Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Oldest School

Via Doc Grognard at Crawdads and Dragons comes news of Balrogs and Bagginses, an intriguing little document that is billed by Lars Dangly, the author, as a rules supplement for playing Dungeons & Dragons in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth setting.

Truth be told, it's practically a retroclone unto itself, with a number of interesting variations on the usual theme. Classes, for example, do not appear as such but are custom-built out of Backgrounds and Abilities. One particularly noteworthy feature here is the Hit Die, which can be bought up from d6 to d12, or bought down to d4.

Another fascinating design choice surrounds the available races - while the main character creation rules support the standard human-elf-dwarf-hobbit choices, the bestiary listings for troll and the various sorts of orcs list the attribute modifiers for playing those races, making an orc-campaign (or even a mixed group!) a supported possibility while keeping the Tolkienian feel.

The rest of the work supports this feel as well - Turning Undead, to pick a rather random example, is based not on the non-existent Cleric class, but the Light of Valinor or Elvish Gift abilities. There's a few other pieces that don't  fit quite as neatly - such as the hilariously hardcore Madness rule - but it's definitely worth checking out if you have any interest in Middle-Earth as a setting.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"You All Meet in a Tavern"

From the vast frozen plains of Canada and the band Scythia comes this highly entertaining look at one of the standard fantasy adventuring tropes.



Random Encounters At the Bear Claw Tavern

Roll d6:

1) Two rough-looking patrons arm-wrestle. The winner will accept any challenges for a 5CP bet.

2) A distinguished-looking wizard serenely reads from a small tome. He will ignore most attempts at interaction, but persistent annoyance may result in a retaliatory zap (lose 1 HP).

3) A love triangle fluctuates among a male patron, a female patron, and a barmaid - at any point, one might start flirting with a PC to make the other two jealous.

4) The tavern's owner displays its namesake, a seemingly authentic bear claw far bigger than it should be.

5) A flabby gnome wanders around trying to steal food and drink from the other patrons. If encouraged, he can consume a surprising amount of drink.

6) Minstrels sing of heroes and legends.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monstrous Mushroom Kingdom Monday - The Finale

Art by JoshSummana
C'mon, was this really going to end any other way?

Bowser, the King Koopa: A massively over-sized Koopa warrior, Bowser claims kingship over the Mushroom Kingdom, and controls a vast army of Koopas, Goombas, and other creatures to make the claim stick. He's also not above kidnapping the family of the previous rulers to magnify his claim.

Art by Davidleonluis
Encountered: 1
Alignment: Evil
Size: Large
Movement: 30
Dexterity: 7
Armor Class: 3 (16)
Hit Dice: 8
Attacks: 3 (bite/claw/jump)
Damage: 2d8/1d6/1d20
Saving Throw: 13
Morale: 7
Experience Points: 1000
Treasure Class: Y
Special: Once per turn, Bowser can breathe a Fireball as an 8th-level magician.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monstrous Mushroom Kingdom Monday - Part The Third

In addition to the standard flora and fauna of the Mushroom Kingdom, there are a great many artificial creatures that pose a threat to any wandering adventurers. Oftentimes their origin is unknown, and any intelligence they might have possessed has long been worn away by time.

Chain Chomp: A dense, metal ball with a toothy mouth at the end of a chain, which is typically secured to a wall or post. Often used as guardians, and therefore found just outside structures of strategic or financial importance.

Art by darkly-shaded-shadow
Encountered: 1-2
Alignment: Chaotic
Size: Small
Movement: 0 (See Special)
Dexterity: 10
Armor Class: 3 (16)
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d8
Saving Throw: 15
Morale: 13
Experience Points: 35
Treasure Class: M
Special: After three rounds, roll a d6 each round. On a 1, the chain breaks and the Chain Chomp gains MV 60.

Bob-omb: A metallic ball on mechanical legs, which it uses to walk up to its target before exploding. The turn before the explosion, it throws several harmless sparks from its top.

