Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Relief

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to pass this along. DriveThruRPG.com is collecting donations for the New Zealand Red Cross to help with relief efforts. Here is the info from their site.

"A powerful earthquake struck New Zealand's already-bruised city of Christchurch on Tuesday, collapsing buildings, burying vehicles under debris and sending rescuers scrambling to help trapped people amid reports of multiple deaths. DriveThruRPG and several publishers have teamed up to raise funds to aid those affected by this earthquake. We have a new bundle of great products available now. You can also donate directly with our $5 donation offer here.

You can find more information about the New Zealand Red Cross here. Please note that due to the emergency and high traffic volume it may be difficult to connect to their site."

The money raised from this will be a huge help to the people affected by this natural disaster so hit the link above and donate today. Until next time...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Playing the Roles: My God... It's Full Of Stars...

Hey everyone and welcome to an infinite installment of the Dispatch!

I recently have been getting an itch to do some science fiction role playing. One of the podcasts I was listening to mentioned Traveller and I started thinking about checking it out. I've never played the system but I remember looking through my brothers copies the various books years ago. I don't like the idea of killing off players during character generation (one of the things Traveller is famous for...) but still, from what I'd heard it seems like there's enough wiggle room that you can really make the setting your own.

I briefly looked at it on RPGNow but honestly $24 seems like a lot to spend on a pdf, especially since I'm probably going to print up a bunch (if not all) of it so it's just going to cost me more. Kind of discouraging but I decided to just cruise around the site to see what I could see. Oddly enough, I stumbled across another sci-fi rpg and honestly you can't beat the price... $0! Needless to say I downloaded and printed it out (so 200+ pages later and it's not really free but you get the idea...).

Stars Without Number

Stars Without Number is one of the many old school RPGs that has been hitting the scene lately. Characters have the familiar stats that a lot of us grew up with; strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution, and charisma. Sound familiar?

Once you have your stats, its time to choose one of three character classes. The expert is a kind of catch all class for any of the more intellectual occupations. The psychic is just that, a psychic. The warrior is your combat professional. At this point things sound kind of limited, but there is actually a lot more depth beyond just these three classes. Every character also chooses a background which adds a little bit of flavor along with a number of skills, and you also choose a training package which help further define your character class.

As far as the skills, they are used to make skill challenges but instead of using a d20 like 4e does you use 2d6 and add your skill bonus. This gives you a pretty good idea whether you are going to be able to succeed right off the bat.

Combat is handled slightly differently in that you roll a d20, add your opponents armor class along with any modifiers you might have (combat skills, to hit bonuses, etc.) and if it totals up to 20 or more, you hit. Honestly, the whole thing sounds very straightforward and I'm really looking forward to giving it a try.

In addition to the system itself, the game has a nicely developed background plus rules to generate the planets in the sector of space you are setting the game in, alien races, alien critters, factions, advise on developing adventures (along with 100 different adventure seeds to get you started)...just a whole bunch of stuff.

All in all, it looks really good from what I've seen except for the experience system. Out of all of the stuff that I've looked over so far this is the only thing that seems a little week but I think that it still gives you enough to be able to work with it.

A solid sci-fi setting with very straightforward mechanics, a good background, plus rules to help you really flesh out your gaming world and give it your own feel and flavor... and did I mention that it is a free download?

There is an option to buy the book as a hardcover or softcover if you want, but you can just download the pdf and go right from there. There is also additional content being produced as well. Currently there are three free downloads that detail various aspects of the game universe, plus an adventure setting, and another expansion detailing how to run a military based campaign.

So if you are interested in getting into a well written and nicely developed sci-fi rpg setting, I definitely recommend picking this one up. Heck, even if you're not into sci-fi go pick it up! It is free after all and you might just find something interesting in there.

The Parting Shot...

Well that wraps up another installment of the Dispatch. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Hey everyone and welcome to a slightly confused and really tired semi Dispatch thingy!

The whole creeping crud, flu, cold, general nastiness came back and hit everyone here in Snowman's Land full force. Needless to say it has been a week of missed school, missed work, stupid high fevers, and tons of sleep so nothing new this week on the Dispatch but there are a few things I have waiting in the wings.

I am working on my own mod of ShadowSea set in the Malifaux universe (just couldn't resist giving it a try), I stumbled across a new RPG that I'm really interested in giving a try, and I also found a new podcast I've really been enjoying. So yes, lots of stuff coming... just not quite yet.

Come on back next week and I'm sure there will be something new and shiny to look at but until then, stay away from the seasonal creeping crud 'cause let me tell you, it's a bitch. Everyone take care, be safe, and take your Vitamin C.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

To The Depths Of Hell We Go...

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of the Dispatch!

