Thursday, February 28, 2013

This is a little bit of a cheat post this week.

First item is that It's official!Margaret Weis Productions has secured the Firefly RPG license .

This is great news made even better by Cam Bank's confirming its a cortex+ action game like Leverage. WHOOOT!!! I couldn't be more jazzed buy this news.

Also the fortnightly game looks like it will be based on Kevin Crawford's fine games Stars Without Number and Other Dust. The sandbox his huge as it goes of world into the solar system and beyond. I wonder just how much will get explored and if I can maintain my focus [boo hiss villain]. Anyhow you can find the information on the game over here which was a neat place to start it once upon a time (it was originally planed as a FATE game but the group don't like FATE) 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Exotic locales and two-fisted action

Planing a game is a very exciting time. Its pregnant with promise. The gestation is a journey of its own, full of little ups and downs. Ewww, ikkie, gruesome metaphor, but well, anyway, its more or less the way it is.

I've managed to knock off a bunch of games and adjust my thinking about preferences.

Shotgun Diaries and MHRP are the fall back games but the goal is to not really play them really at all. Not because they are bad they are great games which I really like. However I want to run the main game the most.

In the past we would fall back to a pick up game if we didn't have a quorum of players which meant if I dint have at lest three we would not do the main game. I've dropped that threshold down to two players, which should be achievable nearly every session as I have two really reliable participants.

I'm still examining what amounts to two major genre areas: Sci-fi and fantasy.

On the sci-fi front my present thinking is towards a hack of my own devising either Traveller, mouse guard/burning wheel or OSR inspired. I've all ways thought a hack of the old Buck Rodgers 25th century game would be a fine thing to do. I do it in the spirit of a Microlite type conversion.  Mainly as I have some time constraints and the microlite format would help that.

Deathwatch and Rogue Trader are both still getting a good looking into. We used to have a lot of fun with WHFRP back in the day. Its one game I've "played" as opposed to GM'ed. As a player I had fun in the game and found the mechanics good until I would suffer a critical - then it was horrid!

Star Wars: The Edge of Empire remains very appealing. I dont know why it has taken me so long to see it as pulp-sci-fi in the mode of the 30's-40's but it did. Its only a recent realization. So the thinking is I can combine my love of pulp with Star Wars goodness and run a fun game ... And I think that can happen easily. Empire = Nazis, Force = Occult, and all the scenery is thematically on cue too. Ancient temples, Far of wildernesses, chase scenes, Big villains with secret or impregnable bases. Its all there. The way Brian Misiaszek puts it "Fast-paced and energetic adventures. Exotic locales and two-fisted action. A wistful and nostalgic glimpse of an era that seems familiar but more simpler, innocent and daring". Like Brian says the adventures have to have
  1. Larger than Life Heroes.☑
  2. Reduced Hero Deaths.☑
  3. Colourful Villains.☑ - Emperor, Vader, Thrawn, Jaba, Gredo (Han shot first) ☑
  4. Gadgets and Weird Science.- DeathStar, Lightsabers, rocket packs, droids, etc. ☑  
  5. Bizarre Crimes and Mystery. - The murder of Alderaan! Han in carbonite.☑
  6. Exotic Settings and Locations. ☑
  7. Lost Worlds.- and even cultures in SW's, jedi, sith, ☑
  8. Cliffhangers. ☑
  9. Deathtraps.- "R2 turn off the garbage compactors on the detention level"☑
  10. The "Feel" of the 1930s-1940s Pulp Era.- John says it best ☑
So yeah I'm really getting swayed by the idea of doing a Star Wars game. It just seems to hit the sweet spot. I can add in what ever tech under the guise of "Gadgets and Weird Science" which is sort of cool I reckon. So all in all this is riding high at present.

On the fantasy rpg front, The One Ring is nudging my interest just a wee bit more then A Song of Ice and Fire Game of Thrones Edition. Strangely the reason for this is the lack of non-human monsters in A Song of Ice and Fire. 

