Sunday, September 30, 2012

All's Quiet on the Western Blog...

It was the boy's 13th birthday this weekend. Wow...craziness...They totally rocked the party, and the GameTruck. If you haven't tried the GameTruck, it's like a rolling LanParty. 4 large screen TVs, 4 consoles all linked to each other. Definitely fun.  But for us I think it was a one-time birthday splurge, especially when I think of what $150 (the half I paid) could have bought, how many hours of RPG Gaming? I mean $150 could have bought 3 core rulebooks, or like 6-7 supplements! But, it did get a lot their friends over for their Birthday, enough that they might be able to afford to get an XBox of their own.

Not as fun as Face to Face gaming though. There's a huge difference between running around in a first person shooter, and playing an RPG in person. In an RPG, you can see the numbers tick down for your hit points, things get more frantic as minutes stretch out, hit points dwindle and the big bad is still standing.

Regular schedule posting to resume tomorrow!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kickstarter Watch (Judge Dredd Block War)

BLOCK WAR!!! (Wish I had 2 or 3 nickels to rub together...heh)


WOW!!!! This shows everything available in the Kickstarter (though they're very close to the next Stretch goal, so more on the way...The next stretch goal brings in Judges from the other cities, like Hondo and Tex City.

"If your support takes us to $40,000, we will add another brand new box set to the range - Judges of the World! This set will include judges from other Mega-Cities, including Texas City, Hondo-Cit, the Emerald Isle, Oz, East Meg-2, and Luxor."

Free PDF rules available at Mongoose.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More Abandoned Arts reviews (Gunslinger and Alchemist)

I received the Alchemist and Gunslinger Class Acts and Class Acts: Archetypes this week. Now these are ones I was definitely looking forward to. From glancing over them so far there seems to be some pretty cool stuff in there. The Drifter gunslinger archetype is especially intriguing. So look for the first 1 or 2 of these reviews to be up tonight.

I will cover the two gunslingers supplements first. In the interest of time, The layout and subsequent style hasn't changed in this series as of yet, and the "Gunslinger archetypes" is no different, 4 pages, 2 1/2 pages of crunch after you remove the Cover, OGL and generic archetype description.

Class Acts: Gunslinger  archetypes Four archetypes are presented. The Deadeye, The Drifter, The Grim Outlaw and The Harrier.

The Deadeye
This prestige class has two Abilities, Deadeye's Focus (ex) and Sharpshooter's Senses (ex). Deadeye's Focus gives up access to a couple of defensive deeds, and effectively upgrades the Startling shot deed with an ability that grants extra damage for each range inc. and the ability to cause fear at higher levels while using the Deadeye deed. The nimble ability is replaced by Sharpshooter's senses, which grants perception bonuses. This archetype is nasty at range and would make a worthy NPC to ambush the players, I see it being slightly under powered in regular play.

The Drifter
Gunslinger is a class which instantly evokes the drifter imagery, Clint Elfwood. This archetype makes the gunslinger more versatile, while giving up some powerful deeds. With access to 6+int skill points, and 5 additional skills, this archetype is a nice fit for any skill based gunfighter concept. It gains a +10ft move bonus in light/no armor, and the fleet feat as a bonus, then the wind and lightning stances free at 3rd and 7th levels respectively. This is kind of up my alley for a class, I like skill based classes.

The Grim Outlaw
Another 6+int skill class with 5 additional class skills, this one is perfect for a rogue/gunfighter, with catch off-guard, and dex based damage bonuses with pistol whips and firearm attacks. (I think this should be a pistol class only.) The final ability removes ranged to hit penalties for prone opponents if the gunfighter is within 5feet. This archetype loses access to Gun Training, and several offensive deeds. This is a dex archetype and just begs for 1 to 5 levels of a sneak attack dip.

The Harrier 
This is a mixed bag, I need to think over before I review, I'm not sure if I like it or not just yet. I need to mull it over in my head. OK mulled it over, there are parts I like and parts I'm iffy about. First it starts off strange by granting weapon proficiency with the Net, and Bola. The first ability is very powerful, replacing just the quick clear deed, Suppressive Fire Deed lets the gunslinger inflict a penalty of -2,-4 (7th) or -6 (15th) to their attack rolls, now I think it reads if you damage the opponent with their readied action, not if the Harrier damages the opponent with a readied action, which means it only becomes effective against those using a readied action, but still very powerful. The Harrier's Training replaces Gun Training letting the Harrier use Dex bonus for damage rather than the static bonus, with a high Dex character, its only effective against those with a condition such as blinded, dazed, etc, (there's a large list), but two or three shots with a +5 bonus at  lower levels can be very unbalancing, probably less unbalanced than any 'optimized' melee class with a 2H weapon. Improved targeting modifies the targeting deed, changing the effects, the torso shot with auto crit confirmation being one of the most powerful (especially for a bursting magical firearm.) Distracting shot, is an anti-caster spell forcing a concentration check, bad for those without the skill, but fairly easy for those with good concentration.

Overall this is a good product, no spelling errors jumped out at me and the content is good.

