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Showing posts from 2017

The Shadow Man: A Masked Vigilante (for Wild Talents)

The Shadow Man is a masked vigilante from a wealthy family who was destroyed by a secret he does not fully understand. In his search for answers he has honed his skills and collected countless gadgets which he carries on his crusade against crime. He has fallen in love with his paramour/nemesis, the Lady Assassin.

Archetype: Costumed Adventurer (11 pts)Sources: Driven, Technological
Permissions: Peak Performer, One Power (Utility Belt)
Stats (162 pts) Body 3D
Coordination 2D+1WD
Sense 2D+1WD
Mind 2D+1WD
Command 3D
Charm 3D
Base Will 15
Motivations Loyalty to heroes (4)
Loyalty to the Lady Assassin (3)
Passion for justice (5)
Passion to discover his family’s dark secret (3)
Skills Acrobatics 2D, Brawling 4D+1WD, Perception 2D+1WD, Scrutiny 2D+1WD, Stability 5D, Stealth 4D
Powers (165 pts)Utility Belt 3D+2HD+1WD (165 pts)
Attacks (+2), Duration (+2), If/Then (only for small gadgets) (-1), If/Then (Only for Variable Effect) (-1), Variable Effect (+4), Willpower Investment -1
Defends (+2), D…

Miss Universe: A Four-Color Superhero (for Wild Talents)

Miss Universe was a normal college student on a weekend camping trip when she was imbued with cosmic energy by an exploding comet. She can channel the energy that exists between universes, but her powers rely totally on her force of will. When she is totally demoralized, she loses all of her supernatural abilities.

Miss Universe can fly at over 150 miles per hour, ignore most normal gunfire, and lift 320 tons.

Archetype: Cosmic (10 pts)Source: Conduit
Permissions: Super
Intrinsics: No Willpower No Way
Stats (104 pts) Body 3D (8D)
Coordination 3D
Sense 3D
Mind 3D
Command 3D
Charm 4D
Base Will 10
Motivations Loyalty to the innocent (3)
Passion for justice (3)
Passion to protect the Earth (4)
Skills (38 pts) Brawl 4D, Dodge 2D, Leadership 3D, Perception 3D, Stability 5D, Stealth 2D
Powers (248 pts)Extra Tough 2HD (20 pts)

Flight 7D (28 pts)

Incredible Strength! 5D (40 pts)
Hyperstat (Body) (+4), Booster +2, No Upward Limit (+2)

Invulnerability 4HD (160 pts)

Let’s Make a Character: Scavenger (GURPS After the End)

Here's another character I made last year on Let's Make a Character, a post-apocalyptic scavenger for GURPS After the End.

ST 12 [20]; DX 13 [60]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 11 [10]
Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 34 lbs.; HP 12 [0]; Will 11 [0]; Per 14 [15]; FP 11 [0]; RP 16 [5].
Basic Speed 6.00 [0]; Basic Move 6 [0].
Advantages Craftiness 1† [5]; Gizmos 1 [5]; Hard to Kill 1 [2]; Lifting ST 1 [3].
† A Talent benefiting Acting, Camouflage, Disguise, Holdout, Shadowing, and Stealth. Reaction bonus: none! 5 points/level.
Disadvantages Bad Temper (12) [-10]; Compulsive Gambling (15) [-2]; Greed (9) [-22]; Light Sleeper [-5]; Overconfidence (15) [-2*]; Sense of Duty (teammates) [-5].
Skills Anthropology (H) IQ-1 [2]-10; Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-15; Camouflage  (E) IQ+1 [1]-12†; Current Affairs (Regional) (E) IQ+1 [2]-12; Disguise (A) IQ [1]-11†; Filch (A) DX [2]-13; Holdout (A) IQ+1 [4]-13†; Knife (E) DX+1 [2]-14; Merchant (A) IQ-1 [1]-10; Observation (A) Per-1 [1]-13; Pickpocket (H) DX+1 [8]-14; Scroungi…

Let's Make a Character: Speedster (Mutants & Masterminds 2e)

Here's another of the completed characters I made last year on Let's Make a Character: a speedster for Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition. (You can find the video at the end of this post.)

Power Level: 10 (150 pp)

Abilities: Str 12 (+1), Dex 14 (+2), Con 12 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 12 (+1)

Skills: Acrobatics 4, Bluff 6, Climb 4, Diplomacy 6, Investigate 4, Notice 12, Search 8, Sense Motive 4, Stealth 8

Feats: Accurate Attack, All-Out Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Elusive Target, Equipment 1 (5 ep), Hide In Plain Sight, Move-By Action, Seize Initiative

Equipment: Armored jumpsuit, commlink, night vision goggles

Powers: Enhanced Dodge 10 (Cost: 10 pp); Enhanced Attack 4 (Cost: 8pp); Enhanced Feat 6 (Attack Focus [melee], Defensive Roll 2; Cost: 6 pp); Immunity 1 (aging; Cost: 1 pp); Super-Senses 5 (Time Sense, Acute Analytical Radius Temporal Awareness; Cost: 5 pp); Super-Speed 8 (2,500 mph; Rapid Attack; Alternate Powers: Drain Ability Scores 5 [Power Feat: Slow Fade—1 minu…

Gilwell the Arcane

Here's a third pregen for GURPS Harkwood, a charlatan "wizard" who actually has a shred of magical ability.

