Saturday, December 30, 2017

World's Strongest: Contest of Champions 2

Previous Contest of Champions: Set Up

The track for the race is a quarter mile loop, constructed to handle both vehicles and foot traffic. Those beings who can fly must remain within ten feet of the ground to compete. The crowds come early and the stands remain full the whole day. Concessions are provided by several local Catering Companies, including Henry's. Specialties include various meats n sticks, as well as the local delicacies of Cast City. It is a big day for the local economy.

The first day f the contest is a race. A 1 mile race: I will break it down to number of actions and the time required. 1 round is 15 seconds, each action is a variable amount of seconds. Speed rating times 20 is the number of yards you may run in a given round, you then divide by the number of actions you have per round to find out how many yards you may run in an action. You also divide 15 by the number of actions to find out how long each action takes. Bear in mind there are 1760 yards in a mile, or 5280 feet in a mile(and 3 feet in a yard...I guess I can break it down more if I need to, but I sure hope I don't need to).

Impact has a speed rating of 72(which increases to 144 when he is over 20 ft tall). He also has 5 actions per melee, so that is 3 seconds per action. As he is seeking to run his fastest he will definitely increase his size to at least 20 ft tall for the whole race. This means he is moving at 720 yards per melee round, or 144 yards per action. this means that he can run a mile in 12 actions. He can run a mile in 36 seconds. HOLY CRAP! That is almost a hundred miles an hour, and honestly that is not a super hard number to beat within the system, I have had loads of characters with higher speed ratings.

Calamity has a speed rating of 77 and 4 actions per melee round. This means she may move 385 yards per melee, or 96.25 yards per action(each action is 3.75 seconds long). She can run  mile in 68.75 seconds.

Megaton is probably going to win the race. She is kind broken when it comes to speed. She can run at 700 mph, and can triple that per gravity manipulation. So she can hit 2100 mph, which is 1026.6 yards per second. She has 6 actions per melee, each action is 2.5 seconds long, 2566.5 yards per action. She manages to hit the mile mark in 1.7 seconds. A mile per two seconds is going t pretty hard to beat.

The Whirlwind has a speed of 129 and 12 actions per round. This means he can run 654 yards per 15 seconds. The actions take 1.25 seconds, and he may run 54.5 yards per 1.25 seconds. He can do a mile in 40.37 seconds.

Car Mage is allowed to use her car to do the race. The 'Cuda can travel at 600 mph, and she has 4 actions per round. so she is able to drive a 293.3 yards per second. She hits the mile mark at 6 seconds.

The Night Sheriff is going to have a problem, as he only has a speed rating of 24(out of 18), s he is only able to run at 120 yards per melee. He has 5 actions per melee, so each action is 3 seconds long. He can run 24 yards per action. He makes it to the mile mark at 220 seconds. A 3.6 minute mile is slow. so very slow.

Hammer of Heaven has exactly the same speed as The Night Sheriff, so she hits the finish line at the same time.

The Wanderer also has the same speed rating, but he can cast Fly as an Eagle and move at 50 mph, or use Metamorphosis: Animal t become a cheetah and do 90 mph. As a cheetah he is able to travel a 44 yards per second(132 yd per action, he has five actions per melee round). He can do a mile in 40 seconds. A decent showing.

Storm Eagle can fly at 160 mph, though she can travel much faster for short periods. She can turn into electricity and travel at 300 mph for short bursts of one melee in length. so she is going to be a bit of a different than the others. when travelling electrically she moves at 146.7 yards per second for the first melee round. If she has not hit the mile at that she reduces her speed to a mere 78.2 yards per second. She manages to do a mile in less than a melee round so she does not need to worry about dropping out of the pure electricity form. She manages a mile in just under 12 seconds(11.997 seconds).

Breakthrough can run at triple his normal rate through the use of Alter Metabolism, this would get him up to 405 yards per melee round, however he can also fly at 200 mph, which lets him hit 1466.6 yards per melee round. Break through can hit the mile in just under 18 seconds(17.999 seconds).

Mr. Shade has a speed rating of 34, meaning he can move 170 yards per melee round. He manages a mile in 155.29 seconds, just over two and a half minutes.

Wrath has a speed of 27, meaning she hits the mile at 195.5 seconds. 3 minutes and change.

The Physician does not do well. With a speed rating of 11 he can manage 55 yards per melee round, or 3.6 yards per second. He manages to run a mile in 480 seconds, almost eight minutes.

Maximum has a speed rating of 1100, so he can hit 5500 yards per melee, or 366.667 yards per second. he manages to hit a mile in 4.8 seconds.

Metal Marshal is not really designed for speed, she is more of a heavy hitter. Her speed, in the suit, is 70, meaning she can do 350 yards per melee, 23.3 yards per second. She can hit the mile in 75.4 seconds.

Devil Fist doesn't have a super high speed, however he can use chi to enhance his speed for one melee round. By spending 80 chi Devil Fist enhances his speed to 424. This means he can run for 2120 yards per melee round for one melee round. He manages to hit the mile mark at 12.45 seconds.

Perdition has a speed of 29 and manages a mile in 182 seconds, just over 3 minutes.

Nemesis, her sister, has a few more options for rapid movement. The Charger can travel at 280 mph, or 136.889 yards per second. She manages the mile in 12.85 seconds.

Prince Herman has a speed of 24, and can do the mile in 220 seconds.

Inquest has the same speed as Prince Herman, and so he also hits the 220 second mark.

Seraph can hit 700 mph while in her super form. She can do 342.222 yards per second. Her speed for the mile is 5.14 seconds.

Le Tarasque can run at 220 mph, or 107.556 yards per second. He can run a mile in 16.36 seconds.

Rat Queen has a speed of 81, meaning she can cover 405 yards per melee round. She can cover a mile in 65.18 seconds. I kind of picture it like thousands of rats sprinting and then forming up int her terrifying rat queen form.

The Never Ending Cheery Death Machine may not be the fastest, or the most popular, but he can run all day. He would probably keep yelling that they should make the race an endurance race instead. No one listens. He has a speed rating of 26. He manages to run the mile in 203 seconds. He was laughing like a maniac the whole way.

Henry entered the competition, though he is not really a hero r a villain. However his bar is one of the sponsors for the event, and so he enters every time, just for the fun of it. He has a speed rating of 35, meaning he can move 175 yards per melee. He manages a mile in 150 seconds. two and a half minutes. Pretty good time.

Reciprocitor has just an average speed(11), and she runs a mile in 480 seconds. Just about eight minutes.

Enki has a speed rating of 24, she can do a mile in 220 seconds.

Geostorm has an enhanced speed when he creates an Earthen exoskeleton, giving him a rating of 36. He can do a mile in 146.66 seconds in this form. Just over two minutes. Not to shabby.

Nemain has a speed of 16. She can do a mile in 330 seconds. Five and a half minutes.

Cavalier Rouge has a speed of 27, she manage a respectable 195.5 second mile. just over 3 minutes.

