Thursday, 24 January 2013

In The Grim Darkness of Mega-City One... 40kRPGs for Judge Dredd: Some Thoughts

So, like I posted about earlier in the week, I'd been wondering about writing up some rules for running Judge Dredd with the Dark Heresy system. Well, that thought went out the window pretty quickly - after all, Judges spend 15 years training before they get to hit the streets.

So, I instead turned my eye to Rogue Trader - and, lo and behold, it's a pretty good fit! It has competent characters, with a dash of lethality, lots of cool options for skills and gear, and a built-in way to handwave the problem of "Standard-Issue Gear" and spending money - the Profit Factor system.

First, it's no longer Profit Factor, but Renown (or Acquisition, or Respect or something similar) - a way to represent the pull and "power" a Judge has to requisition more bodies, vehicles or unusual gear. In all respects, it works the same, so we'll not fiddle it too much (for now).

The thing that makes these characters more competent than their DH counterparts is the Origin Path system - which gives you lumps of backstory, along with packages of Skills and Talents to make up 4,500xp (the remaining 500xp can be spent as you wish). This might need a few tweaks, but it shouldn't be too much work.

Skills will obviously have to change, but not by much - most of RT's (exhaustive) list of skills are fair, it's mainly the Knowledge skills which need to change. And similarly, most of the Talents will suit, with even the more setting-specific ones simply needing the serial numbers filed off.

For Careers, I can think of a few off the top of my head:

Street Judge (your common-or-garden Judge) - a "jack of all trades" career, might need to make a specific Advance chart for this one.
Tac-Judge (as in "tactical", a SWAT equivalent) - "The Heavy", most likely modify the Arch-Militant Career for this one.
Tek-Judge - I'll take more influence from the Explorator here, with more focus on Knowledge skills than becoming tough as all Hell.
Wally Squad (Undercover Judges) - something like DH's Scum - a Career based around lying, deceptions, and "criminal" skills and knowledge.
Psi-Judge - the Psyker and Astropath Careers are a little bit too setting-specific to be much use here, and Psi-Judges still have their Judge training to fall back on - I'll make a unique Advance Chart for this one too (most likely based off the Street Judge, with extra Psi-options in place of more generalist Advances).

The Psychic Power system will need some tweaking - and with so many options for how do model it, between DH and RT using different mechanics for Psy Rating, along with rules for Sorcery, I have plenty to work with. But, the one that's catching my eye as being similar enough to work would be the Navigator scheme. We'll see what sticks.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Yep, they're re-released all the old D&D .pdfs, including a whole host of new ones, over at

At the start of the lifespan of 4e, WotC removed all the PDFs from their website, citing piracy and other issues as the reason they withdrew. 4e's sales suffered, especially as Paizo continued to release PDFs of all the new Pathfinder content.

I, for one, applaud this move - it's good to see that the OSR movement as picked up enough steam to be picked up by a company currently facing a lot of problems and sniping from all corners.

This should be interesting. I expect WotC's stock to rise in the next few months, just in time for the release of D&DNext...

EDIT: Apparently, there are some issues with PDFs people have purchased previously not being available, but WotC are stating that they intend to release the remaining PDFs "in waves"... time will tell if they hold to their promises!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Dredd: How To Game It

Pictured: THE LAW
So, because I was ill as fuck over the weekend, the girlfriend's flatmate picked me up a copy of Dredd on DVD to cheer me up.

I loved the movie. It managed to perfectly recreate the look of the comics - I wasn't all that convinced by the choice of South Africa, at first, but it turns out that Cape Town pretty much looks exactly like Mega-City One. It mixes ultra-modern, sleek aesthetics with junker vans and slums, and even has those wonderful mixes (like the futuristic flyover built from concrete, cutting through a regular "Americanised" street, with shanty houses on one side). It's awesome!

The casting was good - Olivia Thirlby makes a slightly younger-than-usual Psi-Judge Anderson, but pulls off the "badass rookie" pretty well, and Urban nails it. Lena Heady was a little take-it-or-leave-it as Ma-Ma - I can think of a lot of female actresses out there who could have brought more to the role. But, she wasn't terrible. Plus, movie-geek rage happened when her scar make-up couldn't stay consistent between shots.