Gilwell the Arcane 150 points
ST 10 [0]; DX 12 [40]; IQ 13 [40]; HT 10 [0].
Dmg 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 13 [0]; Per 13 [0]; FP 10 [0].
Basic Speed 5.5 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0]; Dodge 8; Parry 10 (Brawling).
Social BackgroundTL: 3 [0].
CF: Christian [0].
Languages: Anglish (Native) [0]; Elvish (Accented/None) [2].
Advantages Acute Hearing 2 [4]; Charisma 1 [5]; Flexibility [5]; Half-Elf [27]; Smooth Operator 1 [15].
Perks: Penetrating Voice [1].
Half-Elf: IQ+1 [20]; Extended Lifespan 1 [2]; Magery 0 [5]. 27 points.
Disadvantages Combat Paralysis [-15]; Delusion (I am a wizard) [-5]; Gregarious [-10]; Wealth (Struggling) [-10].
Skills Acting (A) IQ+1 [2]-14†; Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-14; Detect Lies (H) Per-1 [1]-12†; Diplomacy (H) IQ-1 [1]-12†; Escape (H) DX-2 [1]-10; Fast-Talk (A) IQ+2 [4]-15†; Holdout (A) IQ [2]-13; Knife (E) DX+1 [2]-13; Psychology (H) IQ [4]-1…

Martin the Strummer (from Let's Make a Character 1)

About a year ago, I started a series of live streams called Let’s Make a Character. I used social media polls to make key decisions about an RPG character, and then I built that character live on Twitch.

The first character I made was a bard for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. I used the template from Dungeon Fantasy 1 and the loadouts from Dungeon Fantasy 13. Below, you can find the completed stats for that character, and you can watch me make him right here. (Be warned, the audio for this stream had some definite problems. I’ve been working since then on finding better sound equipment.)

Martin the Strummer 250 points ST 11 [10]; DX 12 [40]; IQ 14 [80]; HT 11 [10].
Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs.; HP 11 [0]; Will 14 [0]; Per 14 [0]; FP 13 [6].
Basic Speed 6.00 [5]; Basic Move 6 (4 while encumbered) [0]; Dodge 9 (8 while encumbered); Parry 10; Block 11.
Advantages Appearance (Attractive) [4]; Bardic Talent 3 [24]; Charisma 1 [5]; Eidetic Memory [5]; Musical Ability 2 [10]; Voice [10].
Perks: Penetr…

Speaking of Designer's Notes

I recently posted a blog about designer's notes for RPGs and why I love them. I mentioned a number of designer's notes about various GURPS products available from Steve Jackson Games. One of those articles, "GURPS Fourth Edition: Designer Notes," was recently republished on SJ Games' Medium account.

Also at that account, last September, Sean Punch put up a five-part series of designer's notes (starting here) detailing the upcoming Dungeon Fantasy RPG. In these posts, he discusses how he went about distilling and reshaping the GURPS Fourth Edition rules into a standalone fantasy box set. I definitely recommend checking these out if you are interested in either Dungeon Fantasy or game design and production in general.

Jeremiah Stone, Merchant and Silver Hand Spy

Another pregen for GURPS Harkwood. And some classic art!

Jeremiah Stone, Merchant and Silver Hand Spy 150 points
ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 13 [60]; HT 10 [0].
Dmg 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 14 [5]; Per 13 [0]; FP 10 [0].
Basic Speed 5 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0].
Social BackgroundTL: 3 [0].
CF: Christian [0].
Languages: Anglish (Native) [0]; Arabic (Accented/Broken) [3]; Dwarven (Broken/None) [1]; Elven (Native/None) [3].
Advantages Business Acumen 2 [20]; Lightning Calculator [2]; Patron (King of Caithness; 9 or less) [15]; Photographic Memory [10].
Perks: Honest Face [1]
Disadvantages Duty (To the King, 9 or less) [-5]; Miserliness (9) [-15]; Stubbornness [-5]
Skills Accounting (H) IQ+2 [4]-15†; Acting (A) IQ-1 [1]-12; Administration (A) IQ+2 [2]-15†; Area Knowledge (Caithness) (E) IQ+2 [4]-15; Carousing (E) HT [1]-10; Detect Lies (H) Per-1 [2]-12; Fast-Talk (A) IQ-1 [1]-12; Finance (H) IQ+1 [2]-14†; Gambling (A) IQ+1 [1]-14†; Holdout (A) IQ-1 [1]-12; Knife (E) DX+3 [8]-13; Merchant …

Dame Alaina, Knight of the Stone

A pre-generated character I made when I was thinking of running "Intrigue in Harkwood" from GURPS Harkwood for (I think) the third time. Plus a cute cartoon of a knight!

