Friday, December 13, 2013

Dungeon World

Dungeon World is a 'hack', or modification, of a game called Apocalypse World. It has become its own game, thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign last year. I'm not entirely sure how to describe the game in a relatively short, easy-to-digest way, so I'll leave it to this description I'm borrowing from the game's page at DriveThruRPG:
"Combining high-action dungeon crawling with cutting-edge rules, Dungeon World is a roleplaying game of fantasy adventure. You and your friends will explore a land of magic and danger in the roles of adventurers searching for fame, gold, and glory.
Dungeon World’s rules are easy to learn and always drive the action forward in unexpected ways.  A missed roll is never a dead end—failure introduces new complexities and complications.  Life as an adventurer is hard and dangerous but it’s never boring!
Designed to be ready for you to hack, remix, and build new content, Dungeon World includes systems for changing everything to suit your group including creating new races, classes, and monsters."

I know that I find the system intriguing, and it looks like a relatively simple, easy system to use. I know that character creation is very simple, so I think I'll try a run-through of that. According to the Dungeon World PDF I have, creation consists of the following steps:

1. Choose a class
2. Choose a race
3. Choose a name
4. Choose look
5. Choose stats
6. Figure out modifiers
7. Set maximum HP
8. Choose starting moves
9. Choose alignment
10. Choose gear

I'm a big fan of paladin classes, so since there's a Paladin class in Dungeon World, let's go with that. As a Paladin, I only have one option so far as race goes, and that is Human. So, that's two steps down. As a perk of being a Paladin, I get a move (basically, a useful power) where, if I pray for guidance, even for a moment, and ask "What her is evil?", the GM will tell me, honestly. The Dungeon World book lists a number of names, so I'll take one of those - let's go with Hadrian, like the big ol' wall. 

For look, I have a few categories to go through. For eyes, I can pick Kind Eyes, Fiery Eyes, or Glowing Eyes; I'll go with Fiery. For head, I'll go with Helmet, Styled Hair, or Bald. I like armor, so I'll go with helmet. I get a choice of Worn Holy Symbol or Fancy Holy Symbol; I want a hard workin' man, so let's go with worn. And for body, I can choose Fit Body, Bulky Body, or Thin Body. I think I'll go with fit.

For stats, I have the standard D&D set - Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma. In Dungeon World, I have an array of 16, 15, 13, 12, 9, and 8. I know Charisma is big for a paladin, so I'll put my 16 there, and the 15 in Strength; I want a 13 in Constitution, and 12 in Wisdom; the 9 is for Intelligence, and the 8 for Dexterity - Hadrian, like a wall, is not very speedy. As far as modifiers go, I have a -1 for Dexterity, because of the 8; 9-12 is no modifier, so nothing special for Intelligence or Wisdom. 13-15 gets me a +1 for both Constitution and Strength, while 16 in Charisma nets me a +2. My maximum HP is my Constitution + my class base, which is 10, for a total of 23; my base damage is d10.

For moves, it doesn't look like I have any starting choices, though I do get some nice ones - Lay on Hands, which lets me try to heal someone by touching them skin to skin; Armored, which removes the clumsy tag from armor I wear; I Am The Law, which gives me a chance to give orders based on my divine authority and have them followed; and Quest - when I dedicate myself to a mission through prayer and ritual cleansing, and state what I am setting out to do, I can choose up to two boons, things like 'senses that pierce lies' or 'a mark of divine authority', and all I have to do is make a vow, like Honor (requiring me to avoid cowardly tactics and tricks) or Valor (suffering an evil creature to live). 

As for alignment, I can choose either Lawful - where I can get XP if I deny mercy to a criminal or unbeliever - or Good, where I gain XP by endangering myself to protect someone weaker than me. I'm a sucker for Good - I can't even play a bad guy in video games - so I'll go that way. Finally, I have my choice of gear; I start with dungeon rations, scale armor, a mark of faith, and a weapon - either a halberd or a long sword and shield; I can also choose either adventuring gear, or extra dungeon rations with a side of healing potion. I'll go with the classic long sword and shield, and the adventuring gear - never know when rope might come in handy.

