Friday, December 12, 2014
Their choices were, "The Pathfinder Pirates Game", "Swords & Wizardry, though moving away from Dyson's Delve if you guys want", "Traveller", "Mekton", or "Super Heroes".
Unanimously and quickly they chose "Supers!".
So I need to get my ideas hat on and come up with some good villains for them to fight....
Is it because of nostalgia for the countless hours I spent in my youth designing spaceships and worlds?
Is it because of the inherent simplicity of the rules make it easy to run "thought scenarios"?
Or is it because in Traveller, the universe is truly what you make it, with the rules offering as much or as little direction as you desire?
I've all but given up on running an ongoing campaign at home or with friends, but on days like today, I still daydream about jumps into poorly mapped out systems, facing off against rival crews/gangs who heard the same rumors as you did about lost treasures and civilizations, suiting up in your best new gear in hopes that you're not bringing a knife to a gun fight, and doing 2d vector math while juggling limited computer processing resources.
Ok, maybe not so much that last one. :)
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
But in the mean time, I've become interested in Superhero games.
I'm sort of late to the Superhero Comics scene. Like VERY late. Sure, I read my neighbor's Spiderman comics as a kid, and I watched all the usual 70's and 80's superhero TV shows like every other geek my age, but it wasn't until Avengers and then Guardians of the Galaxy that I actually got really interested in Superheroes.
So I've been looking for a game system that can accurately model everything from the recent Marvel-verse movies (Avengers&Spinoffs, Fantastic-4, X-Men, etc.), the recent DC TV serieses, and other "caped crusader" type situations.
At first, I was pretty sure the Mutants & Masterminds was going to be my "ride". It's D20 based, has HeroLab support, has TONS of supplemental materials, and was able to handle any of the character concepts I threw at it. But it had one serious drawback for my gaming group - the players really need to understand the character build system to get the most out of it.
For the same reason, I've ruled out the various FATE based systems. While they seem like they'd be very playable in the right circumstances, my group isn't the sort who embraces clever rule mechanisms - by and large, they're happier with "I want to do X, what do I roll?" rather than the level of Narrative responsibility that FATE requires.
So I think I've found the perfect game: Supers!, revised edition. Character building is as simple as spreading 20 "dice" around various stats and dreaming up what super powers you want. Game play is creative, but "narrative control" is mostly limited to describing how you use your powers to attack or defend. You can get pretty creative with that, like defending against a gun attack with your Composure - basically, staring down the bad guy, and unnerving him so much that he misses you with his attack - or using Super Speed to body-slam someone, who could use Super Strength to resist you, or maybe use the ability to phase out of existence to not be there. Of course you could simply try to dodge the charge, or resist an attack with your innate toughness. The reason you have so many options is that once you use a single source of power in a round, you can't use it again. So if you blow your Elemental/Fire control making a shield, you can't then turn around and fire-blast someone in the same round. Lots of fun choices to make!
I received the print-on-demand book from RPGNow yesterday. My daughter asked me what it was, and immediately told me what sort of superhero she would play.
Apparently, she'd already been thinking about what sort of superhero she would play in an RPG, because kids do that sort of thing.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
So that got me thinking. Sure, I could switch to "Stars Without Number" (a very well done fusion of D&D and Traveller concepts), but if I were to keep good ol' Traveller as the basis, how could I make personal combat less punishing for the characters without requiring them to always use their Battledress and Plasma Rifles?
Well, one way is to adjust how damage and healing are handled.
In the versions of Traveller I like the best (Classic and Mongoose), damage comes straight off the 3 physical stats. I like this convention because it means as you get hurt, you lose capability. But in both versions, healing is more "realistic", in that it takes days or weeks to recover from wounds. That's SO not Pulp...
Inspired by later edition D&D's handling of damage, I've come up with an alternative, synthesizing CT, MgT and to a very lesser extent, D&D 4+. It's not that different from the stock system(s), but hopefully will be different enough to "pulp" things up a bit.
