Friday, January 17, 2014

Projection of Projects

I wonder at what point I should just change my release schedule to “Fridays”.  Probably never, as I like having Friday as a catch-up day.  Any later and I’m into the weekend and then WHO KNOWS where my schedule goes.

I suppose another reason why I haven’t been as hardcore to posting anything lately is that I simply haven’t been working on much of anything of late.  The holidays, while a lot of fun, really take up a lot of time.  It’s a natural pause for a breath of fresh air in the middle of the worst of the seasons.  It’s also a time to set your signs on where the coming year is going, and what you have to look forward to.

Hey, that’s what I could do; a 2014 Projection!

Q1: January – March, 2014

Much of this month will be split between wealth accumulation (annual bonus from work and tax returns) and spending of said funds for some fantastic adventures later in the year.  It will also be spent on a frelling boat. 

Right now, I’m setting up a party for Sterling Hershey’s Beyond the Rim adventure for Edge of the Empire.  My stepson bought it for me with the ulterior motive that I run a game for him to play in.  Four other players have been located, and characters are set.  It’s looking like it should be a good time.  We just have to figure out when it starts, as my stepson might be running in track-meets for the next several weeks (alternate on the relay team).

In February, I’m on vacation.  Folks are taking us on a cruise with them, hopefully.  Dad had an operation recently and there’s a question on whether or not he’ll be recovered in time to join us.  I’m hoping he will be, because it wouldn’t be the same without him on the boat. 

February marks the annual anniversary for Star Trek Online.  I’ve been playing that a lot recently, enough features and new content were added to make things interesting again.  Not sure how long I’ll be playing it, but I hope it will be entertaining while I’m there.
I'm also getting a  little bit of a bug to finally dive into STO's community created content generator; the Foundry.  Much like you could in City of Heroes, players can create their own Star Trek adventures and post them up for folks to experience.  A lot of it is reportedly crap.  Some of it is genius.  I'll be happy if I can write something that falls in the middle.  I need to play at least ten different Foundry missions (my own limit, not the game's) before I get an idea of what works, and what doesn't.  Then it's on to poking at the interface.  We'll see if that pans out while I have all this other crap I want to get done this year.

March is GamerNation Con in the DFW area of Texas!  …and I will not be going.  Because that weekend is also about the time for my 1st anniversary of being married to the hottest chick I know.  I’m not missing my first anniversary for a gaming convection.  Third or seventh, maybe.  But not the first.  I wish the guys at D20 Radio nothing but success for their convention, and look forward to hopefully attending in the future (assuming they hold another one). 
I'm not sure if I'm marching in the South Boston St. Pats parade this year.  That weekend is the same weekend I was likely to be celebrating my anniversary with my wife (and the same weekend as GamerNationCon).  We'll have to see.
Sometime in this quarter is the start of the Marik Civil War (Season 3).   It's a fun Mechwarrior Online combat league where your unit's performance in best-of-five combats determines how the Civil War is going on a large map.  With the current absence of Community Warfare in MWO, this is a nice indicator of what it could feel like if the Devs get their acts in gear and get us Community Warfare sometime before 2015.  I'm the Tournament Liaison for the 1st Skye Jaegers of the Skye Rangers Brigade.  Basically I'm there to handle communication between us and our opponent for that round of combat, arranging when we are to meet up, and trying to help synch the drop (no private matchmaker yet, have to time it and hope the game matches the two teams up).
By the way, if anyone out there is looking for a tournament team for Mechwarrior Online, come look us up.  We're not the Steel Jaguar Regiment, but we don't do too bad either (good enough to be in the top-tier team bracket, but SJR and a couple other teams have a better Win/Loss ratio against us)

Quarter 2: April – June 2014

And so shall begin my last year as someone “in their thirties”.  I’d like to start it with some sort of party.  Not sure I’ll get the chance, but we’ll have to see.  I’m certainly planning on ending my last year in the thirties with a bang, hopefully drinking it up with my Rebel Legion and 501st Legion cohorts out in Anaheim at next year’s Star Wars Celebration.
With any luck, I'll also get to start doing "All Wings Report In" podcasts with Erich again this month.  Filling both shoes is hard, and sucks.  I got burnt out doing ALL-STOP because of the work that was needed before and after each episode.

Somewhere in here, Age Of Rebellion should get released.  Not sure when yet, but assuming there are no weird production delays, it should be in April or May, instead of July like Edge of the Empire was.  I'm really looking forward to this book.  By far, my favorite era of Star Wars is the Rebellion Era.  It's the one I grew up in.  I just feel like all the stories in that era are told, even though I know that's not the case.  It'll be interesting to see if there's any more stories in there for me to find with this book, or if later this year FFG plans to have something tie in with the Star Wars REBELS cartoon.
In May, my brother gets married.  I'm the best man.  Not much to say here at this time, but it's of import so I'd better include it.

