Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[Trailer] Seventh Son

I have seen this trailer over 12 times in the last two days and I want to see this movie!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Threshold Magazine #1 to #6 Available at the Vaults of Pandius

Just in case some of you are unaware of it, the Vaults of Pandius has six issues of Threshold Magazine available for download so far.  Threshold is a free fan-written magazine that serves to generate continued interest in the campaign setting.  Each issue has a unifying theme and there are other things like interviews included in most every issue.  Head over and check out this resource for the fans by the fans.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Free Town Supplement: Adventures in High Wold

Over on the Original D&D Discussion forum the creator of a free town supplement called Adventures in High Wold has posted the lulu page for his product.  It comes in at 9 pages but offers maps, rumors, NPCs, and more for use in your campaign.  Check it out!   

Do You Have a Dragon Head on YOUR Wall?!

I am sure this video has probably been posted before but I was catching up on some reading at The Piazza when I stumbled across the following video. 

I can not take credit for stumbling across this coolness; it was Havard that originally posted about it on the forums.  He also pointed out the web site of the artist.  Pretty cool stuff!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Little Reorganization & Some Thoughts

I have been pretty satisfied with the posting so far in this new year.  I aim to keep the momentum going and add much more content in the upcoming weeks and months.  Here are a few highlights of the reorganization I have done around here and some thoughts about what I need to do from here on out.

It is almost time to revise the About Me tab again.  The final paragraph could use a little bit of updating but I will probably hold off for a few weeks to see if more changes take place.

The Collected Posts tab at the top of the page is gone.  It had grown bloated and messy so I split up the contents.  There is now a separate tab for Adventures in Fantasy and Perilous Journeys instead; of course, the contents of those tabs correspond to their respective labels.  The other information that was previously contained in the tab is still available on the blog but I just took this opportunity to clean up some of the clutter.  

The Adventures in Fantasy tab will see some expansion with posts covering the AiF Restatement project.

The read through of Perilous Journeys is complete but that is not all I have planned for the game.  Expect posts covering new resources such as magic items, new flaws, new edges, and other resources.    

I have added links to two posts focused on religion under the Toldara tab. The other posts covering religion will be added upon completion.  My goal is to offer something more than "there's a religion that people can join" by giving some actual details.  I fully expect a lot more information to be added to this tab over the next year.  There should be plenty of details on a Swords & Wizardry adaptation to come.  

The Projects & Downloads tab has several things listed that I need to get completed.  In no particular order, the SteamCraft character creation reference and the MicroToldara rules are the two I am aiming to complete first.

That is a pretty good summary of what has taken place so far and what is coming up.  The only other additions I can see that I need to mention are that I am going to start posting Steampunk Saturdays at some point and the Robotech Posts are probably going to start with the extras DVDs. 

It is time to wrap this up and get back to reading posts by all of you...


[Toldara] The Revivalists

This post is an expansion of the information originally posted in The Fractured Faith of Humanity.

Fair warning - this post is related to my campaign world Toldara but contains absolutely no game stats whatsoever.  I have always had all of these ideas in my head for expanding the information on the world and one way to do that is to detail some of the religious movements.  In real life, I am absolutely fascinated by religions and comparative religion in particular.  I thought I would combine my interest in real world comparative religions and my role-playing hobby in a series of posts.  This is a first pass but I also wanted to keep the information short to give a general idea of the particular faith in question.  I am sure that there will be additions - symbols, relics, etc. - to this material as time goes by and players interact with these groups.  Just to be clear, this is information for use in a fantasy role-playing game and any similarities between this information and real world groups or beliefs is entirely coincidental and unintentional.  I am just putting down information that seems to fit together for game purposes.


The Revivalist Church
The Revivalists are a grass roots movement among the faith of humanity seeking a return to an early, more primitive form of their church.  This movement sprung up due to opposition to all the pageantry that has overtaken other forms of the church.  The main focus of their adherents is showing reverence and respect for THE ONE in contrast to formulaic rituals and gaudy ceremony of other faiths.  Their meetings are often held the houses of members if it is a small group or in an open spot outside large enough for the group.

