Tuesday, April 22, 2014

[Toldara Tuesday] Further Thoughts on Game Systems

I am using one more post to gather my thoughts on the various game systems I am using to play-test Toldara material. In the next post I will start presenting statistics, write ups, and information for the races in these various systems. I am not sure if I will dedicate each post to looking at a single race in all of the game systems - may split that into two posts if it is large enough - or devote each post to just a single game system with all of the Toldara races.  

Back to the Dungeon! RPG
For anyone that does not know, Back to the Dungeon! RPG is a neo-clone game that is based on familiar terms and concepts but introduces alterations and additions to the game system instead of trying to faithfully emulate a certain rules set from the past of the hobby.  This version is the most complete and up to date next to the MicroLite 20 version.  The main parts that are missing include the basic world information along with a race and class or two; some copying and pasting will fix most of the other information that needs updating.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
My original concept of Toldara actually lines up quite well with the feel and tone of the typical DCC RPG experience.  Toldara was always pictured as fantasy with a little bit of gonzo mixed in.  I have tinkered around with this rules set a little bit but I have very little practical experience using it.  I am highly intrigued by the possibilities and will at least give it an honest shot.  I may have to consult some people with much more experience with the system to assist me in completing the information.
Halberd Fantasy Role Playing
This is another rules-lite entry on the list.  I do not have a lot of experience with systems such as this but I am highly interested in applying the fast and loose nature of the game to Toldara.  The older I get, the more I am interested in playing than arguing about the rules so Halberd looks pretty great to me.  The write ups used in this game are easy and simple to use so it should progress pretty quickly in initial development.

MicroLite 20
This will probably be the first handbook released for the Toldara campaign for no other reason than it is the most complete.

I am really considering doing a dual-stat version with another OGL-based system. Maybe a triple-stat presentation could even work if it was done properly.  I will have to double check but I think all of them have no restrictions against using their game statistics with other game statistics statistics in the same product.  It should be relatively easy to present each new race or class with all three sets of statistics on just one page.  I will be investigating this further...    

Perilous Journeys
This version of the campaign material write up will be somewhat more challenging than the others.  Unlike the OGL-based systems, Perilous Journeys is a skill-based percentile system without classes/levels and the list of player character races is quite a bit different from the traditional fantasy offerings; I would also have to look at the races that are not available in Toldara and decide what to do about them.  It will be more work but it will be worth it to see how things convert over.

Swords & Wizardry: Complete
I started the list with an OGL-based game and I am ending the list with an OGL-based game.  Even though I have the B/X rules I really dig the Swords & Wizardry: Complete rules because it feels like a match for the complexity level of the mixed together D&D/AD&D rules we used in our youth in my old gaming group. Using these rules would also allow easier implementation of a dual-stat or triple-stat handbook.

Look for some game statistics and write ups in the next installment.  I am also going to experiment around with the dual or triple-stat format and see how it looks.  More later... 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

[Sunday Spotlight] Talislanta: Savage Lands

It is an exciting time to be a Talislanta fan!  The game has been out of print for a few years now but the entire library is available in the Downloads section of the Talislanta site.  Suddenly, there is talk of a new Talislanta book coming out!  The new book is tentatively titled Talislanta: Savage Lands and will cover a "dark chaotic age that followed the Great Disaster (all knowledge of spell casting lost, no cities or nations, just warring tribes)”.  Sounds fun!!!   

Saturday, April 19, 2014

[Steampunk Saturday] The League of S.T.E.A.M.

I was originally going to take a look at Progress episode 2 but I have been unable to commit the proper time to come up with some commentary about the episode or some related gaming information due to a family situation that needs my attention.  I could make a half-hearted effort and just post a link to the episode but I do not want to do that.  Without further delay, here is a little bit of information about a steampunk performance group.

The League of S.T.E.A.M (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management) has been "serving all your supernatural elimination needs since 1884" and all sorts of information related to the group can be found at their website.  There is information on the members, a gallery, a theater with videos, podcast information, and a store.  This steampunk performance group has been around for a few years and it looks like a fun time!  Go check it out and see what you think.

Steampunk Saturday will return next week with the regularly scheduled post about Progress episode 2.  My son is getting some in-house treatment and therapy.  Things have been a little hectic around here without him and I was unable to properly focus due to other family demands.  Tomorrow is the first visiting day and that should smooth things out a little bit; especially with his mother.  I may have some delayed posting while we are getting him the help he needs but I will do my best to keep up.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[Toldara Tuesday] Some Preliminary Plans Revealed

This post has a list of observations I have made in regards to rebooting my campaign world of Toldara. The information here will serve as an outline and will give an indication of what to expect in future posts concerning Toldara.

