Friday, January 22, 2021

New Day, New Character Day 16: Star Wars (West End Games)

New Day, New Character 

Day 16 

Star Wars 

I'm not sure I can give the West End Games version of Star Wars a proper introduction. Others have written about its influence not only on RPG's, but in a perhaps unique occurrence, influence on the original IP itself.  In any case, I'm certainly not qualified to speak of the game in terms of its "greater impact," only in terms of my history with gaming. 

This version of Star Wars was the first licensed RPG I ever played, and my first experience delving into a world I had already "played" in, even if that play was classic make believe of running around with friends and having "lightsaber" battles with flashlights, or smashing our toys together in pretend battles for the fate of the galaxy. Being able to combine my love for the movies with my love of RPG's was absolutely amazing! Even if the first games I played tended to focus a lot of time on smuggling "spice" under the watchful glare of imperial authorities. Still, the magic was there, and it was incredible. 

The game is a "D6" game, with everything being decided by throwing six sided dice. Characters have various attributes that have a value in these dice--for example, a really strong character might 4D6 in Strength. Various skills are tied to each attribute, such as Brawling for Strength. These have their own ratings, and one combines them for the pool. All the results of the thrown dice are then added together, and then compared against a difficulty to determine success or failure. In addition, there are "in between" stages, referred to as "pips"--either "+1" or "+2." So, a character might have Brawling of 1D+2, and they would roll 5D6 and add 2 to the total. There's no +3--one just goes up to the next die at that point.  As I'm restricted to only the editions I have in print, I will be using the Second Edition for this post. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 15: CAPERS

New Year, New Character 

Day 15 

CAPERS

CAPERS (yup, all caps), is a superhero RPG by Craig Campbell, with two unique twists. First, in 1920's America, at the height of Prohibition. Rather than "fighting crime," the default PC is a criminal, running alcohol and protection rackets. They're not super-villain's but rather, well, super-criminals. There's the option of playing super G-men as well, but the thrill of the game is to play proper 1920's gangster with super-powers. 

It also has, for me at least, a unique resolution system, driven by drawing playing cards. Ones value in any given statistic indicates how many cards one can potentially draw to resolve any issue. Obviously, the card value is a key component, indicating success or failure. The suit of the card determines the quality of the success or failure, with clubs being the lowest and spades the best possible. Thus, the PC's not only gamble with their life and freedom to find a place in the world, but the players take a gamble with each action they take. And, yes, card counting is thoroughly encouraged. 

I backed CAPERS on Kickstarter , immediately entranced by the concept of the game. I've run a few "villianous" super-hero RPG's, and they can be quite fun. Generally, I like to run them leaning heavily into the tropes of comic book super-villain's, but the combination of "grounded" yet still "pulpy" adventures was one I couldn't pass up. Unfortunately, I haven't actually had a chance to run a game of CAPERS yet, so this will be another "learning a system" type post.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 14: Werewolf The Apocalypse

New Year, New Character

Day 14

Werewolf: The Apocalypse

Werewolf: The Apocalypse was the second in White Wolf's "World of Darkness" lines, a "storytelling game of savage horror." It followed Vampire: The Masquerade and was in turn followed by Mage: The Ascension. In it, players take on the role of, well, werewolves in the modern day. Your kind once stood as proud, spiritual protectors of the Earth, guarding it against the deprivations of the all consuming and destroying Wyrm. The tools of the Wyrm range from raw demonic minions to the corruption of humanity, leading to violence, vice, pollution, environmental devastation, and the slow poisoning and death of the world. To put it simply and overly glibly, you are huge monstrous eco-terrorists fighting a tragic and loosing battle against destruction. 

While Vampire was my first love, I played Werewolf far more when I was younger. Its combination of tragic heroism, brutal violence, splatterpunk, and adventure just appealed more to my friends than Vampire. Plus, you know, wolves are just inherently cool. Who doesn't want to turn into an 8 foot tall wolf/man hybrid and just wreck shit? And it didn't have that pesky "humanity" mechanic to make you feel bad when you ripped someone's head off and went bowling with it. 

