Three month gap

So it’s been almost three months since my last blog post. I’m really terrible at keeping these things going sometimes.
I am resolving to kick this back into gear though.

So, what’s going on?

Playing through the Lost Mines of Phandelvar adventure for D&D 5E with my usual group. And I’m PLAYING, not DMing, which is great.
Morn Silverhand, War Cleric of Lludd is great fun so far. We’ve just hit level 4. I think I’d like to play the Rise of Tiamat campaign too, maybe as a Rogue Assassin or Bard of the College of Valour. I liked the look of those two.

I’ve started using Scrivener to write out my setting. I’m surprised I wasn’t using it before. It basically functions in exactly the same way as I write, but all neatly together in one place, rather than me constantly switching windows, which gets tedious!

As such, I’ve started a real re-write, cutting out unnecessary stuff, hauling it in to be more tight. If I really want to expand or waffle, I can do that later. For now, short, concise, to-the-point is my aim.
I’ve almost finished redoing the history section, the gods is a work-in-progress and I have the magic section starting to write away in my head. I’m hoping to get a chunk of it down and squared away by the end of the Easter weekend, given I have four days off from work and the house to myself for two of those.

Once this post is up and online, I’m going to try and start work on a D&D 5E post, focussing on a few ideas for a Norse-inspired setting. Most of it is already done and in the rules for 5E, but I sat down one day a few weeks ago and played around with class renames, race re-skins and stuff like that.

I started trying to convert the Old Crown to 5E too, but I think I’ll wait until I’ve done a bit more work on it and played a bit more of D&D before I tackle that one!

I’ve also got a post-apocalyptic idea going, semi-inspired by listening to the Godsfall 5E podcast on my commute to work, and partly from an old setting I did way back in 3E. I never got very far with it for my players, but I had some ideas that I would probably carry over.

What else? Umm…
I started a new game of Mass Effect on my Xbox. I finished it once, years ago, but then ended up losing that hard drive and restarting again a few years later. I’ve never gotten around to finishing it again. And this time I want to because I want to re-familiarise myself with the game and setting before I start Mass Effect 2, which I finally bought a copy of.
I know, I’m ridiculously behind the times.
It’s made me read up on the game conversions people have done though. There’s a FATE version knocking around that people seem to enjoy, and I found a D6 version too, but I’ve not had a chance to look at the rules for that yet.
I’ve always really liked the setting and wanted to try an RPG session or two in it. Hopefully I’ll get around to it at some point.

And I’ll leave you there and crack on with some other stuff. More soon!

Cortex Plus Old Crown pt. 1

I’ve been pretty quiet for a while. I had a series of posts planned out, but then when one didn’t post and I lost it, I got a little behind schedule.
I’m going to try and catch up in the next few days, so I can start the new year on a high!

Speaking of which, I think I’ve gotten some positive results out of reading through the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide.
I’ve gotten through the Action rules, based on the Leverage RPG, I’ve gotten through the Drama rules, based on the Smallville RPG (best link to the product I found, sadly), and now I’m working my way through the Heroic Fantasy rules, based in large part on the Marvel Heroic RPG.

So far, I think I don’t like the Marvel rules so much. They just don’t fit the social aspect of my Old Crown setting as well. I went back to the Action rules and made a D&D-style hack using the six core stats (though I started with eight and then condensed, then realised how they matched up and felt bad about it). I wasn’t too pleased with that either.
I’ve also been hunting around the web and managed to find a few ideas I liked too.

So here’s the state of the current pool. Criticism welcomed, of course.

The basic roll is always two dice. These are drawn from the Drive and Method Traits.
Drive is pulled from the Smallville game, where each roll revolves around Love, Justice or Truth or something similar. I’m finalising the actual stats now but so far I’m using Bravery, Duty, Justice, Knowledge, Loyalty and Renown. They represent WHAT GOAL the character is acting upon.
Method is a lift from the Sword and Sorcery hack of Cortex Plus by Dain Lybarger. In his hack they’re known as ‘Means’ and are a re-flavour of the Affiliations used in Marvel Heroic. I might re-skin them myself, but for now they’re still Steel, Guile and Lore (Force, Subtlety and Logic maybe?). They represent HOW the character acts.

From there, the dice pool can be pulled from a few more areas.
Race, Distinctions, Career and Resources can all be added in.

Race is a single die, and should only be applicable in certain circumstances. I’m also allowing it as a method of earning Plot Points and to spend them for a specific benefit.
So, RACE: Static modifier OR gain a plot point OR spend a plot point for a specific moment.