Shedim can fly at 60 mph due to his fiery form. He manages a solid mile time, 60 seconds. A one minute mile. 

The Hunter has a speed of 18, and manages a mile in  293.3 seconds, 4.8 minutes. 

Ms. Miracle has a speed rating of 56. She can run the mile in 94.28 seconds. 

The Crimson Commando has a speed of 38 and manages a mile time of 138.9 seconds. 

By the end of the day we have our top three competitors in the race. Megaton takes the gold with a phenomenal time of 1.7 seconds. Maximum gets the silver with a time of 4.8 seconds. Seraph gets the bronze with her time of 5.14 seconds. as the day comes to a close folks still talk excitedly about all the amazing competition. They look forward to the next day and the lifting completion. Its always a bit of a people pleaser. 

Also +Megan Bennett-Burks and I just finished a Kickstarter for A Far Off Land, A Fate RPG in Two Worlds. It is a game about special people chosen by Eldritch beings to travel between the worlds and protect or destroy both. They are shape shifting masters of primordial magics, and they hold the fate of two worlds in their hands. If you missed the kickstarter and would like to check out the game, you can still get it. Check out the Beta Document.

World's Strongest: Contest of Champions 1

Heroes of Coast City: Impact, The Alien Renegade; Calamity, The Cybernetic Sniper; Megaton, Friendly Neighborhood Nuclear Warhead; The Whirlwind, a Fusillade of Fisticuffs; Car Mage, The Wizard of Wheels; Night Sheriff, The Sheriff of Shadows; Hammer of Heaven, The Daring Demon Hunter; The Wanderer, Precocious Practitioner of the Arcane Arts; Storm Eagle, Queen of the Skies; Breakthrough, Multi-powered Mutant Powerhouse; Mr. Shade, The Ninja Vigilante; Wrath, Mistress of Mayhem; The Physician, Psychic Surgeon; Maximum, The Machine Man; Metal Marshal, The People's Powerhouse; Devil Fist, the Fist of the Morning Star; Perdition, Implacable Justice; Nemesis, Sister Spy; Prince Herman, Magician Mischief Maker; Inquest, The Vigilante Detective; Seraph, Paragon of Protection; Le Tarasque, King of Undertown; The Rat Queen, Dark Goddess of Undertown; The Never Ending Cheery Death Machine; Henry, Immortal Barkeep; Reciprocitor, The Karmic Kid; Enki, Queen of Mischief; Geostorm, King of Quakes; Nemain, Goddess Of War; Cavalier Rouge, the Red Rider
Supers from Gatestone City: Hunter, the Elven Weapon Master ; Ms. Miracle; The Iron King of Asgard; The Crimson Commando
On the edge of Coast City, along a small inlet, sits the Coast City Grand Arena. Most years it is home to the three major sports teams of the city, every five years it is also home to the Contest of Champions, where heroes from across the city, across the nation, and even from around the world. The Contest began back in 1984 when the heroes who defeated the Sidewise Man. While they disliked the godlike being and it's obsession with seeing heroes fight to the death,  they did find the competition enjoyable. When Might Man suggested a competition for charity many of the other heroes signed up. To this day his Foundation For A Better Tomorrow has sponsored and benefited from the Contest of Champions.

Nearly a hundred thousand people come to the event every year, though maximum seating is fifty thousand. There are loads of protesters who come to the event as well as fans and various agents for the super heroic firms and scouts for the big government teams. It begins on the first day of February and each round of competition takes place on a different day. This year is a big deal. There have been more applicants to compete this year, and more new heroes than in any previous year. The judges have been pulled from well known heroes, and this year we have Five sterling heroes to judge the competition.

Razor is one of New York's oldest legends. Some say his name gets passed from father to son, while others claim he is some sort of vampire or immortal being. He is known for his powers over light and shadow as well as his signature goggles and maddening laugh. He was Mighty Man's oldest ally in the war on Crime and he continues the fight to this day.

Mystic Study
Level 10
Focus on Gun Fighting(has some gimick bullets for his specially designed pistols)
Has all spells related to controlling shadows and messing with people's minds and perception or crafting illusions.

Happy Happy is the last champion of the Contest, a Master of Martial Arts and the most famous hero in LA. He has several movies about his exploits(Fictionalized), as well as comic books and a series of highly successful video games. He is known for his smiling face mask and his cheerful demeanor.

Happy Happy
Physical Training
Level 12
Focus on Agility and Speed
Defensive and Fast Combat
Has an ally that makes him custom weapons and gear for protection and transport

Vargr is a hero who parlayed his fame into becoming an actor. He is attractive and charming in a surface kind of way. He is currently promoting his hit show, Part Time Werewolf. It is the story of a clerk at a mini mart who is also a werewolf and all the fun that come with that.

Mystically Bestowed
Level 2
Extraordinary MA
Night Stalking

Pierre is the world's foremost designer of superhero costumes, as well as being a leading fashion designer. He works with cutting edge materials and techniques to create costumes of great beauty and durability. He is als known to add features to costumes and even work on exsuits for various agencies and individuals. Everyone loves Pierre.

Hardware(Analytical Genius)
Level 7
Has all kinds of crazy gadgets and such

Horus is the son of Isis, leader of the world's largest Supers oriented religion. While his other believes herself to be a deity, Horus holds that to be nonsense, and has become a massive pop star. He has spent much of his life trying to get out from his mother's shadow. He has been trying to make some inroads into working as a superhero, but doesn't quite know what that entails. He has good intentions, but was raised by a goddess and was kind of spoiled.

Unknown Type
Level 5
Divine Aura
Sonic Power
Extraordinary PB

Horus has also changed the tenor of the protests outside the Arena. Normally the protests are a mishmash of many different anarchist, Anti Authoritarian, Anti Powers, and Anti Government groups. This year the majority of the protesters are members of The Blind, a group that dislikes supers, but only specific supers. They dislike any super that can alter how people think, feel, or that can take away the will or autonomy of normal folk. They are known for protesting in Blindfolds to cover their eyes, the window to the soul. They are organized into cells and they are surprisingly god at protesting anyone who they suspect as a compulsionist(their term for a mind bender).

The first completion of the Contest will be the speed competition, equipment is allowed. Stay tuned. It should be fun.

Also +Megan Bennett-Burks and I just finished a Kickstarter for A Far Off Land, A Fate RPG in Two Worlds. It is a game about special people chosen by Eldritch beings to travel between the worlds and protect or destroy both. They are shape shifting masters of primordial magics, and they hold the fate of two worlds in their hands. If you missed the kickstarter and would like to check out the game, you can still get it. Check out the Beta Document.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

In The Shadow Of Giants: The Hidden World

Influences: Jackie Chan Adventures, Xiaolin Showdown, TMNT, Biker Mice From Mars, Ben 10, GI Joe, Hellboy, Battle Toads, Bucky O'Hare, Power Rangers, Godzilla, The Creature From 50,000 Fathoms

The world is not as it appears to be. Beneath the surface lies a world of hidden adventure. A world of Magic and Mad Science, Demons and Aliens, Martial artists and Super spies, Mutants and Strangeness. This is the Shadow World.

