Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Well according to this EnWorld post Mike Mearls is no longer over Dungeons and Dragons at WotC. Evidently he hasn't been in that position for some time now. It appears it may have been soon after the push back by fans and the online community after he enabled known internet troll, hate spewing, online stalking and accused sexual assaulter Zak Smith. So hearing that Mike is gone is a really good thing. Even better is his replacement.
Ray Winninger has apparently taken his position at WotC over Dungeons and Dragons. Ray has an impressive resume of accomplishments in the gaming industry and a quick search hasn't pulled up anything unsavory about his character. Having him in charge seems to be a great decision for the brand and the hobby at the same time.
Although last I heard about Winninger was that he was working on a new edition of Underground on the side. So I guess that may not happen now. Darn it.
But with Mike Mearls gone hopefully they won't be using some of the most toxic elements like Zak Smith and John Tarnowski as consultants ever again.
Monday, April 27, 2020
This is a very, VERY, basic write up on how I want psychic powers to work in Welcome to the City. An untested rough draft with only one psychic ability listed. Basically to see what people think of the mechanics behind it.
Characters with Psionic powers have a bit of an advantage over characters who do not. While mechanical balance in the game system it is instead placed into the setting. Those with these abilities aren't seen favorably by most of the City populace. They are treated with distrust because of what they can do that they cannot. Even the government feels this way and marks all known Psions with a DNA tattoo along the right side of their face going from the forehead down. This tattoo also works to identify what powers they have, as there are scanners that 'read' the markings.
A character has a Psychic Trait that works just like regular Traits, by determining the number of dice rolled. Starting characters will have a rating of one or two.
Each Psychic Abilities work the same as regular Abilities except they must be rolled each time the power is used. Although if the roll is done at a time when the character is not under any sort of duress they get a bonus die.
They also have a Psychic Reserve that is determined by taking the players Mental Trait and doubling it. These points are spent when using the characters psychic abilities. It costs one point to use an Ability, they also use may spend points to increase the power level of an ability the amount increased in this fashion is determined in each individual Ability. Also you may spend two points for a bonus die on a single roll.
Failure to make the roll when using a Psychic Ability is simply a failure to accomplish anything. The character concentrates and nothing happens.
If you run out of Psychic Reserve points you may still attempt to use the Abilities. However if you choose to do so and fail your roll then the character looses a point off of their Mental Stability.
The Psychic Reserve is refilled after a good six hours of uninterrupted rest.
Novice Level. May move an object of up to 10 pounds at the rate of a slow walk. For each Psychic Reserve point that is put in you may increase the amount by 10 pounds or double the speed at which you move it. Example: moving a 30 pound object at twice the rate of speed would cost 4 points of your Psychic Reserve: 1 for basic use, 2 for increasing the weight twice and 1 for doubling the speed.
Skilled Level. May move an object of up to 100 pounds at the rate of a slow walk. Each point put in can increase the amount by 100 pounds or double the speed at which you move it.
Expert Level: Same as the previous levels but the weight is now in 1000 pound increments.
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Community matters in the tabletop gaming hobby, it matters a whole lot. People may say otherwise and there may be a few small exceptions to this idea. But on the larger scale it is the truth.
Dungeons and Dragons has had 40+ years of community building behind the brand. This is why it's on top and continues to stay on top. Despite having a scumbag like Mearls in charge right now and some push back against about the founding ideas about the overall game design. It still remains one of the easiest and by far the largest communities to hop into. With plenty for designers, content providers, game masters and just plain ole' players to be involved with.
Other game communities cannot match this, especially with people being able to find a place. The OSR community is large but it seems focused more around designers and content providers than anything else. Game masters can find material to use and players just don't seem to be addressed all that much.
The community that has sprung up around PbtA games (as much as I dislike the system) have gained some ground by being an all purpose community. Since their system is more designed around player agency they have a draw for that crowd to come in. Along with designers and content providers. However with the overall variations of the system the community isn't unified as much and has splinter communities springing up.
While the indie crowd outside of PbtA seems to be a self fed group of designers and content creators. There is a lot of playing each others games and talking back and forth while refining what they have made. Having something that springs up a following outside of that circle is not that common.
You do have communities propped up by single games or game lines. These would include Pathfinder, the old White Wolf properties (mainly Vampire) and GURPS with it's shrinking support and supporter base. Even these combined aren't a match for what has been built up for Dungeons and Dragons over the decades.
