Friday, September 23, 2016

Shadow of the Demon lord, Review

For some time now I have been ranting and raving about Shadow of the demon lord. And every time I do someone asks me "what makes this game stand out" or "what makes Shadow of the demon lord different than game X". Which is exactly the questions I would wonder in their shoes, so I am going to attempt an actual review-ish.

First off, let me try to answer those questions because I think most people looking for a review are really looking for that. Anything else is akin to the "what is an RPG" section everyone skips.

Shadow of the demon lord has a very nimble core mechanic. It's simple, streamlined, and consistent. You roll a d20, for most tasks rolling a 10 ( or opponent's ability score) is a success (except for combat which is a roll against defense score). Ability scores and a few things will give you small bonuses. Rules, class abilities, and situations can give you boons and banes,
Which are d6s you roll and either add or subtract from the roll. Boons and banes cancel eachother out so you will never roll both together. When rolling multiple boons or banes you add or subtract only the highest die. That is the entire system in a nutshell.

Next thing that stands out is the sheer number of options for the players. There are 6 races in the core and more scattered throughout supplements, which include very 'non-standard' races like clockworks, Changelings, goblins, orcs, dwarves, and humans.

When leveling to level 1 (yes you start as 0 and have to earn level 1) you choose one of 4 novice classes. Which are pretty straight forward fantasy classes of magician, priest, rogue, and warrior.

Reaching level 3 players get to choose an expert class. There are 16 expert classes. Expert classes include paladins, rangers, witch, Druid and more.

At reaching level 7 players can choose from one of 64 master classes. Master classes include assassins, avengers, cavalier, destroyer, defender, exorcist, executioner, hexer and many more. Another option is instead of taking a master class players can choose instead to take a second expert class at level 7.

Although expert paths are grouped as paths of faith, power, trickery, and war. And master paths are grouped as paths of either magic or skill and character can take any class, there are no restrictions.

Players have 30 traditions of magic to choose from. Spell casting is as simple as the rest of the system. Spells often have a 20+ effect that triggers if the player rolls over a 20. One nice touch is sacrificing spells to cast other spells giving some spells more than one way to be used.

There are only 10 levels of advancement in Shadow of the demon lord. And you get something at every single level.

At level 0 characters get ancestry abilities.
At level 1 characters get a novice path ability. At level 2 characters get a novice path ability. At level 3 characters get an expert path ability. At level 4 characters get an ancestry ability. At level 5 characters get a novice path ability.
At level 6 characters get an expert path ability. At level 7 characters get a master path ability. At level 8 characters get a novice path ability. At level 9 characters get an expert path ability. At level 10 characters get a master path ability.

The setting is reminiscent of the Diablo video game and Warhammer fantasy turned up a notch and rated R.
The game has a system for both sanity and corruption. The setting has snippets of technology that really doesn't feel shoehorned in, things like firearms and even technomancy magic.

As far as the products are concerned these books and PDFs are beautiful. Layout, art, and style are gorgeous. The core book has everything you need to play. Rules, character options, monsters, and setting. Supplements add more options and setting info as well as adventures. This week was the release of the 100th product for Shadow of the demon lord. Congrats to Schwalb entertainment!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dramatic combat rules (Savage worlds)

I've been giving the quick combat rules some thought. On one hand I want to try them, on the other I just don't see myself only using them in a game. So I began thinking about how I could use both. When would the transition make sense?

So here is my idea, any time the player making an attack or combat roll of any kind aces a set number of times they get to go into quick combat mode as a kind of critical.

For example a GM could set the number at 4, any combat roll in that game that aces more that four times the player describes the dramatic combat by totally going Martin Riggs or john McClane and wrecking the whole scene.

Quick combat rules

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bennies in my games (SW)

I made a cheat sheet for my players, I thought it might be useful to others as well. This is just for my games, not me expressing my belief that the core rules are broken and in any need of changing or fixing.

Ways of earning bennies:

*Any time a player "invokes" or uses their own hindrance to complicate the story. For example: they give in to an addiction and lose a suspect they were watching. A player descides her phobia comes into play without the GM imposing it.

*Players can gain a bennie by choosing to fail a roll to further the story. Sometimes losing in a car chase will just make the story more interesting.

*The GM can offer a player a Bennie as a 'story complication' in exchange for a Bennie. Players may refuse the completion and Bennie by giving the GM a Bennie in exchange.

*Players may propose a story complication, the player describes a complication in the story that works against the party as a whole. If the GM agrees and runs with it every player effected gets a bennie. Maybe a rival gang shows up, or a trusted contact double crosses the party.

Ways of using bennies:

*Players can gain a reroll as per normal SW rules.

*Players can spend bennies to soak wounds per SW rules as normal.

*Players can spend a bennie to "remember" a piece of gear they packed.

*Players can spend a bennie to gain the benefit of an Edge for a single round.

*Players can spend a Bennie and get a "lucky break" this is entirely up to the GM, if the GM doesn't feel it's appropriate he will return the bennie. Otherwise he will describe or let the player describe something that is discovered or suddenly noticed in the players favor. It's also the GMs discretion to allow players To describe the lucky break and allow it or veto it.

*When players clearly have advantage against a weaker group, like a group of knight in disguise jumped by road side robbers. Or possibly a street gang trying to stop a party of prime street runners. Players can spend a bennie to use cinematic combat to resolve the combat.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Wild card villains and their minions.

I've been thinking about Bennie economy in my games. One thing I noticed is that I rarely give my wild card villains bennies. Often I forget or don't really find their use all that helpful. Most just get spent to soak or reroll and not much else.

Today an idea hit me, it may not be all that unique or useful to anyone else. I'm sharing it any way.

Most of my wild cards are leaders of a group of mooks. Like a goblin chieftain or shaman leading a mob of lesser non-wild card mooks.

From now on I'll treat the group of mooks as minions and an extension of the wild card. The wild card can spend it's bennies on the mooks in its group, not just on itself. Giving me a lot more opportunities to use those wildcard's Bennies.

Rippers: Resurrected, first look.

When the original Rippers first came out I had to have it. Rippers quickly became my favorite setting, at the time I was running nothing but Savage worlds....and a lot of Rippers.

As much as I loved the setting in the core book I equally hated the plot point that came in it. In my opinion the plot point destroyed the replayability of the game.

When the relaunch (resurrection) of Rippers was announced I was pretty exited, but getting in on the Kickstarter just wasn't in the cards for me.

Today I finally got my hands on the player and GM Guides.

These new guides are gorgeous. The art, layout, and feel of the books are perfect. I love the new two core book format. The plot point in the GM guide is a sequel to the original, which I find a weird choice.
The new books look to have more information and at least seems better organized.

I really look forward to getting a game of Rippers going again.