Thursday, October 29, 2015

Keep 5e Side Story Continues

My oft-delayed Tuesday game has resumed, run at the local boardgame cafe. (In fact, we're the only rpg people there; the employees know us as "The D&D Group.") My two players and their secondary characters (human monk and dwarf fighter) continued to explore the Tower of the Astromancer. (Which is really just Jim Raggi's Tower of the Stargazer run from memory with me making stuff up for the rooms I don't really remember) They discovered the Astromancer, trapped within his binding circle, and foolishly released him. When he ordered them out of his tower, they quickly obliged. They subtly tried to warn the Mage's Guild in the Keep about what had transpired.

The PCs searched about for rumors, coming up with a couple. They correlated two of the rumors (people are going missing inside the Keep, and a group of stonemasons discovered an entrance to the forgotten Undercity below the Keep) and decided to go a-delving into the forgotten tunnels below. We left with them several chambers into the Undercity, having recovered a map that looks like it points to something northeast of the Caves of Chaos on the Borderlands. Will that be their next stop?

Meanwhile, the PCs in the "main" campaign have stumbled across a different entrance to the same Undercity. Is it possible the two groups will encounter one another? That would be pretty awkward. I think I have a contingency plan sorted out, though. We'll be continuing the main campaign this Saturday evening.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Icons: Fate's Much More Appealing (to me) Cousin

Last spring, I ran a brief Skype campaign of Icons (the "Assembled Edition.") The game ultimately failed due to scheduling incompatibility, but our session was incredibly fun. In fact, I still maintain that Icons is the only superhero roleplaying game I have ever played that felt like a comic book or a superhero animated series. 

Gushing aside, I want to examine why Icons worked so well for me when Fate Core has been such a struggle. 

Icons only takes certain pieces of Fate. It differs substantially on several levels: 
*Stats are rated 1-10, rather than the adjective scale that came from Fudge. 
*Task resolution is resolved by rolling 1d6 + Stat vs. the opponent's roll or a set target number. 
*Conflict is more traditional in style: initiative, I roll attack you roll to defend, there are Stamina/hit points, etc. 
*Aspects are called Qualities. They work much the same, but PCs have fewer and PCs also have standardized attributes. To clarify: in Fate Core, you would only have a strength-related aspect if your character was somehow defined by strength. In Icons, all characters have a strength rating. There are also temporary Qualities, inflicted by the clever use of skills and powers.
*There are no extras; that's all covered by a pretty handy little powers system. Skills are also bonuses to any action roll that could conceivably benefit from them. (Some skills being more specific than others) 

Reading back over this, my conclusion is that Icons is a rules-lite but traditionally mechanical RPG with some Fate-esque elements added for flavor and to make superhero combat as interesting as it should be. It adds Qualities on as a topping, whereas Fate Core seems to approach Aspects as the core game play mechanic. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dissecting My Fate Game and What Went Wrong

A'ight. In the post I made last night, (directly before this one) I bitched about my failure to make Fate gel in my head. Let's look at the things that truly vexed me.

A brief synopsis of the setting:
Earth. In 2015, a cabal of 12 sorcerers convinced most of the sorcerers in the world to help them undertake a Big Damn Spell to realign the destiny of humankind. In truth, it was a plan to basically harvest all their power and become a pantheon of gods. Of course, the twelve wizards each planned to also snuff out the other 11 and become a supreme being without equal. In the end, everyone ended up dead and 12 alternate dimensions split off from Earth, each on a reflection of the desires and visions of one of the big 12. Now various occult factions fight out their agendas: some want to fix the universe, some want to keep it from being fixed, some want to amass power, some want to kick mythical monster ass, etc. The PCs belong to an organization that wants to reunite the dimensions and fix the universe. The main antagonists are 1.) a faction that wants to keep the dimensions separate, and 2.) horrible things that are slipping into our universe between the cracks formed by the big split.

