Saturday, December 3, 2016

Capsule Reviews by Genre

  Inspired by a talk with the sons last night:

1) We meet the protagonists, and they are Good
2) The antagonists are bad and do bad things to the protagonists
3) Training montage
4) The protagonists gain vengeance
Genre: Kung-fu

1) We meet the protagonist and he is Good, if Flawed
2) The antagonists are bad
3) Escalating action encounters
4) The protagonist wins in a final showdown
Genre: Action

1) We meet the protagonist, and he is Bad
2) The secondary characters are also bad, the antagonist is Worse, and everyone does bad things
3) Betrayals happen
4) The protagonist kills the antagonist
Genre: Film Noir

1) We meet the protagonists, and they are Good
2) We meet the antagonist, and he is Not Good
3) Musical Numbers and gunplay
4) The protagonists prevail, and sing
Genre: Singing Cowboy

1) We meet the protagonist, and she is Nice
2) We meet the antagonist and he is Handsome
3) 50 minutes of miscommunication
4) The protagonist and antagonist kiss
Genre: Chick Flick

1) We meet the protagonist and he is Smart
2) We meet the antagonist and it is Dangerous
3) Science!
4) The protagonist prevails
Genre: Sci-Fi Peril

1) We meet the protagonists, and they are Wholesome
2) We meet the antagonist and he is Greedy
3) Let's put on a show!
4) The protagonists prevail
Genre: Andy Hardy/Shirley Temple, etc.

More to come!

Worldbuilding: The Rhythm of the Year

  This time of year can be tough for my family for reasons that will seem a little odd to most people.
  It is because of the calendar.
  You see, to us it is not the Christmas Season, it is Advent. We don't put up ornaments or lights or a tree until December 24th. Then we go to the Vigil Mass for Christmas. Then the Christmas season starts and we celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas until Epiphany, then we take down the tree but leave up the lights until the Christmas season ends with Candlemas on February 2nd. I finally take down the lights on February 3rd.
  We're Catholics with traditions from the Old World.
  In the liturgical calendar the beginning of the new year (for the Church) is the beginning of Advent. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to St. Andrew's Day (November 30th) which is the 4th Sunday before Christmas, of course. Advent is traditionally a time of penance and fasting in preparation for Christmas, almost a sad time as we reflect on why Christ had to manifest. Once Christmas actually arrives then we celebrate, decorate, and play Christmas music.
  Why is this hard? Look around! For almost everyone else the Christmas music starts the afternoon of Thanksgiving, the tree and lights go up the weekend of Thanksgiving. The music stops on December 26th and the tree and lights come down around New Year's, if not before.

  No, this is not about me telling you that you are doing Christmas wrong. You aren't. You just have a different calendar.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Play Report: Castle Amber - into Averoigne

 Part one and part two.

  Spoiler heavy for the module and for Clark Ashton Smith stories!

  The party had woken up in Averoigne with their pack animals, riding and war horses, and soon learned that they had been sent back in time from 1250 to 1100.
  Since their characters were from the region (or had lived there) the hints they had from the chateau were enough for them to create a plan and begin executing it immediately. They first headed straight for a Potion of Time Travel and encountered the bishop's men. After some serious roleplaying and zero combat (a ton of fun with PC assassins having tense faceoffs with local cultists, and the like) they were able to trade a magic item for a potion and leave. They then encountered people looking for the Beast of Averoigne. The party had already found the aftermath of a slaughter by the fell creature, but they found nothing.

Rolemaster Unified Playtest Report: Skills Check

  Recently I ran the party through a short adventure to check the use of skills in RMU. The party:
  [All 4th level one-shots]
  JR - Rogue
  AJ - Thief
  ST - Paladin
  NH - Ranger

  The scenario was very cookie-cutter because - playtest. Villagers were asking for help because locals were vanishing near the stone circle atop a mound deep in the woods. I set it up to require a lot of tracking, searching, stalking, hiding, opening locks, reading old documents in foreign languages, Lore checks, etc. There was enough combat (mainly created undead and a low-level evil Channeler) to keep it interesting.
  We also used the newer version of initiative from the ICE Forums (thanks to the forum members for all their help!).

