Showing posts from April, 2014

Who Was On Our Side Again?

Some people consider the GM to be the equivalent of the Creator (however you term him, her or it.) I'm not sure if that is a good metaphor. The Creator, I'm told, doesn't roll dice. But then diceless rp never grabbed me. Why should the GM have all the fun (yeah right) of playing a deity? Let your players pick a deity to play. give them some followers and step back! This is particularly fun with build your own stat systems like Risus with it's cliches or any of the FUDGE games. Though I guess with a little work you could make it work for Open d6 or Microlite20. If you're playing Risus it's easy enough. Give a character a cliche like God of War (5). If you're going to use the same 4-3-2-1 dice scheme or at least 10 dice per character remember to set the task numbers accordingly: the nearly impossible should be about a 10 for your average god (3d is a professional god at minimum, demigods might be a 1 or 2.) So 10 is a good number for various blessings, cat

What the Heck?

I'm breaking one of my rules by writing a whole other way to play Risus. I'm sure it can be applied to FATE or d6. In the  RAW we have our various cliches and the target numbers for said cliches vary according to how appropriate they are to the task at hand. That's great when you have to roll a task number. Not so great when you have combat or a SAC. In the latter two cases we have to either rule the cliche inappropriate or give the character the everyman cliche (2) and bump the appropriate cliches of other characters up by 2 dice. As a whole other can or worms I thought of the following: Characters take 10 (more or less traits.) Traits are similar to their definition in Risus i.e. they are part of a cliche. When you have a situation that comes up you use your traits to build a cliche on the spot. As an exercise in over thinking I wrote down the following traits in six groups of six because d66 tables for NPCs are fun. This is a SF set of traits: Area of Enterprise -

Dying is Easy, Role Playing Is Hard

In many (especially OSR) role playing campaigns death is a constant fact of life. The trend has been towards reduced character mortality in recent years, or at least sparing them when you can. I believe the trend started due to Classic Traveller where creating a character could take an hour or so. Who wants to hold up a game that long waiting for a replacement pilot to muster out (let alone the three or four Master Stewards you had to work up first)? But characters have, are still, and will continue dying in games and you might want to give some thought to just what sort of afterlife your campaign has. Possibilities 1) Afterlife is a belief. There is no direct contact between the living and the deceased. If there are gods or spirits that interact with mortals they may pass on some information or messages ('He said his squire didn't poison him but kill him anyway.') There may not be any post death survival and all such messages are lies by malevolent or malicious entiti

The Stats and the Bees

Character creation starts when a mommy npc and a daddy npc fall in love. No seriously odds are two people did the horizontal mambo resulting in your character in your game world. Generating characters while having sex is problematical. But character origins are not often addressed in game (hey, have one of your party's long lost father or mother show up some time for a surprise.) Nature As Joseph Campbell pointed out in his dissection of mythology, heroes (villains too I guess) are different from everyone else. One of the easiest and most dramatic ways to show this from the start is to give him a screwed up family. For example you're hard pressed to find a superhero with live biological parents. Batman lost his parents and became Batman. Superman lost his entire planet to become the Last Son of Krypton (More news on the Krypton cataclysm: the death toll continues to drop.) Losing their family can set the character on a certain path. Losing your species can make you unique

Marvel Super Heroes Reimagined

No Risus today. I'm writing about the classic Marvel Super Heroes game (MSH). This venerable game gave me hours of fun play back when it was released in 1982. The advanced edition in 1984 was just icing on the cake. Overview Characters had seven stats represented by FASERIP (also a dandy keyword for googling the game and resources because anything with Marvel in it will produce a jillion hits): Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intuition, and Psyche. Stat levels are represented by a number and a name (this was eight years before FUDGE by the way.) So a Strength of 40 was Incredible. Everything could be represented by a rank. Steel had a Remarkable material strength (30.) So trying to break a set of handcuff say was Remarkable intensity. If you had Incredible Strength this was pretty doable. You'd roll under the Incredible column on the Universal table and success meant the cuffs broke.  The table had several degrees of success: green, yellow and red to represen

Illuminati Revealed!

