Friday, December 28, 2012

The 'Death Box'.

Okay been reading a bit about a game called Tenra Bansho Zero lately, it's one of those games I want to pick up but I have a hard time justifying it since I don't know if the usual group of players I have will want to play it. Been hearing a bit about one specific mechanic, the same mechanic that seems to drive a certain group of hobby factionists up the wall.

If you don't have the 'Death Box' ticked on your character sheet your character can not die. If they run out of damage boxes or whatever, they are unconcious or helpless. Thus making it where they can be captured or what not. It seems to be a decent piece of genre immulation in the rules.

Was thinking of an optional version of that rule that would also be capturing the genre. During any conflict scene at least one players at the table has to have their charactes 'Death Box' ticked. Thus giving the chance that at least one character may not make it. It still gets rid of the total party kills that you really don't see in most animes but you do see a lot of battles in which one person out of the main group dies.

At least with the death box you also don't have the 'fight to the death' thing that so many players do. Never letting themselves be captured and stuff like that. So much gaming can take place in the form of making an escape and running for freedom.

Anyways just my random thoughts at the moment.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Seven RPGs

The seven rpgs trend has been going around lately.  I've done a few over on G+ but I decided to do one covering the seven games that have been the most influencial to me.

  • Dungeons and Dragons red box edition.

    For me this was the perfect simple fantasy rpg. It was rules light before the idea or term had started to see any use at all. All the extra trappings and complicated charts that other games seemed to require just aren't in here. While not that realistic it makes up for it in sheer ease and fun of the system. Creating your own stuff to go along with it was a breeze and, back in the day, nearly everyone knew the basics of the system. Most fantasy games that I have ran use this rules set and the other color coded boxed sets.

  • Twilight 2000

    Because games just aren't fantasy. Having family and friends with a military background (I knew military time in grade school) really made this setting stand out to me. While the rules got a bit odd in places and character generation had it's own separate worksheet it still worked. The initial modules were pretty well done as well all connected with the common goal of finding your way back home to the United States. They were also set up with a familiar design to that of early D&D modules where you had some new stuff to use in each one.

  • Vampire: The Masquerade - 1st edition

    I bought the original first edition rulebook very near it's release date due to a review in Dragon magazine. They reviewed it and Dark Conspiracy, almost went for DC because it was from the same folks that made Twilight 2000. Thankfully I passed that one up. Vampire was different and where it wasn't different it at least tried to be different. Putting a lot of emphasis on roleplaying and exploring your character and the setting. The entire book had a “Let's get serious” vibe about it. Daring you to try to make your games something more. It was the first game I ran where I had players ready to go at any given time. My first successful game as a GM.

  • KULT (1st edition is the best IMHO)

    The best horror game I've ever ran hands down. It took a while for me to get players into it but once I got the ball rolling it just kept going. Loved the setting, the cosmology and the overall feel of the game. It was MY horror game. I've pulled the setting into other games more times than I can count and to this day I still put things into the framework that is presented within it's pages. However it's also a game I can no longer run, burnt out hardcore for a number of reasons. I supported the game for years online, through help with the Abyss, setting up and running a forum for it when Target Games shut theirs down (quite successful forum for a long time also), writing plenty of fan material and just trying to keep the fanbase interested and growing. Now all that job is up to somebody else... if anybody wants it at all.

  • Cyberpunk 2020

    Hell yeah mother fuckers. Chrome, attitude, guns, computers, style, substance and everything else that made me love the cyberpunk literary genre all in one game. Pondsmith had me hooked within a couple of pages I won't lie. Pretty straight forward rules, character generation with a nice bit of random tossed in with the lifepaths, some great artwork and all sorts of tech. When it comes to science fiction books I always leaned towards cyberpunk once I discovered it and I did the same when it came to science fiction games. Yes its a bit out dated now, but man it was fun playing and running the chrome and neon future.

  • SLA Industries

    A mix of various types of scifi elements all into one setting. Without the gonzo aspect of games like Rifts of course. Again a game where I loved the setting, especially some of the mystery, that the rulebook presented. It felt like by explaining a lot they managed to leave even more open to do your own thing with. The main book and Karma are two books that will never leave my gaming library. While some folks threw a fit when 'The Truth' came out it didn't phase me at all. It just didn't have any affect on my games, or most of the games I was playing in.

  • Little Fears 1st edition

    Hands down, without a doubt, the one game I ran with the most success ever. I had multiple campaigns going at once, had a waiting list for players at the ones I ran at the local game shop. When I first heard about Little Fears I was the opposite of this, I didn't think it would work and was pretty doubtful. But the year it was released at Origins was the first (and so far only) time I made it to that con. So I ended up picking up a copy and playing in one of the demos being ran... and the hooks were set in pretty deep. Jason Blair had made an amazing game, it really caught my players as it had me. Playing little kids in a fight for survival against a supernatural world on the other side of the closet doors, simply awesome. Jason even named an NPC in a pdf adventure after me, I took that as a big shiny badge of honor, hell I bragged about that one even.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Poison Drinker character class - Red Box D&D

This is a character class for my dark fantasy setting currently titled "City State of Kainis".  It uses the Dungeons & Dragons red box edition as it's base system.  Two other classes coming soon are the Ravager and the Blood Mage. 

