Friday, December 31, 2010
It has been a pretty good year for me, I must admit. I had a son, graduated from college, got a Job teaching English at a high school in Japan, through the JET Program. I got Honors in Asian Studies with my Thesis studying Mecha and Identity in Anime (a first for my university). All in all, I would say my personal life has been going pretty well this year. Although I have probably fought a little too much with my wife, and am seriously lacking in free time, I can easily say that I am proud with how 2010 has turned out.
Turning now to the gaming side of things. 2010 was a bit of a mixed year I guess. I took a long time off from the hobby, starting when I got married near the middle of 2009 and I didn't really even look at a Role Playing Book until the Fall of 2010 when I started working again. But, these last several months have been very good to me and this here blog.
I am really happy to say that in 2010, the Dump Stat has almost achieved 250 posts. I have gone from 0 to 15 followers. I have gotten over 10,000 page views in the last 4 months.
I have done 1 Official Product Review - Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom, by Nevermet Press, and I am in the middle of my second - Amethyst: Foundations, by Goodman Games and Dias Ex Machina.
Stargazer's world, a site where I occasionally post as a member of the Stargazer team, earned several honors this year, including an award by RPG Blog II. I also got recognized a little bit for my work on XDMC 23 - "Create a Legendary Organization" (a contest run on the WotC forums). Stuffer Shack liked one of my NPC's enough to award me the Silver Medal in their Create an NPC Contest as well.
Personally, I am also very proud of the work that I have done on my Homebrew setting, which is currently nicknamed "The Mad Lands". I am also really happy with all the work that I have accomplished on my City Builder: Architects Board Game/RPG. I wish that I could have finished it before the New Year, but life is pretty busy.
I guess, all in all, The Dump Stat has had a pretty good year. I am glad that I brought the blog back strong after my hiatus and that some people seem to be reading I get a lot more comments now than I used to which makes me really, really happy! :)
But if I am going to look back, I guess I also need to look forward, but I think that can wait until tomorrow. I have celebrating to do!!
Thanks for a great year and Thank you for constantly supporting and reading all the wild gaming stuff that I put out there!
Cheers!! Have a Happy New Year!!
Interested Parties await your response.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
If you check out the Dungeon Master Guys Podcast, in Episode 2, they give some good general tips for speeding up combat when the general outcome has been decided. They recommend getting inside the mind of your monsters, which I whole-heartily agree with. However I think some situations call for a bit more specific guidelines; although thinking of "outs" as mentioned in the podcast, is a really good idea, having a general idea of when those "outs" are going to kick in is a good thing to plan for.
I think a too many GM’s fail to use the “Run and Hide” option when they are in combat. I know in one of my encounters, a few very pesky Sniper Orcs had themselves a nice little perch and were hailing lead on the party through the entire combat – They also watched as about 90% of their fellows were brutally beaten, fried, and lightning bolted to death before their very eyes, without every stopping their bombardment of gunfire. The players then spent the next 2-3 rounds trying to get up to the two pesky snipers before finally popping them in the skull.
At some point, the combat has been firmly decided and victory is going to be whole sale for the party. At these points, it is really better to just let the party win quickly, so you can move on to a new, fresh encounter, which gets the party thinking, rather than grumbling. I realized after the last encounter, what I should have done is ended the combat when only the 2 snipers were left and had the poor fellows beg for their pathetic lives; of course, the party would most likely get whatever information they could out of them before looking up the Coup De Gras rules in the Rules Compendium, but again, that is a bit of fun that they wouldn’t have had if they spent time climbing a ladder and using an at-will power a couple times. While the Dungeon Master Guys recommend that when the Leader falls, the minions will take to the hills, I also would recommend that when the minions see most of their buddies painting the walls with their insides, those minions are not going to want to stick around, even if their leader is still standing.
I think it was Mark, from RPG Circus, who mentioned that in order to speed up combat with a large group, he pondered whether or not he was going to have to turn a bunch of monsters into minions in order to get the combat done quicker. He ended up not having to, because his party was on task, but actually, his point is really good. There are some situations in the game where monsters are not going to run and hide. These might be the mindless Undead or other creatures that disregard the beating that they are taking. In situations like that, I think it is often a good idea to turn a creature that into a minion, after it has taken a significant amount of damage and has very few ways to continue to deal damage to the party.
Under both of these Circumstances, I think you could easily follow the 75% rule (which I believe is the number used in 40k for Morale, If my memory serves me right). When either 75% of all the important monsters in a combat are dead, or 75% of the last enemies health is gone, either turn the creatures into minions or have them surrender, run, hide, beg for mercy, or some combination of the preceding. Your players will enjoy getting on with the game, and they might even come up with some interesting way to finish things off.
(You thought this one would die too didn't you?! Well, at first I did as well.)
Sunday, December 26, 2010
There are times when you don’t want your blade hacking through enemies to make too much noise. Actually, I guess I should rephrase that. There are times when you don’t want the enemy you are hacking to bits with your blade to make too much noise. Yea.
If you are invading the Kobold Hall and are attempting to murder your way through the dungeon to the King of the Kobolds, there are times that you might not want to alert the enemy to your presence. Under these circumstances, using a simple series of Stealth Checks is a nice easy way to speed up combat against a group of monsters, which alone, provide no threat, other than acting as a very pesky alarm. I can’t have been the first person to think of ruling some Combats as Skill Challenges. The idea is pretty obvious, but I think a lot of people just lack the guideline to actually do such a think for themselves.
Have each of your players roll a stealth check. Decide the DC of the Stealth check based on the level of the monsters / their skill in perception, and see what happens. Success means you can skip the encounter, leaving a trail of corpses in your wake; failure means that the guards go on alert, and you probably have to use the Overwhelming Victory rules (which I presented yesterday) to see how many healing surges you lost because of your failure to stay quiet and hidden (not to mention the BBEG now know that you are on your way to claim his head). You could also expand this from a skill check into a skill challenge if there are a lot of enemies present. If you do something like that, let your players freely explain what they are doing and the kind of skills they want use in order to accomplish their goals.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I guess that I fall somewhere in the middle of these two courts. I really feel a drag sometimes when I am throwing encounters filled with flunkies at the party; these combats take time, but the victory is almost always decided in the parties favor and very few casualties, much less damage, ever gets suffered.
