifying diseases, identifying medicines.
Larceny- Picking pockets, opening locks, and find/remove tr- er, I mean bypass security systems.
Occult- Knowledge of magic and supernatural creatures.
Stealth- Sneaking, hiding, and shadowing.
Streetwise- Knowing where to get illegal/shady goods/services/info, navigate urban landscapes.
Survival- How to obtain food and shelter in the wilderness.
Science- A general knowledge of the "hard" sciences, such as chemistry or biology.
Engineering- Being able to design, built, or modify technology.
Rituals- The ability to cast ritual magic.
Throwing- The ability to hit with thrown weapons, slings, bows, and similar weapons.

*Skill can be taken multiple times with different concentrations. For instance, a character could take Language (Spanish) and Language (German), or Craft (Mechanics) and Craft (Construction.)

Skill specialization: Players may choose to specialize in a specific aspect of a skill. For instance, Medicine could be specialized as Medicine/Surgery, or Melee could be specialized as Melee/Disarm. When using their skill in a situation where their specialization would apply, treat the skill as being one level higher. For instance, if you have Occult/Demonology at Good, you are considered to have Great skill level if you are researching a demon's true name, but still Good if you were researching some type of faerie or weaknesses specific to Chinese Hopping Vampires.

Tentative gift list:
Ally- A loyal (but weaker) NPC partner. Take it multiple times for multiple allies or an ally who is stronger .
Ambidextrous- Use both hands equally. You can also fight with two weapons, which... let's face it, is why you took this.
Attractive- You're pretty. People tend to react to you better.(+1)
    -Very Attractive- You have celebrity good looks and always make an impression.(+2)
Composed- It's hard to mentally rattle you. (+1 against fear)
Fast Reflexes- You tend to go first in combat and are rarely caught off guard.
Common Sense- You get a GM hint when you are about to do something monumentally stupid.
Contacts- You know people who can give you info or do minor favors. Take it multiple times for increasingly well connected contacts or for multiple types of contacts. (Corporate, Occult, etc.)
High Pain Threshold- You treat wounds as one level less for purposes of wound penalties.
Tough- You have an extra Scratch box and an extra Hurt box.
        -Very Tough- You have an extra Hurt box and an extra Very Hurt box.
Wealthy- You have significantly more money than average, though you still work.
          -Very Wealthy- You have more money than you'll ever need, and you don't have to work. 
Minions- Weaker than allies, but far easier to command.
Keen Sense- You get +2 on Perception rolls dealing with one specific sense. This isn't supernatural.
Famous- You are well known for something.
           -Very Famous You are nationally, perhaps internationally renowned.
Lucky-Get a reroll every game session.
           -Very Lucky- Get two rerolls per session.
Perfect Balance- It is difficult to knock you down or disorient you. (+1 Agility or Will to avoid) 
Sanctum- You have a safehouse, hideout, or other semi-hidden place where you can sleep, hide, perform blasphemous rituals, etc. Additional gifts can be spent to add gear, guards, security measures,bonuses to ritual magic, etc.

Rather than try to come up with every single possible Gift, I'm going to be flexible to player ideas on the matter. Generally, my two guidelines are a.) A gift might have a "Very" level for two gifts, but that's it and b.) Gifts are things that any human could theoretically have. They are not supernatural or supernormal in any way. Those advantages lie in the realm of Powers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

We Bringin' Warden Back

Goodman Games is bringing back Metamorphosis Alpha.

This makes me happy.

Like, a lot.

Now granted, I could run an MA-style game using Mutant Future or one of two older versions of Gamma World that I already own, but anybody who has read this blog more than twice probably knows what a sucker I am for nostalgia.

I also neglected to mention that I picked up The One Who Watches From Below, the latest (I think) DCC Module, for a mere dollar from the LGS fire sale. It was wrapped in plastic, so it is in pristine condition. A delightful module that I would dearly love to run.

I think I neglect DCC more than I ought to. The book may be a hefty tome, but I need to remember that most of it is spells, since each spell requires an entire page.

I'm going to try to run for my online group this weekend. I think I might run A Thousand Dead Babies. I haven't run for them in several weeks for various reasons. (Cat went to the emergency clinic last weekend, was still in a funk from losing Mike the weekend before that, grad school the week before that ,etc, etc.)

There's a local gaming convention, PretzCon, in town this weekend. I'm considering going tonight. I might try to run a pickup game, though it seems the con is decidedly weighed in favor of the board game type stuff. The only RPG stuff on the docket is Pathfinder. (Gods, I hate Pathfinder.*)

*Yes, I have tried it. I've played it and I've run it and I just don't like it. Sorry.

