February 27, 2012

Still Kick(start)in'

Been a few days since my last post. Not a whole lot going on gamingwise on a personal level, aside from hopefully picking back up with a Dresden Files campaign with one group and continued Star Wars Saga NJO action with a different group.

Of the two Kickstarter projects that I'm currently backing and have pimped previously, both have officially funded.

The first of these was for Edition Wars, which has now officially over-funded at just short of $7900 as of this post. So if you were hesitant before about pledging money on the chance this wouldn't go through, you've nothing to fear as Edition Wars will officially be going to print. Big round of applause for Chris and Dave for accomplishing this goal. Also, should they reach $8500 by the 29th (which seems quite likely at this rate), they will include an expansion of additional Gamer cards, which had been "opened up" due to the popularity of the $175 pledge option (which is entirely sold out0.

The other of these is the Mass Transit IV by mapmaker extraordinaire Christopher West, which is over the $5000 mark. While the initial goal was only $3000, Chris has taken a page out of Rich Burlew (he of the Order of the Stick with its insane fundraising total of over $1 million), with extra incentives offered if certain funding thresholds are met. The current bonus are a pair of custom d6s that look quite spiffy, and if he hits $6000 in the next 7 days, he'll do a physical copy of the Alien Starship tiles that can be selected as a pledge reward, which I'm definitely hoping for.

Edition Wars Kickstarter page

Mass Transit IV Kickstarter page

February 21, 2012

Dragon Age Set 3 Open Playtest - it's available!

For those of you familiar with the Dragon Age RPG, or simply curious after seeing some of my blogposts about it, Green Ronin have decided to follow the same strategy as they did for Set 2 of the RPG, and have put the Set 3 material out for open playtest.

I'm just skimming through it now, but there's a good chunk of neat stuff, including new backgrounds, some new talents, and quite a few new specializations, as well as rules for advancing from level 11 to level 20 (Set 1 only covered levels 1 thru 5, Set 2 covered 6 thru 10).

So if you like the Dragon Age RPG, this is well worth checking out. And if you have an active Dragon Age RPG group, make your voice heard and let Green Ronin know what you and your group thinks of the material so they can make any needed improvements.

Dragon Age RPG Set 3 Playtest

Maps of Mastery Mass Transit IV Kickstarter

Mapmaker Extraordinaire Christopher West is at it again.

His latest project, Mass Transit IV, just went up for Kickstarter. While it's got a $3000 base goal (and is already over halfway there), there are further rewards that will be offered up at the $6K and $9K levels.

End date is March 5th, so better move quick if you want to get in on this. And given the high quality of this man's work, why wouldn't you?

Mass Transit IV Kickstarter

February 20, 2012

NJO Traitor's Gambit Module up for download at Threat Detected blogspot

For those of you that have been playing along at home, you'll remember that I not long ago finished posting up a series of 2nd level characters that I used when running Garrett's NJO Traitor's Gambit module, which he ran twice at GenCon and for which I was fortunate enough to have a slot in the Friday session which was recorded for the Threat Detected podcast.

Well, for those of you that want to run this either for your own group or as a full-day mega-event, Garrett has been cool enough to offer this up for download at the Threat Detected blogspot.

The Threat Detected NJO Traitor's Gambit module (download link is in the article)

February 18, 2012

Catching up with an old favorite

Not too much gaming-wise going on of late, and I've been permitting myself a short siesta from game mechanics to try and give my brain a chance to recharge.

However, this has afforded me the chance to start watching the DVD collections of Babylon 5 I picked up for a veritable steal some time back. I'm currently about 2/3rds of the way through Season 1, and am enjoying the series just as much as I did the first time I watched it. Perhaps part of it is due to knowing what is to come, particularly with characters like G'Kar and Londo and their respective fates, or just simply being able to enjoy a TV show without having to wait for "next week's installment" or drudge through commercial breaks.