It all started in 1953. That is when the world changed. An atomic bomb test above the Arctic Circle awoke a frozen giant, the Rhedosaurus. 33 feet tall and 98 feet long it first came to the attention of the general public when it rampaged through New York City. The Beast was finally brought down with a prototype weapon constructed by a lone scientist. If this had been the end of it, it would have been forgotten as just one of those things that happen. However bigger things were on the horizon. Much bigger.

The following year a creature of immense proportion attacked the recovering island nation of Japan. It appeared to be a lizard or a dinosaur standing 167 feet tall. Tearing through through Japan right after a nuclear reactor accident, thus starting the rumor that it was nuclear powered. It was thought destroyed when an experimental oxygen destroyer weapon was used against it. It has returned numerous times over the years, however. Sometimes it protects the island nation, sometimes it attacks it. No one is sure why.  This creature would continue to grow in size and power as the years wore on, in modern times it stands over 330 feet tall.
As various nations began to scramble to develop weapons and defenses to deal with this new potential threat aliens made contact with earth. One group sought to control the giant monsters of the earth to destroy all life, and one group sought to protect the planet. The first group managed to control a giant flying creature and wreak some havoc before Godzilla stepped in to destroy it and the alien menace. The other group gathered together a small group of humans with great potential and formed the first Enhanced Combat Ranger Squad. Using combing mecha  and martial arts these heroes defended the earth for years, as the monsters increased and the alien threats grew, so too did the training and mecha of the Ranger forces.

The Kaiju seemed to have an impact on the Mana reserves of the planet, sorcery began to return, monsters and talismans awoke from thousand year slumbers. These artifacts began to have odd effects on the surrounding world. Heroes began t rise to deal with these threats, Martial Arts began to be more than simply fighting. Through them a practitioner could awaken their Ki and ancient masters began to be able to do all the feats legend attributed to masters long ago. The secret societies and ancient orders began to once more ply their mystic trade.

Also during this time came the genetic revolution. Using alien and Kaiju DNA scientists were able modify the genome to increase human ability and even awaken psychic abilities. Due to the nature of the spliced DNA, these psychics had some sort of attachment to the Kaiju, some have even formed friendships with giant monsters or some control over the monster. As much of this mess as possible was kept secret. The knowledge of the Kaiju couldn't be contained, but beyond that aliens, super soldiers, aliens, and the rest were kept from the general public.

Mutram: Masters of genetics and social engineering they are highly intelligent pacifists. They have been steadily enhancing their species intelligence, longevity, and learning ability. A small scout craft crashed in Japan during the Nara period and the Mutram scouts have been subtly influencing earthling technology growth with the goal of eventually repairing their ship and getting home.
Raton Republic: Long ago they were uplifted to sentience by the Mutrom, the Ratons eventually tried to conquer their Mutrom gods, and the Mutrom retreated across the galaxy. The Raton's have formed a Oligarchy that they refer to as a republic. They have conquered a great deal of the area of galaxy surrounding Earth. They have set their sights on Earth. They are using certain Kaiju to soften up the earth's defenses.
Arl-Gyarl: Conquerors from beyond the stars, they are descended from pack hunters and they seek to conquer earth and strip it of its biodiversity. They are masters of teleportation technology. They build gateways and send their troops directly to invade. They are currently working on building a gateway beneath a major Earth City(Probably Rio de Janeiro)
Aora: Warrior Scientists who followed the god of science until the last days of their race when the cult of the World Ender took root and began to spread throughout the populace. This led to the end of their home planet, and their civilization. Now they are a dying race, their are maybe a couple thousand in the whole galaxy, most work as mercenaries or the like for small civilizations of the galaxy. In a one on one fight, few can stand against their might.
The Makers: A species that controls the energy field that drives the Giant Mecha used by the Rangers. They travel the universe looking for good men and women to become that planets defenders-Rangers.

A lot of this can be handled by Very Large Monsters. The Big Monster rules won't come up all that often in regular play. You should probably save the Kaiju for a once a season big showpiece. The characters should probably belong to some sort Organization, so those rules should be pretty handy for that. Psychic powers will be handled through the psychic powers add on, I think it would feel about right in play. Brainstorming would also be central to dealing with the mad science, wild sorcery, and various oddities that populate this strange world.  Mega Stunts would be how you would handle any Magic abilities, Ki Powers, Genetic Enhancements, and the like. Within this world, you have mystics, martial artists, super spies, and mutants all fighting monsters, magic, and aliens. You may use mecha rules from Camelot Trigger to deal with Kaiju, just remember only Rangers may use Combiner Mecha. Having a personal Mecha requires spending two refresh. If you are loaned a Mecha you may spend a fate point to use it for a scene.

And that is the basics of my secret world of cool magic, super science, and magic. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you think.

Also +Megan Bennett-Burks and I just finished a Kickstarter for A Far Off Land, A Fate RPG in Two Worlds. It is a game about special people chosen by Eldritch beings to travel between the worlds and protect or destroy both. They are shape shifting masters of primordial magics, and they hold the fate of two worlds in their hands. If you missed the kickstarter and would like to check out the game, you can still get it. Check out the Beta Document.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Very Merry Magic Mecha Space Christmas

Merry Christmas!  I thought it would be fun to put out the basics f an idea I had a while back. I hope you like it.

Inspired by a conversation started by +Cole Rape, I will merge the setting from Aether Sea, with bits from Sails full of Stars, Camelot Trigger, and some stuff pulled from the System Toolkit. I will also be adding in some world building, because I cannot help myself so there will be some new stuff going here. Lets see what happens, yeah?! This is probably going to get a bit complicated.

To play this hack you are going to need access to Fate Core,  Aether Sea, Sails Full of Stars(at least the Alchemy Rules), Worlds in Shadow, and the Fate System Toolkit.

My core idea for this is to start with the setting, races, and magic of Aether Sea, but use the skill pyramid from Fate Core rather than the approaches of FAE. This will alter the magic rules a bit so we will have to work out how best to do that. I would also like to bring in Alchemy from Sails Full of Stars and add in mecha from Camelot Trigger. Then of course add in some touches of my own. This is going to be a bit of a doozy, so strap in folks.

In the impossible future of a forgotten yesterday mankind went to the stars,  not with the cold hand of technology but the passionate power of magic and the wisdom of alchemy. The encountered many peoples in that undiscovered horizon, and all were like men in some way. After the initial squabbles and discord came the celestial concordance and the great peace. Exploration, either of outer space or the inner self, became the focus of all civilized life. Sure there were those who sought to dominate or destroy, but the magics and good will of the Concordance always won them over. Until now.

