Monday, November 2, 2009

Mythic GM Emulator + Swords & Wizadry = Great Gaming Experience

Last week we started a little experiment and went GMless with Swords & Wizardry using the Mythic GM Emulator. It may sound crazy but I've got to say that it was absolutely incredible from the first session and continues to be so after 4 sessions so far.

My wife is playing a ranger named Silvia who has already had run-ins with goblins in her wood. My character a paladin named Osric is from a far away order who has come to the area of an ancient battle to discover why evil is once again stirring. This was the entire premise for the start of the game. Through play it has become amazingly complex and intricate.

The joy for me is that it feels incredibly old-school. By that I mean that it feels so much like the way I played role playing games, when the game was the story.

Back to the Mythic GM Emulator for a bit. It may be the best old school GM that money can buy. It's completely merciless in its decision making. For example, from the first session, our PCs walked into an ambush set by 5 goblins. Silvia went down but in a fury Osric swung his blade and chopped the ambushers down but not before he himself was whittled down to 2 HP. Knowing that they'd be jumped again if they stayed in the general area he hoisted the ranger onto his shoulder and started heading back to the settlement. Slowed down to a pace of 3 it was going to take almost 3 days to get back.

On the way, Osric ran into a nasty orc who was just as heavily armed and armored. Both parties stumbled onto one another so there was no surprise. Osric wins the initiative even with Silvia on his shoulder. Still lingering at 2 HP he unceremoniously lowered her to the ground. Tinged with desperate fury he charged and with a single swing of his broadsword he cut the orc down. It was epic. Cheers went up on both sides of the table. From there it was a series of cut scenes of Osric carrying the unconscious ranger, making camp, the paladin meditating and the laying on of hands in attempt to get the ranger ambulatory.

They survived by the skin of their teeth, carrying an intercepted message taken from a goblin courier. The next move was to find out who it was intended for.

It's a different take on what one would expect with a Swords & Wizardry game but I've got to say that S&W actually makes using Mythic easier because there was virtually no rules lookup. The spirit of rulings vs rules still holds and really allowed our collective imaginations to weave the story. And the cool part is that I actually get to play.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Heroquest 2.0 Mecha: Exhaustible Munitions

For my Heroquest 2.0 mecha conversion I started going down the path of keeping track of ammo. The tracking wasn't strict but it was tracking none the less and it never felt right so I posted up on and got some very good replies to my question on the subject.

I attached the flaw Exhaustible 12M to the Veritech's AMM-1 missiles. In action, the narrator asks a player or players to roll against the flaw at an appropriately dramatic moment. If they fail then they are out of AMM-1 missiles. Simple.

I'm thinking that the GU-11 gun pod might get Exhaustible 5M to represent its low ammo capacity. This will require a bit of play testing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Adventurer: Careers In Progress

On top of the Fighting Man career we've got several more in the works including Freeman, Ranger, Rogue, and Nobility.

To give a little more info, the Free Man careers include Tradesman, Sailor, and Merchant. Ranger careers are Scout, Huntsman, and Outrider. Rogue careers are Thief, Footpad, and Pirate. Nobility careers are Cavalry/Knight, Diplomat, Castellan, and Rake.

BTW, does anyone know if WordPress handles tables in a sensible manner?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Adventurer: The Fighting Man

Progress on Adventurer is afoot.

Inspired by The Black Company, White Box Swords & Wizardry, and real life history we have a version of the Fighting Man career hammered out.

