Sunday, September 1, 2019

Death & Dinosaurs Faction and Alignment

This image is from Dino Riders, a show and toy line from the eighties. It was and is an inspiration to me in this and other projects. 

Part 1: Overview of the project

Part 2: Basic rules of play

Alignment is one of those mechanics that never really went anywhere. I think that it was taken from the Elric stories by Michael Moorcock. The idea of aligning with the forces of chaos or the forces of order is pretty spiffy. They then added in another axis, good and evil which ended up giving us the 9 total alignments that have stuck with us ever after. When I began gaming alignment had been mostly left to D&D, but its shadow remained. Factions had replaced them. The factions served a similar purpose to alignment, point of fact they were just a less esoteric version of alignment. You were aligned with one of the factions. In some of the games, you had nesting factions where you would have multiple factions that you would owe your allegiance. This was all in place of being aligned to some sort of metaphysical directional constant. Though Planescape managed to do a lot with factions and alignment.

For this game, I'll be adding in four core factions that fit with my understanding of people. In a crisis, people turn to sources of power, the military/government, Technology/science, religion/god. I will add magical power to those three as that is an option in this setting. That gives us four pillars to the post-apocalyptic society. Also, it wouldn't feel like a proper setting without at least one outlier faction that is just a little weird.  Each of the factions will have a rough outline of their history, views of the world, primary role in the world, and the goals they seek.

All that remains of the governments of Canada and the United States. The majority of the military and the government were destroyed within a year of the Fall. During the Fall General Henry McCaskill of the Air Force gathered what few forces and material he could and brought them up to Montana, South and North Dakota along the Missouri River. Using the advantage of the rivers He and his forces held off the undead hordes and the forces of magic. As time wore on the bases along the river became the core of new communities rapidly filling with refugees. Soon riverboats began roving up the river from the Mississippi and brought news of New Orleans freedom, as well as the forces of the Church and the Circle.

By their tenth year resources were getting slim, the high amounts of magic in the world caused anything electronic to catastrophically fail. Their scouts brought back reports of people riding dinosaurs and using technology along the Washington coast. Contact was soon made with the Corporate Counsel of the Seatle Technology Alliance. In exchange for aid in protecting their lands and gathering needed raw materials, they would supply finished products and domesticated dinosaurs to the people of Norad.

Faction Goals: Protect your people and the ideas of the constitution of the United States of America; gather intelligence on the demonic threat; take back the land

Views of the other Factions
The Circle: Magic is the single most dangerous weapon in the world. It brought humanity to the brink of extinction. We must work with them, but never forget they are dancing on the edge of armageddon.
Sea-Tech Alliance: These technological elites sit in their towers of glass ruling over the peasantry. They need us and we can use that to bring the ideas of freedom and democracy to the huddled masses.
The Church: We defend the lives of the people. They defend their souls. The military and the church have always worked in differing fields, but we work well together. Especially now.
The Peroult Archive: A secret organization stretching back thousands of years filled with the knowledge of monsters. Yeah...not sure why no one trusts them. We need their skills and knowledge, but they are dangerous loose cannons.

The Circle
Before Egypt built the pyramids, before the heights of Babylon, there stood the silver city. The first city of Mankind. It was here the laws of Magick were first set down. It was here the first magicians made their great mistake. The destroyed the world in their hubris. Since that day the wizards and magicians of the world have followed a code. Do not use magic to control, do not seek to pervert nature, and never kill for power or selfish gain. The Circle exists to enforce that code and train each generation to responsibly use the powers of magic. The actions of the 13 have cast magic in a very negative light, but the Circle can hold back the demons, and protect what remains of New Orleans. They have made bargains with the Church and with the

Faction Goals: Use magick to heal and defend; Drive back the darkness; Gather Magickal power; Defeat the 13 without destroying the magick

Views of the other Factions
Norad: They are our best chance at driving back the evil undead. They do not trust us, but we can use them for both of our benefits.
Sea-Tech Alliance: They are dangerous, they are to technology what we are for magic. They rival us, but we need each other for now.
The Church: Currently they need us. Currently, we have an alliance. Never forget that they are dangerous to us,  more dangerous even than the Naturalists and Technologists. Watch them closely and tred lightly. Should we win, they will seek our destruction.
The Peroult Archive: For a thousand years we had heard whispers of a secret order of Witchfinders, Demonologists, Exorcists, and monster hunters. Only now do we see the full extent of their organization. They are very dangerous, and no one can say where their loyalties lie.

Sea-tech Alliance 
Technology has always been the salvation of mankind. Up until the fall, the highest achievement of Technology was the conquest of the cell and the return of the dinosaurs. The three tech companies that remained after the Fall managed to figure out iron, salt, and running water. They relocated to the islands in the Puget Sound. Surrounded by vast quantities of saltwater, the corporations have built a massive city of advanced technology. They trade for resources with Norad, and they work on upgrading humanity to fight back against the demons that plague the lands. In the years since the Fall, the Alliance has become something of a Feudal system. Management leads, they are something akin to the nobility. R&D has a great deal of power and influence, but they must follow the lead of Management. Finally, the Workers serve all above them...which is everyone. Everyone belongs to a corporation and the corporations belong to the Alliance. One of the few ways for a Worker to get out from under the thumb of the Alliance is to volunteer to join Norad Forces. Management is not pleased.

The three Corporations are Vicom Softworks, GeneTech, and OmegaMacro Research Group are the only entities known that deal in high technology. Vicom Softworks deals in information systems and machine interfaces. If you need cybernetics, robotics or computer systems you go to VS. Genetech is the corporation that brought the dinosaurs back. They still deal in genetics and have developed almost all of the supercrops used throughout the Alliance. They have also been bringing more dinosaurs back and releasing them into the wild. No one has figured out the reasons yet. OmegaMacro Research Group deals in materials science and finished products. Almost all guns and armor in America are made in their factories.