Four years ago an exploration craft disappeared in the Dark Nebula. Shortly thereafter came the shadows. They had technologies and magics beyond anything yet encountered. They did not negotiate, they did not demand, they simply came in their silent black ships and massive Armored Suits and took what they wanted. Where they walked all intelligent life vanished. Finally one was captured, though it looked like an Elf, it was a twisted and sinister creature called a Drow. In its own language the name means Herald. The Drow were merely the beginning, for this captured Drow told of the Unspeaking One's who ruled over all the lesser people. Now we finally face the horror spoken of that day. Today we marshal our forces against the implacable might of the Mind Flayers.

The Folk
In order to get the Folk of Aether Sea to work in normal Fate I think I will need to use one of the methods mentioned in the Fate System Toolkit. I think I will use the Racial Skills from the Toolkit. Come up with an aspect related to being one of the Races of Aether Sea.

Human: They are very social and honest. You may use Human for anything regarding getting others to like you, making or using contacts wherever you are, or dealing with politics.
Goblin: Scavengers and survivors, they are manipulative and cunning. You may use Goblin to manipulate others, hide, distract others, or scrounge for materials or deals.
Orc: Strong and honorable, with a reputation for violence. You may use Orc to provoke an angry or fearful response from others, moving swiftly on foot, and enduring fatigue or pain.
Dwarf: They are a short, tough, and tradition bound people. Use Dwarf to resist attempts to change your mind, Working with stone or machinery, and properly interpreting prophecy.
Elf: They are arrogant, long lived, masters of plants and biology. Use Elf to recognize useful flora and fauna, know your way through the woods, or aid in controlling biomagic and biotech.
Troll: They are big, strong, and deep thinkers. Use Troll for feats of strength, singing traditional songs and stories, and learning and remembering new stories and songs.

You still need to have an aspect relating to your training in the magical skills, if you want t be more than a dabbler in magic. The magic system works the same as normal, but rather than choosing an approach you must choose a relevant skill for the effect you are seeking to accomplish.

The mecha are new to the setting, we will be using the rules from Camelot Trigger. It was the Drow that first used Mecha in open conflict. Though the peoples of known space defeated the Drow Invasion, they learned a costly lesson, and mecha have become the central tactical concern of the way war is waged. Each of the Folk build different kind of Mecha, I will go over the styles here.

Elven magitech is organic in nature and it is considered weird and alien to most. It uses living plant material, and is focused around speed and long distance damage.

Dwarven magitech is tough, durable, riveted steel and cold iron. They focus around endurance and using the terrain for defense and as a force multiplier. A small squad of Dwarven mecha can hold off a much larger force with the proper terrain.

Orcish Magitech is very basic and brutal. It has what it needs and nothing more. It is the most durable tech. It is tough and focused entirely around doing the maximum damage per strike. Their is very little to differentiate one mecha from anther. This is mostly due to the tactical advantage of one's opponent never knowing what weapon system they will be facing.

Goblinoid Magitech is cobbled together and unique in form and function. You can never tell what you will be facing with e a Goblin Mecha. They work a lot like the Wreck Armor from Camelot Trigger.

Humanish Magitech is focused around communication and intelligence gathering. The mechs focus on leadership and electronic countermeasures. There is a simplicity of design and elegance of structure with their mecha.

Trollan Magitech is focused around endurance, toughness, and strength. Their mecha are large and baroque structures. They make them from mystically treated stone carved with the deeds and stories of their family clans and filigreed in gold and silver.

Drow Mecha are constructed from the bones of giant beasts enchanted with necrotic energy, they are slight and wickedly fast, and focus on stealth and close in combat.

Mind Flayer mecha are combiner armor, as seen in Camelot Trigger. They use their psychic abilities to work together with their giant combined mecha. This is only one of the many dangers they bring to the table. Their mecha focus on draining the energy from their opponents.

And their is the basics f a combined setting that I think it would be fun to play around with.

Happy Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful day.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Twelfth Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts, Hunters of Alexandria, Stars Without Number, Monster of the Week, Rules Cyclopedia, Lady Blackbird, The Black Hack

Today's game is one of my all time favorite games...of all time. I bought the boxed set when it first came out and I have never regretted that choice. It was a game changer for me, a game that focused on the kinds of stories I was reading all the time. I was a really big comic fan in the nineties, mostly the X-men and their associated books. I was very much a Marvel fan and I rarely read much DC. Look back at the cartoons of the day, you had the X-men, which was awesome, Spiderman, which was also awesome, and a whole bunch of others...that were less awesome. Sure none of them were Batman the Animated Series, but nothing else is. Often I think I went for quantity f quality, so long as the quality of quantity wasn't too bad. So let's dig into the...

Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game

There have been a lot of different Marvel RPGs over the years. First was the game that became known as FASERIP, Marvel Super Heroes. That game was a game changer that had a lot of really spiffy mechanics. I won't be going through that game this year, but don't be surprised if it shows up in future 12 Games Of Christmas I bet I do it in the future. Then came the game I will be reviewing in this post, Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game. Then in the 2000s, Marvel decided to build their own game system in-house and they came up with the truly unique Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game, Which I have always wanted t play, but have yet to get a chance to do so. Finally(At least the furthest so far), we have Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, which will probably also be a review in the future. I like the game but it has some issues...I think. Anyway, for this game of Christmas, we will be looking at the second Marvel game and my personal favorite of the manifold games of the Marvel Universe. 

Peritextual Elements
The game is the first boxed set we have ever done in this series. The box was high-quality cardboard and it uses marvel's comic art throughout. The two books are smaller than the traditional RPG size. It uses a comic book font throughout, which would normally be a little annoying, but due to the nature of the game, I find it less of a problem than in other game. Rather than dice, this game uses a deck of 96 cards separated out into five suits(Strength, Agility, Intellect, Willpower, and Doom). Each card has an image of a character from the Marvel universe the corresponds in some way t the suit of the card. It works pretty well visually, it is adequate. 

You have four abilities(based on four of the suits of cards, Strength, Agility, Intellect, and Willpower) for each character. Those abilities are rated from 1 to 30(10 is human maximum, 20 is the superhuman max, and beyond that is for things like Galactus). You also have a hand size and an edge rating. Your hand size represents your health and your ability to affect the outcome of a given task. You may play a card and add its value to your ability rating to get the total effect of the attempt. If you play a card of the same suit as the ability you are using you get to flip the top card of the deck and add it to the total if that flipped card is of the same suit you flip another and so on. You also may choose to not take the trump, this is called pulling punches. You may also play any number of cards f your edge score or lower, this is how guys like Captain America can take out villains with much higher ability scores. He's gt Edge for days. If you play a Doom suit card it doesn't go back into the deck like normal, instead, the GM gets to take that card and use it against you in the future. When you take a hit in the game it reduces your hand size, when you are out of cards you are unconscious.  This is a simple system, that manages a fair degree of mechanical depth. There are also over a hundred powers you can choose from that will alter how the mechanics are applied. Regeneration can kind of break the game as it lets you get back any card you lose in conflict. It can be an issue, so bear that in mind.  The game does have character creation rules, but most of the game is focused on playing existing characters of the Marvel Universe. The whole second book in the boxed set is just a big listing of characters you may play. This is pretty common in all Marvel Games, the focus on playing members of the existing Cannon rather than making your own additions to it. For some folks that is a turn-off, bear that in mind. 

