Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jaded Gamer Diary - What adds value

Evidently when I say something is overpriced I'm a bad person. Everybody has a different sense of worth and mine is appropriately counter to what several others think. I don't see added flash, limited edition covers, separating something in multiple books, etc as things that add any sort of value to a RPG book. Things like having all the rules I need in one book with a sensible design and layout as a symbol of value.

So I seem to attract the ire of those who love the Dungeons and Dragons design strategy. Spread the rules among two or three core books so they have to buy them all. This also comes around in an attempt to bite me when I complain about other games doing this. Different group of folks saying “Well you probably didn't complain when you bought the three core books for D and D did you?”. Well no I didn't complain because I didn't buy them. Last edition of D and D I bought was the old BECMI stuff years ago. I have a 3.0 Players Guide but that was given to me for free.

Limited edition versions of books simply make me facepalm and walk away. Really? Change up the cover and charge an extra twenty to whatever bucks. Maybe even make a leather cover for it, or a plastic one, whatever. No thanks, I'll take a regular version at a much lower price thank you. Or worse yet is when they try to toss in a handful of pages as 'exclusives' in that limited edition. So now we are supposed to think that extra hefty price tag is somehow covered. Yeah... um... no. Making material for you game hard to get only really accomplishes two things in the end: fans saying 'fuck it' and walking away or good old piracy and you get your game shared up over on all the torrent sites.

Actual useful shit. That adds real value to a roleplaying game. Tossing in a disc with quick character generation stuff on it (3.0 did get that right), hell yeah. I get a PDF copy of the game for free when I order the print version, okay. I get a good solid system with all the information I need to run it in one book along with the world overview and plenty of stuff to use to run adventures, that's a seller right there.

Strangely I would love the Palladium Games stuff if they had a better system. They hit all the value markers pretty much spot on with their core books... most of the time.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Masters Workshop - Details don't matter

The details really don't matter all that much. At least not nearly as much as some people want to think they do.

Nearly everybody has something that catches their interest more than it does most others around them. Whether it be cars, firearms, science, etc; they have something where their knowledge goes beyond what most would ever care to know. Now of course who doesn't want to show off their extra trivia knowledge on their favorite subject right? Well sometimes you need to be a bit careful of that, especially when you are running a game.

A problem I've seen on more than a few occasions is a gamemaster who suddenly expect their players to have the same level of knowledge as they do. Or expects them to go out and research that subject until they do. Either for penalizing the players in game because they don't know what pick up trucks have four wheel drive and which ones don't. Or that a type of martial arts is more about grapples and throws than anything else. This gets becomes a double problem when the gamemaster expects them to have this knowledge because their characters do.

Don't do this, really just don't. Not only does it tend to piss off the player and sucks some of their enjoyment out of the game but the other players notice you doing this also. Unless you want to set up a whole 'me vs them' mentality at your game table... which I would never recommend.

Gloss over the details. When they decide to shift their truck into four wheel drive before running through a street full of walking dead guys just let them. It makes for more fun all around and nobody feels like they are being screwed because they don't happen to be as much of a gear head as you. Keep it simple and ignore when things don't match up to reality. Just have a good time.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Horror Gaming and that damned line.

One thing most people tend to forget about when running or playing in a horror game is a line. Not the line that determines the limits of what kind of stuff should happen in the game. The blurry line that determines if it is a horror game or not. It's blurry because it can mean something different to each person... but it's still there.

This line really becomes apparent in modern day horror games. Take for instance how a lot of RPGs of the old White Wolf lines tend to go. They started out with an idea of horror but soon it turned into Dark Super Heroes or Dark Modern Day Fantasy (especially stuff like Changeling). They lost a lot of that early personal horror idea that was present in first edition Vampire and a some other works they did around that time. Now it doesn't mean you are playing it wrong by any means. If you and your group are having fun then you are playing it right and that's what counts.

But you need to acknowledge when it stops being horror.

What really tends to break that feel is when the PCs start having various powers to battle back at the darkness with. You become something more than human that can stand to toe to toe with the bad guys which isn't so scary all of a sudden. This is, as I said earlier, more akin to Dark Super Heroes. Playing Blade and the Nightstalkers or something.

The best single piece of advice I can give for running a modern day horror game is simple; keep the PCs human. If they become a vampire by being bitten or a werewolf or whatever then it should be game over for that character. Add them to the NPC list for the GM to use for the rest of the campaign. Place them in that vulnerable spot of being very mortal and unshakably human. They may gain knowledge, a few skills and maybe even an item or two. But never let them become anything like the things they are trying to fight.

If they get magic then make it a ritual requiring long term effort to make it work. Kult is a great source of inspiration for this as well as Unknown Armies (just stay away from the other abilities). Make them costly to get and even more costly to use. So they become a tool of last ditch desperation.

