Showing posts from 2014

Delta Green on Bundle of Holding

Bundle of Holding is currently reviving a bundle from April featuring Delta Green, the modern day campaign for Call of Cthulhu. In Delta Green, you play federal agents inducted into a secret (and illegal) conspiracy that battles against the forces of the Mythos, as well as the better funded Majestic 12, sorcerous skinheads, occult criminals, and more. Truly, these books are some of the best Mythos gaming material you can find.

Why am I mentioning this on Mystery Monday? Because Delta Green is almost a perfect fit for GUMSHOE, by way of Night's Black Agents and the Dunwich Sanction campaign frame therein. Dunwich Sanction gives you guidelines for mixing in the Sanity mechanics of Trail of Cthulhu, and that game provides all the monsters, gods, and spells of the Mythos.

So, check out the Delta Green bundle and pick up an amazing collection of gaming (and fiction), and consider taking it for a spin in either classic Call of Cthulhu or cutting-edge GUMSHOE.

Convergences: Invoking for Effect

In previous posts, I've talked about creating Convergences, moments in time (scenes) imbued with magical power through rituals. Convergences then provide aspects and even stunts the ritualists can use in that scene.

The Fate System Toolkit expands on the idea of invoking an aspect for effect, rather than a bonus to a roll. This is a perfect mechanic to reinforce the idea that magic can break the rules and let characters do things they couldn't otherwise try.

When rolling for a Convergence ritual, each action can produce an aspect (or possibly a stunt). If the player creating an aspect can think up an appropriate effect, jot it down. If nothing comes to mind at the time, don't worry about. Later, during the Convergence scene, something may happen that suggests a good effect.

Invoking for effect requires a free invoke or a fate point, just like invoking an aspect for a bonus. Since Convergence aspects are available only to those specified during the ritual, only those charac…

Space Patrol: Warrior

Warrior 50 points You may be a commander, a doctor, or an engineering, but at heart you are a soldier. Whatever the situation, you look for tactical advantage, know where your exits are, and size up the opposition. You never shy away from confrontation, and you must be reminded that the Patrol is a peacekeeping organization.

Attributes: HT +1 [10].

Advantages: A total of 40 points chosen from DX +1 [20], HT +1 [10], FP +1 to +3 [3/level], HP +1 to +3 [2/level], Basic Speed +0.25 to +1.00 [5/level], Basic Move +1 [5], Ambidexterity [5], Combat Reflexes [15], Cybernetics [Varies], Enhanced Defenses [Varies], Fit [5] or Very Fit [15], Gunslinger (Beam Weapons Only, -20%) [20], Hard to Kill [2/level], Hard to Subdue [2/level], High Pain Threshold [10], Rapid Healing [5], and Reputation [Varies].

Disadvantages: A total of -10 points chosen from Bad Temper [-10*], Callous [-5], Code of Honor (Soldier) [-10], Cybernetics [Varies], Honesty [-10*], Impulsiveness [-10*], Loner [-5*], Overconfiden…

Finger on the Button: A TimeWatch Adventure Seed

Hook: Nuclear war breaks out in the 1960s between a bloated British Empire and the fascist Empire of Japan.

Divergence Point: Button Gwinnett survives his 1777 duel and goes on to undermine the American war effort through paranoia and incompetence. Britain reclaims the colonies by 1779.
Core Clues & Scenes(1960s) The Revolution failed. Britain controls North America, India, Australia, many African territories.(1960s) The British succeeded in retaking the southern colonies in 1778, starting with Georgia.(1960s) Button Gwinnett survived the fatal duel with Lachlan McIntosh on May 16, 1777. He continued his political purge, gutting the military leadership in the South.(1960s) The agents are attacked by British commandos while researching Gwinnett and the Rebellion in Savannah. The head commando is actually an ezeru imposter.(1960s) Gwinnett's papers reveal his secret fears that his political rivals aren't human, indicating a major ezeru presence in 1770s Georgia.(1778) Gwinnet…

Romance in the Air: A World of Adventure for Fate Core

The latest World of Adventure produced through +Evil Hat Productions' Patreon is now available on DriveThruRPG: Romance in the Air, by +Bill White. Romance in the Air presents a steampunk alternate history in the first decade of the 20th century described as "The Last Exile meets Downton Abbey with a dollop of Dr. Zhivago." Europe is split among the three Great Powers of Britannia, Muscovy, and the Baghdad Caliphate. As these empires play their grand game of diplomacy, espionage, and war, aristocrats float about the continent in salon airships, pursuing wealth, influence, and each other.