Faction Goals: Build Better Tech; Destroy Magick and Superstition; Knowledge is Power; The powerful should rule...beneficently

Views of the other Factions
Norad: They are useful fodder in this war. They believe themselves free, but fail to realize our chain is around their neck already. They need us far more than we need them, but they serve as a buffer and a pawn so we let them keep their little delusions.
The Circle: Magic is inconsistent and proveably dangerous. It does not follow the laws of nature. Those who wield it are not to be trusted. No magician or magical being is allowed to set foot on the islands. The Circle may be expedient for the moment, but they are the first on the chopping block when this war is done.
The Church: Superstitious and regressive, they serve no purpose save to keep the Workers content. There is no god, we are the masters of our own fate.
The Peroult Archive: A secret conspiracy of monster hunters dating back thousands of years? Hardly. Most likely it is a small group that went slightly mad afer the Fall and has since built up this grand myth of their own importance. They are much like the military, somewhat useful and ultimately disposable.

The Church
Faith nearly died in the West. Materialism, Naturalism, and nihilism where the name of the game throughout the twentieth century. When the Fall came there were too few Faithful to stand against the encroaching darkness. Cities burned and communication broke down. After the Fall black-robed holy warriors were seen fighting against the darkness, exorcising demons, and giving hope to the hopeless. Soon it was discovered that these "Black Robes" were Jesuit priests from the Salish Kootenai lands in northwestern Montana. They quickly established communication with other Churches that had survived. Five years after the fall this loose collection of ministers and priests gathered in a great council, in Great Falls(protected by Norad) to come together in a more unified and organized Church. The Chuch seeks to do as it has always sought. Heal the sick, give hope to the hopeless, and save the lost. Now however they face far greater threats than ever before.

Faction Goals: Heal the Sick; Minister to the Hopeless; Save the Lost

Views of the other Factions
Norad: They do good work. hey are the line between humanity and oblivion. We must minister to them and keep their spirits strong. Despair is easy, hope is dangerous, and Faith can move mountains.
The Circle: We must convince them that the path they are on is dangerous. We watch them closely, for they live in a land of temptation. What do they worship, the gift or the giver? Only they know the answer to that.
Sea-Tech Alliance: Their leadership has fallen to worship of self. They see themselves as gods made flesh, Pharaohs of the technological age. We must give their slaves hope and salvation, with the hope that when this tribulation is over the pharaohs will let our people go.
The Peroult Archive: There are old links between the Chuch and the Archive. They seek to do good in the world. We only fear that the centuries of secrets and lies may have led to corruption at the root of the archive.

The Peroult Archive
Since the dawn of the written word almost six thousand years ago the Archive has existed in one form or another. They collect data on supernatural threats and organize the training of those Chosen to fight them. They have a great deal of magical knowledge and have contacts within the Church and police forces around the world. They maintain strict secrecy, using blood oaths and geasa. Any slip might allow for the monsters to learn of them and bring the hunt to there door. They did not see the Fall coming, and as such much of their organization was destroyed along with the rest of mankind. Those that remain continue the task. Keeping the supernatural world a secret is sort of a moot point now, so for the first time in recorded history, they are operating in the open. Few completely trust them, but their knowledge of the threat and their willingness to fight alongside those they aid keeps them in the hunt.

Faction Goals: Hunt Supernatural Evil; Save humanity; Fade away when the task is done

Views of the other Factions
Norad: We end up working alongside soldiers the most, and often a soldier will the Chosen and it is our sacred duty to prepare them for their task. They often think to defensively, holding onto what they have rather than seeking to destroy the monsters. We encourage action whenever we deem appropriate.
The Circle: Many of the things we hunt start with a wizard doing something foolish. While we applaud the idea of a ruling body for wizards, we fear that much mystical power in one location.
Sea-Tech Alliance: They have many fine devices for fighting monsters. If they could temper their arrogance they could be a valuable ally in the war against the darkness.
The Church: We have worked with the Church for ages past. Our goal is to stiffen their spine and aid them in the inevitable crusade against the evil that inhabits this land.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Death & Dinosaurs: Basic Rules of Play

This is part 2 of a multi-part series where I design a game that feels in play like the games I played when I first started playing. In the previous post, I laid out the basics of the setting and some of my ideas on how the game will go. Check it out if you want this part to make sense.

Basic Rules
Rule 1: Dice rolls matter. Whenever the GM calls for a die roll it should matter. There should be definite downsides to failing and definite good sides to succeeding. Basically set the stakes before you roll.

You will be rolling a twenty-sided die for most of the game. You use a D20 for skill rolls, attack rolls, and for the occasional defense roll. The other dice come into play for damage, initiative, and effect rolls(effect rolls are for duration, area of effect, and other variables).

The Combat Cycle
Step 1: Roll for initiative. Each class will tell you what the base initiative die you roll(1D4, 1D6, or 1D8). Add in your Prowess modifier to get your final initiative score. You only roll once for the whole combat. But the score can be manipulated by spells and class abilities.
Step 2: Though this will be step one for the rest of the combat cycle. You may move and take one action. You may move up to your alacrity rating in yards and still take one action. That action can be to move again. Your action can be an attack, a second move, or skill use.
Step 3: Compare attacks to defense rating, or compare a skill rating to opponents opposed skill rating. Your base defense against physical attack is your prowess modifier added to 10. You may also get equipment and special abilities that will modify this number. You can give up your action to add to your defense for the turn by 1D4. This can be affected by special abilities.
Step 4: Deal with ramifications. Deal damage(usually based off of equipment), followthrough with effects of spells and skills, and any other follow on effects from actions taken.
Step 5: Return to Step 2 and follow through until one side flees, gets taken out(runs out of hit points), or the situation change such that combat is no longer necessary.