(Aside: I had a more comprehensive system laid out, but after writing an "or you could just do it this way..." section, I decided I like that way more, so it's the only one I've presented here. Also, CT's standard system is pretty forgiving if you don't actually "bottom out" a stat, so maybe this is just an MgT thing....)
- In combat, Endurance represents how "tough" you are, and acts as a buffer against "hard" damage.
- Strength and Dexterity damage is real "broken bone, deep cut" damage, and actually requires healing.
- Instant healing Medkits are available, and fill a role similar but not identical to "Health Potions" in fantasy games.
- Resuscitation of recently dead characters is possible, given prompt attention and/or sufficient medical technology.
- Damage is applied to Endurance first.
OPTIONAL: reducing Endurance to zero with the first shot will knock the character unconscious. (The "first blood rule" - I generally only use this for NPCs.)
- Once Endurance is Zeroed, other damage must go to Strength or Dexterity, player's choice. Apply the WHOLE damage to that stat, and spill any extra on to the remaining stat.
- Strength and Dexterity don't start taking damage until Endurance is ZERO.
- Zero out Strength OR Dexterity, and you're unconscious
- Zero out BOTH, and you're dead
- Endurance restores after a "short rest" (1 hour), or by using a Medpack as a standard action.
- First Aid is assumed to happen during the "short rest".
If it can't for some reason, then Endurance only recovers 1/2, and must heal like other stats.
- Once Endurance is restored, other Stats may heal, though never past their initial values:
- 1d6+END points per Medpack used.
- 1+END point per day for light duty, 2 for "bed rest".
- A doctor can use Medic to assist this recovery
- OPTIONAL: if you use more than 1 Medpack per hour, you'll suffer 1D damage from overdose. This damage goes straight to Strength or Dexterity, player's choice. It might be worth it, if Endurance is higher than the number rolled, but it's clearly a risk.
- Recently (within 5 min) killed characters can sometimes be resuscitated:
- A character who has taken total damage beyond twice the sum of all three physical stats cannot be resuscitated. (For an average 777 character, that's 42 points to "vaporize" from healthy. Though it's only 21 points to "mangle the body beyond recovery" from dead.)
- A Resusci-pack (Cr100,000) will bring a character back to 1 in all stats.
- A Difficult Medical/DEX check can work, but each failure adds MoF to the next attempt to resuscitate.
- Some military armors are equipped with automatic medical drug systems. Assuming the armor's supply of medicine is available, the automatic systems will apply the drug any time the character's Endurance hits zero. However, this will happen AFTER the rest of the damage has been distributed, and will not happen if there is a possibility that drug overdose could kill the character. (No stat left is greater than 6.)
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
It's worth noting that it doesn't look like Psions share Wizards' difficulty wearing armor, so if Jerrick can score some armor proficiency or wear something like Cloth that doesn't carry a nonproficiency penalty, that might work to his advantage. But since he has the equivalent of Psion mage armor, he'll probably be ok. Especially since he has a feat that lets him juice up his weapons with +1 energy, and +2d6 if he expends psionic focus during the attack. Ouch!
