October 31, 2017

Danny Copperfield, Novice Wizard and Amatuer Sleuth

Happy Halloween!!!

So I'm writing this post coming off the conclusion of the long-running Curse of Strahd campaign that my friend Eric has been running for our Saturday night online group (used to call it the Skype group, but we've pretty much switched over to Discord at this point as it's given us far less grief that Skype so far, and the ability to have separate channels for general and game-specific discussions is quite nice).  I don't think any of us were really expecting the campaign to end the way it did; yes we managed to defeat Strahd, but it was a very bitter victory indeed, leaving the party largely broken and ultimately going their separate ways.  I did have fun playing Sir Thomas, even though in hindsight there are things I would have done very differently if I'd had a better handle on who the character was.  Still, it's nice to bring that campaign to a conclusion, with the advent of running a campaign that's far more cheerful and bright on the near horizon.

Now, to continue with my string of Samhain appropriate blog postings, I thought I'd post up a character that I'd made a while back, got to play briefly, have remade and may have a chance to play again.

The character in question was originally made for the Dresden Files Role-Playing Game by Evil Hat Productions, taking place in the world detailed in the highly enjoyable Dresden Files series of novels written by Jim Butcher.  Personally, I prefer the audiobooks as I honestly feel that James Marsters (best known for playing Spike on the classic TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer) does a bang up job of giving voice to the many characters; it's at the point where to me he's pretty much the voice of series protagonist Harry Dresden.

Said character was Danny Copperfield, a young/novice wizard of the White Council, and can be summed up as Dresden-Lite.  This was deliberate, as I liked the notion of playing a still-fresh and mostly-untested wizard, just barely into his 20's (Harry started out in mid to late 20's I believe), albeit one that had proper training as a wizard and lacked the many tragic elements of Harry's personal history.  In his original incarnation, Danny had a solid mix of control and power, in that while he might not have been hitting at the same level of power as Harry Dresden, but neither was he quite as likely to set the immediate on area with an errant blast of flame.  I did get the chance to play him in a rather short campaign, and he was quite a bit of fun, delivering snark and unexpected bouts of sheer magical power with aplomb.

So when Evil Hat released the Dresden Files Accelerated RPG, updating the material to work with their very fun Fate Accelerated Edition, I decided (mostly on a lark) to do an updated version of Danny, just to see how the character would work out given DFA's method of using Mantles to set character archetypes.  And overall, I think it worked out pretty well.  The fact that in DFA a spellcaster isn't nearly as restricted in hurling magic (that was an issue with the original DFRPG was that spellcasters had very limited mojo, an issue that in the books really only affected Harry "powerhouse slob" Dresden given his own admittance for simply grabbing as much power as he could and hurling it at his foe with little to no finesse) means that Danny can make much more use of his evocations, in particular attacking enemies with fire.  As a bit of a trade-off, he's not quite as adept starting out with divination or ward magic, but seeing as how his Mantle gives him a much broader bonus to thaumaturgy makes up for it.

One thing that is nice about DFA is that by essentially rolling spellcasting into a character's approaches, there's not as much worry about balancing things out for the Pure Mortals; yes a spellcaster does get to work their mojo at a higher power scale, but magic may well not always be the answer.  That and I suspect a GM could easily compel the Wizard part of the character's aspect to have modern technology breakdown around the spellcaster.  And even the higher power scale isn't that huge of a boost when competing with Pure Mortals, whose own Mantles have some pretty neat tricks of their own.

With my friend Doran wanting to run at least a one-shot of Dresden Files Accelerated (to the great delight of the entire group as we're all fans of the Dresden Files), I'm looking forward to an opportunity to once again don the red canvas duster and whip out the blasting rod (mind out of gutter, thank you very much!) and step into the role of this character.  Given the interesting personalities that I'm sure the rest of the players will bring to the table with their own characters, it should be interesting to see how things shake out... preferably without multiple buildings being on fire (especially if it's not his fault)!

