Thursday, May 12, 2022

The Slow Burn: Wanting to play more Old-School Essentials....

When I wrapped my foray into Old-School Essentials RPG a month or two back, it was with a couple observations. One of those was that, at times, I felt like the game was hitting too low on the complexity bar for my tastes, but it was also admittedly a lot of fun and exceedingly easy to adjudicate. Realizing (somehow, after all these decades) that abilities like "Open Door" can just be reskinned as "athletics" and "listen to door" is just a Listen skill check....Detect Secret Door is just "Spot..." it was a bit of a surprise to me that I never considered that back in the day. Probably because, if you roll back to actual AD&D, the measurement and enforcing text in the rules gets wonkier and more specific. But for OSE--yeah, they are totally athletics, listen and spot. 

Anyway, after running more D&D 5E for a while (and having fun doing it), along with diving in to the latest hardcover release fo Pathfinder 2E (Book of the Dead), I find myself drawn back to the elegant simplicity of OSE. I want to run more of it, and preferably sooner than later. This is even in the face of my current other major obsession: Pathfinder Savage Worlds! PFSW is itself an amazing pairing.

Anyway, no idea what to make of this or where to go with it, but I feel now like my only real mistake with the idea of continuing the OSE game in space was simply not finding the best OSE resource to crib content from. I'm snagging a copy of Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, for example, and also reconsidering if maybe I can use just the core rules of White Star and ignore the Galaxy edition. These could all be viable solutions. Heck, I can just crib from my Spelljammer books, which I'm already doing for 5E, although I concede my vision for the OSE in space game was to have actual technology and science-fantasy in the style of Starfinder, just without all the thousands of pages of excessive rules. 

Well, got plenty on my plate as it is, and my main game night (Saturday) is likely stuck doing D&D 5E for a good long time now. My Tuesday night group is aware of my interest in trying out Savage Pathfinder, though. As to where I fit more OSE in.....good question! But I keep thinking about it, so I need to do it.

Monday, May 9, 2022

The Deathbat Reading List for May (so far): Ryuutama, Pathfinder for Savage Worlds, Star Trek Adventures Tricorder Collector's Edition

This month I've had the opportunity to dive deep into some newer games which I have found myself quite intrigued with, and indeed, dare I say it, even creatively motivated, which is all I as a GM can really ask for! Here's some of the cool stuff I've been exploring:

This fantastic little Japanese RPG has been translated into English and has a fine premise: you play the average folk of a town or village who find themelves on a grand adventure. Its distinct anime/manga style art is evocative of the genre and it really leans in to an organic tabletop rendering of certain kinds of JRPGs, the kind where you play more ordinary folk who become great explorers and adventurers in their time (or even just well regarded but ordinary folk). It's loaded with everything you need to have fun, relaxing adventures with less emphasis on grimdark and more emphasis on exploration, discovery and personality. I hesitate to call this a fun game for kids because its also a very fun game for adults who might enjoy exploring elements of the fantasy genre that aren't all about sticking swords in things all the time (although that can happen in Ryuutama as well).

This long delayed Kickstarter finally arrived at my doorstep and it was well worth the wait. Using assets and style guides from the 1st edition of Pathfinder, this adaptation to Savage Worlds is a complete game by itself, customizing the Savage World Adventure Edition (SWADE) for Pathfinder gaming. The underlying assumption is you can use it with Golarion, but the rules are 100% suitable for any type of D&Desque/Pathfinderish fantasy setting you want to use it for. The core rules and Bestiary are all you need to do your own thing, but the Companion has a nice guide to Golarion as well as useful artifacts in the back, and there's a GM screen and module as well as a metric ton of cards, tokens, templates and other stuff. The entire Rise of the Runelords series was also ported over, though I did not get that since I tend to rarely use published modules.....that said, the Hollow's Last Hope module included with the GM screen is organized and presented more nicely than the original, so I may take a look at Rise of the Runelords for Savage Pathfinder to see if it's revision/restructuring fits with my own style for modules better.

Either way, Savage Pathfinder has the distinct appeal of capturing the style and variety of content and monsters I like in a D&D/PF game, but using the Savage Worlds rules, which I think might just be that thing I need to really revitalize my interest in the D&D-like genre. We shall see!

Sapping all of my time and energy away from my other SF campaign plans, the Star Trek Adventures Tricorder collector's set has been my accidental gateway drug back into the deep dive of Star Trek lore and fan madness. It may not be evident, but for many, many years I was a pretty big fan of Star Trek. I would not qualify myself as a Trekkie, as I don't go to conventions, argue about the canon and non canon lore of Trek online, cosplay or anything like that. But I am the kind of Trek fan who watched every episode of each series (and recently subbed to Paramount+ to catch up on current shows), and I ran a lot of Star Trek back in the day when it was still with Last Unicorn Games. The 2D20 edition of the system from Modiphius is a generally more accessible edition, and the digest edition of the rules that comes with the Tricorder Set is an easy read, with a nice reframing of the rules entirely from the perspective of The Original Series in terms of its assumed setting and appearance. The fact that it comes with a mini campaign, lots of TOS character and ship cards, dice, and counters all packaged in case that looks (and pops open) like a classic era tricorder is just a huge bonus. It even has a shoulder strap! 

If I carry this around like an actual tricorder does that count as cosplay? Hmmm.

Either way, I am extremely keen on trying out some Star Trek Adventures soon, most likely set in the Original Series timeline, maybe in the intervening years following Kirk's five year voyage but before the V'Ger incident so I can take advantage of those lost years as a framework for adventures. I may or may not try to extrapolate from the weird mess that is Discovery (still plowing through that) but the new series, Strange New Worlds, looks extremely promising.

For those wondering, the Digest Rulebook is complete, and has some small but welcome changes mechanically. It's not a shrunken typefont, either, so perfectly readable. The book is its own thing, apart from the bigger rulebook, but is a full set of rules....just highly tailored to the 2265-2269 era, although some of the story and lore bits throughout the book address things from Enterprise, time travel episodes or episodes of later series which introduced retroactive material or the first six movies (ex: Breen were not a thing in TOS, but were retroactively identified as having been around for a long time in TNG and DS9), and so forth. It also alludes to some bits of the craziness in Discovery in spots, but mainly focuses on content as relates to TOS.

Anyway.....yeah, so Star Trek is apparently back on my obsession menu after a really long absence.