Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dwimmermount Goes To Eleven!

Dwimmermount had a goal on Kickstarter of $10k and came in just short of $49k.  Simply amazing.

Let the naysayers say what they will about the RPG hobby and the OSR, but from where I stand it is certainly picking up steam, with or without the Albatross of D&D Next standing in the wings.

Now I'm certainly looking forward to all the goodies I'll be getting for supporting James' baby but I'm even more excited about placing this in my upcoming ACKS campaign.

I'm really looking forward to the illustration booklet that is now being included.  Besides the fact that I love OSR style art, one of my favorite memories of playing AD&D was playing Tomb of Horrors.  Not just because one of my fellow players stuck his head in an Orb of Annihilation (although that did lead to much laughing by all but him, but I digress) but because of the booklet of art that was included to show the players actual dungeon scenes.  

Yes, you can certainly draw a picture with words, but it is often more effective to show the actual picture, especially when it it well done.  I can't wait to hold them up before the webcam in the G+ game.  What?  I can actually show the pictures from the PDF directly through Google+ Hangout?  But that would ruin the Old School Fun ;)

(If you didn't get the Spinal Tap reference in the post title... Shame on you!)

Mini Review - Deadlands Reloaded Player's Guide - Explorer's Edition (Savage Worlds)

I must say that Pinnacle / Studio 2 certainly know how to put beautiful RPG books together.  The art in the Deadland's Reloaded Player's Guide is nothing short of amazing - everything evokes the atmosphere of the setting.  You are given express permission to print the PDF for personal use, but the ink cost would be insane.  Still, its a nice gesture. (Layer control for the win)

From a technical standpoint, the Deadland Reloaded Player's Guide PDF is aces.  Not only is it bookmarked, but the Table of Contents is hyperlinked.  Huzzah!

As for the contents of the book, we get the setting background from the player character's POV.  It should be enough to get most players IN character.  Character generation (including new hinderances and edges), gear and goodies, unique setting rules... it's all there.  Some GMs may feel there is too much there for the players, but as this is an alternate history setting, and the PCs are living it, I think it's perfectly fine to bring the players (mostly) up to speed.

This coupled with the Gamemaster's Guide and the core Savage Worlds rules are all that are needed to run a Deadlands game (and from what I've heard, you probably want the Horror Companion too).  I'm hoping to run a story arc or two using the Deadlands setting starting in the summer.  Hopefully it's enough  time to bring me up to speed ;)

But that's okay, as the Deadlands Player's Guide doesn't read so much like an RPG sourcebook but more like an actual guide to the "Weird West".  Therein lies half the fun ;)

From the blurb:

Strap on your six-gun and saddle up, partner. There's Hell to pay and the currency is hot lead!

The year is 1879, but the history is not our own. The guns of the Civil War are silent in a tense cease-fire. California is shattered by the Great Quake Quake of '68, a superfuel called ghost rock revealed in the new channels and cliff faces. Powerful Rail Barons strive to complete a transcontinental railroad, and the Great Rail Wars exact a bloody toll in the Union, the Confederacy, the Sioux Nation, the Mormon state of Deseret, and the Independent Commonwealth of California.

The Tombstone Epitaph has always been filled with lurid tales of daring desperadoes and deadly drifters, but lately the West's most-read tabloid claims there's something more sinister stalking the fronteir's lonely plains: monsters! Fortunately, where there are monsters, there are heroes. Squinte-eyed gunfighters, card-chucking hexsligners, savage braves, and righteous padres have all answered the call. And if they fight hard enough, they might just discover the identity of the mysterious Reckoners some say are behind it all.
The Player's Guide is the core rules book for player of Deadlands Reloaded. It includes new rules for shootouts at high noon, new Edges, Hindrances, and powers, and everything thing a cowpoke needs to begin his journey into the Weird West.

The Deadlands Reloaded Player's Guide is not a complete game. You'll also need the Savage Worlds core rulebook to play. The gamemaster will also need the Deadlands Reloaded Marshal's Handbook (target availability October 2010).

This full-featured PDF includes a hyperlinked table of contents and index, bookmarks, and layer controls so you only print what you need.

Games From the Basement - Talislanta

The "Games From the Basement" series of posts is now also including "Games from the Top of the Closet That Haven't Been Seen in 15 Years or More".  This thus gives us the latest entry - Talislanta.