Danny Copperfield
Mantle: Magical Practitioner
High Concept: Novice Wizard of the White Council
Trouble: Chronic Wiseass
Aspects: Amateur Sleuth; Don't Underestimate My Power!
Refresh: 1

Good (+3): Force
Fair (+2): Haste, Intellect
Average (+1): Focus, Guile
Mediocre (+0): Flair

Stress and Conditions
Stress: [1][1][1][1][1][1]
Combat Wizard: [1][1]
In Peril (sticky): [4]
Doomed (lasting): [6]
Indebted (sticky): [_][_][_][_][_]
Exhausted (sticky): [_]
Burned Out (lasting): [_]
The Third Eye (sticky): [_]

Evocation: You are able to cast spells on the fly and without need for ritual preparation.
Thaumaturgy: You are able to cast a variety of arcane rituals, adding a +2 bonus to the roll.
Soulgaze: You have the ability to look directly upon the soul of another person, and they can look at yours in turn.
Combat Wizard: Gain two stress boxes explicitly for enhancing evocations.
Evocation Specialist: Gain +2 bonus when making a Force attack using the element of fire.
White Council Membership: Once per session, you may request aid from the White Council.

Danny is a tall, lanky young man just under six and a half feet tall, with shoulder-length charcoal black hair, several strands of which constantly hang in front of his dark blue eyes, a good-natured lopsided smile befitting his generally irreverent nature on his face, although his expression turns much darker once his ire has been raised.  His preferred attire is a dark-hued shirt, a pair of blue jeans, simple sneakers, and a full-length red canvas duster, with his blasting rod tucked away but always within easy reach.

Notable Possessions
Blasting rod (made of hickory), red canvas duster with extra pockets, assorted ritual tools and aids stuffed in said extra pockets.

October 28, 2017

Light and Darkness: Two PCs for D&D 5th Edition

And so it is that Halloween is pretty much upon us.  In the spirit of the holiday, I'll be doing three things related to role-playing games.

The first of these is that this afternoon, I will be running "Under a Harvest Moon," a 7th Sea 2nd edition conversion of the Shadow of the Demon Lord adventure "Apple of Her Eye" for one group of gamers that want to try out 7th Sea 2e.  I've had a fair amount of success with this adventure, which you can grab from my blog here: http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/2017/10/once-upon-harvest-moon-7th-sea-2e.html

The second of these will be later this night I will be gaming with an online group via Discord to engage in what may very well be the final confrontation with Strahd Von Zarovich in the possible conclusion of the 5e Curse of Strahd adventure.  As our group's DM for this adventure, Eric has done a bang-up job, not only in running the adventure but in customizing it so that the lands and culture of Barovia have some very distinctive elements.  I've had fun playing an Oath of Vengeance Paladin who due to decisions made has taken a much darker turn, and to be honest I'm not sure he's going to come out of this even remotely close to the person he was when the adventure started.  But as much fun as I've had, I think I am ready for this to wrap-up and for our group to move onto something a bit more cheerful and less dark.

As for the third, well you're reading it, as I thought I'd post up a couple of D&D 5e characters who are about as different as night and day, an aasimar paladin and a half-elf warlock, both of good alignment though of very different means and outlooks.  I opted to go ahead and post the third level versions of these, as the general agreement online seems to be that 3rd level is when a character really starts to "come alive" in terms of their abilities on top of not being frail enough that a single wayward encounter could spell their doom.

Aramir Greyhaven, Aasimar Paladin of Lathander
Class/Level: Paladin 3
Alignment: Lawful Good
Background: Acolyte
Personality Trait -  I've spent so long in the temple that I have little practical experience dealing with people in the outside world.
Ideal - I trust that Lathander will guide my actions; I have faith that if I work hard enough, things will go well.
Bond - I owe my life to the priest who took me in when my parents died.
Flaw - Once I pick a goal, I become obsessed with it to the detriment of everything else in my life. 

Ability Scores
STR 15 (+2), DEX 10 (+0), CON 12 (+1), INT 10 (+0), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 14 (+2)

Armor Class: 18 (chain mail and shield)
Melee Attack: +4 (longsword, 1d8+4 slashing, versatile) 
Ranged Attack: +4 (javelin, 1d6+2 piercing, range 30/120, thrown)
Hit Dice: 3d10
Hit Points: 25
Speed: 30 feet

Class and Species Abilities
Darkvision - see in dim light as bright light out to 60 feet, and in darkness as dim light.
Celestial Resistance - resistance to necrotic and radiant damage.
Celestial Legacy - knows the light cantrip and can cast lesser restoration once per long rest.
Divine Sense (3/day) - as per page 84 of the Player's Handbook
Fighting Style - Dueling (as per page 84 of the Player's Handbook)
Divine Health - as per page 85 of the Player's Handbook
Divine Smite - As per page 85 of the Player's Handbook.
Sacred Oath - Oath of Devotion (as per page 86 of the Player's Handbook)

