Monday, May 11, 2015

Neo School Hack: The Paladin

Right, so here's my paladin class for Neo School Hack, which is my version of Old School Hack by Kirin Robinson.  The basic template for classes is six talents unique to that class.  However, I have already experimented with variations on that base and this class has a new variation.  The paladin has five regular talents, plus a special talent containing a set of three thematic sub-talents called "Devotion".  The Devotion talent may only taken once and one of the three talents contained in it must be chosen at that time.  Once chosen it may not be changed--unless the character has a compelling in-character reason and even then must complete an appropriate quest worked out with the DM.

The Paladin

Detect Evil/focus-encounter: concentrating, the paladin listens to the surrounding auras and will sense any evil creatures in a 90-degree area out to 30 feet.

Lay on Hands/focus-rested: pausing to pray and gather holy energy, the paladin lays a hand on an injured person and heals them of 1 wound.

Sacred Immunity/constant: filled with holy essence, the paladin is immune to all diseases, normal or magical.

Aura of Courage/focus-encounter: the paladin's inner resolve makes fear impossible, not matter what the circumstances; and with a declaration of holy purpose, all companions and allies within 15 feet are emboldened, gaining +2 to any rolls against fear.

Glow/focus-encounter: pausing to pray and express inner holy essence, the paladin glows with a golden light like a divine torch.

- Divine Avenger/focus-encounter: channeling holy energy into a held weapon, the paladin gains +1 to hit and +1 wound of damage to attacks against evil creatures.

- Divine Protector/focus-encounter: channeling holy energy into a held shield, the paladin gains +2 AC and +2 to saves when attacked by evil creatures.

- Divine Knight/focus-rested: the paladin gains a loyal, divine riding creature which is much more intelligent than ordinary ones of its type.  It can be called with a special prayer; once called it remains until dismissed to return to the heavens.  The mount is saddled and armored, with AC = 14, HP = 3, with an appropriate one 2d10 attack (with Face Dice) doing 1 wound.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I read a steampunk book and I think I liked it.

I have an ambivalent relationship with the steampunk genre.  I love the whole look of it--the two decades straddling the turn of the last century have a great aesthetic.  But as a gamer I don't find the idea of gaming there very interesting.  For me it's really all about the visuals of steampunk.

But I picked up a book a little while ago on a whim and finally got around to reading it.  The Court of Air by Stephen Hunt is set in a fantasy version of late 19th century England, with other fantasy surrogate nations nearby.  And we've got airships, gear-work people, fey magic, druid-y earth magic, clock-work computers, and ancient lost cities in the mix.  But it also has some weird elements like kings who get their arms amputated for their coronation, and creepy human transformation bio-engineering.  It starts out pretty well, with two protagonists from miserable backgrounds who turn out to be a complementary pair of heroes pulled into a massive plot to destroy the world.

But that's where it sort of fell down for me.  The first half or so of the book is solid steampunk, just the sort of thing I was looking for.  I was in the groove for mystery, murder, intrigue, and cool bits of fey and clockwork spicing things up.  But then it spins into a rather over-the-top massive war with ancient evil gods and stuff.  The shift in the latter part of the book kind of threw me off.

But overall a good read.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Adding to my 4E collection...really, I mean it.

Okay, so you're probably thinking "Dude, 4E is stone cold dead. Why are you clogging your gaming shelves with it?"  Well, I've only played the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons twice but I liked the design concepts.  I was glad to see the designers were bold enough to stop polishing the same apple over and over and try something new.  When the game was announced I pre-ordered the core books at my FLGS and was pleased with what arrived.  Alas, 4E seems to have pretty much died before I could play it more fully somewhere--and few of my group seem enthusiastic about trying a campaign with it.  Nevertheless, I have had several 4E books on my wish list to get in order to go a little deeper into the system and be ready in case I ever end up in a group which wants to play.

So I just recently bought three of the power books to add to the Arcane Power book I purchased earlier.  The core books were good but obviously the options for characters were limited and I wanted to have these "power" expansions.  If I ever run a game it will be the core books, the 2nd and 3rd player's handbooks, and these four power books as the basis.  The only other 4E books left in my wishlist now are the Shadowfell and Secrets of the Elemental Chaos setting books.

As for my three new books I will say that the art (the first thing I go through a book for) ranges from good to great.  The content is good stuff, although I thought that they had more paragon paths than anyone will ever use, and crazy amounts of feats.

Hirelings and Henchmen for Neo School Hack

One thing which was typical of old school D&D was hirelings and henchmen.  Roughly speaking, hirelings are minor servants and guards, but henchmen are more like the sidekicks to your hero.  So for Old School Hack I'd borrow from the given monster classifications as foundations for building these two types of companions.   An easy approach is to make hirelings a type of "minion" and henchmen like a weaker PC class character.

