Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Money in Ayurth

I've been toying with what the coins in the fantasy game should be called I've come up with the following which is quite satisfying.
Atlantian platinum coinage.

Copper pieces = Copper Pence
Silver pieces = Silver Shillings
Electrum pieces = Electrum Electors
Gold pieces = Golden Crowns
Platinum pieces = Platinum Paragons

What I like about this is it captures a sense of the setting; Clearly Electors, the Crown and the Paragons are important and this speaks to elements of the setting, namely religion and the royalty and that's just the type of thing you want in my opinion. 

Great rules for Dungeons without number

I really liked the rules for using Stars without number as a fantasy engine. I wouldn't do it I like the rules for Labyrinth lord too much to use SWN as the wholesale rule system for fantasy gaming but I do like the rules given for magic use and strain with are very very cool. See the Mage below.

I've reproduced them so you don't have to back link and because I want to have them to hand. Here is the link for the whole article.


Mage: Mages are in all ways equivalent to the Magic-User class <<snip>> save in the way in which they prepare and cast their spells. At the beginning of the game, the player and the GM take turns picking eight spells from the combined first level spell lists of clerics and magic-users, each choosing those spells that best fit the Mage’s education and style of magic. These choices form the spell list for the Mage. New spells can only be added through research, or the discovery of some arcana utterly appropriate to the Mage’s style as determined by the GM. As the Mage acquires access to new spell levels, this process is repeated to form the list for that level. Mages can start with the knowledge of any two first level spells on their list. Further knowledge must be acquired from a teacher who knows the spell or a scroll inscribed with the enchantment.
Mages must prepare their chosen spells each morning, performing the necessary rites, meditations, and study in order to fix the spells in their mind. A mage can prepare as many spells of each level as is allowed by the spell progression table for the retroclone being used, plus the Mage’s Intelligence modifier. A first level mage with an Intelligence of 14 could prepare two first level spells, for example, while a 5th level mage could prepare four first, three second, and two third level spells.
Once a spell has been prepared, a mage can cast it at will. A prepared spell is not consumed in the casting. Instead, after each casting, the Mage must make a Mental Effort saving throw at a penalty equal to the spell’s level and a bonus equal to their character level. If the save is failed, the Mage earns one System Strain point and becomes Fatigued. A Mage that is already Fatigued falls unconscious for 1d4 rounds after failing a strain save, awakening Fatigued at the end of it. A Mage with maximized System Strain cannot cast any further spells. A half hour of rest eliminates Fatigue, but Fatigue cannot be banished by magic.
A Mage that prefers not to risk accruing System Strain may omit the save and buffer the enchantment with his own vitality, automatically becoming Fatigued but avoiding the expenditure of a System Strain point. Conversely, a mage may choose to “overcharge” a spell, hurling more energy into it that he can safely channel. For each additional point of System Strain spent in boosting the spell, it does +1 damage per die of effect and range and area of effect is calculated as if the caster’s level was +1 higher. Any number of available System Strain points may be spent on overcharging a spell, but the Mage automatically takes an unavoidable 1d4 damage for each point spent, with a Physical Effect save for half.


Is that cool or what! I'll use this in Here Be Dragons or OSR hose rule set as its close to what we have been using but much better.

Note - to really get this rule I had to go read up on "System Strain" in the SWN rules. I recommend you do likewise to get clarity on the implementation of this rule.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The New Old

One of the most inspirational aspects of the internet are things like the OSR.

Project Gutenburg
the Internet Archive

They are moving away from the focus on consumerism and the "new-new" and on to "relevance"

If you are digging this you can find some great things in the common domain

Go Feedbooks and get Charles Stross, Cory Doctow and all the Conan you could want while your there pic up the Lensmen

Or if your feeling musical go to the internet archive and have a brows

And if you want audiobooks go to Podiobooks and get Golden age of the Solar Clipper or Infection

For us gaming-geeks there is a world of great support material at our finger tips

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm baaaaack

So having started to recover from both a head cold and the blog the alphabet fiasco that turned the OD&D blogosphere into unmitigated drollness I'm going to try and keep on target with the entries here and never again opt into a "bloging" challenge. It - the challenge - really took the fun out of both reading and blogging for me. It was like and allergic reaction.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

F is for fail

Which is what happened to me in the blogging challenge. I got the flu and totally lot all motivation for anything but sleep.  

So so long blogging challenge make way for the normal types of posts.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

E is for Exclusion Zones

Exclusion Zones are a funny little reality in the deep. People know about them. They are marked on charts. Some are even patrolled, governed or otherwise sign posted.  No one is going to stop you entering an Exclusion Zone.

Leaving... that's an entirely different story. With the naturally stealthy nature of the Jaunt drive and the existential danger posed by most Exclusion Zone's many people dont want to take the risk.

However due to the nature of the problem - vast distances, limited resources and stealthily travel options Exclusion Zones are largely left to look after themselves. A kind of modern "Thar Be Dragons" of the space lanes.

Certainly where possible the Zones are policed. However due to the absence of a single governing or enforcing body this coverage is patchy at best. Where these safety precautions are present it is often left to Digital Intelligences and automation to provide alerting and or corrective action.

As Exclusion Zones are often the result of a precursor civilization, unique conditions or post-singularity-divergence, the often attract adventurers freebooters and rogues.     


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for "the Deep"

The Deep or the Deep Dark is the common name given to space away from the main hubs of human civilization. Specifically when used by spacers it refers to the space between destinations and in a general sense refers to space outside of a planetary or solar system.

It is a little known fact that the Deep is in fact populated by the constituent parts of the Omega Engine a Precursor artifact. It is unknown what the function of the eco-system of nano-machines termed the Omega Engine actually does or why it is in place. It is known the Omega Engine is responsible for the Encapsulation of Earth during the Interregnum although why the Omega Engine did this is still under dispute - However it is suggested by leading luminaries in the field that this was in reaction to early terrestrial experimentation with nanotechnology and or digitized intelligence.The scientific community have also postulated the Omega Engine is responsible for the preservation of Livingston from cometary impact - redirecting the Livingston cometary path. Furthermore the bizarre structures on Wonderland are also attributed to the Omega Engine as are the various other worlds undergoing Encapsulation. Some in the scientific community believe the Omega Engine is responsible for the Ring-world in the Rosa-Capri System, the Dyson Shell in Beta-Eponus and the Moebius Circuit. Others believe the Omega Engine is a manifestation linked to and a part of the Moebius Circuit and posit that the two are in fact contiguous. This claim is widely discredited as the two mega structures share apparently different or divergent Precursor origins.           

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Colony

Colonies at this point coming it three predominant types

The boot strap colony is the result of squatters arriving on the frontier and setting up a homestead. Many of these make their living "farming" technical data conducting experiments on the colony world information exchange is the key value here as well as mining claims and exploration and salvage rights on precursor technologies commenly know as pre-tec.

The next most common type of colony is the corporate research colony which is the equivalent of a bootstrap effort only better funded and prepared due to corporate backing. Many bootstrap operations live in hope of a corp buy out and the credits it provides.

The last type is the faction/national colony effort; this is a grand scale development of the new world in the name of a political block, most of which are aligned along national lines.

Surprisingly the most common type of colony is not surface based but is what is known colloquially as an Orbital this space stations either made from locally mined  and manufactures materials or bored into a large scale asteroid provide the most common colony environments and have caused a proliferation of archology type  developments planet side as well.   

Sunday, April 3, 2011

B is for Blaster


B is for Blaster the hand gun of choice in the Deep Dark.

The blaster is a plasma based design effective against all targets, but even more so against Robots because of the ionized nature of the plasma (i.e. superheated gas with electromagnetic properties).
In plasma-based blasters, a high-energy gas moves from the ignition chamber into the receiving chamber where it is ejected by mico-magrail as a plasma bolt through the collimating components. This turned the mass of plasma gas and energy into a coherent energy bolt of plasma.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Moebius Circuit an interesting Milieu

I was thinking as you do at times about rpg's - specifically FRPG's and SciFi-Rpg's and wondering why SciFi-Rpg's arnt more popular.

