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Showing posts from January, 2017

Fragments Volume 1, #1 Released

In January, I produced five Fragments posts on www.nothingventuredgames.com presenting material for your 5e fantasy campaign:

The swamp dryad, a slightly creepier variant of the archetypal forest spirit; Arith, an elf warlock devoted to the spirits of her ancestors; a pair of immortal spirit serpents who guard a secluded lake; Dance of Rebirth, a short adventure for 3rd level characters; and Kechakala, a chain devil anti-paladin who serves the Iron General.
Now, these posts have been collected into an illustrated PDF available on DriveThruRPG. For $2.99, you can get this 15-page PDF, fully bookmarked and layered for easier printing.




What Did I Accomplish In January?

At the beginning of this month, I started my effort to produce daily content here on One Yard Hex as well as on www.nothingventuredgames.com. Not only have I managed to keep up with the schedule I set for myself, but I've exceeded my word count goals nearly every day.

For the most part, I set a goal of only 100 words for posts here on this blog. To date, I am averaging about 350 words per post. Over on www.nothingventuredgames.com, I set a goal of 500 words per Fragments post, and those are averaging about 690 words each. In total, I planned to write 5,800 words this month, and I ended up writing ~10,500 words.

In total, I produced:

17 blog posts here on One Yard Hex, including7 GURPS posts,1 GUMSHOE posts, and9 posts on other topics;5 Fragments posts and one news post on www.nothingventuredgames.com (with another news post scheduled for tomorrow, the 31st); andOne news post on my Patreon and an update to the campaign page copy (and another news post scheduled for tomorrow).
I also…

GURPS After The End Loadouts: Shrink

The final After The End loadout package this week is for the Doc's Shrink archetype.

Shrink+$373, +11.25 lbs.
The shrink doesn’t need much in the way of equipment. He carries bandages as well as a can of something tasty and a flask of whatever locally produced spirits he comes across, to salve both the body and the mind. The shrink knows that some people are prone to violence (especially in the wasteland), and so he carries both a Derringer and a box cutter for concealable defense. Take the Guns (Pistol) and Knife skills.

Canned Food [Backpack]. $2 ($1 x 2), 1 lb.Canteen [Backpack]. Holds 1 quart of liquid (2 lbs. if water). $20 ($10 x 2), 1 lb.Distilled Liquor (Low-Tech, p. 37), 1 quart [Canteen]. Useful medicinally or to make friends. $32, 2 lbs.Ordinary clothes [Body, Limbs]. First outfit is free; additional outfits cost $120. 2 lbs.Derringer, .41 [Torso]. $200 ($100 x 2), 0.5 lb.20x Pistol Cartridge [Backpack]. $100, 0.5 lb.Bandages [Backpack]. Basic equipment for First Aid ski…

GURPS After The End Loadouts: Medic

The next After The End loadout package is for the Doc's Medic archetype.

Medic+$373, +34.25 lbs.
The medic’s surgeon bag means he’s ready to patch up just about any injuries his teammates sustain out in the wasteland. A supply of clean water is important for staying hydrated as well as irrigating wounds. He carries a classic “six-shooter” for defense. Take the Guns (Pistol) skill.

Surgeon’s Bag (Bulky Crash Kit) [Backpack]. Gives +2 to First Aid, and counts as improvised gear (-5) for Surgery. $100 ($200 x 0.5), 15 lbs.Wineskin [Backpack]. Holds 1 gallon of liquid (8 lbs. if water). $10, 0.25 lb.Clean water, 1 gallon. [Wineskin]. $8, 8 lbs.Cloth armor [Torso, Groin]. DR 1*. $30, 6 lbs.Cloth cap [Skull]. DR 1*. $5, neg.Ordinary clothes [Body, Limbs]. First outfit is free; additional outfits cost $120. 2 lbs.Cheap Revolver, .36 [Torso]. HT 9, Acc 0. Malf 15. $120 ($150 x 2 x 0.4), 2.5 lb.20x Pistol Cartridge [Backpack]. $100, 0.5 lb.

GURPS After The End Loadouts: Herbalist

The next After The End loadout package is for the Doc's Herbalist archetype.

