Showing posts from August, 2014

Dungeons and Zones

For the sake of (typically physical) conflicts, Fate breaks spaces into zones. A zone is simply an area characters can move around in and interact with each other, usually the size of a room or two. If someone is in another zone, you cannot interact with them physically without a ranged weapon or some special power. You can move between zones, though some may have boundaries that make movement difficult or dangerous.

Zones are a foundational element for dungeon crawls and other adventures where positioning and space are important. In this post, I'm going to talk about some ways to use zones when creating dungeon-like environments.

Fate Core developer +Ryan Macklin has talked about zones on his blog, and I will be borrowing some of his terminology.
Zones are Containers A zone is a place where characters take action and events occur. The best analogy in a dungeon would be a single room. Heroes and monsters can move around the room and strike each other with melee attacks

Zones also …

Space Patrol: SAP 217

SAP 217 is typical of Sector Administration Posts, centrally located space stations that house the sector's government services. While SAPs primarily function as trade and communications hubs, each also houses an office of Patrol administrators who coordinate the ships and personnel assigned to their sector. When a Patrol officer requests assistance (a benefit of Rank), they generally go through the local SAP.

Here are statistics for SAP 217 in the GURPS City Stats format.
SAP 217, current yearPopulation: 3,500 (Search -1)
Physical EnvironmentTerrain: Sealed (Orbital) Appearance: Attractive (+1); Hygiene: +2 Culture and EconomyLanguage: Standard; Literacy: Native TL: 11^ Wealth: Comfortable (x2); Status: -1 to 4 Political EnvironmentGovernment: Representative Democracy (Colony) CR: 3 (Corruption -1) Military Resources: $1.134M; Defense Bonus: +4 Notes CR is 4 where it concerns public health and the environment, 2 for information access and reproductive choice.


This post is entirely my wife's fault. She demanded that I write a *World mecha game on 0 notice for *World Wednesday. So, if this sucks, blame +Jamie Stefko. If you like it, totally blame me. The title was all her either way.

(I'm basing this off of +John Harper's World of Dungeons, because dammit, this is a blog post, and I don't have the time to go into much more depth than that.)
Mechaworldu! You are mecha pilots. Why you are together and what kinds of mechs you have, we leave up to you. You know what you're doing.
Rolling DiceWhen you attempt something risky, roll 2d6 and add the bonus from the appropriate attribute (below). The GM will tell you some possible consequences before you roll, so you know if you want to try or not.
A total of 6 or less is a miss; things go badly. (The GM says "No, and...") A total of 7-9 is a partial success; you do it, but there is some consequence or cost. (The GM says "Yes, but...") A total of 10 or 11 is a fu…

Doctor Who: The Half-Face Man

The new season of Doctor Who premiered over the weekend with the feature-length episode "Deep Breath." We were introduced to the new 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. Along with returning companion Clara, the Doctor uncovered a group of ancient robots that had been replacing their components with human parts. The leader of the robots was the Half-Face Man, who had become so human that he even longed for a promised land the Doctor assured him was only superstition. Of course, the Doctor doesn't know everything...

Here is my take on stats for the Half-Face Man for Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space.
Half-Face ManAwareness 2
Coordination 3
Ingenuity 4
Presence 2
Resolve 4
Strength 4
Skills Fighting 1, Knowledge 2, Marksman 3, Medicine 1, Science 2, Subterfuge 1, Technology 2, Transport 1 TraitsCyborg (only from the other direction) Dependency (Minor): The Half-Face Man has been replacing worn out parts with human organs for uncounted centuries. Fear Factor: The Half-Face…

What are GUMSHOE Abilities?

At a very quick glance, abilities in a GUMSHOE system game look a bit like skills in other roleplaying games. Don't be fooled, though. Abilities are not what you would expect. So what are they?

Abilities (investigative or general) are a measure of your character's opportunity to be awesome.

Investigative abilities do this constantly. As long as you have at least one rating point in an investigative ability, you have the potential to gain core clues with it. Having pool points remaining in an ability means you can spend one or more of those points to draw the spotlight onto your character for a moment. This takes the form of additional information, boosts to general ability tests, or other benefits that show how your character can leverage knowledge better than normal people.