My mind started to think on a Dungeon Dimension - A reality made of only dungeon through which the players crawled. Sure this is nothing new people have thought of this before in settings. However I thought this would be a great way to introduce people to sci-fi rpging if they are from a frpg background. Its similar enough to Star-gate and the Matrix that people can get a handle on it. 

So what is it? Like I said its essentially a series of doorways which open on to a number of worlds mostly the doorways are unidirectional or present but require a "key" of some sort. The Moebius circuit itself is a series of tunnels - some have the appearance of natural stone work others are more "Utopian architecture" sterile white luminous plastic look. But the tunnels are not the only things on the circuit, there are the "Demesne"; Nexi,  Loci and Nodes. A Nexus is essentially a "Dome City", a Loci a large town-like structure and a Node a vilage/base or for want of a better word a Dungeon. To give an idea of the possible scale of a Nexus the idea of the Hollow Earth comes from traversing a  

Of cause this begs the question how did it - the Moebius Circuit come into being? This will be one of the central mysteries of the Circuit. Its not magical or only so far as Clark's law makes it so. Its a mega-engineering project. The doors all connect to worlds and either come out in cities, caves or other areas in a more or less natural manor.

Over the Eon's the progenitors have disappeared and other lifeforms have sprung up with the circuit and are taking advantage of the ancient tech left in place and/or have introduced there own. The Circuit is not just one endless corridor either its more like a maze of  passageways some of which are clearly for vehicles.

Now the United States military has come into possession of a set of Moebius Keys and the Explorer program has begun.   

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Games you may like to try

 I found this list  and it got me to thinking a) how much do I agree and b) how many have I tried...

So I'm going to do an editorial on it and have it up here for comment. For me they do not imply rank I'd certainly position them differently if that was the case. Just take them as must plays in the category 

100 Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games You Should Play Before You Die

Pen and paper roleplaying games are now a small-ish hobby. But if you’re a fan of this type of recreation, there are a few pen and paper roleplaying games which might be considered essential. Here’s
escribió's check off the ones you’ve played, then give the rest a try.

Fantasy Roleplaying Games

All pen and paper roleplaying games are “fantasy roleplaying games”, but this particular subcategory refers to “fantasy” in terms of the more traditional sense of “sword & sorcery” type fantasy.

1. Dungeons & Dragons – The original game that started the pen and paper roleplaying hobby. Play any and every version of it that you can. Dungeons and Dragons is fun.

<<edit; This is the big one although I think now I'd point ppl to Labyrinth Lord or Swords and Wizardry as opposed to any version of the game with the D&D logo on the box>>  [Check]
2. Runequest – My favorite edition was the 2nd edition, but a lot of people really love Runequest 3. Mongoose’s latest version of Runequest is the least compelling edition.

<<edit; Agree here and I'll mention that the 'Goose RQII is a very fine game indeed and well worth a look. If you want the game which is essentially Runequest 2nd ed then I recommend Openquest and its free so go get it >> [Check]
3. Tunnels & Trolls – A rules system that is so brilliantly narrativist that a lot of people still don’t get it. And it’s tons of fun. [Check]
4. Pendragon – One of the most detailed settings and most appropriate rules sets ever made. Greg Stafford is best known for “discovering” Glorantha, but Pendragon is his best game. (It’s set in the days of King Arthur.)  [Check]
<< edit: A lot of gaming groups come to this game as they would to a FRPG. Its not really an FRPG in the sense D&D or RQ is. Its a mythic rpg. Dont look at the players as all playing fighters; they are not. They will all play Lords. Yes nobles. A really fun part of the game is traveling around Salisbury wooing a wife and her farther. Really. Thats not saying thats the only fun or even a jest. It is actually a lot of fun. But so are the battles the quests the politics the magic. One of the biggest things that is hard to get used to is the healing rate. Get past that and your in for one hell of a good campaign>>  
5. Iron Heroes – This is ever-so-loosely based on the d20 system, but it’s so much cooler. It’s an “alternative” Players Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 with an emphasis on high-octane action in a low-magic setting. Well worth a try.  [Check - much to my chagrin]

<< edit: Really STRONGLY disagree with this entry and in its place I'd recommend the really fun Dragon Warriors  [Check]or if you want to keep the Sword adn Sorcery vibe look up and equally compelling Barbarians of Lemuria or Ron Edwards Sorcerer supplement "Sorcerer & Sword" [Check] >>
6. Amber Diceless – This was the original diceless roleplaying game, and when people talk about “diceless”, they’re usually talking about Amber Diceless.
7. Middle Earth Roleplaying – ICE published a game called Rolemaster back in the day, but the simplified version that was set in Tolkien’s fantasy universe was a better game in almost every way. This is still the best RPG set in Middle-Earth. [Check]
8. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – This one is set in the same universe as the Warhammer miniatures game, which is a rich setting. The rules are excellent, and the game has an unusually large number of scenarios available. [Check]
9. Donjon – This is the best indie roleplaying game I’ve ever played. Donjon a traditional dungeon-crawling setting with a terrific set of rules that give the players a LOT more control over the setting and adventure than they could ever have in any other game.

<<OK this one I've not done so I'll be hunting it down for a look>>
10. Empire of the Petal Throne – A pulp fantasy setting that is one of the most original and earliest fantasy settings in rpg history. Everyone should experience Tekumel at least once before they die.
<<this is unfortunately plagued with two attributes which will always make it a niche game a) its got jagon pouring from every page - part of its flavor and appeal  but its some what of a hurdle to getting into the game very much like "Jorune" [Check] and b) ETPT magic is not very magical feeling and very much not my taste - its all like D&D's x number of uses per day/week type. YMMV>>
11. Heroquest – This is the 2nd roleplaying game set in Glorantha (after Runequest). Heroquest focuses on high-magic, high-power action on a world-changing scale, as contrasted with the low-magic, gritty action of Runequest. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth a try, especially if you like the Glorantha setting. [Check]
<< I really want to like this game more than I actually do. Its good it just some what unsatisfying  on some level I cant put my finger on. Do give it a go. Its a great idea and good. Its surprisingly a rules lite but system heavy game>> 
12. Stormbringer – This is sorta-Runequest set in the Young Kingdoms of Michael Moorcock’s Elric novels. It’s a damn cool system, and the rules feature remarkably subtle changes that radically change the flavor of play. (I’m talking about the Chaosium version of the game, btw, not the new Mongoose pretender.) [Check]
13. The Fantasy Trip - A prototype of GURPS, but with a really cool system that’s still relevant and playable. [Check] 
<<Edit: OK. this is an ok game and that's about the limit of it. >>
14. Dragonquest - Pure kitschy retro RPG fun. It’s a shame this game went out of print, because it was fun and cool. I loved the artwork and design. [Check] 
<<Edit: this game had a big following in Melbourne and its still thought of fondly. I like it the game had its own unique flavor. The magic especially. It had a bias towards miniatures which we largely ignored.>>

Horror Roleplaying Games

15. Call of Cthulhu – This is the original horror roleplaying game, and it’s still the best. There are 20+ years of supplement and scenarios available for Call of Cthulhu.
<< Edit: I prefer my COC parsed by Trail of Cthulhu. I just have more fun with it then straight CoC now but both are outstandingly good.>>

