Friday, 14 December 2012

Life, the Universe and Everything - December

Sort of as promised another round up.

Successes
Very little, I've written a little more of my children's book but not much else.

Aims
To run a game for my kids. With Christmas coming up and time off work it would make a perfect time to run a game for my kids. The only trouble I face is what setting and what game.

To run through the options:

A dungeon crawl
Musketeers
Something furry
Modern
Star Wars
Pulp science fiction

Even if I do run of these, do I run it:

Straight
Humourously
Collaboratively

Depending on the answer of both of those I guess I can choose a system, mind you, even here I am a little unsure.

In some repects I am really envious of those people that choose a system and run with it, whether that's D&D, Savage Worlds, GURPS or something else, I guess I'm just not like that.

Originally this blog was setup as a way to cure my ADD/Magpie complex. I think I may be failing that task. All the time I feel that if I learn something new I am adding to my experience and it will make my games better, I realise this is wrong. I just need to select a few games that will form a core, everything else will need to be left at the wayside.

So in the new year I will try and create my best experience possible. I say create because I will now use the enormous list of rules I have and compact them into the best possible systems for me, taking the bits from that work and discarding the rest.

In this initial phase I will set out my objectives:

1) I need a dungeon crawling game
This is a style of gaming close to my heart owing to my introduction into RPGs through the Milton Bradley Heroquest and GW's Advanced Heroquest. Of course I have a few ideas of how to make this the best possible game which I will reveal over the coming months.

2) I need a kid friendly role-playing game
Something light that the kids will enjoy, probably with all the funky dice, which also uses miniatures in an easy to understand way. This could possibly double as my own miniatures game too.

3) I need a light RPG
Something that requires no thought, GM screen or pretty much anything else, just a handful of dice.

4) I need a heavier style of game
For when I need to devle a little deeper into character, or environment etc.

5) I need to settle on a solo role-playing game/method/hybrid
This could also be a straight fight between Mythic and FU. I have an idea that may make Mythic easier, but stick with FU's more dynamic Yes/No mechanism.

6) I need a miniatures game
I do love minis, even if I get little time to do anything with them. I need something that will enable me to get them out and

7) Generic
I need them all to be generic, or easily modable, one of the reasons for my magpie tendency is seeing good settings. I need something that will be able to handle the different settings with ease.

This should be eminently do-able I feel. It still leaves me with a handful of possible games which should satisfy my jumping urge, but some very, very good games are going to have to fall.

In the new year I start to whittle down and amalgamate, and you can have a look in and see how I do.

Until next time Steve

Friday, 23 November 2012

Just the facts ma'am

While trying to find time to lay out my map etc. I've been scribbling in my notepad (because that is a lot easier to get away with at home!).

This is a topic that has reared its head as I try to amalgamate The Department of Fabricant Management and 5150: New Beginnings. As you probably know I was looking for The Blade Runner Experience with my acquisitions of DFM and 5150, I can see real merit in both, but have plumped for 5150 as my système du jour.

However 5150 is not investigation orientated, it seems more comformtable operating on the other side of the law, and why not. However I'd like to unlock the potential to make it into something more akin to a police procedural, as always I see a number of options, so getting down to business:

DFM - I could use The Department's system straight, there is nothing wrong with it, although I don't really like the fact that you choose the prime suspect at the beginning of the campaign, I feel this should be either something that comes from the story, or is thrown at you by the game mechanics. There is a nice split of evidence required to play the prime suspect's 'showdown', and you have budget thrown in too which is another neat mechanism, but all in all, could do better.

Technoir - this is something I touched upon in an ealier post, this game has 'Transmissions' (you can get a free one from the TechNoir website). Ultimately it is a matrix of 36 (d6 by d6) 'things' that can be randomly selected, you can then piece this together to form a story/crime as the investigation unfolds. It holds real promise, the only downside being that you are limited to 6 of each category (these being Connections (or people to you and me), Events, Factions, Locations, Objects and Threats). The advantage of these though are that they are bang in that bleak future/cyberpunk feel.

Fiasco - again something I mentioned in that earlier post, of interest are the numerous Playsets with varying degrees of appropriateness. These are very similar to Technoir, only with more options and different categories. For instance looking at one it has Relationships (with 6 subcategories and then 6 items in each), Needs (emotional and physical), Locations and Objects (all with 36 items), I think this may be what they all have, just with different subcategories. These are pretty good too, with several left field suggestions, like a Post-it note with several passwords. I can see these being randomly determined to great effect.

FU/Mythic - this is for true story heads/ role-players. You could just use Mythic and/or FU to generate the story, as I have explained probably many times before these are basically Yes/No generators, ask a question, get an answer. It is surprising how effective this truly is, as one question leads to another, all you need to add are various random tables, which 5150 has in abundance. This is a possibility but I feel 5150, and those that choose to play that, rather than an RPG, probably want something more concrete. This is an 'always available' add-on, especially FU (which also uses d6).

Larger Than Life - yep, another of Two Hour Wargames rulesets. In LTL you enter each scene in search of a clue, sometimes you get it and others you don't, when you have your clue you roll dice add it to your accumulated clue total and if you beat the target number you play the final showdown. This is a perfectly valid system, but I feel it lacks detail, maybe coupled with some of the above this could work extremely well.

5150: New Beginnings - finally of course is 5150 itself. You could use the tables that determine a mission in a sort of reverse order, i.e. you catch a suspect and he reveals a small part of the mission, you then need to find out the target, the mission type, the employer/sponsor, and the hired perpetrators. This has the elegant simplicity of just using what we already have in 5150, however there are difficulties before I start high fiving everyone. To start with, in 5150 you determine the employer first, when this is really what you want to discover last, and then this unfolds into the next table etc. in essence we need to start at the branch of the plot and end with the root, not the other way around. As you can imagine this then becomes far more complicated.

Conclusion
So where does all this summarising lead me? Well, as always it leads to some wild concoction of bolted on systems which I try as hard as possible to keep streamlined. So what is this wild theory?

Deep breath.
Take the TechNoir/Fiasco model tables (not decided which yet, is 6 of each enough?). Randomly determine the various entries using 5150, Everyone Everywhere, Fiasco playsets, TechNoir transmissions, even Kellri's City Blocks or whatever takes your fancy.
Play out Encounters (including some new ones I will reveal later!), to get clues like LTL and DFM.
Randomly determine the nature/details of the clues using the TechNoir/Fiasco system or logic.
Roll your Savvy skill dice and add your successes to your accumulated clues to determine if you have enough evidence (Target Number to be decided, but 10 sounds good). If you beat the TN choose/select a Showdown (again to come!) and play!

And that's it, basically rehashed LTL clue gathering, with details added by the randomiser of your choice that you weave together as you choose! It's really simple isn't it? and all that detail for that? Well, sometimes you need to jump through hoops to learn to take the easy route!

Addendum: Since I originally worte this post I have gone on to produce a sort of rough draft of what it might look like in a THW rulebook. I have e-mailed this to Ed (THW commander-in-chief) in case it interests him, which is why I did not make this posting at the time. It's been a couple of weeks since then, so I thought, why not reveal something of it? So that's the meat of the idea, and if I hear back one day I'll let you know.


Until next time Steve

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Life, the Universe and Everything - November

OK, so I now realise that me and gaming seem to be mutually exclusive activities, and I have again left it a long time between updates.

So, I will begin a monthly round-up of my activities, and hopefully there will be something of at least general interest.

So what have I been doing?

Writing - I have finally given in and started writing a children's book. There are two reasons it is a children's book, first I have two young-ish daughters myself (7 and 10) and I want them to read it, secondly it means that I can really whip through at a great pace both in wiritng and plotting, i.e. a shorter book. I don't want to reveal too much but I will say it is fantasy and the possible start to a series. Also with the many distractions too I am actually writing it, which means I can do it pretty much anywhere.

Android-ing - I finally managed to persuade my other half to get a tablet, I've been helping the kids with Angry Birds and other Android crazes. If any of you know of any good role-playing or boardgaming related Android apps, let me know!

Working - in the past I have just felt knackered, now I've actually started to work in the evenings too and the sitaution is not looking good for the next couple of months, a real downer, but then there is always the light at the end of the tunnel.

Rules writing - I actually have a post lined up trying to get a police procedural theme into 5150: New Beginnings, and I've actually gone on and written the rules! Unsurprisingly I have not play-tested them one bit, other than sense check, but I think I have finally honed senses for these things (don't we all!). Look out for this in a couple of days.

Ideas - I still get ideas, or hear things that I can tweak to an as yet unstarted or partially started project. For instance this morning I thought about using cards instead of a pre-designed map for my Knight Errant idea, to make it more random and re-playable. Why did I think of this? I have no idea! Obviously my shower gel reaches parts other gels don't reach!

So at the moment the writing bug has bitten, I really hope this goes well and I actually finish the first book. When I do I might approach publishers, who knows?! If I can turn out 1 to 3 books a year I would like to do it full time (the writer's dream!). And if that doesn't go well I've always a few back up ideas...

Until next time Steve

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A man on a mission

As promised here is my first 5150 character. I'll walk through most the steps with you:

First off he is a Basic (or Human to the rest of us) in fact here is my first 'house rule', everyone is a Basic/Human, this still leaves a very wide field of characters but I'm unispired by 5150's aliens, just as I am with every other games aliens, so it's nothing personal.