Player characters are the passengers (or even crew) of one of these airships, the Pension Bellevue. They set out from Paris amidst the intrigue of the Great Powers in search of romance and adventure. Everyone has a desire that can only be fulfilled by another character, and that person always has a reason to refuse. Over the course of the journey, characters dance around each other, push…

Space Patrol: The Doctor

Doctor150 points A doctor is responsible for all medical matters encountered in the course of a Patrol ship’s duties. This includes investigating mysterious deaths or illnesses as well as patching up the crew or prisoners after (or even during) combat. Most Patrol ships are small, and the Doctor is often the only medical practitioner available while the crew travels between systems.

Attributes: ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 12 [20].

Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Per 13 [5]; Will 12 [0]; FP 12 [0]; Basic Speed 5.50 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0].

Advantages: Healer 2 [20]; Legal Enforcement Powers [10]; Luck [15]; Patrol Rank 0 [0]. ● A further 20 points chosen from IQ +1 [20], HT +1 or +2 [10 or 20], Acute Senses [2/level], Fearlessness [2/level], Healer 3-4 [10/level], Intuition [15], Patrol Rank 1-4 [5/level], Resistant to Disease (+3) [3], Sensitive [5] or Empathy [15], Single-Minded [5], and permanent nanosymbionts from the approved list (p. 00).


Dungeon World on Bundle of Holding

Now through December 19, Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of PDFs for Dungeon World that includes an array of material that blows up the possibilities of this already expansive game. In addition to the Dungeon World rulebook, the bundle includes modules, monsters, and even a variant campaign that takes your game to the stars. You can pick up the bundle for as little as $6.95 — a $78 value.

One Shot Podcast

I've been listening to a great gaming actual play podcast lately: One Shot. This weekly show features Chicago-area entertainers and guests playing a series of single-session adventures in an assortment of indie and more traditional systems. In addition to entertaining characters (even funny voices), episodes include appropriate background music and clever introductions at the beginning of each show.

I especially recommend the following episodes:

Feng Shui 2. A sequel to an earlier game using the original edition, this session is the stronger of the two. Part one. Love the music in this one.Dracula Dossier. The group plays the upcoming campaign for Night's Black Agents, run by the game's designer, +Kenneth Hite. Part oneDark. The upcoming game of stealth and infiltration is run by designer +Will Hindmarch in a single 4-hour episode.

Changing the Set Dressing

While having a point in an investigative ability earns you clues, having a few points to spend can produce a number of benefits. An idea for an investigative spend benefit that may not fit in every campaign or with every GM is the ability to define facts about the scene rather than just discover them.

If your GM allows, you can spend points from an appropriate investigative ability to declare a fact about the scene. The broader or more significant the edit, the more points you have to spend. If the fact contradicts an established feature of the scene, the adventure, or the campaign, the GM is free to veto your spend, in which case you get the ability point back.
This lets players take a little more control over the world and may take some pressure off the GM to flesh out scenes. By leaving details light, they offer players opportunities to fill the void.
This option works well with aspects. The fact you declare should match both the investigative ability you spend as well as an aspect…

Progression of Power

The martial artist focuses her chi through a series of disciplined combat forms. The mecha pilot brings weapon systems online one at a time. In the process, both become more powerful.

In Fate, you can model this with a series of create advantage actions that generate free invokes. While they give the normal benefits of invoking an aspect, free invokes are only good for one use. After that, invoking the aspect costs a fate point as normal. Some players dislike the idea that an advantage is only beneficial when you can pay for it.

