Friday, July 30, 2010

Ghosts of Albion and Gen Con

Good News, Bad News.

Let's do the bad first.
There will not be any copies of the Ghosts of Albion core rulebook at Gen Con afterall. 
To say I am disapointed is putting it rather mildly.  I am going to withhold my frustration about this, well, because I should.

I wish there was more to say on that, but there isn't.

Ok. Lets do the good news now.

I would LOVE to run another pickup game of Ghosts of Albion: Obession or even Blight if anyone wants to join me.  I am not sure what my bandwidth is going to be like, but I really would like to do this.

So.  If you are going to Gen Con and want to play and didn't get into the scheduled times, please email me at timothy.brannan@gmail.com and put "Ghosts" in your subject.  If I get enough people I'll run it.

Frankly. I am not sure I will be running Ghosts at Gen Con after this.  So this might be your last chance.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Tale of Two Supermen

I have stated here in the past my preference for DC Comics heroes over that of Marvel.  Don't get me wrong, I read the hell out of Spiderman and X-Men as a kid, and reading The Tomb of Dracula was one of the things that got me into horror full scale.
But I have always liked DC's heroes more.  To me they were always more heroic than their Marvel counterparts.  So it should come as no shock that I am MAJORLY geeking out since I have not just one, but two DC-based RPGs out now.

 

I have seen both games now and I like them for very different reasons.  DCA is of course the sibling to the new Mutants and Masterminds 3.  It has some changes from the previous editions, most of which I am thinking are needed.  Abilities are rated different, and there are some new ones.  But all in all I like it.  
Smallville is Cortex but it is VERY different than previous versions of Cortex.  This is both good and bad.  I like the character creation system and it appeals to my desire to create a detailed character.  I like that the system has been opened up to play all sorts of different kinds of games now.  I can completely see how Leverage will work now.

Plus I still have Icons and BASH to look over, a full Cortex review to do.

I'd like to do up a character that works in all these systems.  I think I have the perfect choice too.  A while back we re-started our supers game and the world was a mixture of DC and Marvel.  Basically DC was Golden and some Silver age and Marvel was Silver and some modern age.  We were doing post modern.  Well I had read "Kingdom Come" and it dealt with Supes, Batman and Wonder Woman in a new age.   The final scenes dealt with Batman discovering that Wonder Woman and Superman were going to have a baby.  I thought wow, how power would that character be?  Half Kryptonian, half Amazon and Batman as a godfather?  Yes.  So that was my character.  Details to follow.

All of this will have to wait till after Gen Con of course.

BRP Witchcraft

Note: This has been sitting in my inbox for far too long. I wanted to get a review up much sooner than this.

I received a copy in the mail of BRP Witchcraft from the author Byron Alexander some time back.

I just got around to reading it and pour through it all and I like it. A lot.

The book itself is small, only about 72 pages, but really that is plenty for the topic. You need the latest version of the Basic Role-Playing System book from Chaosium since there is no character creation information in this book.

Introduction
We are given an introduction to witches and witchcraft and how they can fit into various game settings from Dark Ages to High Medieval to High Fantasy and Arabian Nights and Renaissance. What is mission of course is a Modern setting, but I think that might be assumed, given the nature of the BRP rules.

Caveat: It has been years since I have played any BRP game. I have the newest BRP rules set and I like them a lot, they are just far down on my list of go to games.

The nest section details the Witch Profession.

As a conceit of the monograph the author decides that witchcraft is an oral tradition and thus does not use a grimoire. I can live with this for the time periods mentioned above, but a Victorian age could, and a Modern age witch would most likely be literate and keep a Book of Shadows. This is only a minor quibble though.

There are skills detailed some new, others expanded.

Spirits or Demons details where a witch gets her power. I like this distinction since it gives a variety of types of witches; From your devil-bound or demon worshipping evil witch to the pagan or natural earth witch. To borrow an analogy it is roughly the same distinction made in the Rachel Morgan books by Kim Harrison. Earth magic would be this book's Pagan, Ley Line would be Neutral and Demonic is Infernal.

Given the history of the BRP game and taking a page from D&D4 it would not be difficult to imagine a "Mythos Witch" that gets her power much like the Infernal, only from the Lovecraftian beasties. With loss of SAN of course.

Coven and Sabbats cover the organizations a witch can belong to; Family groups, to supernatural ones to solitaries. Each of these can be expanded into various examples. The family groups could be something like Ann Rice's Mayfair witches or gypsy folk magic handed down mother to daughter.

The section on Witch's Magic is the meatiest. There is a mechanic for dealing with an oral tradition based magic system. It is nice and I like it for it simplicity and it's general common sense logic. It just looks like it works. Alterations for Familiars are mentioned as well.

There are a few new spells, but oddly enough I did not see one for Blindness, a rather iconic witch maleficia. But all look fine and fit the background material well.

In addition to spells we have new Witch's Sorceries and Witch's Potions.

I like the potion section the best of these last three since it is difficult to find good rules for witches making potions on the fly. In D&D 3 it takes way too long, but if you watch shows like Charmed or read books like the Dresden Files or the Rachel Morgan series their witches are brewing potions in hours, not weeks. Like the spells there is a good number of effects listed here. We also get Talisnans.

In Witches' Allegiance we see the differences between white and black magic and what the character gains (and looses) for their allegiance.

Mystic Artifacts details some of the unique magic items that are connected to witchcraft, Baba Yaga's Hut, the Hand of Glory and a couple of others. I would have liked to have seen Circe's Wand too, but that is just me.

There are some Sample Organizations which are flexible enough to work in any game really.

And finally we end with a number of Witch NPC Sample Characters.

Thoughts
This is a good book and if you want to play a witch in one of the BRP games then this is a great place to start. I could see these, as written, working in a Call of Cthulhu game or even an Elric one.

The book itself reminds me of the old Mayfair Games book on Witches for 1st Ed. AD&D. The tone and tenor is the same and there is plenty of text given to both sides of the witch persona; the good and the evil.

In terms of "playing a witch" I think this is the closest thing you can get in a BRP game. The author has clearly done his research and I am certain he knows there is so much more that he could have written.

I suppose the only issue I had with it was the lack of support for playing a modern age witch. Not that I don't already have a 1,000 games now that allow me to do that, I found their exclusion odd.

All in all I found this book to be an enjoyable read and looking forward to stating up a few witches using it.


Links

BRP Witchcraft at Chaosium's site, http://catalog.chaosium.com/product_info.php?products_id=5063
At DriveThruRPG, http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/coming_product_info.php?products_id=82087?affiliate_id=10748

Monday, July 26, 2010

GEN CON Ghosts of Albion: Obsession

Ghosts of Albion: Obsession is the big game I am running at Gen Con this year.

Here are the details from the registration site:

There is trouble at the Plough Street Theatre. The Times reports that authorities have found the strangled body of prominent actress and performer, Miriam White. However Miss White has herself commented to The Times that she is in fact alive and well and has been seen not only on stage, but having lunch with her manager just outside the theatre.
You are requested by James V. Harold, owner of the Plough Street Theatre to discreetly investigate this matter.

The schedule is:

RPG1008374 Obsession 08/05/2010 08:00:00 Crowne Plaza, room Hay Market A, table 6
RPG1008375 Obsession 08/06/2010 08:00:00 Crowne Plaza, room Hay Market A, table 6

So if you are playing in this game (there are 16 of you now, maybe even more) then here are some files for you to download and print out.
Any player that brings these to the game will get a free Drama Point for their character!

First, the Letter to the Cast from James V. Harold, esq. Owner, Proprietor and Manager of the Plough Street Theatre.

Next, the Playbill for this evening's performance of Miriam "Mim" White.



And for later in the investigations, two newspaper clippings sent to you by Mr. Harold,

 

Looking forward to this!