So the easiest community for somebody new to the hobby to find a place in is the one for DnD. Even if you have moved on to playing other games you can usually still fall in with it's fans in a gaming discussion rather easily. Wherever there are gamers gathering there is usually DnD there in some form.
So instead of people bitching about DnD constantly, throwing insults at those who are fans and raging over it's design focus try working on your own community. Slip into their community a bit with a smile on your face and start working on bringing folks over to trying something new in a more inviting manner. Telling people that what they are playing sucks or that they are having fun the wrong way and for the wrong reasons isn't working and it isn't going to start working anytime soon.
Now for the record the last Dungeons and Dragons game that I played quite a bit in was when 3.0 came out and I was out of it long before 3.5 came along. Since then the only edition that I have ever ran was a couple of one shots of the BECMI version. Currently I'm more of a content creator and wanna be designer who doesn't fall into any of the main communities out there.
This has been my two cents, your mileage may vary.
Friday, April 24, 2020
The characters in 'Welcome to the City' are all blue collar workers stuck with jobs in the City Works Division. Basically they are multipurpose problem solvers that the city pays (very little) to go out and take care of whatever issue needs taken care of. Many times things get messy and there is a pretty high casualty rate among the Work Crews.
This of course got the attention of the corporate profiteers who saw that there was a way to make money off of this. So on came the camera crews and the reality show (and many spin offs) called "CWD". Capturing the events of what happens during their missions and mishaps along the way. Sometimes it's filmed and played later, other times if it gets really hot they can livestream what is happening. With multiple shows on multiple channels there is something going on 24/7. It's the most popular viewed broadcast in the city.
So during gameplay there may be cues from the camera cue to address the camera and thus the audience at home. Telling the people what is happening, answering questions from the hosts in the save little studio booths or maybe even to spit out a blatant product promotion.
Crews can get sponsored by all the various companies trying to get their names on the television as much as possible. It earns the studios quite a bit of cash but it does trickle down a little bit into the wallets of the various Work Crew members. If they manage to do well they can get a better stake of the payout and maybe even a few job offers on the side in promotions doing commercials or public appearances.
In the City you are important, but only as long the ratings say so.
So one of the goals is to provide a nice little selection of potential sponsors that the players could net for their characters. Using some that I cooked up for Sla Industries and Cyberpunk 2020 in the past as the basis and then adding to that list here and there.
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Another old Sla Industries resource that was previously available on my long dead website in pdf form. Decided to make it available again on the blog here. Hope you find something useful here.
Subversive Six Pack – Six Soft Companies for Sla Industries
Below are listed six soft companies with some simple and quick descriptions tagged onto them. Useful for when you need to pull a quick mission out for a group or to help you kick off some more ideas in your head for future BPNs.
Pop Gun Fanatics
This company makes toy replicas of Sla weaponry. They are exact in scale and detail almost perfect copies except they are made in a low quality plastic. All of the internal workings are replace by a simple 'clacker' for the pop sound the guns make. Normally most operations like this aren't considered a big threat and are overlooked. However since they are cutting into the sales of the official toys (less detail, wrong scale and worse plastic with a higher cost) they have become a target of the weapon manufacturers.
Mister Slayer Haters Club
This company started up when they got two pieces of essential equipment. One is a outdated printing press that can nearly use anything for ink after it's mixed with a bit of oil. The other is a recycling machine that pulls the print off of paper leaving it blank. So all they have to do is collect old papers from downtown trash piles and they have all the supplies they need.
They are ran by a subversive leader who has a real hate on for Sla Industries. They print attack reports, news of successful subversive actions, coded messages and anything else they can get. However they will not print Dark Night material as the small staff doesn't trust them.
Flux Off Inc
Founded by a rogue Necanthrope who has decided to switch sides five years ago Flux Off has become a thorn in the side of Dark Lament for a while now. Using his knowledge of how to make the type of ebb stopping glyphs that exist in the Pit he started providing them for subversive groups.
Consisting of other ebb users who have either gone rogue as well or just recruited from the streets they have been trained in Glyph etching. So for a price you can purchase specialized glyphs blocks, towers and other objects.
One Subject Games
Makers of blackmarket first person shooters for various video game units out there. Usually they simply steal the engines from other game makers and overlay their own skins, maps and storyline. However what has attracted some attention of people in power is the nature of some of their maps and goals. Their level maps are always those of actual high level or important Sla Industries facilities. They are nearly perfect, so perfect in fact that Phantom Pregnancy reconstructed some of its locations on Mort to change the layout of hallways and checkpoints. Even guard routines are copied into their games. The goals can range from assassinations in the corporate offices to the steal of top secret files from laboratories and computer banks.