Quarter 3: July - September 2014

I'm looking forward to this quarter like no one's business.  This year I'm going to GenCon.  Funds have been set aside, plans for room and board have been made.  Super Secret Plans have been put into motion.  I have no clue what to expect.  I have no clue what I'm going to do, or play.  I know a couple events I need to hit, a few folks I want to meet, but beyond that GenCon 2014 is an open canvas of possibilities.  I will buy a damn copy of the Force and Destiny Beta if I have to ambush Sam Stewart and Andy Fisher with Legion back up.  I will game with GM Chris and GM Dave from the Order 66 podcast, and hopefully a lot more folks from Gamer Nation.  It had better be glorious, if only because I demand it.  I'm going to meet my goal of "GenCon before 40, or when I'm 40".  Celebration Anaheim kills me going when I'm 40, so this is it.
My big question will be "will I have enough money to really enjoy it".  We shall see.
In September, I will hopefully...HOPEFULLY...get my creative cohort back.  My good buddy Alex and his family are supposed to be coming back to New England this September, which will allow me to formally kick off my Another Longshot multi-group campaign.  Fingers crossed, buddy.

Quarter 4: October - December 2014

October brings the Woburn Halloween parade, and is the target goal for my father.  He wants to be ready to troop that parade, and in parade shape for it.  His Old Ben outfit needs to be in similar shape as well.  Good enough for the Legion, his current outfit is getting pretty worn out, and there was an unfortunate incident with his cloak that caused it to shrink from a great cloak to something slightly bigger than a hooded bathrobe.  We'll need to work on this throughout the year to get Ben ready for JoeBi-Wan to troop in.
This whole quarter has a lot of good events.  Woburn, Rhode Island Comic Con, Manchester Christmas Parade; gotta be ready.
And of course Thanksgiving, Christmas and we do it all again in a year.
So in all, it should be a good year.  Looking forward to a lot of it, and I hope to be able to bring you all along for the ride.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year, Par for the Course

Here we are on January 3rd, the first Friday of 2014, and I've already missed a blog-post.  I could pawn it off on the blizzard we just had here in New England, but I won't.  I spent all of last night playing Star Trek Online, part of it with my former STO-Podcast co-host, Gonzo.  Good to get some time at the helm with him, even if it was for only about an hour, and with some toddler aggro that he had to attend to while we were facing the Borg.
It was a decent New Year's Eve.  I got to spend it with several nice folks in a mellow, low-key gathering.  It was a nice reset that set the framework for the coming year.  It'll be a year of challenges and celebrations, and require a bit of focus on my part.  I can honestly say I'm going to give 2014 a chance to be awesome, and work towards it being so.  If it isn't, it won't be because I didn't try.

Here Comes A New Challenger!