Poison Drinker


Poison Drinkers are a section of the cult that runs the Kainis Empire. They are specialized fighters who are more trained in stealth and attacking from the shadows rather than facing the enemy head on. They are also the assassins of the organization due to their use and resistance to poisons. Whenever they are wounded in a fight, every drop of blood they shed is a danger to their opponents.

Chosen at a young age from the populace of the Empire they are picked due to their excellent health and specific physical attributes. They must be of the peak of physical perfection just to survive the rites they will undertake. Starting on their first day they will be given a very diluted and weak version of the most toxic poisons known. It will cause days of sickness and severe pains, many will not survive this initial dosage. Those that do are accepted into the group for training and begin a monthly regiment of ingesting the poison, each time in a very slightly higher toxic level than before.
As a result they develop a very high resistance to poisons, some completely useless against them. It also causes their blood to become poisonous itself and can be used as such. They also develop a slight sickly look, sunken eyes, thin features and sunken cheeks. Their physical prowess is completely unaffected.

However they must continue to take a monthly dose (or more commonly a smaller weekly dose) of the base poison. Otherwise they begin to fall ill and lose a point of Constitution every month as their body begins to die with the toxin it has become addicted to. This is the practice that has led to their names as they usually mix the rather nasty tasting poison with a drink when they ingest it.
Poison Drinker Saving Throw Table
Poison Drinkers get a different Saving Throw vs poison due to the amount of poison in their blood. So the Death Ray or Poison number is divided by a slash, the fist is vs Death Ray and the second is vs Poison.

13/8 – Death Ray or Poison
14 – Magic Wands
13 – Paralysis or Turn to Stone
16 – Dragon Breath
15 – Rods, Staves, or Spells
Poison Drinker Experience Table

XP Level Title

0 - 1 -  Initiate
1400 -  2 - Initiate
2600 -  3 - Acolyte

Other Details
Prime Requisite: A Poison Drinkers PR is Dexterity. If a Poison Drinker has a Dexterity score of 13 or more, the character gains a bonus to Experience Points earned in every adventure.

Hit Dice: 1D6
Armor: Poison Drinkers may only wear Leather or Chain armor, and may not use a shield.
Weapons: A Poison Drinker may use any missile weapon, and any other weapon usable with one hand.
Special Abilities
Backstabbing – Same as a Thief.
Climb Walls – Same as a Thief.

Hear Noise – Same as a Thief.

Hide in Shadows – Same as a Thief.
Move Silently – Same as Thief.
Poisoned Blood – A Poison Drinker may apply their blood to a weapon or lace food and water with it. If a weapon is used then whenever they successfully hit the target must make a save vs poison or take additional damage equal to the level of the Poison Drinker. If ingested the blood is extremely potent and the a save vs poison is required to avoid taking a D4 of damage for every level of the Poison Drinker. Even on a successful save the target is still sick for a number of days equal to the level of the Poison Drinker.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Death of the Hobby or what about those sales? Part one

Okay I'm going to touch a much talked about subject with this one. Is the tabletop roleplaying game hobby shrinking? We see this touted about from time to time, how the hobby is going through a slow death, less and less people are playing, it's all a perpetual spin towards the end. Which of course doesn't mean a whole lot since people will keep playing but they just might not have any 'industry' support or some such.

Now the usual reasoning behind the talks of the eminent demise is usually centered around sales. Or how sales are so small compared back to, say, the eighties. Back when you knew you could sell a few thousand copies pretty easily with plenty more to come. Well at least the big companies could count on this. Of course there are problems with this, first off is that a lot of companies now days don't release their sales numbers and the sales numbers of some older companies are pretty questionable also.

The one big thing that almost all doomsayers buying into this reasoning fail to take into account is one very simple thing, variety. The number of games available now compared to the eighties just blows one side away. People are setting up their own micro game companies all over the place to sell their idea of a great game. You don't have just a handful of sci-fi games to choose from, you have a freaking catalog of them covering nearly every variety of genre twist that you can imagine. A listing of fantasy games may very well take a couple of volumes and that's being positive about it. So when people have more choice the purchases they make are spread along all of them thus leading to lower sales across the board for just about everybody.

I'm completely aware there were small companies before, don't get me wrong there, I own a few of them and have at least laid hands on three times that many more. But they required a lot more investment to get them to the market. Let's face in the eighties there were very few ways of getting your game noticed by Joe Gamer out there. You could hit the convention circuit hoping that sales there lead to good word of mouth afterwards that leads to others finding out about your game. But conventions cost money to attend and to have dealers booths at. You could advertise in one of the gaming magazines like Dragon and hope your little ad catches enough attention to draw some sales, again this costs money. Getting the shops to put your game on their shelves, requiring a lot of leg work and either traveling, phone calls, letter writing and maybe even giving a few copies away to prove it will sell. So it was hard to release a game and for it to be successful so many didn't do it back then.

Well now we have the internet. So getting in touch with folks and trying to sell your game may just require some time behind the keyboard. Not to mention the whole moving trend towards ebooks so you can just set up a free ten page demo of your game for anybody to download. It's easy. Well it looks easy to do, actually getting success out of it is another deal altogether. But when you don't have to worry about printing costs, warehouse costs, markdowns and what you get between distributors, shops and yourself it becomes a very attractive proposition. So now every Joe Gamer who thinks they have written 'The Game' are actually going through with making it available. All of which adds up to, as I said before, more people selling more games leading to less sales per company.

