Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Skull Cave Adventurers

Click to mo' biggin'!

Just a little something I drew while watching TV the other night. A trio of adventurers in a cave of skulls. Drawn totally freehand (no pencils) with the same pens and board I use for my maps. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Sanctum of the Wizard's Well [Mini-Map Monday]

Taking another stab at isometric maps, all free hand on board with illustration pens.

Click to big it!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Random Passenger Table [Persephone Sector]

Now that my Stars Without Number players have gotten themselves a spaceship, they want to make some extra cash taking on passengers as they travel from job to job. Real Firefly-like.

The random charts in the SWN book do a decent job of crating random NPCs, and there are dozens of random people generators scattered across the Net, but none of them have quite what I'm looking for. I've been told that the new merchant campaign supplement for SWN, Suns of Gold, would be useful to me, but I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet (something I will rectify shortly).

I'm looking for a random table that will tell me who the passenger is, where they're going, what they are taking with them, and what they want to do when they get there. A twist factor would be nice, too.

So, in the DIY spirit, I made my own table. It should be easily hackable by interested parties. Just swap out your own planets and alien species in the proper proportions.

You can also see the thing as a PDF or Document.

Roll 1d20
Passenger is a... Who works as a... Who needs to go to... With... In order to... With the complication that...
Human Businessman Cedar An alien artifact Attend a wedding They have a mysterious illness!
Human Priest Netherpool A cache of drugs Get married There's a bounty
on their head!
Human Scholar Moloch A religious icon Avoid getting married They are an AI in disguise!
Human Mercenary Anatu Prototype designs Start a new job They are a
homicidal maniac!
Human Bounty Hunter Anatu A robot sidekick File a report They're perused by a jealous lover!
Human Explorer Croesus Fat stacks of cash Deliver a message It's a race against time!
Human Journalist Croesus A dead body Go sightseeing Their money is all counterfeit!
Human Noble Kraken A strange
alien animal
Explore some ruins They are working for space pirates!
Human Salesman Las Diablas A strange
alien plant
Kill someone They are monster
in disguise!
Human Entertainer Volgograd A pretech artifact Escape the law They are perused
 by rivals!
Naga Space Hobo Volgograd A large cache of weapons Avoid a murder rap They are wanted
by the local authorities!
Naga Musician Katarina A treasure map Attend a funeral They are smuggling illegal goods!
Naga Veteran New Arcadia Dangerous maltech Rob someone They are one of
the PC's childhood friends!
Yurgling Servant Yurgoloth A bundle of correspondences Sell their wares They are nobility
in disguise!
Yurgling Laborer Gehenna Much-needed medicine Complete a religious pilgrimage They develop a crush on a PC!
Yurgling Engineer Dolores Large crates of
Join the military They have odious personal habits!
Hochog Artist Uld A personal vehicle Visit relatives They ask to join the PCs' ship crew!
Hochog Office Worker Chiaroscuro A huge collection
of various things
Start a new life They belong to a weird religious cult!
Flumph Doctor Chiaroscuro Nothing but the clothes on their back Return home after a completed mission They are working for the PCs' arch enemy!
Other Scientist An Unknown Planet Just the thing the PCs were looking for Return home after a failed mission They are working
for the person
who can help the PCs the most
 right now!

(EDIT: Wow, that is some border-busting table, isn't it?)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Hobomancer" First-Session Actual Play Recording, Now Available for Public Consumption. [Hobomancer]

Hey! Hobomancer is up for an Ennie for Best Electronic Book! I helped write it, and it'd be amazing to win. Just thought you should know. I keep forgetting to mention it here.

But maybe you're curious as to what a Hobomancer game sounds like. Well you're in luck! If you go down to RPGnow, you can download a copy of the first-ever Hobomancer game. 

You can hear Leighton Connor, Ian Engle, Steve Johnson, Carter Newton, Jason Whisman, and me create our first characters (in only 11 minutes!), bang out the basics of the setting, and go save a small town from an invasion of extra-dimensional monsters. 


