Thursday, 29 November 2012

What happened in November?

OK, I've been dark for a month, so about time I picked this up again really.

I've been a little preoccupied with other things: a job in a nightclub, my godfather's civil ceremony, a whole heap of trimming my life down a bit and finding the stuff I need to do and when. Etc etc.

My fantasy setting is still shaping up. I haven't touched it in a little while. Maybe that year's end goal was far too lofty, but I intend to get it done ASAP.
I managed to play for an evening in it, and added a bit to the setting overview that I'm happy with. It was only a few hours, and not the most outlandish game, but it helped.

That game was also powered by my NaGaDeMon rules, which were so good I may actually write up how to play the setting using them.
No combat though, so would still have to give that a quick test run.

I should probably describe the NaGaDeMon rules.
Players pick 3 traits - usually these are racial or a role or a motivation or an affiliation.
Players pick skills - I used a pyramid made of 10 points, 1 level 3 skill, 2 level 2 skills and 3 level 1 skills. Dice rolls are a number of d6s equal to the skill level. Success on 4, 5 and 6.
Everyone starts a session with 1 bonus point, and can earn more via good roleplay or pulling off something against the odds (rolling lots of successes or multiple 6s, still not clarified). Bonus points can be spent to ignore a dice roll and barely scrape by in succeeding, or to make dice succeed on a 3+. You can only drop difficulties if a character trait would help - the quick playtest had a plant person dropping the difficulty on a botany roll.
Without a skill, roll 1d6, success only on a 6, bonus points can't be used/earned.

Standard health of 10hp, race tends to be the modifier - Lizardfolk scales act as a natural armour, lowering damage dealt, Wildfolk healed faster. Giantkin will likely have more hp but are a bigger and easier to damage, so I suppose 12hp would be fair.

Bonus points not spent count as extra experience points at the end of a session.

And the beauty of that system is it can be transferred pretty easily to other settings.

What else have I got on my mind?
I'm still thinking about the Legend of the 5 Rings game I have in my head, the characters at a wedding, the little intrigues I could enact on people. How exactly it would work out I'm not sure, but if I get a chance to run it I'll report back.

I've been getting my hands on some history books and stuff recently, for purposes of reference. I have a feeling a lot more ideas will start to bubble over in the next few months, if I actually manage to get them read!

Hopefully going back to some regular updates soon.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Forming an idea for L5R

In the last week and a bit, I've been messing with some ideas for a Legend of the 5 Rings game.

My old 1st edition Unicorn character managed to pick up an ancient Crab katana whilst adventuring in the Shadowlands. For whatever reason, he promised the Hida daimyo it would pass on to the Crab upon his death. Basically, I'm changing the wording of what he said, all those years ago.
"It will pass on to my grandson upon my death. Whether he is Unicorn or Crab is yet to be seen. But I am unwed."

So yes, the plan is to run some kind of wedding scenario. So far, it looks like I'll be putting it either in Shiro Ide, since it's the big Unicorn diplomatic concern, or Shiro Koatsuki no Higashi (Face of the East Castle), which is basically the same thing but for Crab lands.
I have a feeling I might throw it into Crab lands, if only for what I have planned.

So there's an inter-clan wedding. And since it's the Unicorn and the Crab, I might be able to manage an excuse for some kind of hunt in the nearby mountains and forests. And maybe a ghost story or something as extra flavour.
There's also the question of the other sword in the set, which was forged for the Phoenix clan, and that's where it's ended up currently. Plenty of room for some more political manoeuvring and stuff.

The big issue I'll be facing is converting all the things into 4th edition, and making sure the rules aren't that much different. I have a good hunch as to how to add some neat twists in, and some unexpected surprises.
Luckily, a lot of the NPCs are already made and sitting happily in my head - there's the two Crab samurai who adventured into the Shadowlands too, the Phoenix clan rival, and I got bored one day and bluebooked some downtime involving the rest of the Unicorn family.

If I actually manage to run this, and I really hope I do, then there'll be play reports I'm sure. Maybe I'll write them out as short stories again.
Though last time I tried that, I made the first 5 minutes of a game into 2000 words pretty easily. So maybe I shouldn't.

If I don't run it, it'll have to stay as fiction I think. We'll see how this works.

Friday, 19 October 2012

The ongoing projects list

I've had a hard time coming up with a decent update here for the past few days. I've decided to blame it on the fact I've been eating radishes, which I haven't touched in years.

I've also been pretty busy working at my fantasy setting, which I'm hoping will get published through Occult Moon before the end of the year. But that's a pipe dream at the moment. I'd say the end is in sight, but I know full well how far away it is too.

My d12 system is currently on hold. I need to get some better healing rules in place. It's currently quite brutal, but I know it could use some work, mostly for natural, non-magical healing.
I think that will get sorted next, but it still more playtesting. Feel free to use the rules as I've given them, and tell me what you think so far. Tell me what you needed to mess with, and why.
My fantasy setting will be the default setting I'm using to playtest, although I've got a couple of ideas for alternates to check: a sci-fi game about gas miners on Neptune, a wild west idea centred on a town called Copper, Arizona, and a go at the Malazan Empire, if I can manage it.

The second issue of the Lookouts comics is out, and Penny Arcade are running something on the Thornwatch, which also looks very exciting. I've toyed with ideas of making a game like this for a while too, and I'm excited to see how the boardgame goes.

Ok, that was plenty of link dumping, what else can I talk about?

I've asked a few questions on Google+ recently about Legend of the 5 Rings, specifically 4th edition and how it compares to the version I've played - 1st.
I've got a few ideas for a game I would run that I'll likely throw up here soon. Based off a Unicorn character that I ran maybe 5 years ago, the story would involve his impending wedding, and all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds such an event. There will be more than a few obstacles, and hopefully some fun surprises too.

That's all for now, more in a couple of days, or tomorrow if I need a break from the writing!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

More city shenanigans

I've been thinking a bit the past couple of days about a game where the players take over a city.

Partly inspired by the Malazan books by Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont, and partly inspired by the Kingmaker adventure path for Pathfinder, and maybe even a little bit by Ptolus (from what I can remember of it). Even a bit from the PC game Republic, if anyone played it.
I want to sit the players down, and say 'you're going to take over a city.'
The characters are drinking and playing cards and being merry in the backroom of a tavern in the middle of this sprawling mess of a city, full of corruption and waste, a hive of scum and villainy and whatever. They have decided, after many years, that they just can't take any more, and are out to conquer the city.

I might get them to give me a bit of a brief for the city itself, but I've got my own ideas too. And then see what kind of characters they make. Maybe they're all guards, and they want to take the place back from crime. Maybe they're all war veterans, and they're going to stage a coup. Maybe they're all criminals, and want to run a new cartel.
Whatever happens, they'll need to secure a base of operations, work up some grass roots support, and maybe infiltrate the higher echelons too. And then of course there's rivals, other threats from other power players who want to keep the status quo, and maybe threats from without too.

No clue what kind of rules I'd run. I imagine that a good setup would have a relationship map and a few hooks onto locations that the players can interact with, so I might rip an entire section out of the Smallville RPG for that (is it in other Cortex products too? I've only seen Serenity and BSG).

Maybe the City of a Thousand Temples would be a good setting for the game? I'll keep working on this. Feels like it might be a winner for actual play.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

City of a Thousand Temples

I saw this post on Reddit, and my mind starting whirring.

What would life be like in a city with hundreds upon hundreds of different temples? Would they all worship the same god in a myriad different ways? Would they all worship a group of gods, but with as many variations again?
How would culture be shaped by this? Would people be more cosmopolitan? Would street fights break out over an imagined sleight, because your god called my god a name, according to some other third party?

I'm going to keep pondering on this. Seems like a lot of ideas could spawn from here.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Chapter I: The True Accounts and Adventuries of Grozny de Gronzi, Kingmaker.

Chapter I

I shall begin, against my personal custom, at the beginning rather than the end. The story begins better much later on, but I know that some of you prefer it this way.


I was born and grew up in a small village of the Forest of Gronzi. Its name is unimportant to you, but it should be known that I, like everyone else in this village, was gnomish.
This would be an extravagant detail to many of you. After all, to look at me, you would at once see me for what I am. But I tell you it here so that you better understand my life. I grew up around people of normal size, whilst passing visitors appeared huge and gawkish to me. I was told that outside the forest, the people were all of this size, and it was we who were the strange ones. I wouldn't believe them for years.

As you mark time, I was thirty years old when I said goodbye to my mother and father, my family and friends, and set out to make my fortune.
I had a strong voice, and my father had carved me a lovely wooden flute when I was young. I had played it incessantly of course. I had little else in the world, but upon my departure my mother presented me with the finest clothes we could afford. I had hoped that my luck and my talent for music, as well as the cantrips I had learned in my childhood, would be enough to see me grace the noble courts of the menfolk. The traveeling traders had said that I would be a natural fit, and that they were always keen for a showman such as myself.

