Sunday, November 12, 2017

I very occasionally throw stuff up on here and see what sticks.
I'm most interested and intrigued by adventure design and GMing. Often there just not enough going on for me when I'm a player...the pacing is too slow and my agency is often also very low. I find it frustrating as a player to have my meta contributions neglected I.e. Attempts to contribute to the "world" at large. I get it, I really do. So I chose to GM.

That said slamming an adventure together is t an easy thing and I've always admired Mouse guards approach to adventure design. To be honest I think that is the games biggest contribution to rpg design as a whole I was anxiously looking forward to Torchbearer for a more classic version of the same...well that's not really what Torchbearer delivers ... it just goes in another direction which is fine, but it abandons a really great device established in Mouse Guard.

So I've boiled my Dungeon version down to;
Men (adversaries, and other wise - generally interesting "human" ( I.e. Dwarf, Elf, halfling etc are lumped in here)
Monsters ( like it says on the tin all the things that want to prey on the PCs that aren't the above men)
Mazes ( this is the location under investigation it can be a city or a dungeon or whatever but it's a maze figuratively because negotiating the location is frought with danger because it's what it is - if it's a dungeon it's got traps and cave-ins, and gas (burp... pardon) and all that. If it's a city it's got its own problems - etiquette (street or silver spoon) it's got laws, it's got distractions etc.
Magic - this last category is really bringing the weird - plannar travel, a dungeon made from a huge gargoyle, Flying Fortress's, going to "heaven" or "hell" all that great coooky stuff.

In mouse guard you have weather, wilderness, mice and animals as the categories. You then pick two and flesh them out just off the cuff. Nothing too elaborate just a nice amount to fill Play for the evening. There's a lot more going on in the design of Mouse guard so I recommend you pick up a copy of second edition because it's really a great game to put in your collection.

So hack Mouse Gards structure we have Men, Monsters, Mazes & Magic. We pick two and scetch out an idea for the evening.
The classic two for old school rule play is of course Monsters and the Maze doing this on the fly as the game unfolds is tottaly feasible you look at monsters or combinations of the same that sit at a good challenge for the PCs and you map out figuratively ( I build it like a flow chart) the maze and your off. You need not do it improve either. You can take you time use some other charts from other books to help you flesh out your picks. Now down to what this REALLY is. It's a destroyer of blank pages +4. It's not truly anything but a prompt to get your GMing juices flowing and getting an evenings play started. You can make it as elaborate or as lite as suits you can you can quickly get material for entertainment spooling out very quickly - it removes the pretention barrier and boils things down to basics. So what happens if I pick men and monsters? Well it's really up to you ... what it says to me is the location is meh I'm thinking it's an ambush set by bandits for the PCs but the local Orc tribe got wind of it and are going to get new slaves once the dust clears ....and that's and evenings play and that's all this device was for so good let's add players to create chaos with that basic skelleton. Men and monsters could also be the PCs have gone to worship at temple the priests and other worshippers are the men, some have to be protected others placated, still others rescued etc. the monsters? So the PCs are there for a holy day. Something goes snafu and the dead from the crypts get up for some "punishing cardio" on the living.

So that's it a little page starter to give you an evening play. String these together for a campaign and your golden.

I'll look at fleshing this out further because it's been useful to me so far but I'm probably NOT sharing everything I do which makes it easy for me. So I'll examine that a bit more and elaborate.

Have fun at the game table!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The 2015 games list under consideration for play 

