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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Shadowrun Anarchy game prep: house rules, and new Shadow Amps.

My first house rules is armor. Rules as written is quick but requires gaining or sacrificing a skill which can get messy if players change armor mid game.

My fix is still a skill tax but more organic.
Medium armor gives a -2 die penalty to Agility in combat when fighting in medium armor. Heavy armor gives a -4 to Agility in combat when fighting in heavy armor. 
A new skill is available called 'Trained in armor'. This skill negates 2 points of penalty for fighting in armor. Now the option to fight in any armor type is there with consequences and skill tax is also a thing but without gaining or losing skills for changing armor.

A few options that count as gear Shadow Amps will be available, but probably not common place. Here are a few examples.
Shadow weave: +2 to stealth in darkness. 
Runed: +2 resist/defense dice against spells.
Fae Weave: +2 dice to Con.
Hardened: (heavy armor only) hardened armor always takes one less damage than is assigned to it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Shadowrun races for Ubiquity (Quantum black)

I'm toying with the idea of running a Shadowrun inspired game using quantum black with elements from Desolation, especially the magic system.
First up is my notes for races.

*Agile: +1 to Dexterity.
*Darkvision: ignore penalties for low light or darkness.
*Nimble: one extra dice when spending style points for dexterity based rolls.
*Fragile: -1 to stun.

*Stout: +1 to body.
*Hardy: +2 to rolls to resist poisons and disease.
* Resilient: one extra dice when spending style points for body based rolls.
* Slow: reduce move by 1.

* Stubborn: +1 to willpower.
* Thick hide: +1 Defense.
* Single minded: one extra dice when spending style points for willpower based rolls.
* Ugly: -2 to rolls when appearance is a factor.

* Strong: +1 to strength.
* Natural weapons: +1 to lethal damage when attacking with horns, spikes, or fangs.
* Mighty: one extra dice when spending style points for strength based rolls.
* Hulking: -2 to Athletics or Acrobatics skill rolls.

* Adaptable: +5 skill points to spend at character creation.
* Focused: specializations cost 2 rather than 3 when spending experience points.
* Burn reduction: ignore one damage when calculating burn from spell casting.
* Only human: Choose one flaw.

Light swords for Ubiquity

Light swords are a sci-fi staple. I'm going to try  my best to do them justice in Ubiquity. I'm going to try to balance their deadlines, the danger of using one, yet keep it all simple and elegant like the rest of Ubiquity's rules.

Light sword
Damage: 5L
Str: 0
Diff: 5-6
Wt. 2lbs

Light swords ignore armor ratings when calculating defense. Natural defense only.
Only select materials can block a light sword, ignore weapon rating when blocking or parrying. Any material not able to stop a light sword used to block or parry is destroyed if used.

When using a light sword to attack if more failures are rolled than successes the attack may still succeed, but the attacker takes damage equal to the number of misses. If an attack with a light sword ever rolls all failures the full damage of the weapon effects the attacker.
I know this is a lot for a "simple" conversion. But I think at the table it should still play out fairly quickly.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cybernetics (Ubiquity) Quantum black

I've really come to like the Ubiquity system. I picked up Hollow earth Expedition, Desolation, League of Adventure, League of Gothic horror, and Quantum black. I feel like it's a quick and fun system.

I've been looking over the system to use it in other settings. With Cyberpunk being near and dear to my heart, I've been looking over Quantum black for use with Cyberpunk.

The more I read over talents the more I feel like they would work for cybernetic enhancements.

Tactical targeting system: Accuracy
Tactical targeting system 2: Long shot
Reflex enhancement: Agile
Tactical perception system: Alertness
Perception enhancement: Blind fighting.
Climbing Spikes: Climb
Neuro enhancement: Intelligent
Shock prevention resistor: iron jaw
Sense enhancement (any): keen sense
Blades,claws, reinforced: lethal blow
Move by wire limited: kip up, Quick draw
Move by wire: mobile attack
Move by wire 2: Quick reflexes
Medtech Nanites: Quick healer

And of course there are a few Cyberpunk classics that don't fit directly even though talents might have the same effect. Here are a few others.

Bonelace: natural Defense +2
Bonelace 2: natural Defense +3
Bone lace and plate: Defense +4
Neuro-interface "jack" for direct system interface.

The major advantages to cybernetics is they ignore prerequisites and restrictions of talents.

Monday, November 13, 2017

GM musings, UA GreyHawk initiative

The Unearthed arcana article on the grayhawk style initiative system has been out a while. I've had time to let it roll around in my head. I think it's an interesting idea, I'm not totally against using it....but I'm not totally sold on it.

I think what really bothers me about it is lowest going first. It feels so counter intuitive. All of 5E is roll high. Maybe if I used it regularly I would I would get us to it.

My only analogy for how rolling low for initiative feels to me is if I was driving, and at every intersection there was a roundabout, and in roundabouts you drove in the opposite side of the road. You drive on the same side before the roundabout, same side after, but while in it, you drive in the opposite direction in the opposite lane.

After a lot of mulling it over I came up with what for me feels much more organic to 5E. Everyone rolls a D10 (D20 if you like but I feel d10 makes the bonuses more meaningful) highest roll goes first.

Ranged weapons, including bows, wands, cantrips and any other ranged fast attacks get a +6. Melee attack, fisticuffs, Molly whopping of any kind gets a +3. Spell casting is just a standard roll.

As a totally optional rule, for  this totally optional rule: If player chooses to move after their action, no matter if the choose to shoot, Molly whop, or cast add +2. Moving before the action doesn't give a bonus or penalty.