16. Unknown Armies - From Atlas Games, a great setting and super mechanics. As elegant a set of horror rpg rules as I’ve seen. [Check]
<< Edit: Pulp Fiction meets Hellraiser is the best tag line for this game EVER. A great game. I'm pressed to recommend this and not also recommend Over the Edge. A game on Al Amarja is, I think more of a RPG playing milestone then a trip through the occult underground and a Mak Attax bugger. YMMV. So I subbed in OTE down low and took out Chill see below which is very pedestrian in everything it does.> >> 
17. Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium - I know I said that Call of Cthulhu is still the best horror roleplaying game available, but after reading the rules for Rafael Chandler’s brilliant self-published game, I’m having second thoughts.
<<edit: One I'm yet to try. I'm not sure its my type of horror so instead I'd sub in Dread, not to be confused with Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium above. Dread is the jenga tower game and its really really good for fostering the tension of horror [Check].>>
18. All Flesh Must Be Eaten – I don’t know why or how, but the dead…they walk among us. And they’re hungry!
19. Chill – When Call of Cthulhu first came out, a company called Pacesetter Games published a horror roleplaying game with more traditional foes like vampires and werewolves. That game was Chill, and it’s apparently the RPG that wouldn’t die, because it’s still available. (In a newer edition, of course.) [Check]
<< Edit: Chill is an OK game but on a list of RPG's you want to have played before you die .... If you never played Chill you havnt missed anything - honestly. However if you don't get to experience the greatness which is Over the Edge  [Check] well that would be nigh criminal.>>  
20. Delta Green – It’s unfair to list this here, as it’s not really a standalone game. Delta Green is the most detailed and best-written Call of Cthulhu alternate setting. Imagine The X-Files combined with Lovecraft, and throw in a dash of Tarantino, and you get an idea of what Delta Green is like.
<<For me Delta Green ripped off  Conspiracy-X. Ok OK I know it isnt but I prefer ConX over DG>> 
21. Witchcraft - The setting is similar to The Dresden Files. It’s a well-written rulebook with tons of scenario ideas and seeds, and the Unisystem rocks. Witchcraft is available as a free download.
<<Edit: For me this game is just Meh' nice ideas great art not much game. The Apocalypse game is better if very gonzo. That said I'd still sub in the Dresden Files RPG [Check]at this slot.>>
22. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The execution of a licensed roleplaying game makes or breaks the game. The execution on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer game couldn’t have been done any better. It’s a great game, and the authors obviously loved the show as much as I did.
<<Edit: honestly nothing about Buffy makes it belong in the Horror category IMHO. I was never spooked by a single episode. Its more a comedy. YMMV. HOWEVER - the cinematic Unisystem is pure gold. For a more horror themed option you really must play "Kult" [Check] which is even more Pulp Fiction meets Hellraiser then UA. Has to be on the must plays>> 
23. Kill Puppies for Satan – The actual game is even more bizarre than the title would lead you to believe. It’s an essential inclusion on any list of “shock” roleplaying games. Pathos makes for great roleplaying sessions.
<< Edit: KPFS is just too Indie for its own good IMHO. YMMV. So I'm subing in Dead of Night 2 [Check] here which is such a good game you will kick yourself for not knowing about it>>

24. Vampire the Masquerade - Did you ever want to play an ancient vampire involved in political power struggles? Did you ever want to spend hours being pensive and angry at your fate? Here’s your chance. [Check]
<< Edit: Cliched and formulaic now, this is still - even in the Requiem [Check] edition - a great game with a lot to recommend it. For drama and politics you cant beat this game. Its less about "getting your kill on" and much more about how the other half lives - where the other half are the blood suckers.>>
<<Edit: Honorable mention to;-  Dark Conspiracy which I have a real soft spot for [Check]>> 


Superhero Roleplaying Games

25. Villains and Vigilantes - There were a couple of superhero roleplaying games before this, but Villains and Vigilantes was the first fleshed-out superhero roleplaying game. If you want to see where the whole superhero roleplaying game concept began, then this is the game to start with.
<< Edit: Lots to love here. Its so beautifully old school too. Get this game play it and enjoy it. Lots of modules to support it if you cant be bothers to make your own adventures. Solid if Quirky in that old school way.>> 
26. Champions - If Villains and Vigilantes invented the superhero RPG, then Champions showed the world what a superhero roleplaying game could become. The game has been around forever, and the MMORPG version should blow City of Heroes out of the sky. You should give the pen and paper version a try.

<< Edit: I dislike this game for supers - it once was an option ... go there if you dig complexity. a far better option for a really great supers game is the Smallville rpg. [Check] Its gold and really a great option for a good supers game featuring drama and personal conflict. 
Ohh and BTW the Champions MMORPG was a massive flop and the City of Heroes franchise seem to be going from strength to strength. If you dig MMO"s it looks like Sony's DCU game is also good. Which is a nice segue to ...>>
27. Mutants & Masterminds - They asked Steve Kenson to create a d20 OGL based superhero roleplaying game. He did, and he simultaneously reinvented superhero roleplaying games. He did this by eliminating hit points and replacing them with damage saving throws. Mutants & Masterminds combines the flexibility of Champions with the playability of a modern RPG. This is my current superhero RPG game of choice, but be warned: it’s really Silver Age inspired.
28. DC Heroes - This is an out of print roleplaying game that still has a huge following online. The rules system is that good. If you can’t find a used copy of the original game, look for Blood of Heroes, which uses the same mechanics, but without the DC universe setting. (The Watchmen supplements for DC Heroes were two of the most well-done superhero adventures I’ve ever played in.)
29. Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game – A diceless superhero roleplaying game with remarkable production values. The supplements were high-quality too. It’s a shame the game didn’t last, but it’s still worth playing at least once, just to see what it’s like. The rules are more suitable for smaller numbers of players though.
<<Edit: A very light rpg with a strange bidding mechanic with lots of little rules around the bidding. Its not a bad game and it deserves more attention then it got. Its one flaw is its rules focus more on the smack down then the rest of the rpging but hey that is and easy fix>>
30. Marvel Heroes – In 1984, roleplaying games were still a new hobby. TSR published an innovative and clever RPG set in the Marvel Universe, and the game still has a lot of devoted followers. You can probably find the rules summarized online if you look hard enough.
<< Edit: a really overlooked gem of a game system and game option for Supers. I cant recommend this game highly enough. You can get this for free out on the web so go grab it up while you can and launch a game on your group. Btw all the modules are massively out of date re Marvel continuity and that will limit the use you can get from them>>
31. DC Universe Roleplaying Game – This one is notable for bringing the d6 system (which powered the original Star Wars roleplaying game) into the superhero universe. It’s still a great rule system, but it’s sadly out of print. d6 Powers is probably pretty similar.
<<EDIT  clearly not played by the author of the original list. The d6 rules used are the Legend - formerly D6 Double Prime - i.e. depending on your ability score, you are given a number of 6-sided dice to roll. Each die can achieve a success "3-6" or failure "1-2". You are also given a difficulty number from 1 to 10. After rolling, if you accumulate enough successes to hit or rise above the difficulty number, you succeed. One of the 6-siders is WILD and as a result, it is theoretically "open ended" and can be rerolled each time it rolls a 6. If it rolls a 1 on its initial roll, the Wild Die takes away a success. On rerolls, the wild die succeeds on 2-5 and fails normally on 1. Ohh and its was not a solid game; you needed all the supplements for it to be average and even then its not that great. So I'll sub in "Icons" [Check] here which is much more solid >>  
32. Wild Talents – A sequel to the WWII superhero RPG, Godlike, from publisher Arc Dream. Wild Talents uses a system called the “One Roll Engine”. It’s fun, and a different approach to superhero rules. [Check]
33. Capes – An indie superhero roleplaying game that is played with no gamemaster. I love games which give a lot of responsibility to the player, and a game with no gamemaster is the quintessential example of this kind of game. [Check]
<<Edit: I'm not sold on capes; I'm not sure I like the way it works in play. Therefore I will recommend Mutant City Blues  [Check] in this slot.>>
34. With Great Power… – A unique indie superhero game that uses playing cards instead of dice and encourages players to focus on what benefits the story rather than their characters.

