Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Choosing a Game System and You, or More Accurately, My One Sided Conversation with Myself to Try and Figure Out What to Run

Like I mentioned last time I will hopefully be running a game gain sometime in the near future, and that while I'd like run GURPS running something we all know the basics of pretty well might be a better idea. This leaves either World of Darkness or some variation on D&D as games either everyone already basically knows or I know well enough that I can teach them without breaking a sweat. I settled on some variation of D&D, mostly because I could then perhaps get my players to do a switch over to GURPS at a later date with the same characters but rebuilt for the different system.

The next step was the figure out which variant of D&D to use. The game has spawned countless revisions, hacks, clones, and imitators and I own more then a few, not to mention all the ones available online for free or right next to it. After talking to a couple of the potential players (one of them a gaming gear head like me) I decided against going for d20/3rd/Pathfinder for this. There's just too much material out there for it and despite being able to run the game from heart after it being the go-to system for almost a decade of my gaming I decided that something a little more self contained was the order of the day. I also decided I wanted to run something I owned a dead tree edition of since generally I dislike electronics at the gaming table if it can be avoided so something I can only get as a pdf where the legality of printing the dang thing out is iffy tends to get sidelined in my mind. So now I get to pick between the newest edition of D&D (which I'm pretty sure is officially 5th edition but honestly I'm not sure since the ocean adjacent magi had talked about getting rid of edition numbering for...reasons) and the estimable Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (here after known as ACKS) from Autarch.

When I'd originally thought about this I was leaning heavily to ACKS since I really like the system and it's low level lethality, and the fact that most of the classes (especially the racial ones) map up nicely to the kinds of things that exist in my homebrew world Myganos. However after going over both I think I'm leaning more towards using 5e. Sure the racial classes don't exist and I might have a minor rebellion on my hands when I say there are race/class restrictions but honestly stuff I was afraid of (mostly starting power level and equipment) doesn't seem to be as big a deal as I'd feared. Especially with the wealth of homebrew material out there, not to mention the Unearthed Arcana articles, it seems like I'll be able to tweak the game to suit my desires. It might not be the "core"
game I was thinking of when I headed down this path, or even when I started writing this blog post) but the fact that the books are being sold in out FLGS and I think at least one of the potential players already owns at least the PHB, 5e might be the way to go.

So there we go, assuming this game gets off the ground I'll be running 5th edition Dungeon & Dragons in my homebrew setting of Myganos. Next up is gathering resources to tweak the system as needed, and trying to keep my desire to tinker to a minimum. Also writing a bit of fluff for the races and classes to give the players ideas about how they fit in and function in the world.

Monday, May 15, 2017

And we're back?

Since it looks like I might be running a game again sometime in the near future I'm going to try and restart this blog as a public place to noodle on my world building, game designs and planning, and possibly start reviewing products I've got? We'll see about that last one, if it happens it'll be ridiculously infrequent or possibly just me babbling about mostly out of print games that I've collected over the years. I'll probably start posting about my LARPing as well since that looks like my wife and I are going to start that up again and this seems like as good a place as any to talk about it.

I know I failed hard at the "D&D Thirty Day Challenge". January was a rough patch that I won't go in to unless someone asks but suffice to say real life ate me and has only recently released me enough for me to have the extra mental and emotional bandwidth to even think I might be able to keep this up. I did end up with a new-to-me car out of the ordeal which is nice, and I'll probably start the Challenge again but I'm not sure when. Anyway, back to business-

Like I was saying, one of the couples is moving into a bigger place with a guy from the FLGS and they'll have a spare room so we will hopefully (fingers crossed) be starting up a new game again! *cue the triumphant music*

First some logistics to help me organize things in my head. The current plan is the do a month or two of weekly gaming on Saturday nights or possibly Friday nights. After that we're going to switch to aiming for two games a month since we've proven time and again that we can't keep a weekly game together for very long. Ideally this'll happen once a fortnight but there will be some flexibility built in so when the inevitable conflicts arise we'll be able to shift things and hopefully still get two games in that month.

