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Showing posts from June, 2014

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part Three (cot'd)

We continue from this morning's post.
Chapter Seven: The Sorting Hat Harry and the other first years finally arrive at Hogwarts and are met by Professor McGonagall. She explains that they are about to be sorted into the four houses: Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, and Slytherin. The process of sorting involves placing a sentient, telepathic hat on your head and wishing very hard. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all sorted into Gryffindor. Malfoy is unsurprisingly sorted into Slytherin.

After the Sorting comes the start of term feast. The GM clearly enjoys describing food, but as none of the dishes are core clues, we'll just skip right over the spread. During the meal, however, we do get a core clue. Core to the overarching mystery of the series, in fact. Harry is looking at the professors' table and sees Professor Quirrell wearing a silly turban, and he's talking to a thoroughly unappealing man who we learn is Professor Snape. When Snape looks past Quirrell and right a…

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part Three

Harry finally enters the Wizarding world properly in this installment, and we meet what can be considered our other two player characters.
Chapter Six: The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters Harry informs his Uncle Vernon that he needs to go to King's Cross Station for his train to Hogwarts. The Express leaves from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters at exactly 11:00. Of course, Vernon scoffs at the name of the platform, and Harry is concerned.

When he arrives at King's Cross, he sees that there is no Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, at least to Muggle eyes. Luckily, he encounters a large family of redheads loaded down with trunks much like his own. These are the Weasleys, and the youngest son is named Ron. Maybe the GM wanted to expand the game after starting as a one-on-one, or maybe she just had an interesting idea for pacing that kept the other players sitting around for a few sessions, but Ron is pretty clearly a fellow PC.

After some getting-to-know-you between …

A Look at Fate Accelerated Approaches

I meant to put this article up yesterday, but I missed it, so I'm putting it up early this morning.

My most recent Patreon release is an article taking a look at the approaches from Fate Accelerated Edition. I discuss what each is good at and what each is not suited for. I also give suggestions for effects when the player decides to succeed with cost. Finally, I outline a system for determining approach-based target numbers based on how closely related one approach is to the ideal.

If you would like to support this and other game designs, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon campaign:

Elphir, Son of Imrahil

I play in a bi-weekly online GURPS game set in Tolkien's Middle Earth about a company of dwarves that are attempting to retake Moria. You can read about it at the GM's blog.

As a side adventure, we will be playing out a group of high-powered, high-profile characters on a mission to slay the Watcher in the Water at the eastern gate of Moria. We had around 500 points to make whatever kind of Middle Earth-appropriate badass we wanted. Other potential candidates mentioned include Gandalk, Beorn, and Quickbeam the Ent.

I aimed a bit closer to the ground for my character. I just wanted to play a nigh-superheroic knight in the vein of Aragorn, but without the baggage of being King. I settled on Elphir, son of Imrahil, future Prince of Dol Amroth.

I ended up with a powerful martial artist specializing in knightly weapons like the broadsword and large shield. I'm fairly happy with how the sheet turned out. If this was for an actual campaign, I might have taken some more disadvantag…

The Model, a Compendium Class for Dungeon World

Last year for an online competition, I created a compendium class for Dungeon World that lets you play a dungeon-delving fashion model. Essentially, the Model is a physical counterpart to the verbal Bard. I released the Model on my Patreon, and now I'm sharing it here on One Yard Hex.

If you would like to support this and other game designs, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon campaign:

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part Two

We began last time with the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, including the first core clue in Chapter Two. We continue with Chapter Three.
Chapter Three: The Keeper of the Keys We are introduced to the friendly half-giant “Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.” That is, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as Harry learns when Hagrid finally gives Harry the letter he’s tried all week to deliver.

Hagrid then tells Harry about the circumstances of his parents’ death. Hagrid has trouble relating the tragic tale, and especially of mentioning the wizard responsible, Voldemort. Harry uses the Reassurance ability to get Hagrid through it, finally learning the truth of his parents, his scar, and how he came to live with his aunt and uncle.

Harry gets more than just the retelling from Hagrid. He has a brief vision of the killing curse:

Something very painful was going on in Harry’s mind. As Hagrid’s story came to a close, he saw again the b…

Ladies' Mystery Society Alpha Playtest Document

One of my many projects is a version of GUMSHOE that emulates the "detective of leisure" genre familiar from Murder, She Wrote and many cozy mysteries. I call this game Ladies' Mystery Society, and I released the alpha playtest document via Patreon in March. Now I'm sharing it with you here.
This is a full game that includes the relevant sections of the GUMSHOE System Reference Document. I've also included a link to some pregenerated characters so you can get started playing right away. I'm hoping to have a demo adventuready soon.

