Thursday, April 25, 2013

No More Marvel -- for now

Well, that's a shame.

According to the press release, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying by the folks at Margaret Weiss Productions is going away.

Here's the official statement from their Pipeline News page.

And in Marvel news… the economics of licensing a tie-in product is always something we have to weigh carefully. We brokered an admittedly ambitious license with Marvel. Our first event, CIVIL WAR, was successful and well received, but it didn’t garner the level of sales necessary to sustain the rest of the line. We’ve learned from this and are taking a very different approach with the other licensed properties we’re bringing out to you in the next three years. We believe we created a great game. Those of you that have supported us have been terrific, and we appreciate you. But, unfortunately, we will not be bringing any new product out under the Marvel line. We know this affects our customers. Those that have pre-ordered Annihilation will receive a full refund or a credit worth 150% of their Annihilation order to use on existing or future product.

It's sad, but them's the breaks with licenses. It's time to pick up all the PDFs you've been planning to get on RPGNow, because they're going to be gone in around 5 or 6 days after this posting.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Timelords and Elements -- opposing factions in a Temporal Cold War?

Some of my thoughts about the Plagues that I posted earlier skipped to the idea of a Timelord analogue, with a fantasy equivalent of Gallifreyan citizens trying to enforce an optimum timeline that saves the best kind of multiverse from an extra-multiversal invasion / infestations (which is how they view the Plagues).

And then I happened upon my fascination with Sapphire & Steel, and decided to take the Timelords entirely out of that setting and figure out how to merge the Timelords and the Elements into a single universe.

The Doctor is, of course, a rebel to his race. The Elements -- well, Sapphire & Steel in particular -- have spoken about others trying to obtain their loyalty These others, known as Transient Beings, apparently can change their appearance and prefer a more centralized chain of command, greater control over time -- even though they apparently seem to be working toward similar ends.

That almost sounds like Gallifrey, particularly when the Doctor starting running afoul of their attempts to curb his travels and 'meddling'. Now that the Doctor locked them away, what about the Elements? Particularly two trapped Elements in a Nowhere trap?

Sounds like a fun element to throw into a DWAITAS campaign!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Enigmundia: War of Plagues

A quick idea I had after listening to the recent "Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff" Podcast involves the cause of the holocaust in the semi-default post-holocaust fantasy world implied by D&D.

It involves a War of Plagues. Future posts will detail some of those plagues, but the snatches of idea that came to me:

  • mysterious plague doctors appearing at the time of an outbreak
  • plague(s) responsible for decimating or wiping out intelligent, highly advanced races or cultures (like the multitude of elf subraces)
  • plague memory responsible for the isolationist stances of some races and cultures
  • plague zombies are one of the feared plagues
  • caused heal & cure spells becoming so prevalent with clerics 
  • prompted mass potion creation for same spells 
  • returning to civilization still requires a benediction and cleansing by clerics (and a tax / fee)
That's all for now. More to come.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Confederation Chronicles: A Quick Review

Before I get started on the mini-settings in the macro Confederation Chronicles setting, it helps to review what has gone before.

Last year, I wrote about how I wanted to set up a quasi-military campaign that still allowed for exploration and strange encounters with the wonders and horrors of the universe in part 01 and part 02 of the basic Confederation Chronicles premise.

Having established the broad strokes, I then gave some thought to the mobile base of operations and the fleet that accompanied it in the setting. I even revisited the overall mission that this fleet would be involved in, and how it might occasionally reconnect with the larger body of civilization it's tied to.

Next: some ideas on what the people in this fleet are doing in the short term, and what regular cycles of living and protocols of encounter might entail.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Isle Imperium 1.42 -- The Tabernacle Run

Upon entering the infamous Tabernacle, CATALINA is elated to discover that the Prodigious Scholar, along with the Renegade Warder, has been here before, thereby allowing Cat to ideate not only the layout of the interior, but the probable location of the Beacon from round to round. With this information, ALECTO’S minder speech, and a good deal of luck, Cat is able to direct herself and KHIMERE, ARCTURUS and MANTIUS, and eventually KENJIRO into positions to repeatedly attack and finally destroy the Beacon, despite the near-crippling costs of using abilities within the confines of the Tabernacle.

