Monday, October 17, 2011

Alpocalypse 2011

Quite simply, there are times I love this damn hobby I'm in.

This is one of those times.

I'm the scout leading us in.

This is my second time performing with Al.  Damn it's fun, and dammit he's such a nice guy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Costuming...Costuming Never Changes

When I first went to Dragon*Con in 2009, one of the outfits I brought with me was a Lone Wanderer outfit from the game Fallout 3.  My lovely fiancee made a jumpsuit that looked pretty good, I made a Pipboy 3000 out of an old armor bracer and MDF wood, and I wandered around Dragon*Con with it on.  What was more fun was walking around Washington D.C. on the way home in it (Fallout 3 takes place in "The Capitol Wastes", and you can go to many of the National Monuments and Museums in-game).  I hit the Air and Space Museum, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, the Mall (with the Washington Monument in the background)...good fun.  Got some decent photos which I should probably post up one of these days, but I knew I could make it look better. 

I wasn't happy with my Pipboy, so I ended up selling it when someone asked me about it.  Since then I know someone on the Replica Movie Props forums has used the Pipboy Clock that came with the very expensive Survivalists Edition of the game to make some realistic looking and wearable Pipboy 3000s.  I have a lead on one of them, and with my replaying/finally-getting-around-to-finishing Fallout: New Vegas I have a sudden hankering to break out the Vault-suit, fix it up, and make it look all nice for Halloween.

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you over how awesome this armor is..."

(...I wonder if I can get my fiancee to go as a Raider girl.  Or Joana.  Or Red Lucy.  Or wait, if she does the accent I might have to choke her...)

One thing I did notice in my explorations of the Internet; there are some awesome folks out there making props for Fallout games.  There is no way I could afford to pick up a suit of T-45a Power Armor, like I saw at Dragon*Con this year.  It looked great, but...gah.  Too Expensive for me.

I dig my Vault Suit, that's for sure.  What I really want to do is make it look even better.  There are leather pieces I didn't do when I put the suit together.

Vault Jumpsuit

There are some Leather cuffs I should make.  If I make them removable, I can differentiate between the standard Vault Jumpsuit and the Utility Suit.  Not sure I like the look of the boots for the Utility Jumpsuit, however.

The Vault Jumpsuit also has this leather...half collar/strap that runs over the left shoulder.  I should be able to make that, but how to attach it?  If I want to just leave it as the Vault Jumpsuit, and not make the cuffs removable to do the Utility Suit, I could use Velcro.  I wouldn't want to permanently attach it, in case it needs to go through the wash (  Maybe it's something I can work out with an old friend; Rare-Earth Magnets...

Utility Jumpsuit
 And then there's the belt; that shouldn't be too tough.  Belt blank, maybe buy and cut up a second one to make the leather squares that run along it, and do a custom leather piece for the back.  Make the buckle out of Styrene over a metal belt-buckle blank and it's good to go.

Armored Vault Suit
I could even upgrade and do the Armored Jumpsuit.  That could be fun, and it gives me some neat add on pieces that I might be able to use for other costumes, at LARPs or the like.  Problem is, that's a lot of leatherwork, something I have little experience with.  Ah well, anything worth doing is worth learning how to do...

I'd love a Nuka-Cola cap, but custom embroidery is expensive...

I'm also interested in authentic weaponry from the game...

  • The Shishkabob would be fun, but I might have some problems getting the gas tank...
  • This Combat Shotgun is okay, and kinda neat, but were I to make it, I'd want to build the "trap-version" and mount it at head height by a door in my house.
  • I really want to make one of these Laser Rifles.  It looks sweet, and it's made mostly out of MDF.  Mostly.
  • I could always start with a Laser Pistol, and see how that goes.  (EDIT: Oh look...awesomeness in a step-by-step basis!)
  • A cop-out would be turning a Nerf Maverick into a 10mm Pistol.  I should be able to do that on a weekend...
Then there's just the neat accessories, like Stim-packs, Skill Books, and the other items that can be found lying around the world of Fallout.

So I've got some propmaking to do, and looking at the calendar I've got very little time to do it.  With two LARP weekends creeping up, the only time to make props will be during the week.  We'll see if and how that goes.

Still, it's worth doing, because I think a well-done Vault Dweller/Lone Wanderer looks really, really good.

Or maybe I'll just break down and do the Courier...

A Matter of Great Import, Part Two: Elites

After a few days of exploration and jotting down ideas, I have a general idea on how the import of "Solo" and "Elite" could work.  As mentioned previously, the idea is to add in tougher and more tactically interesting opponents without needing to go through the time consuming hassle of advancing NPCs and assigning new Talents and Feats, and giving them unreasonable amounts of Force Points and Destiny Points just to help them survive an entire round of PC actions. 

In the Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, there's a section that covers the creation of new Elites and Solos, and adapting lower creatures to be Elites and Solos.  That provided a very basic and general guideline to follow.  I also went through the Monster Manual and picked out some abilities that I liked, monster powers and effects that I felt would be not only easy to adapt to Star Wars, but also fit what we've seen in the Movies and Cartoons.

Elites: The Best of the Best

The DMG talks about Elites as tough monsters, worth twice the normal amount of XP.  In a previous post I applied one of the pre-made Elite templates to a Stormtrooper to make a Stormtrooper Sergeant.  It worked otu pretty well, and after digging into the DMG even further I came across the rules to create a new elite creature.  Some of it applies, some of it does not.

Adjust Hit Points: In 4E, an elite has a number of Hit Points equal to twice the base creature's hit points, plus twice it's constitution score.  That doesn't really transfer exactly to SAGA edition, so let's just leave it as "Double the base NPC's hit points".