18/20 Critical Threat

Class Acts: Gunslinger
This is one of the regular class acts. Contained within are 18 Grit Feats/Deeds; Feats specifically designed to be used by gunslingers, using grit points.This is a 5 page supplement, weighing in at about 3 pages of actual material. There are some great feats and some flavorful feats which would be a waste of a feat, but are pretty cool to see in print. Two of the feats, work in tandem, The Just Won't Die and With a Vengeance. Of course the fact that Just Won't Die has two other feats in the line, plus Endurance and Die Hard, so qualifying for it requires a LOT of feats. Deafening Shot Deed and Give 'em Hell are a nice pair for screwing up spellcasters, between deafening them and creating a cacophony to distract their casting. Anyway, here's the full list of feats (minus requirements....):

Aim True
Take aim as a full-round action in order to add your Wisdom modifier to damage rolls against a single foe.

Biting Retort
Demoralize opponents that attempt to demoralize you or your allies with an immediate-action retort.

Deafening Shot Deed
Spend a grit point to deafen nearby creatures with a cacophonous firearm attack.

Give ‘em Hell
Turn the battlefield into a distracting environment with your fire, hindering spellcasting and Perception checks.

Grin and Bear It
Convert some lethal damage into nonlethal damage when an opponent confirms a critical threat against you.

  Last Man Standing
Subtract grit points from damage that you would receive, as though your grit points were temporary hit points.

   Just Won’t Die
grit class feature or Amateur Gunslinger, Diehard, Endurance,
You refuse to die easily, and can continue to act for long moments after you should have dropped dead from injury.

Halting Shot Deed
Halt an opponent’s movement and force it to provoke attacks of opportunity with a well-placed readied action.

Into the Sunset
Creatures whose attitudes you improve with a Diplomacy or Intimidate check remember your influence longer.

Lightning Draw Deed
You can draw and holster firearms at lightning speed.

Ride Tall
Your gunslinger class levels stack with levels in other classes when determining the capabilities of your mount.

Shootist’s Stance
Give up your Dex and nimble bonuses to AC to gain a bonus on attack and damage rolls with firearms.

Shrouded Shot
Conceal a drawn weapon with a cloak, coat, or poncho.

Smooth Moves
As long as you move slowly, your swaggering confidence grants you a bonus to (and against) Intimidate checks.

Think Twice
Gain a threat bonus when performing a readied action firearm attack against an opponent that you warn.

  Think Again
Warn an opponent a second time in order to double the threat bonuses granted by your Think Twice feat.

Gain a Sleight of Hand bonus, and spend a grit point to gain a +10 bonus on certain troublemaking skill checks.

With a Vengeance
Recover grit points when an opponent puts you down.

Another Solid supplement in the setting, So far I haven't seen many missteps by Abandoned Arts.
18/20 Critical Threat

Comback tomorrow for this review. And keep watching for the Alchemist reviews.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Paranoia PDC Prop

Here's the Simple Version of the prop for the PDC I've been working on. Note any similarity with a certain Robo phone is purely coincidental! For the version which can be used to store preset messages, simply cut away Tab X, and the darker line below it. Also remove the entire 'lockscreen' so you can see the message below, if you want to get really slick, you can glue a piece of plastic inside.

EDIT: Oh, also for best results, print on 60# or heavier card stock

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Paranoia! at Gam3Day

Man, Gam3Day was fun yesterday! I introduced 3 new people to the insanity that is Paranoia yesterday. 4 hour play session.  Here's the outline I used, of course I filled it in as we played, but generally, all you need for Paranoia, is a partial understanding of the rules, imagination, a sense of humor and a want to entertain people while killing their characters. I never play ZAP style cuz it's just too silly, and won't last 4 hours, Classic seems to work well with casualties running 2+. This game I had 1 TPK when the Equipment officer decided to inspect the R&D items, including the MTN. (A micro TacNuke with a deadman's trigger...still trying to work a workable trigger in with the tiny package...). Great thing about Paranoia is everyone just circles the next clone, gathers their gear, and proceeds...I'm actually working on some props for PDCs...which I will of course post on the blog for free use once I'm done, I will have several versions, the printer friendly version which will just be outlined, a colorized version, perfect for taking to Staples and Printing, and the Full Color Complex version which will actually have an opening in it, so you can "send messages to the PDC (by removing the last one!!!). Props are a wonderful way to make Paranoia MORE FUN!