That was nearly true. They were always keen for a show. I hadn't quite learned the subtleties of the courts, and sadly it took me far too long to realise that my personal skills of storytelling and song weren't to everyone's appreciation.

Where I grew up, to make light of your neighbours foibles was to lessen their impact. It was what made us thrive as a community. If Old Man Poosk got a little handsy with the maidens when he'd been drinking, that didn't matter. He knew that everyone knew, and we knew he knew. He knew when to stop, is what I'm saying.
Maybe I never learned where to stop.

I headed northwards, and soon found myself attached to the court of a nobleman, a minor lord of House Orlovsky. He liked to hear me sing songs of the Fae in their own language. When he asked me to sing a song in his own tongue, I surprised him with one about his neighbours in the next county, drawn from a rumour I had heard about the young Lady Medvyed. Whilst he chuckled briefly, his wife's stern glare caught us both, and I knew I had as grievous an error as I could.
Lady Medvyed being caught with a stableboy and her pants down was perhaps a story to bold to broach to the elder sister of said Lady.

I made my excuses, and fled as fast as I could. A few more gold pieces to my name, a nice set of clothes to perform in.
And then I took over a decade to learn a simple lesson, something which perhaps I could have learned much more quickly, had I paid better attention.
The Lord you are performing for always has a sister married off to someone else nearby. The Lady you're performing for is invariably the daughter of the Lord and Lady with the interesting goings-on at parties.
I travelled all about, but slowly south and away from the webs of courtly intrigue.
It took me another few years to realise that, whilst the nobles in the south were fewer, and less powerful, and less tied in to the rumours of the north, they were still keener to patronise the artists who didn't make light of the people that they wanted to be.

And so I found myself out of favour as far as I could easily travel, and ended up taking my songs and stories to the taverns. I managed to make a living, for what commoner doesn't love the lewdest tales of his lord?
Eventually, even these tales had earned the ire of the local mayors and magistrates, perhaps brought down from above them.

Needless to say, I ended up in Restov, just when they were calling for brave persons to head into the untamed wilds to the south. I didn't have a great amount of choice in the matter. I was wanted as far away as possible.

And so I went.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

About time for an update...

OK, I've been a bit preoccupied with a business plan for a gaming store, and some other stuff in the real world, but now I think it's time for an actual update!

Following David Hill's recommendation, I've had a read of the Smallville RPG, but trying to ignore the setting. I've only had a brief skim of it so far, need to read in depth, but WOW. This is a step up from the Cortex system I read years ago in the Serenity RPG. Next, I need to take a look at Leverage.

I was trying to pay attention to a character creation session for Eclipse Phase on Sunday, but I started a job on Saturday Night and was kind of out of it from that still.
But the setting! Exactly what I want to see from a sci-fi setting about the future of humanity, or transhumanity. AIs, uplifts, aliens, some very real unknown terrors, hypercorporations replacing nation states. Just fantastic. The setting's horror twists are cool too, and definitely entice me in.

I keep telling myself I'll write something exciting for a post soon, but it hasn't really come to fruition just yet. I was hoping for something on my School of Magick and Wisardry, but apparently I couldn't get the players just yet. Roll on Indie+ for that.

I did start a game of Vampire: the Masquerade via Google Hangout. We've somehow managed to draft in Mark Rein-Hagen, the guy that wrote Vampire. I would link to the On Air hangout on Youtube, but my brand new headset makes me into a heavy breathing moron for a good portion of it. I'll link to it when the next episode is up.

I've set myself the goal of another post before the weekend. In that I'm going to write something substantial. That is my quest. Now I just have to hope the bridgekeeper doesn't ask me my favourite colour...

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Ser Coranth School for the Furtherance of Knowledge and Wisardry

Following my idea the other day, here's what I've piled together so far.
First of all, apologies to Patrick Rothfuss for some of the more blatant plagiarism homage. It is well meaning, I'm sure you'll understand. As I'm working this, it's becoming a little less Rothfuss - there's a Goblin warren beneath the school, so it's going a bit J.K. Rowling. I'm still working on the Houses (because obviously there should be Houses AND Colleges).
Next up, adapting some FATE rules for this. Thinking Dresden Files RPG would be reasonably easy, substituting a few skills here and there, and casting more or less intact.

What I will say is, every character has some form of personal aid or focus to their magic. Whether it's a wands, a ring, a glass orb, or a pentacle necklace. Without the focus, magic isn't possible (without some kind of ability/stunt). These focuses needn't be unique, but are of great sentimental value to the practitioner.

It should also be noted that the school caters for a full panoply of students, and so there are students who have no magickal aptitude whatsoever, for whom the classes in linguistics, tactics and history prepare them for diplomatic careers, or for whom mathematics and engineering leads to architecture.

Ser Coranth School for the Furtherance of Knowledge and Wisardry

Ser Coranth was a noble born slightly over a thousand years ago, and used a portion of his large fortune to establish a great school, that the world as a whole might benefit. He built it at the borders of his own country, as well as those of two others.
Over time, the school has grown to the size of a small town, surrounded by quarters of servants and merchants and innkeepers, whilst at the same time growing itself in the pursuit of new, forgotten, and esoteric knowledge. Its name refers to the long held belief that Magickal aptitude is founded upon deep wisdom.

The school boasts a handful of colleges, almost as many faculties, an overall population in the thousands, and sits upon land bequeathed it by all the surrounding nations, prior to their entry into the Commonwealth.
These comprise the area upon which the school is built, some forested area that disappears over the northern borders

Tuition at the school is set annually, following exams and a personal interview with the Chancellor’s Council. New students forego the exams and take extended interviews.
Tuition usually tops out at fifty Guilders a year, but is influenced by perceived ability of the student and a knowledge of how much a student can afford to pay (a great many nobles send their children to the school after all).

Beneath the Chancellor and the Deans of the Faculties sit the various Masters of a particular subject. It is they who teach the various classes.
Also of note are the Provosts of the various colleges, the Wardens (the enforcers of the various Rules, Laws and Codified Statutes of the School), as well as the servant class that has grown up around the school.

Example ranks/persons:
Dean of the Faculty of History
Dean of the Faculty of Magick
Dean of the Faculty of Natural Philosophy
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
Dean of the Faculty of Languages

Provost of Bannermouth College
Provost of Coranth College
Provost of Carrefour College

Provost of Polettus College

Master of Early Imperial Literature
Master of Late Imperial Tactics
Master of Mathematics
Master of Pre-causal Effect
Master of True Names

Head Warden
Wardens of the School

Head Groundskeeper
Head Steward

Some locations within the school and surrounding area:
Chambers - Home to the Masters
Grand Hearth - a large hall adjacent to Chambers, used for functions
Commons - a group of several buildings of bunkhouses and small dining halls
The Quint - a five-sided open square in the centre of the School
Towers - the tall towers of the school can be seen from miles around
The Undercroft - a storage area/cellar
The Overcroft - located directly above the Undercroft, also for storage
Flagstones Market - the largest market in the school
Goblin Market - a market for finding interesting magical gewgaws, ingredients and formulas
Gardens - a botanical garden
The Rookery - A stack of nests dating back hundreds of generations, on the roofs of Commons
Limns - Where new manuscripts are transcribed and illuminated
Twixt - A frequently used alleyway running between the Towers
Ministry - The Ministry of the Assembly. The Assembly maintains a presence to keep a watchful eye on things, headed by the Minister

Ideas of classes:
Advanced Enchantment
Abjuration and Wards (Early Imperial through Modern Commonwealth)
Basic Retrotheometry
Basic Potioncrafting
Comparative Anthropology
Geometry of Magick
Introduction to Medical Applications of Herbs
Languages of the Goblin People
Legal Statutes on Augury and the Ethics of Precognition
Pattern Resonance
Precognitive Dissonance Theory

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Schools of thought

I've talked before about my desire to run a game centred around a school of magic, but I spent a long bus journey today thinking more on the subject, so here's what I have so far.

Taking careful aim with the FATE rules, adapting them slightly from Dresden Files (for now), and borrowing heavily from various fictional styles of magic (taken from Patrick Rothfuss, DnD, Harry Potter and Pratchett), I think I've got some ideas down.

The school of magic should be a bit of a sprawl, like in Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicle. It's basically a small town, what with the various inns, taverns and stores sprawled around it. Hogsmead in Harry Potter combined with Diagon Alley would also give a good idea of what I'm aiming at.
The school should have an odd name for itself, giving the students an education in 'Magick and Wisardry'.
Different parts of the school should stand out, but also be unique. The part called Towers would have high towers, the Undercroft is under the school, the Quint is what happens to a Quad when you give it five sides.

