Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

Implied Spaces

August 31, 2013


Just wanted to point out an interesting book I just finished, Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams.  Aside from being a very entertaining read, the book contains a wealth of ideas for a super-science/fantasy RPG campaign:

  • A “magic” sword edged with a wormhole, instantly sending its victims to a pocket universe.
  • A cat that is actually a conduit to a planet-sized A.I. (wizard’s familiar, anyone?)
  • Custom made pocket-universes, designed to suit their builder’s whim’s and desires; for example, a “world” built by gamers filled with fantasy creatures, where technology can never advance beyond the medieval level.  Some pocket universes are designed purely for industrial purposes, providing essentially limitless energy and resources.
  • Don’t like your body?  No problem, just have a new one built and download your mind into it.  Want to be an amphibian?  An avian?  Some weird centaur/izard hybrid thingy?
  • Oh, and the same technology makes death a mere inconvenience.  Just backup your mind and if you die, you’ll be resurrected and your last backup downloaded into the new body.  You might loose a few days, depending on how often you backup your wetware.
  • Want to be a god, complete with a cult of perfectly brainwashed followers?  Just create a genetically engineered virus to re-wire people’s brains and then spread the virus around a major city.  Anarchy and chaos more your style?  Then create a “zombie” virus that turns people into a raving lunatics.
  • Military dropships that are essentially wormhole gates to micro-universes containing millions of invasion troops.
  • Pocket universes filled with anti-matter, fired as missiles.

A lot of neat ideas here for a transhumanist/super-science/fantasy RPG game.  What if your D&D campaign world is actually a specifically designed pocket universe?  What if, instead of visiting other planes or planets, PCs can portal to other micro-universes, each designed with a specific purpose in mind, some with their own, special physical laws even.  What if the PCs are hit by wormhole weapon, dumping them into a prison universe from which they need to escape?  Or chasing a villain who can change their appearance at will, or download their mind into another person, or create an army of genetically brainwashed cultists?  Talk about gonzo. 🙂


Deathlands – post apocalypse RPG inspiration

June 15, 2012

Anyone out there ever read any of the Deathlands books by James Axler*?  They’re a series of pulpy ‘mens adventure’ books about a group that travels around post-apocalypse America (and sometimes other countries) getting into and out of trouble.  It’s not crazy gonzo like Gamma World (or Fallout even), but has plenty of mutants and advanced “pre-Dark” technology, including a matter transmitting system they use to teleport from one redoubt (aka Vault) to another.  They encounter a lot of weird stuff along the way (and usually kill it).

We’re not talking great literature here, but IMO the series serves as an excellent source of inspiration for almost any kind of post-apoclypse RPG game.

Note:  There was also a crappy SyFy movie based on the Deathlands (starring Tracy Lords, lol).  It was decent, if you like cheesy B-movies.

*It appears there are a number of authors in the series, something I didn’t realize until just know.  All the books say James Axler on them, though…maybe that’s just a pen name?

…No Bloody Rangers

May 1, 2012

Click on me to download ...No Bloody Rangers

Here’s a quick write-up on hex crawling supplement for …No Bloody Heroes, inspired by old school D&D encounter tables.  This supplement will require a lot of improvisation on the GM’s part, but from my point of view that’s part of the fun of GMing.  The provided tables and charts are a kind of guidebook to give you a little direction, while still preverving some of the surprise and wonder for the GM.  I suppose it would also serve for other old school games, as well.  Cheers.

Metamorphosis Alpha Kickstarter

April 7, 2012

Just announced is a new Kickstarter project for the next version of James Ward’s Metamorphosis Alpha.  For those who may not know, MA is one of the earliest (maybe the earliest) sci-fi role-playing games, and the progenitor of Gamma World.

I don’t know much about the System 26 mechanics they’ll be using for this version of MA, but they claim it’ll be an easy-to-use dice pool mechanic that allows for quick character creation.  If the system lives up to that hype then it sounds good to me.

On a personal note, maybe this will be the system that gets my Pathfinder group to try a bit of the old school gaming I like.  /fingerscrossed

So, if you’re a fan of MA or Gamma World, you may want to give it a look.  Cheers.

Tabletop Fix

March 29, 2012

It’s been a hectic couple of days so I haven’t had a lot of time to post.  Just wanted to highlight a gaming blog I enjoy reading called Tabletop Fix.  Tabletop Fix posts about rpg and wargaming miniatures, focusing primarily on new product announcements.  I’m not a big wargaming fan, but I do admire miniatures as much as the next gamer, so I always have fun looking at all the crazy new stuff companies are putting out.

