Saturday, January 26, 2013

D&D Classics: B1 -- In Search of the Unknown

As most of you know, a whole bunch of D&D PDFs have been uploaded to RPGNow. And I was torn between wanting to pick up certain items due to nostalgia, more items due to the collector instinct, and other items due to curiosity.

Here are the items of interest for me (so far), and why they stood out from the others:

B1 -- In Search of the Unknown

I never owned this module. My copy of Basic D&D (with the classic Erol Otus cover), came with B2. Because I didn't understand how these RPG thingies worked, not having B1 troubled my young brain.

According to the product page: "An Introduction Inclusion. B1 was immediately packaged as part of the Basic Set - replacing geomorphs and monsters & treasure assortments, which had required GMs to be more comfortable creating dungeons on their own. It appeared as a part of the Holmes Basic Set from late 1978 through the end of 1979, at which time is was replaced by the better-known "B2: The Keep on the Borderlands" (1980)."

Hell, my first module purchase was T1 -- The Village of Hommlet because I figured it was the first in a series of games that needed to be played in sequence. It was only later that I realized that the rules I had didn't match my Basic & Expert Sets and that started me looking out for the Advanced D&D rules.

So, the reason for picking this up is all three: nostalgia, collector's instinct, and curiosity.

There's a fouth reason. In my mind, the entire B-series is set in Mystara, so I want to see how this would be integrated into that setting, given my more developed understanding of games, setting, and sandboxes.

Games Endure; Game Sessions are Emphemeral

With the return of D&D PDFs to DriveThruRPG and RPGNow, a thought that has forever echoed in my mind returns to the fore: Games Endure, Game Sessions are Ephemeral.

Games endure in the books where their rules appear. Games endure in the understanding of the rules that echo in the heads of the GMs and Players, often passed on to other gamers through the years. To some extent, it is the same for game adventures / modules that are published.

But game sessions don't find similar immortality. While some of them may find some partial, twisted, modified, aggregated, ghostly existence in our memories, they fade with time. And as we pass on ourselves, they grow ever fainter.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dredd and Javert: We are the law!

The past two nights, I've watched two different movies: Dredd 3D (in 2D) and the new Les Miserables movie. Perhaps due to the juxtaposition, I was struck by the two characters who identified so strongly with the law that, at key points in both movies, they were moved to say the phrase "I am the law!"

There are other parallels, of course. Both characters are situated in unstable urban settings, where violence is ready to erupt. Both are unswerving in their missions to uphold the law. Both find their adherence to their moral codes tested.

Of course, one survives and the other doesn't. If you don't know which is which, I'll just keep that a secret for now.

In any case, both movies stirred up gaming inspiration.

Dredd 3D triggered several things upon viewing, the strongest one being the desire to run the 200+ floor high City Blocks of Mega-City 1 as mega-dungeons. You could use Stars Without Number as the ruleset, look for some geomorphs or city street generation rules from various RPGs to help create the north, south, east, and west corridors, apartments, offices, industrial zones, etc. as your Judges patrol and investigate and mete out justice for crimes. Another thing I enjoyed was the infusion of psychic abilities into a grittier version of the 2000 AD setting, with Judge Anderson as its primary (and most powerful) representative.

Les Miserables has always been, for me, a musical. The book and the non-music movies resonated with their characters and messages, but not as powerfully as the music and lyrics in the musical -- a triumph of translating a story from one medium to another. The movie, however, was less triumphant -- but I did enjoy it. It gave some fantastic visual grit and weight to the more stylized (and, by necessity, more compact) visualizations that are normally seen on stage. The obvious inspiration is to a Fading Suns campaign, where laws are different for the nobility and the serfs -- and for the growing number of freemen on some cities in the Known Worlds.

The plight of Valjean is surely one that many citizens of the various worlds might empathize with -- being branded a criminal for life, struggling to be an honest man in a system that discourages it, suffering because of the weight of a merciless implementation of the law.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Year, New Game: Only 2 Days Left!

DriveThruRPG's sale is running out of time, and I wanted to give a list of things that caught my eye, just in case some of you share the same interests.