Sure there are both the Others/white-walkers and the Dragons but there is very little else I could take the idea of the coming winter as an excuse for a few supernatural beasts to be popping up. It would be non-canonical sure but if it was fun the players would probably forgive the setting faux pas. The only other consideration would be OSR picking up in Ayurth where we left off.

In terms of direction of the games

Sci-fi near-future game (SWN?) would find the campaign opening upon a well established solar system wide human civilization. The various competing nations and conglomerates, one of whom has managed to make the breakthrough which is leading them to the development of a Trans-Lux drive. So the setting is at the cusp of interstellar travel. There is a conspiracy behind a) the development, of trans-lux (involving a hard-take off singularity) as well as a conspiracy around the release of the technology and the coming potential diaspora to the stars. Add players and faction agendas and mix vigorously.

Star Wars on the other hand would be significantly different yet very much the same. At the very outer rim Elrood, Kathol, Minos areas of space way out past Dagobah well away from the normal stomping grounds of the Empire is where the players find them selves. They are embroiled in smuggling for the criminal cartels and the corporations . They take the job and do the drops, avoiding the Empire has been easy. Until now... These systems have become home to an Imperial research base doing biowarfare experiments (they are researching something termed "the Strain"). The criminal cartels are supplying the Imperials with everything they need, which they cant just get through an application of force (no pun) /power. The Moff, Villis Andal is playing the cartels against one another and against the fermenting rebel presence in the system. Once all sides are weakened by the conflicts Andal conives and it has claimed sufficient civilian casualties, the Empire will move in to restore order and security to its citizens... Until then its Imperial spec ops, sabotage and spy-craft.. for the sake of the citizenry. What is it the Moff is really expecting to gain. What is "The Strain". 

For The One Ring I've all ways loved the Witch King so the game has to centre on the darkening of Mirkwood and the influence of the the once human king on the lands near by. This is good as the game is set up for this in many respects.

In A Song of Ice and Fire I will focus on the intrigue and battles, which given the time of the game may sound hard to do however there are any number of options in this regard. One area I will weave in is Monsters and the nature of what a monster is. John Connolly's Every Dead thing planted a stake in my mind and I'll mine it for some of what I'm thinking for this game. That and the Wizard of Oz... and the Hyperion Canto's. I will just place these elements in easy reach and then watch them as they seep into the awareness of the players. If that doesn't work well one of them may just find they have more in common with Bird then they fist realize. The other facet I'll explore is marriage and finding a bride. Back in the day we had a lot of fun in Pendragon when we found out courtship and marriage was something that was fun to play. I'll introduce that into this game as then you have even more to lose. Yeah with any luck it will be close to the books in that regard. I'll also encourage troupe/entourage play to get past any issues with recovery from wounds.

 If you have any ideas you want to share post them up and I'll look at incorporating them..        



Just watch the damn video

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Role-Games Manifesto

We are rediscovering and uncovering better ways 
of role playing by doing it and helping others to do it.
Through this endeavor we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions - that is play - over rule sets and systems
Fun games at the table over comprehensive simulation, background or mechanics
Player collaboration over rules negotiation
Player/GM fun over scripted scenario outcomes
That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

Go forth and play for fun!

These are the continuing adventures ....

I've been continuing to do research into games for the group this year and its coming down to crunch time.

"I actually MEANT to lose that finger"!
As pick up games, I love John Wick's stuff. Shotgun Diaries for some great survivor horror mayhem. I think it would also be a great basis for an "Aliens" the movie, rpg hack. This game is amazing for doing everything Outbreak Undead and All Flesh Must Be Eaten do but quicker easier and in a fraction of the page count. Both those games are really great Zombie rpg's so that puts this one in great company. If you wanted to do long term campaign play those games are possibly (very likely) a better choice.

Invading Xenomechs
The Aegis Project on the other hand is awesome for a good pick up game of guns and gundams with a great transhuman twist. Think Terminator, Aliens, Bladerunner, Avatar, Tansformers. PacRim, mash-up done really well. The Aegis Project will surprise you in the same way as the Transformers live action film did, by being really good and a hell of a lot of fun.