If you are into minuature wargaming or collecting, then I think this blog would be a great resource for you.  I’ve used it to bookmark a lot of companies that put out 15mm lines of fantasy and sci-fi miniatures.  When I have the money someday I’d like to go crazy and build a large collection of them.


Dungeon Dice

March 24, 2012

I’ve had this idea for a simple little dungeon bashing game burning in my head for a couple of weeks now.  Wasn’t sure on the best way to proceed, but I think I finally have a handle on it.

The game uses a dice pool mechanic, and draws inspiration from games like Shadowrun, Tunnels and Trolls and Crom.  What follows is only a rough draft, and incomplete at that.  What’s missing is the GM’s half of the game, and the spells.  I’m still working on the Player’s Sheet, as I’d like to incorporate everything a player needs on one sheet (including all the spells).  But this kinds of gives you an idea of where I’m heading with this.

The GM rolls Monster Dice for the monsters, dividing them between Action, Combat and Magic (just as the PCs do).  Each point of damage reduces Monster Dice, until they’re all gone (or the monsters flee for their lives!)  However, each turn the PCs spend in the dungeon, the GM adds a dice to a Threat Pool, which the GM may draw upon to add reinforcements for monsters in the middle of a fight, or to ambush the party as they explore the dungeon.

Anyways, here’s the player’s sheet if you’re interested:  Dungeon Dice Player’s Sheet


Wasteland 2 Kickstarter

March 16, 2012

I just found out about this today, but there’s a Kickstarter project to make Wasteland 2, the grand daddy of the sandbox CRPG and spiritual predecessor to Fallout.  Check it out here.  It looks like it already met its minimum goal.  Combat will be group-based, turn-based and top-down (kind of like Fallout 1 & 2, I suppose).  This is a game I’m definitely looking forward to.

Sword & Shield

February 22, 2012

I wanted to highlight a new rules-light rpg I discovered a couple of days ago.  Sword & Shield is a quick and dirty game of dungeon bashing that comes in a handy little 8 page pocketbook.  It uses a die roll vs. die roll mechanic for combat and magic resolution (for example, your fighter rolls 1d10 in melee combat while an orc rolls 1d6, high roll wins, the difference is damage done to the loser).  Another perfect game for teaching kids about rpgs, or a good beer-and-pretzels rpg when you don’t have a lot of prep time.  And it’s easy to house-rule and customize to your heart’s delight.

I only have one minor quibble with the system.  Where combat and magic use a die roll vs. die roll mechanic, the game eschews this for a fixed target number mechanic when it comes to skill rolls.  I have to wonder why the die roll vs. die roll mechanic wasn’t carried over to skill rolls as well.  Something like: Easy = d4, Average = d6, Difficult = d8, Hard = d10, Heroic = d12.  There’s nothing that says a rpg must use a uniform mechanic for all systems, but for a light game like this I think a uniform mechanic would add to its charm.  At any rate, the system is easily house-ruled if you don’t like it.

The author has already put out a clever character sheet and a short intro adventure.  You can download everything here (and it’s free!).

Edit:  Meant to add, it’s been a hectic week for me, so I probably won’t be able to finish the Magus class conversion until next week.  Then Gunslinger is next after that.  Cheers.

Review: Dungeon Raiders

February 12, 2012

Normally I leave game reviews to others:  there are plenty of people who do them, and they’re better at it.  However, I felt the need for a (perhaps unique) exception.

Anyone who frequents this blog has probably figured out that I fancy myself something of a (very) amateur wannabe game designer.  And for the past year or so I’ve been working, off and on, on my own version of a rules-lite D&D-ish rpg, which I was going to call Dungeon Raiders.  Perfect name, I thought, and I was surprised no one else had taken it yet.

So imagine my shock when I get an e-mail from DriveThruRPG advertising a new retroclone called, you guessed it, Dungeon Raiders.  “NOOOOOOOOoooooooo!” exclaimed I.

The game is free (available here), so naturally I downloaded it to check it out, what with it stealing my cool name.  Okay, that’s not fair.  The guy just beat me to the punch is all.  That’ll teach me to muck about for  a year.

