Friday, November 11, 2016

My next fantasy RPG campaign...maybe

So I've been tossing around ideas for the fantasy campaign I'd like to run after the current one is done.  This one still has a goodly number of sessions ahead but I like to play with game ideas and the sooner I decide the more prepared I will be when it's time.  I was thinking maybe a megadungeon.  I've never run one or played in one but the idea has always attracted me: What if you could explore all of the Mines of Moria?  Or maybe a big city campaign where all the action takes place in a sprawling metropolis with occasional side jaunts outside. Or something on the Astral Plane--that's a very cool setting--possibly combined with a "Fantasy Battlestar Galactia" concept, like the creative Last Fleet campaign Lowell Francis posted about on his Age of Ravens blog.

So many ideas...so little time.  Or...maybe I could do ALL OF THE ABOVE AT ONCE!

Okay, here's how it would go.  A long time ago a group of peoples were faced with the destruction of their home plane/planet by some vicious enemy.  They were able to build (or already had) special ships/mounts capable of carrying them to the Astral Plane and thus escaped.  But the enemy sent pursuers.  The survivor fleet fought and fled deep into the astral void, finally ending up at a immense floating tomb-like structure associated with a long-forgotten dead (or maybe not) deity.  For some reason the pursuers were afraid of the tomb/building and retreated, but today occasionally still send scouts.  The refugees found that the massive structure had bits they could mine/gather/harvest(?) to survive.  Eventually they found out the hard way that the tomb-thing contained lethal dangers.  The leaders finally forbade all from delving into the place so that no threats might be aroused or released.  Only the outer portions could be used for the activities upon which the community depended  Over time the old fleet ships were expanded, linked, and then increased in number by building additional ships/hulks. Later traders/explorers from distant parts of the Astral Plane discovered the community and some low-volume trade opened up, allowing them to prosper by selling the various rare products obtained from the outside of the tomb.

Today the fleet is a sprawling connected tangle of ships and other floating structures, some permanently connected and some not.  There is a lot going on in the "town" and outsiders occasionally visit.  Inside the tomb-thing is a megadungeon awaiting foolhardy adventurers, possibly multidimensional (like a Tardis) but definitely with a Deep Dark Secret buried deep within it.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Powered by the Max Galactica

Okay, so I'm still trying to come up with a concept for a science fiction game I'd actually be excited to run.  I recently bought Dungeon World and found the game mechanics very interesting.  Today I bought the original game, Apocalypse World, and started into it.  I'm finding I like the fresh take on gaming that the Powered by the Apocalypse games all seem to have.  Too many games out now are either later editions of "original" games or retro-renaissance retreads of one of those games.

Two campaign concepts which I think would work for a sci-fi campaign are either a Battlestar Galactica type game where a small fleet travels around fleeing and/or exploring or a space scavengers sort of game where they explore and loot their way through the dangerous locations of a devastated galaxy (basically a sci-fi take on dungeon crawls).  As I read through AW I noticed that a couple of the playbooks (character classes) include a set of followers for the character.  As first I thought it would be awkward to include a large community of NPCs but quickly realized it was perfect for a "wandering ragtag fleet" based game.  For instance, each player with a Hardholder character could design a ship which is home to their community, and each Chopper one for their gang.  A Maestro'd or Hocus character might have their own ship or be housed on another charancter's ship.  Or you could include one big main ship, maybe a former luxury space liner, with everyone on board in their own "neighborhood".  The Mad Max type post-apocalypse background setting of AW also contains a streak of psychic weirdness.  This lends itself well to a space scavenger game set in an area of space ravaged in the fairly recent past by some event which left behind things of horror and wonder.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Roll20 as a Platform for Game Fiction

So, it's been a while since I've posted and that's because I've been busy with various projects.  One of those is our game on Roll20 (using the Pathfinder rules), which went from every other week to now every week.  After we'd settled in to our characters some of the players began posting a bit of fiction from the point of view of their character after each session.  These are part session activity write-up but also part character development.  Some are very autobiographical, including flashbacks to important moments in the character's early life.  There is now as much going on in the write-ups/fiction posted in the game forum as there is in the actual live play sessions.  It is now difficult to keep up with what's going on in the game unless you follow the forums closely.  Our GM Kirk also frequently uses the game facilities to send us files with the content of dreams our characters have had, which we can then relate in-character during the next play session.

I'm pleasantly surprised by this new turn of events.  I assumed we would be using the forums solely for administrative items, much as I use the wiki for the campaign I'm running.  Oddly, given my earlier in-character session write-ups for another game, I have not participated much in this outburst of authoring.  I'm thinking it's partly because I'm not quite as invested in this character's personality but also because, as a very visual person, gaming via headset leaves me feeling less connected to the action.  I actually find the write-ups very useful for making sure I didn't miss anything.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Braille Dice from Kickstarter! (rather disappointing, actually)

Okay, so I backed an interesting Kickstarter for braille RPG dice a little while ago.  I was intrigued because I hadn't really thought about how a sight impaired person would play tabletop RPGs, given that at a minimum you need to read your character sheet and die roll results.  Even as a sighted person I often have to squint to make out the tiny numbers on my dice (yes, even with my bifocals, thanks for asking).  Producing play aids to bring people into the game is a great idea so I jumped into the project for one set of polyhedral dice.  I also got a free dice bag because the first goal unlocked.

