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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More in the Sandbox

Space travel is an integral ingredient to Sci-Fi games. In some ways it defines the genre. Ships in space are a big part of what its all about. Jetting from planet to planet is part of it. Honestly you could probably do all the adventures in any given sic-fi campaign on one world - unless you are taking advantage of the environmental differences which seems to rarely happen. Man against the environment is a great conflict and one which should happen more in rpg's although I think they are not set up to handle it very well. FATE 3.0 I think would be a great way to manage it and could make the planets very unique and the environments would actually have an effect on the play i.e. be mechanically effective. Now there is no reason you cant do this, even in a retro-clone (random table time!!) but FATE has these little reminders blinking on the side saying activate me. 

So with space travel there are a number of ways to go.
Relativistic space flight
  • Torch-ships
  • Antimatter powered rockets
  • "reactionless drive." [these have some bad consequences. really] 
All of these lead to things like
  • Generation ships
  • Seed ships
  • Sleeper ships
  • Skin-Ships - I like this idea a lot actually. The crew are digitized and spend there time in a virtual reality where the time dilation is cranked such that the trip time is shorter. Upon arrival the travelers "decant" into new bodies - bio or syth "body" essentially clones or androids. Make a great novel actually.    

FTL - I know its handwavium but I dont care in sci0fi you have to at least consider FTL. An FTL drive needs to deal with two things the light-speed barrier and causality.

Either way I need to think about  time dilation as crew on a starship moving relativistically (i.e., faster than about 14% c[lightspeed]) will age and experience time at a slower rate than people who stayed at home on Terra.  

The most common way around these is the "Jump" drive like Traveller.

- Brett Evill (a shout out to a fellow Aussie; G'Day mate) wrote;
These start-anyway go-anywhere drives play merry hell with concepts like 'distance', 'remoteness', 'proximity', 'adjacency', 'line of communication', 'border', and 'defence', while reinforcing such concepts as 'trade', 'concentration of force', and 'first strike'. Give me a setting in which the map still matters.

While I respect the point of view see why Brett wanted it that way, I actually don't want that effect. I want a setting in which...

...the Drive allows ships to sneak up on planets, materializing without warning out of hyperspace, then there could be no Empire <snip>. There'd be no Empire because belonging to the empire wouldn't protect you. Instead there might be populations of planet-bound serfs ruled at random by successive hordes of of space pirates. Upward mobility would consist of getting your own ship and turning pirate.
From "Building the Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, collected in N-Space and A Step Farther Out 

That is exactly the type of game milieu  I want!!! I've done Imperial sci-fi and I'm over the "safety" of the governing Imperium. What is exciting is the idea that a single space ship is a force to be reckoned with due to its inherent stealth capabilities.

I should note that I dont think the statement "There'd be no Empire, because belonging to the empire wouldn't protect you" Is not entirely accurate. There are more reasons to belong to a group/society then just protection. If you doubt me go research Group Behavior. Maslow even goes so far as the list it as a basic human need and its third on the list after physiological and safety needs. In a universe where the physical laws mean that a "Blitz-Drive" is "fact" safety assessments/projections are done with this "fact" in mind. Hanging with the tough dog is still going to be attractive.   

There are a metric butt load of FTL's out there see this great list by Geoffrey A. Landis hosted on Atomic Rocket an awesome site (the link should take you to the first entry in the list). After reviewing the list I have the version I most want to use.

I think the Navigable Hyperspace FTL is most appealing. The reasons for this is I want gates into Hyperspace to also exist. Some, are natural fold-zones and others are artificial hyper-gates. So what are the effects I'll allow the drive.

FTL Drive effects

  • A drive can be "turned on" anywhere. 
  • When a ship "Blitz's" it creates pico second vacuum.
  • This vacuum is localized to the location of the ship and its drive prior to "Blitzing".
  • Yes harmless static electricity arcs to ground as well. 
  • There is also a "boom" as the air rushes back in.
  • No matter is "lost" etc in this process so air isn't disappearing or anything this is all drive effect. Somehow there is no violation of conservation of mass etc. [sry I'm just not versed enough in physics to tackle this one]
  • People within five meters of the ships "footprint" suffer barotrauma and this is used offensively in landing operations
  • Translation from point to point in "real-space" is instantaneous
  • The subjective time in hyperspace is variable and dependent on "navigation" through hyperspace i.e. time is a function of "hyper-distance" and "hyper-speed" however hyperspace is not " flat" or plannar it is more like a canyon system
  • Most navigation is done by machine with human intervention in emergency
  • Some rare people have an intuitive sense of hyperspace navigation and are as accurate as a computers computations
  • Once in hyperspace you have to navigate your way out - If you cant/dont your lost in hyperspace.
  • You cant just turn off the hyperdrive and "drop" out of Hyperspace.
  • Turning off a hyperdrive in hyperspace results in a catastrophic emergency/ Hyper space disaster 
  • No lost ships have ever been relocated in hyperspace
  • Some lost ships have been relocated in real-space - always many years after their disappearance, some times with crew alive.
  • Cryo-sleep is often used on long-haul trips by passengers to avoid the tedium of space flight
  • Cryo-sleep is also used by individuals who have a high disposition to or have exhibited Hyperspace Travel Delirium (HTD)
  • Ships traversing hyperspace can locate each other using sensors 
  • Ships and installations in "real-space" can attempt to actively locate hyperspace ships using sensors. this active location is narrow band like a search light. there are no sensor nets capable of infallibly detecting a hyperspace vessel  
  • No hyperspace "jaunt" lasts less then 4hrs subjective hyper-time
  • No "jaunt" may go fewer then 92 kilometers, this is to do with hyperspace geometry/geography
  • You can go outside onto the skin of a ship in hyperspace in a vacuum suit
  • Hyperspace surrounding a ship in hyperspace looks deep gray-black-blue and have a visability of about ten meters, light dissipates as it would in water, however there is no resistance.
  • There is only the microgravity of the ship in hyperspace.    
  • The drive must be active to enter, traverse and exit hyperspace
  • Navigation to an "uncharted" location takes hours of computation on standard computers
  • Emergence from hyperspace happens in an eyeblink and ships "blink" into existence as though they are squirted out a tube. 
  • Navigation to a "charted" location e.g. between fold-zones or gates is on average 8hrs +/- 2hrs with a very slim chance of navigational error
  • Navigation onto a moving body is possible however it is highly risky. It is therefore possible to blink-in on top of your target if you have the detection data to enable this feat of navigation
  • Navigating onto an orbital body is more common as the orbital data for this body is historical. However it is still a very risky proposition to attempt
  • It is common for most ships to exit hyperspace in "flat-space" to which the navigation coordinates are easily obtained and travel the remaining distance under the power of the reaction engines/sub-light drives
I'm not big on space battles but I still want them so I'll think about the implications essentially I see battles happening over planets as there are the locations people want to get to but also around natural fold-zone and Gates too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sci-fi Sandbox and my influences