Now this is only part of why I think the shrinking of sales numbers are not an indicator of the health of the hobby. I have plenty more to say on the matter. But for the sake of easy reading I'll be dividing this one up into two separate articles, the other should be out next week. So what do you think about what I've said so far?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Silence - rough base mechanics

Okay working on the basic mechanics for Silence (my Silent Hill inspired rpg I want to run).  I really want to keep it very simple, as little note keeping, detail tracking, etc as possible.  So I wrote down a sort of outline of how I want the rules to work.  This is a completely rough draft with no actual meat put into it whatsoever.  Just me dropping down idea onto the blank page. 

Here is the thoughts on traits, combat and a bit about challenges.


Four base traits. MOVE, FIGHT, THINK and HIDE.  Rated from zero to three.

Use just ten siders with the goal of rolling high.

At a zero roll two dice and keep the lowest
At a one roll one die
At a two roll two and keep the highest
At a three roll three and keep the highest

Goal is to roll higher than the difficulty of the action.

In hand to hand you roll FIGHT vs FIGHT. The amount you roll over your opponents roll is the amount of damage you do. Weapons will add a set amount more.

There is no initiative roll. If the GM thinks you surprised them then you roll vs a target number for damage or give you a extra die in your FIGHT roll.

HIDE will almost always be vs THINK

MOVE vs MOVE when trying to outrun something. Can also be used vs target numbers to make jumps, get out of the way of something quickly, etc.

THINK will commonly be used vs target numbers.

The Death Spiral

The Death Spiral. It's a couple words being thrown around in rpg discussions for the past few years. Basically it's a reference to systems that start punishing a character as they receive damage. So the more they get beat on the less effective they are and it becomes more and more likely that they won't make it out alive. Usually it's negatives to die rolls, increased to target numbers and so on.

I kind of actually like this bit of terminology when it comes to game design. It sums up a few sentences of description pretty nicely and isn't entirely inaccurate. I believe the actual idea of having this happen is part of the push for game system to be more realistic. A push that's not entirely abandoned or bad, but usually runs right up against the wall of system complexity but that's a discussion for another time.

Now I have noticed that some games, especially the older ones, don't use the Death Spiral in their mechanics. You just take damage and function normally until you hit the point where it finally pushes out of the mortal coils and the character is dead. Recently there have been a few games that do the reverse of this and your characters are able to pull off even more amazing abilities since they are considered fighting for their lives at that point. Tenra Bansho Zero uses the Reverse Death Spiral and from what I've read players are liking how it all works out.

I'm wondering when the Death Spiral really started showing up in roleplaying games. Now not having a vast and endless game collection to dig through or a wide and varied gaming background either I can't even really offer up a guess at this. Was this an early development in game design or something that came along later? Anybody have any guesses or thoughts on it? Please use the comments section if you do.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Be A Better Player 14 - This costs money

GM – Alright guys I'm glad to be starting up Deep Dungeons again. It's been a while since we've played it. Let's knock out characters and get this rolling.

Player 1 – Sweet, pass me the Players Tactics 2 book would you?

GM – Don't have that one, just the core books and none of the new stuff.

Player 2 – Well that works for me.

Player 1 – What? The new stuff has all the updated classes and new skill lists.

GM – Yes and a fifty dollar price tag. I can't justify spending that right now.

Player 3 – The regular books work fine man. Just deal okay.

Player 1 – How can you run a game if you don't have all the books? Explain that.

GM – I have what I need to run the game, I ran it fine for years with what I have. There is really no need for me to get the new stuff right now. Maybe if we really get to playing this game heavy again but until....

Player 1 – No need? Really? It's all the new stuff. The stuff people want to play.

Player 3 – Look just deal with it and make a character alright.

Player 1 – Fine but don't expect me to be happy about it.

GM – Geez man chill. Here's the character sheets fresh from the copy shop printer.

Player 1 – Oh now what the hell? The one page character sheet? Why can't you give us the four player character sheets with plenty of room to write everything on and keep it all organized.... I mean really.....

I've seen this one several times. Both as a player watching other players spout this off or as a gamemaster listening to a player go on and on about it. The one who thinks everything that is produced for the game should be made available to them. Only the best character sheets will do and don't forget to give them a sheet or two of paper to keep track of things on. All on your dime of course.

I just want to grab them by the stack and swivel, pull them over the table and yell in their face “This shit costs money dammit!”. Now I know the old saying about how roleplaying games are probably one of the cheapest hobbies to be into once you figure in the costs per hour of usage and all of that. But it still isn't cheap and it's not getting any cheaper. Expecting the guy running to game to shell out his cash over and over again for books just so you can have access to them. Well that's a bit delusional if you ask me.

Top it off with the expectation of character sheets. While I agree that getting quick copies made usually isn't that costly it still adds up over time. If you go bulk to get discount rate you run the risk of the game you are running falling out of favor for a different one or an edition change that makes the old sheet useless. Then you are stuck with a mountain of paper gathering dust. Then, as in the example, there is somebody who expects the top notch multiple page character sheets that are mostly boxes with the words “Equipment Carried”, “Family Members” or some such in them. Making up for those to lazy to organize their own notes themselves. Really how hard is it to keep track of your shit man?

