Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Let's Get A Party Started

Anyone who's followed this blog for any serious length of time, you'll notice that occasionally there are times when I got dark for a few weeks.  If I'm lucky, it's only a few weeks.  Rest assured, I try to come back as soon as I can to talk Star Wars at you all.

Another Longshot: The Preparation

So Another Longshot is coming together.  I've set a date for the campaign to start; January 3rd.  I'm excited, and anxious.  I'm setting myself up for something really ambitious; multiple parties, same storyline.  I've tried something like this once before with an Eberron campaign I co-GM'd with my buddy Random.  We ran our own groups, and each group contributed to the over-all story we had written together.  It worked well for...a year, I think?  Then life happened, and the game fell apart.  I made some odd logistics choices too, concerning a journal that both parties had and could write in to share information with the other group.  I had one journal in each party, players who wrote anything in one would appear in the other.  Nice concept, but I spent a lot of time transposing from one journal to the other when I should have just used the same book with each party. Ah well, that was a long time ago; many games under the bridge since then.

The parties are starting to come together, at least in number if not in themes.  I've got a couple concepts, which fortunately has the side effect of sparking my artistic side.  One of my players, my fellow Legion-cohort Erich, wants to play a Besalik Force User.  Not a Jedi, but an Imperial Knight.  Thinking about Jedi General Pong Krell in Imperial-Red armor burned such an image into my mind that I had to put it to paper. This also got me to bust out my Wacom Intuos4 tablet I got a couple years back and also work on it.  I'm a fair bit of the way through painting some color onto the Knight.  Got the base colors down, and I'm now working on highlights and shadows. 

I'm changing my technique from my last digital paintings I've tried.  I'm working on a few character portraits in the same vein as comic book art, as opposed to most of the digital paintings seen in Star Wars gaming books these days. I think I work in that style a bit better, and I'd rather crank out some more character portraits in a shorter time (since my free time is pretty well taken of late).

Another player is busting out the obligatory "PC from annoying alien race" and making an Ewok Jedi.  Hey if one brother could make a Gungan Ace Pilot that was pretty effective and fund to game with for my last Legacy era game, then my other brother should be able to do the same with an Ewok Jedi in this Legacy-era game.  I think he's planning to go Ataru Striker and rock that Lightsaber (Agility) skill with twin shoto-lightsabers.  Beyond that, no clue where he's taking the character.

One thing I'm so thankful for is the return of my buddy and former co-host Gonzo from the not-so-wilds of Georgia.  He and his family have finally returned to the land of four actual seasons (Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Road Construction) and that means he can actually play at the same gaming table as the rest of us instead.  He is also eyeballing an Imperial Knight, as some sort of Star Wars version of a character he's played a few times before.

That puts two Imperial Knights and one Jedi in "Group A" (which coincidentally has 3 players in it with names starting with "A"). 

Group B (which coincidentally has 3, possibly 4 players with first or last names starting with "B") is still forming with the current concepts including a Bothan Mandalorian and a Human Noble/Merc Commander from the Dark Times who was carbon frozen until the Legacy Era.  I shall also be rehabilitating one player's perceptions of what a Star Wars game is, as his last GM...well, let's just say the GM was very liberal with her interpretations of the universe culture.

DarthGM: The Next Generation...?

This campaign is also likely to include another first for me; a player from the next generation.  My step-son is going to be playing, and in one of these groups (depending on final numbers).  It will prove to be an new experience for me, being a parent of his.  True, he's almost out of High School, but I remember my gaming "prowess" at that age and what I was really into when it came to gaming.  He seems to be lining up for a similar bent, so at least I'll have my own experience to fall back on for how to handle things.  All and all, I'm sure he'll do fine.

I think that'll do for now.  Maybe I can come back next week and get some more gaming goodness down.  I've also got some costume projects in my future I gotta get ready to document; Celebration Anaheim is coming up, and we have PLANS.