I'm a male, with Reputation of 5, as recommended for your first character.

I'm selecting Mercenary as my character class, I want a wide experience of using 5150, and highest bidder covers a lot if not all. This makes me motivated by profit.

I can start to see him now, a very calm but menacing individual, ex-military now doing his own thing with a few ex-comrades.

Now the next part is Attributes, I get to choose one, 'Stone Cold' gets my nod as it fits the above profile, next I dice for one getting, 'Hard as nails'. This really is someone that should scare people!
Next I determine his Skills as Fitness 5, People 4, Savvy 3, Science 0. I was really undecided on People and Savvy, so I will try to raise Savvy first I think (this might be overtaken by events of course!).

Looking at Profession I'm torn between Gunslinger and out and out Mercenary, looking at the InSight test I notice that Gunslingers receive a bonus here, so that answers that one!

Now Hardware, looking at the available weaponry I decide a BAPistol is in order, plus an Assault rifle for when things really hot up. I note the body armour and reckon the team will be com-linked, locally generally and combat linked when heading into serious trouble.

Finally a roll on the Everyone Everywhere tables gives me a name of (drum roll please!) - Nathan Castillo

All in all this gives:

Nathan 'Nat' Castillo
Rep 5 Fit 5 Pep 4 Sav 3 Sci 0
Gunslinger
Stone cold and Hard as nails
Casual: BAPistol, Local com-link, Body armour (1)
Action: Assault rifle, Combat com-link, Body armour, BAPistol

I also roll up these Grunts, as my ex-Army buddies turned mercenary:
Lucas 'Smiffy' Smith Rep 4 Fit 4 Pep2 Sav 0 Sci 3 BAPistol Rage
Zane'Cutter' Larson Rep 4 Fit 4 Pep 2 Sav 0 Sci 3 BAPistol Coward
Troy 'Zip' Phillips Rep 4 Fit 4 Pep 2 Sav 3 Sci 0 MPistol Resilient
Colt 'Dodger' McDermott Rep 4 Fit 4 Pep 2 Sav 3 Sci 0 BAPistol Athlete

They should do alright in a gunfight, although Cutter might have got his name from cut and running (I rolled these using Everyone Everywhere too, except Smiffy).

Now Items, so I start with 16 Items per the game rules, right so I 'spent' 5 on myself, a further 4 on combat com-links for my buddies, I spend one Item on a Law Level 3 apartment (ground floor for access) leaving me with 6 Items, which maybe needed to tool up for our first job. Just need to determine what that is...

So the ones that respond to our 'net campaign in the first month are:

A law firm (MacGregor & Co - Everyone Everywheere)
A large corporation (Neogen Unity - courtesy of Stars Without Number)
The Government of Gaea Prime

Looks like we might have struck it big, I decide that a quick vid-call is in order to all three, to try and smooth the interview process, 'Personal - Professional' that's us!

MacGregor & Co (3 vs 2) I thought the partner really liked me, this could be a good banker, but the real money's in the others.
Neogen Unity (3 vs 3) damn, he just confirmed the meeting time, I didn't really get a rapport. Still, nothing to lose, right the big one.
Gaea Prime (1 vs 3) I really felt like he thought I was wasting his time, damn. But you never know he might be interested still.

I took Zip with me, he's pretty clued up, hopefully he'll be able to see things a little differently. First we went to MacGregor's. (1 vs 1) Damn that was tough, we really need to get out of our military mindset if we are going to win contracts. Still they liked us, and said they'd really consider us for any future plans they have, so it wasn't a wasted trip.

Next up, is Gaea Prime, I feel this will go badly already. (1 vs 3) We didn't even get to see them in the end I'm not sure we'll ever crack that one, it's a real shame, but never mind, I just hope that Neogen are receptive.

Neogen Unity (0 vs 3). Jesus even worse than the Gaea Prime interview, they just cancelled on us. I'm really sorry guys.

Well, I don't know about you but I'm off down the pub, anyone coming with me (Chillin')?

OK, so that didn't go so well. A quick dice off gives the Late day part, Law Level 2, with decent weather. All in all this gives 3 PEFs. Objective? Get trashed, actually we're quite skint so just have a drink. Only Smiffy's interested in going with me and he's decided to wear his body armour, so let's hit the town!

Until next time Steve

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

New Beginnings

OK, so what's happening now?

Well, I gave in and ordered 5150: New Beginnings, having more solo games can only be good right?

Well, anyway I've been devouring that and prepping my 15mil minis by filing bases down etc., still no hint of colour, or time to paint them even if I had the materials, but I'm determined to use them so it's 'as is'. This is my game right?! I've also printed out some 15mil scaled paper civilians, MicroTactix CheapFolks are great!

So, now I just need to settle on a game I want to play, and here there is a little dilemma. I could play The Department, I've had it slightly longer, and the premise is pretty good (I got it first for a reason, after all), but I need to pick out a few tables that I will need in play, and because I have the hardcopy this isn't a case of simply prinitng out the relevant pages, PDFs have a big advantage here! Plus I don't want to break the binding, so copying will be difficult, which means manually copying the tables out.

Conversely, 5150:NB has all the tables in the back (and the sometimes criticised 'ugly' plastic binding works beautifully, much better than metal binding too which I find still causes pages to fall out), plus you get the PDF thrown in so I can print out the character sheet and anything I feel I might need in play, so this has a slight edge. The only downside is that the Blade Runner-style premise is not very strong, possible, but not as strong, but for once I actually want to just game.

I think this leads me to playing 5150:NB in its default 'mercenary' tone, with the very real possibility that I add in relevant rules later on so that I end with a DFM/5150:NB hybrid, which would be serious fun indeed.

So what next? Stayed tuned for my initial character and first session preparation write up.

Before I go I must sing Ed Texeira's praises as highly as I can, the service I've had from him as has been exemplary. If you've ever dallied with picking up one of THWs rulesets, I would heartily recommend it, he deserves your cash as much as you deserve an excellent solo-playing experience.

Until next time Steve

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Department of Frustrating Me

OK, so it's been a long time and work is still incredibly busy. It's not that I work longer hours, just that I don't feel like doing anything when I have time to spare. So it may not come as any surprise that I have advanced almost nothing (this is a bigger disappointment to me than any of my loyal readers!).

To make matters worse I received The Department of Fabricant Management for my birthday (OK, I ordered it myself and had to be 'surprised' when I opened it in front of my kids). Normally this would only be a good thing (and it is really), but it just adds to my previous list of things I want to do. Coupled with that I received 2 bonus minis for late delivery which are great and have added to my 15mm lead pool, and you see this is where the trouble starts...

A while ago I thought about getting more sci-fi miniatures and don't have that many at 28mm, I realised I could easily exceed them in number with 15mm (£0.40 compared to £2.00 each on average, or 5 to 1). I got all enthused ordered a load from 15mm.co.uk and then realised that they really needed painting, 15mm needs something to differentiate it easily, however when I left home my younger brothers kept the painting kit, and I now live 100 miles away, give or take. I know all the kit I want, I'm going Army Builder dip and Testor Dullcote with block colours. I'm quite a poor painter (compared to the many excellent blogs) and hope these will cover any sins, and at 15mm block colour shouldn't look too bad, but I need to convince my girlfriend that I need to spend £50+ and actually have time, that elusive commodity!

I mean I know I could just use paper minis, which I have! I just have this urge to make it 'better', coupled with this I have rediscovered my excellent Car Wars Midville maps. OK so the scale is off, more like 10mm not 15mm, but with the figures as only a representation I can easily live with this. If pushed I could commit a 'cardinal sin' and play with unpainted lead, and this may be the way to go in reality, just don't expect pictures!

Also, when I ordered The Department I also pondered 5150: New Beginnings from Two Hour Wargames. Long time readers may know I started a Bond themed game of Larger Than Life, another THW ruleset, which I left unfinished because it felt like there were too many holes. Well, I've seen excellent battle reports of 5150:NB so I'm also tempted to get this at the earliest opportunity. So as well as time pressure there's also a little wallet pressure currently.

I guess I must just like being like this, that seems a realistic answer to why everything is unfinished, or even not started.

Until next time Steve

Monday, 20 August 2012

Danger in my Pocket!

Not quite what the title could indicate perhaps, but these are my ideas relating to Danger Patrol Pocket Edition, the Danger Patrol hack, Danger League, and several d6.

I am assuming that anyone reading this is familiar with:

Danger Patrol http://www.dangerpatrol.com/
Danger League http://story-games.com/forums/discussion/12040/x
Danger Patrol Pocket Edition http://www.dangerpatrol.com/dangerpocket_pocket.pdf

All of which are excellent, and should be downloaded as a matter of urgency. As long time readers of this blog may well know I really like Danger Patrol and even thought about using it for a solo game. That didn't quite work out because of the threat mechanic.

Spool forward a few months and I am in the mood for some superhero fun, so taking a look at Danger League again I wonder what I could do. While I am at it I look at Danger Patrol Pocket Edition too. Holy cow Batman, that includes a random threat generator, what looks like a cleaner way to introduce threats and escalation and starts the synapses firing.

'I should meld these together' I think, but would could I add? (Add, why would I even think about adding anything!) Anyway, with some ideas floating around from my card game brainwave I set about amending things. The results are:

Abbreviations
To avoid RSI I will now use DP (for the original Danger Patrol), DL (for Danger League), and DPPE (for, you guessed it, Danger Patrol Pocket Edition).