If you're going to complain about this then be ready to step up and put your wallet where your mouth is. Not just for yourself either, do as you expect the GM to do and be ready to provide and share with the others at the table. You want those four page character sheets, the copy shop is right down the street or you can print them out from your computer on a printer (and get ready for it to cost, I think copier ink is the most expensive liquid on the planet or something) AND bring enough for everybody. That new book an absolute must have, then buy it and let everyone at the table use it.

As for being an ass to the game master about not providing all this stuff on his own dime. That would not be a good thing to do at my table. Just thinking about makes me want to write a GM advice article about when it's okay to be an asshole to some players.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Screams From The Outhouse - Cyberlimb Thoughts


Let's take a look at cyberlimbs a bit. Not in the losing humanity or becoming more machine. Just a quick look at some ideas on the limbs themselves. A bit how they would operate and be designed.

Unsealed systems. What you see in most cyberpunk style artwork. Require cleaning, oiling and general upkeep. This would also be the earliest type created and would create an entire secondary market of cleaning products, self done mod kits for appearances and various upgrades.

Sealed systems. Cost more but require no cleaning as everything is enclosed. One small injection port for a synthetic lubricant to be added when required and maybe one more for charging the system. A perfect location would be in the fingernails as they could operate as a covering flap when not being used.

Powering cyberlimbs. Most have a rechargeable battery pack. The body does NOT generate enough electric to power these limbs. Most have a simple plug in port like any other electrical device. Some (especially sealed systems) have built in wireless charging abilities. Wireless charging points would likely become something a business would advertise as it would be good to know that your limb is getting a charge while you enjoying your Bic Mac and fries.

Most sealed systems have a fake skin covering. The appearance would be that of regular skin and it would be set to match your current skin tone, however it would be more resistant to damage than regular human skin. Also it would me more flexible and stretch further and self repairs scrapes and small cuts. However large cuts will break the surface tension causing the entire layer to start to pull loose. Replacing the entire thing is necessary as there is no way to repair it at that point.

Due to the sealed covering and just the nature of the design sealed systems are not easily upgradable. Not to mention that some upgrades would be impossible such as hidden compartments, pop up weapons or even heavier armor. Nearly all upgrades would have to be bought at the same time you are getting the limb. Anything done afterwords would be extremely costly and take quiet a bit more time as well.

This is something to take into consideration the next time you want to take the details of your cyberpunk games to a higher level.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Be A Better Player 13 - Don't hog the spotlight

Player one – Okay now that the security doors are now unlocked I'll jack out of the terminal and go back through the vents to hook back up with the rest of the group.

GM – While you vision takes a second to clear up after jacking out you hear a small soft slow clap behind you. Then with that so familiar voice of your bother he says “Very good sis, you work the net like an expert. Sadly for you though I caught you this time”.

Player 1 – Ah hell... okay I hold my hands up in the air just a bit and turn around to face him.

Player 2 – Do we know this is going on?

GM – Okay and... no, no you don't. Okay as you turn you see him standing there dressed in some high end business wear holding his katana by the scabard in one hand. “I'm not here to arrest you this time... I've grown tired of this chase. We need to...”

Player 2 – Can we hear any of this echoing down through the vents.

Player 3 – Dude chill man we're like three floors away.

GM – No you can't hear anything except the humm of the air conditioners running. Now he was saying “We need to finish this once and for all between us.” Then he grips the handle with his other hand and slides the blade free.

Player 1 – I reach over and pull my sword of my pack while I roll my head a bit to loosen up. “Alright big brother if this is how you want it.”

Player 2 – Alright her character has been gone to long I'm going into the shaft to climb down and check on her.

Player 4 – Oh bullshit man. It's her grudge match let her have it.

Player 2 – I can take the guy though.

GM – You have no reason to check after her, she said it would take about twenty minutes to get the job done and it's only been about fifteen.

Player 1 – Please just let me have this fight okay.

Player 2 – But I can take him down hardcore.

GM – Look it's her turn for a little time in the spotlight so just give it a rest. She has a commo if she wanted you involved she would've called for help. Now... back to where we were...

Player 2 – I'm going in there after her!

Everybody likes their share of time being the center of attention at the gaming table. Either being the one to save the day or having a one on one confrontation with an old arch nemesis. It's the time that most players strive for, when all eyes are on them and they are the main attraction for a few minutes. However some like that a bit much and try to be the center of attention at all time even when it means jumping into somebody else's spotlight.

So to make it crystal clear, you don't need to be in every single scene in a game. Your involvement isn't necessary in everything that happens. Sometimes you need to set back, sip your soda, shut up and watch as some of the other players get their time in. If not, well don't acting like an ass when people start to get aggravated with you or suddenly stop inviting you over to games at their house.

If you're wondering why this is important, well, it all comes back to one core saying I've always had about gaming. It's a game, we're meant to have fun while playing, ALL of us. Trust me I like some enthusiasm at the table it can really make things interesting and help keep everything rolling along greatly. Just sometimes you need to curb that enthusiasm just a bit before it starts to push others off to the side. Thus ruining their attempt at having fun.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Screams From the Outhouse - Dante Taxi Service

This time we have a taxi service that can be used in most modern supernatural/occult games.


“Should be here in just a minute.” Frank leaned over and told Anna as they huddled under his umbrella. He could still feel the warmth of the card as he put it back in his pocket. “In this section of town they are usually already near by.”

“Good I hate the rain,” she replied as her body shivered up against his a little due to the cold. “Especially when it's like this out here.”