What is roleplaying?
In this section, I would have an explanation of roleplaying. It would be specific enough that you would sort of understand how it should go, but vague enough that you are still uncomfortable and confused during your first couple of sessions. It would then have an example of play, where I would try to write how people play and end up with a really odd scenario that would never happen in play. As I am writing for folks who most likely know about role-playing games already, I can probably just skip this part...

What you need to play
Paper - on which to write out your character's stats and all notes and doodles necessary for the mind to play the game.
Pencils - pencils are great because they have erasers. During play you will be called upon to add, subtract, and change data on your paper. Pencils are our friends...also they count as a wooden stake. Should vampires attack during the game don't you want the security of knowing you can handle it?
Friends - This can be tricky. Warriors aren't the only ones who see charisma as a dump stat. You will need a couple of friends at a minim to play. At least one to play the Game Master and at least two to play the Characters.
Dice - Many different kinds of dice are used for this game.  are listed as a number of dice followed by a D followed by the number of sides the die has. This game uses the following dice: D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20. You can get these online or at hobby stores. They are pretty cheap unless you want some fancy ones. These can go for a fair amount.

Each attribute will be rated as a number between 3 and 18. This number usually comes from a separate roll of 3d6 for each attribute. Though there are other methods you might use. Assume 3D6 down the line, unless your GM says otherwise.
Ratings and modifiers follow:
3 :-4, 4 : -3, 5-6 : -2, 7-8 : -1, 9-11 : 0, 12-13 : +1, 14-15 : +2, 16-17 : +3, 18 : +4

Why eight attributes?
In this game, I will be using eight attributes, but I will be using the old standby of 3D6 for the range of attribute rating. You have to remember I am trying to get the feel of the games I first played in my youth. They all had attributes, and those attributes were all a sort of response to D&D. They would be similar but would sort of feel like a reaction to them. Often these were pointless distinctions or an odd picadillo of a specific group's play style. As such altering attributes and adding a couple extra attributes

Glamor: Grace, poise, and physical attraction. This represents your physical presence and your ability to control how people see you. This is not just your innate physical symmetry and grace, it is your ability to use that to its best effect.
Pull: Force of personality, ability to get people to do what you want. Those with a high Pull can control Their emotions and the emotions of those around them. This is one's ability to get what you want through sheer force of personality, charisma, and moxy.
Strength: Lifting, carrying, breaking things. This represents your ability to focus and utilize your raw musculature. You can lift Strength x10 lbs without incurring mechanical difficulty. you can lift double that weight as your maximum carrying capacity. When carrying more than your normal limit you can not use any strength bonus to skills, and any penalties are doubled.
Prowess: Muscle control and hand-eye coordination. The opposite end of the muscle spectrum. Your reflexes and fine motor control.
Fortitude: Health, endurance, toughness. Your ability to resist pain, disease, poison, Distractions, and fatigue. Those with a great deal of this can stand fast in the face of armageddon, those without much of this are easily distracted and easily pushed around.
Alacrity: Swiftness, Fleetness of foot. Those with a high Alacrity act first and cover the most ground. Those with high Alacrity are slim and swift, those without much are in someway slow and have poor reactions. Your Alacrity attribute number is the number of yards you can move per action, or double that if you take no actions.
Intellect: Intelligence, knowledge, and ability to learn and understand new data and skills. This also includes memory. Let's be honest this is the standard RPG understanding of intelligence. You know what this is for.
Willpower: mental strength, endurance, and resistance. Your force of will and your mental endurance. This also plays into your focus and perception.

When making a skill check you roll a d20 add a relevant attribute bonus or penalty as well as the skill rating. You compare this number against the success threshold. If you roll higher than the threshold you succeed; roll lower than the threshold and you fail. If you are using a skill against an opponent they would roll the relevant attribute and skill combo, and you need to roll higher then their roll and the threshold.

Skills have two variants, Trained Skills, and Hobby Skills. Trained Skills have a success threshold of 10(meaning you must roll higher than 10 to succeed). Hobby Skills have a success threshold of 15. Untrained skills have a success threshold of 21, you cannot critically succeed with an untrained skill. Your class will let you know what skills you have as hobby skills and trained skills.

Each skill starts at rank 0, at each level(including the first level) you gain 5+your intellect modifier in skill points which you can use to increase your skills by 1. Your maximum skill level is your current level. You can move an untrained skill to hobby level for two skill points, move a hobby skill to trained skill for double the current skill level in skill points.

