Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Devious Devices of Delvers

One thing I've always been at odds with in role-playing games are weapons which stun and capture characters.

In some games--like superhero ones. The idea is reasonable, and commonly a side effect of combat actions of any kind.

In other other genres, they're usually badly done, making disabling effects pointless. As it is often just easier to kill someone mechanically. If it isn't pointless then its a simple test, which steals the struggle, and challenge from a combat encounter.

With Derelict Delvers, I've got a few devious devices. I'll have to go into them in detail in the game but right now I'll simply give a brief rundown.

From a lowly Tangler to the wide area Web Gun, tanglers project basically synthetic webbing designed to immobilize a foe. A troublesome weapon that fits in perfectly with the game mechanics as written.

See Heroism points are lost first, indicating that the person or character made a narrow escape from being hit with the weapon. A Tangler hit drops HP just like a killing attack, but when it zeroes out HP, the person is entangled, and must struggle to free themselves. They're never damage--just trapped. They're out of luck/fortune and their skill has failed. (Agility or Brawn is tested.)

Needlers are small armor piercing weapons that fire tiny high velocity projectiles. (Despite my desire for the lethal Energy Needlers from some of H. Beam Pipers Works.)

In this case the shots work similar to tanglers,but instead of a test to break free when HP is zeroed. The character tests to resist the drug, rather than escaping it. (Using Brawn to resist.)

Sonic weapons have a similar effect to the other two, they stun when HP is zeroed and the target must resist going unconscious. (Perception Test to escape.)

Now this seems fairly traditional, but using these weapons can create environmental impact to the PC's. Even a near miss (which HP accounts for) still has a minor side effect.

The side effects offer a way to combine tricks and maneuvers with non-lethal weapons to create more tactical choices than just killing someone.

Side Effects:

A Tangler hinders movement. Agility is penalized if even one HP is lost! As you've hindered the person by restricting the area they are inside. A failed roll may mean they've snagged themselves on remaining webbing.

A Needler has a chance to puncture armor, even if the small darts do miss hurting the person inside. In Space this is a dangerous condition. They may need to take a turn to repair any damage to armor, spacesuits or the like with sealspray or tape.

A Sonostunner creates a focused cone of sound. Even dodging it and getting out of the way can set ones ears ringing, hammering the Perception of the character, making multiple shots even more likely to drop a foe.

Normal weapons will have some tricks as well, Suppressive fire, Burn effects, and the like.

The battlefield of a Derelict is a dangerous place even if you are a lucky and skilled person.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Derelict Delvers: Simple Templates

I've gone with templates that can be snapped together to allow a player to create a character in a few minutes, with a bit of tailoring.

The system I've decided upon for character creation doesn't remove a player getting something completely unique, in fact each template is built so they can be recreated, changed, or new ones introduced with a little more work.

The templates come in two forms: Racial Templates and Professional Templates, Add to that gear packages to speed play instead of nitpicking gear lists, and I've got the game speed I want for just throwing together a Delver team, and going into space at a moments notice.

Sure, I think the game will have a bit of lethality, but shouldn't be too terrible with the way Heroism points work.

A few more bits and it should be ready for play testing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Derelict Delvers.

I've finally decided what direction to take with DD. It's nature will be slightly different, but that's the nature of creation. Follow the creations nature, don't force it.

Now, I've just got to sit down and write it. I tried hammering at it a bit yesterday, but kept getting stuck on the same bit of text. I know its where it should go, I just have to have the direction clear enough to give it a shove.

The fundamental aspect of the game is to create a playable template from two elements: Race and Profession. When combined they give you a set of numbers that makes a playable character in brief. Yet that "playable" aspect is just the start of character creation. Each of those numbers has to come from somewhere within the Delver's past. It doesn't spring from nothing. Each number generates an equal number of aspect-like traits. Things which describe the why elements of the number.

A Body of 3, would mean 3 background traits that describe that value. It could be High gravity chitinous arthropod species from Exogeus, Winner of the Three Moons Hurling Competition, and Awarded Archive Games Biathlon Gold Medal Three Years running. The nature of the Body 3 explained in detail. Where it comes from even if it is "free" at character generation from race and profession.