Spellcasting (Spell DC 12, Spell Attack +4)
1st - Compelled Duel, Divine Favor, Searing Smite

Languages and Proficiencies
Saving Throws - Wisdom and Charisma
Languages - Common, Celestial, Draconic, Elvish
Skill Proficiencies - Athletics (+4), Insight (+4), Persuasion (+4), Religion (+2)

Gear: Longsword, 5 javelins, chain mail, shield, holy symbol of Lathander, explorer's pack, prayer book, 5 sticks of incense, vestments, set of common clothes, belt pouch containing 15 gold pieces.

Image: Aramir is quite tall, standing just over six feet, but with a lithe build that belies his strength of arms.  His weapons and armor are kept in near-pristine condition, which along with his shoulder-length mane of golden-blonde hair and soft blue eyes marks him as a champion of the light, with a gaze that is resolute and firm yet fair.

Summary: Aramir is at heart your typical knight in shining armor type, the heroic and noble champion of all that is good in the world.  He's also not very worldly, and will probably be likely to take most people at their word unless he has cause to distrust them.  From my own experiences with playing a Paladin, he'll be able to hit pretty hard a couple times of per day, and with his Oath of Devotion he can power up his sword to be able to inflict substantial damage to creatures that are otherwise resistant or immune to non-magical attacks.  As for the source of Aramir's racial traits, I used the Aasimir write-up from pages 286 and 287 of the 5e Dungeon Master's Guide, so check with your GM to see if they will allow that race at their table.

Xevlanna Nightblossom, Half-Elf Warlock
Class/Level: Warlock 3
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Background: Entertainer (Routines - Dancer/Tumbler, Storyteller)
Personality Trait -  Nobody stays angry at me or around me for long, since I can defuse any amount of tension.
Ideal - The world is in need of new ideas and bold action.
Bond - I want to be famous, whatever it takes.
Flaw - I have trouble keeping my true feelings hidden; my sharp tongue lands me in trouble.

Ability Scores
STR 8 (-1), DEX 15 (+2), CON 14 (+2), INT 12 (+1), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 17 (+3)

Armor Class: 13 (leather armor)
Melee Attack: +1 (spear, 1d6-1 piercing, versatile)
Melee Attack +5 (Shocking Grasp, 1d8 lightning)
Ranged Attack: +4 (dagger, 1d4+2 slashing, light, range 20/60, thrown)
Ranged Attack: +5 (Eldritch Blast, 1d10 force, range 120)
Hit Dice: 3d8
Hit Points: 24
Speed: 30 feet

Class and Species Abilities
Darkvision - see in dim light as bright light out to 60 feet, and in darkness as dim light.
Celestial Resistance - resistance to necrotic and radiant damage.
Fey Ancestry - advantage on saving throws against being charmed, cannot be magically put to sleep.
Skill Versatility - proficient in two skills of your choice
Otherworldy Patron - The Fiend (as per page 109 of the Player's Handbook)
Pact Boon - Pact of the Tome (as per page 108 of the Player's Handbook)

Spellcasting (Spell DC 13, Spell Attack +5)
Cantrips - Eldritch Blast, Minor Illusion, Shocking Grasp*, Thaumaturgy*, Vicious Mockery*
Spells (cast as 2nd level) - Hellish Rebuke, Hex, Scorching Ray, Suggestion
*from Pact Boon

Languages and Proficiencies
Saving Throws - Wisdom and Charisma
Languages - Abyssal, Common, Elvish
Skill Proficiencies - Acrobatics (+5), Arcane (+4), Deception (+6), Investigation (+4), Performance (+6), Persuasion (+6)
Tool Proficiencies - Disguise kit, flute

Gear: Spear, 3 daggers, leather armor, arcane focus, scholar's pack, flute, entertainer's outfit, belt pouch containing 15 good pieces, an old divination card bearing her likeness, a silver teardrop earring (favor of a past admirer).

Image: Xevlanna's very presence draws attention, from her eye-catching apparel to her long tresses of curling raven-black hair decorated with colorful glass beads to her languid yet graceful movements to her smoke-grey eyes.  Not much taller than most elves, her features retain a sense of elvish delicateness, and her lips are most often settled in a mirthful smile.