My earliest memories of Talislanta were the ads in Dragon magazine with the tagline "No Elves!"  Which is true, there aren't any elves in the book.  There are, however, numerous races and archetypes.  More than I care to count.

Judging from the pristine binding of this 320+ page rulebook, I can safely say I never made an attempt to run this, let alone read it to anything that resembled completion.

This HAS to be One of the WORST
Back Covers of an RPG Ever!
I Can't Even Make Out the Writing in the Original
This is the 3rd edition of the rules, published by WotC before they picked up the bones of TSR.  Heck, Jonathan Tweet is listed as one of the two authors (Stephan Michael Sechi is the other.  He's also the copyright owner).

If you want to play along at home with this posting, you can grab just about everything published for Talislanta for free at the Talislanta website.  Heck, the rules are even released under the Creative Commons license (or so says wikipedia).

Filling the Sandbox Both Inside and Out

With the Adventurer Conqueror King System shipping this week, I'm looking at the end of April / beginning of May to get the new campaign off the ground (as this will give me time to fully absorb the ACKS system figure out some general courses for the campaign).

With the rediscovery of my Thieves' World boxed set, I can file off the serial numbers and use it as a nearby city.  I have the local sandbox I want to use with Christian's Hex 000 series in Loviatar, but I still need a larger sandbox for my smaller sandbox to reside within.

I had thought of using the Wilderlands (I have the 3e boxed set) but the scope is larger than I need, and all the pretty baubles may prove too distracting.  I had though (briefly) to use Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands, but again, the scope is larger than I need, and the alternate classes aren't needed when you add the Adventurer's Companion into the mix for ACKS.

Instead, I think I may use Rob's Blackmarsh setting.  Probably won't use it as is, but there's a lot to like, and the price of the PDF is certainly nice (free).

I have the potential to use 2 mega dungeons (or maybe even 3) but I don't expect the party to dawdle in such locations for long.  There should be options enough to keep them constantly adventuring, and I suspect as the characters grow their own motivations will lead to adventure.

Now is the time that I need to use to generate some simple adventure seeds and rumors (although I suspect the first session will be less sandbox than the campaign will turn into - you do need to get the party in motion).

Oh, and I'll get to use all of the cool art I got with the Monster Stock Art Kickstarter.  I think the guy above will be a part of the party's first adventure...

(Art by C Quigley)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Games From the Basement - Champions

Champions is the first supers game I ever played.  Wait, I may have played Villains and Vigilantes prior to it - it's kind of hazy, and I found out about them both around the same time.  Champions is the one I actually bought.

It seemed more balanced than V&V.  It's strange that I was worried about balance back in High School, as we played AD&D without any concept of "Point Buy", so some lucky rolls could certainly do you good. Ah, who am I kidding, AD&D was roll 5d6 6 times (keeping the best 3 dice outa five) and rolling 6 characters to choose from.  Balance wasn't an issue, as we were all over powered, but I digress).

What little I remember of V&V (besides the ads in Dragon) is you could roll some really stupid power combinations, whereas Champions allowed one to create the superhero of their dreams, or at least close to it.  Champions was my first experience with "point buy", which I think works better for supers anyway.

Did I mention I'm not a huge fan of supers?

I never ran a game, tho I played in a few sessions.  Then I played some Marvel supers.  I've stayed away from supers pretty much since.  Not bad games, just no made for me.

Still, I've looked at how far the Hero System that is the engine of Champions has come - and it scares the crap outa me.  My lord but it looks like one hell of a crunchy and heavy system those days.

Games From the Basement - Top Secret

Apparently I have the 2nd edition of Top Secret.  I have never seen a 1st edition, and had assumed all these years that it was a 1st.  No big deal, I don't think i opened the box after 1985.

I remember reading this in my science lab classes in High School.  If you finished the lad in the first period, the second period was a free period of sorts (apparently you couldn't go to a friends house that lived nearby for lunch - found that out the hard way... heh).

I still remember the crappy as shit smaller than usual set of red and green d10's it game with.  I'm sure if I emptied out my dice collection, I'd find the pair, all chipped and pitted.  The dice were still better than those that were included in Gamma World (which literally disintegrated with use).

