Monday, October 30, 2017

On a Lighter, More PbtA AD&D

After recently looking through a couple PbtA RPGs, such as Monster of the Week and the original Apocalypse World, and the 1e PHB, I see a couple things that I would love to rip from * World games for a AD&D retroclone/hack:

  • 2d6 Skills: A unified skills system could easily use the 6-, 7-9, 10+ roll system from AW. This way, a small bonus has a large impact and it provides some narrative elements as the GM can use the at a cost of 7-9 to their advantage
  • Playbooks: The real gem is playbooks as you can actually play an entire game of Apocalypse World with just your character sheet. Having a two page rules/character sheet for an OSR game contain everything needed for play would be extremely useful, especially for the groups where no one wants to read the rules. 
  • Codified GM Rules: While not as old school in feel, having a few set actions to help a GM could be useful, although I personally would not include this in a game I write.
If I have time once I finish all outstanding projects, a PbtA spin on AD&D would make a nice project so I can finally have something I can play without my players dragging their feet and procrastinating before they actually read the rule book, and that I can enjoy.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

OtSoG Kickstarter etc.

The Kickstarter is currently dragging along in the mid-KS doldrums but as it has already done so well and every KS tends to pick up in the last 48 hours, I don't really see any major problems with this. I am currently working on the additional material, currently clocking it at 11 additional pages, and determining what artwork I'll need. I just got a layout sample from Glynn Seal and it looks amazing!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

On Evolution

My Gothic RPG has switched from system to system since I conceptualized it. It was originally meant to be a WhiteBox hack, then switched to an original system similar to 1e Tunnel and Trolls, and now I'm considering getting a license to use one of my favorite systems, Barbarians of Lemuria. Of course, I won't be able to get any major headway done until I've completed writing for all of the stretch goals on my On the Shoulders of Giants KS... but soon my precious... soon.

UPDATE: I can get a license to use the BoL system and am currently considering whether to make it a supplement or full rules set.

Monday, October 16, 2017

[KS] On the Shoulders of Giants

The On the Shoulders of Giants Kickstarter has been live for a couple days now and it is already over 700% funded and smashed through all of the stretch goals! Currently it is sitting pretty at $784 and 92 backers out of a $100 goal. I am writing a new page of material for every $50 above $350, with art and layout, and the final product will be available through CreateSpace and DriveThruRPG, in paperback and hardcover!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

[Review] VSd6 Blood Dark Thirst

Explanation: Although I already reviewed Venger Satanis' vampire heartbreaker/homage to the first edition of Vampire: the Masquerade, this is a new version that uses his VSd6 system, which can be seen in his Alpha Blue and Crimson Dragon Slayer RPGs. I still haven't read VtM so this review is uninfluenced by how different or similar it is to that.

System: As mentioned above, this new iteration of Blood Dark Thirst uses the VSd6 system. What this means is that for every action you roll a certain number of dice based on how skilled you are and the highest number is your score, with multiple 6s only counting for attacks. You are skilled at three things, which you roll 3d6 for, you are bad at one thing, which you roll 1d6 for, and for everything else you roll 2d6. If the challenge is fairly easy, you add a die, and if it's hard, you subtract a die. If you should have 0d6, you simply roll 2d6 and take the lowest.

Character Creation: In addition to picking three skills and one weakness, you also pick three (out of 20) personality flaws, such as pacifist, insecure, and greedy, a name, gender, and age, and supernatural powers. All vampires have three base supernatural powers but there is also another lengthy list of powers that you will pick as you level up, ranging from changing into wolves and bats to telepathy.

Humanity and Health: One of the best parts of this system, Humanity and Health are how you track your vampire's physical and mental state. Humanity ranges from 1 to 6, with 6 being perfectly human to 6 being a horrific beast. Every time you do something especially inhuman, you lose a point of Humanity, but you can only lose one point of Humanity per night. This means that if you go on a nonstop killing rampage, you only lose one point, which in my opinion can lead to nice roleplaying as it becomes one instance of your inner beast taking over. Health starts at 25 and goes up by 1d6 every level. Vampires can regenerate 1d6 Health by spending a point of blood and Humans regenerate 1d6 Health nightly.