It was while watching this show that I recalled there was a D20-based RPG that Mongoose Publishing produced for this series, and that thanks to the kind donation of some no-longer needed shelving units from my parents, I had the chance to take a bunch of my old RPG books out of storage and put them onto shelves. Amidst which were several of the B5 RPG books. And so in spite of wanting to take a break from D20 games, I found myself paging through the various B5 books, which for me consists of the two corebooks (1st & 2nd edition), the Ranger sourcebooks (again, 1st & 2nd edition), as well as the Techno-Mage fact book, Psi Corps fact book, and Lurker's Guide to Telepaths, and a few PDF books as well. And I must admit, while they do display some of the problems of the 3rd edition D20 system, there's a wealth of background info to be found. Being something of a fanboy of the Rangers, both those sourcebooks have provided a great deal of information and history, even if the 2nd edition book caters more to the less-than-stellar Legend of the Rangers TV movie. I doubt I'll ever get this RPG on the table, but now I kind of wish I'd picked up more of the PDFs before the license got termed, if only for all the various background and historical tidbits scattered throughout the books. Still, what I do have has been fun to read, and has sparked more than a few ideas for possible future Star Wars game sessions. And besides, Marcus Cole was cool.

February 14, 2012

Edition Wars - Half Way There & More Gamer Cards Available!

Just a quick update, but if you've not heard the word, the boys behind Order 66, Dave and Chris, have just opened up some additional slots at the $175 donation mark for the Kickstarter drive for their Edition Wars card game.

Why is this awesome? I'll let the description of the pledge level speak for itself:

Access as a backer on the forums, the game delivered to you, a limited edition Kickstarter Bonus Card, the Edition Wars Launch TShirt, a GENCON special edition card PLUS you get to be in the game! A gamer will be named after you, in your likeness! One of the gamer cards in the deck will show your charicature, special abilities and hometown. Add $18 per extra copy of the game you would like and $10 for International Shipping

You get a lot of nifty swag as well as getting your image into the game. Pretty freaking sweet if you ask me. As of this post, there's 7 slots left, and the original 9 vanished pretty darn quickly. The fact that they are just under a week and a half in and are nearly at $4000 of their $7500 goal means this has a damn good chance of getting funded. And for those not aware of Kickstarter, the beauty of this is that the money isn't due until the end date of the funding drive (March 15th), and most importantly, if for some reason this doesn't reach the funding goal, you're not out any money. Even just the $18 pledge gets you a copy of the game, and for an additional $7 bucks you get a pretty cool card that's only available by participating in the Kickstarter.

February 13, 2012

A Dresden Files Fiasco or I Played a Pinball Wizard

For a while, I've been playing in a Dresden Files game run by one of the players in my (on-hiatus) Star Wars Alternate Universe campaign. In said game, I play a Young Wizard of the White Council by name of Danny Copperfield, who I will freely admit has morphed into Dresden Lite (not as tall, not as powerful, and not nearly as broke).

Well, we sort of picked up the campaign this past weekend. So after some retweaking of a couple characters (GM confessed that she was a lot more generous with handing out the Major Milestones or "level ups" than she should of been), we sat down to play. Only instead of the usual troupe style play, it wound up being me and the only other returning character from the old campaign, an honest-to-the-Greek-gods Amazon by the name of Jessie Armstrong, being pitted against a group of supernaturally-empowered crooks as they sought to pilfer a tome containing forbidden lore about "things beyond the outer gates" aka Lovecraftian-style horrors. Apparently the GM had gotten the idea courtesy of a Dresden Files supplement called "Hocus Focus" for an indy game named Fiasco. The general idea behind Fiasco is that you play a bunch of hoodlums that get involved in a scheme, but the scheme invariably goes awry due to someone or something "tilting" events to make things start falling apart for the crooks. In this case, my wizard Danny was "the tilt" (and yes, he did get called a pinball wizard) after getting looped into what the crooks were after and some of the not nice things they had done in pursuit of their goal.

I have to say that in spite of the adversarial nature of the set-up, it actually proved a very interesting change of pace, with the players of the crooks getting a chance to try out character types they otherwise might not try, such as an Outsider-worshipping focused practitioner (game terms: Sponsored Magic, Outsider patron, limited to entropy-based effects) or a Hollywood Voodoo Diva or a White Court Vampire that feasted on despair. I don't know if I'd be in a hurry to play that kind of set-up again, but it was fun to get back into Danny's red canvas duster and start slinging around the fire and wisecracks once more.

Read about Fiasco here, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Fiasco RPG

Drain Energy house rule idea

On the recent episode of the Order 66 podcast (Number 152: Dammit GM, I'm a Healer not a Beatstick!) during the Docking Bay segment, there was a question about whether the Force power Drain Energy (found on page 25 of the Jedi Academy Training Manual) could be used on droids or vehicles.

