Wednesday, August 1, 2018

RPG A Day 2018 - Day One

So it's been a while since I've written in this blog. Life has been pretty dynamic these past 6 months. I got hired by Fantasy Flight Games as a freelance writer for a yet-to-be-announced product. I packed up my life and sold my home, and have been living in a close friend's basement guest room since April. My transient status and lack of real grounding home led to my creative energies being mostly non-existent, and greatly affected my ability to write, create, and run games. Still, I soldiered on an can state happily that I have found a new apartment, it's awesome beyond what I could have hoped for, and believe that this will lead to many good things to come.

I also got hired by FFG for another assignment, and am working on that for the bulk of August.

To keep my gaming writing fresh and my creative mind flowing, I'm going to do this year's RPG A Day challenge, as I did last year. The rules are simple; write about the daily topic. Now since I'm leaving for GenCon today, I'm going to be sporadic with this first week's posts. Normally I'd write them in advance, but recall me mentioning that writing gig from FFG? Likely that will consume most of my downtime onboard the aircraft out and back from GenCon. I've got a deadline, after all...

Anyway, here's Day One:
What do you love about RPGs?
As a Gamemaster, I love the communal creative process. I love coming up with the bare bones of a story, the general overarching idea of the plotline to a grand campaign, and then getting 4-6 friends together to flesh it out. I love challenging my players and seeing what creative ways they come up with to resolve the challenge. I love the stories that come out of them, that are told years and even decades later.

As a player, I love being something I'm not. I often play races as far from human as I can possibly get. I love putting classes or archetypes together in different combinations to see if I can get them to work and be effective. I love the challenge of assuming the role of someone "not me" for hours or even days at a time, and getting so into the role that they surprise me with how they respond to a situation (often in ways that Phil would not).

I've enjoyed this hobby for over 25 years, and I'm hopefully going to enjoy it for another 25. Maybe we'll get to sit together at the same table and make some memories.

See you in Indianapolis, Plano, or an internet galaxy far, far away.

May the dice be with you.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fallout Genesys - The Institute

Image (c) Bethesda Softworks 2015

We're back with another "DLC" update to my Fallout Theme for the Genesys Role Playing System!

One of the major protagonists in the Commonwealth is the secretive and scientifically advanced Institute. Built from the ashes of the Commonwealth Institute of Technology, the Institute has been around for hundreds of years, advancing technology well beyond anything thought possible even before the Great War that destroyed much of human civilization. This update includes a general description of the faction, some of their weapons and armor, and a smattering of Adversaries. Also, you'll find rules for playing Generation 3 Synths in the Fallout wastelands, either as a spy for the Institute or as a run-away. If you're on the run, be careful of Coursers from the Synth Retention Bureau, they're on your trail and are among the more dangerous adversaries out in the wastes...

You can find a copy of the Institute DLC here or as part of the overall theme document, linked above.

Now, the DLC has basic stats for playing a Synth, but some players and GMs might be concerned about using those stats, especially if they're trying to keep the fact that the player is a synth secret. The GM might even want the player to be unaware that they're a synth, and play it like the Fallout 4 characters [REDACTED], [REDACTED], or even [REDACTED]. If you wish to do that, simply use the stats for any of the human archetypes presented in the core rulebook. There's no reason to think that the Institute couldn't make a synthetic human with those qualities instead of those of the traditional Gen 3 synth, and it allows you to surprise the other PCs (or even that character's player) with the fact that they are a synth.

I seem to be on a roll with these DLC updates for Fallout. I've had some requests for more adversaries, but I think I really want to get one of the beefier and potentially more fun updates rolling; salvaging, scrapping, and crafting. Once I present rules for that, they'll be incorporated into the rules for creating and managing your own settlements in the wastes.

More juicy bits of web goodness are coming, folks. Until then, go scare a PC by pitting them against a Courser.

May the dice be with you.

Image (c) Bethesda Softworks 2015

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Fallout Genesys - Talents and Perks

Image (c) Bethesda Softworks

It's time for another update to my Fallout Theme. Perks have been a staple of Fallout games since the beginning, neat character choices that provide additional bonuses to your character beyond their skill selection. These Perks nearly perfectly align with Talents in the Genesys setting, so it seems like a natural fit to create appropriate Talents from several of these Perks.

Here are the new Talents ready for use in your Fallout themed Genesys games. 

They are now included at the end of the compiled Fallout theme setting document, available in it's entirety here.

There are several adversaries I need to work on, and a few missing melee weapons that should be added in to the theme, but I know folks out there are starting to play in this theme, and felt that these Talents would add some neat character choices to those playing in the setting.

More gaming goodness to follow!

May the dice be with you.