Art by Deimos-Remus
Encountered: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Small
Movement: 40
Dexterity: 8
Armor Class: 3 (16)
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 (explode)
Damage: 3d6
Saving Throw: 16
Morale: 10
Experience Points: 24
Treasure Class: M
Special: If the Bob-omb is reduced to 0HP before setting itself off, it explodes for 2d6 damage to whatever struck the killing blow.

Thwomp: An enormous, spiky block of living stone that camouflages itself against stone ceilings, then drops on the unwary.

Art by BrendanCorris
Encountered: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Size: Large
Movement: 10
Dexterity: 9
Armor Class: 5 (14)
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (smash)
Damage: 1d12
Saving Throw: 15
Morale: 11
Experience Points: 75
Treasure Class: M

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monstrous Mushroom Kingdom Monday - Part II

Nearly as ubiquitous in the Mushroom Kingdom as Koopas and Goombas are the Piranha Plants. These carnivorous plants range in size from the height of a man to the height of a tree, and while (usually) immobile can reach a surprising distance. Each individual plant consists of one toothy pod on a stalk, although groups of Piranha Plants have been found growing in tangled clumps.

Art by RottaC

Encountered: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Size: Medium/Large
Movement: 0
Dexterity: 7
Armor Class: 8 (11)
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6
Saving Throw: 16
Morale: 12
Experience Points: 24
Treasure Class: M
Special: Once per turn, the Piranha Plant can shoot a Fireball as a 3rd-level magician.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Return of Monstrous Monday - Mushroom Kingdom Edition

Some of you may recall that last year about this time there was a big blogfest organized by Tim Brannan to post a bunch of monsters on October 29, as well as on the Mondays leading up to that date. Well, Tim's too busy to host a sequel this year, but when I came up with the idea to do Mushroom Kingdom Monsters I couldn't pass it up.

Art Via AdamsPinto
The genesis of this idea was a thread on RPG.Net titled "Hyboria + Mushroom Kingdom = IT WON'T GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"  True to the title, the idea has stuck with me ever since, occasionally inflamed by finding a neat piece of artwork to go with it. All sorts of different rulesets and play-styles have been suggested - there's a particularly nice Savage Worlds netbook by Jeremy Puckett that plays things fairly straight, for example - but the mode that most interests me is the slightly gritty, D&Dified sword-and-sorcery take on it. What, after all, is the difference between Mario and John Carter except that one landed on Barsoom and the other in the Mushroom Kingdom?

OK, that might be a bit of a stretch. Still, the setting has the idea of extra-dimensional visitors built right into it, and they might as well be a motley band of fighters, barbarians, and wizards as a family of ethnic handymen. Either way, they're going to need something to fight, which brings us back to Monstrous Mondays. Each Monday this month I plan to stat up a few iconic Mushroom Kingdom Monsters for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria, that being the particular flavor of OSR I think fits this take on the setting best.

To begin, then, we'll start with the Goomba and the Koopa - not very impressive individually, to be sure, but a hoard of them is perhaps a different matter.

Goomba: An intelligent, ambulatory fungus at home in many environments, from deep caverns to scorching deserts.
Art Via D-MAC

Encountered: 1d4 (1d6+3)
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Small
Move ment: 10
Dexterity: 5
Armor Class: 10 (9)
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6
Saving Throw: 16
Morale: 11
Experience Points: 10
Treasure Class: M
Special: 1-in-12 chance per encounter that one Goomba will be piloting a Goomba Shoe (see below).

Koopa: This humanoid turtle is often found serving as the main trooper in the armies of the King Koopa.

Encountered: 1d4 (1d8)
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Medium
Movement: 30 (Swim 20)
Dexterity: 9
Armor Class: 6 (13)
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 (bite/claw)
Damage: 1d6/2d4
Saving Throw: 16
Morale: 8
Experience Points: 20
Treasure Class: M
Special: When reduced to 50% Hit Points, the Koopa must pass a morale check or retreat into his shell for 2d6 rounds. Once killed, the Koopa's shell can be fashioned into a suit of AC 7 (12) armor or an AC -1 (+1) shield.