General abilities more directly map to your opportunities to make fate your bitch. Because a general ability test involves a die roll, there is normally a chance for failure. By spending points from your a…

Wardens of Ouon: Lessons From Gen Con

As I mentioned in my Gen Con recap post, I ran three sessions of Wardens of Ouon to great success. In the process, I learned a few things.
FAE is Certainly Accelerated Wardens of Ouon uses Fate Accelerated Edition, which boils the Fate Core rules down to a lean story engine ready for pick up-and-play gaming. And boy, does it hit that goal well. I joked with author +Clark Valentine that I could go back to my room and re-read the entire book before my first game. The book reads quick, and the game plays even quicker. None of my slots went the full four hours, but they all had satisfying, complete adventures. The Map is the Adventure Wardens of Ouon begins with map creation, in which the players generate the Forest of Ouon and establish aspects for and connections between its various locations. The GM seeds the map with the Heart of the Forest location, where the unicorns meet, train, and share counsel. Then each player adds  a location. If there is an obvious connection to another locat…

Happy Anniversary, GURPS Fourth Edition!

This past Tuesday, August 19, marked the 10th anniversary of the release of GURPS Basic Set, Fourth Edition. I remember the lead-up to its launch, with preview articles appearing every week in Pyramid Magazine. I remember getting my first copy of the Basic Set and flipping through it looking at all the new rules. I remember almost immediately discovering pages falling out of my copy of Characters and SJGames replacing it with no questions asked.

To celebrate the anniversary, Steve Jackson Games is holding a promotion on their web store, Warehouse 23. All GURPS products published by SJ Games are 23% off until noon CDT on August 27. What would I recommend?

Back issues of Pyramid Magazine, chock full of great articles for every genre. In particular, may I point you to:#3/68: Natural Magic#3/66: The Laws of Magic#3/22: Banestorm#3/07: Urban FantasyMan-to-Man, the skirmish game that started it all.How to Be a GURPS GM and Template Toolkit 1: Characters are indispensable to anyone looking to…

World Wide Wrestling on Kickstarter

Game designer +Nathan Paoletta is currently running a Kickstarter project for his game World Wide Wrestling, a *World hack that lets you play professional wrestlers in the ring, on camera, and behind the scenes. I support Nathan on Patreon, where he released the beta rules, and it is certainly an interesting game.

I was surprisingly intrigued when I first heard about World Wide Wrestling. I've never been a wrestling fan, even in junior high when it was cool to be one. At the time, however, I didn't understand the theatricality of the sport, the fact that there were storylines and stock characters and dramatic reversals. World Wide Wrestling takes the archetypal storytelling ingredients of the wrestling genre and bakes them into a solid roleplaying game. The game handles the showmanship of the fighting ring, the bluster of on-camera promos, the sometimes fickle response of the audience, and the often cutthroat politics backstage.

I haven't had a chance to play World Wide Wr…

Doctor Who: The War Doctor Adventures

I picked up the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Limited Edition Rulebook at Gen Con this year. On the way home, I started thinking about running a campaign featuring the War Doctor, who has a full character sheet in the back of the book.

It's an interesting challenge: create a Doctor Who series that is intimately tied to war while maintaining the themes of peace and exploration that are the Doctor's hallmarks. The key, of course, would be in finding the right companions. We don't know of any companions for the War Doctor (excluding a character from his lone novel appearance). And likely, anyone who travels with the Doctor through the Time War will meet a gruesome end. Still, it feels like it might be a very powerful game to play. Here are some adventure hooks for such a campaign.
The Dying of the Light The War Doctor travels to the Ganillia system to stop the Daleks from seeding that star with heavy elements, shortening its lifespan and causing it to go supernova …

The Gaean Reach

I picked up The Gaean Reach, the latest GUMSHOE game from Pelgrane Press at Gen Con, and it is amazing. Clocking in at a little over 100 pages in digest format, it is by far the smallest GUMSHOE game to hit shelves, a spectacular slimming down of the system by +Robin Laws.

Gaean Reach is billed as "the roleplaying game of interstellar vengeance." Your characters all have reasons to hunt down the criminal mastermind Quandos Vorn. To do so, you must first see through the masks he uses to hide his identity and overcome the obstacles he has set before you. The investigative rules are familiar to old GUMSHOE hands, but there are a few new elements that make the game sing.

First, you start off with random character creation. Each player receives cards detailing realms of knowledge, personality, and life experience that determine what abilities their characters have. Each then comes up with who their character is, what they look like, and their history, both before and after the Te…

Gen Con Week(ish): After-Action Report

I hit my wireless plan's data cap sometime on Friday. Combine that with a very busy schedule and the usual spotty WiFi around the convention, and I fell way behind on my Gen Con Week posts. Also, my hope to collect audio quotes from industry folks mostly failed. Sorry about that, but here's a great big after-action report to cover days 2-4.

Friday started with a +TimeWatch RPG game run by +Kevin Kulp in which I, as eminent chromo-scientists Dr. Leah Breen, seduced Benjamin Franklin and then dominated a sophosaur (time-raptor) alpha using my orbital space laser.