Image (c) Bethesda Softworks

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Anomaly - Updated Timelines

Image (c) Rockfish Games

I've been suffering from a bit of a writing block of late; well, maybe it's more of a writing slump. I'm juggling two (well, technically three) Star Wars campaigns currently and I'm not happy with the results of my adventure writing. I look at what I get down for session notes and I get hit with a feeling of "this isn't Star Wars enough." There are a lot of things that could be factoring into my creative difficulties; they'll get worked through in time, meanwhile I've got a couple sessions coming up in the next few weeks that deserve my best.

I'm just not sure they're going to get it.

So what should I do; keep throwing words at the screen and home that something magical appears? Take a break from Star Wars? Stop gaming all together?

Hey, let's not talk crazy here; it's writer's block, not cancer (not this time, anyway). 

Still, a break from Star Wars might be in order. I've been running Star Wars campaigns exclusively for the last ten years, at least. Not including a few one-shot endeavors into alternate settings such as Fallout, Harry Potter, and City of Heroes, all of my storytelling has been in the galaxy far, far away, and why not? I'm good at it, it's what I'm most known for, but after a decade of slamming Star Wars stories down on the table week after week and month after month, it may be time to shift gears and do something else for a while. I know I've got a Fallout campaign in me, and it might finally be time to get my Anomaly setting off the ground.

Prompted by a friend of mine, I've gone back and reread my notes for the setting. Originally called "Trinary", I worked on it in October of 2016 as part of the "30 Days of World Building" exercise. I was fairly pleased with much of what I wrote, and feel it's a good place to start. Last September I wrote a few updates (which are now listed as Adventure Logs on the ObPortal site). I've been tweaking the historical timeline based on those two posts, as well as updating some of the names. 

CS -112: Drachon warships begin to raid Garden worlds, beginning the Garden Conflicts
CS -111: Republic of Kel forces clash with ships from the Granos Territories while pursuing Drachon raiders.
CS -109: Allef Domains invades and conquers thee worlds in the N'guli Empire. Armies of the Uranar Reaches engage the forces of the Narasheem Concordat
CS -92: Mineral deposits discovered in the Giant Nebula, prospectors and corporations rush to stake claims and secure them for their respective empires.
CS -86: Giant Nebula prospectors fight corporations over mining claims, escalates into open conflict. Because of cutthroat practices and lawlessness of the region, becomes known as The Blood Nebula.
CS -84: Destruction of Tasaran City in the Narasheem Concordat by the Granos; loss of life 120,000.
CS -82: Corporations begin physically removing asteroids and stellar debris from the Blood Nebula for mining at facilities within nearby systems. Prospectors begin arming mining ships to prevent or raid these mineral convoys. First Blood Nebula Pirate Gangs appear.
CS -70: Battle of Tovar; Republic warships, led by Admiral Karlson Hask, engage the combined forces of the Granos Territories and the Allef Domains. Republic wins the engagement, destroying 2,300 enemy ships while losing 793 of their own. Fallout from the engagement causes the Territories to go to war with the Domains.
CS -38: Unarar first deploy Gesalin Gas on the Republic city of Iasalo, killing 84,000 humans.
CS -37: Republic of Kel, Narasheem Concordat, and the Granos Territories form a non-aggression treaty and begin to attack the Uranar Reaches.
CS -22: Drachon's Infernus Clan raiders destroys the city of Zabross on Kel, killing 65,000 humans and injuring tens of thousands more. Zabross is reduced to rubble.
CS -21: 500 raiders from Drachon's Arctus Clan seize the nesting broods in the N'guli city of Kakarakas and use them as bait to fight the best warriors of the N'guli. They hold out for 16 days. The nesting brood complex is destroyed by the last few surviving Drachon; almost an entire generation of N'guli are lost (320,000 N'guli eggs)
CS -19: In response to the growing threat of the Drachon clans, the Republic, Granos, and Narasheem form the StarCorps; the first multi-national military force with a dedicated purpose of stopping the raids by the Drachon Clans.
CS -14: Allef Domains being to suffer significant losses to the N'guli Reaches, losing every world they had conquered over the decades and many of their colony worlds as well.
CS -12: Allef homeworld suffers a catastrophic extinction-level-event while being invaded. The Allef used a Gravity Singularity Bomb to destroy the N'guli fleet massing in orbit, but the experimental weapon interacts with the jump field of an incoming N'guli command ship. The resulting singularity annihilates 60% of the planet’s core mass.  Allef begins to shake itself apart as it bleeds off it's remaining atmosphere. News of the planet's destruction shakes every Garden nation to their core. Rescue ships from every nation arrive in Allef space to try and save as many lives as they can. Even with the unified assistance, only 0.3% of total Allef population survives, either rescued before the remains of Allef shook itself apart or were off-world at time of event.
CS -10 (0 AE): The destruction of the Allef homeworld ends the Garden Conflicts and prompts the nations to begin to negotiate for peace. After months of debate and compromise, the League of Allied Worlds is formed. All nations except the Drachon Clans join the Union. All invitations by the League to the Clans are rebuked.
CS -9 (1 AE): Membership in the StarCorps expanded to all League member worlds. StarCorps is now tasked with interstellar peacekeeping as well as their previous role of defense against Drachon raiders.
CS -8 (2 AE): After several months without finding new mineral sources, the last of the Blood Nebula mining corporations folds. Mining operations within the Blood Nebula cease. The Blood Nebula pirate gangs begin to raid convoys in nearby systems.
CS -4 (6 AE): Citizens of the planet Danal vote to leave the League, but the motion denied by League Council (and the Republic of Kel). Danal's exclusive source ku'jai (an animal who's excrement is a super-charger for jump drives) makes them too important a world for the League to lose. The denial leads to weeks of riots and eventually armed uprising by the populace against League interests on Danal.  Revolutionary War of Danal begins.
CS -2 (8 AE): After two years of brutal warfare, the Revolutionary War of Danal ends with the capture and public execution of the rebel leaders. Danal is now a world under martial law and controlled by a military governor. Collection and distribution of ku'jai excrement is overseen by the League Military.
CS -1 (9 AE): First non-human Prime elected in the League; Aararastavos of the Narasheem Concordat. Primary Aararastavos vows to stabilize the League, end the raids by the Drachon clans, and bring peace to the Stellar Garden. In response, the Drachon clans step up their attacks on N'guli, Republic, and Granos worlds.
CS 0 (10 AE): Campaign starts
I'm fairly pleased with this timeline. There are plenty of gaps where I can fill in more information at a later date, but there's enough here to give readers (and players) an idea of what the galactic situation is. I want the League to be new and unstable; there are factions within it that want the League to work, but there are also factions with long, bitter memories that long to finally defeat their hated foes. PCs are likely to be contacted by several factions and empires throughout a campaign, and they get to choose to help them, hinder them, or fight them.