Styles and Roles
Almost a direct swap from DL, just take ANY two and create two Bonus abilities like DPPE. So a Millionaire Dark Avenger, or Dark Avenger Gunslinger, or an Alien Warrior are all possible.

Nemesis
I thought that a good addition would be the stereotypical archvillain, create him like any other Threat with a possible Strength and Weakness, but then also give him two Bonus abilities of his own, and of course a name and description.

Threat-o-matic
Taking a leaf from Gamma Patrol (a DPPE hack!) and my card game ideas I decide to add Location and Reward, and amended the chart to look like this:

Daily life simply means something non-combative, like a fire, accident, natural disaster, even a riot or a date! Nemesis means dust off those supervillains, one of them has come calling!

Dice
Having had a fiddle around with DPPE I quickly came to the conclusion that you need quite a few d8s and d4s to represent all those Bonus hits and Threats, now like any gamer worth his salt I do in fact own a few, just not the numbers needed in a decent sized encounter. If only it just used d6! Suddenly I thought 'Why not?'

So I sat down and had a little fiddle around with Excel to generate the probabilities and came up with a d6 only variant that is actually quite simple. What you need are a number of d6 of at least four different colours (which I have, 7mm I think at £2 for 20). So now you assign each of your colours to Ability dice, Bonus dice, Danger dice and Threat dice and read them as follows:

Ability dice 2 or more Hit, 1 Danger
Bonus dice 3 or more Hit, 2 or less Nothing
Danger dice 4 or more Hit, 3 or less Danger
Threat dice 5 or more Hit, 4 or less Danger

The probabilites are roughly equal (as close I care for anyway) and the progression is fairly simple to grasp, especially if you roll them in order and split them out as you go. I've got in mind a little strip on the character sheet where a player can place their dice in the respective colour/category.

Adventure generator
Finally I thought about chucking in something like the adventure generator from Icons, at least for my own copy as that's not Creative Commons, it's OGL. Oh the interaction of licences!

Until next time Steve

Friday, 17 August 2012

Thrusts of Justice

This is a very quick review of this very funny book.

Imagine you were a fan of Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, Falcon, Way of the Tiger, Choose Yor Own Adventure etc. as a child.

Now imagine you had grown up, but still enjoyed those days of turning left and falling down the previously unseen trap to your doom.

Now imagine the authors of said gamebooks knew about this experience and decided to tap it for comedic effect, and you get something akin to 'Thrusts of Justice' by Matt Youngmark.

It is a superheroic tale whereby you acquire superpowers and embark on a quest to save the Earth (although possibly/probably not). Invariably you will die one of a number of ignominious, but funny deaths, while poking fun at the superheroic genre along the way.

If I had one criticism, it is that in general the story strands are quite short (especially in relation to the other gamebooks mentioned), but they do pack in laughs. I'd certainly recommend it for an evening's entertainment now and again.

Until next time Steve

Monday, 13 August 2012

Good vs Evil

OK, so this post is about the ideas I've had for a superheroic card game, it is playable solo (because that's what I do) as well as by a group. If I was to do anything with it it would be a whole game in a box, not collectable, although who am I kidding, I'd just like somebody else to play it!

This all came about when I learned about The Game Crafter website, it's a great resource, a real shame I learned about the shipping costs to the UK, I think my eyes would water less if I stuck my dangly parts in a vice. Anyway before I learnt about the shipping costs I thought, 'hey cool, I could create my own card game!'

So I sat down and thought of a few options, some of which are very viable too, and superhero just stuck, and 'Good vs Evil' was born, mwahaha!

It is quite a simple game, possibly too simple, but I'll let others decide that as I am far too close, and the reason it is playable solo is because you take on the deck itself. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on game setup and play:

Character creation
You start by assigning 8 (or 10) six sided dice to these four abilities:
Battle
Daring
Investigation
Personality

Each player then selects two Power cards, these can be weapons, items, or superheroic abilities (these can be shuffled and drawn randomly for a fun option).

Now name your new superhero, and possibly describe him and he's finished (really this is just colour but you want a strong narrative don't you?!).

Supervillain
So, superhero ready, who is he facing off against and what do they plot? Here is where you draw a Supervillain and Villainous Plot card, these can be for example Save the Mayor from assassination, Rescue Mary-Sue Hotts (your love interest) or Stop the Ceremony/Doomsday Device/Temporal Flux Machine. There is supposed to be an element of humour involved (some of it quite child-ish, but I guess that's just me!).

The Villainous Plot card details any prerequisites, like visit the City Monument, and how much Peril the superheroes can accumulate before they fail, as well as any added Difficulty.

The Supervillain just adds Difficulty of two types (and quite a lot in the scheme of the game). I'll describe Difficulty later, as I work through the game sequence.

Locations
So with your superheroes, villain and plot you are ready to venture out into The City, draw a location card. These cards range from a Dark Alley, to a Secret Hideout, with Downtown and the Rooftops amongst others, the idea being that they are (stereo)typical superheroic locations.

Each location adds Difficulty on the Challenge card drawn next, so a High Class Restaurant might add no Difficulty on a Personality Challenge, but a Battle there makes more difficult to avoid Peril, and head towards failure, while The Sewers may be the total opposite!

Challenge
So you now know you are in a Museum for instance, but what Challenge do you face? It could be the Supervillain's minions, a misguided superhero, the vigilante Mortis Locke, a date with Mary-Sue or a number of others.

The Challenge will dictate what ability is being challenged, so a Press Conference would dictate Personality and have a Difficulty rating of say 2, while the Megacorp building would add 1 to that Personality Challenge. You roll your Ability dice, hoping for enough 4 or mores to take out the Challenge, and roll the Difficulty dice hoping for 4s or less to avoid gaining Peril, you can now also play any Power cards to aid you.

Eventually you will have hopefully satisfied the Villainous Plot requirements bringing you face to face with the Supervillain for the Final Showdown! Here you face two different Challenges depending on the villain, so a brute requires Battle and Daring Challeneges maybe, while Professor Death needs to be beaten on Investigation and Personality. If you win the Final Showdown you win, but if you gain sufficient Peril you don't!

As you can see, really very simple (if not explaiend well!), I have also thought about the design for the cards, here is a very (very!) basic example:



Really that is about it. If people want to know what cards I've come up with, I'll let you know in another post rather than carry on clogging this one, just let me know.
Until next time Steve

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Half century

I made it to the half century mark! And roughly with 2000 views too, which I am really quite pleased with.

I still haven't got to playing my GTA solo, Olympics fever here in the UK is running pretty high, along with our medal count, lots of investment in sports coaching and sports science together with publicly funded athletes (with some UK lottery money thrown in too) is how it's been done. Of course whether this investment continues beyond the Games is another matter, I think we wanted to 'peak' for our home games.

Anyway I didn't really want to spend my 50th post just on real life. Perhaps I should try and precis my current situation:

Solo RPing - I have a stack of settings waiting to be mown down, as I'm sure you well know.

Solo RPing rules - I'm still trying to tinker with these as time goes on, based on FU and playing cards. I could still throw it all in the air though and revert to Mythic, just not yet.

Good vs Evil - this is the current name for my Superhero Card Game. I have a post lined up all about this, but the half century trumped it, you'll see it soon.

Danger League Pocket d6 Edition - my thrust together Danger Patrol Pocket Edition and Danger League (superheroic Danger Patrol hack) meld, with added spice, again a post 'in the queue'.

Campaign Path - my name for an idea about system-less campaigns in the style of the much vaunted Savage Worlds Plot Point campaigns. Currently cooking on Supers regarding (fairly) recent comments on RPGnet about there being no good Supers campaigns (and being on a very rare for me Supers kick). Others bubbling away in the back of my mind/notebook.

Witch Hunter: the Card Game - another card game I'm mulling over, killing supernatural beasts with a whole host of possible cards and card types.

UFO Chain Reation - An X-COM/UFO bolt on campaign system to be used in conjunction with Two Hour Wargames Chain Reaction 3.0 ruleset. A lot's there just need some time to iron it all out and spot the gaps.

Knight Errant - my name for a Barbarian Prince style freeform map roaming solo adventure game with added extras. Again sort of reasonably advanced just needs more time.

Dungeon delving - either a modular boardgame or a card game, with the possibility of lots of additional supplements/add-ons.

Random tables - appropriate tables for generating everything you need for a solo or zero prep sandbox in many genres, system less for full versatility. Could be subsumed into the Campaign Path idea.

Inspire a Generation - OK I've nicked the Olympic tagline but in this context it means getting my kids gaming. I have now adapted the standard Danger Patrol rules to work as a rules light introduction to RPGs for my young-ish girls. I intend going the whole hog and using minis, scenery, funky dice etc. It helps that my eldest is currently on a musketeers high, I'm hoping to grab it and use it to introduce her to RPGs a bit more. As always just a couple of things to sort out, the main/only one being making character illustrations in Heromachine to make into paper minis to represent them.

Writing - I've always convinced myself that I can write a decent story, I just need to find the time to settle on one of my various ideas and actually write the damned thing (actually to flesh out all the whole-ish plotlines, and subplots, I have already written).

