Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Looking back at 2011 and looking forward at 2012, I really do not have profound observations, predictions, or resolutions to make at all.  Thanks to all that follow this blog and I hope you have a great 2012!  Most important, I hope every one out there is in a better situation this next year than they are at the current moment.  With that being said, I do have one thought about the future...

Actual Play 
I do not recall playing any role-playing games in the last year; maybe longer even.  I came back to the hobby with the release of 3E and since then have discovered the OSR movement and I am a fan of several of the games.  That is all well and good but I have not had many opportunities to play recently.  I have some games I would like to play - BFRPG, Mutant Future, Pathfinder, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardy, CFRPG, Dark Dungeons - but I will be completely honest and say that I do not even care what the system is at this point. I just WANT TO PLAY just about any rpg.  I would not even care if it was not face to face, either.  It could be play by post or whatever.  I do not care!  Any suggestions?

I originally intended to include several more "thoughts" in this post BUT I believe this is the most relevant to my enjoyment of the hobby from this point on.


A Peek at Perilous Journeys 2

A Question Answered
In my last post about Perilous Journeys, I wondered if there were any differences between the pdf and the print version of the rules.  The author, Jamie Hardy, has informed me that the only differences are the cover to the print version and the fixing of some typos and minor clarifications. Just an FYI for those interested.

Now, a look at the character creation process in Perilous Journeys...

Two things caught my attention when reading the introduction of the character creation chapter of the rule book.  First, the beginning characters created with this system are not weaklings and the power level is one that is "appropriate... for characters that would be adventuring in a dangerous world".  Some might argue that the "OD&D feel" mentioned in the foreword of the rule book is not in agreement with this.  I disagree with that view.  The characters in both games just begin at a differing level of power.  Second, the rules ask each player to come up a somewhat fleshed out character concept before character creation begins. It is even pointed out that this concept should be more than just "warrior" or "thief" but should include details on personality, abilities, how the character was trained, etc.

The Character Creation Steps
There are 14 steps to creating a character in the Perilous Journeys rules.  Some of the steps are either optional or do not apply to every character due choices made in other steps.  It may sound like a lot of steps but - I am happy to say - the steps are clear without any confusion to the reader.  Unlike Lejendary Adventure, I am 100% confident that I understand the steps and can actually create a character.  In fact, I am tempted to once again pull out my Lejendary Adventures book to see if I can make any more sense of those rules.

Players have 8 races to choose from in the Perilous Journeys rule book.  Four of the races - Dryad, Fomorian, Lurikeen, and Wild Elves - offer a wider variety of chooses for the player.  Some might be wondering why the Wild Elf is simply not listed as a sub-race of the Elf.  After a little examination, it is clear that the two races are quite different from each other.  A simple sub-race listing would not work in this case.

Each race entry is laid out in an easy to follow format.  First, there are some introductory remarks about the race that includes physical details.  Second, the generation of the Core Attributes is covered in detail in this section.  Players have two options here - a point based method or a points plus random rolls method; both methods seem viable but the choice of method is up to the GM.  Third, this section covers the selection of Abilities (commonly called skills in other games) for the character being generated.  Humans are free to choose anything but the non-human races have abilities that are excluded - they can never learn them - and others that are restricted - they can not begin play with these abilities.  Fourth, the race entries end with Racial Traits that are other capabilities such as immunity, special hearing, special vision, etc.

This is just a beginning post on character creation.  I am going to try to locate my Lejendary Adventures rule books so I can do a side by side examination for several sections of the two rule sets; explaining my problems with LA and any insights with PJ.  I feel that is the proper way to continue this look at Perilous Journeys.  If I am unable to locate my LA books then I will just continue examining the PJ rules alone.  More later...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'm Back...