  • Firefly (Cortex system) Space trading, organised crime high jinx, psi, Reavers ... and Keeping the Alliance honest.  
  • Star Wars - sci fi we all know and love - taking down the Empire, making a profit and searching for a way out from under Empire oppression.[UPDATE: We played a few sessions and it went great. We all want to play more but our gaming time is being eaten by the 5e monster and my Hackmaster old school game]
  • Tanshuman exploration - Eclipse Phase the Gate War
  • Cyberpunk/Transhuman FATE - The Translight shadow war - Mega Corps battling in the shadows to build the first translight engine 
  • Traveller - Secrets of the Ancients campaign
  • Traveller 2300 - Kaffer Invasion sandbox using military and survival adventure role playing 
  • The Void rpg
  • Trinity - Play through the sandbox of the published adventures with psion adventurers
  • The Strange - Think time tunnel, meets x-Files/Fringe, via Stargate.
  • Pulp Rocket Age retro exploration and exploring strange new worlds - Forbiden Planet style.
  • Plup Adventure pre and during WWII find the items of power and foil the Zealots of Zeronimus and the Society of Thule
  • Victorian Penny Dreadful - steampunk action and romance against the Archons of Sideria 
  • Mutants and Masterminds/Marvel Heroic - Days of Future Past or The Occult wars
  • Deathwatch - Kill for the Emperor, Die with Glory, Cleanse the stars!!!  
  • RuneQuest 6 - Sword and Sorcery, "Conan" "Throngar" "Gor" "Drus" "Fafard & Mouser" style.
  • The One Ring - Darkening of Mirkwood cycle [UPDATE: Two sessions gave us just a taste. It's a role playing game but not like other games. It's a masterful departure from the assumptions of other systems. It's wonderfully refreshing].
  • D&D - OSR, (Labyrinth Lord or Astonishing Swordsmen rule set) The lost City of Barakus etc.[UPDATE: this has become our HACKMASTER game: I love the system but there is a LOT to it. It's like AD&D if you played with material from dragon magazines- that's how it feels to me. Love it.)
  •  Torchbearer - Dungeon crawling with personal drama, in a dungeon world with some board game parallels 
  • Warhammer fantasy roleplay - Enemy Within et'al classics
  • Shadowrun 5th ed - Shadowrun missions 
  • Witch Hunter 2nded - Stop Satan from creating hell on Earth and preserve the seals and your soul.
  • Hunter the Vigil - Secret History and monster hunting a'la Buffy only serious.(Sort of Hellraiser meets They Live)
  • Conspiracy X -  Classic X-Files and Fringe type action adventure (parallels to Heart of Darkness, Edge of Night and 1984)
  • Anima Beyond Fantasy - Conspiracy occultism and secret history in anime fantasy setting.
  • Legends of Wu Lin - Kung Fu secret societies, fantasy adventures, and Occult mystery 
  • Legend of the five rings - City of Shadow Campaign
  • Tenra Bansho - Asian Fantasy, like 47 Ronin and Ninja scrollsHyper-asian samurai ninja mayhem (it's an actual translated Japanese role playing game from Japan) 
  • Cthulhutech - Playing the games meta-campaign as Taggers (were-devils) or Mecha pilots
  • King Arthur Pendragon - Playing Lords of the realms and changing the very fabric of myth, plotting and fighting mighty battles (think Vikings TV series)
  • Torg - Gonzo multi genre adventure as Stomknights following the Destiny Map (lowish powered superheroes). 
  • Zombie Survival - End of the World engine - The walking dead style with the cure out there and a chance to save the world
  • Werewolf the Apocalypse 20 anv Ed - Save the world from Pentex and its schemes (parallels to Heart of Darkness, Edge of Night and 1984)
  • Doctor Who - Adventures in time and space multi genre goodness waging the time war
  • Mutant City Blues HCU - Solving crimes committed by super human powered perpetrators 
  • Trail of Cthulhu - Eternal Lies or Cthulhu Apocalypse procedural investigation horror
  • DeadLands - Weird Wild West Gunslingers, occult exploration and the law of the gun - Using Second Sons or Stone and a hard place

My time for blogging has been eaten up with gaming in the RW. Thats a great thing and now Its moved to Roll20. I'm amazed at how easy Roll20 is to use. You do need to do some prep and it's sort of encourages a more tactical game than is strictly necessary. Even so, its a fun place to meet up and its in the comfort of your own home. No travel time, more gaming, which is a great thing too.