And then we throw the Bathal Host in on top of that and watch chaos ensue.

I really need to make a better stellar map, something that's easier to read and defines where all these empires are. I also need to come up with a "player's guide"; something that details all the information players need to make characters that fit into the world. I suppose the PCs could be StarCorps, but that's too limiting for my initial game. Maybe if one or two PCs are StarCorps, that could be fun. They'd be compelled to investigate any alerts for Drakon Raiders in their area. But what about the other PCs; they need a reason to come together. Possibly salvagers, or explorers; there are still uncharted planets out there that need surveying for mining or colonization. An independent crew could make some serious coin if they find another "garden world" where a colony could thrive, or one so filled with mineral rights that they could retire on their own moon.

Yeah, I think that might be a place to start. Let's see where this goes.

Game on, people.

May the dice be with you.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Down and Out in Paragon City

After several aborted attempts, I'm finally making some headway on my City of Heroes theme for Genesys. For those who have forgotten, I've been working on a CoH theme for a couple months now. At first I was thinking of just using the Magic rules for Super Powers, but that ended up being too limiting. I've settled on a progressive power path or tree for each power in the game. It's going to be a long process, as each hero can have two super power sets (Primary and Secondary) and each Power Set is a 7-step build tree in and of itself. When this theme "launches", I might not be able to have all the "core" power sets done, but I'll at least have enough to play the game.

That being said, it's seemingly going well. I'm working on power sets for the 6 heroes who will be the PCs in the module I'm writing for GamernationCon 5. After that I will give it my all to map out the power sets for all archetypes as of "Issue 1" (the version of the game at game launch). The theme will be available to backers of the GNC 5 kickstarter first (which was in October), then made available to the public sometime in late 2018.

Here's a preview for all you Tankers out there...

Invulnerability (Primary Power Set)
  • Resist Physical Damage - Perform the Resist maneuver, character increases their Soak by 1 until the end of their next turn. If this power is active at the beginning of their turn, the character can maintain this power by spending 1 strain, which extends the effects of this power until the end of their next turn. Psionic damage ignores this increase to Soak.
  • Increase Strength (x3): Increase Soak gained from Resist Physical Damage by +1
  • Dull Pain - Spend a story point to heal an amount of wounds equal to character’s ranks in Power (a new skill)
  • Unyielding - Immune to Knockdown while Resist Physical Damage is in effect. Additionally; may spend 2 Strain as a maneuver to end any Disorient, Immobilize, or Stagger effects currently affecting the character.
  • Unstoppable - Once per encounter as an Incidental action, character can render themselves immune to Pierce and Breach effects for 2 turns. During this time they also ignore the effects of any Critical Injuries they have.
Energy Melee (Secondary Power Set)
  • Energy Punch - The character gains the following attack: Brawl, Damage +1, Range (Engaged), Crit 4, Disorient 1
  • Increase Strength (x2) - Energy Punch damage increased by +1
  • Increase Magnitude (x2) - Energy Punch Disorient increased by +1
  • Stun - Character may choose to add the Stunning Damage quality to Energy Punch.
  • Whirling Hands - Spend a maneuver to add Blast to next Energy Punch, with a rating equal to the character’s ranks in Power.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Fallout Genesys - Chems and Radiation Healing Rules Now Available

Hey Wastelanders! My rules for Radiation Healing and Chems are now available on the D20Radio site! 

