30 November 2013

Minor(?) Brain Dump

I've been sitting on this for a while. Sometimes it's just bet to let shit fall out of my head.
I feel kind of between worlds with respect to roleplaying games.
I like the OSR movement. I love the old D&Ds. I cherish my copy of Holmes and AD&D DMG that I permanently borrowed from my mother. The retro-clones and derivatives of retro-clones and all the other kinds of permutations of variations on D&D all fill me wonder and excitement.
Yet, everytime I want to run a game I cycle through my library and endup just hacking Basic Roleplaying and Pendragon. Which is most assuredly because of the DIY culture of the OSR movement. But, it seems as though there are not many people discussing BRP and its derivatives, at least in comparison to D&D. And I feel awkward even wanting to share my personal Pendragon campaign on the official Pendragon forums, because Pendragon is a very heavily genre flavored game, and I outright disregarded two genre conventions, one in a horribly pop-culture way.
Who the crap am I supposed to discuss my campaign with? My wife runs Pathfinder, and is no where as interested in the guts of the games as I am. The other players in my game are even less interested, they just want to throw dice and have fun, which is pretty fucking awesome. Do I talk with mecha fans? I'm a little ambivalent about Mekton.
Other random thoughts with regards to BRP Mecha.
  1.  I think I discovered a disconnect between my assumptions as the assumptions of the author of BRP Mecha, in that melee combat is extremely damaging even in the default rules for the real robot suggested rules, and melee combat seems to be intended to not be a part of RR games for Size Classes 1 and 2. Where as Super Robot games with the default assumption that all mecha are Size Class 3 and the kaiju they fight are Size Class 5 or higher, the armor values due to the way that armor is calculated based on Size Class and the assumed tech level or genre, are higher, and seem to scale faster than damage does, which I guess could be why he suggests that no matter how large a SR actually is, it stays Size Class 3. Like, a rough conversion of a Battletech Atlas, a 100ton mech, had it doing the same damage as a Spartan, a 29 metric ton Destroid, despite being over 3 times the mass and 50% taller, but that larger height was enough to bump it into Size Class 3 vs the Spartans Size Class 2, giving a bump in armor, and the capability of carrying larger ranged weapons.
  2. There is also the whole "fate points" and "motivations" thing. Fate points really being replenishable HP that are used to bump skill rolls during combat and therefore take on the plot armor role that increasing HP have in games with levels. Naturally I have no problem with players dying. To me a situation is much more tense if a character doesn't have some kind of plot immunity. That is not to say that I don't think that a heroic character should be prevented from calling up on some kind of inner reserve of strength to triumph over crazy odds. I mean the PKs are piloting 12m tall mecha. Which brings me to...
  3. Since I am using KAP, I have those lovely Passions, which can be used to become impassioned, giving sizable bonuses to rolls that are pertinent to the situation. The downside is that failing a roll will make the Passion decrease and fumbling one will cause the PK to go mad for one or more years and essentially removed from play until GM fiat returns her to play. But to me this is extremely in genre for Arthurian Romance, and even anime. Along side Traits that can, and eventually will, compel a PK to act against his interests, the Traits and Passions do model the fact that many anime heroes do stupid shit that they know they shouldn't, or are hopelessly mired in conflicting Passions and their innate natures. Like those stupid love triangles: Rick, Lisa and Minmay from Robotech being a good example.
  4. This for some reason flies against the views of author of BRP Mecha. One of his opposing points makes sense in the context of player agency:
    Moreover, the KAP or RQ6 passion system is often used to direct a character's course of action by requesting a roll in order to act. This should NEVER - and I stress NEVER - happen in Mecha, where activation of a motivation is always decided by a player. Once the players have learned how much they need Fate in battle, no one will dare start a game without throwing in his or her in-character scene. At this point, there is little reason to request "rolls to see if you can do this or that": you will probably identify the correct course of action by yourselves.
    And
    It is your game, but personally I feel that compelling a player character's actions is always the worst option. When an ethical choice is to be made, there are plenty of people who are uncomfortable if the GM or a game mechanics tell them what their characters would actually do. If you leave players a choice, those who like rolling on their traits can still do it - the GM cannot prevent them deciding their player choice based on a Motivation roll, even if this is not prescribed by the rules - and this will be fun for them. However, if the GM is given a tool to dictate PC behaviour, then those players who prefer to make their own ethical decisions will feel their characters "taken out of their hands" and cease to have fun. One option is fun for everyone, the other option is not fun for someone: in such a situation, I always choose the way that guarantees fun to everybody.
     BUT KAP Traits don't absolutely compel action until a character has a 16 in that Trait. Granted acting contrary to a Trait should get a check on the opposing Trait. Also, the default for Traits in KAP 5.1 is that Relgious Traits start as 13, Valor is 15, and everything else is 10, which the option to increase one or more Traits during character gen. So to me, in the context of KAP and even an anime game, the Traits help a player remember what she intended with her character without being a straight-jacket against player agency.
  5. And he thinks that Passions would be terrible Motivations because they lack verbosity and specificity.
    Nothing prevents you using Traits and Passions, as they are, as Motivations, save the facts that the suggested formulation of Motivations in BRP Mecha is way more complicate than that given in KAP. And there is a reason for this. If you read the full-page example about Motivations, there is one thing about it that I have not transcribed. One of the players (the one playing Baron) had "Brave" as a motivation, the other had "I never turn my back to danger". As shown in the example, "Never turn..." is way more significant and has many more facets that you can effectively exploit in game. KAP and RQ6 are not as verbose with Traits/Passions as HeroQuest, and Mecha is best played with verbose Motivations.
     Which to me is just silly. A Passion that a character starts with or acquires during play is going to have reasoning behind it. Every default PK has Hate (Saxons), and there multiple reasons why they would, many of them simultaneous: they are invaders is the first most obvious, but there is the implication that everyone will have had at least family member slain by the invaders. Why does a character need a full bleeding sentence with a very specific reasoning?
    We recommend that you phrase a Motivation
    so that it contains at least two major themes,
    so that the Gamemaster and the other players
    have a wider choice of options to interact with
    your Motivation if you activate it. For instance,
    “Hatred for the Zaburai aliens” is an allowed
    Motivation, but “Hates the Zaburai for killing
    her beloved Patrick” is way more interesting
    and useful in game terms. The Gamemaster is in
    charge of asking questions to players about their
    Motivations before play begins (“What are your
    actual reasons to hate the Zaburai? Do you have
    anything personal or is it just that they are the
    enemy?”), and inviting them to better specify all
    details about them.