If you look at games like WoW, even their developers realize that nobody wants to spend hours fighting the trash mobs in instances. They have started to shrink the size of the dungeon, limiting the trash mobs, and then break those dungeons down to 3 or 4 big combats before the final boss.
I really prefer this model. So, I have been trying to think up some house rules which I can use to essentially fast forward through the meaningless battles, that are essentially just filler before the party finally gets to fight the BBEG. This series will talk about a few of those house rules and how I plan to use them. Today I present the first of these rules: Overwhelming Victory
If you think about the typical organization of an organizations lair, or a dungeon populated with Gnolls/Kobolds/Orcs etc. you would usually expect there to be a lot of bad guys filling up a rather modest sized dungeon. But, playing out all of the combats with the rank and file can be monotonous. Now, you could simply say that the players mow through all of the enemies unscathed, but I really think that doing something like that takes a bit of fun out of the game. And, when you realistically think about it, even the mightiest of Players might take a lucky shot to the skull by a Goblin wielding a Big Hammer.
One way to keep these enemies in the dungeon, but speed through combats with them, and essentially skip their encounters, is to use a house rule which guarantees victory for the players, but has them rolling dice to see how much of their precious resources they expend. I think D&D 4e actually does a really great service by giving us Healing Surges, which can be used to gauge roughly how many times the players get hit in combat.
Basically, what I have decided to do in the future is that when the player’s are fighting an encounter which is below their average character level, I will have each of them roll a Saving Throw. For every level that the (not being played) encounter’s level is below the players, they get a bonus to their Saving Throw roll. If they make their Saving Throw, they make it through the combat unscathed. If they fail the roll, the group loses one collective healing surge. So, if you had 5 players and 2 of them failed their saving throws, 2 people from the group would lose a saving throw. The Default for this rule is that the person who failed the saving throw would lose his or her healing surge, but, if the group has a tank who want to lose that Surge for the team, he or she can lose his surge in exchange.
I look forward to giving this house rule a test drive. I will be interested in tweaking the bonuses to the Saving Throw, or the number of Saving Throws you force the players to make.
Friday, December 24, 2010
It works like a portable box, that folds out and can hold all kinds of goodies, like your role playing books, you dice, your minis, 3x5 cards. etc.
The entire outside of the box can be marked using wet-erase markers. What a brilliant idea! On the top, in the above picture you can see that he marks the top with Character names based on people's seats around the table.
The inside of the box, on the right and the left, uses wet erase, portable bat maps as covers for the shelves and compartments.
In this shot, you can see a close-up of one of the wings, with the Battlemat/Lid partially removed. The inside has space for dice/minis/counters/3x5 cards.
When he closes the whole thing up, it has a handle and uses straps to hold everything in. The whole case looks awesome and I am hoping I can convince him to teach me how to do one myself. This would be a completely awesome project to undertake.
I will be catching a flight headed back towards the US from Narita airport on Christmas Eve, but I will arrive there the same day at 9 AM. Going back in time always fascinates me. When I land, it will technically be Christmas in Japan, but I will get another entire day of anticipation before the big day comes.
I will be spending the majority of the 9 hour flight catching up on the wonderful plethora of RPG Podcasts that I have filling my iPod. I will also, without a doubt, probably be building myself some Traveller characters on the plane because 9 hours is a long time and I am pretty sure that I can roll 2d6 on my seats folding tray table (except during take-off and landing of course). But once I get to Canada, I have a whole bunch of RPG Products waiting for me and I plan to spend at least a little bit of my winter holiday pouring over their contents and writing about my findings.
So, Merry Christmas Eve! Or Happy Holidays if you prefer! No silly game based content this holiday. Sorry!!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
But Dan would not be disheartened. He said, "Screw It! I'm Joining the Marines!" and sent in his enlistment papers. He was happily accepted. But, the marines was a tough spot for a kid like Dan. In his first term, he got caught up playing and betting on dice (Gambling 1) which meant no Commission for him. As discipline, Dan ended up shining Revolvers for a year, which, as it turns out, helped him to really understand the inner workings of that most basic of handguns (Revolver 1).
Dan's second term had him working in the repair shop, where he picked up some skills in Electronics (Electronics 1), but it also kept him out of the lime light and out of the commissioned lists.
During Dan's third term, he started training harder and harder, he was determined to get the commission he felt he so deserved. His training was rewarding to some degree (STR +1), but the commission still failed to come. In his 4th Term, he was given a Vac Suit (Vac Suit 1) and put to work. No commission, no fame, no fortune. Poor Dan just never got any time to shine...
Until... His fifth term. In his fifth term as an enlisted Marine, Dan ended up saving a General who had fallen out of a helicopter using a Grav Jeep (Grav-Vehicle 1) that had been left unmanned by a group of his COs. The General was so grateful that he gave Dan his very own Cutlass and promoted him to Lieutenant on the spot.
That was enough for Dan. He didn't make reenlistment in his 6th term. He was just getting too old. But, he finished out his career with a UPP of 589C74; he could handle a Cutlass like no other (Cutlass 3) and was a fancy shot with a Revolver as well (Revolver 2). He could drive a pretty mean Grav-vehicle and was a fair gambler to boot.
Average Height: 3’1’”-4’2”
Average Weight: 90– 120 lbs
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity and +2 Intelligence or Charisma
Languages: Common, Saru
Skill Bonuses: +2 Acrobatics +2 Thievery
Exceptional Climbers: Saru are exceptional climbers. You can gain a climb speed equal to your speed.
Saru Weapon Proficiencies: All Saru are proficient in the use of all Simple and Martial thrown weapons. They also never provoke attacks of opportunity when throwing a weapon in melee. They also gain proficiency with the Quarterstaff and can use it as a Double Weapon.
Saru Reflexes: Saru have exceptionally fast reflexes granting them a +2 bonus to their Reflex defense and a +2 Bonus to Initiative. .
