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Showing posts from March, 2015

Dragonlance on DriveThruRPG

The Dragonlance setting for Dungeons & Dragons is one of my favorite fantasy settings of all time, and the support material from Sovereign Press (now Margaret Weis Productions) is the best expression of the setting. So I'm very excited that Wizards of the Coast is starting to release PDFs of the Sovereign Press era books on DriveThruRPG.

At the time of this post, you can get the updated modules covering the original War of the Lance adventures: Dragons of Autumn, Dragons of Winter, and Dragons of Spring. And just released is the fantastic Dragons of Krynn sourcebook detailing the many kinds of dragon that make the world of Dragonlance their home.

These books were written by some really great game designers, including +Cam Banks+Clark Valentine and +Amanda Valentine. They detail Krynn and the classic adventures in a way that makes them easy to bring to the table and make your own. I recommend checking them out (especially the collected modules) if you enjoy high fantasy gamin…

Ken Writes About Stuff, Volume 2

The second volume of Ken Writes About Stuff will be available from the Pelgrane Press shop in April. This collection includes the twelve installments of KWAS from the last year, plus a bonus issue. I've enjoyed a number of these mini-supplements, including:

Xeno-Archaeology!, bringing ancient mysteries and strange artifacts to your Ashen Stars game.The School of Night, a GUMSHOE mini-game about occult spies in Elizabethan England.Vendetta Run, a western/horror campaign frame where your characters are pursued by an undead Wyatt Earp.Ken Writes About Stuff gives you a quality campaign frame, subsystem, or hideous creature every month. If that sounds good to you, consider subscribing to volume three, which promises a number of intriguing installments. If it doesn't, I wonder how you survive such a joyless existence.

New Gems for the Gem Sword

These two gems provide additional options for anyone wielding the Gem Sword.
Rust Ruby (4 points)Corrosive Attack 15 pts (Accessibility, Metal objects only, -20%; Melee Attack, Reach 1, 2, -20%; No Wounding, -50%; Nuisance Effect, Requires two free hands, -5%) [2]Corrosive Attack 15 pts (Accessibility, Metal objects only, -20%; Melee Attack, Reach 1, -25%; No Wounding, -50%) [2] Touching the sword to a target’s metal armor causes the metal to rust, weakening it and limiting its ability to absorb damage. On a hit, reduce the DR of the armor by 3 (to a minimum of 0). This reduction is permanent until the armor is repaired.

The ruby can rust any metal object, including weapons, though a physical strike would be necessary to break a rusted blade.

Note: This is an alternate attack. The sword does no physical damage.
Sapphire of Force (5 points)Crushing Attack 3d+1 (Double Knockback, +20%; Melee Attack, Reach 1, 2, ST-Based, +80%; No Wounding, -50%; Nuisance Effect, Requires two free hands, …

When the Levies Break

Accretion Disk, the upcoming companion for Ashen Stars available for pre-order now, introduces the concept of levies. When you have a levy on an ability, all spends of that ability cost an extra point (or possibly more). If it's a general ability, the extra point doesn't add to your roll. If it's an investigative ability, it doesn't affect gathering core clues but does increase the cost of spends to gain benefits.

A levy represents a disadvantage or temporary impediment. That means it should be possible to impose a levy on another character through clever action or as an investigative spend benefit. Since most NPCs don't roll unless engaging the PCs directly, this will most often come into play in contests (including combat). Even a 1-point levy is a significant advantage if it lasts for an entire contest. For this reason, imposing one should cost at least two points from an appropriate investigative ability and may require special set-up. Some ideas (using Night&#…

Paul Plays Old Games: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Part 2

I played another hour of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest today on Twitch. The video is now available on YouTube and embedded below. I'm still figuring out my streaming software, so there are audio problems on this one. It's an ongoing process.

Another part of the process: I made the classic mistake of playing too long without saving. I basically wasted this whole hour going through a couple of dungeons only to die to a boss I was too low-level to face. Oh, well. I had fun, and I'll just have to grind a bit more next time.


P.S.: This is my 200th post. I did a recap for my 100th post, but I don't have nearly as much to say now as I did then. If you're a regular reader, thanks for sticking with me!

Space Patrol: Atmosphere

Atmosphere The effects of nonstandard atmospheres depend on two factors: pressure and composition. Both are summarized below, though details (like exact pressures and chemicals) are ignored.
Atmospheric PressureVacuum/Trace: You can’t hold your breath in vacuum – and you may rupture your lungs if you try (1d of injury). If you exhale and leave your mouth open, you can operate on the oxygen in your blood for half the time listed under Holding Your Breath (p. B351). After that, you begin to suffocate (see Suffocation, p. B436).