“Don't worry I'll fix you some tea when we get home and warm you up.” Grinning as he looked down at her and received a smile back. “Ah here it is.”

The yellow cab pulled up to the curb slowing to avoid splashing water on the expected passengers. A logo of red spelling out 'Dante Cab Service' adorned the doors with the line 'private service' in black below it. Frank made a broad wave with his hand and made his best face as said “Your chariot awaits my dear.”

Anna gave him a laugh and started to reach for the handle when another person on the street butts past her and opens the door first. “Sorry folks you stand around you lose your ride. Cabby! I need up to fourth and Horatio pronto!” yelling as he dives into the backseat.

“Hey fucker, private service get the hell out of my cab!” The cabby doesn't even look back as he yells. Just motions to the door with his thumb.

The man doesn't just slams the door and pulls out a wad of cash attempting to show it to the driver who still isn't looking. Anna and Frank watch as the two argue inside for a few minutes, their yelling completely soundless as the cab seals everything in. Finally the driver turns around with a face full of rage and begins screaming, Frank notices steam rising from the top of the cab as the rain begins to evaporate.

Suddenly all the windows go completely black and within seconds the cab begins rocking back and forth. The two exchange a look of confusion as they watch. But just as quick as it started it stops and the windows go clear again, the man inside is gone along with the steam stopping. The drive fixes his collar and then rolls down the passenger side window, “Sorry about that folks some people just can't be dealt with in a sociable manner. Hop on in and I'll get you where you need to go.”

They open the door just in time to see a hand getting pulled into the crack between the seat cushions and out of site. With a bit of worry Anna climbs in first followed by Frank who seems a bit more calmer than her. The cabby looks in the mirror back at them, “Okay folks where you need to go and how do you want to pay? Teeth, cash, gold....?”


In the secretive inner circles of practitioners of the occult and sorcery there are a lot of people who try to deal with as few others who are 'out of the know' as possible. Which is why they have their own hidden away diners, members only clubs and even laundry services (because they don't want questions on some of those stains). So it is only a given that somebody sat up a Taxi service just for them as well. Strange thing is most folks have no idea who actually runs it or how much it would scare them if they knew.

How to get a cab.

Well the taxi service is set up to be a private one. Meaning that if you don't call for it then they won't pick you up, they don't stop for anybody waving their hands on the side of the road. In order to get a cab you need to have their business card. These are handed out among the society circles and can also be gotten from any cab driver so you can pass them along to friends. They appear to be made out of the same type of plastic as a credit card with the company logo on one side with the phone number and serial number on the back. All you do is call the number and give them the serial off the card and then they will hang up. The card will noticeably heat up for a few seconds as they use it to determine your location and a cab is sent on its way.

The drivers can be of any nationality or ethnic blend. There seems to be no 'norm' among them in any way. One day it's a kilted Scotsmen followed by a Japanese business man the next. Although their cabs are usually cluttered with a few clipboards and remains of fast food meals.


The taxis usually drive at the speed of normal vehicles. However if you need to get someplace fast then you can always pay more for that extra boost of speed. This could result in a flick of a switch and all the lights go green as you approach them or cutting through traffic at nearly impossible speeds for that sort of maneuver all the while never being noticed by the police. Now the top level of speed involves all the rear windows and the barrier turning black and then with a few sudden jerks of movement you arrive at your destination within a few minutes.... even if you needed to travel to the other side of the world.


Well they do of course accept cash but they also accept more exotic forms of payment as well. Any gold, silver or precious metals are usable, along with printed or minted currency from nearly any time in human history. Many drivers seem to like being paid in human teeth, the more pristine and young the better. Spell components, artifacts, its all open to negotiation as payment for services that you need rendered. Oh and they do get paid up front unless you are a known regular customer... and then they may let you travel on credit. Of course they keep a clipboard list with the names of those they can trust and you will have to sign that you will pay them at a later date.


One of the stranger things that has come out of the existence of this taxi service is their cards becoming collectable. The serial numbers (presumably) started off at 1 and then just went up from there. So the lower the number the older the card is. Now a small group within the occults groups themselves has started up whose members have the goal of finding the lowest number out there. There have been auctions, private sales and even thefts to get cards. Even when there is a murder among the occult society it has become common practice for the killer to search the body for their taxi card.

Who is really in charge.

The one thing that very few people know is who actually runs the service or who the drivers are. Most never think about it and those who have searched for answers have either come up with nothing or vanished without a trace. Well the truth is the person who is basically 'in charge' of the service is none other than the devil himself, well at least the entity that various religions claim to be the root of all evil. While the drivers are his demonic servants who have either failed in some way and are sentenced to the job or those who have excelled at pulling in new recruits from the passengers.

Which is what it's all about, bringing more people over to his 'side' culled from those who already live outside of most social norms. Keeping track of who pays with with what is one of the better indicators of likely candidates as the guy who uses the teeth of children is probably not to far from just hopping right in with the big horned one himself. Also don't mistake that signing anything, like say when you need a ride on credit, isn't all that far from selling your soul over as well. Although going full tilt darkside does have it's benefits, you no longer have to call to get your cab just hold the card and think about it not to mention the costs of travel go way down.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Be A Better Player 12 - Don't split the party

Stay with the party. Four words that so many players fail to understand.