Deadly Prankster: You have the Deadly Prankster racial power.
Deadly Prankster Deadly Prankster Racial Power
Laying a banana peal under the legs of a warrior in full plate is not only hilarious, but can be quite dangerous as well. The Banana peal trick is just one of the pranks preferred by the Saru.
Dexterity +4 vs. Reflex; select one of the following effects:
The target is knocked prone and takes 1d4 damage.
The target is blinded until the start of your next turn.
The target is dazed (save ends) and takes 1d6 damage.
The target is immobilized (save ends).
Aftereffect: After the target is free from any of the above effects, it becomes enraged, dealing +1 damage on all attacks, but granting combat advantage to all of your allies.
But, getting onto my World Building Journal for the day, I wanted to go back to the Mount issue that I brought up when I went exploring World of Warcraft. I love mounts, and I love having players that use them. I really think that Mounts open up the world for the players and having cool mounts really adds flavor to the character himself.
World of Warcraft has some steam/mechanical elements built into it. If you take the Engineering Profession, you can build yourself a bag-of-holding full of mechanical mounts. Just off the top of my head, you can get yourself a Motorcycle as well as a Gyrocopter. I have always wanted to take a character to the maximum Engineering profession level just to get my hands on those mounts. But wait! Are those really mounts at all? In the typical D&D world, Mounts are intelligent, and often Mystical/Magical. Giant Birds, Dragons, Gryphons, Flaming Horses, etc. are mounts, but a Motorcycle?! That isn't a mount, its a vehicle!!
In my Amethyst review this week, I brought up the Organizations section that players can join and talked about how much I liked that setup. These Organizations give the PC's a reason to be together; the benefit that you get for this sometimes comes in essentially loaner vehicles that you get from the Organization to which you belong. In WoW, you can earn all kinds of different Mounts by gaining Reputation with certain groups. Some of these Mounts essentially mark you in the world as an incredibly lucky, or dedicated individual, but in general, they are just a more flashy way to get around.
So, what I arrive at is an idea. Since I am building a sandbox world, that I honestly want my players to be able to explore, I would love to give them exceptionally speedy mounts at or around their first level. I want them to be able to experience open world content in a Table Top game. But, just giving my players really fast horses seems a bit underwhelming. If at all possible, giving them some type of conveyance which not only is awesome, but also adds flavor to their character and the game world in general, is something that I feel I should be aiming for.
So, where am I? Well, I think going the way of Amethyst and WoW and allowing my players to either join or work with a particular organization at 1st level is a great idea; the benefit for joining one of these organizations: a vehicular style mount. Since my world isn't pure fantasy, but falls somewhere in the steampunk/cyberpunk categories, I feel that 1st level characters with Motorcycles, or Jeeps, or Ornithopters, would not only be a very cool way to give flavor to the characters, but also give me the opportunity to open up the world and make travel more realistic.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Bill joined the Navy with ease. He took to life flying through the great sea of stars with ease. During his first term, he couldn't quite make his first commission, but picking up some people skills (Social 1) and learning to pilot the Ship's Boat (Ship's Boat 1), he still held so much hope. Determined to climb the ladder of rank, Bill was the first to hand in his reenlistment papers.
During his 2nd Term, Bill finally got his commission. He achieved the rank of Ensign and was sent to work in Engineering where he quickly took to his new skill set (picking up Engineering 1 twice) and the brute work did his body good (STR +1). Bill was getting all the attention that he was looking for, so reenlistment was an obvious choice.
But... his 3rd Term proved to be one term too many. The Boat Bill was assigned to took an unfortunate jump into a Supernova. All were lost. Bill's Naval career was cut tragically short.
The Organizations section, although only a little over a page long, is one of my favorite pages in the entire book, because not only does it solve one of the biggest problems that I have with gaming, but it also gives the players an incentive to actually come up with a shared background.
Essentially, the Organizations that Amethyst presents are very cool little groups, which may come from a certain area of the world, or be dedicated to a certain task. You only get the benefits from the Organization if all of the players in the group agree to take that Organization as part of their background. But, if all the players consent, and they make characters that are members of that Organization, they get some in-game benefits. These benefits may come in the form of a Feat, some gear, of even a new, shiny vehicle to drive around the world in.
This is just a purely brilliant idea. Why didn't WotC think of this first?
The idea of having the player's be part of an Organization is not really knew, I guess, but having it in the character generation section, and clearly stating exactly what the benefit they will gain by taking that Organization as part of their character, is pretty ingenious. Also, by putting it into the Races section of the book, they are really implying that the Organization to which you belong is just as much a part of you as your race is (I guess there was a reason why they put that in the Races section after all...). These Organizations, in my mind, offer a plethora of adventure hooks, story ideas, and also give the GM a method to send the players off on some mandated quest; I can easily see using membership in said Organization as a legitimate reason for sending the players off on a published adventure when I, as GM, start looking for something a bit more structured to do. Since they are members of the group, orders coming down from the Top are probably not uncommon; though it may seem like railroading, it comes off as a little bit less tyrannical when there is some justifiable built in system within the world that I can point to for legitimacy.
I will say that I would like to have seen more about each of the Organizations presented; honestly, I would like to have seen a LOT MORE Organizations presented as well (especially ones for Echans as well as Techans). But, what I will say is that I will definitely be working on something like this for my homebrew games in other settings.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Strength - 7
Dexterity - 4
Endurance - 5
Intelligence - 7
Education - 4
Social Standing - 4
Kebo, at first, was not looking too good. He had some pretty low stats, but he would not let his poor ability profile get in the way of his desire to join the Navy, but the Navy would. He failed his enlistment and got drafted into the role of a merchant. A career which would suit him well, until the end of his career.
During Kebo's first Term of service, he was commissioned into an officer position, but failed to receive a promotion. He picked up some skills in Strength, Jack-o-T, and Gunnery during this term (it is believed that during Gunnery training Kebo may have accidentally shot down an allied Scout Ship, which prevented any promotion during his first term).