Goomba Shoe: This strange device of unknown origin resembles nothing so much as a giant green boot with a windup key. If piloted by a Small or Medium creature, it provides an AC of 8 (11) and a 1d8 Jumping attack within their standard movement range. All known examples were originally discovered being piloted by Goombas - where they got them from remains a mystery.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Transmission Resumed

You know, of course, about the Suppressed Transmission.

But just in case this is the first you've heard of it, I shall Illuminate you. Back in 1998, Kenneth Hite, an all-around expert on conspiracy theory, Lovecraftania, and High Weirdness of all varieties, was given a column in Steve Jackson Games' Pyramid magazine for the purpose of writing about, well, conspiracy theory, Lovecraftania, and High Weirdness of all varieties. The column, Suppressed Transmission, became wildly popular, and a fraction of the columns were collected, annotated by Ken, and published in two highly-recommended collections.

Unfortunately, those collections represent the only currently available examples of the Transmissions, and official word is that further collections are not forth-coming (this based of the sales of the PDF versions of the books to date, hint hint), at least not this year. There is, however, another source for those desperate for a semi-regular, bite-sized pieces of weird brilliance - for the past few months, Pelgrane Press has been publishing articles by Ken under the precise, if prosaic, name of Ken Writes About Stuff - said Stuff consisting largely of (all together now) conspiracy theory, Lovecraftania, and High Weirdness of all varieties.

Now, I don't want to give anybody the wrong idea - despite my choice of post titles, there's no official continuity between the two projects. And indeed, there are a few significant differences - most striking, if not especially surprising, is the occasional reference to the GUMSHOE system rules, especially in the monster-centric ones. Lovecraftian monsters, of course - the one of these that I've read is "Hideous Creatures: Deep Ones", and a significant portion of the document is spent showing various ways that different skills could be used to detect Deep One activity. The ideas for giving different Deep Ones a variety of powers and motifs also tend towards the stat-specific, although they're quite useful apart from the system as well. Of course, there's plenty of ideas that aren't system-specific, too - the "world tour" of fish-men myths given a Lovecraftian slant felt especially close to the spirit of the Transmission.

The other KWAS that I've read thus far, "Die Glocke", is a much better example of the effect - Ken has himself described it as "essentially a double-length* "Suppressed Transmission" on" a lost (if it ever existed, which is in considerable doubt) Nazi science experiment. What, exactly, it might have been - options range from a nuclear testing device to a time machine - and where, exactly, it may have ended up is investigated in the typically far-ranging manner, with the system intruding only in the last few paragraphs which custom-fit the ideas into the various GUMSHOE settings.

Much like its Suppressed predecessor, the various KWAS installments cover a wide range of subjects - the "Hideous Creatures" sub-series is the most frequently recurring element, with articles covering not only Deep Ones but also Shoggoths, Ghouls, Mi-Go, and the Hounds of Tindalos - and that's just the ones that have been published or announced. There's very GUMSHOE-centric ones, under the "Zoom" sub-title (Martial Arts or Mind Control, anyone?), and more setting-heavy ones like the newly available "Moon Dust Men", which looks like it'll be all about the Cold War, UFOs, conspiracies, and the secret veil between the mundane and the fantastic.

A typical Ken Hite product, in other words.

BREAKING NEWS: Just before posting this, I have discovered that the entire first year's worth of Ken Writes About Stuff - including the ones yet to be published - is available as part of this week's Bundle of Holding collection. Ordinarily I would say that the ability to pick and choose the most interesting articles is, for a collection like this, an improvement over the subscription model. Given the Bundle's set-your-own price methodology, however, this week may present an opportunity to check out the whole range at a bargain price.


