Monday, March 31, 2014

March OSR Challenge Day 26 to 31

What RPG based on an IP did you enjoy most? Star Wars.
Give details.  I've like bits of all of the games that have been set in the Star Wars Saga.  I probably like West End Game's version best, but Star Wars Saga Ed from WotC was awesome and I've picked up an run Edge of the Empire with little prep time.  Of course, I've loved Star Wars since I was five years old and for some reason somehow think of it around Christmas Time.  Maybe it was the Christmas Special...

hat IP (=Intellectual Property, be it book, movie or comic) that doesn’t have an RPG deserves it? 
The Marvel Universe deserves something comparable to TSR's old FASERIP system. 

Why?  I was no fan of the resource Marve Universe RPG from the early 2000's or MWP's Marvel Heroic Role Playing.  WotC's Marvel SAGA system was cool, but not quite as good as FASERIP.  It deserves it because, like it or not, Marvel is the king of comics.  Where Marvel goes the industry goes and it's filled with incredible stories and characters.

What free RPG or what non-English RPG did you enjoy most? Mazes and Minotaurs.
Give details.  It's excellent, really jives with my childhood fascination with Clash of the Titans and honestly opened me up to the OSR>

What OSR product have you enjoyed most? Labyrinth Lord.
Explain why.  It beautifully expresses DnD and how simple and sublime it is.  The DM is there to work out the rules with their players, not look in a giant series of books for the answers.

Which non-D&D supplemental product should everyone know about? Old World Bestiary for Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 2nd Edition from GW/Green Ronin.
Give details.  Best. Bestiary. Ever.  Fun, informative, and dripping with atmosphere.

What out-of-print RPG would you most like to see back in publication? Alternity.
Why? I think the system was ahead of it's time and a good precursor to D20.  I think it could simplified a bit and could have a core following that a normal RPG company could tolerate.  Plus, its SF, and we need more of RPGs in that genre.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A to Z Theme Reveal...

For the third year in a row, I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge.  I missed the whole A to Z Challenge Reveal, but since it's supposed fashionable to be late, here I am.

For well over a year, I've run games and written lore for this blog for the city of Jarlsburg, a city that has hosted Pathfinder, DnD Next and RuneQuest games.  And so I'm going to reveal more of the city to myself and my followers and build up some momentum in fleshing the whole setting out.

So for 2014, Cross Planes will be hosting the A to Z of Jarlsburg, an imaginary city for Dungeons and Dragons.

I hope I can add some real substance to the setting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Back This: City State of the Invincible Overlord Kickstarter

Back this.  Now.  This has to happen, the Invincible Overlord commands it!

March Madness OSR Challenge Days 20 through 25

Which setting have you enjoyed most? At this point, I'm going to say 13th Age's setting.
Why?  It really tackles fantasy from a fresh perspective and things line up unexpectedly but are deeply rooted in classic DnD lore.

What is the narrowest genre RPG you have ever played? Any of the World of Darkness games. 
How was it?  I didn't like it, you could see in each of those early White Wolf products that DnD's niches were simply filled with a bloodline or tribe or whatever and then crammed into a monster.

What is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG you ever played? World of Synnabar.
How was it?  It's fun, but a terrible set of rules.

What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play? Rifts.

What is the most broken game that you tried and loved to play, warts and all?  Rifts.

Which game has the sleekest, most modern engine?  Dragon Age, I really, think it has laid the groundwork for many of the RPG designs we are currently seeing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ten Favorite RPG Products of All Time

So I'm jumping on the band wagon that the Other Side Blog has continued.

10) Heroes Unlimited
It was my second super hero RPG, my first class based RPG and my introduction to the Palladium Megaverse of games.  There were so MANY things about the game I simply did not understand, which is okay, because many basic ideas were omitted, but I still love it and it still holds a special place for me.

9) Rolemaster 2nd Edition
It's funny because, in many ways, I think DnD 3rd Edition owes as much to Rolemaster as it does to DnD.  I would make character after character and read its many arcane rules and just try to understand it.  I even spent a small fortune on photocopies of characters sheets and weapon charts.  It's funny, because in the PDF age, the game is far less intimidating.  My wife really wants me to run this some day.

8) Ultimate Powers Handbook for TSR's Marvel Super Heroes RPG
This is the first gaming product I ever had to hunt down.  I even called TSR back in the day to try to find it.  It vastly expanded the options to Marvel Super Heroes and is still quite a bit of fun.  When I finally got ahold of copy, I ended up scoring 3 copies in roughly a single week.

7) Dragon Age Sets 1 and 2
I really like Chris Pramas and Green Ronin and I truly respect their goal to make an introductory RPG available again.  I think the system is great and it runs like a dream and I look forward to when Set 3 is out and they move on to their own setting for the rules.  A great game for beginners and veterans.

6) Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition
This has become my favorite edition of the game.  Great settings and Kits, being amongst the highlights for me.  I still feel DnD 5th Edition feels very close to 2E.

5) Rifts
What a hot mess.  So many incredible ideas and so many things that are wrong with the rules.  I've come to believe that the Skill system is the game balance in the rule set.  At least according the game's creator.