General Membership
Membership is open to all that respect and revere THE ONE to the exclusion of all other gods and spiritual entities.  This faith does not have multiple tiers of membership such as priests, acolytes, etc. with varying levels of responsibility.  There is only one body of general membership among their believers.  It is difficult to get an estimated membership count because although this faith is large it has no central governing body.

Priests and Officials
The Revivalist Church has no priesthood level of membership.  In effect, all members of the faith are considered priests and priestesses of THE ONE.  All are free to speak to the members at any meetings or services.  That does not mean there is no structure to the organization.  A coordinator is elected every year for each local group.  This coordinator ensures that the other members are aware of all meetings and is responsible for passing along other information and coordinating efforts with other groups in other locations.

Other Information
The membership looks to their holy scriptures and the writings by renowned past members of their faith to guide them.  They believe that the other branches of the faith have corrupted the teachings of THE ONE by concentrating on ceremony, grandeur, money, or other areas other than reverence.  They do not encourage animosity to the members of these other branches but try to emphasize that it is not too late to correct their path.

The Revivalists adhere to a book of scripture called THE WORD OF ONE.  It is their belief that this book was recited to early members of the church by THE ONE.  Although there are several translations available, they only acknowledge the original version as authentic and strictly use it for reading and study. 

The Revivalists believe that they are rewarded for a life spent in faithful service and reverence to THE ONE by transitioning to a spiritual paradise plane upon death.  All who enter will have restored perfect bodies, live in harmony, and want for nothing.

Currently, there is much debate among the membership about the status of non-humans.  Many believe that THE ONE will reward all sincere followers of any race into paradise.  Others believe that non-humans will be admitted to paradise upon the basis of how well they satisfied the requirements of their own respective religion.  A small faction of the faith believes that just as non-humans are separate from humans in life then they will also be separate from humans in paradise.  Without a central governing body there is no official answer on this topic and Revivalists are left to study their scriptures for the answer. .  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Freebie: Shores of the Dead Book 1: The Rising by Josh Hilden

If you are a reader and like zombies Amazon has the ebook version of Shores of the Dead Book 1: The Rising by Josh Hilden for FREE at the moment.  Just spreading the disease er, uh...word!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Peak at Perilous Journeys 7

This will be my last post covering the contents of the Perilous Journeys rule book; now I can concentrate on providing resources for the game.  I have discussed the sections covering character creation, professions, guilds, terminology, and other topics in previous posts.  That leaves only four sections that I have not covered: Gameplay, Appendix A: Advanced Combat, Appendix B: Creating and Modifying Professions, and Appendix D: Monster List. 

The Gameplay section covers all of the rules that basically tie everything else together.  Some of the topics include what the numbers mean, combat, movement, experience points and application, carrying capacity, encumbrance, and saving throws.  These sections are written just as clearly as the rest of the rules so everything can be easily implemented in play.  Also included in this section are optional rules such as Fate Points and Reputation.

Appendix A: Advanced Combat, similar to the guild rules, is a short section that has a larger impact than its size.  The simplest way to explain this section is that if you use it in your game then the warrior type characters will have something more to do than just swing an axe, sword, etc. every round of combat.  The rules describe a simple system of special moves that can be learned and used in combat.  Of course, the more skilled your character is in combat the more moves they can learn; any character can learn them, though.  It just makes sense for the warrior types to be more capable in this area.  The use of these special moves is regulated by an Endurance Pool.  An example of a special ability is presented below.

Disarm          Endurance: 6
The PC is able to attack a target is such a way as to cause the target to drop his weapon.  The target is allowed a save vs. Speed to avoid dropping the weapon.

The Advanced Combat section ends with a section covering Advanced Magic.  Rules are presented in this part to explain spellweaving and spell weaving.  Spell Weaving is producing an effect by mixing two or more spells together.  Spell Failure in Perilous Journeys could mean one of two things; the spell could fizzle out with the caster still using the Mana or an additional effect like double Mana loss, loss of memory, the spell’s effect is reverse, or more.

