Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Happy Dance - I'm Gaming Again

It's been a long drought for me since my last game, as far back as October of 2019. Back then, my long-time gaming friends from high school got together at a small Comic Expo near our hometown. We call our rare get-togethers Hawacon. So this would be Hawacon 2019.

I expected to run a Savage Worlds Bureau 13 - Stalking the Night Fantastic game. The beloved 80s RPG was due for a Kickstarter to be fulfilled as a SWADE Setting by game time. Sadly, that fell apart so I created my own game setting utilizing Bureau 13 as inspiration. 

The Comic Expo was within Brigandry Games, an ex-Walmart turned Friendly Local Game Store.  The convention space was large and we were the only tabletop gamers present. The game became yet another con destination as attendees strolled by and watched for a while. It was a little odd and a lot loud but we had a great game. 

We planned to get together again a few months later to finish the scenario but then Covid hit - and kept hitting. So we gave up. I would have switched to an online-only game but we have several Luddites who refuse to join a remote game and a few others that don't have the network bandwidth. There are 12 of us so just scheduling a Hawacon is like wrestling squid.

Once the vaccines rolled out we decided it would be safe to try again but there were a number of us who were still uncomfortable with a face-to-face meeting. MapTool and Google Meet came to our rescue. Hawacon 2021 was on!

Our venue was the Texan Theater, which is an upscale venue in our hometown. It has wifi, big-screen TVs, and catered meals. Overall the best con experience of our gaming careers. Our host is a long-time friend to many of our group and we're very lucky they let us use such a nice place.

We picked up after a year and a half like we'd never stopped gaming in the first place. Three of our members could be present so we cranked up MapTool for visuals and used Google Meet for video conferencing. There were a few technical glitches but overall the system worked. 

For the next game, we'll improve the camera system. Last time we depended on a laptop and a cell phone. We'll use a webcam suspended over the table with a mic so the remote folks can hear and a cell phone mounted behind the GM in addition to the original laptop so remote players can see the in-person group from both ends of the table.   

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

MapTool Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (SWADE) Framework

Much time has passed since I worked on the Savage Worlds framework for MapTool. I am resurrecting the project for two reasons: RPTools recently announced they were adding HTML5/CSS3 and JavaScript to the MapTool Virtual Tabletop and Pinnacle Entertainment Group released the Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (SWADE).

SWADE has some significant rules changes which call for adjusting the old framework. However, the old framework was developed over the years and had become something of a Frankenstein monster of old and new ways of doing things in MapTool MTScript. I attempted to rewrite it once for Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition (SWD) but abandoned the project due to poor design desitions regarding internationalization which slowed the framework to a crawl.

The other factor was the introduction of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript into MapTool MTScript. This adds tremendous capabilities for the character sheet and other frames/dialogs giving me the ability to code dynamic screens. It also will make things much easier to code.

Before beginning the rewrite, I started a design document while I awaited the changes to MapTool. It fairly extensive (45 pages long) and is not yet complete. However, it is complete enough to begin coding. I'll continue updating the document as I reach new design decisions based on lessons learned from the new MapTool implementation.

The new framework will feature two primary Lib tokes: Rules and Setting. With luck, the rules should remain the same between Savage Settings. The Setting tokens will contain setting specific rules, edges, hindrances, stats, vehicles, and HTML themes. The setting token will also hold any internationalization required. Thus you'll have a French Setting token and an English Setting Token for the same ruleset. This bypasses my earlier problems with internationalization.

I've also decided to implement an Avatar system so no matter how many of your PC tokens are scattered across maps they will all interact with a single set of data. The PC tokens thus become very light with a single property naming the data store. Extra tokens work much the same way except the hold temporary data on them so you can summon 12 goblins to a map, they will all start with the same basic data but temporary changes to state, gear, power points, etc. will be kept with the Avatar without update the primary data token.

There are many other changes as well that you'll find in the design document. Feel free to give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments below. 

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

Pinnacle Entertainment Seminar 2015

Here's the Pinnacle Entertainment Group GenCon session. It's worth 38 minutes of your time.

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.