Just Another Day in Alpha Complex
 Mission Alert!
You’ve been called to glorious duty for the computer! Proceed to briefing room
  Briefing at DTH-666/1
 Blue citizen, BTHREE-B-ALL-4, sits at the Conference table staring at his iPDC-1300 completely oblivious to you. He’s decked out in Vulture Squad heavy armor and has a Cone Rifle sitting on the table. Once you get his attention, he tosses the Mission assignment to the Team Leader, And goes back to playing "Happy Birds"
Cross the Bridge of DTH sector
(Sanity Test to cross)
  1. What is your mission 2.What is your Favorite Color 3.What is pi? 3alt: What is the average air speed velocity of a swallow?
Proceed to PLC. HUGE LINE for RED, IR line is short. The IR Line leads to an Infrared Market where the trouble shooters have to barter for the items, and eventually end up with six Dozen cases of B3 Lemony-Lime Throwback.
 Running to R&D you cross an open doorway, with a Dozen Infrareds dressed in furry hats having a dance class at the head of the class is an Orange citizen. This is a computer sanctioned play rehearsal for an anti-commie movie, however if the players report the group, they will get a message from a Computer Phreak in IS. Saying “k1LL t3h K0mmi3z!” The message will mysteriously be erased from the characters PDCs a few minutes later.
 R&D FUN! (Use the Giant doors and the broken squawk box for comedic effect)
 Ride a Transbot from DTH sector to DUH sector…Ride in an Elevator down from Landing platform. Both these rides will suffer from mandatory power saving measures resulting in darkness.)
 Proceed to Cafeteria DUH-GVS-ID-10T …a green Vulture Squad cafeteria with a 6” wide access stripe along the edge of one wall and all the tables pushed up to the same wall. Note: The bots may also be accessed via the DUH-RC-ID-11t cafeteria.
Did you succeed? Yes, Good Job
Did you fail, “Say Hello to my little friend, Team Leader!” BOOM.
Mission BriefProceed to PLC Outfitters to receive the following assigned gear:
2 RED Laser Barrels each,
1 ea. MBD Equipment as required for mission
2 backstage passes to the Teela-O-MLY filming of “The Good, The Bad and the Terminated”,
6 cases B3-Lemon-Lime Throwback.
1 Access Pass to Sanctuary and Ankh.
1 Dozen Cases Commie Propaganda Pamphlets.
 Proceed to R&D Room BADA-B00m.
Contact: Killin-B-ALL-4. Thank you for volunteering to test new R&D equipment.
 Contact your Service Groups for additional opportunities.
 Locate  Cafeteria DUH-GVS-ID-10TRefill Vend-O-Bot 9000, with assigned B3 beverage by 1759!
 Report for Debriefing.

Secret Society Missions:

Team Leader, success on this mission is not an option. The briefing officer is a known FCCC-P agent, make things uncomfortable for him, by not giving him what he wants.
Frankenstein Destroyer
Sabotage the VendBot you’ve been assigned to fill. Those bots are ruining this complex it’s like the run the whole Complex. Crush, Kill, Destroy!
Failure of this mission is not an option, you should have been team leader, but the computer in its infinite wisdom chose you as HO, A Clean team is a Mean team! The Briefing officer is an FCCC-P Officer, serve him, serve the computer!
“The computer was programmed for our sins, through the computer our sins are forgiven.”
Recruit the other troubleshooters into Romantics. We need some hip new members! We’ll pull some strings and get you promoted if you can sway the entire team.
Death Leopard
Put some of these B3 grenades into the vend-bot. (you’re given a package that has two six-packs of B3 Orange Lite.)
Sierra Club
Attached you will find some stickers of flowers, we’re pretty sure they’re flowers, make sure these get onto every B3 can that goes into the vend-bot
Free Enterprise
Put these ‘win a cool new Transbot’ stickers on each can of B3 inserted into the Vend-bot. Here’s 500 credits to make the others look the other way. Don-G-VNI says you’ve got potential, keep it up kiddo!
Computer Freaks
Run the cash leech virus on the Vend-bot, send .1% of all sales directly to our bank accounts in CRB sector.

FASAGames Is UP!

FASA logo

Fading Suns Logo
Earthdawn Logo

Hey check this out now!!! is up and running, looks like Fading Suns Player's Guide

and Earthdawn Player's Guide for the Revised edition
are now available as well!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gam3rCon Gam3Day Today

Hey just a reminder for everyone in San Diego, there's a Gam3Day at the 10th Avenue Theatre today from 12-9. $5 gets you in, so come on down, have fun, join my Paranoia Game, or one of many other games.

(Been working on the scenario, so I haven't posted in a couple days...oops) 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Talk like a Pirate Day...(Privateer Press release)

Yar the Perfect day t'be releasin' that Wondrous tome o'the new Iron Kingdoms!

Iron Kingdoms was released today. I had planned on doing the next review in the series, but I've been pretty brain-dead all week due to the pain in my head from oral Surgery.

It is indeed a great game, I expect it to do exceptionally well for sales as well.

So head to Privateer Press and pick up this great game, then head back here for more reviews on it.

I will also post some cool character concepts occasionally. Health allowing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mechwarrior Online

There's a Mechwarrior Online currently in Beta Testing.

Wish I had that new Mech Rig set-up that they were showing at Gam3rCon!!!

Joys of Paranoia RPG

Paranoia is an amazing game especially for One-shots at game conventions. Players aren't supposed to know the rules, the game itself runs best when it's off the cuff, a basic outline of some ideas is really all you really need, besides some handouts, players need to know what secret society they belong to, what their mutant power is (not how it works), and during the course of the game you give out the mission for the Computer (or a high programmer's secret agenda), plus the secret society missions.