Instead, consider the following stunt skeleton:
You get +1 to [skill] [in a situation appropriate to a normal stunt]. You can spend a free invoke of an appropriate aspect to increase this bonus by +1 for the rest of the scene. This bonus cannot exceed the campaign's skill cap. If you take the time to create appropriate advantages, you can power up way beyond the bonus of a normal stunt. You still get a small benefit even without powering up. This is just a…

Space Patrol: Jordan-class Patrol Ship

The player characters in a Space Patrol game are the crew of a small Jordan-class Patrol ship designed to respond quickly and equipped to handle anything from transporting prisoners to chasing off minor pirate activity.
Jordan-class Patrol Ship (TL11^) The Jordan-class is the standard first responder craft of the Space Patrol. It carries a small crew, all trained in investigative techniques. The ship has a streamlined winged SM+7 hull, allowing it to land on and take off from nearly any world. The Jordan-class is equipped to hold up to 8 prisoners for transport to a capital ship or outpost.
Front Hull [1] Armor, Diamondoid (dDR 15)
[2] FTL Multipurpose Multiscanner Array (comm/sensor 9)
[3] Control Room (3 control stations, complexity 8, comm/sensor 7)
[4!] Weapon Battery, Secondary (6 fixed-mounted 10MJ improved particle beams, 6 tons cargo)
[5-6] Habitat (1 cabin, 2-bed sickbay)
Central Hull [1] Armor, Diamondoid (dDR 15)
[2-5] Habitat (3 cabins, 2 cells)
[6!] Weapon Battery, Medium…

Wraith 20th Anniversary Edition on Kickstarter

Wraith: The Oblivion was the fourth game in the original World of Darkness. Instead of playing immortal politicos, furry ecoterrorists, or even reality-bending philosophers, in Wraith you play people. Everyone dies, so anyone can become one of the Restless Dead. Not just a horror game, the underworld of Wraith is one of the best Dark Fantasy settings in gaming.

Wraith broke a lot of rules of the World of Darkness, and a few of roleplaying games themselves. Your character doesn't necessarily belong to any faction, inborn or adopted. She is defined not so much by her abilities or even her supernatural powers but by the emotions and memories that tie her to the mortal world. Wraith mechanized feelings years before the indie game movement made it the thing to do.

Perhaps the most groundbreaking feature of the game is the shadowguide. In a Wraith chronicle, you play a character made of the mostly positive side of a ghost, called the Psyche. The player next to you plays that ghost's…

Triangulation: Lost Voices Open for Submissions

Parsec Ink, the publishing arm of Pittsburgh sci-fi/fantasy group Parsec, produces a yearly short fiction anthology called Triangulation. This year, Triangulation is edited by my wife, +Jamie Stefko. She is currently accepting submissions for short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories on the theme, "Lost Voices." The anthology pays $0.02/word for stories up to 6,000 words. You can find guidelines at their site, and submissions are open until February 28, 2015.

Checking it Twice: A Holiday GUMSHOE Campaign Frame

In Checking it Twice, players are the North Pole's crack investigators, the elves tasked with clearing Santa's list of Naughty and Nice children. Sometimes a child's name will move from Nice to Naughty after Santa has compiled the list and checked it himself. When this happens, your Elves get to work. You must determine if the child in question deserves their new place on the list or if there is some way they can make their way back to Nice.
Characters Elves start with 1 point in The List. You can spend a number of points on Investigative abilities based on the number of players.
# of PlayersInvestigative Ability Points2837465+5 You can spend 35 points on General abilities. For 5 General ability points, you can purchase a Gift in one General ability. If you have a Gift, once per session, you can automatically succeed at a single roll with that ability, even if the task would be impossible. Your elf magic lets you do things that no one could do. Two characters cannot have a …

Jurassic World

Seriously, somebody get on this hack.

(Yes, I know the joke has already been made.)

The Thanksgiving Plague

The following adventure hook is intended for either the +TimeWatch RPG or Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space.

Plymouth Colony, 1621. A disease spreads through the village turning Pilgrims into mindless cannibals. Curiously, the native Indians are immune.
TimeWatch The plague is a bioweapon that targets humans of European extraction, most dramatically Englishmen. Colonization stalls as newcomers fall victim to the disease. TimeWatch is alerted when the United States of America disappears from history, replaced by a patchwork of native nations and African and Asian trading ports. Agents must uncover who designed the plague and stop them, or at lease engineer a cure. If the cure must be administered during a feast that also cements good relations between Pilgrims and natives, even better.
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space The TARDIS arrives in Plymouth to witness the first Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they find a village filled with madmen. Investigation reveals that the dis…

Adapting to GUMSHOE

GUMSHOE is an emulative system. Every published GUMSHOE system game is designed to present a particular genre or style of investigative story. For Trail of Cthulhu, that means expanding the Stability rules into Sanity to emulate the cosmic horror of Lovecraft. Night's Black Agents broadens the combat and chase mechanics to pump up the action quotient for the vampire spy thriller.