*He's being a bit modest here - the average Transmission takes up about three pages in the PDF collections, while the KWAS articles are 10 - 11 - counting the cover and title page, of course.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Dwarves on the March

Art by DusanMarkovik
There's been quite a bit of discussion lately about a certain Dwarf-themed RPG Kickstarter that's been, well, failing to live up to its awesome-sounding premise. Happily, I didn't end up being one of the now-disappointed backers, but from time to time I've pondered the idea of an all-Dwarf fantasy game - I'm quite fond of them, even if they can get a bit stereotypical. Such a campaign would probably involve either the building of a new Dwarven stronghold (ala Dwarf Fortress), or the rather similar activity of resettling a previously abandoned one (ala Balin in Moria in between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings).

If that project ever gets off - or under, as the case may be - the ground, there have been a few interesting resources lately being posted around the 'net that would be worth consulting.

The first and most amazing of these is "Beards & Beers: All Dwarf Campaign Generator" by Jack over at Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque. Nine different random tables are involved, either d10 or d12, mostly describing clan trappings that can be used to combat a bit of the Dwarven sameyness that tends to crop up.

Possibly inspired by this, we have the d100 Dwarven Dungeon Dressings table from Elfmaids & Octopi, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. I'm particularly intrigued by the thought of traps that only affect those taller than Dwarves.

This one is from a month or two ago, but Dyson's Dodecahedron has the d12 Dwarven Subclasses list as part of an ongoing series of Subclass posts. And of course, while you're over there you should check out the maps for which Dyson is deservedly famous (the Mapper's Challenge, in particular, looks like some maps I've seen of Moria. Hmm . . . )

Via Subterranean Design
And of course, I have previously mentioned the Random Clan Feud Generator hosted at From The Sorcerer's Skull, just the thing for giving the PC Dwarves a break from endless battles against Goblins, Orcs, Kobolds and Elves.

Actually, that gives me an idea - so you have a huge, semi-abandoned dungeon your player's clan of plucky Dwarves are intent on colonizing. Why, if there's any benefit in doing so, wouldn't other clans -especially of course, Those Guys that the PCs have a particular problem with - want to do the same? Have the players generate their clan with the Beards & Beers rules, do the name for the antagonist clan, stick them both in the same dungeon - sounds like a pretty Dwarvish campaign premise to me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

FATE of the Empire

Well, I promised to let you know when the non-Kickstarter versions of Fate Core and FAE* were available, and it seems that "when" is "now".

No gorillas, but that creature on the punk-witch's shoulder could be a tiny monkey.
Or a ferret, it's a bit hard to tell.

As promised, the PDFs are priced at "whatever you want" - the link above has links to download ZIP files of both games (in addition to various character sheets and other miscellany), free and clear. After that, this page explains how to use Paypal to donate your chosen price directly to Evil Hat. Or, if you prefer, the games are also listed at DriveThru - also pay-what-you-want, with suggested prices of $5 for Fate Core and $2.50 for FAE.

Coincidentally, I recently came across another Kickstarter project that uses Fate Core as the ruleset for a particular setting - in this case, the steampunk world of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine. In particular, the novels follow the adventures of two agents of the titular Ministry, which protects the British Empire from the strange and bizarre - which, refreshingly, has here more of a mad science/conspiratorial slant to it than a supernatural one.

Unusually, The Ministry Initiative project is working on funding both an RPG and a fiction anthology, each available separately at different pledge levels (there are of course levels that combine the two). Time will tell if this approach was a good idea - with just over a week left, the project is only about half funded. Still, I thought the two two novels written thus far were pretty good, and the X-Files/Warehouse 13 type setup lends itself particularly well to tabletop gaming.