If you would like to support this and other game designs, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon campaign:

Pyramid Magazine #3/68: Natural Magic

The latest issue of Pyramid Magazine is out, and it includes my article, "Magic of the Shaded Woodland." This article presents a magical style for the Dark Elves of the GURPS Banestorm setting, some magic items they use, a few secret spells of the style (including Plant Zombie), and an NPC stylist who can serve as the villain of your next adventure.

I may get a reputation as "the magical styles" guy, but I'm okay with that.

Perk: Clinch Casting

I created this perk for the same aborted elf gladiator character as the Spell-Dazzle Strike technique. The idea is that she would use Armed Grapple to perform Arm Locks and Choke Holds with her enchanted Staff sticks, and then cast spells like Deathtouch through them. This perk would get around the debilitating effects on spellcasting from being in a grapple.
Clinch Casting† You have practiced casting a single Melee spell while grappling. You must specialize by Melee spell. While grappling, you may take the Concentrate maneuver to cast that spell only. The contact of the grapple removes the need for a Melee attack roll; the spell immediately "discharges" and affects the target normally.

Patent Pending, Session 3: Heart of the Witchlight Fens, Part Three

Having returned to Fallcrest, the party set about investigating Mardan Coalhand, the dwarf who supplied the ritual components to the elementalist tapping the elemental node in the Fens. Coalhand's company logo incorporated a symbol the wizard recognized as belonging to a Fire Cult outlawed centuries ago by the Empire of Nerath. The wizard, bard, and artificer decided to research this Cult while the thief and warden talked to the thief's underworld contacts about Coalhand.

At the Temple of Erathis' library, the three scholars discovered that the Fire Cult sought to unleash an elemental apocalypse that would cleanse the world with fire, leaving only the faithful behind. They also tied this belief to a nebulous entity or philosophy called the Elder Elemental Eye. References were made to a temple where all of the Elemental Cults worked together toward some greater purpose.

On the streets, the thief tracked down Manny, a dwarf who trades with Coalhand. Manny told them that Coal…

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part One

In the Harry Potter novel series, JK Rowling draws on a number of genres, including the boarding school story, the thriller, and the modern fantasy. But at its core, the story of Harry Potter is a mystery. Harry, and by extension the reader, begins with no knowledge of the magical world he is heir to and must discover everything as he goes. At the same time, he must piece together his own history and his relationship to the returning dark wizard Voldemort.

So when translating the books to a gaming context, the obvious system to start with is one tuned specifically toward presenting mysteries: GUMSHOE, designed by Robin Laws. In this series, I will proceed through the seven Harry Potter novels and present critical moments as if they were played out in a GUMSHOE system campaign. I will discuss possible abilities used, points spent, and game mechanics behind the outcome.

Note: Any page references will be to the US hardcover editions published by Scholastic Press, as those are the editions…

Mechanical Men

While robots at TL7 or higher are generally electrical, fiction includes examples of automatons from earlier ages using more primitive sources of power. Here are a few meta-traits for building such mechanicals, and two example characters.

These meta-traits do not assume the nature of the mechanical's "brain." Specifically, they do not include the Doesn't Sleep advantage, as the need for rest can be as much a mental trait as a physical one.
Meta-TraitsClockwork Body (TL4): You require winding every day, which takes two strong men one hour to complete. On the other hand, your workings are nearly silent, and you need neither fuel nor air to function. Includes the Machine meta-trait [25], plus Doesn't Breathe [20], Doesn't Eat or Drink [10], and Maintenance (2 man-hours, daily) [-20]. 35 points.