A full article will be up on the D20 Radio blog in a few days, but for those who follow me here the content is available for you now.

Enjoy, keep that rad-count down, and watch out for chem addiction!

And for anyone who needs it, you can find the original Fallout Theme document here!

May the dice be with you.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fallout Genesys - Chems, Radiation, and Perks

I've been working on several projects for Genesys lately (in between the usual insanity of the holiday season). Most of them are for Fallout, but some are for my City of Heroes theme, as well as the Wizarding World module I'll be running at GamernationCon 5 in April. For Fallout, I've done some work on Chems, finally wrote up the rules to heal radiation damage with the Medicine skill, and started to outline some new talents tht are taken from Fallout 4's Perks list.

The Chems document is done, sort of. I'm basically considering them a Beta test, as I'm not really certain how some of them are going to play out. The most well-known chems are in the document; Buffout, Jet, Med-X, Mentats, Psycho, and Rad-X. I haven't gone into the extensive list of chems in  Fallout 4 quite yet, because I need to see how these basic ones play out in the game. I'm most curious/concerned with Jet...
Using Jet will grant the character an extra turn at the end of the round. This additional turn does not count as the character's next turn for the purposes of talents and effects. 
I'm worried this could be game breaking, but it might not be depending on how easy Jet is to obtain. Also there are some pretty heavy side effects to being addicted to chems. Jet in particular has some nasty ones when not affected by Jet
Characters addicted to Jet increase the strain cost of any non-free maneuver by +1 and suffer a setback die to all Agility checks when not under the effects of Jet.
I'm hoping that the downside and one-shot nature makes chems useful in certain situations, but not game breaking. Feedback will be necessary and updates may occur.

The Chems document and the Healing Radiation rules are published and ready to go, and should be up on shortly. In the meantime, I'm looking at making some new talents with names and effects inspired by the Perks list from Fallout 4. Thus far, here's what I'm looking at:
  • Iron Fist - Bonus Brawl Damage (Ranked)
  • Big Leagues - Bonus Melee Damage (Ranked)
  • Heavy Gunner - Add Stagger to Gunnery checks
  • Strong Back - Increase Encumbrance Threshold (Ranked)
  • Pain Train - Bonus brawling damage while in Power Armor when moving
  • Demolition Expert - Bonus damage with Blast weapons
  • Sniper - “Sniper Shot” from Star Wars RPG
  • Penetrator - Maneuver to add Pierce to an attack. (Ranked)
  • Chem Resistant - Upgrade Resilience checks to avoid Addiction once
  • Rad Resistant - Reduce Radiation damage from all sources by 1 (Ranked)
  • Medic - Improved use from Stimpacks and RadAway
  • Gunslinger - Bonus Ranged (Light) damage (Ranked)
  • Rifleman - Bonus Ranged (Heavy) damage (Ranked)
  • Commando - Maneuver to remove the increase difficulty from Autofire attacks
  • Blitz - Make melee attacks against targets at Short range
  • Bloody Mess - ????
  • Better Criticals - Bonus to Crit Rolls (Ranked)

I love the idea of Bloody Mess, but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what it could do in Genesys, other than just "MOAR DAMAGE". It's going to require some additional thought. As far as what else is coming for the Fallout Theme, I have more weapons and equipment coming, along with more adversaries, attachments, rules for establishing settlements, and scrapping/crafting rules. Some of these will be pretty direct adaptations from similar rules in the Star Wars RPG, but there will be some differences. They can't port over directly, and do need some tweaking to fit into the Fallout world.

I figure these tasks should keep me pretty occupied over the winter months. It should hopefully distract me from starting some more Theme adaptations. A Rifts theme is really itching to get some attention, but so is a Battletech theme. A poster on the FFG forums is working on one but it feels too much like he's trying to make the Battletech rules fit into Genesys; which is not a direction I would take with it. If I work on one, my direction will be "how to play Genesys in the Battletech universe"; trying to capture the essence of the setting without it getting too bogged down in complex rule adaptations.

...and now my brain is working over how I'd do it; I'm hopeless.

Ah well. Something to toss on the growing pile of stuff to work on later.

May the dice be with you.