Kebo was reenlisted, but received no promotion, yet again. This failure to gain notice was most likely caused by Kebo's time spent at the Gym, where he gained an additional +1 Strength, but failed to improve any of his other relevant skills.
In Kebo's third term, he finally got down to business and learned how to be a Steward and how to work with machines (picking up Steward 1 and Mechanical 1). The top merchant brass finally recognized Kebo's potential and promoted him to 3rd Officer.
Kebo was enjoying his merchant life very much and decided to reenlist again, but in his fourth term, picking up the Bribery 1 skills meant that he was not going to be getting a promotion over the term.
Kebo's 5th term sent him off world, where he was promoted to 2nd officer and picked up some training in the operation of prop airplanes, but working on the Street served him well in the Streetwise skill department.
But, Kebo began to get bored, and in his 6th term, he went back to his old ways and hit the gym again, forgoing a shot at a promotion for time on the bench press. No promotion in his 6th term, but he did pick up an extra 1 Strength.
Kebo managed to age well over his terms, only failing 1 Strength, 1 Dexterity, and 2 Endurance checks while aging. At muster out, Kebo picked up a bit of cash (around 80,000 Cr) and also got a bit smarter, all of a sudden (picking up +2 Intelligence), before finally learning how to use an Autorifle. A bit of Low Passage finished out Kebo's benefits package.
Monday, December 20, 2010
It seems that a lot of people give the Ninja (and to a lesser extent, the Samurai) a lot of sh*t. A lot of this comes in off-hand remarks about Ninja in fantasy games; "They just don't fit", some say. Other times, these remarks are made with regards to the players that choose to play Ninja, claiming that their Ninja nature allows them to do things that the rules would not allow.
Today, I want to address these claims and make you realize that if you think this way, you are a classist: you are discriminating against a certain race based on your limited perspective.
Let me give you a bit of my background. I live in Japan, as many people know. I majored in Asian Studies, specifically in Japanese culture, language, and literature. I speak Japanese, married Japanese, raise my child Japanese. I eat Japanese food on a daily basis. I teach English to Japanese kids. So, lets just say that I have a pretty vested interest in Japanese society.
I take it pretty personally when you attack our friend the Ninja.
So, why is there so much hate against these poor, helpless individuals that prefer to live in the shadows? Well, one argument, which I understand and can deal with, is the idea that many times, the Ninja simply doesn't fit into most fantasy settings which are primarily based on a Medieval European game world. Ok. I can deal with this argument. When you are playing a more old-school kind of game, where it really isn't even that common to see elves or dwarves running around, I can see where it would be odd to see a Ninja coming onto the scene.
But really, is the Ninja all that different than the Assassin or the Rogue? Sure, they are a lot different when it comes to their cultural and historical context for existence, but if you are playing a fantasy game, everything gets taken out of its historical, cultural context and an entirely new context is given to the constructs which we usually see in our own world. Let's take for example armor. There are a lot of armor types in traditional fantasy games that simply never existed, or, have been drastically altered to make them fit into a specific game world. You could do the same with the Ninja. Why don't you? It may just be that you want to make the Ninja less of an Asian flavored character and more of a Shadow flavored rogue/assassin. But, some people just don't want to deal with it. Ok. I will let your argument stand.
But, lets move on to the second case. Some people rebel against the Ninja because of the characters that select them. There is always that very odd person who picks the Ninja and then does stuff that just goes against the grain of the party. Ok... so.... where has the Ninja done anything wrong in this instance. Your problem is NOT the NINJA!!! Your problem is with those individuals who can't be part of the team, who won't play a character that fits in with the rest of the group. Your problem is with the socially unacceptable outcast nerd who relates to and likes to play the Ninja because of their inability to fit into social situations. So, my solution, DON'T BLAME THE NINJA!!! Blame the player. He is the one that picked that class. He is the one who doesn't want to play nice. He is the one who doesn't fit in with your group. I have had player's like that. I had a friend in high school who always pulled that kind of thing at our games. Our solution - We kicked him out of the bloody gaming group. But, we certainly didn't get rid of the Ninja. If someone who could play a Ninja in a group friendly way wants to pick up their dice and their Kusarigama and give the Ninja a try, we always let them do as they please.
In conclusion, if your setting flavor just doesn't allow for the Ninja to exist, that is ok. There are settings that don't have magic at all. But, if you are playing in a Super Fantasy style world, a.k.a. 4e D&D, where you see Dragonborn and Tieflings on a daily basis, don't even pretend that a Ninja could not exist in that world. If you are playing Super Fantasy and you decide that the Ninja doesn't fit, you are being a classist. You are prejudiced against a character class. You should be ashamed of yourself. If you are constantly being assaulted by players that pick the Ninja and abuse them, GREAT!! You know exactly who you don't want to invite back to your next session, and here is a hint, it isn't the Ninja, it is the guy that is playing him.
Don't Blame the Ninja. Blame the player or blame yourself.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
One of the things that I thought was very interesting is the road that Amethyst chose to take when it comes to player character races. Although the majority of content available in classic D&D 4e is available for use and functions perfectly with Amethyst, all of the races that are presented in the core rulebooks are outlawed (except for the humans). I was at first a little skeptical about this choice. For me, the player character races presented in the core books have a lot of background to them and players tend to have a strong preferences when it comes to these races. However, I really think that Amethyst does it well.
Amethyst presents rules for 7 new player character races as well as the rules for creating half-breeds between the Fae Races and the Evolved Races. The races in Amethyst all fall into these two categories. You can equate the Fae races with a lot of the classic D&D races such as elves, Halflings, and Dwarfs. Although a lot of the imagery in Amethyst is a bit more realistic, you can still pretty clearly see the fantasy equivalent in the pictures that accompany the racial descriptions and stat blocks.
All of the races presented here come with a hefty amount of description and background. The amount of detail that is provided to the player really helps to make up for the fact that you have to learn new races in order to play this game.