*That's short for Fate Accelerated Edition, folks!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Monster Hunter Interdimensional

The other day, Tim Knight of HeroPress made a post showcasing various adventuring parties from fantasy films and television shows. This in turn inspired Mike at Really Bad Eggs to make a similar list of the various cinematic versions of the Three Musketeers. That in turn got me thinking, about other often-gamed genres that lend themselves to ensemble casts. As I've recently been reading over the backer PDFs from the Monster Hunter International Kickstarter*, well, this was probably inevitable:









*Which came out great, incidentally. When it's available for purchase I'll be sure to mention it again. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Cheap, The Free, and The Winnable

In a confluence of a few different events, it looks like a pretty good week for OSR fans in general, and Swords & Wizardry fans in particular.



First off, DriveThruRPG is spotlighting the OSR all this week, and is offering 15% off the dozen best-selling titles with the use of the following coupon code: OSRF711F2 . The available titles range from the classic D&D Basic rulebook to recent interpretations such as Adventures Dark & Deep, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria, and yes, Swords & Wizardry Complete and its Sword-&-Sorcery spinoff, Crypts and Things. There's also a smattering of non-D&D-derived products, such as Classic Fantasy for BRP (for all your Lovecraft/Tolkien mashup needs!).

Not to be outdone, Frog God Games has put their entire Swords & Wizardry line on a similar 15% off sale - most interestingly including their recently released Razor Coast setting books. Swords & Wizardry Complete is, of course, on their list, too - no word on whether the two discounts stack, but if they did Complete would come out to just a hair over $7. A real bargain, if you need that book, but both sales end next Sunday.

While I was reading up on the various retro-clones affected by the above, I happened across the website for North Wind Adventures, the publishers of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. On it, they offer a number of free downloads to support the game, and while some seem to be specific to the Hyperborian setting, others - particularly the "Random Sword & Sorcery Adventure Generator" - look useful for any game in the genre.

Finally, for the next couple of days Tenkar's Tavern is hosting a "Favorite Character Death" contest, with various OSR-compatible publications from Neoplastic Press up for grabs. Not only that, but the company's most well-known product, Teratic Tome, will be put on a bigger and bigger sale the more people enter - and if enough people enter it, too, could become free.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Roundup

Wow.

The vast outpouring of support for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day was remarkable to behold. I'm not sure if anyone has a complete listing of everything that everyone posted - though Erik Tenkar has surely made a heroic attempt - but here's some of the offerings that particularly caught my eye:

I'll start this off by mentioning Gothridge Manor's "Mini Manor" adventure Screams without Faces. It is noted to be a "mature" adventure, and truth be told it's a bit more so than I usually prefer. That doesn't stop it from being very well put-together, not to mention filled with interesting ideas. Other adventures worth checking out are Call of the Xul from Lost In Time, Harnly's Hole from Rended Press, and The Vile Worm from Arcana Creations.

From No School Like The Old School we get a workup for a Lovecraft-inspired Sword & Sorcery setting, plus Swords & Wizardry versions of two races iconic to 4th Edition D&D - the "Chaos-born" and "Dragon Kin". Another new race, the Brokkans, comes to us from the appropriately named tehbadger, who has a free copy of Swords & Wizardry Complete to bestow on someone who shares a badger-folk character sometime in the next few weeks.

On the class side of things, over at Fear No Darkness we find rules for a Werebear (along with a variant Thief and a handsome-looking character sheet), while Tim Brannon shares some S&W-compatible updates for his Witch-class project.

Of course, tricked out new adventurers need something to test themselves against, and many S&WAD contributors were greatly obliging in this regard. One of my favorites is from Semper Initiativius Unus, which gives us stats for (among others) the Vespertilian, or Lunar Bat-Man. And just in case you find your character in that most annoying of situations - a grapple - Hex Generation has some very lightweight grappling rules just dying for a playtest. 

Last, but not least, iDungeonCrawl brings us a S&W GM screen that condenses various useful tables onto just a few easily-referenced pages.