Academics: Understanding of history, literature, and philosophy. This is book learning. Knowledge of how to attain information and who to talk to in an academic environment.
Acrobatics: Jumping, dodging, flipping, moving with finesse balance and control.
Animal Handling: Your ability to communicate with, control, and ride animals. A super Useful Skill in this strange dinosaur infused future.
Art: The creation of objects and expressions of ideas that serve a primarily aesthetic purpose, though there can be more to it than that. This is the creation of art. Discuss what that means for your character when you take this skill.
Awareness: The ability to feel, perceive, or attain consciousness of events, object, patterns, people, and the world around you.
Charm: Getting people to want to help you. You get what you want through making people like you.
Climbing: The ability to climb well. This includes free climbing, rappelling, rock climbing, tree climbing...all sorts of climbing, really.
Cookery: The art of preparing food for consumption. Anyone can do it, in fact, most cook to one degree or another every day. You, however, are a cut above. Your food is more than just sustenance, it is an experience.
Demolitions: Creation and removal of explosive devices. Don't screw up...BOOM!
Investigation: Directed and focused awareness. Seeking small but crucial details.
Disguise: The ability to alter your appearance or the perception of your appearance to others.
Engineer: Applied scientific knowledge and ingenuity. This is the skill of building and repairing things.
Escapology: The practice of escaping traps and restraints.
Etiquette: Knowledge of who to talk to and understanding of how things are done in high society.
Forensics: A scientific method for understanding the causes of death in a formerly living being.
Forgery: the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive
Intimidate: getting people to do what you want through the use of threats and fear. No one likes a bully, yet people do what the bully wants, so who cares?
Lore: Knowledge of magic theory, demonology, and an understanding of all things magical and superstitious. This is the knowledge of how to attain information and who to talk to in the Magical subculture.
Medicine: Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and treatment injuries. If you get shot, 
Might: Lifting, breaking, the distance you can throw, bending. Feats of strength and endurance.
Melee Combat: This represents mastery of hitting things with other things. You are a master of using hand to hand weaponry.
Ranged Combat: Shooting stuff, throwing stuff, hitting at a distance. You are William Tell, Robin Hood, Buffalo Bill, Sergeant York, Wild Bill Hitchcock, or Legolas.
Running: The ability to move swiftly. This covers long-distance running, like marathons, and short distance running, like sprints.
Science: Like all the deadly arts it is divided into two schools of thought...Soft Science and Hard Science. When you take this skill you choose one of the styles of science and cannot take the other.
Stealth: Your ability to move unseen and conceal yourself from the eyes of others. The weapon of a ninja.
Streetwise: Knowledge of underbelly of society. This is a skill used to understand who to talk to and where things can be found within the criminal subculture.
Survival: Techniques used to gather the necessities of life within the wilderness.
Swimming: Mankind's primary weapon in its never-ending war against the menace of water.
Thievery: You are trained in picking locks, picking pockets, and cracking safes. One might say you are somewhat untrustworthy.
Unarmed Combat: Punching, kicking, gouging, scratching, and biting. When you got nothing else, you still have the weapons the gods gave you. At rank 1 you must choose either a hard martial art or a soft martial art. Hard means when the opponent attacks and fails, they take damage equal to your rank in the skill. Soft grants a bonus to defense equal to your rank.
Vehicle Operation: you can maintain and operate vehicles

And that is the rough outline of the core mechanics, the Attributes, and The Skill list. Next week I will go into the alignments and factions of the games. That should be fun. Right? I hope it is fun...

Let me know what you think, I am always intrested in comments critiques. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Death & Dinosaurs: Introduction

As it is my birthday, I have been thinking about my personal history with roleplaying. I did not start way back in the seventies or early eighties like some. I started in the early nineties and didn't play D&D until I was well into the hobby. In the last few years, I have been looking at the OSR movement. I dig what they are attempting to do with the various games. It seems like they are trying to impart the feel and style of game they first played. I like this whole concept, though I didn't have the same experiences or the same beginnings as many of the designers of OSR games. I do not have the same experiences, but the OSR bug had me. So I have decided to do a bit of micro design here on the blog. I will be making my own personal OSR game, my own Old School. So come with me, back to the early nineties. An age of game design that was strange and fun, filled with cargo cult design and metaplot. It shall be a strange journey, I hope you have as much fun reading(and hopefully playing) it as I did designing it. Let us begin...

The nineties were an odd time for gaming. Design Theory was still kind of vague. This is all from my perspective, but this seems to be the core of gaming at the time. Primarily I recall gamers wanting to find the one system that works for everything, and there was a lot of work to make that happen even with really odd systems. I had a friend who used(and still uses to this day) Marvel FASERIP for every game he runs. EVERY GAME.  I had another who used Rolemaster combined with Paranoia and swore it worked even when it clearly did not. This led to a lot of system bloat in games, where they added systems for all sort of things to games. I am pretty sure there was not a lot of playtesting done. If it was done at all it was alpha testing only, and that led to odd gaps in rules descriptions. Finally, there was a sense that rolling dice was sort of seen as a failure. I recall my playgroups really looking down on combat systems, and mechanics in general. So this sort of led to cargo cult design, games that add more and more systems to an existing system with the knowledge that it was not going to be used. So the systems existed only to add flavor and style to the game. Nineties games were all about style and self-assurance. At least, that is how it felt to me.

Now I am not going to try and recreate it all, but I am going to try and recreate a game that feels in play like the games I played with my friends. It will be silly, as my friends were all pretty silly. It is going to be gonzo because we played games that had all the things we liked in it. It is going to use systems that feel a little janky, but it will be a bit more coherent than some of the games we used to play. It will have Vampires, because the nineties. It will zombies because nineties. It will have cyborgs, because nineties. It will have Dinosaurs...why? BECAUSE NINETIES BABY! YEAH! I am currently calling it...

Death & Dinosaurs

December 31st, 1999 the thirteen archmagi of the earth seek to take over the planet using their magical powers to summon demons and evil spirits to inhabit the bodies of the dead. Technology becomes unreliable and billions of the dead rise and take over much of the world. One cutting edge tech company genetically created dinosaurs in the early seventies as attractions for a theme park. When the world fell these dinosaurs were released into the world. Now 50 years later mankind has tamed these dinosaurs to aid in travel through the cursed wasteland and fight the zombie hordes. Only three remnants of civilization remain, Norad holds much of Missouri River Basin, The Circle protects New Orleans and the Mississipi, and the Sea-Tech Alliance produces incredible technology from the islands of the Puget Sound. Each of these remnants sends out rangers to defend civilization with iron, salt, and the ancient power of the saurians.