Crazy Omar's

You walk into the shop that is size of a small keep.  All around you are other "adventurers", some holding tickets with numbers on them, others hold what are obviously enchanted items.  All around are gnomes running this way and that.  In the back of store, past the "do not enter" signs and ropes are two of the largest ogres you have ever seen. More gnomes running all over, some with tickets in their hands, others carrying weapons of all sorts.  Further back you see a hut run away on chicken lays chased by several more gnomes.  Abruptly a stouter than usual dwarf approaches you.  He is wearing silk pajamas, fuzzy slippers and on top of a mane of unruly black hair sits a purple fez with a gold tassel.  He looks at you with through a monocle and after a few seconds laughs out loud.   You are not sure, but you think he is laughing at you.
He holds out both hands to grasp yours and shakes so vigorously you feel your teeth will fall out.
"Welcome to Omar's!" he booms "Will ya be buying or selling today?"


Omar's is something of a long standing tradition in my games.  It was something my DM used in his games and he got it from his DM, a cousin that taught him how to play from the LBBs.  So there has been an Omar's in operation since the first days of the game.
Omar (and no one calls him "Crazy" to his face) is the ultimate adventurer shopping center.  Starting characters go to get "Omar's Adventuring Kit" which includes everything a starting character needs (torches, rope, spikes, backpack...) for 50 GP.   The contents vary from time to time (and depending on what system I am using at the time).  The price is somewhat less than buying the items separate, and the characters and Omar know this.  But Omar feels that the best customers are the ones that keep coming back.

Omar offers another service, the buying and selling of magic items.  I don't have too many places like this in my world.  Sure there are places where a magic item can be sold, but Omar's always offers the best deals, depending on the mood of management.

Omar's is also the largest warehouse of magical item in my world.  Yet no one has ever tried to steal from him.  It is rumored that the local thieves guild has a long standing agreement with Omar and they will not steal from him and there are the rumors of other things that Omar keeps in his warehouse.

So last night my boys wanted to play our Dragonslayers adventure, but I realized I had not finished calculating all their magic and treasure from the last adventure.  So a quick trip to Omar's while they role play haggling their magic items for money or other items made for a fun little adventure AND a way for me to figure out what items they had.

Despite the name, Omar is not really crazy, nor is he the original Omar.  The original Omar was more gruff and a hard nose merchant. This Omar, his son, takes more after his mother who happens to be the Xothia of the Rock; a sort of Dwarven witch that everyone fears but listens to anyway.  So his style of dress is uncommon as are his manners.  He does this to put customers off guard.  Plus the reputation of being crazy is often worth more than extra guards and advertising. He hires only gnomes ("Dwarves are too greedy and want to be paid more.  I can pay these guys in the magic items I don't want.") and he always gives deals to pretty women ("I am too kind to the ladies, it will be the ruin of me I know it.") of any race. In back he has an appraiser, a stern and serious elf named Kerin (a former Bard now semi-retired),  If Omar can't identify the item in question (which rarely happens thanks to his Monocle of True Seeing) he will call out Kerin.  The old, stern elf will peer at the itme through his similarly enchanted spectacles.  He will then pronounce the value on the spot.  Omar and Kerin often argue over Kerin's estimates.  Kerin, who never lies, gives the true value for the item, Omar wants him to round it down, like to 20% of market value.  Kerin never budges and Omar fumes.  Kerin is also the store's accountant.  He knows every copper that goes in or out and knows about every magic item in the place.
When not dealing with customers Omar walks around his warehouse singing dwarven opera at the top of his lungs.

Day and night Omar's shop is busy.  Given that many of the item he deals with are likely stolen he pays heavy fines to both the city and the thieves' guild; but they are not as heavy as Omar lets one believe.  He has made all sorts of deals knowing that his is a symbiotic relationship with both factions.  They need his goods, he needs their protection.  The mutual benefit has worked so well that the original Omar has retired and purchased his own island country where he sits on the beach all day.

Omar's also serves another great purpose; a source for rumors.  I plan to have the characters over hear the details regarding their next adventure (which will be B3 Palace of the Silver Princess).  While it is "off quest" I have GMPC in the group to provide some magical support and will claim that this in in her home town (which, in fact it is) and the characters will go to investigate.

So if you use Omar in your games drop me a message to let me know how it went!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Favorite Modules

So thanks to the magic that is Half-Price Books, eBay and my local game store, I have managed to score over the years nearly every classic AD&D Module and many of the 2nd ED ones and a fair number of 3rd and 4th ed ones too.

I am a-wash in adventures.

I want to run my kids through some of the greatest adventures of all time.  They have already been through X1 Ilse of Dread, B4 the Lost City and a few others.  They are going through B2 now with another DM using Pathfinder and will be going through B3 as soon as tomorrow under D&D 3.x.

I am itching to take them through S1 (I have versions now for every edition of D&D), S3 and S4/WG4.  I am dying to get them through Ravenloft and Castle Amber (X2) and Death's Ride (CM2).

They will also hit the GDQ mega-adventure someday, either with me or our other GM.

So what are your favorite adventures and why?
Help me narrow this down to the "must dos".

Thanks!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Willow & Tara: Savage Worlds

So the conversions of Unisystem to Savage Worlds and back went so well it seems a shame not to include a posting about my witches.

Willow & Tara in a Savage World






Given the pulpy feel of Savage Worlds and the general power levels I don't think I should try to convert late "Season of the Witch" or "Generation HEX" versions of the girls.  Sure there are books out there that I think would cover it ("Necessary Evil" is a good choice), but I am sticking with the core book here, or even maybe a modern version of Rippers.   Instead maybe a separate development evolution would be a good idea. So I would start with the girls circa their run in my WitchCraft RPG game and maybe just before the events of my Mutants and Masterminds game.

The biggest issue for me is the magic system.  I have been going over it more lately and I see it is something I could work with.  One thing is for sure, magical characters in Unisystem start out more powerful than their counterparts in Savage Worlds.  I guess that is ok really.  What I ended up doing is giving the girls around 60-65 XPs to advance them to "current" levels (which puts them into the "Heroic" tier for Savage Worlds).  The amount of magic they have seems less that their Unisystem counterparts, but I think I can live with at really.

Tara A. Maclay  (circa 2007 game time)
Human: Heroic (60 XP)
Female; Age 27; Height: 5' 5"; Weight 125lbs

Attributes
Agility d4  
Smarts d10
Spirit d10
Strength d4
Vigor d6

Derived Traits
Pace 6     Toughness 5
Parry 6    Charisma 2

Skills
Driving d4
Fighting d4
Healing d6 +2
Knowledge, Humanities d10
Knowledge, Occult d12
Notice d6
Riding d6
Spellcasting (Arcane) d10

Hindrances
Curious
Enemy (various)
Loyal

Edges
Arcane Magic
Attractive
Hard to Kill
Healer

Arcane Powers (15 Points)*
Barrier, Bolt, Burst, Deflection, Dispel, Light, TK

For this I went with powers she has (bolt, TK, Light, Deflection) and ones she uses the most often (barrier, Burst, Dispel).  Other spelss might need to be re-classified as "rituals".



Willow D. Rosenberg  (circa 2007 game time)
Human: Heroic (65 XP)
Female; Age 27; Height: 5' 3"; Weight 105lbs

Attributes
Agility  d4
Smarts d12
Spirit d10
Strength d4  (next advance take this to d6, she's been working out)
Vigor d6

Derived Traits
Pace 6     Toughness 5
Parry 4    Charisma 4

Skills
Driving d4
Fighting d4
Knowledge, Computers d12
Knowledge, Occult d12
Knowledge, Science d10
Notice d6
Persuasion d6 
Spellcasting (Arcane) d10

Hindrances
Enemies
Stubborn
Vengeful

Edges
Arcane Magic
Attractive
Charismatic
Hard to Kill
Rapid Recharge

Arcane Powers  (15 Points)
Blast, Bolt, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Dispel, Elemental Manipulation (fire), Fly, TK

Gear
Doll's Eye Chrystal +1 to spellcasting

So. There they are.
Here is what I see.  I would like to figure out a way to increase both of their Power Points.  Tara should have 5 more than Willow since I see her more of an arcane wellspring, but Willow can "refuel" faster.  I think I would rule that Witches start the game with 15 or 20 Power Points instead of 10.  