Keep the special items down to a minimum also. Think of things that may allow them to detect a very specific kind of creature but it can't give you anything exact. An amulet that makes it harder for a vampire to hurt them... but not impossible. Or something that requires an activation of the users blood to work, or some other sort of sacrifice. Keep them to a minimum and very specific so they don't become a catch all for everything they run into.

There is my advice about how to keep the game on the horror side of the line.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kult CCG Jackals Rising

More of the new cards we put together once upon a time.

Pawn, Jackal (blue)
+1 CV for every Jackal in play.
+1 CV when attacking a pawn.
Stations 1-4
Cost Skull x2
CV 3

Mad Dog
Creature, Jackal (blue)
+1 CV for every Jackal in play.
Must attack a pawn when able, before attacking anything else.
Stations 1,2
Cost Skull x2, Eye
CV 5

Creature, Jackal (blue)
Attach to a pawn in another mystic cross. You now control that pawn during your attack phases.
+1 CV for every Jackal in play.
Stations 1-4
Cost Skull, Eye x2
CV +1

Creature, Unique, Jackal (blue)
+1 CV for every Jackal in play.
Must attack during your turn if there are any available targets.
Station 4
Cost Skull x2, Eye x2
CV 8

Mass Meeting
All Jackals in play may attack once each during their controllers phase.  They may not attack other Jackals.  You may have only one Mass Meeting in your deck.

And finally something to hit back at the Jackals with.

Play whenever a Jackal defeats a pawn in combat.  That Jackal is discarded.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Kult CCG alternative Major Arcana and tournament rules

For a while the Kult CCG was getting a bit popular where I lived.  Was looking into starting up some sort of league play for it including coming up with new cards, tournament rules, etc.  Here are some of the ideas we had. 

Tournament and league play rules.

Major Arcana over rule Minor Arcana in all rule disputes.
When Major Arcana rules conflict with each other, the one with the highest Hierarchy + Pop Markers wins.

Cards restricted to one per deck.
Astaroth Stirs
Out of Control
Fettered is limited to the number of players with a max of 3.

New Major Arcana

The Upstart
Choose the four suits it has and it's color.  No powers and hierarchy = 0.

Hammad Al-Sufi the Dream Prince
Purple, Crescent x3 and an Eye.
All Pawns of Dreams and spell casters have +3 to CV and may cast dream spells without a suit match.
Hierarchy = 11

Maximillian, Prince of Fools
Purple, Eye x3 and a Skull
All Pawns of Madness and spell casters have +3 to CC and may cast madness spells without a suit match.
Hierarchy = 11

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Horror Games - Player Responsibility

Running a horror game is a bit of work. You have to do some things different than you do for a normal run of the mill dungeon crawl or shoot em up action affair. Pulling it off with the desired results is a bit of a reach for a lot of folks but when it happens both the GM and the players will remember it.

This article is no longer available for free and is part of Clandestine Societies Issue One over on DrivethruRPG. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kult - The Black Tiles

Here is an unfinished article I was working on a while back.  Something interesting to drop into the possession of the PC's in a KULT game.  While I never finished stating it completely out you pretty much get the full idea here.  The chances of me ever finishing it are slim to none so I might as well share what I have so far.

The Black Tiles

For years these little artifacts have been circulating among cults and subversive societies. Small black squares that defy ones own eyes and are said to provide visions, supernatural abilities and even extend the lives of those who possess them. You can find them by following the trails of murders, sacrifices and death that always seem to occur whenever they are around. Either by those who claim to control their powers, or by those who seek them.


These tiles are square, three inches long on all sides and a quarter inch thick. They feel heavier than any normal stone tile by about double the weight. Visually they normally appear as a flat black but when looked at from various views they change from a shiny finish, to marbleized with red streaks, to a static gray and even to a slightly transparent smoke color.

What they do

First and foremost they erode the mental balance of anyone who stays near them for any extended period of time. The rate of loss is around one point per week if it stays within their nearby vicinity, or by one a day if they carry it on their person. Negative mental traits are picked up, usually in the psychopathic variety. The desire to cause harm and suffering to others grows steadily within them.

Any user of the Lore of Death receives a bonus to their skill level whenever it is included as a center piece to any of their rituals.

After and hour or so around the tile people with an already low mental balance will start to hear voices. Usually the sounds of people crying out in pain, begging to be killed and lots of sobbing and screaming.

Someone with a mental balance higher than a positive 50 feels uncomfortable at the site of them. Getting headaches, nosebleeds and nausea the longer they stay around one.

What they are

In actual reality these tiles are stolen from Inferno by a Nepharite years ago. Removed from the floor of a torture chamber in an abandoned citadel. Some unknown deal was made with a Lictor who brought them over into the illusion for their own nefarious uses.