Thursday, August 22, 2013

Accidental Art

I still am confused as to why most of the things I intend to draw end up as beg nasty meses, while the mindless sketches I make tend to be the ones I like.  Probably says something aboout my psychological make-up. :)

- Ark

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cartographic Question

This map for my Star Wars players brought up a question from one of them.  Where is the land and where is the water?

So, what do you see?

- Ark

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Edge of the Empire Dark Side Slide Mechanics

In last night's Star Wars game, the PCs woke up and ancient Sith Lord who handed them their asses and walked over their bloody, crumpled  bodies as if they didn't exist.  (This wasn't the kids game - it's the, um, BIG kids game.)  Anyway, three of the PC's decided that they needed some force powers of their own and that reviving an ancient Sith Lord and having him suck the life out of you and then chop off your limbs and gouge out your eyes was the perfect 'trigger' for your latent force abilities to show up.

So they all bought themselves some force abilities.  Now the force abilities in Edge of the Empire are very pedestrian - convincing some strormtroopers that those are not the droids they are looking, tossing someone across the room, and reading someone's surface thought.  No 50 meter leaps or force lightning.  This is a Han/Boba style game.  The Force book won't be out for a long, long while.

But still - the game has a mechanic for dark and light sides, and using them.  Basically, you roll and could get some dark or light points to use, or some of both, for whatever power you are activating.  You can spend light and dark with little issue.  But Edge of the Empire is vague about the whole good/bad thing - except to day that maybe the GM should do something about it if he or she feels like it.

I felt like doing something about it.  In my opinion, the dark side is nothing to treat lightly - even if you are a murder hobo.  So I drew up a rough draft:
Characters may convert a number of dark side results into force points each session with no harm.  This number is equal to their Willpower + Discipline (between 1 and 12 with an average of 2.)  Past that, the character runs the risk of loosing control for a period of time, if not permanently.  This loss of control is up to the GM, but will involve the dark side emotions of fear, anger and hate.

When converting force points above their limit, characters must pass a Discipline check to stay in control of themselves.  If they fail, they loose control to the Dark Side (and GM) for 1 round plus another round for each Threat in the dice pool.  Times outside of combat would be minutes, not rounds.

A despair results hands over control to the DM for the rest of the combat (or encounter.)

Each failure PERMANENTLY increases the difficulty of the roll, from Simple, Easy, Average, etc. - thus adding another difficulty die to the Discipline check.  Past Formidable (five dice) there is the Impossible Task level, which also has five dice, but requires spending a Destiny point to attempt.  Failure of this Impossible Level Task makes the character an NPC for the GM to control permanently.

This mechanic is designed to allow the players to flirt with the dark side a bit. They can even train themselves to be able to dip into it more. But if the character goes beyond 'recreational use' and becomes a dark side addict, then some horrible things will happen. Not just to the character, but everyone around them.

Jedi Temple Younglings anyone?

- Ark

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tephra the RPG

I'll say this upfront.  Tephra is everything that Shadowrun Fifth Edition should have been - a science-fantasy role playing game with technical marvels, demi-humans, and a simple game mechanic.

I avoided this game for a long time, despite it being available at my FLGS, despite my friends playing it, and despite even the fact that the game designers came from half a state away to run a demo game four blocks  from where I live.  Tephra is steampunk.  I did steampunk way back in SPACE: 1889, and didn't have much interest in diving back in.

Well, last weekend a game of All Flesh Must Be Eaten fell through due to involuntary DM double-shift, so us stragglers sat around debating what to play.  The local Tephra evangelist was there, so I said 'What the heck' and we played a game.

Character creation can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there are no classes, or templates, or nothing.  It's best just to have an idea for the character, and then have someone who knows what they are doing help build it.  But after I had made a character once, I think I could make just about anything now.