Anyway, so these are what are swirling around my head competing for my work drained synapses. Sometimes I think if someone finds my (quite frankly many) notebooks in the future they'll think me either a genius, mentally deranged, an English eccentric or a Devil worhshipper (possibly all four).

If any of these grab your attention, or you want to lend a hand please let me know, I am a very unfocussed sort but with a push of other's support any or all of these could see the light of day. I'm not averse to making (and sharing) money from any of them, but frankly I just want to share them (for the undoubted adulation of the gaming public?! Or something like that).

Until next time Steve

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Downtime

This is an update to let you know that this blog is still alive (as am I!). The usual reasons of masses of work, not feeling great and/or tired and Euro 2012 (OK, that one's not usual).

Anyway becasue of those I just haven't found the time to advance Largo's story yet, but I have collected everything I need together (again) so that I can get going as soon as possible.

Even when I have had a few snatched moments I've been in a bit of a superheroic phase, designing a possible card game (well I say designing, really just coming up with little titbits of ideas), reading 'Thrusts of Justice' because of the Heromachine blog (well worth it!), and thinking about a Danger League Pocket Edition based entirely on d6.

That sounds a lot now I write it out, but it has only been a few minutes at a time, like when waiting for my kids at their swimming lesson, and all done quite recently, hence my optimism for getting on with Largo.

The reason I haven't blogged about any of this is because of the guilt effect, this is stuff I feel like should have waited until after some of the FU solo games and write ups, but this is my blog I guess written as much for me as to share with others.

So, I WILL get to Largo very soon, and write up about some of the stuff above.

Until next time Steve

Monday, 21 May 2012

LC Subway


We would like to apologies for the late running of this service, normal service will be resumed shortly.

Actually, seriously I would like to have got this up and running by now, there were just a couple of holdups. Firstly I needed to formalise my thinking on Largo, secondly I needed to be a little more clued up on LC itself. I'm not really that familiar with the game, I've played Chinatown Wars on the DS but that's about it in recent years (I dabbled with San Andreas and enjoyed GTA1&2 although they are distant memories). Helpfully there a number of wikis so that I don't get Broker and Dukes mixed up, plus I will obviously put my own spin on it all, so all you GTA officianados will notice that the mafia and leaders' names may change but hopefully none of that will be too distracting.

OK, so here's the lowdown on Largo Peralta.

He's pretty good looking (hence the reason his girlfriend is smitten), he's pretty good with his fists, but has a short temper, currently he has no real worldly possessions other than his clothes, but has plans to change that. He's also a pretty good driver. This stats out as:

Good looking
Fist fighter
Wheelman
Short temper
No Gear

His subplots are:

Look for Michelle
Avoid Juan Hernandez (beating victim)
Stay out of trouble
Get revenge on James Davies (witness)
Make plans for Vice City

Now for my random events I have stuck with the table seen previously and have the following themes:

Spades - Crime
Clubs A-7 - Spanish Lords
Clubs 8-K - Rival gangs
Hearts - The City
Diamonds A-7 - Money
Diamonds 8-K - Police

I have a sheet to record these which should make it easy to remember (easier than last time!).

Coming up...a spree in the 'hood


Until next time Steve

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Welcome to The Worst Place in America


Hey, let me introduce myself. I'm Largo Peralta from South Bohan down in good ol' LC, Liberty City. Liberty, yeah like that's a good name for it, I'm just outta Alderney Correctional Facility, but there aint nuthin' correct about that place.

I hear yer wanna hear a lil' bit about me, well you come to the right man. So just outta ACF, doin' a lil' time for hittin' some brother with a pool cue...Jesus, won't nuthin', and some dogooder goes stickin' their nose in where it aint wanted. Normally, woulda just been swept under the carpet, hell a few grudges woulda been held for awhile, but nuthin' I can't handle, jeez nuthin' I aint been handlin'. Anyway, damn fuzz come and clean up the place, and I'm bang to rights - 6 months in the slammer with my girl out here lookin' out fer 'erself.

Now here yer see I've struck gold there man, she's hot and loaded, her padre's some banker who work's on The Exchange, got money comin' outta his ears, and his little girl, she's got him wrapped 'round her little finger. Maybe one day I'll tell ya the story about how we met.

Well anyhow, I'm out now, I'm sick of this city and I want out, I wanna grab Michelle and I'm outta here, paved with Daddy's gold. Trouble is I can't get hold of 'er, well that's where my story starts...


Until next time Steve

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Tie fighter

OK, so the poll's closed, the joint winners are:

GTA Liberty City
Necromunda
Superheroes

Well, clearly only one can actually win, I could re-open the poll, or just randomly determine the first game (guess what I'm going with!).

And the die says 2, so it's GTA Liberty City!

Losing game supporters, do not fear! I do intend to play out the other games at some point in the future, with the other two high voters first then the second tier etc, so stay tuned!

Until next time Steve

Friday, 4 May 2012

Use the force!


No, not THAT Force, I mean brute force, trying to get a group dynamic game into a solo-ist's toolbox. I just had to post this on Star Wars day (May the 4th be with you, if you didn't know).

OK spuring on from my previous thread where I mentioned some plotting RPGs, here I thought I'd mention some significant ones in some more detail.

Primetime Adventures (PTA)
PTA is very much a group based system, but it does have some good ideas that I feel may be steal-able in some way.

Scene focus - the person "in charge" of the next scene creation gets to choose whether it is a character defining scene or a plot scene. This is eminently steal-able, and breaks up the often fast paced solo adventure, this is something I have often thought about but have not implemented, maybe because I have under developed my solo characters? Or because I have only one character generally? Personally I would implement this as a die roll. (Spacejacker has done something similar using 1d6 1-3 Action 4-5 Quiet 6 Meanwhile... scenes).

Episode focus - PTA almost mandates a campaign structure of at least 5 episodes, each player then has to choose how important their character is in each episode (on a scale of 1 low to 3 high) with only one "spotlight" character in each episode. This sounds like a good idea, but then when I solo I'm usually only one character with perhaps a couple of NPCs so the spotlight thing is much less important. I think if I was attempting an ensemble game then I may do this, and I may in the future so it's not totally discarded.

Personal set - this is a locale specific to that character, somewhere they go to retreat from the world I guess, even if it is in public, a bar for example. This is another very stealable idea, and easy to add to any character's character sheet.

Connections - these are people that the character has some connection with beyond a simple acquitance (and other characters), a very good idea and one I use all the time, in fact the FU rules for relationships I tweak in this direction.

Issue - this is the struggle that the character faces through the campaign, usually resolved in their spotlight episode. Again this is something I have used for a long time, just called it a character goal instead.

Nemesis - if you haven't used this one in the past, you've missed out!

Epsiode structure - this is mapped out in acts, the first detailing the problem, each subsequent adding complications or twists before the climax. Nothing really ground breaking here, although the spotlight player does get to narrate the denoument untouched, but probably of little value to  a solo-ist.

Fiasco
Fiasco is raved about in many circles, unfortunately none of these are solo players!

Character creation is the best thing about Fiasco for the solo player, the rest is far too dependent on a group but the initial creation does make interesting characters.

In Fiasco you create a character using the Fiasco playsets, each playset has a list of relationships, needs, locations, and items. In each category there are six items so it is simplicity itself to randomly create a genre appropriate character with some really interesting features. Be aware however that Fiasco attempts to create humourous, idiotic, and otherwise strange characters to support the style of adventure it was created for, hence the name, but they are interesting to role-play.

Go download yourself a copy of one of the free playsets from Bullypit website and see for yourself.

Cartoon Action Hour: Season Two (CAH)
CAH is designed to recreate the kid's 80's cartoons we all remember (if you were a kid in the 80's!) like He-Man, Transformers, Thundercats and G.I. Joe. It has way too  much information to paraphrase here if that is what you want (I suggest you get yourself a copy) but the highlights for solo-ists are in its series creation help.

Series name and tagline - this is surprisingly important to me, at least the tagline is, it gives me a handle on the style of game I have in mind, mostly it isn't written down but it is there in the subconcious somewhere.

Rogue's Gallery - this is made up of 1 Master Villain, 0 to 3 Leaders, 6 to 10 Henchmen, and countless Goons of 1 or often more types. Being a cartoon these are made up at the start of the series/campaign, while this removes some of the mystery for the solo player it is also genre appropriate in many instances, supers, Star Wars etc. In FU terms the Villain is a complete character (and possibly some more), the Leaders are complete characters, the Henchmen are minorly powerful to just a name, and the goons are there simply to take a punch in the face.

Narrow skills - OK this isn't plot orientated but, a very good concept in CAH is that narrow skills overcome broad skills. I think this is very important in games where you free choice of character abilities, like FU. So when a Wrestler meets a Strongman, the Wrestler gets the benefit in any hand to hand situation for instance.

The episode structure is almost identical to PTA, the setup, followed by the confrontation and finally the resolution.

Starblazer Adventures/Spirit of the Century (SbA)
SbA/SotC's best advice is the basic plotting setup.

Endanger the characters, Reveal the true danger, The pursuit encounters complications, Certain doom, The twist, Final showdown, Breakneck escape (Optional).

If you keep this plot setup in mind (or have it written down in front of you) then you can mold your storyline to fit (and/or the random events). As is appropriate to the genres these games are emulating they give a very pulp-y style game structure.

