Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: How To Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck by Goodman Games

Product: How To Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck
Publisher: Goodman Games
People: Chris Doyle, Mike Ferguson, Joseph Goodman, Ken Hart, Andrew Hind, Brendan LaSalle, Rick Maffei, Adrian Pommier, and Jeremy Simmons
Price: Printed Edition $29.99, PDF $6.99

Birthed from a series of Gen Con seminars beginning in 2007, How To Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck is a series of essays from nine different writers providing an industry view of how to not suck when writing adventures.

According to Joseph Goodman, owner of Goodman Games, the purpose of the book is to "provide tips to improve your adventure-writing skills. We hope you benefit from improved home games and perhaps drive some quality submissions in our direction."

We'll break the review down by essay, trying to give you a feel for the product as a whole. We've included author biographies from the essays as well.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Star Swords - The Beginning

So after a long drought, I'm GMing again. It feels good to be telling stories once more. I'm running the game via MapTool and Skype. We play twice a month.

The setting features aspects of Heinlein's Starship Troopers (swarms of bugs) and Niven's Known Space (warrior kitty cats and forerunners) with some Firefly thrown in for good measure (oppressive centralize government). It also has aspects of Shadowrun, Halo, and Star Frontiers.

In this setting, Earth and other well-established core worlds of the Grand Planetary Federation have become a bureaucratic hell where Social AIs dictate every aspect of citizen's lives. Humans live a pampered, if structured life with cradle-to-grave care. On the core worlds, aliens are looked upon as second-class citizens. Malcontents disappear and are never heard from again.

On the Frontier, life is rougher but freer. There are wars with neighboring races, new planets to explore, and FedCred fortunes to be made and lost in a day. Mercenary guilds are common and provide everything from explorers to law enforcement. The characters begin the adventure in one of these guilds.

Large numbers of alien races live in and around the Frontier but it is dominated by humans. Other races can be played but there will be some built in bigotry when you encounter GPF citizens.

Other governments outside the GPF include:
The Ateraxian Matriarchy – spider-like beings the operate a series of wormhole generators making a sizable income for the matriarch.

The Blorb Syndicate – large slugs with high-tech capabilities. Most other races are either slaves or food sources. They live in a back-stabbing, overly legalistic society. Few visitors leave the Sisternous system without several lawsuits filed against them.

The Kurr Hegemony – muscular apecats with a clan-based society and a large number of slave races. They have a raid or trade mentality depending on the strength of encountered races. Hunting other sentient beings (Sents) is a favored pastime.

The Kzzick Sovereignty – bugs in all shapes forms and sizes. They are humanity's primary threat. Kzzick consider all other races food sources and every planet material for growing the massive colonies.

The Riss Oligarchy – small lizards with a penchant for camouflage. The prey on other races and form the core of many pirate organizations.

The Verlian Union – large bears with clairvoyance. They are merchants with no real colonial ambitions. They revere their elders who they claim can see the future.

The Blorb, Kurr, Riss, and Kzzick are adversarial to the GPF while the Verlians and Atteraxians are allies. Client races of the GPF include Arvins along with the races present in the Science Fiction Companion. Other exist as well.

The game begins with characters applying to a mercenary guild. Guilds employ all sorts but for this game a good mix includes fighters, pilots, medics, explorers, and scientists. A combination of starship and dirtside skills are important.

Non-humans face special challenges in parts of the scenarios. Humans must be either an Oldie or a Frontiersman. Oldies are from the core worlds and don't follow the normal human character creation method receiving a better education (i.e. more skill points) but sacrificing the additional edge.

The game uses the Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition with the Science Fiction Companion. You can find the books at your local game store, on Amazon, or you can order the PDF from DriveThruRPG (cheapest). I've included the links below for Amazon and DriveThruRPG. The setting is best described in World of Grey. I've included that link as well.
On Amazon:

On DriveThruRPG - Note, this will be your cheaper option for the rule sets. They are $10 each.

I'll attempt to write a blog post detailing each came with setting tidbits as well.

All artwork is by Devin Night. You can find his tokens and other artwork at the Immortal Nights website. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Savage September on DriveThruRPG

I broke down a bought a couple of items I've been eyeing for a while. I've included the game blurbs below from DriveThruRPG.

