Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wheels Within Wheels

"He loved maps, and in his hall there hung a large one of the Country Round with all his favourite walks marked on it in red ink." - On Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit.

Like Bilbo, I also enjoy maps, particularly dungeon maps; and especially ones that have some kind of trick to them. Today, I happened upon what may be the tricksiest dungeon map of them all:

Just look at all those discs ready to spin around and completely befuddle any adventurers wandering through. This beauty is the brainchild of James Eck, who's also written up a short module utilizing the design. Stats, when necessary, are given for both D&D 3.5 and the author's own Mind Weave system, but honestly there are so few numbers involved it would be a cinch to use with any system you care to name. Plus there's a few other interesting tidbits, like the single-use keys that respawn in portable - but heavy - chests. Very Zelda-esque.

But that's just a bonus - the map could easily be re-stocked for better integration into a campaign, or you could use some random tables to just let the madness build. You might even transplant it to another genre entirely - I'm thinking Indiana Jones would have a field day with the place.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Three TimeWatch Campaign Ideas

As the Kickstarter for TimeWatch enters its final few hours, I've been looking over the Jurassic Edition playtest rules and pondering - specifically, pondering how to tweak the rules for various already-established-but-official-RPGless settings.

The Legend of Zelda

Although it would seem that the more well-known fantasy rules would be most suited for adventuring in Hyrule, some of the games do have an element of time travel to them. Mostly these are hops from one set era to another, but the idea of taking action in one time to set up a success in another translates quite well.

For the adventure itself, I can see the PCs being a cross-section of various Hyrulian races banding together on account of Link disappearing, probably on account of temporal shenanigans from Ganondorf. In an amusing twist on the normal tropes of the series, releasing him would involve exploring a single location multiple times, in multiple times.

Assassin's Creed

Art by chadf
Honestly, it would only take the slightest bit of of reworking to turn TimeWatch into the Assassins and the autochron into the Animus, with Chronal Stability representing Synchronization. Or perhaps the Animus could be re-imagined as an actual mental time-travel device - this would be especially useful in explaining how more than one Assassin can travel to the same era.

In any event, this sort of game would probably draw quite a bit from Night's Black Agents as well as TimeWatch - you'd at least want to put together a Templar conspyramid, and all the better for one spanning multiple eras. 

And with the added element of actual time-travel, there's opportunity for both sides to try to re-write history to their own advantage. Players could even, theoretically, travel into the minds of their future selves, of course to find a dark, Templar-dominated cyberpunk or post-apocalyptic landscape. The big finale of this campaign would probably end up being killing the creator of time travel.

Which brings us to -

Back to the Future

All I really want from this is to have the characters from these movies stated out and set loose on a Tourist campaign. As things progress, they'd meet other iconic time travelers - I have a feeling Doc and Marty would get along great with Bill and Ted - and, of course, evil terminating robots:

Rumor has it that of these characters might get show up in the final edition of the TimeWatch book, bit if not you can probably expect to see them here in about a year or so.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Halftime Report

Well, not exactly half - of the two RPG Kickstarters I've been following lately, one of them is just over half finished, while the other will hit the halfway point later this week.

You thought this was going to be about football, didn't you? (Art by Aerion-the-Faithful)
Anyway, both of them have already hit their initial funding and are working on stretch goals, and both have initial $1 pledges that give access to playtest drafts, which I think bodes well for their future prospects.

Ending two weeks from today, Iron Edda: War of Metal and Bone is, briefly, a Norse Myth-themed mecha game, with Vikings in magically-animated Giant skeletons fighting Dwarves in more traditional giant fighting machines.

The interesting thing about this project is that, while the initial book is for Fate Core, the stretch goals are all adaptations of the general idea for different systems. The first one of these is Dungeon World, which at the time of this writing is only about $1500 away. At the current pace it's unlikely that any more will be unlocked, but the list is fairly ambitious, and props have to be given to the author for that.

The other project I'm currently looking at is TimeWatch, a GUMSHOE-based time travel game. Saying it like that makes it seem fairly pedestrian, but really in looking over the rules so far it's probably the most successful I've ever seem about making time-travel be integral to play, rather than just a premise explanation allowing for various settings to be used in conjunction with each other.

It does this, ironically enough, by abstracting some of the more mind-bending aspects of time-travel, giving each character a "Chronal Stability" stat that comes into play whenever something paradoxical happens. There's already some adventures and examples of play available giving a good overview of how this all works - those blogged by etheruk1 deserve a particular mention.

Potential TimeWatch PC.
And hey, part of the TimeWatch setting involves psychic velociraptors from a parallel timeline - Dr. Dinosaur would approve.