Distinctions
I’m using these in a similar vein to the FATE Aspects. Chracters have three of them.
They are cool things about your character that make them distinct.
DISTINCTION either grants a d8, or a d4 and a Plot Point.

The Career is another lift from Dain Lybarger. They function in the same way as Specialties in Marvel Heroic, I think.
I liked them because they gave me the flavours of all the training and connections a character would gain over a lifetime.
Only one CAREER can be added per roll, unless a Plot Point is spent in the usual way to include another die.

Resources refer to Signature Assets (possessions, locations, magical ability, faithful servants etc) as well as any temporary assets created with plot points, the unfolding plot, or the GM rolling 1s.
They are only worth 1d4 if temporary, 1d6 if created with a plot point but still remain temporary, and 1d6 but permanent as a Signature Asset.

Stress tracks are currently
Emotion (anger, fear etc)
Fatigue
Injury
Social Standing (reputation, embarassment etc)
Wealth

I’m using a Trouble pool of the GM and a Growth pool for players currently, as I preferred them to the XP system. I’m going to make a decision on that once I’ve had a bit of a play/finished reading everything though.

And that’s it so far. I’m going to have another read of the Firefly game, and maybe try and find my digital copy of the Supernatural game I got free from DriveThruRPG at Halloween a few years ago. See if any other details fall out.

Missing due to emigration

I’ve been out of the loop for a while. Terrible I know, but I was a bit busy emigrating to Ireland.
I’m still technically without internet, but I can obviously borrow it occasionally. So, what’s going on with me recently?

It looks like someone out there keeps checking back on this page every few days. That, or my posts are being read at random. I’m fine with either.

I’ve been looking again at my 1001 Nights-inspired setting again. It was made for a FATE game, and no doubt I’ll have a fiddle with it with the new version of FATE Core, but I think I’m going to have a look at how to fit it to other systems too. D&D is probably pretty likely.

I had a couple of ideas for a setting where the Moon has conquered and slain the Sun itself, so that the world exists in a constant night. Everything else is sort of normal, because magic.
More on that soon. There’s also some miles-high towers of precious stone too. I need to work that out properly really.

I’ve been reading through Burning Wheel. I really like the system, although I’m now at the stage where I think it’s getting more complicated. But I can see a good few games that I would love to run or play in that system.

My biggest problem at the moment is going to be finding players and games. According to any sources I can find, there just aren’t any hereabouts. The local game shop closed down December 2011, there just doesn’t seem to be demand for anything like it.
I have a couple of people I might be able to persuade into it, apparently. However, I’ve not actually met either of them. The next closest person that would definitely be interested lives roughly an hour away.
Ah well.

What happened in November?

OK, I’ve been dark for a month, so about time I picked this up again really.

I’ve been a little preoccupied with other things: a job in a nightclub, my godfather’s civil ceremony, a whole heap of trimming my life down a bit and finding the stuff I need to do and when. Etc etc.

My fantasy setting is still shaping up. I haven’t touched it in a little while. Maybe that year’s end goal was far too lofty, but I intend to get it done ASAP.
I managed to play for an evening in it, and added a bit to the setting overview that I’m happy with. It was only a few hours, and not the most outlandish game, but it helped.

That game was also powered by my NaGaDeMon rules, which were so good I may actually write up how to play the setting using them.
No combat though, so would still have to give that a quick test run.

I should probably describe the NaGaDeMon rules.
Players pick 3 traits – usually these are racial or a role or a motivation or an affiliation.
Players pick skills – I used a pyramid made of 10 points, 1 level 3 skill, 2 level 2 skills and 3 level 1 skills. Dice rolls are a number of d6s equal to the skill level. Success on 4, 5 and 6.
Everyone starts a session with 1 bonus point, and can earn more via good roleplay or pulling off something against the odds (rolling lots of successes or multiple 6s, still not clarified). Bonus points can be spent to ignore a dice roll and barely scrape by in succeeding, or to make dice succeed on a 3+. You can only drop difficulties if a character trait would help – the quick playtest had a plant person dropping the difficulty on a botany roll.
Without a skill, roll 1d6, success only on a 6, bonus points can’t be used/earned.

Standard health of 10hp, race tends to be the modifier – Lizardfolk scales act as a natural armour, lowering damage dealt, Wildfolk healed faster. Giantkin will likely have more hp but are a bigger and easier to damage, so I suppose 12hp would be fair.