Old West Roleplaying Games
<<Edit: I think this category  is overstocked and should probably be only five games Aces & Eights, Deadlands, Dust Devils, Dogs in the Vineyard, Wild West Cinema - Shady Gulch is more of a town supplement which you could use in any of these with the exception of DitV and maybe Dust Devils>>  

35. Aces & Eights: Shattered Frontier – This is one of the most beautiful roleplaying games I’ve ever touched. The book is leather-bound and full of beautiful full-color artwork. The rules are detailed and unique, and multiple “minigames” add flavor and options. The game is set in an alternate history designed to maximize roleplaying possibilities. [Check]
36. Deadlands – If you play no other game set in the old West, you must play Deadlands at least once in your life. This is the original genre-mixing RPG, mixing horror with the wild West in an irresistibly detailed and justifiably popular setting. [Check]
37. Dust Devils – A “story-based” old West roleplaying game, Dust Devils uses poker mechanics to resolve in-game actions. Each character struggles with an “inner demon”. [Check]
38. Boot Hill – This was the original old West roleplaying game from TSR, and it’s actually one of the earliest roleplaying games published after Dungeons & Dragons. If you like to kick it old school and get nostalgic, give this one a shot. [Check]
39. Dogs in the Vineyard – This isn’t exactly set in the old West, but it’s close enough to include here. Dogs in the Vineyard is another indie RPG that focuses a lot on character and story, mechanics-wise. You play God’s watchdogs in an old West that never really existed, and it’s your job to go into a town and solve its problems. You decide which sinners get mercy and which are judged. [Check]
40. Burros and Bandidos - If you want to play in the old West but NOT in the old West, you could play this game set in Mexico between 1840 and 1920.
<<Edit: I'll sub in Wild West Cinema [Check]by the inventive Dave Bezio also of X-Plorers Fame as a better option>>
41. Coyote Trail – A cool and easy-to-learn roleplaying game set in the old West from the incomparably cool Politically Incorrect Games. [Check]
42. The Fifth Wheel – A combination of six-guns and fantasy published by Better Mousetrap Games.
43. Werewolf Wild West – An old West roleplaying game with werewolves, from the same people who published Vampire the Masquerade.
<< Defiantly not a game you need to play before you die. Instead try Shady Gulch Revisited: Roleplaying in the Old West [Check]. A really great rpg in a really great western rpg town.
44. Gunslingers & Gamblers – A relatively new indie old West RPG available as a pdf. This is a “rules-light” game with a cinematic feel.

Comedy Roleplaying Games
<<Edit: I think this category  is over stocked and should probably be only the games Toon, Paranoia, Teenagers from Outer Space, Ghostbusters, >>  

45. Toon – A cartoon themed roleplaying game where you can play Bugs Bunny type characters. Your character never gets killed, just knocked down.
46. Hackmaster - A hugely popular parody of old-school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
47. Paranoia – A science fiction comedy roleplaying game where player characters in a dystopian future work for an insane computer. [Check]
48. Ghostbusters – Based on the film franchise, the Ghostbusters system was the precursor to the d6 system later used in the excellent Star Wars roleplaying game from West End. It was as fun as it sounds. [Check]
49. TWERPS – Billed as the “world’s easiest roleplaying game”. Your character only has one attribute, Strength. Great fun.  [Check]
<< Meh not really in and of it self very funny IMHO. I'll sub in Teenagers from outer space [Check]>>
50. Men in Black - Another d6 game from West End, based on the movie of the same name. The game doesn’t have a real following anymore, but it’s still good for a one-shot if you can find a used copy of the game somewhere cheap.
51. Kobolds Ate My Baby - A beer and pretzels RPG that parodies other fantasy roleplaying games, especially Dungeons & Dragons.
52. Munchkin – The roleplaying game version of the card game that parodies the entire roleplaying game hobby, but especially Dungeons and Dragons.
53. Tales from the Floating Vagabond - A science fiction spoof roleplaying game where every adventure begins in an outer space tavern called “The Floating Vagabond”.
54. Macho Women with Guns – A parody of action movies, roleplaying games, and science fiction.

Pulp Roleplaying Games

Pulp roleplaying games are what I consider recreations of the old pulp fiction magazines of the 1930’s in roleplaying format, but I’ve also included a couple of games which use a “pulpy” modern day setting for their background:

55. Two Fisted Tales – A fast and easy pulp roleplaying game that’s easy to learn and easy to GM.
56. Hollow Earth Expedition – Nominated for 4 Ennie awards, including Best Writing and Best Game. Stunning cover art. [Check]
57. Spirit of the Century – A FUDGE based roleplaying game in the pulp genre with a backstory that’s perfect for getting heroes together for pulp adventures. [Check]

<<Edit: Not some much FUDGE as FATE>>
58. Adventure! – White Wolf’s entry into the pulp genre, the Storytelling system works remarkably well for pulp action.
59. Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes – This one is loosely based on the Tunnels and Trolls system, but it includes a skills mechanic. [Check]
60. Daredevils – From the makers of Villains and Vigilantes, Fantasy Games Unlimited. The game has actually nothing to do with V&V though, mechanically. FGU published several adventures for the game. [Check]
<<EDIT: the adventures are really good pulp fair>>
61. Justice Inc. – This was the Hero system’s original pulp fiction game. It’s been replaced and made obsolete by Pulp Hero, but it’s historically important.
<<Edit: Not a must play >>
62. The Savage World of Solomon Kane - This is a Savage Worlds setting, and it’s well done. Most people think of pulp fiction in terms of Doc Savage and The Shadow, but Solomon Kane is cooler than both, and just as “pulp”.
63. Gangbusters – TSR’s early attempt at 1920’s and 1930’s roleplaying game focuses on fighting crime. If you want to play an RPG version of The Untouchables, this would be a good system for that.
64. Godlike – I’m stretching the definition of pulp to include World War II here, with superheroes, but the game still “feels” pulpish. It’s an excellent game with a unique new mechanic called the “One Roll Engine”.

<<Edit: Humm I'd sub in Slipstream, MARS or Daring Tales of Adventure for Savage worlds as better options then Godlike for Pulp goodness. If I had to pick just one DToA wins>>.

65. Pulp Hero – One of the most voluminous reference works I’ve ever seen in an RPG. The chronology of the time period alone makes this game worthy of a spot in your collection.

Science Fiction Roleplaying Games

66. Traveller – Traveller is to science fiction roleplaying games what Dungeons and Dragsons is to fantasy roleplaying games, and what Call of Cthulhu is to horror games. The setting is just as compelling now as it was in the 1980’s when it first came along.

<<Edit: the thing is the setting was not really there in the beginings. It really got there later and as actively promoted by the MegaTraveller version of the game. Traveller can be a damn fine game with out the Imperium as its setting and just as a generic space rpg it does a great job>>
67. Star Wars d6 – Accept no other Star Wars game. This is the one, true Star Wars roleplaying game. The cinematic nature of the d6 system captures the feel of the movies SO much better than the newer d20 version.
68. Serenity – The setting is the real kicker for this one. Firefly fans are nearly fanatical, and here’s your chance to play around in that universe.

<< This is actually a very good game which improves over the course of its supplements and I'd recommend it. I'd particularly recommend it if you're out to do a Firefly rpg i.e. thats my round about way of saying itd a good system adn setting for generic sci-fi and 'Verse only games >>
69. Warhammer 40000 RPG's – More than just a science fiction game, Warhammer 40000 Dark Heresy is set in the far-flung future of the same universe of Warhammer Roleplay. So you can fight orcs in space. 

<<Edit: of the set I think Rogue Trader is the best of the bunch for a more open campaign. Dark Heresy is good for more human level procedural drama. >>
70. Battlestar Galactica – Your chance to become part of the rag-tag fleet.

<< Editi: Another odd option for an RPG - its not much more then a framework to do games set in the rag tag fleet. It doesn't give ways to make the game more "BSG" then using any other rule set to doing the same game. The Smalville rpg without powers (maybe some for the cylons???) would do this game more justice. So for that reason I'll sub in Eclipse Phase at this spot. Equally you should have Transhuman Space use together for added goodness>>
71. Babylon 5 – The tv show was popular and well conceived. The roleplaying game shouldn’t disappoint.

<<Edit: But the rpg really did disappoint. It was a very oh-hum implementation of the OGL. However the source material and season books are gold if you are a fan of the show. So for that reason I'll sub in "Diaspora" as a game with a hard sci-fi feel and a good system. Or if FATE is too "out there" for your tastes then Alternity+StarDrive for which all the setting material is very good get the spot>>
72. Starship Troopers – If you want military action in space, then give Starship Troopers a try. If you’re looking for anything more elaborate, you probably won’t find it here though.