  1. Conspiracy X -- This is version 2.0 and it uses Unisystem, which I've been fond of ever since I ran a Buffy the Vampire Slayer campaign set here in the Philippines. It's a great, easy to teach, and allows you to take stuff from all the other Unisystem games out there. It shouldn't be too much of a stretch, given the premise of the game:

    "Conspiracy X takes place in a world of dark secrets and hidden agendas where the only certainty is nothing is what it seems. The president might not be human... and the sign carrying paranoid on the street corner ranting about CIA mind control satellites may very well be right."
  2. Imperium Chronicles Roleplaying Game -- This is a new game system, and threatens to scratch my constant itching for new Science Fiction settings. Here's the premise:

    "The Imperium Chronicles is a mashup of sci-fi and fantasy, set in a universe of intrigue and adventure. The Imperium is a tapestry of conflicting groups, each with their own agenda. From the richest aristocrat to the poorest thug, every citizen dreams of power, prestige, and a piece of the action."

    Sounds like a good space opera campaign! Also, a quick look at the publisher's page shows that there are already other sourcebooks and minis available for the game.
  3. Leverage Roleplaying Game -- Powered by another Cortex+ variant, this one can help recreate the heist and scam-filled episodes of the TV show. It's a different take on the action/adventure filled modern day world with less guns blazing and more lies, doubletalk, and sneaking about -- but always for a good cause.

    "Based on TNT’s hit show, The LEVERAGE Role Playing Game puts you in the middle of a dysfunctional but highly specialized group of con artists, criminals, and crooks who are trying to turn over a new leaf. You protect the victims of corporations, mobsters, and corrupt politicians by using your expert skills to outwit and overcome the real bad guys."

    Already, it has some additional sourcebooks that I've also reviewed elsewhere in this blog.
What are the games that caught your eye in the sale?

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Court Adamantine: A Preview

The First from the Emerald Legion
(well, actually a Tron Samurai by
SuperKusokao from here)
After the Isle Imperium series of game summaries, I'll be posting the next series of game summaries which will be called The Court Adamantine. Many characters from the Isle Imperium series do manage to survive into this next campaign. Here's a quick preview:
Alecto, finding her attempts to contact others (like Julia and Bregan) who might be capable of aiding her and Mantius thwarted by the marid, grows increasingly suspicious and resolves to break out of the moment of stilled time.

The marid interferes with her attempts to contact others in the Court by shunting the timeframe of her abilities into a randomized sequence of shard abilities.

Aly responds by calling upon an ability of the Saint of Clocks (part of the portfolio of her All Saints / Saint of Saints shard) known as Chronal Aid, before her form reverts to the basic form of Sanomagus. The respondees to this Chronal Aid and their respective actions are:
  • The First (Katsumoto bearing the Esteemed First Heavenly Court Martial), the Fourth (Renjin bearing the Lost Warbound Celestial Shadow), and the Third (Aji bearing the Crimson Blade Tempest Whirlwind) of the Emerald Legion, from a time before they knew her as a member of the family. Together, they destroy the cohesion of the marid physical form.
  • Ser Raimundo mounted by the Forsworn Blade Knight, Ser Lawrence mounted by the Templar of the Order of the Gilden Drake, Ser Rinaldo mounted by the Silverthorn Champion, Ser Ildane mounted by the Silverthorn Scholar of the Silver Legion from a time before Ser Orlando left their roster. Together they destroy the cohesion of the marid’s sentience, and determine that the marid believes it is telling the truth -- and that the marid itself has been deceived.
  • Emilio Raseldan mounted by the Ebon Rake Admiral, Rissa mounted the Frontline Sanctifier, Ojin mounted by the Redstar Cloudstrike Champion of the Ruby Legion from back when they’d first met Alecto. Using the Critical Strike to determine the truth, they trigger the summoning of…
  • Pandora and Sonata from the Amber Legion, who are able to commune with the lingering spirit of the dissipated and ruined marid, and learn that a Renegade of Diamond is responsible for the deceptions layered upon the the water elemental.
  • Crucis, beloved of Jahmoud, confirms that the Renegade of Diamond in question is indeed Canar, the Renegade Warder and reveals the hidden form of an alternate Canar – one that is concentrating, and holding onto a time artifact: a cornerstone of a city of time, also known as the Timehold.
Alecto confronts this other Canar. Alter-Canar reveals that he has been trying to indirectly kill Mantius by sending him back to dangerous moments in the past, altering them slightly, hoping that Mantius will perish. Their confrontations devolve into physical altercations, ability exchanges, and eventually a battle in shard space (referred to by Alter-Canar as The Fugue).

