Friday, July 31, 2015
Loz post's about what this all means on the Design Mechanism Boards here. I really appreciate the full disclosure; Pete and Loz have always been great at explaining what is going on and why/where/how. A quick summary, with my diatribe shotgun commentary:
1. Runequest 6 will go away in 2016, to be replaced by Chaosium's Runequest which will no longer be generic, and will fully incorporate Glorantha as it's core setting. Fans of Glorantha will rejoice at last (it's been long in coming) while fans of the more generic mytho-historical default Runequest going back to Avalon Hill's edition in 1983 will be disappointed. My concern is that over the last 32 years a significant fanbase for Runequest developed that identify the game with its mechanical and historical rigor as a generic system and not as a vessel for Glorantha. If the Chaosium Runequest is still fully able to support a non-Glorantha environment, I will be happy; if it requires a little work or is too distinct a product of its setting then I will have to sit this one out.....I get that Glorantha is appreciated, and I appreciate that; but I am an old gamer dude and my world/setting investment lies elsewhere.
2. Loz and Pete can continue to support RQ with supplemental material through the Design Mechanism. This is good...have you seen the RQ6 supplements? They are stellar books, meaty and ambitious. Monster Island and Mythic Britain are two of the best books I own.
3. Loz does not know the status on Chaosium's existing games, i.e. Magic World, the only one occupying the same creative/genre space as Runequest. Good news I suppose is if the new RQ is specifically a Glorantha-focused rule set (welcome back to 1978 I guess) then maybe Magic World will continue to exist for those who prefer a non-Gloranthafied edition of the BRP system.
4. The new RQ will be mechanically identical to RQ6 (or close enough I guess). This is good; it's probably the best iteration of BRP on the market, and frankly a future revision of BRP should --in my opinion-- borrow more from RQ6 than from CoC 7th. Or do what it always does and provide all the options for both.
#2. There will be a new edition of Runequest coming, according to witnesses -- but don't panic yet! Design Mechanism will still be doing it. Alas, this is probably a stake in the heart for the lighter fantasy RPG Magic World that I love so much. Maybe they will ditch that crappy font in RQ6 that makes the book a serious annoyance for me to read. Yes, I probably have some form of SPD, but I'd love to be able to do something with Runequest and that font....oh gods those little curlique ts that loop back....the humanity...
#3. Vampire: The Masquerade will get a 4th edition. This will be the edition to fully and truly start edition wars for WoD fans, apparently. I'll probably get it.
#4. Pelgrane is doing the Delta Green RPG?. I bet they are!!!! Will it be Gumshoe-powered. Fuuu....
|Spiritual pulp -- the descendant which has fallen far from the tree but I think still counts|
Simulationist pulp tends to reflect the genre as it was; a sort of mirror on the 30's era of fiction, comics and film that spawned practically everything that has come since. It's about emulating the feel, style and tropes of the pulps as they were.
Simulationist pulp is what most dedicated Pulp adventure game systems focus on: Amazing Adventures, Astounding Adventures, Pulp Hero, Thrilling Tales and Hollow Earth Expedition are all examples of this genre. The intent here is to emulate the pulp heroes of that era and their adventures, often even the tropes which include lots of bad science, a general disregard for the politics of the era in favor of comic-book level fantasy images of the era, and possibly even some variant on even the really archaic staples of that period such as helpless women and rampant racism that is only obvious in the lens of the modern viewer looking back.
Spiritual pulp is actually what most of us are thinking of when we use Indiana Jones as an analogy for the pulps. It's also Star Wars and a host of other modern takes; this is what pulp transmigrated into, in a sense: modern takes on the pulp genre, but also rife with the advances and tropes of modern gaming.