I have always enjoyed playing dwarfs and Halflings, so looking at the characters here, I really liked the descriptions of the Gimfen and the Narros. I will probably be rolling up a few characters in the next couple of weeks and I can guarantee that a few of these characters will be Gimfen. Because the Gimfen race really mixes well with the high technology in the world, rolling up a few of those little guys sounds like a lot of fun.
Stay tuned for more in my continuing series of reviews of Amethyst. Next time I will be tackling the Organizations section and explain why I think that Wizard's should have thought this up first.
The New Gamma World Game
Ooooo!! I can not wait to get this in the mail. Sorry to all the FLGS's, but I don't have one. I live in Japan, so I shop Amazon. I really look forward to getting this box in the mail. From all the great things I have heard about the setting, it is going to be a blast to play.
Rogue Trader Core Rule Book and the GM Kit
Yea! This one has been a long time coming. Like some of you know. I am fairly slow to jump on a given bandwagon. I usually am not the first person to jump on a fad when it strikes, but I am also likely to keep going with it for far longer than everyone else does. I have always loved the Warhammer 40k Universe, so this one seemed like a given. I had my pick of the three systems: Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch. This one came out on top.
I am a big video gamer, almost more so than a Pen & Paper gamer these days. Not really having the free time to get a big group together to play has meant me moving my hobby to the PS3 on Saturday mornings and at night when my wife and kid are sleeping. So, this Christmas, I am picking up a bloody plethora of PS3 games, including Demon's Souls, the game I mentioned in a previous post. I think I also picked up Ninja Gaiden: Sigma - which is a game I have been wanting to play for a LONG time now. I am pretty behind on games, so I am just getting Assassin's Creed 2 now. I can't wait to give that a try as well.
I am heading over to the Americas over winter vacation and going on a little trip up to Vancouver, BC. Really looking forward to this trip, because, for one thing, there are quite a few game stores in Vancouver. There is one a couple miles away from the hotel where I am staying, so I am planning to actually get my hands on some other stuff and see about what I want to pick up then. I really want to get a better look at some of the D&D essentials box sets, as well as the Ravenloft Board Game. I had originally thought about getting the Ravenloft board game from the beginning, but since it weighs like 8 pounds, I am not entirely sure that I can get it into my luggage and back to Japan on the plane.
What is on your X'mas List?
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Amethyst went the way that I want to go - a massive heavenly body falls from the sky and really screws up the planet. I really, really like these kinds of disasters and I have wanted to use a meteor impact in my game setting since I started thinking about building this setting.
But, what I am most interested in is how one uses a natural disaster in the ancient history of your setting. The meteor impact that I want in my world is happening about 10,000 years ago. How would you leave the scars of such an event on your world?
This last week, I started generating characters for Classic Traveller. Almost an entire notebook later, my hands were worn out from recording survival results and my dice were chipping. I made a lot of characters. Not all of them lived. Actually, most of them died.
I came to the conclusion that I enjoy the Classic Traveller character generation process more than I have enjoyed character generation in almost any game I have ever played. This includes virtually every edition of D&D as well as Vampire and Shadowrun. Why is this?
The fact that character gen is a game in itself is wonderful and amazing. For someone like me who lives in an isolated region of the mountains in a country that doesn't speak English, having a game that I can play on my own is really important. Character gen in this game is perfect for me. I can make a character in about 10 minutes and spend the next half an hour thinking up a backstory that fits all the rolls. How cool is that?!
I must say, I enjoy this process a whole lot more than typical character gen. When I end up playing D&D or Shadowrun, I put a lot of thought into my character. I guess you could even call me a bit of a power gamer. I may not try to pick the best class out there, but I sure as hell will optimize my already sub-par PC. I like playing odd multi-classes or strange Race/Class combos; but once I have that odd-ball rolled up, I want to turn him into a lean mean fighting machine. Doing something like this takes hours. I have spent days upon days designing 4e characters from L1-L30.
But Classic Traveller isn't like that. I spend minutes making a character that dies have way through generation. But hey! That is ok. I can just start from the beginning again.
But... all of this is really getting away from the point of this post. The point of this post was originally supposed to be a discussion about the Character Generator. In my opinion, using a character generator for Classic Traveller would completely suck the entire fun out of the process.
When I do all of my 4e Character design work, I spend hours in front of my netbook, clicking away on the character builder looking for the right combination of feats that will turn my oddball into a meatgrinder. But, with Traveller, If you took all the random out of the die rolls and built it into a program, all the fun would go away. The utility that the 4e character builder gives me far outweighs the fun that I have flipping through real books, but you can't get much easier than the character gen process in Traveller. Having a character builder for that would just make everything go away.
So, where am I going with this? Well, in all honesty, I would love to see somebody put together a 4th Edition Character generation rules system that is essentially a mimic of the Classic Traveller rules setup. It may take a couple of tables, but I think it would be freaking worth it and it would be a hell of a lot of fun. I could definitely see a few of my D&D characters dying as they try to hit level 1.
Who wouldn't want to make characters like that in other games? If nobody else is going to do this, I might just have to make those charts myself.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Sorry, due to some technical problems on my end, the post is not up on Stargazer's World quite yet. Expect this article to be out very soon. My best estimate is that it will be out on Saturday or Sunday. Sorry for the trouble.
Average Height: 4’6’”-6’6”
Average Weight: 175 – 375 lbs
Ability Scores: +2 Strength and +2 Intelligence or Wisdom
Languages: Common, Inu
Skill Bonuses: +2 Perception +2 Athletics
Empathic: Inu can innately feel the emotions of people nearby. They gain a +4 Bonus to insight checks when they attempt to discern if a person is angry, upset, sad, lying, worried, happy, etc.
Inu Battle Caster Training: Inu are usually trained in magic and martial fighting. At 1st level, all Inu may select one Martial weapon and gain proficiency it in. They also gain proficiency in two 0-Level Wizard Spells (Cantrips). Inu are also proficient in all simple weapons and shields.
Versatile Defenses: Inu have a +1 Bonus to their Fortitude, Reflex, and Will defenses.
Terrifying Growl: You have the terrifying growl racial power..