Fighting Man

  • Support
  • Infantry
  • Archer

Career Progress




End 5+

Edu 7+


Str 7+

Int 5+


Dex 6+

Int 6+

Qualification: End 5+

  • If you are aged 30 or more, -2DM
  • Per previous career, -1DM

Skills and Training

Personal Development

Service Skills

Advanced Education

Officer Skills

(Minimum Rank 2)


+1 Str

Athletics (any)

Siege Engineer

Tactics (Military)


+1 Dex

Tactics (Military)




+1 End


Combat Engineering








Athletics (any)

Melee (any)


Animals (Riding)


Melee (Unarmed)









Heavy Armor

Trade (Fletcher)




Ranged Combat (any)



Athletics (Endurance)

Athletics (any)


Mechanical Works

Melee (any)



Animals (any)




Melee (any)

Melee (Blade)

Ranged Combat (Bow)

Ranks and Benefits


Skill or Benefit



Melee 1



Discipline 1



Leadership 1



Tactics (Military) 1


Social Standing 10 or +1 Social, whichever is higher



Social Standing 12 or +1 Social, whichever is higher

Mustering Out Benefits


Other Benefits


20 gold

+1 Str


50 gold

+1 Int


50 gold



100 gold

Weapon or Shield


200 gold



300 gold

Armor or +1 End


400 gold

+2 Soc




Injured. Roll on the injury table.


Your confidence is shaken in a lost battle. Lose one rank in Discipline. (If the result is negative, then the character loses access to the Discipline skill and acts as unskilled.)


Arrive too late to assist in a battle when it mattered. Turn an Ally into a Rival or just gain a Rival.


An injury either physical or mental grips you in combat. -1 Dex DM for determining initiative.


Superiors question your abilities. You may keep your benefit roll for this term, but still leave the career. If not being ejected from the career, take a -2 DM on your next advancement roll.


You are sent to the armpit of civilization and just can't take it anymore. Muster out at the end of the term.




Disaster! Roll on the mishap table, but you are not ejected from the career.


You are assigned to guard an embassy. Gain Diplomat 1 or Language (any) 1.


Receive advanced training. Roll Edu 8+ to gain Tactics (military) 1, Combat Engineering 1, or Siege Engineering 1.


A commanding officer takes an interest in your career. Gain Tactics (military) 1 or +2 DM to your next Advancement Roll.


Gambling helps to pass the time. Gain Gambler 1. If you wish, roll Gambler 8+. If you succeed, gain an additional Benefit roll. If you fail, lose 1 Benefit roll.


Life Event. Roll on the Life Events table.


Assault an enemy encampment. Roll Melee (any) 8+ or Ranged Combat (any) 8+. If you succeed, gain a rank in the skill you used. If you fail, roll on the injury table.


Personal guard for a noble person. Gain +1 Social Standing.


You discover a traitor among the troops. Gain an Enemy, as well as a +2 DM to your next Advancement Roll.


You found yourself in the heart of action and survived. Gain one level in Discipline.


You display heroism in a battle. You are automatically promoted.

We used Golan 2072's OGL Fantasy Equipment List to derive muster out cash amounts. The amounts haven't been thoroughly tested so the figures may need tweaked but I think we're on the right track.

Here's the character I rolled up:

Infantry: Rank 2 Corporal
  • Str 11
  • Dex 7
  • End 8
  • Int 7
  • Edu 6
  • Soc 8
  • Animals 0
  • Athletics 0
  • Discipline 2
  • Farming 0
  • Heavy Armor 1
  • Melee (sword) 1
  • Signals 0
  • Survival 0
  • Tactics (Military) 0

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Traveller Fantasy: Adventurer?

For a while now I've had the idea of using Traveller as the foundation for a fantasy game. My preferred style of fantasy tends to have little magic so I'd think that it could be a good fit for the system.

Currently there are multiple similar efforts in the works but I'm chomping at the bit to jump in and see what I can come up with. Typing out loud here, the goal is to put together a lean core that can support pluggable/modular life paths and events to easily represent careers, races, and cultures for both fantasy and historical settings. For all I know, this may already be possible almost out of the box. I also want to explore random hex creation to help facilitate a sandbox style of play.