A brief synopsis of the characters:
Yelsew- A vampire noble with an affinity for animals, particularly wolves.
Saanji- A Buddhist nun (bhikkhuni) with crazy mental powers, defected from the antagonist faction.

Despite sorcerers and wizards being a large part of the setting, neither of the players had any interest in playing one. That saved me the task of constructing a magic system and allowing magic to be more of a narrative/dramatic thing.

What went right:
-Skills were fine.
-Aspects, I feel, went okay. Yelsew had I Run With Wolves to represent his beast affinity. Saanji had The Wheel Has Failed Me to represent her ties to the antagonist faction (The Wheel of Samsara) that she defected from. I feel like we had Aspects down okay-ish. Personally, I would prefer much more specific Aspects like Vampire or Beast Control, but the system seems built for more narrativist Aspects.
-Stunts I felt shaky on. I tried to model them based on the guidelines in the book. The two players were most familiar with Savage Worlds, so I told them to also look to that system's Extras for inspiration.
-Extras, my Kryptonite. Here's the deal:

Yelsew's player wanted his character to have the vampire's hypnotic gaze, the ability to command animals (less mind control and more empathic) and supernatural strength/speed.

Saanji's player wanted telekinesis and the ability to trap opponents in a sort of internal psychic prison, effectively rendering them temporarily catatonic and subject to her telepathic probe.

You trade refresh for extras. Given that this setting features a lot of supernatural elements, I gave them both a certain amount of extra refresh for which to buy powers, with the remaining refresh being kept or used for stunts.

The Fate Core rule book has a couple of examples of superpowers, how they work, and how much refresh they cost. I tried to use these as something to base my own extras off, but it always felt somehow wrong. This is really where I fell down.

Conflict is more difficult to gauge, since we only had one conflict before the game kind of fizzled out. It was a social conflict between the PCs and a band of werewolf mercenaries who they were trying to talk out of instantly attacking them. I don't remember it well enough to recount the entire thing, but I remember Yelsew successfully invoked his I Run With Wolves Aspect, giving him a +2 to a Persuasion roll to establish camaraderie with the pack.

Given that there was only one conflict, I really didn't get a chance to deal with Scene Aspects, Zones, Boots, or temporary Aspects. I know all the terminology is sort of eye roll-worthy.

As I read back over this blog entry, the individual parts (aside from extras), make sense to me. However, when I try to look at his holistically, it just seems... man, I don't know.

Next post: Comparing Icons, which I love-love-love, with Fate Core.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Fate of Fate


I look it up and I find blog posts from two or three years ago, unfinished conversions, and philosophical digressions that quickly leave the arena of the practical.

I look it up on Youtube and I find a three hour tutorial video.

I go to the used bookstore and find a castoff copy of the book and a bunch of little setting supplements from it.

All the signs and portents are telling me to walk away from this game, that it is written in a language I will never understand.

The skills, I get. They're like Fudge. (They are Fudge, straight up)

The aspects, I mostly get. I'm no good with how many Fate points are supposed to be given out or how that flows at all. I struggle with Bennies in Savage Worlds for just that reason.

Stunts, I find I have trouble creating.

Extras I just have no fucking idea how to make that look right to me. We created extras as a group and I found myself deeply unsatisfied with them and totally unable to explain the reason for this dissatisfaction.

I have no idea how to do a magic system, even after reading several examples.

I'm shaky on how conflict works.

It mostly adds up when I examine the individual parts, but when I try to see it as a whole, or when I actually try to do anything with it, I find that it stands as thin as air for me. It feels inorganic, it feels insubstantial. For what it does for me, we might as well be just talking to each other and settling the conflicts with rock, paper, scissors or a coin toss.

I'm stubborn and I continue to quest for a system that lets me try out my various weird setting ideas, as well as settings that I love but take umbrage with the rules. (In Nomine, Tribe 8, World of Darkness, Shadowrun, etc, etc, etc)

Maybe I need to read more examples.
Maybe I need to force my self to sit through the three hou- no, fuck that.
Maybe I need to just read a different goddamn game.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Getting Stranger Plus Keep on the Borderlands 5e Continues

I kicked in at the $22 level and picked up a whole mess of The Strange PDFs from Bundle of Holding. Considering that I got the core book for the ludicrous price of $10 (new and factory sealed) and that I got the Bestiary on Schmamazon for a steep discount, I have paid not quite the original price of the core book for a huge chunk of the entire line. Now, if only I could get myself some time to read it...

