Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back This: Beasts and Barbarians Steel Edition

One of my favorite settings for Savage Worlds is Beasts and Barbarians Gold Edition and the talented folks at GRAmel are crowdfunding a new edition, the Steel Edition (the holiest of metals) right now. 

This new edition will update the timeline of the setting, features both a Player's and Game Master's book that will be in full color starting at just $25.

I can't recommend GRAmel's products enough and Beasts and Barbarians in particular.

You can back it on Indiegogo here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

D&D: The Faithful, the Pious, and the Zealous

As I prep returning to our Epic Level DnD 5E game, I intend to focus on the grander aspects of DnD: the Multiverse, Ancient Fiends and Celestials, and the Gods. Recently I was pondering how the number of worshipers would effect and empower deities. It led me thinking of a God waging war simply to gain more worshipers in a particular Prime Material Plane. And then something occurred to me, what about Evil Gods? 

In the worlds I create, there may be certain nations that worship evil deities, but more often than not their followers belong to secret cabals and conspiracies, with far smaller numbers of worshippers. Yet, I often grant these evil deities the same powers of Civilized Gods, if not more so (and more freedom to interfere in the affairs of mortals). If quantity is the only concern of Gods, then evil deities (not assuming cultural perspective) shouldn't pose much threat or the world is a very, very dark place.

With that in mind, what if the quality of devotion is just as, if not more important, than the quantity of followers?

Yes, the God of the Sun may have 30,000 worshipers within the Old Empire, but how many of them are truly inspired by their God? Truly worship him beyond a general thanks for not living in the Wilderlands outside of the Empire's borders?

Meanwhile, the Goddess of Chaos may have less than 500 worshipers, but they mostly devoted zealots, their entire lives dedicated to their Lady's whims.  

Further, perhaps mystery and fear compound a God's power? While most in the Old Empire know little of the Elder Elemental Eye, they know to fear it and that fear is even diverted to the Eye. 

For me it helps to focus and explain the power of the mortal soul in the Games of Gods and why even the most reviled and unknown deity still poses a threat within the multiverse and your campaign.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: Saturday Morning Tabletop RPG Core

I was provided a PDF review copy of Saturday Morning Tabletop RPG Core by Nefthalie Ramos and published by Infinite Roleplay.

Are you a fan of 80's saturday morning cartoons, DnD 5E, or games like Cartoon Action Hour? Then Saturday Morning Tabletop (SMTT from here on out) is the game you've been waiting for!

The writing, layout, and art are appealing, fun, and conveys information extremely well.

I heard about SMTT because of the PWYW version and immediately new I wanted to see more.

It opens by discussing, appropriately enough, Rating Systems for your game, based on ages. And then it goes into a key component of the game Awesome Power, which is based on Size (though Class abilities and Feats let you increase this) and reminds me a bit of Mythic Power in Pathfinder. Awesome Power determines what you can do when facing someone of lesser, equal, or greater AP. You will never be able to grapple, for instance, someone with greater AP than you.

SMTT takes 5E and stretches it pretty far, redoing races and classes from the ground up. In fact, if the tone weren't so lighthearted, I believe it would have been spotlighted more by now.

SMTT succeeds as an amazing evolution of DnD 5E.

Races include all of our favorites (though altered for fun) and new ones such as Changelings, Wild Men (a subrace is Yeti), Caretakers (think constructs), Reavers (Dragonborn, sort of), and cat people (who range from running on all fours, to centaur like hybrids, to humanoid).

The Classes are Barbarian (including a Shaman inspired by World of Warcraft and Druids), Knights (where we find our Paladins), Lawmen (including Gunslingers), Peformers (Warrior Poets, Fortune Tellers), Priests (Healmonkeys), Sorcerers (which cool soul bonds to round out their heritages), Thieves (no, not Rogues), Warriors (Massive Weapon Warriors), and Wizards (Spellbarons). Additionally, Classes gain a flat number of hit points + Con Modifier each level.

While most of what we know of 5E is there, it's been expanded and each class has had more mechanical system integrated (things like maneuvers, anger, or performance just to name a few). Yes, you recognize 5E in here, but you also see expansion and nods to DnD's past and other games that have drawn upon it's roots.

Feats include things like 26 Inch Pythons, Beast Blood: Boa (you can turn into a snake), Tall Dark and Ugly (one of several Feats that lets you lower an Ability Score to 6 and that cannot be improved, but increases your AP), and Hyperactive. I'm not sure I would import most of these into a traditional 5E game, but they are well thought out and mechanically sound.