Combat: Combat with this system, from what I read, tends towards the cinematic. Whoever describes their action first goes first and you roll a certain number of dice based on how strong your attack is. Then, based on the result of that roll (taking the highest number again), you roll a certain number of damage dice to subtract from your enemy's hit points. It's really quite simplified and I enjoy the mechanical purity. Damage does explode, which, when you're already dealing a lot of damage, could be unbalancing but it can represent the bestial instinct of the vampire taking over. Also, all vampires essentially have cleave, so if they deal more damage than they need to, it carries onto another victim.

Blood, Willpower, and Bloodlust: Points of blood and Willpower both range from 1-6, allowing you to track it handily on a d6, although it is recommended to use tokens. Points of blood are similar to mana, allowing you to use supernatural powers and heal yourself, while Willpower represents a vampire's restraint. You can only spend one point of blood per turn and one Willpower per round and three Willpower per scene. Bloodlust isn't a number but rather comes into play when you're running low on blood. When you have a low blood, you roll additional dice when doing something. When they come up as 1s, you go into a frenzy, and if they are 6s, you have a critical success. The duality of this, in my mind, allows for players to consider whether or not they want to risk running low on blood.

Weaknesses and Truths and Falsehoods: As an addendum of sorts, Venger provides a basic list of ways that the vampires can be killed, as they are essentially immortal otherwise, and debunks some 'facts' from classic films and stories. I can definitely see this being useful to a GM.

Etc.: In addition to the mechanical side, Venger also provides information for blood bonds, or binding one vampire to another, mortal slaves, a few random tables, and a basis for a starting adventure. Because of the more free-form nature of this system, and the random tables provided, having the adventure as an introduction and set of bullet points is actually a boon rather than a bane. It lets the GM decide how he wants to run this adventure, while still having a list of things to fall back on.

In Conclusion: This is definitely a more free form and brutal vampire RPG than most, with a definite focus on animal instinct versus reason. It seems somewhat alike to Daniel Bayn's Wushu in mechanical and suggested style while staying far, far away from Twilight vampires.

Final Rating: ★★★★★

Update: I received a complimentary copy of the finalized Blood Dark Thirst for review purposes, so here are my opinions on the art and layout in the final PDF.

Layout: The layout is by Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design, who has done artwork for a variety of Kort'thalis Publishing products as well as recently running a successful Kickstarter for his Midderlands setting. The background of the page is stylized to be blood stained and despite this, the actual text and content is still easy to read, at least for me. All in all, the layout looks especially good to me and the actual content really benefits from it.

Artwork: The artwork is from a variety of different artists and features a variety of different artists, and unlike the WotC Star Wars Roleplaying Game, this isn't jarring at all to me. Every piece showcases a different aspect of the popular culture surrounding vampires and someone's different interpretation thereof. Plus, one of the pieces, by an artist called Priest of Terror, actually did a piece with their own blood from what I can tell! That's the best possible (and metal) art style to include in a vampire roleplaying game and I have to give credit to both Venger and the artist for including this.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Review: Star Wars RPG Revised CRB

I recently got a copy of the re-released version of WotC's first Star Wars RPG, the precursor to Star Wars Saga Edition at my FLGS for a good deal, so here's a review.

Artwork: Some of the artwork seems to be reused images from the films but what's not varies between quite nice paintings and fairly cartoony images, which is fairly jarring to me. However, if the artwork was all one type, I think it would be quite a bit better, and each piece is fairly decent by its own.
Rating: 4/5

Writing: The writing is consistent and I don't see any major typos or grammatical errors throughout the book.
Rating: 5/5

Mechanics: The game uses a slightly modified d20 system that I happen to find easy to use to introduce my group to. HOWEVER, as it should be according to the movies, the Force is a tad too powerful for my tastes and the Dark Side isn't as well represented as it is in the d6 system. All in all, the system is good for Wizards of the Coast and I would play it.
Rating: 4/5

Layout: As is standard for Wizards of the Coast, the layout is extremely professional and a pleasure to look at. The background for each page doesn't detract from the actual content and helps add to the "eye feel" of the book.
Rating: 5/5

Average Rating: ★★★★☆

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Upcoming Project

I'm still working on a few things for On the Shoulders of Giants, sanding off a few of the rough edges, and am working even harder on my current side projects. WorldRP is still in active development, as is my gothic fantasy RPG and my weird west WhiteBox hack. Bloodied and Battered has been changed from a (fairly) traditional OSR game with unique mechanics to an OSR-adjacent game based around gothic fiction and the tropes contained in this genre. I may kickstart Bloodied and Battered as well, but am working on commissioning some art and getting some quotes first.