Terrifying Growl Inu Racial Power
It is of course true that an Inu’s bite is actually worse than its bark, but when an Inu starts growling, you better get out of the way.
Standard Action * Blast 3 (Fear)
Strength +4, Intelligence +4, or Wisdom +4 vs. Will; the target is overcome by fear. During the next round, the target grants combat advantage, is immobile, and whenever the target attempts to use an encounter, or daily power on anything other than you, they must make a save, or lose their action.
But, that is not what I am going to talk about today! Today, I had to write to say that last night I finally had the chance to listen to - Live from SModcastle #8 - Crimson Mystical Mages Chapter 1: The Adventures Of SMiddle Earth. This post will be pretty short, in all honesty, because I can't post up even 1% of the podcast summary here or my site will need an age checker. It is pretty much the most sexually explicit dialogue I have ever heard from these guys (or any other people on the planet for that matter).
If you are not offended by horrible sexually explicit language than you will absolutely love this podcast. Actually, by now, you are probably either of fan of Jay and Silent Bob or you aren't. With this podcast, nothing has really changed so much, other than the fact that they are now getting together to play a very strange (and actually somewhat old school) version of D&D where Kevin Smith takes on the role of the "Cellar Fella" (their version of the DM) and leads his players, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, and Malcom Ingram, on a quest through SMiddle earth.
I don't want to, and don't think I can give away much more than that. I highly encourage you to listen to this, the first part, in their adventure to save a poor, helpless virgin from the clutches of an evil dragon, and in the process liberate one village from am evil high priest and dark lord.
Again, here is a link to the page where you can find this podcast. You can also download it on iTUnes, but it is easy enough to either download directly from their site (or just stream it).
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Today, I went ahaed and tried my hand at the character generation mini-game that is the Classic Traveller character generation rules. Inspired by some of the other bloggers that are doing the same, and also providing comments on my last post, I decided that I would also try my hand at making a bit of a backstory as well.
The character started off pretty decently. His name is Andrew Ward. I got the following stats in my initial rolls:
Social Standing 4
So, just from starting out, Andrew seems kind of like the Intelligent, Well Educated Jock. Maybe he was a decently skilled quarterback during his early days, before traveling beginning his travels around the universe and joining...
My enlistment attempt succeeded and I was able to not only survive my first assignment, but was also commissioned and promoted. Andrew's early career looked pretty good. He initially picked up the following in his first skill acquisition, which added to Rifle 1 and SMG 1 that he gained from his rank.
1 Forward Observer
1 Vehicle (Wheeled Vehicle)
I imagine that he began his army career with a bang, getting promoted and leading a small squad of recon soldiers out of the back of a jeep. His education would be a vast help in dealing with command and his leadership skills made him a great group leader.
Andrew decided that the Army life was perfect for him, so he attempted reenlistment and was met with open arms. However, during his second term of service, he did not get a promotion. Ironically the reason for his lack of promotion during term 2 could be explained by the fact that on his first skill acquisition roll, he picked up Brawling 1 - perhaps a scuffle with a superior kept him held back this round.
But, Andrew was not to be kept down. He reenlisted again, survived, and this time, his leadership skills were well recognized. He was promoted to Major and acquired:
Andrew's career was beginning to look quite lustrious. He had done a lot in a very short amout of time. He continued this excellent track record into his 4th term of service, where he was again promoted to Lt. Colonel and picked up:
Blade Combat (Sword) 1
Getting on in years, and studying ancient battle plans for days at a time, Andrew began to experiment with the ancient fighting styles of Sun Tsu, the ancient Chinese Battle Tactician, Andrew even went as far as to pick up a Chinese Sword on the Black Market and begin training in it personally.
However, in Andrew's final term of service, he missed his chance at a promotion, but improved his leadership skill by 1. His troops loved him. But, Andrew was getting on in years and his somewhat bizarre tactical, and leadership style, meant that the top brass wasn't interested in keeping him around. Andrew failed to get into a 6th term.
Mustering out, Andrew received quite the benefits package - included were:
25,000 Credits (3 rolls on the Money Chart)
Gun SMG 1
In the end (or, I guess, the beginning) Andrew finished his service at the still young age of 38 (or 42, I am not quite sure how to read the chart). He aged farely well as well, only losing 1 point in each of his physical scores of all his service terms. His final character stats (before game starts) were
Education 13 (D)
Social Standing 4
Forward Observer 1
Wheeled Vehicle 1
Blade Combat Sword 1
I am really happy with how Lt. Colonel Andrew Ward turned out. His skills and his career path seem like they would make a very interesting character all around. I look forward to actually getting a chance to play Traveler. If I ever do, Andrew will have to be one of the characters that I try out.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Thanks to all the judges!
The free PDF of City Builder Architects will include:
All the basic rules for the game.
Character Creation Guide.
Guides for Buildings, NPCs, and Citizens.
Event and Item tables.
And... much, much more.
With any luck, I will be done with this before the big X'mas break here, but that might be pushing things considering my massive work load at the moment. I am going to need playtesters for the game, so If you are interested in joining my City Builder Playtest, I would love to get your comments on how the game plays out. Leave a comment in this post and I will add you to the Playtest. Playtests will have access to the setting specific versions of this game for free as they come out over the next year.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
follow me on Digg using the button at the top of this page.
Average Height: 7’1’”-7’5”
Average Weight: 350 – 450 lbs
Ability Scores: +2 Wisdom and +2 Charisma or Strength
Languages: Common, Uma
Skill Bonuses: +2 Nature +2 Insight
Exceptional Carrying Capacity: Uma have double the carrying capacity for creatures of the same strength and size. Multiply their base carrying capacity by 2 when determining their load.
Uma Weapon Proficiency: Uma are proficient in the use of all simple and martial spears as well as the lance.
Fortified Will: Uma have a +2 Bonus to will and Fortitude
Counter Kick: You have the Counter Kick racial power.
Counter Kick Uma Racial Power
Although the litte imp thought he could make a move from behind, he was gravely mistaken.
