Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Character Generation Library - Kobolds Ate My Baby ... in Colour!

I remember buying this thing when it was held together with a piece of construction paper and a staple. Yipping like a kobold was such a big part of my game playing when I was younger it may be why I have kobolds (though not these kobolds(tm)) in Critical!: Go Westerly. Because I think they can be kind of intrinsically funny even if we went in the complete opposite direction of KAMB.

If you've never heard of it, this game was on of the first "Beer and Pretzels" games where you played Kobolds who were attacking a nearby village for food to prepare for the feast that King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) was going to prepare this evening. The best food for kobolds, human babies! So you were to go forth and find things that were delicious and bring them back.

With that in mind, it's time to make a Kobold who will go forth and get food for the feast for King Torg (All Hail King Torg!)

Step 1 roll for stats. Roll 2d6 for the four stats. Brawn, Ego, Extraneous, Reflexes, or as they call it the BEER system.

Brawn is for how big, mean, and tough your kobold is. Ego is how smart your kobold is. Reflexes are how agile, dexterous, and flexible your kobold is. Extraneous is the roleplaying stuff, I guess.

Using I roll 2d6 four times. There's a stat array but ... this game is meant to be ridiculous so wild random stats are part of that. I have a 6, 5, 9, 8 which is applied to them in order. Which makes it Brawn 6, Ego 5, Extraneous 9 and Reflexes 8. I ... don't think I would have picked it another way. These stats turn into the Handy Numbers which gives me a MEAT of 2, a CUNNING of 2, a LUCK of 3, and a AGILITY of 2.

Now onto the Skills! You only ever get a maximum of six skills. I have to at least take one skill from every stat range before I take a second one. Technically, I can only have as many skills as I have ego, which would mean five but there is a way to honour the ancient kobold hatred of math by giving my 7 skills. I'll take it! There are everykoboldskills that I can take. I don't have to, but everyone I don't take gives me a cheque on the horrible kobold death record chart.

Thankfully there's only one and that's cook.

Also, if I start to min max, like using the seventh skill for my 5 ego, then that's a cheque! Also, if I find myself trying to overthink this that's a cheque, and if ... you get the point.

I think I'll stick to six, because I can. So here's my list:

Speak Human
Speak Critter

I like the idea of being the one that sneaks around trying to get the humans to fight so I can take the tasty, tasty things. Also, no Dangerous Skills for me because that's not for sneaking.

There are +Edges and -Bogies that you get like +Bark Like a Kobold where if you bark like a kobold in game then you get a bonus die. +Kobold Senses which means you can see well in the dark and work off of an amazing sense of smell. -Fearless which means you're not afraid even when you should be. -Tastes Like Kobold, which means if you take damage all critters will love to take more bites out of you. Any non humanoids have to make a check or even the cows will start to stampede to get to your little kobold. Beyond those, you get one random +Edge and -Bogie. Rolling I get a 1 and a 5.

+Animal Chum which means that animals like me and they won't attack me unless I attack them.

-In Heat. *sigh* I was having so much fun up to this point too. I guess it's a thing? Basically dogs follow you around and you have to roll to prevent yourself from "humping" human legs. I just ... really? I'm going to keep it because I rolled it but this could have been better.

Now that I think about it, it was probably there in the original too and I was just 15 so I thought it was funny.

Moving on. No magick for me since I'm not a Lackey! Which means straight onto gear.

Continuing onto my cowardly theme, I'm not going to roll for any dangerous stuff. I'm just going to get regular gear.

1, 5, 5

1 Armor gets me Small Shield! which can take 4 hits but has the drawback of -Item which means it takes up a slot in my paw, which means I'm only going to take a weapon and with a 5 it's a Dead Rat which is -Foul Smelling which means my kobold is foul smelling while I hold it, and I will hold it for such a long time. We're friends.

I have 6 hits because I don't have any Edges that will work, plus the 4 from the shield.

Now I just need to come up with a name. I figure I'll go with Klath, Destroyer of Tastebuds which has to be used at all opportunities.

Anyway, it was a lot shorter, amusing until that speedbump and the character sheet is below.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Character Generation Library - Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

So this is me trying to do my first Character for the Character Generation Project. If you don't know what it is, you can look at this page for all the details of what's involved.