For this post, I'm going to be using the Second Edition of Werewolf. There's been a number of them, including a medieval one, and a Wild West one. There was also a 20th anniversary edition published somewhat recently, but per the rules of this challenge, I have to go with books I have in print. So, 2nd Ed it is. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 13: Heroes Unlimited

 New Year, New Character 

Day 13 

Heroes Unlimited 


Heroes Unlimited is Palladium Books take on the Super-Hero genre. It's a "universal" toolkit to make a variety of types of heroes, though not quite as universal as it likes to pretend. Each hero is based on a specific "category" of archetypes ranging from Alien visitors to Mutants to Robots to hyper-trained Super Spies. Each has their own distinct rules, and little effort is made to "balance" the various characters. Instead, the intent is to create a distinctive character, with, much like a comic book, the balance coming from what happens in the story, rather than any sort of mechanical enforcement. 

Like the rest of Palladium's books, Heroes Unlimited (HU) is derived from their Palladium Fantasy game, and follows much of the same rules. There are obvious additions, of course, through super powers, psychic abilities, alien life forms, and complicated cyborg and robotic creation rules. 

Perhaps it's my nostalgia guiding me, but I have a long and deep affection for HU. I've only played or run a handful of games over the years, and I'm willing to admit the game has its flaws. Mainly, it doesn't quite reach the crazy heights of what a lot of comic books do. Instead, it's a "grounded" game, where combat is nasty and lethal, and powers, while extraordinary, are still mortal and limited. I've only played a few super-hero games, but the ones done with HU have always been my favorite.

Monday, January 18, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 12: Stars Without Number

New Year, New Character 

Day 12 

Stars Without Number 

Today marks something of a landmark for my take on the "New Year, New Character" challenge. When I started, I created a list of 31 different games I wanted to make a character for. I thought of sorting them by system or theme or age or something like that, but decided to go random. Given the odd numbers involved, I had been using Wizard of the Coast's old online dice roller. I simply add in however many systems were left as a custom die and "rolled" that. I've now completed 11 of these, meaning I have 20 left. Which means I actually got to roll an actual, physical d20. I did, and got a 4 giving Stars Without Number.

Stars Without Number (SWN) is a fairly "hard" Sci-Fi game, in the tradition of Traveler. Players take the roles of mercenaries, traders, and explorers in the far future. A few hundred year prior to where the game begins, a massive catastrophe devastated all of settled space. The survivors have slowly rebuilt, and are tentatively rebuilding the old political and trade networks, but limited by much slower FTL drives, forcing the focus onto a more localized sector rather than careening throughout the galaxy. Like most of Kevin Crawford's games (including Silent Legions), the game is intended to be a sandbox for the players stories. The bulk of the book is about providing the GM with various rules, tables, and other tools for creating this sandbox, with the game being about what happens as the players set forth and explore the world around them

Sunday, January 17, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 11: Mage the Ascension

 New Year, New Character 

Day 11

Mage the Ascension

Mage the Ascension is a "Storytelling Game of Modern Magic." It is, in many ways, a successor game to both Ars Magica and Vampire: The Masquerade, so we are treading fairly well worn ground when it comes to creating a character. In it, players take the roles of "awakened" Mages, seeking both to understand the true nature of reality as well as to share that understanding with a world that not only fails to understand them, but which can barely tolerate their existence. They are locked in a millennia old war against the Technocracy, a group that desires to control reality and humanity. It is a war the Traditions (the disparate groups of mages the players belong to) are losing, and reality itself rejects their feeble attempts to change or alter it. 

It was the first of the White Wolf "World of Darkness" books that hadn't been released when I first started playing their games, and one I eagerly anticipated. I always liked playing wizard PC's and reading books about mages, and the idea of playing such a character in the "Gothic Punk" world was exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I never really got a chance to play it much--just a few scattered one-shots over the years. And to be honest, most just didn't work. Or at least, just didn't work the way I had dreamed. Due to its rather "freeform" style, it is a system that, in my opinion, is heavily depended on the Storyteller. And so long as the players and Storyteller are, more or less, on the same page, it seemingly can be a wonderful game. At least, according the stories and tales I've heard from friends and co-workers over the years. I hope someday to be able to experience at least a bit of its magic for myself. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 10: Vampire The Masquerade