Summary:Xevlanna is pretty much the ideological opposite of Aramir in many ways.  Where he's a devout servant of the light and a champion of good, Xev is more self-centered and draws her power from a devil's bargain.  She's also a talented manipulator of people, sweet-talking and deceiving as the situation warrants or her whim decides.  She's also very much a blaster-caster and would do well to stay out of range of melee-focused opponents, though she's got a couple tricks to make enemies that do close with her regret it.  Her Pact Boon certainly broadens her spell repertoire, giving her a few more options both in and out of combat.

October 19, 2017

Thoughts on FFG's Legend of the Five Rings Beta

So as many may have heard, Fantasy Flight Games has released a beta version of their spin of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG.  If not, you can grab it here from FFG's own website or you can snag a copy from DriveThruRPG.

So first off, I will admit to not being that impressed with the system.  One thing that people have noted and railed against was that the game uses custom dice rather than the classic d10s that prior versions L5R used in the long-standing Roll and Keep system.  Seeing as how FFG likely only bought the rights to L5R as a property and not the actual R&K mechanics from AEG, it's no surprise that they'd use a dice mechanic of their own making.  In fact, many folks (myself included) suspected that FFG would use the Genesys dice system, as that had by and large been tested and validated by means of their Star Wars RPG, with the Genesys dice being much the same but using slightly different symbols. Instead, FFG went with creating an entirely new set of custom dice, this one using just d6s and d12s.  At least with Genesys, odds are good that you'll be able to use the dice there for different settings, and for those of us that already have a bunch of Star Wars dice we can go ahead and use those (something I will probably do as I'm already very familiar with reading those symbols to get the results of a roll).

My own take on the current state of the L5R Beta is simply that there seems to be a lot of added complexity for no reason other than to add complexity.  A prime example is formal iaijutsu dueling, which in the previous L5R games by AEG were resolved with three rolls (Assessment, Focus, Strike) and unless the battle was to the death, once those were resolved the matter was settled.  Under FFG's system, dueling feels like it's more fitting for a western-based RPG replicating the back-and-forth of the famous duel between Inigo Montoya and Westley in The Princess Bride instead of the single stroke contest that the samurai-genre is well known for.

Another issue is that starting characters don't feel very capable, as the dice mechanics are skewed to very heavily favor Skill ranks (which use the d12s) over Ring rating (which use the d6s) and characters don't get to start with that many ranks in skills.  Easy solution here is to simply provide the PC with a small number of extra skill ranks, so hopefully FFG does something to address other than to say "if you want more capable PCs, simply start with more XP."

Now, I did manage to play a short session of the L5R Beta this past Saturday, with a friend running a modified version of Heroes of Rokugan II: Champions of the Sapphire Throne module "Writ of Justice."  Our party composition was rather interesting, consisting of a Kakita Duelist (myself), a Togashi Tattooed Monk (wandering kung fu fighter), a Kuni Purifier, and a Shosuro Infiltrator (cover was traveling performer).  Certainly an interesting and diverse group, with my PC winding up as the closest thing to a proper "face character" simply due to what skills were available and the general lack of being able to select skills outside of the presets that the beta schools provide.  While there were some hiccups in making the characters, they did turn out to be an interesting bunch, and were this 4th Edition L5R I'd certainly be looking forward to playing more sessions with this particular cast.

So, after having played at least one session of this new version of L5R, I'm still not convinced that it's something I want to continue playing, especially as I'm not at all found of the "forced social outbursts" that the current Strife mechanics enforce, as we had much of the group breaking their composure and displaying dishonorable behavior more often than any of us would have liked.  I know that it's probably far too late for any sort of changes to how the dice are laid out, but in all honestly the rate at which PCs gain Strife compared to how they lose it needs to be revised, or at the very least the rules on "outbursts" need to be addressed; I'm very much of the camp that simple dice rolls shouldn't dictate how a character reacts to a scene, and unless it's from a mystical source the most they should do is help inform the player how their character might react to given stimuli.

But ultimately, I think I'm at a point in my gaming preferences that I'd rather stick with systems that don't overwhelm you with options on how to resolve in-game challenges, and that's something this version of L5R does, is overwhelm the player and GM so many different ways that skills can work.  Again, it feels like complexity for the sake of complexity without really providing anything meaningful to the story being told.  And to be frank, if that's the sort of thing I'm after, I'll go play 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons, since the high degree of complexity that it had with regards to combat works with what the game was meant to be.