There are so many variations of fun things to do in Paranoia, perhaps all the characters are actually Internal Security secret agents. Perhaps the Team Leader is torn between completing the mission and fulfilling his Death Leopard mission of ensuring the Computer's mission is a failure.

The secret to a good Paranoia game is plenty of conflict. Conflicting orders, conflicting secret society missions, conflicting information about the mission....

I just recently had an idea of the puzzle mission. The characters are sent on a top secret mission, they will receive orders on their Series 1300 PDC. Unfortunately when they receive their orders, they each only receive a portion of the orders. Hilarity ensues as the players scramble to figure out if they're going to the right locations, in the right order. Does it matter if they're really going to the correct location? Nope, not really, the GM in Paranoia is really just someone to pass notes to, and try to control the chaos that ensues, oh and occasionally throw an arbitrary die.

The second most important thing to do in Paranoia is provide opportunity. If there are opportunities, the players will generally know how to exploit them, one of my favorites is the dark elevator, or TransBot.

If you have at least 4 people to play your game this is really one of the most amazing games to run. If you want to run a long term campaign, then you employ the 'dark' setting of the rules, different from Zap and Classic, this type of play focuses more on subverting the computer rather than back-stabbing your buddy. Make the players all part of the same secret society, or service group, focus on the darker aspects of the world, change it up a bit, perhaps more like Logan's Run. Instead of a sexless world where hormones are tightly suppresed, it becomes a decadent world where recreational drugs and sex become the way to escape the harsh realities of Alpha Complex. Make the 'plex at war with another Alpha Complex, a secret war that the Infrareds know nothing about. They think it's all a 'commie' plot.

Paranoia is endless in fun and possibilities.

Any version will do, as the rules don't really matter as much as the setting, I like a combination of the Mongoose versions, I like that Paranoia "Troubleshooters" brought treason points back, but I like Paranoia Service Pack 1 because the artwork is the original artwork and the version is really tight.

Paranoia Troubleshooters PDF $23.98
Paranoia Service Pack 1 PDF $23.98
Also, I'm running Paranoia at Gam3rCon Gam3day this Saturday (unless I don't recover my voice...) provided I have enough players, if not, I might run a Traveller: Judge Dredd Eagle Day run for 1 or 2 players.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Numenera Funded and then some!

The Numenera RPG was obviously successfully funded, and broke the Traveller 5 RPG record by over 200k.

The final total was $517,256. Wish I could have jumped in on this amazing project, but I'm amazed by the amount of support for this project. Over half a million! I'll just have to wait for the game to come out.  (My health and family took precedence over this Kickstarter.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

First 3 sentence review up

I got my first three sentence review done, a quick review of a must have book for any gamemaster. The Advanced Bestiary by Green Ronin Publishing.

Check it out on the Three Sentence Review Page

Gam3rCon Gam3day Coming up!

Hey all just a reminder,

Gam3rCon Gam3eday is going to be this Saturday the 22nd, from 12-9 at the Tenth Avenue theater.

(doesn't include my game currently for some reason.)

Games currently on schedule:

Afternoon (12-5)

Pathfinder: Intrigue at Kings Court
You are "members" of the court of Lylon. Your backgrounds are should include some courtly skills (but don't let that dissuade you from making a "bodyguard' or "anchor gymnast"). The encounter will include several skill challenges, as getting involved in the "wrong" combat encounter may detain you from reaching the true threat to the kingdoms! Show early to make characters.

Call of Cthulhu
Horror Stories from the Red Room. 1920's San Francisco. Research the background a mysterios set of paintings and artist who did them.

TMNT: Lost Vegas
A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: After the Bomb game run with Savage Worlds rules, set in the ruins of Las Vegas.

Warhammer 40k
Learn to play the miniatures game where space marines battle out with orcs!

Lords of Waterdeep
A strategy board game, you take on the role of one of the masked Lords of Waterdeep, secret rulers of the city. Through your agents, you recruit adventurers to go on quests on your behalf, earning rewards and increasing your influence over the city. Expand the city by purchasing new buildings that open up new actions on the board, and hinder – or help – the other lords by playing Intrigue cards to enact your carefully laid plans.

Small World is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs, and even humans, who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth.

Metal Gear Solid Risk
Takes place on the standard Risk world map, but also includes the territory of Outer Haven which may be moved around the map to attack other territories. Additionally, nuclear strikes on remote territories may be launched by the player who controls Metal Gear Rex. Players can utilize special units including Solid Snake, the Rat Patrol, Raiden, Liquid Ocelot, Big Momma, and Roy Campbell, each with their own special powers. Players may also collect and play Drebin cards to grant further offensive or defensive powers.

Red Dragon Inn


Evening (5-9)

D&D Next (5th edition)
Come try the newest edition of D&D. Make characters or grab a pregen and journey into the underdark.