The setting is the Marvel Universe. You know it, you love it. The basics are the universe as it stood in the mid-nineties. It was a pretty wild time in the universe at the time. I guess I don't quite know what to say about the universe that hasn't been done far better elsewhere. Grab your favorite Marvel movies or comics and have a fun time. 

And there you go, The Twelve Games f Christmas. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you. I hope you have a very merry Christmas. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful day. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Eleventh Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts, Hunters of Alexandria, Stars Without Number, Monster of the Week, Rules Cyclopedia, Lady Blackbird

Many of the games of Christmas have been games I have played for years, or at least rules sets I have played for years. Today's game is a little different. I encountered it for the first time this year. I thought it was just a stripped down version of another system, but it wasn't. It is a fantastic distillation of the core concepts of the dungeon crawl experience. It does its job well and in a very brief amount of space. Lets dig into...

The Black Hack

This game is a fine example of its craft. It does its job with almost no superfluous mechanics or cruft of any sort. It is minimalist and yet it works for me. I read through this as a primer on how to minimize space used while still retaining explanatory power.

Peritextual Elements
The cover makes me think of the movie, This Is Spinal Tap. Its like, "How much more black could it be, " and I'm like, " could be none more black." There is no real art within the book. The layout is simple and utilitarian, with just enough style to make the game feel like itself without calling back to other games. The character sheet is well designed and focused around the play experience. It has a drawing of your characters backpack with a grid for figuring out how everything fits back there.

The mechanics are super simple. Your character has six attributes(Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha). To accomplish a task or make a save you must roll a d20 and get a number lower than the appropriate attribute rating. Sometimes you will have a situation where you have an edge or where you have disadvantage. If you have advantage you roll 2d20 and take the lower of the two rolls. If you have disadvantage you do the same but take the higher of the two rolls. There are specific rules for combat and the like, but that is the basics. Really solid. The classes each take one page, they have a special ability, areas they gain advantage in, and how they advance in level. There are one page spell lists for the cleric and the conjurer classes and a solid bestiary. All of this is in less than 20 pages. Solid design, solid mechanics.

The setting is not explicit. However there are certain setting assumptions built into the mechanics of the game. The bestiary covers the standard monsters you would expect from a fantasy dungeon crawl. The setting has magic and monsters and you fight monster to gain treasure of a sort. But by and large there is not much of a setting. There are also a bunch of hacks of the black hack, some of them official some are made by others. They cover a lot of ground, you can find what you are looking for within the mechanical paradigm of the game. Check it out, its fun and interesting.

Now we are through the penultimate game of Christmas. Tomorrow the final game of Christmas...

Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tenth Game of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts, Hunters of Alexandria, Stars Without Number, Monster of the Week, Rules Cyclopedia

Today's game is the smallest game I have done in the series so far. It is only 16 pages long. However it is a fun and unique experience. If you like Steampunk, Firefly, a solid campaign, Magic, or loads of fun adventure this game might be for you. Lets dig into...

Lady Blackbird

I ran into this game a number of years ago. For a while it was all the rage online. It was short, but boy howdy is it evocative. It was interesting as you didn't play classes or make a character, instead you chose from a number of premade characters and played out a very specific scenario, yet somehow it was often very unique. You could play through the game in a few hours or extend it out  to take up a massive campaign that takes months. The best part is it is free.

Peritextual Elements
This is a striking book(er...booklet?), excellent formatting and even a couple of solid bits of art. There is a nice rendered image of the character's ship as well as silhouettes letting you see how big it is in comparison to the enemies ship, or a sky squid(yes its exactly as terrifying as that sounds). There is also a really spiffy map of the game world. The art and layout is pretty simple, but its simplicity is one of elegance rather than a lack of ability. The fonts are clear and easy to read and the rules are placed at the bottom of each play sheet, which is handy. It has solidly designed character sheets as well.

The mechanics of the game are very fluid and kind of fun to play around with. Your character is defined by Traits and tags. Each trait defines an area of competence and each trait has a bunch of tags listed within it. When you wish to accomplish some dramatic action you build a dice pool of D6s. You roll one die automatically and can add another die if you have an appropriate trait and another die if you have an appropriate tag. You also have a pool of free dice you may use to enhance any roll you want, it starts at seven dice. Any die that comes up as a 4 or better is a hit, and success is measured by number of hits(2 easy, 3 difficult, 4 challenging, 5 extreme). If you fail the roll you mark off a condition, which is a negative repercussion that the GM will use against you in the game.  Your character also has keys and secrets. Secrets add special abilities and areas f expertise. Basically they are small little rules exceptions that apply only to your character. Keys are just fantastic I originally ran into them in The Shadow of Yesterday, and ever since I knew they were one of the most interesting and innovative pieces f game design in decades. I might be exaggerating...a little. Keys are a method for creating drama and putting experience rewards in the players hands rather than in the GMs. Each key give you a specific circumstance that triggers the key, if you do what the key wants you gain an experience point or gain an additional die to your free pool, double that if doing what the key wants leads to danger. when you have gained 5 XP you gain an advance, which allows you to add new traits, tags, keys, or secrets. Each key also has a buyoff which, if the situation hits and you go with the buy off you lose the key and gain two advances. This makes the game very much about facing your true desires and fears and choosing whether to follow them or go against them. Its super fun.  The game mechanics are super simple, but pretty fun, and they have a lot of room for advancement.

The setting is spread throughout the whole book, each character is tied to it and defines it in some way. And due to the loose definitions of everything, you can have vastly different settings with different groups. The basics take up only half a page. The world is called the Wild Blue, a vast expanse of breathable void with island and the like floating in it. The lower depths are filled with corrosive gasses and dangerous creatures. You play crew members, or passengers, of the Sky Ship, the Owl. You are on the run from Imperial Forces, as the Lady Blackbird has run away t join up with her lover the pirate king...who she only met, like once. There is magic and guns, and all sorts of other cool steampunk stuff. I like the setting, but I think I like it most because I get to define a lot of it in play.  Check it out, give it a read, give it a try. Worst case scenario you will wast no money and a little time.

Now that we got those Lords a Leaping out of the way, we can call this game of Christmas complete. Tomorrow...

The Black Hack

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ninth Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts, Hunters of Alexandria, Stars Without Number, Monster of the Week

I am not sure if I like this game in total, but I do like a lot about this game, and this particular incarnation of it. It is probably the most complete game book I have ever encountered. So lets dig into the...