 New Year, New Character

Day 10

Vampire: The Masquerade (V5)

After my brief detour towards "actually making a character for a game I'm going to play" with Starfinder, I'm back to randomly determining the next game for this series. I ended up landing on Vampire, which is easily my favorite game of all time. Even a casual perusal of this blog will show the majority of posts are somewhat related to this game. On my initial post, I listed the 1st Edition as the game for this challenge, as it has become my favorite version of the game. But, I rather like using this series to play around with games I'm not as familiar with, so instead I'm going to go with the latest version--5th Edition, or as it's also known as, V5. 

For those who aren't familiar with it, Vampire is a "Storytelling Game of Personal Horror." In it, players take on the role of a blood thirsty vampire living in the shadows of the modern world. Stories in the game can vary widely from brutal street battles to high-society politicking to "urban fantasy." The best ones combine all of this with an intense exploration of morality and help the player question not only the characters decisions and beliefs, but their own as well. The first edition was released back in 1991, and numerous editions and spin offs (Dark Ages, Victorian Era, "Kindred of the East", etc.) soon followed. Each tweaked and altered various rules and setting information, but the core always remained the same. After being officially cancelled in 2004, the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition in 2011 showed that there was still a passionate fan base, and the 5th Edition came out in 2018. The 5th Ed has probably the most significant changes to the basic rules in an attempt to update and revise things for our modern world. 

Despite running and playing Vampire more than any other game (save for D&D), I haven't yet had a chance to play or run V5. I could get some of my friends to try out the "playtest" material, but no proper "Chronicle" (Vampire term for "campaign") yet. So, this will be my first time doing more than "idly reading the rules." 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Universal NPC Emulator and The Everyone, Everywhere List

As I was going through my various creations for the New Year, New Challenge, there were two tools I keep referring to--the Universal NPC Emulator and The Everyone, Everywhere List. Both of these are incredibly useful tools that I use both for my frequent Solo games as well as when I'm running a traditional group game. Neither is terribly complicated, but I feel that both could benefit from a proper, if belated, introduction.

New Year, New Character Day 9: Starfinder

New Year, New Character

Day 9

Starfinder

This post is a little bit of a cheat. So far in this series, I've been using a random number generator to decide which game I would be creating a character for. So, for example, on Day 1 I used a random dice roller and rolled a custom "D31." Comparing the result to the chart I made, I ended up with Mechwarrior. And all subsequent posts since then have followed the same basic format. But for this post I'm deliberately choosing Starfinder.  

The reasoning for this is pretty simple--I need to make a character for a Starfinder game. Technically, I already have a character in the game, but it's going through a bit of a change. My current PC isn't quite working out the way I wanted him to, and so I want to try something else. I have a better feel for the group and its interactions now, and I feel like I can make a character I'll enjoy a bit more this time around. 

Starfinder itself is something of an odd game. A mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Starfinder sets the characters loose in a wild and woolly universe. It is derived on Paizo's Pathfinder game, itself a descendant of the Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. As such, the base mechanics are fairly "classic"--for example, having Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma as Abilities-- and not all that different from other D20 games (for example, Mutants and Masterminds). 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 8: Mutants & Masterminds

 New Year, New Character

Day 8

Mutants & Masterminds


Mutants & Masterminds (M&M) is a superhero RPG, based on the then dominate "D20" system, though with a number of unique features and systems. Unlike other systems, it truly is a "D20" game, with every roll being based on a roll of a d20, creating a fairly streamlined system. It does away with such legacy systems as "hit points," instead using things like "toughness saves" to show how unstoppable and untouchable certain comic book characters are. 