At present we are running ACK's more or less by default. People found the Labyrinth Lord + AEC to be difficult to understand go figure? I am surprised that it isn't an integrated offering by now just to make it easier for new people. We are using DCC magic as an overlay to the system and its working wonderfully. None of us really enjoy the way magic works at low levels in D&D. Having played since the 70's its one part of the game that is really quite ordinary right out of the box.

In investigating alternatives to LL+AEC I stumbled across Hackmaster Advanced and I'm hooked. I can see this becoming my gold standard for rpging now. People seem to have the feeling that its very complex and in reality its not that hard to use, It doesn't seem to get much love, which is an odd thing, give how well it's put together.

I discovered Fantasy Age,  possibly the best retro clone out there. It's not in reality a retro clone, but it's so close to a 3d6 version of D&D that is ridiculous. Moreover its an excellent streamlined game. You could do much worse then this system. I'd think Pathfinder is going to be feeling the heat from Dungeon crawl clasic, fith edition D&D and Fantasy Age. Yes this is the same system that powers Dragon Age, but removing the Theadas specific information. On the subject of Dragon Age; it may well be one of the nicest look best produced games in role playing, it's just gorgeous as a hard cover book. You want it for your collection.

All this fantasy gaming investigation brings me to a surprising realisation: the amount of vast deviation among the "clones" from the base rules. Most of the so called clones are what I would label 'simulators/emulators' then true clones. Most use ascending AC (pft ...Mathematically AC doesnt need to be "fixed" by making it ascending, to yield the results people want or the feel they are looking for, as the Target20 system demonstrates go over to Deltas blog and read the post on armour class. There is a lot of other personal preference things (fiddly little house rules) which have crept into these 'clones' as "fixes". This is not nesecarily a bad thing, however I would have thought one motivator to the designers would be to play old classic dungeons ( ie modules )'with a minimum of prep. Including matching the hit point totals of the modules enemies. Its annoying to have to make adjustments with games that claim to be clones when using them in conjunction with classic modules.

However the modules even the great classics, are not a draw card for all apparently. It seems sandbox play is a motivator for many groups. It's a wonderful movement if that's the case. I've tried many a sand box with my players. Most times and they become overwhelmed with choice and frozen by fear of making a deadly move and walking into a TPK by error.

Thankfully Hasbro/WotC are finally re-issuing the old game rules in numerous versions, so the clones are less needed. I'd expect to see more setting driven supplements, which will act as overlays to OD&D, BECMI or AD&D and yet this is not really happen and the clones keep coming, which I love. It is however a surprise people love to tinker with rules rather than write great setting material, like Dark Albion ( a land mark in gaming settings IMO). On the other hand it's a lot easier to tweak another's work and present it as your own than it is to produce and original, inspired work.

What this proves to me is something I'd thought for a long time. The OSR is really a DIY movement for creating your own game from pre made rules-modules and accepted gaming concepts. Thats a good thing. One of the best things is that peoples blinkers have come off in regards to Fantasy heartbreakers. I can see more general acceptance of fantasy games which share a common genetic code. More acceptance in the world is a good thing.      

Still I wish D&D had an edition which aped Dragon Warriors in presentation. The type of book that appeals to the ten year old boy in all of us. I can see it in my minds eye. Its a novel sized book or maybe comic book sized wich cool line art inside all black and white with maps and illustrations of swords and armour. Presenting very much the LL+AEC type information. One of the innovations I'd like to see is talents - essentially Feats and Stat improvements moved into the GM's section and presented as optional rewards that can be awarded alongside or brought with Treasure Points. That allows for the quick old school start up of the original game yet keeps some of the cool technology that has arisen over the years. As they are in the GM's hands getting talents can be as story motivated as you like. Magic needs to be simplified too but it needs to feel..well ... magical at the same time.