"Holy Shit!  Look at all of these charts!
I can kill your character and you'd never know what happened!"
Ashly, the Killer Feline GM
I ran a handful of sessions but the charts were killers.  They weren't even fun charts like in RoleMaster, but painful, complicated charts for the sake of having charts.  I had high hopes for it back in High School, but I quickly learned Top Secret wasn't for us.  It also soured me on the James Bond 007 RPG, which I refused to buy after this experience, which is a shame.  I've heard good things about 007 (at least compared to Top Secret).

Some of the guys from the Happy Jacks podcast recently ran Top Secret at a con, more as a goof than anything.  Strangely enough, the players for the game wanted to play it straight up ;)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jeff Dee's Kickstarter - Recreating the Melnibonean Artwork From Deities & Demigods

I really, really, really need to stay away from Kickstarter.  There is just way too much cool shit to be had, especially if you are a gamer or tech geek or both.

Monte Cook turned me on to Jeff's latest project earlier tonight on G+ and I figured I had to share it also.

Nearly all of Jeff Dee's early work for TSR was thrown out by the company, so Jeff is redoing the missing artwork and selling signed prints.  I loved Elric and Stormbringer (heck, almost all of the Eternal Champion series) so Recreating the Melnibonean Art is a no brainer for me.  The only question is do I up my amount to get an original piece of art and not just a signed print.

Oh, and those that pledge $45 or more get a recreated print of Lolth in Amber from D3 (that's the pic above left).

Games From the Basement - Thieves' World

Alright, Thieves' World technically isn't it's own game.  It's closer to being a "Universal Supplement" as it claims support for 9 RPGs.  Imagine that!

It is based off of Robert Asprin's Thieves' World Anthology series.  The first few books were the best... I think i tapped out around number 5 or 6.  It was a nice experiment allowing multiple authors to share stories in the same setting.

What games did it have stats for?

AD&D, D&D, Tunnels &Trolls, Chivalry & Sorcery, DragonQuest, The Fantasy Trip, RuneQuest, Adventures in Fantasy (I don't know this one) and even Traveller.  Yes, Chaosium got permission from TSR and the like to use their stats.  It really was a different time in gaming.

Ken St Andre writes the T&T section , Marc Miller the Traveller section, Eric Goldberg the DragonQuest section, Dave Arneson the Adventures in Fantasy section (now I need to find a copy of the game) and a few other names that bring back memories of that time in gaming (Steve Marsh, Lawrence Schick, Steve Perrin, Greg Stafford, Eric Goldberg).

The city is mapped awesomely.  Really.  Did I mention the maps? ;)

If I recall correctly, Midekmia Press also worked on Cities or some such supplement.  Random tables galore.  You could probably run a session solely off the tables if the GM was willing and able to work with the results.  Yes, this was a city sandbox.

We used this off and on, but for the most part, it is very Thieves' World specific, and my players for the most part hadn't read the books.  It's still an awesome source of charts for any city adventure, so long as you scrape of any parts that are Thieves' world specific.

Just a Little OGRE

There's been a lot of talk in this corner of the blogosphere about the new release of OGRE that is being pimped via Kickstarter.

My God but it looks good!

I had the pocket release of OGRE, GEV and oh so many Car Wars sets. One heck of a lot of fun for very little money.

100 bucks for the latest version of OGRE. 13+ pounds of sci-fi wargaming goodness.

Have I mentioned how dangerous Kickstarter is? The empty space in my wallet where actual cash used to reside?

I have a feeling I'll be kicking into this one too.

Who am I kidding? I KNOW I'll be getting the new OGRE.

It's a good time to be a gamer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Games From the Basement - Space Master

My God but we played the crap out of Space Master!  For a period of nearly a year, our gaming group shrunk to just 3 regular players - Paul, Tony and myself, the GM.

D&D just wasn't going to work well with a 2 player party (this was in the AD&D 2e era).  So we experimented with other games.  We did some board gaming, some Talisman, and then somehow we settled on Space Master.

I don't know how or why we got there.  I had Rolemaster for a number of years, but we never really played it.  We played MERP off and on in the early days of the full group, but it never really felt like Middle Earth to us.  Still, we kinda had a handle on the Rolemaster system due to it's younger and simpler sibling, MERP.