Herbalist+$1,373, +34.9 lbs.
Points for Cash: 4 (150-point minimum)
The herbalist is more comfortable in the wilderness than other docs, and he carries a rifle-musket primarily for hunting larger game. In a pinch, he can use the weapon in combat, but he is best off hiding and taking the occasional shot from behind cover. Take the Guns (Rifle) skill. The suitcase lab includes various enzymes and alcohol solutions in fragile, poorly marked vials, a chipped mortar and pestle, etc.

Fragile, hard-to-use suitcase lab for Pharmacy (Herbal) [Backpack]. HT 9. Allows skill roll at -3. $1,200 ($3,000 x 2 x 0.2), 20 lbs.2x Ceramic bottle [Backpack]. Each holds 1 quart of liquid (2 lbs. if water). $6, 2 lbs.Cloth cap [Skull]. DR 1*. $5, neg.Shoes [Feet]. DR 1*. $2, 2 lbs.Ordinary clothes [Body, Limbs]. First outfit is free; additional outfits cost $120. 2 lbs.Cheap Rifle-Musket [Torso]. HT 9. Acc 3. Malf 15. $120 ($150 …

GURPS After The End Loadouts: Chemist

I've been working on loadouts packages for the character templates in GURPS After The End 1: Wastelanders. Each template has four archetypal skill packages, and I'm creating a loadout for each of them. Loadouts follow the format in the Loadouts series. Each package builds off of the common Basic Gear package here:

Basic Gear$127, 16 lbs.

Small backpack [Torso]. Holds 40 lbs. $60, 3 lbs.Canteen [Backpack]. Holds 1 quart of liquid (2 lbs. if water). $20 ($10 x 2), 1 lb.Clean water, 1 quart. [Canteen]. $2, 2 lbs.Personal basics [Backpack]. $5, 1 lb.Blanket [Backpack]. $20, 4 lbs.10x Rations [Backpack]. $20, 5 lbs.
The first package is for the Doc's Chemist archetype.
Chemist+$1,373, +26 lbs.Points for Cash: 4 (150-point minimum) The chemist doesn’t have much gear, but a few doses of antibiotics can save a life out in the wasteland. The suitcase lab includes various acids and precursor chemicals in ancient test tubes, a hand-cranked centrifuge, etc.Fragile, hard-to-use suitcase…

Space Patrol: Sergeant Anne-Marie Duscat

Born with a natural attention to detail and suspicion of others, Anne-Marie Duscat trained as a Marine intelligence analyst and Patrol security officer. Her assignment to the Kiran Bedi marks her first field work after years on the security staff of a Patrol base on Titus III.

Duscat discovered her psionic abilities during a Marine training mission. A micrometeorite storm punctured the hull of her shuttlecraft. One fellow trainee was killed instantly. The other helped Duscat patch the hull before succumbing to internal injuries. With comms down and the closest ship nearly a day away, Duscat watched her oxygen slowly dwindle. Rather than accept death, Anne-Marie managed to place herself in a psionically induced state of suspended animation until rescue arrived.

Sergenat Duscat is a nondescript, light-skinned blonde woman who appears to be about 18 years old, though she is in fact nearly a decade older. She is quiet but friendly, though her habit of slipping through the ship unannounce…

Dealing With Player Conflict

My weekly game cafe Dungeons & Dragons game has given me the chance to introduce a number of new players to gaming - with the satisfaction that comes along with that. But it has also been an exercise in managing disparate play styles and player conflict. I don't mean PC-PC conflict, but actual aggravation and even shouting between players.

I'll admit, it's sometimes difficult to deal with. Because I'm running this game in public, welcome to any who wants to come out and play, I don't have the liberty of just removing players from the game unless they become abusive. I think I've done the best I can when these conflicts crop up, but I also have to wonder if they've been responsible - even in part - for losing the few formerly regular players that have left the game over time.

Anyway, it's been an interesting challenge, working under the restraints. I hope I've handled it well, and I think I've learned something from it.

Watching Folks Find Gaming Is Awesome

Every Wednesday, I run D&D Fifth Edition at a gaming cafe for a lively group of regular players. Many of these players were completely new to RPGs when they first joined the game. Part of my job is helping these new players learn the rules and try to show them a good time.

One of my players made the jump about a year ago to running his own campaign for a home group. When he was setting his game up, he came to me for advice on running his first games. I gave him what tips I could, but I must say that it's been very interesting seeing him discover things on his own.