To make a long story really short, I will begin posting ASAP after a real world issue.  I was supposed to do a temporary move so the apartment complex could do a renovation on all of the units and then move back in.  As expected, NOTHING went as planned so I was moved twice and just now got back into my unit.  Then there were issues with my belongings getting delivered from storage.  Without any boring details, I'm back and will resume posting in the next few days,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Peek at Perilous Journeys 1

My initial post about Perilous Journeys was just my way of drawing attention to the free download of the game. I've decided to take a closer look at Perilous Journeys in pdf form.  I will be purchasing a print copy after the holiday season calms down.  

Before I begin looking at Perilous Journeys I feel it is important to explain my experience with Lejendary Adventures.  I stumbled across the Lejendary Adventure players manual in a FLGS one day and immediately purchased it after I noticed the name "Gary Gygax" and skimmed through the book.  I was pretty excited because it looked like a simple and straightforward skill based game using percentile dice for resolution.  Unfortunately, I just did not "get it" at all. 

I made multiple attempts at character creation and never went further with the rules.  My biggest problem was that I came away with a different understanding each time I read the rules.  I agree with others about the language or writing style being biggest stumbling block to understanding the LA system.  I disagree about the use of nontraditional role-playing terms.  I have no problem understanding that Avatar is equal to player character, Order is basically equal to class, and on down the line with the rest of the terms.  I believe the use of these unique terms is a plus and helps set the tone as something different from the previous work of Gygax.  

I am no stranger to the works and style of Gygax.  I read and understood the AD&D works, Cyborg Commando, and Dangerous Journeys. After reading through the character creation process in LA repeated times I grew very frustrated with the rules.  At first they seem pretty simple to follow but using them left me utterly confused.  I downloaded the quick start and that seemed to help a little but I was unable to bridge the gap between the quick start and the core rules.  

Ultimately, I came away from the LA rules disappointed.  I got the impression that a smooth rules-light game was waiting to be discovered with the rule book. I also felt that the writing style did not facilitate the understanding of the rules.  I must point out that this is not a dig against Gygax.  I am just saying that the rules as presented did not work for me. 

As a quick aside, I just wanted to point out that I thought it was interesting that both Arneson and Gygax stepped outside the realm of D20 based gaming and explored percentile based games with Adventures in Fantasy and Lejendary Adventure.  

How did I find Perilous Journeys?  I frequently check the threads at Dragonsfoot; specifically, the General Discussion, AD&D, Workshop, Lejendary Adventure, and Simulacrum Games forum.  I was checking the forums one day and came across this thread bringing attention to a new game with a design similar to LA.  After a download and a little investigation of the rules, I decided to bring attention to this game by taking a closer look at it in my blog.

Basic Details
I am taking a look at pdf version of the Perilous Journeys core rule book.  The document is black and white with illustrations and weighs in at 129 pages.  The artwork does a good job of capturing old school adventuring and there is an overall absence of dungeonpunk characters and monsters found elsewhere.  That gets a big thumps up from me because I really dislike a lot of the modern art in 4E.  I assume the only thing missing from the pdf version is the front and back cover.  The cover of the print version is displayed below.

The preface states several important things that form my impression of where this game is headed with the rules.
  • PJ is a skill based game that attempts to mimic the feel of OD&D but not the mechanics.
  • PJ has streamlined and flexible mechanics that will not hinder play of the game.
  • PJ has broad skills that allow the customization of characters.
This sounds an awful lot like what I heard about LA but that is a good thing.  If Perilous Journeys delivers for me in the ways that LA could not then I will be a very happy gamer.

The next section is a list of the common terms used in Perilous Journeys.  Usually I just quickly skim through these in other rule books to see if anything unfamiliar catches my eye.  I actually read every one of these definitions and found them very satisfactory in their explanation of the respective term.  The terms and labels used in Perilous Journeys should be familiar to most people that have played just a few role playing games.  The few new terms are explained in a clear manner that causes no confusion to the reader.  


That concludes the beginning of my examination of Perilous Journeys.  Fatherly duties call at the moment but I will continue with this later.  The next part of the rules is about character creation.