I would also include a Ritual Casting rule that would allow a magical type to use "rituals" or spells written in books for a one-time effect.  In truth I'd do them very similar to how they are done in D&D 4E.  This gives the "normal guy" a chance to throw some mojo around.  The Power Point cost would have to come from somewhere.  I would rule then that Normal Humans have 5 (or 10) power points that they just can't get too, but can use in rituals or to aid another.  Maybe supernaturals then get 15 and then witches have 20.  Set it up something like Essence from the WitchCraft game.  This assumes a game that is more magic-based than the pulpy action feel that is normal to Savage Worlds.

I would though like to try out these builds in a Savage Worlds game sometime.  The other builds I have a more inherent feel for.  These, I think, would end up being pretty powerful, maybe more so than the numbers let on to me.  I had the same issue with my Mutants & Masterminds builds.

NOTE: I just picked up the The Kerberos Club for Savage Worlds, so I might have more to say on this later.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Savage Worlds: Characters

In my previous post about Savage Worlds I mentioned that converting to and from Unisystem is a breeze.

Typically here I'd throw in my witches. But given the gritty feel of SW, the level of magic in the system and as nod to the author I think Ill convert a different iconic Unisystem Character, Ash.

The Savage Dead
Ashley J. Williams is a great choice really. He fits the feel of Savage Worlds well, he has really cool Qualities and Drawbacks and most everyone that would play either game knows who he is.

This is a fairly direct conversion. No real attempt has been made to massage these numbers into place. Given that, I think they look and feel about right.

Ash (there would be one of those grinning skull things here)
Rank: Heroic (my best guest)               
Race: Human

Attributes
Agility d12, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d12, Vigor d12+2

Skills
Climbing d4, Driving d6, Fighting d10, Guts (d6)*, Intimidation d8, Investigation d4, Knowledge d4, Notice d6**, Persuasion d8, Repair d8, Riding d6, Shooting d10, Survival d4, Swimming d4, Taunt d8, Throwing d4

Hindrances
Enemy, One Hand, Quirk (Schmuck)

Edges
Attractive, Combat Reflexes, Fast Healer, Hard to Kill, Inspire, Natural Leader, Mr. Fit-it, Nerves of Steel

*Not converted from the source, but rather derived.
** Converted from Notice and Perception

In most cases the Hindrances and Edges convert right from the quality of the same (or similar) name. Others, like Schmuck, Really Big Chin and Promised One don't and are broken up into their components.

For weapons give him a chain saw and a boom stick and we are groovy.

Ash is good example of a Unisystem character that feels right at home in SW, what about the other direction?
For this I want to go with Rippers.

Ripped Slayers
In Rippers there is a group of monster hunters called the Rippers. A faction of these are known as the Slayers. The current leader of the Slayers is a 17 year old girl (In 1892) named Tara LaGrange. So young girl fighting monsters and calling herself "The Slayer"...sound familiar yet? Well to be fair she is a slayer, not a Slayer. But the idea is there so lets see how she looks in Unisystem using the Ghosts of Albion rules. Also, since we can, lets go ahead and make Tara here (what? I didnt name her) an honest to goodness Slayer. In Ghosts of Albion she is an Apprentice or in Buffy a White Hat. To make a her a Slayer we will change her to a Journeyman or Hero and have those stats follow after. So for Strength she has 3 if she is just a normal girl, or 6 if she is a full Slayer. The normal human is a direct conversion of the Rippers rules with no attempt made to massage the stats. As with Ash I think it works out well.

Tara LaGrange, the slayer
Type: Apprentice Normal Human (Ghosts of Albion Rules)

Life Points: 49
Drama Points: 20

Strength: 3
Dexterity: 4
Constitution: 3
Intelligence: 4
Perception: 2 (again based on best estimates)
Willpower: 4

Qualities
Contacts (Rippers, 3)*
Contacts (Supernatural, 3)*
Fast Reaction Time
Hard to Kill, 5
Nerves of Steel

Drawbacks
Adversaries, 2 (vampires, demons, werewolves and the like)
Minority (woman) (From Ghosts of Albion)
Obligation (Rippers, 3)*

Skills
Armed Mayhem 3, Athletics 1, Crime 3, Engineering 2, Fisticuffs 3, Influence 3, Knowledge 2 (part of the SW/Ripper Common Knowledge rule), Languages 1 (English read/write), Marksmanship 5, Notice 3, Occultism 2, Wild Card (Ripper Tech) 1

* Not in the Savage Worlds character stats but assumed as part of being a Ripper.

That worked REALLY well in my mind. Sure, she is a bit light as a Slayer, but this is a normal girl with a really big chip on her shoulder. Her skills ended up a tad high for a starting character, but this is an NPC with some history, so that is fine really.
Adding the Slayer Quality makes the following changes:

Tara LaGrange, the Vampire Slayer
Type: Hero Slayer

Life Points: 73
Drama Points: 15

Strength: 6
Dexterity: 7
Constitution: 6
Intelligence: 4
Perception: 2 (again based on best estimates) (note this is actually too low for a Slayer and really should be raised to 4)
Willpower: 6

Qualities
Contacts (Rippers, 3)*
Contacts (Supernatural, 3)*
Slayer
- Fast Reaction Time (part of Slayer)
- Hard to Kill (part of Slayer) 5
- Nerves of Steel (part of Slayer)
- Regeneration (part of Slayer)
- +1 to Armed Mayhem and Fisticuffs (part of Slayer)
- Lesser Sensing (in the Buffy book, but the name comes from Ghosts of Albion)

Drawbacks
Adversaries, 4 (vampires, demons, werewolves and the like)
Minority (woman) (From Ghosts of Albion)
Obligation (Rippers, 3)*

Skills
Armed Mayhem 4, Athletics 1, Crime 3, Engineering 2, Fisticuffs 4, Influence 3, Knowledge 2 (part of the SW/Ripper Common Knowledge rule), Languages 1 (English read/write), Marksmanship 5, Notice 3, Occultism 2, Wild Card (Ripper Tech) 1

* Not in the Savage Worlds character stats but assumed as part of being a Ripper. In this case the Rippers take the place of the Watchers.

I like it. So Miss LaGrange is now my official Slayer in 1892.

Ok, next time I go back and try some Savage Worlds magic.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds & Rippers

I have talked around Savage Worlds in the past, here and here in particular, but never about Savage Worlds directly.  Well, I'll change that now.

Savage Worlds is a multi-genre (I dont think Generic is the right word here) action RPG from Pinnacle Entertainment Group, the same people that gave us Deadlands. And the game itself is written by a very familiar name to Unisystem fans, Shane Hensley, who has given us Fistfull of Zombies for AFMBE and Army of Darkness for Cinematic Unisystem (among others of course). This seems to be a genre that works well for Shane since you can see similar DNA in Savage Worlds.

I had the chance a couple of Gen Cons ago to sit down and play some Savage Worlds. Its tagline of Fast! Furious! Fun! certainly held up in character creation, I was able to roll out my standard witch-like character very quickly.
One thing became very, very clear to us right away, well more than one thing, but I digress. The one thing that was clear that if you want to play a pulpy style game, then Savage Worlds could be the game you are looking for. But I don't play a lot of pulp, I play horror and magic. Is Savage Worlds the game for me?

Well.that depends. There are certainly some things about it like and things I don't like. One thing I do like is Rippers, a Gothic, steam punk Victorian Horror style monster hunter game for Savage Worlds; but I have a softspot for those. Ill detail Rippers and how it compares to Ghosts of Albion in a bit. When I detail my conversions, Ill indicate whether or not I am drawing from Rippers or some other source, otherwise assume I mean Savage Worlds core.

