Wednesday, September 30, 2015

'Tis the Season to be Eerie

I'm going to share something about myself that's probably very obvious to most of you: Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love having an excuse to dress up as something else and eat a shitload of candy, I love the fact that I can flip to almost any channel and find a horror movie to watch, and I just love the macabre spirit of the holiday. Christmas is cool and all, but Halloween will always be 1st in my heart.

Because I love Halloween so much, I like doing something special on the blog to celebrate the holiday. This year is no different. Throughout the month, I'll be making numerous posts to honor this horrifying time of the year. Every Monday, I'll be doing a series called "Ghoulish Gaming" where I recommend horror games for everyone to check out and play during the month. On Fridays, I'll be posting another series entitled "Frightful Features" where I spotlight a particular horror film. On Wednesday, I'll be posting either advice for running horror games, concepts for terrifying scenarios, or something else depending on my mood.

With that, I hope you all enjoy the month of October and the awesomeness that is Halloween.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fantasy Age Musings - Non-Randomized Character Creation

Fantasy Age's character creation process is almost entirely randomized. Players roll to generate their abilities, certain aspects of their race, their social class and background, and a few other things. Personally, I really dig this element to the game. I love letting the dice fall and seeing what kind of character I end up with.

However, I know some people would like a process that is a little less random, one where they could have a little more control over how their character turns out in the end. With that in mind, I thought I'd work out a method to achieve just that. Here's what it looks like:

  1. Players should use Option 2 for generating their abilities. This method gives each player 10 advancements to spend on generating each ability's score. The only restrictions are scores can't start above 3 and you can't lower one ability to gain more advancements. 
  2. Players may select two benefits from the table associated with their chosen race. However, you may only select one benefit that actually raises the score of an ability. For example, a player creating a dwarf could not select the two benefits that increase their Fighting & Willpower.
  3. Players may select one of the 4 social classes: Outsider, Lower Class, Middle Class, and Upper Class. Furthermore, they will also select one of the backgrounds tried to their selected social class, receiving one of the focuses associated with said background. 
  4. Mages receive 20 + Constitution + 6 Health, Rogues receive 25 + Constitution + 6 Health, and Warriors receive 30 + Constitution + 6 Health at 1st level. Characters receive their Constitution + 4 Health from levels 2 to 10, then just their Constitution every level thereafter.
The only element of randomness that I decided to keep with this system was the generation of starting wealth, mostly to prevent people from solely picking to play Upper Class characters because they receive the most silver pieces. However, everything else has been reworked to allow each player to select the different parts of their character.

Friday, September 25, 2015

What are Your Gaming Scars?

A few weeks ago, I learned that my friend David has an extreme aversion to the inclusion of steampunk elements in fantasy games. The mere mention of the idea is enough to turn this usually jovial person into an incredibly angry person, especially if you mention skyships in any capacity. Being a curious person at heart, I felt the need to find out why he seemed to have this really peculiar reaction to something so harmless.

The origin of this strange hatred, like most things within this hobby, seems to be a particularly bad experience with a previous group. David was preparing to run a Pathfinder campaign and decided to create the game world with his players, but they apparently made some inclusions that ended up causing the game to collapse, with one of those inclusions being steampunk skyships. Hearing him tell this tale of woe makes me believe the skyship was the straw that broke the camel's back, hence why its the focal point of his hatred.

Initially I found this somewhat irrational, but I quickly began to think about certain subjects that immediately cause a metaphorical red flag to spring up within my mind because one utterly awful experience. For example, I will automatically veto any Drow characters that are brought to my table. The only exception to this is if we're playing an evil campaign where everyone's playing Drow. The cause of this extreme reation are, pardon my french, dick-waffles who wanted to play Drizzt Do'Urden clones with the Marty Sue levels turned WAY passed 11.

Yes, it's irrational. Yes, it's kind of silly. Unfortunately, I can't help it. Like David's hatred of mixing some steampunk peanut butter into his fantasy chocolate, my disdain for players wanting to be Drow characters is like a scar that won't go away and occasionally rears its ugly head when you least suspect it.

With that in mind, I'd like to ask you a question, dear readers. Do you have any gaming scars? What are they? Leave your answers in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fantasy Age Specializations - The Alchemist

Lurking within smokey laboratories, experimenting with strange chemicals and incredibly unstable concoctions, the alchemist hopes to gain either knowledge or power by delving into the scientific art they draw their name from. These individuals are willing to go where no mortal has gone before in order to obtain their goals, even if they risk blowing themselves up to do so.

Classes: Rogue
Requirements: You must have Accuracy and Intelligence scores of 2 or higher, and Alchemy (Novice)

Novice: The alchemist has become very adept at fighting with his grenades. He receives the Accuracy (Grenades) focus if he doesn't already have it and adds his Perception to damage rolls with grenades. 

Journeyman: While delving into this unpredictable science, the alchemist has most likely experienced is fair share of explosions. When subject to the Kaboom! stunt, the alchemist only takes half the amount of damage (rounded down).

Master: The alchemist knows the recipes for his grenades like the back of his hand and can make brew a new one at a much faster rate. Once per encounter, the alchemist can use an Activate action to make a TN 13 Intelligence (Brewing) test. The alchemist creates one kind of grenade they can normally make on the spot on a successful result.