For this one we are finally going to head into the exciting conclusion of the slightly modified Fear and Faith battle report. Will Brother Lucius and his condemned brethren be able to drive the vicious evil from the forest once and for all or will the wolfkin pack prove to be too powerful? And what was the fate of the girl the pack had stolen? Press onward to find out gentle readers!

All Alone In The Woods
A Slightly Modified Fear And Faith Battle Report

For this battle, I once again pulled out some of my forest terrain from the previous battle report (glad I made a bunch of the stuff!) plus that new piece I made, the summoning circle! The wolfkin are trying to open an infernal gateway in the circle while the redeemer must stop them and save the girl if possible.

What, a summoning circle? Just how the heck is that supposed to work? Glad you asked.

Truth be told, there are no mechanics for this kind of thing in Song of Blades or Fear and Faith but it was easy enough to work something out. Before the gate can be opened, the four sigils on the ground have to be activated. When the scenario opens, none of the sigils are activated yet. To activate the first one, the bloodmage just needs to be in the circle. Each successive sigil after that requires a quality check to activate. For the second sigil, one success is needed, for the third two are needed, and for the fourth three successes are needed. Once the fourth sigil is activated, the gateway is opened and the redeemer's warband automatically loses.

The wolfkin deployed around the summoning circle on top of the hill...

...while the Redeemer and his troops deployed along the edge of the board.

The wolfkin won the initiative and began with the bloodmage activating the first sigil of the circle while the rest of the pack advanced across the board.

The Redeemer's warband also advances across the board and one of the condemned blades manages to get off a lucky shot, taking down one of the wolfkin!

The wolfkin respond in kind as one of their warriors charges forward and kills the Redeemer himself while the bloodmage activates the second sigil.

Seeking revenge for the Redeemer's death, one of the brutes charges forward and attacks the wolfkin warriors but only manages to push it back. Meanwhile, the other brute engages the other remaining warrior while the blades run past and head for the hill.

The warrior makes short work of the brute but the blades are still free to try to get at the bloodmage on their next turn while the bloodmage activates the third sigil in the circle.

The blades charge up the hill but neither of them is able to get a shot off at the bloodmage, while the remaining brute is stuck in a stand off with one of the warriors.

The bloodmage fails to activate the last sigil this turn but one of the warriors charges one of the blades and manages to score a gruesome kill, sending the last blade running away from the carnage. To make matters worse, the blade then falls his morale roll for the warband being half strength and heads for the hills. This leaves only one brute to try to take out the bloodmage before he can activate the last sigil.

Still locked in combat, the brute makes a desperate attack against the warrior engaging him. One lucky kill is all it would take and the wolfkin would have to test their morale for half strength buying him more time. No such luck though as they match each other blow for blow.

These last seconds are all the bloodmage needs as he finally activates the last sigil and sacrifices the girls, ripping open a gateway to Hell itself.

All and all, I really like how this battle played out much more than the original games that I'd tried using the Fear and Faith rules. Not only does ShadowSea expand on the special abilities that are available in the basic game, it also introduces some new mechanics in the game as well. For example, in the basic rules you can only move into hand to hand and then spend an action to attack. ShadowSea takes this a step further and introduces the concept of charging, giving you an additional bonus in combat.

ShadowSea doesn't have a fear mechanic like Fear and Faith does but honestly I found it a cumbersome addition so this is no big loss in my opinion. Then again, it would be easy to add in back in if you wanted as the basic mechanics are so similar which is one of the nice things about the Song of Blades games. It seems relatively easy to takes pieces from one and add it to another so that you can create whatever type of game suits your fancy. In fact I'm in the process of making my own mod using the Malifaux universe but more on that later.

The Parting Shot...

And there you have it! Sorry this battle report has been so long in the making but it finally here. Hopefully you've enjoyed but if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment here on the blog or you can drop me a line at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Playing the Roles: More Radiated Seeds for the Garden

Hey everyone and welcome to a brain stormy installment of the Dispatch!

My grand plans of diving into the setting of Gamma World have been momentarily put on hold due to still more illness in Snowman's Land. Just gotta love it when the family just starts sharing the germs along with the love! Still, I've had a few other ideas pop into my melon and I figure I might as well throw them up here for your perusal.

Mutant Bastard Goodness

Years ago I first stumbled across the Mutant Bastards web page, a site dedicated to an old first edition Gamma World campaign. Really nice layout with beautiful illustrations, the site just rocked. Problem was 1) I didn't have my old copy of 1st. ed. Gamma World on me and 2) I didn't have a group to run a game for anyway. Still, it was pretty to look at and I really liked the more modern twist that they'd taken to describe the Big One. Instead of the rather dated "it was the big bad radiation" approach of 1st. ed., he modernized it into an engineered virus that went out of control.

Recently there was another post apocalyptic game released called (appropriately enough) Apocalypse World which has a much grittier and more realistic feel to it then Gamma World. Don't know if I'll ever play Apoc World but after listening to an actual play of it on The Walking Eye it got me thinking about the New West again and some of possibilities that are hidden away therein.

