Friday, January 28, 2011

Man, I really want to run some D&D

Like my blogging buddy Barking Alien, I have an awful case of Gamer ADD. When I think I'm set on running a super-cool Feng Shui campaign for my friends, my mind naturally starts to wander. I've been thinking about Uresia, about the aborted 4E campaign that I was going to run at the library, the fantasy novels that I've been reading for my Young Adult class, not to mention all the cool things that I've been reading on people's blogs. The sum total being that they've all got me wanting to run Dungeons and Dragons again.

Fortunately, I've put out the word to my Facebook friends and at least one person has bit. Marcos wants to play D&D SO BAD that I think Harrison may just have to deal. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This one's for Dr. Rotwang!

More definitive proof that the 80s took a really long time to die...

This is a promo video for the 1st edition release of Shadowrun at Gencon 1990, combining shirtless musclemen, intense Duran Duran video makeup, feathered hair and jean skirts with Doctor Who-level special effects and highly advanced Mind's Eye style CGI. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Feng Shui: Savaged Archetypes

For all folks who've been interested in my Savage Worlds Feng Shui conversion, I finished the grunt work on most of the archetypes today. Unfortunately still in development are the Abomination and Supernatural Creature (to be put together with the Slipstream alien creation rules), the Cyborg (still finishing the Edges and Skills), the Monster Hunter (still have no idea how to do cybernetics) and the Transformed Animal (worked out all the races in the book with the alien creation rules, going to put something together if someone wants to play one)

Here you go. Enjoy the Google doc and if you have any questions about it, feel free to ask!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Feng Shui: The End of an Era

My best friend Mike has always said that the 80s in Hollywood really didn't end until Pulp Fiction came out in 1994. Since Feng Shui's 'Contemporary Era' is smack dab in 1996, I wanted to see if the hypothesis fit. After spending a lazy afternoon watching bad 80s and 90s action movie trailers with a back injury, I heartily concur.

Case in point:




To be fair, direct to video movies tend to be about 5-10 years behind the pop-cultural curve, so I can't exactly blame the Cannon films for being too 80s.

Note: these are all coming from the gigantic ActionPackedCinema YouTube channel, where you can find probably 500 more of these trailers.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lost Empires: A step in the right direction

Thanks to James from the Underdark Gazette for pointing this game out to me!

This month's OSR kerfuffle de jour basically had to do with innovation in old school products, whether or not retro-clones were doomed to restat the same orc and the same six attributes forever and anon. Well, the new Beta rules of Rogue Comet Games's Lost Empires is an interesting step in the right direction for retro-clones, even if its rules are a bit of a mess at times.

Lost Empires definitely appears to be inspired by games like True20 and Microlite20, point-based refinements of d20 games down to a core essence. Characters are created by spending points towards your Combat Bonuses, Skills, Hit and Mana Points. The three quasi-classes in Lost Empires are definitely inspired by the Warrior/Adept/Expert divide in those games and I wish that these distinctions were more apparent in the rules text. They tout the ability to customize thieves that can cast spells or warriors that can pick locks, but the actual class roles are located at the bottom of page 13.

The game uses a very interesting magic user mechanic which gives starting mages a fighting chance of doing something other than casting Sleep and falling back on their daggers. Each spell has a dice 'level' of their own that determines how many Mana Points that you spend on it. If that number exceeds your existing MP, the difference is taken as Feedback damage against your Hit Points.

Overall, I really like the idea behind this clone, which is honestly more of a game inspired by S&W rather than a clone of an existing rules set or a house-ruled document. The author has said that it's a game designed to appeal to young people who've never gamed before, which is a super admirable mission and one that, alongside a lot of other stuff that's been circling around me, is definitely inspiring my creativity. Expect further announcements.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feng Shui: How to Savage an Archetype

Alongside writing up ideas for the super cool Gigacrawler project over at Playing D&D With Porn Stars, I've been working on translating Feng Shui's Archetypes to my weird hybrid system. Though the two systems are surprisingly similar (broad skills, Edges compared with Schticks, modular powers), I've been having one main issue with the process: how faithful should the Archetypes be to the originals? In the original Feng Shui, game balance was not a real issue between Archetypes. Somewhere on RPGnet, I remember someone who worked on Feng Shui saying that they basically assigned values that sounded good to each character type. As a result, some Archetypes were just better than others.