Monday, December 12, 2011

For Fans of Lejendary Adventures

If you are a fan of Lejendary Adventures - or tried to get into the game and was put off by the writing style - then you might want to check this site out:

Perilous Journeys download and information

Guest Post: Ethan (5 years old)

Yes, this is a junk post.  I came in from taking out the trash and my 5 year old was typing away on my netbook.  He said he "wanted to add his words to mine" so here it is - a guest post by my 5 year old.  I'm sure there is some nugget of role-playing wisdom hidden within but I have yet to find it. 

******************** ( Guest Post Below ) *******************

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

[Old Gaming Notebook] A Supers Campaign

I have played several of the superhero role playing games that have been published over the years; including Marvel Super Heroes, DC Heroes, Villains & Vigilantes, Champions, Heroes Unlimited, Super World, and a few others. I always preferred the ones that used Earth as the setting for the game. I was also a big fan of the Wild Cards series of novels. I came up with an idea for a supers campaign but I never did get around to fleshing it out and running any games using it. There are probably some pretty close parallels between Wild Cards in some areas. It's been a while since I read those novels, so who knows? Anyway, here are some ideas for the campaign setting.

The Setting
The setting for this game would be a parallel planet Earth in "modern times". The timeline and history of this fictional Earth would parallel the history of real Earth in every detail up to approximately the Vietnam era. At that time, the U.S. government (and others) would start experimenting with creating super soldiers to send into combat. This event would be where the big differences between the parallel Earths would begin to take place. Note: If I were to do this today, I would change that part of the back story. I would start the super soldier experimentation with the terrorist attacks on North America. As a result of this experimentation, the rise of super beings would forever change the world. Some of these beings would fight on the side of good while some would fight on the side of evil. Imagine how the existence of super powered beings would effect history.

Three Generations of Supers
Campaigns could be set up in one of three basic points in history.
  • The first generation of supers would be the result of the terrorist attacks on North America. Of course, I would probably change that to include the entire world. Maybe there were several countries working on a post-nuclear class of weapons. Among these scientists there was a group of radicals that wanted to prove a point. They set off these new weapons and the results are not completely as predicted. Some of the people caught in areas where these weapons were deployed develop super powers. These supers would be considered Altered or Mutated Humans.
  • The second generation of supers would be from governmental experimentation. These would be supers that the government would "control" and be used to combat rogue supers and fight in conflicts. There would also be governments that have early technological designs to fight with or against supers. There would be Altered, Mutants, and some techno heroes in this part of the timeline.
  • The third generation of supers would be the modern day of the setting. Supers are around due to the terrorist action, the reaction of the various governments, some of the descendants of the first or second generation supers have carried on the powers, and now there are supers due to weapons manufacturing corporations getting producing their own stuff.
Other Notes
I also thought that the tone and feel of the game could be enhanced by using quotes from appropriate sources to match the tone I wanted to get across. Maybe use a quote from the Bible such as Gen 1:26 " And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion..." at the beginning of the chapter detailing the history of the world.

I still need to figure out a way to bring in the other types of supers - aliens, cybernetic, magic, psionic, etc.

This is, obviously, just the beginnings of an idea. I kind of left the path of the original idea and just went with how I would update it now but it gets the idea across. I think if little details like the quotes and historical parallels were fleshed out it could be a fun campaign. I may turn out to be another project that I just do not have the time for...

[Adventures in Fantasy] Book of Faerry and Magic Pt. 3

In this post I look at the Permanent Magic section of the Book of Faerry and Magic.

The short introductory paragraph points out a few facts about the Permanent Magic system presented in this rule book.  First, the system presented in these rules is a simplified version of more advanced rules scheduled for a future supplement; it never saw the light of day.  Second, a magician using this system may turn any spell or Faerry rune that he is capable of casting into a permanent effect.  Third, in the basic game Faerry songs can not be made permanent.

What can a permanent spell be cast on?
A permanent spell can be cast on two things - a permanent edifice (building, statue, etc.) or an artifact (weapon, ring, medallion, etc.).  The magician casting the spell must be intimately associated with the permanent edifice.  For a magician to be intimately associated with an edifice, he must have lived in or near (within 200 feet) for no less than 28 days.  If this is not possible, then the casting magician must successfully perform a ritual of purification.  For an artifact, the casting magician must have made the artifact himself out of virgin material - material that has never been forged into an artifact previously.  In other words, it must start out as raw material and then forged into a sword before being enchanted.