With that in mind let's start with Marvel: Super Heroic Roleplaying. I want to start here because I love this game, but also because a lot of people were like "Uuuhh, there isn't a character creation system here" and that always annoyed me because it does, it just doesn't have a lot of rules that we've come to expect with character generation.

Instead of coming up with some stats, it's probably best to come up with a concept for what I want and then see how the game can make that a reality. To be honest, that's how I usually came up with characters for systems like Champions, but what's great about MHR is that I don't have to worry about how it fits under a point system. I can make the exact character that I want.

Since this is Marvel, most of my exposure and love of those comics were through the Mutants rather than through say Captain America and the Avengers. I don't really want to deal with the "adult" x-men though, I think doing something at the school would be fun. That makes it a young character, but what kind of powers should they have? I'm usually playing speed/smart characters so I'm going to try playing a large, power character. I think the idea is that they've got a lot of muscles, and strength but it's grown in such a way that it's covered their body in weird way. What would be odd for us comes naturally to him, and vice versa. Included is that he can't really talk, because of how the muscles of grown around his mouth.

He's 15 and I'm going to call him Slingshot, real name is Maurice Francois Benoit.

Now comes the character creation part. I have to put a D6, a D8 and a D10 into Solo, Buddy and Team. I think he's one of those people who works really well when someone knows him, so the Buddy gets a D10, and better on his own because he's unpredictable which makes for the D8. The team gets the D6 because he's just too unpredictable to work well in a team.

Next comes the Distinctions, you get three of them. My thoughts are:

-Moves in mysterious ways
-Frightening Visage

The way he moves can be both a good thing and a bad thing, same thing with the ways his muscles have grown over his face. If he wants to be comforting it will be harder, but if he wants to be intimidating then it's going to be something he can use.

Wallflower is fun because I can see him being really kind of shy and nervous about people because he's probably had nothing but bad reactions from people. Which makes one emotional, and two physical distinctions. The game doesn't differentiate, but it's nice to have some variety.

Now comes the powers. He really only has one powerset, which is his over and strangely developed muscles. That means he's going to have a lot of strength, speed and reflexes,

Title: Slingshot Muscles

Enhanced Durability (D8), Enhanced Reflexes (D8), Enhanced Speed (D8), Superhuman Strength (D10).

Lots of physical stuff there because that's really all his power is. Nothing outstanding, but the great thing about Marvel is that this is perfectly fine. Sure Slingshot can't go up against Galactus, but really who can? (Rocket can, seriously had a great time and my plan was to shoot Galactus in the face. It almost worked).

Anyway, time to add SFXs and Limits:

SFX: Unconventional Attack. Step up your effect die by 1 when involved in hand to
hand combat.
SFX: Side Stepping. Add d6 to your reaction roll when attacked by anything physical.
Limit: Mutant. Gain 1 PP when affected by mutant-specific Milestones and tech.

I like the fact that his odd way of moving gives him extra effects when dealing with combat, and since he is a Mutant he should get the Mutant limit.

Next it's time for specialties. He's still only 15 so he's not going to have a pile of them.

Acrobatic Master D10
Combat Expert D8
Menace Expert D8

I think his musculature allows him to do some extra special acrobatic things. He's learned how to fight, but you wouldn't have him go toe to toe with the best ones out there, and he's learned how to use his face and his walk to intimidate people but those who really know what menacing is won't be intimidated.

Finally Milestones.

This is a fun part of Marvel. What do I want to signal to the other players how I want to play this character. I think the first one should be about how he feels about himself, so I'm going to call it Where the Heart Calls and it's going to be all about how he can push people away for being friendly with him.

The second one is going to be about violence, because I don't think he's particularly aggressive as a person but the way his powers work tends to put him in those situations.

And that's done. First one out of the way, hopefully the others can be done a little faster. The completed character sheet is below.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fan Expo 2016 Schedule

It's that time of the year again. I'd like to thank Justin Mohareb for inviting me again to Fan Expo this year. My schedule is basically going to be panels and board games and ... maybe an RPG if I'm feeling up to it.

General Schedule is as follows though note I'm going to probably moderate more than I talk when it comes to panels and I'm not going to have a fixed OMG doing this game here schedule for game stuff.