Bonus points not spent count as extra experience points at the end of a session.

And the beauty of that system is it can be transferred pretty easily to other settings.

What else have I got on my mind?
I’m still thinking about the Legend of the 5 Rings game I have in my head, the characters at a wedding, the little intrigues I could enact on people. How exactly it would work out I’m not sure, but if I get a chance to run it I’ll report back.

I’ve been getting my hands on some history books and stuff recently, for purposes of reference. I have a feeling a lot more ideas will start to bubble over in the next few months, if I actually manage to get them read!

Hopefully going back to some regular updates soon.

Adapting the Malazan World

I’ve taken my time in actually reading them, but Steven Erikson‘s Malazan Book of the Fallen series and Ian C. Esslemont‘s Tales of the Malazan Empire are a great series of books.
I’m not finished with Erikson’s 10 novel saga, or with Esslemont’s 5 novels (the fifth due out in November), but I really enjoy their setting, and especially the fact that it morphed out of their own D&D and GURPS games.

The novels present a gritty world, with plots and betrayals, and ascended demi-gods, and a unique flavour to the magic and how it works, and undead Neanderthal warriors, and shape-shifting packs of wolves and all kinds of other fun that I don’t need to get into. Instead, you should go read them all!

Anyway, long story short, I want to go and visit, so I’ve been thinking about how to adapt my rules system to fit, and I think it works well enough, providing the setting itself is adequately explained.
Having access to a Warren is what lets a person use magic, and whilst some characters have access to several, rarely do they have mastery of more than one (Quick Ben is an exception, but he has a loophole).

So it seems that a Mage’s abilities might list traits like Warren of Rashan, or skills like Travel by Warren. In more powerful cases, they might have Magi of High House Shadow, although that puts their power level a bit higher.
A character could work towards ascendancy, or wander the landscape with an item invested by some warren or god (perhaps having somehow gotten hold of a T’lan Imass weapon). It all seems to work reasonably well. I think it needs some heavy stress testing though.

I’ll keep everyone informed of my progress!

Additional Rules for Noble Houses

The other day, I had a brief conversation with a friend working on some noble families for a fantasy setting.
Whilst she had been looking at developing them with the Song of Ice and Fire RPG, she mentioned using my rules to play the actual game.

However.

I think there’s plenty of scope in there to adapt the rules for a game involving noble houses (or any organisation- a guild, the town guard, monastic orders, superhero team, government agency, and so on).
Each house could have it’s own traits, skills and possessions that characterize it, and the characters could substitute these for their own on an important dice roll (perhaps by spending a spin point).
I think that the characters would have to reflect the traits of their house in order to substitute them like that though – they’d have to each have one of the traits or skills listed, though not necessarily the same ones.

Alternatively, the houses could be formed and fight against each other, or work in concert, like a wargame. But I’ll have to explore that option a bit further.

More ideas clamouring for attention

So here’s a little overview of what’s currently bubbling in my head:

A game set in a world where the Roswell Incident was the site of Earth’s first extraterrestrial encounter, not a crash. Ship landed, aliens surveyed and encountered locals, contacted mothership and decided to stay. It is now the 70s or 80s (or now, not really decided). Something like District 13 meets Blaxploitation meets Alien Nation (with some Space Precinct thrown in for fun).

Roman Pathfinder, as mentioned in my last post, nominally called Republic. Still working out the kinks with different races and stuff.

A hard sci-fi game has popped up and is bubbling away, though I don’t know if anything worth talking about will come of it. It’s nothing special, just something I think would be fun.

A game centred around a Barony, or group of Baronies. Something like Game of Thrones, so I may just look at Song of Ice and Fire and hope. It’s mostly just a warcry of ‘For the Baronies!’ at present.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the old Cyberpunk game I played a lot of (but haven’t for about a year now). It was a hack together by a friend of the old World of Darkness system, as well as the Cyberpunk 2020 rules. He was calling it everything from Farpunk to just Punk, given his other groups had managed to get lost in space. I think really I want to resolve what was happening when we finished the session: I had been given a secret task, and then during play it became apparent I had to issue a ‘GO!’ order in front of other players. My mission: full-scale attack on a school for potentially psionic children. One of the group’s characters was also on the grounds at the time, and it became a race for the other players to stop the attack, whilst I tried to make sure they never made it.
Did I mention I was a crimelord and everyone else was a cop? Fun times.