As a step they don't mention in the character creation section - at least, not in the numbered sections - there are also Bonds, ties I have to other characters in the group. It lists 4, things like '(Other character)'s misguided behavior endangers their very soul!' and (Other character) is a brave soul, I have much to learn from them'. These are tools to help tie the group together, but also create some inter-party tension.So, when it all shakes out, my character looks like this:

Human Paladin
Eyes: Fiery Eyes
Head: Helmet
Holy Symbol: Worn Holy Symbol
Body: Fit Body
Alignment: Good

Strength 15, Dexterity 8, Constitution 13, Intelligence 9, Wisdom 12, Charisma 16
HP: 23

Lay On Hands
I Am The Law

Dungeon rations
Adventuring gear
Scale armor
Mark of faith
Long sword and shield

So, not a huge character sheet, and relatively simple, but it looks fun to try. I hope I get to sometime.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

So, as I said, I'll be starting with a character from the Star Wars RPG published by Fantasy Flight Games, called Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. As one might assume from the name, it focuses on those who live out on the edge of civilization, either in the shadows, the underworld, or just at the edge of civilized life. There are no Jedi character options; there is a Force-talented Exile specialization, but nothing more. Here's a link to the character sheet.

According to the core book, there are ten steps to character creation in Edge of the Empire:

1. Determine Character Concept and Background
2. Determine Starting Obligation
3. Select Character Species
4. Select Character Career
5. Select Specialization
6. Invest Experience Points
7. Determine Derived Attributes
8. Determine Starting Motivations
9. Choose Gear and Description
10. Group Chooses Starting Ship

I'll be skipping step one, because I'm not creating a fully fleshed-out character, just playing with mechanics; for the same reason, I'll be skipping step 10, because there's no group.

So, on to step 2 - starting obligation. Edge of the Empire (EotE from now on) characters each have some kind of obligation, representing something the character owes - to others or himself. These are things like Addiction, Blackmail, Debt, Oath, Favor, or Obsession; I'll be choosing Debt. My starting Obligation amount is determined by group size, but let's assume 10 fr now. I can take more Obligation to add more XP or money (for equipment) later.

Step 3 is species selection. Star Wars has a lot of alien species, and there are several unofficial supplements adding to the species in the core book, but in the core, there are only 8 choices: Bothans, Droids, Gands, Humans, Rodians, Trandoshans, Twi'leks, and Wookiees. I have a hankering to play a lizard-man type, so I'll go with Trandoshan. This will determine my starting Abilities: Brawn 3, Agility 1, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, and Presence 2. My Wound Threshold (how much damage I can take) is 12 + Brawn, my Strain Threshold (how much stress I can take) is 9 + Willpower. My starting experience is 90 XP. As a special ability, I start the game with 1 rank in the Perception skill. I also have a Regeneration ability, letting me regenerate additional damage after resting or while being healed, and I have Claws, which lets me do additional damage in hand-to-hand combat.

Next, I choose my career. My options are Bounty Hunter, Colonist, Explorer, Hired Gun, Smuggler, and Technician. I want to be able to fight, but I also want to have skills outside of combat, so I will go with Bounty Hunter. This determines my starting skill options, eight in all - Athletics, Brawl, Perception, Piloting (Planetary), Piloting (Space), Ranged (Heavy), Streetwise, and Vigilance. Now, of these eight skills, I get one rank in four of them.  I'll delay that until after I choose my specialization.

Within the Bounty Hunter career, there are three specializations - Assassin, Gadgeteer, and Survivalist. Now, I don't want to be a murder-fiend or a space hillbilly, and I like the idea of a guy who can repair and modify his own gear, so I'll go with Gadgeteer. This gives me access to four more skills - Brawl, Coercion, Mechanics, and Ranged (Light). I can get one rank in two of these. I also get access to the Gadgeteer Talent Tree, but I'll go over that in more detail when I get to step 6. In the meantime, I will make my skill picks - Brawl, Piloting (Space), Ranged (Heavy), Vigilance, Coercion, and Mechanics; with my species rank in Perception, I have seven skills now.