Rules Cyclopedia

While I had encountered Dungeons and Dragons a number of times earlier, I didn't end up playing this game until my mid twenties. Maybe that effected my tastes in gaming, or perhaps I didn't play it earlier do t my tastes in gaming. Sort of a chicken and egg thing. A pair of ducks, as they say. I will say this though, the Rules Cyclopedia is complete in ways that you just don't see in games anymore. I don't want to get into the whole old school vs new school debate, as I think that is kind of pointless. However I think they did make games with different goals back in the day. Why in my day you had to climb up hill both ways through ten feet of snow in order to play games. You kids nowadays, with your pocket monsters and your tweeters, don't know how good you have it. Joking aside, back in the late eighties to early nineties there was a bit of a trend in games for the complete game book. A book that had all the things necessary for play: game rules, character creation, GM section, bestiary, and a setting. It is an interesting concept. I get why it was a popular idea in design, though. It would mean that everyone with the game would have the all the basics needed to play the game.

Peritextual Elements
The game has a beautiful cover, just stunning. It is hardback, 8x11, with black and white interior. The amount of text and information packed in this one book is amazing. The font is solid and easy to read. The interior art is black and white line art, the quality varies from adequate to terrible, but all of it works. I think the art works because it is full of humor and personality, even if the art is not of the highest quality. The tables and charts in the book are a bit mashed together and less than easy to read. It's not super bad or anything, but it is very clear that this book was laid out using earlier techniques than many newer books. Just something to bear in mind.

This is old school. It combines all the various rules and addenda for D&D Basic, which started with the Holmes edition and throughout the eighties built up quite a lot of setting and rules. The rules are pretty darn basic. Roll 3D6 for each attribute(Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) You choose a class(Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Druid, or Mystic), this grants you your special abilities and your saves and attack bonuses. Each class also has maximum level, Dwarfs, Elfs, and Halflings have severely limited maximum levels, whereas the human classes can go to 36, though I have never seen anyone play a game long enough to reach that level. I have heard stories f games that go from level one through 36, but I am unsure if I believe them. Also the non-human classes have pseudo-levels where they get abilities at certain experience amounts beyond their maximum level. I am not sure why they went this route rather than just making the class go to higher levels but making those levels cost way more experience. Most of the mechanics revolve around combat and exploration. For combat you roll a D20 add any pertinent bonuses and subtract any pertinent penalties then compare the result to the Attack Roll Table(find the column for the targets AC). Low AC is better than high AC. Combat is pretty chart heavy, be prepared for that. There are also a bunch of rules for travel and exploration, as well as loads of conditional rules fr fighting underwater, while in flight, mass combat and a while bunch of their scenarios. The rules are very complete, though they can kind of be all over the place mechanically. Monsters have fairly easy to read stat blocks and it is pretty to "right size" the combat encounters, though it can get a little finicky from time to time.

You would think with all the rules included in the book they wouldn't have room for setting, but you would be wrong. The setting is The Known World. This would later be called Mystara, and it is kind of weird, even for D&D. The setting involves Space Aliens, Time Travel, Immortal Champions fighting against each other for power and also trying to hold back the great old ones who dwell beyond time and space. Also the world is hollow and the inside is even weirder. Their are n gods really, but the Immortals often fill that role in the setting, but the rules are clear Immortals are not gods. There are even rules for playing Immortals. Elfs can build ships that ride on moon beams and live in cities of living trees. Halflings river folk who live in hills and are ruled by sheriffs. Dwarfs dwell in the depths and are builders of artifacts and find stonework. The human lands are diverse and dominate the map. They have all sorts of cultures and nations. Most of the game focuses around the Grand Duchy of Karameikos(or maybe that was just my games, but it always felt like this was the central hub of adventure). There are also a bunch of other planes of existence that are connected to the Known World, and beyond that are uncounted dimensions each with there own planes and rules and all that. I can't really do the setting justice, but it is zany and fun, yet still familiar enough to those who play D&D to make it understandable.

And so we close out on the Ninth Game of Christmas. Tomorrow...

Lady Blackbird

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Eighth Game of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts, Hunters of Alexandria, Stars Without Number
When I was a teenager I was a huge fan of a couple of shows. You may have heard of them, X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know, I know, kind of esoteric shows, but some uber nerds out there might get the references. 😆 Anyway I have always been looking for a game that fits that monster hunting and exploration of strangeness vibe I wanted. Overall I have yet to find a game that properly fits what it is I am looking for. Some have come close, Dresden Files, Monster Hearts, and a couple others have very nearly matched what I am looking for. I even tried my hand at designing a game to fit my needs, though that project has been on the back burner for a while. I think the closest I have found to my ideal is today's game of Christmas, though it doesn't quite do what I want...or I am just bad at playing it...could be that. Anyway, lets dig into...

Monster of the Week

Apocalypse World changed a lot in the world of gaming. It was like a meditation on the use of classes and GM methodology. It swept through the gaming sphere like a storm, depositing interesting ideas wherever it strikes. Monster of the Week is one of those expansions on the basic mechanics and ideas of Apocalypse world. I really dig how this game works on a number of levels, but I do have some...not complaints really, but areas of possible concern. We'll get to that as we look through it all.

Peritextual Elements
The book is single column and black and white art and text. The art is solidly done, black and white with lots of negative space. By and large it is serviceable and well done. There isn't a whole lot to say about the art, layout, or font.

The mechanics are really simple and have a fair degree of depth in spite of that simplicity. To accomplish your goals you must roll 2D6 and add the relevant rating(in Cool, Tough, Charm, Sharp, and Weird) and look at the results. a six r less is a failure, which means the situation will get worse. Seven to nine you get what you want but their is a complication or more badness attached. Ten or better you get what you want with a little bit of fuss. The rest of the rules are really just letting the GM know when and how to apply that simple mechanic. Players and GMs have moves, some are general moves usable by any player, some are special moves usable for specific playbooks. The playbooks are basically classes that focus on a specific type of character and style of play. The GM has a series of moves, but none of them require the rolling of dice, instead they let the GM(in this game called the keeper), most of the book is devoted to telling the GM when and how best to make their moves, and what that will mean. There is also a unique mechanic called luck. It is something you use to make rolls better or get useful positioning in the game. However if you run out of luck really bad things happen. I like this mechanic a lot. It really fits the the genre it is trying to emulate.

I think this is where my issues start with this. It has a lot of action elements to the game. The fiction this game tries to present is very action heavy with somewhat larger than life heroes fighting villains. However, the mechanics don't fully support that always. If you get into fights you are going to take damage, and damage(called Harm) builds up pretty quickly and it can get quite detrimental. We ran into this issue in a couple of games we played a whale back. I don't think that it is necessarily a bad design choice, but it is something to bear in mind when you play the game. The other issue is that the mechanics for dealing with a mystery never quite felt like they were...enough? Its hard to say exactly why that is. Maybe I just got spoiled with the Gumshoe system, and anything less just felt like not enough. I think this might be a personal issue I have with the game and not a full blown criticism.

The setting is highly dependent on what play books are chosen by the players. You could end up with something that feels like Buffy, Angel, The X-Files, Supernatural, Dresden Files, or even Kolchak the Nightstalker(My favorite show of all time). The setting is basically the world as we know it, but with a layer f supernatural weirdness on top of it. It tends toward a monster of the week style play, which is not a surprise as it is the name of the game. You can build arcs in and all that, but the main thrust will be on defeating individual monsters and dealing with the mundane and supernatural fallout from doing so. As you play you will be building a mythos and a world that is like those other stories, but is not them.

