Call of Cthulhu (D20 Edition)

•July 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So I have recently started playing in a D20 Cthulhu campaign. It’s set in the 1920s in a small town in Maine called Derby. Now Derby has seen its fair share of weird apparently, the only character left from the original campaign the DM was running has seen some wild shit apparently. Hyde, a quiet, solemn character with quick wit and a hand for invention. My character, one Trenton (Trent) Connery is loosely based on the appearance of Trent Reznor in ‘The perfect drug’. A gray silk suit with a top hat and cane tops off the outlandish personality of a psychic psychologist formerly of the famed Arkham Asylum. Virginia, a jack of all trades daughter of a brain-addled former soldier is the third of our group. Last, but not least we have Ivy, she is an african-american jazz musician straight from New Orleans.

The system is elegant but brutal. Character creation is laid out in a familiar manner for those who have experienced D&D 3.0 and 3.5. You’ll fall right into making a dynamic victim, pardon, person straight from the mythos. The job system just gives you starting cash and a set of skills to use so no added fluff there.

Your stats are Strength (Physical Prowess), Dexterity (Physical Speed), Constitution (Hardiness), Intelligence (Book learnin’ y’all), Wisdom (Less of the cleric variety more of the doctor variety) and Charisma (Which is not a dump stat for me this time!). After rolling (usually 4d6 drop lowest), you assign your stats and begin building your character. Skills can be customized to any degree, I tweaked mine a bit to reflect a psychic and occultist lurking underneath Mr. Connery’s grounded exterior. After choosing feats and gear you’re done. It’s relatively simple. For Trenton I chose Sensitive and Second Sight for feats. Unfortunately this opens me up to more sanity loss in the form of psychic sensitivity and peeling back the veil of safety offered to most humans. Yay!

It’s a good system and a great way to start into horror gaming. Go grab a copy if you can.

Journal of Trenton Gray Connery June 1927
I’ve read, written and studied all I can stand from the strangeness of occult lore. So much I fear for my own sanity. My grandfather was a good man, an honest man, but something happened in the jungles of Brazil that took away most of the fleeting wisps of mental fortitude he had left. When I look back at the times I sat with him as a youth and listened to his fanciful tales of strange beasts in the jungles and seas of the world I sometimes wonder if he was telling me the truth of our existence. He believed (I know because he told me himself) that our world, our reality is nothing but a piece of frail silk drawn over the veil of the universe. One would have to be mad to not believe in the world in a more heliocentric manner but for thousands of years we were ignorant of that fact. That thought bears the fruit of recurrence. What else might we not know? The talk of gods and monsters sends cold fingers down the whole of my spine, but I cannot stop asking.

A woman by the name of Beth Perkins has reached out to me about her son Jacob. Normally I would recommend a colleague for such work but in her letters she mentioned that her son was lost in the woods for two days then emerged near-catatonic with a shock of white hair. What on god’s green earth could cause a child to react as such. There is something supernatural about this case, I know it, that is why I must take it myself. It would be no large endeavor to travel under the guise of gathering information for my next book. What awaits me in the not-so-sleepy little town of Derby, Maine?

The Nebulous Theory of Hit Points

•June 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Sorry for the long absence, I’ve been busy beyond all belief. With that in mind I have put much thought into the concept of HP or hit points. Let’s state the obvious, hit points are there to measure when you die. Now that we’ve gotten that business out of the way let’s talk about what hit points really are. You must know by now that it is impossible for someone to take a stab in the chest twenty times before they drop to the ground screaming. Hit points are a measure of the amount of abuse you take but not as you think.

You dodge and roll and tuck and move and sway and swing your sword and take a few glancing blows. All of this represents your hit points. When someone scores a hit they’ve more than likely given you a nick or a bruise but in most circumstances they’ve not actually penetrated, if you’ll pardon the use of the word. Think of it this way, you attempt to dodge their blow and take a glancing hit and both your actions and their bruising takes a toll on your stamina. That is what hit points really are. Otherwise what’s the use of a critical hit? Think about it: a critical hit, depending on the situation and your DM, can be anything from max damage to double max damage to losing a limb. That is a hit, that is real loss of hit points. The rest of it is just the toll of combat.