Appendix B: Creating and Modifying Professions discusses some guidelines for when a player desires to play a character type not covered in the rules.  The gist of this section is that it makes more sense to modify an existing part of the game to accommodate the player rather than making unnecessary additions.  That really makes a lot of sense if you think about it.  In essence, what is the difference between a Paladin and a Cavalier, a Thief and a Bandit, or any other similar professions?  If it can be simulated by swapping out one or two abilities then it should be, right?  I like this approach and I wish that some of the older games would take a similar approach instead of just adding an endless barrage or new material. That does not mean the rules disallow creating completely new professions at all.  The rules simply encourage that you ensure any new additions are truly unique and can not be handled by simply swapping a single ability or two.

The final section I have not covered, Appendix D: Monster List, provides statistics for 43 monsters; that number is deceptively small because several of the monsters have multiple sub-entries to illustrate the difference between common variety, leader, etc.  The entry on Dragonkind alone provides enough information for 45 different types when you take into account size, color (for Drakes), and element (for Dragons).  In addition to the Dragonkind category there are also categories for Humanoids (covering PC races, goblins, orcs, etc.), Spirits and Undead (covering ghouls, lich, skeleton, etc.), Netherbeings (covering demons, devils, oni, etc.), Large Monsters (covering ogres, giants, and trolls), and Insects and Animals (covering bear, snakes, tiger, etc.).  The entries typically cover the attributes, description, number encountered, combat, and treasure.  The only omissions I could see in the monster entries are monsters from classical myth such as centaurs, Minotaur, hydra, medusa, etc.  On the other hand, it is kind of refreshing not to see the same old monsters fleshed out for yet again fantasy game and I believe the Minotaur and medusa are both unique anyway.  The best way to deal with those two monsters might be in an adventure that showcases them and their background as part of the story.

Final Thoughts
I should have completed this read through of the Perilous Journeys rules a long time ago but I got side tracked.  I am glad that I picked it back up and continued on because I continue to be impressed by the rules.  They are easy to understand and put to use.  The rules accomplish the same things that many other games do but they accomplish it in far less pages and that is a good thing.  I hate giving a numerical rating to anything like this and this is not a review but I would definitely rate it as an “A” effort.  There is a lot to like in this slim volume and I look forward to seeing what comes about in the second edition.  I was given a sneak preview of some of the stuff and all I am going to say is that it looks like it just keeps getting better.  If you are interested in a new set of fantasy rules I highly recommend picking up Perilous Journeys.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Palladium Books® 2014 Christmas Surprise Package Extended to January 11, 2015!

If you are a fan or just interested in any of the games offered by Palladium Books® you still have a chance to buy in at a discount.  In short, for the price of $42 plus shipping you get a minimum of $84 worth of product! You can also request shirts, autographs, and other items.  For all of the details, read the announcement at their online store page.

[Trailer] Terminator: Genisys

I had to post this trailer up after running across it this morning. I was a big fan of the original Terminator movie and the sequel.  The third one was fun even if it was flawed.  I go back and forth on my impression of the fourth film.  I watched the TV series as often as I could.  This new installment of the film series looks very interesting to me.   

[Trailer] The Rangers: A Shadow Rising

I was browsing the 2015 trailers on YouTube and come across a low-budget film called The Rangers: A Shadow Rising.  The film is the end result of a successful kicstarter campaign by Ron Newcomb.  It looks reasonably well done for a little under $60,000 and I would wager it is probably better than some of the big budget Hollywood crap that they pump out.  It looks way better than any of the three D&D movies for whatever that is worth.  Maybe some of the people reading this will be interested...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Perilous Journeys: Ideas On New Magic Items

With the recent posting I have done about the Perilous Journeys Fantasy Role-Playing Game I have had a few ideas here and there for some personal additions to the game.  These are far from complete but I wanted to post them up to preserve the ideas.  The main point is to get the idea down so I can use it later.  

Blanket of Rejuvenation          VII
When a character uses this blanket for rest then Health is recovered at 30% of its normal rating per day assuming a full 8 hours of rest in a safe location.  If not, then health is restored at a rate of 10% per four hours of rest with 4 being the minimum required for health restoration.

Boots of Water Walking          VI
The wearer is able to walk on water for a short distance or a short period of time.  Probably limited uses per day.

Cloak of Invisibility          ?
When the wearer draws the hood over their head and gives the command word, they will turn invisible for a limited amount of time.  Limit the number of uses per day.  Maybe throw in adding to thievery, stealth, or something similar.