I got to thinking about that, and while the RAW answer is "doesn't work on those since they don't fall under equipment," I tossed out an idea during the live chat when Chris and Dave were recording the show about how a successful use of this Force power on a droid or vehicle might move it down the condition track. Problem is that just using the static DCs means Drain Energy becomes too good against most droids (who rarely exceed Large size). So here's my amendment to Drain Energy:

Drain Energy
Special (add the following paragraph): You can use this power to impair the operation of a droid or vehicle. Compare your Use the Force check to the target's damage threshold. If successful, the target moves one step down the condition track and gains a persistent condition that can only be removed with a DC 20 to repair the affected droid or vehicle as per SECR pg70. You can spend a Force Point to move the target one additional step down the condition track.

I could have gone the route of making it ape Force Stun, but I opted to veer away from that route, especially as Force Stun can ridiculously easy to recover from. This way, you do managed to affect the droid or vehicle in a meaningful way without being able to totally one-shot it, and even the really big stuff won't be incredibly easy to take out either, particularly stuff that's Medium size or smaller. This way, you've still got to beat the base DC for the droid/vehicle's size as per affecting an object normally, but it gets an additional defense (particularly for higher level threats) and can't be KO'd by a single skill check.

Don't know if I'll ever use this in my own games, as so far I've yet to see a Jedi at my table even look in the direction of this power, but I just thought I'd toss the notion out there.

February 9, 2012

Edition Ways: Almost there, almost there...

A short while ago, I did a post regarding Edition Wars, the first game being offered by Gamer Nation Studios LLC aka the boys behind the D20 Radio Network.

Since the Kickstarter for this project launched on Monday, they have managed to raise over a third of the needed $7500 to fund this game. Not bad for less than a week's time being on Kickstarter.

And with an end date of March 15th, there's still plenty of time to make your donation. $18 is enough to ensure you get a copy of the game, while $25 nets you a special "Kickstarter" card that's exclusive to this drive. And the beauty of Kickstarter is that you don't need to have the money in hand until the funding date, so you've got time to save up if you're a bit strapped for cash (a feeling I know all too well).

So if you're a fan of "beer & pretzel" type card games ala Munchken, then by all means make a pledge to help make this game a reality.

February 7, 2012

End of a campaign? I certainly hope not!

Well, those of you that follow along here on the blog or on the D20 Radio Forums know that for the past year or so (give or take a few hiatuses) I've been running my own take on GM Chris' excellent Alternate Universe campaign, having started at a similar point but the campaigns diverging in various ways.

After what felt like too long of a wait, I ran the final session of Act 2 of my campaign. The heroes scored a major victory, but that victory came at a heavy cost, one that some of them likely won't be recovering from anytime soon. It also ended on a worrisome cliffhanger, more as a means to get them interested in playing Act 3 of the campaign.

Sadly, I had a majority request to put the entire campaign on hold, much to my dismay. It seems that 2/3rds of my group are feeling "burned out" on d20 games, even one as well-done as Star Wars Saga Edition, and in spite of the cliffhanger ending, didn't feel any great urge to keep going. As I've learned the hard way in the past, if you've got players that aren't "feeling it" so to speak, it's not worth your time or energy as a GM to run a game they can't really get into. I do sincerely hope this doesn't sound the death knell for my AltU campaign, though I've already made several revisions to pick up the pace and put them on track for a climactic battle with the fate of the galaxy at stake. Which to be fair was probably needed as in doing the revisions, I could see that things were starting to plod along; there was a fair amount of filler and padding that would have pushed the up to 15th level just before the final adventure, but this will also mean they'll only be 12th level if things go as scheduled. Then again, they were all 10th level for this past session, and they did quite well against a CL15 villain that had some CL 8 helpers to keep him from getting dog-piled.

So, time will tell. After all, as Delenn of Babylon 5 fame has been known to say, "Faith Manages."

February 6, 2012

Weston Gavik, Human Security Guard

And now for the last of the NJO Traitor's Gambit pre-gen PCs that I had available.