For kicks, there should be a mind-boggling bureaucracy to the place. The Chancellor is the head of the school, and the Deans are in charge of various faculties. But the Provosts are in charge of the various colleges. I'm debating adding Houses to the mix too.
The teachers are referred to as Masters, and live in Chambers. The students live in various places, from the various college holdings to a communal bunkhouse for first years to any of the various inns and taverns about the place.

One of the good parts of university is all the societies you can join. There has to be an Explorers Society, dedicated to finding all the hidden spots of the place ("Have you seen the Chancellor's Secret Garden? It's hidden on the Roof of Chambers. Good apples, but it's a devil to get to. I had to climb all the way up from Downbelow, somewhere near Scrapes. And I nearly got caught twice by those chancers from Bradley college.")
The Explorers Society should also be invite only, and hard to get into.

The various kinds of magic on show include Naming, Sympathy, Inscription/Enchanting (Sygaldry?) and Potion-making. But it's a school of 'Wisardy', so maybe classes in Theology and Comparative Philosophy and History too.

I'm going to keep working away at it for now, and see where it'll get me.

Monday, 3 September 2012


One of my favourite ideas for D&D 3.5 was having the adventurers interact with ghosts.

The Ghostwalk book spawned a short series of adventures within a campaign, where the players find themselves waking up in a ghostworld filled with extinct animals and peoples, and trying to escape back to their lives.

I'd love to try that again with a new game. Have the players do a few short sessions then suddenly come up against a nasty big bad guy. With a swing of his sword, he fells each of them.
But then they wake up in the world inside the sword.

Partly inspired by the sword Dragnipur in the Malazan Book of the Fallen (which I've written about before), and partly by a Daedric quest in Skyrim, the characters would have to advance within the sword, find a way to break out, and then avenge themselves and any friends they might make whilst imprisoned.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Furthering the Stone

A few weeks ago, I mentioned an idea I'd had based upon a stone age setting. I've turned it over some in my mind, and here's a quick idea for how I'd run it.

Take the Legend of the 5 Rings rules. I'm mostly familiar with first edition, so the lack of samurai kata and stuff makes some sense, plus a simple split between warrior and magic user makes things much easier.

The five elemental attributes still fit nicely, though I might rename Void to Spirit.

Skills would function the same, but not broken down by 'unclean' skills. A warrior would work with any animal he hunts, a shaman would speak to the different spirits, know herbalism and poisons (probably), and so forth.

The different spells would still be usable. Making weapons out of elements is easy enough, causing various elemental motions is easy too. And of course, the basics of sensing, communing and summoning elements works fine.

I'd have to modify some damage from weapons I'm sure. I could easily make a stone axe a 3k2 weapon, which is made especially deadly since I don't think there's much in the way of armour to be had. Plenty of other weapons would be usable too, but at a _k1 level.

Seems pretty straight forward. I'll have a go at how it converts to D&D at some point too.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Thoughts on the latest D&D Next Playtest packet

Well, last week the new played package dropped (and then dropped again with some extra options).

My thoughts so far: it looks good. It has a flavour of the older editions rather than 4E, but still seems like a progression from that system.
I'll still have to wait and see how it looks come 2014 when the full rules arrive, but I've already got some ideas churning.

I had an old D&D 3.5 campaign that followed some colonists crossing an ocean. I may adapt it and see how the new rules work in that setting.
Of course, that setting involved an entirely human society encountering demihumans for the first time in several centuries.
The core concept of a recent rebellion against a council of liches is still sound. I'll just see how people take to it. There's obviously a tendency for people to be a bit blasé about darker magic, but at the same time still have very little trust in people that can use it.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Well after yesterday's assorted collection of links to previous posts, I thought today I'd try and actually write something more solid.

I've been talking for a while about the prospect of opening a gaming store. I'm in the early stages of a business plan at the moment, and it looks reasonably sound.
There are plenty of cities in the UK with a similar population but with a great many more gaming stores than we have here.
From general feedback from people I know, and a handful I didn't before an enterprise course, there's at least some demand for a store that works differently from the local ones.
My mystery shopper work has turned up the words 'cluttered' and 'unfriendly' a couple of times, so trying to beat that problem will probably net me some customers.

My biggest problem at the outset is start-up costs. I'm even looking into cooperatives and whether I could somehow crowdsource as options, which I know is more than a little bit of an odd way to go about it. But such is the state of my savings at the moment.

I've been able to talk to a few people already in the retail side of the industry, and not just in my local area. It's been a big help, but I know for a fact that the monopolies on stock providers will mean spending more than I'd like.
The convenience of renting a property with bills inclusive is also going to hinder me I think. Hmmm.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Assorted thoughts

A handful of observations and ramblings. Sorry it's not more concise.

Following on from Greywulf's internal conversation that ended up with a Nutshell d20 system, I started having my own in my head. Along the lines of "is there anything I'd add?"
I think the advantage/disadvantage mechanic from the DnDNext playtest would fit pretty well. Gives the mechanic another outing for play.
I could very easily see myself using that for a slimmed down d20 Modern game. Maybe the modern Inquisition idea I had a while ago would work.

My Romanesque setting seed Republic is still stewing. I have a feeling I might have to end up watching Rome and Spartacus before I sit down and write much more on it. As it is, the bare bones are there.
It might be worth making use of it as an example for a DiceBenedict sample setting. So far I only have the Old Crown fantasy thing going, and that needs a chunk of work to get past being an overgrown DnD clone.

I've finished reading A Wise Man's Fear. A very good book, and showed a lot more of Rothfuss's world off to the reader. I can still see the setting working with FATE rules. I may have to give it a go at some point, and hope no one plays Harry Potter with it too much.
I tried to go on to reading the fifth Malazan Book of the Fallen novel Midnight Tides, but wasn't particularly in the mood for it. A Malazan adaptation will have to wait a few more months at this rate.

I've had a bit more of a think on the Lookouts idea. I think it has some definite potential, and I'll be looking at something with a 2d6 mechanic, like in Traveller.

Overall, with all these little ideas ticking away, I'm starting to get some itchy fingers for actually doing some roleplaying. It seems like it's been a while, and I'm in need of a fix. I'll have to sort something out soon. But first I need to crack on with the business plan for an FLGS.

Quick poll: would you shop in a place called [Insert Name Here]?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Solar diversions

Those you you that follow me over on Google+ may have seen a post about the Hakunin Arcology in orbit above Neptune, or some murmurings about sci-fi bouncing around my mind.
With that in mind, I may as well tell you that I'm throwing together some ideas for a sci-fi setting for my in-development rules system, currently labouring under the name DiceBenedict.

I imagine any talk about it will be similar to what I'm doing over on my fantasy setting blog, Kingsmead Chronicler. Trying to be rules-neutral, expanding some examples of how I have the setting flowing in my head, so that anyone could jump in if they wanted to and expand their own little venture.

So what is this setting called? I've got no idea. I've currently holding it in a documents folder marked 'Sol', but I want to expand it a bit more than that.

What is happening? Well, the idea is to showcase a few examples, but a general gist is that humanity has spread out from Earth, and now its coming to terms with being a transplanetary race.
They've also brought along a few friends for the ride, in the last century creating sentient life from amongst the cacophony of it on Earth. Reptids, Felins and Ursans all add to the mix, though I haven't decided if tey class as citizens yet.

Then the standard fare of cybernetics or bionetics, asteroid mining and space trading, piracy and civil disobedience will likely come into it. Dare you cause a riot at the Phobos Penal colony? What if they send in a squad of Ursan peacekeepers, eight feet tall and built to punch the head from your neck?

I know it's another project beavering away in me, but I figure having a few things lined up for DiceBenedict ASAP is useful in the long run.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Kingkiller Chronicle in RP

I've been devouring Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicle for the past few weeks. I'm currently approaching page 700 of the second novel, The Wise Man's Fear. Funnily enough, a fantasy setting rife with magic, invention, religious tension and noble intrigue is doing all kinds of things to my funny little imagination.

So, I've been brainstorming how I'd handle running a game, and where I'd do it. I imagine it would be easiest to throw people into the University and see what sticks. That means they're all in their late teens/early 20s, and all studying to become arcanists, diplomats and the like. It also puts them in easy reach of some nobles (and gambling, drinking and music) across the river in Imre.
It also means I can run a bunch of trainee wizards around a school, and not be stuck with Hogwarts as a de facto setting. I can have them wander the Stacks of the Archives in the dark, around the different pubs and inns of both Imre and the University's surrounding town, send them to lessons in sympathy, sygaldry and naming, and if I get really adventurous let them wander around the Down Below.
That's not to mention a trip to Tarben, or anywhere else in the Four Corners either.