Crunch
Ok. So what can Savage Worlds give me? Well for a crunch guy like me there is a lot to look at despite the streamlined system. Savage Worlds uses different die to represent different levels of ability for example like Deadlands. So a d4 is base level, d6 is a little better and so on up to d12 (no d20) and all are rolled against a target number, typically 4. The largest number on each die explodes (called an Ace in this game or the Rule of 10 in Unisystem), so you actually have a better chance of Acing when your die is lower than higher; 25% chance on a d4 vs say a 10% chance on a d10. The neatest thing thought is the addition of a Wild Die. The Wild Die, a d6, can be rolled in any action, but only once per action. If the Wild Die rolls higher than your normal die you can take that roll instead. Given this Id like to figure out a Wild Die mechanic for Unisystem, but given the flat distribution of the Unisystem task resolution I dont see it working as well. Like a regular die roll a Wild Die can Ace as well. There are also cards used, but I wont get into that here.
Savage Worlds also has something called Bennies. Think of these as advanced Hero Points or somewhat lesser Drama Points (this is a recurring theme really. Characters in Savage Worlds are just slightly less powered than their Unisystem counterparts, but more later). You only get four of them and they dont transfer from session to session so use them while you have them.

Game Play
We played one of the downloadble adventures for our first time. I had not bought the books yet, but one of the guys I was with had them. It was the Core Savage Worlds book, Rippers (which we only looked at) and a couple of others. We played a pulpy style adventure where the characters were a professor of Archeology, his assistant who happened to be a witch (that was mine) and an 8-foot tall Cat-humanoid. Ok I gotta admit that any game that allows this out of the box has my attention! Turns out it worked REALLY well.
We did get up an running rather quickly. Combat seemed to be a little slow, and the magic system took a little to get used too. Now my group is used to playing odd things. I have playtested many new games with them and combined we all have about 80 years worth of RPG experience. Combat I think we just need to get used too, Magicis a different story.

Basic Conversions
Conversions between the two systems are surprisingly easy. I say surprising, it isn't really since I feel both games appeal to the same kind of gamer and similar kinds of game worlds. Both games assume normal humans (at least at their core) and a small set of skills. Both games have Qualities or Edges and Drawbacks or Hindrances.

Attributes and Skills
Conversions here could not be easier. From the Unisystem perspective the lowest human score is a 1, but most heroes will have a minimum of 2 in their Attributes. Savage Worlds heroes start out as fairly hardy folks, so they all begin with a d4 and can go up with creation points. The max for Unisystem humans is 6 and for Savage Worlds is d12. This is pretty much the same conversions I use for Cortex, so I'll include them as well.
This give us this:

Unisystem        Savage Worlds  Cortex      
1 d4-1 d2
2 d4 d4
3 d6 d6
4 d8 d8
5 d10 d10
6 d12 d12
7 d12+1 d12+d2
8 d12+2 d12+d4
9 d12+3 d12+d6

As we move up an Attribute of 9 in Unisystem is an automatic success. Likewise in Savage Worlds a d12+3 will be an automatic success in just about anything as well. Ok, technically an Attribute of 8 + 1d10 is an automatic success in most cases. But that is picking nits and most humans won't be this high.

Quick converting NPCs from the Savage Worlds Core and Rippers and breaking down the basic Savage Worlds rules reveal that your starting Savage Worlds character converts out to 15 Unisystem Attribute points. This is the same as a White Hat or Primitive Screwhead in cinematic Unisystem or a Pre-Heroic character in AFMBE. This parity between the two games continues.

Attribute classifications line up really nice as well. They even serve very similar functions.

Unisystem            Savage Worlds        
Strength Strength
Dexterity Agility
Constitution Vigor
Intelligence Smarts
Perception - Not Used Here -
Willpower Spirit

So at this point it is rather easy to spot convert characters. A Savage Worlds character with Strength d6 is roughly the same as a Unisystem character with Strength 3.

When converting to Unisystem from Savage Worlds I say give the character a base Perception of 2. No worries, the Notice skill converts as a Notice skill.

Both games have Secondary or Derived stats too. As in most cases it is best to convert Primary Stats and then use the system in question to derive the secondary ones.

Skills
Like the Attributes running the numbers on Savage Worlds skills gives us the equivalent of 15 skill points; again, Primitive Screwhead territory. The issue comes when spliting these skill points up. Cinematic Unisystem has 18 skills (or 16 for Ghosts of Albion) and Classic has more. Savage Worlds has 24 points for skills (in Unisystem terms). Some of these crossover with their Unisystem equivalent, enough to make me call them all the same. If you are converting a Unisystem character to Savage Worlds this is only an issue if the character is Pre-Heroic.

Some skills do not have exact duplicates. On the Cinematic Unisystem side there are Acrobatics, Art, Computers, Languages, Occultism and Science. Art, Computers, Languages and Science are mostly covered by the Smarts attribute. Acrobatic can be covered by Edges (more on that below).
Occultism in terms of Occult Knowledge would also be covered Smarts. Occultism in terms of knowledge to cast spells is handled in part by the Arcane Background and various Arcane Edges.
On the Savage Worlds side there is Guts, which has some equivalents in Unisystems Willpower, Nerves of Steel and Resistance (Fear) or Coward.

Up to this point our hero and his Mirror Universe counterpart are still mostly the same. The differences begin to show when we get to Edges and Hindrances.

Qualities, Edges, Drawbacks and Hindrances

One of the hallmarks of Unisystem are the Qualities and Drawbacks. There are the basics Hard to Kill and Nerves of Steel, but in order to be a Protector, have a Really Big Chin or be called a Slayer you need the associated Quality. Edges and Hindrances also work a little different than Qualities and Drawbacks. First off you get a lot fewer of them in Savage Worlds than in Unisystem. Secondly Hindrances come in two types, Minor and Major. A major Hindrance for example gets you two Edges. You can gain a new Edge (or buy off a Hindrance) only when you level up. Level is not the same as d20 levels, more like Chill really. But Edges do remind me of Feats and the magic system works much the same. An enterprising Game Master could figure out a way to convert True20s magic system to Savage Worlds very easily in fact. But I digress.

In general when converting look for Qualities, Edges, Drawbacks and Hindrances that have the same names, it will work out better for you. Minor Hindrances in Unisystem terms should be worth about 1 or 2 points (mostly one), while Major Hindrances are worth 3 to 5. Some 3s could go either way depending on what they are.

There are no combo or package Edges like some of Unisystems package Qualities, there are Professional Edges that are a combination of Edges, Hindrances, skills and prerequisites that do the same job though. The Wizard Edge is roughly analogous to the Witch Quality. One I really liked was the McGyver professional Edge, sounds like something that needs to be in Army of Darkness. ;)

Something like a Slayer or a Protector from Ghost of Albion is going to take a little more work. With Weird Edges, Wild Edges and Epic Featser sorry, Legendary Edges, there are quite a few neat things here. Enough to keep anyone busy for a while.

At this point in comparison sake our SWs character is a tad weaker than his Unisystem doppelganger. I think this is fine given the Wild Die mechanic and Aces you get in SW.

Magic and Other Powers
Ok, Ill be very blunt here. I dont like SWs magic system. I am sorry, but after Ghosts of Albion and WitchCraft very, very few systems could compare. That being said there are some neat ideas.
First thing is characters do not have a lot of start up powers, this not that big of a deal in a Two-Fisted Pulp adventure, but my witch character ended up using her revolver just as much as her own powers in the combat situations, so to me it is a big deal. Rippers expands on Magic, but not quite enough really for my tastes.
Now looking inside the game itself the Powers system sits somewhere in between the free wheeling hands-off rules of BESM or Mage and the static magic of D&D, but still not quite where Unisystems Metaphysics or Sorcery/Magic rules are. They are though internally consistent and flexible enough to provide some nice upgrades. This is another place where the rules feel like a cross between Unisystem and True20.