Weird Wars 2 - In the horror of war, dark things rise, and World War II is history's greatest conflict. The Japanese stalk the jungles of Southeast Asia. Carriers battle in the South Pacific. Tanks trundle across North Africa. Planes duel over England. The Nazi blitzkrieg conquers most of Europe with a genocidal madman at the controls. Prepare to battle the evil of the Axis powers and the hideous things that rise in their wake. This isn't just war-this is Weird War!

Weird War II contains everything you need to run horrific World War II adventures with the Savage Worlds game system: new powers, Edges, Hindrances, weapons, vehicles for all the major powers, an Adventure Generator, dozens of Savage Tales, new monsters, and an operational-scale Plot Point Campaign that ties it all together.

And . . .

Achtung! Cthulhu - Keepers and Investigators Guide [BUNDLE] - Achtung! Cthulhu is a terrifying World War Two setting, fully compatible with the Call of Cthulhu, Sixth Edition and Savage Worlds roleplaying games. This is the Investigator's Guide, with everything players need to create and run character's in the late 30's and 40's.

Discover the secret history of World War Two: stories of amazing heroism, in which stalwart men and women struggle to overthrow a nightmare alliance of steel and the occult; of frightening inhuman conspiracies from the depths of time; of the unbelievable war machines which are the product of Nazi engineering genius – and how close we all are to a slithering end! The Secret War has begun!

The investigator's guide includes a whole kit-bag stuffed with:

• New occupations, skills, equipment, and backgrounds from across Europe, the British Commonwealth, and the United States

• How you can keep the home fires burning, become part of the Allied war effort, or risk everything by joining the partisans to bring down the Reich from within!

• What life was like serving with the various military forces and on the Home Front

• An array of historical and fictional material to help you create exciting player characters and NPCs

• A background generator, designed to help you find out what dark secrets your past contains…

The Keeper's Guide is a full-blown tome of dark knowledge, including:

• Allied and Nazi forces & intelligence agencies

• New rules and strategies for World War Two combat & survival

• Key characters & vile creatures

• New tomes, secret weapons, artefacts & equipment

• Occult organisations and Mythos-based missions

• Full rules for use with BOTH Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition AND Savage Worlds in one book!

In fact – There’s a whole Shoggoth’s worth of Cthulhu villainy, enough for any Keeper to have his investigators dead, insane or running for their lives in no time! The Keeper’s Guide to the Secret War is the essential Achtung! Cthulhu wartime reference for any Keeper or fan of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Requires the Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition or Savage Worlds Rulebooks to play.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Savage Worlds Freebies, A Kickstarter, and Chupacabra Con

We have two free products, a Kickstarter, and a Con to announce.

Visionary Comics produced a new web comic titled What A Man's Got To Do written by Pinnacle Entertainment Group's own Matthew Cutter. The 67 'page' work gives a nice taste of Deadlands for any of you unfamiliar with Pinnacles Weird West setting. You can also find a large number of Deadlands product reviews on this blog.

The second free product is a primer for PEG Inc's newest setting, The Last Parsec which corresponds to the full product's Kickstarter. The primer discusses the foundational aspects of the setting such as travel, communications, races, governments and corporations. Like the comic above, it's only a taste of the setting but would make a good handout for your players.

The Last Parsec was inspired by the Shane Hensley's play of TSR's Star Frontiers. I loved that setting. We played everything they published for it and then some. For more information, check out The Last Parsec design diary PDF.

The Kickstarter for The Last Parsec is well underway. At the time of this writing is is $30,000 over goal with 380 backers. Pinnacle handles Kickstarters in a very smart way but this isn't unusual for PEG. They know their audience well and found a way to fund additional content for their settings before release. I always pick the $35 level which gives the PDFs but I'm tempted to go print with this one.

So, big things are a comin'.

Speaking of which, I'll be at Chupacabra Con running a few sessions including one on Savage Saturday night. Come on out if you can. The guest list includes some Savage heavy hitters:

We look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ennie Voting Is Open

Please take time and go to the Ennie voting site to show your appreciation for your favorite games.