Noon to 5:00 pm ish - Boardgame room running games!

5:45 pm - Publishing Your Own Tabletop Game
This is a fun one, lots of people with ideas that they want to talk about.


11:15 pm - Writing Adventure Games
I haven't been on this one in a while, so it will be fun to talk about writing other game stuff!

12:15 pm to 4:00pm ish - Boardgame room!

4:45 pm - Board Game Design
It's going to be said with Eric Lang on this one, but there's going to be a couple of people here to talk about board game design! This one tends to be more full than the RPG one, but then again boardgames.


12:15 pm - Getting Started in RPGs
Do you want to know how to get into playing RPGs? I'm sure there will be a lot of people here that will more than happy to share their knowledge about this!

1:45 pm - Promoting your game!
Now you have a game ... what does that mean? How do you get it into people's hands? How do you run demos and con games. This panels was really odd last year since we had lots of people attend and no one had a game they wanted to sell. Maybe this year will be different.

3:45 pm - The State of the Industry!
What horrifying tales can we tell you about the game design industry. Hellfire! Brimstone!
Actually, spoiler alert it's doing just fine.

Anyway, see you there soon!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gen Con 2016 - J'ACCUSE!

Gen Con has come and gone again, and it was a great event. If you look into what I've written in the past (there isn't a lot and it's stretched out over time so you could do your research) and you'll see that I have not always thought so. The fact that it gets better and better every year is a testament to the hard work and dedication of a large number of people who work within Gen Con.

That said, what did I do this Gen Con?

We arrived early enough that I was able to hang out with my Smirk and Dagger crew for a while but it came time to hit some events. First thing I ended up going to the IGDN social and running into a huge number of the IGDN folks there. It came a point in time where I still had all my stuff with me and it was getting crowded at Laughmillers so I left about 30 minutes earlier than I intended, then I ran into Matt and Michelle who dragged me back to the social. Which was great, and we sat down and also ran into Rachel Kahn and made introductions all around.

Then it was time for Trade Day, where it started to bode well that J'accuse was going to be just fine. Everyone we talked to loved the game when they left, and even people came forward to ask what it was about without us having to prompt them.

This was day one, and I spent all of the day at the IGDN room over at the Marriot. I thought I was only running one game turns out I was running two games that day the first one was Chill and the second one was Critical!: Go Westerly.

Chill - Cold Dark Earth
The game went well. This is about the fifth time I've run this adventure so I've gotten it down pretty well. They players were spooked, not in a terror kind of way but one player was very much "I'm getting what feels like conflicting information, but I know there's got to be some common thread here. I love this!" It really shows how awesome Chill is as a game because you can totally evoke that feeling with the supernatural elements of the Unknown. They tried to take on the big bad, and I didn't even use all of its power and it manage to almost kill someone, mainly because they botched their roll and I colossal successed my roll and so with one punch I sent him across two lanes of highway. 

There was one issue that did come up, the players couldn't figure out how to defeat the creature. I did hint at several times what might be the answer, and they thought they had tried everything but the weapon right in front of them. This is a problem with any investigation game. You can give people all the clues that you want, but in the end sometimes they aren't going to get it. That's fine, in Chill because the mystery is usually how do you beat this thing, and if they don't get it they lose and/or get killed so it isn't as if it stops the play as much.

Critical!: Go Westerly - Just a Few Ingredients
This one is a fun little adventure that Geoff made from a one hour session that he devised for Fan Expo one year. I think it needs one more thing to make it a full 4 hour session, but sometimes with a comedy game you don't want to go a full four hours because being funny for four hours is hard.

There were some great moments in the game, the biggest was Matt who was playing Urist, ended up defacing a peat guild member's lawn by writing "WANKERS" in peat and setting it on fire. The thugs stopped and asked him if it was his battle cry, and once that was cleared up they started fighting again.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday
The rest of the con was spent being at the booth, and running events for Smirk and Dagger. They kind of blurr so I'll give people some highlights.

1. J'accuse sold out. We came in with 200 copies and we sold out on Saturday around 3:30-4:00pm. We could have easily sold another 50 copies of the game. There was some great word of mouth happening about the game and it showed with steady sales increases over the convention.