One day I suggested we try Space Master, and play we did.  I am damn certain I did not have a handle on all the rules, but Tony and Paul didn't know the system well enough to know I was fudging half the time to keep the game flowing.  Or maybe they knew and just didn't care.  Doesn't matter, as we had a blast.

I tried to keep the opposition numerous but weak.  Lots of crits by the players, occasional crits on the players kept the story and the action moving.  Damn, we had good times, and it worked well with the small party that we had.  I don't think we ever played it with more than the three of us.

I doubt I'll play Space Master again.  It's a bit more rules heavy than I like these days, and it would be impossible to get the three of us together again if I tried, as we lost Paul on 9-11.  The memories are strong even if the details are a bit fuzzy at times.  As was my knowledge of the rules, apparently ;)

Looking at the Latest "Rule of Three": Crafting the Abstract Evolving Hit Points in D&D Next

The skeletons of dead editions of D&D reside within

1  Do you think mundane crafting has a place in D&D Next?

Yes—but we haven't figured out exactly where yet (that's one of those honest answers that almost make you feel the game designer's pain). The goal is to make sure the rules for crafting things are present, and that you can opt into being a craftsman if you want as a player, but that doing so doesn't consume a significant portion of the resources you need for adventuring (if it happens between sessions, what adventuring resources is it occupying?  the most valuable gaming resource is TIME). We've tinkered with putting it in themes, for example, as a benefit that you just get. (but if it's a benefit you "just get", is there actual crafting involved, or do you "just get" the item?  is this another part of the streamlined D&D Next where it's "No Roll required?")

 2  How do you see hit points evolving in D&D Next?

Hit points are a great example of an area of the game that we don't think needs any real changes. They have remained consistent in their use throughout the editions, and we think they are one of the touchstones of the game. We might tinker with acquisition (either you get them when you level - or you don't.  not much room to tinker.  changing the Hit Die may be considered a tinker, but it's changed so often between editions I don't think anyone is married to the size anymore) and recovery of hit points (more Second Wind shit from 4e I presume?  Sorry 4e fans, but your combats last forever because the Hit Point Pool regenerates faster that a Troll on crack), but the basic concept of hit points should remain unchanged.

 3  It seems like we might be able to use an abstract time unit for some things - the session. Is this something you guys are looking at in D&D Next?

Right now, no. A session can vary so widely not only between play groups, but also week to week, that such abstract measurements of time make it very difficult for the DM (or the adventure designer) to predict what resources the characters will have available to them. In fact, one of the goals right now is to make it even easier on the DM to predict how draining a particular adventure will be on the party, and design the adventure accordingly (this goes back to the "One Hour Play Sessions" goal from earlier.  Balance everything in 1 hour blocks.  Bland as all shit gaming if you ask me). Real-world time measurements make that much more difficult, because we might spend one session exploring and interacting with only a single combat encounter, and another engaged in a series of combat encounters. If my character has a combat resource that is per-session (shit, this is more of that 4e at will, encounter, daily shit, aint it?.  I don't want my fighter to be a caster of fighter moves and specials, I want him to be a fighter), it not only means the character is weaker in a multi-combat session, it also makes my decisions as a player tougher, as I now need to decide when to use my resource based on the expected contents of each session of play, instead of based upon the events that the character participates in.

Notice how they've been playing these posts closer to the vest the past few weeks?  Could it be all the folks (like me) that ponder their words and try to decipher their actual direction?

Shouldn't I wait until I have the game in hand to critique it?

No, because by then in will be too fucking late to fix it.

As I've said before, WotC should make the best D&D game possible AND THEN worry about whether it includes everybody's desires.  Because it won't.  The best D&D game possible won't please everybody but will be a rocking game none the less.  A game built to please everybody will fail and please very few.

Gelatinous Cube by Malcolm McClinton

What Came First: The New Edition or the Fragmentation of the Community?

It's the old Chicken or the Egg question from Mike Mearls' post on Monday.

Mike stated the following: Traditionally, D&D editions have focused on specific play styles. This approach has fragmented the community over time.

The way Mike states the issue, he puts the emphasis on play style dividing the D&D community. That is a cheap ass punt if there ever was one.

The reason for the divisions in the D&D community lies primarily with the release of multiple editions. It's not just an issue with D&D, it's an issue with many RPGs that go through "Evolution by Edition".