The SFX were well-realised - they added to the scenes, rather than dominating them (a common problem in bigger-budget movies). Practical effects are used for most of the movie, with the real exceptions being the scenes powered by the perception-altering drug Slo-Mo - thus adding to the feeling of unreality (and, in theatres, most of the 3D elements were Slo-Mo scenes as well!).

But, the thing that stuck in my head was how much fun it might be to run a game in the setting.

The first thought was a skirmish-style game, as I've been wanting to try a little bit more wargaming recently. Necromunda is pretty much already a hab-riot on the tabletop, but the rules for playing as a smaller, elite force (like the Arbites) as versus a larger gang are a bit wonky. Plus, the Arbites in a campaign game have a few issues (like the system of replacements and hiring).

Inquisitor28 could be a good fit, particularly inspired by this post. A small group of Judges/Arbites, controlled by one player, and the inhabitants by another player (or multiple players). You could have simple survival as the goal, but it's always more fun to have a clear objective in Inquisitor (perhaps, similar to the movie, the Arbites have to protect a witness/perp, and the other gangs need to make sure they don't get out alive/they're the ones who kill the witness/they steal the witness away for their own nefarious purposes). I'd maybe consider modifying the rules to reflect ammo (even just price up clips, etc), and track wounds a little more "realistically" for the Arbites. Building a multi-level environment might pose a problem, but it surely can be done!

There is also a new Judge Dredd miniatures line and Skirmish Game from Mongoose Publishing, which are both pretty top-notch. The rules are a free download, for one thing, and the miniatures are sculpted suspiciously similar to the Wargames Foundry 2000AD Miniatures, and their Street Violence Range as well - meaning that you have a lot of options for this one.

I'll pop up a quick review of the rules soon.

I also thought about full-on roleplay in the setting. While there is a Judge Dredd system out there, I was never a fan. So, searching about, I thought MiniSix could make a good starting point. But, then I thought - really, the Warhammer 40k setting has borrowed so much from the Dredd setting, that it's time to give something back...

I'll pop up some conversion ideas for running Dredd in the WH40kRPG system this week - stay tuned!

AD&D2e - Making the Ruleset

    So, this is not a complete set of house rules and optional systems, and let's face it, there's no such thing - especially where the OSR is concerned, there'll always be new, exciting and weird things to throw in.Instead, these posts will act as an accompaniment to my reading of the Massive PDF of ALL The 2nd Edition Books That Are Now Out Of Print, as well as peeks into a few other books not included or otherwise forgotten. When I finally accumulate all the rules I wish to keep/toss out/change, I'll post them up in one (really fucking long) post, or even in a .pdf for the players (and your lovely selves).

    So, without any further ado:

    • No Racial Minimums - maybe it's coming from the newer generation of gamers, but I like to think that I can pick a Race, and not have to roll to see if I qualify for it (I mean, you're trying to tell me there are no sickly dwarves?)
    • Stat Generation - I like players to have some control over their characters, so you have the choice - either 4d6, drop the lowest, and allocate as you wish, or the Class Stat Arrays from the various Complete books, which allow players to play a specific class easily (and come with a host of drawbacks, too).
    • Demihuman level limits are out. I don't know how long the game will run (most certainly not long enough for this to be an issue), so this shouldn't come up.
    • Sub-Races - the various Complete Race books ensured a proliferation of sub-races that almost matched 3.5's excesses. I'll skim them, and include maybe one or two extra subraces, but not much more than that.
    • Complete Book Of Humanoids deserves special mention here, as it's pretty swingy. A few of the races here (Half-Orc, Half-Ogre, maybe the Hobgoblin and Minotaur) are pretty standard and acceptable, but some are just too weird, and some are just plain broken (both over-and-underpowered). Again, I'll skim it and make a list.
    • Speciality Priest, and Preists of specific Mythoi, are in. They might be a touch more powerful, but they add some real flavour to the game. Gods and Pantheons are fairly up for grabs at the moment, so I'll take suggestions...
    • As for Kits, I'll most likely let the players pick ones they want, then give them a yay or nay. Some of the Kits are a lot more powerful than others, and some aren't that great, but have major repercussions on the game. I don't want Kits that tie a player too strictly to one place or organisation, so I'm currently combing through the Kits to see what ones fit... I'll make that my next post.

