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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Atomic Highway

This is definitely not an old-school game. But I really like it. It was designed with Mad Max in mind, and since that's my favorite post-apocalypse genre, I really like the game. It only requires d6's. For skill rolls, you roll a number of d6's equal to your stat. 6's are successes. You can use your skill level to boost your die results to 6's. It's very simple, and quite elegant. The game appears to be pretty gritty, and I think it could be very easy to get killed. This fits the genre, though, and I like it. There's lots of rules for car chases and such, as well. The website is located here if you're interested.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thief Skills (Pick Pocket in particular)

Looking over the starting percentages for thief skills, I always think Pick Pocket is way too low. It was often the first skill young thieves would learn. I think it should start around 50%, especially when you take in the percentage loss caused by higher level targets. Having it start around 30% means that the majority of cutpurses would be caught on their first day, which is just silly. Unless you like a city with a bunch of missing their right hand.

I also think some of the other skills start too high, especially climb walls. Most thieves weren't second story men. Open Locks, Climb Walls, and Find Traps should all start low and only really start increasing once the Thief gets to mid level. Not sure how I'd address this in game, unless I port in a version of the 2e thief skills table (which I love, and I'm glad it's in the BFRPG Appendix).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Megadungeons - I've never really used one

I have Castle Zagyg, but I skipped out on Undermountain and the various 2e megadungeons. I played around a bit with Rappan Athuk: The Upper Levels when it came out, but I never really used the entire thing. I've just never been able to justify to myself the existence of such a thing. I love small crypts and stuff like the Catacombs in Paris. But a huge dungeon with seemingless endless levels just seems goofy. I could maybe see it if parts of it are attached via dimensional gates. But having everything stuffed into one mountain is kind of silly to me.

In some ways, I kind of regret this. After reading the Dwimmermount posts on Grognardia, I would actually like to try a megadungeon. I doubt that I would run it very long, especially compared to the amount of preparatory work it would require though. But for those of you who like this stuff, I hope you have fun!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Best supported retro-clone?

Just talking new stuff published specifically for clones. 

I'm guessing Labyrinth Lord has the most published support at this point. There have been a lot of releases for this system over the winter. I think it's pretty cool just how much people like this game, even though it's not my preferred version of the rules.

OSRIC likely comes in next, as it seems there is a new module for it every month or so. I have no real interest in OSRIC or 1e anymore, though, but I'm glad those who do get lots of new adventures.

S&W gets a fair amount, especially with Knockspell.

Brave Halfling and Lamentations of the Flame Princess have really done some good work for all the clones. I hope they continue to be successful, though I'm aware LotFP may be switching gears to supporting Jim's own ruleset.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Runequest II

I picked up Mongoose's Runequest II a couple weeks ago. I've read through it, and made a character. I really like a lot of the things they've done with the system. Much of it is familiar if you've played Mongoose's first version of the game. I liked the optional mook rules, where minor monsters are easy to beat (but not so easy as D&D 4e made them).

The updated variant magic systems are also pretty cool. I suspect once I get a chance to run this game, I will be limiting magic to Sorcery and Spirit Magic, and both will be advanced skills. I just like both options, and they are quite different from each other. I might allow Common Magic for Elves, and potentially some magic-rich human cultures, but I think that's what I'd limit it to. I think allowing everyone access to Common Magic, such as what happens in Glorantha, is a bit over the top for me.

Combat is still dangerous, with the possibility of being incapacitated being quite high if the players don't ambush their foes or work together. However, it looks like actually dying might not be too common, due to the healing rules. As long as at least two players have some healing skill, they shouldn't have to worry too much about dying (barring stupid moves, bad dice rolls, or fighting creatures that are too powerful for them). Though a cruel GM could have the monsters taking an action to coup de grace players.

Overall, if you are interested in a gritty, but magic-rich, fantasy game, Runequest II is a great option.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Magic Shops

The thread at Dragonsfoot had some pretty cool ideas about magic shops that I might be stealing. I have usually not allowed them, but these guys persuaded me otherwise. (Be warned that the thread degenerates after a bit and got locked, but the first few pages are good stuff).

Ideas I liked (none of these are mine, but they are cool):
The wandering witch who buys and sells items, and just happens to show up when needed.
Temples being the place to buy healing potions.
The Apothecary Shop that sells minor potions and low-level scrolls, but nothing else.
The dimension travelling salesman who has a shop in whatever city the PCs find themselves in. He's shady, and has to move a lot.

What cultures do you favor in your fantasy gaming?

I like to include Romans, Vikings, Gypsies, Mongols, and Comanchee/Sioux Indians. Each has a very distinct feel compared to the others. Yes, combining them is anachronistic as hell, but they are the historical cultures I'm most interested in. I also include the Broo from Glorantha, in all their evil, disgusting glory.

In general, I favor settings where the various countries and areas are easily comparable to real world cultures. It provides a great base to build off of. It's one of the big difficulties I have with settings like Talislanta or Tekumel, which are so original or foreign that I really can't grasp what to do with them. I suspect I'm not the only person like this, due to the popularity of generic Europe settings.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Systemless gaming books

Not sure about anyone else, but I love these types of products. I can use them with S&W, Runequest, and maybe even Traveller, depending on the supplement. I wish more companies produced these items.

Systemless books I own and recommend:

The Mother of All Treasure Tables by Necromancer Games - tons of non-magical treasures separated by value.
The Random Esoteric Creature Generator  by James Raggi IV - weird monster creation. Kinda aimed at D&D clones, though.
Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names by Troll Lord Games - must-have book. Just lists of first and last names by culture. Also very good reference for authors.
Ultimate Toolbox by AEG - Just a big book of lists of all kinds of different subjects, from medicinal plants to city names and lots of other stuff.
Freeport books by Green Ronin - cool pirate setting. A bit more 1600's than I usually am willing to go, but great stuff.

I do have some other similar books, but these are the ones that stand out for me. I'd be interested in what other books are out there that I may not have heard of.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

War paint

A number of ancient peoples used to wear war paint into battle (many American Indian tribes and the Celts). They also believed it granted them protection, and allowed them to conquer their fears in the face of an enemy. I really like this idea, and I definitely am interested in allowing this to affect S&W.

I think a good house rule would be that warriors who have prepared themselves with war paint gain a +1 to their Armor Class. This may be slightly magical in nature, due to the favor of the gods. Or it might just be that the war paint grants them enough confidence that they will take risks and fight better than they otherwise would have.