The idea generally is as follows - to make sure people by into the new edition, you have to make it close enough to it's predecessor that folks recognize it and feel comfortable with it, while at the same time making sure it's incompatible with previous editions, thus ensuring mass purchasing of new products when released.

By making the old incompatible, you are making it obsolete. Or that is the goal of the publishers of games that follow this model. Which would work fine, except that orphaned editions don't need support to retain a significant portion of it's base. RPGs, by their very nature, allow for and encourage home brewing. If I can write my own (or these days find on the internet) adventures for my favorite edition, I have no need to move on. I also have no need then of your new edition products.

This happens with the release of each new edition (and the orphaning of each old edition).

Does Mike really expect players of 4e to abandon a game that they enjoy, that they already have a near endless supply of support for, to play a new edition that very likely won't be much like the one they are playing now?

How about the OSR folks? Are they going to leave their systems that are supported and very much alive for a new system that won't match their style of play?

Maybe the Pathfinder players are going to leave behind their amazingly well supported game to play a similar but incompatible game?

The answers to all of the above? I doubt it.

It's not the style of game play WotC is up against so much as the amount of support the other flavors of D&D already have.

The previous editions aren't dead. The OGL breathed life into everything from before 3x, and has kept 3x very healthy in the body of Pathfinder.

D&D Next has to compete against shades and dopplegangers of it's own past. It better be happy with scraps from the gaming table, because that's all it will likely find in the end.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Picking Nits From Mike Mearls Latest Column - D&D Next Design Considerations

(Mike appears to be keeping himself from talking about ANYTHING remotely revealing about the direction of D&D Next these days.  Still, there's still a handful of nits to pick - for the original article, go here)

I'd like to share with you a draft of the earliest documents I put together to help shape the new iteration of D&D. I distributed this document to the D&D team about a year ago. It lays out the case for the basic approach we should take with the RPG. It's not long, but I felt that if I had to write a convoluted document to make my case, it wasn't a case worth making. (kind of like writing a convoluted game system is not worth making, but I digress)

Over the course of a long design period, it's easy to lose track of the fundamental purpose behind the entire project. Note that this document doesn't mention any specific rules, mechanics, settings, or so forth. The idea is to lay down a short list of inviolate design principles to get things rolling. None of the points below surprised anyone on the R&D team. We had been talking about them for quite a while. If anything, this document put down in writing a set of goals that had been forming in the team for some time.

D&D Design Overview

This document outlines the design directives behind the process of revising D&D. It lays out the goals and expected results of the design process.

Goal #1: Reunification through Common Understanding

As part of the design process, the R&D team must boil down the RPG into its most basic component parts. Using those rules elements, the team must then build an easy to understand game system that incorporates the most iconic elements of D&D in prominent roles. Anyone who has ever played any version of D&D must recognize and understand its most important elements. (here's the problem with boiling something down - it tends to lose flavor and value.  the differences between 0e and 4e are so huge, they literally are different games.  to make a game that is recognizable as D&Dish to players of both means you will needs to add features that one or the other most probably don't want in their game)

Goal #2: Reunification through Diversity

Traditionally, D&D editions have focused on specific play styles. This approach has fragmented the community over time. (no - coming out with new edition after new edition has fragmented the D&D community over time) The next iteration must stretch the system to cover a wider variety of play styles through character and DM options. By looking at past editions and incorporating their elements as core or optional rules, we can allow players and groups to place the focus where they want it. (fine and dandy.  sounds great on paper.  what is going to make those groups move to yet another new edition when they are already playing a previous edition that they are happy with?)

Goal #3: Reunification through Accessibility

D&D has traditionally required large amounts of time, a large play group (I've played with 3 and a DM - that's large?  what is the definition of "large" in this context?), and a sustained commitment (that is what campaign play is all about). The design process must focus on play time, group size, speed of play (rolling back the 4e combats I assume?  how the hell did that ever get past the 4e playtesters?), and length of campaigns, with an eye toward reducing the minimum required from each area. Players who want a longer play time and so forth can easily scale up the game to meet their needs and opt into the various rules modules we'll provide or that they'll build themselves. However, our standard goal is to remove minimum group sizes (Zero sounds like a likely size... yes, I'm joking... kinda), allow for a complete adventure in one hour of play (I still call BS on this line), and satisfying campaigns in 50 hours of play (very doable, depending on where you want to end the campaign).