Conspiracy buffs are fond of pointing out unexplained events or odd coincidences and blaming them on the Illuminati, those behind the scenes rulers of all. They're a great hook for a campaign. No matter how much you think you've uncovered you always have more plots, more reveals,and more conspirators. Sanctum I'm inverting that. No one can keep all their secrets all the time with no down time. The upper echelon of any organization need someplace, a retreat if you will, to unwind. Thus the Illuminati came together long ago (or recently, the records are ... incomplete) and founded Sanctum. Sanctum is the one place on Earth the Illuminati do not rule (though each group does influence various sectors.) The city government enforces a strict neutrality among all the conspiracies. All of the conspirators come to Sanctum to relax and unwind and even talk shop. Some live as citizens of Sanctum their whole lives. Others join one of the Secret Masters. It's easier for some th

We Are All Individuals ... Or Are We?

Let's invert a trope. C'mon, it's fun. In this case the idea of everyone in a rpg party having completely different characters. Now having different characters each bringing different strengths to a venture is a good thing. You have your fighter, cleric, wizard, and rogue etc. In fact different fighters in a party can be very different in terms of weapons, attributes etc. Ditto Traveller where no two lieutenants in the Navy or Army are anything alike. In fact rpgs have gotten downright meticulous in ways to individualize your character. Of course this level of detail is not covered in rules-lite system which is sort of my blogging theme/niche/passion. Of course you can make up whatever details, tweaks or whatever you want about your character, that don't affect the game and again play of two similar characters might be completely different. But again, just for kicks, what if everyone in the group plays the 'same' character? Option #1 The players' charact

Dueling Cliches

On a personal note: it is hard to write three posts a week. I am going to keep doing it and try to update on M-W-F because I feel it is making me a better writer and gamer and I enjoy hearing from you. Today we deal with combat situations. Duels- Sometimes a fight boils down to a single round or two. A shoot out at high noon, a iajutsu draw draw between Samurai, and flamethrowers at ten paces are all examples of combat that boils down to draw and attack. It's also a great way for a badass character to shine. Risus as written does have a provision for this. Any attack may be resolved with a single roll with the GM assessing the outcome. For example, a heavily armed and armored warrior attacks a tiny gremlin. The GM decides the gremlin will be hit and stomped on a 15 or higher (he's little but quick) and if the warrior fails the roll the creature escapes. This works great for mooks who really only exist to slow down the players. But some combat is between two equals or near e

Every Starship You'll Ever Need

This post is taking a break from The Only Sci Fi Cliches You'll Ever Need to present starships (I suppose you can use these ideas for other vehicles.) There are three main missions for starships: scientific, economic, and offense/defense. Decide which operation is the primary mission, which is the secondary. Anything left over is tertiary. GMs feel free to stick other types of missions in there to suit your setting. A game of subterfuge may require stealth as a mission. Choose your cliche to reflect the mission priority. For example a Long Range Battleship might be Primary= Offense Defense (O/D), Secondary= Science (Sci), and Tertiary= Economics (Econ). No need to list every tertiary mission. Ships add a die to their primary mission rolls and subtract a die from their tertiary mission rolls when rolling combat or SAC. Science involves using sensors, conducting research and launching probes. Economic involves making a buck, hauling people or cargo, for example. Offense/Defense m

Risus Horror

Horror games are near and dear to my heart. I've been going through a zombies phase the last few years. Given my love of Risus combining the two is a no brainer if you'll excuse the pun. Which is where I run into a speed bump: how do you do Sanity checks in Risus? The grandfather of horror games, Call of Cthulhu (Chaosium) introduced us to Sanity checks. Sanity became a finite resource. Exposure to horrors would gradually wear this down driving the character mad and has become a sort of standard feature of horror rpgs in one form or another. The easiest way is to simply require a Sanity cliche. You could roll this cliche vs. a TN to avoid freezing in terror, screaming or running away etc. after a glimpse of the Great Old Ones. Faced by a minor monster the character might roll cliche vs. cliche in a single action contest. Losing could in effect rob him of his tools of the trade halving his cliches (you try finding that monster in your text of demonology when you're a few

