Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pathfinder E6 - Fitting The World To The System

So, I've mentioned the E6 idea before.

For those of you not in the know, E6 is "the game inside 3.5". Players can advance to levels 6, and after that, gain feats instead of further levels.

It keeps casters toned down, lets martial characters shine, and generally keeps the game at a sweet spot where everyone can contribute without the need for ridiculous amounts of magic gear and optimisation.

It removes some of the "zero to hero" charm of D&D, but it also brings forth the gritty nature of the lower levels. There's little in the way of resurrection, or city-levelling spells, or even planar travel. Things are just... Lower scale.

And as such, you can't just throw an E6 game into any old setting. Many have high-level NPCs running around, well-developed cosmologies that you can visit, and scads of ridiculously overpowered villains hovering around. Eberron is probably the closest match for E6, although Ravenloft would work really well too. Planescape... Maybe. It would take a lot of weird jumps and fits to manage it, but hey - that's Planescape in a nutshell, really.

The Forgotten Realms is right out.

So, in my mind, the best setting is one which takes the lowered level cap and grittiness of the rules and makes them integral to itself - a land based not on the assumption of super-powered murderhobos, but where even the greatest warriors can be knifed to death in an alleyway, where wizards can murder a village but are next to useless against an army, where dragons are A Big Fucking Deal.

I plan on making a setting on the blog, talking about various techniques you can use to tailor settings to mechanics and how I plan on doing low-fantasy Pathfinder.

Stay tuned for more this week!

TRIGGER WARNING: Tomb of Horrors

During the time that I was absent from blogging, I managed to have a holiday! And on that holiday, I picked up something dark and terrible...

Dungeons of Dread - a reprint of four classic AD&D dungeons, including the infamous Tomb of Horrors.

And, for some god-awful reason, the girlfriend decided she wanted to try and solo it.

Acerak have mercy on her soul.

PROTIP: He won't.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Once More Into The Breach...

So, once again I take a break from blogging...

I've had a lot going on, and, sadly, the blog is one of those things that sucks up time and can be easily forgotten when everything goes to pot.

That changes now things are settled down!

For a start, I'll try to stick to a more stick-to-able schedule than every (other) day as I've attempted previously. Work and life do get the better of me sometimes, and once you miss your first deadline, it's easy to justify missing more and more.

Second thing - I'll stick with one (maybe two) projects at a time. I have a bad case of Gamer ADD, always jumping from one thing to the next without finishing anything. Hopefully going to avoid that this time around.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge: Day 1: How I Got Started

To remind you:
 I guess my first exposure to D&D came from two sources - firstly, the D&D cartoon being rerun on British TV in the early 90s.

I think I must have been pretty young when I saw it - there's even a chance I caught it in the very late 80's, but I would have been well under 5 - so my memories of it are admittedly spotty. But I remember the Dungeon Master being creepy, Tiamat as a massive 5-headed dragon, and Presto the Hapless Wizard. It mus have started something, because I was in love with everything fantasy after it. From Willow to Legend to Pirates of the Dark Water, right up until the Big One - reading The Hobbit a the age of 10. I never looked back.

As for the second source, my older cousin was pretty big on D&D. I remember him running a game for me when I was too young to really comprehend what was happening (I suspect under 2e rules), possibly allowing me a seat in one of his group's games. One thing I do remember, however, was the Monster Manual.

As I said earlier, I soaked up sci-fi and fantasy like a sponge. I especially loved monsters - one of my most treasured possessions for many years was Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials, which I got at a car boot sale for about 50p and read 'till the hardback covering fell right off. And, having eagerly read my way through it, I was looking for more.

So, I flicked through my cousin's Monster Manuals. Judging by what little I remember of the artwork, it was one of those 2e Folios. Looking back on it now, I have no idea how I would have understood any of it - between Hit Dice, THACO, and a million other factors. But reading about the physiology, ecology and weird and wonderful special abilities of these creatures filled me with the same wonder I felt holding that precious field guide to the wonders of space.

Sadly, it wouldn't be until I was in my late teens that I began gaming in earnest. I fiddled about with 3.5, running a few spotty games for friends.

And so began my misadventures I chronicle here...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge: I Heard There Was A Bandwagon...

... and, in the interests of getting myself back into writing regular updates, I am jumping right on his one!

For those of you who don't know...

So I have a few days catchup to do...

Friday, 23 August 2013

MiniSix Firefly: Relationships

So, I got to thinking about the upcoming Firefly RPG, which will be based on the Cortex Plus system, much like Smallville and the newer Marvel RPGs.