Inspirations: Lazarus comic series, Old Man Logan, The Book of Eli, Alita: Battle Angel(and the comic it was based on), Jurassic Park(books and films), Cadillacs and Dinosaurs(Xenozooic Tales), Zombieland, Suicide Squad(Specifically the film, and specifically the witch in it and her plan.), World War Z(the book not the film), The Jon Shannow books, The Stand, I Am Legend(also Omega Man), Dino-Riders

The North American Zones
Manhattan: Magic cannot cross the water, and the city is run by a gang lord, The Duke,  who rose through violence and canny political moves. He maintains order through a quasi-feudal system of control. often raiders head out to steal and scavenge from the surrounding lands.
The East: Vlad II(father of Dracula) rules most of the lands between the Atlantic and the Mississippi River. Many cults rule over the territories, building vast temples for sacrifice to their dark lord. Vampire Queens roam these lands with their packs of lesser vampires, demanding tribute from all within their domain.
The North: Baba Yaga rules Canada down to the great lakes and the Missouri River, very few people remain in the region. She rules over magically uplifted wolves and bears, infused with demonic spirits. her power holds the winter in place, making it always winter and never Christmas.
The West: From the Mississippi River to the west coast ruled by Morgan le Fay. She has granted power to a number her Chosen Knights who rule over various territories and fight each other for her amusement.
The South: Florida, Alabama, and Georgia are controlled by the Serpent King, the area is infested with dragons of all sorts. Sometimes dragons and dinosaurs fight. This is awesome.
The Islands: the islands in the Puget Sound are protected by the waters of the pacific and the last of the big tech companies, who have been working on ways to fight the zombies. Currently, they have developed technologies that are magic resistant, and have found that cybernetics and genetic augmentation can protect the technology from the effects of magic. These augmentations allow soldiers to fight on an even field with the worst of the demons. Aristocratic elite use technology to protect and control the serfs who work within them.
New Orleans: home to the last of the white magicians. and central hub for the river folk. They are ruled by a council headed by someone calling himself Thrice Blessed Hermes.
Norad Defense Zone: Running out a few small bases along or near the Missouri River. They are the primary suppliers of refined metals and dinosaurs. They also are the few

Magick has always existed, though only a few humans have ever been able to use it. For thousands of years The Circle, the powerful ruling council of magicians, held magicians in check, protecting the world from evil magick and demonic forces. Magick can corrupt those who wield it, but the remnants of The Circle use their magic to defend humanity and defeat the minions of The Thirteen.

There are two kinds of magick spells and rituals. Spells are quick and dirty magick that deals with immediate effects. Rituals have lasting effects and take more effort to accomplish. The 13 used a massive ritual to attain immortality and tremendous godlike magical power, they each have a different style and a different focus.

Magick cannot cross running water, or circles of salt. Salt and Iron can disrupt magick, and deal damage to spirits and demons. Dinosaurs predate magick and are largely immune to magick. These ancient beasts represent raw power deep within the collective unconscious, which grants them deep metaphysical power.

Minions of the 13
Zombies - Footsoldiers of armageddon, the lowest and most numerous od demons inhabiting the bodies of the recently dead, almost mindless and shrieking with hunger. The more they eat, the more horror they cause, the faster stronger and smarter they become. eventually becoming a ghoul. tend to attack in wave upon wave.
Vampires - Leaders and spies, they have many powers and are often minor lords of hell in the bodies of the fallen. Appear to be alive, though still dead. Must drink blood to continue to operate. Fears sunlight, and can only be killed in certain ways.
Ghouls - High ranking demons who seek to infiltrate and bring chaos to the societies of man. They are corrupters and ill-meaning advisors. They often come across as wise and knowledgeable but in the end, bring only ruin to those they advise.
Mummies - Even the 13 care for some people, and those they want with them for eternity are mummified and prepared using special rituals so that the soul does not leave the body on death. Mummies are usually quite insane, and vastly powerful.
The Chained - Living humans who have betrayed their people to the dark forces are sometimes put through rigorous loyalty training before having a demon bound into their body. They have a great deal of power and are used to bring down groups that are prepared for the undead.
Wendigo/werewolf/berserker: a demon of hunger bound within the body of a person granting them the powers of beast and man.
Madlings: people who have been driven mad by the collapse of reason. they seek to live in the world by becoming worse than the world.
Sorcerer: those chosen few trained and raised up by the thirteen to rule over small regions of their territory. They have spells, but they are not trained in Magick. If they betray their master they lose their power.

Who do you play
The Range Rider - Have a kinship with nature and animals, they ride dinosaurs to protect the few civilized places. Focus is on the pet, use some ranger rules. Tyrannosaur, Triceratops, Ankylasaur, Utah Raptor, Quetzalcoatlus. They can take action after the character's action. They gain access to more commands and tactics as their master levels up. They draw aggro and do area attacks.
The Chosen One - Before the fall your kind was chosen to defend the earth from demons and monsters. You can sense them, you can fight them, and you have the instinct of a hunter. Can sense demons and demon spawn, does extra damage ith all attacks to demonic forces, highly immune to magic, enhanced physique.
The Faithful - The 13 were only able to do their dark ritual because the world had become secular and depraved. Mankind had turned his face from god and so evil was given domain over the earth. You are one of the few Trained Clergy remaining in the world. This grants you the ability to resist temptation and the mission to help bring light to the darkness. Immune to mental domination, ability to inspire those around them. gain a superhuman ability(healing, purify food and water, inspiration), basically a cleric.
The Egghead - You are the mad scientist. You build things. You harness the power of nature into new and better ideas and understandings. MAD SCIENCE, huge bonuses to science and engineering, however, they pick up derangements to decrease difficulties or time. You can keep magic from affecting your inventions, though if it leaves you for a little while it breaks.
The Mystic - There are still those magicians in the world who do not want to serve the 13. You are one of these White Wizards. You know the temptations of magick, and you fight it every day. For, in the end, your knowledge will help bring down the 13 and save the world. you can cast spells and know magic circles. can become corrupted, use a dark side mechanic...prbably from Star Wars WEG.
The Augmented - You have been enhanced through some sort of super science, you went through Crispr or you are a cyborg or similar changes. You can actually go toe to toe with the demons in hand to hand combat and win. Each level you gain another augment, so long as the tech is covered in the flesh of a human it is immune to the corrupting influence of magic. However, if you gain too many augments you become inhuman enough for demons to gain control of you. Can increase each of the physical attributes to 16(if taken again can increase to eighteen), must take separately for each attribute boost. Increased initiative. Healing increase. sensor abilities.