The issue right now is coming up with some samples that are complete enough to work for the game, without being too complete.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Derelict Delvers: Changing Gears.

I've thought about it a long time, there are two directions I can go with DD. One is to continue to do the D&D with numbers filed off thing. I don't think that benefits anyone--why not play D&D and rename things?

The other is to go a bit sideways. Keeping it old school, but by way of MSH, Talislanta, and Tunnels & Trolls. Twisting these ideas together gets this character sheet. It needs some work, some vetting, and some hammering.

I'd like to simplify it more. The goal is to combine Race/Species stat profiles (Body/Mind/Senses) with Profession Stats (Fisticuffs, Arms, Knowledge, etc.) That creates a basic profile--two insectoid soldiers will look the same at that point. Plus be easy to put together. A few tweaks (aspects that describe the species variations in short) and a bit of personal tailoring, and tada! Complete character sans gear in a matter of minutes.

However, my goal is to make the game as basic pulp SF/space opera as possible. With a retro 50's feel, bubble space helmets, and rayguns--but still keep a solid grounding of science within a certain framework. After all really advanced science goes into those suits with their bubble helmets, and beam guns with their fins.

The mechanic will be 2d10+Stat+Misc Mods+Gear vs D# (Possibly modified by opposing Stat+Mods+Gear) The average difficulty is 10 with the D# modified to determine difficulty. The "misc mods" are never things like weather or positioning, just stuff like that guy is a super fast reptiloid so he has "Speed +2 aspect" as above in creating race stat lines. Inherant items to a monster or npc.

Example roll: Insectoid Soldier shoots reptiloid enemy who is as above fast.

The soldier takes Arms (2) + Laser Rifle (+2)+2d10 vs D#10+Reptiloids Dodge (2) +Speedy (+2) and he has a shield (+1) he whips that shield up and move to deflect the shot. Soldier buzzing angrily shoots get 13 vs his 15. It is with five of the D# required so she clips him (partial success) the edge of the shield catches the beam but the rifle still slashes past and singes him for half damage.

If she had got an 16 she'd have a Solid Success and do full damage for that rifle. If she'd had Arms (3) and rolled a 20 (total 25) she'd perform a critical on him (10 over the TN) She'd kill him (or maim him, her choice. ) Outright.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Mechanic Contemplation

I was trying essentially to get the MSH 3 shades of success handled in a ch artless manner. It is worth noting that this is quite similar to Talislanta (which also uses a chart.)

I'm wondering if I should just break the game down at this point:

Roll 2d10, 10+ Minor Success, 15+ Major Sucess, 20+ Critical Success.

That's a simple chart, and easy to remember, so to run the game chart-free. Of course mechanically speaking the rolls are modified by Stat+Skill+Gear and is opposed by Stat+Skill+Gear

Example: I'm playing a 3rd Level Soldier with an Heavy Weapons Skill of 2. He has a Dexterity of +1 and is using a wonderful and accurate Beam Rifle, that has a +1 due to its elegant and accurate design. He roll 2d10+2+1+1, or 2d10+4. He gets a total of 16. Ordinarily a Major Success. However he's shooting a foe with a +2 Dex, and a Defense Skill of +1. This +3 is subtracted from the total to get a mere 13 or Minor Success. (This does half damage.)

This gives me the same functionality as MSH, and Talislanta. Sans charts. Plus its simple enough to work.

How does that sound?

As well as that. I've been thinking of making the Derelict Delvers Heroism Points work on a sort of swinging scale. I'm not sure how to do it yet. The idea is perhaps that the more danger they face. The more heroism points they earn to do wild and crazy things. Perhaps making the Denizens of a derelict scale. A 1 Scale is equal to the PC's, meaning they earn 1 HP when they confront them, and 1 when they take damage. Every failed die roll also earns them 1 HP (or perhaps heroism dice?) A Threat 3 Enemy scales significantly higher than the PC's and puts the entire group in danger of being TPK. SO confronting it gets them 3 HP per action against it/failed roll/etc.