Immediate Interrupt * Melee
Whenever a creature which is equal to or less than your size, which is adjacent to you and to which you grant combat advantage targets you with a melee attack, you may immediately make the following attack against that target: Strength +4, Cha +4, or Wis +4 vs. AC; 1d6 damage and you push the target 1 square and knock it prone.
Monday, December 13, 2010
First of all, I have to say that I really like the look of the book. It does have a very classic feel (which makes sense since this is a classic game). I was also thrilled to find out that they actually have a set of solitaire rules inside the book (though I haven't found them yet). I had heard about the character generation process before trying it out, and that it can actually cause character death during the character generation process.
Well, they were right.
To put it quite simply, I made 2 characters following the rules to the letter, but foregoing the option that failing a survival check results in just a grave injury and taking the DEATH! result as a very serious one.
2 of my Marines died during character generation. It isn't a good time to be a marine apparently.
The third time around, I got some OK stats. After rolling, I picked up a decent Intelligence Score, but everything else was pretty average. So, I decided to see if I could become a Merchant. I was successful. I guess the best thing about this class is that both reenlistment and survival are both pretty easy checks to pass. I did pass them. Many, Many times. I made it to my 7th term of service actually (meaning that my character is now over the age of 45...), but the effects of aging were not kind to me, no, they were not kind at all.
I lost 5 Strength, 3 Dex, and 3 Endurance from aging. This was not pleasant. The skills I picked up thankfully helped to offset this a bit. I rolled primarily on the first chart, picking up some Strength, Dex, Endurance, and I also picked up the Skills: Steward, Vacc Suit, Streetwise, and Gunnery. I like the fact that I picked up Vacc Suit - That Combat Armor is looking quite nice right now... Unfortunately, the mustering out process was not very kind to me. I did get to roll 8 times (choosing to take 3 rolls on the cash, and 5 rolls on the benefits). I picked up only 26 K in Cr, and ended up with Low PsG twice, Blades Skills (with Broadswords) and an increase to education.
At this point, I am honestly not sure what half of this means, but I am pretty sure that I just generated a middle aged RPG Nerd who spent his life in space doing space walks and apparently not learning any relevant skills in the process. I think I will call him Ralph.
At least Ralph will be getting a nice bit of Retirement Pay.
I'll post up another character later when I get a chance to go through the whole process again. I find this terribly amusing since it is basically the total opposite of character creation in 4e. I will most likely try to get into the Marines again and die several times doing so.
Since I follow Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith on Twitter, I just got their Tweet that Crimson Mystical Mages, their own personal version of D&D has been podcasted at their SModcastle. I have been a really big fan of these guys for years. They consistently produce a very high quality podcast and I can't wait to get back to L.A. to go see them live.
I posted in the past that they had brought up D&D and MMORPG's in the past, but a lot of the time they make fun of it quite a bit... until recently. Jason Mewes has reported that he uses the D&D Character Builder quite a bit (we have yet to find out whether he still uses the Character Builder now that it has gone totally online...).
Several weeks ago, they decided that they were going to have to do their own D&D session ala Penny Arcade and the WotC crew, but they also decided that their game was going to have to come with the typical Jay & Silent Bob charm.
Well the day we have all been waiting for has finally come. The Crimson Mystical Mages Podcast is available for Download at SModcastle ( http://smodcast.com/livefromsmodcastle/). Here is the description of the podcast from their website:
CRIMSON MYSTICAL MAGES CHAPTER 1: The Adventures Of SMiddle Earth (as taken from the Journal of the Whills) - Dungeon SMaster Kev leads Scott Mosier, Jason Mewes and Malcolm Ingram into a world of sorcery and sodomy.
Like I mentioned at the top of this post. You can probably guess, just based on who is doing the podcast, that it won't be kid friendly, or something you want to listen to at work, but it is sure to be a barrel of funny for all of us RPG lovers. I haven't gotten a chance to listen to it yet, but you will be hearing my commentary on the podcast once they have it finished.
I have never played in a kitchen sink setting before, much less played in a game that uses a kitchen sink kind of rules set, so I didn't really know of the term until just recently.
But, the guys at RPG Circus continue to be a fantastic source of information around the web. They semi-frequently bring up the totally crazy game/setting RIFTS by Palladium Books. i have never had the chance to play this game, much less even pick up the book ( though I recognize the cover from my game shop days).
From the way this game sounds, I think it would be a LOT of fun to play a game like this. I really enjoy the blending of settings, styles, tropes, etc., and RIFTS sounds like it is a great mix of mecha, fantasy, and all other kinds of great gaming fun.
The other thing I realized is that I am trying to build a kitchen sink setting myself. I want to mix lots of different genres together, if for no other reason than being able to have the same characters jump between game styles and types of play every few months when we get tired of playing in a certain style. If all these different game elements are all contained within the same world, it makes it easy to keep track of characters and leveling and allow the same characters to have an extremely varied experience.
If you were to play a game like RIFTS using a game rules set like we see in 4e, would it be an enjoyable experience for you? Would you like that style of play? Interested parties await your response.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
At the outset, I hadn't really intended for this site to be completely concerned with 4th Edition D&D. However, that is exactly what it has become. I have been covering Wizards of the Coast and 4e almost exclusively over the last 2 years mostly because this is the only game that I have really had the chance to play recently.
Living in Japan doesn't really give me the chance to play too many different games, but I have finally convinced my wife to give some Role Playing a Try. However, I don't really anticipate any long campaigns to come out of this immidiately. What I have talked with her about is exploring a variety of new games and settings in order to find one that we can play together and enjoy. So... I now have an excuse to begin expanding my RPG collection.
Some of the games which I have picked up, or will be picking up in the near future include:
and lastly, L5R. L5R looks like it is going to be our starting point. The fact that my wife is Japanese, I live in Japan, and play games with my wife in Japanese, this just seems to be the logical starting point. I have the L5R Core Rule Book on order and I will be picking it up around Christmas when I make my annual trip back to the US. Now, I am going over the free RPG day adventures and quick start and I have to say, I am really impressed with the 4e style of the game. Can't wait to give it a try.
Look forward to a vast variety of new game coverage, news, and homebrew covering not only 4e, but also a variety of other sources as well.