Another concept is Plot stress. In SbA this can be used to determine when particular events occur, as it seems appropriate the GM marks off the stress until it reaches one of these milestones. It can seen at work in the free Mindjammer adventure "Escape from Venu". Well OK you may say, that sounds kind of interesting, but for a solo-ist knowing what's coming up next?!

You see my thoughts on this is that it could be used in detective scenarios in particular. You can detemrine that a major event is going to happen, but not what that event is, then, when it arrives, determine it using whatever random event method you are using, and it is still a surprise! It also means that the plot is suitably paced, you cannot catch the killer in the second scene after a brief foot chase because your plot track has not dictated it yet. I may give this one a try sometime soon.

Another idea, taken from Dr Rotwang is the Adventure Funnel. While it is a good idea for normal groups with a GM for solo-ists it's not really got anyhting to help.

Larger Than Life (LTL)
This is a game available from Two Hour Wargames. THW specialise in games where one side is pitted against a wargaming "system" that controls reactions and movement. LTL is different from their other games in that it concentrates on a main character, allies, and a love interest against a Big Bad, femme fatale and enemies/extras.

LTL is a pulp ruleset utilising THW's reaction system for the combat scenes and a plot system powered by "clues". Each scene has the possibility of a clue, throwing obstacles in the character's path, until they have collected enough to face off against the Big Bad on the Showdown.

It is an intriguing idea, but, I would suggest, not story focused enough for those that use Mythic, and the tables provided although fairly good, adhere to the game system which is too bloated for me. By this I mean that there is not one core mechanic, some tests require rolling against one attribute, while others require rolling that attribute number of dice. Put basically, it has the possibility to be better in my opinion, and while I could set about doing that, it lacks random events and stronger narrative for role-players.

Danger Patrol
This is a great pick up and play game for a group, but you can also use it's game structure to aid your solo playing. It is best when detailing an action TV episode-like structure.

Opening scene - usually the GM narrates an opening action scene, including appropriate baddies, location and any other interesting characters, events or things present. This is entirely possible too for solo-ists, use whatever method of random enemy generation you usually employ and setup a frentic and fun "audience grabber".

Previously on... - the players then start by narrating a ficticious Previously on... scene. This is used in the group based game to inform the GM of things you would like to see in the upcoming episode. This can be used as is for solo-ists too, as I did a few weeks back. Simply jot down some initial thoughts and try and weave them in to ensuing story.

Action - after the title sequence, of course, you then return to the action and deal with the multiple threats.

Interlude - if you want to stick with the same structure, I didn't, next up is an interlude scene, where the players usually come up with appropriate questions to include the Opening scene events and the Previously on... information. There is no reason why a solo-ist couldn't follow the same procedures, and don't forget to chuck in some character details!

Suspense - now those questions you posed in the previous scene - here is where you follow them up. Of course the answers you receive clearly propel you into the next action sequence! And so the cycle continues.

For those of you not in the know, there is now a Pocket Danger Patrol release. Go and take a look as it is different enough to be very interesting to those that already dig the full DP.

Additionally I must say if you are into comics, go Google Danger League! An excellent comic book adaption of DP!

Cosmic Patrol
What this? Another pulp sci-fi game! Oh yes and it's also pretty damn good. So what can we learn from this one?

Well CP adventures are designed to run by rotating the GM each scene. OK, go on. Well because of this the GM element is aided by, what the game calls, Mission Briefs. So what makes up a Mission Brief?

An introductory text, pretty short with a clear goal and opposition. In other words a great initial adventure setup, easily stealable or creatable by the solo-ist. Like "It has been discovered that Space Pirates are hiding on an asteroid near Linvoy Primus, you must capture their leader Captain Long Bob".

A series of Objectives, again pretty easy to make these up yourself. Like "Destroy the asteroid", "Capture Long Bob" usually there are around 3 or 4 of these.

Then Cues, thse are used to aid the newly rotated/nominated GM, just keywords that can be picked from when they are suddenly "it". Like "Zero-g", "A hostile welcome", "You won't take me alive!". Again you can make these up as seems appropriate, the number of these can easily vary from around 7 to 20 if you're feeling creative.

Tags - these are really just for admin purposes so the group can keep an ongoing theme if they have a few briefs to choose from. An interesting idea, and possibly of use by some.

Setting - this describes the areas of the mission, possibly not that much value to this, but it wouldn't hurt to have to some pregenerated ideas.

Scenes - for the group this describes each scene and its obstacles, which is of little value for a solo-ist as that is what we want to find out through play.

Character & Enemy tags - I have to mention also that tags are applied to enemies and characters too. So if an enemy is in a scene the group can pick from that enemy's tags freely too. So a spider-like race might be "Poisonous, Web slinging, Wall crawling, Fast moving, and Eight legged." While a character might be "Thoughtful, Human, Muscular, Tough."

Character cues - these are (quite frankly too many) character quotes that can be used by the player for game benefit, it's a neat idea and fits the genre well, definitely usable.

If I was to use some of the elements I think the best way would be write out the required elements of say ten missions and then file them. After a couple of weeks pull one them out and play through it, before replacing it with another brief. Hopefully this would keep the play through fresh.

Technoir
A cyberpunk game that I really know little about. There is a free adventure on the game's webpage which links various aspects of the available information. It's a little hard to describe but for instance one person, on the roll of a d6 will be connected to some other element of the adventure, and so on. While I've not had the chance to sit down and play through the ramifications of this it does seem a way to really connect a plot together with known elements seeming randomly. Definitely deserves another look although I would repeat the time gap as with Cosmic Patrol briefs.

There are of course hundreds of other options, take the Risus Companion for instance, or the famed Savage World Plot Point campaigns, or Heroquest 2 (the RPG not related at all to the boardgame <which is better!>).


Until next time Steve

Monday, 30 April 2012

It's a goal!

OK so the other day I alluded to character goals/issues/drives/motives/whatever, and said I had a list for another project. Well I found them and dusted them off and present the following for your use and abuse:

Revenge

Somebody has done something to somebody else, or you, and you want revenge.

Find/Quest

You want, secretly or not, to find a lost thing or person or place.

Rescue

Somebody has someone you want back, and you plan to get them.

Wealth/Land

You want to be wealthy, to acquire the trappings and advantages of wealth, or to own land of some description.

Power/Prestige

You want influence, to be in control, to be acknowledged as a leader.

Skill or Career/Profession

You want to be the best you can be, the top fencer in France, a world leading scientist, or chess player, or even just to attain, or keep, or be accepted in a job of any or whatever kind.

Fame/Glory

You want fame or glory, for your own ends, for your family line, as a stepping stone to something else.

To be normal

Something has happened to you and you want to return to your previous state of mental, physical, emotional etc. well being.

Atonement/Pardon

You did something you feel deeply ashamed of, or you are seeking a pardon and may or may not care about your original misdemeanour, but you need to do something to put it right, if that's even possible.

Enemy

You have a hated enemy you want to destroy, humiliate, or somehow else make them suffer. Or perhaps they are after you, constantly hounding you and forcing you on.

Duty

You signed up for whatever you are in now. Perhaps given the chance you wouldn't be hunting alien beings, but if you desert it's a spell in choky, or even death.

Protection

You feel you need to protect someone or thing, the Earth from Doctor Diabolical, your run away lover Amlie Dacourt the governor's daughter, England.

Romance/Love

Perhaps an extension of protection, maybe your family, maybe Mademoiselle Dacourt has requested to be kept in the manner she is accustomed, whatever it is you do it for love, or even the promise of love.

Relgion/Zealotry

A witch hunter, seeking and destroying demons in the name of God, a paladin striking down the undead, a Catholic hunting Huguenots, even a Professor seeking to stop a demonic ritual with his faith in God.

Destroy

You want to destroy someone or thing, this could be in revenge, but equally could be a pre-emptive strike

Discover/Knowledge

You after something intangible, like the knowledge of teleportation, or anti-matter, or even where your super powers came from. It can also be a remedy for the salvation of man, or your town, or country, or you.

Steal/Acquire

You know where the Whatsit of Doom is, you just need to be able to get it somehow.

 

All of the above are subject to the following additional considerations:

Enemy

Who, or what is trying to stop you. They clearly either the same thing or the complete opposite thing to the character. So you want to protect Danger City, but they wish to conquer it.

Time

Is there some sort of time limit? Has your sister been gone for a long time? Does the ritual to end the world occur when the stars are right?

Other complication

Is the All Powerful Thingy located on the other side of the world, at a polar ice cap, who-knows-where?

Determination

So, you can destroy the Robotic Ravagers leader, or you can find out where the bomb is? How determined are you complete your goal, what will you do to attain it? Personal or innocents sacrifice? No morals or remorse?

Alteration

So you rescued your sister from the evil cult, is that enough, or do you now want revenge on them all, their leader, or the foul demon manipulating them all?

For the solo-ist I find having at least one of these, in addition to a specific mission for the adventure, and often two or more as the character develops, helps to give a reasoning to the character's struggles and makes you think what they may do, and how far they may go to attain them. It also gives great ammunition to throw at the character, those weren't just any thugs, they were Schee Ming's goons!

Until next time Steve

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Poll position

So I have a lot of ideas that I could use for my next solo role-playing session, I really can't decide wihhc one to pick myself so I thought I might throw it open to you lot, my dear readers.