Exciting, yes?

For rules, I'd say FATE would work reasonably well. Character creation gives easy back story, and possible interactions with other characters (plenty of them are noble born after all). As long as I can work out how to balance naming magic with the other kinds. It also works well that sympathy can affect a character's stress track in much the same was as in Dresden Files.

Alternatively, given the strong elements of storytelling and games of chance, hacking together something from the Houses of the Blooded rules might be interesting. My only problem here is removing the unifying background of every character being in the same family, and I'm not sure how that would affect the game of play. I do like the privilege mechanic though...

And then of course there's classless d20, perhaps relying on some kind of point-buy system for character generation and advancement. I think that might require a much bigger hack on my part though.

Decisions decisions

Monday, 30 July 2012


Recently I've had an idea for a stone age game in my head. A few years ago, I wrote a lovely little story about a hunter gatherer tribesman called Stone, and since then the idea has been flickering on and off in my mind.

Then today I read something about the Hyperborean Cycle by Clark Ashton Smith, and it flickered back to life again.

I've some ideas of how it would work in a D&D 3E game, replacing the standard Fighter/Wizard/Rogue/Cleric setup with Barbarian/Sorcerer/Ranger/Druid (although I'm not so happy about the Ranger there. Maybe replace it with Monk?)
After that, throw in a bunch of dinosaurs, hairy mammals and monsters, maybe a Dire Giraffe or two, and you have yourself a setting and some rules. But I'm not sure how it would translate to other rules sets.

I'm pretty sure I could throw together something using FATE, since lifting from Legends of Anglerre for something like this wouldn't be too difficult. Neither would most generic d10 or d20 based games.
I'm toying with the idea of writing a brief for my own rules, since I'm now trying to throw them around different settings and see how they break apart.

I'd be very tempted to do something with the 1E Legend of the 5 Rings rules. I know them better than the newer editions, and they're pretty simple for everyday messing about. Plus, an elemental system for characters fits nicely with the setting, though I might switch about or simplify some of the character terms about a bit. Would I need to fiddle Status and Honour at all?

Would you play in a stone age setting? Have you?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Lookouts - May we die in the forest

I just found out about this comic. I don't know how I missed hearing about it up until now.
I'm really looking forward to it now.

I've talked a bunch about using my rules system to do a game about fantasy scouts and the dangerous adventures they'd get up to, based on the old strips over on Penny Arcade.
I was in Scouts here in the UK for about a decade, so I'm sure I could mess around pretty well and have a bunch of ideas come from that. I'm currently just hoping they use a merit badge system of some kind, because that would be fun.

I'm throwing an update up over on Kingsmead Chronicler, though as yet the topic is undecided. If you'd like to know more about my custom fantasy setting, head over there and see what you think.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Collected ramblings

The problem with trying to update once a day for a week is that I seem to rapidly run out of ideas.

Over on my other blog, I'm asking people to tell me what they want me to write about in my next update. I don't want to give up too much information on the setting, since I want to write this up and publish it sometime. Though probably at a small price for what it is, or tie it properly into my rules set. The times I've run the test, the rules have worked well enough for the setting.

I'll be back tomorrow with a proper update of some kind. I've got a few more ideas for a sci-fi setting, and a few more for Republic, my Roman-inspired idea. I've even got something going that I'm currently calling Stone, which is set when you can probably imagine.
Maybe I'll manage to write down some of the nonsense that went on in the finale of the Dresden game a few months ago. Hint: chronomancy!

Next week I'm starting a course designed to help open a business. By the end of it, I'll be writing a business plan. The end goal is a gaming store. Wish me luck?

There'll be a round-up of my feelings on Indie+ next week too.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Adapting the Malazan World

I've taken my time in actually reading them, but Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series and Ian C. Esslemont's Tales of the Malazan Empire are a great series of books.
I'm not finished with Erikson's 10 novel saga, or with Esslemont's 5 novels (the fifth due out in November), but I really enjoy their setting, and especially the fact that it morphed out of their own D&D and GURPS games.

The novels present a gritty world, with plots and betrayals, and ascended demi-gods, and a unique flavour to the magic and how it works, and undead Neanderthal warriors, and shape-shifting packs of wolves and all kinds of other fun that I don't need to get into. Instead, you should go read them all!

Anyway, long story short, I want to go and visit, so I've been thinking about how to adapt my rules system to fit, and I think it works well enough, providing the setting itself is adequately explained.
Having access to a Warren is what lets a person use magic, and whilst some characters have access to several, rarely do they have mastery of more than one (Quick Ben is an exception, but he has a loophole).

So it seems that a Mage's abilities might list traits like Warren of Rashan, or skills like Travel by Warren. In more powerful cases, they might have Magi of High House Shadow, although that puts their power level a bit higher.
A character could work towards ascendancy, or wander the landscape with an item invested by some warren or god (perhaps having somehow gotten hold of a T'lan Imass weapon). It all seems to work reasonably well. I think it needs some heavy stress testing though.

I'll keep everyone informed of my progress!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Additional Rules for Noble Houses

The other day, I had a brief conversation with a friend working on some noble families for a fantasy setting.
Whilst she had been looking at developing them with the Song of Ice and Fire RPG, she mentioned using my rules to play the actual game.


I think there's plenty of scope in there to adapt the rules for a game involving noble houses (or any organisation- a guild, the town guard, monastic orders, superhero team, government agency, and so on).
Each house could have it's own traits, skills and possessions that characterize it, and the characters could substitute these for their own on an important dice roll (perhaps by spending a spin point).
I think that the characters would have to reflect the traits of their house in order to substitute them like that though - they'd have to each have one of the traits or skills listed, though not necessarily the same ones.

Alternatively, the houses could be formed and fight against each other, or work in concert, like a wargame. But I'll have to explore that option a bit further.

Monday, 9 July 2012

A week of Indie+

This week, the good folks over on the the Google+ RPG community are coming together for Indie+, celebrating the Indie publishing community.
As such, I've decided to pull my finger out and actually update my blogs, and get back into a writing mindset.

This week I'll be posting updates here and over on the Kingsmead Chronicler, with what I'm up to, the latest state of that setting, the latest state of anything else swimming around my head.
And of course, my own rules set, which I've been cooking up for far too long now.

For this post, I'll tell you what I've done with it recently.
I've gone back to the original intent, and made it a game using d12s, with different power levels corresponding to starting dice modifiers.
I've even finally added the healing mechanic in. I think there's still some work to be done to file some rough edges off, and definitely to format it better for reading, but there should be most of the rules in places now.

If anyone would like to use the rules to run a game, that would be great. Especially if you break them entirely!
I may try and run something with them myself, and drop feedback here and over on Google+.

Hope everyone has a fun week!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Inquisitorial backtracking

A few years ago, I wrote a little piece for a creative writing class about a guy being led astray by his best friend. He was, however, led towards the open arms of a succubus, and only saved when the 'weird guy' who dropped out of high school turned up and arrested the succubus and human collaborator in the name of the Inquisition and Rome.

So now, I've just remembered it, there's a lovely theme for a game brewing in my mind similar to many of the default settings in d20 Modern - Department 7 would be the part of the Inquisition that the players work for.
I've also got some ideas about a Pax Dei and Pax Roma, the two treaties that govern the movement and actions of demons (and angels) on Earth. I know that the Inquisition would report to the Pope, but would be governed by a Synod, and at some point I want the word Quorum to show up, since I love that word.

I can already see how re-skinning low level monsters to make them impish can work, and how the setting can brew over nicely. After all, there's no Pax Pandemonia yet.

Monday, 21 May 2012

More ideas clamouring for attention

So here's a little overview of what's currently bubbling in my head:

A game set in a world where the Roswell Incident was the site of Earth's first extraterrestrial encounter, not a crash. Ship landed, aliens surveyed and encountered locals, contacted mothership and decided to stay. It is now the 70s or 80s (or now, not really decided). Something like District 13 meets Blaxploitation meets Alien Nation (with some Space Precinct thrown in for fun).

Roman Pathfinder, as mentioned in my last post, nominally called Republic. Still working out the kinks with different races and stuff.

A hard sci-fi game has popped up and is bubbling away, though I don't know if anything worth talking about will come of it. It's nothing special, just something I think would be fun.