The first step in making GUMSHOE fit your favorite style of investigative fiction is to consider the list of abilities available to investigators. When designing Ladies' Mystery Society, I knew that I wanted a short list of standard abilities. Most cases in the source material involve only a few basic investigative tactics (typically what would fall under Interpersonal abilities), and none involve much in the way of broad physical talent.

But the characters in these stories often display interesting background knowledge and unique skills picked up through a lifetime experience. I knew I wanted a mecha…

Mechanical Hooks in Fate

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about mechanical hooks in RPGs. These hooks are rules and systems that reference each other, creating a web of interactions that rewards player choice but can also increase system complexity dramatically.

I used Fate as an example of a system that solves the complexity problem by limiting the traits that reference other hooks to one. In nearly every Fate game, stunts are the only mechanic that reference or trigger off other mechanics. But they can hook off just about anything in the game, at least in theory.

I started thinking about just how many hooks Fate has, and I realized it's almost staggeringly large. Here's a list of many mechanics and traits that stunts can hook onto, either to trigger or affect. While this list is long, it may not be exhaustive. I may expand this post in the future. If you have a mechanical hook in Fate that you think I've missed, please comment.
AspectsCharacter aspect (presence or absence)Situation aspect (pres…

Campaign Frame: The War for Nix Olympica

In the Transhuman Space setting, Nix Olympica is a town on the southern slope of Olympus Mons, home to the University of Mars. It has been legally independent of any Earth-based government for nearly 40 years, but like any college town, Nix Olympica is a battleground of ideas. Anyone with an axe to grind or an agenda to push forward comes here, from preservationists and Free Mars advocates to covert operatives of the American and Chinese colonies.

The PCs of a Nix Olympica campaign find themselves in the center of a memetic war. In addition to academic struggles (whether seeking a degree or tenure), they discover various factions launching attacks in the hearts and minds of their fellow citizens. When the conflict heats up and one meme too many causes tragedy, the PCs are the ones to put the pieces back together. Without a dedicated response system of its own, the University asks them to serve as memetic defenders of the city-state.

Characters in this campaign should be built on 150 p…

Letterforms Notebook

In March of this year, I backed a Kickstarter for a project to make a notebook of dry-erase pages called Letterforms. It seemed like a cool idea and one I could easily use for gaming and such. My notebook finally came today, so I thought I'd give an initial review.

The notebook is spiral-bound with a heavy plastic binding that doesn't move around much, a complaint I have in most spiral bindings. The covers are heavy board like the cover of a hardback book. Unfortunately, the covers are bowing, possible from the temperature changes after being brought into a warm house from the sub-freezing outdoors. Hopefully, I'll be able to fix it by compressing it under a stack of books.

The interior consists of 20 sheets, 18 blank and 2 gridded (3/8" squares). The pages are laminated so they can accept dry-erase markers. The notebook came with a fine-tipped marker, and a quick test shows that the marks show up cleanly on the page and do not smudge off under normal finger pressure.…

Mechanical Hooks

While I appreciate and enjoy games with focused or streamlined rules, I get so much enjoyment from complex systems with many moving parts. I like games that have a lot of rules that interact in different ways and reward choices as a player as well as decisions made in-character.

I think of mechanics in these games as hooks, and the interactions between them are strings tied around these hooks. The more hooks a system has, the more connections can be made between them. The result is an exponential increase in theoretical complexity, but a good design will limit this creep by only exploring some subset of possible interaction.

The easiest way to reduce complexity is to set aside one or two types of hook as open to referencing many others, while the rest can't. In this way, as the number of hooks increases, the rise in complexity is more linear than exponential.

Here are a few examples of systems rich with mechanical hooks.
Fate The most obvious hooks in Fate are character traits: as…

Get Punched in the Flattery: Investigative Refreshes Through Set-Back

In +Greg Stolze's film noir game A Dirty World, he presents a mechanic in which your character's traits can increase scene by scene based on their experiences during the scene. In many cases, you become better at something by having something bad done to you that relates to that trait.
You become better at taking a beating (the Endurance quality) by surviving losing a fight.You become more observant (Observation) when you get taken by surprise.You become more truthful (Honesty) through suffering a deception. This feeds the emotional interplay you expect from film noir and encourages players to not only accept bad things happening to their characters but to seek those situations out.
It occurs to me that this idea could be brought into GUMSHOE easily. One thing most GUMSHOE games do not provide is a way to refresh Investigative abilities during an adventure. There's a good reason for this. Your Investigative ability points are a currency you spend to buy spotlight time for y…

The Aether Sea: A World of Adventure for Fate Core

The Aether Sea by Edward Turner is the latest World of Adventure produced by the +Evil Hat ProductionsPatreon. As with all of these worlds, it is available as Pay What You Want or you can support the Patreon and get a look at what's coming in the future.

