Friday, January 24, 2020

As the World of Darkness Turns: Prince Solomon

Tonight, our long-running Vampire: the 5th Edition game, ran by my good friend David, came to...not a conclusion but the close of a chapter in our unlives.

After serving our Prince of Cincinnati, our Coterie --which consists of the Tremere Primogen (me), Toreador Primogen, Spymaster, and a newcomer (we've just had a new player join the game) -- was sent to Louisville, KY to deal with a break-in in the vault of it's former Prince (he went on Jihad).

We met many of the key players of the city, which was being run by a Giovanni Regent, and solve the theft. Strangely, at least to me, I was then appointed Prince of Louisville and given the approval to exterminate the Regent and nearby Tell City's Prince. The Regent was just an outsider and Tell City's Prince had broken the Masquerade. I was shocked that I was made Louisville's Prince. I'd tossed around the idea of overthrowing Cincinnati's Prince, but not with any real conviction.

But, from my perspective, Louisville and Tell City needed a new start. Our first goal was to exterminate the Regent and we were able to use the main ally of Tell City's Prince in the attack and then assassinated him rather quickly. I chose to bring them Final Death by decapitating them both. Why be hounded by an angry immortal when you can just finish them completely? Solomon is a pragmatist.

Sadly, our attack of Tell City's Prince didn't go so well, and our Spymaster ended up in torpor for six months.

I met with the Tell City Prince after finding out that if I did exterminate her I didn't subsume her territory. We both let reason prevail and she promised to return our Spymaster to me if I didn't attack her for six months. It seemed reasonable and who wants to begin their reign with a war? 

War isn't Solomon's style. Shocking and brutal actions are.

I didn't have to worry anyway.

When the Spymaster came out of torpor he went off the grid, he'd lost a great deal of wealth when he went into torpor due to his paranoia.

Meanwhile, I was learning how to be a Prince and the Toreador Primogen in our Coterie became Prince of Cincinnati. Our old Prince had to return to Europe to take his seat at the Council and Riff Raff was he hand-picked successor.

Strangely, after our Spymaster, Alex went off the grid and disappeared, the Tell City Prince disappeared, as well. Alex has a wish-granting Djinn.

It's been a pretty cool Chronicle.

We are going to playtest Modiphius' 2d20 based Fallout RPG for a bit and then when we return, we will be playing other characters, probably in Cincinnati.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

TinyD6: Storm Giant

Storm Giant for TinyD6

HP: 11 (Heroic)
Description: Violent humanoid giants who bring massive storms where they appear, storm giants are unpredictable and deadly, and often disappear in the blink of an eye.
• Berserker
• Fleet of Foot
• Lightning-wreathed: See Fire-wreathed under Fire Giant in Tiny Dungeons 2E
• Vigilant

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Nostalgia: Champions

Champions 4th Edition or the "Big Blue Book" was the first Role Playing Game I ever played Game Mastered. I remember seeing it for the first time at our local Walden Books, the fact that it had a George Perez cover is what drew me to it.

I won't lie, it was quite a complex system for a new player, but I had no idea how complex. It was like learning a new language. Some members of our group had been playing for a while so they were better prepared to understand it and did their best to help me understand it.

For years after, it was hard to transition from Champions/HERO where you could literally build anything to games that were often more about what you could not do and focused on empowering the Game Master to make rulings, not rules.

The person that taught me Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition was a very strict Dungeon Master. I didn't really understand most of the essential parts of ADnD until I discovered the OSR because of his style of DMing.

I remember dreaming up character concepts and villains for hours and hours on end (it's hard to believe I had the time to do that).

When HERO 5th Edition released we went all-in on it and my best friend and I had a pretty satisfying campaign that spanned a year or two.

I looked at HERO 6th Edition, but it wasn't for me.

I'm curious how Champions Now will turn out.

While I have moved toward simpler game systems, part of me has been daydreaming about Champions. I have some players in my current group that I think would enjoy it's customizations and would probably end up understanding it better than I do.

While I look back on the (mis)adventures of Captain Midnight, Killroy, The Fall Guy, Scythe, Shadow Hunter, and Bearcat -- the Regulators fondly, I don't know if I have that kind of time these days. Our sessions are 2-3 hours and some of our combats lasted that long. For the uninitiated, when you deal damage in Champions/HERO you have to read the d6s you roll in two different ways: sum the dice for damage in Stun, take the number of d6s you rolled and subtract one for 1 and add one for each 2, that is how much Body you do, then you take that number and roll 2d6 which is then subtracted and determines how far your opponent is Knocked Back.

