Friday, December 30, 2011

Seeking Inspiration

I've been off work for nearly two weeks now.  Unfortunately, my planned work on the Old-School Hero project only amounted to about 1.000 words, as I've had too many family commitments and other distractions to pay any real attention to it.

And now, I'm trying to get myself to focus on the Feng Shui adventure I need to run in early February.  Ideally, I want to playtest it on the 15th, if I have it ready.  The hard part is getting myself into the right headspace.  Typically, I seem to come up with the right idea at the 11th hour, but this year, I think I'm going to need to do a bit more preparation than in past years.  When I used FS to run my "Heroes of the New Wave" games, it was pretty easy to cast the game with archetypes that didn't use some of the game's more fiddly bits, like Kung Fu Powers, Arcanowave Devices, and Magic.  But this is supposed to be the full-on Feng Shui experience, so I really need to make sure things are set up to accommodate it and still be accessible to new players.

Since these elements introduce resource tracking, I'm thinking about making character-specific "play mats:"  sheets that include all their special abilities along with a place to track whatever resource is used to power them (probably with Pente stones or poker chips).  The gun-bunnies could use theirs to track ammo expenditures.

Of course, this requires additional work, which means I need to nail down the PCs, which in turn means figuring out why they're in this adventure.  Which means getting the damned thing plotted out.

In the meantime, I'm mainlining DVDs and hoping my muse will kick in.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Probably My Only Xmas Post

I believe SCIENCE will show that this is the only appropriate way to wrap a Pathfinder Beginner's Box.

Just try to prove me wrong.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sometimes, It Works. Sometimes, It Doesn't

I sat in with a new D&D group yesterday.  Nice folks.  The DM's a long-term SCA buddy who puts a lot of thought and effort into his games.  On a purely social level, I had a lovely time.

From a gaming perspective, I don't think I'm a good fit for this campaign.  First off, it's D&D 3.5.  While I played the hell out of that system for years, I've moved on, and there's only so much space in my brain for D&D and its various editions.  For the past eighteen months or longer, my D&D has been entirely of the Pathfinder or the 4th Edition variety.  I can't keep three sets of rules with that much similarity straight.

Compounding the problem is the nature of the game.  Epic level 3.5.  I was asked to create a 23rd level character, specifically a cleric.  I've barely played a dedicated spellcaster in any version of D&D, much less a 23rd level one.  The other new player sitting next to me was also playing a cleric.  As a result, the combats came to a screeching halt every time we had to pick a spell.

But I think that really, it comes down to my tastes.  I'm not an epic-level sort of guy.  I like the low to mid-level games.  Yeah, I got that Paladin up to 18th level a few years ago, but by that point, we were already rocking an epic style of play that had nothing to do with the rules, and we knew there was a definite endgame in sight.  With this, I don't know what I'm even shooting for.  It's not comfortable, and not in a "I should stretch my limits" sort of not comfortable.

Which sucks, because I'd love to sit down and play some mid-level Pathfinder with these folks.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Agenda, Of Sorts

I've been thinking about what I want to do gaming-wise in the coming weeks and months.  This late in the year, there's really no point in trying to get a new home campaign off the ground, so I've got some time to think about this, but I'm pretty sure I've got something resembling a plan.

1.  Write Old School Hero:  I'm definitely going to do this, even if much of the project is transcription/editing, rather than anything creative and new.  I think it'll help me get in touch with my gamer roots again. (Late December 2011)

 2.  Write and Run the Feng Shui Adventure at Owlcon:  I'm already committed to this, so I have to write it, possibly play-test it, and run the games (January 2012)

3.  Kick Off a New Home Campaign:  Probably Star Wars Saga Edition.  Anything I run at home has to include my son (he's old enough), and if I want my wife to play, it has to be something other than fantasy, so that rules out D&D of any flavor and a lot of other games.  SWSE rocks, the Kiddo loves him some Star Wars, the Missus can be persuaded to play an ass-kicking space princess, and I think I stand a decent chance of attracting other players. (First Quarter 2012)

It's a plan.  We'll see if I can hold to it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blowing Up Hong Kong On Less Than (HK)$388.63 A Day

So, Owlcon is coming up.  Unlike previous years, I've had no idea what to run.  I even considered just paying my admission and (gasp!) playing games run by other people.  But honestly?  That's just not me.

