Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful for Gamer Friends

I've been known to post holiday themed content from time to time, but it isn't usually my thing. However, "my thing" or not, I feel the need to show my thankfulness publicly today, because this year has been awesome for me as a gamer. Let me explain why...

I started playing D&D with my dad when I was six, and as I grew up, I continued to play RPGs with family. The occasional friend joined in, but I have logged more hours of roleplaying with family members than any other demographic. However, over the last few years, my family has just stopped playing. My brother will argue that he still plays computer RPGs, but let's be honest. Computer games don't count, despite how much overlap there may be. 

After months of fruitless attempts to organize another game night with my old group, I decided to quit bugging people who were clearly no longer able and/or interested in playing. People get married. People have kids. Work keeps you busy. Priorities change. Life goes on. I understand.

What followed was a search for gamers in the area, and I started a Pathfinder campaign with just two players. Since then, the group has grown and evolved into what it is today: five of us who meet every week to get our geek on. That original campaign is still going, and we've added several more to the mix, but no matter what the game of the week is, I know that every Thursday I can look forward to spending the afternoon with good people having an awesome time.

I am truly grateful. Thanks, guys.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Savage Worlds: Some Observations and Comments

I've owned the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer's Edition for quite some time, and even threw together some stats for a few characters I was writing about when I first purchased it. However, for the most part, it has just been gathering dust on a bookshelf between my D&D and Rifts books, overshadowed by the two systems I grew up playing.

A friend mentioned the system about a month or so back, though, and I figured it would be perfect for the science fiction setting I had been working on: Alpha Enigma. So I blew the dust off of the old Savage Worlds book and opened it for the first time in over a year. The possibilities flew off the page at me.

I have gotten quite a few puzzled looks and inquiries since we started, probably because my group is still getting used to Savage Worlds after playing D20-based systems for so long. This is a collection of my thoughts on the system and what my players have asked me about it.

Game Mechanics
  • The concept of the action deck was one that I turned up my nose to when I read the book the first time, but I have grown to love it. In fact, it's something that I would port over to my D20 games if I could figure out an easy way to do it without penalizing players who have Improved Initiative or similar feats/class abilities.
  • It takes a bit to get used to using correct vocabulary for raises and aces. I mixed up the terms at least twice during our first session, and I think some of it bled over into the second session. By the end of the second session, I think we all had it right, but it would have been easier if I had been more attentive on day one.
  • A single Extra probably won't be challenging for a group of heroes regardless of its toughness. Aces make it easy for players to deal a lot more damage than the dice would suggest.
  • "Did I re-skin these powers so that they made more sense?" Sort of... except the rules are pretty un-skinned to begin with, and I just added whatever flavor made sense for each character.
  • "Where's the system reference document for this game?" Apparently, there isn't one. But seriously... the book is like ten bucks. This is the cheapest RPG I've ever purchased, and the scope of what is possible within the ruleset is definitely worth the investment.
  • It seems like the hardest thing for players to remember is the penalties to die rolls for being wounded and/or fatigued. There has to be an easy way to help new players remember, but I'm not sure what that is yet.
Setting Creation
  • It might be easier to stick to one identifiable genre or sub-genre when you describe your setting. Unless you have a lot of images, describing your world as a mix of Mass Effect, Firefly, and Phase World is probably too broad.
  • There are tons of fan-created converted settings that are already out there. Just do an online search for "Savage Whatever," and more than likely an appropriate document will be on the first page of results. I was able to find Savage Mass Effect and Savage Firefly pretty quickly, and even though I didn't use much from either one, they were still good reads. 
  • I purchased the Science Fiction Companion, but I really didn't need it. I think I could have created everything I needed from the core rulebook.
What might be the craziest thing is that we agreed to go back to the Underdark campaign for a while... but I'm actually feeling a little indifferent to a campaign with a heavy drow theme. The ease of play and shortened prep time of Savage Worlds has made me want to stick with it instead of playing drow.

Next step... drow in Savage Worlds.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Alpha Enigma Campaign Log #2: Escaping the Asteroid Mine

The ship detailed here is based on this one
in the Maps of Mastery line.
When we last left off, our heroes were investigating an asteroid mining complex that had been attacked by orks. Their mission was to recover the ore the Nova Eclipse was supposed to pick up, and rescue the captain's brother if he was still alive.

Cast:
  • Jane/Iris/Avery/Rose (Jammie) - a smuggler and rogue with multiple personalities
  • Alistare Nameless (Andrew) - a tech-savvy follower of a secretive religious order
  • Joseph Wrenly (Jake) - a man out for revenge, tracking down the man who stole his ship, stole his wife, and kicked his dog
  • Julian (Stetson) - an mercenary with a sniper rifle, a survivor's horror story, and a chip on his shoulder
The group continued exploring, and managed to rescue a maintenance worker who had barricaded himself in a room. He was grateful to see humans again, but not completely trusting, and he was right to be nervous. Julian decided that keeping the man around wasn't worth the effort or the risk, and shot him. The shot didn't penetrate the armor that the worker had taken from the barracks and strapped on haphazardly, but it sparked a scuffle in the group. After a few moments of infighting, Julian found himself unconscious and without any weapons. Jane dropped off the would-be murderer's rifle and knife elsewhere before he woke up, and Julian ended up taking the maintenance worker's old slug thrower for the remainder of the mission.

They continued exploring, eventually finding and killing the ork leader, and venturing into the mine shafts themselves. Not far into the mines, they found the ore they had been searching for atop a broken hover-palette. Alistare was able to get it back online, though, and the first step of their mission was complete.

Farther down the passage, they stumbled onto the body of the captain's brother. He had not survived, but it didn't look like he had been killed by orks. Joseph threw the man's body over his shoulder to carry him back to the ship, but they would find his killer on the way back to the complex, a giant vaguely humanoid creature made of stone. It pummeled Alistare into unconsciousness, but Jane got the drop on the creature by jumping up onto it and shooting as she climbed. It didn't take long for the creature to fall.

Back on the ship, Julian managed to convince the captain not to blow him out the airlock for his actions on the asteroid, but the captain's decision wouldn't matter for too long. Later that night, the captain was shot in his own bedroom, and nobody saw the killer. Unlike the last few crew members who went missing, this time there was a body, and after a thorough investigation, it seemed the party was convinced that the killer was using the ventilation shafts to move through the ship undetected.

Just in case an unknown passenger might be hiding there, the group decided to release the rat drakes into the vents to flush out any unwanted stowaways... but the execution of that plan will have to wait until next time.
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