I'm not even going to do an example write up from a game session for this. It would take to long, pages probably, to show just how bad splitting up the party can be. It's much easier to get to the bullet points of the entire subject instead of making you read through all that badly done script writing that I do. Mind you this is something that is bad for both the GM as well as the players. But also bear in mind that sometimes it does work and I will cover that at the end.

Let's start off with why it's bad for you since that is what most players are concerned with... themselves. It will cut your game time down considerably. Let's say you play in a six hour session with four other players and you all split up and go do your own thing. Now instead of being involved in the same stuff at the same time the GM has to bounce from person to person. So you will be going from six hours of game time to about an hour and twelve minutes. All that other time you will likely be setting at the table waiting as the other players get their turn at being the center of attention... one at a time.

Another thing to watch out for is the preplanned GM encounters. Going off about by your lonesome in the wrong place could lead your character right into a group of monsters designed to be a challenge for a group. Being by yourself there isn't any challenge and you pretty much end up being lunch. This can be especially true if you have a GM who runs pregenerated adventures 'by the book' without doing any adjustments. I mean there are few things as fun for a GM as when a single player sends their character down the tunnel into the waiting arms of ten or so Gnolls.

Don't forget that in many games it takes the specializations of the entire group working together to get through a task. I mean it would really suck to get stuck behind a locked door and you're not the thief. Or run out of spells and that handy dandy walking wall of meat with sharp objects (you know the fighter) isn't anywhere around. Maybe even being that wall of meat and bleeding from several of your meaty locations and the cleric is wandering around three rooms away looking at old paintings. So keeping your skills and abilities pooled into one location is a pretty good idea.

Also let me point out the general hassle and headache all of this is for the person running the game. Keeping track of the locations of five different characters at the same time, not to mention remember what each one is doing and what NPC's are involved, etc. This has a chance of grinding that divided game time down even further if they resort to keeping notes. I'll be honest one time I had a player that always strayed from the party. Finally one game I was tired of it and he managed to get his character completely uninvolved from the entire session. So I told him his involvement in that nights game was at an end and he could leave or sit and watch everybody else play because he was done. He got mad and took off, but the next session he stuck with the group.

Now, as I said earlier, I will cover reasons when it is usually acceptable to break up the group.

When the GM makes it abundantly clear that you need to. Basically things like giving you two goals that must get done at almost the same time. Or suggesting that your scout type character could go ahead and see what the bad guys are up to. This means the GM is prepared for the extra headache and stress.

Setting up a trap. Personally if the players are splitting up WITH A PLAN than I see that as not splitting up. But just advanced working together tactics. You know that rare thing called 'teamwork'.

Also a lot of Gamemasters also allow it when the players are shopping. A round robin on the table giving each player ten minutes or so to take care of any purchases and whatnot.

Of course this list is not complete nor will every game be the same. Some folks just prefer things a bit different than others. Some actually prefer the players to be split up quite a bit but from my experience, and that of several folks I know, this is not the normal case. So again take my advice to the table but just be ready in case the person running it has different ideas.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.004 - Cyborgs and society

Okay folks it's Sunday once again so that means it's time for another edition of Cyberpunk Sunday. I mean what else is Sunday important for besides science and cyberpunk right? This time we have a couple looks at the world of cybernetics and another one at corporate controlled government agencies. So sit back, relax and follow the links along.

Cyborg America biohackers and grinders

Man builds his own bionic hands

Now we have a guy over in China who lost both hands in an accident. Problem was he was poor and couldn't afford prosthetic replacements which put him in a really bad place when providing for himself and his family. So what else is there to do but build your own. This guy proves that low tech can be made in the basement and work. Maybe not as good as the high end high cost versions but they have allowed him to continue with his way of life.

Watch out for the Brand police

A bit of an older article that came out before the 2012 Olympics started. How about police who sole job is to go an make sure local shops were not breaking any 'rules' that were mostly set up by corporate sponsors of the games? Well that's what the UK got. They even went as far as having a list of words that shops could not use in their stores. Words like 'gold', 'silver', 'gold', 'London' and even 'summer'. Yeah that's the corporate greed cranked up to eleven that it has to crack down on anything they feel faintly threatening to their profit margins. Corporate control in the ranks of the police.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.003 - Biotech

This Sunday we are getting three links that are more geared to the biotech range of things. The three links below show some amazing leaps in the technology and a bit of dreaming on where they may lead. Gives you much to think about. That and all three have something to do with mice or rats.

Artificial Wombs

Artificial wombs that allow us to grow human embryos have been a pretty good staple in a lot of scifi type fiction. Even one episode of the old show Max Headroom uses the idea (Baby Growbags). So of course there would be those working to make these things a reality. So far they've had success in created these wombs to grow mice embryos and they aren't stopping there. One day we may have people who have a birth tank instead of a normal mother and father.

Brain in a dish flies plane

Biological brains at the center of a drones controlling their flights. This is another one starting to take form in the world of science. This time they've made a small brain using rat neurons, basically grew it over a electrode grid. Evidently they've already got it hooked to a flight simulator and the thing is controlling some very basic functions. But the possibilities of what this could lead to is staggering to thing about.

Artificial Jellyfish made from rat cells and silicone

This one is a few weeks old but I had to include it. Using the ingredients of rat heart muscles and a thin silicone film they have created a jellyfish like creation that can pump itself through the water when it is given an electric current. Now the thing isn't an actual fully living creature but the steps in that direction are present. Plus it also shows just how much you can stretch and use the various bits of a creature to create something completely unlike it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.002 - Society trends.