I was excited when the dice finally arrived...then quite disappointed.  I'd read a couple postings from the project about poor quality dice which the project owners promised to replace.  I expected the dice to have a relatively rough finish due to the 3D printing process but it was a little rougher than I expected.  In addition, they decided to print the dice in two halves and glue them together by hand.  I'm not sure why they opted for a manufacturing process requiring the extra step of hand assembly instead of just printing the whole die as one--which I take to be to be a strong feature of 3D printing as a process.  The join line always went through at least one face of the die and usually ruined part of the braille dots.  The set I received would definitely need careful cleaning up with a small craft knife, rebuilding of some of the dots, and re-carving of a couple of the regular numbers.

Here are some photos of the set I got:



Saturday, August 27, 2016

Getting Some Attention (craft project)

Okay, so I realized recently that my role at work is very much like one of those quest-giver NPCs in World of Warcraft.  People come to me for a "quest" or to get some lore.  When they're done with their "quest" they turn it in and get another one.  So I joked that I really should have one of those big yellow exclamation marks over my head.

<lightbulb>

Well, why not?

So I went to the craft store, bought some styrofoam and dowels, and made a big yellow exclamation mark which now sits over my desk.  It's fun and provides an easy way for people to find me.

Make hole in hemisphere base, hot-glue wooden dowel

Cut tip off cone to make upper part of exclamation point

More hot glue to secure dowel better

Use cardboard tube to hold base with dowel in place for gluing and drying

Start tunnel in base of exclamation point upper with penknife


Continue tunneling with long screwdiver

Glue dowel into base of exclamation point upper

Use white glue to fill in gaps (bottom of exclamation mark)

Paint exclamation point yellow... 
..and keep adding coats of yellow until styrofoam doesn't show through any more


Paint stem black and base purple (eventually four coats)


Monday, August 22, 2016

Simple Weather for Gaming

One thing which helps immersion in gaming, including setting the mood or tone, is weather.  Some games don't really cover it, while others go into deep simulationist detail.  Recently, I decided I needed some weather tables for my Neo School Hack rules.  I wanted them to use either a d10 or a d12, because that's what Old School Hack uses, and I wanted them to be one-roll simple.

For me, I want weather tables to tell me two things: 1) does the weather impose any effects and 2) what is the general mood or tone for the day.  So I built these 1d10 tables for the four seasons of a generic northern hemisphere temperate zone, such as you'd use for a classic pseudo-European medieval fantasy game.  I think they'll work just as well for temperate North America and Asia.

Spring
  1. Breezy & Cool 
  2. Breezy & Cool
  3. Sunny & Nice
  4. Sunny & Nice
  5. Sunny & Nice
  6. Sunny & Hot
  7. Sunny & Hot
  8. Rainy
  9. Rainy
  10. Rainy & Thunderstorms

Summer
  1. Sunny & Nice
  2. Sunny &Nice
  3. Sunny & Hot
  4. Sunny & Hot
  5. Sunny & Hot
  6. Sunny & Very Hot
  7. Sunny & Very Hot
  8. Sunny & Very Hot
  9. Rainy & Hot
  10. Thunderstorms

Autumn
  1. Sunny & Nice
  2. Breezy & Cool
  3. Breezy & Cool
  4. Breezy & Cool
  5. Cloudy & Cool
  6. Breezy & Cold
  7. Breezy & Cold
  8. Cold & Rainy
  9. Cold & Rainy
  10. Cold & Dusting of Snow

Winter
  1. Sunny & Cold
  2. Sunny & Frigid
  3. Sunny & Frigid
  4. Sunny & Frigid
  5. Cloudy & Frigid
  6. Cloudy & Frigid
  7. Cold & Light Snow
  8. Cold & Light Snow
  9. Cold & Heavy Snow
  10. Blizzard

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Review: Call of Catthulhu, Book 1: the Nekomonicon

It finally arrived!  I say finally because back in early June by friend Bill got me Call of Catthulhu as a birthday gift (because he that sort of awesome dude) on RPGnow.  But then...nothing happened.  It just sort of disappeared into cyberspace.  Happily it recently reappeared and I eagerly dived in.

Catthulhu is a very rules-light game where you play ordinary cats (well, if any cat can ever really be called "ordinary") having adventures opposing the forces of Lovecraftian wrongness.  The GM is called the Cat Herder, which is perfect (or should I say purrfect?).  There are five roles (classes): Catcrobat, Pussyfoot, Scrapper, Tiger Dreamer, and Twofootologist.  These roles are combined with a Breed and a Tale.  Breed is whether your cat is feral, a house cat, or a show cat.  Each combination of the five roles and three breeds as a couple background tales or stories to choose from.  For instance a Pussyfoot/Feral could have the background of Pitiful Beggar or Friend to All. These stories add talents to your cat.  For instance, a Friend to All will "make a circuit of many associates, from fellow street cats to friendly restaurant workers to house cats in windows to kindly old ladies.  A saucer of milk here, a place to sleep in a catpile there, some choice scraps and life works our pretty well for this free spirit."

The mechanic is very simple, basically rolling 2d6 and seeing how many successes (roll of 3 to 6) you get.  Apparently there was a boxed set with "cat dice" where the 1 and 2 sides are each a sad cat face and the 3 to 6 sides are happy cat faces.  The difficulty of the task determines how many happy cats you need, plus there are some special situations involving an extra die, etc.  Injuries are a simple three-level model with injured, badly injured, and dying--and, of course, you do get Nine Lives.

There are two other books which go with this 40-page basic book.  I haven't read them (yet) but from the descriptions you'd probably need at least the GM book to run a game.  The third book is a selection of settings from vikings to spaceships.

Bottom line: this is a fun game, but you might need at least one other book to play.