Truthfully, we probably argued about rules as much as we played. I remember that one of the characters, Killroy who was based on DC Comic's Lobo, senselessly murdered two innocents and we spent longer debating how to handle his actions than we played that night and we didn't even reach a consensus! I was 19 or 20 then and we would start playing at 5 or 6pm on a Friday or Saturday night and go into the wee hours of the morning.
You couldn't pay me to have a session last that long these days.

To this day, I don't know that any other Super Hero RPG is as complete a toolkit as the HERO system is.

Who knows? Maybe I'll take Champions out for a spin later this year, show these new guys the system I cut my teeth on.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Sathar for White Star

SATHAR for White Star

Armor Class: 6 [13]
HDE: 2/30
Total Hit Bonus: +2
Movement: 15
Special: Hypnosis
Attack: By weapon
Hit Dice: 2
Saving Throw: 16

Sathar are long, worm-like creatures. Their bodies are divided into segments, like an earthworm's. They do not have a skeleton. Instead, they support their bodies hydrostatically, by pumping liquid into the segments so they become hard. A shiny, clear slime coats their skin. Scientists believe they are warm-blooded, but no live specimen has ever been studied.

A Sathar's head tapers toward its mouth, which is circular and ringed with teeth. Each of their two eyes has two pupils. Four tentacles, two on each side of the body, are arranged about 1 meter below the head. The first pair is slender and weak-looking, and about 1 meter long. These end in four smaller finger-like tentacles. The second pair of tentacles is stronger and about 1.2 meters long. Both of these tentacles end in a paddle-like pad. This second pair is used for heavy lifting, while the smaller tentacles are used for fine work and for holding small weapons.

A Sathar moves by slithering across the ground with the first meter of its body raised. They also can coil like a snake, raising 1.5 meters of their bodies from the ground.

The color of Sathar skin varies from yellow to brown. The tentacles are the same as the body, but with a slight greenish tint. The underbelly is pale pink. A pattern of dots, speckles and stripes decorates the back of the head. These patterns are natural on some Sathar, but are tattoos on others.

Some survivors of Sathar attacks have reported that Sathars are not effected by electrical shocks (immunity to electricity) or doze (+2 to Saving Throws vs Sleep) grenades, but these reports have never been confirmed.

A Sathar can hypnotize a character by talking to him in a non-combat situation (creature must make a Saving Throw, on a failure the creature trusts the Sathar)."

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Ruins of Arduin

In a thread on the excellent, I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters Facebook Group (thanks Tim Knight for creating it) I came across an awesome blog called Ruins of Arduin.

I missed out on Dave Hargrave's original books and only know of the setting through information on the internet.

I'm often late to the party on stuff and for all I know you guys have known about it for years. Not only did I discover the site, but it hosts a Swords and Wizardry powered PDF also called Ruins of Arduin and it's designed to look like one of ODnD's little brown books. The PDF is very, very I mean it's cool.

You can check the website out here and the PDF here.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Rifts Under Siege: Castles & Crusades' SIEGE Engine and Rifts

Since the day I discovered the Palladium Megaverse I've been looking to fix it's system.

I don't when or if I will run a game anytime soon, but I'm usually thinking of some campaign concept or tinkering with some game systems. Actually, I'm glad I'm back doing those things, I'd moved away from them for a while and I have missed them.

I've been reading through my Castles and Crusades books published by Troll Lord Games and Jason Vey has written some great books for the company including Amazing Adventures using the SIEGE Engine (the system behind CnC). 

I've been thinking of using the SIEGE Engine for Rifts, in my opinion, you could easily stick with what works and replace the Skill system and the Combat system with the SIEGE Engine. You'd have to connect what Hand to Hand Combat Style corresponds to Base Attack Bonus, but that shouldn't be that difficult. Additionally, I think I'd ditch Skill bonuses and just let a character add their level if the check is appropriate. Finally, I don't know if I'd use C&C's six Abilities or keep Rifts' Abilities, but if I kept them then I would look at three Primes for each character.

I've got a few posts lined up that I want to test out, but I think I'll work up a character or two to see how it flows.

If you get a chance let me know what you think of this idea and post any input you might have.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Counter Culture: Wizards of the Coast Can't Seem To Do Anything Right

In running my stores, Wizards of the Coast is a very important partner for me, however I don't mean one iota to them and I get it. I really do.

However, Magic: the Gathering is still our top selling Trading Card Game and Dungeons and Dragons is our top selling Role Playing Game.

Both brands have veteran leads in place, neither is new this year, let alone this decade.