I own the original LBB reprint and the Mongoose Traveller core book. At this point it looks like the bulk of the work will probably be based on the MGT SRD. The working title is Adventurer.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heroquest 2.0 Mecha: Veritech

We played a Robotech playtest one-shot last night using Heroquest 2.0. I gotta say it was downright entertaining. The most important part is that it felt right. We were able to do justice to the fiction because it was what drove our common understanding. I'm thinking that Mr. Robin D. Laws is onto something. ;)

Once at the table the decision was made to hew toward the slightly crunchier side of things. We could have made Veritech a keyword and been done but we wanted to bring the mecha a bit more to the forefront. Using the Mecha Game Requirements Doc and the resulting PDQ Robotech Character Sheet as a guide we were able to quickly put together a multi-mode Veritech in HQ 2.0 terms.

Keyword: Veritech

Fighter Mode:

  • Speed 12
  • Maneuverability 6
  • Afterburner 15
  • Wide turning radius 10 (-2)

Guardian Mode:

  • Speed 8
  • Maneuverability 8
  • Stable 15
  • Non-flight mobility 10 (-2)

Battloid Mode:

  • Speed 6
  • Maneuverability 12
  • Hand-to-hand 15
  • Poor flight 15 (-3)

  • Head mounted laser(s) 8
  • GU-11 Gun Pod: 5 Mastery

The story

The sole player character is in a VT on a routine patrol when a call comes in that a group of Zentraedi in battle pods are battling it out with overmatched local security over a protoculture chamber. It is imperative that the Zentraedi marauders be stopped.

Bearing 010, 21 klicks...

The VT pilot strafes the zentraedi position (minor victory) with the GU-11 blowing a leg off an unaware battle pod and announces that they are to lay down their weapons. The marauders will have none of it. As the veritech changes modes to evade enemy fire a Nousjadeul-Ger male power armor grabs the protoculture chamber and begins heading toward the nearest tree line.

Deciding to ignore the battle pods the intrepid RDF pilot transforms to Guardian mode and skates his way toward the fleeing protoculture chamber thief. The thought that there's an escape ship hidden in the trees zips through the VT pilot's mind.

The battle pods rally on their leader and pursue the enemy while raining down withering cannon fire. For the most part the VT pilot evades but a few blasts strike home. He's starting to feel outmatched and is thinking that it was a tactical error pursuing the power armor without first dealing with the battle pods. On top of all that it turns out that it's too dangerous to take a shot against the power armor because he might hit the chamber. He can't get an angle.

Particle cannon blasts shake the veritech causing its systems to flicker.

The Zentraedi have scored 5 resolution points versus the VT pilot and are ready to strike a parting blow.

The VT pilot keys his radio ready to call in a SITREP and to request backup while disengaging the enemy.

The zentraedi fumble their parting shot while the VT pilot rolls a critical success which gets him back into the game.

The battle pods became too eager in their pursuit and strung themselves out causing problems of position and diminished concentration of fire. Their error presents the VT pilot a small window of opportunity that must be taken in the next moment or it will vanish.

In jet mode the veritech is wheeled around with afterburners lit. Skimming the deck with a wash of dust trailing behind, the VT pilot bears down on the male power armor that has just made its way to the trees.

In a split second the veritech transforms into battloid mode. Still hurtling toward the tree line a short burst from the GU-11 cripples the power armored thief taking his exposed leg out from under him.

Now from the concealment of the forest the VT pilot rocks the GU-11 with deadly accuracy wreaking havoc on those that were once his pursuers. Those that are able to flee do so. Those that cannot are either dead or are in the process of giving up.

The VT pilot has taken the zentraedi to 5 resolution points and succeeds in his parting shot easily kicking the enemy while they're down.

Finally able to take a break a call back to RDF base is made and it is declared that the protoculture chamber has been secured. The enemy is fleeing and support is necessary for pursuit.