Now what I DID like are the rules for Weird Science (which is just another Power, like Arcane or Psychic, so there is nothing really different about it). In fact I like them much more than Buffys Super Science (which I never liked in the rules and less in the show), but here Weird Science (and I like this name so much more too) FEELS right, it feels like it fits the system well both in terms of mechanics and in terms of themes. I can see a 30s Mad Scientist right out of those old serials built with this rule. I might work on converting these back into Unisystem or take what very little I like of Super Science and mix it in with a little Sons of ther. Given how much this reminds me of True20 I am also half tempted to convert this power to True20 for a Weird Science Adept whose power feats are gadgets.
Powers for Magic, Super Heroes or Weird Science are bought like Metaphysics and they even look similar to Cincematic magical Spells. Translations are a breeze.

Rippers


I should pay some special attention to Rippers. After all Rippers, like Ghosts of Albion, is a gothic Victorian game in which monsters and the supernatural are real. Like Cthulhu by Gaslight, Masque of the Red Death and Victorian Age Vampire, Rippers takes place in the later 19th Century. Ghosts of Albion takes place at the dawn of the Victorian Age in the 1840s. Rippers though also incorporates some Steam Punk ideas.

The epynononmous Rippers are a world-wide group of monster hunters that are under the guidance of Van Helsing and the Harkers from Dracula. So shades of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to be sure (Allan Quartermain and Mina Harker are in the book, but I dont think they get it on here), with little bits of the Watchers (take your pick, the Buffy ones, the Highlander ones or the Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death ones) and maybe a dash of Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. What sets Rippers apart is the idea of Rippertech or taking artifacts from the various creatures the characters hunt to improve the characters. Now this is a neat idea, but I do find it curious that many pages are devoted to rather interesting Rippertech enhancements, but they are almost always described as dangerous and generally unsafe to use. In Unisystem they would work like Qualities, with maybe needing a Will doubled roll to resist the bad side effects.

There are other issues that would go unnoticed by most, but not a WitchCraft RPG player. I nearly choked on my coffee when I read that the Rosicrucians taught Enochian magic. But that is REALLY nitpicky of me. The monetary system was a bit weird, using decimals for Victorian era pounds just seems wrong. I got used to converting gold pieces to silver pieces in the 80s I think converting pounds to shillings would be fine.

All in all, Rippers and Ghosts of Albion could exist side by side. The Rippers might know of Protectors and maybe even have one or two on their side. The Protectors would certainly know of the Rippers, anyone that goes around their lands hunting down supernatural creatures is going to attract their notice. How they deal with other of course depend on their first meetings. If a Ripper is trying to extract Ghostly essence from Lord Byron against his will, Tamara might not be too happy about that. The trouble is there is nothing in the Rippers or Core book that comes close to level of magic the Protectors could wield, or even Occult Poets for that matter (but I bet someone that knew the Savage Worlds magic system better than me could pull of an Occult Poet). I might do some more conversion since I love Victorian age games. The spells would convert really nice. Even the Gypsy curses in the Rippers Companion would convert to Ghosts of Albion as a Magical Philosophy: Gypsy Curse. Rough conversion (not tested) Rank converts to Level, keep Range and Duration the same, Trappings become Requirements. Drop Power Points unless you are converting to Classic Unisystem, then they represent Essence loss.

Converting characters between Rippers and Ghosts of Albion is very easy, as you can see with Dirty Nellie, the Street Faerie prostitute.  Given that Rippers and Ghosts of Albion are separated mostly by time; Ghosts in the early Victorian, Rippers in the later, one could see each game as being a reflection of the other.

Gaslight
If you like Savage Worlds (or even d20 for that matter) and Victorian adventures, but not so much the Ripper Tech, then there is Gaslight from Battlefield Press.  Gaslight is a pretty straight-forward game setting, it is the late Victorian Era.  SW Gaslight and Rippers could actually play side by side.  With Gaslight providing some of the real world history that Rippers left out.

Gaslight is certainly more of a sandbox game.  You are given the world, the rules and then let go.  There is no over arching plot or theme like Rippers or Ghosts of Albion.  It is in feel much closer to the old Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death game.  Which is pretty cool.

Nel works fine for Gaslight as well.

Next time, let's play with conversions.  Armies of Darkness in Savage Worlds, Slayers in Rippers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tomb of Horrors for 4e. Is it REALLY that offensive?

So.  I have had some online conversations, I have had some in person ones and I have seen a number of blog and message board posts.  But that doesn't mean I get it.

Tomb of Horrors for 4E.  Why does it bother you?

vs.


Now. Here is the deal.  I am not challenging anyone's opinion on their hate for the new module.  You don't like it. Fine.  But, tell me why.

Here are a few arguments I have heard.  I am not taking these from any source in particular, just a lot of has been said to me.

"It is spitting in the face of old D&D fans!" 
Ok How?  I see more of an homage.  They know that old D&D fans loved the original ToH, so maybe they can use some of that love to help promote a new product.

"It's not the Tomb of Horrors!"
Ok. True. But they say that in the module too.  This is not S1 converted to D&D4.  This is the same dungeon XX number of years later.  See I like that idea.  I don't need to run people through the old Tomb of Horrors anymore.  I have my original copy if I want to do that.  But in truth, I don't care for TPK modules, though I do like ones that make the players think.

"It's just Wizards trying to make money!"
When did making money become such a bad thing?  Not making money was what killed TSR (among other things) a company has to make money to keep being a company.

"You can't remake Tomb of Horrors"
Well, TSR did with Return to the Tomb of Horrors back int he 2nd Ed days.  And Wizards isn't remaking it, they are revisiting it.

Now normally I wouldn't care what other thought about something I liked.  I am used to that and keep on liking what I like anyway.  But a lot of the people telling me this and the people posting this are people whoes opinions I generally trust.

AND it is not just that they don't like it, they hate it.

Of course this hate seems to be strongly tied to their hate of 4e.  But truthfully if you don't like 4e then this module was not for you in the first place.

What do you say?

Do you hate the new Tomb of Horrors?  If so why?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Willow & Tara: FUDGE

FUDGE

Fudge is a “Universal” RPG, designed to emulate any world, any genre and put the focus back onto characters and story rather than rules or rolls of the dice.

To me Fudge, and it’s younger sibling Fate, were just another one of those “games without a soul”. By that I don’t mean it is a soulless monster, but rather if you held it up to a mirror it wouldn’t reflect anything. At least not to me.
This puts it, in my opinion with GURPS, Action! and Fuzion.  They all do what they do well, and a lot of things good, but maybe not "great".  All these games have some similarities, and even similarities to d20 and Unisystem, but what I feel they all lack is a cohesive theme or look and feel. Tri-Stat in BESM is very much “Anime” flavored, as Unisystem is modern horror. Action! is a little bit better, but True 20, GURPS, Fudge, and Fuzion seem to lack a theme element. 

Because of this I never cared much for these games. That is until I looked into a Fudge based game called “Now Playing”.

I liked it.
I then looked into other Fudge/Fate games and I’ll detail what I found in them later.
In particular I'll talk about Fate when I do a big long review on The Dresden Files RPG.

About Fudge
Fudge used to be known as FUDGE, the Freeform, Universal, Do-it-yourself Gaming Engine. Created by Steffan O'Sullivan, back in 1992 it is notable as being one of the first game systems to be released for free on the internet. It even had an open licensing agreement (though not as open as the current OGL which Fudge now uses) which is interesting since it was released in a climate when most game companies were still trying to figure how to use the internet and control their IP.

Reading the basic (and free) Fudge rules is better than reading the d20 SRD. It is reminiscent of another “universal” game, GURPS. While the SRD is not d20 nor is it D&D, Basic Fudge is a fully playable (if soulless) game. This is where games like Now Playing and Heart Quest can shine. Like Unisystem (there’s that Universal thing again…) what really makes it work are the settings. While I am fan of most Unisystem games, I do have my favorites (namely WitchCraft, Ghosts of Albion), Fudge is the same way. I should note that there is a Fudge SRD as well, it reads like Basic Fudge but is twice as long.

Heart Quest
I mentioned Heart Quest when I discussed Anime RPGs a while back. It is still a good choice and it's different tenor plays off well with Now Playing to create the series I want.  More on that in a bit.