May the dice be with you...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

GenCon Mod Revisited: Force and Destiny Updates

Two years ago I started to create my own rules for a Jedi Career in FFG's Edge of the Empire RPG and for 18 months my players got to play Jedi in this glorious system.  Around about the time when my GenCon Module was debuting at GenCon 2014, FFG dropped their Beta rules for Jedi and Jedi-like characters, Force and Destiny.  When I made my module, I knew I'd want to incorporate the rules for Force Users that FFG would release, especially if I were going to share "The Big Leagues" with the public. I always knew my Edge of the Jedi rules were temporary; something to bide the time between then and now, and get me running my games with full-blown saber-slingers in my campaigns.  I think I had some great ideas that worked at the time, but naturally the material from the original source came in a few notches above mine.

I promised the backers of the D20 Radio Kickstarter that "The Big Leagues" would be released in October.  Converting over my Jedi (and Sith) PCs to Force and Destiny was the first step in meeting that commitment.

Update 1: Kira Carsen

With Force and Destiny's new careers, I had to find a place to start with Kira.  I figured that her brash nature and role as a melee damage-dealer would steer her towards a Lightsaber style.  Ataru Striker seemed to fit the best.  Ataru Technique allows her to still use Agility with her lightsaber attacks.  Her survivability improves with two ranks in Parry and Reflect, and her damage output is high with Improved Parry and Hawk Bat Swoop.

I wanted to give her a second Specialization to improve her Force Rating.  In the old version, her Force Rating was 3.  In Force and Destiny, a Force Rating of 2 would work just fine as long as the player is willing to earn some Conflict for her by using Dark Side pips rolled on the Force Dice.  I initially chose Seer from the Mystic Career because it was a quick skip to a Force Rating talent and gave her some Grit, Sense Danger, and Uncanny Reactions.  Now I'm taking a second look and thinking that Shadow might be better.  In fact, I might want to start her with Shadow, given her background as a street rat on Nar Shadda.

Shadow earns her Street Smarts, which could help during the Module.  Mental Fortress probably wouldn't affect her too much, so I might just exclude it for the sake of the module. Unrelenting Skeptic would add two Failures to any NPCs trying to use Deception against her.  I remember Kira doing some computer work during some of the adventures in SWTOR, so Codebreaker isn't too much of a stretch.  However I don't see it being used during the Module too much, so like Mental Fortress I'd probably remove it from her talent list just to streamline as much as I can.  If I give her Anatomy Lessons, she'd be able to spend a Destiny Point to add 2 to the damage of any attack, since her Intellect is 2.   I could always swap her Intellect for her Cunning and give her a 3, and bump up her Computers a little, but that's stepping on T7's expertise.  Maybe I'll bump her Intellect to 3 as well.

For her lightsaber, she's got the Double-bladed Lightsaber (Saberstaff).  I wrote these stats before this week's update that increases' the Saberstaff's "Unwieldy" quality to 3, so I'll have to fix that.  I gave her a Dantari crystal which has a good base damage and a neat side effect for when she uses it with Hawk Bat Swoop.

Kira's a brave soul, which is reflected in her Emotional Strength.  She also tends to be a firebrand, and sometimes that bravery can turn to Anger when push comes to shove, hence that Emotional Weakness.  Her Morality is pretty middle of the road, at 55.  I'm somewhat tempted to make her a Light-Side Paragon, just to make sure there's always a Light Side point to flip to dark (see Lord Scourge, below).

Looks like I've got some revisions to make on this...

