Archive for September, 2012

Beginner Box Transitions – a closer look

September 27, 2012

I’ve had a chance to read through the Beginner Box Transitions document, for converting your Pathfinder BB game to a Pathfinder Core game.  As I mentioned earlier, it is not really a document for continuing your BB game beyond 5th level.  However, a clever GM could use the document to continue on to 6th level, at least for the four classes included in the BB (refer to pages 17-21, just ignore the parts that add new stuff from the Core rules).

The document presents new rules and concepts introduced in the Core rules.  To its credit, it says (or implies, at least) that adding these additional rules is optional, with phrases like “…if you choose to add blah blah…”  However, in practice I think it would require a fair amount of work to transition to the Core rules without including everything.  Maybe you could drop stuff like Attacks of Opportunity or Combat Manuevers (though doing so would render many Core feats and class abilities moot), but the more complex spell and monsters descriptions in the Core rules require a lot more work to BB-iffy.

The Transitions document also details some low level Pathfinder adventures appropriate for use with the BB, with notes on how to read one of them, the free module Master of the Fallen Fortress, for a BB game.  This section is somewhat more useful for someone staying with the BB, but the conversion notes are nothing that you couldn’t have figured out on your own anyways.

If you’ve been playing the BB for a while and you’d like to transition to the crunchier, more complex, Pathfinder Core rules, you’ll probably find this document to be of great use.  If you plan on sticking with the BB, you should still still give it a look over, at the very least for the information on raising characters to 6th level.

Concept Ships

September 26, 2012

Here’s an example of some art from Concept Ships.

Just wanted to point out a blog I discovered recently called Concept Ships.  It’s an art blog filled with tons of cool pictures of space ships.  They also have links to related blogs, like Concept Robots, Concept Aliens and Concept Tanks.  As far as I can tell the art is not in the public domain.  But between all of the different sites you should find all the inspirational art you need for a sci-fi or science fantasy RPG campaign.

The Metamorphica

September 25, 2012

A couple of months ago I posted the Ultimate Grand Unified Junk Table, the most complete random junk table (that I know of) for post-apocalyptic games like Gamma World.  At the time I considered something similar for a massive table of random mutations.  Now, thanks to The Metamorphica, and its author Johnstone Metzger, I don’t have to.

The Metamorphica is broken down into two parts:  the first part has tables for hundreds (maybe thousands?) of mutations with brief non-mechanical descriptions, and the second part has tables for generating mutant characters in various settings, such as post-apocalypse, super-heroes, grim fantasy or sci-fi.

The mutations come with no rules or mechanics.  This is great if you’re using a relatively rules light system.  But if you’re using a system with some crunch (like Pathfinder, for example), you’ll have to do some work.  Still, it’s a marvelous reference source and compilation of various mutations drawn from a wide range of material, and you can always just pick and choose the ones you like best for your game.


September 21, 2012

Just saw the new Judge Dredd movie starring Karl Urban and I enjoyed it.  In my opinion, I’d say that Urban’s Dredd hews closer to the comics than Stallone’s version.

However, the Stallone movie did a better job of portraying a decaying, claustrophobic Mega-City 1.  In the new movie, MC 1 looks more like Los Angeles, with some huge towers interspersed here and there, than any East Coast city I’ve seen, much less MC 1 from the comics.

Once the action moves indoors it looks more like the Judge Dredd we know and love from the comics.  However, the story does bear a resemblence to another movie that came out earlier this year called The Raid: Redemption.  Dredd, and the rookie sidekick he’s evaluating, have to work their way up a sealed block tower to get to the crime lord that’s running the place (MaMa, played by the awesome Lena Headey).

MaMa’s also distributing this new drug called Slow Mo (or something like that), which slows down one’s perception of time.  Really, I think the drug only exists in the movie to justify gratuitous 3D shots (though I saw it in 2D).

So, plenty of violence and gunplay, Urban’s pretty good as Dredd and a fairly accurate representation of Mega City 1, once the action moves indoors.  Cheers.

Pathfinder Beginner Box Transitions

September 19, 2012

Just a heads up, Paizo has released a free PDF called Beginner Box Transitions with rules on, well, transitioning your Beginner Box game into a PF Core rules game.  I haven’t had a chance to really look it over yet, but if you’re looking for a way to extend your BB game beyond 5th level without going over to the Core rules, this is not the document for you.  Still, I plan on giving it a read when I have some time.  Cheers.

Heroes RPG 1.2 released

September 17, 2012

A few weeks ago I mentioned an old RPG by David Millward called Heroes, set in a gritty, non-fantasy Dark Ages world.  Well, the new edition has been released (available here, if you’re interested).  Unfortunately, it’s currenly only available in dead tree format, and the publisher is in Great Britain.  With shipping and currency conversion the cost is in the neighborhood of $60, a price I can’t presently justify.  If they come out with a more affordable PDF or POD version, I’ll pick it up and post my impressions.