The Aether Sea is the first of these Worlds to use Fate Accelerated Edition. It presents a universe of magical ships sailing through the void of space. Characters can be from one of six fantasy species, and each has a favored approach. When you roll an action using your favored approach, you cannot roll worse than Mediocre (+0). This is a simple, elegant way of reinforcing species flavor without burdening a FAE game with a heavy mandatory rule.

Being a fantasy setting, Aether Sea presents the obligatory magic system. The rules here seem flexible, but the presentation is confusing. The distinctions between dabbling in a school and focusing, and between raw magic and prepared spells, are muddy. Having read the magic section a few ti…

Space Patrol: The Marine

Marine 150 points Marines assigned to Patrol ships serve as internal security and provide light combat support for planetside missions. As such, they resemble SWAT team officers and counter-espionage agents more than commandos. They train to operate in variable gravities as well as in vacuum. Marines are the crew members most likely to sport cybernetics, as they are most often exposed to violence.

Attributes: ST 11 [10]; DX 11 [20]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 11 [10].

Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs.; HP 11 [0]; Will 11 [0]; Per 12 [5]; FP 12 [0]; Basic Speed 5.50 [0]; Basic Move 6 [5].

Advantages: Legal Enforcement Powers [10]; Luck [15]; Patrol Rank 0 [0]. ● A further 30 points chosen from IQ +1 [20], HT +1 or +2 [10 or 20], HP +1 to +3 [2/level], FP +1 to +3 [3/level], Per +1 to +4 [5/level], Acute Senses [2/level], Born Spacer 1-4 [5/level], Combat Reflexes [15], Craftiness 1-4 [5/level], Cybernetics [Varies], Danger Sense [15], Fearlessness [2/level], Fit [5] or Very Fit…

Strange New Worlds

One of the games I tested at Metatopia last weekend was Strange New Worlds, a hack of Apocalypse World for playing something a bit like Star Trek. I say "something a bit like" because while designer +Dave Chalker has modeled much of the setting and flash of Star Trek, he admits that the nature of the Apocalypse World rules means the game won't match the structure of an episode of Star Trek. Instead, the story spirals nearly out of control until (hopefully) the crew bands together at the very end to save the day.

Dave has made the rules available for free online (through Google Docs). Strange New Worlds assumes that you are familiar with the core of the Apocalypse World mechanic, but it provides the playbook and moves you need. While they aren't the hyper-competent officers of a more emulative Star Trek game, the playbooks do hit all the necessary archetypes. And the freeform take on species means you can play an eager young Gorn ensign or even a former Q, if the rest…


This past weekend, I attended the Metatopia Game Design Festival in Morristown, NJ.

I playtested games.
I attended panels.
I talked to my fellow designers.

I'm thinking about games, maybe in different ways than before, maybe not. But I'm thinking about them. My games as well as others'.

I've had ideas about games I've been stalled on for a while. I've had thoughts about projects that I want to move forward on. I dream about what I might show at Metatopia next year.

If you are a game designer, if you are a fan of games, if you want to know how games are put together, you should consider going to Metatopia. It is perhaps the most well-run convention I've ever attended. It is certainly the most creatively fertile place I've been.

That's really all I have to say for now. I hope I gave helpful input to the people whose games I tested. I don't think rehashing my experience will inform my readers, and I've already said what I could to the creators.…

Combat Clues

What kind of information can you gather during a fight scene? Loads, about your opponents as well as the environment. And since investigative spends can give you various benefits, gathering knowledge during a fight can mean the difference between life and death.

The abilities listed are from Night's Black Agents, but other games will have similar options. To see this concept taken to more detail, see NBA's Tactical Fact-Finding Benefits.