The permanent magic ritual
The ritual for permanent magic continues the medieval flavor set forth earlier in the game.  Put simply, the ritual requires casting of a spell over a week's time and the magician must not be disturbed during this casting.  The permanent magic will be focused on a targeted spot and will trigger when someone other than the magician approaches within 10 feet.

The effect of permanent magic
This part is pretty straightforward.  Unless otherwise noted, the effect of the permanet magic will function exactly as if the caster has cast the spell from the focal point of the permanent magic.

Limits of permanent magic
There are a few limits to the permanent magic ability of a caster. 
  • A permanent spell cast on an edifice is limited to a total equalling the caster's Magic Ability.  For instance, if a magician has the ability to cast a total of 20 points of magic spells then the caster can use a total of 20 points in an edifice for his lifetime.  If the magician improves his magic ability to use 24 points he can now cast a 4 point permanent magic spell on an edifice.
  • If the permanent magic is put into an item or artifact then the toal is per year instead of over the caster's lifetime.
How to determine permanent magic ability
At this point, the book describes how to determine the magic ability of a magician with a formula that involves the experience level and magic points per level.  This section also covers the limits above but does so in an easier digested manner.

Permanent magic duration
It is generally assumed that permanent magic will last forever; even the death of the caster will not affect the magic.  There are, however, a few ways for it to end. 
  • If the magic is dispelled.
  • The terms of the spell are broken. (Applicable to artifacts, items, etc.)
  • Breaking of the item/focal point of the spell. (There are repercussions.)

That concludes the Permanent Magic chapter of the AiF rules.  It is interesting to see a magic system inspired by medieval beliefs that is not bogged down by a ton of rules, charts, and cross referencing back and forth between several different locations in the book.  Other systems have gone overboard in trying to replicate the medieval feel by tacking on rule after rule.  While that route may give a much truer and authentic feel, after a certain point it just becomes redundant. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

I Know The Weird Stuff You Are Into...

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a co-worker.  The conversation was somewhat random and just going from topic to topic when I got blindsided from out of left field with, "I've seen your facebook page and I know the weird stuff you are into.  Is that Semi-Retired Gamer thing something you belong to or is that you?".  Of course, I admitted that it was me.  I got a blank stare and the "old knowing head shake" like I was some sort of cult member or something.  I was not really irritated but I thought it was quite humorous.  It just reminded me of growing up in the 80's when D&D was insanely popular and the associated witch hunts that "concerned" parents and others would go on in search of the evils of the game.  I recall hearing the unbelievable accounts of people losing their sanity, learning real magic, assorted Satanic groups using D&D as a recruitment tool, and other completely outlandish and ridiculous claims.  Yet, people believed that then and less (I hope) believe it today.  It just caught me off guard because I thought I would never hear any of this garbage again.  I am 39 year old father of 2 that has been sporadically playing D&D since 1980 with no ill effects - 'nuff said.

Help With a Blogger Fix?

This is not a major issue but a minor inconvenience.  I show 33 followers on my dashboard but it only shows 13 followers on my blog home page.  I like to check out the blogs that my followers follow in case I have missed any hidden gems out there.  Does anyone know what I can do to fix it?

Already Tried
  • I deleted the gadget and then put it back on.  Still no change. 
  • I refreshed the page and that did not help.
  • I cleared my cache.

If anybody can help me with this I really appreciate it.  I hate wasting a blog post on this but I just like things "right", if you know what I mean.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

More Judges Guild...

This is just a quick update.  Posting will be slow at present.  I have finals all weekend but I did add some Judges Guild resources to the Resources and Links tab for anyone interested.  There is a pdf download of the Universal System, a link to an html page of the Universal System. and a link to the Judges Guild page with forums, downloads, and other assorted stuff.  Back to work...