And this was just a small selection of the mass of creativity and generosity revealed by Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day. Personally, I think a huge thank-you is due to all who participated, especially those mentioned above.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Is A Go

Spearheaded by Erik over at Tenkar's Tavern, for the rest of today there will be a huge number of blogs posting about the Dungeons & Dragons retro-clone Swords & Wizardry. A full blogroll of the participants can be found at 2,000 Coppers, though I don't know how long that list will be up.

A product of Frog God Games, S&W comes in three different varieties, each in increasing complexity: the White Box Edition, the Core Rules, and the Complete Rules. The latter of these is also the basis for the recently-revealed and highly useful SRD.

Though there are many similarities to be among all the various retro-clones, Swords & Wizardry has a few tweaks that I especially appreciate. Firstly is the support for both ascending and descending Armor Class - I get that the descending system was the original and most people who actually play are used to it, but as a newcomer I find the latter easier to grasp.

Another interesting thing about Swords & Wizardry is the way that, for character building, Race is semi-detached from Class. I say semi-detached, for while S&W offers a bit more flexibility than the traditional Race-as-Class systems, it's still not quite at the level of later editions that allow any given combination, no matter how wacky. Of course, that's just how the rules are written, and with a bit of creativity it's perfectly possible for a player or Referee to account for any combination their heart desires - indeed, Swords & Wizardry make it easier to do than many other retro-clones.

Anyway, as a way of encouraging folks to check the system out there's a couple of coupon codes for 25% off Swords & Wizardry products out there, for use today only - for Frog God Games the code is SWApprDay, while for the SRD Store it's SWAD252013. There's lots of products beyond the basic rulebooks available at the reduced rate at both sites, so if there's something Swords & Wizardry-related you've been waiting for, today's the day to pick it up. Also, again, there's over a hundred different blogs discussing Swords & Wizardry today, and you can read all of them from over at 2000 Coppers.

Monday, February 11, 2013

FATE of the A-Team

So, the FATE Core Kickstarter ended late last month, easily hitting the last stretch goal and ensuring that the Fate Accelerated Edition of The Dresden Files will be added to Evil Hat's already crowded development queue. With nearly 14500% of the initial funding goal to play with, the only thing they need now is time.

While we're waiting, then, here's the rest of the A-Team, built using the Fate Core Preview. First off, it seems in my last post I left off Hannibal's Physical ([] []) and Mental ([] [] [] []) stress tracks, so there's that. Next, the rest of the team:

Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck
High Concept: Scrounges Anything Anywhere from Anyone
Trouble: Weary of the Mercenary Life
Aspects: Ladies' Man, Keeper of the Checkbook, You Just Hired The A-Team
Skills:
- Great (+4) Deceit
- Good (+3) Burglary, Rapport
- Fair (+2) Contacts, Resources, Shooting
- Average (+1) Athletics, Fighting, Investigation, Will
Stunts: Lies Upon Lies (Deceit), Best Foot Forward (Rapport),
Physical Stress [] []
Mental Stress [] [] []
Refresh: 2

Captain H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock

High Concept: The Best Chopper Pilot In Vietnam
Trouble: Home is the V.A. Pysch Ward.
Aspects:  Zany Fantasy Life, Improbable Linguistic Skills, You Just Hired The A-Team
Skills:
- Great (+4) Drive
- Good (+3) Will, Athletics
- Fair (+2) Deceit, Fighting, Shooting
- Average (+1) Burglary, Investigation, Physique, Stealth
Stunts: If It Has Wings I Can Fly It* (Drive)
Physical Stress [] [] [] 
Mental Stress [] [] [] [] 
Refresh: 3

The "Grappler" stunt in action.
Sergeant Bosco "B.A." Baracus
High Concept: Bare-Knuckled Mechanic
Trouble: Named for his Bad Attitude
Aspects: Hot Rod Panel Van, Scared to Fly, You Just Hired The A-Team
Skills:
- Great (+4) Physique
- Good (+3) Drive, Fighting
- Fair (+2) Crafts, Shooting, Intimidation
- Average (+1) Athletics, Notice, Rapport, Will,
Stunts: Pedal to the Metal (Drive), Grappler (Physique), Take the Blow (Physique)
Physical Stress [] [] [] []
Mental Stress [] [] []
Refresh: 1

One thing I hope you'll notice right away is that all four Team-mates share an Aspect, a trick I borrowed from The Dresden Files RPG to provide coherence mechanically. I'm pretty sure it was tagged several times during the run of the show itself, usually to convince reluctant team-mates to take a particular job. Another thing that all four team members have in common is that their "Shooting" skill is only at Fair - this, too, was intended to simulate the show.