Bonus points if someone can help me make this work on 2d6 (Admittedly I like percentile for Sci Fi games. I don't know why.)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Odd Mechanic

So I was trying to come up with a table free version of the old TSR Marvel Superheroes RPG, the one which used the color coded universal table.
I didn't come up with one but while I was playing around with ideas I did come up with a strange mechanic, I'd like to hear some feedback on.

The basic idea is 1d100+stat vs vs difficulty number (50 is standard) and one must meet or exceed it. On its face it seems simple. However stats can be -30 to +30 with 0 as average and in increments of 10, and this only determines success or failure.
The ones die determines success magnitude/grades of success. So if you roll 72 vs 50 you succeed and get 2 grades of success. If you get 79 that's 9 grades. Skill push grades of success up. So
if someone has a stat of 20 and a skill of 5, they only have to roll a 30 for an average test, and get at least 5 grades on every successful roll.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

[High Valor and Mourngyre]

Mourngyre is a setting I've had for play for a great number of years, a few adventures here or there, and a longer campaign all written out, but with no play group entirely suitable. Part of it is that the setting is more modern than classical fantasy--it is set in a gothic fantasy/horror world. I've been thinking of it as an alternate setting for High Valor's "Feat" system, despite the fact I didn't really intend to name the system it just happened accidentally.

I've gathered a few trusted people together who know my aims, and I think could work out as suggesting directions for the game to go. I am trying not to walk onto the same stage as Ravenloft (since there is a nodding similarity thanks to Dracula, Frankenstein, and other similar literature.)

Instead I want to create a world that is dark, but not stark, one wrapped in shadows and fog, where even good intentions can turn foul, and trap someone into monstrous acts. (Like in some ways the original and actual Vlad Tepes.) Who is a hero to his nation--yet walked a very dark path to get there. (I don't want to step into the place where I'm condoning or condemning him. What he did was probably appropriate for his time, and his losses.) I do want to make sure that part of the stories Mourngyre explores is the path to hell being paved with good intentions.

Yet at the same time, I want to make heroism as something that can still fight back in the dark.

High Valor is still not in print. Thanks to the the fixes I need and the person needing to do them going of to Gen Con.

I'm working on a deal to get softcovers as well once I get the fixes and have them carried somewhere so gaming stores can get them.

Other than that, I'm still working on Tribes of Mother Night, and working on other things to get done. Just kind of writer's blocked at the moment. I think its the fact I've not got to game much lately. Unlike some my game writing is reduced when I'm not playing as much.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

[High Valor] Coming (Really) Soon.

After a very long wait, I've recieved the print file layout of my FRPG High Valor. It's being sent off to be printed, and soon enough I'll have a protoype book in my grubby little hands.

I'm still waiting on the e-file for download as currently the for print file is huge, and not printer friendly for at home printing, wish me luck on seeing it soon enough! The print book will retil for 35.00USD, and the PDF for 12.95. I Hate charging to much for things, so I'm hoping those will be solid price points for them, without being too high for poor game writer's like myself

The game itself doesn't do anything wild and crazy--but it does do dark age versions of vanilla tropes quite well, in my opinion. The setting is on the cusp of crossing from the dark ages to the middle ages, spears and mail defend the land from terrors that still haunt the forests between small villages. Even greater evils gather beyond the Free Kingdoms to wage war against mankind. It gives a lot of stuff to do, and thats something important to fantasy games--not just "go kill things and take their stuff.." but to fight, show your courage, and maybe even die in glory for your people and your world.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hearts & Souls 2E: Presenting The Flea!

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Click on the thumbnail for larger picture.

A rough prototype of the the Hearts & Souls 2E PC Sheet, set up for one of our smallest, but not least, iconic heroes.

I appreciate any feedback and suggestions. I've tried moving some elements around but it results in to much crowding and complexity back to back.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why do I like superheroes?

Why do I like superheroes? It what about them moves me to enjoy reading about them, or in the case of games, playing and writing about them?