Now Playing
Now Playing is a Fudge based RPG that claims it can emulate any TV show or style with their simple ruleset and guidelines. They might be right. While the Buffy RPG is the Gold Standard when emulating a supernatural drama television show, Now Playing handles everything else rather well. Action shows, Sitcoms, Reality TV, cops shows, lawyer shows, Sci-Fi, and yes Supernatural Drama are all covered in this book.  There is a newer version out now called "The Unexplained" and it looks very similar, but maybe a touch darker.  I don't have it and I have spent all I can on my RPG budget. I would love to have a look at it in detail, until then I'll stick with Now Playing.

Since I want to focus on this game as my premier Fudge game, I’ll turn back to mechanics.

Attributes
This one is so simple that it barely is worth mentioning, but I will just to illustrate the point.

Now Playing/
The Unexplained/         
(Fudge)
Unisystem
Brawn Strength
Agility Dexterity
Stamina Constitution
Reasoning Intelligence
Perception Perception
Will Willpower

Follow these up with the level conversions above and a Brawn of Fair is Strength 3. You almost don’t even need a new sheet. This illustrates Fudge conversion abilities well and Now Playing’s ability to emulate most TV shows and TV show games.

Luck Points vs. Drama Points
The mechanic differs slightly, but the intent is the same, allow the player a chance to “re-write” the scene. In general for conversions sake, 5 Drama Points = 1 Luck Point. Of course there is a higher level of danger in a Horror Drama than a Situational Comedy, so it might be about the same realy.

Skills
As mentioned before Fudge is flexible when it comes to Skill lists. Now Playing offers something that looks like a cross between Cinematic and Realistic skills. Now Playing has 91 some odd skills to chose from compared to Buffy’s 18. Yikes! Skills can be bought the exact same way, though some start out as Poor or Non-Existent. Anyone can try a skill with a level of Poor, but you need training to use a Non-Existent skill. Training is reflected in the 30 points given to characters to improve skills. Without getting too deep into the math this about equal between the games, with the edge going to Now Playing characters. Skills though can be grouped together.

Skill Conversions
For a truly cinematic game my advice to Now Playing characters is to take the 91 Now Playing Skills and group them into Buffy’s 18 skills as Skill Groups per the Fudge rules.
Buffy skills are listed first, with Now Playing Skills in parentheses. For example, does anyone really care which type of Kung-Fu Kim Possible or Batman uses (they both know many kinds), no, just that they can kick some butt.
Buffy players can use these groups to specialize in one or more areas.

Acrobatics (Acrobatics, Balance, Jump)
Art (Perform, Photography)
Computers (Computer Use)
Crime (Breaking & Entering, Escape Artist, Forgery, Gamble, Haggle, Hide Traces, Pick Lock, Pick Pocket, Shadow, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Streetsmarts, Surveillance)
Doctor (Autopsy, Diagnose, First Aid, Surgery)
Driving (Drive , Pilot , Ride Animal )
Getting Medieval (Weapon )
Gun Fu (Weapon )
Influence (Bluff, Hypnosis, Interrogate, Intimidate, Oratory, Pantomime, Persuade, Seduce, Tall Tales, Uplift Spirits)
Knowledge (Area Knowledge, Business Sense, Culture , Etiquette, Gather Information, Knowledge , Nature Lore, Primitive Tools, Profile, Psychology, Religion , Research)
Kung Fu (Brawl, Martial Art )
Languages (Decipher Script, Innuendo, Interpret Language, Language , Read Lips, Write)
Mr. Fix-It (Craft , Demolitions, Disable Device , Engineering , Repair Device )
Notice (Direction Sense, Navigate, Notice, Sense Motive)
Occultism (Cryptozoology, Occult Knowledge, Parapsychology, Ritual , UFOlogy)
Science (Science )
Sports (Climb, Fish, Run, Sail, Swim, Throw )
Wild Card - anything

There are others that didn’t quite fit. Some are dependent on the situation used. For example Appraise in NP would part of Art if it is used to appraise a piece of art, but part of Occultism if used to appraise an ancient occult artifact. Animal Care could be a Wild Card, or part of Influence. There is a whole “animal” axis of skills as well as some social skills that could be covered by Unisystem qualities.

Directors of either game will have to re-parse out Skill points to accommodate for the reduced or increased number of skills.
When converting characters have a Now Playing character take the max or average of the skills in a skill group to represent their Buffy skill and for Buffy characters they should record their Buffy skill level in each of the Now Playing subskills, re-distributed based on character concept. No Now Playing skill should be higher than its Buffy skill counterpart.

Skills in Fudge work differently than Unisystem. In Unisystem a “Skill roll” is the skill + an attribute. In Fudge it is just the skill. All Unisystem skills start at 0. Fudge skills have different starting levels, some can’t be used untrained others can, but at the lowest possible level.

Qualities and Gifts
Qualities convert to Gifts and Drawbacks to Faults like outlined above. I am happy to note that Resources converts to Income very nicely. In fact Buffy players should look into Now Playing’s income ticket mechanic for purchasing items based on income/resource level as opposed to actual money. A good model of “TV Economics”.

Magic
Now Playing adopts, mostly, Fudge’s magic system. To me this is where it falls flat. There is a Magical Aptitude Power (roughly equal to The Gift, Sorcery or Magic Qualities) and a skill roll (again, roughly equal to Occultism). Already I see two separate checks to see if the magical power can be gathered and then used. This doesn’t really work for me. Let’s look at some magical TV shows. I don’t recall Piper, Phoebe or Paige needing to go through all of this. A “Power of Three” spell (their most powerful) does require a ritual (grasping hands and reciting the spell) and sometimes it does not work (Cole was able to break free at one point), but no gathering of mana. And I don’t believe that Samantha or Sabrina even did that much. So a simpler mechanic is really needed to mimic the Cinematic Unisystem magic system better.

Now I’ll be honest. The magic system in WitchCraft is the best I have ever used or read. The magic system in Buffy and Ghosts of Albion runs a very close second. So in my mind anything else is going to need work. Hell, I think the Buffy RPG does a FAR better job of explaining magic and how it works than the Buffy TV show. That being said here is a way to convert Buffy magic to Now Playing.

Magical Aptitude is a Power with the default level of Terrible. It effectively combines the old Magical Aptitude and Handle Mana Skill. It can be taken in levels (Terrible to Legendary) just like a skill or attribute. In order to cast a spell the character needs to match the level of the spell cast (also Terrible to Legendary). Some things can adversely effect this, such as concentration during combat (usually -1 to -4), stress, fatigue, or other factors. Other things can help such times and places of power (as described in either book).
So to cast a Legendary spell or a simple spell with Legendary effects, one must have Legendary Magical Aptitude, or at least be able to roll up to that. The same rules apply to critical failures and success. To convert a Buffy Spell take it’s Power Level and use the conversion matrix above. So a starting character with MA of Terrible (0 in Unisystem terms) only has the appitude, they can’t cast a Poor level spell (1 in Unisystem terms) unless they roll at least 1 +.

Putting it all Together




I used the Now Playing rules, with some cues from Heart Quest, Shoujo Anime and other Fudge games to create a new Series than can be run under Fudge or Unisystem. As usual I will stick with something I know well.

Using the Now Playing guidelines on spin-offs I created a Buffy-spin-off, or actually a spin-off of my spin-off. “Willow and Tara: Generation HEX” is a spin off set around 2006 or 2018 with the two lead characters Willow and Tara.  I did this with "The Dragon and the Phoenix" and "Season of the Witch", but this one has a bunch of new rules. 