Every game starts out as an idea. And before that idea is ready to be turned into a book and published, it has to be tested. That’s why the Hex Games staff gathered together in Nashville back in May 2010, during the Great Tennessee Flood, and played the first ever game of Hobomancer (2013 ENnie Award nominee for Best Electronic Product). Fortunately they recorded the game session, and it is now available for download, absolutely free of charge.

When this game session took place there had been some general conversation and brainstorming about Hobomancer, but nothing was set in stone. As you listen, you can hear key concepts of the game being invented during play. You can also hear six people having a lot of fun.

The sound quality ain't great, as it was recorded with a hand-held MP3 recorder in a living room, but I think it's certainly worth a listen.

Download it Here!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Tangle [Mini-Map-Monday]

A jumble of mismatched tunnels and caverns crafted by insane Molemen exiled from Molemanhattan for political unpleasantness, The Tangle is a dangerous warren of corruption and vice.

Click it good!
Drawn freehand on board with Faber-Castell illustration pens.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Spaceships and Teddy Bears [Urseminite PCs for Stars Without Number]

So last week, our space-heroes finally got themselves a starship, though not without complications.

They found a electronic ship locator on the bodies of some less-fortunate explorers in the old bio-lab ruins. The locator indicated a shuttle a few miles away, buried under many years of sand. When our heroes get there, they discover that a band of road agents (the Dread Bear'uns) have inadvertently made camp over the buried shuttle.

This led to the larges firefight or combat that I've ever run with the group. The PCs did an amazing job because they fought smart. They split up the bandits and used heavy weapons and long-range rifles to take out most of the bad-guys before they could get into range. When the surviving gang members lost morale and ran, they let them go. The PCs got through it with barely a scratch.

They managed to kill the Dread Bear'uns leader. Big Lou is a three-foot-tall, foul-mouthed, teddy bear in power armor carrying a massive thunder gun. He is, in fact, an Useminite, an alien species for vile, badass teddy bear mercenaries I lifted from the Bulldogs! RPG.

The party quickly dug out the shuttle (having a couple of robots helped) and blasted off just as the surviving Bear'Uns staged a counter attack. Hitting the ether, the shuttle was able to auto-pilot back to it's home-ship,a free merchant class frigate called Electric Worry.

Electric Worry was abandoned for 25 years and had drifted to the other side of the Las Diabla's smaller sun. The empty ship had been over-run by silicone-based crystaline vacuum monsters--spider-like creatures that shot lasers out of their eyes and served a bloated queen node. These creatures proved to be a greater problem than the Bear'Uns. The ship was cold with no power, and the PCs had to fight with no gravity in hard vacuum. After a several desperate sorties, and with the loss of loayal battle-bot Helper-2, the PCs were manage to clear the ship and claim it for their own.

'Sup, mutha-fucker?
Urseminite PCs
Urseminites resemble cute, cuddly, little three-foot tall teddy bears. They are violent, loud, vice-driven
creatures with universally obnoxious personal habits and no sense of personal honor. An Urseminite war-band is an abrasive, adorable, blood-thirsty, fuzzy storm of murder and pillage.

Lenses: Gluttony, Wrath

Home Plant: Cuddlehugs Farm, a wretched world of vice and evil that has, thankfully, has remained out of contact since the Scream.

Requirements: Must have a Constitution of 14 or more, and a Charisma of 8 or less.

Benefits: You get to be a bad-ass teddy bear with an attitude like Lobo. Also, you have claws at the end of your hands that let you fight as though you had kinesis wraps.

Because of your dinky size, any armor you wear must be custom fitted and might cost 50% more. Thankfully, because of your compact build and large paws, you can use human-sized weapons with no problem, no matter how silly it looks.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Using Bonds in "Hobomancer"

Hey, did you know the Hobomancer is up for an Ennie? It seems like I might have mentioned it a couple of times.