Thus ends the Eighth Game of Christmas. Tomorrow...

Rules Cyclopedia

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Seventh Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts, Hunters of Alexandria
This game was a game changer for me. Until I played it I had no real interest in the Old School gaming. This game changed my mind on that. It changed my mind on a lot of things. Man...I wish I was as good a designer as +Kevin Crawford every time he designs a new game, or even a new expansion on an existing game he kind of shakes my paradigm. All that aside, lets dig into...

Stars Without Number

There are two editions of this game. I will be dealing with second edition here. Though it is fully compatible with first edition, it is much clearer with more options and far better layout and art. Second edition just carries forward the excellent work of the first edition and just improves the mechanics and polish. I am a bit of a fan. The best bit, is that you can get the game for free. Probably the best value for money in gaming.

Peritextual Elements
The book is beautiful, full color and two column layout. The art is striking, full color, and has a painterly quality. It really gets the high action science fiction vibe across while hinting at those classic sci-fi book covers. Giant robots, aliens, and space ships all the way through. I like the art a lot. The font choice is solid, very readable. The charts and such are also very clean and well done. This is a book that is designed for ease of use and I like the choices made.

The basic mechanics of the game a pretty simple. There are saving throws, skill use, and combat actions. Saving throws are a d20 vs a set difficulty. You roll skills with 2D6 plus the relevant skill rating vs a target number. Combat is pretty solidly in the D20 bailiwick, roll a D20 fr initiative and attack(vs armor class). It has ascending AC, which I am pretty sure is a change over the previous edition(I am pretty sure it was a descending AC in the old version). Character creation is pretty simple as well. Roll your attributes(Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha), Choose a background(Grants you a skill), pick or roll for additional skills(rolling is more fun and better), Choose your class(Warrior, Expert, Psychic, or Adventurer which I can have abilities from two separate classes), Choose your foci(grants a special talent), and then do some basic followup stuff. It is set out very neatly and explained well. It is a bit more complex than some other Old School games, but it works well. The main mechanical draw of the game for me though is the GM tools. It really focuses on making the GMs job easier and explaining how to generate adventures and the things you will need within the adventures. Even if you have no intention of playing this game, I would recommend getting it just for the GM tools. They are a delight.

The setting is solidly generic sci fi. In the future mankind has expanded to unknown numbers of stars. Psychic powers were well mapped and somehow related to FTL travel. Technology evolved to the point where all the really powerful and useful stuff was psychic of one sort or another. Then came the Scream, it killed or drove mad all the psychic in the galaxy and shut down all the big important technology. Now it has been a long time since the scream and mankind has crawled its way back up t the ability to travel the stars once again. So we have a high tech post apocalyptic galaxy filled with hidden ancient super tech and knowledge. It is a solid setting and it lets you have a lot of interesting adventures. I would love for there to be a supplement on how to play in the pre scream era, but I am not sure if that would be as fun as it sounds in my head.

And there ends the seventh game of Christmas. Tomorrow...

Monster of the Week

Monday, December 18, 2017

Sixth Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games Of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts

I dig Fate. I know, big surprise. The fun part of Fate, for me, is that it is a very malleable system. You can really play around with the mechanics and really push what is possible. Last year I broke down my views on Fate Core for last year's Games of Christmas. This year I will be digging into a specific version of Fate Core that pushes into interesting territory. Then lets dig into...

Hunters of Alexandria

Before we get started this game was designed by a friend of mine and uses a system I helped design. I will try to remain unbiased, but it may be difficult. I love the setting a great deal and the ideas present in the game. I like the game, and I would like it even if it wasn't written by +Paul Mitchener. So I am pretty excited about it.

Peritextual Elements
The book is pretty slim, especially considering it has the full rules to play in it as well as a complete setting and an adventure in the setting. There is a lot packed into this. The art is pretty sparse, but it is adequate for the purposes and fits the style of the game. There is also a very nice map of Alexandria in the first century. By and large the look of the book is serviceable.

The basics of Fate are the same here as in other Fate games. You roll four Fate(or Fudge) dice and add a skill rating t the result. In Hunters f Alexandria you have professions rather than the normal skill list in Fate. You begin with up to five professions out of a total of ten professions. Professions work a lot like broad areas of aptitude as well as lose definitions of who your character is within the world he inhabits. I like professions a lot, We used them in Jadepunk, but it was a smaller list than in this one. I like this concept, with a larger list and a narrower choice, it allows for more niche style play, while keeping the number of choices lower. I think I will play around with that idea a bit in some of my future designs, but that is tomorrow's challenge. It also uses a stripped down version of the Assets system from Jadepunk. You build custom extras for your character, either devices, techniques, and supernatural abilities. Basically these are variable cost stunts that allow for all sorts of magical shenanigans.

The setting is a fantastical version of first century Alexandria. You play members of the Venetores roman monster hunters. Basically you are cleaning p the mess made by monsters and magicians of the city and surrounding area. There is a solid breakdown on the demographics of the city as well as the various religions and factions and how they interact. There is also a solid breakdown of the geography of Alexandria and how the city is arranged. It also has a solid breakdown of the major personalities in the town and the monsters you might face. It is a solid setting, full of interesting fun. When I first read through it it was Like Paul had been inside my head, I had been running a very similar to a bunch of games I ran back in the nineties. I like it.

And there is my take on Hunters of Alexandria. Next up...

Stars Without Number

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Fifth Game of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds

Do you love robots? D'you love skeletons?! How about Magic Spells?! Dragons? Rocket Bikes? Mutants, Time Travel, Spaceships, Alien Invasions, Fighting Illinois Nazis, Dinosaurs, Jedi, Cowboys, Green Lantern(But with magic swords), Lasers, Rail Guns, Demons, Monsters, A Gargoyle Empire, Vampires, A Living Planet made of Cthulu, SO MUCH STUFF!!! Holy Crap! I do not think you are ready for this. I don't think I am ready for this. But let's get t it, yeah? Lets dig into....


This was the first game I played. I had been running games for about a year, but I had never managed to play in one yet. I managed to run into a friend of mine who was thinking of starting a game of Rifts and I was able to get in. I was very exited, in my mind I was going to be so in character that method actors would be coming to me for tips. In reality we herded dinosaurs and fought giant robots, so...not sure how in character I needed to be for that. I played Yukon Cornelius an escaped Coalition Dog Boy who smoked a pipe and wore a sombrero. It was pretty awesome. There are technically two editions of the game, but the mechanics have no serious changes, and all the changes were pretty bad(except for the perception rules, though I think there is a simpler way to do that). As that is the case it doesn't really matter which edition you use. Unlimited Edition has a bunch of clarifications on the rules, but it lacks the GM section of the original which had a random monster creation tool as well as some short form monsters and villains, which are super handy. Kind of a toss up, but I like the original a bit more.