At first, I created each Archetype as a Novice level Savage Worlds character, complete with buying their items. This was all well and good, but the more I looked at them, the more they didn't seem right. I had always liked the abstract Wealth Levels and weapon choices that Feng Shui employed. It left all of the bookkeeping and gear crunching at the door and told you, "You're a Working Stiff. You've probably got a car and an apartment. You get three guns. Let's kick some ass." That was the first thing to be grafted on.

I also felt that the same Novice layout was making each Archetype look a little samey: not many Edges and too few Skill points to really make the character your own. So I decided to boost the level of each Archetype to Seasoned, which enabled for a lot more room for customization. Different Archetypes could put their Advances into Edges, Attributes or Skills as I saw fit. It gave me much more leeway in building these Savage Worlds characters like their Feng Shui counterparts. Take a look:

Everyman Hero

Agility d6
Smarts d6
Spirit d6
Strength d6
Vigor d6
+1 more

Charisma: 0
Speed: 30ft.
Parry: 5
Toughness: 5

Driving d6
Fighting d6
Knowledge (Classic Cars) d6
Knowledge (Sports) d6
Notice d6
Repair d4
Shooting d4
Streetwise d4
+3 more

  • Heroic (Major): Character always helps those in need


  • Combat Reflexes: +2 to recover from being Shaken
  • Improvisational Fighter: +1 to hit and damage with improvisational weapons
  • Lucky: +1 extra Bennie
  • Quick: Discard draw of 5 or less for new card
Weapons: None. You're just going to have to find one somewhere.
Wealth Level: Working Stiff

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mixtapes: Go home and be a family man!

So, I'm pretty sure that most people born in the 1980s have played a few rounds of Street Fighter II before. It's one of the universal arcade games of our era, like the X-Men side-scrolling beat-em-up or one of those Neo Geo cabinets with Metal Slug and Bust A Move on it that every skating rink or mini golf course had at one point or another. Apart from being the first fighting game in video game history, it's also perfect Feng Shui fodder.

Seriously, a bunch of super-powered martial artists, kung fu cops and what seems to be a Supernatural Creature from the Brazilian rain forest pitted against each other in a worldwide fighting tournament by a psychic dictator who runs the world's most powerful crime syndicate? That's your campaign right there! If you want to make it a little more down to earth (and a little stupider) there's the much worse in hindsight Street Fighter II V anime series, available on Netflix Instant.

Mainly, this whole post is an excuse to post Guile's stage theme from Super Street Fighter II, which I have had stuck in my head for three days. Enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Library D&D Campaign: Survey Says...

But seriously, folks...

As I mentioned before, I'm attempting to kick start the library Dungeons & Dragons program again for the Spring semester, with a more focused effort towards online and school outreach. So far, I have 3 potential teens interested in the program and hopefully more to come. Unfortunately, I haven't heard back from any of them in the month following Christmas Break, which was when I sent out my email reminder.

I've decided to devise a preliminary survey to send out to interested kids to not only gauge their interest in the Dungeons & Dragons program, but also to get a sense of their experiences with the fantasy genre and roleplaying. Here are my questions so far:

(1) Name, Age, School, etc...

(2) What are 5 of your favorite fantasy sources? Remember, this can be anything from books and comics to television and video games. Anything goes!

(3) Have you had any experience with roleplaying games before? Have you played console or computer RPGs? Online message board games?

(4) What kind of character are you interested in playing? Are they courageous? Cunning? Steadfast and loyal? How will they interact with the rest of the group?

Remember: I'm not interested in running a campaign with evil characters. Everyone should be more or less willing to do the right thing when it's necessary. That said, not everyone has to be a paragon of virtue. Mercenaries, scoundrels and ne'er-do-wells of all types are encouraged.