What I like about this is it can be recorded on the character sheet. Add bonus for type + Dex adj.(if you choose to keep Dex bonus)= Initiative bonus. Long sword with a +2 Dex adj.? Then +5 to initiative.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

D&D 5E in its 4th year.

It's hard for me to believe D&D 5E is in it's 4th year. My players and myself really got excited with it's launch. We did the Next play test. When basic dropped we played it. When the core books came out we grabbed them up. We like the system alright. We like the way characters advance and how paths give a nice level of customization.

The core three books is where my excitement ends. I've come to the realization that I'm not the target audience for 5E. I don't run campaign books whole cloth but rather mine them for ideas. Full color hardbound art books sold as campaign books are not for me.

I've picked up a couple, namely Curse and yawning. Curse because Ravenloft was my thing back in the day. And yawning anthology format seemed like it could be useful. Also some of those classic Adventures are worth a look. Xanathar's might be worth a look.

As of right now there is no setting books. Sword coast is as close as we have and it's just a players guide to a setting that really doesn't exist yet in 5E.

Rather than have an actual forgotten realms we are just told with every product how to shoehorn it into the realms. Or we are told to use the product in any number of other settings not out for 5E but only fleshed out in older edition products. Not sure how this format is in any way new player friendly. Which is I guess where the campaign books come in. It just feels so empty and soulless. It's just generic fantasy tropes.

At this point Adventures in middle earth by cubicle 7 has been out for less than a years. Yet has more books made or in the works for 5E that I want. More than wizards has that interests me. The Adventures are part of a larger world, the locations are interconnected places. The feel and tone are the same, not a bunch of disconnected campaign books that "can be dropped in any campaign world you like" even though their tone and settings have nothing in common like all the wizards campaign books.

In the end all I can say is that 5E clearly isn't for me. It's not marketed or intended for me. The longer it's out the clearer it gets. I'm pretty sure from here on out I'll be more interested in 3rd party publishers and their products.

All that said the rules are solid and is a staple in my group. I'll continue to run it as long as my players want to play it.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Adventures in Middle Earth player's guide review

I finally made my way through the players guide. It's been a crazy month with very little time to do a single read through. A few sections got a twice over. While other chapters got a quick scan.

While I'm no Tolkien scholar, I am a big fan. I'm now also a very big fan of this book. After reading through I really want to run this.

First off the book clearly has a setting. It's set firmly between the Hobbit and LotR. There is information on the people who follow Beorn known as the Beornings. As well as Bard leading his people north to rebuild Dale. It's really laid out well and good at explaining the time between the major events in the books.

The Cultures, which replace races are really done well. I find enough in them to encourage players and support different story possibilities. The cultures of man are the Bardings, Beornings, Dundain, men of Bree, men of the lake, men of Minas Tirith, Riders of Rohan, and the Woodman of wildland. The non-human cultures are Dwarves of the lonely mountain, Elves of Mirkwood, and the Hobbits of the Shire.

The Classes, of the six classes provided none are magic users. The scholar has some healing abilities and some trick abilities but nothing like the spells of 5E D&D. I like the variety of classes available. They really do cover the spectrum without too much overlap. The classes include Scholar, Slayer, Treasure hunter, Wanderer, Warden, and warrior.

The next section of the book is Virtues. Virtues are in essence feats. While a few (5) virtues are open and allowed by anyone the rest of them are Cultural specific. I find 5E feats truly superior to the version in eirlier editions. I find the ones in this game even superior to those in the 5E players book. Flavorful and specific to the people of each culture.

Backgrounds in AiME is less what job you once did, and more who your character is at its core. Part personal story and part archetype.

The equipment section is pretty basic yet  inclusive. Included in the equipment is a section or cultural heirlooms, which can be gained through story or Virtues.

Something new and interesting added to the rules is Journeys. This is a phase where the players plan out a route. And the number of perils will be found along the way. Players assign roles to characters and roll to see how well the party does on the travel. The journey will also include encounters both fellowship and combat along the way.

Some rules added by AiME is a new Ability called Shadow and some added skills. Shadow is taint of the dark forces. It's both the mark of dark influence and a measure or sanity, as the darkness clouds the mind of the effected.

After finishing the read through I was listening to someone review another game describing it was "not just another Tolkien based fantasy". And it hit me how un-tolkien like most fantasy is. Middle earth is actually a very dark and dangerous place. Middle earth is a very low magic when placed next to any version of D&D. It's full of personal horror and corruption, well intending people who do evil trying to do greater good. And stories of the lowliest of people rising to the occasion, overcoming the greatest evils. This to me IS what I want in a setting.

I've seen a few people talk about using things from AiME to run other low magic settings. One idea I would like to add to that is everything written in The Hobbit and LotR is set in roughly 1/6 of the total land of one of two continents of Tolkien's world. It would be just as easy to introduce other material to the AiME world.

Ideas for stealing from D&D to add to your AiME game. Goliaths could be men of the north, living north of the grey mountains for 1000s of years. Genasi are elves who originate from the northern undieing lands, from the region that are elemental touched. Eladrin are elves who have lived in the southern undieing lands who are closer to elf magic. Drow are elves touched by the shadow who moved to the land east of Rhûn. There is a lot of room on Tolkien's map not fleshed out.

Initiative in Index card RPG.

I've had some time to think about some of the workings of ICRPG. Being a tinkerer at heart I can't help but want to come up with mat...