From behind the VT pilot's position an obviously salvaged zentraedi troop transport ship bursts from the forest and heads for destination unknown. The VT pilot won't be pursuing today. His orders are to stay put till reinforcements arrive and to return to base for repairs.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

PDQ Robotech Character Sheet

Resulting from the Mecha Requirements Doc here is the PDQ Robotech character sheet that I whipped up:

Note the bolded abilities. These abilities are common to all mecha modes. If a common ability suffers impairment all modes are affected. For example, while in Fighter mode if the Speed ability is impaired one rank and is reduced to Good [+2] both the Guardian and Battloid modes take one rank of impairment to Speed. Guardian speed is reduced to Average[0] and Battloid Speed is reduced to Poor [-2].

Monday, August 10, 2009

Setting Development Through Gaming

For the last 9 months we've been hard at work developing 'Solus' a post apocalyptic setting for our live-action airsoft game Firefight! After setting the premise and constraints of the game world much of the process has consisted of creating individual gaming events that fit our vision.

Brainstorming and LEGO-style snapping of ideas together takes the concept of developing "adventures" in a game world only so far. Typically what looks like a complete event outline has holes and leaps of logic that are not only inelegant but also difficult to bridge once the game starts moving. The gaps can be closed on the fly but this isn't an optimal approach because in live action hand-waving an NPC as an agent of change into or out of existence is quite difficult. In attempt to close holes ahead of time we've been using tabletop gaming to jump into the setting to test our outlines. As we have increased utilization of this technique the positive feedback given after game events has gone up.

We started with The Shadow of Yesterday to test the concept and it worked out very well. The system felt neutral enough to allow us to really play in the Solus setting. Next we tried PDQ and it worked great. Both systems are very good games and are flexible enough to accommodate virtually any setting.

I picked up Heroquest 2.0 because I had heard so many good things about it over the years but had never seen it. I had no idea that in time it would become the system that really kicked the setting dev process into high gear.

Heroquest has the qualities of fast and flexible but it also has something else. Keywords. A Keyword is a sort of macro that encompass a broad set of character abilities wrapped up into a single word or phrase. This feature allowed us to not only flex the system for our setting but it also helped us reinforce the setting with the Firefight! system even though they are two different rule sets.

In Firefight! there are 3 main character types; Brains, Jack of all trades, and Action. Each character type has exclusive access to system bits that provides unique abilities in the game space. The beautiful part is that these character types became Keywords. The benefits were myriad. Character creation time was dramatically reduced which allowed us to jump straight to the point of the endeavor - setting development. The amount of material covered in a very short of amount of time went way up. Concentrating on the setting took far less effort. Upon reflection I think the productivity gain is the result of reduced "context switching" between the setting in play on the tabletop and the live action system that will be used out in the field.

The scope of Solus scales up from the struggles of the individual through that of their comrades in arms to the actions of larger entities maneuvering to make life better and/or to snuff out those who get in their way. This too was pleasantly easy to handle.

Don't think that I look at Heroquest 2.0 as just a tool. It's a lot of fun and hope to get a proper campaign off the ground soon. Who know. Maybe it'll be Solus.

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,..."

-W.B. Yeats

Monday, August 3, 2009


It's obvious that I haven't been posting much recently. It's certainly not because I don't have much to say. We're full bore into prime airsoft season and it has taken most of my attention for game development.

At the moment we're running our Firefight! Solus campaign and I'm developing software to manage MILSIM games.

In parallel I'm reading Heroquest 2.0 and am loving it. I could have skimmed the book and started running but I'm taking it slow so that I can absorb the HQ lessons of approach and style. I'm glad for doing so. Much of what I've read reinforces my notions about story telling through gaming. Some of it doesn't but that's okay because everything makes sense. It feels good to be learning something.

Over and out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Castles and Crusades: Double Edge System

A modified FATE aspect system originally put together for Castles & Crusades but could easily be ported to a retro-clone.