Kira Carsen F&D v1.0

Update 2: Lord Scourge

Thanks to the novel, Revan, I had a lot of backstory for Scourge to draw from.  Unfortunately, I couldn't use a lot of it because it mechanically doesn't make sense.  The novel says he uses Soresu and Ataru, which would make him a Agility and Intellect-based duelist.  He's also strong, and a melee tank, so he needs a good Brawn too.  I've always thought that Sith Purebloods would be Cunning, so I wanted to start his Cunning at 3.  He also needs a good Willpower, as he's supposed to be an interrogator of high caliber.  That means that Scourge probably wouldn't have a "great" stat (4+) if I gave 3s to all these Characteristics.  Heck, this would mean he had 3s in everything but Presence.  He'd also have three Specs, because he'd have Soresu Defender, Ataru Striker, and Aggressor (the only Spec that gets Coercion as a class skill).  Also because Kira is already an Ataru Striker, I didn't want to double up on those abilities.

So I fudged it a bit.

Scourge has a good Brawn and Willpower at 3, and a high Cunning at 4.  Starting as a Warrior and taking Aggressor, he branches over to Shien Expert, which gives him very good melee and ranged defensive abilities.  It also gets him access to Saber Throw, which he did a fair bit in Revan. He can use that high Cunning with his lightsaber skill.

Hmmm...looks like I didn't update his Dice Pools to reflect the lower Brawn score.  I'll have to fix that.

Aggressor gives Scourge Fearsome and Intimidating, two very apt and appropriate talents for his background as an Interrogator and as the former "Emperor's Wrath".  Shien gets him some good Parry and Reflect ranks as well as Saber Throw.  I'm tempted to also give him Falling Avalance from the Djem So side of Shine Expert, but I think that with his Force Powers would be too much.

Scourge doesn't have anything fancy for his lightsaber, just a basic Ilum crystal with two damage boost mods and a Vicious 1 mod.

The hardest part about Scourge was considering his Emotional Strength and Weakness, and his Morality score.  I figure his Morality score is in the teens, thanks to his adventures with the Hero of Tython.  That makes him a Dark-Side character with a -1 to Strain Threshold and +1 to Wound Threshold.  Looking over the options for Emotional attributes, I selected Coldness for his Weakness and Discipline as his strength.  The immortality ritual he is under is a constant source of pain, so a rigid discipline and mental will is needed to function.  Because of this he has a detached nature, the constant pain has removed almost all traces of compassion and empathy.  He remembers warmth, love, the taste of foods, simple pleasures, but he can no longer feel them.  The price of immortality.

Lord Scourge F&D v1.0

Update 3: Nadia Grell

I pretty much had Nadia's build pegged before I really sat down to map her out.  The daughter of a diplomat, learning from watching, and possessing an insatiable curiosity and a passionate drive.  She's a potent Force-user, but not a highly skilled one.  I started her in Consular with the Sage specialization, as the talents and skills in Sage fit her role as the diplomat for her world and as the padawan and/or spouse of the Jedi Bar'senthor. Because she is the melee damage dealer of the party, she moves to Niman Disciple and puts her high Willpower to work in melee as well as with the Force.

Between Sage and Niman Disciple, Nadia gets a bevy of good social talents; Kill with Kindness, Nobody's Fool, Sense Emotions, and Smooth Talker all beef her up in social situations (and will be a big help during the first part of the module).  Through Niman Disciple she gets some great combat talents; ranks in Parry and Reflect, Force Assault to smash foes she misses with her lightsaber attacks, and Draw Closer to pull targets to her for her to slice up with her saberstaff.

I lowered her Lightsaber (Will) skill to only one rank partially because I don't see her as an exceptional combatant but also because she can technically use Draw Closer every round.  Doing so will add her Force Rating in Force dice to her attack checks, and she'll be able to add any Force pips she wants to spend on Successes.  Nadia really shouldn't have a hard time hitting foes in combat.

Because of all her combat options, I gave her a basic Saberstaff with no modifications for her weapon.  With the Linked 1 quality, and all the options for scoring damage (either by hitting with the saber or using Move if the saber misses with enough Advantage or Triumph) adding too much more damage felt too good.

I ended up giving Nadia two Emotional Strengths and Weaknesses; she's compassionate and curious, but she's also prone to reckless behavior and she can be prone to moments of hatred for those who hurt her allies.  Her Morality is high at 65; on the road to Light Side paragon, but not quite there yet.