So what do I want in my Sci-fi sandbox?

I know I like a whole bunch of stuff and I want to list it down as inspirations I can turn to. 

Top of the list has to be Newtons Wake: A space opera
Also must have Karl Shroder's Permanence and Virga series
Andrew S. Swann for his Moreau and Apotheosis series
The Long Run: A Tale of the Continuing Time by Daniel Keys Moran

Rama by Arthur C. Clark.
Allen Steele's Near Space series in particular  Labyrinth of Night
Dan Simmons Cantos
Brin, David --- The Uplift series
Pohl, Frederick --- Gateway
A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge

Ok so what needs to be in the mix? I want a settled and civilized hub and "spokes" out from that hub which are fraught with danger. Passage either way will be prohibitive [this is a setting conceit to make the players stay out where the action is]. So travel to the frontiers is expensive - except if you win the Outbound lottery - and time consuming - I think its safe to say it requires cryo-sleep for a number of reasons.     

I don't think we need to go to far off the farm. Just like D&D in its fantasy settings doesn't stray to far.

We have to have Earth - its a dystopia you know how everyone loves the imagery of Blade-runner? Well so do I, so that is more or less the way Earth looks. However there is a tether/beanstalk reaching down from orbit and connecting to:
Midway Station - this is earths major space side space port station. It accepts and launches most of the missions into Near Space which includes the moon.
Moonbase Alpha - This is the moons version of Midway there is also mining on the moon for Caesium oxide and Helium-3 but its also the new center of space transportation
Mars and Venus both have colonies.
Mars has a system of ruins of an ancient civilization the most notable of which is the Fallen Needle and the Queharg Temple complex. Hence tourism, research and archeology are important. 
Venus has its Aerostats and cloud cities.
The Asteroid belt is a teaming boom town with the asteroids proving to be far richer then initially supposed 
The Jovians have a civilization as well consisting of mining the gas giant and its moons

Next comes initial thoughts about space travel... 

The game I play the most

Its funny - given I'm a real rpg'er at heart but the game I've played the most in the last six months is
Yep. We call it D&D 4th ed in a box. Does a lot of what 4th ed does only in a much more streamlined manner. The main reason for this the elegant rules and dungeon crawling focus of the game. But the funny thing is when we used to - back in the 80's - play D&D like this it was called "bad" roll vs role playing and I still totally agree. I'm ashamed/embarrassed to see the D&D label on 4th edition. Dont get me wrong I think 4th edition is a solid and good board game with a nice veneer of role playing. There really is a place for this type of game and it too is a part of the hobby. It must be said clearly that this game is on the very furthest end of "gamest" point of the triangle of gamest-roleplay-simulation personally LARP is to far over the roleplay end of the spectrum for me so I guess it is horses for courses. YMMV.  

I think at least for me the microlite 75 rules sum it up best when they give this comparison;
What is “old school play”? There are two major styles of roleplaying games. The first (and older) style says “Here is the situation. Pretend you are there as your character, what do you want to do?” This style has been superseded over the years with a style that says “Here is the situation. Based on your character's stats, abilities, skills, etc. as listed on his character sheet and your knowledge of the rules of the game, what is the best course of action to solve the situation?” Old school play strongly favors the first style and frowns on too much of the second.

I want to get away from playing Descent: Journeys in the Dark and back to playing more rpg's. If you have been following my posts you will know we rounded up a two year pulp game using Hollow Earth Expedition, a truly functional and elegant game system. Then went on to do Traveller and the Traveller adventure (GM'ed it twice before what could go wrong?). Which ultimately didn't work out - my fault entirety. Not policing the character generation enough and in not stating up front that it was a My Traveller Universe game as opposed to a Official Traveller Universe game lead to the game turning into something I didnt want to run. [Warring: Mongoose Official Traveller books contain material I personally deem unsuitable for Imperium Traveller games. YMMV].  

After that we experimented with FATE 3.0 and it didnt really work out for my group. Essentially it boiled down to not wanting to have to manage the fate-point min-games in the system [you get most of what FATE does in Hollow Earth Expedition - but with out all the FATE jargon which makes things easier and my players were like "uh - meh" lets play something else]. Finally we have had a few games of Shadowrun and its really not floating my boat.

So In my journey to settle on what to run I have identified thanks to Descent and the other games that I need to have enough "done" and ready at hand that I can host a nights entertainment in the same why I can open a box of Descent.

Thus the appeal in a sandpit as verse an adventure path style adventure. "What?" I hear you say. Well with a packaged or storyline adventure if one of the players is a no show (a common occurrence at my table we are all family people i.e kids, jobs, SWMBO's etc)  the night can grind to a halt. However with a Sandbox this is somewhat less likely to happen. If say Neil cant come we can still do stuff and have him doing something in the game.