Peritextual Elements
It is kind of a glorious mess. Two column format, Times New Roman font and back and white line art throughout. The art is very evocative and sets a cool tone for the game. However nothing is organized in any logical fashion, there is no index, and the table of contents is slid, but if you don't know what you are looking for it is very difficult t find. Even if you know what you are looking for it can be very, VERY, difficult to find. The books are perfect bound large form paperbacks, but the laminate n the cover starts to peal after a bit and it can curl with time. While it is not the worst I have seen, it is not a selling point. I recently went back through and reread all my books attempting to get the sense of how I learned to play, and for the life of me I cannot figure out how I learned to play this game.

There is no core mechanic for this game. Combat is handled one way, skills are handled another, vehicle combat is handled another way, and there is no real instruction on how best to have these subsystems all interact with each other. Combat is a series of d20 rolls. Attacker rolls to strike, defender rolls to defend, if they fail defense they can try to roll with the punch t take less damage(sometimes), If the attacker hits he then rolls damage which is based on the weapon and then the next person goes. Damage is either normal(SDC) or Mega Damage(MDC). SDC weapons do no damage to MDC targets. MDC damage dos one hundred times damage to SDC targets. Everyone starts withe MDC weapons and Armor. This leads to odd moments of Emergent play that I think were not anticipated by the designers. I say this because a lot of the add on rules and rules explanations in later books would attempt t explain why anyone would ever need SDC weapons or armor and often the designer would wonder why people kept asking the same sort of questions about MDC.  Initiative is broken down int 15 second rounds where each person gets a number of actions, sometimes things take up several actions to do, and it rotates through from highest initiative  to lowest for the first action, then back to the highest again and it rotates around. Dodging uses up an action, parrying doesn't. The rules for dodging bullets is arcane and really confusing, I think you take a -10 to your roll plus any dodge bonuses you have, but it might be a raw die roll -10, r it might be impossible. There has been a lot written on the subject and none of it has ever made any sense to me. Skills are a bit funny. They are a percentile roll, and I assume you are supposed to roll under the percentile of your skill. I say, "I assume," as there is no instruction on how to use skills in the book. It is just assumed you know how they work. Also there are 305 skills(According to my last count, there are probably more now). There are almost no social skills. This game has a serious amount of skill bloat, especially as how skills work and how long it takes to do a skill and what is possible within a skill are all kind of nebulous. Vehicle combat is combination of Combat and skill usage, but it doesn't fully explain how that works or what you are rolling t hit. Like there is a Vehicle Weapons skill that is percentile based, do you use it to hit the opponent with your vehicle weapons? What do they use to defend? How does defense work? It is all very confusing. All that said, there are answers to these questions, but they are buried all around the books. The main problem with the Palladium house system is not so much that it sucks, or that it is complex, but that it is probably the worst organized I have ever scene in a big name game. Finding anything can be a real chore, and I have been playing since 1993. The game is quirky and fun, but it needs some serious streamlining and reorganizing.

Um...yeah, the setting is everything a 13 year old from the eighties loves. The basics are as follows. Some pint in the near future there is a major technological revolution that leads to all sorts f cybernetics, human augmentation, and genetic engineering. At the peak of this golden age, a nuclear war of some sort starts and all the mass death reawakens the magic of the earth and tears reality apart a little, magic, demons, and extra dimensional creatures of all sorts roam the land. It is now four hundred years after this event and the world has rebuilt itself a bit. Magic has been harnessed by some and by other technology is the key. The big bad of the setting is the Coalition, basically future Nazis living near the ruins of Chicago. They hate everything non-human and magical, and they have a massive technologically advanced army. Also the magic level is ridiculously high and s the Earth is linked t other dimensions through rifts that periodically pop up. There are loads of books on the various parts of the world and on other worlds that are filled with cool adventures. You don't need a whole lot to make the setting books work, just the main book and the book for the area you are in(if you want it) My favorite dimension and world books are: Underseas, Phase World, Lone Star, New West, and South America 1 & 2(South America  is probably my favorite of all the Rifts book bar none). Atlantis and the Vampire Kingdoms are also pretty good for giving you big villains to fight. You might also want to get the Conversion Books, as they are far closer to a series of Monster Manuals than anything else.

Thus endeth the Fifth Game of Christmas. Tomorrow...

Hunters of Aexandria

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fourth Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games Of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted

Today we will be looking at one of my favorite genres, Superheroes. We are also looking at one of the big names in supers RPGs. I like the system, but I also have some issues with it. So lets dig into...

Mutants & Masterminds

I actually bought this game the day it came out, back in first edition. It kind of blew my mind when my roommate and I tried it out. We kept looking at the rules and saying, "is this how this works? This can't be how this works." We had been playing a lot of D20 games and this was just such a funky alteration of the core rues that we just had a really hard time understanding the simplicity and genius of the game. First edition was just a small shift, second and third edition really pushed the boundaries what was even possible within the framework of D20. It is an elegant and simple system, and I think it changed a lot of my preconceptions on how games worked and how one would use existing systems to do new things. For this review I will be using the Third edition rules.

Peritextual Elements
The books have always been beautiful. Always full color, always professional artists working to make the art look consistent and stylistic. The third edition has continued that tradition with high quality artwork, and solid layout design. It is laid out in two columns on high gloss white paper with colored sidebars. The font is easy to read and the chapters are arranged in a standard and easy to follow method. Overall it is pretty standard layout and all, but it is serviceable and pleasant.

H'okie-D'okie, the mechanics are super simple, and yet they have a depth and breadth that is staggering. All you need to play is a twenty-sided die. One for each payer would be best, but you could manage with just one. You have eight attributes(Strength, Agility, Fighting, Awareness, Stamina, Dexterity, Intellect, Presence). The baseline is zero, with bonuses and penalties to rolls in those that are limited by the power level of the game. The character creation is point buy, and you are limited by the power level on the maximums for your skill levels, attribute ratings, level of powers, and how durable and resilient your character is. When you want to accomplish a task you roll a d20 add in the relevant modifiers and compare that total to either a target number or an opponent's roll result. If the roll is an attack and it hits, the target rolls resistance against the resistance difficulty and then you get damage results.

The power building rules are effects base. You build your powers out of groups of effects, each power has a variable cost due to this and you can raise or lower the ability by adding modifiers to the power. Basically you use your points to build exceptions to the rules in your favor. It makes for highly variable characters while keeping the power level roughly equitable. I like the mechanics, however it can lead to a couple of small problems. Firstly it can make the characters feel a little samey. Secondly you can build a character that looks tough and powerful but has a weakness you did not anticipate. These are both solvable within the game, just things to watch out for.

There is a sort of setting for the game. Freedom City and Emerald City are two semi generic supers towns with solid histories and villains and heroes. It has the off brand Justice League, the Off Brand Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, the off Brand Hydra, and so on. I like the setting a lot, but it feels very much like things you have seen before in the major comic universes. Of course I think that is the point, it gives you familiar fiction to grab hold of and play in.

And that is the Fourth Game Of Christmas. Tomorrow...