Monday, September 21, 2015

No Rest for the Game Master - Knowing Your Limitations & Comfort Zones

The Game Master's job might seem like an exhausting one at times. You need to come up with some new, interesting scenario for your players to experience and enjoy on a weekly basis, make sure to pick a day and time to run this scenario that works with everyone's schedule, act as a fair arbiter of the game's rules and mitigate things at the table so everyone remains on track and gets their moment in the spotlight, and repeat the process the following week. You must also make sure to manage the number of players you have in your group and make sure they are a good fit for you and everyone else's gaming sensibilities.

This might seem like a lot to a neophyte Game Master, but there's a simple trick for managing it all, one that's relatively easy to figure out. All you have to do is know your limitations and don't overexert yourself.

For example, I know I have difficulty running games for excessively large groups, which we'll define as roughly containing 9 or more people. I can run for a group containing 8 players, but I'm comfortable with groups possessing 3 to 6, with 4 being my preferred number. Since I know my limitations on this matter, I will refuse to run for a very large group because I know I will have trouble doing so and it will effect my ability to present an enjoyable game to them, which will inevitably effect their fun as well.

You need to figure out your personal comfort level when it comes to several of these things, such as number of players, the game's tone, the length of a gaming session, the frequency of play, and so much more. Knowing this will help you figure out your own limits, and it will make managing those limits much easier. It's difficult to manage something if you don't have an idea of what you're supposed to be measuring in the first place.

Know your limits, figure our your comfort zones, and don't unnecessarily push yourself past said zones. Doing so will make your job as a Game Master so much easier and will take a weight off of your shoulders.

What about you guys and gals? What are your Game Master limitations and comfort zones? How often do you push those limits? I'd love to know.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Heroes of the Last Age - Androids

Relics of a bygone time, androids are one of the strangest races that inhabit the world. At first glance, these artificial creatures appear to be human. However, the clearly visible circuitry underneath their synthetic skin and the lack of pupils or irises in their eyes give away their inhuman nature.

Unlike their robotic cousins, androids are incredibly rare. Very few people know the secrets to their creation and even fewer have access to the materials needed to construct their bodies. The handful of artificers that do tend to keep that secret very close to their hearts. Some believe the reason for this is because these artificers question the sentience of these entities and whether they have the right to create life, whether its artificial or not. Others simply believe they're selfish and want to keep the secret to themselves. Both are truth in certain degrees.

The majority of androids that exist are used as laborers and servants, with most treating them as just another piece of property. However, some believe androids are more than just another piece of technology and possess a digital soul. Many android adventurers struggle with this concept, traveling the world, hoping to find evidence of this. These androids tend to be rogues or warriors, but a very small number become mages.

                                                       PLAYING AN ANDROID                                                            
Android receive the following modifications. Anyone who elects to play an android should modify their character as follows:

  • +1 Intelligence Ability.
  • Choose an Ability Focus: Dexterity (Initiative) or Intelligence (Scientific Lore)
  • You have Dark Sight, which allows you to see up to 20 yards in darkness without a light source. 
  • Your Speed is equal to 10 + Dexterity (minus armor penalty if applicable). 
  • You can speak and read the Common Tongue. 
  • Roll twice on the Android Benefits table for additional benefits. Roll 2d6 and add the dice together. If you get the same result twice, re-roll until you get something different. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                ANDROID BENEFITS                                                       
2d6 Roll
+1 Dexterity
Focus: Constitution Stamina
Focus: Intelligence (Computers)
Focus: Perception (Searching)
+1 Constitution
Focus: Strength (Might)
Focus: Intelligence (Engineering)
+1 Strength

Monday, September 14, 2015

Campaign Ideas - Heroes of the Last Age

I'll admit, Heroes of the Last Age is not a new concept by any means. However, it's one I've been tossing around in the back of my mind for awhile now and I feel like I've finally found the perfect system to use it with (Fantasy Age).

Heroes of the Last Age is a science fantasy campaign set in a post-apocalyptic version of our own world. The continents have merged back into a single super-continent, much like Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique. Civilization as we know collapsed centuries ago, leaving independent city-states build upon the ruins of the settlements that came before it as a dying, red sun hangs high within the sky.

These few city-states are under the control of powerful sorcerers wielding dark magics. Each of these magicians are cloaked in mystery, with some being more benevolent than others. The one exception to this is the great city of Bastion, which is ruled by the Artificer's Guild, a group of individuals who scour the land for the technological artifacts of the past.

The typical fantasy races exist on this forsaken world. The albino dwarves inhabit the labyrinthine caverns underneath the continent, the utterly hairless elves live in secluded settlements within the land's few remaining forests, the rat-like halflings that survive within the darker corners of the city-states, the bestial orcs that ravage the land, and otherworldly gnomes with their abnormally large heads and subtle insanity.

Two major religions are present within the realm. Most belong to the Church of the Orbital Gods, a polytheistic religion built around ancient AIs which exist within powerful satellites orbiting the planet, occasionally broadcasting their messages to the citizens of the world. The other, more secretive religion is the Cult of the Old Ones, mad men and women who worship eldritch abominations from beyond the stars.

Heroes of the Last Age is the result of me tossing Gamma World, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Dying Earth, Smith's Zothique Cycle, and post-apocalyptic movies of the 1980's into a metaphorical blender and pureeing the crap out of them to make a delicious, gonzo concoction. This campaign would use the base system of Fantasy Age will a lot of the technology rules presented in Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. Also, I can't help but use the awesome idea of the Orbital Gods from Patrick Wetmore's ASE1 Anomalous Subsurface Environment.

Although it will probably be awhile before this campaign sees time at my table, I will probably throw up a few ideas I've been brainstorming for it, like new races, talents, and specializations. Also, feel free to take this concept and run with it if you'd like. I wouldn't have posted it if I felt otherwise.