Now, in step 6, I get to spend the 90 XP I started with as a Trandoshan. I can spend this on several things - I can buy characteristics at 10x the purchased rating, bought sequentially; I can buy skill ranks at 5x the purchased rank, bought sequentially (no higher than 2 in character creation); I can buy talents, which vary in cost depending on their place on the talent tree; and I can buy new specializations at 10x the number of specializations including new specializations. I can only buy characteristics at character creation, so 'll buy some of those. Agility is an important characteristic for both shooting and piloting, so I'll buy that up from 1 to 3 - that will cost me 50 XP (20 for the second point, 30 for the 3rd). I'll buy 1 rank each in Athletics, Piloting (Planetary), Ranged (Light), and Streetwise; that will cost me 20 XP. I'll spend my last 20 XP on talents; I'll buy the whole top tier of Gadgeteer talents - Brace (lets me brace a weapon more effectively), Toughened (+2 wound threshold), Intimidating (I can take strain to make my Coercion tests easier or those of others harder), and Defensive Stance (I can take strain to make attacks against me harder). That's 90 XP.

Then I determine derived attributes. These are my wound threshold, strain threshold, defense, and soak value. As a Trandoshan, and with my Toughened talent, my wound threshold is 17. My strain threshold will be 11. My defense, divided up into melee and ranged, are both 0, as I have no armor. My soak value is equal to my Brawn rating, which is 3, and might be augmented by armor.

Then I determine my starting motivation. There are three main groups to choose from here - Ambition, Cause, or Relationship. I see my hunter as an ambitious fella, so I'll go with Ambition. There's a sub-table for each of the three, and of my choices on the Ambition table, I'll go with Expertise - my Bounty Hunter wants to be at the top of his field in skill.

Finally, I can choose gear. I start with 500 credits, which is, frankly, not much to go on. I can get 1,000 more if I add 5 Obligation to my total, or 2,500 if I add 10 Obligation. I'll live on the edge and add 10, so I have 3,000 starting credits. I don't need a hand-to-hand weapon, I have claws. I do need a blaster, though; I'll grab a blaster rifle for 900 credits. I'll buy a handheld commlink for 25. since I'm a Gadgeteer, I need tools; I'll buy a Tool Kit for 350. Utility Belts are cool, so I'll take one for 25. Backpacks - not as cool, but good for carrying things, so I'll take one for 50. I want a Datapad for 75 and a Hand Scanner for 100, to help me find bounties. Since I'm a bounty hunter, I'll buy a pair of Binders (basically handcuffs) for 25. That brings me to 1,500. I want some armor, too, so I'll buy a set of armored clothing for 1,000 credits. Finally, just to make sure I'm prepared, I'll buy a holdout pistol for 200 and a pair of stun grenades at 75 each, for 350 more. That brings me to 2,900 credits spent; I'll leave a little left over in case of bribes. This would also be where I flesh out my description and personality, but that isn't what I'm doing here, so I'll leave that for a time when I'm actually creating a character for play.

I said I would leave out the ship choice, but the book recommends three - the Firespray System Patrol Craft (what Boba Fett flew), the YT-1300 Light Freighter (the same model as the Millenium Falcon), and the Wayfarer Medium Transport (relatively large, but unarmed, good for bigger groups). So, that leaves my character as follows:

Bossk Jr.
Trandoshan Bounty Hunter (Gadgeteer)
Brawn 3
Agility 3
Intellect 2
Cunning 2
Willpower 2
Presence 2

Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Coercion 1, Mechanics 1, Perception 1, Piloting (Planetary) 1, Piloting (Space) 1, Ranged (Heavy) 1, Ranged (Light) 1, Streetwise 1, Vigilance 1

Brace, Toughened, Intimidating, Defensive Stance

Species Abilities

Wound Threshold 17
Strain Threshold 11
Defense 1/1 (from armor)
Soak 4 (from armor)

Blaster Rifle
Holdout Blaster
2 Stun Grenades
Armored Clothing
Tool Kit
Utility Belt
Handheld Commlink
Hand Scanner
150 credits

And there we go.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Getting Back On The Horse

I've been kind of quiet on the gaming front, what with my other blog over at The Inner Limits, but I have been thinking I'd like to get back into gaming discussion. I thought a good way to start out would be to create a character for each of the RPGs I have available to me here in Texas. I did something like this a while back, a year or two ago, and it seems like a relatively simple way to get my head moving towards a gaming frame of mind without going totally nuts - after all, work has been keeping me pretty busy, and I don't want to overtax myself.

I don't know if anyone reads this, but if there is anyone checking, here's a list of the games I have available, first in print, then on PDF. If you have preferences for what game you'd like to see a character from first, just let me know.