Norad: the remnants of the North American militaries, centered along the Missouri River. They use non-electronic weapons and seek to return the Democracy and Peace to the remains of the Republic. Each town and base has a governor a representative, they are centered in Great Falls Montana.
The Circle: The last of the white mages, centered in New Orleans and the Mississippi River. They use massive rituals to hold back the tide of dark magic from the lands along the river. The Circle has a hard time dealing with normal folks as they are viewed with great suspicion by the average person.
Sea-tech Alliance: the Seattle technical firms using advanced tech to defeat the menace from the islands in the Puget Sound. There are three major corporations in the alliance. This region has become something like techno feudalism.
Gulf, Lake & River People: they live upon the Missouri and Mississippi rivers as well as the great lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. They roam the rivers to stay safe and trade with the people and towns along the way. They have a reputation as being untrustworthy and of stealing people from communities.

Alright, that is the first part done. I think I have enough in here on the setting is adequate for basic play. Though if you know me, you know that I will be adding more and more as I go forward. Next up I will be introducing the basic rules of the game, attributes, and skills. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Second Game Of Christmas 2018

Previous Games of Christmas: Earthdawn

Sometimes to fight great evil, one must turn to another type of evil. When heroes fall, and systems collapse, sometimes all you have left is the lesser evil. That is the idea behind today's game. Supervillains save the day. I kind of fall in love with ideas, and from the moment I encountered this one, I was infatuated with the idea of this game.

Necessary Evil

Story time. Back in 2003...or maybe 2004, not sure...I was at a gaming convention(MACE if it matters). Anyway, I was signing up for games and I saw this one listed as Savage Worlds. I had never heard of it before, but the setting was Star Wars, and I thought it sounded fun. The GM was Clint Black and he kept going on about all the cool settings and the like. And he held up his copy of Necessary Evil and said it was brand new. Ho man was it fun. I ended up getting a copy at the con and getting it signed. A lot of very important things happened for me at that convention. This game is fun to play and solidly designed. I will be using the Explorers Edition throughout this, as in most respects it is an improvement on the original edition.

Peritextual Elements
Pictured 1st Edition, much the best
The book is solidly built and holds up well. the cover is OK, though I really prefer the original cover to the new one. Inside it is all high gloss pages with lots of solid art. Funny story, at the time I first played the game I was also playing City of Heroes and there is a character in the game that is almost an exact match to my character in the game. It was part of what sold the game tome. It is a solid visual design through some of the art and layout is less than perfect. Overall though I find it fun to look through even if I am not playing.

The game uses Savage Worlds as its engine. you have a number of attributes and skills, they use die steps, much like yesterday's game. you also have levels and you gain edges as you go forward. Edges are limited by level and die step...except if you take the super edge superpower which lets you take any edge. You can start off super powerful in this game. the game is kind of unique in that it is pretty simple and yet has a lot of fiddly bits and subsystems. That seems contradictory...and it is, but somehow it manages to be both complex and simple. I like it. The game also has an interesting adventure building mechanic, where it randomizes the type of adventure while still getting a slid campaign thru line. In the first edition, it was far worse than this, explorers edition has a much better-designed adventure path system.

Second edition, which I like less
The setting is a pretty standard supers universe in its history. up until the alien invasion. Aliens invaded and the heroes fought back. It was a tough fight and they only won through the help of a friendly group of aliens. After the victory everyone celebrated, and all was great...for about ten minutes. You see the friendly aliens were secretly behind the invasion, to begin with,
and they used the victory as a way to wipe out the heroes and conquer earth once and for all. So the heroes are all dead. However, this worlds top mastermind realized a plan to gather villains and use them to defeat the aliens, both groups of aliens. Anyway, you play as the villainous members of the resistance fighting against evil fishy overlords from space. There is a lot more t the setting than that, but that is the basics and I love the concept too much to spoil it for you.

And that is all for today folks. I hope you enjoyed it.
Next time...

Dogs in the Vinyard

Thursday, December 13, 2018

First Game of Christmas 2018

Once again, dear friends, we delve into our recurring tradition of doing mini-reviews of games I have played. That's right my peeps it is time for the First game of Christmas.

This year we start with a game I played long ago. When I was first getting into games(I was fourteen or fifteen at the time) I had this odd categorization of games in my head. First, there were the games I played al the time - Palladium games, D&D, and Traveller - which I thought of as Normal. Then there came the games I was forced to play - Mostly White Wolf Games, and games that imitated that style - that I thought of as snooty games that I didn't like. though to be honest I think I disliked the people who played those games and their attitudes toward other players than the games themselves. And finally there were the games that looked interesting but I could never get into a game. Mostly these were games like Cyberpunk 2020, Battletech, and Ars Magica. Anyway, one day I was at the game shop and this girl was in there with this game I had never seen before, never even heard a whisper of it. When I asked about it she spoke of it like it was a very important and powerful thing. I knew right away I wanted to play it, I wouldn't get a chance for years(over five years). That game was...