Game Design

The new system must create a mechanical and mathematical framework that the play experience of all editions of D&D can rest within. One player can create a 4th-Edition style character while another can build a 1st-Edition one. Complexity and individual experiences rest in the players' hands (I maintain that for the new edition to be successful, that complexity setting must lie primarily in the DM's hands). That experience is more important than the specifics of the math. In other words, if the math works but the game doesn't feel like D&D, we've failed. If the system is sound, but it can't replicate D&D's classic adventures (does this mean we can expect a bunch of reissued adventures from earlier editions?  we know they are using B2 to play test D&D Next) or seamlessly support any of D&D's settings, it isn't the right system for D&D. 

More importantly, we must look beyond the mechanics of the game to focus on the archetypes, literary tropes, and cultural elements that built D&D. We must build a fighter that resonates as a warrior, not one simply cobbled together with mechanics pilfered from D&D's past. The key game experience of D&D lies at the game table. Our work must start by focusing on the key elements of D&D and the unique traits of a tabletop RPG. The mechanics must support those two factors, not the other way around. (these are lofty goals, but I suspect they will remain out of reach)

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, this document helps give you some insight into the thinking behind our goals. When you feel that you know a game very well, it's easy to get lost in the details of what makes it work. One of our aims for the next iteration is to call into question everything that R&D thought it knew about what makes D&D tick. The document above, along with a lot of the other work we've done over the past year or so, is all part of the process of hitting the reset button on our understanding of D&D.

That reset ties back into our playtesting efforts. In going back to basics, it's important for us to remember that D&D is a game played by a huge number of people. We're not trying to reinvent D&D so much as rediscover it (well, ya lost it with 4e) . Doing that means we need to take into account the entire, diverse range of people who enjoy the game.

(Chimera by Ryan Sumo)

Games From the Basement - Starfire (Spaceship Combat Game)

I really, really wanted to get into Starfleet Battles back in the day.  There were just a few problems with it that I saw.

One - It looked really rules heavy.

Two - It seemed to have an endless supply of supplements.

Three - No one in my game group had any interest in playing it.

My solution?  Starfire, from Task Force Games.  One box seemed to cover everything from Introductory to Immediate, it was cheaper than Star Fleet Battles and possibly, just possibly, someone in my gaming group would play it with me.

That never happened, as I punched out (2) two, yes, (2) two starship counters.  Oh, and the dice included are one of the smallest pairs of D6s I've ever seen ;)

Plotting Out The System Arcs - Dabbling in Different Systems

If all goes well, my copy of ACKS should be shipping sometime this week, so the ACKS G+ campaign should kick off around the end of the month or early april.

In addition to the regular ACKS campaign, my intention is to run a series of Game Arcs - 2 to 3 sessions that would complete a small campaign or story arc using different system or settings. One arc may Be Hollow Earth Expedition for a few sessions, followed by Solomon Kane (Savage Worlds) a few weeks later for a few sessions, followed by Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG - you get the idea.

This will probably start about a month after the ACKS campaign starts.

Tentatively, I'm looking to follow the initial rotation mentioned above:

Solomon Kane
Deadlands: Reloaded

So, if I run a game a month, that covers 5 months of gaming, as I'll run 2 to 3 sessions, then skip 2 weeks before moving on to the next game in rotation.

Of course, this schedule can go all to pot if the HEX game is a hit... or any one of them I guess.

In any case, should be a blast

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mini Review - Resolute: Legacy (Superhero RPG)

I've been following the games produced by Splintered Realms Publishing for a while now.  They generally have a few things in common:  They're short, have a nice background story, simplified task resolution and a streamlined gaming system.  Well, that and the author tends to pull his old products off for sale when he is revising them, so as not to sell old when new is around the corner.

The first title to be revamped is the superhero RPG, which now bears the title Resolute: Legacy.  I'm loath to call it a "no frills" type of RPG, because the system is very complete.  It is however, art light (which I am fine with, as I've seen superhero art all my life - I know what it looks like) with a single column layout (which reads fine on my iPad).  Heck, your whole character sheet can fit on one side of a 3x5 index card. Did I mention everything gets resolved with a single D12?  Now that's streamlined.

Want to check out the character generation steps?