Something that surprised me during the process was how non-restrictive the limited number of Aspects and Refresh was. Coming from Dresden and Spirit of the Century, five Aspects and three Refresh - even with one free stunt!- doesn't sound like a lot, but it turned out to be plenty. I suspect that genre has something to do with this - one of the reasons Dresden has such high Refresh rates is that all those nifty mystic powers are paid for with them. Something relatively lower-key, like The A-Team, can work with the lower rate.

Anyway, this was a fun exercise for trying out FATE Core. For an actual game I would expect the skill list and stunts to be more heavily customized (the most recent addition to my blogroll, Fate of the Drowning Woods by Murder of Crows, has been playing with this quite heavily recently - go check it out!), but keeping the A-Team (mostly) within the draft rules was an interesting challenge, nonetheless. And hey, even if you didn't get in on the Kickstarter, word is that the Fate Core book will be coming out as a pay-what-you-want-including-nothing PDF - I'll be sure and mention that when it gets released!

*New Drive Stunt, If It Has Wings I Can Fly It: +2 to Drive whenever the vehicle in question is capable of flight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spirit of the A-Team

It wouldn't be an Evil Hat Product without a gorilla on the cover.
Being a fan of Evil Hat Games, I've been following with some interest the Kickstarter for Fate Core, which updates the FATE system used in Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files, and making it generic to boot. I've not mentioned it before because A) I did a lot of updates for the Monster Hunter International RPG Kickstarter, and B) it didn't really need the help, fully funding in a matter of minutes and then shooting through a mind-boggling array of amazing stretch goals.

I'm serious about the mind-blowing part. After the core rules, a rules toolkit and sample settings book (this last so huge it had to be split into two volumes) all funded, Evil Hat pretty much turned to prefunding their entire 2013 production line through stretch goals. As a result, said stretch goals now included a new version of Dresden, two FATE adaptations of other companies' settings (Freeport and The Day After Ragnarok, to be exact, both excellent choices), and a whole pile of stuff for SotC*.

One of these is actually a revival of a project I had thought long dead - Shadow of the Century, taking the hyper-pulp world of SotC and advancing the timeline to the 1980s. Several icons from that time and genre are referred to as inspirations, including one of my personal favorites: The A-Team.

Since it may be some time before even the backers get to see SHotC, I've decide to take the FATE Core  draft rules for a spin, and see about stating up The Team. First up is Hannibal:

Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith

High Concept: “I Love It When A Plan Comes Together!”
Trouble: Still Wanted By The Government
Aspects: Monster Movie Actor, Soldier of Fortune, You Just Hired The A-Team
Skills:
- Great (+4) Will
- Good (+3) Deceit, Fighting
- Fair (+2) Athletics, Shooting, Investigation
- Average (+1) Burglary, Drive, Intimidation, Stealth
Stunts: Mind Games (Deceit), Indomitable (Will)
Refresh: 2

For the purposes of testing the rules I used the stock skill list and example stunts from the draft, but of course with a bit of thought both could be tweaked to heighten the A-Team feel. Actually, I've just thought of a great custom stunt for Murdock, whom I'll be doing along with Face and B.A. in a couple days.

*Seriously, the $10 pledge level for this one is a crazy-good value - it includes a PDF of every stretch goal funded, and funding is currently at 10,500%. At this point, it's basically a subscription to Evil Hat's output for the rest of the year and beyond.