Saturday, August 1, 2015

#RPGaDay 1

So, lacking much in the way of content on this blog lately, I thought I'd try the RPGaDay blog challenge for August.  Here's the chart.


Day 1: RPG you are most looking forward to.

Tough one, because I'm so out of the loop on what RPG's are in the pipeline.  Star Wars: Force and Destiny from Fantasy Flight Games is due out, and I'm sort of interested in that, but I'm terrified that like practically every other iteration of a Star Wars RPG the inclusion of Jedi will break the damn thing.

And frankly, the FFG games are expensive and they are slowly releasing over three books what should have been in one: scoundrels, rebels, and Jedi.  Cough up $150+ for that, and have the funky dice mechanics?  I think I'm talking myself out of my own answer here.

I have the core D&D 5E rulebooks, and they are a fairly decent version of D&D.  If I don't like that version of D&D, I have Castles & Crusades.  If I don't want to do D&D, I have Dragon Age or Blade Raiders or a gazillion other games.  Supers games?  Got 'em.  A solid sci-fi game?  That's a trickier one, because it is such a broad spectrum in the genre, but there's Traveller or d6 Space or Alternity.

Honestly, what I wish would be released (which is not the question, nor is asked this month) is the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying sourcebooks for The Initative/Thunderbolts, the Young Avengers/Runaways, and Annihilation, all of which are alluded to in the Civil War sourcebook but have never seen the light of day.  And frankly, given how popular the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was, the Annihilation sourcebook could have dove-tailed into that nicely.

Friday, July 31, 2015

KantCon 2015 review and The Ultimate Hero

This will be a pretty short review, since I only made one afternoon session for this year's KantCon, a locally organized gaming convention in Kansas City.

One thing I like about KantCon is that you get a chance to meet some local gaming designers and some little-known games like the year I met the guys from Silver Gryphon Games and bought Ingenium and Aether.  This year I managed to get a spot at a table where two guys from Paragon Notion were running a demo of their game, The Ultimate Hero.

By the games' own description it "combines aspects of comic book heroes and science fiction."  On the comic book side it has mutations, psionics, and even magic.  On the science fiction side you have space travel, power armor, and cybernetics.  The PC's work for an organization called DOSHI (Department of Super Human Investigations), a para-military agency dedicated to policing superhuman threats.



The rules are pretty straightforward, generally a contested 2d6 roll modified by attribute and skill bonuses with damage handled by again rolling 2d6 and comparing the total on a chart to the damage step of the attack.  For example, rolling a 6 for a DS 2 weapon gets you 3 points of damage, while rolling an 11 would get you 6.  Rolling a 12 means you get a value plus an additional roll for more damage.

I don't want to get too into the review of the game given I've only played one playtest and skimmed the rulebook, but I will say this.  The game is fun.  It has that combination of gonzo sci-fi and genuine fondness for the game on the part of the game's creators that reminds me a lot of Rifts.  If you want to play a half-demon in power armor, or a vampire with cybernetics, or a bug-eyed alien with psionic abilities, you can do that.  While it isn't rules heavy per se, there is a lot in the way of crunch in the form of a gazillion powers, equipment options, and even extensive rules for vehicles.  I suspect that out there is some rules lawyer that could quickly ruin this game with optimal options for PC creation, but let's not even think about that guy and just enjoy the game for what it is.

I will say one critical thing: the game needs a new name.  It's too similar to the sourcebooks put out by HERO games (makers of Champions, Fantasy Hero, etc.) and I noticed a couple of people on DriveThruRPG being confused about that.  Plus the name doesn't really capture the feel of the game--it's too generic.  But that's a really small qualm, and it the creators like the name, they should go with it.  The whole game has that "we're doing what we like" feel anyways.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

In which I finally get a fantasy campaign I like

Okay, that's a little harsh.  I don't dislike running fantasy campaigns (that would be Adam from Barking Alien), I just have had a hard time getting really enthusiastic about fantasy campaigns because they all have fairly similar qualities for the most part: slaying monsters (sometimes for a reason), accumulating wealth, growing in personal power and ability.

I call it, using a phrase from the Order of the Stick webcomic, "kobolds and copper pieces."  It is an easy, straightforward concept, one that looks a lot like what a lot of people think D&D should look like.  It's also really boring.

Since January, I've been moving from one fantasy campaign style after another.  The Tomb of Abysthor, for example, was an old-school dungeon crawl.  Well, after the "Negative Crisis" I had some things to think about.  During that multi-universe adventure the tarrasque that forms the center of the D&D campaign city Grimfest made an appearance and was last seen floating through space above the city of Sigil.  Now in a comic book, a big cross-over event often ends up not doing much to the story continuity.  I had a decision to make--do I return the tarrasque to Grimfest and pick up where I left off, or do I have the tarrasque stay gone and extrapolate what happened?

So I decided to shake things up.  The tarrasque has gone, and now the Levirate Sublimity has lost their source of their power, magic, and longevity.  In the months that followed, the nobility of Grimfest would descend into chaos and factionalism.  Cabals would form, groups that are based around mutual self-interest that would attempt to steal others' tarrasque flesh while protecting their own.  Each group would attempt to boost their own power in different ways, trying to gain an edge over the others.  So far the PC's have met members of two factions.  The first is the Parliament of Bone, who reputedly are necromancers.  The second is the Children of the Third House, a group of diabolists.  They have heard of two others, the Puppeteers and the Ragpickers, but they know little about them.

Now my campaign feels like The Godfather or playing in Mordheim, or like the movie Yojimbo.  The group is now trying to figure out how to navigate the various groups, making and breaking alliances and trying to stay safe.  Plus, of course, three of the members know the most valuable secret in the city--the location of the tarrasque.

Finally, this campaign feels like something memorable, something different, and something I could keep playing for a while, and man does that feel good.
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