These folks make a an application that can be downloaded to most hand held electronic devices that establish a connection with the Mort wide information grid. The application is called “Slops Around Me” and it has the device listen for certain wavelengths that are known to be used by Sla personnel. This includes their headsets, other communication devices and even (although the makers don't realize this) the signals sent out by people who are chipped.
Then using the signals it figures out the operatives locations and overlays them onto a map if one is available. If there is no map then it will still give you the direction and distance. Needless to say this has caused a few squads to walk into fatal ambushes because the subversives knew they were coming.
Artificial Joy Club
While not the makers of fine black market drugs they are one of the bigger distributors. Artificial Joy Club sets up large parties in order to draw in their customers. Usually sending out messages to subscribed members who send them out further just hours before they begin. This alone has created some chaos as you have hundreds of teenagers all rushing into one area with the single goal of partying and getting high.
Since these parties do attract all sorts of users some operatives use them to meet contacts or to gather information. The only reason there has been some effort to shut them down is the actual distribution of the drugs especially after a few Shatter dealers showed up selling their goods as other narcotics.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Wow this is an oddity. Something I wrote for Kult but never put up on any of my sites or blogs that I can remember. Basically this was a write up for putting the puzzle boxes from Hellraiser, or something very similar, into the game. According to the date last saved stamp I finished writing this in 2005. I even found an old logo for Kult that I used on my old website 'Parchment of Flesh' as well and put it up above.
The Puzzle Box
The box itself is about six inches square and weighs about five pounds. Layered on the outside in a very ornate design are silver runes, symbols and various moving pieces. Underneath the silver there is a base material of red that is so dark it is almost black, this can be seen through various spaces in the details.
All of the design work can be moved around in a fashion somewhat resembling a slide puzzle. Moving one piece allows one or two more to be moved in its place, while some others make be pressed in causing various other reactions. But it always stays in the same shape of a square box.
Each move makes an audible click. Every now and then a small whir can be heard from the inside, usually once a part is depressed. A small whistle, breathing noises and a heartbeat are heard as well. Also it may emit a quite old-fashioned music box melody that lasts only for a few seconds.
What it does:
Through the arrangement of the design work and the sounds that come from within, this box teaches you subconsciously. It slowly puts all that is needed to use the Lore of Death into your head. Also, while you are in possession of the box, your character acts as thought they have the Magical Intuition advantage.
But in the end there is a price to pay. Once the box teaches you everything it can and you still continue to try and solve more sections of the puzzle it will reveal a final prize. The user is pulled into Inferno and placed into their personal Purgatory, the box will be left in our reality for someone else to find.
There are twelve steps in the box before you are gated to Inferno. Each time you solve one you add a point to your Lore Rating in the Lore of Death. Solving each step takes time; roughly you must spend a number of hours straight in working on the box equal to the step you are trying to solve. Once you have worked that time an EGO check is made, if successful add a point.
There are more than one of these puzzle boxes in existence. Many cults know of them and are actively searching. From time to time they turn up mysteriously in small antiquity shops, museum warehouses or the occasional crime scene. How they got there is never determined, as they seem to ‘find’ their owners.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Monday, April 20, 2020
Been working a bit more on the system. Basically trying to define the core structure so I can then spread out from that.
First off only 12 sided dice are used.
You have three traits: Mental, Physical and Social. Each of these have a number of Abilities listed under them. The Trait score denotes how many dice you get to roll. While your abilities denote the number you need to roll under in order to succeed.
Traits have a score that ranges from 1 to 4.
Abilities come in three levels: Novice, Trained and Expert. At Novice you need to roll a 4 or less, Trained you need to roll a 6 or less and at expert you need to roll a 8 or less. No matter how many dice your roll you only count the lowest die.
All rolls are normally done with the assumption that the Ability is being performed under stress. This means most abilities don't need to be rolled to perform basic routine tests. Example: Driving your vehicle to your destination - no roll needed; Driving your vehicle at high speeds down a crowded street while being shot at - then a roll is needed.
To simplify the book work needed when you roll the target numbers determined by the Ability level never change. Instead you may gain an extra die to roll through either good roleplaying, a good interesting description of what you are doing or by stating the use of something to help the character. Whether an extra die is awarded is up to the GM at all times.
Example of good roleplaying: "As I see Ron get shot and go down I flash back to my training, and yell that I got him as I'm sliding in next to him letting my reflex and instinct take over."