High-Tech Random Gun Generator

September 15, 2012

Here’s a simple random gun generator for use with Mutant Future or any d20-ish sci-fi or post-apoc game (well, melee weapons are included, too, but random gun generator sounded cooler than random weapon generator).  To quickly generate a random gun, roll a d4, d6, d8, d10 and d12 at the same time and consult the following chart:

d4 = Weapon Type

  1. Melee (d8 base damage) – Melee range
  2. Pistol (d6 base damage) – Short range
  3. Rifle (d8 base damage) – Long range
  4. Launcher (d10 base damage) – Long range and area effect

d6 = Weapon Accuracy (attack bonus)

  1. = -2
  2. = -1
  3. = 0
  4. = 0
  5. = +1
  6. = +2

d8 = Number of Damage Dice Rolled

  • Melee and Rifles add +1 to the result
  • Launchers add +2 to the result

d10 = Ammo Capacity

  • Melee and Pistol = result x2
  • Rifle = result x3
  • Launcher = result x1

d12 = Special Properties

  1. = None
  2. = Acidic damage
  3. = Cold damage
  4. = Disintegration damage
  5. = Electricity damage
  6. = Laser damage
  7. = Plasma damage
  8. = Extended Magazine – Double ammo capacity
  9. = Extended Range – Increase range by one step (i.e. Short -> Long; Long -> Extreme) and add +2 to Weapon Accuracy bonus
  10. = Heavy Varient – Base damage dice increases one step (d6 -> d8; d8 -> d10; d10 -> d12)
  11. = Rapid Fire – Weapon makes an additional attack each combat round
  12. = Reroll, and roll one additional time (duplicate results stack)

For example, you roll the dice and get the following results:  d4 = 3, d6 = 1, d8 = 4, d10 = 2 an d12 = 12, rerolling and rolling again you get a 2 and an 11.   With these results you’d have a rifle with -2 penalty to-hit that does 5d8 damage, 6 ammo capacity that does acidic damage and rapid fire (one additional attack each combat round).

Note that range is left deliberately vague, as different systems use different measurements and standards.

Here’s a PDF version for download.

If you want to add more special properties, substitute the d12 with a d20 and expand the list.

Resident Evil: Retribution

September 14, 2012

Saw the latest Resident Evil movie this afternoon.  I’m a fan of the series, even if they aren’t the best movies ever made.  They’ve got plenty of over-the-top action, crazy mutant zombies and an evil corporation run by an insane A.I. trying to wipe out humanity.  Sounds like a great RPG campaign to me.  And I kind of like Milla Jovovich, too.

A few spoilers ensue:

This latest installment is basically a dungeon crawl, with Alice (captured at the end of the last film, we find out) trying to get out of an Umbrella facility located in an old Soviet submarine base under a frozen bay in Kamchatka.  Umbrella expanded the facility to create test environments for their bio weapons.  As they try to escape you get the usual gang of mutant zombies trying to kill everyone, even some zombies that can drive cars and shoot guns (because ‘normal’ mutant zombies aren’t dangerous enough, I guess).

A lot of familiar faces show up in this movie because, apparently, many of the Umbrella employees we’ve seen in the last 3 movies were clones.  I like that plot development…it allows them to keep bringing back familiar faces and they can come back as friends or enemies, depending on how they’re programmed (and the needs of the plot, of course).  And while I’m not terribly familiar with the computer game series, I did recognize a few characters from ads I’ve seen that are introduced in Retribution.

Note that there are no post-credit clips at the end, so no need to sit through them when the movie ends.

So, if you liked any of the previous three RE movies, you should like this one, too.  If you can’t stand the series, well, you aren’t going to like this one either.  Cheers!

Boot Hill Synopsis

September 7, 2012

For the uninitiated, Boot Hill  (2nd Ed.) is an old Wild West RPG put out by TSR back in the 70’s.  It was one of the first RPGs to utilize percentile dice to resolve actions and combat.  The PCs essentially have no mechanical advantage over NPCs.  A bare bones setting was provided, fictional Promise City in El Dorade county located “somewhere in the South West.”  In D&D the purpose of the game is to accumulate wealth and grow in power; in Boot Hill the purpose is largely just to survive the next gunfight.

There are six character attributes:  Speed, Gun Accuracy, Throw Accuracy, Strength (basically hit points), Bravery and Experience (the number of gunfights the cowboy has already survived).  While these abilities are generated using a percentile roll, the raw percentile score is rarely used to resolve actions.  Rather, the score is used to reference a modifier for derived combat attributes.  You may have also noticed that there are no social or mental attributes; these functions are performed by the player via role-playing, something I personally find appealing.

The two derived attributes are First Shot and Hit Determination.  First Shot is basically initiative, which is based on your cowboy’s Speed modifier, Bravery modifier and the weapon’s speed modifier.  Revolvers are generally the fastest weapons; rifles the slowest.  It is also a fixed score; you don’t roll initiative dice to determine who shoots first:  First Shot is determined solely by character ability and circumstances (such as whether the character moved, is wounded, has surprise, etc.).  Hit Determination starts at a base of 50% for all characters, further modified by Accuracy, Bravery and Experience scores.