Dame Alaina, Knight of the Stone Female human, 22 years, 5'11", 170 lbs.
150 points
ST 13 [30]; DX 13 [60]; IQ 10 [0]; HT 12 [20].
Dmg 1d/2d-1; BL 34 lbs.; HP 13 [0]; Will 10 [0]; Per 10 [0]; FP 12 [0].
Basic Speed 6.25 [0]; Basic Move 6 [0]; Dodge 9 (11 on shield side); Parry 10 (12 on shield side); Block 12.
Social BackgroundTL: 3 [0].
CF: Christian [0].
Languages: Anglish (Native) [0].
Advantages Patron (Order of the Stone; 9 or less) [15]; Reputation (Champions of justice; +2; From Caithnessers loyal to the crown, all the time) [5]; Status 2 [10]; Wealth (Comfortable) [10]
Disadvantages Code of Honor (Chivalry) [-10]; Duty (To the Knights of the Stone; 9 or less) [-5]; Overconfidence (6) [-10]; Sense of Duty (To Caithnessers loyal to the crown) [-10]
Skills Area Knowledge (Caithness) (E) IQ+1 [2]-1…

What Does a Developer Do?

I think the role of "developer" is a nebulous one to a lot of folks in the tabletop gaming hobby, but it's one that is very important to the process of making games. Everyone knows what a "designer" is — they make the game, right? And a publisher is responsible for putting the game out for sale in a form people can use. There are a bunch of talented people who get involved along the way, from editors to artists and graphic designers.

But what is a "developer?" A lot of RPGs don't even list one on the credits page. Well, sometimes they're called "developmental editor," but that's not what I mean. Simply put, a developer helps the designer execute their vision. They take the rules draft and see how well it matches up to the design goals. Where they can, they offer suggestions and edits to make systems more coherent and to better fit to those goals.

It's possible for this role to fall to the book's editor, but the editor is …

My Sales Numbers for March

For March 2017, I offered PDFs, POD books, and POD cards for sale through OneBookShelf: DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DriveThruCards, etc. The first half of March featured the GM's Day Sale, and I got a bit of a bump from that promotion. In total, I sold 27 units last month, all PDFs. My total earnings came to $19.94.

Arthuria: 1 PDF
Fragments, Volume 1, #2: 3 PDF
Full Moon: 1 PDF
Full Moon Quickstart Adventure: Stir Crazy: 1 PDF
Interstellar Patrol: 8 PDF
Rituals and Convergences: 6 PDF
Situation Aspect Cards: 6 Print-and-Play PDF
The Model: 1 PDF

Fragments Volume 1, #3 Released

I'm proud to announce the release of Fragments Volume 1, #3 on DriveThruRPG. The third issue of Fragments presents a mini-supplement for Fate Accelerated Edition—Dungeon Accelerated. Templates for character classes and races get you ready to delve into treacherous underground realms in moments!

These articles originally appeared at, but they have been expanded upon with rules for spicing up conflicts — including lethal attacks, tactical movement, and more — and are collected in a single illustrated PDF that features bookmarks as well as layers designed for easy printing.

For just $3.49, you get this complete mini-supplement, including spectacular art by Brian Patterson! If you like this issue and want to get future ones as well as support the work I do here on One Yard Hex, consider backing my Patreon. Patrons at the $5 level and above get each new issue of Fragments free.

What Did I Accomplish in March

This month, I continued my effort to produce daily content here on One Yard Hex as well as weekly Fragments on Unfortunately, I missed my blog goal once in March, but I still exceeded my word count goals for the month.

I maintained my goal of ~100 words for posts here on this blog. To date, I am averaging about 338 words per post. Over on, my goal was still 500 words per Fragments post, but the average there dipped a little to ~480 words each. In total, I planned to write 4,700 words this month, and I ended up writing ~8,300 words.

In total, I produced:

18 blog posts here on One Yard Hex, including6 GURPS posts, a 5-part series looking back at Vampire: The Masquerade 1st Edition, and7 posts on other topics; and5 Fragments posts (including tomorrow's entry) and one news post on (with another news post scheduled for tomorrow, the 31st).
I also streamed 6 Fallout 4 game sessions on Twitch, and thos…

Game Designers I Think Are Awesome: Cam Banks

I first noticed Cam Banks' work when I was running Dragonlance in college. His name kept popping up in these great adventures and sourcebooks I was buying. Since then, he's gone on to lead the design of the Cortex Plus system for Margaret Weis Productions and is the RPG Director at Atlas Games, where I've had the pleasure of working with him on Feng Shui 2.