TftST choices are:

  • Best Adventure - The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man (Arc Dream Publishing)
  • Best Art, Interior -Deadlands Noir (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)
  • Best Cartography - Deadlands Noir Map: New Orleans & Hexaco (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)
  • Best Electronic Book - Shaintar: Legends Unleashed (Evil Beagle Games)
  • Best Family Game - Hobbit Tales from the Green Dragon Inn (Cubicle 7 Entertainment)
  • Best Free Product - Super Powers Companion Villain Supplement (Pinnacle Entertainment Group) followed by Rocket Age - The Lost City of the Ancients (Cubicle 7 Entertainment)
  • Best Miniatures Product - Weird Wars Rome Enemies of Rome Figure Flats (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)
  • Best Setting - Deadlands Noir (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)
  • Best Supplement - Deadlands Noir Companion (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)
  • Product of the Year - Deadland Noir
  • Fan's Favorite - Pinnacle, Triple Ace Games, Cubicle 7
You can check out all the nominees on DriveThruRPG for preview.

Vote early, vote often :)

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @

Monday, June 9, 2014

Nova Praxis for Savage Worlds Kickstarter - 2 days left

Nova Praxis for Savage Worlds Kickstarter Updated: Last 7 hours
It's funded and only 2 days left for add ons!

by Mike McConnell of Voidstarstudios

Review by Derek Brown, Savage Duck

UPDATE: Nova Praxis has had it's Stretch Goals reset so many more are already achieved ! With 7 hours to go, at $11k+, the following Goals are DONE: the Augmented PDF, GM Screen, Ghosts in Darkness (adventure) Work Hazards (alien/creature book), and Nova Praxis Cards (custom Init Cards that will be released on DriveThruCards). Evolved backers will get all the stretch goals for free! 

My Kickstarter addiction comes and goes largely based on Savage Worlds settings offered. Two are ending this week, the first of which I'm writing about now: Nova Praxis. A Savaged Trans-Human SF setting originally released for Fate, Nova Praxis gives us a setting for post-earth post-singularity evolved humanity taken to the stars.

a few more points from Void Star Studios:
…a relatively "hard sci-fi" setting that takes place in the aftermath of a short lived technological singularity
…an exploration of the tropes of transhuman sci-fi. Mind uploading, resleeving, AI characters, and body augmentation. 
…an exploration of the societal impact of a reputation based post-scarcity economy. 
…a game in which players play characters who know how to slip between the cracks of civilization and perform the jobs their patrons would rather keep off the books.
... a setting full of conflict. The Houses wage a secret Shadow War against each other, purist and transhuman ideologies erupt in violence, and apostates lash out against the oppression of the Coalition government.
...home to railguns, powered armor, star ships, security drones, bipedal war frames, swarms of nanomachines, kill-sats, and the horrors of accelerated evolution gone wrong.
New Art: Olympus. Received last week to give us some mind candy and get things percolating.
Since the launch we've received an "alpha" edition to begin the crowd sourced approach to editing...and a fun jump into the setting. Nice! In that alpha edition's first paragraph is a link to a preview that, it turns out, is also linked on the main Nova Praxis Kickstarter page but was well hidden as a graphic. Here's a short-cut if you're looking on the main KS page, it's the large "Download a Preview" graphic just above the Stretch Goal section.
Also, Sean Patrick Fannon is involved and helping with this Kickstarter. He talks about it on his May 18th Vlog.
A little preview from the alpha cut:
Apotheosis - The main thing that sets Nova Praxis characters apart from characters from most
other sci-fi fiction is a process called Apotheosis. When it comes to PCs, whether or not you are Apotheosized is a huge deal.

States – Instead of different races, characters exist in different States.  They are:
  • Pure – You are a normal human. Roughly 70% of people are still Pure. You can choose to undergo Apotheosis and become Sleeved or a SIM, but you can never again become Pure.
  • Sleeved – You were once a normal human, but you decided to undergo Apotheosis. You may now transfer your mind into different artificial bodies called “sleeves”. Sleeves can be biological, or synthetic. You can choose to become a SIM.
  • SIM – You underwent Apotheosis, but have not sleeved into a new body. You essentially exist as a disembodied AI. You can choose to become Sleeved.
For those of us familiar with the "trans-human" genre, I think getting "Sleeved" will be a blast. I can also see the SIM aspect leading to some wild adventures. If this all sounds interesting to you, jump in. If this is your first trans-human SF setting, it should be a good one. 
Lastly, this KS project takes an interesting tack with the "print" edition being thru DrivethruRPG's print on demand. At my level, I'll get a coupon for the book (pdf) but I'll pay an additional $7.50 to $16.50 to get a softcover print edition and then shipping. 
Stay Savage!