Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Doctor Is In!

Well, well! It looks like there's a new Doctor Who RPG out. On the cover of the RPG is the David Tennant incarnation of the time-traveling doctor, with TARDIS, Dalek, Cyberman and a Sontaran in armor (I think).

No ideas yet on what the game system is for this RPG. The old Doctor Who RPG by FASA is long gone, and the art and science of role-playing game design has improved a lot since that era (so last century).

The folks behind the RPG appear to be Cubicle 7 entertainment -- the people behind Starblazer Adventures, Victoriana 2nd Edition, and SLA Industries.

Not much information so far on what the game is like: do you play the doctor or one of his companions? do you get to do Torchwoody type stuff? What kind of devices to you get to pick up and keep? What are the time traveling rules and TARDIS stuffies you get to kit your character out with?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Latest from Isle

Entering its eleventh Season, here are the latest primary shards from the campaign, illustrated by Andrew Drilon:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

News from Mongoose

Mongoose Publishing’s 2009 “State of the Mongoose” address has been published and there are several things of interest to me in particular:
  • Runequest II
  • All Things Traveller
Runequest II
Apparently development on the new Runequest started in 2008, and the new set of Runequest rules will be released in January of 2010. Dubbed Runequest II, this new set of rules will apparently reflect major revisions because Mongoose “always believed it ended up feeling like it had been designed by committee.”
Some of the most important changes include:
  • Characters are now rolled up slightly differently, going back to the ‘straight’ 3d6 method but also including a points buy system as a formal option.
  • Backgrounds and professions have been streamlined, and a new attribute based on CHA has been introduced to influence character advancement.
  • Community, background history and connections are now part of character creation, making starting characters far more rounded.
  • Characters now advance with skills quicker, and training has been overhauled.
  • No more global armour-based skill penalties, but armour now affects strike rank – as do weapons. You won’t want to bring a dagger to a two-handed sword fight!
  • Special manoeuvres have been added to combat, based on levels of success in both attack and defence. Combat is now far more dynamic, getting away from the ‘static’ sword-swinging. The biggest fights will actually alter the environment around them. Combat tables are gone, with everything being resolved on simple attack and defence rolls.
  • The equipment list on the core book is far more comprehensive, and a weapon’s SIZ is now crucial for combat.
  • Every magic system has been overhauled, with the old Rune Magic now taking the place of Common Magic, and losing the ‘physical’ runes (though they can be kept as an option). Access to Divine Magic is related to your character’s relationship with his deity, while Sorcery and Spirit Magic have been redesigned from the ground up.
  • Cults now take on a far deeper meaning, with the character’s relationship with deity and cult taking priority.
  • Legendary Abilities are still present, but now work differently
Apparently support for Glorantha will continue, while a new setting will appear: Deus Vult – a game that involves a secret order of the Catholic Church, the Ordo Acerbus Devotio, an organisation dedicated to defending humanity against supernatural threats. Other RQ II settings will include the Eternal Champion line, and Wraith Recon.


Mongoose intends on continuing their support for Traveller, to the extent that they plan on releasing a new setting every 3 to 6 months. So – in addition to the current Third Imperium and Mega-City One settings – what other Traveller settings can people expect from Mongoose?
Reaver – Piracy in a Sea of Stars and Codename Veil. Look them up on the Mongoose site, because I’m kinda running out of breath for this post.
Will update this post at a later date. Brain going.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quick Read Review - Mutant City Blues

Ten years ago, one percent of the population gained mutant powers. But one percent of the citizens means one percent of the criminals – and you're the cops who clean up the mess.

As you may have gleaned from the blurb, this RPG is set in the near future, after a virus event seemingly grants a significant percentage of the population beneficial mutations – of the super-powers variety.

Surprisingly, the world is not radically changed by this – not everyone decides to become a superhero or supervillain, not everyone wants to cash in on their abilities, and so some people go on with their lives trying to hide and forget that they have powers and abilities far beyond those of mere mortals.

But enough do, and some of them commit crimes, and that’s where you come in.