DungeonWorld - Old School Fantasy
DungeonWorld is an rpg with old school style and modern rules. It is a world of fantastic adventure. A world of magic, gods, demons, Good and Evil. Brave heroes venture into the most dangerous corners of the land in search of gold and glory. You are those heroes. You go where others can't or won't. You conquer the unbeatable and laugh in the face of Death. There are monstrous things lurking in the world. Are you ready to face them? Beginners welcome, all materials provided. Game plot, style, experience & maturity level will be tailored to those playing.

Tanto Cuoro
The deck building game of anime maids.When the game ends, the player who has the best collection of maids and therefore the most victory points is the perfect master and winner of the game!

This card game recreates an old-fashioned spaghetti western shoot-out, with each player randomly receiving a Character card to determine special abilities, and a secret Role card to determine their goal.

Throughout the Day
We will have some GMs who will be ready to do pickup game. You are also welcome to bring a game and we'll help you find players.

Each player begins by sketching a TELESTRATIONS word dictated by the roll of a die. The old fashioned sand timer may limit the amount of time they get to execute their sketch, but it certainly doesn't limit creativity! Time's up! All players, all at the same time, pass their sketch to the next player, who must guess what's been drawn. Players then simultaneously pass their guess -- which hopefully matches the original word (or does it??) -- to the next player who must try to draw the word they see -- and so on.

D&D 3.5 Tower of Chaos.
Red Dragon Inn

Tanto Cuoro
Puzzle Strike

Cutthroat Caverns
Space Alert

plus more in the game library.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Numenera Kickstarter Update - T - 40 hours

40 hours remain for Numenera Kickstarter!!!

$417,000!!! Amazing, but that's what you get when you combine Crowd Funding, a Game Design Veteran and a Wholly new setting with gorgeous artwork.

(I'd post more tonight, but oral surgery yesterday...)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

400th post

Time flies when you do what you know and what you love.

This blog started as a down-time thing to do while my wife was up in Canada for medical reasons. I love doing the blog, reviewing games, (though sometimes a supplement comes in without a good reference point which leaves me a bit off-balance.)

The boys turn 13 at the end of the month, I started the blog when they were 11! Craziness.

I'm working on some projects as you know. I'm making the Moderne Worlds of 2039 RPG (Legends) which will be a free RPG, released as a PDF of course, print versions would of course have a cost. I will need artists as I'm a decent artist, I'm not a great artist, I'll be able to contribute conceptually, and perhaps a paper mini series later, and buildings. I try to do something on it every few days.

I have dozens of ideas floating around in my head. I have at least 4 board games, and 3 RPGs rolling around in my skull, in addition to several amazing ideas for supplements, I just need time and money to make some of these ideas reality.

So help support the blog, click on links, buy stuff from DriveThru RPG, I'll get a donate button up soon.... =D

Here's to another 400 posts and an ever increasing presence in the San Diego game community and the Overall gaming community in general.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Hey, for anyone out there looking for additional editors, I would be willing to jump in and perform editing on game manuscripts, for free, to get the editing credits in publication, as an assistant editor. I have decent grammatical skills, but mostly misspelled words jump off the page at me. In addition, I know the difference between words like: their, they're, and there, except/accept, hanger/hangar, and of course, its/it's. Having these few words correct is key to good reviews and bad reviews at times.

Drop a line to me at

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dungeon Crawl Classics - Map Adventure Design Competition

So, this has been out there for quite awhile now, DCC RPG with their Free RPG Day offering have a $1000 design contest, basically it's an 1000 word outline of an adventure in addition to completing the map in the DCC RPG style. So it's pretty cool, it combines artistic cartography with creative design.

Now I haven't been able to find a free version anywhere, so unless you got it at Free RPG Day, if you want to get in on the action get it from RPG Now for $4.99, and you get two adventures for DCC RPG also.

Edit: Free version is here: Thanks Anony! I had tried navigating to it, but I couldn't locate it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kickstarter Watch - Dreadball

Had oral surgery yesterday, so I'm not completely up for a full post...

However, Mantic games (the break off company competing with Games Workshop) has a cool new Bloodbowl style game called...

Photo: Good morrrrning Sports Fans!

Looks pretty interesting....

Check out the Kickstarter

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kickstarter Watch - Numenera (updated)

Monte Cook's new RPG Numenera is set to take the highest financed Kickstarter from Traveller 5.

With 10 days remaining will it overtake the $294k mark set by Traveller 5? As I write this it is at:

pledged of $20,000 goal

days to go

I think it will top $300k very soon.

Edit 9/11/2012 BOOM! It's over 300k  with 5 days remaining it's at $317k....

I really want to jump in on at the $50 level and get the ELEVEN PDFs...WOW! Course for $10 more you get the actual book and eleven PDFs...but just $20 would get the Player's Guide and the GM's guide...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reviews - Iron Kingdoms RPG (Character Creation)

So, since I got Iron Kingdoms  last week, I've been delving farther and farther into it, I just completed the first character for it, An Iosan Cutthroat Mage Hunter. 

Character creation is simple, no dice, nothing random about it. It consists of 5 steps.