 1. Purchase Abilities.  You start with 30 CPs to spend in building your super.
You may spend your points however you desire; however, you may never
put more than half of your total CPs in any one ability.  (NOTE: Referees
may decide to begin games with more powerful supers; if this is the case,
the referee will tell you how many CPs you have to build your super).

2. Pick a Moniker.  This is your super’s nickname or code name. For some
supers, this is also their true or only name. When Modi, son of Thor  is your
given name, you don’t really need a moniker!

3. Decide on a Limitation.  Some supers have a limitation. You may elect to
take one limitation, or roll randomly for one. You are not required to take a
limitation, if you’d prefer not to. A limitation gives you bonus character
points at character creation to improve other abilities. (see next page). You
should only take one limitation at character creation.

 4. Develop a Purpose.  You have a primary objective that drives your actions.
Write this as a sentence. Your purpose is quite important; whenever you
take a significant step towards accomplishing your purpose in a scene, you
earn an extra +1 XP for that scene.

As you can see even character generation is pretty streamlined.

Supers is not on the top of my RPG genre list, which is kind of strange as I was a huge superhero comic book reader in my teen and early (and even later) adult years.  That being said, if I was going to run a supers game, Resolute: Legacy is the rules engine I would use.  It's about as complicated as I'd want it, and seems to handle what it sets out to handle well.  Besides, at less than 2 bucks, it's hard to go wrong. ;)

Still, I'll be waiting for Michael to come out with some fantasy and sci-fi conversions of the rules.  I'll be jumping on those in a heart beat.

From the blurb:

The wind billows your cape. It's truly beautiful up here above the sky, though you rarely get to notice anymore. The lush cloud tops spread out before you. The sun warms your face. You wish it could stay this way forever... or even for a few hours. But it cannot. Squaring your jaw, you turn downward, falling to earth. Under the clouds, the city waits. A fire burns in the north ward. The bank's familiar alarm chimes in the east. Far off on the water, something rises from the deep.

Your legacy calls.

Resolute: Legacy is the latest version of the Resolute game system. The little game of big superhero adventure gives you everything you need to create supers ranging from street-level brawlers to earth-shaking titans, and everything in between.

This revised, streamlined and intuitive superhero system features:
• A single D12 (or optional 2D6) dice mechanic for all action resolution.
• Complete rules for building all types of superhero characters, including detailed listings of over 60 abilities, and rules for customizing your abilities to fit your character concept.
• Rules for superhero-scale combat. If you want to pick up a car and throw it at a foe, project a force field, or crush your opponent in your bare hands, Resolute allows you to do it.
• A simple bonus system that scales all the way from characters who can barely lift 50 lbs. to those who can lift in excess of 500 tons.
• An evocative backdrop that provides seeds for ongoing campaigns, 12 adventure hooks, and rules for character advancement and refereeing the game.
• Rules for vehicles the supers can purchase and use.

Resolute's 1st and 2nd Editions were named a Popular Copper Picks on RPGNow, and both won praise from a number of reviewers. This new, streamlined version is the most elegant and versatile superhero system available.

Another Re-Found Treasure - Gamma World

Another game box that gave it's life to save it's contents.

Inside was Gamma World 1st Edition (3rd Printing) and it's accompanying map.

This is the 2nd RPG I ever owned (AD&D's Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide were my first RPG products - and were a birthday gift given to me earlier).

I have Famine at Fargo somewhere... need to continue my searching to find that.

I ran this a handful of times, but it always seemed like a half done set of rules that weren't very balanced.

I must say that I didn't even remember the fold up map of North America before I found it in the box.  I wonder if I ever thought of using it.

The Original 7 - Dungeons & Dragons "White Box" - Packing It All Up

I think the only thing I didn't address in the D&D "White Box" in one of the previous posts is the Reference Sheets Booklet.  I call it a booklet, as it is assembled as such, but it is not bound or stapled, so the pages can easily be removed.

An experienced referee could probably run 95%+ of his game right from these sheets, with minimal referring back to the 3 booklets.  Which is pretty awesome if you ask me.  In a lot of ways, these sheets are the precursor to the DM Shields.