Todays Cyberpunk Sunday will take a look at society, how various tech advances affect it, where it may be going and other such musings. Let's get started shall we?

Twitter rumor increases oil costs.

How about a rumor affecting the global cost of products? Because this is exactly what happened. A rumor that spread like wild fire through twitter and then various other social networks helped to spark a panic that led to a global increase in the price of oil. The rumor itself was that the president of Syria had died which would have led to more instability in the Middle East. Eager to jump on anything that could be used as an excuse for a price hike the speculators quickly got the price of oil to jump by more than a dollar a barrel. All over a bit of bullshit.

Hacker wipes out Wired reporter

One of the staples of the cyberpunk movement, fiction and ideology is the hacker. This time one who smooth talks his way through a few hurdles to get a reporters private information and then goes on a deletion spree with his stored information. The Wired reporter got a quick lesson on how in-twined all of our various arms in the net are and if one is broken down then it can usually give them access to others.

Political Prostitution

This wonderful little website takes a look at the buying and selling of politicians in the US. How simply they can just buy their opinions and stances on various issues. Nothing like a whole lot of corporate corruption in the law makers of the 'free' world is there? They even name victims and perpetrators in this ongoing lesson of how much people will sell themselves for.

Cyberpunk Evolution

Finally a very well written little blog article on the signs of our own growth into a cyberpunk world. Starting off mentioning a roleplaying game idea and then quickly moving off into actual real world details about the way things are going and where they may end up. Not to mention a list of references at the end to top it off as a way more professional article than what most online 'news' sites ever offer up.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.001 Drones, VR and RPGs

The US Navy has started using underwater drones in the Gulf. Currently the plans are to use them for locating and getting rid of underwater mines. However anybody can see a number of other uses for them. Especially with that 100k price tag, which is kind of cheap compared to a lot of other weapons systems. I can see a clever rigger using a handful of these to cause quite a bit of mayhem in a very short period of time.

US Navy using drones

In this article io9 gives a really good breakdown on VR technologies and the idea of completely immersive computer simulations. Discussing how full the interaction may be, various ways you will be able to tailor your experience and much more. For the net junkies out there this is a must read for a 'where things are heading' lowdown.

VR Theory and thoughts

A little while back CD Projekt RED, the makers of the Witcher game series, made the announcement that they are working on a game based on the RPG Cyberpunk 2020. This of course had a lot of the fans really up and jumping for joy. Well now it appears that the creator of the rpg is working on a new edition to be released as well.

Cyberpunk 2020 news

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Update of a sort

Yeah I've gotten really far behind on putting anything on here. Have a couple of Be A Better Player articles started but not finished. More than enough links to do Cyberpunk Sunday stuff for months. Not to mention all sorts of ideas pouring though my head and random intervals. However I'm completely out of motivation and the ability to concentrate. But I'll get some stuff up here soon. In the mean time you can find me over on Google + as Peter Amthor or on Twitter as @trulyrural if anybody is interested.

Sunday, April 22, 2012 bans for stuff off of their site

For those who post over on I have a warning. They are back to banning people for what they post on their own personal blogs now. So even if you follow all their rules there completely they still ban you if they feel offended by something you posted someplace else.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Be A Better Player 11 - You don't know that

GM - “The guard falls to the floor in a dead heap his blood quickly pooling underneath him.”

Player 1 - “Okay now I spin around and shoot Tim in the chest, finishing off the clip, every shot.”

Player 2 - “What...? Why are you shooting me?”

GM - “You're what?”

Player 1 - “He's a spy for the other side, probably leading us all into a trap. I don't deal nicely with people who backstab us.”

Player 3 - “He's what? How do you know this?”

Player 2 - “He doesn't know that.”

GM - “You don't know any of that, your character has no knowledge of what his character has going on on the side.”

Player 1 - “No, I do know that. I heard you two talking before the game when I was getting a soda. So I do know it and you can't deny that it's true.”

GM - “No YOU know it, your character does not.”

Player 1 -”Huh?”

Out of character knowledge, also known in some groups as metagaming, it the topic this time. For those very few of you who may not know this is when you use information in game through your character that they do not know. This could be something as blatantly obvious as the description above or more subtle in the way your character treats or shares information with others. Either way it's still a pretty shitty thing to do and simply shows that you put your having fun above everybody else having fun.

Many times during gaming sessions, especially during long term campaigns, there are other small plot lines and events going on that not all characters are privy to. These can range from small mundane little things that are only of interest to that particular character, or things that will eventually lead to bigger things occurring in game. Used effectively this is a tool of multiple uses that a GM can wield to make things better for everyone. It allows them to take care of things that are only of interest to a single person without having to spending time using up group time at the table. Or they can build up plots to bring in using the characters that are 'in the know' as a way to introduce them.

By using this knowledge you have picked up you risk ruining other peoples fun as they are taking care of smaller things off to the side. Or by messing up things that the GM hopes to bring into the game in a logical fashion using other characters interests rather than just the blatant railroad into it. A lot of the urge to do this probably stems from the idea that somebody is getting off better than the rest or that they are trying to screw everybody else over. When you do this you have failed, at some point, to realize that role-playing is a game but not one of competition between the players, there isn't a single winner or loser.