Anyway, I've been working on a follow-up for Hobomancer called (creatively) The Hobomancer's Companion which will have a bunch more powers, monsters, options, and an adventure. One of the things I want to introduce to Hobomancer and QAGS in general is the idea of using Hx/Bonds/Strings from Apocalypse World/ Dungeon World/ Monsterhearts to connect characters. Bonds are such a great idea and do soooo much to help connect characters and build history. I'm going to use them in all my QAGS games at Gencon this year to see how they work.

Anyhoo... here's what I have working for Hobomancer...

Hobomancer Bonds
What the heck is this?
Art by "Jumpin'" Jeffrey Johnson
These are Bonds, questions to ask Player Characters at the beginning of a Hobomancer game. They are especially useful for one-shots and convention games, but they are also good for long-term games where you want to spark ideas and riff on backstories and PC-to-PC relationships. By asking questions and following up with more questions, you’ll be stunned by how quickly a rich history develops between brand new characters.

This idea was totally stolen from Dungeon World by Sage Latroya and Adam Koebel, a hack of Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker, which also inspired Monsterhearts by Joe McDaldno, both of which have similar mechanisms. You should check out all three games. They’re awesome.

How do I use these?
Below you’ll see a bunch of leading and provocative questions, along with follow-up questions. Write a bunch of these questions (not the follow-ups) on slips of paper (later on, I’ll format these so you can print and cut them). Put the slips in a hat. Go around the table. Each player (not the GM) draws Bonds until they have a number of Bonds equal to the number of players plus a couple more.

Make sure every PC has introduced themselves. The players have to know who their fellows are before they can fill out the Bonds.

After introductions, each player chooses a few of their Bonds to complete. They don’t have to fill out all of them, but they should try to fill out at least one per fellow PC (especially if it’s a one shot). If they have left overs and they want to use a fellow PC a second or third time, that’s fine and dandy.

After all the bonds are filled out, each player takes turns reading what they filled out. This is the time for the GM and other players to ask follow-up questions and build upon the answers. Often times, something another player wrote will say something about your character. Go with it. It’s considered bad form to say “No I didn’t!” If, for instance, Jeff says you stole something from him, well then I guess you did. Why did you do that? I bet you had a good reason. Maybe it was a matter of life and death. It’s these kind of conflicts that build rich histories.

Example Hobomancer Bonds

__________ is my mentor. They’re teaching me the ins and outs of being a Hobomancer.
(How do you feel about your mentor? Other PC: How do you feel about your student?)

__________ and I knew each other in our old lives, before we became hobos.
(Really? How so?)

Everyone trusts __________, but I don’t.
(Why not?)

I stole something from __________.
(What was it? Do they know about it?)

I saved the life of __________, whether they know it or not.
(How did you do that? Other PC: Were you aware of this?)

There’s something I talk about with __________, that I don’t talk about with anyone else.
(What do you talk about? Other PC: How do you feel about that?)

The Kind Lady has told me to protect __________ at all costs.
(Do you know why? Are you following her request?)

I had a dream of __________ standing over my dead body.
(Wow! What do you think that means? Have you told them?)

__________ gave me their last bottle of hooch last week. I owe them.
(What was the circumstances behind that? Other PC: Why did you do that?)

__________ reminds me of someone I knew back in my old life.
(Who would that be? Have you told them?)

__________ is weak, and I’m the one to toughen them up.
(How do you plan on doing that?)

__________ told me a secret about __________.
(Ooh, what was it? Second PC: Is that secret true?)

__________ and I beat the hell out of a monster last month.
(What kind of monster? What happened?)

__________ saw me kill a man two towns ago.
(Holy katz! Why’d you do that? Other PC: Have you told anyone? Why or why not?)

__________ has something I need, but I haven’t had the nerve to ask yet.
(What is it? Why do you need it? Why so nervous?)

__________ doesn’t trust me, nor should they.
(Why is that?)

I’d heard stories about __________ long before I met them.
(What kind of stories? Other PC: Are these tales true?)

I’m putting together a song about __________.
(Why not sing a bit of that song for us, eh?)

__________ is in way over their head. I will help them before they become a liability to us all.
(How so? What do you plan on doing? What will you do if you fail?)