A game centred around a Barony, or group of Baronies. Something like Game of Thrones, so I may just look at Song of Ice and Fire and hope. It's mostly just a warcry of 'For the Baronies!' at present.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the old Cyberpunk game I played a lot of (but haven't for about a year now). It was a hack together by a friend of the old World of Darkness system, as well as the Cyberpunk 2020 rules. He was calling it everything from Farpunk to just Punk, given his other groups had managed to get lost in space. I think really I want to resolve what was happening when we finished the session: I had been given a secret task, and then during play it became apparent I had to issue a 'GO!' order in front of other players. My mission: full-scale attack on a school for potentially psionic children. One of the group's characters was also on the grounds at the time, and it became a race for the other players to stop the attack, whilst I tried to make sure they never made it.
Did I mention I was a crimelord and everyone else was a cop? Fun times.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Roman D&D - Republic

The default setting for D&D (and Pathfinder) is medieval, and it's a fantasy world we all know pretty well, and understand.
A few years ago, I got to play in a Roman-influenced game, and it was a lot of fun. We fought undead in the north, surrounded by Gaul-like people, then headed back south to the capital, then crossed an ocean towards the Persian-style place. I'm told there was even room for some Greek island hopping, which we never got around to.

I've been daydreaming for about a year about my own Roman setting, and how I would do it. Let's call it Republic for now. It would be my first foray in Pathfinder if I ran it, because I'd like to see how the play is different to D&D 3/3.5, and I've never actually sat down to it before.

Since Republic isn't Rome, but Rome-influenced fantasy, we still need to cover the bases. Let's start with classes. The four base classes are pretty easy to cover.
Fighters could be former Legionaries, or some form of auxiliary, or what have you.
Clerics might need to be renamed as 'Priests'. We'll argue later over whether we run with Christian Rome as the influence or not later.
Rogues would work, but would likely be made up of a lot of commoners, maybe indentured slaves (escaped or otherwise).
Wizard is where it gets tricky. I like the idea of scholars, but I don't know how well Wizard fits. A scholarly Sorcerer would work just as well (though maybe the influence of that old game is at work here, since that's how the setting worked).

Of the other classes, Druids and Barbarians fit, filling the roles of Fighter and Cleric. Monk and Paladin have less of a fit, Bard and Sorcerer are more of a variant of how the Rogue and Wizard might play. I'm still fiddling details in my head. Ranger would be the equivalent of scouts in the Legions, or might be woodsmen and hunters, and certainly fit well with the Druid and Barbarian mentioned above too.

The only other things that might fit are Pathfinder's Oracle (inspired by Rome after all), possibly the Alchemist, Magus and Witch. I'm still not sure if they're really needed.

Ok, now for some trickier parts - PC Races.
I'm pretty sure that the Dwarfs as trade partners to the north would fit pretty well, and something about Elves being some kind of Sylph would be interesting (it's what I'm already doing with my Kingsmead setting after all). Gnomes and Halflings seem like they'd be an easy fit too, though might be best expressed as more urban/less rural cousinds of the Dwarves and Elves.
Do the Half Orc and Half Elf races fit? At a push. Again, more to twiddle there.

After that, limiting equipment is all that really takes precedence. I've got some ideas for where and why the PCs would adventure, and who doesn't prefer the idea of the PCs meeting in a taverna, rather than a pub? Right?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Spex and Google Glass

If you've not seen Google Glass yet (seriously, where have you been hiding), it's basically a wearable computer that uses an augmented reality (AR) overlay to show various tasks and options and things.

Why is this exciting? You may recall a while ago I wrote a couple of posts about future software, designed to flow into the setting I was then playing around with in Greg Christopher's Synapse rules. Why was this exciting? Spex.

Spex were the worn computers, offering the same overlay. Instead of the tiny screen just above an eye though, they had a flicker filter so that they'd opaque when on, or repeatedly (similar to how some 3D glasses work these days). They'd work with voice controls, eye gestures, could be hooked up to old-school systems with real keyboards and extra screens, could be used to immerse in virtual environments, and as I understood them also used an AR keyboard system (remember Johnny Mnemonic?), similar to the gesture controls.
But perhaps most importantly, the programs were less like Microsoft Word and Excel and more like Siri - a user was a manager of their bunch of programs, and the programs do all the heavy lifting and working.

I've still not covered the setting in more detail (expect that later in the week, I no longer really mind if players skip ahead), but it was basically the near future of Earth, with some fun tools that made it slightly different. Biodegradable 'wet-tech' - phones with throat mikes that slapped on like plasters on the neck, e-ink newspapers that would be used up and recyclable after a week of streaming updates.

I'll tease that it's the sort of stuff you'd expect from Ken Macleod's writing...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A quick design breakdown

I thought today, since I've been thinking about it for a while, I'd do a quick design breakdown of the DiceBenedict system that I've been toying with. Specifically, where I stole a bunch of ideas from.

So originally it spawned from the idea of a system built using only d12s, but after looking at how the probability curve behaved, I wanted to try it with some other die types. And yeah, it worked OK for most of them (I'm still not sure how well d4s work, but I don't know if I need to worry overly much about them at this stage).

I've dropped the term 'Aspects' to describe part of a character, given that the character dice modifiers are all derived from the Aspects part of the FATE system. The idea of using various different facets for character modifiers comes from a bunch of gaming, but I think FATE had a lot to do with it. For a while, I contemplated them as adding additional dice, but I didn't like that mechanic. Safer to stick with just the pair of dice, makes things a lot easier!

So we have the character modifiers and scene modifiers. That's also another little nod to FATE, which had location Aspects that could be tagged for bonuses to dice rolls.
Limiting how many character modifiers could be tagged came around early, realising that a character would have a whole hoard of stuff they could use (and therefore skew the probability way off). The limit being specific to the dice used is new. It seems to have worked in play tests so far.

Spin points come from a variety of sources: FATE points, the honour pool in John Wick's 'Blood and Honor', but also from Action Points in Dungeons and Dragons (and actually from d20 Modern, which I enjoyed playing the crap out of about 6-7 years ago). I liked the idea of the group as a whole having to manage the resource.

SFX/manoeuvres come around from FATE too (I owe them a bunch really, it seems). But they're also I think tied to the magic system in D&D (specifically the old multi-round casting times), and the similar system in Legend of the 5 Rings.

How combat handles has yet to really come across (playtesting it a bunch tomorrow afternoon), but I think it owes at least a nod to Feng Shui, or it will do once my first player breaks the system - he has told me his first character advancement will involve making his spells quicker, so he can cast every turn including the first, if he so wishes, and can boost effects quicker.
The loss of parts of the character came from a one-on-one playtest of the 6d6 system last year. Characters being hindered by their pain made sense to me, and certainly struck a chord with other games I'd seen with permanent damage hindering the character in the future (Legend of the 5 Rings, Vampire: the Masquerade and Blood and Honor all jump into my mind thinking about it, and the Dresden Files RPG - FATE again - has a nasty trade-off with a permanent character aspect change in some circumstances).

Overall, I think the focus is on a more story-driven game, which is what I play these days, and even how the D&D and Cyberpunk sessions I've played in recent years have gone. I don't know whether this is because I've had more exposure to that kind of game, but I know I've tried to have a decent narrative background going back as far as I remember. Whether the rest of the group was playing that way or not. I think I've started playing with groups who follow that idea more.

Maybe I'll play something quick and nasty soon and the rules will take a swing in that direction. We'll see. I've yet to work out the best way to resolve combat damage, so maybe it will get brutal and deadly.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Unnamed System ready for review

Following from my previous ramblings about a d12-based system, I've now formed what seems to be a serviceable system that can use several different dice, d12s included.

If you're not already following me on Google+, then you might have missed the posting showing off those rules. I'd obviously appreciate any feedback.

I managed to run using most of the rules and a d8 system in my Kingsmead setting on Wednesday. The play report will go up there shortly, along with a few of the optional new setting bits and pieces I've come up with.

Friday, 23 March 2012

First experiences with Traveller

I know I said I'd recap Dresden. I promise this will happen. It's just not happening today.
This week it was decided that I'd run something, rather than just play along. Great says I, I have many of these things which people call ideas. Here are some of them. And then the players picked them apart, and it all got a bit interesting. As I'm sure you're all familiar with.

My ideas for the game were a few options:
1/ Run Traveller for a complete change of pace. This involved more rules prep, since I was then going to use the Secret of the Ancients campaign series (Players: DO NOT READ THESE BOOKS. You have been warned.) Character creation is plenty fiddly, and would take a while, especially since none of us have exerience with the system.
2/ Run Blood and Honor, the samurai Houses of the Blooded setting by John Wick. This was mostly rules prep, and then I was planning on coming up with some game ideas based on what people wanted to play. Character creation is not too fiddly, but might take a little while since none of us have experience of the system.
3/ Run Legend of the Five Rings. More samurai, less rules prep as I've run lots of it before. This was 4th edition, and my experience is mostly in 1st, so a bit of fiddle there. And the game I had planned to take from the example in the back of the book, since it's so similar to the 1st edition example adventure.
4/ Run my homebrew system, and set it in my Kingsmead setting. No rules prep for me, only a refresher of setting prep. Just get things together and explainable for the players, and have an idea how to run magic well using the system. Seemed doable, and would favour story over rules challenges, hopefully.