It's not an easy thing to narrow down. I guess at heart its the simplicity of a person who properly motivated can go forth and punch evil in the face. Sure its not always that simple. Complexity adds spice and flavor. Yet at its heart, its this "The desire and will to go out and make a difference, in the world."

We have real heroes too--though we forget them I think because they lack the capes, cowls, and other costume accouterments. Some of them are police officers, some are emergency workers, others teachers, lawyers, and just plain folks. They choose to make a difference in the world, they choose to step forward, especially when it isn't easy.

Now no one of any job or profession is guaranteed to be a hero. Many are in the profession but abuse it, others simply don't go beyond the absolute minimum they must do like any day to day job. It is grueling, terrible work, they face. No matter which profession we speak of in the above lists. Yet heroes are not the same as superheroes, and of course masked crimefighters are a relative but not exactly the same.

Masked Crimefighters began farther back--Scarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, and the Reverend Dr. Christopher Syn, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. They're heroes in their own way, they fight crime, they do so with skills and abilities a real world person can learn. Maybe they're better at them because they're protected by the fiction they dwell in of course. Yet at the core they are heroes, not superheroes. One could argue Batman is in this vein, but its questionable if he doesn't push narrative protection into the realm of even that being a superpower.

Superheroes are a bit more recent, or eons older depending on where you put culture heroes. Yet superheroes have created an existence all their own in popular media. Costumes, cowls, and all.

Yet when you get down to it--the desire to make a difference, and the will to go out and implement it, is why I like superheroes and their kindred spirits.

Why do you like superheroes?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Wonders of an Unfocused Mind

Lately I've not been getting much writing done. It has more to do with health issues than other concerns. Though hopefully with one of them handled things will move forward.

Sadly High Valor has had to be moved to another layout person. No response from the previous layout person for over a month, and regardless of it being 99% through, I simply have no choice but to find someone else and start again. It's not something I wanted to do, and I held off far longer than I should have, but the person is good at what they do, and a friend. That made the whole need to move on, all the more despairing.

In the meantime Derelict Delvers is coming along. I now need to get some names for the sub powers for the Medic class. I need a side bar on "Engineer vs Scientist" in the book. I mean the Engineer is both, but he's a practical scientist. The go build something that works and kick it when it doesn't sort. Not the stay in a lab and create hypothesis type.

E.o.N's setting and work is getting more and more solid. I've really got a hold of the new direction both visually in my head, and more solidly in my rules. While I'd love to make custom rules for everything, that doesn't always work out so it will be similar to high Valor but with tweaks. Other games in the works will often have their own system, though some will use my fallback one. (High Valor's system.)

Now onto contemplating Tribes of Mother Night :D

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chinese Translation...

I am still looking for someone able to do English to Chinese translation, accurately enough for a game. I don't know when I'll find em--and at the same time the writing isn't done, but I figured a word here or there is better than waiting until the whole thing is almost done.

I need to wrap up Derelict Delvers, its an RPG I'm working on and its so close to completion, but one thing after enough has kept me busy. Mostly health concerns.

I got to play--actually play, the start of a campaign recently--of Talislanta. Was very fun. I hope it continues. One of my favorite games.

In the mean time I'm still pondering Tribes of Mother Night, E.o.N elements. Visually, I've very strong cues in my head. Game mechanics though need some examination.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tribes of Mother Night

Believe or not, I've been dwelling on one of my first published works. The setting "Tribes of Mother Night," because of the ease of use of the system used in High Valor, and its flexibility. I've been considering using a variation of it for the setting for a 2E version.

The problem is--what Feat pools will it have? I'm pretty sure we need Fate (connection to Mother Night, or Haelot, Magic use.) Yet what do we do for fighting and thinking? The game can focus on duels and the dueling circle, as well as traditional conflict. I've been thinking on that quiet a bit. So "Warfare" and perhaps "Wits?"

Although I might go with Fate, Wits, and Warfare?

It flows well, but I'd be glad to see and think upon other ideas.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hearts & Souls 2E

I've been having a heck of a time working on H&S2E, mostly I've not started the heavy lifting of mechanics. Primarily because other than a few minor changes the overt differences will be pretty small. The changes will be noticeable, but the effects will be to maintain the same play as before, just with some improvements brought on by the game design elements I've learned in the mean time.