I almost called this section "Level Up!", but then I realized that's a bad, misogynistic live-action tv-show about MMO players.  This is nothing like that.  This is all about the "Edge of the Jedi" document and me finally fixing a few things in it. 
Changes!  Corrections!  Updates!  Let's begin!
CAREER TREES: I'm happy with the Specialization trees as they are in 1.02.  No changes here.  Move along, move along.
BALANCED LIGHTSABER STYLE TREE: Now we're starting to see some changes, specifically to that useless Twin Strike talent.  After talking with Donovan Morningfire, I've moved Jar'Kai to the 15xp row, and moved Twin Strike to the 20xp row.  Twin Strike now "adds a boost die to any Lightsaber Combat Check when using Two Weapon Attack or when using the Autofire option while wielding two lightsabers".  Adding that boost die increases the odds of rolling enough Advantage to trigger that second attack, or use that Autofire option.  You no longer total up the damage between the two, which really would only be an issue if you're attacking a vehicle with Armor 1.  Since that comes up so infrequently (i.e. hardly ever), this makes the talent actually worth something.  Since it's a 20 point talent in at least a second specialization, I made it a free-bee (no cost to use).
I got some fun feedback on Shii Cho, and Shii Cho Master.  "It's fun!" was the synopsis.  Many minions died to bring me that feedback.
STRONG LIGHTSABER STYLE TREE: More changes here to three of my Forms (well, 2 technically).  Shien got a big change.  The problem with the original Shien is that unless you had the 25 point Deflect Blasters talent from the Jedi Career specs, you didn't get any benefit from the talent.  While some may say that's okay, I decided to change the Shien power to match the old Shien Master; spend Threat and Despair on blaster weapon combat checks against you to deal damage back to the attacker (note that it doesn't say if the attack hits or not; it works in both cases).  Shien Master now drops the cost of activating Shien to two Threat or a Despair.  And no, you can't burn 4 Threat or 2 Threat and a Despair to deal 20 damage back to the attacker...unless your GM really is feeling generous.
I changed up Djem So Master too.  Instead of making it a mirror of Shien Master (now regular Shien), I went back to the description of Djem So for inspiration.  Djem So is all about blocking attacks and responding with strikes of your own.  So instead of dealing a flat 10 points of damage back to your opponent, you now deal your Lightsaber damage back to your opponent, and include any passive abilities the lightsaber has (like Breach 1).  Note that you don't get to use the regular Djem So (or Ataru) bonus damage in that hit, since you're not making a Lightsaber combat check.  Cost to activate remains the same as before.
Juyo got a lot simpler.  Also at Dono's suggestion, Juyo is now simply "1 strain to upgrade the next Lightsaber combat check once".  You get aggressive, you exert yourself, you increase the odds of hitting and something nasty happening to your opponent.
THE FORCE: Also added is about 2/3rds of a page on home-brewed house rules I've used in my games recently.  The first being the inclusion of a pseudo-talent, Power of the Force.  For 20 Xp you can spend 1 strain to turn a Dark Side Point into a Light Side Point.  This can be done with every Force Die roll (except the one at the beginning that determines Destiny Points for the game, you are rolling that one, not your character).  You can take this "talent" any time, during character creation or once play has started, only that you need to belong to a formalized Force tradition to take it.  The theme here is that by belonging to a formalized tradition, like the Jedi, they train you to tap into the Force reliably.  That training is what allows the Force User to at least get some use of the Force when they need it.
Another house-rule I've made concerns the old KotOR Campaign Guide power "Kinetic Combat".  The third Control upgrade in the Move power states you can use Move to manipulate objects with precision, and we judged that this could include wielding weapons.  It's not as easy as wielding them yourself, a level of control is required and your perspective on combat is slightly off.  It takes an Action to trigger Move to set up the power, and then in subsequent turns you need to commit two Force Dice to keeping the power going.  Also, you need to activate Move to be able to lift an object with a Silhouette equal to the Encumbrance rating of the weapon.  It's not that the weapon is that heavy, it's that Strength is a good indicator on how much "grip" or "finesse" you have when you use that weapon effectively.  Lightsabers are easy, Vibro-axes are hard, and Heavy Repeating Blasters are really hard to coordinate their bulk, aim, and firing all at once remotely. 
And hey, if you don't roll high enough to control the weapon, you can still use it as a projectile with Move (dealing it's normal damage based on the Silhouette, of course).
Making attacks with Kinetic combat increase the difficulty by one.  Turning off Kinetic Combat is a Maneuver if you want the weapon to return to your hand (or someone else's), or an Incidental if you want the weapon to just drop.
Finally, I also pointed folks to Donovan's Ways of the Force document for additional Force Powers like Healing and Injure.
So here it is!  Update 1.03 for your gaming pleasure.

Edge of the Jedi v1.03

I'm do an "Age of the Jedi" document at some point.  Possibly something to work on later in the year, or after I see exactly what's in the Force and Destiny beta.  If I had to do this all over again, I'd make three Jedi Careers; Consular, Guardian, and Sentinel.  I'd have three Specializations under each Career.  I don't think I'd change my Lightsaber Style trees, but I may consider adding one for "Force Wizard" specs.  I could also see doing a non-Jedi career; Force Adept.  I could likely come up with three Specializations for that too.  It's hard to think about all that right now, knowing that 8 months from now I'll have a better idea of how Fantasy Flight Games is doing it.
We'll have to see, now won't we?

Help from the Mandalorians?

I've been getting gameplay feedback from some members of the Gamer Nation; "Kell Ordo" and his family.  Pretty sure Kell is a member of the Mando Mercs, and possibly soon to be a member of the Rebel Legion if he's not already, based on some of the costumes he's stated he's working on for Celebration Anaheim.  He's got quite a list lined up.  Got me thinking about costumes, and specifically Mandalorians.  If I were to do a Mando, it would be one of Maul's Deathwatch members from his final arc in The Clone Wars, probably with the "Zabrak Horns" on the helmet.  I dig some of the custom stuff the Mercs have done over the years, but I have to say a lot of it has not appealed to me.  I'll admit it, I have a high-standard when it comes to Star Wars costumes, and I guess to costumes in general.  I'm starting to find myself looking at cosplayers thinking about what could be done better, or how it could be made better.  I'm not even what I'd call an expert or anything, I'm just a guy who's put together three armor kits and conned his wife into making him one and a half Jedi outfits.  Oh, and put together a lightsaber from parts.  My one and only prop-making project turned out like I expected; serviceable but in sore need of a redo.  So my pedigree is very "quick to judge but can't do himself".  Still, the Mando Mercs have gotten better over the years, and I do like the work some of their really dedicated members have done.


Final Thoughts

Man, 2014 is going to be busy.  Real busy, depending on how some things turn out.  I've got a lot of projects to get under way, and a lot of plans to make.  We'll see if the money and my wife's sanity hold out.
I'm curious about something.  If you have used my Jedi Career document, let me know.  Either here, or on my G+ or Facebook link; just a quick comment that you've tried it out.  By all means, if you have feedback or any cool stories about these rules, I'd love to hear them.
Anyway, see you around the new year, folks.