Choose 3 Aspects at character creation:
  • Skill (gem cutting, rock climbing)
  • Profession (blacksmith, apothecary)
  • Personal trait (nimble, greedy)

Edge Points:
  • 5 Edge (FATE) points
  • Refresh when CK/GM says so
  • 1 FATE point gained when a character aspect is invoked by the CK/GM

Spend Edge Points to:
  • Re-roll 1d20
  • Invoke character and scene aspects for +2 each
  • Boost any +2 modifier to +1d4
  • Boost any +3 modifier to +1d6
  • Boost any +4 modifier to +1d8
  • Boost any +5 modifier to +1d10

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hackmaster Basic: Timing Tick Tracking With Poker Chips

I ordered Hackmaster Basic the first day the pre-order went up. I had never played the game before but I have Aces & Eights so I was intrigued. After the book arrived I dug in and liked what I saw. I loved the idea of the roundless second by second combat time tracking. I started out doing it all on a sheet of paper and found that I kinda lost track of individuals so I moved on to using index cards which was an unintended hybrid of the poker chip idea.

After switching over to poker chips the game started to fly and players became even more engaged. Timing became evident to everyone around the table. The chips become a sort of action meter and players try to bend time to their will because they can see that the goblin or bandit is going to get to act a second or two before their fighter. I love it.

To give you an idea of what's going on in the picture let me explain. The fellow with the stack topped with red chips has failed his Threshold of Pain check after being shot by a long bow by the fighter with the all white stack of chips in the background. The fellow with the all blue stack of chips in the foreground is waiting for his shot at the fighter or paladin who is just now trying to decide where to cross the stream.

The game was a lot of fun. We finally got to test out the skill system and things went a-okay. We're looking forward to more hacking.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Churning Away On Mecha

I've been churning away on my Mecha Project. The goal is to evaluate and test the listed systems to see what I can make.

Over the last week I've written up characters/mecha for the following systems:
It doesn't seem like a lot of work but it has been. Deciding how to handle the tri-mode Veritech in each of the systems has been the bulk of the work but I also had to learn how Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2 worked to give the game a fair shake. The good part is that there are a lot of lessons learned from both the process and the documentation that I'm putting together along the way. I plan on posting about each of the systems evaluated to talk a bit about what I've discovered and learned.

The Requirements and Findings doc has been republished with the latest updates.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chronica Feudalis: Aspect Cards

In the past I've used index cards for FATE 3.x based games to help everyone keep known aspects straight. Write the aspect on a card and put it out onto the table. Anything that keeps the GM and players from repeating themselves is a good thing.

With Chronica Feudalis the blanket term Aspect is not precise enough so I made cards for Aspects, Injuries, Conditions, and Tools. Each card has a number of ranked checkboxes for indicating rank/severity. The photos are from our first game using the cards.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mecha Game Requirements


Off and on (mostly off) for the last year I've been working on a FATE based mecha (Macross) game. Each attempt mostly ended in frustration mostly because I didn't have a clear vision. Instead of continuing to flounder I decided to put together a formal requirements and evaluation document. This is a live Google Docs document so as it evolves the changes will be published to the Platonic Solid blog. Comments and suggestions are very much welcomed.

  1. Provide bonus for transforming/changing modes.
  2. Provide differentiation between mecha modes i.e. Jet, Battroid, Valkyrie.
  3. Support fluid combat in the game space. (freewheeling action)
  4. Support massive missile clouds with light keeping.
    1. Support evading/fighting way out of massive missile clouds.
  5. Provide support for mooks in combat.
  6. Support scaling between personal/mecha/ship levels.
  7. Explicitly support tactical dogfighting.
    1. None of the systems will support this. Instead of a nitty-gritty tactical system I am developing in parallel a "Gs System" where a player voluntarily takes on extra Gs for positioning/bonus. The defender will have the option to also pull more Gs in order to offset the opponent's advantage or to gain advantage for themself. A Gs system requirements doc has not yet been written.
    2. Initial positioning and distance must be determined by the game system's initiative system a la original Traveller. This way Fighter mode is not given short shrift.
  8. Support character development and growth.
    1. Sounds obvious but the system should support growing into a leadership position, etc.