Characters improve by surviving gunfights (even if they technically lose the fight).  The degree of improvement depends largely on the character’s initial percentile score.  Low scores improve fast, but as they increase the rate of improvement decreases until the scores hit the high 90’s where they stop improving altogether.  It’s a simple, organic system that requires no record keeping and fits the nature of the game well.

New characters start with $150 to purchase a horse, weapons and ammo.  While an equipment list is provided, Boot Hill characters generally have few possessions, as opposed to D&D characters who are usually loaded down with all manner of gear and/or treasure.  In fact, there are no encumbrance rules what-so-ever in Boot Hill.  All characters move at the same rates, depending on whether they’ve chosen to crawl, walk or run.  One thing I noticed in Boot Hill combat, moving is a critically important factor (as is taking cover when you’re not moving).

Combat is the heart of Boot Hill, more so than even old school D&D, and this is where it’s wargame roots show.  You can tell just by reading the rules that they were originally designed to be a tactical skirmish game.  Combat rounds are resolved in the following steps:  all characters move, gun fire is resolved and then brawling is resolved if two or more characters are adjacent to one another.

While first shot determination is (mostly) fixed score, movement is not.  All characters roll percentil dice to determine move order, with lowest score moving first.  There are optional rules for simultaneous movement, but it seems to me they’d slow down the action too much even if they are more realistic.  The rate you move depends entirely on how fast you choose to move (i.e. crawling, walking or moving).  Boot Hill uses a 1-inch grid (or just measure out inches playing on a table top), where each 1″ equals 6-feet.  A walking character moves 6 spaces (6″).  I found it interesting how close this is to the 5-foot per inch standard of 3E; I was expecting a far more complex and esoteric system for movement.

Once everyone has moved, characters may fire their guns in first shot order, provided they have any targets in their line-of-sight.  Some weapons can fire more than one shot per round, with cumulative penalties.  The base hit chance is also modified by attacker movement rate, target’s movement rate (a running target is harder to hit), cover, wounds and the like.  If a hit lands, you roll percentile dice twice on the Wound Chart, once to determine the hit location and again to determine the severity of the hit (based on the hit location — so a hit to the head is more likely to result in a serious injury).  Guns in Boot Hill do not have individual damage ratings; a derringer has just as much potential to kill you as a buffalo rifle.  Everything comes down to the Wound Chart, and it is entirely possible for even a veteran gunfighter to die instantly from a mortal wound result.  Less-than-lethal wounds reduce a character’s Strength score; if Strength is reduced to 0 or less, the character is unconscious and may die unless the town doc gets to them in time.

Finally, if two characters are adjacent to one another and one of them wants to throw punches (in place of shooting), you resolve two ’rounds’ of brawling combat.  I guess this is to simulate the fast-paced nature of a barroom fight compared to the manuever and fire of a gunfight.  You can throw punches or grapple by rolling 2d10 and referencing a chart.  As far as I can tell, there are no attribute modifiers to brawling rolls, not even for Strength.  It’s a wild n’ wooly bar fight, where anything can happen, and I kind of like it.  Using the grapple table you can get people into bear hugs and head locks, necessitating a specific result on the grapple table to break free.  Again, a nice simple system for resolving grappling combat, something D&D has struggled with for decades.  Stabby melee weapons (like knives and tomahawks) use the punching table to determine if a blow lands, but roll for results on Wound Chart, whereas blunt melee weapons, like pistol butts, use the punching table to resolve both hits and damage.  Reducing someones Strength to 0 from brawling will knock them unconscious, but won’t kill them.

And that’s pretty much it.  There are advanced rules for cannons and gatling guns, using dynamite (with an emphasis on ‘realism’ over cinematic effect), tracking and gambling.  Layouts for a few sample buildings are included, as is a brief description of Promise City and the settlements of El Dorado county, and a list of famous historical cowboys, lawmen and outlaws statted out and ready to drop into your game to duke it out with the PCs.  The entire rulebook is only 34 pages long.

Boot Hill RPG

September 5, 2012

I recently dug out my copy of the Boot Hill RPG (2nd Edition), which I picked up cheap at a con many years ago, before the advent of E-bay.  Going over the rules, its origins as a tactical skirmish game show quite clearly, to the point where a GM may be optional.  Re-reading it I’m surprised at the number of misconceptions I held about the rules and the game’s perceived (to me) complexity.  While the rules are a bit chart heavy, they are actually not all that complex.  And they pretty much cover everything you need to run a Western-themed RPG.

On a related note, there have been a number of efforts to recreate Star Wars using a variant of OD&D (or similar) rules over the past few years, but now I’m wondering if they haven’t been using the wrong set of rules.  Star Wars, afterall, is basically a Western in space, with a dash of samurais and Eastern philosophy.  Replace firearms with blasters, add a new stat for the Force and you’re off to the races.

At any rate, I’d like to give the rules a more thorough reading here, but as things are rather busy for me right now, it’ll have to wait a few days.

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