D&D 4th Edition
13th Age
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire
Rogue Trader
Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone
The One Ring
Iron Kingdoms RPG
Eclipse Phase
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
Legends of Anglerre
The Dresden Files
All Flesh Must be Eaten

Part-Time Gods
FATE Accelerated Edition
Adventurer, Conqueror, King
Barbarians of Lemuria (Legendary Edition)
Dark Heresy
Dungeon World
A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying
Mass Effect d20
Mistborn Adventure Game
Wild Talents 2nd Edition
Silver Age Sentinels
Totems of the Dead
Trail of Cthulhu
Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition

If there are no objections, I'm thinking of starting with Star Wars: Edge of the Empire.

Monday, August 26, 2013

!3th Age and Innovation

While I am no longer in St. Louis, and no longer a grad student, I am still interested in gaming; while much of my writing time is taken up by my other blog, The Inner Limits, I do find time to read up on RPGs a few times a week. Most recently, the one I have been looking through is called 13th Age. It's a d20 system variant, which means it has a lot in common with 3rd Edition D&D, but it also has a number of features which remind me of 4th Edition; it seems like an effort to take some of the best parts of both and blend them together. I haven't played the game yet, so I don't know how well it accomplishes that, but it looks good on paper.

The parts of 13th Age I find really interesting, though, aren't really tied to the system. There are three separate areas I like involving character creation that make me want to find a group and start playing - maybe even running a game, once I feel comfortable with the system. First is the idea of One Unique Thing. In 13th Age, your character is special; he isn't necessarily a world-conqueror or the greatest wizard ever, but he or she is unique. Thus, each character has one unique characteristic about him (sorry, I use the male pronoun by habit) that makes the character special. Examples from the book include 'I am the only halfling knight of the Dragon Empire', 'I am a human child of a zombie mother', or 'I see truths in shadows that others cannot'. Each of these helps to define the character - and in some cases, the world around him (why is the first example the only halfling knight?). It isn't something that helps out in combat, but it does give each character something different from every other character.

Second are Icons and relationships with them. In 13th Age, there are 13 Icons - extraordinarily powerful beings with varying goals - whose power puts each of them in an uneasy detente with the others. Some are good, like the Great Gold Wyrm who blocks the gates of Hell and trains paladins, while others are evil - the Orc Lord who just wants to demolish civilization - or somewhat ambiguous, like the Elf Queen, who is queen of not just high elves and wood elves, but dark elves as well. Because these beings are so powerful, and because so many of them are at odds with several others, they do not go against each other directly, but rather tend to employ champions and adventurers to aid them. These are the PCs. In 13th Age, each character gets 3 points to put in relationships - either positive, conflicted, or negative - with icons. The number of points determines the strength of the bond, and at the start of each session, each player rolls a die for each relationship point to see if there is something interesting occurring between them - whether this is a squad of elven rangers in service to the Elf Queen showing up and offering aid, but only in return for a favor later, or the local ranking servant of the Great Gold Wyrm looking on your character with favor (or not). This means each session has the potential to change the world around you depending on your relationships, which I think sounds fun.

Finally, where D&D, and many other games, use skill systems to determine what out-of-combat things a character is good at, 13th Age uses backgrounds. Each character gets 8 background points, and can put no more than 4 in a background; each background is essentially like a skill package, something like 'legionnaire of the 17th legion' or 'corsair of the seven seas', and can do things that would be expected of a person with that background - a legionnaire would be able to follow orders, march, fight in formation, construct a camp, and other soldierly things, while a corsair could use rope, climb, sail, and probably threaten others. If you can make a case to a GM for why your background should help you in a situation, then you can use it to help out. I like this because it means that my fighter, who has a past on a pirate ship, no longer has to spend all his skill points in things like Use Rope and Sail while missing out on things like Endurance or Athletics, because each background can cover a wide variety of things, and your degree of competence is determined by how many background points you assign to a background. I don't know if it would work well in all games that use skill systems, but I like how 13th Age has put it to use.

I haven't had a chance to play an RPG in a while, but 13th Age really makes me want to test out those metaphorical muscles again.It probably helps that the game was designed by people who were heavily involved with both 3rd and 4th Editions of D&D, and that instead of just following a formula they have instead come up with some very creative and interesting ideas. I look forward to the chance to try this game out sometime in the near future - or, if nothing else, steal the ideas outlined above for another game.