Male Human (Chelaxian) Psion 1
CG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses alertness; Perception +3
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+2 Dex)
hp 6 (1d6)
Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +2
Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger +2 (1d4+2/19-20) and
quarterstaff +2 (1d6+3)
Ranged light crossbow +2 (1d8/19-20)
Psion Powers Known (power points 3, ML 1st; concentration +4):
1st—control object, energy ray, inertial armor
0 (at will)—crystal light (DC 13), detect psionics, far hand, telekinetic punch (DC 13)
Str 14, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 17, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +0; CMB +2; CMD 14
Feats Body Fuel, Psicrystal Affinity, Psion Weapon Proficiencies, Psionic Weapon
Skills Autohypnosis +4, Disable Device +6, Perception +3, Sense Motive +2, Sleight of Hand +3, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +3, Use Magic Device +3
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven, Goblin
SQ disciplines (psychokinesis [kineticist]), share powers, talents, telepathic link
Other Gear crossbow bolts (20), dagger, light crossbow, quarterstaff, ale (per gallon), backpack, belt pouch, belt pouch, chalk (5), flint and steel, thieves' tools, trail rations (5), waterskin, psicrystal, 74 gp, 2 sp, 9 cp
Control Object - 0/0
Crossbow bolts - 0/20
Crystal Light - 0/0
Dagger - 0/1
Detect Psionics - 0/0
Energy Ray - 0/0
Far Hand - 0/0
Inertial Armor - 0/0
Telekinetic Punch - 0/0
Trail rations - 0/5
Alertness (Ex) While a psicrystal is within arm's reach, its owner gains the Alertness feat.
Body Fuel You can expand your powerpoint total at the expense of your health.
Psicrystal Affinity You have created a psicrystal
Psionic Weapon You can charge your melee weapon with additional damage potential.
Psychokinesis (Kineticist) Psions who specialize in psychokinesis are known as kineticists. They are the masters of powers that manipulate and transform matter and energy. Kineticists can attack with devastating blasts of energy. Unlike other psions, when a kineticist select
Share Powers (Su) Have any power you manifests on yourself also affect your psicrystal.
Talents You may learn 3 "talents" (level 0 powers) as well as detect psionics.
Telepathic Link (Su) The owner has a telepathic link with his psicrystal out to a distance of up to 1 mile.
At first glance, Jerrick would appear to be just another handsome Chelaxian rogue - his close-cropped beard, quick wit, and fondness for other people's money make him an affable but untrustworthy friend.
But Jerrick is a Kineticist, and devotes much of his effort to the study of mind over matter. He has learned the abilities to manipulate things at a distance, as well as manifest raw energy of different elemental types to wield against enemies, and to wrap around himself for protection.
He has constructed a Psicrystal companion, which he only refers to as his "little buddy." Jerrick often seems to be at odds with his psicrystal though, because the crystal is attuned to his latent (and well hidden) sense of heroism, and exhorts Jerrick to heroic deeds that seem at odds with his roguish persona.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
But I've been able to gin up some support for a different Traveller game, this time based around "Legend of the Sky Raiders". (The last one was a sandbox campaign loosely based on "Twilight's Peak", but running wit Mongoose Traveller rules.)
I'd be going back to Classic Traveller, with which I had some success running "Death Station" a while back.
I'll keep "Rule 68A" as a tool for general task throws, but run everything else "by the book". But I won't forget to use the "draw!" rules this time. The fact that CT has what amounts to a combat's initiative system mentioned as almost an afterthought does make one scratch one's head.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Orcs (4) - AC 6, MV 90', Dx 8, HD 1, hp 5,4,3,2, #AT 1, D 1-6, Save F1, ML 8
Black Widow Spider (1) - AC 6, MV 60' (in web 120'), Dx 15, HD 3*, hp 13, #AT 1, D 2-12, SA poison, Save F2, ML 8This should be pretty self-explanatory and familiar to anyone who has played a pre-3e version of D&D with the exception of Dx (dexterity, useful for breaking ties in initiative, retrofitting "touch AC" or other purposes) and "ML", or Morale Level, which only exists in some variants of OSR D&D. The idea is, throw 2d6 for ML or less to stay in the fight. An ML 7 has an average chance to stick around, whereas an ML 12 will fight to the death.
Wayne also proposes an INT listing, which I wholeheartedly endorse. I'd like to see a switch to modern dice notation also (so 2-12 becomes 2d6, for example), but I digress.
The ML stat gives me an idea for one additional stat that would not be part of the raw creature description, but would be part of the stat block for the encounter:
MO (Motive) - one of "Guard", "Defend", "Explore", "Rest"
Tactics - Stand and fight. Send one creature to warn the location if the players are winning.