The Experience table has been altered as well, for instance it only requires 18 XP to reach level 10 and it includes how much to award players for a successful and failed encounter at the appropriate level.

Magic uses a spell points system called Mana Well and allows spells to be Overcharged (by doubling the amount of Mana needed). Spells are presented by Schools, that include Bartleby's School of Arcane Shaping, The Creeping Dark, and Visage of the Beast).

The Gear chapter covers mundane and magical weapons, combat, and the fact that heroes never die. Yep, you read that right, you'll get Haggard and Exhausted, but you won't die (though you might turn evil).

For the DM we have the Evildoer Toolkit that is a great asset for new and veteran DM's who want help building encounters. It categories foes by power level and/or Size and it's presentation reminds me of how FantasyCraft handled enemies, though clearer, in my opinion.

All that a DM needs is in this section, including particular types of special actions for their evildoers and 4 specific foes are detailed.

Pros If you want a fun variation of 5E that channels G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, or She-Ra, this game is for you. If you want a gonzo ruleset firmly rooted in 5E and well designed, this game is also for you.

Cons It's gonzo and it's premise channels saturday morning cartoons, which, I guess isn't for everybody...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: Importing 13th Age's Quick Rests and Full Heal-Ups

13th Age is a game I would run more if it covered different ground than DnD 5E. My groups, and I can't blame them, basically have said, "Why don't we just play DnD, instead of learning 13th Age?" So I find myself with little outlet for 13th Age at the moment.

However, while reading the 13th Age core rulebook while contemplating using the Escalation die in my Epic Forgotten Realms game later this summer/fall, I was reminded of how 13th Age handles Quick Rests (essentially right after a battle) and Full Heal-Ups (roughly every 4 battles).

It got me thinking about trying that in DnD. My groups play for 2-3 hours tops and we have kept our eye on making sure the different class resources are handled as fairly as possible. While I can't say it's been a huge issue, I wondered about giving this method a try.

Has anyone imported this system into 5E? 

Any experiences, thoughts, or opinions are welcome.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: Powers Beyond - A Superpowered Roleplaying Epic by Epic Age Media

Epic Age Media provided me with a PDF copy of Powers Beyond: A Superpowered Roleplaying Epic, written by James Shade, for review purposes.

I'm a super hero RPG junkie. My first RPG was Champions 4E and soon after I owned Heroes Unlimited. I've played and run DC Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes, GURPS Supers, Mutants and Masterminds, etc. When I saw Powers Beyond I was curious and I liked the cover, so I contacted James who was kind enough to provide me with a PDF nearly a year ago. You might be wondering why it's taken that long to write a review? Well, simply put, as of today, the PDF still doesn't explain the games resolution system (James has assured me it uses a d10), but I'm not sure how to review a game when the PDF available to the public, doesn't feature that information.

I'll do my best to share what I do know for certain about Powers Beyond, though.

Layout reminds me quite a bit of Mayfair's DC Heroes 3rd Edition softcover, it's open and the text flows well, with the right column typically reserved for charts. It's colorful and the illustrations are all decent, though a bit amateurish. I'm not sure the font is my favorite, it's been thin for my old eyes, but it's not a deal breaker.

Part One is 90 pages long:

When creating a character you choose an Origin (Alien Life Form, Cyborg, Mage Spawn, Mind Master, to name a few) which adjusts your Vital Statistics (your attributes).

The Vital Statistics are Muscular Power, Mental Acuity, and Physical Agility and they range from 1 to 40. Vital Statistics are assigned by rolling 5d10 and picking the 3 highest number rolled and placing them where you want them. Secondary Values also exist and they are Damage Bonus (1/5 Muscular Power) and Knock Out and Fatality (both 10 x Muscular Power) ; Intelligence Bonus ( 1/5 Mental Acuity) and your RAD or Range/Area/Duration for powers (which is 10 x Mental Acuity); and finally, Initiative Bonus (1/5 Physical Agility) and Movement rate (which is 10 x Physical Agility).

Powers are defined as Major (you choose 1), Minor (you choose 2), and Variations (ways to refine a power). Regardless of wether a power is Major or Minor, it has a Base Power at it's core, which dictates what, if any, Variations are available. There are 8 categories of powers and they represent the super hero genre well. While it's not required, you can take Weaknesses (up to 3), that can give you extra Variations, Base powers, and Major powers.