<<Edit: This game is not a pinch on how 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars handles Sci-Fi Military games. Go get 3:16>>
73. Ringworld – Long out of print and hard to find, but worth it when you find it. Ringworld is a Chaosium Basic Roleplaying game, and the setting is derived from the novels of the same name.

<<Edit:  Really NOT that great of a great game. There is nothing here not done much better by some other sci-fi game. The ring world info is nothing you cant get from other sources. Nothing to see here moving along. I'll substitute Blue Planet for its sandbox completeness and good sci-fi feel as a must play>>
74. Shadowrun – Did someone say cyberpunk?

<< Edit: While I think Shadowrun 4th ed actually is a very playable and fun game I'd have to point people to the classic Cyberpunk 2020 first, then to Shadowrun (SR is a genre blend of fantasy races and magic with cyberpunkness)>>
75. Doctor Who – The game came out long before the latest 2 or 3 Doctors, but you can update the setting with little difficulty.

<<Edit:  I'm going to tweek this into a recommendation for Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space which is a great game and a god way to get non roleplayers playing>>.
76. Prime Directive – Star Trek roleplaying games are easy enough to find, but this variation is different enough from the original setting to have a few surprises while being familiar enough to reduce the learning curve.
<< I'm sorry but again I have to differ to another property - Namely the Icon versions of trek with TOS being my personal pick and Next Gen being not to far behind. The Decipher versions are also good and the FASA game has wonderful adventures even though the combat system in it was woefully complex and boardgame driven. >>
77. 2300 AD – This was originally called Traveller 2300, but people got really confused, because it had nothing to do with the Traveller universe.

<<Edit: this is really one of my favorite RPG's of all time. Having said that it really is just Traveller meets Starship Trooper via Twilight 2000. This game works best as a survivor horror game. If you play it as straight mil-sci-fi then I'd pick up Carnage Amongst the Stars as a better vehicle for that type of play.
As Ive already nominated "CAtS" I'm going to Substitute the wonderful Stars Without Number and X-Plorers as good simple games for great sci-fi (on the nostalgia kick Star Frontiers also gets a nod) in this slot>>  
78. Transhuman Space – I don’t consider most GURPS games as standalone games, but the setting for this scifi game is so elaborate and well-thought-out that it warrants inclusion here. It’s the future, and everyone wants to become “transhuman”. What does that imply?

<<Edit: As I have said this is great and a worthwhile game. I prefer Eclipse Phase. YMMV. As I placed these higher in the order, I'm going to use this spot to add the awesome Star-blade Battalion Mekton Zeta combo. The makings of a truly great Mecha sci-fi game. If you cant get that then go to Cthulhutech - the name really lets this game down IMHO. Its a great milieu and worth a game and has a AppleSeed, Guyver, Evangelion feel without taking the Anime/Mecha thing too far.    

Generic Roleplaying Games
<< Edit: I don't think system alone makes a game so I'm going to ignore this whole category other then saying yes they exist and yes they are useful>>. 

GURPS started a trend in roleplaying games to come up with one set of rules followed my multiple settings sourcebooks. Here are some of the most notable generic roleplaying game systems:

79. GURPS – A lot of people are convinced that GURPS is the ultimate roleplaying system, and I’m not convinced they’re wrong. There are plenty of reasons to play other games, but I can see how a game system as robust as GURPS could be considered the last roleplaying game you’ll ever need.
80. Basic Roleplaying – Chaosium finally published the Basic Roleplaying system as a standalone game, and what do you know? It’s terrific. The notes for how to adapt the system to various campaigns and genres are nothing short of inspired. Most people could do the work of converting Runequest or Call of Cthulhu to another genre, but this book makes it even easier.
81. FUDGE -As generic roleplaying game systems go, I like FUDGE even better than GURPS. The major difference is that the volume of material for GURPS is so much larger than for FUDGE. But FUDGE is so elegantly simple that translating any of the GURPS sourcebooks shouldn’t take much time at all.
82. Savage Worlds – Fast, furious and fun. This is a generic game system that delivers exactly what it promises. I love the way Savage Worlds makes use of the different dice.
83. Active Exploits – A newer diceless generic roleplaying game system. I’m always willing to try something new and different, and any kind of advance in “diceless” roleplaying is worth a look.
84. Fuzion – A hybrid system that combines the Interlock System with the Hero System and comes out with something new in flavor. Notable for being a good ruleset for anime games.
85. Hero System – This is the generic version of the Champions rules, and they’re completely modular. Like GURPS, Champions allows you to set up exactly the kind of character you want to play. You just need to understand the nuts and bolts of the system first, and they’re not as hard as you think.
86. True20 – Based on the modifications and tweaks that Steve Kenson made to the rules with the OGL, True20 can best be described as the d20 system boiled down to its essence. It’s stripped down, lean, and well-suited for any genre you like.
87. Risus – This almost landed in the comedy games section, but a lot of people use Risus for serious gaming too. It’s a stripped down version of the d6 system, and it’s available for free. The Risus Companion is well worth the money though, so consider picking it up too.
88. d6 -My favorite generic system is the d6 system, which originated with Ghostbusters, matured with Star Wars, and eventually became a popular generic roleplaying game in its own right. Most of the books are available as pdf’s.

Post Apocalyptic Roleplaying Games

89. The Morrow Project -American industrialists predict a nuclear war and cryogenically freeze volunteers to rebuild after the apocalypse. You’re a volunteer for the Morrow Project, and you just woke up to a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Time to rebuild the world.
90. Aftermath – A Fantasy Games Unlimited game set after the apocalypse. From the same people who published Villains and Vigilantes.
91. Twilight 2000 – A realistic post apocalyptic adventure set after a limited nuclear exchange that left the world in disarray. You play soldiers stranded in Europe looking for a way to make it back home.
92. Deadlands: Hell on Earth – Advance the classic weird west setting of Deadlands a couple hundred years, and you wind up with a weird, wonderful, Mad Max type setting that’s way cooler than you could possibly imagine.
93. Low Life: Rise of the Lowly – A Savage Worlds game that’s not anything like any other post-apocalyptic game you’ve ever played. The apocalypse has come and gone, and the lowly cockroaches and other lower forms of life have evolved. You’re one of them. Insanely different.

<<Edit: I'm going to substitute Lesser Shades of Evil here as a better must play option then Low life. Low life makes for a fun read as does Hol although I question playability.>> 
94. Gamma World – The mechanics are similar to Dungeons & Dragons, but the game itself is set 500 years in the future, after a nuclear war. You fight mutants instead of orcs.

<<See also Mutant Future for a OSR version of the same>>
95. Rifts – Not really a post-apocalyptic game in the usual sense, <snip> Rifts is the ultimate Palladium RPG, and it spans multiple genres and power-levels.

Contemporary Roleplaying Games

Contemporary roleplaying games are set during the current time period, but they’re not necessarily limited to the “real world”. These games usually have more in common with the “reality” of action movies.

96. James Bond 007 – One of the earliest roleplaying games that played significantly differently from Dungeons and Dragons. More movie-based than book-based.
97. Spycraft – Probably the most popular spy/espionage roleplaying game in existence.
98. Conspiracy X – An Eden Studios game set in modern America, but one with UFO’s and conspiracies galore. Almost qualifies as horror and/or scifi, but since it’s set in the 21st century as we know it, I’ve included it here.
99. d20 Modern – Dungeons and Dragons set in modern-day America.

<<Edit: You dont need to rush out and play this game its D&D in the modern day - not that thats not good the games really solid - its just not high on my list of must plays>>
100. Feng Shui – Action movie and Hong Kong cinema inspired, with a really simple rules system that rewards flashy stunts.

<< Edit: The hidden secret in this game is great and worth the entry fee. This is sort of - now that I think about it - a proto-FATE game, and now running this with FATE would be a solid option>>  

I have to also add a few other must plays from my own experiance

The Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor - You really do have to tack this one down its great
Dragon Warriors
Dont rest your head
Colonial Gothic
Barbarians of Lemuria

I'm sure there is more and I'm likely to come back and edit this to put a few more clearly up as games you really want to get to try 

Friday, March 11, 2011

During the session - An Ayurth game report

I have been taking the players through The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and its been going well so far I have tweaked it a little a to make it more my own, but mostly we have been able to play through it without very much adjustment.