Tactics - The creatures will not intentionally abandon their camp.
Tactics - Fight until 1/2 are wounded or killed, then attempt to disengage
Tactics - Will count as surprised for 1-3 rounds, then will Defend.
In all motives, a morale failure will result in the creatures fleeing as usual.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I found these thoughts on Traveller world profiles the other day, and thought they might be worth spiffing up and posting. I hope you find them amusing, even if they don't fit into your view of what Traveller worlds can be like.
Population D: Uncountable PopulationThese worlds are "Hive Worlds" with a large number of (most likely alien) sophonts who are not countable in a practical way, either due to their life cycle or living arrangements. Good examples would be “bugs” or a planet full of the creatures from “Pandorum”. The salient characteristic of Population D is that there are more physical creatures than can practically be counted.
Population D worlds often have Government type F (see below), but could be any government type. The Government would determine the character of the planet; whether it’s one giant mass of seething telepathically linked worms, a dense hive of SmartAnts™, or some other probably unsettling situation.
Population E: Incorporeal populationThese worlds are peopled by non-physical or virtual intellects that can have zero or more bodies and thus are not easily accounted for, as they can create and destroy physical forms somewhat at will. The referee should generate a "True population" number that is the number of intelligences if the concept of individuals still applies. Note that the Gov type can be just about anything, and should be generated from the True Population number rather than the E rating.
Population F: Intelligent EcosystemFully symbiotic intelligent ecosystem (ala Chtorr). In effect, the entire ecosystem is the population. May be difficult to communicate with, though often will have a member species that can interface with the outside world. As with a Type E government, the referee should separately determine the size of the "interface" population species, if one exists. Often but not necessarily paired with Gov F.
Government E: Trans-physical Ascendancy
Government F: Hive/Communal Mind
Note: Law Level on these worlds represents how aware the commune/hive is of outsiders. An example might be the early Borg episodes of Star Trek™, The Next Generation™ - humans could move about inside their cube ships unmolested for the most part.
Friday, February 14, 2014
They're in Courier font because it fits with the 70's and early 80's aesthetic of the game, and I used a slightly modified "index card" format, as you might see in The Traveller Book. Also, I bought some gear for some of these guys - their Credits and Possessions have been updated accordingly.
If nothing else, maybe I'll inspire someone to dig out Classic Traveller and play some. It seems unlikely that I'll get to play any CT anytime soon. (Yeah, I know, so sad. For a guy currently in two different D&D-flavored campaigns, I sure do whine a lot.)
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
At any rate, bear with me while I experiment. It will probably take a few days to settle down, and any advice from people less "aesthetically challenged" than I am would be welcome.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Go read his article, it's really quite inspirational. I'm not going to repeat much, but instead I'll offer some thoughts of my own.
I love this idea. It clings to the sort of weird ecology that one might find in a universe where D&D things are possible. Kobolds are to Dungeons (specifically dungeons, not just caves) what Faeries are to Nature. The deepest, darkest Dungeons (as proposed in this blog entry) may touch the elemental plane of Earth, and may not even truly have been "built" so much as "grown". Maybe Kobolds are the Earth Elemental's way of maintaining and driving their creations once they've slipped into the Prime Material Plane. If you subscribe to the "Malicious Dungeon" concept, then Kobolds may be the agents of that malice, like electrons are to electrochemistry. Or conversely, once mortals build their dungeons deep enough, they inadvertently catch the attention of the lords of the plane of Earth, who send their material-plane allies to work the dungeon. Why? Who can fathom the will of Elemental Lords? ;)
In any case, Kobolds themselves are rarely encountered in person. They are exceedingly stealthy and can create secret passages as necessary to move around a dungeon undetected. As minions of the Elemental Lords, they seek to bring order to any dungeon they are charged with. They will coexist with other dungeon inhabitants, but in a Kobold-infested dungeon, even the monsters know to tread lightly. The Kobolds may not interact with them directly, but any denizen who causes too much conflict will find themselves on the wrong end of a trap, or locked in a room they could previously leave at will.