I started out with a Human Soldier, and that's where I'm ending. But where Alara was a mix of hand-to-hand and ranged combat, Weston is predominately a shooter, albeit one that does quite well in a group thanks to his Comrade in Arms talent. He's also pretty tough to get the drop on thanks to Wary Sentries, giving him a nice boost to Perception as well as the ability to take 10, something that served him well quite often, though the player remarked that not rolling for his Perception in a lot of cases meant that his d20 had "bad rolls" that weren't being "worked out" before combat, as noted by a string of four natural ones that he rolled during the Switch encounter as he tried in vain to blast Ganga Lor's goons. There's really not much left to say about Weston, as he was the first of the pre-gens I wrote up, and was intended to be a fairly tough and reliable front-line combatant. He was also the one seemingly most smitten with Shiri, and tried more than once to sweet-talk the lovely Twi'lek, but came up short in the end.

Weston Gavik, Human Security Guard
Mini Used - Captain Panaka, KOTOR 22/60

Weston was always eager for a way to get off his homeworld and live a life of adventure amidst the stars, and signed up with the New Republic Military as a means of fulfilling that ambition. He suffered a severe injury in the line of duty, and though he was able to recover in time, the injury still lead to an honorable discharge due to no longer qualified for active duty. Rather than return home, Weston instead took up a career as a security guard, putting his training to good use for several different employers.

The Three Questions
What Do You Love?
Part of why you were so eager to join the New Republic armed forces was your love of historical war holovids. While you’ve since learned that what the vids showed and realities of war are two different things, you still have a deep-seated fondness for those holovids.

What Do You Hate?
The one thing you absolutely cannot abide by is laziness. Even before your stint in the military, you preferred to stay active and spend your free time trying to improve yourself. As your drill sergeant was fond of saying, you can lay about without a care when you’re dead.

Why Are You Aboard the Zahn Pulsar?
You were part of a security detail for a corporate middle-manager that was trying to broker a deal, but things went to hell when the Vong showed up and started laying waste to everything in sight. You fought back as best you could, but you’re no fool and knew when to cut your losses. Seeing as how your meal ticket got himself killed, you’re pretty much at a loss for what to do for the moment, although you’re sure there’s somebody that needs protection for something or for someone; you just have to live long enough to find them.

Weston Gavik (CL 2)
Medium Adult Male Human Soldier 2
Destiny 1; Force 6
Init +8; Senses Perception +11
Languages Basic

Defenses Ref 15 (flat-footed 13), Fort 17, Will 14
hp 41; Second Wind 14hp (2/day); Threshold 17

Speed 6 squares
Melee combat gloves +4 (1d4+4) or
Melee stun baton +4 (2d6+3 stun) or
Ranged blaster carbine +4 (3d8+1) or
Ranged blaster carbine -1 (3d8+1) with autofire
Base Atk +2; Grp +4
Atk Options autofire (blaster carbine), Point Blank Shot
Special Actions Comrades in Arms

Abilities Str 14, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Background Occupation - Military
Talents Comrades in Arms
Feats Armor Proficiency (light, medium), Extra Second Wind, Point Blank Shot, Wary Sentries, Weapon Proficiency (pistols, rifles, simple weapons)
Skills Climb +5, Endurance +8, Initiative +8, Jump +5, Knowledge (tactics) +6, Perception +11 (take 10)
Possessions blaster carbine, combat gloves, stun baton, reinforced blast vest (+2 armor, +1 equipment), comlink, medpac, power pack, 95 credits

D20 Radio Edition Wars - Start Kicking!

For quite some time, GM Chris and GM Dave of the D20 Radio Network and the Order 66 podcast have both been working on their first foray into publishing games.

And now it has officially begun with the launch a Kickstarter drive to fund Edition Wars. I'll let the boys speak for themselves on this one.


Have to say, it looks pretty neat. Now to decide how much of a backer I want to be...

Edit: Yeah, I went ahead and pledged at the $175 level. Overkill? Perhaps, but I get a chance to show up in what looks to be a pretty cool card game. That, and it definitely helps out a couple of very cool guys get their baby on the shelves.

February 3, 2012

Shiri Olan, Twi'lek Entertainer

Coming near the end of the NJO Traitor's Gambit pre-gen characters that were used. This time around, we come to the other female character in the group.

