May 26, 2017

Converted Dueling Styles for 7th Sea 2nd Edition

So here's something that I've been working on for a while, usually in a fairly casual basis.  Given that the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise hits theaters today, it seemed appropriate to finally publish this.

7th Sea 2nd Edition - Converted Dueling Styles

A bit of background as to how this document came about: I had actually started this not-so-little conversion project way back in October 2016, long before the Explorer's Society option for publishing fan made 7th Sea material was officially a thing.  It started out pretty small, consisting of only a handful of adaptations of 7th Sea's 1st edition Swordsman Schools into workable Duelist Styles for the game's 2nd edition.  I did get a bit of feedback on the forum I initially posted the material at, some good, some bad, and some useful, but I ultimately chose to remove the material from that forum as things were starting to get a little too toxic for my taste.

One problem with the initial conversions was that I really didn't have a chance to play test these in mock combats as much as I would have liked.  Part of the reason it's taken me so long to finish up these conversions and then post them is that I've tried to run mock combats in a preset collection of scenarios (Duelist Hero vs. small Brute Squad, Duelist Hero vs. large Brute Squad, Duelist Hero vs. strong non-Duelist Villain, Duelist Hero vs. weak Duelist Villain, and Duelist Hero vs. strong Duelist Villain) to see how they shook out.  Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with how the various styles shook out.  They're not perfect, but as Steve Kenson (a game designer whom I deeply respect) said with regards to RPG design, there comes a point when you've got to say "it's good enough" and release it, otherwise you'll be "working on improving" the material forever.

From the very outset, I never intended to do conversions of every single 1e Swordsman School that got published (and there were a lot of them).  I mostly focused on the ones that I firstly found to be interesting and secondly that I could come up with something nifty for the style bonus.  One thing I tried to avoid was rampant re-skins of style bonuses for previously published Duelist styles.  If the only thing I could come up with for a style was a total re-skin, I simply dropped the the style.  There are a couple of exceptions as those Duelist styles I felt had enough in-game flavor to warrant their inclusion even if the style bonus wasn't anything truly original.

I did add a few converted Advantages, such as a revamp of the 1e Exploit Weakness Swordsman knack and the Left-Handed Advantage, as well as a little something for the professional pugilists out there that prefer bare-knuckles to bared steel.  I had considered doing a conversion of the Finnegan "Swordsman" School (aka Drunken Irish Boxing), but I ultimately opted not to, even if I did come up with a pretty nifty style bonus (which wound up being used for the Lucani style bonus instead).

Now, some of you may be aware that one of the initial releases for the Explorer's Society was the supplement "At Sword's Point," written by Rob Weiland.  What you may not be aware of is that I wrote a pretty scathing review of the product on DriveThruRPG (it's the only review of the product so far), due to the vast majority of the dueling style conversions being either clunky to the point of "why bother?" or being unimaginative tweaks of styles from the core rulebook.  I'm sorry, but if I'm going to take a Duelist style, I want to be able to do something that's not only cool, but isn't just a bland reskin of another style.  For instance, Rob's take on MacDonald, a style that favors using the Highlands claymore is just the core book's Ambrogia using different Traits.  There were a couple points where Rob and I had very similar ideas as to what a style's bonus should be (Lucani for instance).  To be honest, had this product been any good, I would have totally abandoned this conversion project of mine in favor of the "official version."  Yes, I gave it 2 stars, but that's only because I feel a 1 star rating is reserved for something that is complete and utter garbage that should have never been purchased in the first place.

I suppose one question that might crop up with regards with this document of mine is "why didn't you publish this as part of the Explorer's Society?"  Well, there are two good reasons.  The first is that I didn't feel this constituted an original enough work, since it's based very much off 1st edition material that belongs to John Wick.  The second is that trying to get this published for sale when there's already a similar product out there just felt incredibly tacky, as well as disingenuous given the rather scathing review I'd left for the product.  As to which one is "definitively better", Rob's "At Sword's Point" or my "Converted Dueling Styles," that's something I leave to the individual to decide.  If a table wants to mix and match, pulling Duelist styles from both files, then have at it.

So, there's the story on the how and why regarding the creation and sharing of this little project of mine.  I hope you find it useful, and that the Duelist style bonuses I've created don't prove to be more powerful than I anticipated.