It's also probably the superhero game I've played the most. It's first edition came out when everyone was still incredibly excited with the D20 system, and it was easy to get my friends and other nearby gamers interested in trying out the game. The fact that it was a point based system and allowed for a wide variety of types while still keeping everyone more or less "balanced" also factored heavily in its popularity. I was never able to get an ongoing campaign going, unfortunately, and so my gameplay was limited to occasional one-shots over the years. It's currently up to the third edition, but unfortunately I don't own that particular version, not even as in PDF. So, I'll be creating this character with the now-dated 2nd Edition rules set. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 7: Thousand Year Old Vampire

 New Year, New Character

Day 7

Thousand Year Old Vampire


Thousand Year Old Vampire (TYOV) is a different kind of game than any of the others I've done so far for this Challenge.  It's not a traditional table top roleplaying game, but rather a solo journaling one. It's an intensely personal game of memory and loss, seen through the eyes of an immortal vampire as they navigate the long centuries. I've played a few games of TYOV, and I have to admit that the game affects me in ways that few other RPGs can hope to match. I'm actually rather annoyed and frustrated that I never conceived of this idea, but I still have nothing but great admiration for Tim Hutchings and what he managed to accomplish. 

Given it's unusual nature, character creation is similarly unique. There's no list of skills or abilities, and there's no way to "optimize" a character or worry about making the wrong decision. This is the story of your character, however you conceive them and whatever they might be capable of. Any "victory," though, is likely to come at a high price, and even the clearest will be bittersweet at best. For the key to the game is identity and memory, and how time dulls even the most intense of experiences, and how things that once meant so much to you can fade away and ultimately be forgotten. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 6: Silent Legions

 New Year, New Character

Day 6

Silent Legions


Silent Legions is an "OSR" style Lovecraftian horror game, where valiant investigators plumb the mysteries of strange and inhuman monstrosities and cults. It's a fairly "light" system from the point of view of the players, with the unique hook of it being a "sandbox" style game. Most of the core book is a series of charts and other tools to help the GM come up with their own horror setting, with multiple vile groups working their schemes, and the players interacting with them based on their own motivation, rather than the conventional "mysteries" in other, more famous takes, on this genre. I have a lot of love for the Sine Nomine games, but other than Scarlet Heroes, I haven't yet had a chance to actual play any of them. So, this will be another "first character" for this Challenge. 


Monday, January 11, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 5: GURPS

 New Year, New Character

Day 5

GURPS


While not the first, GURPS  is probably the most famous of the classic "Universal" Systems. More recent games have stolen some of its thunder--Fate, Savage Worlds, Powered By The Apocalypse, etc.--yet it still remains a corner stone of gaming. Even if you don't want to use their system, GURPS has put out some absolutely amazing supplements that cover almost every conceivable game idea you might have. 

But I did use the system--a lot. Back in the day, GURPS was my go to game for any time I wanted a system that ran fast at the table, and would otherwise stay out of my way, and played/ran a ton of games with the 3rd Edition rules. But sometime around the release of the 4th Edition, my group and I just stopped using GURPS. There was no particular reason why, just other games took our attention and we have never found our way back. So, for this Challenge, I'll be trying to create my first character with 4th Ed. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 4: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

 New Year, New Character

Day 4

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd Edition


I'm pretty sure that the 2nd Edition of AD&D was the first RPG I ever played, and was probably the default game in my life for more than any other. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was the longest lived of any given edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Despite that, it appears to be something of forgotten beast these days. The first edition and the various permutations of "basic" get much more attention in the "OSR" community, while 2nd Ed is often barely remembered. Still, it had some wonderful settings and supplements, and fired up my imagination for years. 

Having said that, this is still going to be a bit of a learning experience for me. There were a ton of supplements over the years, and I don't think I've ever created a proper "by the book" character in all that time. Elven Fighter/Mage "Bladesingers," Orcish dark clerics, "Ratcatcher" dwarves--sure, all of these were played, and played heavily. But all of them were made with supplements, and add ons, and Dragon articles, and not a small number of DM houserules and handwaving to make it all work. For this, I want to do it as by the book as possible. 