When I laid out my original campaign idea I had something of an overarching story in mind. I don't really like the idea of just having an endless campaign so I'm really trying to structure it with a definite beginning, middle, and end. That's not to say that we couldn't come back to it in the future and continue it with another "season" but I really like the idea of the having an ending to it.

In contrast I can see a campaign set in the New West being much more episodic. I can see it opening with the PCs riding into town, getting caught up in the local mess, sorting it all out, and closing with them riding off into the sunset. Sure, some of the scenarios might take more than one session to resolve but you get the basic idea.

Lost... In... Spaaaaaaaaace...

Another idea harkens back even further to the predecessor of Gamma World, Metamorphosis Alpha. Instead of being set on a futuristic Earth Metamorphosis is set on the long lost colony ship, the Warden.

One of the largest colony ships ever made, the Warden even carried massive ecologies within its hull. Unfortunately disaster struck the ship when it strayed too close to a radiation cloud. Large numbers of colonists were killed instantly while most of those who survived were changed by the radiation. Society collapsed within the ship and people gathered into small villages within the ecologies. Generations passed and gradually people forgot that they were traveling aboard a colony ship limping between the stars, trying to find them a new home.

At its heart this seems to be a typically campy early sci-fi concept but it on a positive note it is completely fictitious unlike the basic concept of Gamma World which has some ties to reality. There are definitely possibilities with this idea but its not one of my top choices. Still only seemed right to mention it though.

A Slight Case Of Mental Freezer Burn

The last idea borrows from the whole Warden concept but on a smaller scale. Instead of having the characters on a massive colony ship, I thinking just have them as the cryogenically frozen crew. The twist is that the overall setting is more of a space game (I'm thinking something like Firefly) but using the Gamma World mechanics. Probably no crazy physical mutations though those could be used as templates for various alien races. The skill system might be a little too stripped down to really carry off something like this but its still tempting to give it a try.

As for the mental freezer burn, I'm thinking have the whole crew suffering from some kind of cryo induced black out. This would really leave the whole thing wide open as you could introduce the players and the characters to the setting at the same time. Like I said, it seems like there are some possibilities with this but I'll have to see.

The Parting Shot...

And that does it for now. I'd love to hear what anyone else thinks of these ideas (good, bad, or indifferent) so feel free to leave comments here on the blog or you can shoot me an email at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Audio Noise: Revisiting A Sleeper

Hello everyone and welcome to your non-Euclidean review here at the Dispatch!

We are bending time and space again as we take another look at one of the older installments of Audio Noise. Things they have been a changing so I decided it was time for a recap to share the news about what's new at that oldie but goody, Yog Radio.

Yog Radio

Focus: Role playing, literature, movies and more relating to Call of Cthulhu and H.P. Lovecraft
Audio Quality: four and a half of five cosmic horrors
Content Quality: four of five cosmic horrors
Average Length: two to two and a half hours for Yog Radio and 45 minutes to an hour for News From Pnakotus
Release schedule: Yog Radio releases roughly monthly (very roughly) while News From Pnakotus releases every other week

Going on six years in 2011, Yog Radio is showing no signs of slowing down. Quite the contrary as they have made a few changes that are worth talking about. One of the problems that they had been facing for a while was the delay between the podcast release and the various industry releases for the game. By the time the show finally hit the "airwaves", most of their news was at least a week out of date if not more. To remedy this problem, the folks at Yog Radio have now split off the news into its own show called News From Pnakotus which is released on the same feed.

Unlike the fairly erratic schedule of the main show, News From Pnakotus is much more regular and comes out roughly every other week. Covering everything Lovecraftian from gaming to video releases, this new show is rapidly becoming the place to hear what is new and exciting with the Elder Gods. As for the main show, farming off the news now lets them spend more time on other topics such as discussing hot topics from the forums, interviews, reviews, and more.

In addition, they have also recently brought back all of their actual play recordings. They had originally only had the two latest ones available but now all four of their games are available with a fifth one coming out for public release within the next couple months. These games are fun to listen to and you might actually learn a thing or two as well as the various players often share their own insights into the various locations that the campaigns traverse.

If all of this wasn't enough for you, they also have an extensive website and an active forum dedicated to Call of C'thulhu that you can find at YogSothoth.com. All in all, if you are interested in the Call of C'thulhu role playing game or even just the works of Lovecraft, I definitely recommend you head on over and check them out. It is Call of C'thulhu after all. You never know just what you'll find waiting for you around the next corner.

The Parting Shot...

And there you have it! A little bit of the old noise with a little bit of something new. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com plus you can like the blog on Facebook now too! Just click on the like button to the right. Be sure to come back next Saturday for the conclusion of that massively drawn out Fear and Faith/ShadowSea battle report. Until next time...