Spiritual pulp is really about extracting the most compelling elements of the genre in order to create a game that follows in the tradition of pulp adventuring, but with a modern attitude and the benefit of historical and scientific hindsight. It can and often does let you explore the 1930's but from the lens of the modern viewer, which often means you can't just drop wild native tribesemen with witch doctors into a setting without also figuring out who those tribesmen are and what their local mythology actually is. You can have strong female figures, something almost (but not entirely) nonexistent in the original fiction. You can build stories around modern concepts of science and fantasy that are distinctly pulp in the sense that they involve crazy, wild adventures and action, often with the two-fisted action at the fore. However, spiritual pulp doesn't have to be in the 30's, and rarely is in most cases. It maintains modern sensibilities in almost every case, eschewing the cultural moors and limits of 30's era pulp fiction such as sexism and racism in favor of modern reinterpretations....not merely "modern attitudes in the past" but often exploring the reality of what was going on back then instead....that the women in pulp fiction, to take an example, were often idealogical depictions of the young male fascination with women in the 30's and not actual depictions of how many women might have thought or behaved in the context the pulps placed them.
Anyway.....just some observations on the pulp genre I've run in to while messing with it. One thing I did learn is that I much prefer spiritual pulp gaming over simulationist....and I did start this exercise off looking at a simulationist approach. As it turns out, I think I may just be too "modern" to pull it off and feel comfortable with the result.
|Spiritual Pulp that adheres as closely as it can to the traditional period|
while inverting as many old school tropes as it embraces
Don't get me wrong...Astounding Adventures is a great resource. But if you believe that system can support play, then it's a no brainer: the Fast! Furious! Fun! methodology of Savage Worlds works best for pulp action, no question about it.
After we wrap the second session on this, I'm going to suggest we jump over to Savage Worlds. It's just...well...it's built to handle the kind of high octane madness pulp can dish out. BRP can do it, sure....but it's just not quite as bang-em-up as I know Savage Worlds can be.
Hmmmm....maybe I'll have my players convert mid-session. Must ponder.....
Thursday, July 30, 2015
C&C Mythos is actually a KS for 3 books: Codex Germanica, Codex Slavorum and Codex Classicum. Together it sounds like you could have the full workings of an ancient mythic Europe campaign. Now, if they are contextually like Codex Nordica then you can expect a series of books laden with the flavor and mythology of each setting, and an emphasis on the academic historical elements....you could in fact use Codex Nordica for a straight up traditional historical game if you like, but its really aimed at something larger than life and more mythic; the world as traditional Vikings thought it was, rather than just what historians knew it to be.
So...Mythos. Check it out:
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Aside from the AA book for BRP I am also cribbing material from GURPS Cliffhangers which is an excellent resource for any pulp gamer, as well as GURPS Place of Mystery, which I borrowed ideas from for a couple of the scenarios I worked out. Tonight's game, however, will take everyone off to the Solomon Islands in the South Seas.....a rough and tumble locale for pulp 30's gaming if ever there was one!
Anyway, going to be fun....I think, outside of some period campaigns I've run using GURPS and CoC in the past I've never actually run a 30's style hardcore pulp adventure game before, except for a one-shot I did in True20 ages ago, and of course the mid-80's era when I ran a lot of Indiana Jones (the TSR game).
Monday, July 27, 2015
Check out ENWorld's sample monster pages here. I'm ready to start using beast men right now, and love the style and format shown here:
Anyway, I think my risk-aversion to Kickstarters is overcome by Sasquatch's prior work for WotC, which is actually a pretty decent module I may well run soon. Their record of success is demonstrable and at the $75 level I get a print hard cover in addition to the PDFs so count me in. Most important of all, though, is that when the KS clears I will actually have discretionary income for frivolity that is not earmarked for something important! That, right there more than anything, is why I can back this.
Anyway....22 days to go as of this posting.
Demon bone armor seeks to subvert the soul of its wearer as well. If the attuned warrior wearing the armor ever is reduced to zero hit points and has no hit dice left for the day, then when making death saves each failure counts twice; if the warrior dies, the armor consumes him and shift to the Abyss, where the warrior's soul is converted into a lower order demon (or better if the DM sees fit).
Friday, July 24, 2015
It looks like we will have another hardcover book for D&D 5E in November: The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. From the description, this book serves several purposes:
A Forgotten Realms tome of the Sword Coast region
A player's companion with new options for all classes (FR flavored, I am guessing)
A tie-in to the Sword Coast CRPG that will likely be in full swing by that time
Either way it's good to see a book from WotC that isn't a super-adventure, if only because I don't know how many more super adventures I could buy that I have no intention of running.