First Edition
This game, I think, is a response to two things. First, it's a direct response dungeons and dragons. a way to build a setting and game system where delving into dungeons would make sense. Second, it was a response to the styles at the time(the game came out in 1993). Games that focused on metaplot and narrative structure. It was the same time a bunch of games of that type came out. Games where politics and NPCs were as important as fighting monsters and getting loot. FASA was really big in the meta plot-heavy games, ask any hardcore old-school Battletech players and they will tell you all about metaplot, Shadowrun was also pretty heavy into it as well. Heck, the plot f Earthdawn and Shadowrun are intrinsically linked.  However, I did not mind the metaplot as mu h in Earthdawn as I do in other games. Not sure why. Maybe it is enough in the background of the standard mode of play that I didn't notice.

Through this review, I will be using the first edition of the game(there are like four editions out now). The reason is that it is the only edition I have played, so I feel a little better discussing that edition that those which I have only read. And now without further ado, let's dig into Earthdawn.

Peritextual Elements
The book is solidly put together, I have had mine since the nineties and the biggest problem I have had some fading and curling of the cover. the font choice was a solid, simple design that is easy to read and follow along. The art is very well done, especially for the time it was written. mostly black and white, though there are some color inserts. The art is spread out evenly throughout the book and is a nice breakup. Flipping through the bk I still get excited to see what is on the next page. Always fun when you get some solid art in your book. The only issue I have with the art is that sometimes it has nothing to do with the mechanics or setting described on the page. 

The mechanics of the game are somewhat complex. For the time period it was fairly middle of the road, but seen through the lens of history it is complex. That is neither a condemnation nor a confirmation of that complexity. In the nineties, there was a glut of games with intense amounts of complexity, games like AD&D, Champions, and GURPs. compared to games of its age the Earthdawn is about the middle of the road. the game is a task-based system where you roll dice of carrying types against a target number. I think this may have been the first game to use die steps(d4, d6, d8, d10, etc), in fact, I think this game was the one that invented the term itself. 

You have a set of attributes which set ut the base die step of any given task with that attribute. Then you add in any relevant skill or Talent(magical ability) to that rating to get the final die step for your task. This game has levels, in which you gain new talents and skills, but they didn't call it that. The levels are called circles, I think this is to make them a part of the setting rather than a metanarrative conceit of the game. There are a number of things like that. Maybe that is why I liked the game so much when I was a kid. It was the first game I had encountered where the mechanics were linked to the setting explicitly. Even names had importance in the game, names of people, places and things are deeply connected to eth magic system in the game. Though I do need to be clear that I have always been a bit lost n the names, patterns, and threads. My GM really seemed to get it, but it got kind of obscure as I dug further in. This Naming thing did allow for a cool feature of magic items. Basically the more you knew about the name and history of a magic item the more powerful it became. This has always been a neat idea and I would love to use it in many other things. 

The setting of Earthdawn is what truly drew me to the game. It was aCaerns, underground chambers made of pure elemental magic material, from dragons and begin making them. Lots of politics and the like happen and the magic rises to even greater levels. Eventually, everyone that will retreat int the Caerns des so and they begin the long wait for the magic levels to drop back to safe levels.
s if they sat down and looked at the tropes common in the fantasy RPG genre and tried to come up with a setting that would make them all make sense. It is pretty spiffy. It goes like this: long ago there was a time of high magic. One day a wizard discovered that the magic levels would keep growing and growing until the walls between worlds began to break a little. When that happened, horrrs would creep into the world and destroy, torment, and devour any and all they encountered. This had lead to previous cataclisms and the shattering of history. This wizard spread the word and started a project to save civilization, he began archiving all the histories and knowledge he could trying to find a way to save the world. ver time all this knowledge and power became an empire built around this archive and project. Now that I break it down like this I see some interesting parallels to Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. So with the empire building and growing they eventually find the solution to the Horrors. They learn the secrets of building

Some folk began to reopen their Caerns and explore the world left bear by Horrors and hundreds of years. They began to rebuild and explore. For a while things were good, then the empire began to come back and use its massive magical power to try and reestablish their great empire. Now the players play members of the Naming races exploring underground Caerns, fighting horrors, and dealing with troubles with the empire. The naming races are the elves, dwarfs, orks, trolls, humans, Windlings(pixies), Tskrang(lizard people), and Obsidimen(rock people). overall the setting is very deep and well put together. I have just hinted at the basics, I would recommend digging in further, it is a fun trip.

First game of Christmas is now complete, tomorrow we will dig into...

Necessary Evil

Should be fun fun!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Probably In Space Episodes 0.5 and 0.75

Recently I got together with some friends to play some Fate Core. We were finishing up some world building and character creation. It actually took 2 sessions to get all the character creation and set up finished. It has been a while since I have run a Fate game, a long while. For the last couple of years, I have been running 13th Age and a number of OSR games. I fell in love with 13th Age the moment I first played it at a convention a few years back. If you want to know my thoughts on the game I did a brief review a while back.

Long story short, I am a bit rusty running games of Fate. and that became apparent during the first session. I forgot t describe things, I was all over the place and I just wasn't feeling it. You can probably see my frustration on my face. With some help from my players, I think I am getting better, getting back into the swing of things. I guess we will see how it goes in the next few sessions.

