Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hacking 13th Age with Tenra Bansho Zero and Numenera

Tenra Bansho Zero has an awesome mechanic: the aiki-kiai-karma system. Basically each character has a set of Fates that, should they play to them in ways that their fellow players deem as cool, they get an aiki chit, which they can use for character advancement. So I got an idea to hack it into 13th Age, which has only one flaw: no actual advancement system beyond hand-waving. Now, granted, this game is open for hacking by design intent, so I don't really see it as a flaw.

But I still wanna hack it.

So the system doesn't have Fates, and I've thought about having everyone write them up. I even devised a Destiny system that would set down major plot points over the entirety of the campaign. But it started looking a little rail-roady and besides, as Carpe pointed out, we've already got some free-form elements in 13th Age: Backgrounds and the One Unique Thing! So we're going to use 'em. But first, the actual rewards system.

First of all, you've got what're called Awesome Chits. Whenever you do things in-line with your 
Backgrounds and One Unique Thing that someone else likes they give you an Awesome Chit. Awesome Chits are used for a few things:

  1. Add +5 to any d20 roll, cumulative. If you spend 5 points on a d20 roll you get a critical success.
  2. Halve the incoming damage of an attack by spending a number of Awesome Chits equal to the damage dealt/10.
  3. Add 5 damage/tier per point spent, to a max of 3 points.
  4. At the end of the session spend the extra Awesome Chits to buy the Incremental Advances talked about in the Core Book. 5 Awesome Chits get you one Incremental Advance. 
Those are just some basic ideas for now. None of these ideas have been playtested, so I have no idea if they actually work, but I do know this: 
  1. A d20 is the swingiest dice out there, and sometimes you just need the extra oomph. And sometimes you just need a crit. Badly.
  2. Crits from the GM suck. I'd like to make them not as...awful.
  3. Sometimes the damage you roll just needs some help.
  4. I want an actual reward system in my RPGs.
S'yeah, comment let me know what you think!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


OK, so I might have Kickstarted this the instant I could, I might have man-squeed with delight when I first saw it and... I might have played a campaign of it already, before I even thought about writing the review. I might seriously be in love with this game, which Maria may think is a bad thing, but oh well. I suppose I'll have to work on it. Anyway, on with the review!

Torchbearer is the newest game by the Burning Wheel group, this time led by Thor instead of Luke. It takes the basic Mouseguard engine and screws around with it, making what the crew calls "Advance Mouseguards and Dragons". That's somewhat accurate, although not complete. Mouseguard, while hard, has a turn structure to protect the players from the GM's machinations against him. The Player's turn offers relief of sorts to the players that I'd never even known was there in Mouseguard. Y'wanna know how I figured out that the Player's Turn was a relief mechanic of sorts?

I played Torchbearer and cried.

On a surface level Torchbearer isn't all that different from Mouseguard. You have Nature, representing how much like your race, Will, your social stat, Health, your physical stat, Circles, how well-connected you are, and Resources, your cash (which starts at 0 at the beginning of the game, period). Your skills advance based on a pass-fail system that's extremely simple and intuitive. Extended conflicts are put together via a script-three-moves-at a time system that's simple and awesome. Actually, just to save space, here's my Mouseguard review. There, now that you're done with that, I can go on about the differences.

First of all, there's a clock of sorts put in the game. Every four checks not made as a result of an Instinct you get another Condition. These Conditions are similar to Mouseguard, but are much more beefed up and, well, terrifying. You do not want these conditions. One at a time they're not too bad, but start stacking them up and... well...

I think that communicates what happens to your character when you get all the conditions pretty adequately. Don't have this happen to you, just don't. 

Anyway, so there's the clock. You can reset the clock by either going back to town or taking a rest in the dungeon. Doing so invites it's own problems, of course, like accidents in the dungeon, new laws or being outright barred from said town. But it's still worth the chances to reset that clock.

Oh, and speaking of dungeons, don't think you can fight your way through: the Burning Wheel Co. put in a mechanic called Might, which tells you on what magnitude of awesome the creature is (your characters are at 3). If the creature has a Might 2 or higher than your character's you may not kill, drive it off, or attempt to capture it. That's it, there's no chance of anything like that working. You'll have to trick it or convince it to go away. There are things in the world you'll need to go around.

Monsters are also a bit different this time around. They're a bit more sophisticated than in Mouseguard, where they only really gave you the Nature and some of the weapons it would use. Here they give you the disposition for each of the conflicts they're in and the weapons appropriate to that conflict.

Now there's one particular set of changes that are the most obvious, and that's the BDnD-esque additions. There's levels, mapping (of a sort), spells, essential clerics (played a campaign without one, see the gif up above for the results), all like BDnD...except... well... better. Heck, if you're looking for a good old fashioned dungeon crawl done to the utter nitty gritty, this is that game. You even have to account for what's in each hand! This nitty gritty, contrary to a lot of games, doesn't slow it down or make it less fun. If anything, the constant minding of resources in the face of certain and utter doom is awesome. Going to town, getting your stuff replenished, heading back out to get stuff you don't have any actual room for...

BDnD done right. Yup.


After an interminably long time of not posting, I've finally got a few things out of the way, and well, here I am! Here's a two thing update:

1) I'm engaged to Maria! It's been a crazy few months as we've tried to figure out what's going on with jobs and all that. I'm happier then I've ever been, being engaged to the lady of my dreams. It's been a wild ride so far, but it's everything I've ever wanted. S'yeah, happy :)

2) Linked to that I'll be going into the military as of February 19th as an E4. I've been accepted into the N25 job, which is basically IT for the Army. I'll be out late October of next year. Obviously there will be a hiatus of this blog while I'm in bootcamp from February to May.