    I don't understand the need for verbosity with a character's Motivation. Maybe it's because his assumption is that BRP Mecha is going to have pre-combat scenes for each character that has non-combat drama, but I still don't really understand where this concept actually comes from in anime. Also the idea that Motivations need verbose specificity seems to be an attempt to both ensure that the GM can't say no, and to curtail the amount of GM fiat that gets used in the name of greater player agency. For some reason this reminds of the proliferation of narrowly defined feats and combat maneuvers in 3.x and PF.
 I guess my stupid need to tinker and make things simpler, and less specific is why I'm attracted to the OSR movement, and DIY gaming.
Shoot if I were to institute some kind of Fate rule, it would probably be much more along the lines of the Doom that follows Elric. The powers that be will intervene, when you want for a price, and even when you don't want them too, they will, all to ensure that their story goes their way, with no regard for the feelings of the hapless mortals caught up in things. Which sounds strangely familiar....

Campaign maps

First up is the map of the post-apoc Knights and Kaiju Europe. Sure you are probably wondering why the hell do you even need a map for a setting that is in itself is probably just an internally inconsistent hallucination or glitched up computer simulation. To which I answer, why the hell not?
So far fantastic far-future Europe contains, weird-ass British Isles centered around Logres from KAP.
Hivernia where Spain used to be from The Chronicles of Future Earth  BRP setting because I totally need to have sci-fantasy future Earth stuff.
And, Die Neue Deutche Republik where Germany used to be from Rifts because giant stompy robots that aren't Macross.
The seas are toxic sludge, especially between Britain and France. France btw might end up being something else crazy, like bits of Hawkmoon's Tragic Millennium Europe.
Despite all appearances I have actually have formal drawing and drafting training.
I'm thinking of jamming bits of Iron Kingdoms Hordes where Pictland and Scandnavia are.
And somewhere to the west will be North America where the Coalition States battle the Invid, and Xitick, and somewhere ARCHIE schemes schemes, because why not.


Next up is the really rough map for the world I would be using if I were to be running a D&D-clone.
This is really just a way for me to use more of those setting books I have collected. The Three Lands and Lands of Bharata are from Spears of the Dawn  and Arrows of Indra respectively.
The archipelagos are space for me to later add Qelong should I get it. 
But then again I may scrap this plan in favor of alt-history Earth and have Egypt or one of the African empires be the origins for the PCs as they journey north to loot the ruins of the Roman Empire while fight degenerate albino elves.