    Friday, 18 January 2013

    The Gnoma Sutra

    Gnomes are known for their sense of humour above all - many take to playing tricks and pranks on their travelling companions, especially those of a more serious bent (like Dwarves, or particularly old Elves). But, amongst their own kind, wordplay takes a particular precedence - leading to the creation of The Gnoma Sutra.

    Many claim that there was once a Gnomish Bard, whose name was lost to the mists of time, who collected and categorised each and every one of his sexual exploits, and was always try to *ahem* push the envelope of Gnomish sexuality. His collected writings, The Hundred Thousand Heavenly Dances of The Gnomish People, became a sensation amongst his people, and led to a time of great hedonism, from which most of the Gnomish race was born.

    At least, that's what Gnomes tell the other races.

    See, The Gnoma Sutra is a game of implication and wordplay. To play, one must make various grandiose boasts about their sexual ability, with reference to a specific passage or position from the "book", but without revealing its most direct meaning. Then, you add as many embellishments and other such details, until one or either of you, or your audience, cannot stop laughing. On various festivals (particularly those centred around Spring and fertility), Gnomes may come from all over the country to gather together and watch master wordsmiths come together to form a filthy tapestry of implied sexual deviance that would cause even the sternest Dwarf to crack a smile.

    An example of play:

    Garl: Well, my good sir, I will have you know that I, and I alone, am the most experienced here. For you see, I have mastered Number Six-Hundred and Twenty-Seven in the Great Book. It wasn't easy - three of those species of bird are extinct, and the donkey needs a decent attention span.

    Nebin: Is that so? Well, myself and the wife attempted a quick Twelve the other night, and I still can't hear out of my right ear.

    Sorrasa: Gentlegnomes, please. I am renowned for my mastery of Numbers Eighty-Three (The Monkey Steals a Peach), Two-Hundred and Seventeen (The Farmhand's Daughter) and Two Thousand, Seven-Hundred and Twenty-Eight (The Frumious Digger). And, unlike most ladies who have mastered all three, I can still sneeze on command!

    The winner is judged by who gets the biggest laughs (at larger gatherings, a compere will ask for a round of applause for each contestant - the loudest crowd reaction wins).

    Such games are not for the faint of heart. Many games will also involve the copious imbibement of alcohol, to allow the words some lubrication, and to loosen the morals of the players.

    Friday, 11 January 2013

    BrikWars: BRIKIN' IT

    So, me and my mate tried our first game of BrikWars tonight.

    For those of you not in the know, BrikWars is a free-to-download wargame which exclusively uses Lego, both for the miniatures and terrain. The aim of the game is not simulation - it's fun. The light, breezy way the rules are written, the humorous examples, right down to their choice of materials - this is a beer-and-pizza wargame, pure and simple.

    An example of a rule that emphasises the fun-oriented nature of the game is the "What I Say Goes" roll. Here, a player can narrate an action not covered by the rules, dictate a new rule, establish a ruling on an existing rule in weird and wonderful circumstances... anything, really. If everyone agrees, he can go right ahead. If anyone disagrees, all of the involved parties roll a dice (d10s are recommended) - whoever gets the higher roll, wins. So if it's the one proposing the rule/action/whatever, it succeeds - but if not, the opposition get to decide what happens. This might be as simple as "No, you can't do it", but really, that's boring. Players can spice things up by adding new complications, penalties, whatever seems appropriate (and, if it's too harsh, you could always make another WISG roll!).

    The rules are exceedingly simple, to start - each minifig has the same stats, and a decent chance of surviving a few rounds before being executed in a variety of terrible and humiliating (and hilarious) ways. Some figures can be designated as Heroes - better stats, more attacks per round, and a fun special ability - these are Cliches (think Risus). A Cliche allows a Hero to perform certain acts
    Due to the variety of possible weapons and accessories that you can find in a box of Legos (and even more, if you include places like BrickArms and all the other cloning companies), weapons are handled in very generic terms - categories like One-Handed, Two-handed Melee, Pistols and Long Arms, etc. This allows for pretty varied forces, and means you can sub in most anything, so long as it can vaguely fit a category (like using Harry Potter Lego wands - a simple Pistol stat-line will do just nicely!).