When his group was getting too confused by "theater of the mind" combats, he got a gridded map and character tokens. He struggled with how to show his players that their character's actions towards NPCs had consequences. He learned how to improvise and handle unexpected player choices.

I've tried to keep abreast of how his home game is going. He's clearly having fun, and he's embracing the h…

Using the Core GUMSHOE Rule in Other Systems

At its heart, the GUMSHOE system boils down to the following:
Gathering clues is simple. All you have to do is: 1) get yourself into a scene where relevant information can be gathered and 2) have the right ability to discover the clue and 3) tell the GM that you’re using it. As long as you do these three things, you will never fail to gain a piece of necessary information. It is never dependent on a die roll. If you ask for it, you will get it. This ethos can be applied to other game systems pretty easily, without bringing in the supporting structure of ability pools that traditional GUMSHOE uses. Many other systems have traits that are useful for gathering information. If a player finds themselves in a scene and describes how their character uses one of these traits in pursuit of information, the GM can just give their character the appropriate clue if one is there to be found. Don't rely on a roll that could fail and leave the characters without necessary information.
And it'…

Discworld RPG Review

The Discworld Roleplaying Game is a standalone fantasy RPG written by Phil Masters with rules based on GURPS Fourth Edition by Steve Jackson Games. It is the second edition of Discworld RPG, following the original GURPS Discworld published in 1998 and reprinted under the Discworld RPG name in 2002.

For those who may not be familiar, Discworld is the setting of an extremely popular series of fantasy novels written by Sir Terry Pratchett. The Disc consists of a flat, circular plane resting on the backs of four elephants who in turn stand on the shell of an enormous turtle which swims through space. It began as a fairly traditional — if satirical — fantasy world, but through over 40 novels, Pratchett advanced the setting into a rich canvas on which to poke fun at the peculiarities of modern life.

The first edition of the Discworld RPG was based on GURPS Third Edition, and it included GURPS Lite, a pared down version of the core system. Still, it relied perhaps too much on knowledge of th…

Chunky vs. Smooth: No Wrong Play Style

There is a commonly accepted division in tabletop roleplaying between the mechanics of a rules system — its "crunch" — and the fiction and setting elements of the game — the "fluff." These terms are usually thrown around to disparage one or the other. A "crunchy" game is too rules heavy; a "fluffy" game is inconsistent or driven by fiat.

I've come to think of games by a different metaphor: "chunky" games vs. "smooth" ones. A chunky game has more complex rules, yes, but they are there as something for players to sink their teeth into. Those rules make the experience more "game-like" by engaging skills like tactical reasoning and resource management.

A smooth game has simpler rules more fully integrated into the fiction. Instead of engaging with the system, players can enjoy digging into their character or the world and story they inhabit. The rules do their best either to "get out of the way" and let pl…

What Am I Playing/Running Right Now?

Last week, I looked ahead to 2017 and the gaming stuff I'm looking to pick up and what I want to run or play. But that's the future. What does my present gaming look like right now?

D&D 5e Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition currently dominates my gaming schedule. I run a weekly game on Wednesdays at a local gaming cafe for a regular stable of players. Currently, they are making their way through the Storm King's Thunder adventure, but they completed Curse of Strahd late last year with one of their number replacing Strahd as lord of Barovia.

Every other Monday, I run a campaign set in Forgotten Realms of the original First Edition boxed set. The player characters are working against the church of Shar, who seems to have some nefarious plans for the Realms. The party has just arrived in Shadowdale to consult with a certain sage about historic matters.

Finally, on the alternate Mondays, I am playing a half-orc barbarian in a campaign set in Kenzer & Company's K…

What Am I Doing On YouTube and Twitch?

For a while now, I've been streaming content to Twitch and archiving those streams on YouTube. Lately, that's meant a lot of video game streaming, because my XBOX One lets me stream to Twitch right from my game.

Right now, I'm playing through Fallout 4 with a focus on building settlements and crafting. I also have been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, and I should start going back to that again soon. You can check out the playlists for those two below.



Before I started those, I did a few streams of Paul Plays Old Games. In particular, I was playing through Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, but I think those videos had some technical difficulties. I'm planning to restart PPOG with a run of The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past soon, so stay tuned.