If you over hear or discover some information out of game that worries you discuss it with the GM. Maybe they can let you in a little bit or let you know if it's something that will have an effect or not. Any GM worth his salt wouldn't let one player screw over all the rest in this manner because it displays the risk of only one person at that table of having fun.

Speaking as a player it really gets under my damn skin when somebody wants to get up in all of the things I have going on. Mainly because when they do they love to go around and tell everybody and then it pretty much ruins everything. Sometimes it's nice to have a few secrets going on, or to pull a bit of data or an item that you picked up they weren't aware of. Or when the captain of the guard greets on a first name basis, things like this. As long as you're not out to screw everybody else over then everything should be fine.

So in the end the way to deal with this is as simple as following the Wheaton Rule of “Don't be a dick”. If your character doesn't know it then that information isn't for them to use. Sometimes it's just funner to know what is going on and just watching to see where the pieces drop in the end.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Be A Better Player 10 - No you can't play that.

Player one – Hey I found this really good prestige class and I was wondering if you would let me try it.

GM – Well I'm trying to just stick with the base stuff out of the core books. Not wanting to branch out into to many other sources.

Player one – Awww, c'mon it's the 'Undead Slayer' prestige class it looks like it rocks.

Player two – Undead Slayer? We haven't even seen anything undead in this entire campaign.

GM – Yeah I'm not using undead in the current campaign at all, it doesn't fit whats going on in the least.

Player one – But it's really cool, just read it and you will say yes.

Player three – So how are you going to become and undead slayer when there are no undead to slay?

Player four – That would be some trick wouldn't it.

Player one – You guys are assholes, just don't want anybody to have any fun except for yourselves!

GM – What? How do you come to that conclusion just because I won't let you use a prestige class that's not from any of the books that I said we are using?

This is something that can happen in just about any game line where they have released a pretty extensive amount of material. Any edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the World of Darkness books, Shadowrun, and many more. Sometimes there is simply to much material to keep track of in your head. But when you try to limit it down to just a few books somebody just can't stand the idea of it.

I cannot say enough in these articles that most GM's put a lot of effort into the games they run. They have plot lines, lists of things that are going to happen, time schedules, lists of NPC's. It's no small chore. So when they try to make things a bit easier to control by limiting the scope of their game it's usually because there is more than they can handle otherwise. So they aren't out to stop you from having fun by not letting you play your current flavor of the month character type, they are trying to insure themselves that they will also have fun planning out and running the game.

Many times I've been a player in games where there were limitations on what we could choose from. It just made me be more creative with my selections. Also it never hurts to ask if you can use something, especially if you have a valid reason for it, the worst they can do is say no. If they do say no don't get pissy about it and move on.

Also don't let the discussion of this halt game play or carry a simple character creation session into an hours long ordeal. Asking about it should be fine and rather quick, but trying to get a full on discussion about why you should get to play a Lasombra in a Camarilla only vampire session can get really old real fast. Not just for the GM but also for those others who are wanting to play.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Screams from the Outhouse - Wax Seals

It's been a while but now I'm ready to start back up again. So to start off I'll be putting up five uses for wax seals in fantasy like games. At the bottom of it I'll also provide a link to an online store that specialized in wax seals, stamps, writing instruments and more. Enjoy.

Wax Seals

Seal of obscuring. Popular among diplomats who can afford it as the expense goes up considering it requires a special ink, wax and stamper. The message they wish to convey is written as usual only using the specially made ink. When finished and the ink has dried the paper is folded up and the wax seal is placed on the flap. It is during the placement of the seal that an incantation is spoken by the person sealing it. Now whenever it is to be read the person opening it must repeat a second line to the incantation. If not the ink starts bleeding through the fibers of the parchment and totally obscuring the print making it unreadable.

Seals of spell containment. A spellcaster writes a spell onto a specially prepared sheet of parchment. Then while rolling it up and placing the seal on it he casts a low level spell that will actually cast the one on the paper but holding it in place until the seal is broken. This allows the scroll to be sold to anybody to use, all they have to do is break the seal and the spell is cast. Afterwords the parchment disintegrates into a pile of pulp.

Seals of passing knowledge. This particular seal is placed on documents that are usually long and require a bit of time to read. Using this seal anybody who knows the activation phrase can place their fingers on the wax and have the knowledge passed over into them. The actual transfer sounds like somebody reading the text to them (usually in the voice of the person who placed the seal), nobody else hears it and it only takes a few moments in real time although to the person getting the transfer it may seem to take quite a while. There are reports of books with multiple seals for different chapters, special sections and such.

Seals of identification. These are made ahead of time, usually by visiting diplomats and royal families. They are done using a very specifically created wax that remembers the person who used it. The person makes their seal and signs their name below it. Now anytime it is needed the person can place their thumb on the wax and say their name out loud. If it is really the person who made the seal it will glow slightly, if not it will turn black and crumble. This can help insure the identity of who you are talking to.

Seals of killing. Sometimes you have to beware of the message more than the messenger. This seal looks completely normal until it is broken. Then it activates a contact poison that is laced into it and the paper. As the person reads the message it seeps through their skin and into them thus slowly insuring their demise. It has also been used to kill thieves and the people who hired them by leaving false poisoned documents in a 'secure' place.

Nostalgic Impressions - for all your wax seals needs.