The Devil seems to be taking too much of an interest in __________.
(How so? How do you know this? Other PC: What’s your take on this?)

__________ made a deal with Granny Gallows. I hope it doesn't backfire on us all.
(How do you know this? Other PC: What kind of deal did you make?)

__________ has shown me what true courage is.
(How so? Other PC: Are you really brave or just lucky?)

I can trust __________ to have my back when things go sour.
(How so? How has this faith been tested?)

__________ and I have a long history of wacky schemes, none of which have worked.
(Oh fun! What kind of schemes? What do you have planned next?)

__________ once let me down when I really needed them.
(What happened? How do you feel about this? Other PC: What do you have to say for yourself?)

__________ is on a path of self destruction. I need to save them from themselves.
(How so? How far are you willing to go?)

__________ makes the best damn chili you’ve ever eaten.
(What makes it so good? Other PC: How did you learn to make chili like that? Was it the Devil? It was the Devil wasn't it?)

__________ is a good soul, and I trust them completely.
(How did they prove this to you? Other PC: Are you really that trustworthy?)

__________ got me out of a bad scrape. I owe them big time!
(What happened? How did they help you out?)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hobomancer is Nominated for an Ennie!!!

Holy cow! Hobomancer has been nominated for an Ennie in the Best Electronic Book  category!


Hobomancer is a historical-fantasy RPG from Hex Games set in Depression-era America. The hobomancers are shamans of the rails. They travel the railroads that crisscross the nation, fighting monsters, repairing dimensional rifts, and protecting the soul of America. It's a great game and I'm proud to be part of the creative team that also included +Steve Johnson+Leighton Connor+Carter Newton, and +Colin Thomas. Jeffrey Johnson created a wonderful, cover and Juan Navarro produced some marvelous illustraions, including my favorite, the Lord of Steam. 

I wrote most of the monster section and contributed to several other parts of the book. I also did some illustrations and made the four-page intro comic, which you can read HERE.

The Lord of Steam by Juan Navarro
Ennie voting starts July 22nd. It's a great honor just to be nominated, but to honest, it would be really awesome to actually win, too. 

Holdfast of the Fish Cult [Mini-Map Monday]

The cult of Pikus the Fish God* maintain a secret sanctum in an ancient dungeon from Times of Old. The lower chambers are natural caverns flooded with cold, brackish seawater. Adventurers must use one of the small rowboats to explore these dangerous chambers.

Click it to big it!

*Pikus the Fish God created by Steve "King Yak" John$on!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Healing Magic in Bitlandia [Fate Core]

I've continued to mull over things for my at-some-point-I-want-to-run-this 16-bit JRPG fantasy game with Fate. I need to consider healing magic.
Grrr... we're badass warriors of Light... Grr grr...

Now, magical/superpowered/whatever healing isn't a big thing in Fate. The Dresden Files RPG all but completely poo-poos it, and the new Fate Core book touches on it only brielfy. What I've seen of the Magic Toolkit doesn't talk about it. Simply said, damage in Fate isn't really that problematic. Stress goes away at the end of a conflict, and most consequences really aren't that bad. They even give you Fate points when they cause you trouble.

That said, the white magic healer is such a common trope in games like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, that my Bitlandia setting pretty much requires their inclusion. So I banged out some rules.

For non-healing, flashy-bangy magic, I'm going to adapt the "Storm Callers" magic system presented in the Fate Magic Toolkit. I used that as a starting point and tried to make White Magic fit pretty close with it, mechanically. I also took clues from some of the stunts in the Fate Core book.

Give them a look-see and let me know what you think, gang!

Extra: Healer
Followers of the the Quiet Maiden, Keeper of the White Chalice, can channel powerful healing magic and ease the physical and spiritual wounds of the world. Unlike Storm Magic, White Magic has no elemental connection.

Permissions: None, anyone may follow the path of the Quiet Maiden.
Costs: Aspects, Skills, possibly Stunts.