Friday and Saturday were my big days to run games. I ran three sessions of Wardens of Ouon and one of Owl Hoot Trail. In all, I had 16 players, and they all seemed to have a good time. That's what I'm shooting for at a con.

My three sessions of Wardens of Ouon went great. The game opens with map creation, and from there, I was able to spin out an adventure without any additional preparation. You can see one such…

Gen Com Week: Day 1 Report

I retrieved my GM badge in time for the obligatory Exhibit Hall scramble. I was only able to wander the hall for a short time. I'm hoping to go back in brief spurts. I was able to pick up a few things, including the new hardcover core book of the Doctor Who RPG from Cubicle 7. It is a gorgeous time.  Jamie and I played in a great game of TimeWatch run by Stephanie Bryant. I was scheduled to play in a second session, but I had to run to a few panels. 
Particularly, I enjoyed the Evil Hat panels, State of the Hat and Under the Hat. It was nice to meet some of the Hat folks I hadn't met yet, like Sean Nittner and Lenny Balsera. 
After that there was just some hanging out with new friends and old, then an earlier night. 
Jamie and I are on our way to another TimeWatch game run by Kevin Kulp himself. Later, I'm running a few games of Fate Accelerated. Enjoy day two, Gen Con!

Gen Con Week: Day 0 Report

We finally arrived in Indianapolis after nearly nine and a half hours on the road.  It was 6:30 by that point, and I had already missed one meeting, but I was able to swing by the IGDN Social and see some people there. My companions then wanted to try the new Froth of Khan from Sun King, so we headed to the beer tapping on Georgia Street and grabbed food truck food for dinner. 
After that, I made my way to the Diana Jones Awards. In addition to bein surrounded by a truly overwhelming number of gaming luminaries, I was able to chat with a few if them about the business. I talked to Kevin Kulp about TimeWatch and the work in doing for the time-crime campaign frame. Clark and Amanda Valentine gave me some valuable insight into how to pick companies to work with.  Robin Laws one the award for his game Hillfolk. He thanked the 60+ contributors to the Hillfolk rule book and it's companion Blood on the Snow as well as the 1000 or so backers who supported the game on Kickstarter. That means …

Gen Con Week: From the Road

Last night, we made our way to a friend's house to stay the night before our drive. We played Qwirkle and Roll Through the Ages as a light warmup. 
This morning, we hit the road. Traffic has been occasionally frustrating, and the drive is taking longer than I'd hoped. But I'm in fine company and looking forward to the show.

Gen Con Week: Anticipation

Today, I'm going to talk about things I'm looking forward to at Gen Con this year. It is only in about the last week that I've actually managed to get excited about the convention, but it's finally here and I'm glad. So, let's get to the awesome, shall we?
Running Games Of course, Gen Con is the Best Four Days in Gaming, so I'm going to be doing a lot of that. I'm running four slots over the course of the convention.

I'm running three sessions of Wardens of Ouon, the Fate Accelerated Edition game I've talked about in previousposts. My sessions are Friday at 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm at the JW Marriott room 206 and Saturday at 10:00 am in room 205. This should be a really fun game. Whenever I've run Wardens of Ouon in the past, it's gone very well. All of these slots are currently sold out, but if you are very interested, stop by with generics.

I am also running one slot of Owl Hoot Trail for Pelgrane Press at 3:00 pm on Saturday in the JW Marr…

Gen Con Week

I'm going to change up the format this week at One Yard Hex. Instead of following the normal daily topics, this week is all about Gen Con, the Best Four Days in Gaming.

This year will be my 10th Gen Con, my ninth with my lovely wife +Jamie Stefko. My relationship to the convention has changed over the years as I've slowly become more involved in freelance game design and writing, but it is still my annual vacation, and I'm finally getting excited for it now that we're only a few days out.

As a service to my readers who can't make it to the show, I will try to cover Gen Con from my perspective (the only one I have). That may mean multiple blog posts once Thursday rolls around. I'm planning to take my Olympus ME51S microphone and possibly collect some short recordings from industry people. (While the microphone is snazzy, these will be recorded on my iPhone, so I can't vouch for sound quality yet, especially if I'm doing it in the exhibit hall.) And I'…

Wardens of Ouon Playbooks for Gen Con

At Gen Con, I am running three sessions of a Fate Accelerated Edition game I call Wardens of Ouon. (I've talked a little about this game before.)

I've created pre-generated characters, but I want to allow the players to customize them at the table. So, I've borrowed a bit from the *World model and created playbook-style pre-gens with pick-and-choose aspects and stunts.