29 November 2013

The genesis of Knights and Kaiju, and the three sessions that have been run of it. Much over due.


This is essentially how my Knights & Kaiju game started. That it is on hiatus I blame on the fact that this last quarter of college has been stressful on me, my wife because of my stress, and our two friends because one is a fellow student.

The first: The party will be knights in a post apocalyptic world without horses. Instead of horses, knights use mecha powered by ancient nuclear whatsits. I will be using a combination of Basic Roleplaying and Pendragon.

The first session synopsis. This was very little adjustment to the mecha rules and ported KAP to BRP, and using the intro adventure in KAP 5.1. The bear was two-headed because that was the miniature I was using for it.

So I ran the first session of this on Thursday. The party consists of my wife playing a more reasonable mechaknight, my friend from college playing a 14 year old magical girl who is also a mechaknight for unknown reasons that will probably never be pinned down, and her boyfriend who is playing a "Chaste as fuck" mechaknight. On their first official adventure they tracked and slaughtered a gigantic twohead mutant bear that might have been infected with ancient nanotech. Their spoils included its hide, made into an armored cloak for chaste knight's mech, its two skulls as a helmet and pauldron for the magical girl's mech, and a bit of a claw for a drinking horn for my wife's knight. The magical girl basically nuked it with magic because my on the fly adjustments made it practically impervious to normal attacks, something I will be taking into account next time.

They then saved a peasant and his herd of cattle from a trio of robber knight in mecha that had seen better day. My wife's mech went down when magical girl fumbled her attack and critically shoved her lance through the torso of my wife's mech's torso. All three of the player knights did score rather impressive blows. Almost every time they successfully hit the robber knights a limb got disabled. As it is, I may have to adjust the lethality of mech scale weapons as an unblocked hit is currently DEMOLISHING mechs. After some quick field repairs they traveled to the village they had just saved from the megabear had their mechs repaired more fully and we stopped there.
The second session was using the Curse of the Spectre King adventure. Still using my original rules conversions.


 And if my game was on rails it will never ever be on rails again.
Cliffnotes version of tonight's session.
Wife character: Challenged a dude to a duel so that the party could continue in their quest. She fails, so the entire party is honor bound to stay at the castle to possibly die a pointless death. Goes mad at the end of the session due to a fumbled Passion (Honor) roll just as the BBEG shows up and runs off.
Friend's character: seduces the dude to distract him so my wife's character can slip out to continue in the quest. Is now pregnant, and in love with the knight she seduced.
Friend's BFs character: is forced to ride my wife's character's mech as she had ridden off with his mech. He renamed the mech "Retribution." He might be mad at my wife's PK.

I decided to chalk this up as they successfully defeated the Specter King, despite them all having lost honor.

But there has been additional side-quest that happened due to my wife's PK going Mad.

She wakes up in a strange place, a strange sterile place. Which turns out to be a special sickbay on a carrier. A space carrier filled with space fighters that transform into mechs. She discovers that she and her crew volunteered for an experimental training problem using VR and then something went wrong, her crew, the other two PKs are still trapped, just like she was until she spontaneously awoke screaming. Not only that but the captain of the ship is extremely shocked at the description of what is going on in the VR system, guess it wasn't supposed to be some bizarre Arthurian fantasy, but merely a simple accelerated training program. Turns out she and the rest of her flight are rather excellent pilots, and she is now the flight commander as their original one died being plugged into the system. Additionally the techs that installed the equipment are missing. Which is essentially where the campaign is stalled because of life.

24 November 2013

Lord Yames and his mount: an experiment in conversion



I've been working on converting my most loved character from Pathfinder, first Sir and then later Lord, Yames, a cavalier and paladin to the Lord of Shadows. He ended up: discovering a holy relic of the god of winter, having his mount turned into a nightmare, becoming a paladin, dying, being reincarnated as a Dark Folk, dying again, and becoming the first saint to his god. Before that leg of the campaign drew to a close he was a level 13 character. He actually spent most of the campaign after his second death being, sorta, dead in the empty afterlife to his god. Since he is the most highly placed servant of his god, and because shadows are everywhere, and because he never got tired of being a knight errant, he is now prone to wandering between worlds looking for fun.