Existing Game System Candidates
  1. PDQ
    • Requirements
      1. PASS
        1. Flat +2 bonus for narrating a mode change
      2. PASS
      3. PASS
        1. The system allows open narration and does not enforce quantizing time/action.
      4. PASS
        1. HOLD
      5. PASS
        • Has outstanding support for mooks
        • Will test damage "overflow" for mooks a la FATE 3.x.
      6. PASS
      7. FAIL
        • Out of the box PDQ does not provide a tactical framework for dogfighting.
      8. PASS
        1. HOLD
    • Pros
      1. Very light
      2. Very fun
      3. A lot of good system material to base the conversion on.
        1. Jaws of the Six Serpents
        2. Truth & Justice
          1. Scaling when limited to weapons, armor, speeds worked without a hitch.
    • Cons
      1. At this time (6/29/2009) explicit character growth seems to be the most difficult problem.
    • Test Notes
      • Tactical game play emerged through the damage system.
      • Mecha felt as if they were whittled away.
      • Game play was high speed.
      • Mecha creation was straight forward.
  2. PDQ#
    • Pros
      1. Very light
      2. Very fun
      3. The swashbuckling rules look like they could be very useful for dogfighting.
      4. The minion rules look like they could be useful for character growth into leadership.
    • Cons
      • Same as PDQ
    • Test Notes
      • Has not been tested.
  3. OVA
    • Requirements
      1. PASS
      2. PASS
      3. PASS
      4. HOLD
        1. HOLD
      5. PASS
      6. HOLD
      7. FAIL
        • Out of the box OVA does not provide a tactical framework for dogfighting.
      8. PASS
        1. HOLD
    • Pros
      • Creating mecha was straight forward.
      • The Ricochet system is fun in of itself.
      • The book provides a list of abilities that can be used for "building" mecha.
      • Handles power armor exceptionally well.
    • Cons
      • At this time explicit character growth seems to be the most difficult problem.
    • Test Notes
      • Played as usual, very well.
      • Resolution system "felt right".
      • Out of the box was not as engaging as PDQ.
  4. Cortex
    • Requirements
      1. PASS
        • Next action after transforming gets +1 die step.
      2. PASS
      3. PASS
      4. HOLD
        1. HOLD
      5. PASS
      6. PASS
        • Provides outstanding support for handling scale
      7. FAIL
        • Out of the box Cortex does not provide a tactical framework for dogfighting.
      8. PASS
        1. HOLD
    • Pros
      • Excellent support for scale.
      • Excellent support for ships.
    • Cons
      • It simply comes down to me not being sure that I like the feel of the game. May not feel evocative enough.
    • Test Notes
      • Combat was a bit bland out of the box but the experimental "Gs System" could easily be added.
      • Mecha creation was very straight forward
      • Character creation felt good.
  5. Starblazer Adventures
    • Requirements
      1. PASS
        • +2 to next action. Must be tagged with FATE point.
      2. HOLD
        • This has been a point of frustration regardless of the system.
      3. PASS
      4. HOLD
        1. HOLD
      5. PASS
        • Provides outstanding support for mooks
      6. PASS
        • Provides outstanding support for scaling
      7. FAIL
        • Does not provide a tactical framework for dogfighting.
        • Provides a framework for capitol ships.
      8. PASS
        1. HOLD
    • Pros
      • Strong support for scale
      • Strong Organizations support
      • Fun
      • Provides a vast amount of "generic" sci-fi material that can be adapted for the game.
    • Cons
      • Handling mecha modes has proven cumbersome.
  6. ORE
    • Requirements
      1. PASS
      2. HOLD
      3. PASS
      4. PASS
        1. PASS
      5. PASS
      6. HOLD
      7. FAIL
      8. PASS
        1. HOLD
  7. N-System
    1. Pros
      • Not yet fully prototyped and is open to fundamental change.
    2. Cons
      • Not yet fully prototyped and needs a lot of work.