With pre-registration opening up at the end of the week, I realized time wasn't on my side.  So, I decided to go with what works.  Of my three really memorable Owlcon games, two of them have used Feng Shui.  Warts and all, it's my go-to action game, and I find my best convention games are all about action from start to finish.  But unlike my previous games, I'm planning on running this one more or less "straight."  No "Heroes of the New Wave" this time.  Nope, this is going to be pure Hong Kong action cheese featuring as much of FS's signature insanity (Ancient Eunuch Sorcerers from the past, Demonic Scientists from the future, Kung fu Badasses, Triad Gunmen, Gorilla Cyborgs, and things that go boom) as I can fit into a four-hour slot.*

And, of course, the entire thing must be presented in glorious Shawscope.

*Actually, two four-hour slots.  I'm running this one twice.

Friday, December 2, 2011

OSH Thoughts

So, if I’m going to retro-clone Champions 3e into a house-ruled 4e of my own devising (which I think I’m going to call “Old-School Hero,” or OSH).  I guess I should have some plans and design goals in mind.  Or at least some ideas of what I want to accomplish.

First up, I need to combine all of the Skills, Powers, Advantages, Limitations, and Disads from Champions, Champions II, and Champions III into a single document.  Along the way, I plan to make some initial decisions about powers that might not make the final cut, particularly stuff from Champions III (Mental Paralysis, I’m looking at you).

Once that’s done, I need to make some decisions about the values of some of the items.  I plan on keeping Skills on the original Champions scheme, where a Skill that has a lot more applicability to superheroic combat, like Acrobatics, costs more than something like Science or Streetwise.  But, I’m still not sure what I want to do with Martial Arts. 

In pre-4e Champions, the cost of Martial Arts was equal to the character’s Strength score.  Later editions turned it into a series of maneuvers which could be purchased individually.  The latter allows for lots of customization (there have been three different 200+ page books devoted to statting out real-world and fictitious martial arts in the Hero System), but the former feels more appropriate for me in terms of a purely superheroic game.

In his awesome Strike Force supplement, Aaron Allston took a route that was sort of a middle-ground approach by importing the Martial Arts packages from Danger International (Hero’s modern action adventure game).  Those packages consisted of a basic and advanced set of maneuvers, each costing 10 points to purchase.  Of course, since Strike Force was written years before 4e’s release, it’s actually more of a precursor to the later system.  All in all, I think I want to cleave as closely to the original as possible, so I’ll probably go with the Cost = Strength approach.

I also need to figure out how I want to value Disadvantages.  In the original rules, the character gets maximum value for his two most expensive Disads of the same type, the return then diminishes by half for each successive pair.  So, a hero with three Hunteds worth 20, 15, and 15 points, would actually get 20, 15, and 8 Disadvantage points for them.  In later versions of the game, characters got the full value from each Disad, but were limited to a total from each type.  While the latter is a cleaner approach, it is also rather inextricably tied to the notion that a character consists of X base points plus Y number of points from Disadvantages, something that really didn’t come into the game until 4e and something I actively disliked about it.  So, I think this is another place where I’m going to go Old-School and dirty rather than clean and new.

After I make those decisions, I need to look at the other stuff from Champions II and III.  Vehicle rules, base rules, optional combat rules, stuff like that.  If this is going to be an inclusive volume, they need to be in there if they’re worth keeping.

Finally, I plan on opening my later edition rule books to see if there’s some useful stuff in there that I want to port over to OSH.  Things like Hand to Hand Attack (at least the 5e version) and Damage Negation are worth considering, even if I don’t include them in the final cut.

After that, I need to look at the combat rules, though I don’t think they need much attention.

Back at the beginning of this, I mentioned design goals.  I guess I should state some:
  • To create a unified version of Champions that includes all the optional materials I want from Champions II and Champions III.
  • To clean up the rules a bit where possible while keeping the original feel of the game (less character bloat, easier to remember character creation).
  • To have fun doing it.