Your enemies use distinctive weapons that mark them as members of a particular military, religion, or other faction. (Military Science, Tradecraft)Your enemy relies on feints and deception, indicating a certain style of street fighting. (Bullshit Detector, Streetwise)Someone is feeding your enemies information through earbud radios, coordinating their tactics. (Human Terrain, Electronic Surveillance)The building you're fighting in is scheduled for demolition. The structure is compromised, and damage from combat could bring the whole place d…

World Wide Wrestling RPG Journeyman's Cup Tournament, Episode 4

+Nathan Paoletta continues his ongoing campaign of his game World Wide Wrestling in this Hangout recording. The mythology continues to build as the various gimmicks play off one another.

My Metatopia Schedule (With Commentary)

My wife and I will be attending Metatopia in Morristown, NJ, this weekend. Here are the events we'll be attending with some of my thoughts on them.
D005: "Adventure Design as Technology" presented by Cam Banks & Rob Donoghue. We started with a map and a key. There have been structural improvements since then: boxed text, wandering monsters, plot point adventures, hard and soft points, personality-driven dungeons, mad libs plots and many more. This process has not been rigors, so the spread of these ideas has been haphazard and without the thought that's gone into rules improvements. That is a shame. Take some time to talk about these technologies and how they can help you make better adventures. Friday, 10:00AM - 11:00AM; Serious, All Ages. I enjoy a good adventure, but they are hard to do well. It can't hurt to listen to two really smart people share ideas to make them better.
D009: "Planning for Profit" presented by Rick Loomis, Tim Rodriguez &…

The Dracula Dossier on Kickstarter

After many suspicious delays, The Dracula Dossier is finally funding on Kickstarter. The Dossier is the improvisational campaign by +Kenneth Hite and +Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan that reveals Bram Stoker's novel as a veiled account of a failed British intelligence operation to recruit the vampire. Three successive generations of operatives have annotated the original, unredacted manuscript. Your characters receive that file and must now unravel Dracula's plans as well as the conspiracy that has grown out of the original operation.

At this writing, the Kickstarter has crushed seven stretch goals expanding the novel and the accompanying campaign guide. That guide features the many locations, characters, and events pointed to by the novel. When you pledge, you can get the novel, the guide, facsimile handouts, a special edition All Rolled Up dice bag, and more. And when you pledge, you get access to the in-progress manuscript of the Director's Handbook to get you started right away.

Dungeon Accelerated: Rumors and Research

One of my goals for Dungeon Accelerated is to allow the GM to create and run a dungeon with as little prep as possible. Every good GM knows hat one of the easiest ways to shorten your prep is to let your players do the work for you.

The Atomic Robo RPG includes a great subsystem called Brainstorms, in which the players build the scientific mystery they are going to solve. The GM presents the scenario without a solution in mind. When the players reach a point where someone asks a question that points toward that solution (such as "How can this be happening?" or "What do we have to do to stop this?") the group enters into the brainstorm. Whoever takes part in the brainstorm rolls a skill, and the winner at each step gets to introduce a fact about the situation. The facts together add up to a hypothesis, which becomes the absolute truth of the mystery.

While the body of a Dungeon Accelerated game is going to involve exploration and action, I think a similar system to …

The Crow for Devil's Night

Every year on October 30, Devil's Night, I watch the 1994 Brandon Lee film The Crow. Since today is also GURPS Thursday, I thought I would stat the character, Eric Draven, in GURPS. This is Eric as he appears in the film.
Eric Draven 423 points ST 17 [10]; DX 16 [0]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 11 [10].
Damage 1d+2/3d-1; HP 17 [0]; Will 13 [10]; Per 11 [0]; FP 11 [0].
Basic Speed 7.00 [5]; Basic Move 8 [5]; Dodge 10; Parry 13.
Social BackgroundTL: 8 [0].
CF: Western [0].
Languages: English (Native) [0].
Advantages Appearance (Attractive) [4]; Musical Ability 1 [5]; The Crow [333].
Perks: Special Training (Parry Missile Weapons unarmed without DR 2+ on hands) [1].
Disadvantages Obsession (Vengeance; 6 or less) [-10]; Social Stigma (Dead) [-5]; Wealth (Dead Broke) [-25].
Skills Acrobatics (H) DX-2 [1]-14; Interrogation (A) IQ+1 [4]-12; Intimidation (A) Will+1 [4]-14; Karate (H) DX+4 [20]-20; Musical Composition (H) IQ+1 [4]-12*†; Musical Instrument (Guitar) (H) IQ+2 [8]-13†; Musical Instrument (Drum…

No Post Today. Enjoy The Missing Scarf.


Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3

Marvel Studios announced the huge slate of films for Phase 3 of its Cinematic Universe. The roster now includes:

Captain America: Civil War, releasing May 6, 2016Doctor Strange, November 4, 2016Guardians of the Galaxy 2, May 5, 2017Thor: Ragnarok, July 28, 2017Black Panther, November 3, 2017Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, May 4, 2018Captain Marvel, July 6, 2018Inhumans, November 2, 2018Avengers: Infinity War Part II, May 3, 2019 As a geek, this list is like Christmas: confirmation of the long-rumored Black Panther film; the revelation of Captain Marvel, and in the current Carol Danvers incarnation, as the fans demanded; and the surprising addition of Inhumans. The Internet gets to spend the next five years debating just what each of these films will contain. 
Personally, I'm not sure how they're going to do Civil War, especially as it's a Captain America film rather than an ensemble piece. I'm hope that the Ragnarok in Thor 3's title refers to the cyborg clone of Tho…

Our Clue is in Another Castle

Sometimes in an investigative scenario, the best clue you can acquire in a scene is the certainty that there is no information to be had. 
For players, the “no-info” clue can help close off avenues of speculation, narrowing the focus of the investigation onto more fruitful paths. In the middle of an investigation, you may just have too many leads. A properly constructed GUMSHOE adventure will give you clear connections leading to new scenes, but you can still bog down play choosing between them.
Paradoxically, non-clues reinforce character competence. What seems at first to be a failure to gain information is actually an example of the investigators discerning that there is no information to be had. The distinction is subtle but important, and GMs should play up that, yes, the characters are good enough to know the difference.
For GMs, the non-clue can also help pacing. When telling the players that there is no information to be had, you can insert a silent (or not-so-silent) “yet.” …

Save Game: A World of Adventure for Fate Core

The latest Patreon-sponsored World of Adventure for Fate Core is available now. Save Game mixes the nostalgic action of classic video games with infection horror. A virus known as the Glitch has infected the island of Tendoria, and its greatest heroes are now Zeroes, corrupted and creepy.

Designer Rob Wieland has done a fine job pastiching the 8-bit video game generation. His influences are pretty clear if you know where to look, but the Zeroes and their realms are more than just your favorite games with a new coat of paint. Doc Chompah is clearly Pac-Man (with a bit of Doctor Mario thrown in), but Good's Mile Hospital takes the labyrinth of that game and turns it into Silent Hill. Castle Tempylvania infuses the gothic atmosphere of Castlevania with the hall-of-mirrors tension of a spy thriller as its Zero, Agent Brad DeVries fights against both the Glitch and his own vampiric heritage.

+Evil Hat Productions is procuring some of the best art in gaming for these worlds, and Save Gam…

Martial Power

A few weeks ago, I wrote about games I'd like to play. One of those games would be a high-powered GURPS fantasy game. Alongside Divine Favor and Sorcery, I want a power for martial characters that includes cinematic skills, imbuements, and a few combat-related abilities. Here's a writeup for such a power.
MartialSources: Martial.
Focus: Combat-related abilities relevant to trained soldiers.

This power requires the Code of Honor (Soldier) [-10] disadvantage. If the character breaks this Code of Honor, he loses access to all Martial abilities immediately. To regain them, he must spend a week away from other missions to atone, train, and reconnect with his fellow soldiers.
Martial Talent 15 points/level In addition to rolls to use Martial abilities, this talent also added to the following cinematic and imbuement skills: Blind Fighting, Breaking Blow, Flying Leap, Immovable Stance, Kiai, Power Blow, Pressure Points, Pressure Secrets, Throwing Art, Zen Archery; Arching Shot, Bank Sh…

Dice and Disney: Adventureland

Adventureland does not present a coherent story like Main Street U.S.A. does, but the individual attractions have richer stories of their own that suggest gaming hooks. So, let's dig in.
Jungle Cruise (Pulp-mode Trail of Cthulhu one-shot) The Investigators are passengers on an expedition along the Amazon in search of a temple recently reported by another team. A tribe of locals believe that the temple is home to a sleeping god, and they violently resist any outsiders who might wake the deity. The closer the Investigators come to the temple, the more dangerous and eerily coordinated the jungle wildlife becomes as well.
Magic Carpets of Aladdin No one is sure why Prince Aladdin's friend the Genie created so many flying carpets, but now the streets are full of them. Young people race each other from one side of the city to the other, dodging market stalls and spitting camels. Your characters are members of one such carpet gang, perhaps thieves and street rats as the Prince himsel…