During the first session, we created characters for three of my players, in it, we kind of came up with a group backstory. They are all Licensed Troubleshooters, a mix of a Bounty Hunter and Private Investigator who have more freedoms and authority than your average citizen of the human planets. They have access to a number of semi-legal jobs set ut by those who can afford to hire Troubleshooters. Some work alone, others for teams and work together. The Characters we made in the first half of character Creation are as follows:

The Pilot
Name: Eddy Skipper
High Concept: Slightly unhinged mystic pilot
Trouble: Just making ends meet for the wife and kids
Aspects: It’s MY ship; I can punch through it; Action before inaction

+4: Drive (stunt: +2 to pilot the between)
+3: Empathy, Athletics
+2: Fight, Crafts, Notice
+1: Contacts, Will, Science, Shoot

Stress: 3
Fate: 3
The Mad Scientist
Name: Professor Jaime Akers
High Concept: Cheerfully Malevolent Mad Scientist
Trouble: Can’t Outrun My Experiments
Aspects: Engineered Now Is Better Than Engineered Right; Fieldwork Is For Chumps; Deceit and Treachery Beat Strength And Courage

+4: Science!
+3: Craft, Shoot
+2: Provoke, Athletics, Deceive
+1: Notice

Stress: [3] [2] [1]
Fate: 3


There’s No Kill Like Overkill:  Attacks with custom-built weaponry hit everything in the target zone on a success with style
The Space Mounty

Name: Constable Barton Tracer
High Concept: Constable of the Royal NeoCanadian Mounted Space Police
Trouble: Irritatingly Polite and Honest
Aspect: MacKenzie Got My Back; Master Wilderness Tracker; Stickler for Procedure

Great (+4): Investigate
Good (+3): Fight, Notice
Fair (+2): Athletics, Rapport, Shoot
Average (+1): Drive, Physique, Stealth, Will
Stress: 3
Fate: 3
Scent? Tracker: Gain a +2 bonus to overcome using Investigate, when trying to track someone by finding a clue and doing something disgusting such as smelling and tasting it.

Here is the first Character Creation Session, we also did a little bit of adventure at the end of the session, setting up some troubles for our heroes. These three had been working together to retrieve a Troubleshooter who had been caught by the Precursors on a different mission. The retrieval went well, and they managed to evade the Precursor ships and return to the planet. When they went in for payment, they were pushed around by the Interim Lieutenant Governor and things go poorly. You can watch/listen if you like.

The Following week we got our fourth player on board and had to make up a character and the like. I also had some issues I needed some help with and this is where I think I started t finally get back into the swing of things, as far as Fate Core is concerned. I think I am still getting the feel for the setting we made and so there may be some changes as we go forward. However here is the fourth and final character for the game:

High Concept: War Sleeve nothing to lose
Trouble: Powerful Enemies
Aspect: It'll work out... Trust me.
Aspect: The money comes first
Aspect: Are you sure this is legal?
Aspect: Broke and failing sleeve
+4: Shoot
+3: Contacts, Investigate
+2: Will, Physique, Notice
+1: Rapport, Resources, Provoke, Deceive
Stress: 3
Fate: 2

Pretty sure there are to many aspects here, not sure how that happened.

You can watch/listen to the session below. If you were ever wondering how introducing a new character to a game might work in Fate, this might be of some use to you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Probably In Space Episode 0

Last night I started a new game of Fate Core with some friends. I knew I wanted to do something within the realms of science fiction, or perhaps some sort of superheroic story(maybe set within the setting I am kind of building, Coast City). I didn't have much more than that going forward with the game, I just knew I wanted to run a game.

The session started with a bit of back and forth on what we wanted to see in the game. We finally settled on using A Spark Of Fate Core to do the world building. It works pretty well, though I think I need to play around with it a few more times to really get a sense of it. I have used it a couple of times in the past, but I think it went better this time than in the previous.

So we came up with a setting that I think is somewhat interesting. At some point in the future, humans invent the ability to transfer their mind(consciousness, soul, whatever) from one body to another, and even to clone and produce better than human bodies to inhabit. This led to the leaders and elite to begin hopping through better and better bodies maintaining control and power, growing in knowledge and power with each new body. These body-hopping elites became the defacto leaders of the human race. These Methuselahs eventually led humanity to the stars through a form of space folding faster than light travel. The space fold allowed ships to travel nearly instantly over 6 light years per jump. However, traveling through the fold allowed the Things Between to gain access to human minds and infect them with extradimensional energies. These became the first mystics, able to perceive and channel energies beyond the ken of normal minds. This awakening also would slowly drive these affected minds insane.

In fear of these effects, the Methuselahs built great Artificial Intelligences to pilot ships through the spaces between. This went poorly. The machines were thoroughly corrupted by the Things Between, they became the first Red Caps, mad machine gods with the will to destroy all life and break down the barriers between all places and times. They killed and killed, wiping out life on all planets they encountered. And so it was a return to human pilots and old technology. Anything too smart, too complex and the Things Between can get a foothold and corrupt the tech. To fight the Red Caps the Methuselahs built Warsleeves for select humans. Those chosen where the few humans who traveled through folded space in utero. They were born different, some were completely unaffected by the Things Between, and others were born with a Thing Between in their mind. Both types of human could face the torment of the Red Caps and walk away unscathed, at least in mind.

One hundred years ago the starship Icarus, an experimental long distance ship, vanished into Fold Space. 20 years ago it returned from unknown reaches of space. The first to step aboard the derelict ship died within minutes. An alien species, ancient and powerful, poured forth from the bowels of that vessel and began a systematic conquest of the system(Need a name for that...don't have one yet). There num ers grew and grew, and the war has been near constant ever since. Though no one likes to speak of it, humanity is losing. They are known as the Ulmanmandi(The horde from beyond), and they seek to stop humanities ability to travel faster than light. The lieutenant governor's unexpected death has not helped things.

A month ago he set out to lay his old body to rest and enter a newer stronger body. His new body did not rise at the appointed time. This is the first recorded instance in a thousand years of a Methuselah failing to rise again. The people are growing worried, rumors are spreading. Soon it will be the Governor's time to resleeve, and no one knows what the future will bring. It is a time of chaos and uncertainty, but also a time of opportunity.

That is how things sit for the moment. Now I need to figure out a solid pitch for my players so they can come up with characters in our next session. If you have a thought on what pitches might go with this setup please let me know. Below is a recording of our session, should you wish to watch/listen.