Showing posts from May, 2015

Situation Aspect Cards for Fate on DriveThruCards

Keep Track of What Matters in Every Scene The most interesting and dynamic scenes in any Fate system game feature situation aspects, features of the environment or the situation that provide advantages or deliver complications. The GM can introduce these elements by design or add them on the fly, and players can create them through character action. Most GMs end up carrying around index cards or sticky notes to keep track of all of these aspects.
With Situation Aspect Cards, you get 40 pre-generated aspects that can be applied to a variety of situations. These span four categories: environmental conditions, personal conditions, social conditions, and dangers. Each aspect card is double-sided, with check boxes to represent free invokes gained through the create an advantage action — one box on the front side if you succed, or two on the back if you succeed with style. You also get 4 blank cards to create your own situation aspects.
With the addition of clear plastic card sleeves (not …

Ordered Challenges

For many challenges, it doesn’t matter in what order the characters complete each of the component actions. In an ordered challenge, however, actions must be completed in sequence. Failing an earlier task may make later ones more difficult or even change what actions are available.

An ordered challenge works much like a normal challenge, but it adds two special types of action: lynchpins and breakpoints. The success or failure of a lynchpin alters the difficulty of any action made after. Breakpoints open up or shut down later options in the challenge. Tasks that wouldn’t be affected by a lynchpin or breakpoint can be attempted before or after either one.

When you conduct an ordered challenge, you can still call for rolls in any order, but you must be aware of when your lynchpins and breakpoints should occur. An ordered challenge may be composed entirely of these actions, or it can be an otherwise freeform structure with the addition of one or more ordered tasks.

When you add a lynchpi…

Quick Power Sets for GURPS Supers

Here are a few quick sets of powers for GURPS supers characters. These were originally designed for a super-powered SWAT campaign, for characters built on a 175-point SWAT officer template.

Kinetic Energy Projector: You create force fields and bolts of kinetic energy. These grant you considerable defensive and offensive capabilities. Fine control is tiring, however.

Crushing Attack 6d (Armor Divisor, 2, +50%; Double Knockback, +20%; Energy Projection, -10%) [48]Impaling Attack 3d+2 (Energy Projection, -10%; Rapid Fire, RoF 7, +70%) [10]DR 12 (Energy Projection, -10%; Force Field, +40%; No Signature, +20%) [90]DR 8 (Costs Fatigue, 2 FP, -10%; Energy Projection, -10%; Force Field, +40%) [48]Energy Projection Talent 1 [5]Telekinesis 6 (Costs Fatigue, 2 FP, -10%; Energy Projection, -10%) [24]
Note: Impaling Attack bought as an Alternative Attack. 225 points.

Phaser: You can shift your body (and equipment up to BL) out of phase with normal matter. You can disrupt electronics (and nervous syste…

Wild Talents and the One Roll Engine

Watching the season finale of The Flash reminded me of this article I wrote for the Arc Dream blog a few years ago. It was the first in a series of articles detailing power sets for superhero characters built in the Wild Talents system. For a time, I was seriously into ORE. I even started a Google+ community for the system when that functionality first became available. I technically still moderate it, though it doesn't get much traffic and I haven't posted anything to it myself in a long time.

My first full exposure to Wild Talents in particular and the One Roll Engine in general came when I picked up a copy of the Wild Talents Essential Edition on the last day of Gen Con in what must have been 2008.

I had heard about Godlike and the crazy dice system +Greg Stolze had created, but I hadn't read that game, as the realistic World War II setting didn't jump out at me for superpowered gaming. But the Essential Edition was sitting on the corner of a booth across from where…


Not a long post today, because I have received my PDF from the Mage 20th Anniversary Edition Kickstarter. I have loved Mage: The Ascension for over 15 years, and now I have a brand new, full-color, 689-page beast of a rulebook to read through. I anticipate a lot of time spent figuring out paradigms and rotes, factions and Paradox. I plan to run this game again for the first time in nearly a decade, and this book is going to be a sweet engine for it.

But why, in the name of the dark masters of the Nephandi, did they have to put the damn "k" back on the end of magic?

Ars Magica Fifth Edition on Bundle of Holding

Bundle of Holding has launched a bundle of Ars Magica Fifth Edition PDFs for a return engagement following the successful bundle last August. Within, you'll find the core rulebook, sourcebooks on covenants and apprentices, and a treatise on four of the Houses of Hermes. If you meet the threshold payment (currently $28.12), you also get two more volumes on the Houses, a sourcebook detailing the Tribunal of Normandy, and 10 adventures. All told, it's a $55 $125 value(!), and you get a classic game that shaped much of the last two decades of roleplaying.