On the tabletop side of things, I have a series called Let's Make a Character, where I took polls about what system, type of character, etc., and then made a character from the book live on my stream. I also did a few imprompt…

Reminder: Fridays Are For Fragments

Today marks the first regular installment of Fragments at my imprint's site, http://www.nothingventuredgames.com. I put up a preview installment when I launched my new blogging effort earlier this week — you can check out the swamp dryad here — but normally these pieces will release on Fridays.

This week's Fragment includes an NPC stat block for an elven warlock and the new warlock patron she uses: the Ancestors patron. Arith would make a useful ally for low- to mid-level heroes, and the powers she draws from her ancestors gives her some interesting tricks that you won't find coming from your typical warlock.

Fragments are available for free every week at http://www.nothingventuredgames.com. If you enjoy this content, please consider pledging to my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/PaulStefko.

GURPS Mars Attacks Review

Mars Attacks began as a trading card property originally produced in 1962 by the Topps Company. The original 55 cards presented a B-movie science-horror story of invasion by skinless, large-brained alien sadists from the planet Mars. In the decades since, the cards have been reprinted and updated several times, and the property was even adapted into a major motion picture by Tim Burton in 1996.

GURPS Mars Attacks, written by Jason "PK" Levine, is a roleplaying game adaptation published by Steve Jackson Games, who have also produced board games using the property (Mars Attacks: The Dice Game and Mars Attacks: Ten-Minute Takedown). The book updates the setting from the 1960s to the nebulous present, and details the invasion from decades of covert action (birthing the UFO scares of the mid-20th century) through the first year or so of direct conflict.

The invasion progresses in stages as the aliens unleash new horrors on the people of Earth, and the plucky humans adapt, band tog…

Games I'm Hoping To Run or Play In 2017

I'm currently involved in a few games, and I plan to talk about them a bit more next week. But for now, I thought I'd look at a few games I would like to run or play in this new year. (Specifically, this is a list of games I didn't write. Playtesting is a completely different beast.)

Dungeon Fantasy RPG As I said yesterday, I am looking forward to getting the new Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game from Steve Jackson Games. This is a standalone fantasy RPG powered by GURPS designed to handle hack-and-slash fantasy in the style of the original D&D as well as video games like Nethack or Diablo. I love GURPS and I love dungeon crawling, so this one's a no-brainer. Of course, I know that the only way I'm getting this to the table is if I run it.

D&D 3.5 I had a chance to play in a holiday-themed one-shot using D&D 3.5 recently, run by my lovely wife. This is my favorite version of D&D, and I wouldn't mind getting to play it more. I never saw the need f…

Gaming Stuff I'm Looking Forward To In 2017

A lot of great games were released in 2016, and I anticipate many more in the coming year. On top of the products, gaming events like conventions also help flesh out my calendar. Here are a few of the things I'm looking forward to in 2017.

Blue Rose, 2nd Edition Due to delays with the art, this update of Green Ronin's romantic fantasy RPG did not arrive in 2016 as the Kickstarter claimed it would. But we've recently been informed that it has gone to print and should be shipping by the end of the month. So I'm anticipating having it in my hands ready for a review soon. Look for that hopefully in February.

Dungeon Fantasy RPG Regular updates from both the company via Kickstarter updates and from GURPS line editor Sean Punch on his blog have this one plugging away on schedule. The Kickstarter estimated a May release, but with the inevitable stretch goal drift, SJ Games is now expecting to ship in August. If the recently released Discworld RPG is any indication, this is go…

New Year, New Blog

I wouldn't believe anyone who claims that 2016 went exactly how they expected. When the year began, I was in a very unsure place, and despite rises in some areas, I continue to feel unsteady as I pass into 2017.

But I want to have hope. In order to realize that hope, I am making plans for how I can do things differently in the coming year. Part of that is a new commitment to producing content that people can enjoy. I want to do more on this blog and in a few other places to make fun things.

What is that going to look like? I'm glad you asked, rhetorical self-insertion! It begins with a schedule. I'm going to post here at One Yard Hex at least once each day every Monday through Thursday. These posts won't always be long — I have a posting calendar prepared that only calls for 100 words most days. But those 100 words will be better than the 0 I've been producing for much of 2016.

Posts here will be leaning more toward general game-related thoughts, plus homebrew mate…