I have often wondered what a supernatural/horror series would be like in the hands of Television master David E. Kelley (“Boston Legal”, “The Practice”, “Ally McBeal”, “Picket Fences”…). So in DEK tradition, I moved the Series to Boston (something I was doing anyway for a variety of reasons, but this works well) and  made it less about two witches fighting the supernatural and more about two women, who happen to witches, trying to lead a normal life while also dealing with the supernatural.  Also, given the events of "Season of the Witch", Tara was pregnant.   I did say it was going to be a new series.  I debated on whether to do it right after Season of the Witch or later when the kids were teens.  I ran part of it using Mutants & Masterminds and it was right after.  The Now Playing stuff was written with 2018 in mind.  Still don't know where to go on that yet.  

Demons have been over-done, so I focused instead on other types of supernatural creatures: ghosts, spirits, faeries and the like. Heart Quest has quite a bit of guidelines for dealing with these types, Now Playing deals with your typical Cryptozoological beasties (much like Conspiracy X or Dark Matter) as well as faeries and spirits. Between the two there are plenty of creatures, threats and distractions so I never have to use a vampire or a demon. After all the point of a spin-off is to establish it’s own identity. 


Let’s borrow another page (or two) from Heart Quest and set the series in school, maybe a school of girls, but certainly a school where magical things are happening. This would work well with the Magical Girl and Teen Romance options. Tara has been offered a job as a teacher and youth councilor (Girls Councilor if the school is co-ed). We can extend the DEK metaphor more and use “Boston Public” as a guide. 


This type of setting allows more play than just a “girls fighting monsters”. My players tend to like social issues, so I’ll take a dramatic turn then. Dealing with the supernatural has become easy, almost cliché really. If it’s evil  then kill it or send it back where it came from. What do you do if your character is sued by parent because their daughter claims the Cast Member made unwanted sexual advances at her? It’s not true, but it still a problem and you can’t just kill the student or parent. Now let’s say your character is a lesbian. How does that play out? How do you fight that battle? Certainly a courtroom showdown will be in order, complete with an impassioned monologue from the cast and their defense attorney. 


Life though is not just drama, sometimes it is mundane. Sure we can do episodes of Willow recalculating her mortgage or Tara working in the garden, just like real life, but that would not make a fun game. Though the other moments in life are equally important and worthy of games. Life is funny, sad, calm, hectic, reflective, sedate, often loving, sometimes pornographic, but all in all much richer than what is on TV (or even should be shown on TV) but a game can reflect all of those facets.


Willow Rosenberg
Leading Character
Brawn: Mediocre Reasoning: Superb
Agility: Mediocre Perception: Great
Stamina: Fair Will: Superb

Luck: 3 Income: Great* (Willow sold her security firm for 7 figures).

Skills: Acrobatics (Fair), Brawling (Poor), Business Knowledge (Good), Computer Use (Legendary), Craft, electronics (Great), Crime, general (Poor), Cryptozoology (Great), Dechipher Script (Good), Engineering, electrical (Great), Engineering, mechanical (Good), First Aid (Mediocre), Handle Mana (Legendary), Influence (Fair), Knowledge, general (Legendary), Languages (English, French, Latin, Greek), Magical Rituals, most (Legendary), Melee Combat (Mediocre), Notice (Good), Occult Knowledge (Legendary), Parapsychology (Legendary), Religion, Jewish (Good), Science, general (Great)

Gifts: Ambidexterity, Attractive, Wealthy

Faults: Ambitious, Enemy, Minority (Lesbian, Jewish, Wicca)

Powers: Awakened, Anamchara, Magical Aptitude

Props: Brownstone House, Bike, Computers (servers and laptops), Subaru Outback (special hybrid converted model), Doll’s Eye Crystal.

Real Name: Willow D. Rosenberg
DOB: August 1, 1981 (Age 24 in 2006)
Identity: Public, but unknown as a witch
Occupation: Part time computer instructor; Private Computer Security Systems Analyst; Witch
Height 5’3”, Weight 110lbs, Eyes Green, Hair Red


Tara A. Maclay
Leading Character
Brawn: Mediocre Reasoning: Great
Agility:Mediocre Perception: Superb
Stamina: Fair Will: Superb

Luck: 3 Income: Great

Skills: Acrobatics (Fair), Art, creative writing (Good), Art, painting (Good), Art History (Great), Brawling (Poor), Computer Use (Good), Crime, general (Poor), Cryptozoology (Good), Dechipher Script (Fair), Diplomancy (Mediocre), Driving (Fair), Handle Mana (Legendary), Influence (Good), Knowledge, general (Great), Languages (English, Japanese, Latin, Greek), Magical Rituals, most (Legendary), Melee Combat (Poor), Notice (Good), Occult Knowledge (Legendary), Parapsychology (Legendary), Perform, dance (good), Perform, singing (Good), Profile (Good), Psychology (Great), Religion, Wicca (Good), Science, general (Great)

Gifts: Attractive, Wealthy

Faults: Code of Behavior, Enemy, Minority (Lesbian, Wicca), Soft Hearted

Powers: Awakened, Anamchara, Healing Touch, Magical Aptitude, Sense of Empathy

Props: Brownstone house, Bike, Occult Library (includes the White Codex, Journal of Tamara Swift and The Journal of Megan Maclay).

Real Name: Tara A. Maclay
DOB: 11/07/1980 (25 in 2006)
Identity: Public, but unknown as a witch
Occupation: Youth Counselor and Art instructor; Witch
Height 5’5”, Weight 125lbs, Eyes Blue, Hair Blond

Depending on when this is set they also have their daughter Brianna who is either 1 or almost 13 (depending when I decide to set this; gotta find some new players first).

Notes: As usual, I am going with “The Dragon and the Phoenix” versions of these characters.
Briefly: Tara is back from the dead, Season 7 never happened, they defeated the mad god Leviathan. This would be the start of my Series 3 with Willow and Tara.  I used the Now Playing rules as the dominant feature in these conversions, but converting to Heart Quest (or any other Fudge game) should be easy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I write like...

I write like Vonnegut?


I write like
Kurt Vonnegut
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Not sure if I agree, but I like it all the same.
Currently going around Facebook and the Blogs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Featured Reviewer and PDFs

Well I am now a featured Reviewer over at DriveThruRPG.com.



This basically means that I buy a lot of PDFs but now I will also be reviewing them more.
Currently I have 62 reviews up. So if you want to know what I think of a game, then you can swing on by.

I like PDFs.  I can carry dozens of books with me if I want and when I want to print something, I can just do the sections I need.

If I get something interesting I'll pass it along here.

The Hex Girls Season 2 for Cartoon Action Hour Season 2

It is very surprising to me, but one of my most visited pages around here is my page for the Hex Girls. I am not sure why that is, but it is above beyond the most popular page I have here save for my one on Xena and Gabrielle.  In any case it got me thinking that the next "Season" of the Hex Girls should be powered by Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2.
BTW: I want to thank all the people at the CAH-Fans Yahoo Group that helped me with this.

The Hex Girls: World Tour (Season 2)

So using the Series Sheet to the left I came up with the following series for the Hex Girls.
Series Name: Hex Girls, Season 2 (the World Tour)
Tagline: "We're gonna put a spell on you!"
Goals: Tour the world, stop Lord Salem
Message:  Each episode ends with with information on being a better "eco-citizen" because "Together we can make it happen!"

Premise: The Hex Girls (after their ground breaking North American tour) are now touring the world and fighting off the worst monsters that Europe and Asia have to offer.  Flash Cameron was sent to a mental institution, but the threat now comes from the ghost of an old puritan witch hunter, Lord Salem.  Salem, along with his two bumbling henchmen Riff and Raff (they were not raised from the dead properly and are more like zombies than ghosts) attempt to stop the Hex Girls at any cost.  Not to just expose them, but to take them back the Neither World's Court for trail and sentencing.   Everyone is back; Thorn, Luna, Dusk and even Jasper.

Stats for Cartoon Action Hour 2
If you want more background for these characters, and stats for Cinematic Unisystem and Witchgirls Adventures then please check my previous Hex Girls posting.  Again, these stats below are not strict conversions, but more of a re-stating of the characters based on their concept in CAH:S2.