That leaves what we're going to be playing. I honestly would like to just jump into a GURPS game because that's a system I've wanted to run for literal years and have never managed to get father than getting everyone's characters made. One of my potential players brought up the fact that none of us have gamed in the last year so it'd probably make more sense to run something we all know relatively well already though, ie some flavor of D&D or something World of Darkness. After some thought I think I'm going to go with D&D because I've been wanting to do some fairly straight forward fantasy gaming and my World of Darkness stuff always ends up being a slightly surrealistic horror show with ghosts, demons, Mythos inspired insanity, dream-prophecy, and kinda oddly placed bits of mundanity for the "simple to get us back in the swing of things" game we were talking about. [Also if I play my cards right I can "encourage" a conversion to GURPS at a later point....]

Tune in next time for me arguing with myself about if I should run Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition or Adventurer, Conqueror, King System; the pros and cons of both for what I want to do with the game, and the thrilling conclusion of my perhaps too open display of my particular brand of insanity!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

D&D Thirty Day Challenge! Day Three

Day Three of this thirty day challenge and the topic of discussion is:

Day 3: Favorite PC Class
Like I said yesterday my favorite class ties into my favorite race for the most part, though with a night to think on it I'm a little less sure on what it actually is to be honest. My initial reaction was to say my favorite class is any kind of fighter-mage that's available. One of my first characters ever properly made from an actual rule book and not the half made up rememberings of my friend and first DM was an elven fighter-mage. Something about the image of being an accomplished warrior and a powerful wizard fired my imagination. I don't remember what level I ended up getting to with him, though it honestly couldn't have been that high. I do remember when I managed to learn lightning bolt though, that was a lot of fun. This love of the fighter-mage character concept is one of the things that spured me into looking into GURPS actually. The free form point buy system and the way the core Skill magic system works let me build a fighter-mage that was still a badass instead of mostly just being a half-assed fighter and a shitty caster.

Here's where my indecision comes in though. Because as much fun as I had playing elven fighter-mages in 2nd edition, duskblades in 3rd, and bards with one of the more martial archetypes in Pathfinder (I only ever played 4th for one short set of games and I was an eladrin wizard, and I haven't been able to play 5th yet) most of what I ended up playing were clerics of one stripe or another. Between the ability to wear heavy armor freely and their available weapons (especially if you played a cleric to a war god) they often made better fighter-mages than the classes built specifically around doing that.

D&D Thirty Day Challenge! Days 1 & 2

Decided to do a writing challenge to try and get myself in the swing of actually posting regularly. To that end I tracked down something I've seen around the internet "The D&D Thirty-Day Challenge (Revised)!" Since there's only 30 prompts and 31 days in January I was holding off to start this the second but I missed it yesterday so I'll start it today instead. So, without further ado here are the first two days of this writing challenge.

Day 1: How You Got Started
I got my start in a slightly convoluted way compared to some other people that I know. I started off reading TSR "Endless Quest" books (It was the first one, Dungeon of Dread actually.) and reading a motley assortment assortment of 1st and 2nd edition books from the library, none of which I could tell the difference of since I had no frame of reference for anything other than the game these books described sounded amazing.
Then queue up fourth grade when a new kid in my school saw me reading one of these coveted library books and mentioned to me that he and some of his friends from where he'd moved from had played D&D a lot and did I play? A couple of bus rides later we figured out that we actually lived in the same trailer park and we were playing cobbled together games without dice or sheets or anything. It was entertaining and were soon making our character sheets and stealing dice from board games to play with while we made weird systems to approximate all the other types of dice from small piles of d6.

Day 2: Favorite PC Race
I had to think about this one for awhile but I think I finally settled on elf for my favorite race. The whole magic and fighting thing just appeals to me on a basic level and this choice ties into my choice of Favorite Class for tomorrow. The lengths that Tolkien went to when developing the ur-example of fantasy elvish languages really gets my inner geeky tinkerer as well.