One thing I've learned from following Cam's work is to be flexible and not get tied down to a single idea or a way of thinking. His design work with Amanda Valentine on the Demon Hunters: A Comedy of Terrors RPG for Dead Gentlemen Productions merged Cortex Plus and Fate Core in a way I didn't really expect was possible.

I was overjoyed when Cam announced that he had licensed Cortex and would be taking over its next evolution under his own banner at Magic Vacuum Design Studio. If you want to follow the great stuff he's putting out, head over to Cam's Patreon. I'm a backer, and I've already see…

Loi Scout Saucer (TL 11^)

Note: The Loi are an alien race featured in GURPS Atomic Horror. This can be used as a stock flying saucer for any B-movie inspired GURPS campaign.

The scout saucer features artificial gravity, gravitic compensators, a stealth hull (-10 to detect), and FTL comm/sensor arrays. Its tractor beam can generate 30 tons of force.
Front Hull [1] Armor, Diamondoid (dDR 20)
[2] Multipurpose Comm/Sensor Array
[3] Habitat (6 cabins)
[4] Habitat (20 hibernation chambers, 1-bed sickbay)
[5!] Weapon Battery, Major (turret-mounted 300MJ tractor beam)
[6] Cargo Hold (50 tons)
Central Hull [1] Armor, Diamondoid (dDR 20)
[2] Control Room
[3!] Weapon Battery, Medium (turret-mounted 100MJ laser, turret-mounted 28cm antimatter missile launcher, 15 tons cargo space)
[4!] Force Screen, Heavy (dDR 70)
[5-6] Cargo Hold (100 tons)
[core!] Stardrive Engine (FTL-1)
Rear Hull [1] Armor, Diamondoid (dDR 20)
[2] Engine Room
[3!] Reactionless Engine, Super (50G acceleration)
[4-6] Cargo Hold (150 tons)
[core] Power P…

Review: Kaiju Incorporated RPG

The Kaiju Incorporated RPG (KIRPG) is a Fate Core-powered roleplaying game setting supplement from Evil Hat Productions, designed by Rob Wieland. The RPG serves as a tie-in to the Kaiju Incorporated card game designed by Eric B. Vogel, also from Evil Hat.

In the world of Kaiju Incorporated, giant monsters threaten civilization on a regular basis, and the Earth's only defense is a force of giant robots piloted by Aces. This is certainly a familiar arrangement, but neither KIRPG nor the card game are about these epic battles. Rather, they are about the companies that profit from the cleanup and reconstruction that follows. In the case of KIRPG, you play as the actual cleanup teams on the ground after (or sometimes even during) a kaiju attack.

KIRPG is a simple implementation of Fate Core, akin to a double-sized Fate World. You'll need a copy of the Fate Core rules to play. Characters are built using a pared-down version of the modes from the Atomic Robo RPG, choosing three of C…

Sphinx Lock: A Combination Gadget for GURPS Cyberpunk/Ultra-Tech

Sphinx Lock (TL 9): This device fits onto a normal suitcase or trunk and seals it with a biometric scanlock. While the subject is being scanned, a non-volitional AI (IQ 6, running on a fast small computer) engages him in simplistic conversation. The childish question-and-answer may confuse an intruder, but an authorized user will know that the AI is simply fishing for pass-phrases. Anyone not delivering the proper pass-phrase in the 10 seconds needed to complete the scan fails the test, and the unit locks down completely. The lock can be programmed to accept multiple authorized users, each with one or more unique pass-phrases. $3,800, 1.32 lbs., C/4 days. LC4.

Some models deliver a high-voltage shock similar to a zap glove (p. 165) if the subject "fails. " $4,120,  2.12 lbs. C/4 days and B/10 "zaps." LC3. Other models include a built-in pneumohypo (p. 199) and 10 doses of morphazine (p. 205).  $3,916, 1.4 lbs., C/4 days. LC3.

(Page references are to GURPS Ultra-Tech

Noir World Launches on Kickstarter

Game designer and editor extraordinaire John Adamus has been working on Noir World, a film noir RPG powered by the Apocalypse, for a few years now, a real labor of love. I had the pleasure of testing an earlier version of it a few Metatopias ago, and I had quite a bit of fun. I know he's done a lot of work on it since then, and this morning he pulled the trigger on the Kickstarter. I don't have a lot more to say about it that hasn't been said on the Kickstarter page and in the podcast interviews and actual plays that will be coming out during the campaign. Check out Noir World, which as of this writing is already funded. And watch the video—it's pretty slick!

Slime: A New Race for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy

Slime0 points Choice Professions: Bard, Druid, Wizard.
Marginal Professions: Barbarian, Holy Warrior, Knight, Martial Artist, Swashbuckler.

A slime is an animate blob about 1 yard across with large, round eyes and a wide grin. Slimes typically move by bouncing, but occasionally they are known to roll. They have no limbs, being a blob, and therefor cannot use much in the way of equipment. (It might be possible for a slime to swallow rings, amulets and things and utilize them from within their body.)