To become a Healer:
-Reduce your Refresh by one
-Take an Aspect that reflects your relation to The Quiet Maiden, bearer of the White Chalice (i.e. White Chalice Pilgrim, Quiet White Wizard Girl).
-Take the White Magic skill

White Magic Aspects
Passive Effect: The healer is immune to most mild, natural diseases and illness--the common cold, stomach flu, sinus infections, etc.

Invoke to: Nurture - Any action involving healing or caring for the sick, injured, or cursed.

Compel to: Pity - When people are in need, the Healer can be compelled to lend put aside her priorities and lend aid.

New Skill: White Magic
This is the skill used to channel healing magic.

Overcome: Use White Magic to remove stuck aspects relating to illness, curses, or poison. You can also use White Magic to give treatment to a person suffering physical consequences to start the recovery process.  

Additionally, once per conflict, you can try and remove all physical stress from an individual. The difficulty is equal to the highest level of physical stress they currently have.

Create an Advantage: Use White Magic to stick aspects to allies relating to physical well-being, spiritual strength, and other  “Buffs.”

Attack: Use White Magic to attack undead, devils, and other creatures of the Dark.

Defend: Use White Magic to defend against attacks from undead, devils, and other creatures of the Dark.

White Magic Stunt: Healmore
Once per session, you can attempt to lessen the degree of a physical consequence suffered by yourself or another. Spend a Fate Point (you, the healer) and roll to Overcome with a difficulty equal to the stress level of the Consequence. If successful, the consequence is reduced by one degree. Severe becomes moderate. Moderate becomes mild. Mild disappears. A consequence can only be reduced once. This does not work on extreme consequences.

A healer character in Bitlandia might look something like this...

Lyrra Redcloud
Pacifist, shmacifist...
High Concept: White Chalice Pilgrim
Trouble: Fiery temper
A rough and tumble past
(2 aspects left open)

Great +4: White Magic
Good +3: Lore, Notice
Fair +2: Will, Provoke, Fight
Average +1: Athletics, Crafts, Contacts, Ride

Healmore (White Magic)
See above
Staff Fighter (Fight)
Get +2  to Create an Advantage when fighting against multiple opponents while using a staff.

Not to be Messed With (Provoke)
Can use Provoke to defend against attempts to intimidate or charm.

Refresh: 2
Physical Stress: OO
Mental Stress: OOO

Smuggler's Cliffs [Mini-Map Monday]

Somewhere on the rocky shores of the Arnum Sea, the smuggler gang known only as the Swordfishes have a secret base of operations. The sheer cliffs protect the Swordfishes' beach outpost, while magically charmed guard sharks patrol the sea caves that lead to their hidden docks and warehouses.

Click to embiggen!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Brain-Storming Some Fantasy Fate

I finished reading through Fate Core this week, and I'm all excited and full of ideas for new Fate Games to run. After running horror and sci-fi games this year, I'm eager to run some fantasy again. It is probably going to be easier for me to convince my existing home group and/or Skype group to play Fate over B/X D&D (and related games) . With that in mind, I'm going to brainstorm me up a Fate fantasy campaign.

Now, aside from a handful of specific series, I've never been a big anime fan, but I loved the old 8-bit and 16-bit Japanese RPGs on Sega and Nintendo. I think I want to make some light-epic heroic fantasy like Dragon Quest or Shining Force. I'm not going to try and simulate the game play of these games (no MP or level-grinding), but I want to try and capture some of the tropes and themes they presented.

Yeah, I wanna run this.

Here are the things I want this campaign to include:

* It was another pleasant day in your peaceful village, AND THEN THE EVIL CAME!

* A sense of heroic innocence. The PCs are heroes. They might be a bit roguish, but they are the definitely the Good Guys. Evil exists, but it will never be as graphic or horrific as, say, Call of Cthulhu or Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

* Monsters with surprisingly human personalities.

* Flashy, direct, elemental magic and peaceful white healing magic.

* Powerful cosmic beings that rule the world from on high.

* Questing for several powerful artifacts to use against a world-threatening evil.

* An airship, eventually, obviously.

