But I don’t want to buy funky dice!

So what if you’re fired up for FFG Starwars fun (like I am after this mornings DiceFanone-shot) but you either don’t have the money to spend on special dice (or perhaps you just don’t want to pod it out)?

Well don’t worry there are a few ways you can enjoy the game without having to own the special dice.

  1. There are conversion charts for using normal dice in the corebooks, although I think this might be a bit of a pain in the backside to use in game and would slow things down a little.
  2. If you’re playing your game in a hangout you can find EoE Hangout tool here that will let you roll dice, track destiny points and will also calculate the results for you.
  3. If you’re running a face-to-face game and have a smart phone there are a number of EoE dice-rolling apps available here for Android and Iphones, also there is a windows phone EoE dice app available here.

So don’t worry if you can’t get hold of the physical dice, there are still options, if nothing else they give you a way to try before you buy.


 

Edit 16/05/15 17:21

It’s been pointed out to me by Christopher Ruthenbeck that you could actually just buy basic dice (or even blank dice) of the relevant shape/colour and then put stickers with the relevant symbols on them onto the dice as another solution, although you’d probably be better to seal them with clear nail varnish or something similiar.

Streamlining the WOD: First thoughts

As you may have seen from our previous post I was in a Google Hangout last evening with Marko, Rufus and Chepé; the crux of the Hangout was that I wanted to run a world of darkness game in the future (probably either the V2 NWOD version of Werewolf: the Forsaken or the V2 version of Changeling: the Lost (when it’s released)) but that I feel the rules for the game could do with a real streamlining. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the rules but I don’t feel as though they’ve been majorly altered/re-worked since they were created (understandable since the publisher doesn’t want to alienate their core market) but have just has sub-systems piled on top of the existing rules, making it a little unwieldy in my opinion.

Whilst the discussion on the Hangout turned into something a little more like “how could Fate be used to run World of Darkness“, I very much want to use the core WOD system (or something like it) in a game.

So i’ve decided to create a list of things that I believe will need to be dealt with in my streamlined version of the game:

Things that I want to get rid off

  • Conditions: One of the newer mechanics that I am not that keen on, I love the idea of having conditions that apply to a character and encourage RP but i’m going to be looking for a different way of representing them (perhaps taking a leaf from the Fate aspect system).
  • Humanity/morality score: I’ve never really liked the idea that humanity was tracked on a scale like it is in WOD so i’m going to look for a different way of doing that.
  • Altering the number you need to roll on dice: Certainly in OWOD the GM could alter the number you needed to roll on a dice to make it a success (as well as the number of successes you needed per roll); I don’t think this is as prevalent in NWOD but it’s something I want to get rid of.
  • The massive skill list: One of the things I thing Fate does well, and that i’m taking inspiration from, is that they shortened the skill list dramatically, I think that the list of WOD skills can be condensed down.
  • Merit & flaws: After a suggestion by Marko I think that i’m going to get rid of merits/flaws and have them represented by either something akin to Fate aspects or incorporate them into the background system somehow.
  • Different types of damage: I think this is unnecessary and can be dealt with by just varying the damage level instead or common sense (if a werewolf can’t soak silver damage then just don’t let them, for instance).

Things that I want to keep

  • D10s and the attribute + skill style mechanic: D10s are very much linked with the WOD so I want to keep them and I like the whole attribute+skill mechanic although I may not have it as a dice pool, i’m considering reverting to an attribute+skill+dice roll vs opponents roll/difficulty level style system just to make things a little quicker and less dice intensive.
  • The background system: I love the backgrounds in the WOD, however over they have odd and arbitrary rules attached to them, i’d like to see them incorporated into the dice pool/total; so you might be rolling attribute + skill + background + dice roll.

I’ve also been thinking about the things that i’m going to need to cover in my WOD hack:

  • Supernatural powers: There needs to be some method of representing these that keeps the essential flavour of the powers without unnecessary book flipping.
  • Supernatural weaknesses: Things like a vampires need for blood or a werewolves vulnerability to silver will have to be represented somehow.
  • Morality: Despite me not liking the current rules system, morality is an important aspect of most WOD games and so it will need to be dealt with somehow.