Steam-Powered Body (coal fuel, TL5): You can't operate underwater or anywhere that lacks air, and you emit smoke and steam. You must refuel with coal and water 6 times…

Space Patrol: Cybernetics, Nanotech, and Psionic Powers

A few science-fiction options are available to characters in the form of cybernetic implants, nanosymbiont treatments, and psionic powers. The rules for cybernetics are found in GURPS Ultra-Tech, nanosymbionts in GURPS Bio-Tech, and psionic powers in GURPS Psionic Powers.
Cybernetics Cybernetics are a mature science, but the Space Patrol does not provide implants with two exceptions. Replacements are provided for body parts lost in the line of duty: bionic arms or hands, ears, eyes, legs, and vital organs (but not Boosted Heart). Neurotherapy implants are used to treat psychological and neurological disorders. Any officer who receives a cybernetic replacement is also given a biomonitor implant. Elective implants are against regulations.
Nanotech While most genetic modifications are illegal, some permanent nanosymbiont treatments are permitted. These include Level 1 and Level 2 Panimmunity, Nano-Bacteriophages, Carcinophages, Guardians, Lung Cleaners, Pore Cleaners, Virus Hunters, and …

Space Patrol: Planets

When creating my Space Patrol campaign, I don't care about things like blackbody temperature or orbital period. I want a streamlined stat block for planets that I can reference at the table. I may work in elements of GURPS City Stats in the future, but for now, here's what I have on planets.
Planetary Statistics Planets can be described using the following statistics.
Name: The planet's common name. Other names can be included in notes.
Planet Type: One of the types listed in the box on p. B180: Earthlike, Gas Giant, Hostile Terrestrial, Ice Dwarf, Ice World, or Rock World.
Gravity: One of the gravity bands on p. 00.
Atmosphere: One of the atmospheric pressure categories on p. 00. If the atmosphere has a hazardous composition, note this in parentheses after pressure: Corrosive, or Corrosive breathable; Toxic, resistance roll (HT, HT-2, etc.), damage (1 tox/day, 1 tox/minute, or 1d tox/15 seconds); and Suffocating.
TL: The average Tech Level of the planet. Significant variations…

Space Patrol: Specialist Gear

I've included dollar values for all of the equipment in the Space Patrol campaign. Normally, equipment is provided by the Patrol in the ship's initial inventory. However, if the crew is planetside and needs to requisition gear from a local Patrol base, or if they want something that isn't standard issue, they need to know the cost of the equipment when making an Assistance Roll (from Pulling Rank).

Specialist Gear The following gear is issued to specialists (engineers and medics) when called for by the mission profile.
Engineering Field Kit This heavy field kit includes mini-toolkits for Armoury (Force Shields), Electrician, Electronics Repair (Comms, Computer, Security, and Sensors), and Mechanic (High Performance Spacecraft), allowing rolls of these skills at -2. (Engineers can download Fine-quality software tools to their multiscanners or uniform computers that offset this penalty.) The kit also holds a mini-plasma torch, 200 spare A cells, 20 B cells, and 10 C cells. $…

Patent Pending, Session 2: Heart of the Witchlight Fens, Part Two

Due to plenty of hanging out, chatting, and eating before hand, as well as a player's need to leave early for health reasons, tonight's session of D&D consisted solely of one of the big set-piece battles that Fourth Edition does so well. We had some character renaming: the artificer is now known as Janissary, while the bard is called Dalia.

Patent Pending (as I will continue to refer to the party) set out from the lizardfolk village they had saved after resting there for the night. The lizardfolk guided them to the elemental node within the swamp, but they dared not enter it themselves. It is a sacred place to them, and besides, their gods had obviously appointed these outsiders as their champions.

Some scouting by Cordova the thief revealed that the elemental node lay at the middle of a large, dry clearing at the heart of the swamp. Around a 15-foot central plinth lay areas dominated by each of the classical elements: trenches of muddy water; walls of solid earth; curtain…

Space Patrol: Adventurer

The adventurer is a better example of the way dramatic templates work in the Space Patrol campaign. An Adventurer-Commander produces the classic starship captain of pulp space opera.
Adventurer 50 points You joined the Patrol to visit strange new worlds and experience incredible thrills. You may have a history of disciplinary problems from "pushing the envelope." Through your adventures, you've honed your body and developed skills that let you reach new heights (or depths). Where the explorer wants to see new places for the sense of discovery, you are looking for excitement. You may have studied self-defense, for those times when adventure means chasing down the bad guys.

Attribute Modifiers: DX +1 [20]; HT +1 [10].

Advantages: Fit [5]. ● One of Combat Reflexes [15], Danger Sense [15], Daredevil [15], Enhanced Dodge [15], Unfazeable [15], or increase Luck to Extraordinary Luck [15].

Disadvantages: A total of -10 points chosen from Curious [-5*], Impulsiveness [-10*], Obsess…