Given the limits of my own time, especially with working on my own Force and Destiny campaign and working on modules for next year's GamerNationCon (I may just scale back to two modules instead of the three I was initially leaning towards), I'm not really keen on learning the ins and outs of a complex set of RPG mechanics when they don't really provide a satisfying return on investment.  I was willing to learn the complex rules of FFG's Star Wars RPG because it proved to be a very fun experience, a high return on the investment of time made.  But for a setting that I don't see myself doing much gaming in to start with, FFG's Legends of the Five Rings just falls flat.

October 16, 2017

The Building of a Crane Duelist (Legend of the Five Rings Beta)

So as I mentioned in last week's blog post, for the Legend of the Five Rings Beta one-shot that I played in, I created a Kakita Duelist for my PC, who generally wound up being the party face due to how skill selections played out.

For this week, I'm going to go through the 20 Questions character creation process as outlined in the initial release of the beta rules.  It's entirely possible that aspects of the process will have changed between when I made my character and now, but I'm going to stick with the original process.

So let's get the ball rolling...

Part 1: Core Identity (Clan and Family)
#1) What clan does your character belong to?
So looking through the options, I decide I want to go with elegant and refined, so the easy choice is Crane.  Scorpion was also a possibility, but got dismissed for reasons you'll see later on in the process.  Being a Crane, this gives my character a +1 to his Air Ring and 1 rank in Culture, and a starting Status of 35

#2) What family does your character belong to?
Since I already chose Crane as my clan, going through the options I decide to pick Kakita, as I've always enjoyed playing iaijutsu duelists in my prior L5R outings.  This choice gives my unnamed PC a +1 bonus to his Fire Ring as well as 1 rank each in Aesthetics and Meditation, and sets initial Glory at 44.

Part 2: Role and School
#3) What is your character's role and school?
Since I'm leaning towards being a duelist, that means my character's role within the Crane is that of a bushi, which makes my school choice simply as Kakita Duelist is the only bushi school available to the Crane in the beta rules.  This provides a +1 bonus to both the Earth and Air Rings, as well as 1 rank in five skills of my choice, for which I select Courtesy, Fitness, Martial Arts [Melee], Meditation, and Sentiment, and sets initial Honor at 50.  This also gives me the Iaijutsu Kata and Weight of Duty Shuji (social technique), and the Way of the Crane school ability.  For chuckles, I choose an attendant as part of my starting outfit (do need somebody to handle the menial tasks that are beneath a Crane samurai's concern after all)

#4) How does your character stand out within their school?
Okay, so for this one I went more with a mechanical choice than a character-driven choice, deciding to take a +1 increase to my character's Water Ring so that he's fairly well-rounded in his Rings rather than being strongly focused in two and deficient in two.

Part 3: Honor and Glory
#5) What is your character's duty to their lord?
Well, being that a large part of a Crane duelist's job is to serve as a bodyguard and stand-in for the Crane diplomats at court, I decide my character serves as yojimbo and companion to his lord's niece, a demure yet elegantly lovely young Crane courtier, with whom my character is enamored with though he knows that she's far too high of station for him to pursue.  And so my character's Giri is described as "Yojimbo to my lord's niece, a demure yet elegantly lovely young Crane courtier."

#6) What does your character long for?
Now I could just go the easy route and say that my character longs for the hand in marriage of his lord's niece, but instead I decide to go with another classic staple and decide that my character wants to become the most renowned duelist of the era.  This sets my character's Ninjo as "Become the most renowned duelist of the era."

#7) What is your character's opinion of their clan?
Before even looking at the options, it's easy to determine that my PC has a positive view of the Crane and how they do things (after all, it was Lady Doji that set the standards for proper civilized behavior in Rokugan, and who is he to disagree with a Kami?)  While disagreeing would net me a free skill rank, agreeing with the Crane outlook instead gets me a +5 increase to Glory.

#8) What does your character think of Bushido?
I picture this character being a firm believer in the tenets of Bushido, though probably not to the zealous extreme of the Lion Clan, which increases my character's starting Honor by 10.

Part 4: Strengths and Weaknesses
#9) What is your character's greatest accomplishment so far?
I figure being an iaijutsu duelist, that my character is very quick to react to danger, and so select the Quick Reflexes as his Distinction, having used his speed to win several iaijutsu contests during his time as a student at the Kakita Academy.