Some funny little window dressing items have take on a life of there own. For example the town and the town council have, in an effort to improve the towns image initiated a campaign to change the towns name to Sandpoint in an effort to attract more settlement and trade interest.

The setting is also more feudal then your typical egalitarian D&D setting. As a result class is important, however it is less ridged then a true feudal system. Essentially there is a recognition in the main culture of a mans merit so if one can contribute significantly noble status can be bestowed. Additionally there is also a cultural bias towards the "good Samaritan"  and the what the culture calls the "Virtuous Vagabond" very much like the WuXia in Chinese folk lore or the Gunfighter of the fictional American wild west.

So we have gotten to the pause between the House on the Hill and the Seafaring smugglers. As my aim is to try and develop a Sandbox for play this was now where the players had to step up and start scouting out the milieu. They struggled at first - having fallen into the modern story driven all work on the DM mode of game play so the session bogged down a little and I needed to prod and goad them into staring to investigate the surroundings of Sandpoint.

A players map is indispensable for this purpose. So as they went, I gave them a very rudimentary map to go by, while trying to have them develop it further. Sandbox play of D&D is new to them in many ways and taking the initiative for the story and the direction to take the story in, is some what of a struggle for them yet.

This is where the wonderful wandering monster table comes in. Essentially the more the game bogs down the more rolls you send in the direction of a random encounter and the more likely an encounter becomes. There is an art to weaving the encounter, into the emerging story, I have found. Essentially I don't roll and go "AHAH roll initiative" what I actually do is roll and find out what it is and then seed it into the developing narrative.

This is I'm sure common sense to many reading this. My own experience as a player shows this is not the most common way of handling wandering monsters. They become in the hands of many GM's a very arbitrary and mechanical, game artifact. A jarring part of the game.  It should not be like a "Spawning" monster in a video game. Something that just "pops" into existence (although some creatures can do so and in those cases its a bit different e.g. blink dogs and phase spiders).

I find this quite odd to reflect upon as techniques like "foreshadowing" - an essentially part of managing the narrative when introducing a wandering monster are often seen as "advanced" DM techniques....

I'm going to go back to my "Good Game Mastering" and other GMing guides and re examine some of  the assumptions around game mastering and the tool kit and see if there are other areas where I need to reconsider and adjust my thinking.

We also, as I suspected, started to find out more about the 100,000 - the gods- this session. We found out more about the Lords of Light and the Elder Gods specifically and even a little about the Night Lords. How did this happen? It was mainly due to the involvement of an inquisitor which is working with the local Baron (I wonder why....??? :-P ) we found out that while he worshiped the Lords of Light his personal patron deity was "Illumen" God of Light from Darkness, Truth, Learning and Wrath. We already knew a little about "Selene" the Moon Goodess, goodess of Dreams, Peace and Wisdom. We found out about Tenebrak a Night Lord and nemesis of Illumen and his fellow Night Lord Da'kess although little is know of them. 

The concept of the 100,000 is to be very inclusive with the gods. I'm not sure which we will include and exclude or how powerful or significant any god will be during the present age. This gives both the players and myself a lot of flexibility.

Lastly, I'm having a lot of problems with the sleep spell. We are using a type of casting roll/spell point system - with the spell points effectively being hit-points rather then the traditional Vance like fire/forget spell casting. I tinkered and play tested it a bit before introducing it - it has some similarities to the spell casting used in Pax Fortuna and in Sovereign Stone. Even so we are seeing Sleep as the tool for every problem and its not siting will with me. I'm now thinking of making Sleep more like hold person only the targets are asleep rather then paralyzed. 


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Joining the Hot elf chick meme

I love how this meme has been picked up so here for now are some additions in a Sci-Fi bent to the meme

The Hot Sci-fi chicks bid you welcome to the OSR

Find out more about retro Sci-Fi gaming by getting 
Asteroids and Aliens (coming soon - a Systems Lord production)

My Aim some point

I'll be doing a Sci-Fi rpg inspired, like my D&D effort "Here Be Dragons" on a lite rules base with the best of what I consider is on offer from OSR and my at the table experience.

this statement from the design comments in Dragon Warriors, one of my favorite games, which I have played at least as much as AD&D 1st ed [I know aint I weird - Specifically the Elven Crystals]

<snip> it resembles something that I really wish the retro gamers would at least attempt: take classic games and apply to them lessons learned through playing them. I had the vivid impression from DW that the authors either played a lot of early 80s D&D, or thought long and hard about its shortcomings, and set out to systematically address the game's issues while preserving the feel of a fast, easy, and digestible game. 

I'd like to do just that ...lofty goal??? well good to have some thing to strive for.

Medieval Time keeping

I want to use this type of time keeping in the Ayurth game 

  • Vigils/Nocturns, begin at midnight and extend half-way to sunrise
  • Matins, begin half-way to sunrise and extend to sunrise (breakfast; in Ayurth traditionally water and oat biscuits or flat bread)
  • Prime (1st) first hour, Sunrise to to midmorning (mornings meal - a little like a lunch)
  • Terce (3rd) midmorning to midday
  • Sext (6th), Midday to mid-afternoon
  • Nones (9th) Mid-afternoon to Sunset
  • Vespers, Sunset, Twilight, Dusk, to mid-evening
  • Compline, Mid-evening to midnight

This assumes equal divisions, which is not actually what happen in the real Medieval day, It depended on the time of the year to determine the length of an hour 

I know it is a bit too Liturgical but then again the Temples to the Lords of Light have a veneer of Catholic-like worship practices.

This also begs the question about who really does make up the Lords of Light, The Night Lords and The Mad gods. The Elder Gods are essentially the Mythos - Yes that Mythos.

So I need at some point to come up with at least the most common of the Gods for each of the Pantheons...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gaming and real life

One of the most unusual things with role playing gaming is we all do want to play and gather at the table to have adventures but real life makes this quite difficult.
Between work, family, parties, movies, dates, celebrations and simple things like TV and tiredness we really don't get to the game table as much as we would all like.

So due to these pressures new ways of enjoying out hobby have arisen and I'd suggest blogging and and online OSR discussion forums and all the others fill some of our gaming-dragon-chasing.

So if you are at a loss as to how to fill your time with out a paper game try this random table

Roll 1d12;
  1. Read/Play Warlock of Fire top Mountain*  *<<insert other CYOA book here if you WoFTM is in tatters>>
  2. Set up and play Tunnels and Trolls in solo mode
  3. Read a new Module and scheme for a TPK
  4. Contribute to a gaming forum preferably about how you delivered a TPK
  5. Blog about your TPK in Tunnels and Trolls
  6. Fire up a computer game
  7. Paint miniatures
  8. Polish your dice
  9. Write your own OSR game 
  10. Design a new campaign world 
  11. Worship Satan and kill puppies or at least read a game about it...
  12. Roll twice on this table combining the two random results ignoring additional roles of 12  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shadowrun and the D&D Game

I've hacked Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Book to come up with our own game. Its a Fanken-Game-Creation and borrows bits from all over the OSR world .. at least that I know of. With regards to OSR I've found out I'm more influenced by the 3rd edition of the game then I thought. My pedigree is Moldvey-D&D>Rules Cyclopedia>AD&D[1stEd]>D&D[3rdEd]>OSR and now our own rules Here Be Dragons. If I had some help from someone who understands the OGL I'd even consider adding it to the broad morass of games out in the OSR landscape. So if you read this and can help please drop me a line.

World wise the game is sort of floating in an undefined world which is just now starting to come together. I started thinking I'd just place it in the Goodman Games Known World but I've departed from that idea. I considered briefly using my Lords of Light/Steel Remains homage setting Udarth but decided it was too big a departure from established canon.