Returning to her own shard tower, Alecto attempts to find a basic Nemesis Fist ability known as Ruin Armor. When she uses it, however, Alter-Canar reveals that he has developed countermeasures to it. Jeren, who had apparently been granted asylum in Alecto’s shard tower, attacks Alter-Canar from a balcony higher up in the shard tower with the ability Lost Flame Expression.

She stalks after Alter-Canar, and burns him and every bit of him that attempts to reintegrate itself. Then she turns her attention to his structure with the Lost Expression of Ultimate Devastation. It is utterly destroyed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Black Band Brigade Mini-Campaign (Part 3)

Speed, Endurance, and Recovery

In my prior post, I laid out the most accessible abilities of the Black Band and the Locus Crystal. However, there may be some things that a beginning GM or Player might not be aware of in the set up of these, centering around Speed, Endurance, and Recovery:

The END cost of each power

Each power in the multipower will cost 6 END to use each time. Therefore, using Resplendent Wings (for flying) and Umbra Beam (for blasting someone) will cost 12 END each Phase these abilities are used. If they only fly, or only blast, then the END cost will be 6 END only.

The END cost in a Turn

If the players did built their basic characters with a Speed of 2, which is what normals have in the Hero System, and they max out ability use each phase, they'll use up 24 END (12 END x 2 phases).

If the players built their basic characters with Speed of 3, and max out ability use each phase, they'll burn 36 END. And so on and so forth.

In theory, this should lead to players carefully monitoring the Locus Crystal energy reserves -- perhaps opting to use one power at a time and using their own abilities (running, jumping, etc.) which burn their own personal END.

I Need Speed -- Normals with Powers vs. True Superhumans

But they should be pushed to maxing their ability use occasionally -- and working as a team -- when they encounter true superhumans.

In Champions Complete, there are numerous differences between Normals and Superhumans. The Black Bands kick the PCs up from one power level to another, except in one key aspect: Speed. It's an expensive stat with Normals having 2 or 3 (meaning they only get to act two or three times in a 12 second Turn); Heroes having 3 to 5; and Supers ranging from 4 upwards -- your mileage may vary, course.

Ultimately this means that the Black Band PCs will encounter villains that can tackle two or more at them at a time, necessitating the aforementioned teamwork.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Star Frontiers - Core Races

Where's your gun, man?
I was re-reading my relatively new copies of the Star Frontiers - Alpha Dawn boxed set, and I was struck by the care put into creating very interesting non-human PC races. The aliens are alien enough, and interesting enough to make them intriguing to play, but they're also given nice 'hooks' to allow the human players to play them plausibly.

My race of choice was the Yazirian race, but now the Vrusk appeal to me more. Which would probably drive me to the Dralasite as, stat-wise, they are apparently a tougher, stronger race than the others.

I also am interested in the original plans for the Sathar as a player race, and then their plans for the Sathar when it became a villain race.

You should probably check out the interview in the latest Star Frontiersman to see what I'm talking about.

Anyway, I may steal quite a bit of this for both Fading Suns and Stars Without Number campaigns.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy First Week of 2013!

Slicing through to the heart of the matter! Go, Amaya!

What I want to do this year in Gaming

  • My first Google+ Hangout game (tough due to the time differential and crappy internet)
  • Run a Gumshoe-powered game
  • Run a LOTFP game
  • Run a Fading Suns game
  • Play in a Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space game
  • Play in a Champions game
  • Try out Fiasco with friends face-to-face

What I want to write more of on this blog

  • Champions Complete mini-campaigns
  • Doctor Who mini-campaigns
  • Reading Room: Lamentations of the Flame Princess 
  • Reading Room: all the Stars Without Number books
  • Enigmundia posts (possibly RQ6)
  • Earth-641 posts (various systems)
  • all my pending reviews

But you, what do you want more of?