As opposed to Alara, who was certainly a physical presence, Shiri was intended to be more of social, supportive presence, but isn't totally useless when things erupt into violence. The Rapport feat went a long way towards Shiri making other people great in combat, and there were a few times that some of the male players were arguing amidst themselves about who should be benefiting from Shiri's "favor" in a given round. During the scene with Switch, Shiri had no problem with Switch's odd requests, with the player remarking that she'd likely have done worse just to get where she was in the entertainment industry. I also let her player occasionally use Deception as a full-round action to inflict a -2 penalty to a target's Reflex Defense until attacked or the start of it's next turn, which she did on occasion to set-up an opponent for one of the other characters to attack the target, though a couple times this lead to Shiri's antics making her the target, one instance of which lead to her catching a thud bug from an incensed Vong warrior. So while Shiri could have been simply written off as a Ms. Fanservice type of character, the player did a good job of turning the character's social strengths into viable combat aids for the rest of the party.

Shiri Olan, Twi'lek Entertainer
Mini Used - Ayy Vida, Bounty Hunters 16/60

Although Shiri was born free, she’d been forced into the life of a slavery as a young girl, presumably to one day be sold as a dancing girl to a Hutt crime lord. She was lucky enough to be liberated thanks to the efforts of a group of spacers, and Shiri soon found employment as a back-up singer for the aging Falleen diva Miya. Although Miya’s popularity has since waned, Shiri has still been able to see much of the galaxy, and there’s a good chance she might be able to embark on a solo career of her own.

The Three Questions
What Do You Love?
You truly are a performer at heart, and although you’re far from being famous, you still know how to play the crowd, and you just love basking in the adulation of the audience after a successful performance.

What Do You Hate?
Even though they longer have an influence in your life, you still hate the Hutts for having taken you from your family when you were a small child.

Why Are You Aboard the Zahn Pulsar?
Miya was scheduled to perform at a small venue when a Vong invasion force attacked, forcing you all to flee along with the other refugees. Miya’s manager was able to barter passage for the entire troupe aboard the transport, and although the accomadations were far less comfortable than Shiri was used to, but at least they were headed for the safety of the Hapes Cluster, which from what Shiri had heard might just prove to be the perfect launching point for her own career.

Shiri Olan (CL 2)
Medium Adult Female Twi'lek Noble 2
Destiny 1; Force 6
Init +8; Senses Perception +7
Languages Basic, Bocce, Huttese, Ryl, Shyriiwook

Defenses Ref 16 (flat-footed 13), Fort 14, Will 15; Dodge
hp 22; Second Wind 11hp; Threshold 14

Speed 6 squares
Melee unarmed +1 (1d4+1) or
Ranged sporting blaster pistol +3 (3d4+1)
Base Atk +1; Grp +3
Special Actions Inspire Confidence, Rapport

Abilities Str 10, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 16
Background Event - Imprisonment
Talents Inspire Confidence
Feats Dodge, Linguist, Rapport, Weapon Proficiency (pistols, simple weapons)
Skills Acrobatics +8, Deception +9 (may re-roll), Initiative +8, Knowledge (galactic lore) +7, Knowledge (social sciences) +7, Perception +7, Persuasion +9
Possessions sporting blaster pistol, concealed holster, credit chip (500 credits), visual wrist comm, entertainer's outfit

February 1, 2012

Actual People, Actual Play Podcast

I started listening to this podcast a couple days ago, pretty much focusing on their episodes pertaining to the Dresden Files RPG.

Have to say, it's been quite interesting to hear their take on various things in comparison to what I've experienced in playing in a Dresden Files game with my usual gaming group. Also a bit of a relief to see that our group wasn't alone in stumbling with various bits of the game, notably the declaration of scene aspects or fishing for NPC aspects. Having played a Wizard, I do agree that the spellcasting aspect of the game is a tad math-heavy up front, but then again I cheated a bit and devised all of my PC's "commonly used" spells up front, with a note as to which ones were rotes, so that when I wanted to sling a particular evocation or work a particular bit of thaumaturgy, I had most of the math figured out ahead of time and thus didn't slow up the game for anyone else.

Anyway, I do suggest giving the Actual People, Actual Play podcast a listen, as they do cover a number of games, with some of their more recent episodes focusing on Star Wars Saga Edition, a system that is quite near and dear to my heart.