Dust of Sleep          V
When the user sprinkles this or blows it in the victim's face, the victim will go to sleep for 2 rounds.  Limit the amount of doses in a bag.

Key of Entrance          VIII or IX?
This is a normal looking key that will actually open up any mundane lock that it is used for.  Upon insertion, the key must lay still so it can adjust to the lock.  The simpler the lock, the faster it is to open.  More complex locks will require more time.

Spectacles of Comprehension          VII
Using this normal looking set of eyeglasses will allow the reader to read any writing they come across in their own language.  Put a time limit and a daily usage on it.

As I previously mentioned, this is all a work in progress and is not complete yet.  More later...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Quick Fire Thoughts on Film and Television

Having two weeks off for Christmas and New Years gave me the opportunity to catch up on some entertainment that I had missed.  I tried to keep my night shift hours somewhat intact so that further enabled me to watch more while they were sleeping.  Anyway, I thought I might take a moment and share a few thoughts on what I have seen recently. 

Guardians of the Galaxy: I knew the name of the team from the comic books but that is it.  I had no previous knowledge of them at all.  I watched it while my children were in school for the last day.  When they got home we all watched it again.  When my son got up the next day we watched it yet again! Guardians of the Galaxy is a big hit in my household.  The more I see of the Marvel Cinematic Universe the more I see that they have their crap together and took these projects seriously.  Guardians is probably close to my favorite Marvel movie of all time so far.  I really feel like the only thing The Avengers has over Guardians is the all-star lineup of classic Marvel heroes united together.  I am really looking forward to the sequel to see where the story goes.  DC had better get their act together if they want to attempt a Justice League movie because The Avengers and Guardians has really raised the bar while the DC moves have definitely been hit or miss.

Z Nation: Yeah, I know that SyFy probably had this thing slapped together to try to catch some of the popularity of The Walking Dead.  Of course, what better company is there to make it than The Asylum? They are well known for mockbusters such as Transmorphers.  There is a difference with Z Nation, however, because it has gained a following.  I will not try to convince you that Z Nation is better or on par with The Walking Dead because that is not the way to look at the two shows.  Obviously, The Walking Dead is a serious drama series.  Z Nation takes a different approach and goes for the wild and gonzo. Proof of that can be seen in some of the crazy encounters on the show.  There is a baby that gets zombified and suddenly can run around like crazy when it was in a car seat before being turned.  The cast also has to deal with radioactive zombies, biker gangs, zombies on Viagra(!), and it goes on.  Consider Z Nation the game sessions that take place at home after fans that are gamers watch The Walking Dead.

The Maze Runner: It seems that post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian fiction aimed at a young adult audience seems to be in fashion at the moment.  I read The Hunger Games trilogy at the suggestion of my wife and I have enjoyed the movies so far.  I watched Divergent but I just really did not get into it.  I hear the books are pretty good but I have not read any of them.  I took a chance of The Maze Runner and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I have watched it several times since I first watched it.  The movie still continues to be engaging and enjoyable.

(Robotech) Macross Saga: I have started working my way through all three of the Robotech series.  I am still on the first series at the moment.  I can see why my buddies and I liked it at the time.  Details to come later...

Rome Season 1: I received this for Christmas and I just got started on it.  Rome seems pretty cool so far.

The Hobbit 1 & 2: Now the thoughts that will probably bring the villagers out in large groups with pitchforks and torches.  I enjoyed Jackson's take on the LOTR film adaptations.  It is not unusual for me to pull them out and watch them back to back during the weekend.  I enjoyed the animated version of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  I was not a big fan of the animated Return of the King.  The point being that I understand there will be differences between the books and any adaptations based on those books. Obviously, print and film and are two different sorts of media and what works in one will not always work in the other.  I am also not a Tolkien purist by any means.