Part of these mechanics is the emphasising of Relationships – a very important aspect in the Firefly series and Serenity movie. After all, they’re what define each of the characters, drive many of the plots, and allow us to gain some insight into why these characters are the way they are – and that’s far more interesting than laser beams and exactly how much fuel the ship goes through in a day.

So, I wanted to add some mechanics for Relationships into the MiniSix framework. These are a first-draft, so expect changes and such as I improve them.


Relationships are the defining building blocks of characters – dependents, people they trust, enemies, even their favourite gun. All these little things affect how a character views the world, and how they will react to various problems and threats. To provide a mechanical reward for bolstering these relationships, each one acts similarly to a Flaw – you gain one bonus CP per session when you either further your relationship, or it causes you problems. Some examples:

Dependant: a child, a non-combatant husband, or a sister who’s a little whimsical in the brainpan. Spend some time looking after them on a long journey, make sure you buy them something nice while out on leave, and you might earn yourself a CP.
Watch as they accidentally crawl into the middle of a firefight, have someone use them as leverage, or take out a bar full of people while the Alliance are already on your tail, you might get one too.

Partner: either your beau, or your (not-so) trusted partner-in-crime. Or both.
Remember an anniversary, chat to them about old times, spend some “quality time” with them (whether that’s romancin’ or goofing off), even have an argument about who does the dishes or how much you’re paying them, and the CP’s up for grabs.
Risk everything to save them, watch as they get themselves in big trouble, or help them deal with their demons, and you might get lucky too.

Equipment: the ship, she sings to you; or maybe it’s the gun you took off one of the five men sent to kill you. This little (or big) beaut is yours and yours alone.
Spend some time fixing her up, keeping her pretty, or expositing about your relationship, the CP’s in the bag.
Watch her get wrecked, spend way too much cash on upkeep, or have to go without, and see how you go.

The bonus CP is doled out by the GM – if two players take a Relationship with each other, and keep having the same arguments over and over (or try and swindle you with three anniversaries, 5 birthdays and a whole host of family bereavements), you are well within your rights to ask them to try something new, and withhold the CP until they can come up with something more entertaining. Similarly, if a Relationship and a Flaw (like Dependency, Greedy, or Skeletons in the Closet) would provide multiple CPs from the same event, it’s up to you whether or not to grant one, both, or neither, depending on how the players are playing it.

Characters can start play with as many relationships as the GM sees fit. I would recommend two – more than three can be complicated, difficult to manage, and can lead to some inflated CP gain.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

D&D Collectors Series Miniatures: What the Fuck, WotC, What the Fuck...

So, I happened into my Friendly Local Gaming Shop (the wonderful Static Games in Glasgow), hunting for bargains and weird and wonderful books (their second hand/ding stock is always plentiful, with some fabulous discounts), when something caught my eye.

Gale Force Nine have produced a new set of D&D Miniatures - the Dungeons and Dragons Collector's Series, to be precise. All new sculpts, themed (and finally non-random) sets (the Drow and Illithid Raiding Parties), and big single models (the Eye Tyrant and Purple Worm). The first thing that caught me was the quality of the sculpts - they look pretty fantastic. The Purple Worm is ludicrously nice, the Eye Tyrant looks very well-proportioned, and the Drow and Illithids are well in keeping with the 3rd/4th edition art style. Fair enough, I'm not a massive fan of that particular art style, but it is invoked pretty well.

This sounds like a pretty positive review so far, right?

Well, I took a closer look...

First thing that jumped out at me - the price. £40.00. For five miniatures. Now, I know that they're limited edition. I know there's only one store in Scotland stocking these (though, weirdly, eight in England!). And I know geeks just love to throw their money away. But come on - even Games Workshop has better prices than that.

Not only just 5 minis - 5 snap-fit miniatures! There's next to no customisation to do here, unless you want to do extensive remodelling. But, as these look to be resin-plastic models, and incredibly detailed and fiddly, I say good fucking luck. Cutting into one of these would just wreck the whole thing! Too many details, too few pieces to really allow you to mod them up as you need. So you'd better like the poses and weapons they come with, otherwise tough shit.

Some could attempt to justify the price - after all, they're limited edition, high quality figures. But seriously - £40. It just pushes some button deep inside me that knows that that is wrong.

But, you can now get official Beholder and Mind Flayer minis without sifting through booster packs, or having to put up with shitty pre-paint jobs!

I'd hold off on the Drow, however - there are a million companies selling Dark Elf minis out there, and unless you want to run a word entirely based off the artwork of  Wayne Reynolds, you'd be better going elsewhere.