Attributes: ST -1 [-10].
Advantages: Appearance (Attractive; Universal, +25%) [5]; Injury Tolerance (Homogenous, No Blood, No Head) [47]; Pitiable [5]; Telecommunication (Telesend; Racial, -20%) [24].
Disadvantages: Cannot Speak [-15]; Curious (12) [-5]; No Legs (Bounces) [0]; No Manipulators [-50].
Quirks: Loves new food [-1].

Adapting GURPS Dungeon Fantasy to Karthun

If I were going to run a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign in the world of Karthun, I would replace the traditional GURPS magic system with the rules in Divine Favor and Thaumatology: Sorcery. These changes require a few adjustments to some of the templates in DF1.

Bards cannot use spells (remove options for spells from the template). Bardic Talent does not add to Communication and Empathy spells or Mind Control spells and therefore only costs 5 points/level. Spend the 6 points this frees up in the template on either Bard-Song abilities or special skills.

Clerics and Holy Warriors should use the Saint and Warrior-Saint lenses from Pyramid #3/36, pp. 8-9.

Druids do not use spells. Replace Power Investiture (Druidic) 3 with Druidic Talent 3 (p. 22 of Dungeon Fantasy 1). Spend the 15 points this frees up plus the 20 points allocated to spells on more Druidic abilities.

Wizards must take the Magebound lens below, using the 30 advantage points in the template.

Magebound 30 points Attributes: I…

On Designer Notes

I love designer’s notes. As sidebars, articles, blog posts, or podcast segments, I love when other designers talk about their games, their decisions, and why a system went one way instead of another.

Designer’s notes serve a few purposes. They can expand on the design by offering additional material or alternate systems that were cut from the finished product for some reason. They provide insight into the designer’s process. And finally, they are historical documents that record a particular moment in the evolution of game design.

In the designer’s notes for GURPS Powers, Sean Punch provides outtakes and optional rules that didn’t make it into the final book. A number of these were options suggested during the book’s extensive playtest process. Others, such as the system for pricing power talents, were legitimate outtakes cut from the manuscript. For over a decade, Steve Jackson Games released designer’s notes for nearly every GURPS release in their magazine, Pyramid.

In October 2007,…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part Five

Chapter Eight: Chronicle We've reached the first Storyteller chapter, and it may be the best of the lot. This chapter contains the beating heart—pardon the expression—of VTM, one bit that sums up what makes this game different from the editions that descend from it.

"The characters in Vampire are expected to be heroes—they must care about what they have become and about what they may soon be. … [F]or the Vampire character to find some way to "win," they must somehow become heroic. They must defeat the monster within by exerting self-restraint, nurturing the impulses of human virtue, and displaying genuine courage. Sometimes the tragedy of Final Death is the Vampire's only hope of heroic escape."

This blew me away when I first read it. All of my previous experience with Vampire had been about duplicity, backstabbing, and generally reveling in being monsters. Here this book was saying, "Grow up. Be better than that." When did that sentiment die, an…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part Four

Chapter Six: Drama This chapter expands on the very simplified rules we saw a few chapters earlier. Right away, it talks about breaking your game down into scenes, advice which shows up in just about every game these days. An interesting thing VTM does is suggest running action scenes—even ones without combat—in a structured way with each character taking turns resolving their actions.

This is followed by systems for various common actions—physical and social. Combat is just stuck in the middle of the section on physical actions. Combat is … different. There's no initiative system; actions are described and resolved in whatever order you like. In hand-to-hand combat, it's assumed that attackers pair off. If you are punching someone, it's assumed that they are punching or biting you back. And whoever wins the opposed roll does damage to the other. In a firefight, you just roll to shoot whoever you'd like. Damage and "soak" rolls work like in later Storyteller…

GURPS Karthun: Elves

Karthun's elves are divided into three clans, each dedicated to one of the world's three moons. When the clan's moon is full (about three days out of the month), elves of that clan experience a physical transformation where the express more primal characteristics like strength, speed, and sharp senses.
Elf 20 points Attributes: ST -1 [-10]; DX +1 [20].
Advantages: One of Bear Clan [10], Jackal Clan [10], or Wolf Clan [10].

Bear Clan: ST +2 (Moon Reign, -35%) [13]; HP +3 (Moon Reign, -35%) [4]; DR 2 (Moon Reign, -35%; Tough Skin, -40%) [3]; Bad Temper (12) [-10]. 10 points.

Jackal Clan: Basic Speed +0.50 (Moon Reign, -35%) [7]; Basic Move +2 (Moon Reign, -35%) [7]; Night Vision 1 (Moon Reign, -35%) [1]; Sharp Claws (Moon Reign, -35%) [4]; Sharp Teeth (Moon Reign, -35%) [1]; Bloodlust (12) [-10]. 10 points.