Very Thin: The air is too thin to breathe. Earth’s atmosphere becomes “very thin” above 20,000 feet. If you lack protection (e.g., the Doesn’t Breathe advantage, or a respirator and oxygen tanks), you suffocate. Vision rolls are at -2 without eye protection.

Thin: Thin air is breathable if oxygen is present in Earthlike percentages, but it is hard on unprotected individuals. Increase all fatigue costs for exertion by 1 FP. Vision rolls are at -1 without eye protec…

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE: Part Ten

Concluding Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Chapter Seventeen: The Man With Two Faces Professor Quirrell.

Harry is surprised to find the Dark Arts professor instead of Snape. Quirrell, of course, takes the opportunity to monologue, explaining how he was responsible for the dangers Harry and his friends faced all year. In fact, Snape was trying to protect Harry the whole time.

Quirrell is stumped by the final protection around the Stone: the Mirror of Erised. He sees himself presenting the Stone to Voldemort, but he doesn’t know how to find it. Finally, a phantom voice tells him to use Harry to unlock the Mirror’s secrets.

Harry, of course, wants to find the Stone before Quirrell. When he looks into the Mirror, he sees his reflection pulling the Stone from his pocket. At that moment, Harry can feel a weight in his own pocket. He lies, and Quirrell pushes him aside to continue looking. The phantom voice, however, knows Harry is lying and demands to speak to him.

Quirrell remov…

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE: Part Nine

Chapter Sixteen: Through the Trapdoor Harry’s scar has been hurting for the entire week of exams, ever since he encountered the hooded figure in the forest. He believes it is a warning that danger is coming. He’s right, of course, and the sense keeps him alert to a clue he previously missed. (We’ll say Harry’s player spent a point out of Curse-Scarred to get his memory jogged.)

Harry runs to Hagrid’s hut with the others in tow. There, he asks Hagrid about the man who gave him Norbert’s egg (Oral History). Hagrid recalls that the man never removed his hood, but that he asked about Fluffy. Hagrid told him that you just have to play music to calm the dog down. The three kids are convinced that Snape was the man in the hood and that he knows the last secret to reaching the Sorcerer’s Stone.

They rush to warn Dumbledore, but Professor McGonagall tells them he’s just left for London and won’t be back until tomorrow. They try to warn her of the impending theft, but she doesn’t believe them.…

Paul Plays Old Games: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Part 1

Today, I started playing Final Fantasy Mystic Quest on Twitch. You can watch the video on YouTube below. It's my first time, and I didn't have any live viewers to interact with, so the commentary is pretty light. I had fun, though, and I think I'll do more in the future.

RIP Terry Pratchett

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER. — Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) March 12, 2015 Author Terry Pratchett has died at age 66. He was best known as the creator of the acclaimed Discworld series of fantasy novels.

I must admit to never having read any of the Discworld novels in its entirety. The only work of Pratchett's I finished was Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. I am aware, naturally, of the influence Pratchett's work has had on the field of fantasy literature, and I think now is a fine time to give his books the shot they deserve.

My exposure to Discworld came through the phenomenal Discworld Roleplaying Game, co-written by Pratchett and Phil Masters, and its companion GURPS Discworld Also, by Masters. Powered by GURPS, the Discworld RPG did an admirable job bringing satire and wit to what many consider a stodgy rules system overly concerned with "realism."

I am pleased that a second edition of the Discworld RPG is in the works. I am sure …

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part Eight

A short continuation.
Chapter Fifteen: The Forbidden Forest Harry and Hermione are taken before Professor McGonagall. She has also caught Neville, who was looking to warn them about Malfoy. All three are given detention and each loses 50 points for Gryffindor, making them pariahs from all but the Slytherins.

Later that week, Harry overhears a converstation in Quirrell’s classroom, or at least Quirrell’s side of it (Notice). Harry is convinced that Snape has won the secret to Quirrell’s protection over the Stone, though Harry sees no sign of Snape when he checks the room.

Harry and Hermione are given their detention: work in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid. Hagrid tells the four students that something is hunting unicorns. After a baffling encounter with some centaurs, Harry is teamed up with Malfoy to search for the killer.

They find a cloaked figure drinking the dead unicorn’s blood. Harry’s scar pains him terribly (Curse-Scarred), paralyzing him, but the boys are rescued by a centa…

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part Seven

Chapter Thirteen: Nicholas Flamel The GM finally gives the players the clue about Nicholas Flamel. She does so by reminding them that she had already given it to them in Chapter Six. When Harry gives Neville a Chocolate Frog, Neville gives him the collector’s card of Dumbledore, which features a note about his partner in alchemy, Flamel.