I received the extended version of the first two films in The Hobbit trilogy for Christmas.  I had seen them both once before but I sat down to watch them during my time off from work.  I would have thought that since Jackson was involved with these films and they were part of a larger story then I would dig them too. These two films have left me completely underwhelmed.  The dwarves just seem goofy to me.  The scene with the dishes in Bilbo's house was just silly.  The Goblin King seemed ludicrous to me.  The bridge in Goblin Town falling hundreds of feet with no injuries or death seemed more at home in an action video game. Radagast and Rastabell Rabbits fleeing from the Orcs reminds me of the old Benny Hill high speed chase scenes.  Why must Radagast have bird crap on his head?  The kung fu barrel riding is absurd.  You get the point.  The films look great but I am just not digging them.  I will see the third one for the sake of completion but that is the only reason I am interested.  Maybe I should read The Hobbit again to see if I am that far off base with my impression?       

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Peek at Perilous Journeys 6

With this post I turn my attention to all things magical - spell descriptions and magic items, specifically - in the Perilous Journeys Fantasy RPG rules.  Keep in mind that this series of posts are basically just a summary of what I have read followed by my thoughts and impressions.  This is not a typical review but scattered thoughts.

The spell descriptions are the largest single section of the rules with 33 pages of content; that equates to 26% of the complete rules.  The magic system presented in Perilous Journeys is a skill-based system based on having the ability (learned skill) and how competent your character is in that ability.  The higher the competency the more spells your character can know and cast.  Your character does not fire and forget spells, either.  The spells are powered by a Mana Pool that is directly tied to the Mind attribute. The cost to use a spell is tied to the power level of the spell and the casting time.  The power levels are I - X (with I being the lowest), the casting time can be somewhere between instant or 4 rounds, and the associated mana cost will be 2 for the low power spells and up to 16 for the high power spells.  As an example of spells found in Perilous Journeys, here is Time Stop, a power level V spell from the Enchantment school:

Time Stop     V
The time in the local area of effect is halted for 2 rounds.  It does not affect caster who can about with impunity.  The caster can manipulate objects, but their effect won't happen until time begins again, e.g. a box can be placed above a targets head, but it won't fall until time starts again.

The spells are grouped under seven categories that correspond to the professions and guilds. Dimensionology is magic that deals with parallel dimensions, alternate dimension, and time. Elementalism is magic dealing with the four elements of air, earth, fire, and water; there are rumors of a fifth element. Enchantment is a form of arcane magic that draws power from the void.  Necromancy is arcane magic dealing with the dead and spirits.  Shamanism is a form of divine magic calling on nature gods and spirits. 
Sorcery is magic using the power of Hell Dimensions and is connected to summoning demons, devils, and fiends.  Theurgy is divine magic used in rituals to invoke gods to action.  The spells are listed alphabetical in each school by power level order.  The descriptions are done in alphabetical order.  I think it works out just fine being done that way because the number of spells is a manageable size instead of hundreds of them all lumped together.

Just a quick aside her to note that the spell descriptions are just that.  There are some magic related rules in the next section of the rules, titled gameplay, and it makes perfect sense to have the information in that spot.  The rules and guidelines in the gameplay section related to magic include modifiers to magic use, spell books, spellcasting in combat, and mana recovery.  By placing this information in the gameplay section the reader will have all of the appropriate information together instead of flipping back and forth for melee rules or magic rules or both.

The second part of this post is about the magic items in the Perilous Journeys rules.  These rules take up seven pages of content; that equates to 5.5% of the rules alone or 32% of the rules when they are grouped with the spell descriptions.  Magic has a big part in the game because the descriptions of spells and items alone sits at just under one-third of the information in the book.

The section on magic items begins with a sample list of items available in the game.  Similar to spells, each item is rated on a scale of I - X.  I find it interesting to note that it is mentioned the items go up to XII power in theory but none are listed. There is no doubt that the items above grade X are only the most powerful of artifacts.  There are 78 sample items listed among five categories such as staves and wands, armor, weapons, and miscellaneous.  Although lower in quantity than the number of magic items in games such as D&D, the items show a wide diversity and weak to powerful and serve as easy to model examples for adding items to the list.  An example of a magic item description is presented below.

Hat of the Ranger     VI
This hat grants Ranging Ability at 20, or adds 20 to Ranging if already possessed.  In addition, the wearer has a 90% chance of knowing what direction he is facing at all times.  He can pass through wooded areas without leaving a trace at 90% effectiveness.