Along the way, Arc and Mantius run afoul of a variety of guardian creatures including water snakes and a giant brain on legs that saps them of some of their mental acuity. The same type of brain monster later attacks Cat and Kim—after they use and abuse a variety of fire-based creatures, as well as turn into vapor in order to survive some inward-slamming walls—leaving Kim severely depleted and in despair. Fortunately, Cat is later able to use her recover mind ability to restore all three completely.

Meanwhile, Aly, VARIAN, and Varian’s Emerald Warrior cheerfully clear rooms, despite Ian being temporarily blinded by a fire snake and Aly wiping several species of Chaos creature from the face of the Tabernacle. This continues through their finding and acquiring an imprisoned legendary shard, the Saint of Scars—until they have the misfortune of encountering the Tabernacle’s primary guardian, BESHEBA the Undying.

Recalling the mission briefing, Ian elects to stay and face the courtier, while Aly is prevented from fleeing as per agreement by Besheba’s destroying her mounting shard, the Daughter of Memory. Ian sacrifices the Bejeweled Warder’s emerald ability to deal damage to Besheba, but this does not prevent the latter from collapsing the walls around the three of them to block off the Diamond pair’s escape routes. It is just as they are about to be completely surrounded that Kenjiro deals the final blow to the Beacon and summons all the mounts to himself, as warder.

Realizing that the unsharded Aly will not be summoned away with him, Ian denies the warder summons in favor of his civilar traverse ability, which Besheba attempts to block with the Bejeweled Warder’s name, the two apparently having met before. Fortunately, DIONES has been in the process of secreting his name, among other things, in gems, and is therefore able to deceive the courtier into thinking that the latter has succeeded. Simultaneously, Kenjiro exchanges places with Aly, with the result that she ends up with the rest of the number, and he ends up in mid-traverse with Varian.

Obeying Kenjiro’s order for them to withdraw while he faces the courtier, the First call on TERENTIUS to pick them up, even as portals begin to appear, heralding the arrival of still more courtiers. Notwithstanding an abortive argument with Cat over the matter, Terry delivers the First to AMALTHEA of the Second, whereupon he promptly turns around to go back for Kenjiro.

As the courtiers pursue, the First are handed over from mount to mount of the Second, who perform a protracted withdrawal action, collapsing gates as they go. The assembled First and Second (with Aly wearing a contingency shard provided by Amalthea) then rendezvous with the Third to make what they assume may be their final stand, since they dare not lead the courtiers back to Peerdin. The Third delay confrontation by surging forward to engage, and Amalthea does likewise through the use of illusions that allow them all to regroup.

Kenjiro and Terry then reappear, in short order assembling the numbers in such a way as to enable Kenjiro to act as paragon, with the aggregated abilities of the entire team. He is thus able to drive away the attackers (particularly a “very ugly, ugly woman” who appears to be a normal-sized head atop a veritable mountain of clothing--and going rather further than necessary, judging by Terry’s aggravated response), and the group is able to return to Peerdin, concealing their trail behind them.

General celebration ensues, in the course of which OLIVERUS explains that they have accomplished something “of staggering importance” and also stymies ARSELUS ARTILIAN in mid-interference, much to the First’s delight. Later, Aly presents their newly acquired shard, whereupon Kenjiro reveals that he has acquired a total of five legendary shards (one from the Tabernacle, and four from the “very ugly, ugly woman”), all of which, he claims, belong by rights to the First.

Despite the fact that they themselves are forbidden from bearing legendary shards, the First Tier are jubilant that the legendaries have not only been found, but “have not fled”. In relation to this, Ian announces that he and the Bejeweled Warder are now prepared to build, in light of which he is informed that “the Bejeweled only builds in the light of the sun” and that construction “will attract shards up to legendary” class. ISAACUS graciously identifies the six legendary shards (after catching and setting aside the light-headed AUDEN), and the First are informed that how they choose to assign these is entirely up to them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Armchair Review: DWAITAS -- The First Doctor Sourcebook

I recommend Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space -- The First Doctor Sourcebook for two target audiences. The first audience: the fans of Doctor Who who want to get more material on the first incarnation of The Doctor; the second audience: any RPG GM looking to set up a campaign similar to Doctor Who but without the Doctor constantly saving the day.