Anyway, so I'll be putting out a blog post each week, hopefully with some iconography updates here and there as I get access to a camera. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 28, 2013

It Was Another One of Those Sessions...

... and I wasn't even the one GMing this time!

So my character, Tomar Leo, was storming in to confront his step-mother Queen Jain, who may or may not be a witch. Well, Tomar thought she was, that's why he was there. He starts to call her out on it, and lo and behold, my fellow player Marty shoots Queen Jain right through the mouth as she's screaming at Tomar! It took Andy and I a moment to process that, and all of a sudden we were taking advantage of the confusion and getting the hell out of there.

Sometimes things just don't work out the way you thought they would. I kinda figured that would have been the session, y'know? Screaming match with Jain, followed by either getting the hell out of there or killing her in a just fashion. So that was...sudden. The session ended with a shouting fest between the two characters that ended with both of them confused and more than a little angry at each other as they called each other inconsiderate jerks (and, to be honest, they're both right).

So what's next for our gaming group? Well, we're gonna make Torchbearer characters and sit on the revelations of character we just hit each other with, and when Torchbearer is done we're gonna go and do the right thing. For once.

Well, I think we will. We better not meet anymore witches.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Read Thru Review: Civil War

At the risk of looking incredibly tacky:


Just go ahead and hit the replay button, I'll wait.  Yes, this RPG bit the dust after just one supplement was printed, Civil War. And it's really too bad. I mean, really it is, cause this book is amazing.

I'm not going to review the basic rules for this game, which I already reviewed here. You can go and peruse that if you're wanting to know what this now-out-print game is like (Short review: IF YOU LIKE MARVEL BUY IT!), but this is going to be all about the event itself.

Civil War breaks down the major beats of the comic book event Civil War, allowing players to go through the entire event. The authors were quite thorough: they chose beats from almost all the comics that were involved with the event to make a more layered story, cutting from talks in Washington to beating up Doctor Doom in a way that only a Marvel comic could allow. They also throw in enough random points sitting around, begging to be connected, that you could take this book and come out with a completely different story than what the established Civil War was.

So, to start out, the book details all the organizations that can be involved with the event, and gives you some ideas how on to use them. Almost nothing beyond SHIELD is truly mandatory, although even that could be swapped out pretty easily. The flexibility inherent in the set-up is truly remarkable. I could tell my players that SHIELD isn't responsible for enacting the SHRA, and that AIM instead is, and this event book would have the tools to allow for that! Or, maybe Hydra has been doing some serious kissing of bottoms lately, and so they got it. The possibilities are not confined by anything the book says, and that's a beautiful thing.

The next item in the book is the actual set-up of the Event itself, Acts 1-3. Each act is comprised of action and transition scenes in a suggested order.Act One focuses on the build-up to Civil War, Act Two on the actual implementation  of the act, and Act Three resolves all the plot threads.  Each scene has a series of suggestion as to how you can modify it, along with datafiles for the scene. It's important to note that none o these scenes demand a certain flow, although the suggest flow is one you should probably take at least the first time you run this. Honestly, however, they way you should do this is dependent on how you set up the game with your players.If it looks.. scattered... don't be fooled. With your players using their Milestones to full effect you won't find any trouble finding direction. The scenes are meant to interact with those Milestones and will drive the plot forward. You just have to have let the players drive the plot forward and throw these scenes at them in whatever way they come up.

After the acts there's an extensive set of  GM and player datafiles. Pretty much everyone you could think of who participated in the Civil War is here. There aren't a whole lot of X-Men,  but that's because they have their own Civil War event book. I would have preferred they put in more X-Men to this book instead, but oh well. The datafiles are all current to that time period of Marvel, including Spider-Man's red and gold costume.All the characters play differently from each other thanks to their SFX.

In conclusion, the now-defunct Marvel RPG really hit it out of the park with this book. You can run a game that, while using most of the main plot points from the Civil War comic event, make a completely new story. Hopefully one without all the stupid plot holes and convenient character decisio- I mean, something completely new and really cool!

Yeah, that's totally what I meant. Something new. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go and fantasize how to NOT screw up such a good idea...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Attack on Titan as of Episode 11

A lot of people I know have commented to me that there's no good modern anime, that it all seems to have come from a few years ago. I have always disagreed with this statement, mostly because we're in the moment of everything and we really can't tell what's going on til we have a few years to look back.

Also, Attack on Titan exists, so therefore your argument is invalid. 

Attack on Titan is about the struggle of Eren Jaeger to overcome the seemingly-all-powerful titans, a race of giant humanoids that have all but wiped out humanity. After losing people dear and near to him Eren swears revenge upon the titans and, with the help of his friends Mikasa and Armin, sets out to do everything he can to join the Survey Corps, the group that actually leaves the walls of humanity's last home.

To say that this show is one giant sucker punch would be a bit of an understatement. Every single hit in this show is brutal and horrible, contrasted by the slower heartwarming moments of the show. No, Titans does not forget that in order for horror to work there needs to be something mundane and slow, mixed at just the right amount. I'll admit that sometimes that pacing is a bit weird, but it all pans out in the end. 

The only real disadvantage of this show? IT'S NOT DONE, AND I WANT MORE. Particularly after the ending of episode 11! Mush! Mush! Faster! Now!