Chroncia Feudalis Fantasy Hack: Magic

Last night I ran a mini test session where Jip the gnome goblin slayer and his human friend Siggurd are tracked down a party of goblins that were led by a goblin shaman.

We approached magic the way we did when playing Middle Earth with Spirit of the Century but with some CF specific tweaking.

A magic user's potential casting pool:
  • Skill: (Command or Perform depending on the spell)
  • Tool: (i.e. Magic staff)
  • Aspect: (i.e. Dark Arts D8)

Casting a spell costs a point of Ardor and includes invoking the Aspect: Dark Arts D8.

Casting was handled much like maneuvers and inflicting conditions. Spells are also able to create tools on the fly. A single success creates a D6 tool, double D8 tool, triple D10 pool just like conditions.

As Siggurd's arrows were killing goblins, on the fly the shaman created a magical camouflage cloak D6 that would be crucial for his eventual escape. All the while Jip was sneaking on a flanking maneuver hoping to get close enough to launch an attack on the goblin magic user. The shaman caught Jip's movement out of the corner of his eye and subsequently won initiative for the round. He cast a Disorientation (D8) spell on the gnome that as it turns out would be endured for the entire scene.

As Jip swayed and while Siggurd became bogged down in melee the shaman shot a blast of eldritch energy at Siggurd causing a point of Vigor loss.

Now the shaman is out of Ardor so he turns to run. Jip manages to make chase while Siggurd mops up.

During the chase Jip endures the Disorientation (D8) and the shaman endures his aspect Decrepit D8. Little by little the shaman puts more ground between him and his pursuer. Eventually Jip runs out of Vigor and the old goblin slips behind a massive tree, casts a small spell and flies up out of the forest on a gust of wind.

Magic was resisted by Will or Reflex depending if the magic condition attacked the mind or the body.

We have a conversation going on over at on the subject where the CF author mentions the concept of Dark Ardor that can be used to invoke the Dark Arts aspect at its heightened rank.

As of now my intention is to keep the concept of magic as freeform as possible with the guideline of the effect being ranked. This way magic is powerful but not earth shatteringly so. But it would be cool to get a small spell list put together for inspiration.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Caught By Surprise

I ran a short session of White Box Swords & Wizardry the other night and was caught by surprise.

The oldest and best serving hireling, the map maker was killed during an attack that seemed to be out of the blue. Now the party is wondering how to approach his family about it because they feel terrible. Three or four sessions ago after a bad wilderness encounter the party made their way back to the map maker's house to recover. Once there, while the PCs were strategizing a new approach to the ruins on the hill the map maker himself was out working his connections to plug the gaps in the party's skill set. Now he's gone.

I'm caught by surprise because "the game" is even better than I had remembered it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chronica Feudalis: The Print Ready PDF

Last night I received the the ready for print Chronica Feudalis PDF from its author, Jeremy Keller. Immediately I was struck by the cover.

The first thing that caught my eye was the worn leather look. My eyes then snapped to the mounted knight set off by the red tint of the background. I'd buy it.

The interior art and layout are on par with the cover. The chapter head artwork is by Miguel Santos and the spot illustrations are by the author. There's a peek at the artwork over at the Chronica Feudalis web site.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mouse Guard: Everything From Small Stuff To Warfare

Last night I ran the most excellent Mouse Guard hack called Realm Guard and it was incredible. There was only one player so she was running both a recruit and the recruit's mentor. There was also a captain character that both of us played when required.

So much ground was covered and so much story told in such a short amount of time (about 2.5 hours) that it was stunning.