Wait, what?

Let me explain. This incarnation of The Doctor is delightfully illuminated by these two quotes:
" Back when I first started, at the very beginning, I was always trying to be old and grumpy and important, like you do when you're young."
-- and this one --
" Later incarnations of the Doctor invite interesting people to travel with them on the TARDIS, to see the galaxy to their young eyes and to feel young again. The First Doctor appearsold, but he's by far the youngest of the Doctors... he doesn't want companions for that... In this era, arguments and disagreements between the TARDIS travelers could be much more bitter and long-lasting than in later years. One side or the other often has to be dragged into the adventure... This Doctor is also physically frail. While he does occasionally demonstrate superhuman endurance or strength, he is easily winded and has to rest frequently. He often relies on Susan or another companion for support. "
This Doctor is knowledgeable, but that knowledge may not necessarily be shared with you or for your benefit. This Doctor can be just as responsible for getting you into the adventurous situation that you're in, as he could be instrumental in getting you out of it. He's new at this heroic adventuring thing, and is for the most part an explorer who is driven by curiosity and superiority and an alien sense of righteousness and possibly  a thousand other emotions that are passingly similar to human ones. Thank goodness his granddaughter is so nice.

Book Breakdown

I don't think I like this horned look for
Vikings. Perhaps I shall rewrite it...
It has a lot of black & white pictures from the series which help add to the classic feel of this period of the series. Most of the material is more geared toward setting up the campaign feel, the campaign elements, and a handful of write-ups and rules-related material to help run the game using the DWAITAS system (easily translatable to other systems).

Chapter One really focuses on the overview and setting the tone for a First Doctor era or First Doctor-esque campaign. Really useful for planning key elements and themes of what is essentially a romp through various mini-settings and genres.

Chapters Two through Ten are a set of synopses plus game mechanics and character write-ups for twenty-eight First Doctor adventures, with pictures from the episodes. And it takes us from the beginning of the First Doctor's documented career to the end. We are introduced to well-known villains like the Daleks and the Cybermen as they first appeared, along with some less popular but important characters like WOTAN, a Timelord known as the Meddling Monk, and The Celestial Toymaker.

Buy this book if you're a compleatist fan of Doctor Who, or want to run a First Doctor campaign, or really want to do your own take on a new Timelord exploring his corners of the galaxy, out from under the shadow of the Doctor!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hats in Enigmundia

Coming back from a trip to the beach, I have a new appreciation for the usage of hats in a fantasy setting. Aside from the more modern association with fashion, hats do provide a certain kind of utility.

The tricorne hat, for example, seen in many historical films, performs a very useful function during seasons of rain by channeling rainwater away from the wearer's face to the shoulder areas (often also covered with raincoats).

Therefore in my fantasy setting, inspired by many an old school setting and my own learnings and research about Philippine history, there would definitely be a tricorne equivalent -- perhaps for the conquering settlers of the land of San Lazario -- during the rainy season of the two-season land. Interestingly, the tricorne (according to Wikipedia, anyway) originated from Spanish soldiers evolving the use of the standard broad rim hat, and was brought to France in the 1660s during one of the wars.

And it would have both functional and dress versions of the same structure. As for the decorative colors, it's hard to say.

This also means that there would have to be places to hang hats in homes and in public places -- preferably areas that you would not mind getting wet.

Of course, the Enigmundian Inspancialo aren't the only source of hats. The locals have a variant of the salakot, a hat that has kept the sun and the rain out of the locals' faces for many years. It is usually made from rattan wood or perhaps woven from reeds. But there are wonderfully decorated versions worn by the headmen of the various barangays and tribes -- decorated with embossed silver and precious gems and coins and metals.

But the common folk should have a variety of designs that they will wear, and perhaps hang on walls when they enter. There must be some kind of cultural approach that deals with ownership, sharing, and borrowing hats, particularly for long trips.

And, perhaps even some magical hats in the future. But for now, it's a nice cultural touch to add.