Over the new few weeks/months i’m going to put up a series of posts that discuss my tweaks to the WOD system and hopefully some playtesting as well.

[Actual Play] Skyless City – Session 1

This is the first session of our new Jadepunk campaign, it finds our heroes aboard a sabotaged Aerum airship plummeting towards Kausao, perhaps our heroes weren’t the only ones attempting to take advantage of the Governor’s aerial tour of the city? But can they allow the massive collateral damage that the airship crash will cause?

[RPG] Using Hive-cities in RPGs

Hive Cities in RPGs
In this blog entry I want to talk a little bit about a concept that I have used in numerous roleplaying games and that seems to be very popular with my players (it’s going to be used in my forthcoming Jadepunk game ‘The Skyless City’ – you can see the video of our character and setting creation here), the concept of the hive city.
What do I mean by hive city?
A hive city is a city that is built upwards instead of outwards and in many different layers, different layers normally have different characters.
I think that I probably first came across the concept of a hive city in the Games Workshop skirmish wargame Necromunda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necromunda), in it gangs from various houses via for supremacy on a world that has been utterly polluted by industry; the hive citys or hives are huge man-made structures reminiscent of massive artificial termite mounds, each producing a stagger amount of manufactured goods and housing many millions of people. In general the uppermost spire of the hive world serves as the domains of the rich and privilieged, rising above the polluted atmosphere of the planet and touching the edge of space itself, the waste productions and pollution of the hives flow downwards forming a poisonous lake or sump at the very base of the hive; life on the lower levels become increasing unpleasant as the denizens are forced to drink water, eat food rations and even breathe air that has been recycled many times, the radioactive waste at the bottom of the hives also gives rise to horrendous mutants and monstrosities.
Here is a picture of a Necromunda style hive found on Yaktribe Gaming (http://gaming.yaktribe.org/community/threads/pictures-of-hive-cities-help-needed.2372/) posted by Malika.
Using this concept in RPGs
Although the concept (well at least my initial encounter with it) came from a dark, nihilistic science-fiction genre it can be used in almost any RPG, where the technology exists to create tall structures with multiple levels; for example Jadepunk is an amalgamation of steampunk ideas, wuxia and westerns, using enchanted jade in the place of more traditional steam based technology. Whilst designing our setting, one of the things that I was very keen to do (as I am in all of my games) is to get the players involved as much as possible in helping to design the setting where the game takes place; my general philosophy when using a published setting is that I start with the published material as a baseline, but that player and GM choices supersede anything written in the published setting. For example: In our Jadepunk game one of the players asked whether the game featured mythological creatures since he wanted to have a background that involved a Djinn-like creature, although the canon setting is largely focussed on humans, I see no reason why I would want to stifle a players creativity by refusing to incorporate something that could add a lot to the game and even take it in interesting new directions.
Why use a hive-city type structure in an RPG
One of the benefits of hive structure is that it enables you to present a (literally) multi-layered setting that illustrtates the contrasts and differences between the different layers without having to have a monumentally huge area. As you climb higher out of the pollution the people become more refined and the surroundings more opulent, whereas in the darker layers shut away from the sky and the clean air you have poisonous fogs, pollution where people live and die in abject poverty.
A hive-city is also a way of making class differences very obvious and present in a physical way, the rich and poor are not only divided by wealth and lifestyle but literally they exist on different levels of the game world; a poor person can only dream of climbing to the upper echelons and feeling the sun upon their face whereas the exceptionally wealthy live in luxury at the top of the hive or perhaps even floating above it (depending on the setting and technology available). Hive-cities also mark the PCs in your game as being something special, since they will be one of the few groups capable (or compelled to) move between the different levels whereas most of the poor will be forbidden from the upper levels and most high level dwellers would not sully themselves by descending into the depths.
In the modern world tall structures are quite prevalent and imply a certain level of civilisation, you only need to look at the modern high-rise skyscrapers of a city to see this, and this implied civilisation can give an interesting contrast in a game where you might otherwise not see it (such as a fantasy game for instance), especially when it is contrasted with some of the barbaric acts that often occur in many different RPGs; the veneer of civilisation can be quite thin and can hide a great deal of horror and darkness when it is peeled back, like a fine carpet covering a rotting and decaying floor.
Things to keep in mind when using a hive-city structure in your game
1. Decide roughly how large your hive is going to be: This doesn’t have to be an exact measurement but you should know whether your city is going to touch the stars or whether it’s just a few levels in height.
2. Decide on the character of the different levels: Each floor of your hive does not have to be different, you can group several of them together to create an area with a certain theme (a poor district or manufacturing levels for instance), but you should have a rough idea of the different levels that exist in your hive city.
3. Create some evocative details for the different levels: Once you’ve created the level grouping think about how they look or feel different from each other and the differences in the people that inhabit each level.
4. Consider how difficult it is to move between levels: A world with a lot of social mobility and movement between levels will feel very different to one where the boundary between rich and poor is guarded by troops wielding shotguns, also your PCs will inevitably want to move between levels at some point so give some thought to how this might be accomplished, whether there are any secret ways to do it and who else may move between the different levels.
5. Think about how the different levels affect and rely on each other: Different levels exist in a sort of eco-system where they affect each other and sometimes rely on each other, you don’t have to detail out a full ecological model but it’s definitely something worth thinking about before your game starts.
Getting the main aspects of your hive game down is far more important than having a perfectly detailed and rendering map of all the levels, i’d actually recommend against too much detailed mapping since it may not leave you much room for expansion and incorporation of later ideas.
A txt version of the rough concept for our Jadepunk hive city can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGuWGU1Wjd0U0J3emc/view?usp=sharing
Next time you want to give your game a bit of a different flavour or you fancy highlighting societal levels and differences in a very physical and obvious way, give hive-cities a go they’re great fun and can add a lot of depth to games.
Edit: My friend John Miles has just reminded me of another excellent fantasy version of a hive-city, the city of Sharn from the D&D Eberron setting, you can find more details about it here: http://eberron.wikia.com/wiki/Sharn