So I've narrowed down to what I think will be a good fun options

My main interested in building a Sci-fi sandbox and I'll probably do just that as installments in this blog and in my note books. 

I'm also interested in a Planetary Romance game - With Revelations of Mars coming at some point from Exile game studios for Hollow Earth I think this will ROCK. So until I get Revelations of Mars I will keep thinking about what I could do with this. If I get anxious I could always just use the existing HEX stuff or even Savage worlds.

Finally I'd like to have a horror go to game which I can do if there is a need. Dead of Night springs to mind as Does Trail of Cthulhu or for that matter ConspiracyX. but this is low on my priorities to be honest. 


Monday, January 17, 2011

An analytical approach

I found this flowchart and it gave me a chuckle

I dont know if it works but its a sweet idea.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Games of Tomorrow!

Well potential games at my game table any way.

In previous posts I commented that I'm more innately a Sci-fi fan. I'm not sure exactly why except I'm amazed about the potential for technology to really take us to fantastic places in some way. I guess its the plausibility of science vs magic that I find appealing.  I know empirically magic does not work. Likewise I know science does. Hence the idea of one day there being robots, space stations and aliens is tantalizing. Even if highly unlikely during my lifetime. This goes so far as making Science fantasy less of a draw card for me too. I like Star Trek more then Star Wars, Caprica over Far Scape thats just how I roll. However I like Barsoom over Greyhawk too if it comes to it.

So when it comes to RPG's I'm interested in the sci-fi games in a similar flavor my taste in novels. However Fantasy rpg's are much more popular then Sci-Fi and if I were to be a Sci-fi teetotaler then I would have had huge chunks of no gaming as many of my gaming buddies were not even into Traveller based on the sense that the game was less ..directed/focused. Essentially they where lost in the breadth of the game and what to do. I'm sure like me you have heard of many a Traveller game breaking down into a TPK as the players take on the local starport. Hah. Or worse they get away on such a spree and the game degenerates. This is a pity and is both a failure of the game and the game table (players and GM) however its not unique to Sci-fi it just seems to be the way more people write sci-fi off as a genre.

However lots of people love sci-fi games and in the last couple of years we have seen a small boom-bubble of sci-fi gaming material.

So, along with fantasy games - see the other recent posts - I'm contemplating Sci-fi, Super Hero, Pulp and Horror options.

Lets break these down before a go into little capsule reviews about all of them. 

  • Sci-fi
    • Shadowrun
    • Eclipse Phase
    • Starblazer Adventures
    • Traveller 
    • Stars Without Numbers
    • Thousand Suns
    • Cthulutech/Cthulhu Rising 
    • Firefly
    • Star-blade Battalion 

Right now I'm running a Shadowrun game for my players. Its not really a game that "floats my boat" I keep wishing it was but it fails to get me over the line. Funny thing is I love playing it as a player. Even GM'ing it we have a great time strangely enough. But "waiter there is a Dorf in my cyberpunk/transhuman lit" keeps droning my internal monologue. We are playing it because we were struggling picking up FATE.3.0. - Fair enough too [see below].  So we changed over to SR4. But its just not engaged me on that deep level. As a result I cant see longevity in this game.

Eclipse Phase - This game was exactly what the doctor ordered. Or so I thought. Its unfortunately quite the simulations rule set. I have found in the past that stimulationist rule sets encourages rule lawyer'ing which I don't want at the game table. However I find this game is exactly the game I had in my mind since White Wolf announced Trinity nee Aeon.
I have always wanted to do a game where "Aberrant" (read "Titans") fled Earth and took to the galaxy and were lurking in the deep as man explored the unknown. Trinity turned out to not be that game but a game about well having "Ub3r k00lz pwrz" [yeah I'm not generally a fan of psionics either - only Stars my destination did it well and everyone who wants to can jaunt in that. Otherwise its just magic and if you try to throw Clarks law at me _you_ will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes]. So anyway you can do my idea above with the background they posit, which is a lot like the future posited in Ken MacLeod's    Newton's Wake: A Space Opera. [Go get it now!] However a detailed reading of the game's combat rules left me quite cold they are just needlessly complex and fixing them isn't really an option. Like I said very simulationist. It also has quite a number of subsytems to have to learn as well. Even so this game is very much the game I'm thinking of turning to. It just does great things to my brain.

Starblazers Fate3.0 is not a "lite" game and in many ways its core systems are lite but its subsystems are really heavy and it was a lot of me playing the games mini-games of FATE point activation and the players looking on in bemused. So while I do think this is a great game and would be worth an outing I'm not sure it's ready for its time yet. Also I think my Transhumanist hack of the rules, so we could use them for an Eclipse Phase type game was simply a misguided effort on my behalf. I will give credit where credit is due - Neil one of my good buddies really "got" both the transhuman and FATE part. So the chances of going back to this are low right now. So low its out for now even though its a great game - Same for Diaspora and Strands of Fate too 8(

Traveller This is to me like OD&D is to others. I really do like this game. Especially fond of the old Imperium and I do love the elegant simplicity of the rules. I've done the Traveller Adventure two times right the way through both times and its a cracker. I find it works better with out Imperium Grognards around the table. I prefer a more fast and lose MTU. Mongoose having this property is a mixed blessing. I like the new material and that its coming out and being supported. I HATE the stupid on Travller-esque stuff that gets in their source books. I'm sorry but Power Fists and Chain Swords do not belong in the Imperium. Period. The  production values for the mongoose game also leave a lot to be desired. I can tell you now if Catalyst game labs or Circle 7 had this game it would look amazing. 
We recently kicked off the Traveller Adventure again   and I ended up putting it on hold mainly due to two players in the group I felt I couldn't control. One went way overboard with psionics and used them way too much in game. The other guy had accounting spread sheets for the traveller trading which honestly was just really intimidating. I would be happy to do Traveller either as a rule set or a setting and both work for me happily the only caveat is I will police the Mongoose rules and rule out the stuff I don't want in MTU and put a lid on Psionic characters and munchkins.  All of this may prove to be a no-problem with the arival some time this year of the 2300 AD redux from Mongoose. If there is a game I like more then core Imperium Traveler its 2300. Why? The survivor/horror aspects of this game. The Kaffer's disruption of the french arm and their occupation of the worlds makes for a specialy fun type of aftermath game. This has me thinking now that I do Fantasy this year and follow on with  2300-Trav once its here...huuumm.