He is a half-orc bastard, sorta, son of some minor noble who went off in search of adventure because he knew it would be the best thing for his family. He is about six and half feet tall, 250 pounds, and favors axes and lances as his weapons. The arms he bear are those of the Lord of the Shadows, Argent, a tower enflamed Sable. Similarly, his mech in the land of Knights and Kaiju, is coal black, with flaming feet and hands and crest.




LORD YAMES THE BRAZEN, SAINT OF THE SHADOWS



SIZ 18, DEX 19, STR 20, CON 18, APP 20, INT 13, POW 13; Move 3; Armor 21 + shield 6; Unconscious -18 (Death First); Major Wound 20; Knockdown 18; Hit Points 36; Healing Rate 3; Damage 6d6; Glory 9,000.

Combat Skills: All weapon skills 22, Mech Piloting 25.

Skills: Awareness 15, Courtesy 26, Heraldry 16, Hunting 15, Tourney 16, Religion (Lord of Shadows) 22, Religion (All others) 20, Swimming 15, Flirting 26, Intrigue 17, Falconry 21, all other knightly skills at 5 or more. 

Traits: Energetic 15, Generous 15, Honest 16, Modest 12, Just 16, Merciful 16, Prudent 16, Indulgent 13, Valorous 19. 

Passions: Hatred (Maximillian Decanter) 14, Loyalty (Lord of Shadows) 18, Honor 18, Loyalty (Adventurering Group) 19, Love (Family) 16.

Special: Lord Yames can: heal 3d6 damage with a touch 10 times a day; see perfectly in the dark; create a darkness greater than night once per day. These are essentially religious bonuses and a reflection of his status as the first saint of the Lord of Shadows. He cannot be killed anywhere but in his lord’s realm. He has taken to wandering between worlds in search of adventures and knights to break lances with. 

Possessions: Full-plate armor crafted from enchanted silver; a weapon, the Breath of Ragna, made of enchanted ice that can change shape and size in accordance with his will, strike ghosts and spirits freely, and does +1d6 frost damage.


GHAASH, THE NIGHTSTALLION, COMPANION TO LORD YAMES

SIZ 80, DEX 19, STR 65, CON 59, APP 12, INT 13, POW 65; Size Class 2; Move 5 [9F]; Armor 12 + shield 6; Knockdown 8; Damage 2d6(+1d6 Frost if wielding Breath of Ragna; +1d6 Fire if unarmed)

Zone
R Leg
L Leg
Torso
R Arm
L Arm
Head
Melee
01-04
05-08
09-12
13-15
16-18
18-20
Missile
01-03
04-06
07-15
16-17
18-19
20
Armor
12
12
12
12
12
12
Hit points
5
5
7
4
4
4

Combat Skills: Yames: All weapon skills 22, Mech Piloting 25. Ghaash: All weapons 21(two unarmed attacks and bite), Mech Piloting 21

Skills: Awareness 21, Lore (Other Side) 21, Swim 15, Intrigue 16.

Passions: Loyalty (Lord Yames) 19, Loyalty (Lord of Shadows) 15.

Special: Ghaash is intelligent and telepathic. When directly controlled by Lord Yames use his skills. When not under direct control Ghaash can act under his own power and uses his own skills. He can also shift between worlds daily, and he can choose to be cloaked in a noxious cloud of smoke. Should someone with the Sight or similar abilities look at Ghaash they will see a dim and shadowy horse, sometimes.

Possessions: Ghaash when piloted by Yames will be using the Breath of Ragna.

23 November 2013

Encounters while wandering a forest or hunting for Knights and Kaiju.

Roll 1d4+1d6+1d12 and consult the the table below. Not all encounters have been stated yet. Add 2 to the table or subtract 2 from the roll because I'm too lazy to format this for 3-22 spread.


  1. Angelic Encampment-the Player Knight(s) stumble across some celestial being holding court or a tournament in the woods. The knights will be greeted according to how close they cleave to the virtues ascribed to Christianity. Most likely disguised.
  2. Infernal Encampment-as above, although the demonic lord and its retinue will be inclined to tempt all but the most Christianly pious of knights.
  3. Giant Beetle, Rhino
  4. Giant Beetle, Bombardier
  5. Giant Beaver
  6. Giant Owlbear
  7. Wise-person OR "Maiden" -if the PKs just had a significant encounter a wise-person will show-up to explain the wisdom they should gain from it. If they are in search adventure a "maiden" will show up to lead them to one.
  8. Local Knight-random knight from the kingdom they are in. 
  9. Giant Bear, Black
  10. Giant Wolf
  11. Giant Stag
  12. Giant Badger
  13. Foreign Knight
  14. Giant Bear, Brown
  15. Giant Bear, Two Headed
  16. Faerie Knight
  17. Infernal Knight-May be disguised
  18. Angelic Knight-May be disguised
  19. Faerie Encampment-as the Angelic and Infernal, only with respect the pagan faiths and won't be disguised.
  20. Questing Beast and King Pellinore/Sir Palomides (depending on when)

Spoils of War and the Word-Hoard

Yesterday we went to Olympic Cards and Comic to purchase a hard copy of Adventurer, Conquer, King. That didn't happen.
There was a sale going on.
We bought things.
Lots of things.