Thorn


Name: Thorn ("Sally McKinght")
Series: The Hex Girls
Group: The Hex Girls
Appearance: Attractive 20-something woman with dark hair and red highlights.

Factoids
- Is a great singer and guitar player
- Is a witch and can do magic
- Eco-Goth / Very environmentally conscious
- Wants to learn more about her family's magical roots
- Reads her horoscope daily (and talks about it)
- Always looks into the myths and legends of wherever they are going to be on tour.

Subplots
- Superstitious
- Secret: Is a witch
- Curious, what to find out all she can about magic and her place in the cosmos.

Traits
Charismatic, AF 2 (above and beyond the other Hex Girls)
Good Looking 2
Great Singer, AF 3
Monster Hunter 1
Occult Scholar 2
Perceptive 1
Singer/Gutarist 4 (this is for instruments and general lifestyle)
Witch (spell caster cluster) 4 (10 points, 12 -2)
- Sonic Attack (can "sing" an attack, think Black Canary or Banshee) (attack) (needs to be able to use voice)
- Shield (defend) (needs to be able to use hands)
- Teleport (manipulation)
- Magical Sight (can see magical creatures, magical forces in the earth) (misc.)

Curious x1
Eco-Goth x2

Base Oomph 4
Threshold 12
Battle Rating 4

Luna


Name: Luna ("Kim Moss")
Series: The Hex Girls
Group: The Hex Girls
Appearance: Attractive 20-something woman with red hair.

Factoids
- Is a musician
- Is a witch and can do magic
- Eco-Goth / Very environmentally conscious
- Wants to be in a number 1 band
- Can play almost any instrument.
- Is the best song and spell writer of the group
- Embraces her bi-racial heritage; considers that she got the best of both worlds

Subplots
- Tad obsessed with success
- Secret: Is a witch
- Has an ex that is more successful than she is

Traits
Good Looking 2
Monster Hunter 1
Occult Scholar 1
Perceptive 2
Musician 5, AF (for her ability to play any musical instruments)
Witch (spell caster cluster) 4 (10 points, 12 -2)
- Sonic Attack (can "play" an attack using any instrument) (attack) (needs to be able to use and instrument or something that can be "played")
- Shield (defend) (needs to be able to use hands)
- Astral Projection (manipulation)
- Magical Sight (can see magical creatures, magical forces in the earth) (misc.)

Obsessions: Be in a number 1 band  x1
Eco-Goth x1

Base Oomph 4
Threshold 12
Battle Rating 4

Dusk


Name: Dusk ("Muffy St. James")
Series: The Hex Girls
Group: The Hex Girls
Appearance: Attractive 20-something woman with blonde, sometimes green, hair. Wears more goth makeup and clothes than the others.

Factoids
- Is a Rock-star
- Is a witch and can do magic
- Eco-Goth / environmentally conscious (less so than the others)
- Wants to be where the party is

Subplots
- Threatens to quit the band often
- Secret: Is a witch
- can't read music and only plays the drums so she can hit things.
- Is the daughter of stinking rich yuppie parents.

Traits
Good Looking 1
Monster Hunter 2
Rich 3 (tries to keep it secret)
Rock and Roller 4 (this is for drums and general lifestyle), AF
Witch (spell caster cluster) 4 (10 points, 12 -2)
- Sonic Attack (can "scream" an attack) (attack) (needs to be able to use voice)
- Shield (defend) (needs to be able to use hands)
- Telekines (manipulation)
- Magical Sight (can see magical creatures, magical forces in the earth) (misc.)

Party Girl x1
Anger issues x2

Base Oomph 4
Threshold 12
Battle Rating 5 (extra point from Monster hunter. She likes to fight)

Lord Salem
New Season and a New Bad Guy.  This one ups the ante from Flash Cameron.  He doesn't want to just expose the Hex Girls, he wants to put them on trial and then, when he gets the guilty verdict he knows he will get, hang them.
Quick Bio: A puritan witch hunter is back from the dead, Lord Salem, and he is after the "wicked witches".  He was raised from the dead when the Hex Girls played a pre-world tour concert in their home town of Oakhaven, MA.  While their music played, he rose from the local graveyard.
He has two assistants, Riff and Raff,  but their resurrection was as complete as his own so they are somewhat stupid.
Lord Salem hates witches. Good, evil, young, old, they are all the same to him.  And witches must be stopped.  Salem wants to drag the Hex Girls to the Neither World's Courts where he will try them on charges of Witchcraft and violating the Natural Order of Things.  To do that he must be able to capture all three doing magic in public.  He follows and along the way he summons up all sorts of supernatural threats to get the girls to expose themselves.


Appearance: Lord Salem appears much as he did in the 17th Century.  He has a scar down his face that he claims was made by an evil witch. He does not carry weapons, saying that Righteousness is his only weapon, but Riff and Raff carry swords, knives and guns as needed.  If he is forced into fighting he will produce a fine, thin sword.
Factoids: "Completely obsessed with exposing witches", "unstoppable", "speaks in a low quiet voice", "completely convinced he is right".
Subplots: Mental hangup destroy all witches, and the Hex Girls in particular
Traits: Can Call out Supernatural beings to do his bidding 7 (AF), Immune to Magic 6, Lawyer (knows the legal system of Earth and the Neither World) 6, Stealthy 3, Strong 3, Swordmaster 5, Tracker 5, Will 5
Stats: Threshold 12, Battle Ratting 5

Lord Salem typically will call out the local supernatural creature to attack or otherwise expose the Hex Girls.  Each being would have to be stated up normally.

Obviously I still need to do stats for Riff and Raff (they are the same really) and Jasper Ridgeway.

Links
The Hex Girls at Scoobypedia http://scoobydoo.wikia.com/wiki/Hex_Girls
An anti-Hex Girls site http://forgenerations.net/main/enemy-tactics/hollywoods-deception/scooby-doo-hex-girls (link removed because site now points to virus infected site)  (gave me ideas for Lord Salem. He loves comments.)
Hex Girl Coven, tons of content.  http://www.angelfire.com/goth2/thehexgirlscoven.com/

Buy
Cartoon Action Hour - Season Two at Noble Knight Games
Cartoon Action Hour - Season Two at DriveThruRPG

DC Adventures from Green Ronin Pre-Order

I am very geeked about this.

DC Adventures is now up for Pre-order at Green Ronin's website.


And if you pre-order at their website, or at your FLGS you can get a code to buy the PDF for 5 bucks.

That's not too bad really.
I have seen some of the changes they have made to the system and while I was hoping to see it evolve more towards True20, I am very curious to see how it all works out.

Looking forward to this one and it is one of just a small handful of books on my Gen Con must buy list

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."
- Isaac Newton (1642-1727) in: Letter to Robert Hooke, February 5, 1676

The giant in this case was Descartes.  Later the same quote would be used to describe Newton himself by Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. Each generation builds on the work of the last.

Giants are not revered for their size, but because of their ability to see further.

I take a lot of praise for my work and because I am human I enjoy it. Because of who I am I also take it with a bit of surprise.  Afterall I like to write stuff that I like, it amazes me that others might enjoy it too.  But I understand that nothing I, or anyone else does, exists in a vacuum.

Ghosts of Albion would not exist at all had it not been obviously for the creative talents of Christopher Golden and Amber Benson.  It is their world, they define it, shape it and tell us how the characters live in it.  The rules for the game exist because of C.J. Carella.  Not only did he write the Cinematic Unisystem game that Ghosts uses, it was his Classic Unisystem game WitchCraft that inspired me to want write for Eden in the first place. Will Ghosts sell better than WitchCraft? I have no idea. Will people like it more? I know some do, others feel WitchCraft is still the superior game and I will not fault them for that.
Even taking all that into consideration I had help of editors, playtesters and general advice.

My various Witch books are the same way. As are my academic and professional lives.

Standing on the shoulder of giants is not about reverence of people, but rather acknowledgement of their work, of their contributions and why that work has helped make our lives a bit better.

We stand on the shoulders of giants so that one day others may stand on ours.
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