Talking about cannon the approach I'm talking is the world is only defined through play so I'm going to try and resist filling in "gaps" in the world through the massive mental wankery which is world building. Oh sure I'll do some. I wont be able to avoid it but I want to deliberately keep it really lean and leave in game creativity as the source of the world detail more or less. However I will use a Harn, Seven Kingdoms, Pendragon, "High Medieval transitioning into Renaissance" setting as my guide and the world will be Ayruth because it simple - this was my erstwhile game world as we were growing up so it has the nostalgia factor and its also just easy.

The world is more or less undefined at the moment no one has seen a map yet and no one other then the Mage would conceivably have this information maybe the Cleric. So the world has very little definite form right now;

What form it does have can been seen in the list below:

  • The Characters know they are all regarded as "Norter-landers" (Norter essentially a European type content)
  • The content referred to as the Common-Lands comprises the ares know as Nort-Land, Mid-Land and Hoj-Lands (also Mid-Nortland and Hoj-Nortland)
  • The Rafike live to the south across the waters and the dominant Rafike culture the "Omaedin" invaded southern Nort-land and the part of the nation of Cylmira (Silmira) and the city of Aessenttia
  • To the far North ("Hoj-Lands") are the Varden, hardened barbarians of the Conan, Fafard mien
  • To the far East are the Sun Rise lands home to the Sunrise Horde which many years ago invaded into the Common-Lands   
  • The PC's are all from either The Freeport City State or they are from the Nation of Cylmira 
  • The Capital of Cylmira is Aessenttia
  • Three towns lay between  Aessenttia and Sandpoint/Saltmash one of which is Seaton
  • Seaton is the seat of the Baron Valrith and he has a castle here 
  • The Pirate nation of Freeport exists far out off the coast of Nortland
  • The Gods are known as the 100,000
  • The groupings among the Gods are the Lords of Light, The Night Lords, the Mad Gods, The Elder Gods, The Spirits House and hearth, The Ancestor Spirits, The Greater Elemental Lords, and Mother Nature and the All Father.  

And that's about all that is known of the world.

We have been playing this even though we are "meant" i.e. had planed to be doing Shadowrun and this has suited all of us so far.

On the Shadowrun front I've established a 2060-ish date as the "now". The players will be going through Brainscan and some other adventures to pad out Brainscan. I'm also wanting to make this game a sandbox one so I'm looking at how that can be done in Seattle. Brainscan will kick off the Sandbox and provide a backdrop for the Players to explore their own in game agendas I'm hoping.

I'm still planning a Sci-fi game but biding my time for the release of an updated X-plorers, A couple of expected books for Traveller or Traveller2300 or even a look at Cthonian Star. While I expect I will ultimately use Stars Without Numbers, X-plorers, Classic Traveller, Diaspora or my own OSR Sci-Fi Hack, the other games will inform my design too. If we use Traveller it will be as a rule set not as a setting as I'm - dare I say it - starting to find the Imperium dull going compared to a more focused setting with less Imperial Sci-Fi underpinnings. You can tell form the list above that I'm still culling down the system options. One of the most beautiful things - to my way of thinking - about the OSR is it takes system to the back seat and focuses not on design, system, milieu or setting but on the most important aspect of the game and that's play.   

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ok so lets look at old school scifi and other departures

This is really important to me. I like that we are starting to see Hobbyist come up with the type of retro games I like.

I'm not that much of a fantasy fan and I like rules lite. Gamma World was a big favorite of mine as was Aftermath which was less gozo then Gamma Word. You see the best Gamma World games we had where more like Logan's Run - Humans coming out of the Dome cities and taking back the world above and dealing with the dome city politics. I know that is quite a departure from base Gama World but that is how we played it. Similarly we liked Morrow Project as it was more of the same and our games would often be an amalgam of both concepts. I always felt sad that Cyborg Commando never really got of the ground - I pretty sure I'm the only one but there you have it. Same for Leading Edges Rand stuff.  I didn't like phoenix command in execution.  Loved Jorune too but again it never really gabbed other peoples imaginations. Talislanta loved that sucker too. Lords of Creation. I coerced my gaming buddies into playing these games I loved and some worked and others didn't. 

I don't know why weird fantasy settings and sci-fi setting don't get more love.Is it that they are harder to run or just not as appealing in some way... harder to fit into the weird setting?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Community links and Acknowledgment

I just went over to catch up on one of my favorite blogs Randall's Retro Roleplaying blog and look at what I found. So very kind of him to give me a tip of the hat. Nice guy. Great designer and good game producer. If you love 3/3.5ed or OD&D then go over and get in on the action and read his blog.

I'm off to try and learn how to do maps in GIMP 

Friday, February 11, 2011

A funny thing happend on the way to the game table....

I have had a realization. It has been spurred on by the insightful

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Steller Advice

I stumbled across a great post on practical GM'ery which I think is just great. It explains so much.

I'll come clean and say that I'm a very changeable GM. I have the habit of wanting to jump to a new game every now and then. More often "now "then "then" actually.

There is a reason for it however. I'm not, as has been explained before a Fantasy rpg fan as a rule. My tastes in this regard are more outre then most of my gaming-mates. When it comes to Fantasy I'm a fan of Talislanta, and Jorune, even the myth driven RuneQuest. However my first love is Sci-fi gaming. Followed by Pulp followed by Horror and finally of all things Supers. So when I get backed into a corner as a GM I used to run FRPG's - I mean D&D, as a sort of - "ok if I must" type of  proposition. I'd rather have something on then nothing when it comes to gaming.

Lucky I'm now - after many years - starting to understand OD&D and I'm on a bit of a Labyrinth Lord kick. So we have done some OD&D type one shots but we all want a campaign, its positioned as the back up game, but even so I wish it was the excellent Stars Without Number as our OD&D type bash. Seriously.

The funny thing is I'm not sure what my favorite game or game-system is. I've had lots of fun with Traveller in the past but I cant think of the last time I have a good sci-fi campaign. Back in my 20's maybe.

The last great campaign -2009-2010 - I ran was Hollow Earth Expedition. I do like most everything about the game but it gets to a point once the players are sufficiently advanced, that things become ridiculously easy. Honestly as a GM this is my biggest problem; character experience systems.       

To top it off I find myself in the "thinking-I-should-switch-games" situation now. I'm running Shadowrun for my game group. Look it is an ok game but its not what I really, really, dig doing. How did I get myself in this situation - Well I tried to introduce my players to the "awesome" which is FATE3.0.

Long and short of it is that it was not our fate to play FATE... too many subsystems in which the players felt they had to become versed. That game was  meant to be a Transhumanist sci-fi game sort of Eclipse Phase, meets Cthuluh Rising powered by FATE3.0. Somehow one of the players just had to buck convention and play a mage (long story and the wrong call by me). So when the system didn't work out the step to Shadowrun was set by this precedent. 

So I'm left with the problem of dreading trying to do Shadowrun every week for the players who are really keen on it or doing a "shifty" and making us do a "new" game.

I have a plan on how to make Shadowrun a fun game for me. Maybe this could work...

Step one: Make Seattle a Sandbox - What does that really mean? It means nominating some sights in Seattle which are Locations of adventure/interest/curiosity
Step two: Add in factions - The Megacorps, Gangs and other factions in Seattle
Step three: Add connections between the things in the setting, the factions etc.
Step four; Add some connections outside the city of Seattle these are simply the same as the Seattle locations but are more broad
Step five: Add the players and some hooks into whats going on 

The AI's are one of the factions I'll focus on
Evo and its holdings are another

I wonder if this can keep me interested in the game....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Not retro-clone but Make your own

See... I get the retro-clone phenom. I'm into it myself in a fairly big way just now. But although I was an 80's gamer and was there for most of that area of D&D goodness I was to be honest more a fan of  Traveller and Star Trek and even Mercenaries Spies and Private Eyes.

Traveller was for years were my roll playing fetish existed. So the retro-clone is teaching me to really like D&D fantasy, which is a lot of fun.

But my bias is, I'm not a fan of levels (I dont mind the class concept) and while I don't need a huge skill list (in fact would prefer on with 20 or less entries) I really do like some skills in some situations. I also like emotion/morality emulation in my games as well. What I love are all the guys out there home-brewing with the OSR its cool.