1. Choose Character's Race.
2. Choose an Archetype
3. Choose 2 careers
4. Increase Stats
5. Finishing Touches

Step 1: Race
Race affects everything, from maximum stats, access to archetype, access to specific careers, and each race has additional characteristics. For example, only an Iosan may become a Mage Hunter, while a Dwarf gains a connection to his clan, and the load bearing ability, while Ogrun have huge stature allowing them to wield two handed weapons in 1 hand at a -2 penalty, but an Ogrun using a pair of Caspian Battleblades or Mauls is just so cool.  Race is basically the most important choice.

Having already decided that Kae Im'dee was going to be a Mage Hunter, this left me with no real choice as far as race selection. Iosan's believe that human arcanists are responsible for the loss of the majority of their gods due to the effect of their magics. Mage Hunter is an Iosan only Career. Kae was Iosan. Cool thing about Iosans is that they actually get to select an extra ability from their careers. I noted down the starting values for an Iosan:
PHY:5 (spd:6, str:4)
AGL:3 (prw:4, poi:4)
INT:4 (arc:-, per:3)
Two languages Shyr, and another
Additional ability (Parry ability from Mage Hunter is what I ended up choosing.)

Step 2: Archetypes
Four archetypes consist of Gifted, Mighty, Skilled and Intellectual. Each archetype has its own list of specific feats, most of which are only available via the archetype. Gifted is a required choice for six of the careers, the magical careers, Arcane Mechanik, Arcanist, Gun Mage, Priest, Sorcerer, and Warcaster. Some careers are only available as a starting career, The Aristocrat, Iron Fang*, Sorcerer, Stormblade*, Trencher*, and Warcaster (*these additionally are restricted in their additional career choices.)

For Kae, I decided on the Mighty archetype, because I chose the Vendetta ability, allowing her to increase her chances of getting in an killing her intended prey, as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Step 3: Careers
You choose two careers, each career determines what Starting abilities and skills, spells and assets you receive.

Making a Mage Hunter NPC, I decided to make her deadly, and combined Cutthroat with Mage Hunter. Cutthroat giving her the starting abilities of Anatomical Precision, Backstab & Prowl, plus the following skills Hand Weapon, Thrown Weapon, Intimidation, Sneak, and Streetwise. This combined with Arcane Assassin and Iron Will abilities, and Hand Weapon, Crossbow, Climbing, Jumping, Sneak and Tracking. I need to figure out if the two skill 1 skills stack to become a skill 2 or are lost. (Edit, after more extensive reading, yes, overlapping starting skills start at level 2, this makes her a brutal mage hunter, able to sneak in and engage those pesky human mages with nasty efficiency.)

Step 4: Increase Stats
Each character gains 3 ability increases for their stating character. Then fill out the Life Spiral (a nifty little way to track damage, more on this in the combat review.

For Kae I chose Phy, Spd & Poi as I want her to be able to hit and run, while surviving a bit of damage. 

Step 5: Finishing Touches
For my Cutthroat Mage Hunter, she received 150gold crowns (75 from cutthroat and 75 from mage hunter), but no actual gear, giving me the freedom to pick and choose gear. She ended up with a Repeating Crossbow (50 bolts and 2 spare magazines), Assassin's Blade, Kopis, Armored Coat, and a spyglass, plus some military rations, and a healing salve. Leaving her with 48 gc to grease palms and locate those ruinous human arcanists... Finalize the character sheet, by referencing the abilities, filling out skills, weapons, armor, defense armor and initiative values

The character creation experience was easy, required little page turning in reality and the lack of rolls means you don't have to worry when someone makes  a character at home...there's no way to cheat except with math and that's easily solved with a calculator. There's even a sidebar for experienced players being allowed to tweak the existing careers, to get something a little different. Perhaps your Pirate was the ship's surgeon, remove intimidate and substitute medic. Perhaps starting with a few extra XP to begin with (this is good for great backstories), since the game uses minor increases every few XP gained, it's not like creating a 2nd level character, more like a 1.25 level character.

Thoroughly enjoyable experience. Epic! Now if I can figure out how to work Aspects into the game....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Reviews - Abandoned Arts Archetypes (druid)

Another set of Abandoned Arts archetypes products rolling through, Barbarian, Druid, Ranger and Witch

Disclaimer: This is a review of a complimentary review copy of the product.

This is the review of the druid archetypes, it follows the formatting of the previous products. Four pages, a quick blurb of what an archetype is, 2 1/2 pages of actual product, followed by 1 page of the OGL. Cost $.99. 

This is one of the best I've seen so far.  It presents 3 very good archetypes: The Earthspeaker, the Faerie Thrall, and the Greenmind. 

The Earthspeaker: I really like the feel of this archetype, it replaces wild empathy, woodland stride, trackless step and wild shape with 3 alternate abilities. 

"The stoic circle of druids known as the earthspeakers take the concept of communing with nature to an extraordinary extreme, developing supernatural means of communicating – in a very literal way – with the earth itself."