The setting however is what is bothering me. I want this wonderful vast setting that is as wild as Marvel or DC, but without their depth of history or racism. I loathe racism. Even when I notice it in myself. (I fight it, seriously. Yet even then some slips in from my upbringing without thinking about it.)

It was something that was rampant and accepted in earlier eras of comic books. I could be true to them and allow it to slip in in the past and say "that was accurate for the time..."

Yet at the same time, I've the advantage of being able to look at that era with disgust at how we could have ever been so blind towards others (though we often still are...)

The setting is the big issue though. I want it to be filled with heroes and villains who are interesting, but unlike some settings I don't want to overlook that some were truly terrible ideas--even if they stuck around. (Example: Turner D. Century)

Yet still I want a few of.."hey that's mad, crazy, silly, and makes little sense, but what the heck..."

I'm a bit too serious at times to truly think of these though, and sometimes they come on me easily.

The joys of having an over-active brain.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


I don't do humor games. That isn't to say I don't put humor in the games I play, run, etc. I just don't do them explicitly. I played Paranoia 1E, I played Ghostbusters 1E, I wouldn't choose them today.

I prefer my humor more natural, more an aspect of situations that come out of things in games, than things "forced" into them. Same thing goes for April's Fools day. It is forced humor. Mostly unfunny. It is at best tiresome, at worst a way to really head down the path to ruining your reputation. I've seen so called "April Fool's" behaviors that if anyone had chosen to approach them could have put a few game designers years back into a real problem. Actual fraudulent statements, ones they used to make money.

Don't do that. Just don't be that person. Enjoy humor, make it subtle, but don't abuse the rights of others with it.

My April Fools post isn't a joke. It's not a laughing matter. I'm not going to say I sold out to some big company, or bought another one.

No. I'm writing games, I'm having fun with that. After all, its delightful to have a reptiloid Esper flare her frill at the other PC's because she doesn't want them to buy the "cursed" asteroid crawler at the local outposts rental place. It's fun and giggle worthy when she uses that as a "threat" to make them do what she wants. Especially when she interrupted the conversation, everyone paused, and then went right on. Maybe nudged by her antics, maybe not.

I giggle everytime my wife puts her hands up to her ears and flutters them and goes "flttrrrr" to mimic the action. She's a hoot to game with, soon it will be time for a Dwarf wedding that may resurrect a lost clan, and give them heirs. If of course the bride and groom actually go through with it. I can't wait to cause chaos, that has nothing to do with big dangers. Just small nutsy NPC's..

Chaos is fun.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Game Writing.

I'm currently at work on Derelict Delvers. I've hit a few snags with its old school flavor, because even when I played old school games I ignored things light weight carried unless it was an absurd amount. I in short "eyeballed" it because I don't care for the nickel-and-dime complications applied to a character with specific pounds/kilograms of weight.

On the other hand a simple encumbrance system makes a big difference in being able to manage resources and have fun with that aspect of play. I think I've managed it, now the hard part of explaining it, and making sure it balances well enough to avoid Murphy Rule's type situations where one can carry an infinite number of hand weapons because of the way they stack.

E.o.N (Empire of Night) is coming together in my head. SF weapons, monsters, and the like all swirl in my imagination. Dark ships lurking dead in space, waiting for newcomers to come claim them and filled with stigmatim, waiting to feast on human suffering.

Places long thought safe now slowly becoming dangerous as old monsters creep back into their ancient homes.

Necrosculpted creatures born of the dead and reshaped into new forms by surgery and dark science.

So many images of blood and terror, and the few humans standing against it all.

Monday, February 01, 2010

[Derelict Delvers] Playtesters Needed...

I'm in dire need of some playtesters to take Derelict Delvers and run some games and see how the rules play out in this iteration of them.

I've done quite a bit of expanding and cleaning to develop the character creation aspects and improve the special abilities of the characters. I suspect more work is needed but I need testing to be sure.

If interested please Email me at or so I can get the files to you.