The players chose option 1, which was followed by over two hours of character creation and rules learning. But the game itself, once it was under way, went extremely well. I really enjoy the simple mechanic, and it was useful to have the story sat beside me and ready to go with minimal prep.

The characters were an ageing but moderately famous scientist with little in the way of promotion in his long career, a thief who pulled off a famous escapade a few years ago, a civilian colonist and courier who accidentally crashed during an important mission years ago, a marine who got thrown out for mental health issues but somehow managed to be drafted into the army infantry, and finally an army infantryman who was scapegoated for a disastrous mission and somehow found himself in the navy instead.
This intrepid bunch set off for Regina, following the death of the scientist's strange old Uncle Vlen, and found themselves investigating his murder instead. So far, encounters with a broken down hostel computer and a paranoid ex-detective have left the group with little clue to motive behind the murder, but it seems the local legal system have found their man. He clearly supplied some drugs, but did not it seems pull the trigger on the murder weapon. More investigation will have to take place, especially with contact from a mysterious university professor claiming to have information.

I'm planning to run the homebrew Kingsmead some time in the next few weeks also, because thinking about it has re-ignited the fire I had for the setting.
Dresden update soon, I promise!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Apologies for the delay

It seems I've been lax in my postings of late, and it's been at least three weeks since I've said anything. I won;t bore you, but due to some personal issues I've had a hard time working on it. I've even managed a few false starts, but I've resolved to keep this up, so I will.

I'll take this post to just talk about some of the things loafing around in my head, and return with some regularly scheduled mayhem soon. There's a bunch of stuff happened in our Dresden game that just got a little (a lot!) silly.

But back to everything else.

I was debating how to keep track of health or damage in the system I've been working on. I thought about a static five damage slots, with the damage applying equally from physical attacks or mental stress. Then there'd be an option to buy off your damage by trading off a line of the character sheet.
If you recall, it worked that the character had five aspects, five skills/achievements/what-have-you, and five pieces of equipment that they never went without. By trading off a line, you lose an aspect, a skill and a piece of kit. They don't necessarily have to be relating or focus upon the same task, the point is your character becomes more limited. It's very heavy-handedly stolen from Chris Tregenza and co.'s 6d6rpg.
The other issue I'd been having was that of scale, specifically with dice rolling. The point was to come up with a viable system for d12s. That worked, but it meant a lot of swing, and became especially difficult when I did some dice rolling to kill time and didn't seem to roll very well at all. I know that the average of high d12 minus low d12 should not have so many results equal 1 or 2 or 3, but the data seemed to skew that way. I thought it would hug lower numbers, but rarely rolling above a 3 seemed to push it, probability-wise. I know what the curve looks like, but if my dice were that random, the rolls would show it. I might need new dice.
The system was perfectly viable with smaller dice (Feng Shui uses d6s and was part of the inspiration, Qin uses d10s), and didn't seem to skew too badly. So it metamorphosed into a d-whatever system. But I have ideas for the d12s. It's mostly about power levels. Superheroes would likely use d10s or d12s, as would the idea I'm putting together around the Malazan Book of the Fallen (fansite, since there's several novels). The d6s and d8s would better suit the boy scouts, child's toy dream defenders, and maybe generic science fantasy. I'm working on that.

I've also want to run Synapse again, since the rules were fun and the story worked well. But for some reason, I'm just not in the mood to right now. I've got a lot of stuff buzzing around my head, and I want to finish what I've started with some of it, but I also want to try out the new ideas. The eternal dilemma, it seems. I think I'll set aside a time to run it properly, on a weekend or something soon. See how much I can get done if we play for more than two hours.
And if I don't get distracted plotting Legend of the Five Rings, Traveller, and other sordid things.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Fictional worlds I want to play in

There's a bunch of projects with licensed worlds around. Dresden Files. Atomic Robo. Mistborn. Lord of the Rings. Warhammer.

Where is the Malazan Book of the Fallen? Where's Night Watch? Where's Thundercats? Hell, I've only seen a fan-made Avatar: The Last Airbender. Is there a reason some of these properties are deemed worthy but the others aren't? It annoys me.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Further d12 system ramblings

I've kept bouncing around my homebrewed d12 system in my head, and it has now taken on characteristics of FATE and Feng Shui. I'm still a little unsure of how exactly the probabilities will play, but we'll see.

So here's how it's laid out.
Roll 2d12 when it is deemed necessary by the group (explained below).
Subtract lowest from highest, resulting in numbers from 0 to 11. 0 (a double) explained further below.
Add up to +5 with modifiers. (+6 with plot point. See below).
Check total.

Then the modifiers come from five aspects that describe your character, then three skills/achievements/training/merit badges, and then possibly equipment depending. A magic sword that does extra damage against Orcs would likely get a +1 against an Orc.

So Let's say I'm a wizard and want to cast a simple magic missile spell. I roll my 2d12, and the roll come up as a 6. I can add aspects, training and equipment, but only to a maximum of +5.
I have an aspect 'spellslinger', training in 'magical casting' and 'magic missile', and I'm carrying a staff that helps me channel my magic. That's +4, so overall I get a 10. If that 10 beats the targets dodge/armour, it takes damage (I haven't quite worked out the damage track yet).

If I'd rolled any kind of double, then something different happens. I instead earn the group a plot point, which I could either spend immediately to make some riotous example of the spell going amazingly, or keep and allow the spell to fail somehow. The plot points are communal, so anyone could use them. They let the players make narrative choices or give them a further +1 on rolls (similar to FATE).

How does this sound to people? So far, my ideas for testing it involve the Lookouts (for those merit badges as skills), Psychopomp and maybe some sort of high science fantasy setting in the cosmos.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Guest starring the Priest

The Priest made his first appearance in a long while to our weekly game, so here's a brief overview of what happened.

The Mortal was in The Bar, along with the Tanninomancer, despite their history of not getting along. The Priest walked in, having felt an impending doom. He recognises the Mortal from many many months ago, and in some manner the Mortal decides to show off and pull out his pistol. He is quickly arrested.
The Priest then had a chat with the Tanninomancer, telling her that something terrible was about to happen. She was drunk, emotional, and is scared of the world. She maced him. She was quickly arrested.

The next day, The Bar was closed whilst the White Champion threw up an alarm ward, so that a slightly noisy ice machine would make a horrible noise when someone at least as powerful as a sorcerer crossed the threshold. This didn't work out well when new boy in town David Wong arrived with a date.

The Apprentice kept up her search for the Necromancer's book, in a handy translated and presumably pocket-guide edition. She enlisted the help of the Mortal and Lycanthrope, since they were both able to use the Internet easily. Then she went off in search of a new advisor, paying a visit to Bill's Glade in the Nevernever. It was now occupied by a fleshy-looking house, presumably created from the police officer left there two years previously. She didn't remember what happened in the Glade for very long, losing all her memories after saying 'Hello' to Bill the Babykiller.

The Tanninomancer and Mortal were freed, and both made an apology to the White Champion for doing wrong in his bar.
Meanwhile, David Wong had a lovely meal with his lady friend. In order to ascertain which of them set off the alarm, the White Champion took a quick glimpse using the Sight. The girl was a mortal, but Wong was anything but. It seemed he was some sort of green lizard creature, with wings. This did not bode well, especially since Wong noticed he was being Looked At.
Apologies were made, but the White Champion foolishly invited Wong back 'any time', effectively allowing him freedom within the threshold. Wong advised to certainly not use the Sight now he had this freedom, but entered into a business deal regarding oriental vegetables and spices for the restaurant/café/bar. Then he went off to eat the girl he came with. Wishing Wong 'bon appetit' sealed a change to the Champion. He was no decidedly Grey.

Advising that nobody look at Wong with the Sight, the Grey Champion began research on what kind of dragons ate people, with very little to show in way of result.

The Lycanthrope and Mortal were invited to dinner with the Mayor. Thus sealed their business dealings with him.

Wong came back the next day to chat with his new business partner, and to lament the various dealings with his cousins. He was not a dragon at all, but a Jade Court Vampire. At least his dinner the night before had been tasty. He also made note of the loud argument between the Tanninomancer and the Apprentice, since it would have given away far too many secrets if a Mortal had heard.

The Grey Champion began researching a ward against vampiric abilities, just to be safe.

Monday, 13 February 2012


Inspired by this picture, I've been thinking recently about the idea of children's toys invading dreams to keep the children safe. A friend gave it the name Psychopomp, I assume in the Jungian sense since I didn't intend for death to be a central element.