The premise of The Strange is somewhat reminiscent of my attempt at a FATE game. Perhaps I can read through The Strange and implement a slightly different iteration of the game without having to bang my head against the invisible wall that stands between FATE and my comprehension of it.

In other news, we ran Keep5e last night. I wasn't terribly focused and we were missing half the group, so the party mostly stayed in the Keep and looked for trouble/rumors. I have a side-quest going that is borrowed partially from the old 2nd edition adventure, "Wizard's Challenge," though with less fappy NPCs and a slightly different premise. The PCs also acted as ersatz exterminators, ridding a local shop keeper of a noise in her cellar that turned out to be a giant scorpion. The party also discovered a new dungeon beneath the Keep, and made a brief but abortive attempt to delve it's depths. (An early encounter with a mimic left them badly drained of hit points, spells, and special ability uses.)

I have been summoned back to the Sunday game, but I'm not sure if I will make it today. I have some errands to run and my attention span is sorely lacking in all things these days. (I blame the internet, in a curmudgeonly fist-shaking sort of way.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Surrounded By White Whales and a Brief But Scarring Encounter

First off, the Brief But Scarring Encounter

After a heads-up from Tenkar, I took advantage of Rafael Chandler's Halloween Sale. (Most of his PDFs are PWYW) I decided to finally grab the oft-lauded Terratic Tome.

...I think, after perusing the artwork in it, that I may no longer be attracted to the female form...

It's been two months since I looked at Lusus Naturae, but I'd swear at least a third of the monsters are in both books. My one main issue with LN was that the monsters started to get same-y after awhile, and I feel that criticism extends to the TT. (Although TT was published first I think, so maybe reverse that statement)

There's still some cool stuff in it, but it might not be your flavor, and as I said, eventually you're like "Okay, I get it. Boobs attached to a quivering mass of monster viscera and maybe some spiky bits.) I do dig the imitation of the old AD&D 1st ed books in terms of layout and text, though.

Don't mistake this for me saying that I dislike Chandler's work; I love Pandemonio and I dig both Starship from Hell and Roll XX and it's sequel.

Edit/Addendum: I have a theory that Mr. Chandler experienced some kind of traumatic gaming event involving halflings during his formative years. If you've read much of his OSR type work, you probably know why I hold this theory.

My final takeaway: schapism. I now know that it is a thing. You cannot unsee what you have seen.

Now, on to my White Whales...

I spent a long time struggling with Fate Core. It seems like I know how the system works, but in play it feels like I'm just making shit up, and not in the good way... more like pulling it out of my ass. In my dimension-hopping-occult-cops game, I felt like my implementations of the psychic powers and the vampire abilities were clumsy and poorly executed, but I couldn't tell you just felt off to me, and I'm not familiar enough with the system to get into the guts of it.

I'm also reading through the Cypher System, which mechanically I find interesting, but in terms of character concepts, I find it oddly limiting despite all the options. The Adept powers, for instance, seem... bleh. The Fantasy Genre chapter recommends just the Adept to emulate a wizard character, but that wizard has only a handful of spells they can choose from at each tier, and they seem limited. I also wanted to do a vampires/werewolves game, but I have no idea how I'd handle the vampires. (There is actually an option, Howls at the Moon, for werewolves.)

And finally, my holy grail: an urban fantasy game to replace White Wolf. For nearly two years, I've been searching for something to give me that modern-game-with-monster-PCs experience, but I can't seem to find something that feels right. I tried to make one with Fudge, I tried to make one with B/X, I considered mashing together Cryptworld, Majus, and Creature Feature, I got my hands on some old Nightlife books, and I've considered Fate and Cypher (but see above) For a bit, I even through about keeping the White Wolf system but doing 1d10+Attribute+Skill, target number 9, a bit like Eden's Unisystem. For some reason, a satisfactory solution seems to elude me.