As for the latest PotC flick... yeah, I think I'll wind up waiting for it to hit Netflix.  The trailers did little to make me want to see the film, and as much as I've enjoyed seeing Johnny Depp's performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, I think the character has worn out his welcome for me.

May 4, 2017

It's a Resistance, right? And May the 4th Be With You!

Firstly, happy Star Wars Day to my fellow Star Wars geeks.

Setting this up ahead of time to post, as my own plans to celebrate the day consist of a Star Wars movie marathon several friends at the recently finished home theater of one of our cadre, with pizza, popcorn, and soda a plenty.  Which in retrospect will mean having to face the Revenge of the Fifth, but it'll be worth it.

Since we'll be kicking off said mini-marathon with Rogue One and ending with The Force Awakens, I got the notion to post a collection of heroes that combine elements of those two movies.  Built using FFG's Age of Rebellion (as well as including elements from Edge of the Empire), these characters are akin to the crew of Rogue One in that they are a special ops type of group comprised of a variety of different character types.  However, rather than fighting the tyranny of the Galactic Empire, they instead are members of the Resistance, working against the First Order in an effort to prevent the galaxy from once again being engulfed in the flames of war, mostly following leads on trying to uncover what the First Order's plans are.

For each of these characters, I built them with an additional +25XP as well as an extra 1500 credits.  I've come to find that having that extra XP lets me better fine-tune a character concept while still keeping them at the lower end of the power level, and the extra credits means that these characters are sure to have the bare minimum of the various toys they'd need to fit their concept.  I also deliberately tried out different species, career, and specialization combinations that I otherwise would probably have never considered playing. I had used a few of these characters as alternate pre-gens for the Discovery on Jakku, the introductory adventure from The Force Awakens Beginner Box.  And for the most part, they worked out pretty good, most of them able to accomplish their intended roles, though sadly some poor dice luck at the worst possible time ruined a couple moments that would have otherwise allowed certain characters to shine.  There were a couple tweaks needed here and there, but overall I think each of these characters is a solid build and as a group would work great for either a one-shot, be it a published module or an off-the-cuff adventure, or as the basis of a campaign; even with the extra starting XP and credits, there's still plenty of room for each of these characters to grow and develop.  And while their respective Duty and Motivations make reference to the Resistance and the First Order, it'd be a trivial matter to swap those to the Alliance and the Empire and drop one or all of these characters into the midst of Galactic Civil War.

So without further ado, here are a quintet of  Heroes of the Resistance...

Cyrin Ulyette, Mirialian Ace/Hotshot
By far the youngest member of the group, Cyrin is the team pilot and mechanic, able to put most any starship through its paces and pull off hi-speed maneuvers that leave other pilots in her wake.

Dewwarra, Wookiee Soldier/Trailblazer
Still considered to be an inexperienced youth among his people, Dewwarra has quite a lot of first-hand experience in surviving a number of inhospitable places, and making sure that his allies survive them as well.

Inder Skirata, Mandalorian Spy/Infiltrator
Certainly not fighting the typical image of an armor-clad Mando warrior, Inder is something of an outcast from Clan Skirata, reliant more upon stealth to win the day, though he's not adverse to using brutal methods if that's what's called for.

Jhyo Bendaki, Twi'lek Commander/Figurehead
The nephew of a Rebel Alliance agent from the days of the Galactic Civil War, Jhyo has put his own spin on being in charge of this rag-tag little group, employing a mix of charm, confidence, playful insincerity, and bold words to keep his team motivated and ensure success.

RA-F1T5, Droid Diplomat/Analyst
Referred to as "Fitz" given the droid's reaction to some of the more out there antics of the other team members, this RA-7 protocol droid might be ill-suited to "aggressive task resolution" but he is quite adept at slicing data networks, and though not as fluent in multiple forms of communications as other protocol droids, his databanks are packed with a variety of information that can prove useful in most any situation.

As the group's starting resource for when I ran them through Discovery on Jakku, I gave them an extensively modified HWK-290 freighter, dubbed the Sly Flourish, which is also included.  She's a fast ship, quite maneuverable and packs a decent bit of firepower.  While she won't last very long in a straight-up fight, as a reconnaissance vessel the Sly Flourish does it's job very well, and is generally able to survive long enough to outrun most threats.