Dungeon Raiders is written by Brent P. Newhall and bills itself as a retroclone.  Personally, I don’t feel that is quite accurate, though you can definitely tell the game is inspired by ‘old school’ D&D.  You’ve got your standard six ability scores and four base classes (fighter, thief, wizard and cleric).  Character race is not covered at all.  And you’ve got hit points.  After that, Dungeon Raiders starts to diverge from its source inspiration, though not in a bad way, imo.

You see, Dungeon Raiders takes a game that was already simple (if poorly organized) and abstract, and makes it simpler and more abstract.  To hit in combat, you roll a die and need to score a 4 or better.  Fighters roll a d8, clerics and thieves roll a d6 and wizards roll a d4.  Monsters get various dice as well, depending on how strong they are and how many attacks they get; Young Dragons, for example, roll a d10, d6, d6 (bite/claw/claw) for their attacks.  All attacks do 1d6 damage, plus modifiers for magic weapons and level.  Armor reduces damage taken.  That’s it.

Sure, it’s not particularly deep gameplay, but the simplicity of the system has its advanteges.  For one, it seems perfect for teaching young children the basics of playing a fantasy rpg.  It’s also great for a quick pick-up game where you don’t have a lot of time to prep characters or a dungeon.  And such a simple system lends itself well to all kinds of tinkering and houseruling (which is something I love to do).

The game also uses a type of unified saving throw, with an option to reflect the 5 original saving throws of D&D if desired, and a simple d20 roll-under-ability check system that covers anything not related to combat or saving throws (such as thief skills).  It throws in some sample spells, magic items and monsters and wraps up with a page of dungeon-building advice.

That last page on dungeon building is a nice touch, but I’m not entirely sure it’s needed.  It’s not really detailed enough to help novice GMs all that much and old hands probably don’t really need the advice.  The space probably could have been better spent on something else, like a one-page sample dungeon, more monsters, info on hiring retainers or some such.  It does encourage using a flow-chart style for dungeon design though, which I like.

Dungeon Raiders only covers up to level 3, but you could stretch the system up to level 5 or 6.  The system would probably start to break down much past that though, but that’s not bad for an beer-and-pretzels E5/6 style campaign, when you want to kick in doors and kill monsters and not spend hours-upon-hours building characters or a detailed campaign world.

So, if you like to houserule and tinker with rule-lite rpgs, you may want to give Dungeon Raiders a look-see.  And now I’m off to think up another cool name for my game.  Cheers.

RPG Settings

December 23, 2011

Following are a couple of RPG settings I doodled out one day.  Haven’t had a chance to use them yet, but maybe someone else will like them and put them to use.


Bazaar of Feasts

Sealed off from the outside world, this strange market is open only to those who know how to gain access.  However, the bazaar has no known doors, gates, windows, tunnels or mundane portals of any kind.  Thus, gaining access is sufficient proof alone that one belongs in the bazaar.

To those who can get in, the Bazaar of Feasts offers every passing decadence, immorality, illegality, pleasure, luxury, good and service.  Most proprietors do not fancy gold or gems; exotica are the medium of exchange within the bazaar.

The sun barely shines during the day; torches and lamps provide murky light at night.  While filled with all manner of the bizarre, the shops and stalls themselves appear nondescript, run-down and seedy even.

It is best if one knows specifically what they are looking for and where to find it, for blindly stumbling around the bazaar is a dangerous business.  All manner of shady affairs takes place there, and sometimes customers don’t leave the bazaar…ever.  “Window shopping” is discouraged.

Order is maintained by the Dukari, a corps of extra-dimensional enforcers.  They eject trouble makers, execute thieves and go to any extent necessary to retrieve stolen property (the definition of ‘stolen’ and ‘property’ can be quite flexible to certain of the merchants of the Feast).


The Graveyard

The blasted wasteland called The Graveyard extends scores of miles in all directions.  The Graveyard was the site of a great battle, some say the last battle of the Apocalypse.  As such, it is filled with ghosts of the Ancients who fought, and died, there.

The rusted hulks of massive war machines lie everywhere, in ruin.  No animals live there and no plants can grow there, not even a single blade of grass.  It is said the Ancients unleashed their most terrible weapons in the Final Battle, poisoning the area for all time.

Despite its name, The Graveyard is not completely dead.  The machine ghosts of the Ancients are still fighting their war, constantly patrolling and alert for any sign of their enemy.  Any creature or thing that cannot be identified as a friend is classified as a hostile and subject to immediate termination.

Despite the dangers, many brave The Graveyard in search of relics and salvage that can be repaired or put to good use.  But few have penetrated to the Graveyard’s heart, where the greatest treasures are said to be found.

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