The spoils of war?
Not pictured some cheap minis we bought and a book on GM prep for my wife.

6 boxes of pre-painted 25mm minis. They were $1 a box.

Zombie or orc cavalry on giant cats.


With a reaper dwarf and a battleforce scale atlas for comparison.

Added to my collection of Exalted books. A game I will never run, but damn are the charm names cool.

Look

At
All this old traveller.


Exalted? Probably won't play. But I might take stuff from it.

Look at all this DnD, and Unhallowed Metropolis which is only on this shelf because I ran out of room on the shelf of not DnD.

The rest of DnD.

Pathfinder. My wife runs this game.

More DnD.

Don't judge me for having my OSR soft bounds next to Palladium.

Percentile based stuff.

Complete boxsets. The RQ one even had the original dice. It's also home to contents of the Ringworld game Chaosium put out.

Dragon Magazine

More Dragon and Dungeon.
So I got Tenra Bansho Zero. Now I can run Random Anime: the RPG.
And original Traveller, so I can use it with random OSR SF games like MotSP and SWN, for either space stuff, OR for a (air)piracy solo-game for my wife. Along with Spelljammer, the 3.x airship book and the PF airship book.

10 November 2013

What do the knights of the faerie courts pilot into battle?



This is an animated golden armor that is the standard mecha used by knights of the faerie courts. It is both magical and alive. Each stands roughly 13 yards tall, and sculpted to look like an elegant youth of marble wearing exceedingly complex and finely wrought plate armor of glinting gold.

The combat skills assume that it is being piloted by the faerie knight detailed on page 185 of the King Arthur Pendragon 5.1 edition book.
Battleforce Scale Battletech minis. 4 atlases, 1 battlemaster, and I forget the tiny one.
Knight of Gold, a Mortar Headd mecha from Five Star Stories, copyright Mamoru Nagano


GOLDEN GIANT, FAERIE MECHA
STR 65, SIZ 85, CON 35, POW 130; Size Class 2; Move 5; Armor 12 K (8 T&E; 2 C) + shield 6; Healing Rate 1; Damage 3d6
Zone
R Leg
L Leg
Torso
R Arm
L Arm
Head
Melee
01-04
05-08
09-12
13-15
16-18
18-20
Missile
01-03
04-06
07-15
16-17
18-19
20
Armor
12
12
12
12
12
12
Hit points
4
4
6
3
3
3

Combat Skills: Dagger 10, Lance 21, Spear 21, Sword 23; Battle 15, Mech Piloting 21.
OR
Combat Skills: Weapon at hand 7 if somehow the PKs are fighting unattended Golden Giants.

Valorous Modifier: -5

Next up is a terrible monster summoned from the Other Side. Neim Marbtar, a horribly large hippogriff. Its wings spread nearly 80 yards from tip to tip. 

This is based on some of the real world statistics of a Boeing 747. It is intended to replace a specific named and more dangerous hippogriff from Tales of Mystic Tournaments, not the standard hippogriff in Pendragon.


NEIM MARBTAR, SUMMONED FAERIE CREATURE, “HIPPOGRIFF”
STR 82, SIZ 113, CON 80, DEX 30; Size Class 12; Move 5 [11 F]; Armor 12; Healing Rate 2; Damage 3d6; Glory Won 1000
Zone
R Leg
L Leg
Body
R Foreleg
L Foreleg
Head
R Wing
L Wing
Melee
01-04
05-08
09-12
13-15
16-18
19-20
12-13
18-19
Armor
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
Hit points
7
7
10
5
5
5
4
4
Combat Skills: 2 Claws 20 or 2 Hooves 15 if claws are full, Avoidance 40
Will attempt to grab and lift disarmed mecha, to later drop for 4-6d6 damage.
Prudent Modifier: +10
Valorous Modifier: -15