A Kobold infestation is a very serious threat to any mining operation, and many a delve has had to be abandoned after it reached too far into the ground.
So how do you get rid of a Kobold infestation? If you can trap them yourself, you'll find that they are physically unimpressive and easily slain. But hunting Kobolds is almost more like hunting Poltergeists, and their numbers are always more than you imagine them to be. Rumor has it that in order for an Earth Lord to send Kobolds, it must establish a gateway somewhere in the dungeon, and destroying this gateway is the only known way to end the Kobold threat. Once the connection to their Lord is lost, the Kobolds will gradually fade away, perhaps in search of another dungeon, perhaps re-absorbed by the very rock itself.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I imagine him as a nearly feral Chaotic Neutral character whose Dog sidekick (NEVER a mount!) is his closest friend. He was found in the wild as a youth, after an unnatural storm took his family from him. Whatever caused that storm left its mark on young Vanir, who has gained an intuitive grasp of the arcana of storms and air elementals. Being so charismatic, Vanir makes friendly acquaintances easily, though his storm-driven temper makes him a dangerous foe.
Vanir only recently came into his sorcerous birthright (typical "18th Birthday" type thing), and he adventures to push the limits of his powers and discover what his true limitations are.
Here's his Summary data. It's not as nice as the HeroLab Pathfinder data, but it will give you the idea.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Last night, the town's mayor invited the part up to his estate for dinner and of course to discuss some business. It seems that the local abby is hot to purify and reclaim the tomb of Saint Ulther (which the party had discovered in the Delve a few weeks ago), but are not happy about the idea that this Delve goes much deeper, and and probably contains increasingly dangerous foes who may wander up during a veneration service to eat some acolytes. So the Mayor and Abbot wish to retain the party as a "cleaning crew", officially sanctioning their activities (in other words, identifying them as friends, not rivals), and are willing to provide some "technical support" in the form of two magical staves - raise dead (8) and cure light wounds (50). The party quickly did the math on the equivalent cost in healing potions and raise dead spells, and decided that was a fair deal. They're on a timetable now though, and needs to get that Delve cleared out inside of 3 months, since that's when the pilgrims are coming.
The next day, the party descended to Level 4 of the Delve, wherein dwelled a huge and fearsome beast (the eventually determined it was a Manticore - really a bit outside their "comfort zone" to engage). The fighter used the Mage's new "Strength" spell to boost himself from a passable 13 up to an 18 strength, the bonuses of which came in handy over the course of the adventure.
As it turned out, there were also a number of goblins holed up down there. As many of their kin had become food for the beast, they were pretty scared, and they were willing to make a deal with the party to help defeat the beast. In reality, they hoped to loot the treasure room while the beast was chewing on the party, but it didn't work out that way for them. Though they took the brunt of the beast's attacks, the goblins and party actually made a fair dent in the beast's health, and only a few goblins died before the fighter critically hit with his battle axe. (The fighter wanted to chop off the Manticore's tail. I decided that if the fighter rolled a 20, he'd succeed. And wouldn't you know it, the next attack was a 20.) The Wizard plugged the beast with a magic missile to finish him off.
The party rushed in to the treasure room (having a fairly good idea what the goblins were up to), and the fighter slew two goblins in one stroke. (The advantages of being a fighter in S&W - you can take out low HD critters quickly) The remaining goblins fled, and the party carried as much of the treasure out as they could (thanks to the Fighter's temporary 18 strength, he just hoisted the treasure chest on his shoulder and carried it out).
And that was the end of that trip into the Delve. The party plans to go right back in, even though that means they won't be able to replace the Strength scroll in time. They want to prevent the Goblins from stealing the rest of the treasure.
However, there is a second Manticore, and it's not going to be happy that they killed its mate. And this time, they won't have a half dozen goblins to distract it.....