Finally, as I am planning a fairly large expansion to this site, I am looking for other people who would like to join me in writing on any of these, or other games. If you would like to be a guest poster here, please e-mail me! you can find my contact information at the top of this page.
Thanks for your continuing support!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I think we get this in Dungeons and Dragons for the most part going back a long ways, but probably not so clearly stated. You usually see a strong alliance between the majority of humanoid races i.e. humans, elves, dwarfs, halflings, and even half-orcs. The rest of the world is pretty much on the other side of the wall and may or may not be all on the same side.
Sure, in D&D things are more complicated. Individual kingdoms have their own agendas, politics, blah blah blah. However, if the far realm were to invade the world, these kingdoms would probably put their problems behind them in order to fight off armies of Mind Flayers.
These racial alliances really boil down to factions. I want to establish these racial factions in my game to make it clear to the players and to people looking at the world, who likes and dislikes who, from a very wide and general point of view. If you look at L5R, you get this to some extent with each of the clans. Maybe it is a bit different in terms of flavor, but you can see these same Large scale alliance coming into the picture there.
The Lore of the World at this point stands with the various humanoid races at the center of the world aligned together for the last few millenia. The Beastfolk Noble Races were, at the beginning of this alliance, all united into one. However, What I want to see happening is having these beastfolk races gradually growing apart and warring against each other. The fracturing of the Beastial Alliance begins the factioning process and several factions (maybe 3 or 4 racial factions develop).
What do you think about my analysis of the factions idea and about how I would use it in my world?
Average Height: 5’8’”-6’2”
Average Weight: 300 – 400 lbs
Ability Scores: +2 Wisdom and +2 Strength or Constitution
Languages: Common, Inoshishi
Skill Bonuses: +2 Athletics +2 Endurance
Stubborn Mind: Inoshishi are not easily swayed from their own mental path. They gain a +2 Bonus to Will and have a +2 bonus to defense against charms.
Inoshishi Weapon Proficiency: Inoshishi are proficient with all simple and martial flails, clubs, and crossbows.
Close Charge: Inoshishi can use charge powers against enemies to which they are adjacent. If they do so, they push the target 1 square instead of moving.
Charging Boar Rage: You have the Charging Boar Rage racial power.
Charging Boar Rage Inoshishi Racial Power
Streaming with blood, the Inoshishi flies into a terrible rage goring everything it can.
Free Action when bloodied for the first time in an encounter.
When bloodied, the Inoshishi enters the Charging Boar Rage. While in the Charging Boar Rage, the Inoshishi gains a +1 bonus to damage on attacks that it uses when it charges and whenever it makes use of its close charge racial power, it pushes the target an additional square.
Level 11: The bonus damage increases to +2 and the target is pushed 2 additional squares.
Level 21: The bonus damage increases to +3 and the target is pushed an additional 3 squares.
Found this image online through google images. It is most likely (C) Blizzard. It is just a place holder until my own art is finished.
Friday, December 10, 2010
This week's post, in a very brief summary, introduces you (the reader) to the addiction that is world building.
Go give it a read.
All this really doesn't matter to my current campaign setting journal at hand.
One of the things I really like about WoW is the integration of technology into the system. Guns, Gizmos, Steam powered gadgets, magical machines, and even mecha all make an appearance in the game. But.... the game is definitely NOT steam punk.
So, what I have been thinking about is the integration of steam powered weapons, gizmos, etc., without entering into the Steam punk genre at all. In other words, if WoW can build a Punk-less Steam integrated universe, then I think just about any good role player or world builder could do the same thing.
Given this analysis, I really feel like my setting is leaning much more towards the WoW feel. The feel I have for the setting is more of a fantasy world with steam powered stuff populating it. I mentioned earlier in my post regarding Steam Punk and Cyber Punk that I was aiming for something in the middle of these two genres. Since my return to WoW, I think that I could easily put all kinds of steamy stuff into the world without turning it into a "Steam Punk" universe.
I really want to make the Mad Lands more of a Mad, Mad, Mad world kind of Mad Lands, then an upset and angry Mad Lands. I think that in doing something like this, I am more interested in making the game fun and whimsical (at least for the imagery) than in making the game world punk and edgy. I think I would put my setting more into the category of Fantasticaly, Steamy, Cybery Whimsy, than into any of these categories alone. This isn't to say that I want this setting to be funny; I just want it to be way over the top and filled with fun cool stuff and interesting stories, and some serious global plots.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
But, does it really matter that I don't get it? I don't really think so. It seems to me that when you get into playing a video game, you are able to suspend a lot of your sense of disbelief about the world. What you are seeing is what is there. If it weren't supposed to be there, it wouldn't be. When it comes to me playing WoW, I don't have any problem with the fact that a whole lot of settings, styles, and themes are all mashed together.
Becuase it is fun. I get a huge kick out of whatching a goblin parachute from a falling helicopter. I also get a huge kick out of summoning my vanity pet rocket-bot (which I think I got for Xmas one year). I do not however ask many questions about the world. I take it for what it is and I am grateful for that.
However, with role playing, and especially with games like D&D, the setting really matters. In order to develop a sense of immersion into the setting, I think a lot of people maintain that it is necessary for that setting to make sense. Players will question things that don't seem right. I believe everyone DM has had that moment where they have to think of an NPC name of the top of their head and come up with BoB the Half-Orc. This kind of extemporaneous NPC naming tends to ruin some people's gaming experience.
But, does it really have to?
If we are playing in a fantasy world, does the setting need to made perfect sense? With magic, or steampunk, or even cyberpunk elements, just about anything becomes possible. Is there really a need to explain how every little thing works, or, why every little thing is the way that it is?
If I want to throw some fantastic encounter on a flying city together and have the players go there, do I need to explain how the city is flying? why it is in this particular portion of the sky, or how it moves?
I don't think you should have to. This may just be my preference, but I don't really have a problem suspending disbelief even when it comes to Pen and Paper gaming. However, I don't really know how other people feel about this. What do you think? Does the setting need to make sense?