So, what is my overall opinion of the Original Dungeons & Dragons "White Box"?  Pretty damn high.  For the time it was written, it is (mostly) well organized.  Although it most certainly has wargaming roots, those roots kinda fade a bit in actual gameplay (or at least I expect they would, especially with a group that isn't rooted in wargaming itself).  You can read this and get an idea of what D&D was about.  I do think you would be hard pressed to pick this up and play this game as the rules intend with out having an experienced player start you off.  This isn't an introductory game (as it was the first of it's type and it was aimed initially at war gamers, you can rightfully surmised it was written with a wargaming background as an assumption in it's player base)

Production quality is top notch.  It's amazing for me to think this was before the days of desktop publishing.  The box has enough room that it can store other booklets, which was good planning (if planed) with the D&D Supplements that were to follow.

After all this, what would I give it as a final score?

I'm going to use Beer Steins as a rating, from 1 to 5.  This is, after all, a tavern ;)

Dungeons & Dragons "White Box" is going to score 4 Steins, with maybe a partial buyback on one of them (like a 4 1/2 score).  It was a ground breaker, professional produced and did all of the right things, with the possible exception of assuming that it's paler base would be primarily war gamers, as it quickly broke itself from that mold and found a wider audience.

Should I Have Been Paranoid About Paranoia? (Circa 1985)

When I bought my Paranoia Boxed set back in 1985 (I believe it was via mail from an ad in Dragon Magazine, but I might be mistaken) I noticed a few things after opening the box (said box is sadly gone.  Well, gone as of today.  It did it's job and protected it's contents, but sadly gave it's life in doing so.)

My initial concern was it lacked the dice that the box (and the ad) said it should have contained.  Dice weren't cheap, and I went to all ends to try and keep my dice collection growing at an affordable rate.

Upon reading the rules (and they were a heavy set, complicated set of rules for what was a lighthearted game) I noticed it lacked encumbrance rules.  I also had some black market questions.

I wrote a letter to West End Games, and got the following response from Ken Rolston:

I enjoyed running Paranoia in between regular D&D game sessions.  It was a nice diversion, and my players really got into the role playing aspect of it (as you can see from the notes ;)

Time For Some Treasure Hunting

I'm off today, with the stated purpose of getting yet more of my crap organized and put into storage.  Most of that crap isn't really crap, but my RPG collection.  It resides in many places, even nooks and crannies in the basement (I found Deadlands buried on a shelf yesterday as I looked for folding chairs for the Easter company).

I've decided before I even clean out the closet of stuff I can see and identify, I need to search the basement for stuff I don't readily see and need to refind.  I'm still looking for my original Runequest 2 Hardback (tho' I did uncover the dustcover) and my 1st edition Paranoia Box.  Good time and memories are within both.

Alright, enough blather.  Time to start digging.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another Game I Own and Never Played - Deadlands

Damn it!  I was pretty sure I ran a session of Deadlands, but as I can't recall the details, and the rulebook is copyright 1996-97, I'm pretty sure I never ran it.  My last GM'ing session was, believe it or , early March of 97.  March is when my days off switched from Sat / Sun to Wed / Thursday for six months.

The group was already feeling the pull of family and other adult responsibilities post college, and my working weekends would be the death knell for us as a table top role playing group (we did progress shortly thereafter to Everquest and the like, but that's a whole 'nother story ;)

Still, the setting of Deadlands was something I quickly devoured.  It was different.  It was exciting.  From the point of view of someone with a BA in History, it hit all the right buttons.

And yet I never played it.

That should change over the coming months.  I plan on running Deadlands: Reloaded (Savage Worlds) as one of the story arcs in my rotating system / setting game nights via G+ Hangout.

A Time of Rebirth - Time For a New Campaign :)

It's Easter Sunday, and I'm working on the timing for starting up my ACKS campaign.  I was hoping to start it shortly after Easter, but I'm still waiting on the dead tree copy of the core rulebook (and the accompanying GaryCon pre-released Adventurer's Companion).

I'm really looking forward to putting this in motion.

When it comes to running a game, I feel much more comfortable having a hard copy of the core rules in hand, even if I'm going to be running it via G+ Hangout.  For settings and adventures, I can just print out what I need for that session, referring to the PDF if the party throws some surprises my way.  As a player, PDF is generally all I need, as I have the time to look up what I need.

Hmmm... three hours before company starts to arrive.  Need to setup the Roomba Robot to clean some floors.  Time enough to get some reading in too if I'm lucky.
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