(5) Is there anything that you absolutely want to do in this Dungeons & Dragons campaign? Recover lost artifacts from dangerous subterranean temples? Repel a goblin invasion? Become king (or queen!) of an emerging nation? Let me know!

That's what I have so far. Anyone else have any good ideas for questions that I should ask?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Feng Shui and Savage Worlds: Two great tastes, together at last!

Outside of my potential library game and old school brainstorming, I've been recently sitting down with my non-gaming friends and trying to determine a game that they would like to play. They all have assorted background with roleplaying, both in tabletop and video game format and are mostly looking to have some fun and kick some ass. My friend Harrison isn't a fan of fantasy fiction and D&D by extension, so I've been thinking about games in more modern, but still somewhat fantastical settings. We first tried making characters for a Deadlands game, which is one of my favorite settings and the home of my most successful campaign ever (4 sessions! Whoo boy!) But once characters were made, I had a hard time coming up with any adventure hooks. I guess it was one of those cases of being more excited about the idea of running Deadlands than the actual prep involved.

So, after a week or so of refocusing, I picked up a new line of inspiration. I had gone over to hang out with a big pile of DVDs after my finals were over and ended up putting on Big Trouble in Little China, which no one else had seen. Now, alongside Raiders of the Lost Ark, Silverado, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Desperado, Big Trouble in Little China is one of my favorite movies of all time, one that I could watch over and over again. Everyone else seemed to have a blast watching it, which got me thinking. Feng Shui is basically the Big Trouble in Little China RPG, right?

Compare and contrast

Like many people, I'm not a big fan of the auctioneer-style initiative system and the 2056 Juncture in the established core book, just because I don't really like the idea of magic bug carapace technology as a normal everyday thing, even in the future. But I wasn't comfortable enough with the system to modify the existing Arcanowave system or start making my own Archetypes and Schticks.

And so, I started working on a weird hybrid system, combining Feng Shui with my most comfortable system, Savage Worlds. The two actually share a fair amount of common ground, from the broad skills to the differentiation between major characters and mooks to the effects-based sorcery powers, so conversion wasn't a difficult step. But there were also a lot of elements from Feng Shui that I wanted to keep, as well as a fair amount of other changes to both of the systems (does it really make sense for a high-flying Hong Kong action game to keep meticulous track of ammunition?).

Hopefully, we'll be making characters tonight after watching The Rundown. So far, everyone seems super enthusiastic about it and it's given me a chance to revisit a bunch of my favorite Hong Kong and Hollywood action movies. Once I've gotten more of a handle on the individual parts, I'll start posting my conversion stuff.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hey Kids!

Do you like the idea of a fun and expandable Adventure Deck in your 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons game, but think that $8 for 4 cards is still pretty ridiculous?

Then check out these cool-ass Drama Cards, brought to us by this classy guy over at 1d4chan! Not only are they useful for a 4E game, but many of them could be used in whatever version of Dungeons and Dragons you care to run! Download them here from Megaupload!

Yeah, I know, I know. Magic: the Gathering is ruining the sanctity of the gaming table and trading cards are a blight on society, but I picked up a Magic deck long before I ever rolled any polyhedrons and I think stuff like this is pretty cool. I would love to integrate something like this into my game, to match my wonderful Deck of Stuff.

So here's a toast to not overreacting as well as finding creative solutions to problems!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Revolution

My list of New Years gaming resolutions includes:

-Finish work on my library Dungeons and Dragons game (which will start being worked out on the blog shortly).
- Begin my Savage Worlds Feng Shui hybrid campaign with my non-gaming friends.
- Meet up and talk with more of my fellow game bloggers. I had a chance to talk face-to-face with Tavis Allison from The Mule Abides this Christmas break and it was a really great experience.
- Be on the playing side for once, damn it! I've been GMing for what seems like a decade without any real chance to take the other side of the screen. I'd like to have some adventures.
- Read more.
- Write more.
- Get fit.
- Succeed wonderfully at whatever I do.

Well, a man can dream, can't he?