[Video-RPG] Jadepunk Setting & Character Creation

Myself and the three players for our forthcoming (and as yet untitled) Jadepunk game (Thashif, Jenny and Mathew) did a hangout last night where we did character creation and a bit of setting creation (hashing out the basic details of the characters home district within KauSao city). Very enjoyable (as always with this group), and we’ve got the first session scheduled for Sunday 28th, really looking forward to running it 🙂

[RPG] Numenera Session Notes

I’ve just finished running a very enjoyable Numenera where the whole of reality and even people’s memories was questioned by the player characters before they discovered the horrible truth that the world they thought that they knew had been ended hundreds of years before at the hands/tentacles if an alien menace called the Widow Makers and that their world was a copy saved from destruction through the mind of a genius Nano and the power an ancient machine called the Latos.
The final session of the game was broadcast live (despite some technial difficulties) and can be watched by clicking on the video thumbnail below.
Despite the dark premise the game ostensibly had a happy ending with one of the player character taking the place of the previous occupant at the heart of the machine and repairing the damage done to their world.
Given that the campaign has now finished I thought that i’d share some of the notes that I made in advance of the final session; a lot of this had existed up until this point only in my head but I wanted to get it all down in black and white before the last game.
The picture below shows the bizarre ecology that existed within the bowels of the great machine:
The picture below shows the rough layout of the area where the final session took place:
More details about the stalactite tower hanging from the cavern roof and the inhabitants:

A closer look at the great machine:

A few quick sketches and stat-notes for the potential encounters during the final game:

I really had a great time playing Numenera, the system is fairly easy to use (although not the most intuitive i’ve ever used) and get to grips with and the strange background is great, encouraging you to think of truly weird concepts and use them in ways that you might not have considered before.