Here's the ground that we covered:

Recruit Gayle is on a simple mission to deliver a sealed letter to a hermit who is known for his eclectic wisdom. It was part of her endeavor to prove herself to the guard. A pathfinder roll is unexpectedly failed so a twist is introduced. A bandit ambushes the recruit within sight of the hermit's abode and demands her cloak. As well as some loot the bandit is out for blood while the recruit simply wants to drive him off.

With the stakes set we enter into a conflict. The recruit successfully drives off the bandit (losing only 1 die from her disposition) and immediately heads toward the hermit's home. She knocks and gets no answer. She looks through a window and sees someone lying on the floor. The cottage has been ransacked. So she rushes in with tender foot abandon. Luckily there was no immediate danger lurking inside.

Gayle kneels to perform aid the best aid she can but it is obvious that her abilities are inadequate. The hermit points and whispers "The lamp." Under the lamp is a hidden compartment with a map and other intel including a list of names some of which are known rangers. She packs the intel and carries through a wicked spring thunderstorm to the her mentor Merrick who was busy resolving a livestock dispute between not two but three farmers.

Merrick looks at the map and list of names and locations and correctly deduces that a war host is on its way into ranger territory, most likely led by current and former rangers. The closest ranger group that could possibly deal with this is less than a day away on a construction/repair project. Luckily.

Merrick and his recruit Gayle dodge enemy outriders. The encounter reinforces the imperative nature of their mission but luckily for them they don't run into any other potential trouble on the way and in time they find Captain Ulfric's group. Immediately they make their way to the captain and present the evidence of danger.

Ulfric takes one look at the list of names and denies that it could be a possibility. This is our second conflict of the session. Both sides roll for disposition. While Captain Ulfric is more geared for this kind of conflict he only rolls one higher than Merrick for disposition. Back and forth they argue. Verbal feint and maneuver. Gayle steps in and declares on her ranger oath that what she saw was real. At the same time Merrick thrusts forth the map and the list as evidence.

Reality sets in and cracks Ulfric's denial. His eyes well up with tears as he calls for his men to break camp and to prepare for war.

Merrick lost a disposition die but gained it back during the conflict while Ulfric went all the way to zero.

Ulfric and his command look over the intelligence delivered by Merrick and Gayle and form a battle plan. Ulfric will ride in the front while Merrick organizes the archers. Gayle runs as messenger.

Using foreknowledge of the enemy's intent Ulfric positions his forces. He uses the map to prepare so the rangers' disposition was quite high. I as GM rolled for the enemy, an ad-hoc bunch of hillmen tribes with rangers acting as unit commanders. At the head of the enemy host riding in black armor is Ulfric's best friend. The enemy's disposition is also as high but falls a few dice short.

Battle is met and the sides clash like two tides smashing into the other. The impact of the Rangers of the North causes a bulge in the enemy's lines and the momentum surges through to the enemy's rear units causing confusion. The man in the black armor raises his sword and works to rally his men into order. Just as he begins to regain control, waves of arrows from the high ground flurry into hillmen flank. They begin to break.

Ulfric calls his men forward for victory.

The peal of battle is replaced with the soft cacophny of the dying. Ulfric walks over to the man in the black armor who is now lying dead crushed beneath his own horse and orders the body to be burned.

Merrick is happy to survive another one. Gayle rejoices in surviving her first.

The dice rolling for the rangers was incredibly good. I was rolling poorly for the enemy. I also have to note that timing is everything. Just as I was getting the bad guys back into order and ready to deliver a giant blow I got out maneuvered and on the next action got utterly annihilated as I tried to feint.

All in all, I am highly impressed by both the Ranger Guard hack and Mouse Guard itself. I ran 3 conflicts all of differing types with the same resolution system. I must declare Mouse Guard to be elegant gaming genius.

Oh, I almost forgot. This was the first session where I used the Mouse Guard conflict cards. They are a great addition to the game.