4)  Feng Shui
There was a point when I would use Feng Shui to run nearly anything.  It hasn't aged as well as I would have liked, but so many of the best lessons I learned as a GM were while running this game.  Action movies have always been more of an influence on me than fantasy novels and Feng Shui helped me tap better into that inspiration.

3) 13th Age
In many, many ways 13th Age is the best version of DnD I've ever read or played.  And why not?  It's architects are Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, so of course it's great.  It could be number one, but nostalgia is a powerful tool.

2) Legends of the Five Rings 1st Edition
Epic in nature and grand in it's scope, L5R took a super tight rules engine, a spectacular setting and metaplot and awesome writing and wrapped it up in one beautiful package and supported the rules with regular splatbooks and boxed sets.  John Wick will always have a place in my gaming heart.  He was a rockstar to me.  And this game is central to the history of myself and my wife and oldest daughter.

1) Champions 4th Edition or the Big Blue Book
I'm a child of comic books, not Middle-Earth.  Moon Knight is more important to me than Gandalf.  I identify with Peter Parker more than Frodo.  I'd rather hang out with the New Warriors than the Fellowship of the Ring.  And Champions let me take all of those hours of drawing and creating characters and stories in my high school years and use them in a game.  With friends.  We learned the rules like they were some apocryphal text.  We learned the game's language and used it and reused and tried to top each other.  We argued more than we played, and I still have fond memories of it.  You see, Captain Midnight did not meet his end, his series is simply on hiatus, waiting for the inevitable reboot.

2 13th Age

March Madness OSR Challenge Days 13 to 19

What horror RPG have you enjoyed most? Vampire: the Masquerade.
Why? Because it was the '90's and I haven't played enough Call of Cthulhu or CHILL to get the bad taste out.

What historical or cultural RPG have you enjoyed most? Legend of the Five Rings.
Give details.  Ok, first it's the game I got my future wife to play.  We ran a group every other week for two years.  We had upwards of 20 people playing some weeks.  It taught me I can handle anything as a Game Master and it taught me that I'm not very fond of the Asian Culture.

What pseudo or alternate history RPG have you enjoyed most? Feng Shui.
Why? Time Travel.  Intelligent Ape Anarchists.  Magic.  Kung Fu.  Guns.  Blow things up!  Blow things up!  Blow things up!

Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Hmmm...uh...Champions/HERO System.
Give details.  You can build any spell you want and easily decide if its an At Will or X Number of Times Per Day.

Which RPG has the best high tech rules? GURPS.
Why? I like how breaks out different Tech Levels and it works well.

What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Rolemaster.
Was it enjoyable?  Yes, I'd like to run it again.

What is the fluffiest RPG you have played? World of Darkness (Classic).
Was it enjoyable?  It was the '90's, so I guess.  But looking back, we were really playing ShadowRun, so that was cool.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Numenera House Rules Part 2

So here is the chart I put on each character sheet:

Difficulty      D20 Roll Required to Succeed (Target Number)
     1                                       3
     2                                       6
     3                                       9
     4                                      12
     5                                      15
     6                                      18
     7                                      21
     8                                      24
     9                                      27
    10                                     30

Each 2 Pool Points spent is -1 Difficulty

I'm hoping it will help the players more easily decide if they want to spend Pool points on an action.
I do use the house rule that when spending Pool points, the first point only costs 2, instead of 3 points.
So instead of lowering the difficulty by 3 costing 7 Pool Points, it will only cost 6 Pool Points not accounting for Edge.

March Madness OSR Challenge Day 12

What humorous RPG have you enjoyed most? Intentionally humorous?  I'll say Champions, I don't think its intentionally humorous, but we had quite a bit of fun with it.

Give details.  In one game, we were playing Pulp Heroes.  Apparently the definition of Pulp Hero is hard to pin down.  In the same game, one player wouldn't let another player into a speakeasy.  Just because.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Back This: Breachworld

Breachworld is a new RPG on Kickstarter that seems to be inspired to some degree by Rifts (that's not a knock, if its as imaginative and gonzo, I'll be very happy) but using the excellent Mini Six system from AntiPaladin Games.

I've backed it and think you should take a look.

The preview of artwork and write-ups for some of the player races sold me.

Check them out here.

March Madness OSR Challenge Day 11

What post-apocalyptic RPG have you enjoyed most? Hmm...I'll go with Rifts.  But this is a hard one, since I like Gamma World--in particular the most recent addition based on DnD 4E, Mutant Future, Omega World, and Waste World.

Why?  It's gonzo, it takes everything, the kitchen sink and Atlantis and throws it all at you.  It's the epitome of what Cross Planes means to me.  A dragon, a 'borg, a cowboy, a ninja, and a Dog Boy go into a bar--it's no joke, that's how the first session starts!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Playing Catch Up to the March Madness OSR Challenge

It can be found here.

A big thank you to Tedankhamen for hosting it and The Other Side Blog for letting me know about it.

1) What was the first roleplaying game other than DnD you played?  Champions 4th Edition from Hero Games.

Was it before or after you had played DnD? It was before ADnD 2E.