  JR - "Using skills was smooth, intuitive, and didn't break the flow of narrative. The newer initiative system was much better. With the open structure I can also see collaborating with the GM to make "new" skills, too, without wrecking balance."
  AJ - "I didn't spend any time at all 'looking at the sheet for the solution': I wanted to sneak up on a guy; I rolled; we moved on. Easy."
  ST - "I agree with AJ - this didn't turn into 'something on your character sheet solves the problem'. With maneuver rolls and such it was very easy to just say 'I do x' and resolve it quickly."
  NH - "Rolemaster was always my favorite version of 'RPG with skills' and RMU is solid in how it presents them."
  Me - With a quick GM screen I threw together in 20 minutes it was easy as pie to resolve combat plus maneuver plus skill usages at once. The flow was smooth and the pace was fast. Loved it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Play Report: Castle Amber Second Session

  Report on the first session is here. I have notes on how I changed the module to include creatures from Spelljammer, Star Wars, Traveller, the Elric series, and more in that entry.

  We left the heroes in the interior garden after a girl with golden skin had given them a silver key.
  The party continued down the path, careful to never leave it (especially after watching the trees tear a bear in twain. They ignored the squirrels with golden acorns and saw the goat-man tell the terrible troll that his big brothers were right behind him. At this point Son #3 used his 18 Charisma and leadership abilities to convince the troll that a richer, fatter adventuring group would be along any moment.

From Another Writer: My Five Favorite RPG Covers

An idea given to me by Samwise7

In no particular order, my 5 favorite covers to RPG books and such.

  Not just from nostalgia, but from the concept of making sure people knew how awesome a game could be with a cover.

  "So, what are characters in an RPG supposed to do?"

  A fun, evocative cover that has always been one of my favorites.

  C&S is pure nostalgia

  And of course the cover that launched 1,000 adventures. Simple, direct, and awesome.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Magic Item of the Week: Bartlebee's Bastion Bag

Bartlebee was an adventuring mage famous for his vast arcane knowledge, his poor constitution, and his tendency to be attacked while sleeping. He eventually crafted an enchanted sleeping bag that was so handy his fellow adventurers cajoled him into making more.
  The bag is made of a woolen rug folded over and sewn along the 'bottom' with frog fasteners along the long side; a person lays within the rug and fastens it closed. The person is warm and snug but may open the bag very quickly in an emergency.
  If the command word is known once fastened the bag will drift up  8' off the ground and enter a dimensional pocket very similar to a Rope Trick spell. The interior is shielded from wind and rain but allows the person inside to hear what is going on around them and to see through a 2' x 2' one-way window that looks down from where their head rests. It takes 2 segments for the bag to rise and enter the space.
  Note: if a ceiling or other obstacle blocks the bag from rising to a full 8' it will still enter a pocket space as long as it can rise at least one full foot from the ground.
  The space will be within a few degrees of the ambient temperature, but the bag itself is enchanted to make its occupant comfortable if the ambient temperature is between 111 to -11 Fahrenheit.
  If the occupant of the bag is awake the bag will exit the space in 30 minutes. If the occupant falls asleep within 30 minutes the bag will remain  in the space for 8 hours of until 5 minutes after the occupant awakes, whichever occurs first. The bag may be used no more than once a day (from sunrise to sunrise) and no more than 3 times in a week (a phase of the moon).
  The bag can hold a creature of up to the size of a large half-ogre but is generally limited so that only a single humanoid and its familiar/a single small animal can be in the space along with a single large, loaded backpack.
  When the bag 'turns off' it takes 2 segments to exit the space and float down. In a rush, the occupant can unfasten the bag and leap out in a single segment - the bag and any gear will fall to the ground immediately if this is done.