Ask the Stone allows the Earthspeaker to, well, speak to earth, stone, crystals, etc, it's a really simple ability with limitless roleplay possibilities, especially for a savvy GM that can totally get into the character of simple stone.  Walk the world gives the druid the ability to move across dangerous mountain terrain faster, and tracklessly. Finally, Move the Earth is a special Charisma based check to produce different earth based effects, from spike stones to move Earth. very interesting ability.

The Faerie Thrall is an oft overlooked archetype for druids.
"While most druids enjoy a friendly relationship with many faerie creatures, some druids pledge their efforts (or submit their wills) as much to the furthering of ancient fey agendas as to the laws of nature or the cycles of the seasons."

This archetype consists of 4 abilities, though I'm not sure if the 20th level ability is supposed to replace an existing capstone or not as it seems like it merely adds a fairly minor ability modify memory, which has unlimited uses, making it a true capstone. The first thing a Faerie thrall must do, is choose whetehr to be part of the seelie or unseelie, which grants +4 saves versus non 'selected' magics, your court can affect you easier... The classic tropes of the pixie arrow and faerie dust appear as the Magic Darts (should have been faerie dust darts...) consisting of a charm monster ability, toned down by limited useage (1/2 druid level per day). Overall its a fun variant I plan to put to use as an NPC. The 9th level ability consists of taking  the fey's attributes, gaining the Fey Creature temple....with a very limited duration.

An ascetic and sage kind of druid, the greenmind pursues divine illumination and spiritual balance through a meditative process that brings him ever closer to the unknowable enlightenment of all things green and growing.
Oh this is a good one, simple and satisfying, giving up scimitar and all armors, this variant druid makes a lot of sense, gaining the ability to resist many spell-like abilities as a plant, and then to clothe themselves with the armor of the forest (up to +7 to AC), so not too shabby. The final ability lets the druid to take on the form of certain types of plant life.

Great addition to the game
A Solid 19 of 20! Critical Strike confirmed. Well worth 99 cents!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Reviews - Abandoned Arts Archetypes (Barbarian)

Another set of Abandoned Arts archetypes products rolling through, Barbarian, Druid, Ranger and Witch (same classes as the non-archetype products thus far, which is a bummer because my favorite classes for Pathfinder are Alchemist, Inquisitor and Oracle, but if abandoned arts can make as high of quality add-ons for those classes as they've made for these others I look forward to reading them.)

Disclaimer: This is a review of a complimentary review copy of the product.

First up is the Barbarian, which follows the formatting of the previous products. Four pages, a quick blurb of what an archetype is, 2 1/2 pages of actual product, followed by 1 page of the OGL.

There are three Barbarian archetypes presented, The Madman, the Reaver, and the Viking Marauder.

The Madman is an great idea, that fills a space I didn't even realize was missing.

"Some barbarians are inspired not by bloodlust or simple savagery, but by madness or dire occult powers. Such madmen are less martially inclined, but no less dangerous for their insane and unpredictable rage and their strange, supernatural powers."

The barbarian swaps 1/2 the additional rage rounds for access to a domain power. At 11th in lieu of greater rage, the madman gains a wisdom damaging attack.The End is Near is a very interesting capstone power, causing the barbarian to summon allies every round as their prayers to the outer powers hear their call, culminating in gate.

The Reaver is another good archetype, combining brutal sneak attacks and intimidation.

"The reaver is a death-obsessed berserker with a keen understanding of both death and fear. Favoring intimidating weapons and guerilla-style tactics, these terrible barbarians spread terror wherever they tread."

Giving up half their  additional rage rounds and damage reduction 1,2,3, & 4, for sneak attack dice.  Finally they can sneak attack those suffering from being shaken, frightened or panicked.

The Viking Marauder 

"In harsh northern climes, clans of seafaring marauders often band together to form raiding parties in order to survive. Though fearsome and sometimes barbarous, these brothers-in-arms are not without a sense of honor."

Not a big fan of this archetype. It's a very specialized archetype, with a real-world name. The viking marauder is a an interesting concept, Seafaring Scourge, is a skill bonus for sailor, survival, swim skills and a bonus movement for the marauder's vessel in lieu of fast movement. Raiding Party is a teamwork based ability. Marauder's Sails is another interesting concept, causing intimidation with the vessel itself due to the the marauder's fearsome reputation. The 14th level ability is extremely under-powered, being a +4 bonus to fear based will saves. At 14th level, it should be immunity to fear.

16 of 20, mainly for the concept of the madman, this one concept can easily be taken to other classes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

RPG News you can Peruse - City of Heroes

Well it is with a heavy nostalgic heart that I bring some sad MMORPG news. City of Heroes will cease to be before the end of the year, so if you want to strap on your cape one last time before it's gone you better do it soon. I think their freeplay model was flawed, I know when I logged on for free play that it was effectively so limited I didn't even want to try. Other free-to-play models have worked, and worked well, when they work they bring in additional players for the paying players to group with, without a community to support it, a game will fail. I played CoH for 3 years, when I trimmed the fat of paying games, City of Heroes was the one game I kept up, until I had to stop payment on all games due to the rough economic times. (AKA, losing my job several times in 3 years).

Farewell Paragon City, your memory shall live on.