    There are two options for Armour - either a static number (4 for a normal Minifig), or rolling an Armour Save (roughly equivalent to 1d6). Deal more damage than the target number (or their roll), and they go down. Wearing armour simply adds an extra die to the roll. Nice and simple!

    Sure, there are way more rules than that - the current rulebook pulls in at about 80-odd pages. But, most of these are optional or really edge-case rules, and also help to support the game at much larger scales. At the moment, we're sticking to a skirmish-scale game (mainly because I can't find the boxes and boxes of Lego I have floating around somewhere...), and it seems pretty fit for purpose.

    Expect a lovingly-photographed battle report soon!

    Friday, 4 January 2013

    New Years Resolution 1: Play 10 Games I've Never Played

    It seems pretty simple, at this juncture - expand my horizons by 10 games over the course of the year.

    Well, as the wonderful girlfriend has started running a Call of Cthulhu game, I can cross that one off my list. Technically, it's done with Risus though, so I'm not too sure.

    I've put together a quick list of games that I thought might suit this situation: any other suggestions, feel free to comment!
    • Shadowrun - yes, I still haven't got around to this one. That will change, though - I found an old sourcebook (Shadowbeat) which focuses on the media and entertainment aspects of The Sixth World - and I found it pretty interesting. I think I'll combine the ideas presented within with an older idea of mine - Roadies, a one-shot I concocted for Risus. The players take the role of the roadies for PowerBastard - an up-and-coming young band, full of spirit, angst, "meaningful creative output", hard liquor and mescaline. Can they save the band from crazy stalkers, rescue them from the cops, put their competitors out of business, and get them on stage on time?
    • Agon - I'll admit to having next to no information on this one, but my girlfriend has had the book for ages, and still hasn't had the chance to play. So I figured - why the hell not? Adds one to my list.
    • Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2e - yeah, this one is kinda cheating, but I've heard a lot of people give a lot of love to this system, and I never got the chance to play it. Which is a real shame - after finding a bundle of .pdfs of the older books, there seems to be so much cool stuff in there - fair enough, the Complete books have a few borked moments (Hi, Bladesinger, I'm looking at you), fairly arbitrary elements (like demi-human level limits, class restrictions, and some of the stuff to do with stats), but the variety of kits, cool items, and awesome setting materials more than make up for it. It also seems to be the most house-ruled game in existence (barring the original AD&D), meaning I can pretty much do as I please with it. This might be the game I try and run via G+ Hangouts.
    • Savage Worlds - never did get to use the system. I'll maybe write up some stuff for a setting, or just use one of the many Savage X Hacks floating around on the net (I distinctly remember a pretty awesome Firefly/Serenity one from a while back...)
    • GURPS - Gods help me.

    Wednesday, 2 January 2013

    New Years Resolutions

    I should have posted this yesterday, but I spent a good part of the day recovering from a truly Dire (and possibly Fiendish) hangover.

    So, I've managed to achieve a fair bit this year - lots of gametime (though not enough), a few new resources found, and some great times had along the way.

    But this year, I want things to be a bit different.

    1. Like so many gamers, I have a set of "old favourites" - games which I keep going back to, where all my energies end up focused (for me, it's D&D, and the WH40k RPGs). So, I want to try something different - a lot of things different, I guess. So my first Resolution - Play/Run 10 Games I've Never Tried Before. I'll make a post with some suggestions later.
    2. I have a small bundle of WH40k Orks sitting, half-painted, staring forlornly out my window - waiting for the next big WAAAAGH that they fear they will never see. So, for Number 2 - Fill Out My Ork Army To 500 points, and Finish Painting Them!
    3. The first hurdle to overcome to get Number 2 done - Learn To Paint Miniatures.
    4. We started. We built terrain. We even converted up some Guardsmen to proxy in, but Throne dammit we never managed to Play Necromunda.
    5. Due to the fantastic Mr Dangerous Brian moving to the dreaded "Down South", I won't get as much time playing instead of DMing as I would have. So, I'm going to Try Google+ Hangouts For Gaming, inviting Mr Brian as soon as I get half a chance.
    6. I can't think of a 6th one. Maybe I'll Finish Those Bloody Tau Careers For Rogue Trader, or perhaps Get To Work On Those Fucking PaperMunda Figures That I Doodled About 6 Months Ago.