#10) What holds your character back the most in life?
This one gives a character an Adversity, for which I pick Sworn Enemy, with the idea that it's a young samurai of a different clan and higher status that is also enamored with the young Crane courtier that my character is charged with protecting.  I'm not sure which clan yet, though Scorpion is a strong contender as is Lion (particularly if the enemy were of the Matsu family).

#11) What activity makes your character feel most at peace?
This choice gives my character a Passion, and for this I pick Wordplay, so that rather than being stoic and stolid, my Crane bushi has a penchant for amusing phrasing of words and statements that can seem complimentary but frequently have added meaning to them.  It's also an in character excuse for me to make puns and quips at the table, so added bonus!

#12) What concern, fear, or foible troubles your character the most?
And lastly one's choice here gives the character an Anxiety, and this one proved tough.  I initially leaned towards Irrepressible Flirtation, in no small part to convey his trouble with keeping his feelings towards his charge within the realm of propriety, or with Jealousy given his Ninjo, but I ultimately go with Painful Honesty, to reflect his commitment to Bushido, and that while he might make clever insinuations about a person, there's always going to be a grain of truth to them.

#13) Who has your character learned the most from during their life?
For this one, I'm going to say that it was his sensei that my character learned the most from.  And as I want my character to be a very capable duelist, I opt to take an extra rank of Martial Arts [Melee], bringing that skill up to two ranks, as well as the disadvantage of Whispers of Poverty, for which I decide is reflected in my character opting to dress in a somewhat subdued manner compared to the ostentatious style that many Crane prefer leading others to incorrectly conclude that he lacks the resources one would expect a member of his clan to have.

Part 5: Personality and Behavior
#14) What detail do others find most striking about your character?
Well, apart from his more modest style of dress, I go with my character having the classic Kakita look of the lean bishonen, with a polite smile and striking eyes that have an almost predatory cant to them.

#15) How does your character react to stressful situations?
Okay, this is a part of the game I'm not enthused with, as it plays into the Strife mechanic that I really dislike.  Still, it's part of the process, so going with part of what's described directly above, and that his eyes taken on a much darker aspect and his expression hardens from that of cheerful bishie to the fierce warrior that he is, with his verbal remarks often becoming far harsher.

#16) What are your character's preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organizations, and traditions?
For a character that I'm really only planning to play once, I'm not going to go into a lot of depth on this one, so I'm just going to say that my character leans towards the general Crane attitudes of the other Great Clans, as well as having the previously mentioned relationship with the young Crane courtier he's been charged with protecting.  I also put a bit more thought into his Sworn Enemy, and decide to buck the trend and make it a Yoritomo courtier, who would be of lower status given the Mantis are a Minor Clan at this point in time, but said enemy is obviously more politically savvy, making for a contrast of brains vs. brawn.

Part 6: Ancestry and Family
#17) How would your character's parents describe them?
Again, more of a RP-heavy question that isn't important for a one-shot character, so I'm just going to say that they're proud of his accomplishments thus far, but hold him to a high expectation given the Crane Clan's long legacy of expert duelists and gallant bushi.

#18) Who was your character named to honor?
I'll go with a great-great grandfather as the person, and rolling on the Samurai Heritage table I get a result of 3 for "Wondrous Work" (netting my character +5 to his Glory), and a 6 for a free rank in Composition, which works nicely for his Wordplay advantage.

#19) What is your character's name?
Finally we get to the "what's your character's name?" section, and frankly I think this should be pushed up in the question order, probably to be under Part 1 and as question #3.  After a fair bit of musing, I decide to grab a name from the Bushi character booklet that Katrina Ostrander made for her L5R 4e module at GamerNationCon 2017, and pick the name Takahiro.

Part 7: Death
#20) How should your character die?
So putting aside the temptation to use Tyrion's answer from Game of Thrones, I figure a fitting end for one that lives by the sword is to die by the sword, perhaps perishing in a manner not unlike that of his school's founder, that being of wounds inflicted during an iaijutsu duel of great importance.

Phew, okay now that I've worked my way through the 20 Questions process, here's what the final version of the character's stats look like.