(And no, I don't really want to play the original system as-written. My days of rolling fistfuls of dice 4+ times to resolve a single attack exchange are over. In fact, my day of rolling a billion dice for anything at all are over.) Perhaps it's partially an issue of flavor as well...I like my modern-with-monsters games to be more like Night Watch or Dresden than Interview With the Vampire.

Maybe I'll just say "hell with it" and do OneDice, since it seems to be the thing that's inspiring me most when it comes to this genre. The system can sometimes feel a little too simple, but at some point I just have to be Ahab.

...wait, that didn't turn out very well.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

One Dice Urban Fantasy Factions Part II: Eldritch Boogaloo

*The Torch-Bearers: The Torch-Bearers were originally a small faction in the supernaturally-suffused town of Athens, Ohio in the United States. A place of power, the town was shared between several larger factions who declared a cease-fire of sorts. This truce extended to the human populace of the town, with vampires only taking enough blood to survive, werewolves moving out into the wilderness during the Full Moon, etc. However, many unaligned supernaturals refused to abide by the limits of the factions' truce, and not every member of the factions followed the rules, either. The Torch-Bearers formed in response; a militia of sorts composed mostly of aware humans, but also some supernaturals (faction members or otherwise) who agreed to police the streets, enforcing the ceasefire by any means necessary.

Since then, similar small organizations have sprouted up in any city or town with a large concentration of supernatural creatures. Many of them take the name Torch-Bearers as their own, but others adopt different names, often with a light theme. (The White Lanterns of Hong Kong, for instance)

Although many consider the Torch-Bearers and their ilk to be little more than dime-store versions of the Dawn (see my first post about factions), there are several ideological differences between the two. The motivation of the Dawn is to eliminate the supernatural, whereas the Torch-Bearers only seek to police the supernatural against those who abuse their powers or victimize humans to an unreasonable degree, such as vampires who drain too much from victims or were-beasts that make no effort to control their full moon madness. The second main difference is that supernatural members of the Torch-Bearers are welcomed into the group, rather than treated as dangerous weapons or second-class conscripts.

*The Hellfire Club- It is unclear whether this faction is an actual successor to the 18th century British organization or simply a spiritual successor. The HC consists of wealthy, successful, and influential demon-blooded, a network for those of infernal heritage. Its members are CEOs, heiresses, investors, old money, career politicians, and others with influence. There are rumored to be a few members who are vampires, but the organization is almost entirely demon-blooded.

The HC is based in London, England, though its members can be found throughout Europe and the United States. Their main agenda is simply to extend the influence and power of the Club's members. They hoard power over the material world, seeing humans and their economies as things for them to use for their pleasure and whim.

*Regenesis- An organization of supernaturals that seeks to destroy the modern world and return civilization to a state of pseudo-feudalism. There is dissent within the ranks as to whether this society should be ruled by supernaturals, humans, or a combination of the two. They see the modern world as a threat to both nature and magic, and believe that an agrarian-based world of close-knit, land-based communities is the only way for sentient life to survive in the long term.

The membership of Regenesis is a mixed group of supernaturals. Druids and shape-shifters are the most common, but the idea of a feudal society with supernatural beings at the helm draws in all types.

The methods of Regenesis are harsh and aggressive. They attempt to use financial manipulation to trigger recessions and shortages, perpetuate cyber-attacks to knock out computer-controlled modern comforts and systems, and even resort to direct sabotage of industrial infrastructure. They often finance revolutions and rebellions. The organization may be an extremist split-off of the Druidic Council.

Regenesis is headquartered in Berlin, Germany, headquarters of the corporation that serves as their main front. Their influence is mostly concentrated in north and eastern Europe, though they are slowly attempting to extend their influence southward.