Wolf Clan: HP +3 (Moon Reign, -35%) [4]; Sharp Teeth (Moon Reign, -35%) [1]; Per +3 (Moon Reign, -35%) [10]; Night Vision 7 (Moon Reign, -35%) [5]; Bad Temper (12) [-10]. 10 p…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part Three

Chapter Four: Traits This chapter describes the various traits (Attributes, Abilities, Advantages, and so on) that define characters. The first rule here is on Specialties, bonuses to Attributes and Abilities that you can choose when your trait is over 3. VTM offers three options for how Specialties work—reroll 10s, cap the trait at three unless the Specialty applies, or reduce the difficulty of the roll by 1. In later games, this would standardize to the first option, but it's interesting to see the variations here.

The seven clans are described next. Each is a stereotype of what kind of monster you want to be: angry philosopher, bestial hunter, prophetic madman, hideous freak, distracted aesthete, duplicitous sorcerer, or corrupt aristocrat. Archetypes follow, to optionally define your Nature and Demeanor. Together, these decisions foreground your character concept before choosing numerical traits.

Attributes and Abilities follow, with each including sample Specialties and desc…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part Two

Chapter Two: Rules This short chapter relates the core dice mechanic of the game: roll a certain number of d10s based on (usually) two traits, count the number of dice that equal or exceed a number from 3-9 (only very rarely 2 or 10) called the difficulty, and use that amount to determine degree of success. This is essentially the same system used for the next 13 years, and with only minor tweaking, 13 more in the rebooted World of Darkness (now Chronicles of Darkness) games.

The system, boiled down to this core, is remarkably light. In theory, an entire campaign could be run with no further embellishment of this mechanic. It fits in 7 pages, including examples and a glossary. Two more pages in this chapter, interestingly, are given over to a sample character sheet, a feature that would usually be relegated to the following chapter.

Chapter Three: Character
VTM sets the pattern again with its character creation system. You begin with a character concept, and they provide a list of sa…

Let's Read Vampire: The Masquerade, 1st Edition, Part One

Released in 1991, Vampire: The Masquerade (VTM) introduced the World of Darkness and paved the way for dozens of game lines to follow. But what was that original green book like, and does it hold up now, over 25 years later?

The Damned VTM opens with a section in-character fiction in the form of a letter from one VT to WH describing the nature of vampires (or the Kindred, as they call themselves), the society they have built for themselves, and the collection of laws they follow called the Masquerade. While it isn't directly stated, it is heavily implied that VT is Count Dracula (nee, Vlad Tepes) and WH is Wilhelmina Harker, tying the setting into that most classic of vampire tales.

This section sets the tone for many later White Wolf titles, though I must say that the fiction gets better in later years. This is really just a setting chapter, and the implication of Dracula as a member of the Kindred detracts from the world they're trying to build—mainly because the effort to m…

GURPS Karthun: Magebound Weapon

I've started work on a GURPS translation of Karthun: Lands of Conflict, coming soon from Exploding Rogue Studios and Evil Hat Production. In that world, mages have the ability to manifest an elemental weapon based on the spirit which forms half of the mage's soul. I wrote up this weapon as an Innate Attack advantage.
Magebound Weapon 3/5/9/11/14/17 points The mage conjures a melee weapon comprised of the source’s element. This weapon deals damage based on Magebound Weapon level. Air, Earth, and Water weapons deal crushing damage. Fire weapons deal burning damage.

Magebound Weapon Level123456Weapon Damagethr+1thr+2thr+4thr+5thr+6thr+7
Statistics: Burning or Crushing Attack 1 pt (Magic, -10%; Melee, C,1, ST-Based, +80%; Nuisance Effect, Requires an empty hand, -5%) [3]. Level 2 increases to 2 pts [5]; level 3 to 1d [9]; level 4 to 1d+1 [11]; level 5 to 1d+2 [14]; and level 6 to 2d. Dice of damage are converted down to a flat bonus according to “Modifying Dice + Adds” (p. B269).

My Sales Numbers for February

For February 2017, I sold PDFs, POD books, and POD cards through the OneBookShelf: DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DriveThruCards, etc. In total, I sold 11 units last month, including 1 deck of cards. My total earnings came to $13.04.

Arthuria: 1 PDF
Fragments, Volume 1, #1: 3 PDF
Interstellar Patrol: 4 PDF
Rituals and Convergences: 12 PDF
Super Power Cards: 1 Cards/PDF
The Model: 1 PDF

Fragments Volume 1, Issue 2 Released

In February, I produced four Fragments posts on presenting material for your Fate or GUMSHOE cyberpunk campaigns:

Cybernetic Abilities in GUMSHOE: A brief system for extraordinary abilities in near-future GUMSHOE games.Virtual Interpersonal Abilities in GUMSHOE: Using interpersonal abilities in virtual spaces in GUMSHOE.Cybernetic Recovery in Fate: Cybernetic implants and prosthetics provide a way to recover from serious physical trauma while also gaining extraordinary abilities.Cyberpunk Modes in Fate: A selection of skill modes to speed up character creation for your next cyberpunk game.
Now, these posts have been collected into an illustrated PDF available on DriveThruRPG. For $2.49, you can get this 10-page PDF, fully bookmarked and layered for easier printing.