Example of good description: "Dropping down next to Ron and checking his wound, compressing it with one hand and pulling his torn shirt back with the other as I analyze what to do."
Example of something extra: "Going to help take care of Ron's wound using my first aid ability, also I have a first aid kit and I'm pulling it out as well."
The reason for these three distinct different ways to get an extra die is because not everybody plays the same. Some people are natural thespians and can roleplay great at the drop of a hot, others are not. This way everyone has some sort of equal chance for that die.
Now some rolls can be made without an Ability behind them. Such as using brute force to knock down a door, solving a puzzle or riddle or remaining upright after a hard impact. For these situations the GM determines which Trait is necessary to roll and assigns a difficulty number using the 4, 6, 8 scale.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Well apparently Zak Smith got a court settlement out of the former rpgnet mod Ettin. Apparently the conditions were for an undisclosed amount of cash and Ettin had to post an apology up to Zak in various places online. His twitter feed was one, rpgnet another, but one was someplace that Ettin never even went to and that was the OSR channel over on Reddit. Why? Well I'll tell you why.
Zak is absolutely dumb enough to think that by forcing Ettin to apologize publicly to him that folks would suddenly welcome him back into his favorite old circles again. That he would be seen as vindicated and absolved of everything.
Well instead they flipped his ass the bird. The third party sites that are not bound by any of the court agreement either just deleted the apology or locked it an let it sink out of site. Over on Reddit Zak pulled out a sockpuppet and tried to drum up support for himself but that led to a pretty hefty amount of down voting while people were telling "so totally not zak" to fuck off.
Ettin sat up a gofundme to help pay for the legal costs he accumulated and people were happy to help him out. Across Twitter pretty much everyone was calling Zak out and making it very loud and clear that his skanky ass is not welcome back.
Except for the sewer drain that is the forums that John Tarnowski runs. Folks who were previously burning him at the stake were welcoming him back with open arms. Only a couple dared to say that Zak is still a festering pile of pig shit.
Now with that all said I will say this about Ettin. I don't really like him, he seemed more like a troll with power than an actual mod when he was at rpgnet. He also used to like pointing out when others were having badwrongfun in his eyes and crept towards onetruewayism quite often. Even then he is still miles above Zak on being a better person. Ettin is normally one of those folks I ignore and that's easily done, he never really stalked people down. Stalking is what Zak loved to do, normally using his notebook full of sockpuppets and foolish fans to do so.
So Ettin if you read this I hate to hear about the settlement and what you had to do. Zak if you read this you can go take a very long walk off a very short pier, oh and don't bother replying here because I'll delete anything you have to say. Nothing that comes from your brain is worth keeping around.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
The standee that will come along with the character sheet.
In games I've ran that used pregens there is a trick that I employed to make things move a bit smoother. Each player had a little paper standee in front of them with their character name on it. In each of the pregen write ups it gave a bit about their relationship or knowledge of the other characters. So with the standees in place they could get a better frame of reference for who they need to talk to, they can get in character a bit better by instantly seeing the name they need to use for folks.
I've decided to port this over to Welcome To The City as well. You see there is no mystery to who the other characters are, everyone is assigned to a City Works Division work crew. So with a quick glance they get to see the persons name, their place in the chain of command and specialization.
Of course after my blog posts about masks there will also be a spot for someone to draw their own if they have a design. After all when you can't see a persons face most of the time their mask becomes how you recognize them.
What do others think about this idea?
Monday, April 6, 2020
I've always planned to include social mechanics into the game. Like rolling to influence others, fast talk, intimidation, things like that. Because to many games have gone the direction of 'roleplay it out' and forget that not every player is an amateur thespian.
So there will likely be three primary stats: Mind, Body and Soul. With various abilities and skills that fall under each one. Since day one the Social stat has been on my brainstorm sheet. I want it to pretty much work like everything else, the players can tell you what their action is and the GM decide if there is a roll necessary. Because remember everything is rated as if you are doing in under duress so many actions may be seen as automatic successes. Bribing an underpaid security officers who hates his job into looking the other way? Yeah that's going to happen without a problem. Trying to fast talk your way out of a gang excursion when you have guns pointed at your head? Get ready to roll.
Now of course you can roleplay it out if you want. There will be some flex room for any GM decisions so they may let you get by something stressful without a roll or give you a bonus die when you do. Again if you can't roleplay very well but come up with a good idea on how to talk your way out of something they may do the same.
This is one of the ways I want to make my system more accessible to as many potential players as possible. Making it where they can act out things if they want but that die roll is there so everybody is on level footing play wise.