*The Druidic Council- A faction of mostly druids, shape-shifters, and fae-blooded (though they will accept any mortal or supernatural that shares their ideals), the Druidic Council is one of the oldest factions in the world. Headquartered in Perth, Scotland, the Council was once dedicated to preserving the natural balance of the world. They sought to keep Demons and Fae (the true variety) from crossing into our world, prevent the influence of human society via magic, and curb the machinations of less mortal-sympathetic powers. They also sought to protect the natural world from being destroyed by the expansion of human civilization. Unfortunately, the Council suffered heavy losses when the Shadow Hand manipulated the Church into staging the Inquisition and were forced to go mostly underground for several centuries thereafter.

The modern Council realizes that the fight against industrialization is over. They focus mainly on keeping the barrier between this world and the Fae/Demon realms intact, as well as acting the foil against factions that would harm or enslave humanity.

Regenesis is rumored to be a group that splintered from the DC, though Council denies this. There are, however, many members of Regenesis who are formerly of the Druidic Council.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

OneDice Urban Fantasy: Demon-Blooded

The cover of 1DUF features a Hellboy-ish looking character, and there are certainly rules for demons within the book, but not for any demonically influenced PCs. Since we've got Fae-blooded as one of the playable options, I've decided to add Demon-blooded, also called cambions by more old-fashioned supernaturals. 

Actual pairings between demons and humans are unheard of in the modern era. However, some descendants of such pairings remain. A demon-blooded is an individual with a demon in the family tree who is (un)lucky enough to have their latent abilities emerge. 

Choose two of the following Demon-blooded powers and one demon-blooded weakness. (The package is very similar to Fae-blooded) 

Demon-blooded Powers: 
*Long-lived: As the fae-blooded power

*Black magic: The demon-blooded can use Sorcery. They do not receive a secondary aptitude like those with the Magical Heritage gift. 

*Stronger- As per the general ability. 

*Unearthly Beauty- As per the fae-blooded ability. 

*Regeneration: The demon-blooded heals five times faster than ordinary humans. Wounds caused by a Vulnerability, however, heal at the normal rate. 

*Nightmare Sending: The demon-blooded stands over a sleeping or unconscious individual and makes a Magic vs. Magic attack. On a success, the target suffers terrifying nightmares (though does not awaken) and the demon-blooded can siphon 1d6 HP from them, adding them to his own. This ability can be used only once per night. 

*Devil's Deal: Anyone who enters willingly into a bargain with a demon-blooded must fulfill the terms of the contract or become sickened, with their Strong, Quick, and HP reduced to half, rounded up. This sickness remains until the contract is fulfilled or the demon-blooded willingly releases the target from the contract. This ability is a double-edged sword; as the demon-blooded suffers the same penalty if they break their half of the bargain. They must either fulfill their end or else be released by the target. A demon-blooded can have only one Devil's Deal active at a time. 

Demon-blooded weaknesses: 
*Ban: Choose from holy/consecrated ground, cold iron (powder, a bar laid across a door ,etc), or magical seals. 

*Vulnerability: Choose from holy water, consecrated weapons, or cold iron.  

*Dependency: Inflict suffering on a human, engage in sex with a human, receive gifts or worship from a human, or something similar. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

OneDice Urban Fantasy: Factions

Note: This is a post I started working on back in June when I was fiddling with OneDice Urban Fantasy. Totally forgot about it and just now got around to finishing and publishing it.

Here are some factions for OneDice Urban Horror. Really you could use them in any urban fantasy/modern horror game, if it were to strike your fancy.

*The Shadow Hand- A mostly-vampire faction dedicated to the covert subjugation of humankind through the manipulation of governments, banks, and other pillars of power. By mental domination, seduction, or other coercion, the Shadow Hand acquires power behind the scenes. Rather than attempt to control powerful figures directly, they prefer to work behind "layers" of influence. For instance, rather than simply attempt to control a powerful Senator, the Shadow Hand would rather control the mistress of the CEO of the company that is the Senator's main campaign contributor.