HP: 1
AC: 8 or 10 (light armor) when hired, but can be equipped better by the characters
Attacks: 1 x 2d10 (but no Face Die)
Weapons: only cause 1 wound no matter the actual weapon type

HP: 2
AC: 8, 10 or 12 depending on class and may have a shield if appropriate for their type
Attacks: 1 x 2d10 (do get a Face Die)
Weapons:cause damage normally for their type
- Henchmen have a race and class, usually selected from those available to the players for PCs; however they start with only one talent instead of the two a PC starts with.
- Henchmen attributes come from an array of one being -1, one being +1, and the rest being 0; the +1 is usually in the attribute most useful for that henchman's class.
- Henchmen advance in class level whenever their patron PC goes up one; however, unlike PCs the only increase on gaining a level is to take a talent from their original class or race; once all the class talents and race talents have been taken the henchman may no longer go up in level.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hmm, cool-sounding RPG from France (mais oui!)

So over at ICV2 ("The Business of Geek Culture") a little while ago I was surprised to see an item about Paizo getting ready to distribute an RPG from France:

"Paizo Publishing has inked a distribution deal with French company Gob In Tux Publishing to release the company's tabletop RPGs, boardgames, and novels in North America. The first title will be the sci-fi roleplaying game Polaris, which will be the only 2015 release under the new arrangement.

Polaris is an RPG set in a post-apocalyptic undersea world. Mankind has been forced to abandon the world of sunlight and is now dwelling at the bottom of the oceans, where human nations continue their endless wars. Sea monsters and looters harass mankind, along with the mysterious Polaris effect. The 400-page Core Rulebook is planned for October release.  MSRP is $50.00.

Additional Polaris RPG products will include a Game Master's Screen and sourcebooks:  Bestiary, Technology Guide, Hegemony, Priates, Surface, Coral Republic, Polar Alliance, Mediterranean Union, Amazonia, and Secrets. "

There's not a lot of information about Polaris that I could find, but the artwork looks great and I like the ideas.  It's a bit like the Cerulean Seas books from Alluria Publishing.  I've always been interested in RPGs from non-English speaking countries but they are hard to find (for me, anyway).  I'm seriously thinking of buying this when it's available.

Friday, April 10, 2015

So, how about a Star Wars version of Battlestar Galactica?

Okay, so I haven't been posting much lately.  It's been due to a combination of lots of other stuff going on and only having big post ideas which are entire projects.  But I saw this fantastic piece of art in my Google+ feeds just now:

On Patrol by nova1701dms (
...and I immediately thought about a story/game where an imperial star destroyer ends up fleeing with a small fleet being hunted by the Yuuzhan Vong--sort of a Star Wars version of Battlestar Galactica.

I like the idea of a "Star Destroyer Galactica" (or "Battlestar Tatooine") game.  I usually have trouble coming up with workable concepts for science fiction campaigns but the Galactica model is easy to adapt.  Since they are refugees, you can have any and every type of Star Wars character in the fleet somewhere.  The imperials, jedi, random people, and bounty hunter scum are all thrown in together to survive.  The fleet can have any sort of ship you need for a good story, since each ship is a space-going plot device.  And, since they're wandering beyond the fringe somewhere, you can have them run into anything.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our first Roll20/Google Hangouts test session

Okay, so last night we finally got our schedules together and did a test session logging in to Roll20 and Google Hangouts to see if we could get it all to work.  My friends Kirk and Steve came over to my place, with Kirk kindly bringing a couple laptops to share.  The rest of the crew, Mike, Bill, Kaiser, and Doug, all logged in from their respective domiciles.

Logging in to Roll20 was easy and some of us spent time filling in details on our character sheets in the online campaign space.  We played around with the die rolling functions, spell casting macros, chat area, and moving our character icons around.  At first I was annoyed by the size of the video windows on screen for the other players, but I found the controls to shrink them down out of the way of the starting tavern map.  I plan to work on tailored macros later but for 1st level characters you don't need much.  Moving the icons is very easy and the on-screen drawing functions worked well.

Not everyone found it easy to get into Roll20 but eventually all of us did.  Google Hangouts proved a bit more difficult.  The audio came and went occasionally.  Part of the problem may have been that most of the time we were trying to use both simultaneously.  Also, at my house the wireless bandwidth may not have been up to carrying three laptops running two video and audio feeds at the same time.  In future I'll be on my desktop which is cable connected to the router.  I did find that when I moved my headphones back from the borrowed laptop to the desktop where they had been all sound was weird.  I'm still working on figuring that one out.

So, we're just waiting for Bill to finish getting the campaign ready, Doug to finish his character, me to make a portrait for Doug's character, and (maybe) to see if Alex wants to join as well.  I expect we'll have our first session in a couple weeks.