Stars Without Numbers Wow what a great free game. This really feels like a redux of both Traveller, Universe and Star Frontiers. Only maybe better. I was more impressed with the core rule book then I was with the dungeon crawling HardLight supplement for the game (think sort of Babylon5 meets Outland meets tomb of horrors). If I had players who just had to do retro-clone stuff then this would be my go to for space retro clone or even retro planetary romance. As it is I think Traveller is just barley superior in that it has no classes or levels, a more comparative skill system, more support material for the GM and is essentially the same game otherwise. Seriously this game is so well done I think if it were not for the Goose-Trav rules update of Traveller this rule set would have challenged Traveller, its extremely solid. I'm still very influenced by it in many ways and I'm interested enough to want to give it a go. Actually what I like most about it is the freedom it gives me as a GM. It has a DIY ethos. It encourages and supports the GM in constructing a Sandbox and stocking it to their own and the players taste. There is very meager background detail to which you can either hove or depart, so the setting can be truly your own with out any need for a distinction such as MTU/YTU/OTU and I find that wonderful. It somehow really captured the same sense of wonder and joy old Traveller and Universe did and even to some extent FASA Trek. Sweet game. I have a feeling this one may get legs. Dont just take my word for it read   He wrote the next game so he knows what he is talking about. As a retro clone it has most of the things you know and love from your Old Uncle Underground - the worlds first rpg. Stats, HP's polydice, three classes essentially a fighter, Magic user and a Thief, levels, spells (psionics - similar in some ways to Traveller), Skills etc. The biggest compliment I can give this game is that it feels like Dragon Warriors in Space to me. 
Thousand Suns  More goodness here. This game has grabbed a lot of interest. Its essentially a rule set usable to run sci-fi and is usable as a tool kit however the basic setting is the eponymous Thousand Suns an Imperium of man across the stars. Its run on the regular Rogue Games 12 degrees system which is Roll 2d12 and if the result is equal to or less than your Target Number, the action succeeds. Your TN is a number based on two associated Abilities or skills plus or minus any modifiers. For example, if your character wants to shoot a blaster and has a Agility 6 and Shoot 6, your TN is 12. Thus, rolling a 2d12 and getting a result of 11 results in a success; rolling 2d12 and getting a 23 results in a failure. It has a good overview of the core setting and you can do some great stuff with it and still fit in the milieu of the Thousand Suns. As James Maliszewski says "Thousand Suns is an attempt to marry the best of the past to the best of the present to create
exciting space opera roleplaying adventures in the imperial SF tradition"
Its very inclusive everything from The Night’s Dawn trilogy to ; Tschai, Planet of Adventure series ; to the Dorsai are listed in the biography. Technology is still mostly recognizable - there are reasons for this in the setting and it makes game preparation a breeze as the game does not degenerate into "deus-ex-sonic-screwdriver " personally I'm a big fan of this approach (no uber tech). The game also uses a Hooks mechanic which is like aspects in Fate3.0. If you "hook" is relevant then you can then get more-bang-for-your-action-point-buck. Its a neat way of adding aspects to a very traditional game design and coming up with something original in the process. Interestingly in a joint development type coincident, Diaspora and Thousand Suns both only allow the use of one hook for the same situation.  I really like this rule. Actually I really like the whole game. In some ways it gives the GM and players a bit more then Traveller due to the Hook mechanic. Some of the other parts of the game are more cohesive then Goose-Trav and more elegant then Original Traveller. It openly states it pedigree as a toolkit for Imperial Sci-fi so you could easily build your own Sandbox which I think would be nice (its OGL so you can develop the rules to your own liking). So this game too has me thinking its a nice middle ground between Goose-Trav and Stars Without Number (although I find it less inspiring then SWN for some reason).

Firefly - the cortext system is a neat poly-dice-as-the rating-of-attributes-and-skills-system, forming an ascending scale of ability. The poly-dice are assigned to Attributes, Skills, and Traits. Each die type, from two-sided (d2) up through twelve-sided (d12), represents a “step” on this scale. Higher steps, in general, represent greater ability, skill, damage, or whatever; a d6 is better than a d4, and a d8 is better than a d6. This scale can even extend above d12. At that point, a second die is added, making the next step “d12 + d2.” Most actions call for an Attribute die and a Skill die to be rolled and the results added together. If your character doesn’t have the right Skill (but is still allowed to try it—some actions require the proper training), roll only the Attribute. The character might have a Trait that helps out, or even more than one Trait. And if that doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough, there are ways to influence the outcome by spending Plot Points to gain a bonus die. Its a neat system and the setting information is sort of fun too. There is not a heck of a lot of "cannon" to be concerned with and it combines two things I love Sci-fi and Westerns (we got both types at Bob's Country Bunker) so this could be a grand option in many ways. It is otherwise quite close to the three games above, although in some ways the sandbox has some toys in it already. So the reason for this game would be the cortex system, and Joss Wledon's 'Verse such as it is. Oh and siting around singing the "Man called Jane". hehe. but I don't love the verse the same way as I love New BSG or Babylon 5.