But for some reason each brand keeps having problems in things that should be simple.

Look at DnD, this past thursday, January 9th, WotC was going to reveal the new supplement dropping in late March. But apparently someone realized Nintendo was going to make an announcement on the same day and they decided to move it to Monday the 13th. Except know one counted on Amazon and Barnes and Noble spoiling it.

It's not a killer issue but WotC keeps having troubles like this. They don't seem to quite have their social media presence 100%. Why not just move it to Friday the 10th? This should be old hat to this company by now.

For me, this is a compounded problem because the Magic: the Gathering development team has been having some quality control issues. In the Throne of Eldrane set thye printed a card that broke nearly every format in October. How does that still happen, how are their playtest efforts this lax? The new set dropping next week, Theros Beyond Death, has two cards with infinite combos in certain formats. Further, the Buy It By The Box Promos the've been printing for years are not Foil as they are supposed to be and hopefully we should get replacements about two weeks later than the launch.

For a company this large, these issues shouldn't happen in every set and somehow, their quality control is proving very lax.

Somebody isn't doing their job and that has to stope.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

GameStorming: Hacking the D6 Star Wars System

The past week has been a tough one when looking at the U.S. and our role in the world. It got me thinking about a lot about politics...but instead of sharing my opinion on all of that, I'm going to make some stuff for a game of make believe with rules!

And thank you for stopping by :)

I've been working on a Star Wars one-shot and I've been looking at the D6 Star Wars system from West End Games, I think Nocturnal Games owns it now.

However, I have two problems with the system as it exists now.

One, I hate Wound systems, give my Hit Points any day. Thankfully, D6 Space has Body Points so that is fixed. I figure when you are below 1/2 Body Points you will take -2 to dice pools. I'm basically ripping off DnD 4th Edition's Bloodied Condition.

Second, I hate that in D6 Star Wars you roll to hit, then you roll damage, and then your target rolls to soak. 

Here is my solution, You roll to hit as normal, but note any 6s your roll. You look at the damage for your weapon, let's say it's 2d6+1.
You roll 1d6 multiply it by 2 and add 1 to the total, so if I roll a 4 I'd do 8+1 = 9 damage. However, each 6 rolled adds an additional dice to roll and you then choose which you want to choose. 

So let's assume I use my Melee skill of 5d6 to attack my target. I roll a 1, 6, 6, 4, 3 for a total of 20. I hit the target and I note the two 6s.  My melee weapon does Strength of 3d6 + 1d6 for 4d6 damage, so I'm going to roll 1d6 x 4, however with the two 6s from the attack roll, I roll 3d6 and get a 1, 3, and 4, my melee weapon does 4 x 4 for a total of 16 damage to my target.

I like the idea and hope I get to playtest it.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Ovion for White Star

Ovion for White Star

Armor Class: 5 [14]
HDE: 2/30
Total Hit Bonus: +3
Movement: 12
Special: Four arms
Attack: By weapon (+1 damage with melee weapons)
Hit Dice: 2
Saving Throw: 17

"Ovions have four arms and gain a +1 to hit and damage with melee weapons.

They are an insectoid creatures that manage a mysterious gambler's paradise on the planet Carillon. They are one of the members of Cylon Alliance. Their extensive tylium mines are an extremely valuable asset.

The Ovions use Carillon's playground on the surface to attract their prey. The chancery is rigged to let the players always win, and there is grog and entertainment to keep the people occupied. Ovions occasionally prowl discreetly on the entertainment level, but generally remain out of sight. Individual humans are trapped selectively when they enter the elevator, and are taken into the hive-like structures underground instead of their desired destination. They are then placed into chambers which slowly transform them into food."

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Counter Culture: BadWrongFun

Earlier today, a mother and daughter came into my store and asked where my Dungeons and Dragons stuff was. I introduced myself and showed them our selection. The mother mentioned that there was a new DnD book coming out in March but couldn't remember what it was. I said, "We don't know yet, we have seen the dice set that goes with it, but we won't know the details on the book until Thursday."

She then asked me what they would need after the Starter Box and Player's Handbook and I showed her the Essentials Box and several of the campaign books.

Then, she said, "We were playing yesterday and then watched some videos on YouTube and I realized we were playing it wrong." She even look embarrassed.

I asked her, "Did you have fun?"

She looked surprised and then said, "Yeah, we did." Her daughter was smiling and shaking her head to agree.

I repied, "Then you weren't playing wrong, most games aren't going to be the same as most of the streamed games because sometimes professional actors are running and playing those games. If everyone at the table is having fun, then you are doing everything right."