These games are traditional enough in their play style so as to not cause trouble at the play table by radically changing our conception of what a role playing game should be. They have lots of Indie DNA both of them but they don't totally turn the tables on a group of traditional role players which is good.  

I'm still flipping though books with the challenge of finding the main attraction. My research... can it be called research when  its so much fun? I'm not so sure. I'm enjoying it so, but you do get the feeling that there is just so much you could do but only so much you can.

I have broken it down by genre: Sci-fi, Modern, Supers and Fantasy.   

As always I'm highly intrigued by a sci fi game. I'm really struggling to find the right platform for such a game.

Go buy Ian's art. Its simply awesome!!!
2300AD is the one which is probably most closely aligned to my internal sense of what makes for a good setting and certainly its got good support.  

Orbital also for Traveller is a stand out too and for many of the same reasons. I could use them together as a sort of tool kit for a near space and colonization type game (which is what I have in mind - essentially espionage around the discovery of FTL and Hard AI and the changes it ushers in)
There is always the Mongoose Traveler "Secret of the Ancients" campaign. It is still one I want to run at some time. 

As an aside (which I will tackle in greater depth in future entries), I'm less enamored by skill systems these days, since returning to the OSR. I think skill systems were an early attempt to provide player agency and take story control out of the hands of just the G/DM. While I see the sharing of story agency as a very good move, I don't think big skill lists are the best way to do it.

Then there is Rogue Trader, [WTF! surprised me too] the grim-dark normally doesn't get my interest however both Deathwatch and Rogue Trader have really been well done. The idea of Ventures and the taming of a savage frontier is a great draw card for play. It looks truly epic and the idea of the players playing the two or three most important people in the game and really having a lot of power is interesting. 

Star Wars: The Edge of Empire is cool with added "geek-dice" to boot. Gritty Star Wars - Cool. Its possibly the closest any game has come to modeling my internal take on Star Wars. WEG's version was too "trite" for me. It didn't seem to hold the Empire up as a true evil menace. Cardboard "Cut-out"storm troopers was not what I remembered most from the movies (all respect to Designer X). The SAGA and other WotC versions didn't seem to get it right either.

Sure its not as hard as I like my sci-fi. However Star Wars is a modern take on pulp - my favorite genre - more or less Flash, Buck and John, which is super awesome as I love pulp. So I'd just work my pulp magic in this setting with a gloss of science.    

My own mash up of SWN is still in there with a look in too.

The fantasy front runner is positively The One Ring (with close competition). I'm a fan of middle earth for high fantasy. I like that it places a lot of emphasis on the technology level (or lack of one) and makes journeying in middle earth a central part of the game. Its got a lot of interesting ideas but its very much its own thing. I like what I've read and its beautifully presented.  

Pendragon has always been a favorite. Despite suggesting and offering it a few times it has garnered little interest. It is a landmark game, so the lack of interest is something of a shame. I have a deep love for this gem of a game. Luckly I've played good doses of it in the past so from that perspective something new is good.

That "something new" is A Song of Ice and Fire Game of Thrones Edition. Perhaps it has broader appeal, thanks in good part to HBO. From my perspective, playing in the world of the books would be marvelous fun. The sandbox nature of house management would define the game.

The very beautiful 4th edition of Legends of the Five Rings holds similar appeal. I having been a huge fan of the card game and first edition rpg. It also comes with the sterling recommendation of a fellow OSR'er  Lowell Francis

Then there is the the fantasy grimness of WHFRPG. I just like the idea of using all the bits and experimenting with the game. The original campaign cycle (Enemy Within etc) and 2nd end would be fine too but there is something about 3rd ed I really like.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the gonzo goodness of the Iron Kingdoms rpg - I'd revisit the Witchfire campaign using the new rules set and just have steam-mecha-punk fun.What more can you ask for?

Finally I'm looking at Marvel Heroic Role-playing as a solid option too. I really fell in love with Leverage and Cortex+ and that continues with MHRP too. What a fun game.