This game is a huge mish mash and lots of it I dont care for even the name of the game is stupid IMHO. but a lot of the subject matter is just grand. I dont like the giant robots _but_ I do like the man sized mech's/power armour. Some of the other stuff leaves me a bit cold too. Taggers - read Lovecraft were-beasts just don't fit in my head. They are not horrific enough. They are too much like a toy or a power fantasy to have any place in the mythos IMHO. But much of this game is just inspired. My concern though is it doesn't hang together well.  I do really want to try it or play in it to just see if I like it or not. Despite myself I want to do this game.

Star-blade Battalion.
Now this is a game that really just works great. The Mekton Zeta rules are solid . The setting very cool and the level of tech fun. Think Bladerunner, meets Avatar meets Aliens. Whats not to like. System is straight forward basically  d20 but only with a d10. You get Sci-fi inspired battles (vs Anime inspired giant mech battles) think Avatar not Evengelion. There is in essence a whole sandbox in this game and therefore a heck of a lot of fun to be had.

I'll get to the other games in further posts for now a aside ...

This is a player pack Johnathan Tweet cooked up for his players the game was Obsidian.All rights a Mr Tweets. I include it here for interest and as an example for a great way to get things going in the right way for a game. Johnathan played a trick on the players as the game was all about cults and monsters sort of a lot like Cthulutech.

Friday Night
You might die tomorrow, so you might as well party tonight.
The city is a big, bad place. Terrorists from half a dozen fanatic groups wage an endless, pointless campaign of bombings and massacres. In response, the government has cracked down. The president calls for "extraordinary measures" in combating terrorism, and civilians dread "investigative detention." To make matters worse, the terrorist groups all have political, social, and religious groups affiliated with them. Many civilians have some connection to one terrorist group or another, usually through these technically legal "paraterrorist" organizations.
Throughout all this, civilians are trying to get by and lead "normal" lives. They have jobs, and they have weekends. It's Friday night, and you're going to meet your friends at a club downtown. Who knows where the night will lead?
I'd like you each to show up with some sort of concept, and we'll wing the stats at the table.
To create an outline of your concept, describe five items from the following list in terms of how they relate to your character.
A name, maybe a nick-name, or your real name that none of your friends know.
A job, a career (probably not a family).
A dirty little secret
A hidden weapon
A bad thing that's happened to you recently
A criminal record
Someone that you might just out and out kill if you saw them.
A way to have some chance of surviving having a hand grenade rolled under your chair.
A desperate need for something, such heroin or fame.
A secret link to a terrorist cell (but probably not actual membership).
A fun place to go on a Friday night; the other characters might or might not know it, too.
A striking physical feature, such as a missing eye or wall-to-wall tattoos.
Something really valuable
(5 items total)
What your character can't be:
no legitimate members of the police or armed forces
no wimps who'll fail to face unexpected dangers
no total nut-cases

More fantasy winnowing

So more of the thinking and cogitating and researching on FRP's. In case you missed it I'm contemplating what games I should be running this year. Ideally its one and ideally its weekly. But I can see complications with these as basic assumptions. We are getting together sporadically right now even with one game fortnightly so I don't want to push the issue. If we get a fortnightly game going and hitting on all cylinders then I'd be really happy. 

In researching "A Song of Ice and Fire" rpg  I found a post on the forum which said ".....it is going to be a bit tricky running a game where the character don't know the traits and history of the Houses from the Series...so good luck with that" This comment is very relevant as my group too are Westeros neophytes. Sure the game could slowly introduce them to the elements of the Houses, the mainland, Bravaros, Valeria, and all the rest. I'm really the only fan so this may have to wait until the HBO series make this more main stream. Good to know...

I gave up on "Pendragon" for this current group for similar reasons.
Same thinking puts a line through "Colonial Gothic" while it appeals to me I don't think many of the group would find it exciting. This also holds for "Savage Solomon Kane" The group don't know it enough for it to be inspiring of a game/campaign for them call them niche games I guess.

However I'm not sure Witch Hunter gets tarred with the same brush. The central premise is very easy to grab a hold of and run with - your hunting witches and you belong to a group who do likewise do forth in the name of the lord and poke those Witches with hot pointy sticks and/or drown them to see if they float. Simple. However with Witch hunter I don't achieve my goal of a sandbox or at least not easily .... although I'm sure it could be done. I could likewise squeeze Colonial Gothic back into the mix using the same simple premise - Go forth slay evil in the name of the lord. So that's the Colonial game, less so straight swashbuckling game.

While I'm sure All for One - A straight swashbuckling game from triple ace games - is a good game it too isn't holding my attention. So All for One is out of the fantasy role-play sweepstakes. So that nearly knocks all the Ubiquity games out of the running. Desolation is a Ubiquity rpg and high fantasy which hanging on, but really mainly from the Ubiquity p.o.v. not the Desolation background. Hollow Earth where we actually play in the hollow earth is also a fun idea too.

One interesting comment was made during the SR session last time and that was an expression of interest in a setting - nominally SR undergoing the Awakening. That is the real world dealing with magic blooming in the "real" world. So immediately I thought of NoW-Changeling and even more so Fireborn. The idea is a fun one and one that deserves greater consideration. So while Changeling-The Lost is out, I see it as too inaccessible for the group, Fireborn get's a look in - it has both the modern and the ancient era so in that respect its quite interesting. Although the rules are apparently abysmal. Sadly that keeps me from simply going that way.

Savage Worlds - Hellfrost  is also not doing it for me right now - I own all the stuff it looks great but I'm really ..meh' about it. So its out.
Savage Freeport is also very exciting to me as well. This for a Swashbuckling game is probably more interesting to me then All for One, lets face it, Pirates are more cool then Musketeers - due respect to M. Dumas and Wade-Williams.