Kakita Takahiro, Crane Duelist
Clan/Family: Crane/Kakita
School: Kakita Duelist
Rings: Air 3, Earth 2, Fire 2, Water 2, Void 1
Skills: Aesthetics 1, Composition 1, Fitness 1, Martial Arts (Melee) 2, Meditation 2, Courtesy 1, Culture 1, Sentiment 1
Techniques: Iaijutsu, Weight of Duty
School Ability: Way of the Crane
Giri: Yojimbo to his lord's niece, a demure yet elegantly lovely young Crane courtier.
Ninjo: To become the most renowned duelist of the era.
Glory: 54
Honor: 60
Status: 35
Focus: 5
Composure: 8
Vigilance: 3
Starting Outfit: Daisho, yari, traveling clothes, ceremonial clothes, traveling pack (blanket, bottle of sake, chopsticks, coin purse, daisho stand, pillow book, sweets [4 servings], spare kimono, week's reations, wide-brimmed straw hat), attendant, 10 koku
Distinction Advantage: Quick Reflexes (Fire)
Passion Advantage: Wordplay (Air)
Adversity Disadvantage: Sworn Enemy (Earth), Whispers of Poverty (Water)
Anxiety Disadvantage: Painful Honesty (Air)

October 13, 2017

Once Upon a Harvest Moon (7th Sea 2e Adventure)

So quite a while back, I found myself in need of a one-shot adventure for my online gaming group, something we could play while our scheduled GM was indisposed.  Luckily, I had some advance notice of this, giving me time to consider options.

Given that it was close to Halloween, I wanted to something that had a horror theme to it, while also really wanting another shot at running 7th Sea 2e for my group, given the fun we'd had when I ran a one-shot.  But also being a backer of the Kickstarter of the Shadows of the Demon Lord RPG, I also wanted to make use of one of the adventures that were provided as a backer reward.  Which, seeing as how Eisen in second edition is a bit less of "war torn wasteland" and a bit more "dark uberwald crawling with monsters," it seemed like a pretty viable combination.

The SotDL module I wound up choosing to use and modify was "The Apple of Her Eye," a Novice-level adventure written by gaming industry legend Steve Kenson (seriously, is this man even capable of creating a product of sub-par quality?) which I felt would be of suitable challenge for a group of freshly-made 7th Sea Heroes.  I obviously changed the name to prevent any of my would-be players from stumbling across the source adventure and thus spoiling the tale, but I also had to adapt it from a fairly crunchy "move then roll" system to a less crunchy "roll then move" one, which made some bits rather interesting, especially as there really wasn't much of anything in the way of actual guidelines in creating a 7th Sea adventure, just some general suggestions.  Of course, this was meant as a one-shot, so I wasn't that worried about it, and instead was more concerned with my players having fun.

And they did.  One of my usual players is a mother, and a core aspect of the adventure really hit home for her given it involved children and a not-so-pleasant fate for them (something that is probably the norm for Shadows of the Demon Lord, but then pretty much everyone in that setting is doomed to a not-so-pleasant fate).  Another of my players, who is a big fan of the Witcher series loved it, saying that it felt very much like a sidequest he might have chanced upon in Witcher 3.

So yeah, mission successful.  And certainly successful enough that I decided to run it as a scheduled event at GamerNationCon 2017, adding a few more pre-gens (five instead of the original three) and tweaking a few things to make the adventure flow a bit smoother and perhaps make it a bit more challenging.  I will say this, having a Hero with access to Hexenwerk makes things generally easier for the party, and I am curious to see how the adventure turns out if none of the Heroes have Sorcery.  For the most part, fun was had, though the mood towards the end was soured by one player that was more focused on ordering food on their phone, something that didn't really sit well with a couple of the players.  Ah well, such is the peril inherent in running games at a convention, though I will probably institute a "no smartphone/tablet" policy unless it's being used as a dice roller or to reference rulebooks at any future games I run.

That all being said, here's the link to a seasonally appropriate 7th Sea 2nd edition adventure for the time of year:

Once Upon a Harvest Moon

As was the case with "An Idol Venture," I'm including the five per-generated Heroes that I created for the adventure, with the character sheets being fairly simple.  Still, each of the characters worked out well for the adventure, and folks had a lot of fun playing them.  Also included is a reference sheet for the Major and Minor Unguents that the Hexenwerk Hero knows, so whichever player has that character doesn't have to reference the books to see what their Sorcery does.

If you're interested in Shadow of the Demon Lord (which is itself seasonally appropriate for this time of year), you can check out the main website at http://schwalbentertainment.com/shadow-of-the-demon-lord/, as well as DriveThruRPG for PDFs of the books and numerous adventures, including "The Apple of Her Eye."