There is a project here if I can be botherd to take it up,


Sunday, September 14, 2014

RPG projects

This is a list of projects I want to knock over, some being quite large. No order is implied. I'll add to it as I think of stuff

Nights Black Agents Deamon/Emergence/Diversity vampyramid
Eclipse Phase - Gate War campaign
Mindjammer sandbox
Stars without number sandbox
Blue Planet 1e - Core Rules + Edge of darkness mash up
Mongoose Publishing - Traveller - Secrets of the Ancients (compilation)
Aramis - The Traveller Adventure (yes for the fourth time)
Aeon Trinity - Darkness Revealed
Star Wars Edge of Empire beyond the rim and D6 adventures mash-up

The Cleansing war of Garik Blackhand + Mutant Epoch for update/hack

The Flood
Lasts Sons

The Elven Crystals + Dragon warriors
Witch Hunter (A Child's Game, et all including adventures from the living campaign)
The Lost City Of Barakus
The Caverns of Thracia
Slain adventure sequence (The Invulnerable King  et al)
Iron Kingdoms Witchfire Trilogy Collected Edition

The One Ring - CB7 - Tales From Wilderland (OEF)
The Great Pendragon Campaign (again as it stalled the first time)
SAGA - Avengers masters of Evil
TSR Marvel MX series ( MX1 Nightmares of Futures Past et al)
L5R City of Lies
King for a Day (use Raedwald too?)
Ghoul Keep and the Ghoul Lands
Monster Island RQ6 adventure
Flashing Blades (Parisian Adventures, et al)
Lone Wolf RPG - Terror of the Darklords

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cool Armoured knights of High Fantasy

Actually they are Psiber Knights from an alt future but they are still cool as $#!+

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A little more about why D&D is not in good hands

Prior to making Spellbound Kingdoms, you wrote for Wizards of the Coast. What were you able to take from your time with Wizards? Did you design roleplaying games prior to your time with them?
The biggest thing that I took from my freelancing for WOTC was the desire to do my own stuff. I grew extremely frustrated with the way WOTC would change material that I turned in, usually without any discussion or feedback (to be fair to WOTC, this changed for the better as their experience with freelancers grew, but it was still frustrating not having the final decision over what I wrote). Mike Mearls said at a freelancers meeting once, “Yes, we’ll tear the arms off your baby, but we’ll replace them with new, robot mutant arms!” I decided I was tired of my baby’s arms being torn off.

Original to be found here

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Age of Wormy writing and Return of the Edition Warrior

So I'm flicking through Dungeon mag's and reminesing. Then I notice I'm reading one of the issues and its really, really badly written and badly edited (I'm guessing). Its an age of worms adventure and people have nothing but great things to say about this adventure path -they say "yes its a bit rail-roady, but for all that still good". So I fond myself reading this drivel on the page and I turn back the pages to find out who wrote this pile of poo and I should have guessed.

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

Ahh he comes back to haunt us again as if Iron Heroes and Gimmicks guide to gadgets where not bad enough ... here is yet another fine example of his work in print. Essentially this guy keeps publishing crap. Polished, tidy, high production value, stuff but it's still poop.

And Hasbro has him in a key position for D&D. Sigh they really should be paying attention. 

Funny thing is someone in Hasbro is possibly thinking we should buy "Pathfinder". The thing is damn it they (Hasbro) have D&D. If it wasn't for Mike Mearls there would never have been a need for Pathfinder in the first place.

Anyway go play Labyrinth Lord and don't worry. Or hackmaster 5 aka hackmaster advanced.

Just so you know this is what Mr Mike wrote; the mine dungeon has a "garrison" in the dungeon. It's larger than the one in the town  - which maned by goodly aligned folks - The dungeon garrison is considerably larger than the one above the mine, by quite a bit and they are all evil. Yep ...There are three evil cult factions. All are vastly overpowered for the assumed 3rd level PC party expected to go in and to the job. There are missing or simply wrong stats and NPC numbers (as in how many cultists are in the encounter) etc. It's really bad ...there is a doorway seperating two of the evil factions which hate each other. One maybe, inch and a half? Wood door. Evil on both sides. Yet no conflict at, for, or over the door. I was surprised and yet not surprised in retrospect. 

It was good they managed building 5e the way they did. It would have been a massive shame to see the original fantasy game lose its crown and never get it back. I'm glad it turned out fine.