Sword and Sorcery/Planetary adventure game - I think I'd go the way of Planetary adventure Its something I've always wanted to do and it could be a hell of a lot of Simple enough to flesh out a sandbox for this. I could use Savage Worlds for this or Stars Without Numbers or Labyrinth Lord which brings me to B/XD&D or RQ Sword and Sorcery - Used for a Sword and Sorcery/ Planetary adventure game they would work fine too. Interestingly BRP/RQ could work really well for Planetary Romance.

Qin - Saw "IP Man" the movie this week and i fired my Wu Xia passions. My memories of "Warriors of Heaven and Earth" make me want to do this game too.

So what I get after looking over that is a D&D reto clone, Savage worlds or Ubiquity is possibly going to be the most successful.

Ultimately I think I  would settle on Savage Worlds maybe Ubiquity as my engine for a Fantasy game.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A fantasy distilation

So the last few days I've been away from thinking about specific systems to do the game in and just mostly mulling over fantasy and what I like about it. This has been helped by my reading of the Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) by Steven Erikson. Its a fun  read but it doesn't paint a picture for me of that the world is like however I'm sure it will come given the number of books in the series.   Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)

So what do I like in fantasy. Well I tend to like the Medieval fantasy - this means more strictly medieval then most high fantasy. I do like Sword and Sorcery. I do like Planetary Romance. I like Pulp Adventure and Historical Novels [particularly colonial period America and Age of Discovery but also Napoleonic and Age or Reason].

Accordingly I tend to like low magic or magic which is more or less ubiquitous but not earth shattering. I'm not much of a fan of faux-Vanceian-magic-systems or super powers masking as magic. Occult, hermetic and mysterious is the best magic in my mind. Dealing with demons and the other world and the secrets behind our normal world makes a setting and its magic compelling. 

Strangely I also really like fairy-tales and fairy tale fantasies of the Brothers Grimm, HC Andersen, Dunsany's  The King of Elfland's Daughter and "stories about the adventures of men in Faërie, the land of fairies, fairytale princes and princesses, dwarves, elves, and not only other magical species but many other marvels" (JRR Tolkien in his essay on Fairy Tales). A better name I think is the German Märchen or "wonder tale" as it keys in on what is great about these stories i.e. the wonderful be it a place, person or thing. Its unique in that it defies the "normal" boundaries of our world. So people can be made from say, cheese if you have a reason or maybe even no reason or a castle can be literally constructed from giant playing cards. This sense of the bizarre and surreal captures something and transports us to a new place. Done well this can be allegorical and metaphorical conjuring a type of poetry and zaniness that is ultimately a wonderfully creative experience. This game "Grimm" by fantasy flight games really captures the right feel although I would like to see a supplement focusing on adults in the same world (a quick read of the game didnt show me support for this - in fact all I found was a statement of "go on play kids its better" sadly while I can see the appeal and how it could well be fun I would not seriously entertain GM'ing a campaign in such a game [kids as the protagonists] and we really don't like one shots (i'd be open to the idea but my table mates prefer campaigns).
Now this is a Fairy Tale! From a Russian tale

So in reflection of the last week my fantasy game thinking is now more like this;

Hollow Earth - Ubiquity system game is a more accurate statement - HEX, Desolation, All For One (see below for Swashbuckling game )  
Savage Worlds - Hellfrost or Sword and Sorcery/ Planetary adventure game.
Colonial/Swashbuckling game.    
B/XD&D or RQ Sword and Sorcery - Used for a Sword and Sorcery/ Planetary adventure game  
Qin - Saw IP Man the movie this week and i fired my Wu Xia passions
ASOIAF - Just in love with the idea of this game too.

On the fantasy game front I wanted to give a shout out to these two games which I wish every success.
Shattered Empires the RPGThe first is Shattered Empires the RPG - this is a new game engine and game for the Arcanis world. It uses 2d10 and the system sounds like it could be a lot of fun. you can find a review of it which is favorable. I haven't had a chance to play it but my reading of it leaves me in agreement with the reviewer. I'm even toying with this for our fantasy gaming. more power to Paradigm concepts for doing this. 

Paradigm concepts are also giving away the Arcanis Codex gazetteer FOR FREE get it for a reed if your so inclined. I recommend it its a good read - I'm going through it now - You can make it your typical High Fantasy game or play up the mythic aspects of the setting for something a bit closer to a RQ type experience.

The other game has me really intrigued - I long time ago Ken Hite said he was looking around the game industry wondering why more people were not taking the d20 SRD in new directions and commented that Mutants and masterminds and True20 were some of the only examples of games which had forged new territory of the back of the SRD. I remember agreeing with his assessment. (The new 3rd edition of MnM is even more of an improvement in many ways - unfortunately the powers system in the game has become d20's answer to Champions which I think is a shame).

Maybe this game should be called 

 The Worm Ouroboros rpg

Then along comes Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game (OGL). Its a new take on an old game. Or maybe more a type of game. As it says in the Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics Modules - "Remember  the  golden  days  of  role  playing,  when adventures were underground, NPCs were there to be killed, and the finale of every dungeon was the dragon on the 20th level? Well, those days are back. Dungeon Crawl  Classics  feature  bloody  combat,  intriguing  dungeons,  and  no  NPCs  who  aren’t  meant  to  be  killed. Each  adventure  is  100%  good,  solid  dungeon  crawl, with the monsters you know, the traps you fear, and the secret doors you know must be there somewhere".
Essentially dungeon crawls and puzzles in which the PC's must adventure through, the game - which is actually as deep as your group cares to make it. The game then becomes something of an emergent property of the player characters, the party, the dungeon, the near by wilderness, the town the local NPC's in the town and otherwise and any other bits that come up including GM imagination and weird spots - like say the outer planes or the nearby war or the giant spire or ...whatever you can cook up. This is actually quite a credible way to game and Hasbro's grads in the marketing department and their stuck-in-the-box Bosses in their wisdom, didn't want to capitalize on. So other people did. I really want this game to be the next big thing! Why ... just because I think it would be cool if that happened. Do I think it really will be? Sadly no but I do wish them every success and  I'll get a copy when its out. 