Instead of going over the pre-gens here in text, I'll just let you take a look at the actual sheets I'll be using. Enjoy!

Melee Academy: GURPS 301: Evaluate

This post is part of a cross-blog event called Melee Academy. Several authors have taken a look at the Evaluate maneuver and posted their own thoughts. (Others may pop up during the day, in which case I'll edit them into the list.)

Ringleader +Douglas Cole recounts comments from Google+ and his own thoughts at Gaming Ballistic.+Christian Blouin introduces the Evaluate (Opening) option and discusses how it's gone in actual play at Orbs and Balrogs.GURPS Martial Arts co-author +Peter V. Dell'Orto came up with two options at Dungeon Fantastic. Evaluate Today The Evaluate maneuver is considered one of the weakest options in a GURPS combat. Some have even called it "utterly useless if your skill exceeds that of your opponent, and is dubious at best if your skill exceeds 10." I don't agree with this harsh assessment, but I do think it could stand some improvement.

Here's how Evaluate works now:
Your target must be visible to you.They must be close enough for you …

What If: Frozen's Olaf as a Dungeon World Hireling

Continuing from last week's post about Frozen as a Dungeon World adventure, let's talk about Olaf. If Anna and Kristoff are the player characters, Olaf is definitely a hireling. But he doesn't really fit any of the example hirelings presented in the Dungeon World book. Since we're obviously talking about a more lighthearted game, how about a new type of hireling?

Comic Relief: The comic relief provides entertainment and companionship to a party of adventurers. While their antics may not be considered valuable, they are often unexpectedly useful. You can describe how the hireling's bumbling actions help you (however implausibly) and take +skill to a roll. If you do, treat a 10+ as a 7-9. Regardless of the result, the hireling is exposed to danger.

Olaf the Snowman He's Olaf and he likes warm hugs. Sprung from Elsa's magical powers, Olaf is by far the friendliest snowman to walk the mountains above Arendelle. His innocence, outgoing personality and uncanny abi…

Designers & Dragons on Kickstarter

Evil Hat Productions "officially" launches a new Kickstarter today, after a soft launch yesterday that saw the product fund its first stretch goal. The project is Designers and Dragons, a four-volume scholarly history of the RPG industry by +Shannon Appelcline.

Each of the four volumes looks at a single decade in the history of RPGs (the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s) and goes into depth on a number of the most important producers of that decade. This second edition expands on the first (published by Mongoose in 2011) with over 50,000 words added in just the first volume.

For now, the books are 6"x9" softcovers, and you can expect high quality from Evil Hat. But future stretch goals yet to be announced will surely push these into even greater realms of awesome production as the Kickstarter total climbs ever higher.

As soon as you pledge, you get access to the PDF of the first volume on the 1970s. Evil Hat has reported that the 80s volume should be available to view at t…

Possible Future GUMSHOE Games

There are a number of GUMSHOE system games available already, but I like to look to the future. What games do we know are coming? Are there any rumored to be in development? Let's see.
In DevelopmentEvil Hat Productions is producing Bubblegumshoe, the RPG of teen detectives, primarily in the mode of Veronica Mars. Written by +Emily Care Boss+Kenneth Hite, and Lisa Steele, Bubblegumshoe has been through alpha and beta playtesting and should be going into editing this month. I was involved in both rounds of testing (though more heavily in the alpha), and this game is going to be good.

Growling Door Games is developing a GUMSHOE component for their ambitious multi-system Daedalus RPG. This game traces the same setting through three stages of your characters' growth, changing systems along the way, from Fate to GUMSHOE to Apocalypse World. Obviously, I'm looking forward to this one.

+Will Hindmarsh is working on Razed, a post-apocalypse GUMSHOE game to be published by Pelgrane…

Ritual Magic as a Challenge

Fate Core defines a special structure for related actions called a challenge. A challenge is defined as "a series of overcome actions that you use to resolve an especially complicated or dynamic situation." The rules are simple: make two or more overcome actions, each using a different skill, and determine the outcome of the challenge based on the overall results of the actions (success, failure, and costs).

This structure can easily be used as the basis for a ritual magic system. In fact, the example of a challenge in Fate Core is just that. Different actions can represent the hours of preparation, cleansing a ritual space, gathering materials, and so on. A final action (typically using Lore) concludes the ritual with the actual shaping of magical energy into a (potential) effect.

So if Lore is the actual "do magic" skill, what other skills can you use in a ritual magic challenge? Here are some ideas.
You need to gather acolytes, townspeople, or other sympathetic …