Looking over this sheet I see some typos I need to correct. 

Nadia Grell F&D v1.0

What's Next?

Next up is looking at some of the opponents I have, specifically the Force Using ones who could use some of the abilities given in Force and Destiny.  Then I give the module a final polish, add a sidebar for running it with different characters and different Eras, and then it's ready for the public.

I got three weeks.  Tops.

Off to work I go.

May the dice be with you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

World Building and Costume Conundrums

Wow, it's been a while since I posted.  I could come up with lame excuses why, but you've heard it all before.  Sadly, they're still reasons I've been kept away from this blog for too long.

At least I've got a modern browser on my work computer now, so I can start updating while I'm at work during breaks.

So what has DarthGM been up to in September?  Well, I've ordered a new costume.  Not for me, for my father.  He tried on my Biker Scout at the Dover Mini-Maker faire this past August and really liked it.  So we talked with a few folks and he has a suit of un-assembled Scout trooper armor on a UPS truck en route to his home.  Ideally we should have it set up for St. Pats day (if we troop it)

We also need to make some upgrades to his Old Ben Kenobi outfit.  The outer robe shrunk and the inner robe stretched out during one of the rainy parades he trooped in.  We got new material for his inner robes, but the wool army blankets I ordered to make his outer robe from never shipped.  Never even heard back from the eStore owner I bought them from.  That transaction is now in dispute with Paypal and I'm waiting for resolution.

Preliminary work is being done on a Cade Skywalker outfit for my stepson.  He'll be 18 by the time we go to Anaheim for Celebration VII, which means we can get him into the Rebel Legion group photo if we do a good enough job on it.  It's simple, yet difficult to make.  Gotta make it look right.

I wonder if we can submit him for a BH or SL designation in the 501st.  He was a Bounty Hunting, drug using scum who collected a bounty on a Jedi, and he did go dark-side for a while there.  If Mara Jade could do it and get SL designation, why not Cade?

I promised my stepson that if he got the costume all ready by his birthday, I'd get him Cade's lightsaber.  I thought I was going to have to build it from scratch, but Ultrasabers actually has a really good saber that looks right.

(Looks like Ultrasabers won't let me link their photos, but this is what I see as "close enough!")

Even my wife is starting to look into costumes.  She expressed interest in a couple; we'll see when we can move forward with one of them.

And me?  Cripes, I don't know.  I've been meaning to kick my EVA Jedi Knight/Sith Acolyte into high gear for a while now.  It's all about finding the time to work on it, which means I have to start neglecting something else.  Probably Mechwarrior Online is the next thing I really have to ramp back on.  Too bad, because in December they're releasing the King Crab, and it looks bad-ass.

Oh look; something else to fit into my already tight schedule!

I'm reminded that I was going to release my GenCon Module "The Big Leagues" for public consumption this month, or at least to those who backed the Order 66 Podcast/GamerNationCon 2015 Kickstarter.  I really need to get on that.  Building these characters using the Force and Destiny careers and specializations should prove a fun exercise.

I've made some changes to my "Another Longshot" campaign.  Previously I was running my Tuesday night game (dubbed the "Wild Cards")  as a prelude campaign to "Another Longshot".  I've had some inspiration with what I want to do with the overall Longshot campaign and right now the Wild Cards don't really fit into that.  I've split the Wild Cards off as their own campaign on Obsidian Portal and made a new Another Longshot website.

I've put some time and effort into mapping out a sector of space where the Longshot game will predominantly occur in; the Hagen Sector.  Thanks to Pro Fantasy and their Campaign Cartographer, I was able to slap together a pretty cool map of the area.  I then went and applied my "Eons System Generation" method I talked about a year ago and came up with some pretty fun locations.  I haven't fleshed out every system, but I've got some neat ideas.

And with that, I think I'll call it for another blogpost.  Gotta get back to work.

May the dice be with you.