      Friday, January 7, 2011

      Now thats a Dungeon location

      This awesome piece of art has me thinking about a spooky and wet dungeon.

      The art is by Raphael Lacoste a truly talented guy throw money at him if you can.

      Tuesday, January 4, 2011

      More on Systems and Genre

      A few post ago I made a bit of a list about games and genres I'd like to play in this coming year. I love pondering these questions and thinking about gaming so here are more thoughts on the list. The list had these games on it and while I've been doing reviews of these games others have also popped up as inspiration/posability and I'll talk about those too.As it stands the list of material I'm reviewing at the moment includes;
      • B/XD&D
        • Which rules set as the basis for a game? I think Swords and Wizardry although there is a part of me that would like to just use the Rules Encyclopedia/Dark Dungeons as it has a special place in my heart. Stars With Out number also falls in to this category and I would consider using this for a Planetary Romance game.
        • Castles and Crusades is also a possibility as it sit right in the middle of old D&D and 3.x  
          • Unfortunately I'm the only one ... (maybe one of my other players) that could get into this. Honestly I have some problems with D&D which is why I have not GM'd much of it successfully.
          • If we went this way I'm toying with a planetary romance game, a game set in a science fantasy version of southern Australia (essentially where I live inspired by Sean McMullen's Greatwinter stories)  or one set in the great Wilderlands of High Fantasy (which ironically enough is more Swords and Sorcery then it is High Fantasy... go figure)      

      • RuneQuest  
        • In a similar vein I could go RQ and do similar to the above. I'm not sure how my players would take it. They don't have an RQ background. I had a good campaign of this years ago with Griffin Island (well at that time Griffin Mountain was very hard to find) and we had a blast. My current players are less directed then those players were so it may not take off in quite the same way.
      • Pendragon
        • This is a great game, possibly the most complete sandbox and set of adventures there are - However and its a big however - its historical context, story-linked narrative and "Knights are the only class" misconception hold this back from most groups (you don't play "Knights" i.e. Fighters per D&D in Pendragon you play "Lords/Nobles" in the D&D vernacular. You have your own keep/manor and your own force of men at arms). I've done the GPC two times before and never finished it and never really got very far as there is so much to do. The only other down side is the conclusion of the campaign. The battle at Camlann is a tragedy and I don't really like the way its scripted to end. Yes its in keeping with the source material but... even so I'd like to play it through to the end even if I changed it up some how.    
        Qin: The Warring States
        • I love this game and I love the material for it. It is a great and very traditional type of sword and sorcery setting [well Wu Xia really]. Unfortunately its not really accessible to the Westerner. I did years of kung fu and hence loved Chinese movies and by extension the culture but its even hard to get a copy of The Water Margin let alone Jin Yong's novels although you can get them here      
      • Lord of the Rings Adventure guidebook
        • OK so yeah this one would be for just running a LotR game. The reason is, in my mind if I'm going to be doing high  fantasy you may as well go to the granddaddy of all milieus and do it right. Its funny but when this game first came out (that is the Lord of the Rings Adventure guidebook not MERP) a lot of people who didn't actually play the game derided it. As a result it didnt get a lot of support. Its actually a really very good game system essentially the type of system we would consider solid these days. It also has a great old school feel and is in my opinion better then MERP.
        •  Even though the main book is out of print there is now MEGAv4.0
          • Or if you prefer you can go and use Legends of Middle Earth to power your LotR chronicle. This is really well done rules lite and I kind of dig it. The die mechanic is inspired. My only gripe is it needs more structure for accruing dice however it has a sort of a Wushu feel to it, in a round about way, and it works in play so this would be OK with the right group.      
      • Savage Worlds
        • The draw card here is it would be an introduction to Savage Worlds for most of my group and would give us a good generic system to underpin our gaming and then there is;
          • Hellfrost - This game looks great and it seems like another solid option for a great fantasy campaign. This game is less High Fantasy and more Heroic Fantasy [says so on the can] which I take to mean its still got most of the high fantasy tropes of a High fantasy narrative only it also has a intricate plot, involving many peoples, nations and lands and that grand battles and the fate of the world are common themes and there is some emphasis on a universal conflict between good and evil.
          • The Freeport Companion - I love swashbuckling - I ran an fun 7thSea game (although it has to be said the rules and the world are both poorly executed)  and its a great option for Fantasy in my books. Pirates, Privateers, Gentlemen and Highwaymen are all great fun and hearken back to my youth so there is nostalgia value there too. Steven Brust schooled everyone when he did Phoenix Guard. Awesome. 
          • I guess I need to cast back just a bit farther and add in Régime Diabolique as its Ubiquity game. I love that system its soooooo sensible and it actually works for gaming. Oh now I'm thinking I need to look in to Desolation too.