Kalisandra the Satyr
aka the Encylopedia
(due to a few well-rolled knowledge checks)
So, Tephra takes place in a fantasy world gone steampunk.  Races include humans, the aquatic ayodin, gnomes, fallen elves that are more like trolls, and 'fixed' elves called the farishtaa.  There are also satyrs.  I've never once thought about playing a satyr in any role playing game before, but I found their background intriguing - being a genetically modified slave race recently freed, so I chose one for my character.

There are five attributes; Brawl, Cunning, Science, Dexterity, and Spirit.  Each of the attributes have a variety of skills - and you put your points into the skills - not the attributes.  Then you select some specialties that are under the skills you bought.  Attribute scores are derived from the skills, and not the other way round.  This method of creation lets you pinpoint exactly what you do well, and everything else falls from that.  Specialties range anywhere from driving with your knees, building steam power robots, to paralyzing people with your touch.

The game mechanics center around a twelve-sided die.  One twelve-sided die.  That's all you roll.  It explodes out the top for larger numbers, and you add your attribute or skill.  Usually it is a contested roll with the biggest result winning.  Very simple and quick.  I like it.

Of course, there is a lot more to it.  There are many background options and the skills and specialties systems really help to make your character into an individual.  My satyr character is a spy and assassin who bullshits her way out of trouble, strikes with her octopus-hilted daggers around people's armor, and if all else fails, can craft her own poisons - delivered by little mechanical octopi -  to finish people off.

Throw all of this into the world of Tephra, a setting designed to support many shades of Steampunk - from Victorian England, Wild West, Colonian Africa, or the Far East - and you get a really nifty game.  It has resparked my interest in steampunk - a genre that I never really thought I'd be interested in again.

So yeah, I'd recommend it. :)

- Ark

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shadowrun the Fifth

Soooo . . . the guys have playing that new Shadowrun video game and are hungry for some Shadowrun role play.  I wasn't real happy with 4th edition.  Don't get me wrong - I love love love the Shadowrun universe.  But the mechanics were a pain in the ass.  Fifth is coming out - and they have some Quick Start Rules up for it, so I said what the heck, I'll run it for them - most have never played before - and we'll see if it is worthy.

I haven't finished reading the QSR yet and I'm already . . . gritting my teeth.  Despite a rules overhaul, it still looks like we are tossing around anywhere between ten to twenty six-sided dice bombs for offensive actions AND defense of said actions.  Not my favorite part of the game.

To top it off, the intro adventure . . . geez . . . where to begin.  Okay, so obviously the guy who wrote  the thing and the guy who drew the map for the adventure didn't talk.  The map - and it's a map of a fast food restaurant - doesn't match of with the descriptions.  Heck, if the map had even a vague resemblance to a fast food joint, that would help.  But it doesn't.  Why is the food prep area in the middle of the frikkin room like a Benihana?  Surely a Shadowrun McDonald's would NEVER want the customers to know what they are actually eating?  And the bathrooms are big enough to store school buses in.  Arrrghhh!

(Deep breaths, deep breaths.  Relax, Ark.)

So, I'm trying to stop myself from going out and dropping 200 bucks on GURPS books and tweak it's knobs until I can run Shadowrun RIGHT.  Okay, I don't' have 200 bucks, so that fixes that.

But I'll run the QSR alright, dammit.  And we'll see how it goes.  Who knows - maybe I'm over-reacting and everyone will love it.  :)

- Ark

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Petty Landscapes

Three or four months ago, I had an idea to draw weird landscapes for Gorgonmilk to use, should he need them, as filler inside of the Petty Gods book.  Layout can be a bitch, and strange shaped art could only help, right?  Well, then I burnt out my hand drawing too much in an unhealthy way, and a strange, artistic malaise/depression set in as I healed.

Well, my hand hurts a heck of a lot less and I gave the old Wacom a twirl tonight.  Whatdayya know - I finished one of the Landscapes I had sketched out a while back.  Yay me!

Anyway, here it is - Petty Landscape #1 (aka First Date.)  Use is as you wish, Gorgonmilk!

Click to Embiggen
Okay, now some ice for the hand . . . :)

- Ark


Still arting, trying to learn how to make shapes . . .

- Ark