I'll detail each selection below and then attempt to add a poll at the bottom, with my coding skills (even using Blogger) this could go disasterously!

I've included the detail of the main adventuring party, so you get more of a flavour of the game idea. All games will be run using my FU/card based system, and the game mechanics will also be controlled by FU. Anyway here are my current choices:

Blade Runner

Investigating a possible Nexus related murder. One character.


Cardinal's Blades
French Musketeers investigating demons and black magic. Small troupe with favoured character.


Danger Patrol
Another randomly generated pulp sci-fi mission for Tex Butler's Patrol. Small troupe.


Footballer

For something completely different, a young footballer's (soccer) career. One character.


GTA Liberty City
A young ganger returning to Liberty City to find his sister or girlfriend. One character.

ISF

International Special Forces, think GI Joe/Action Force, against The Wolf Brigade. Ensemble.


Lytton PD
Just another day in the fight against drugs in an 80s small town (a la Police Quest games). Rookie cop and his mentor.


Necromunda

A small gang of Necromundan Clan warriors. Small-ish troupe with favoured character.


Pirates
I created the FU Pirates hack, but felt washed out by it straight after, but now I could easily return. Ensemble with favoured character.

Star Wars
Another randomly generated Clone Wars mission. The young Padawan Sev Linus, and their Master, Jo-Sun Wi.

Superheroes

Kensai (sword master), the Illusionist, and The Disc (gadgeteer) against The Skull and her minions. Small troupe. 

Superspy

Continuation of John Regent (although a different story) as detailed earlier in my blogging 'career'. One character.


Swords & sorcery
Standard hack and slash setting. A small troupe with favoured character.


Verge
A young thief in a fantasy/cyberpunk city. The thief and his friend.

Witch Hunter

Think Solomon Kane, Witch Hunter: the Invisible World, Warhammer Fantasy etc, set in Dorset, UK. One man and his lackey.


X-COM
Fighting alien invaders with elite special ops teams and the world's best scientists. Ensemble.

It's quite a list, and probably misses some ideas I've had recently. So now I am totally in your hands, please feel free to select whichever one you want me to tackle. The poll closes in about a week.


Until next time Steve

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Very ResourceFULL

I made a really interesting discovery this morning, and that is ResourceFULL cards created by Paulo Rivas.

Designed to make the GMs job easier for his friends, they are another interesting idea involving cards to develop RPG plots. Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth I downloaded them immediately and saw some real potential.

If you want to take a look yourself, the link is:
http://resourcefullrpg.wordpress.com/

For my part it lacks the event focus, such as PC positive, but it does have a few neat ideas, like the combat complication/situation. They are somewhat reminisent of the Mythic setup.

An idea I've just had is to perhaps write my current setup on the back of these and then open them like a book, reading the back of the next card, and the detail on the other, I guess this does exclude certain combinations though, and I'd rather avoid operating two packs simultaneously.

While I am on this topic I have also got some other cards going by the name of GM Helper Cards. These are very much D&D style high fantasy based, which simply does not appeal to me, hence my previous silence on them but may be of extreme interest to others. The link is here: http://carjackedseraphim.blogspot.com/

Ahh, so many ideas! Perhaps I should focus a little more, what do I want on each of my cards, as much as possible, clutter free? Should I force myself to concentrate by agreeing to send my "finished product" to The Game Crafter? Perhaps that is my next challenge, any suggestions?

Until next time Steve

Monday, 23 April 2012

Levels in FU

One of the things reasonably often mentioned on the FU Yahoo Group is the problem of "levels", for example can someone be stronger than another "Strong" character? I thought I would lay out the options here, I'm not going to suggest a solution because I don't necessarily think there is one as each can be taken and used in whatever situation they are needed, a bit like golf clubs really.

So there are a number of possible solutions to this (that I have thought of, and probably more than this), a lot of which are not mutually exclusive (there goes the golf club metaphor!) so without further ado:

There is no problem
Simply ignore it for simplicity. One Strong character is equal to another Strong character. This is by far the simplest method but can leave a group feeling cheated.

Add a fixed levelling descriptor
A Jedi Padawan will have less control of The Force than a Jedi Master, at least in theory. These "levelling" descriptors can be of two types, fixed or freeform. A good selection of fixed levels can be stolen/borrowed from Fudge (levelling descriptors stolen from other games are available), these are:

Legendary
Superb
Great
Good
Fair
Mediocre
Poor
Terrible
Abysmal

So now you have a Fair Jedi against a Great Jedi, so it is clear which is better, of course whether this warrants one or two Bonus/Penalty dice will have to be determined by the group (my suggestion would be to stick to one, this is quite a healthy bonus in FU).

Add a freeform levelling descriptor
A freeform levelling descriptor would be something like Padawan in the above example, or Apprentice wizard, or Battle-hardened warrior. The good thing about these descriptors is that they add a certain flavour as well as adding a level, the bad thing is that they are less defined, is a Journeyman wizard better or worse than an Accomplished wizard?

Sacrilige
Of course you could add a number before or after the descriptor. For me this breaks the purely word-based ruleset, but it is of course a very easy option. Be careful of the very slippery slope this represents however, for example now take the situation of someone trying to force a door, a fairly common occurance in fantasy campaigns. Do you grant a Bonus die for a Strong 2 character? Well, is the door also Strong or Protected in some way, if so does it warrant a number itself? Is it an interior door which is flimsy 1? Or a portcullis 7? Or a jail cell door 4? Suddenly numbers can sprout out anywhere, and that nice little narrative system is not so little or narrative anymore.

It can also leave you hidebound as you concentrate on numbers and not on a FLIMSY door, or an ENORMOUS, IMPOSING and HEAVY portcullis, or a KEYCODE LOCKED and SOLID cell door.

Narrowness rewarded
I've stolen this clean from Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2 (it's possibly in one as well, I don't know!), and that is to reward a narrower descriptor. For example a Warrior faces off against a Swordsman in a duel, now in normal circumstances you would grant/cancel a Bonus die to each, but here the Swordsman is more narrowly defined, clearly he deserves to be rewarded for this narrowness which could be a serious problem in other situations. So in this case I would grant a Bonus die to the Swordsman and the Warrior would get nothing. This in itself isn't necessarily a level, but it does show in certain circumstances where a Bonus is appropriate, and how a player can tailor a character to better represent what they want their character to be good at.

Take things to the extreme
I find taking things to the extreme sometimes shed light on the situation at a lower level, take for example The Hulk against a Bodybuilder, both are trying to lift a car. This could be played in a number of ways, the first is in the campaign's norms. By this I mean if we are playing a supers campaign where a Strong character represents a hulking brute then lifting a car is about normal and no roll is required, the "normal" would be required to take serious Penalty dice or just be incapable of performing the task. Now things get a little trickier if normals take a larger part of the action, or the setting is one in which the supers are more low powered.

In these situations you could do just about any of the above, but the cleanest solution if you are happy with "normal" FU is just to add a simple tag, like Super. So Super Speed grants a bonus over a Fast "normal", and a larger bonus over a "normal" with no Speed related talent. Really this is just a two step fixed descriptor, but in FU is much more required?

Hopefully this has helped, if only to clarify some of the available options.


Until next time Steve

Friday, 20 April 2012

Quick, come back, it's starting again!

Ah, the childhood memories, I guess with TV hard drives this phrase will disappear from memory, anyway.

VOICE OVER:

So you rejoin us as our intrepid heroes have narrowly escaped an explosion, but have they just let a Crimson Republic agent escape? How is the mysterious alien tied up in this? What exactly do the Crimson Republic have in store with the banned book? Do they have Trans-Dimensional plans? Is Miss Glenda "Bun" Kendell able to continue the pursuit? Find out and more in the conclusion of this thrilling adventure!


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Fate of Danger Patrol

Taking a leaf from Spacejacker's write up I am going to label my questions as either mechanics or Fate questions. This helps to deferentiate where I am using FU and where I am using it as the basis of the story driver. I am going to stick to only allowing events when I am asking a Fate question, my labels will be:

? Fate question
! Mechanics question

What this means is that those using something other than FU for your game will be able to see the parts that apply to you more clearly as I am essentially using FU for every type of question, clearly where I use cards this is to generate a random event and so is part of the story system. I hope this is clear, but any questions please use the comments, thanks.

In this run through I am going to be using my themed deck, I have decided that this is a SECOND card drawn to lend an aid to interpretation, the deck keys as follows:

Spades Action
Hearts Romance
Diamonds Danger!
Clubs Suspense

Characters
Tex Butler
STYLE: Two fisted
ROLE: Flyboy
ROLE: Commando
FLAW: Professor
GEAR: Raygun
GEAR: Rocketpack
SUBPLOT: Revenge on the Crimson Republic for his father's death
SUBPLOT: To make Glenda Kendell love him

Professor Nathan Jakowski
STYLE: Psychic
ROLE: Professor
ROLE: Explorer
FLAW: Warrior
GEAR: Omni scanner
GEAR: Utility belt & med kit
SUBPLOT: To make his old Professor proud of his achievements
SUBPLOT: To make some great new scientific discovery

Miss Glenda "Bun" Kendell
STYLE: Intrepid
ROLE: Agent
ROLE: Detective
FLAW: Daredevil
GEAR: Electro blaster
GEAR: Disguise kit
SUBPLOT: To protect Rocket City
SUBPLOT: To settle down and have a family

Mission generation, done using Starblazer Adventures.
Mission type [4]: Item/Object
Item [4] [1]: Banned book
Complication (used as hook) [1] [4]: Critical item stolen (What a roll!)
Location [4] (again!): Orbital
Orbital location [1]: Orbital defence platform
Who? (For the opposition) [5] [5]: Unusual lifeform

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Round up

I see others have taken up the potential FU has for solo role-playing, in particular Spacejacker on his blog: http://tinysolitarysoldiers.blogspot.com/2012/04/solo-rpg.html

He has some interesting ideas like relying completely on d6s for his random events. I like the simplicity of that, but I can see problems too in that it is a real restriction to the types of events. I see he has added a scene type destinction too, which I believe caused someone to mention Primetime Adventures.