My main influences on the setting will be Dragon Warrior/Quest, Shining Force, Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy (1-through-6), and Lufia. I'll also probably snag a lot of stuff from the Slayers and Dragon Half animes, and (let's admit it) a lot from Adventure Time.

If I can use some of the dungeon maps I've made, all the better.

So here's what I'm thinking...

The world of Bitlandia has known nothing but peace for 500 years, ever since the great hero Cutter defeated the devil king, Moloch. Bandits and wild animals cause the occasional problem, but in this time of great prosperity, there is no cause for war. Monsters haven't been seen for centuries.

But now, some darkness stirs. Moloch has returned from his exile in the Outer Dark, bringing with him legions of devils and monsters. It's time for new heroes to rise up and save the world.

I'll use a slightly modified version of the “Stormcallers” magic system from the Fate Toolkit. The elemental storms are each ruled by a mighty dragon who personifies the power of the storms. The heroes must find each dragon and gain its “blessing” in order to defeat Moloch.

That's the main concept in a nutshell. If and when I actually run the thing, we'll bang out more details as a group.

Here's what a hero from Bitlandia might look like:

High Concept: Warrior of Destiny
Trouble: Innocently Idealistic
The Woodman's Daughter
(2 aspects left open)

Great +4: Physique
Good +3: Crafts, Fight
Fair +2: Rapport, Will, Ride
Average +1: Empathy, Athletics, Notice, Stealth

Giant-Slayer (Fight)
Gain a +2 when using Fight to Create Advantage against larger-than-human sized creatures.

Pure of Heart (Will)
Gain a +2 when using Will to resist magical domination or charm.

Woodland Friends (Rapport)
Gain a +2 when using Rapport for Overcome actions to positively influence forest animals.

Refresh: 3
Physical Stress: OOOO
Mental Stress: OOO

Friday, July 5, 2013

More Adventures on Las Diablas

A quick recap of what's going down on Las Diablas out in the Persephone Sector. As you'll recall, our "heroes" are exploring an ancient pre-Scream bio-weapon's lab. Here's our cast...

Player “Heroes”
Dr. Jackie Montana (Expert 3, xeoarcheologist)
Pete Stevens (Warrior 3, assassin) 
Hana Sola (Expert 3, pilot)

NPC Hirelings and Henchmen
Helper - A stalwart security 'bot. 
Salussa - Naga psychic-for-hire and healer.
Dr. Henry Chase - The aging xenoarcheologist who stayed outside at base-camp.

After camping out in the garden, the PCs found a cache of seeds--peppers, strawberries, apples, blood oranges, and brussels sprouts, all things no longer available in the Sector since the Scream. They continue their exploration, heading down to the second level of the base where they immediately run into mutant Koth hounds. They continue to explore, using their formidable tech skills to disable security systems and fighting many rogue monsters and mutated bio-weapons. Re-skinning oozes and slimes from Labyrinth Lord has worked really well. A batch of mutant space spiders almost take out the PCs, but they mange to just squeak out a victory.

Lots of dead bodies in this place. Serious.
After some time, the heroes once again hear the sound of the mysterious, as-yet-unseen "Grudge" monsters. They're in a corridor this time, not a nice secure door. The party decides to buckle down, set up some cover, and finally see what these things are.

These things are strange, possibly human creatures with hard, black and gray, corpse-like skin. Their faces are skulls with blue lights in their eyes and softly glowing nanotech circuitry tracing across their sexless, naked bodies. They carry laser rifles of some unknown make and continue to fight long after their bodies should stop working. The PCs fight two of them, and brave, loyal Helper is destroyed. After finally defeating the monsters, the PCs poke through the bodies. The cold, gray-oozing flesh is laced with what looks vaguely similar to hyper-advanced revenant wiring, unlike anything they've ever seen. Also, one of their brains seems to be putting out some kind of communication signal. 

What are these things? Were they created in the lab? It's a mystery for now. 