BUT I wonder what if it wasnt just "retro-clone" but "make your own", I read this and it hit the nail on the head for me.  Particularly when you see the direction Goodman games is taking too. Goodmans games is forging new ground old school feel but new mechanics.

That is the key for me. I don't actually like levels and plain hit points, all the odd foibles of OD&D's mechanics. I actually think they have been, at their core improved upon over the years in both editions of D&D and in many other games.

I've previously come out and stated my opinion of D&D 4th ed. Its a miniatures rule set. A very complicated one for a skirmish game in which you have only really one figure but there you have it. Sure you role play while you do the combats an in between but its a minis game.  Because of this its all about the rules in the books.

That is not what old rpg-ing was and there is room for another type of game the type of role playing we grew up with ...

I think that it doesn't have to just mean D&D or just mean fantasy. Thankfully we are starting to see this departure now. Stars Without Number - over which I'm still in deep fan-gasm - is a Scifi game in this ilk and we have also had Star Frontiers as an old school free on the web option. People are doing great stuff with the rules that are out there like Mystery Men Beta by John M Stater.

Its exciting to see these home-brews and I hope they can break from the feeling they need to base themselves upon OD&D for legitimacy.

We return you now to you regularly scheduled sandbox update.   


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Back in the sandbox

Before I get into this I wanted to highlight the success of Pathfinder. My thinking this is what happens when you try and tell your audience/consumers what they want in their game (Hasbro I'm talking of you - More to the point I'm talking to you MM). Ron Edwards whom I greatly admire as a rpg writer and critic would no doubt comment that this further proves "system is important" and I'd be in the first ranks of that rally-cry too.  Thanks to

Ok lets get more sand between the toes.

I'm using a number of rpg resources to compile my sci-fi sand-box.
Chief of these is the wonderful Stars Without Number - I'm using its guidelines for setting up the sandbox.
Other contributing works are
Starblazers Adventures
Thousand Suns
Cthulhu Rising

I'm also inspired by a few themes I want to explore and these will have an influence on the setting;
Freedom and what that means - I'll counterpoint this with what will essentially be slavery and even try to show the results of Anarchy.  
Centralized vs Decentralized power
Might vs Right
What is Human/Humanity

Any way that all looks like fairly lofty stuff but its not meant to be they are just guild lines to me in setting things up within the Sandbox and hint at some of the core types of conflict I want occurring

I'm also quite inspired by the colonial expansion period of earth history, specifically the American war of independence and some of that will no doubt pollinate my setting too.    

I've already made up my mind on the number of systems which will be central the the game. There will no doubt be more but the setting will have a central thirteen systems of which Earth/Terra will be one.

I'm off now to find out how I make Hexographer work to give me  10x8 hexmaps I can use and post up here to show the systems.

Revealing? Or why I think Mike Mearls work is cumbersome

Below is a part of a review for the Age of worms adventure path and sums up in one piece of work my own opinion of Mike Mearls work. Note" Mike Mearls is the architect of D&D 4th edition and also the mess of rules labeled the Iron Heroes role playing game (or as I like to call it "how to get swords and sorcery wrong").
I'm just not sold on any of his design work for many little reasons.

for the full review go to rpg net and read Sebastian's review

I think he sums it up nicely in this.

The Three Faces of Evil
Issue #125
Written by Mike Mearls

After a strong start, the Adventure Path suffers from the two weakest entries in the series. The second adventure, the Three Faces of Evil, suffers mostly from a lack of editorial oversight. The adventure was written concurrently with the Whispering Cairn, and it shows.
The hook for The Three Faces of Evil is that the players are seeking to investigate a strange green worm that they found in Filge’s lab in the prior adventure. However, the hook assumes that they do this by going directly to Balabar Smenk with the worm. Considering that Filge was working for Balabar Smenk and that the players likely killed him, and quite possibly Smenk’s gang of reprobates, the idea of them going to discuss the implications of the green worm with him is laughable. Nonetheless, this is the premise for the adventure. Should the characters go to Smenk, he informs them that he swiped the worm from a rival mine manager who allegedly has an evil cult operating out of his mine. The cult is blackmailing Smenk to provide supplies and he asks the characters help in rooting the cult out.
The cult, called the Ebon Triad, worships the idea of Vecna, Erythnul and Hextor merging into a single overgod. Each of the three mini-dungeons is occupied by a cell that worships one of these three gods.
This location of the mine is where a major editorial mistake crops up. The backdrop article about the town of Diamond Lake places the mine in the center of the city, but The Three Faces of Evil states that the mine consists of a barricaded mini-fortress guarded by more troops than the local keep. This is inconsistent with the map of Diamond Lake and illogical given the location.
Getting into the mine involves bribing or otherwise bypassing the guards. The module details a number of potential strategies, including entering disguised as a miner. Attacking the guards or miners is also possible, but likely to have serious repercussions unless the characters can connect them to the Ebon Triad.
The Ebon Triad resides in three separate mini-dungeons at the bottom of an elevator shaft deep in the mine. This set-up provides a number of logistical problems for a low level group, not the least of which is that there is no safe place to retreat and rest. Going back through the mine is likely to draw attention, and until the party cleans out one of the three mini-dungeons, there are few safe places to rest. On top of this, there is a credibility problem because, although the three groups are aligned, none of them react to an attack that is not directed at them.
The Temple to Hextor is the first mini-dungeon presented. (In an earlier draft of the adventure, this was the only area accessible. The other two doors could only be unlocked by obtaining keys from the leaders of the cult of Hextor and Erythnul, respectively. This idea was written out, but the keys remain in the possession of some of the NPC’s). The Temple is extremely well organized, and an almost impossible challenge for third level characters. Editorial errors run rampant in this section (rooms are misidentified, creatures wield weapons for which they lack proficiency, and the number of cultists in one room is missing entirely). The centerpiece of the section is an encounter in a gladiatorial style arena, in which must tip over a statute to reach a balcony above. Unfortunately, the characters are unlikely to survive the battle if it plays out in the way Mike Mearls has it written.
The Temple of Erythnul is a series of caverns occupied by grimlocks. The blindsight ability of the grimlocks severely restricts a party’s ability to scout. Unlike the Temple of Hextor, the level of organization is minimal, and the characters need not worry about being mobbed. The caverns have some unique elements, including a cavern shaped like a U that requires the players to descend to the floor while being peppered by archers and then climb back up the other side using a decrepit rope bridge. The end boss is a fanatical grimlock prophet with the eyes of a beholder stitched in his empty sockets.
The final temple consists mainly of a large maze. While mazes are normally difficult to run (particularly if the DM doesn’t use a battlemat and has to verbally describe the passageways), Mr. Mearls does a good job of building a manageable encounter around the gimmick. The maze is the size of a standard battlemat, and the text notes on which square the entrance should be marked. While in the maze, the characters must deal with hit and run attacks from a group of kenkus. Because the kenku are able to open and close the numerous secret doors in the maze with a swift action, the encounter plays out in a series of hit and run battles. The foes are perfectly calibrated to frustrate the players, but then allow them to take out that frustration once they connect against the low hp kenku. At the end of the maze is the Faceless One, a wizard with an almost featureless face. He is an excellent villain, and it is too bad that the adventure path does not utilize him more.
Once the characters have defeated the three aspects of the Ebon Triad, their final encounter is with an aspect of the overgod – a six armed creature combining facets of each of Vecna, Erythnul and Hextor. The aspect appears immediately after the last of the three high priests is defeated, forcing the characters to come up with a strategy to defeat it despite their diminished resources.
The Three Faces of Evil is a good adventure at its core with some terrific set pieces (the arena, the rope bridge, and the maze), it just needed another pass or two by the editorial staff. A common fix discussed on the Paizo message boards is to break up the dungeon into its three separate components and allow the characters a safe zone in which to retreat. This takes off some of the pressure and provides a justification for why the various cults do not alert each other about (or become independently aware of) the player actions.
Despite its editorial errors, The Three Faces of Evil has a lot of clever ideas and interesting encounters. Substantively, it needs some significant revisions.
Style: 4
Substance: 3