Adjust Defenses: Here it states to increase up to three Defenses by +2.  In SAGA, there are only three Defenses, so let's change that to only two increases.

Add 1 Action Point: Here I'll give the Elite a Destiny Point, and require that it only be spent on another set of actions during the encounter.

Adjust Powers and Abilities: Now here's where things get creative and interesting.  It's als where a lot of my discoveries in the Monster Manual can come into play.  We're looking for additional opportunities for the Elite to make actions or attacks, since it's supposed to be representing two creature's worth of opponents.

Recharge when first bloodied: This is a little hard to work since SAGA doesn't have a "bloodied" status, technically.  It does have the Second Wind ability, which can only be used when the character's Hit Points are at half their maximum or below.  Also, there aren't a whole lot of "Encounter only" powers unless you're a Force-user with Force Powers.

What I think will work is allowing an Encounter Abilitly, Talent, or Power to recharge when the character takes their Second Wind.  Doing so is only a Swift Action in SAGA, so they'll still have their Move action and Standard actions.  If the NPC doesn't have any Encounter abilities, then maybe have it get another Destiny Point specifically for another set of actions.  This only happens when the character first takes a Second Wind, so if they have many Second Wind opportunities, this won't occur multiple times.

Immediate Actions: Next the DMG recommends giving the NPC the ability to attack in response to something the PCs do.  Some options include "when attacked and missed", or "when attacked and hit", or even "when the PC's more adjacent to them".  It could be an immediate reaction, in the case of attack rolls, or immediate interrupts, in the case of movement.  How nasty could a vibro-axe weilding Elite wookie be if any time a PC hits him, he howls in range and hits back?  What about a grappler that can take an immediate interrupt any time a PC enters and adjacent square and make a trip attack?  Or a Sith Lord that can activate a Force Power when someone moves adjacent to them?

Multiple Attacks: This is another way for an NPC to beef up it's damage capabilities; give it another attack during it's turn.  Either as a swift action, or allowing to use Double or Triple Attack as a Standard Action each turn.  This has the potential to be nasty...or useless.  In SAGA, Double attack imposes a -5 penalty to all attacks that round.  Triple attack imposes a -10 penaly to all attacks that round.  Add in the penalites for Dual Wielding weapons and your BBEG will be making a lot of attacks, but is unlikely to hit with any of them. But then again, having Double Attack is a big deal, and being able to use it often is key.

So what I do?  I think that depends on the character in question, and their abilities.  I think for melee characters, allow them to make an immediate attack against someone who either hits or misses them in melee combat.  For ranged attackers, allow them to use Double or Triple attack as a Standard action.  For Grapplers or Martial Artists, I love the idea of Tripping your opponent as they come within range.

For the stacking multi-attack penalites, I'd say reduce the penalty by 5 unles for some reason their attack rolls are very high to begin with.  Then they may not need the bonus.

Elites are supposed to be tough creatures on their own, but supported by allies.  They're tough nuts to crack, and a serious threat on the field, but they can be handled with good tactics and a little luck.

Finally, let's see how this could all work by applying the Elite status to a Super Battle Droid...

Sergeant Dae

On rare occasions a Super Battle Droid will manage to survive several campaigns against Republic forces and Jedi Knights.  When this occurs, that Battle Droid can retain a bredth of knowledge and experience in battlefield combat.  These droids are allowed to keep their experiences, and are not subjected to standard memory wipes.

Such a series of events has occured for SBD-43, a droid known as "Sergeant Dae" to his masters.  Sergeant Dae fought in several campaigns in the Outer Rim Seiges, somehow able to survive several encounters with Clone Troopers and even a few Jedi Padawans.  His superiors recognized that Dae could be a valuable commodity when the usual Tactical Droids or humanoid commanders were unavailable.  They also saw that Dae had gained some savagry and ferocity over other Super Battle Droids.  Sepratist Commanders usually assign Dae to front-line action, where his ability and skills can be used to their fullest.  They don't send him out to be needlessly slaughtered; Sergeant Dae is usually assigned a group of Super Battle Droids to assist him in his tasks, and to provide defense and support in combat. 

SBD-43 "Sergeant Dae"
Elite Medium droid (4th-degree) nonheroic 6
Init +3; Senses Perception +8
Destiny 1 (only for free set of actions)
Languages: Basic, Binary
Defenses Ref 14 (flat-footed 14), Fort 14, Will 10
hp 42; Threshold 14
Immune: droid traits
Speed 6 squares (walking)
Melee unarmed +6 (1d3+1)
Ranged wrist blasters +4 (3d8) or
Ranged wrist blasters +2 (4d8) with Rapid Fire
Fighting Space 1 square;  Reach 1 square
Base Atk +4, Grp +6
Attack Options: autofire (wrist blasters), Charging Fire, Rapid Fire, aid another (+4)
Abilities Str 14, Dex 11, Con -, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 7
Feats:  Armor Proficiency (light), Charging Fire, Rapid Shot, Toughness, Weapon Proficency (heavy weapons, rifles, simple)
Skills Perception +8
Systems: walking locomotion, remote receiver, backup processor, synchronized fire circuits, 2 hand appendages, integrated comlink, vocabulator, plasteel shell (2 armor)
Posessions: wrist blasters (blaster rifle)

Veteran Droid: When Sergeant Dae is first reduced to 21 hit points or less, Dae immediately gains and spends a Destiny Point to get a full turn of actions.

Droid Reflex Response: When Dae is hit by an attack, he may make a ranged attack as an immediate reaction.

Interesting...but it still looks...cluttered.  I'm going to have to see how this looks with the standard 4E format for stat blocks...