She and her daughter really smiled now, it was like a light went on. They started talking about the type of miniatures they were looking for and asked me which campaign I liked the best and even mentioned  Arkan the Terrible.

And let me add, it made me feel good too. Sometimes when you get into a new hobby, at least in my experience, a veteran of the same hobby can be more cynical about it. Sometimes I think the fans of a thing can get grumpy, even hateful. I'm not judging anyone, I've done it too. For whatever reason the only way to show you are a "true fan" is to hate the thing to some degree to prove you love it.

Both ladies spent quite a bit and preordered the new book, sight unseen, from me too.

I hope I might have made a small impact on them, because they made my day better.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Vorvon for White Star

Vorvon for White Star

Armor Class: 8 [11]
HDE: 5/600
Total Hit Bonus: +4
Movement: 12
Special: See below
Attacks: Claws 1d6
Hit Dice: 5
Saving Throw: 14

Vorvons attack creatures for their life force, if they succeed on an attack roll they drain 1 level from their victim by placing the claws of their thumb and pinky finger on any exposed skin. When a victim of a vorvon is reduced to zero levels, they become a subservient zombie.

A vorvon may take the form an orange energy blot that can fly at a speed of 16. Additionally, they may use the charm person meditation 3/day.

Vorvon are usually found hidden on starships or space stations and the environmental systems register as contaminated by the creature's presence and it's victims state among the unliving.

Vorvon Zombie

Armor Class: 89 [10]
HDE: 1/15
Total Hit Bonus: +1
Movement: 6
Special: None
Attacks: Fist 1d4
Hit Dice: 1

Saving Throw: 18

Saturday, January 4, 2020

TinyD6: Storm Troopers

Our regular DM, couldn't make it this week because he is moving so I prepped a one-shot (actually I prepped two one-shots, because I had a good idea for TinyD6 and Dungeon Crawl Classics using the 0 level Funnel). 

I was able to work up six Imperial Storm Troopers in less than 20 minutes, which was awesome. I've said this before, but TinyD6 is everything I wanted Savage Worlds to be. No offense to SW, I just really like hit points.

You may be asking, "Why would you make the Player Characters Storm Troopers, they are the bad guys?"

We didn't end up playing because those of us that could make it took the time to catch up and burn off some holiday steam. It was a good time and I'm sure I'll find time later in the year to give it a go.

The answer is, because I wanted to shake things up. I'm not trying to said the Empire are the Good Guys, I just had an idea for a the main protagonist and it's something different and Storm Troopers worked.

I'm going to post all six of the Troopers right here, if you want a PDF of them e-mail me at mark at crossplanes dot com or even post your e-mail address in the comments, if that suits you.

I used Tiny Pirates as a guideline of Hit Points and number of Traits and each Storm Trooper gets the Armor Master Trait for free. If you REALLY want to bust your Player's chops you can ignore gaining Mastery in any weapon.

Trooper 1
Hit Points: 6 + 3 Armor
Ambush Specialist
Born Fighter
Quick Shot

Trooper 2
Hit Points: 8 + 3 Armor
Heavy Weapons Expert

Trooper 3
Hit Points: 6 + 3 Armor
Fleet of Foot

Trooper 4
Hit Points: 6 + 3 Armor
Quick Gun

Trooper 5
Hit Points: 6 + 3 Armor

Trooper 6
Hit Points: 6 + 3 Armor
Medical Savant

Resolution for 2020

First, I remember reading reading comics as a teen and thinking how far away 2020 was...well, we made it, but I don't have flying cards gosh darnit.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I want to achieve in 2020, and since 2018 and 2019 were tough, I'm going set a goal, but realize it might not happen.

What is that goal, you ask?  Simple, I want to focus more on building adventures and integrating any player backstories into a game I run while simultaneously stop worrying so much about a game's system.

I've always been a mechanics guy first and an adventure second. When I was younger I could juggle things better, had more free time, and was just better at improvisation. I've almost moved to strictly running published adventures and I think I want to try one game this year that is at least 50% my stuff.

And further, I'm going to stop worrying about the perfect system. Honestly, I think Shadow of the Demon Lord is the perfect game, but if I want to run a western I'll use Tiny Gunslinger or Dark Trails and not try to frankenstein something together which sucks all my attention away from the adventure.

We will see how it goes, but I'm hopeful. We've had some major hurtles in the last few years and at the moment, I feel like it can help us weather the coming year. 

As the World of Darkness Turns: Prince Solomon

Tonight, our long-running Vampire: the 5th Edition game, ran by my good friend David, came to...not a conclusion but the close of a chap...