As a man very much into RPG plotting, PTA has some good points, however many of them are reliant on the group dynamic to work (very similar to Fiasco too, a good way to create inter-connecting plot and characters but really group dependent). I will write a blog post on these types of RPG I've come across and their possible uses for the solo-ist if I get the chance.

OK, so to really round up my previous session, to start with I used the following random generation table:

Ace PC or Ally
2 NPC
3 Social
4 Environmental
5 Physical
6 Intellectual
7 Emotional
8 Combat
9 Senses
10 Item
Jack Location
Queen Escalation
King Subplot

Now as I mentioned I got it a little wrong with my suit interpretation, what it should have been was:

Spades Positive (the point goes upwards)
Hearts Negative (the point goes down)
Diamonds Ambiguous (the points go up and down!)
Clubs New/Introduction (just the last one left)

In theory this should have made it easier, but I guess in the rush I just overlooked this (somehow I remembered the Spades and Hearts significance, memory eh?!).

I now need to test the thematic deck, playing through the deck arrangement above I'm not so sure this  will work as well, but it was my first thought and it may have a nugget of wisdom in it (perhaps as a second card draw?). Anyway I could tinker forever and never get anywhere, so I plan to run my next session as soon as possible and post the results.

My next problem is that I need a background that will fully test out the possible themes, for that I'm not sure Star Wars is the best choice as it is so action orientated, so as I have my Starblazer Adventure random tables (which I used just to generate the initial plot thrust in the end) I might just go with pulp sci-fi, or to be more precise Danger Patrol! OK, so I've decided, now, what themes to apply?

Romance
Action
Suspense
Danger!

I strongly suggest you get yourself to John Harper's Danger Patrol website and download the free rules, you won't be sorry I promise! Go here: http://www.dangerpatrol.com

Until next time Steve

Monday, 16 April 2012

Clone Wars: Episode 1

OK, so I promised it so here it is.

First up some pointers. The questions as written were as they came to me, this means that some appear beneficial and others negative to the characters. Whereas in Mythic you tend to try and liven things up by asking negative questions, with this system you simply flip the Bonus and Penalty dice depending on the nature of the question.

For example "Is it dark?" if I thought this likely I'd assign 1 Bonus die. "Can I see?" if I thought this Unlikely 1 Penaty die. These are basically the same question just one requires a Penalty die and one a Bonus die based on the phrasing.

So as you may see there may be a bit of linguistic twister thrown in but hopefully you can follow it.

Another amendment I've made is deciding that matching the result die rolled is pretty pointless, it is so much easier to remember that a 1 rolled on the d20 is an event that I just went with that. To recap a d20 is used to match the probability of an event using Mythic at Chaos Factor 5.

A point I realised part way through was that I was rolling when normally it would just be a skill check, this is an extension of the rules really beyond their remit as a Mythic replacer so some of the rolls should actually have generated a random event.

Final point, a d20 is probably not enough, I might use a d12 next time or d10. I guess this is because in Mythic the CF builds as the adventure reaches a climax, so the chance of a random event increases. This means that sticking to CF5 is probably too low, I'll look into the probabilities and make another post soon.

 

Characters:

Jo-Sun Wi
Female human Jedi
Agent
Detective
Flawed Commando
Lightsabre
Jedi robes
Very calm in adversity

 

Sev Linus
Male human Jedi Padawan
Warrior
Daredevil
Flawed Flyboy
Lightsabre
Padawan braid
A bit brash
Rushes in too fast

VOICE OVER: On the remote planet Kilanna in the outer rim, Separatist forces have subdued the local population under the Command of local traitors. Emergency request to the Galactic Republic for liberation is answered by the Jedi Council, sending Jedi Master Jo-Sun Wi and her Padawan Sev Linus to free the populous.

ROLL CLONE WARS CREDITS (http://www.televisiontunes.com/Clone_Wars_-_A_Galaxy_Divided_(The).html)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Coming to the internet near you - 16th April

OK, I'm not very far with my playtesting, work has just been really busy lately and getting the time seems impossible. In addition to this I have next week off so I won't be posting then (I post around my work times), however this does hopefully mean that I will actually find time to advance my proposed system a lot!

So when I'm back look out for a full play report or maybe even two as I test out and refine the system. For now I've dropped my Cardinal's Blade game, I think so that everyone can appreciate the difference I'm going to stick to that universal background - Star Wars!

I'm going to go for a Clone Wars period as this allows instant conflict, and as is normal, I'm staying away from the canon characters as much as possible. If I encounter a Sith Apprentice then I'll throw in a Ventress-a-like but I guess I should just wait and see, as that's what solo roleplaying's about!

So signing off for now but coming back to the internet near you on 16th April 2012.

Until next time Steve

Friday, 30 March 2012

Playing around

So, I've had very little time to play around with some of my options. When I have though they do work, maybe need a few more play runs to get them fine tuned, but it is very quick and it does lead from one thing to another. However there are some ground rules needed I believe:

Plenty of goals
Each character needs at least one or two goals, possibly more. These can be personal goals, and probably should be, this ensures that there is always something to do and means that different goals can be affected by events, where they are more appropriate to the circumstances.

NPCs
Still need to keep a list of NPCs that can be referrenced back to. I think that maybe I was a little harsh on this on my previous post, if I were gaming face to face I'd have to keep a list of NPCs anyway so the fact I'm going solo just pushes that responsiblity onto me.

Random encounters
I feel like I need random encounter tables. Just drawing the cards tells me something, it just doesn't fill in the complete picture. If you've read the rest of the blog you will know that I've struggled with this in the past anyway, so it's nothing new!

A mission
The game needs to set off with a specific mission I feel, or to decide on one very soon into play. I admit I could be completely wrong, but if there isn't a mission then one of the player drives/goals needs to be substituted in otherwise there is nowhere to go (a fairly common complaint with sandbox-style games). Ideally the mission should be multi-faceted, having only one clear goal doesn't give much scope for subplots that can derail the game and lead to intrigue and excitement. It might be a requirement to have a random mission generator, undecided as yet.

So where do I go with this? I guess I need to source the following:

A big list of character goals (I guess it's lucky I've got one of them floating around somewhere for a long forgotten project! I will post it if people are interested)

Random encounter tables (I have got a few, but generic ones are never generic enough for me, there's always some bias, usually towards fantasy, I'd like to create my own. In the meantime I'll state my references)

Mission generator (again I have a few, I'd really like to sit down and make a truly generic one that could be used for this system. Again I'll state my references)

Name lists (thankfully I have The Everyone Everywhere List, the best money a soloist can spend! But I still need ones for other settings, villages, ships etc.)

Until next time Steve

Friday, 23 March 2012

Themes and chart

OK, so last time I hashed together a very quick table to show how the card drawing mechanic could be used. I've pondered the table a little longer and come up with this, for the interim at least:

A PC positive
2 PC negative
3 NPC positive
4 NPC negative
5 Social
6 Senses
7 Item
8 Location
9 NPC
10 Escalation
J Subplot
Q Subplot progress
K Subplot complication
Joker Change a theme

I think this shows promise, alright it is similar to Mythic's focus table, but with the added theme it could work. Of course I could leave positive and negative out and require a Fate question to determine this, this would then give greater scope to include more types of event, perhaps a bit like this:

A PC
2 NPC
3 Social
4 Senses
5 Item
6 Location
7 Escalation
8 Subplot
9 Subplot interruption
10 Subplot alteration
J Physical
Q Intellectual
K Combat

As to themes, there are so many, just to start:
Love, Desire, Tragedy, Fortune, Personal, Action, Mystery, Specific character goal/motiviation, Monstrous, Friends, Enemies, Horror, Crime, Mundane, Mystical, Fantastic, People, Martial, Economic, Warfare, Weather/Environmental, Religon, Social, Alien, Family, Government/Authority, Zombies!, Physical, Intellectual, Nemesis/Joker/<Insert named archenemy here>, Darkness, Romance, Glory, Courtly favour, Saxons/Trojans/<Insert people type here>, Police

I've not thought these through connected to the tables, just chucked them out of my subconcious so many may not entirely fit but I hope this gives some you ideas if you want to playtest, and please do!
Also don't forget to use your themes to inform your questions. A Zombies!, Action!x2, Darkness game would require questions like 'Is the zombie unarmed?', 'Is it light enough to see?', 'Does the door hold?'. While a Mystery game might have more questions like 'Are there any tracks?', 'Can I hear anything?', 'Are there any knives in the kitchen?'. Only a subtle difference but one will build tension, while pure action demands that it is in your face.