Bundle of Tentacles+2

Bundle of Holding is currently offering the Bundle of Tentacles +2, a collection of Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying games and adventures. This includes at least two Trail of Cthulhu adventure supplements, Out of Space and Out of Time. (I sat "at least" two with spooky foreknowledge.) In addition, the Bundle offers the centuries-spanning Red Eye of Azathoth, the Dreamlands epic Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man, and the Apocalypse World-based tremulus.

The minimum price for the bundles is $11.95, but if you beat the level-up price (currently $25.17) you get even more great PDFs. Ten percent of the proceeds go to two fine charities: Doctors Without Borders and Room to Read. The Bundle of Tentacles +2 is available until Devil's Night, Thursday, October 30.

Aspects in GUMSHOE

Both Fate Core and the GUMSHOE system have been released under very permissive licenses. In fact, when Pelgrane Press released the GUMSHOE System Reference Document, they used the same dual-license scheme of Creative Commons and Open Game License as Evil Hat. This says to me that the folks at Pelgrane knew a good thing when they say it.

It also suggests a question: how can I mix these two great systems? And the first obvious answer is to introduce aspects into GUMSHOE. But where? And how should they work?

In Fate, aspects are wired into the fate point economy. GUMSHOE's economy is contained in its abilities and their point pools. Logically, aspects should hook into pools and spends. Invoking an aspect should cost one of more ability points, and compelling one should earn points (that is, refresh a spent pool).

Note: If you are unfamiliar with how aspects work in Fate, shame on you. You can read about them here. The advice on creating interesting aspects holds true in GUMSHOE as wel…

Convergence Stunts

In Rituals and Convergences, I presented the idea of using ritual magic (in the form of a challenge) to imbue a scene with aspects and stunts as a magical convergence. As a mechanical framework and a narrative device, a convergence is perfect for hanging other rules off, including character stunts.

The Fate System Toolkit introduces the concept of triggered stunts. These stunts trigger off a particular circumstance, require a skill roll, and have an effect based on whether the skill roll succeeds or succeeds with style.

Triggered stunts relating to convergences allow individual characters to leverage a convergence for additional effect. This can represent a ritualist's personal expertise, even if they enacted the convergence with others.

My Fellows' Strength: When you participate in a ritual of convergence with allies, roll Lore against Fair (+2) opposition. If you succeed, you gain a free invoke of one ally's aspect. If you succeed with style, you get a free invoke on one …

Dreams in Action

The following ultra-tech drug lets you play the dream operatives of Inception in your GURPS Action campaign. To create such characters, you can use the Dream Operative lens with any of the templates in GURPS Action 1: Heroes.

Oneirozine: Developed for military training, this drug opens the user’s mind to the dreams of other users around them. With proper sedation and monitoring, a group using oneirozine can create entire realities within one member’s subconscious. Together, they can explore these worlds, and anyone with the Dreaming skill can change elements of the dream as they go. One dose of oneirozine lasts 24-hours, so most users will require additional drugs to remain asleep for the full period. Injection. $4,750 per dose. LC2. Dream Operator 20 points You have been trained to create and explore dreams using drugs like oneirozine. The best dream operators have much in common with intelligence operatives, so you possess many skills of real-world spies.
Skills: Dreaming (H) Will-1 […

Karthun Kickstarter in its Final Hours

The Karthun: Lands of Conflict Kickstarter wraps up tonight at 10:00 PM EDT. Over the last month, the project has collected pledges of over $42,000 from more than 1,000 backers. The system-neutral setting book has been expanded from 160 to 320 pages and will now include a 24"x36" poster map of the world of Karthun. In addition, a GM's Guide will be published in PDF giving rules and advice for a half-dozen systems, including Fate, Dungeon World, and 5th Edition D&D.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this project develop. What I've seen of the setting in d20 Monkey is a stylish and exciting take on fantasy, and I can't wait to have the book in my hands.

Congratulations to +Brian Patterson and +Tracy Barnett on their first venture together as Exploding Rogue Studios!