The Bundle is returning now to celebrate the newly retired line editor of Ars Magica, David Chart. But this is not the end of the line. Atlas Games has already released two Ars Magica-themed Fiasco playsets, one featuring the lowly gross of a covenant and the other their lofty wizard masters. And Atlas is developing a new RPG set in Mythic Europe called Tales of the Quaesitors, a GUMSHOE-powered investigative game about crimes wi…

Creating Worlds with the Deck of Fate

In Interstellar Patrol, I present a random table for creating "planets of the week" in a Fate game inspired by classic science fiction like the original series of Star Trek. This table, presented below, uses four Fate dice. But what if you wanted to use that other fine method of generating random results, the Deck of Fate? Because the cards offer extra information, they can add depth to otherwise cardboard-cutout worlds generated with the table.
Obviously, the die faces on the card generate the type of world. So, if you draw the +0 "First Steps/By the Numbers" card, which shows -00+, the world will be Earth-type. But from there, we can unpack a few more features.

The total on the card can be used to represent either the in-world value or the narrative weight of the world. Take the absolute value of the total, so a -3 is the same as a +3. In the spirit of the Bronze Rule, this becomes a skill rating for the world. When engaging with an element of the world the GM ha…

"Richard" Grey, Rogue Alien Commando

This is a sample character for a GURPS Monster Hunters campaign using the new Applied Xenology supplement.
"Richard" Grey, Rogue Alien Commando 400 points The alien that now goes by the name "Richard" was once a Grey soldier, assigned to the security detail of a Grey mother ship secretly orbiting Earth. As a non-scientist, he was like a second-class citizen among the Greys, and he came to sympathize with humanity. Eventually, he decided that his people were wrong to abduct and experiment on humans, so he deserted to Earth and now does his best to disrupt Grey activity on the planet. And he brought some of his favorite toys with him. Grey 0 points Attribute Modifiers: ST‑2 [‑20].
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: HP+1 [2]; Basic Move‑1 [‑5]; SM ‑1.
Advantages: Basic Morphology Inducer [6]; Hyperspectral Vision [25]; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards (Earth, ‑20%) [24]; Language (Grey; Native) [6].
Disadvantages: Disturbing Voice [‑10]; Low Empathy [‑20]; No Sense of Smell…

Podcasts I Know

Here's a few of the gaming-related podcasts I listen to regularly these days.

+Jason Pitre produces the RPG Design Panelcast from recordings of panels at game conventions, particularly Metatopia. This series covers such a wide range of topics and features so many great gaming minds that anyone with even a passing interest in game design or game publishing should check it out. (You can even hear my occasional comment or question in a few episodes. I cringe every time.)

+ONE SHOT Podcast features Chicago-area improv actors and gamers playing a lot of different games and infusing them all with humor and a high level of (pardon the term) character. One Shot's sister series Campaign is an ongoing campaign of Star Wars Edge of the Empire that is a perfect example of the kinds of hilarious but occasionally frustrating things players get up to in a regular, continuing game.

+Mark Rosewater is the head designer of Magic: The Gathering, and he produces a podcast during his daily drive to w…

I'm Running TimeWatch at Gen Con

I'm not running much at Gen Con this year, but one thing I will be offering is a TimeWatch adventure called "Stealing Roswell." This scenario uses the Time-Crime campaign frame I wrote as a stretch goal for the TimeWatch Kickstarter campaign. Here's the adventure description:
Your crew of time-criminals is in New Mexico in 1947 to steal whatever fell to Earth in Roswell. Was it really an alien spacecraft or just a weather balloon as the government claimed? You may have to ensure that history records the lie to make off with the score of the millennium. You can check out the full even listing at the official Gen Con site.

Discouraging Violence in Fate Accelerated

In my in-progress Fate Accelerated Edition game Wardens of Ouon, I want to discourage physical violence. The unicorns of the Forest of Ouon are supposed to find peaceful solutions to problems, falling back on combat only as a last resort. This goes hand-in-hand with my desire for Wardens to be kid-friendly as well.

Fate in general and FAE in particular models physical combat the same as other forms of conflict. In FAE, there is only a single stress track, so a punch is exactly the same as an insult until you start taking consequences. How do you make violence less appealing, when by default it is mechanically the same?

Obviously, I am going to stress the value of peace and negotiation in the fiction of the world. The Forest of Ouon is a magical place, and it responds to the actions and attitudes of its residents and especially its unicorn defenders. There is an element of karma where a violent Warden finds her way growing more difficult as the world itself works against her.

But I wan…

Feng Shui 2 Available in PDF

Following its very successful Kickstarter, the fantastic second edition of Robin Laws' action masterpiece, Feng Shui, is now available in PDF through DriveThruRPG and other outlets. I've dug into this game quite a bit recently for ... reasons, and I can say with confidence that it is one of the best games to come out in years. Under a very trad exterior, Feng Shui 2 hides genre- and story-focused refinements that will be influencing many future designs, I'm sure.

You can get the PDF now for just $19.99. Future supplements will expand the game into new time periods, providing hooks and whole adventures. I think you'll really go ape over what's coming up.