Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mech Warrior

Yep, you can own your own mech warrior!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hit Points

Ah yes, hit points.

Hit points in D&D have so many unintended negative consequences.  The grind of combat in newer editions, the complacency of combats against known "weak" foes like goblins, orcs, etc...  When you have a bunch of HP, most of the time, you know you've got X hits before you really need to worry.  Combat becomes totally boring.  ODD brings things back down to a lower baseline, but all the same flaws are still there.

I've been thinking more and more about creating my own fantasy heartbreaker.  I really do think it would be therapy for the gamer in me.  I've been looking around alot at how other games handle damage:

1. Gurps/Runequest/Openquest type d100/Warhammer 2nd ed - more or less fixed HP.  Most of the games have a way you can buy a few more HP, but they stay at a low flat level.  A few successful hits against you, maybe just one, can take you to the danger zone.  Optional rules usually included for "major wounds" or hit locations or criticals once you get less than 0 hp in the case of warhammer.

2. Fudge/FATE - death spiral.  Hits have different categories and you fill in boxes which state the effect on your character.  Accumulate enough damage and you become incapacitated or die.  I think Vampire/White wolf games used a system similar to this but I haven't played it in like a decade so I can't really remember.  I've also heard that Ars Magica used something like this.  Risus has a weird twist on this one where you lose dice each time you lose a conflict roll.

3. Rolemaster - you have hit points, but each hit may also create a wound on your character.  These wounds cause stun damage, bleeding, and maybe even instant death if you roll lucky on the crit tables.

I prefer the rolemaster type approach, but the rolemaster system has too much book keeping for me in my old age.  With my limited time for gaming, I prefer simpler sleek games that move quick with less crunch and crumble.

I've been mulling over an alternate combat system for fudge lately that pushes it into the realm of the rolemaster system, but still allows for the speed of fudge character creation.   If I can assemble something coherent enough, I'll post it up here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All Things Hulean

I was lurking around on the Vaults of Pandius, and found these excellent articles:  the hulean Gaz, this beautiful map, and this excellent article by James M. on the immortals of Great Hule.  I liked how James incorporated the great 8 deities and involved the chaos arrow (very Elirickian/Stormbringery!).  This is very different from what I had been thinking but seems to somehow fit better with the BECMI type immortals path that I've always found a little bit difficult to grasp.

It really got me thinking about clerics in D&D and BX (pre-Mentzer), vs. BECMI, vs. AD&D cosmology.  I found a quote (sorry I forgot the source) about how Frank really didn't like reducing religion and the gods into a shopping list for clerics.  This makes immortals in Frank's version of D&D into something like angels/devils instead of gods. So clerics don't exactly worship the exact immortal, but instead see the immortal as an example of how to live under a particular philosophy (law and order, neutrality, or chaos?)?

Something about immortals just doesn't sit right with me, I'm partial to the BX version where gods and churches are implied, just not fleshed out.  Hmm, there is a lot to think through, I'm going to have to mull this over some more...



Saturday, July 7, 2012


Assuming the characters defeat the challenges of the great pass, what is next for the party inside the 32 pages of X5 Temple of Death?

It is the chaotic nation of Hule.  While David Cook does an awesome job of setting the stage for an entire country in about 1.5 pages, he definitely (intentionally) left room for expansion.  The next three parts of the adventure detail:

1.  An example town Magden, with several programmed encounters that can give the PC's clues toward the ToD or several that can end them up in chains.

2.  Dark Wood - good detail on the vast woods that surround the temple.

3.  The temple of death itself.

There were a couple of things that seemed lacking.  Cook doesn't flesh out the dark diety, dieties, or philosophy that the Master worships/embodies.  Maybe this was to allow the DM room for customization?  Also, the country of Hule seemed too benign for a land ruled by demon worshipers.  I'm not sure why this is.

So here are the first things I would try to spice up:

1.  Setting a slightly darker atmosphere for Hule:  Monstrous demihumans mix with the people, sometimes they raid the villages killing and capturing people to torture or use as slaves.  Other people just disappear in the night, maybe it is the work of the Diviners, some of whom can see into your mind and find out if you are "holy".  This holiness should be a religion of subservience and total sacrifice to the dark forces.  I like the idea of the hermits and prophets of chaos giving guidance and passing judgments.  Instead of an impartial judge, you have an impartial madman, who will make a completely random judgment which seems perfect for the concept of a chaotic society.  Processions are held once per week while the locals run through the village, in a chaotic state of celebration, drunken debauchery, looking for miracles, which pretty much never happen. 

2.  More about these demons and "The Master".  I'm guessing Cook was hesitant to delve too deeply into demon worship, so he remained very tight-lipped on exactly what the master was involved in.  Obviously, one goal is world domination.  Oppression of the common folk under the chaos religion.  Enslave monsters, using curses, and use them to further the goals of the church.  I think it would be fun to keep The Master's religion completely obscure.  Perhaps he is a half-outer-planar, half-human harbinger of a greater chaos deity.  Maybe it is something like the King in Yellow or Nylarthohotep - not something like a typical evil D&D deity - instead, something less personal and human.  I like the idea that The Master has maybe summoned many extra-planar creatures to Hule, they live in secret throughout the land furthering the goals of chaos, tricking humans into worshiping them, and trying to enact the rituals that will bring forth the greater chaos into the Known World.  Also, just because the PC's kill the master, doesn't mean everything immediately will collapse.  I think the remaining holymen will band together to further their common goals of keeping the true power in Hule.  The war will be ended, since the Master was coordinating much of it, but the dark forces will regroup and may spring forth again in the future.  The PC's could probably route it out of Hule, and claim the land as their kingdom, but it would be a terribly long and boring endeavor, so they are more likely to run off to their next adventure.

Next up - I'm going to work on more of the villages and cities in Hule and what they are like.  I'll see what is in Pandius.com first and see if I can leverage some of that.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Men on the Moon

Happy 4th of July!  For all my fellow America readers, go be patriotic and read this!  I'm off to a BBQ at my sisters today so I intend to be brief.

I've decided to set my next FR game around activities in Hillsfar and I've got ideas to morph it into a X3 Curse of Xanathon type thing - with the detective work and the humanocentric thing.  I'm not sure if this will become my next PBEM or if I will end up playing it person.

In the meantime, I'm going to concentrate on X5 temple of death.  My players were really hating on X4 Master of the Desert Nomads when we played it back in the winter.  One of them is a soldier in real life and he is sick of the desert.  So, I think I'm going to push them through that adventure and give them all a bunch of experience that might level some of them up.  Then I'm going to start them off at the beginning of the X5 adventure.  I'm thinking of detailing out certain parts of the adventure. 

The first of these in my head is the moon bridge.  The idea of a bridge to the moon is wickedly awesome, and I've got ideas to treat it a bit like a D&D / Stargate crossover.  I'm planning to flesh out the Kingdom of the Moon, with anitgravity technology, and biotechnology, and magic all mushed together but that the civilization now treats this technology like religion and don't understand all the psuedophysics that makes it all work.  Also, there have to be Barsoomian white apes on the moon that have multiplied to the point of nearly destroying all civilization.

More on the Kingdom of the Moon to come...