There is enough information there to be  useful but the rules do not try to define every circumstance or situation related to the item.  It should be pretty easy to add items to the list.  The only thing I noticed that some might consider an omission is the lack of cursed items. Honestly, it is unnecessary to have a standard list of those items.  It should be easy enough for the GM to use the magic items as a reference and come up with unique cursed items.     


Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Peek at Perilous Journeys 5

This post is really late!  I am continuing from my last post covering the Professions in the Perilous Journeys rules from January 4, 2012; I guess I really went off track at that time!  As would happen several times throughout 2014, I got sidetracked onto other things and did not get back to it.  I am making this return to Perilous Journeys the first blog post I publish in 2015.  I regret not getting to this sooner because it really is an all around well designed game.  It covers many things in other games but does it with a much lower page count.  For example, the Guilds section of the rules only take up five pages – that is just under 4% of the rule book page count - but they have just as much and even more to offer as similar rules sections in other games.  Personally, if I would have designed this game the section on guilds would be one of the sections I would be most proud of the final results.    

The professional associations and unions of Medieval Europe inspired the guild rules of Perilous Journeys.  The actual historical guilds were devoted to crafts such as masonry or carpentry.  These craftsmen banded together to provide aid to members and protect their craft.   In contrast, the guilds in Perilous Journeys represent associations of skilled adventurers that provide benefits to their members; namely, aid and training.

There is usually only one guild of each type per location because the guilds typically do not like competition in their area.  Guilds will take action to ensure their monopoly.  Some of these actions are legal and some are illegal.  There are exceptions to the Guilds strongly protecting their monopoly.  For instance, in large cities there are often several types of fighter guilds.

There are 13 guilds corresponding to the 13 professions in the Perilous Journeys rules.  The term “guild” is actually a generic label and will not be used for every profession.  For example, clerics will belong to religions, cavaliers would probably be part of a chivalric order, enchanters might be in orders, and guilds of other professions could be labeled differently as well.  The important thing to remember is that membership in any of these organizations is covered under the guild rules.  All guilds will conduct their organizational business in a guild hall.  Of course, other labels will be appropriate according to profession; for example, cavaliers will likely meet in keeps, clerics might gather in monasteries or temples, bandits meet in camps, and shamans could meet in circles or groves.

Characters have two options when they join a guild.  First, the character can join during the character creation process by simply spending design points.  There is no quest or monetary requirements for joining in this manner; it is assumed to happen prior to play.  Second, the character can join at a later time by fulfilling any quest requirements and paying any monetary dues associated with being granted the rank they are qualified for in the guild.

Advancing in the guilds is measured by competency in the required abilities (skills).  These abilities are the same as the abilities for the professions; one ability is the primary ability while the others act as supporting abilities.  There are three ranks for each guild and they are apprentice, journeyman, and master.  Each one of these ranks has three levels attached to them.  Advancing through the levels requires spending money and experience points.  There are benefits associated with each level advancement such as gaining a point in each required ability, upgrading armor, add 2 points to a core attribute, etc. These benefits are listed in a master table that must be consulted for level gains.  While all guilds use the same table, it is customized for each guild and there is enough variety that you will not be building the same character time and time again.  Training is also available to non-guild members but it will be more expensive and more restrictive in what will be taught.  It may seem that guild membership is taken for granted with these benefits but characters that are not in a guild are free to advance in and focus on the abilities of their own choosing.

That is a quick summary of the guild system used in the Perilous Journeys game rules.  I think they are one of the best set of rules for these types of in-game organizations because they are short (5 pages), elegant in execution, and really are all you need.  In other words, you are not required to search through a never ending chain of supplements trying to find the perfect prestige class, advanced class, kit, etc.  All of the rules you need for guilds are in the core rules themselves.  I correspond with the author, Jamie Hardy, on a pretty regular basis and I have been privileged enough to be given a sneak peak of the second edition draft of some of the Perilous Journeys rules sections.  There are changes in many areas but I have not been given the guilds section yet.  I hope that section is just expanded with examples of official campaign world specific groups instead of being altered in a mechanical way because they are near perfect in their present form.

***Future posts in this series of Perilous Journeys related posts will include Spells, Game Play, Advanced Combat, Creating Professions, Magic Items, and Monsters.***