Check out the announcement here. It's going to retail for $39.95 and will be out 11/3/15.
Dropping an iconic Old One into a D&D session is a quick reminder that D&D and Cthulhu Mythos really don't mix. Not fantasy and mythos, mind you....those can work quite well; but D&D specifically is a flavor of fantasy that does not come naturally to the mythos. The prospect of a campaign in which daredevil heroes have fought rakshasa, death knights and small armies of devils hits a hard wall when the players realize they are fighting something that is effectively a puzzle piece....a creature than can and will destroy or turn them into its minions, while they desperately try to figure out how to unsummon it.
Anyway, I'm thinking that to get back to the more visceral elements of my Pergerron setting I'll be returning to a Magic World powered campaign, and let D&D return to Chirak, Enzada and Lingusia, which are all comfortably home to adventurers who stand a chance against the vile chaos.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
D&D 5E has a lot of basic similarities to older editions of D&D in terms of its overall ease of access and core simplicity. It does not, however, emulate the struggle of 0E, 1E and 2E era wizards all that well because at-will magic is diametrically at odds with the idea that magic is potent but suffers from attrition. The 5E rules do account for some of the other limiting factors in prior editions (to varying degrees) such as material, somatic and verbal requirements....but cantrips remain "free."
The DMG provides some guidelines on gritty rest rules that turn short rests into day rests and long rests into week-long affairs. This caps magic recovery significantly but has no impact on at-will magic and in fact could accidentally turn wizards into cantrip gunslingers if your campaign's pacing outstrips the gritty rest rules. There are also spell point mechanics, but those achieve different results than I'm thinking about here....which is to dial back the at-will magic entirely.
There are two ways you can get 5E back to a 0-2E era style of spell casting fairly easily, the "minimum use" method and the "limited" method we'll call them. Here's the house rules I'd suggest:
Minimum Use Cantrip Method: the # of cantrips you get per level is also the number of cantrip slots you get per day; and these slots expend. A character with 4 cantrips under this method prepares up to 4 cantrips and then can cast up to 4 of them per day in any combination. I'd allow the caster to use higher level spell slots to cast cantrips if he really needed to (though for no additional effect unless the DM feels very kind).
Limited Cantrip Method: in this version, the # of cantrips you get per level determines how many you can prepare, but each cantrip can be cast that many times per day as well. So a character with 4 cantrip slots can prepare four cantrips, and each one can be cast four times. This provides more flexibility and casting ability before going for the darts, crossbows and daggers.
There's one more option, which I'll call the Limited Pool Method: in this one, it works like the limited cantrip method above, but you pool your total cantrip slots...so if you have 4 cantrip slots by level, multiply that number my itself to get the total number of cantrip slots available (16 in this case). You can then expend those slots on any prepared cantrips in any combination....so if firebolt is more useful to you than anything else, you can cast it up to 16 times and forget the other cantrips.
Even if you don't use limited cantrips and stick to the rules as presented, I suggest a good house rule for those who value a shred of verisimilitude is to say that the total # of cantrip slots times 10+level is the maximum realistic number of times per day a cantrip can be abused. This will put a stopper to warlocks who decide they want to deplete the pigeon population every round with their eldritch blasts. No one's specifically tried to abuse this (other than myself, on a couple occasions!) but it's my top gripe with at-will magic: it's clearly a mechanical contrivance to make the spell casters more generally useful with non-depleting magic, but the Unfortunate Connotations for the game world are something to ponder when spell-casters everywhere can indiscriminately cast destructive magic at a whim, up to ten such spells per minute, in to perpetuity.
Anyway, I don't think any of the three methods above would break the game one bit. They would both allow you to get your 5E game back to a style where spell casters do eventually run out of magic and need to pull out some melee and ranged weaponry, and make the "mundane/physical" interaction of the casters a bit more relevant. It helps improve the resource management of the characters as well. As DM you need to keep in mind that the player characters have a reduction in the per-round potential of their casters, so they will behave a bit differently and the overall challenge the group will face counts for more as a result.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
For newer content you'll need to go to Land of Nod and look in to what J.M. Stater is up to these days, as he's sort of the King of Hex Crawl adventures in my book, and his OSR Nod magazine is pure gold.