Powered by the Gumshoe system – a game system focused on investigation-oriented adventures – Mutant City Blues allows you to solve super-powered crimes and capers committed by a cast that could be taken from Heroes with a tone ranging from Castle’s light-hearted banter to Law & Order’s gritty procedurals.

One of the more interesting elements of this game is the Quade diagram. While most RPGs involving super-powers make a big deal out of being able to replicate any power in the comic books, Mutant City Blues imposes limits and definite patterns to metahuman abilities. In game terms, abilities connected to other abilities with a solid line are free; abilities connected to other abilities with a dotted line cost 2 points for each ability traversed; and abilities not connected cannot be purchased (you have to trace the web of lines to get to the ability you want).

This intriguing part of the game has two immediately obvious effects: (1) it suggests that in this particular setting, there is a predictability to meta-human powers, making professional crime-solving more about investigation, research, and deduction rather than a brainstorming / argument session about what weird combination of abilities was most likely to have been used to perpetrate the crime; (2) it makes certain combinations of abilities more desirable and other combinations of abilities too damn expensive to build.

Mutant City Blues looks like an RPG worthy of the mini-series treatment: build characters and play for a “season” of 3 to 6 episodes, then step back and evaluate how your campaign is going. If there’s promise, then make tweaks and start into the second season.

Suggested campaign inspirations: Law & Order, Heroes, Touching Evil, Castle, X-files, Warehouse 13 and Wire in the Blood.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hero System 6th Edition

Well, the 6th Edition of the Hero System is out, with all its revisions and changes, both major and minor.

There's a review on RPG.net here.

Having been on the Hero forums and open to some of the discussions about the changes to the game system, I'm anxious and hopeful that the final product will be worthwhile. The art already seems to have leveled up again, and for that I'm happy.

I'm a bit worried about what this will do to the current slew of existing genre books and related products out there for Hero 5th, but there's no turning back now.

We'll just have to see how things like decoupling and power revisions have changed one of my favorite game systems yet again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On the Shelf

With my shift in focus on this blog, and a new name, I'm looking up at the shelf of books to see what things I'll be reviewing in the upcoming weeks. I'm thinking of quick-reviewing a slew of games different genres:
  • Mutant City Blues -- a police procedural-inspired game in a world where superpowers are real;
  • Timelords -- a time-jumping setting for BTRC's universal system, EABA; and
  • Earthdawn -- a fantasy setting that I never really paid attention to before, but since it was picked up by RedBrick (who picked up two other game settings I really like -- Fading Suns and Blue Planet) I decided to give it a read.
We'll see how they pan out in the coming days.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tabletop Gaming and the D6

Tabletop gaming in the Philippines can have the most surprising barriers.

In addition to finding a gaming group, there's also the problem of travel (the Philippine Traffic Gods are seldom merciful), the problem of venue, the problem of coordinating schedules, and so on.

Another barrier for tabletop gaming: dice!

Granted, most of these tabletop games come with their own dice (which is good if they use the funky d4s, d8s, d10s, or d12s or d20s), but do you ever have enough? And what if your lose your dice? Polyhedrals cost around P50 per die right now!

Solution 1: play games that use D6s!

That means playing RPGs that use the HERO System, GURPS, or Silhouette Core. Precis Intermedia came out with the Genre Division series of games, which also use D6s.

It also means playing wargames like Starmada (relatively inexpensive) or Warhammer (okay, if you can afford this as a hobby, you probably don't care about the price of dice). Yeah, I don't know too many wargames and what dice they use, so lets move on.

Solution 2: play all games but use D6s instead!

This means finding a way to substitute your trusty and cheap D6s for the standard dice in your game of choice. For the White Wolf fanatics, substituting D6s for D10s may be a bit hairy, even if you adjust for the probabilities. For D20 players, you can try using Unearthed Arcana's recommendations for converting to 3d6 use instead of the trusty D20 for task resolution. True20 and Mutants and Masterminds also have recommendations for tweaking the game to allow for a 3d6 bell curve.

Solution 3: Make the dice you need yourself!

Er, nah.