What Did I Accomplish In February?

This month, I continued my effort to produce daily content here on One Yard Hex as well as on Unfortunately, I missed my goal twice in February, but I still exceeded my word count goals for the month.

I maintained my goal of  100 words for posts here on this blog. To date, I am averaging about 286 words per post. Over on, my goal was still 500 words per Fragments post, and those are averaging 555 words each. In total, I planned to write 3,900 words this month, and I ended up writing ~6,900 words.

In total, I produced:
14 blog posts here on One Yard Hex, including
4 GURPS posts,
1 GUMSHOE post,
1 Fate post, and
8 posts on other topics; and
4 Fragments posts and one news post on (with another news post scheduled for tomorrow, the 28th).

I also streamed 3 video Fallout 4 game sessions on Twitch, and those are all archived at my YouTube page. (The most recent was split into two videos due to a game cra…

Space Patrol: Index

The following is an index of all of my posts on campaign notes for GURPS Space Patrol. I will try to keep this post up to date when I add more.

Characters These sample characters are designed to fill out the crew of the SPS-2997 Kiran Bedi, a typical Jordan-class Patrol ship. They provide examples of all of the occupation templates.

Space Patrol: Lt. Commander Lakshmi UndatuSpace Patrol: Lt. Alpha-BlueSpace Patrol: Second Lieutenant Abe DriscollSpace Patrol: Doctor (Ensign) Marco De La CruzSpace Patrol: Ensign Jeremy OnkoleSpace Patrol: Sergeant Anne-Marie DuscatSpace Patrol: Engineering Crewman Thomas ZL-7 Occupation Templates Characters in Space Patrol are built using a combination of an occupation template and a dramatic template (below). Occupation templates define what you do on the ship.

Space Patrol: The CommanderSpace Patrol: The DoctorSpace Patrol: The EngineerSpace Patrol: The MarineSpace Patrol: The PilotSpace Patrol: The RangerSpace Patrol: The Scientist Dramatic Templates D…

RPG Lexicon: Linear

A linear dice mechanic is one that uses a single die to produce its result. This gives an even chance of each value in the die's range. Such mechanics are linear because if you plot the odds of each result on a graph, you get a straight line.

The single d20 of D&D is the classic example, and it gives a rather extreme case as its range is so large. You're just as likely to roll a 20 as a 1. The result is a "swingy" mechanic that makes extreme success and extreme failure equally likely.

The standard resolution of a general ability test in GUMSHOE is also a linear mechanic, as it uses a single d6. Because the range of a d6 is so much smaller, this places an emphasis on the resource management aspect of GUMSHOE, making the number of points you spend to add to the roll dominant in the result.

Knowing vs. Not Knowing

In fiction particularly in cinema, you can get away with not telling your audience what's going on, at least for a while. Withholding information builds suspense. In some genres—horror, in particular—it's essentially required.

In gaming, however, I am of the opinion that it is always better for the players to know more than for them to know less. I will repeat that sentence with emphasis added because I think there are two aspects of it that need to be emphasized:
It is always better for the players to know more than to know less. In a tabletop RPG, the players hold a position unique to any other medium in being both audience and author, viewer and performer. Because of this, it is very important for the players to have enough information about the setting and the narrative to be able to perform meaningfully within it.

Note, however, that I say it is better for the players to know more. They don't need to know everything, or at least, they don't need that knowledge all…

Space Patrol: Lt. Alpha-Blue

Lt. Alpha-Blue is a Elan-model android who served its emergence period as a research assistant at a Federal Science Foundation. After he was released into citizenship, he chose to enter the Patrol as a Science officer. He has served dutifully if unexceptionally for three decades. He currently serves as executive officer and scientist on the Kiran Bedi.

Alpha-Blue looks like a bald human male made of hard blue plastic. He lacks basic emotional programming, and has therefor spent considerable effort to develop a rudimentary understanding of human behavior for his work with the Patrol.

200 points
ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 10 [0].
Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 12 [0]; Per 13 [5]; FP 10 [0].
Basic Speed 5.00 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0]; Dodge 8 [0].

Social Background TL: 11.
CF: Federation (Native) [0].
Languages: Federation Standard (Native) [0].

Advantages Absolute Direction [5]; Computer Brain [20]; DR 3 [15]; Legal Enforcement Powers [10]; Luck [15]; Mathematical Abil…

System-Neutral Settings: To Hell With Rules

There is a long if narrow history in RPGs of sourcebooks that describe settings or setting elements (cities and the like) without reference to a particular game or rules system. From Flying Buffalo's Citybook series through Green Ronin's Freeport, these books do the heavy lifting of creating or filling out a world but leave the final rules implementation to you.