So far, the ideas revolve around the spiritually imbued toys of orphans, protecting them from the nasty nightmares that patrol the night time hallways. Presumably an old Indian burial ground or nasty cult or something goes on in the past causing them. Perhaps it's due to the sad children and concentration of them, who knows.

So far, I figure either having the nightmares led by someone called Mr Fierce is important, and that perhaps the orphanage is run by the Orphian order of priests/nuns, or the Orphian society would be good. Then I thought maybe a kindly janitor called Gabriel is helping the kids out, but in my head he's Cab Calloway from the Blues Brothers.

I can sort of see the d12 system in my head working well, since I've finally worked out what rolling a double would do.
I need to think about how the characters themselves would work. It's likely to be a cross between Toy Story and the Midnight Patrol in how it comes together.

Any ideas to contribute?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dresden Update

So what's happening in the Dresden game?

The Lycanthrope is out of town, trying to track down someone named Sharkey. The Mayor has meanwhile made his presence, and corruption, known to the Mortal.

The Apprentice has repaired the stuffed rabbit that may or may not still contain the ghost of the old necromancer. She has also apologised to the White Champion. She stopped by the library to try and get her hands on some ancient Sumerian texts to try and further translate the necromancer's old book.

The Tanninomancer had some trouble with permission slips during her day job as a teacher. She is planning to visit local universities with her students.

The bar saw a visit from some Russians, looking for the Lycanthrope, so the White Champion gave them some contact details, and the Mortal made sure to put them up in a fancy hotel so he could keep an eye on them.

The White Champion went to visit the Goblin Market for some spell ingredients, and ran into a man named David Wong. He is the CEO of a shipping company with new offices in town.

Everyone ended up back in the bar and drinking. The Tanninomancer still has some trouble with the Mortal, since two years before he had kidnapped her (and she sees the worst in all men apparently).

Quite a quiet session overall.

Monday, 6 February 2012

To-do list

In the spirit of the New Year, New Game idea that was going around last month, I've begun to compile a list of different things I wanted to play or run this year. New things that I've not really gotten to before.

The Babylon 5 RPG, because I've wanted to for years and never gotten around to it.
Mage: The Ascension, because I keep telling myself I'll finally get to play it and it doesn't happen.
Legend of the 5 Rings, 4th Edition (I've run 1st ed. plenty of times, but I want to see how it's evolved).
Feng Shui, because who doesn't love a game that covers wuxia in the past, present and future?
Alternity, because I finally understand the rules.
Traveller, because I finally own the rules.
Spirit of the Century, because I love the setting and the FATE system in general.
Scion, because I want to actually use the books I've spent money on.

Busy year, right? And that's discounting most of the rules I only have electronically. I'll keep you informed of what goes on, and how much I get to do.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Setting as yet unrevealed

I've been working on a blog post for a while about the sci-fi setting I have in my head. Unfortunately, it gives away far too much about the setting because it says which novel series I'm ripping off. And then the players would be able to research things. (Though I have some suspicions right now that one person may know exactly what's going on. She's Scottish, the setting is Scotland, the novelist is Scottish...)

So here's the basics. Near future Edinburgh. The PCs are somehow involved with a murder in London the day before. The man murdered was a European Security Bureau intelligence officer. He was shot in the back whilst consorting with a prostitute. The culprit is tracked to Edinburgh, and the city has a little security alert.
Then stuff really goes wrong.
The prostitute was actually a member of the English Resistance against socialist European rule, although she's not connected with the gunman. And the ESB lieutenant had just handed over some very interesting documents that will change the world...

If I keep writing, I'll give away too much too quickly. Don't want that to happen!

Monday, 30 January 2012

More future software

Going back to my future software ideas, here are a few more.

Streamers - entertainment software
These are the programs that compile the various entertainment suites of today. Watching documentaries, listening to talk radio, Uservid feeds (think Youtube), the latest fashion idol show. They all feed into the Streamer.
Using the scrobbler function of the Blackbook, and a basic Fetch, you could pull the content you want to hear to you. With a veto function, you could override what the program recommends if you think it's wrong. Pull in the soaps you want to watch, the boytoy band you love, veto the cooking show because you usually get takeout, veto the Uservid that your friend recommended but you hate. Subscribe and your scrobbler can drop related news into your feeds.

Manager - control software
This is the basic software that tells you what your bots are doing at any given time, especially useful if you have a more limited system. Would likely also include your system firewall, the permissions list for sharing across your various devices, and some form of antivirus.
If you have multiple in depth fetches running, this program would let you check in with them and their progress.

Irregular/semi-legal software
Chaff - the re-routers and additional firewalls often employed by hackers, but also by those who need extra security such as government employees and celebrities.
Hunter/killers - the angry antivirus bot in charge of following an intrusion on a firewall back to source, and in some cases neutralising with various viruses and trojans under its command. It's defensive counterpart would be a Cleaner, removing offensive or malicious software from the system it is in.

I was thinking about the depth of information accessible via the World Wide Mesh, and how IP addresses might change. I considered the idea of adding letters, both lower and upper case, but that seems unfair to people using Cyrillic or Chinese keyboards (although maybe we all would by then?).
Either way, extending an IP from a four part to a six or seven part makes sense. Home would now be or something.
Thoughts and comments, feel free to add anything too.

EDIT: IPv6, which I'd come across before and was nicely reminded of, covers this well.

Friday, 27 January 2012

New Year, New Dresden Files Campaign

It's the new year, so we began a new story arc in our Dresden Files characters' lives.

First up, the underhanded criminal duo, the Mortal and the Lycanthrope, have become fine upstanding businessmen, owning several nightclubs and bars. Although, they do of course have a side dealing in supplying places they don't own with narcotics of some form.
They headed to The Bar, what has become of the café bar from our previous adventures. With my Champion of Baltimore now a co-owner, they made him an offer he couldn't refuse. The Mortal returned a book on magic to the small library housed on the premises too.

The Apprentice of the possessed cuddly bunny has started to get frustrated that her master won't translate his 'Sumerian' text when she asks, and is drip-feeding her various pieces of magic. She's now a sorcerer, and would be on track to be a wizard if she weren't learning from a particularly nasty necromancer.
She headed to The Bar to get a borrow a new book on spirits.

A man with a terrible sense of fashion (shades in a dark room, black leather jacket, jet black hair with his blond roots showing) had appeared in The Bar to write a review for the local paper. He called himself Harry (too cool for a surname), and annoyed the Champion by repeatedly ordering craft beer not in stock.
After a short while, the Tanninomancer arrived and began an argument with the Apprentice over her evil lessons, and how she should have her head removed. Harry noticed the argument and made a note.
Hoping the review hadn't been affected, the Champion took a quick glance at the man's shorthand. It talked of an infestation of warlocks that had yet to be dealt with.
The Champion offered to get the man another drink, used the antique phone behind the bar and called his new business partners, ordering a couple of heavies to come over. They arrived just before the next beer was finished, and went to sit on either side of Harry.

Confronting him about the 'infestation', and asking exactly how it would be 'dealt with', Harry claimed to have seen a cockroach. Threatening to instigate a new dress code, regarding Harry's sunglasses, one of the heavies removed them. Harry closed his eyes up tightly, and on hearing the words 'lock the doors', he shortly had a fit and fell to the floor, foaming at the mouth. He had managed to secretly swallow a poisonous pill.

Whilst the bar was in a panic, the heavies moved Harry's body to a back room, and the police were called. They weren't happy that the body had been disturbed and moved, or that there were so many traces of different people. The heavies, both with long criminal records, had already fled, but would have to be called back. After all, they'd only been 'working' as bouncers at The Bar for a few days...

The Apprentice's master told her of a spell that might allow her to find out who Harry had been working for. Against his better judgement, the Champion was talked in to sneaking in to the morgue so she could perform her spell.
She managed well, but found out nothing more than Harry's feelings at the time of his death. Whilst the bunny cackled that the spell functioned exactly as it was supposed to, and the Champion realised it had been, if not black magic, then extremely morally grey. He seized the bunny and began to leave, threatening it with the incinerator.
The Apprentice got very angry, and began using her new powers to try and take back her master. Whilst causing her own ears to bleed and the ground to shake, she didn't manage much. The Champion, still angry at the necromancer (and since he had been Under the Doom for far too long because of the evil old spirit), pulled the stuffed toy apart as best he could and handed it back to the Apprentice. Another powerful spell sucked the Champion into the sidewalk, stuck in place whilst she hit him. And then she ran off into the night, promising to fix the stuffed rabbit as soon as she could, whilst the Champion had to shout back to the morgue and hope they didn't ask too many pressing questions about his feet being encased in solid concrete.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sands of FATE development

Hello potential new readers.