Reviews: Iron Kingdoms RPG

Oh man, my preview copy the Iron Kingdoms RPG arrived on my doorstep last night, So let the review begin. (Note: Today's review will be a quick glance review, looking at the very basics, as I need to read it to absorb the game...Continue watching as I will continue to review the product.)

I remember seeing the first Witchfire Trilogy, and being enthralled by a setting with guns and steamjacks. I was instantly hooked. I know a lot of people don't like guns in their fantasy gaming, but to me, it's about the setting, any rules can be used for any setting, yes, in  a Tolkien-esque generic fantasy setting, there's not really room for guns. But if the setting is designed around the inclusion of guns, by all means, let there be guns!

The release date has been upped to September 19th

First glance: It's a gorgeous hard-cover book utilizing a partial gloss/flat cover with this above iconic image (the actual artwork on the right, not the logo) wrap-around. The book is over 350 pages, beautifully illustrated with new images, and reprints from the d20 version of the game and I assume the miniature games (Warmachine and Hordes) as well, artwork too good not to be reused. The inside cover is a full color image from the cover with no words, to let you view the amazing cover art that Néstor Ossandón created. I really enjoy looking at the architecture rising above the group. The layout of the book makes sense, and is easy to read. I enjoy the sidebar illustration, and the lamps gives you a color coding to let you know what section you're in without making it feel like it was designed for 8 year olds.

After the initial compulsory introductory pages, consisting of a quick blurb about the origins of Iron Kingdoms, and the "What is a Role-playing game?" section. Thereafter it dives right into ...

Chapter 1: History of Western Immoren
40 pages of History. History really makes a setting, without history you just have a boring setting with no basis, so 40 pages worth  provides plenty.

Chapter 2: Life in the Iron Kingdoms
52 pages about life in the Kingdoms, from coinage, to faith and churches. Each kingdoms gets a blurb about what life is generally like in the Iron Kingdoms and beyond, including Cryx, Ios and Rhul. Different human ethnicities are covered as well as the various races. Language, law, travel, and the overview of different types of magic are glossed over, as magic is fully covered in a later chapter.

Chapter 3: Character Creation
Here's where the the game alters course from its d20 roots. Utilizing an engine based upon the miniature games. I will get more into this later, but I really like the mix and match archetype/careers, they're doing. It makes a 3 tiered system; taking 4 archetypes (gifted, intellectual, mighty and skilled), and combining it with a choice of two careers (some of which have requirements - such as race, gifted arcehtype (for caster types), or may only be chosen as a starter career).  The Careers are as follows: Alchemist, Arcane Mechanic, Arcanist, Aristocrat, Bounty Hunter, Cutthroat, Duelist, Explorer, Fell Caller, Field Mechanik, Gun Mage, Highwayman, Investigator, Iron Fang, Knight, Mage Hunter, Man-at-Arms, Military Officer, Pirate, Priest, Rifleman, Soldier, Spy, Stormblade, Thief, Trencher, and Warcaster. So you can see from this vast array of careers, by choosing two at creation you can really create a plethora of concepts. Perhaps you wish to play an Alchemist/Soldier or a Pistoleer/Pirate, the choices while not endless are definitely expansive. All told, the character creation chapter which includes skills, feats, and the races, covers 90 pages of real estate, about 25% of the book. Each career has a related illustration, very nice.

Chapter 4: The Game \
The basic system, based upon the Warmachine rules is a 2d6 base system, add stat and skill modifiers, this makes it a system which uses a small pyramid curve, where small modifiers can mean a big difference in success. Combat, Movement, initiative, etc, are all covered, I will go into this more, later in the week.  The game section is all of 30 pages in length, making it a fairly simple system.

Chapter 5: Magic
While many different traditions of magic exist, the rules are crunched into 20 pages of material. Only two actual types exist, will weavers and focusers. 10 and a half pages are jam packed with short listed spells, many of which are drawn from the miniatures game.

Chapter 6: Gear, Mechnika and Alchemy
The meat of almost any game lies in the stuff, covering 50 pages, this chapter gives plenty of stuff for characters to play with.

Chapter 7: Steamjacks
Well in this chapter you can fully make out the miniature wargame in the system. Each steamjack has a damage grid which looks suspiciously like the one in the wargame. But, as the Steamjacks aren't player characters, I don't see that as a bad thing, it just makes them a special type of monster. I think the coolest part of this section is the exploded views of the different steamjacks!!

Chapter 8: Gamemastering
A short section on gamemastering.

Appendix A: Bestiary
A Sample Bestiary, containing 6 monsters, 5 plus human, the most dangerous monster of all. I like the stat blocks of the monsters and I like the lack of hit points int he game, using a small triskell like hit matrix called a life spiral. (more on that once I figure out how it works)

Appendix B: Gameplay tools (which I expect will be available for download after release)
These are a Steamjack sheet, a 2 page character sheet and a game master encounter sheet. Nicely done, graphically sound landscape sheets.

Appendix C: Templates
2 pages of templates, blast, wall, spray and 2 different sized wreck markers.

And finally a 6 page index