Game System(s)
Shortly after the release of the 3E core books I started making notes for my campaign world; it was not long before I decided to share the design duties with my cousin and we added more information as time passed. We made the transition to 3.5E and eventually went to Pathfinder. Alex has done most of the tweaking in both of those systems.  I enjoy Pathfinder but I have gotten way behind on the releases and I also want to experiment with using some other systems to represent the world of Toldara.  I am leaving the future Pathfinder development of Toldara in the very capable hands of Alex.  The systems I am currently experimenting with include the following:

Back to the Dungeon! RPG : A neo-clone system that I have contributed material to the design.  It only seems fitting that I should write a supplement.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG: For no other reason than the funky aspect of the game design.

Halberd Fantasy Role Playing (USR) - I like the fast and loose nature of the rules and I am just curious how it will handle stuff originally done in another crunchier system.

MicroLite 20: This greatly condensed version of the open gaming fantasy rules is of great interest to me. The "MicroToldara" rules are basically complete.  All I really need to do is add the Five F background system, a few classes, and then the basic world details.  This may very well be the first handbook completed.

Perilous Journeys: A skill-based fantasy game that is not a class & level system but is the spiritual successor to Lejendary Adventures.

Swords & Wizardry-Complete: I dig it because the complexity level feels about right on a match for the mash up of AD&D/D&D we used to play back in the day.  Hell, I might just do it all in B/X format...

I realize that there are six systems mentioned above for play-testing purposes.  What I aim to do is something similar to the character funnel from DCC RPG except through the process of tinkering with the different game systems I will be able to determine which rules set best suits my game play tastes.

The world of Toldara has always added four races to the core races in the rules - Anshus (a humanoid feline-like race), Karnin (a humanoid canine-like race), Oranian (a bird-like winged race), and the Slarn (a lizard-like race) - in addition to any changes to the core races.  I have been thinking about the races lately with an eyes towards trimming the list a bit.

I know that Alex added Goblins to the list of available player races in his Pathfinder campaign.  I have done the same in the MicroToldara version.  I am not sure the Goblin will be an option in any other game systems.

I am starting to wonder if any of the traditionally core races should be limited or excluded from the campaign. If one of them were excluded then one of the new races could take the place of the excluded race.  I am also considering moving the Oranians to NPC status due to their wings and flying ability.  

After getting some feedback and looking around at other maps on blogs or other sites I have decided to start over on the map.  I think the best way to accomplish that is by starting small and then expanding outward. The player characters will begin as novices so they really will not be travelling far for adventure.  The simple truth is that I do not need the entire world mapped out from the start.  A new map with the elements I want to keep will be completed shortly.  As the world information grows through playing in the world then the map will increase in size.

Starting Location
Of course, the map will start out with the town and the surrounding area.  I am going to keep it a limited area with just a short distance in each direction mapped out.  Basically, a size that will be big enough for the novice adventurers to explore with hints at a larger, more dangerous world outside of those boundaries. Things I want to use include the following:

town: big enough that it offers a useful selection of equipment and adventure opportunities but some of the "better" stuff is available in larger cities.  I am not shooting for ultra-realism but I want it to represent a decent size place with a large enough population where not everybody is acquainted with everybody and there are still surprises here and there.

caravans: the caravans will need guards due to raiders and this will provide some adventure opportunity in itself.
mine: the nearby mine will need laborers and will also be the nearest dungeon for the characters after some trouble starts up inside.

mountains: there will be some mountains nearby with caves scattered among them and if the characters go far enough into the mountains who knows what sorts of adventure awaits?

Some of the topics I am working on include a history of the realm and surrounding areas, a list of deities, some organizations, attempting to make coins unique instead of generic gold/silver/etc., and making notes as I think up other stuff.

More later....   

Saturday, April 12, 2014

[Steampunk Saturday] Progress Episode One: iAm Involved in Mystery

This is the first "official" Steampunk Saturday post.  I have posted steampunk content before but I am now devoting one post a week towards steampunk.  I have enough ideas to run with this for a good chunk of time so I will do this for the next several months at a minimum.  There were several web series that I posted about previously but I decided to take a look at something fresh and relatively recent.  After a quick search for "steampunk web series" this is one of the results.  It appears that they are only 3 episodes in on a scheduled 10 episode run.  For more information, you can go to Progress: the Series to read about the cast, crew, sponsors, events, and other topics. 

This episode begins with a short narration mixed in with the opening credits.  During this time the narrator informs the viewers that "it's 1888 and only the aristocracy has toilets but all of the empire has the internet". Then it is explained that "internet is a series of tubes" with steam coursing through them.  The steam comes from coal-burning furnaces that have to be maintained by immigrants shoveling in more coal constantly.  This makes for an appropriately dystopian setup for this story.  For the rest of the episode, a hacker is surfing the net  and breaking into several websites.  Upon further viewing the hacker stumbles onto a horrific event displayed on the web.