It puts a perspective on bleeding out. That last blow, that one hit that actually fells your character is the blow that opens a serious wound. It makes healing magic more believable too. Sure, it can close wounds and all that but think about the books and movies and stories that all involve healing magic and realize that sometimes the magic is not enough because a wound is too grave. It makes sense doesn’t it? You can’t resurrect or heal everyone because all wounds are different in their severity. Healing magic refreshes the body and clears up bruises and hurts and scrapes and minor cuts. Real healing magic closes wounds and brings you back from the dead. That magic is more rare and harder to obtain is it not?

So before you decide that the goblin’s spear penetrates your character’s armor, think more that the goblin’s spear left a bruise under his armor. That’s what hit points are. So go out there and hug your party cleric!

Demiourgos

•January 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So the old crusty DM has finally gotten around to publishing a book. Fantasy of course, what else? Many thanks to those who read it.

Description (Much thanks to my Co-DM blogger for the edits on this!)
Alethia Rose leads the mundane life of a sheltered slave in a dying world, a life that is irrevocably altered when a young elf helps her unlock a power hidden deep in her bloodline. Embracing newly found freedom, Rose embarks upon a journey that could either mend the shattered world or send it further down a spiral of destruction. Rose’s fateful passage takes her beyond the sands of her desert home, through the underground world, and into the alien astral fade.  Along the way Rose is exposed to love and loss, while clashing with adversaries that have laid even the gods low.  Her journey leaves her questioning whether the titanic opponents who threaten her friends, sanity, and the entire known world can even be defeated.

Buy Demiourgos on Amazon!

Dwarven Forge Dungeon Tiles (Kickstarter)

•October 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Everyone who’s anyone who is a gamer knows at least something about Dwarven Forge, that is a given. They make the most excellent pre-painted, pre-assembled terrain out there for wargaming and RPGs. If you own Dwarven Forge products then you, as they say on the IntarWebTubes, are among the elite. This is due to the fact that Dwarven Forge products are expensive (but worth it!) for your average gamer. More recently, Dwarven Forge organized a Kickstarter for their new “Modular Dungeon Tiles” product line.

Kickstarter, for those of you who have been living under a rock, is the best place to get your ideas off the ground if you are a person with an idea. More on that at Kickstarter, there are obviously risks to backing certain projects but for large companies like Dwarven Forge the risk is slim to none because big companies don’t want to hurt their names.

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter (Closed)
Reaper Miniatures Bones II Kickstarter (Currently Active) – Just throwing this out there for advertisement, this is an excellent deal as well. The first Kickstarter produced some excellent minis that my group and I use regularly.
Dwarven Forge Modular Dungeon Tiles – These are currently available for purchase on the Dwarven Forge site, though a good number of the items are out of stock. (And for good reason!)

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ISCLAIMER: More than one set and set of accessories is shown!

As you can see above I have built my first structure using the modular tiles. The above is from my regular gaming group’s current predicament, the Mansion of Vander Sarnikov. (Ignore the MageKnight Dungeons terrain scattered about, I was just doing a size comparison). The first run of these tiles was a huge success, my group had a lot of fun scouring the house for forgotten goodies and killing the defenders left by the archmage that built the place.

The tiles themselves are durable, more than that, they are nigh-indestructible considering I let my 3 year old daughter help me build the house. (More later on the little stuffed kitten that ended up in the servant’s quarters.) The painted set is beautiful, the detail is quite choice and the variety of tiles available makes it worth the effort to get at least one set of each available tile set in the line. They fit well with 25/28 mm miniatures and most of the tiles are made in a 2×2 manner so they all fit together like a puzzle. All-in-all I would have bought more sets had I been able to afford it, but as it is I expect my group to get some serious use out of these tiles.

My thoughts: Buy them, buy all the tiles!

Here are some sample images:

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Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

•August 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Look & Feel
So I picked up a copy of Edge of the Empire along with the GM Screen and two sets of dice. My initial thoughts on the artwork are positive. They’ve done a great job representing the different characters, races, star ships, planets, and even the miscellaneous gadgets therein. We come to expect that from Fantasy Flight Games, though. The core book is quite solid and large, well worth the cost.