Still chipping away at my FUDGE Night Watch/Dresden Files/WoD/Stuff mashup. I need to get powers and sorcery written up and then I will consider that pig to be kicked.

I do so love kicking pigs.

Game on. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Interlude: A Pair of Obscure Games

I have recently acquired two obscure roleplaying games from the late 80's/early 90's. Both items came from the fire sale at my LGS, which has risen from the grave and has become one of my favorite places to go. The total cost of these two items: $7.

*Legacy: War of Ages- This is basically Highlander the Roleplaying game with the serial numbers filed off. (In fact, 'filed off' may be a bit charitable, more like 'taped over with cheap masking tape.') The design aesthetic is very heavily inspired by early White Wolf- lyrics from gothy bands, quotes to show you how well read the authors are, etc. The artwork consists mostly of photographs of people - I can only assume the writer and his nearest and dearest- either a.) having very languid-looking swordfights, or b.) standing by fences and buildings and staring off into the distance with a disaffected expression.

I have only skimmed the surface of the mechanics at this point, but there's one thing I could definitely take away that would make this book well worth the two bucks I spent on it: the system seems to use the same kind of number scale as White Wolf, but they add trait + stat and you roll under on 1d10. This seems an attractive alternative to White Wolf, because ever since I crested 30 I found that I am annoyed by games that make me roll huge fistfuls of dice to resolve every damn thing.
I'm sure the probabilities are off... so I'll have to look into that later.

Though I appear to be bagging on this game, I must confess that I went through an ugly "White Wolf Ivory Tower" phase in which games were AAAAAAARRRRRRRRTgoddammit and you were a bad person if you wanted to take Melee 3 for your character. It was a thing in the 90's. It's probably still a thing now, though my gaming circles and outlook have changed considerably. I now balk at the idea that this roleplaying game and the ideas behind it are somehow more "grown up" than D&D's conceits of killing orcs for money.

The author was working on another roleplaying game, his answer to Mage it seems, called Warlock: Black Spiral. (No White Wolf influence there, no sir.) It never saw the light of day, though you can retrieve online excerpts of it via the Wayback Machine. I actually like the premise a bit more than Mage. CJ Carella's Witchcraft seems to have a somewhat similar premise.

The second game is Quest of the Ancients, a game that claimed it would become "The Sword and Sorcery Product of the 90's."'s pretty much houseruled AD&D with three different combat systems.


My favorite part: the inside cover where the characters listed on the outside cover are given their names, players, class, and level. A 30th level Witch? Nah, this is -totally- unlike D&D. should be fun to mine for AD&D stuff, though.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Darkness FUDGE Initial Notes

Here beginneth my notes for Darkness FUDGE, a sort-of WoD adaptation for FUDGE. What I'm actually going for is equal parts World of Darkness, the Night Watch series, the Dresden Files series.

Character Creation

 Attributes: All attributes begin at Fair, with 2 free levels available. No attribute can be raised above Superb at creation. Attributes can be lowered in order to gain levels to raise other attributes, but no attribute can be lowered below Terrible, and only one attribute may be Terrible. Each attribute has two sub-attributes that start at the same level. A PC can lower one to raise the other. For instance, a character with Good Physical has Good Physique and Good Agility, but could lower Agility to Fair to raise Physique to Great. No sub-attribute can be above Superb, and only two sub-attributes can be Superb in total.

-Physique (Modifies hand-to-hand damage and reduces damage received)
-Agility (Determines initiative, can be used to avoid some projectiles)

-Presence (Inspiring or intimidating others)
-Guile (Manipulating or charming others)

-Intellect (Book learning)
-Cunning (Wisdom/street smarts)

-Will (Much like Physique in mental combat)
-Humanity (Determines a character's self control, though losing this raises your potential power)

Select one archetype. (Those will be a different post entirely)

Gifts: 2 free Gifts. These refer to mundane/non-supernatural advantages. (Similar to Merits in WoD or Advantages in GURPS)

Powers: All supernormal powers determined by Archetype, plus three additional levels of powers. (Characters can use these levels to improve existing powers, purchase new powers, or learn sorcery)

Skills: Broad skill groups. 20 free levels. Characters can begin with no more than one skill at Superb and two skills at Great.

Characters can also take Faults and Banes for additional levels in things. Faults are mundane disadvantages or flaws, such as bad temper or being flat broke. Banes are supernatural weaknesses, like being especially vulnerable to silver or having to drain blood to survive.
1 Fault= 1 Gift, 1 Bane= 1 Power.