The Shadow Hand is based out of Milan, Italy, but the organization has agents and cells all over the world. Their primary sphere of influence is in Europe.

*The High Order of Thoth- This is an organization of mages whose purpose is to preserve and advance the arts of magic. The organization is traditionally run by wizards, who in fact make up the bulk of its members. There are a few sorcerers and necromancers in the organization, but they are admitted on a probationary basis and watched closely; seldom are they permitted to advance very high within the Order. The Order's membership is strictly human, without exception. Members who become vampires or are otherwise transformed are immediately expelled.

The High Order of Thoth was once based in Cairo, Eygypt, but the main headquarters moved to London, England in the late 19th century. The stronghold in Cairo is still a place of considerable power and influence in the organization. The Order of Thoth controls parts of the Middle East and has influence in the Americas, the United Kingdom, Spain, and France. 

*The Unification Society- A faction consisting of many types of supernaturals. The Society believes that the Fae realm and the mortal world are a single realm that was divided. Their goal is to bring down the barrier between the two and merge the realms. They do not believe in "pure" humans, but rather that humans are simply Fae-blooded with deeply suppressed natures.

The Society is headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. The cells are small and widespread throughout southeast Asia. There are minor presences of the Society across Europe and the Americas. They are global, but don't have nearly the resources of some of the other factions. 

*The Dawn- An organization composed of mostly natural humans who are aware of, and opposed to, the supernatural. They do boast some supernatural members, all of whom are either penitent of their nature or somehow forcefully conscripted.Some Dawn members wish to annihilate supernatural creatures, others see them as victims to be cured. The Dawn is also dedicated to destroying magical items, closing magical portals, and neutralizing sites of power.

The Dawn is based out of Rome, Italy and has considerable influence in the Mediterranean. The organization's influence has also spread to New Zealand and parts of Australia. They have a small but fierce presence in Mexico and the southeastern United States.

*The Circle of the Moon- A confederation of werewolf packs (though their members boast some other types of shapeshifters as well) that operates in North America. (Mostly the northern US and Canada) The Circle packs are primarily interested in locating newly turned werewolves or emergent shifters, teaching them how to use their gifts and finding a balance between their animal and human selves. The Circle also opposes the American operations of the Shadow Hand, as well as occasionally engaging in eco-terrorism where it could potentially affect wolves.

Being a series of individual packs, the Circle doesn't have a headquarters per se, but large regional gatherings sometimes happen in the mountains of Colorado in the US and southern Ontario in Canada.

*The Circus- A faction of outcasts and drifters, supernaturals who want to escape join the Circus. This group operates as a circus, travelling the back roads and rural areas of America. Members must have some ability to perform or aid in the operation of the Circus itself. As such, the faction counts members of many different 'species' of supernaturals among their numbers, though fae-blooded are the most common.

Being mobile, the Circus has no headquarters. They avoid staying in one place and try not to revisit areas more than once every decade. The other factions tend to distrust the Circus, seeing them as vagabonds and criminals.

*The Legion- An organization of supernatural mercenaries. While there are several such organizations, the Legion is the largest and most well known. The Legion is often contracted by factions that have resources but not necessarily martial acumen. They have a reputation for getting the job done with no questions asked. They are thoroughly non-political, caring little for who hires then and for what. Members of the Legion are consummate professionals, and those who prove to be otherwise are expelled from the organization or worse.

The Legion is presently headquartered in Belgrade, Serbia. There are smaller regional headquarters in the US, Colombia, and eastern Pakistan. The Legion trades in cash as well as mystical resources.

The soldiers of the legion are a mixed group. Lots of werewolves and large shifters abound, but the Legion also boasts vampires, cambions, and any martially-talented supernatural. (They even have some exceptionally gifted human soldiers who are aware of the supernatural world)

*The Coven of Hecate- A faction of witches. The membership of the CoH is mostly female. They accept anyone, human or otherwise, who has some kind of magical ability. All traditions are welcomed. Because of this, the CoH has a fairly shady reputation, since they accept necromancers and sorcerers just as readily as the "white magics" like druidism.