Teamwork Is Not Just a Cliche

Not all parties meet in a tavern/library/laundromat/prison. Not every posse is a group of mismatched cut-ups thrown together by fate (destiny, not the RPG.) Some people share a bond from the start (the Fantastic Four, Challengers of the Unknown) or just train like there's no tomorrow until they act as one (X-Men, ... Power Rangers?) Sometimes teams like these are even allowed in roleplaying games. Teams already have benefits. They're great for team combat for one thing and a couple of guys with the right cliche to guard your back and provide a cliche you need is enough to turn a bad day around. A team could also be part of a larger organization and have a hook. For example join the Green Lantern Corp; get the most powerful weapon/tool in existence and see the Galaxy but you have to follow the orders of some little blue guys with big heads. Join the Holy Order of Justice and become a paladin but no more diddling the princesses you rescue. Or the X-Men can be viewed as a small

Three Kinds of Stories

There are three kinds of conflicts in stories: Man vs. Himself Man vs Man Man vs. Nature I already rambled on about hooks and ways to roll dice to resolve their complications in all sorts of ways. That covers man vs. himself. Man vs. man is any sort of combat you care to work up. Man vs. nature can be handled with combat as well. I refer you to the Risus Companion: if it would be fun to personify a problem; assign it some dice. So rather than plotting a journey on a map divided into hexagons or whatever grid you fancy assign the journey a cliche (or several cliches.) For example to reach the Disturbingly Remote Tomb of Demonstration our heroes must travel on the King's Road (2), then the Dismal Mire (3) and finally ascend the Deadly Precipice (5.) Fortunately they have a ranger with Rugged Outdoorsman (4.) He laughs at the trip by road and blows it away with no trouble in two rounds (say two days travel.) He loses none of his cliche. The Dismal Mire is defeated in 3 round

The Only Sci Fi Cliches You'll Ever Need Pt. 4

Presenting the Last Installment of Every Sci Fi Cliche You'll Ever Need. This is from the thread at RPGNet. I suggest you check it out. Kirby Near Gods (sensing cosmic threats, embodying a single concept to extremes, inscrutable, appearing in a large explosion, surviving space and nearly anywhere else with your cape flapping in a metaphorical wind, universal translator, ancient lore, being unkillable) Time Wizard (knowing about nearly everything in space, navigating the time stream, regenerating mortal injuries, turning junk into wondrous inventions) F---less Alien (It doesn't matter. They don't do anything and nothing really bothers them.) Proud Warrior of the Empire (swordplay, shooting it out, brawling, biting, being stoic in the face of pain and itchy uniforms, arcane rituals of endurance and courage, code of honor lore, boarding actions) Mysterious Alie

The Only Sci Fi Cliches You'll Ever Need Pt. 3

Presenting Part 3 of The Only Sci Fi Cliches You'll Ever Need. We're doing the bottom of space today. I  urge you to follow the thread on rpgnet at Alien Space God Cultist (kidnapping, brainwashing, techno rituals, archaeology, psionic lore, weird mythologies, denial) Space Viking (see Space Pirate in Pt. 2. Replace fencing loot with poetry) Man-Ape (hunting, climbing, brachiating, hollering, shooting it out, brawling) Psionic Space Commie (mind reading, mental suggestion, quoting from their manifesto, subterfuge, recruiting people to their cause) Hostile Intelligent Machine (hacking, turning your computers against you, being logical, manufacturing more HIMs) Radioactive Wasteland Warrior (survival in a radioactive desert, shooting it out, dog training, hiding, scavenging food and technology) Places and Things Living Planet (looking like a non-living planet

The Only Sci Fi Cliches you'll Ever Need Pt. 2

Guy Hoyle (rightly) pointed out that ships could simply be treated as characters in combat with other characters. Yes of course huzzah. I do add a layer of detail to Risus in my posts for sure. But my goals are simple in doing this: 1) Make sure what I'm doing will add to roleplaying and character options and 2) keep the add ons simple. Hopefully I did that with my post on starships and thank you all for your feedback. When in doubt keep it as simple as possible. Hats off to Propagandor the OP. If anyone can put me in contact with him I'd appreciate it. I can't seem to join rpgnet. Must be my outstanding warrants for role playing with loaded dice. Continuing our Sci Fi cliches and working on the lower left corner of the galaxy. Mega-Corpo-Rat (making a deal, analyzing the value of an acquisition, hostile takeovers, strip mining your human resources, back room deal