Progress does a superb job of setting the mood and atmosphere in this initial episode.  The visuals and design help bring the world to life.  They also throw in some modern internet references such as one character proclaiming that "I'm trolling" and the "Goggle Glass" device that makes an appearance.  Just imagine a steampunk version of Google Glasses and you are on the right track!  If you are a steampunk gamer, the best thing to take away from this episode include the immersion details and setting touches like the computer device that resembles a manual typewriter that shoots steam to open up a new page.  I did not have enough time to stat anything up yet because work was busy this week.  I needed to get this posted so I could get the ball rolling on my blog reorganization but at some point there will be SteamCraft stats for the appropriate stuff.

Enough talking - check out episode one below.     

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

[Toldara Tuesday] A Fresh Start

This is the first post for the Toldara Tuesday feature I am adding to this blog.  I think you will find the concept easy to follow.  Any post with the "Toldara Tuesday" label will be connected to my home campaign world of Toldara in some way or another.  It could be presenting one of the new character races or monsters in a different rules system, a map related to a specific region, details on some part of the culture, or anything from a host of other options.  I had originally intended the first Toldara Tuesday post to feature some sort of rules information but I decided to start at the beginning.  I am simply going to state my ideas and goals moving forward with this post and then delve into the actual game design or modification beginning with the next post.  

I have been tinkering with the details of my campaign world, Toldara, for several years now.  Things have come and gone with each new update.  I am currently between groups - and I have been for some time - but I think now is the perfect time to do a reboot on the world.  The first thing I am going to do is let Alex handle the Pathfinder version.  He has much more experience with that system than I do.  I still think Pathfinder is great but he has a much better handle on the system.  I am going to focus my efforts toward assembling several less rules heavy versions of the player material.  I believe that three versions of the information will be the best way to go.  I will most likely use U.S.R. for a really quick set up.  I am currently working on a conversion to the Perilous Journeys skill based percentile system and a Back to the Dungeon version.  With just a little effort the MicroLite version could be complete.  Do not be surprised if a Dungeon Crawl Classics or a Swords & Wizardry: Complete version pops up also.  I will discover the two or three systems I prefer to represent Toldara by Tinkering with them.

I have gotten some feedback on my map and will be making some changes.  I will also be using some of the resources pointed out on ars phantasia in various posts.  My plan is simple with all of this.  I am going to keep what I like from the previous version and update everything else to better fit my concept of the campaign world.  It will still be based on my old campaigns with new stuff thrown in also.  All I have to do is find a group to help test out the stuff.  More later....         

Sunday, April 6, 2014

[Sunday Spotlight] ars phantasia

This post today is the first one to use the Sunday Spotlight feature and a short explanation may be in order.  The Sunday Spotlight is my chance to draw attention to something related to gaming that catches my attention; it is planned for irregular updating but could develop into a weekly deal.  I may focus on a blog, a single blog post, a new resource, a trend among the blogosphere, or something else entirely.  For this initial post I am focusing on an excellent blog that I stumbled on to by following a link from some other place on the web.  

There are plenty of gaming blogs out there to read so why should you add ars phantasia: reflections on fantasy cartography and game design to the list of blogs you follow and read?  The simple answer is that Tad Davis does not waste your time with diarrhea of the keyboard to drive up his post count but instead offers up posts of substance and insight that can improve your gaming experience. The first post I read there was Testing Out a new Dungeon Format and it immediately grabbed my attention because he detailed a method of writing up a dungeon for practical use at the table that could make your Dungeon Mastering time a little smoother. By using his format you can easily see what to read to the players, search results, traps, and encounters.  Granted, some prefer a different format style or to just wing it with minimal notes but the method presented there is clear, concise, and easy to use; I know I am going to steal borrow it for my own use.  

Although that one post is enough for me to recommend checking out ars phantasia for yourself, I dug around in the archives and found some other stuff of interest also.  Clicking on the Portfolio tab on the home home page will take you to a collection of his impressive cartography work with examples in a photorealistic or hand drawn style.  If you are interested in information on Hexcrawl Procedures you can read about the process used by Mr. Davis.  He also put up a post on Hexcrawl Resources with everything from inspirational reading, design & mapping, hex-mapping programs, drop-in adventures, drop-in maps, and miscellaneous information.  There is a tutorial on Creating Forest in GIMP that he originally wrote for the Cartographer's Guild a few years back.  Finally, Mr. Davis has also come up with an Alternate Armor System for the D20 Fantasy system.  This is something I have always wanted to do an "Armor as DR" system and he has come up with something that is far better than my attempts because it also has a method for wear and tear. 

In the spotlight on ars phantasia above I touched on several of the available posts.  That is just a small sampling of what is available.  Stop by and look around to see what you find.  There should be something of interest for just about any fantasy gamer.