I admit: I picked up my copies in Pathfinder format. Thinking I might introduce my Pathfinder cronies on Saturday to Hex Crawl Chronicles.....they'll get to play Pathfinder again, and I can run some fun hex crawls that are engaging and require minimal prep on my part. Win for everyone!
Monday, July 20, 2015
A week or so back my giant order from Troll Lord Games showed up, which included a number of books I had not previously owned: Codex Nordica, Rune Lords, Haunted Highlands, Bluffside and Town of Kalas among others.
The modules are a piece of cake to adapt to Dungeons & Dragons 5E, and the mechanical process I use for other OSR titles (namely Swords & Wizardry Complete) would work just fine here. What's interesting is that I realized that using some of the other C&C content --including classes, spells and other concepts distinct to the game-- might actually be fairly easy to borrow or adapt as well. At the core, both systems are very similar, with D&D and its bounded accuracy mechanic, whereas C&C operates with it's SIEGE mechanic, which distinguishes between good (prime) and bad (secondary) stats, that set different difficulty values accordingly. C&C uses level to boost class abilities, and D&D uses level to boost proficient abilities. C&C sets primes by class and race; D&D sets saves with proficiency by class (though some special traits may dictate from race). The similarities are thick.
Because of this, converting C&C material in to D&D looks pretty basic. For example: take the assassin class. Anytime you have a SIEGE-based mechanical use in the class, just convert it to proficiency. Anytime you have bonuses, just use the rule of thumb and convert the bonuses either directly or (if they seem too large) turn them in to advantage. When converting C&C primes, just turn them in to proficient saves for the class in D&D. You won't get a hard conversion....most class options in C&C have fewer options than 5E classes do, but they'll be more than playable. Also, extend the hit dice of the C&C class to level 20 instead of the C&C method which locks hit dice in around 9th-10th level.
You probably won't want to do this for more than quick on-the-fly NPC conversion, as virtually all of the C&C class options have D&D analogs. Some of the C&C stuff, such as Rune Lore, the Book of Familiars and the Codex Nordica setting include unique character options that might be worth considering for conversion....I'll have to look more closely at them, and think a bit on how one would do it.
You might also ask: why not use C&C as the base system and modify D&D 5E content to fit? Ironically, the answer is because 5E's core mechanic is simpler but with more features....C&C lacks a bit of the nuance that 5E has with skills, backgrounds and its general proficiency mechanic, but actually figuring out a save or check in 5E takes less effort (in fact no effort) to explain to a player, and is very consistent. Not, mind you, that C&C is that complex, as it really isn't; but the 5E system's inherent advantages due to the bounded accuracy concept make it more appealing....to me, at least.
Anyway, if you would like a list of five C&C books that are out right now which you would find are great enhancers with minimal conversion effort to your D&D 5E campaigns, check out the following:
Engineering Dungeons (a great resource for designing dungeons; may be redundant with the 5E DMG which also has great rules for such, but I think the two will compliment)
Engineering Castles (does for castles what the prior book does for dungeons, and will be more useful for this reason since the 5E DMG doesn't talk about that as much; secondarily useful for fleshing out castle projects your PCs might invest in)
The Castle Keeper's Guide to the Haunted Highlands (one of the best module series for C&C now turned into a full-blown campaign region)
Town of Kalas Adventure (very well written town setting, full of flavor and useful stuff)
Codex Nordica (classes will require work, but use my OSR creature conversion rules for the monsters, and the rest is just exceptionally interesting Norse/Scandinavian mytho-historic setting material)
|Obligatory Peter Bradly cheesecake art; C&C....last bastion of the +5 chainmail bikini|
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Friday, July 17, 2015
The Gathering of Wizards Revised - a Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Solitaire Adventure for Very Tough Wizards
Don't forget to track XP earned (DT&T page 63) for saves rolled and monsters defeated (equal to MR).
If you are using an earlier edition of T&T you should have little problem with using this module; the core conceits are all the same and I just moved some cheese around a bit to update it.