This sparks Hermione’s memory (and her Library Use ability) and she fetches an alchemy text that reveals that Flamel created the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone, if you’re American). The kids deduce that Fluffy is guarding the stone, which grants endless wealth and eternal life.

A very short Quidditch match leaves Harry in position to spot Snape heading into the Forbidden Forest (Notice). Harry follows and overhears a meeting between Snape and Quirrell in which Snape tries to bully the Dark Arts professor for how to get past Fluffy. Quirrell doesn’t respond, and Snape storms off. Harry, of course, learns that Quirrell is involved in Snape’s …

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part Six

Chapter Twelve: The Mirror of Erised This chapter is all about pipe clues. The GM is laying out a lot of information that will be useful before the adventure is through but which doesn't make a whole lot of sense out of context. She is also playing a pacing game by withholding information despite the characters using appropriate abilities in what seems to be the right scenes.
Harry tries to get the truth about Nicholas Flamel out of Hagrid, but the man won’t talk. This may seem like Harry failed to gain a clue. The truth is that the GM doesn’t want it to be that easy and simply isn’t making the clue available at this time. No matter what ability Harry’s player tries, he won’t get any information out of Hagrid.

“Ron also started teaching Harry wizard chess.” This will be important later, and it is being established here as a feature of Ron’s Wizarding Society ability.

Hagrid gives Harry a wooden flute for Christmas. This too will be important during the climax of the adventure, an…

The Mother Dragon

The Mother Dragon is intended as a godlike figure for a TL3-5 low fantasy world that is actually a colony of a TL10 spacefaring civilization with a unique colonization method.
The Mother Dragon The Mother Dragon is the product of a TL10 high-biotech space program, a creche ship designed to travel to a distant star system and give birth to a new civilization. Her womb is a sophisticated biotech factory from which she gave birth to the first generations of humans, livestock, and other creatures that populated the colony. And centuries later, she watches over her “children,” granting boons in the form of vaccines or engineered crops and dispensing rare advice.

The Mother Dragon’s skin (resembling a very thick hide, rather than a reptile’s scales) is a deep green and converts sunlight into chemical energy, allowing her to subsist primarily on a meager diet of livestock “offerings.” In all, from nose to tail, the Mother Dragon is 30 yards long, and her wingspan is over 100 yards!

Two sets …

Creche Ship (TL10)

The creche ship is a living spaceship designed to traverse interstellar distances, land on a suitable planet, and produce genetically engineered colonists and livestock from its internal biogenesis organs (equivalent to a biotech robofac; see Spaceships 7, p. 9). It has a winged SM +7 streamlined hull. It masses 300 tons and is 30 yards long (including tail). It is self-healing.
Systems Table Front HullSystem [1-2]Armor, Organic (dDR 6)
[3]Maw (thr-1 cut)
[4]Solar Panel Array (produces 1 Power Point)
[5-6!] Robot Leg
[core]Sapient Brain (Comm/Sensor 5)
Central HullSystem [1]Armor, Organic (dDR 3)
[2] Sails, Radioisotope (.000001g)
[3]Space Sails (Lightsail, .0001g)
[4]Ornithopter Wings
[5-6]Factory (bio-tech robofac, $30K/hr)
Rear HullSystem [1-2]Armor, Organic (dDR 6)
[3]Tail (Prehensile, thr cr)
[4]Cargo Hold (15 tons)
[5-6!]Robot Leg

The ship’s sentient brain has IQ 16, Piloting/TL10 (Low-Performance Spacecraft)-16, and Bioengineering-14 to program and operate the Factory systems. …

Harry Potter and the Story of GUMSHOE, Part Five

It’s been far too long since I’ve broken down Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as a GUMSHOE game, so I figured it was due. This installment is a little short, but I’m hoping to do them more often as bonus posts.

Let’s start off with a tally of the characters’ abilities we’ve identified in previous posts.
HarryDrive: “Saving People Thing”
Investigative Abilities: Assess Honesty, Credit Rating, Curse-Scarred*, Notice, Oral History, Parseltongue*, Reassurance (spent 1 point)
* special Investigative ability
General Abilities: Athletics, Fleeing, decent Flying (especially for a first year), Stability, Wand Magic
RonDrive: Follower
Investigative Abilities: low Credit Rating, Intimidation (spent 1 point), Wizarding Society
General Abilities: Athletics, Fleeing, Stability, Wand Magic
HermioneInvestigative Abilities: Notice
General Abilities: Fleeing, Stability, Wand Magic
Chapter Eleven: Quidditch While hanging around outside between classes, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are approached by a suspi…