The here's find the bodies of three explorers who came to these ruins 25 years ago. Each has a piece of a locator  key for a space ship. The heroes are excited! If they can recover the ship after they leave the ruins, they'll finally have their own spaceship!

Eventually, our heroes locate the AI Nest and the technicians take a few hours to re-awaken Gabriel, the stations long-sleeping AI. Gabriel has a 3 Charisma and it shows. He was designed to make bioweapons and doesn't have a great value of human life. When a gibbering mouther attacks the group, he calmly quips "Huh, Dr.Nesmith finally got that thing working." 

The PCs manage to talk Gabriel into helping them out. He agrees to let them have access to the station's vault and shuts down the two heavy security 'bots therein. The PCs agree to transfer his AI matrix into one of the 'bots (after Jackie remove's it's plasma thrower) so he can leave Las Diablas and perform biological experiments "in the field." Jackie reprograms the other guard-bot and replaces Helper with a new, bigger, meaner robot mascot.

Flushed with success, and carrying a load of credits, recovered weapons and armor, fancy pretech gear, and valuable biological samples, the PCs leave the ancient ruins and return to base camp. 

Quite a profitable adventure!  I'm curious as to what the crew does next.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

FATE Core -- Initial Impressions

FATE! Boom! Right there, baby!
I helped Kickstart Fate Core, and my copy of the hardback came in yesterday! Yay! I love the Fate system, and I've gotten a lot of fun out of Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files RPG. It mixes mechanics that are at the very top of my "crunchinesss" limit with enough soft story-game elements to tweak that part of my gamer brain. Aspects are wonderful things that I've successfully tacked onto things like BECMI D&D.

So I was excited to get a new, cleaner, meaner, easier-to-grok version of Fate. And now I have it in my hands. Sure, I've had the PDF for a while now, but I really hate reading PDFs of any great size. I waited until I got the dead-tree copy before trying to absorb the game.

The physical book just looks great. It's 6x9 inches, which is my favorite size format for RPG books. The hardcover has a nice matte finish with a satiny feel to it. The pages feel good and sturdy (better than the print-on-demand paper I'm used to these days) with very dark blacks. The illustrations throughout are nice, clear grayscale and not muddy at all.

The new version of Fate isn't too different from the old version. Most of the major changes seem to be to terminology, getting rid of a lot of jargon and replacing old terms with more intuitive names. What used to be called a "Tag" is now a "Free Invoke." "Invoking for Effect" is now just called "a player compelling their own aspect." The number of  Aspects has been reduced to five, and the skills list has been trimmed down. Some old skills have been combined into one skill. For instance, Fists and Weapons have been combined into "Fighting." "Provoke" combines the elements of several old social skills.

Blocks, Assessments, and Maneuvers don't seem to be a thing any more. They're all are more or less absorbed into what's called "Creating an Advantage."

Good, clean step-by-step guidelines for creating stunts are here, too. We've also got helpful guides for creating game settings. It's very similar to City creation from The Dresden Files RPG.

I'm still making my way through the book, but I love what I see so far. It's got me excited to start a Fate game. I'm not sure how easy it will be to retrofit the new rules to our existing Dresden game. It probably wouldn't be too hard, but I'm very eager to see what Dresden Files Accelerated has to offer.

I've been hoping to run some classical fantasy once my home group is done with Stars Without Number. It might be easier to talk them into some Fate fantasy rather than Labyrinth Lord or LotFP. Some light heroic fantasy inspired by the 8-bit and 16-bit video game RPGs I loved back in the day? Perhaps...

Actually, a Fate Core version of Funkadelic Frankenstein sounds really damn tempting.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Hall of Six [Mini-Map Monday]

The inner chamber of The Hall of Six is a hexagonal hub. Six mosaic images of six godlings rest before six doorways. The Gatekeeper indicates the entrance passage. The remaining five godlings include The Skullwarden, The Orc Mama, The Slime Maiden, The Captain of Devils, and The Singular Frog. What horrors do these godlings hint at for their section of the dungeon?

Click it if you dare!
Drawn freehand on cheap board with well-loved illustration pens.