August 31, 2017

RPGaDay Question #31

Question #31: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

First thing that immediately sprang to mind is GamerNation Con 2018, or what I choose to think of the "The Best Four Days of Actual Gaming."

While weather caused me to miss the inaugural GamerNation Con, I've been able to make it to all the subsequent cons, and Yoda willing I'll be making it to the 2018 edition as well. It's a small gaming-centric convention, and the small size really helps as you get a much better sense of camaraderie with the folks in attendance.  Plus, the Guests of Honor have been pretty cool individuals, and I even got to help induct Rodney Thompson (he of Star Wars Saga Edition fame) into the Rebel Legion as an Honorary Member, as well as play in games run by Sam Stewart (just the tip) and Katrina Ostrander/Lee, which were both a lot of fun.  I've got a couple of modules in mind to bring to run for next year, and am eager to see what other folks bring.  I suspect there will be a lot of Genesys games using assorted homebrew settings, which while cool will take away some of the charm that GM Phil's "Edge of the Wasteland" Fallout conversion has.  Though at least Phil can always claims "First!" in terms of his Fallout conversion being a "proof of concept" for FFG, which I'm sure is something that Phil will never get tired of reflecting upon.

Other things I'm looking forward to for 2018 is the resuming of Eric Brender's Mutants and Masterminds 3e Emerald City campaign.  Even if it does wind up being the swan song of Spider-Man and the Stormbreakers, it's been a blast to of a campaign to play, with a pretty cool set of characters, though my favorite of the PCs is probably Mayfield, a Golden Age style Superman that never lost his Idaho country farmboy roots.

I don't know for certain if it's going to start up this year or not, but I am looking forward to the Kickstarter for 7th Sea: The East, the sister game line to 7th Sea 2nd edition.  I've checked out the quickstart document for 7th Sea: The East, and on first brush it looks pretty neat, with a few system tweaks that I wouldn't mind seeing make it over to the main game.  I've generally enjoyed the 7th Sea 2nd edition product line, even if I've not gotten to play it nearly as much as I would have liked.

I'd be remiss if I were to omit the previously mentioned Genesys RPG, Fantasy Flight Game's translation of the Star Wars narrative dice system into a setting-agnostic game.  While I'd so love to see Mechamorphosis make a return as an official sourcebook for Genesys, I'm not holding my breath.  Depending on time and interest, I might kitbash my own conversion of the Not!Transformers d20 game that FFG published back during the days of the d20 boom.  I don't know how much actual usage I'll get out of Genesys as my regular gaming group is pretty happy with Star Wars, but we'll see.

Well, that about wraps up not only this post, but also RPGaDay 2017.  I'm not sure that I'll do this again next year, but it was a fun experience.  Now admittedly, I did cheat a little and take advantage of posting these to my blog to write a bunch of my answers in advance (usually no more than a few days), which worked out as there were some days where after coming home from work my brain felt like a lump of clay.

At any rate, I hope at least a few folks found my answers at the very least amusing if not interesting.  Thanks for playing along, and see you on the flip side.  Or maybe better yet, see you at GamerNation Con 2018!

August 30, 2017

RPGaDay Question #30

Wow, almost forgot to post this one.
Question #30: What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Honestly, most of the genre-mashups I'd like to see have already hit publication.

For instance, Horror+Western is covered by Deadlands, while Horror+Noir is covered by Deadlands: Noir, and Horror+Post-Apoc is addressed by Deadlands: Hell on Earth, so Pinnacle's got my back there.

Lovecraft-themed supernatural horror and anime is addressed by the sadly underrated CthulhuTech.

Then there's just the simple fact that Star Wars, as the embodiment of the space opera genre, is itself a mashup of genres that it covers a lot of bases.  Heroic knights with laser swords and quasi-psychic powers squaring off against faceless minions of a cruel tyrant with quick-drawing smartass scoundrels, sassy nobles that can handle themselves in a fight, and non-human mascots at their side goes a long ways.

7th Sea might have a Renaissance-era Pirates and Swashbucklers feel to it, but it can easily be adapted to cover themes of horror and/or exploration, especially in 2nd edition where the Syrenth are far more of an unknown and the mystical elements of the world have much more of a sinister cant to them.

Welp, one final day to go in RPGaDay for 2017.  I have to say this has been interesting, and certainly gave this ol' blog of mine a lot more activity in the span of a month than it usually sees over the course of a year.  But as for what the future holds?  Well, guess we'll just have to see, won't we?