Friday, May 1, 2015

Why I still Castles & Crusades.

I've ranted before about how I'm constantly purging my gaming books. If any books/system sits on my shelf for any long period of time I get rid of them.

Today I was looking over my C&C books and something dawned on me. Although I haven't run C&C in a while I've been using the books constantly.

When I ran my Swords & wizardry game. It was a C&C adventure I ran.
When I ran basic fantasy game I used the codex books. When I ran my last 3e game I borrowed heavily from many C&C book and used bluffside as the setting. Even now in my 5E game I using many of my C&C books.

Without even mentioning the core mechanic of the system (Siege engine) Castles & crusades is a d20 system designed using the srd to replicate the feel of older editions of D&D. This makes it a middle ground system. Compatible with very little work with old school editions and its clones. Compatible with most everything with material from the d20 era games. And even close enough to draw inspiration and resources for use with 5E.

As for the core mechanics that make up the siege engine. They are modular enough to change to taste. The castle keepers guide has a lot of options for changing the siege engine to the system that works best for your style and preference. Most of the core rules of 5E were already in use in C&C. Other 5E mechanics like inspiration, advantage, and disadvantage could all be used in C&C with little to no changes. Flexability through being modular.

I might like a lot of different games. I run a lot of other games. But it seems C&C has become a major tool in my tool box. Not just another game.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cards, Initiative (Savage Worlds)

Cards for initiative is often one of those "oddities" or in some people's words "gimmicks", of Savage Worlds that take some getting used to for new players. I for one have grown to love using playing cards and I would like to go over the key points of why I do.

Handing out a card to each player who in turn acts in order based on value is one of the most honest straight forward methods of initiative I've ever used. Its can't be manipulated or min-maxed. It never gets more complicated. And its a great visual reminder of who goes when. And it can crit! Drawing a joker gives you an effect akin to "critical rolling" on initiative. Everyone has an equal chance in every initiative to shine and an equal chance to be awesome....what is not to like?

The Savage worlds system for initiative can still be "gamed". There are ways to better your draw with edges that for example allow a player to draw two cards and pick one. These Edges don't add complication or manipulate the system in a way that guarantees their superiority over others. It just makes them better at what they have chosen to be good at.

The one criticism I do see time and again is that initiative is not tied to Agility or pace. That faster characters should have an advantage. My reply is that those (as mentioned above) who choose to take edges to act quicker can do so. That is who there character is, it should be part of the character beyond just attribute or skill.

Also I would argue that basing Initiative off Agility or fighting skill is double dipping. You get all the benefits of that attribute or skill plus a bonus to initiative. Its a short road that leads to min-maxing and dump stats. Rather than building a character from the concept up.

Also no other attribute/skill really makes much sense in Savage Worlds to limit or boost your "attack speed". Agility? Agility is eye to hand coordination and nimbleness. I'm sure in some small way it is a bit of quickness. But to say every person who is nimble or good coordination is quick in a fight is kind of a stretch. And to me its a hard argument to say its the ruling factor anyway. What about Pace? Pace is speed alright, but it's rather walking speed. Speed can be effected by a lot of factors. Most of all size effects speed. I'm not willing to belive walking speed should effect how quick you are in acting in combat.

After really thinking about it I do belive effects that manipulate initiative are best as edges. Detached from raw abilities and skills. Rather its attached to your character concept....which I think is just fine.

Attributes (Savage Worlds)

I've seen it asked many times. "If most active rolls in savage worlds is made on a skill roll, then why even have attribute scores?"

Lets take a look at attribute scores in the context of their function in Savage Worlds. What do they do? And are they pulling their weight as a function of the system.

First the most obvious. Attributes act as a limiter to skills who fall under their category. Climbing is a strength based skill, so buying climbing at a level greater than the characters rank in strength will cost two points each, rather than one.

Second attribute scores are factor in to derived attributes and formula. like toughness, as well as rolled along side a secondary die as melee damage. Attribute scores are a mesure of raw power or focus like range of a spell or limit for cyber tolerance.

Another often overlooked function of attributes is "saving throws". Overcome restraints? Strength roll. Dodge a bolder? Agility roll. Resist hypnosis?  Spirit roll. Resist poisons? Vigor roll.

I for one believe attributes pull their own weight. Their effect on savage worlds may not be as obvious and upfront as skills. But their effect and uses are no less important.