Here is Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars EotE page: Link

Layout
At first the book can seem a little daunting but it’s worth the time to sit and read every section. I’ve gone cover to cover twice, you will miss things here and there just from the sheer size of it. The chapters flow well from one to the other without any issues. The only thing that I’ve found that should be changed is ‘The Force’, I feel it should have been put closer to the other available classes.

System, Races and Classes
Here’s were things get a tad dicey, if you’ll pardon the pun. The primary system is a fully dice-based system where your pool of dice is built by your stats and skills. I have become a big fan of this style system. It feels balanced. If you are unusually endowed skill or stat-wise your pool will balance itself. Considering a stat and skill, if you have a 3 in your stat and a 2 in your skill, you get a pool of three base dice, with two dice upgrades. The upgrades make your pool a tad more powerful. On the flip side if you have 2 in your stat and 3 in your skill, the same pool applies. They have seriously achieved balance in the force. Your checks are very straightforward. You roll your pool of dice, check it against the game master’s pool of dice (which is similarly generated) and count your successes and advantages. Successes cancel out failures and disadvantages cancel out advantages. Those are the barebones of it. I’m sorry I do not know where this image came from, I got it back when I purchased the game to help me along. If anyone knows the creator, I’d like to credit them.

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As you adventure you gain XP. XP can be spent to improve your skills and abilities. With XP you can buy talents from your class trees or even entirely new class trees as well. Your character is highly customization. I, for one, plan on going force sensitive on my first character!

Destiny Points are another factor. You use light side destiny points to pull a rabbit out of your hat or upgrade dice. The GM can use dark side points to hinder you. The kicker is that when you use a light side it becomes dark and when the GM uses dark they become light so it balances out well. Again, well thought-out. It’s a sort of renewable Action Point system.

So on to races, I expected a few more races from them. There’s a diverse array of races available, and it would be easy, considering the simplicity of the system, to create a custom race though. Your race determines your base array of stats, your starting XP, and any other skills/powers you start with. The starting races are Bothans, Droids, Gands, Humans, Rodians, Trandoshans, Twi’leks and Wookies. The racial benefits are well balanced and keep fights from breaking out over people with higher stats.

Classes
So when you begin, you get one class and one specialization within the class. The classes are: Bounty Hunter, Colonist, Explorer, Hired Gun, Smuggler and Technician. Yourspecialization grants you a number of primary and secondary skills based on a list generated specifically for each specialization. Plain and simple. Each specialization gives you the ability to purchase talents (not unlike an MMO’s talent tree) that gives you special advantages and bonuses. Also, straightforward. Each you can purchase additional specializations from any class, as I said above, so you can be a bounty hunter/technician if you wanted. The sky’s the limit, and I like that! Each specialization, while it has its own niche, does not feel under powered. They each get something they’re really good at and a few things that can help paint any scene.

The Force
The Force, in this book anyway, is limited in scope. I was a little disappointed to learn that the third core book, not due out until 2015 I think, is the one that will center around the Force. The mechanics for the force are good, and it feels like you are given a progressive growth for it. You can start out being pretty bad ass with the force, but the rest of your skills and stats will suffer. My advice? Take your time and progress it as you go. Your force score gives you your force dice pool. It starts as 1 and only talents can increase it. You can use light or dark side points but dark side points have their detriments. Honestly I feel this part of the force is a bit under powered. I may create a house rule that you get at least one light side force point to spend per your force score. Still thinking about that part.

DM/GM Information
The sections containing information on the universe and its contents is extensive but it barely scratches the surface of the universe (and they admit it!), the internet can be a wonderful place for information though. They provide you with a good amount of NPCs and baddies to start with as well.

All-in-all, I’d say you’d be a fool not to invest in this system! I expect good things for the suppliments.

Book Covers

•August 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

While this is not exactly related to pen and paper gaming or gaming in general it is important to the genre. Book covers! I’m entering a constest at Ermisenda Design and I have to share a link to it. :)

http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/__graphic-design-giveaway-2/#comment-10828

Coming Soon!

•July 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Coming soon, my in-depth review of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire!

 
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