To chuck in another alternative that occured to me, you could treat Spades as Positive, Hearts Negative, Diamonds Ambiguous and Clubs as New, rather than have any themes at all (at least tied to the cards), hmmm.

I guess now I just need to find the time to sit down and playtest all of these designs and see which work best, or at all!

Until next time Steve

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Solo gaming re-think

Following on from a post on JF's Solo Nexus blog (a must if you want to explore all solo role-playing opportunities) by Carsten, I've been thinking about Mythic. I think this story needs to be told from the start:

A long time ago, in a galaxy very, very near I didn't own Mythic and toyed with the idea of creating my own Mythic-like system. Unfortunately it was a little complicated and relied on lots of tables, mostly from Starblazer Adventures with a linking chart or two.

Then I took the plunge and bought Mythic and I've been happy dabbling with it for a while, and indeed am in the process of using it 'properly' for my Cardinal's Blades inspired game. But something Carsten alluded to in his post about it being too complicated struck a bit of a chord.

In a bizarre twist of fate on the FU RPG Yahoo Group one member recently posted a write up using just the standard FU results, for those not familiar with this free game the possible results are:
6 Yes, and...
5 Yes
4 Yes, but...
3 No, but...
2 No
1 No, and...

To further explain, you start with one die (I call this the standard or static die, but this is unofficial, you always start with one die!), if the situation is difficult (the opponent has a skill you don't for example) you roll a Penalty die and read the Worst Result. Similarly if you have a net advantage, you roll a Bonus die (or two) and read the Best Result. As an aside get this game now, it is free and adds so much more than this very simple breakdown, with extremely little added complexity.

I was intrigued, but the scene setup and random events are instrinsic parts of Mythic so I was quite happy to dismiss it and carry on with Mythic. Now combine this with Carsten's thinking also using standard d6 and my mind is buzzing with my earlier thoughts. While thinking about this I thought about using cards (following on from my dabbles with using cards for AHQ!) and instantly Savage Worlds sprang to mind (more on this later), so now that the story's out the way and to make things clearer, I'm going to swap to headings that zero in on the situation in my mind.

Problem
Mythic is too complicated, particulalry in random event creation (is this why there are a few online Mythic generators?)
There are too many things to remember to make the process super smooth, updating lists, the Chaos Factor etc.
I'm a d6 type of guy recently, swapping to a different die type, while seemingly trivial, is a slight hassle (especially when you have to roll it four times in a row)

Traps
Keeping everything broad and generic, while avoiding blandness
Adding any unnecessarily complication
A system with difficult interpretation
Requiring too many random tables, or lookup sheets
Something not reinforcing the game feel that the player is looking for

Possible solutions
Using the standard FU die roll for gaming questions, with bonus and penalty dice for greater and lesser probabilities (per the FU write up)
Rolling an additional die (or die type) to determine whether a random event occurs
Something using cards to generate a random event?

Current thinking:
Yes, I will use the standard FU rules with probabilities affecting the dice rolled
I will use a single d20, if this equals the result die (i.e highest bonus die, or lowest penalty die, or the standard die) then a random event occurs (this probability is in line with Mythic at Chaos Factor 5), although could also just use 1 or 20.
When a random event occurs draw one playing card from the deck and compare it to a chart.
Interpret the event and carry on!
I think this is a much simpler system, with the scope for quite a bit of customisation, and therefore genercisim or modification appropriate to the player's game.

But how does this do that?
The answer is in the comparison chart. My initial thoughts are somewhat hazy but I'm currently thinking that each suit should be assigned a 'Theme', for example in Savage Worlds there are interludes keyed to Love (Hearts), Desire (Spades), Tragedy (Clubs), and Fortune (Diamonds), in SW these are used to push a player to generate a backstory with that theme while there is an interlude in action.

These Themes can be chosen at the beginning of the session, specific to that game. As an example for my Cardinal's Blades game I could choose Action! (C), Personal (H), Horror (D) and Mundane (S), so when I draw 7S I get a mundane event. The numbers could also be used to lend interpretation (this where it gets fuzzy!) say:

A Benefit
2 Adversity
3 Enemy
4 Encounter
5 Complication
6 Sign
7 Item
8 Escalation
9 Economic
10 Social
J Intellectual
Q Physical
K Change theme

Don't pay too much attention to this hasty table! It is just an example, in fact I would be happy to work it over with anybody interested. You could pick more themes of course and split the suits as you wished, or have five themes and tie one to the picture cards for example. As I said this is where it gets fuzzy. So going back to my 7S my player suddenly remembers he needs to get his sword repaired or a new hat, or I could ask a question or two to pinpoint.

On a downside this method also still requires character lists (and possibly others if the player wants them), I think it is going to be difficult to get away from these for the solo player, otherwise it could be a treadmill of new encounters with no two people the same.

Round up
So there you are, that's my current thinking, I'll continue to tinker with it as time allows, and continue with Mythic in the meantime, at least to finish my Cardinal's Blades game.

Until next time Steve

Friday, 9 March 2012

Elasticity of time

I've never really understood Einstein's relativity of time theory (I have only ever looked at it briefly in my defence), however that doesn't stop me wondering where my time goes.

I realise now that the luxury of miniatures is just a little too much, I need to streamline, so that means revisting my decision and instead selecting FU as my system. It's not a hard decision, FU is very light, and while AHQ allowed me to dream about minis, I just don't have the time to set it all up whenever I need to play.

This also adjusts my thinking on the random encouter tables. I'm going to go with Mythic, and if I need clarification I will roll on my new encounter chart:

1-40 Most expected category
41-65 Second most expected category
66-67 Arts/Entertainment
68-69 Authority
70-75 Civilian
76-77 Criminal
78 Medical
79-81 Merchantile
82-84 Military
85 Noble
86-87 Professional
88-89 Religious
90 Supernatural
91-100 Unusual

I'm also thinking of using this for the strength of the encounter, if I really need something random:

1-3 1d4 Mooks (1 Condition)
4-5 1d4 Mooks (2 Conditions)
6-7 1d4 Named (1 Condition)
8-9 1d4 Named (2 Conditions)
10 1d2 Full character

Until next time Steve

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

People in paper

Recently I've been dabbling in paper miniatures. I've always been fond of miniatures from my Advanced Heroquest and Games Workshop days and the girls love them too, so deciding on using AHQ for my solo musketeers game lets me make use of what I have lying around. Paper minis have many advantages:

Cheap - very important! And sometimes FREE!
Near infinite - need seven guards tonight? Just print some more.
Easy to decorate - I'm not a very good miniature painter, consequently I have not painted many of my minis and my younger brothers kept the painting gear when I moved away so I'd have to buy it all from scratch. Do you know how expensive that would be? Alternatively, paper minis - colouring pencils!
Dispensible - the kids come running through and trample your skirmish? Who cares! Try that with lead (or whatever it is these days) and see me weep.

Disadvantages:
They don't look as impressive - but as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the quality of paper minis I have is very high I'd say.
Stability - they tend to fall over if a strong breeze sweeps through! However I'm lazy and a bit of cardboard would work wonders.
Scissor ache - I'm left handed so that means spending twice as much on scissors, or using a quite stiff/tightened right handed pair, hence, scissor ache.

These are the few I've got relevant to my intended game:
Microtactix Vyllagers on the Cheap
Honour + Intrigue
SPARKS Yellow Jack & Rum
Gwindel's Paper miniatures Swashbucklers and Thrity Years War

The ones I'm most impressed with are the Microtactix Cheap folks, the Vyllagers on the cheap are perfect for filling that gap when the PC is in a crowded square with city guards after him. Just moving around a handful of minis doesn't cut it, I want to see the massed clumps and general melee, I want to know where to go, rather than a unspecified side alley.

They are also particularly good for me because I am so humano-centric in my games, I find elves and dwarfs and orcs and goblins so uninteresting. I believe that non-humans should be used sparingly and so humans become the focus of my gaming generally. I have plenty of knights, duelists and other era humans so some ordinary people are most welcome. Definitely recommended.

I also like the Microtactix Rural and Urban folks, but then I have a cop solo on the back burner too.

Until next time Steve

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Well met sir!

So, I'm nearly there with everything I need to get going on my game. I'm just being hampered by my desire to have suitable encounter tables (you see this is where things all go wrong for me, always something else...).

OK, so I've made the decision, what should I do?

Commercial encounter tables
I could just pay to download one of a number of commercial tables at RPGNow etc. However they are nearly all for certain campaign settings, none of which seem to be human-only city and rural based with a certain French flavour. I think I am probably asking for too much.

Encounter tables I have
Well, I could just use the tables from Flashing Blades in particular, but I feel like they are not broad enough for me, and my other games either don't have encounter tables or are linked to that background setting (not unsurprisingly!).

Mythic
I could just use Mythic, but this doesn't seem to fit somehow. Perhaps others could give me their opinions. I have asked in the Mythic Yahoo Group and got some decent suggestions I'm currently pondering on.

My own generic creation
As I've been thinking I've also been tinkering with a very broad category based system. For example Military, Religious, Noble, Government/Authority/Bureacratic etc.

For some reason writing this has made something click, how about using a variation on the random theme choice table in Mythic, i.e. Most appropriate, Second most, followed by my catgories...I'll give it a try and see what happens.

Until next time Steve