2. The Run For Your LIfe Candyman Game. Oh goodness how this child has grown. I realized how long we've been doing this game when after getting everyone into the kind of rituals we have around the game I had to sit down. I did it with a sigh of "this was easier when I was 25" and then I realized I had been doing it when I was 25 and that we had been doing this for 10 YEARS! We've had kids grow up playing this with us every Saturday and families and familiar faces and it's been amazing.

3. Playing with the Shut Up and Sit Down Folks. While we were in the middle of the Candyman game they walked over and asked if we had any games to play. We got to play a game of J'accuse where I ended up losing, in the most wonderful way. I thought I was safe, but I had mis-timed when I wanted to get hit with the motive in front of me and so everyone had all their cards in hand when it came time to nail me with the motive that would end the game. I had opened my copy, because we had sold out at that time, and when they left they wanted to know if they could have some review copies so I gave them that one because I can always get another personal copy.

We also played Dead Last, which was hilarious because we're all a wonderfully backstabby bunch and I ended up winning that game through a double cross at the end and a grab one and go which netted me enough to win the game. It was a very good time, and there were lots of laughs had by everyone.

With every Gen Con it was awesome to see everyone. I would name names but that would be a huge list that would require me at least an hour to type out everyone's name. You amazing people know who you are, and it's always great to see you.

Onwards and upwards to Fan Expo!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Veronica Monsterhearts - Hardboiled Inequality

I've been working on Veronica Monsterhearts for over a year and I haven't had a lot of opportunities to play it. I've had one or two play tests myself, and then Cheyenne ran at Gen Con last year so it's been a lot of theoretical kind of stuff rather than hard physical testing.

That said, something came up with Cheyenne's play test that I feel I really should talk about. An important part of the first session is the Welcome To Blank part of the game, where you build the city that you're going to be playing in. This sections was created because when we did our first play test, one thing that came up was that there was little to care about where the action was taking place. In a noir story, the location is just as much of a character as the players. In Veronica Mars the city of Neptune shapes the narrative in a lot of important ways and so I think it became important that there were some questions that were answered ahead of time. 

The questions that you ask in Welcome to Blank revolve around the city, and why there are large sections of inequality. It also focuses on the corruption of the police and local officials. Both of these are important for a Noir story because they end up creating the circumstances that create the need to go outside what's the "socially acceptable" method of handling problems, which is through the police or the authorities.

Corrupt officials are a standard part of the noir genre. It feels currently prescient with the current focus on police misconduct and the "blue wall" where organizations exist to protect officers regardless of what actions they might have done. It's currently nothing new, when you read Chandler that's one of the reasons why Marlowe decided to be a PI rather than stay a police officer in the 20s. Marlowe felt that the corruption was too much, and he's rather be a PI barely making it through than stand with the police. Through Chandler's novels the police are shown time and time again to be easily bribed, interested only in their immediately benefit, with the few exceptions frequently meeting bad ends. It isn't just the police, but really any authority figure. They have their own agendas, and desire, none of which are part of the public good. This attitude, and these actions, are what makes the detective, or to generalize it further the outlier, necessary. They become the foil against the police, doing what is necessary to bring a sense of justice to their clients that the authorities refuse to do.

This refusal stems from the authority's understanding of inequality. All those in power want to be on the side of the haves rather than the have nots, and will curry favour with those with greater power and influence than themselves. Which brings us to the point that noir stories have a kind of Aristotelian quality to them. They are frequently about people with wealth and power laid low by their own hubris. However, instead of fate or circumstance causing their fall from grace it is the outlier who provides the push that causes the fall.

The outlier's existence is just as that force for retribution. It can be violent like Continental Op in Red Harvest, enduring like Marlowe, subtle like Sam Spade, or the outcast like Veronica in Veronica Mars. It's the inequality in the society that forces people to look to them for justice. That's in part why I was interested in doing a Veronica Mars inspired game. There are many levels of inequality in a high school. There's the same societal inequality reflected in the school, where those with money have a higher social standing than those without. There's also a power imbalance between the students and the teachers, where if there is little recourse and few options for the students who need help from the teachers. That inequality is essential to a kind of hard boiled, noir story that I'm hoping Veronica Monsterhearts can give to people.

Firestorm Ink's Fan Box