The CoH has three headquarters: one in the Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora, one in the Greek city of Komotini, and one in the Turkish city of Edirne, all of which were once part of the ancient sorcerous realm of Thrace.

Whereas the High Order of Thoth promotes the study and preservation of magic, the Coven of Hecate focuses on the advancement of its members. The faction is also interested in acquiring objects and places of power.


More of these, and more fleshing out, will follow.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Saturday Nerding

Today I went a-nerding and found the following worthwhile pick-ups:

-Atherspace, a little supplement for Fate. Mostly I bought this because it was half-price before my bookstore discount, and because I need to see how a magic system works in Fate.

-Deities & Demigods... the printing with the Cthulhu and Melnibonean pantheons. It's in amazing condition and I paid $15 for it. Mainly I just want it because it has material in it that was later removed. I may grow tired of the novelty and flip it on Eeeeeeebay or something.

My weird, now-irregular 5e group met again tonight. They cleared out Area G of the Caves of Chaos, touched base with their orcish allies, and then invaded the gnoll caves at J. The party won a couple of skirmishes, but then had to retreat when the gnolls formed a defensive bottleneck. Next week we'll see if they continue their fight with the gnolls or seek easier picking elsewhere.

Friday, October 9, 2015


I recently received some of the Goblinoid Pacesetter books as a result of backing one of their Kickstarters. (I think I mentioned it in passing)

I've been reading Majus, which, despite the use of j instead of g, I'm digging on it. I like the mix of adits and paranormal talents. Adits are broad areas of magical expertise, like influencing animals or bestowing blessings. They have different levels of proficiency, with more experienced practitioners able to command more powerful forces. Paranormal talents are more of a "one-trick pony" type of ability, like speaking with ghosts or seeing auras.

I'm not sure if I dig the noir aspect of the setting, but that seems more flavor-to-taste than anything else. All in all, the game serves as a worthy replacement for Mage, plus the complete game clocks in at less than a hundred pages.

I'd definitely like to try this out... in particular, I'm curious to see how compatible it is with 1st edition Chill products like Creature Feature*.

Now, if only I had a group stable enough to try it....

The only thing I can see myself house-ruling, however, is the action chart. I feel like we could just say if you make it by more than X, you get rating Y.

*Yes, I'm quite aware that Majus is its own animal and that Crypt World is the successor to Chill 1st edition. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

From Zero to Thirty? Forty-Five? Keep on the Borderlands Side Story

Despite the inauspicious scheduling of some of our group members, three of us met Tuesday night at the board game cafe to play 5th edition. The character sheets were in possession of the absent players, so we rolled 1st level "alts" (to borrow MMO parlance) and started a new adventure from the Keep. Digging around for rumors, the PCs (a human monk and a dwarf fighter) learned that 1.) People were disappearing apparently from inside the Keep, and 2.) The lost tower of Calcidus the Astromancer was sighted south beyond the fens. The party decided they wanted to loot the Astromancer's tower and thus set out south.

The tower was basically a version of the dungeon from Jim Raggi's Tower of the Stargazer adventure, though I had to reconstruct it from memory as my wife is out of town with my iPad and I didn't want to lug my laptop to gaming. I'm pretty sure I remembered most of it, but I did have to improvise a little.

Much of the session involved exploration; crossing the river south of the Keep via a perilous sandbar, navigating the blasted glass wastelands around the tower itself, and finding their way around the first level and basement. We ran short on time- partly due to the fact we had to roll new characters and partly due to the fact that I was late due to a poorly thought out pre-game nap and gross abuse of my snooze button. Still, the session was rather enjoyable and we only had one almost-death when the dwarf ran afoul of a poison gas trap.

This week my Friday group is supposed to reunite after a very, very long hiatus, but I actually have no idea what we're even playing anymore, and I may have to miss some Fridays this month, so I'm leaning toward a one-shot.