You gain a number of Skills equal to your Intelligence bonus which are taken from a traditional list (additionally, instead of buying an additional skill, you may add a +1 to it per slot).

Experience is called Training and translates into Power Ups that let you do thinks like gain a Power (Magespawn's only), gain or improve Skills, improve Powers, or gain or improved dice. You gain a Power Up based on the DM's choice, much like DnD 5E's Milestone system.

There are rules for vehicles and accessories, as well, but I don't have a system laid out before me on how to perform task resolution, which is far more important, in my opinion.

Part Two is 122 pages long:

It contains a fairly typical setting, a 6 page adventure, fiction, creatures, foes, rumors, a demonstration of the game (that STILL doesn't explain task resolution), the Ultimate Scenario Generator (which is Trademarked--no, I'm NOT joking and has your roll a d20 or a d12 over 5 charts).

The setting isn't going to set the world on fire and may be useful to new gamers, but nothing new to share here.

Pros I don't have any, unless you loved TSR's Indiana Jones game, there is no reason to buy a game that has been for sale over a year without a task resolution system.

Cons see above, but if I had $20 for this PDF, even with a task resolution system, I'd feel cheated. I understand art is costly, but the Mutants and Masterminds PDF is the same price and there is no comparison here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Hexers Role Playing Game Board

Earlier this week I saw the Hexers RPG Game Board mentioned on G+ and I immediately decided to order it.

And it just came in today:

Here is in the Box!

Folded up in the Box.

Unfolded 1" Squares.

Unfolded Hexes.

Drawing some scenery with a Dry Erase Marker.
After wiping off the Marker.

Now, I haven't used it yet for a session, but I really like it so far and will use it ASAP.

I really dig folding it up verses rolling a map up and it lays very flat.

I'm giving this 2 BIG Thumbs Up.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Queen of Chaos: Immortal Combat

For my DnD players in our Friday Game, if you are reading this please, move along.

Last November, my Friday players hit 20th Level. I wasn't ready for an Epic game, as I hadn't worked it all out yet, so we started playtesting a dungeon that we should be finished with before it releases in September. And I think I've got the foundations in place for a epic battle amongst the Multiverse.

Long has Orcus, Demon Prince of Undeath lusted after the Raven Queen's divinity presiding over Death, Fate, and Winter. For centuries he has plotted against her, his corpulence rippling like bitter storm stirring a toxic lake in his quest to usurp her. He has tasted merely a drop of her powers, centuries ago, as he began to probe the young goddess, after she had conspired against Nerull

In that exchange, Orcus offered the Raven Queen a weapon of the purest darkness, Black Razor. His price was, ostensibly for the his old ally, the Queen of Chaos and it was for Miska the Wolf-Spider's prison to be moved from the Shadowfell's Demiplane of Dread and Desire, which was created to house the Wolf-Spider, to be moved to the Abyss. The Raven Queen, vastly underestimating the Prince of Undeath, did not realize that their pact would give that portion of the Demiplane of Dread and Desire to the Demon Lord and transfer it to Pandemonium. Yes, the Raven Queen had Black Razor, but a portion of her power had been eternally lost to Orcus, infuriating her.

However, the Raven Queen has been watching what has been occurring within the Abyss, as several Demon Lords have escaped to the Prime Material Plane of Faerún, including Orcus, the death of Tiamat at the hands of a Cabal of chromatic dragons, and the disappearance of Lolth. It has lead her to reach out to the Queen of Chaos to solicit support, believing that they might find common ground in their enmity of Orcus.

For her part, the Raven Queen still claims to have some hold over the portion of the Demiplane of Dread and Desire that holds the Queen of Chaos' lover and general, Miska the Wolf-Spider in Pandemonium. And the Queen of Chaos, for her part, has claimed that she can enchant Black Razor to slay Orcus, once and for all. Of course, all that she requires is the freedom of her beloved and the opportunity to rule the Abyss, for the Raven Queen to walk away after the Prince of Undeath is slain.

All that either Queen requires now are heroes, valiant or foolish enough to go after Orcus and slay him. Although, for her part, the Raven Queen has much to offer her champions. Saint Cuthbert has been trapped within the Demiplane of Dread and Desire and she can offer his freedom in exchange for their service. Additionally, the Raven Queen is older and wiser now and she is prepared to use Miska as a bargaining chip. Now all she has to do is lure her champions into their service, with Death, Undeath, Fate, and Winter all hanging in the balance.