So that's days 1 and 2 done. Tomorrow I'll post number 3 and hopefully this'll be something I can keep up for the rest of the month.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Goblin-Kin of Myganos

In Myganos goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs are all basically the same thing. The biggest difference between them is how they go about their day to day lives and where they tend to lair. For the most part what they get called is as much a regional thing as anything else. Technically these are specific classifications for distinct branches of the breed but the only people that really care about that are scholars that don't deal with them and the adventurers that get hired to hunt them down. Additionally ogres and bugbears are related to goblins but they're both special cases.

Goblins are creepy little spastic sadists. They have a thing for harming living creatures and tend to nest in deep dark forests, abandoned halfling burrows, mines, and caves. They don't form hordes/raiding parties very well, usually instead of it being a planned thing a group of goblins will start getting "friends" together and heading to a nearby village to hurt people and burn things and it'll build until it's a proper raiding party. Individually they have an innate sort of cunning, cobbling together tools, weapons, and armor out of scrap and scavenged goods; and being able to recognize valuable objects for decorations and sometimes trade if a shaman or chieftain that can organize them better has risen up from the rabble.

Orcs are basically bigger goblins that live above ground, generally in the mountains though migrations (both natural and forced) have scattered them pretty much everywhere on the face of Myganos that there aren't enough civilized beings to root them out.

Hobgoblins are the end result of an ancient sorcerer-king deciding that goblins would make pretty decent soldiers if only they'd work harder and got organized better. So now there are goblins that have soldiering burned into their very being. They stand up straighter then orcs or goblins, organize more readily, and are better craftsmen then any of their cousins. Neither of the previous sorts of goblin-kin are good at making anything, effective maybe but not really good as a general rule; hobgoblins however have actual smiths, carpenters, and masons to make their goods and evaluate captured goods so their equipment tends to be of a higher quality and their homes are more than repurposed caves, captured dwellings, cobbled together hovels. While orcs and goblins will raid a village, take everything that they can carry and then burn and despoil the rest; hobgoblins will raid carefully so as not to destroy a good source of future goods or to actually take over a village and give them a permanent settlement and a large number of slaves to use and sell.

Ogres are an odd mutation of sorts that happens with goblin-kin sometimes. Periodically a whelp is born that's bigger than the rest of it's siblings and hungrier. It looks odd compared to it's kin and is box-of-rocks dumb to boot. Usually ostracized and tortured while grow that stops once the rest of it's tribe realizes that it hasn't stopped growing and comes to the conclusion of what it is. Ogres stand 8-10 feet tall, have distended jaws fill with rows of teeth that never stop coming in and are constantly hungry. They are usually found singly in tribes of other kinds of goblin-kin and how they live varies according to what kind of clan they were born into. With orcs and goblins they get treated about the same as any other member of the tribe, just with some added respect for their size and strength. In a hobgoblin tribe they get trained to be living weapons and equipped with the best armor they can afford to make in it's size, usually maille, and serve as the point of a vanguard or the chieftain's bodyguard.

[I'll be posting racial templates for each of these in the coming days along with actual stat blocks for examples.]

Thursday, December 15, 2016

GURPS Island in the Sea of Time [Wall Spaghetti 1]

One of my favorite authors is SM Stirling, he writes really good alternate history/pseudo-historical fantasy books. His currently longest running series is a post apocalyptic series called the "Emberverse" by fans due to the first book being titled Dies the Fire and the world the characters live in being the "embers" of ours. The first trilogy was a fairly hard post-apocalypse story where the end happened because some ASBs (alien space bats) have stopped electricity and high pressure gasses from functioning properly. It's a good series and if this sounds intriguing at all you should go look it up, the audio book is rather well done also if that's more your speed. (I want to run an After the End game based on this premise at some point but that's not really the topic of this post.)