My pseudo-Arabian Nights game is currently sitting in a folder on my desktop marked Sands of FATE. I'm not happy with the name, it's far too close to Strands of Fate, but it will do for now whilst I continue the development.

I've run a couple of playtest games with my Dresden Files group. We've managed to use the new skills I've had set up, and the mish-mash of powers taken from both Dresden Files and Legends of Anglerre, and then some more twiddling. I need to run some more social scenes to see how the powers fare.

Since running, I've decided to change how spells are cast by adding a second component - using Arcane or Elementalism to know what you're doing, and Resolve as the actual casting skill. That way, rolling really well might allow you to cast a spell well beyond your ability, but you'd take extra mental fatigue for it. Debating whether to add a skill like Tactics that would allow physical characters to come up with something similar despite not having a power or maneuver in their arsenal that would normally allow it.

I'm really pleased with the response to the system though. Everyone seems to like how the Jinn live and work, and how the world fits together. In play I've realised I've added in a whole third kind of sentient, so there's humanity, Jinn and the Peri, a sort of Persian spirit/faerie. I had them in, but had to expand them a bit more off the cuff. Now there's two kinds, and one of those is akin to a mermaid. I'll see if I need to diversify them further.
I was glad to see the FATE system worked so well in the setting too. Exactly what I'd hoped. Now if we can only sort out the customs and laws of the setting, I think we're on to something good. So far I've got indentured servitude as a punishment for some crimes, as a way of letting criminals see the error of their ways and make amends. A bit soft, but I didn't want the only punishments to be death and mutilation.
Unfortunately, I don't think the players have understood my terms, since our physician character has decided he has one as an assistant and isn't treating her too well. I think I can fix that if I remind him that the sign of a good man is how he treats others.

Oh, a roll call.
A wealthy physician who is attempting to inaugurate the field of psychology, he has talked about training indentured workers a trade in nursing to better themselves (however he is rather arrogant and treats his current servant little better than a slave in most respects).
A dao town guardsman who 'almost caught the infamous bandit the One Eyed Demon' once, whilst riding 'the horse of the old hero Panther'. During his ride, he saw a falling star. As luck would have it, 'he knew the finest blacksmith in the known world' and so 'had the metal of the fallen star made into a sword'. He's known for telling outlandish stories among the townsfolk. So far, all his outlandish tales are actually true. Knows some rudimentary earth magic.
A former adventurer known as Panther, now an old man and fisherman. He is known for his knowledge of coffee, and distant lands. He used to have a wildly fast horse with improbable stamina, said to be able to run from horizon to horizon. He recently won a wager by harnessing a giant fish to pull his boat.
A widowed caravan merchant, known for her ruthless business acumen. Sadly she was the second wife, but manages to keep the business afloat. She's recently hired a caravan guard who is rumoured to be the One Eyed Demon.
A janni caravan guard, capable of some moderate wind magic. He has only one eye, lost in a fight many years ago. Rumours abound that he is the bandit prince, the One Eyed Demon, although he's not as tall, his eyes don't glow, he has no horns or wild hair, he doesn't drink the blood of his enemies, and he looks after a young janni boy like a son. Sadly, he really is the One Eyed Demon, but has turned over a new leaf, and is attempting to find peace and prosperity.
An astronomer and arcanist, who lives in seclusion, but wanders into town to order odd pieces of equipment from the caravan. He teaches esoteric lessons to the children in town.

That's it for now. I should be running a social experiment involving the court of the Sultana of Mawjabad, the City of Waves. I'm looking forward to seeing how the rules and abilities hold up.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Computer-assisted living

I've been thinking about a futuristic setting recently, and specifically about the computer programs available within it. The setting comes from a series of novels, and they're told from the point of view of a deck jockey, a computer programmer, but he makes a point that most of his job is management of various programs that act on their own algorithmic agenda.
So I've been coming up with programs that would follow these different fits, based on what I think a character would want.

Aggies - aggregator bots.
A cross between a search engine and a RSS feed, you could keep them running at all times or send them out on a specific task. Examples would include:
Fetch, the basic searchbot. Would go out on request, crawl through the World Wide Mesh and collate what it found into a hyperlinked digest, similar to what we see on Wikipedia. Depending on the nature of the search query, and the nature of user/fetch, the data mined might appear immediately, or added to over time once various darknets are trawled, or even securities bypassed.
News, the basic feedbot. Would collate headlines from topics that the user has already inputted. Could collate data in a similar format to a news website or in a similar hyperlinked digest to Wikipedia. Would be programmed to pull from different sources, so an engineer or biologist could pull from journal publications, a glamour-bopping tween could pull from various celebrity magazines and so on.
Shopper, a feedbot that brings you the best deals on the products you want, groceries or tech. Would also have a fetch function.

Blackbooks - organiser bots.
The trend in online software suites makes me think this would be the natural extension of certain parts of Google's products, as well as Apple's Siri.
Would naturally include a calendar/organiser function, a contactbook for keeping phone/mail addresses (I don't think we're far from them being the same things, looking at Skype or Google Talk or Viber). Would collate emails for the user.
Would also likely have access to basic business or work software, so could produce documents or spreadsheets and so on.
Might include a scrobbler function, collating various pieces of data across different programs, so allows a news feed to update based on user location with local events, or a shopper bot to pick up on recent developments in tech that the user has been looking into via a fetch, or concert tickets for the latest boyband craze based on music preferences.

I'm currently working on others. Any ideas people think everyone would use in the future?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Questionnaire from Zak Smith

Zak dropped a fun questionnaire over at D&D with Porn Stars, so thought I'd fill it in.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
In Vampire: The Masquerade, I once made the Storyteller scream with fear at the idea of a Setite with a magical pool of purification that would make his vampirism a curse instead of a blessing (using his penchant for corruption to corrupt a pool of corruption... if that makes sense).

2. When was the last time you GMed?
December, running a playtest of an Arabian Nights inspired FATE game.

3. When was the last time you played?
I spent today sort of playing, working on advancement for a city in Dresden Files. Otherwise, Friday 13th January in a one-shot Dresden Files adventure called Evil Acts.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
Roman Empire D&D with the party encountering weird and wonderful monsters in either Persia or Northern Africa.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Go over notes, listen to what they're talking about, prepare for my turn if I'm in combat.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Pizza for preference, but usually more snack based cuisine.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
I can find it mentally exhausting. It depends how animated I get.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
In the above mentioned oneshot, I had to make a decision between a roomful of people being killed with juju I didn't understand, or shooting my surrogate daughter (and probably following that with a nervous breakdown in the least).

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
If it's a serious setting, it's usually understood that any unseriousness should happen out of character. However, it depends on the group, how a particular session is going, and the energy in the room.

10. What do you do with goblins? Depends. I quite like replacing them with these brutes.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
Arabian folklore from Wikipedia and a handful of other encyclopedias. Other than that, maybe Medieval European eating habits.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
Having the rest of the Cyberpunk group looking dumbfounded when, after their goading that I should enact my secret plan, having it turn out to be a full-scale attack on a school for psionic children, whilst one of the other player characters was inside.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Synapse by Greg Christopher. Giving it a proper read through to decide if it would make a suitable system for my currently brewing sci-fi idea.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
If I see a picture that makes me say 'Wow' every time I see it.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
I don't tend to get too terrifying. Maybe if a TPK is looking likely.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
I don't often run them. I've run the adventure in the back of Legend of the Five Rings 1st edition plenty of times, and it's always fun to see how different groups do different things.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A decently sized roundtable that fits between five and six players happily, with space for dice, books, sheets of paper and pizza.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Mechanically, Feng Shui and the Alternity. The former rolls 2d6, subtracts lowest from highest and adds modifiers. I understood that straight away. The latter involves all kinds of different dice and confused me on the core mechanic the first few times I read it.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Probably creative writing workshops/assessment in university and general historical interest/interest in breakthroughs in technology. Though that last one is a bit more genre specific.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
One who pays attention, enjoys themselves, and makes the game fun for everyone involved.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
Probably just various social situations in bars, although I've known a few historical reenactment people so I've gotten to see how swords actually feel in your hand. Archery during scouts maybe?

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
A few, but I'd prefer to develop them myself. Hardware-wise, perhaps a cheap tablet that's perfect for reading pdf rulebooks on.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
I've had people fall asleep when I've been talking about it. That's perfectly fine, right?

EDIT: Zak's now asked why your significant other doesn't play too. Well, I've had an S.O. that did, but currently don't. The reasons I've heard tend to follow the lines of 'playing make believe is a little immature', although 'it's all very complicated' has come up too I'm sure.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...