I recently received the PDF of Karthun: Lands of Conflict by Brian Patterson and Tracy Barnett's Exploding Rogue Studios, and published by Evil Hat Productions. Karthun sits very firmly in the D&D fantasy space, and there are a few stray references to "free actions" and the like, but it is essentially system neutral, and I've already jotted down notes for a GURPS adaptation. I look forward to exploring the setting more, especially when I get the physical book.

Of course, my diamond example of a system neutral setting is Uresia: Grave of Heaven by S. John Ross. Originally a world for the Big Eyes, …

3 Things To Do When You're Not Quite In Love With Your Campaign

Sometimes, even though you like your group and you enjoy playing well enough, you're just not loving the game you're playing. How do you get more enjoyment from your game without ruining anyone else's fun?

Develop Your Character There are many ways you can develop your character beyond whatever experience mechanic your system provides. Come up with backstory that fills out parts of her personality you hadn't considered before. Figure out how he reacts to different setting elements. Create an interesting speech pattern or vocal tic.

Dig Into The Rules If you like the game system your campaign uses but the story isn't grabbing you, you could take it upon yourself to learn the rules better. Use this knowledge for good, though. Be a resource, not a rules lawyer.

Help Everyone Else Have Fun Talk to your fellow players and find ways for your character to work into the experience they are hoping to get from their characters. Do they need a comic foil? A friendly rival? A …

Space Patrol: Second Lieutenant Abe Driscoll

Abe Driscoll served as marshall for the Haviland sector for 8 years. It was a lonely, thankless job mediating between ranchers and busting claim jumpers. But it wasn't until a man took a shot at him for doing nothing more than ruling against him in a water dispute that Driscoll sought a transfer into the Patrol and back to civilized space. He was assigned to the Kiran Bedi when the ship set out on its mission to the recently incorporated Border Sectors.

Abe Driscoll is a heavily tanned man with weathered features in his late 30s. He dresses in the uniform of the Rangers, a jumpsuit that features rather more pockets than the tighter Patrol uniform. He is straightforward and willful, and some consider him to be too uptight.

200 points
ST 10 [0]; DX 12 [40]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 12 [20].
Damage 1d-1/1d+1; HP 10 [0]; Per 12 [5]; Will 11 [0]; FP 11 [0].
Basic Speed 6.50 [10]; Basic Move 6 [0]; Dodge 8.

Social BackgroundTL: 11.
CF: Federation (Native) [0].
Languages: Federation Standard (Native)…

My Top 3 d20 Games

Yes, the d20 boom produced a lot of books that just plain sucked. (I may have produced some of my own that I'm frankly glad have since disappeared.) But there were plenty of games that managed to shine among all the dross. Here are three of my very favorites.

Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition Green Ronin let master of the supers RPG Steve Kenson mold the d20 rules into a worthy successor to Champions not once but three times. My personal favorite is the second edition, and over the years I managed to get everything they put out for it. M&M lets you create just about any kind of super-powered character you can imagine, and the hero point and power stunt mechanics are essential reading for any designer working in the genre.
Fantasy Craft Following off their phenomenal Spycraft 2nd Edition, Crafty Games took a stab at the original, creating an ultra-crunchy toolkit game to craft your own fantasy adventures. This one hits all of my buttons for detail and customization, complet…

My Top 3 Fate Games

While it began earlier, the proliferation of Fate games took off following the success of the Fate Core Kickstarter and the release of both that book and the companion Fate Accelerated Edition. Since then, there have been a ton of great Fate games published. These are three of my favorites.

War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus I've said it before: this book is one of the absolute best yet printed for Fate, and the fact that it has been overlooked by the community is criminal. From the base of Fate Accelerated, War of Ashes builds a game of Dark Age-style fantasy with surprising tactical depth and great humor. With rules that benefit from miniatures without turning into a skirmish board game, Fate of Agaptus could easily fill a D&D-shaped hole in anyone's library.

Fate Freeport Companion On the other hand, you could instead fill that hole with a block purposefully carved in the shape of D&D. Fate Freeport Companion adapts the setting of Mythos-tinged pirate adventure originall…

My Top Three GUMSHOE Rule Books

The GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system was designed by Robin Laws over 10 years ago, and in that time, it's been refined and expanded in a number of different rulebooks. One of the guiding principles of GUMSHOE is the idea that the core system should be customized to better reflect the genre of each game that uses it. So each GUMSHOE rulebook is unique and presents a different take on the core system ideas.

With that in mind, here are my top three GUMSHOE system rulebooks. Each one looks at the system from a different angle and that makes for a different game even though each uses the same core engine.
Gaean Reach Based on the science-fiction novels of Jack Vance, Gaean Reach is a space opera game of hard luck heroes seeking interstellar vengeance. Unlike the more expansive Ashen Stars, Gaean Reach is fine-tuned to a very particular story: the investigators are out to get revenge on galactic criminal mastermind Quandos Vorn. Character creation is randomized to get everyone i…