At any rate Dies the Fire starts in 1998, which confused a few critics since he didn't write and publish it until 2004. The reason though is that it's connected to another series of his that he did write in 1998 that started with Island in the Sea of Time. The premise of this trilogy is that the island of Nantucket, along with the nearby Coast Guard cutter Eagle and her crew are all transported to the Bronze Age around 1250 BCE. They got to keep all their cool tech toys though they were limited to what could be produced on the island.

The game I think I want to run functions off of the same premise with a few changes. While in Stirling's book series everything was very hard from a sci-fi point of view, after the initial transportation of course, I want to fold in a bit more fantasy. The biggest change is going to be making the magic of the Bronze Age peoples an actual, practical thing which is it isn't in my source material. I think this'll help even things out a bit between the arriving time travelers and the Bronze Age folks, since one of the biggest conflicts in the books was between the Nantucketers and a wayward Coast Guard lieutenant that decided to carve out his own kingdom from the "savages" of the era he found himself in. While it made for entertaining reading and I'm sure it would make for an interesting game having the technologically advanced Americans and the populous and magically active Bronze Agers be on more of an equal footing at least to start sounds good to me.

One of the biggest decisions to make for the game is whether I'm going to make everyone play one of the displaced modern folks doing a "survey" or some such of the Bronze Age world either on a ship or based out of one of the forts that gets set up in lands that Nantucket has claimed or allied itself with; or if I'm going to start the players off as folks from one of a selection of Bronze Age kingdoms and tribes reacting to the arrival of these new "Eagle People" (as the Nantucketers get called by a number of groups in the books) and the upheaval it brings. I think I'm leaning more towards the first idea and letting new PCs come from groups that the PCs have made friendly contact with.

Some other quick notes since I want to actually post this and not let it join my stack of half written posts languishing with an italic "draft" notice next to it in my Blogger dashboard-
  • Everyone's human and though people from different countries might have suggestions for skills, advantages and disadvantages due to culture and such none of it is going to be mandatory
  • The 1250s BCE are mature Bronze Age which means overall most places are going to TL1 I believe. The Nantucketers are from 1998 so they'll start at TL8, though lack of manufacturing and infrastructure drops them down to a weird TL5-6 in the books. Then the areas with trade to Nantucketer bases or Nantucket itself will end up being a weird schizo-tech level somewhere in between those levels. I'll probably use the tech and scrounging rules from After the End to help cover my ass about that stuff.
  • I think I'm going to use Ritual Path Magic with some distinct traditions for the magic. Ritual Adept is either going to be completely unavailable or only something you can get through long and arduous study along with some kind of quest. It'll be so rare as to be completely non-existant. If I do go with Nantucketers PCs to start with if anyone wants to be a mage I'll make them choose a tradition as well as buying up the appropriate Cultural Familiarity and Language up to Native. Even after that I don't think I'll let them start with more then one quarter to one third of their points sunk into magic, Nantucket's big thing is going to be their higher tech level.
  • Spirits and monsters will exist as well though they're super rare in Nantucket controlled areas. I think mana levels are going to go down in heavily technological areas. So it won't matter in a battle say, or if a magus is trying to show those upstart Eagle People a thing or two in his king's court but if tries to go to Nantucket to cast spells it'll be much more difficult. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I'm a little late to the party but...

...there's a Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter!

I know that probably won't be news to the, like, 3 people that actually read my blog but still I figured I should post about it since I'm dropping $250 on it to get to the "I Want It All" Pledge level and I figure if I even convince one other person to put in for it it's that much closer to getting into the stretch goals. Every little bit helps, right?

(I think I put that embed in right, it's been awhile since I've worried about how HTML interacts with things...)

As of this writing it looks like they're almost to $85k too! That's a few grand higher than it was when I checked yesterday about this time so I'm actually hopeful that they'll get into stretch goals, especially with that last day push that usually happens.