2) What was the first character you played in an RPG other than DnD?  Captain Midnight, he was patterned strongly after Martian Manhunter but was neither Martian nor a telepath.

How was playing it different from playing a DnD character? I hadn't played a DnD character yet, but Champions was all about how to do things and giving you the tools to do them where, ADnD was all about making up the tools as you need them and at the time seemed to have very limited characters, I didn't understand DnD's reliance on niche protection yet.

3) Which game had the least or most enjoyable character generation?  I really enjoyed making characters for Heroes Unlimited Revised.

4) What other roleplaying author besides Gygax impressed you with their writing?  John Wick. I really enjoyed the work he did on Legend of the Five Rings. It left an impression on me.

5) What other old school game should have become as big as DnD but didn’t? RuneQuest.

Why do you think so? Because Glorantha isn't for everyone and Avalon Hill couldn't make it work without Glorantha.

6) What non-DnD monster do you think is as iconic as DnD ones like hook horrors or flumphs, and why do you think so? Klingons. They're space orcs.

7) What fantasy RPG other than DnD have you enjoyed most? Does 13th Age count? It's an OGL variant of DnD.  Otherwise, I'd go with RuneQuest.

Why? Because it let you make the character you wanted to make and it did it in the late '70's.

8) What spy RPG have you enjoyed most? Spycraft 1E.
Give details. I got to playtest it and I enjoyed it, it felt like a strong mix of G.I. Joe and James Bond.

9) What superhero RPG have you enjoyed most? Champions/HERO System.

Why? I cut my teeth on it. I learned its language and can still bust out a character in under 15 minutes. It gives you tools, though increasingly complex ones, to make whatever you can imagine.

10) What science fiction RPG have you enjoyed most? D6 Star Wars.

Give details. I love Star Wars and I think the d6 system captured quite a bit of the setting's charm.  While it may not have worked great for full Jedi, it captured Episodes 4, 5, and 6 perfectly.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

OSR: Using the Turn Undead Table for Skill Resoultion

I apologize if this has been talked about or proposed before (I assume it has, but don't recall it).

I think the Turn Undead Table in Labyrinth Lord (or any early version of DnD or it's retroclones) would make an excellent skeleton for Skill Resolution.

Assuming we used Backgrounds and not Non-Weapon Proficiencies:

A Background has the chance to either permit an automatic success or increase your level by 1.

If an appropriate Ability Score is 12 or better, increase your level 1.

Then find your level + modifiers, cross reference by the Threat Level of the Task and look for auto success, a target number on a d20 or automatic failure.

Pretty straightforward if you ask me.

Thieves would get to first roll their Thief Skill Percentage, if they fail they may still try to roll on the Skill Resolution Table.  Essentially, Thief Skills can be thought of as an extra chance at success or a chance to critically succeed.

Playing D&D Next

I finally got a chance to play the current beta rules for DnD Next.  There was an Elven Wizard, Dwarven Monk, Elven Ranger, Dwarven priest and myself, a Human Fighter.

We didn't have any combat, so I didn't get to use my maul, but I enjoyed the game immensely.  While Tony W.'s excellent game is technically DnD Next, it's as much a home-brew as anything else.

This was cool and I hope to play again soon.

I've been leary of the umbrella Proficiency bonus (even though I've argued for it for years), but like how it works.  Next seems to make Ability Scores useful and I found that it was easier to choose a class, because combat ability hinged on weapons, not on class.

It still takes about 15 minutes longer than I think it should to make a character though.

All in all, I am pleased with the current product.

Numenera House Rules

When I next run the Cipher system, I have some wrinkles I'm adding:

When spending points from Attribute Pools, each 2 points spent lowers the Difficulty by 1.  This is pretty minor as the rules state it is 3 points for the first reduction and 2 points for each further reduction.

To give the player's a bit more room to show off, I am setting Effort to Tier + 2.

I have trouble explaining Difficulty and Target Number, so I've worked up a character sheet that shows that information, so I can simply say "It's Difficuly 5", the player can then look to see that the Target Number is 15.  Then I can ask if they want to lower the Difficulty by spending Pool points.

In the back of my head, I keep working on mixing the Cipher system with Earthdawn's Step System.  If I work it out, I'll post it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


So Tony W.'s DnD game continues to remain on hold as work has him pretty tied up and we have come to the end of my fill in adventure.  I'm going to take a break from the Adventure Game Engine (to work up another adventure) and the players have asked me to run Numenera for the next fill-in game.

While I dig what I worked up with 9th World, I have the opportunity to run a short adventure with a small group and am going  back to the Cipher System.

We have a Stealthy Jack who Exists Partially Out of Phase; a Charming Nano who Wears a Veil of Water; a Mad Nano who Controls Beasts; a Cybernetic Jack who Manipulates Life and Death (pretty much a house ruled version of Mechanical and Works Miracles).

I'm assuming I'll get my chance to try it out in the week or two, unless Tony's schedule clears up.

I'll keep you posted.

Thundarr the Movie

As a life-long comics fan and a retailer with a quarter century of experience, I was today years old when I discovered that Buzz Dixon and ...