But, options are part of what makes 2nd Ed so much fun. And "options" are something I've been avoiding so far. So, for this take, I want to make a non-human, non "normal" type character. Since I'm limiting myself to the core book only, this leaves me doing something with a Elves, Dwarf, Gnome, or Halfling. I have never made a Gnome or a Halfling, and so I'm going to pick one of those two.  And with that, let's get started!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 3: Palladium Fantasy

 New Year, New Character

Day 3

Palladium Fantasy


For Day 3 of the New Year, New Character challenge, I roll up Palladium Fantasy. This is a pretty obscure game these days. As far as I am aware, it's origins lay back in the early '80's, as a series of house rules for a game of Dungeons and Dragons. Eventually, the house rules so changed the game as to become something different. While it has its adherents, Fantasy was never that popular, at least among my small group of gamers. Its system, though, spawned several successor games--Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness and Robotech were probably the first batch to gain wide popularity. But, if it is know today, it is probably from the game Rifts, which was immensely popular back in the '90's. Still, Fantasy has its own, unique charms. 

Overview
Fantasy has the classic fantasy races--Humans, Elves, Dwarves, etc--as well as a number of more unique ones like Changelings (shape changers) and Wolfen (wolf-like humaniods). There are also a number of classes covering a variety of types--Mercenary, Paladins, devil worshipping Witches, Shamans, or even regular folks like Peasants or Merchants. Combat is d20 based, but is an active challenge. The attacker rolls to strike, and the defender rolls to defend themselves. This results in a number of bonuses and modifiers to various aspects of battle. There is also a separate skill system, which is based on percentiles. 

I own both the 1st and 2nd Editions of the game, and for this Challenge I will be creating a character using the 1st Ed rules. I've always been rather fond of that edition, but have never had a chance to run or play in it. Nor have I made a character before, so it will be something new. 

Friday, January 8, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 2: Ars Magica

 New Year, New Character

Day 2

Ars Magica


For Day 2, my rolling brings me to Ars Magica, one of the oddest and most interesting games I own, but have not yet been able to play or run. The game takes place in "Mythic Europe"--a world based on our own history, but where magic, demons, faeries, and saints work their will on the world. What makes the game so interesting is that you do not play one character, but rather a member of a Covenant. In one game, your mighty Magus might lead a troupe to engage with the trolls who live nearby. In the next, your mage might stay home to study and practice their illicit arts, while you play your friendly thief Companion, assisting another PC's magus in the rough and tumble city. In the next, you might play a tough as nails Grog, there to provide muscle and protection for yet another Magus' schemes. 

For this Challenge, though, I will be limiting myself to creating a single Mage for the 3rd Edition of the game. While I own the 5th and am quite fond of it, my self-imposed rules force me to only use games I have in print, and I only have 5th as a series of PDF's I got through Humble Bundle. So, 3rd Edition it is. Let us begin, shall we?

Thursday, January 7, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 1: Mechwarrior

 New Year, New Character

Day 1

Mechwarrior

It’s Day 1 on the New Year, New Character Challenge. As per my outline post, I had no idea which game to start with. I headed over to my favorite online die roller (The old Wizards of the Coast one) entered in a custom “D31” and got a 28, which results in Mechwarrior

Mechwarrior is an old RPG put out by FASA as part of their Battletech line of tabletop games. In the 1st and 2nd Editions of the games, the assumption is that the PC’s are “mechwarriors”—pilots of the huge, humanoid war machines that dominate the battlefield of the far future.  Later editions aren’t quite as tied to the concept, but it’s still pretty core for the game. Of course, the name “Mechwarrior” is probably more well known for the series of videogames, rather than the table top RPG. 

New Year, New Character 2021

New Year, New Character


Over on Facebook (yes, I’m an old), I stumbled upon a pretty interesting “X Day Challenge”—The New Year, New Character Challenge, which basically boils down to creating 31 Characters in 31 Days.  I’m starting fairly late, but this sounds like a pretty fun setup. Timing might be a bit of a challenge, but, well, that's in the name.

From The Other Side Blog

Still, the challenge itself is fairly vague. 31 Characters, granted, but what else? One could, I suppose, create 31 5th Ed D&D Characters, or all Fate, or anything else. As such, I’m going to add a few more “house rules” to my creation. This is just for own personal guidance, others who are doing this challenge have their own.     

New Day, New Character Day 16: Star Wars (West End Games)

New Day, New Character  Day 16  Star Wars  I'm not sure I can give the West End Games version of Star Wars  a proper introduction. Other...