July 4, 2014

May the Fourth (of July) Be With You!

For my fellow American residents, a Happy 4th of July to you.

The past few posts have been predominantly geared towards Mutants & Masterminds.  But as I am first and foremost a Star Wars fan, I think it's time to head back in that direction.

In terms of Star Wars gaming, the big news is that the Age of Rebellion core rulebook has officially hit shelves as of yesterday.  I was fortunate enough that my FLGS had the book on the shelves along with the GM Kit, so I snagged both of those.  I've not really had a chance to look through the GM Kit yet (had other matters to attend to), but I'm really impressed with the layout and artwork of the AoR core rulebook.  The action scenes on display are, to me at least, really evocative of the fact that one of this game's central themes is war.  Kudos as usual to Zoe Robinson for her work in getting her art team to once again produce some great work.

There weren't as many changes to the mechanics as there had been for the EotE core rulebook, though Foresee has a rather major change in the left-hand side of the tree (the initiative boosting portion) that makes that first upgrade a lot more useful to a PC, and makes me glad I picked up the Foresee power for Valin when the opportunity presented itself.  In fact, it looks like most of the specializations are the same as they were in the Beta + Final Week Update.  That's good for folks that have been playing AoR characters, as they don't have to worry about their characters suddenly needing to be severely tweaked.  Admittedly I've not gone over the material with a fine tooth comb, so there might be some minor changes that I've overlooked.

Another reason is that in spite of thinking I was done with it, I've been tinkering with my Ways of the Force supplement.  Yeah, I know that it's just over a month to GenCon and the (hoped for) release of Force and Destiny Beta rulebook, but as a self-avowed "tinker monkey" I found myself going back and re-reading and revising various bits of material from version 1.3, with the top item on the list being Deflect Blasters.

While I like the idea of a competitive check, as it makes the opponent's degree of skill count for something, it was ultimately a clunky implementation, particularly when it got to the point of having the split a single talent into two separate talents just to keep them from being too overpowered.  I've got a newer version of the talent that looks very promising, as it's quite simple to implement and doesn't have to worry about whether the shooter is using autofire or not.  However, the one concern that I have is that it's very powerful, even if still limited to a once-per-round effect.  Right now, the current method plants the talent right back at Row 5 and nearly being a capstone talent of the Jedi Initiate specialization.

A few other talents are being revised, in particular Force Talisman and Fortified Body (which was always a bit of a 'meh' talent in prior versions).

Force Powers got some work done on them as well, particularly Message and Rebuke.  They probably still won't be to everyone's liking, but I think they work much better than the earlier versions I'd published.

I've also been revisiting the rules I created for lightsaber construction, and again have simplified the process, particularly where Advantage and Threat are concerned, but also Triumph and Despair with each having an effect but one that's simple to implement during play.  Gave those a bit of a test run for Valin with the GM's permission, and they worked pretty well, as it's a single roll that would be made during "party downtime" in between encounters and does carry the risk of failure for novice Force-users (i.e. Force Rating 1 with a sub-par Discipline dice pool).

I think version 1.4 is about ready to be released upon the internets and go zipping through the tubes, but I'd like to try and get a bit more testing done on the newest iteration of Deflect Blasters this weekend (time permitting).

I've also been making progress (slowly) on Fallen Stars, a FFG SWRPG module that was meant for the Order 66 Kickstarter last year.  Unfortunately, a series of real-life events made it next to impossible for me to finish that module in anything resembling a timely manner.  At one point I did have it "finished" but a test-run of the final portion of the adventure turned out so horribly that I felt it was better to just scrap what I had and start over rather than foist a crappy final act on the backers.  Admittedly, with Age of Rebellion now being a thing, I'm working on an Appendix discussing what tweaks to make to use this adventure with AoR characters, in addition to providing two sets of pre-gen characters, one group of EotE-themed ne'er-do-wells and the other a team of Alliance operatives.  The central theme of the group getting into a situation much deeper and far riskier than expected still carries through though, no matter if you're part of the Alliance or just an independent-minded spacer.

I've also been getting back into the Dragon Age RPG, particularly as Green Ronin has been dropping hints that Set 3 is actually on the horizon to becoming a reality instead of looking to just be vaporware due to various delays in getting the material approved.  Though with BioWare being focused on Dragon Age III: Inquisition, I guess I can't fault them too much in not getting the RPG stuff approved in anything resembling a timely fashion; guess I'm just spoiled by how Lucasfilm is able to get their end of the approvals process done in fairly short order.  I wasn't able to participate in the Open playtesting for Set 3 (didn't have a reliable group that was interested in the AGE system or the Dragon Age setting), but the material suggested does a lot to expand the world of Thedas for the RPG, even if one doesn't get into the higher (11+ levels of play).  I doubt that Set 3 will be available at GenCon (though I'd be pleasantly surprised if it was), but I may bring the materials needed to run "Duty Unto Death" with a group of custom PCs with me this year for a possible pick-up game.

Speaking of GenCon (just over a month away!), I lucked out and was able to snag a seat at a couple of FFG Force & Destiny events, so I've got at least two confirmed game sessions for the convention, as well as whatever pick-up games I manage to get into.  Even if the adventure didn't last too long on account of the GM being rather punchy, the pick-up run by Jay Little last year was quite amusing, and I still crack a smile at "drink vouchers."  Though a fair chunk of that has to do with the time spent in the lobby of one of the Marriott hotels with Jay and the other players, each of us taking turns changing lines from Star Wars to use the words "drink vouchers."  Some were really cheesy, some were really good, but they were all funny... at least to us.  I'm hoping that this year's GenCon will have a similarly memorable moment.

Well, I think I've rambled on enough for one day.  Again, to my fellow Americans, enjoy the holiday and stay safe.  And may the drink vouchers be with you...

Edit: Seems I might have accidentally overstepped a boundary with a portion of that post.  In the interest of "better safe than sorry," I've removed it, and would thank folks that might have read it before I removed it to not make mention of it here or elsewhere.

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