          • Solomon Kane - Now we are talking! The Puritan and his friends against the "Eeeevil". This is, to my way of thinking, "the world of darkness/urban fantasy" 1700's. I like it as the players are not necessarily powered individuals, although they do have access to some magic and other knacks. Which alwos me to play up either the fantasy or horror aspects of the game. And that leads on to ....
      • Witch hunter: The Invisible World 
        • More of the same type of feel that we get from Solomon Kane. Its good as it goes different places and there is a lot of material for it too, between the published commercial adventure supplements and the living campaign. If anything its a little bit too much of a power fest.  The art is so good in this book dark and grotty so much so that I could own this book just for the Pat Loboyko's great art. 
        • I could get a very similar result with a historical Hunter the Vigil game so I'd best include that in the running too. I'd so this as it lowers the power level of the players a little which allows for a little more horror to seep in as powerlessness is a part of what makes horror work (not the only thing but one thing anyway) 
        • While on the topic I've got to add the gem which is Colonial Gothic. Take One part Last of the Mohican's add one part The Scarlet Letter, chill, shake and strain through Pirates of the Caribbean and you have Colonial Gothic. Its got a lot of what I like in one neat little package. Its something old, something new and will leave your players blue [well black and blue and a bit bloody around the edges] Sweeeeet.
      • This should have been the cover!
        • Love the world, I feel very familiar with it after all these years spent reading these books and I like the ideas in the game book by Green Ronin. Only if feels like they have dropped this game like it was a mistake? I have heard the mechanics aren't great for melee which seems odd as this is such a big part of the game. Running the game with other rules is a possibility but I think of all my group I'm the only fan of the novels. I like the humanocentric fantasy setting and I like the lack of spell casting - you cant say lack of magic exactly as there seems to be magic in the world in the form of real mythical beasts and even magical events. The grittiness of this world is also great. Introducing my current players to this could be a struggle, however its another solid fantasy option and one I really like. The question then becomes why this over say Pendragon? A high fantasy feel? More narrative freedom?
      • Barbarians of Lemuria 
        • I like the simplicity of character generation in this game and I also like the world of Lemuria and its background sketchy as it is in the rule book. Its science post apocalypse fantasy and is really the vibe I'm looking for. In the play test of this game the player playing the sorcerer didn't like the way he was limited with the spells and didn't get that it was in genre. Which has soured this game a touch. However the speed of play in this game is to be highly recommended although if your not careful the game can lose its edge and become somewhat slapstick.  In our play test we teetered on the edge of the two styles. I do recommend the game however there is really not a lot to the game and its quite "lite".    
      • Shadow, Sword and Spell Basic
        • This game has been overshadowed by Barbarians of Lemuria however while taking noting away from BoL, SS&S is a great game in its own right my one gripe is this is the Basic game so its not all the rules you will be wanting. This game is by Rogue games and has a lot in common with Colonial Gothic which is a good thing. It has a distinct old school or indy feel to it too. Based on the way Rogue games has steady expanded Colonial Gothic I can only hope SS&S get the same treatment too. However until that happens I dont see myself using this as the system of choice right now. However things could change...
      • Hollow Earth Expedition - Mysteries of the Hollow Earth.  
        • So this is the last entry for this current post and its one from left field. I really like the Ubiquity engine it works well around the game table and provides enough crunch and enough elegance to get a great gaming experience emerging around the table. The idea here would be to run a game where the players are all "Natives" of the Hollow Earth potentially some could even be from the surface world only they are stuck in the Hollow Earth and have been for some time. Humm this idea has really sparked my imagination now as it really does give a good backdrop to what would be a Planetary  Romance.    
      So what has going over these works shown me...
      First its that I'm spoiled for choice! Hah.
      Furthermore I can see now that there are easier options and harder ones.

      Easy options include 
      Hollow Earth - I know the players could appreciate this setting and the system 
      Savage Worlds - Hellfrost this would likely be to the taste of much of the group may who see d20 as the Daemon child of Satan.
      Lord of the Rings rpg of some stripe - Most of the players like Tolkien and play LotRO and are fans of the novels. They would consider playing in a LotR game.  

      Colonial/Swashbuckling game - This too I could likely get off the ground as three of the current players played in my 7thSea game and enjoyed it.   

      B/XD&D or RQ Sword and Sorcery - This is a bit of an unknown and a lot would be riding on the strength of the early sessions. All thought I do like the idea of making my own set of rules just the way we want them. 

      Harder options; 
      These Medieval/Historical type rpg's don't seem to hold a lot of interest to my player group. Hence  a lot would be riding on the strength of the early sessions and my commitment to the chosen game. More so my commitment which will need to be strong to convince them honestly of my own on going passion for the game. But damn it you can only get this or this in one of these games <<smile>> 

      Old school tourney action

      Is that a dragon in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
      And I'm not sure of my "ongoing passion for Fantasy rpg's" at all!!! That is an issue I need to work through. I'm fickle and I tend to follow my interests in reading etc so that is often why Sci-Fi is such a good option for me. So next post I'm going to blog about Sci-fi, Super Hero/Pulp and Horror options. The next post will talk about these...
      • Stars Without Numbers
      • Traveller 
      • Eclipse Phase
      • Starblazer Adventures
      • Shadowrun
      • Dead of Night
      • Trail of Cthulhu
      • Savage Worlds – War of the Dead
      • MSH
      • Smallville
      • Mutant City blues

      Monday, January 3, 2011

      More Top-Down game development and a Monster.

      I wrote last time that it makes sense to not over do game preparation and planing. Broad strokes and suggestive containers/classes/objects and a few if any "methods" as most are implied by the "language" and the mechanics of those systems in which we game.

      I stumbled onto this blog entry and I love it [actually I love a lot of Mutant Lord Carl's stuff and highly recommend you add him to your reads].

      One of the techniques I used in most of my more successful games was to use the spiral note pads, the flip over type to do all my work in.

      I think I'll go back to that type of approach again in an effort to do just in time gaming.

      I've been doing system reseach for my game and thats going well next post will be on system and genre and what I've been thinking up.

      As a aside I've been thinking of ZOMBIES. Specifically I've been thinking of a monster type - similar to rot grubs only a centipede or beetle which infects its victim, kills it by eating out the spinal cord (there are lots of Chordates in any fantasy setting so its not like its only humans they can prey on) they then enter a state of chrysalis and form a new symbiotic relationship with the host carcass using the old alimentary canal for the incubation of offspring (Jack-grubs are hermaphroditic and provided they can hook up with others in the adult zombie phase they can produce said offspring)