Saturday, 25 May 2013

Generic Fantasy Skirmish - Outlaws Warband

"Way I hear it, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order."
   Knight-Captain Zoe Washburne, Lanthian Kingsguard

Bandits, brigands, thieves and cutthroats - there are always men who look to make a living outside the law. While most operate individualy, robbing innocent travellers and those who stumble down the wrong back alley, groups of these miscreants can make for a surprisingly tough nut to crack.

While working on a "Kingsguard" list, and its variants, I thought about making a list that would allow players to combine various human and demi-human miniatures, lightly-armoured skirmishers rather than the well-trained, heavily-armed men who make up the brunt of the Human armies. The cheapness of Thugs allow for a lot of bodies on the field, but your more expensive units have a lot of cool options and strategies you can build around them.

The rules are based on In The Emperor's Name, and as always, are a first-draft.

Unit TypeHeroismFVSVSpeedNotes
Thief4++1+0+2Nose For  Trouble, Stealth
Bandit Chief3++2+2+1Leader, Combat Master
Reaver2++3+1+2Terrifying, Hard To Kill, Stalwart

ArmourNotesRestricted To
NoneJust clothes [5+ to hit]
LightLeathers, Padded armour [6+ to hit]
MediumHide, Scale, Chain [7+ to hit]
HeavyHalf-PlateBandit Chief
Light ShieldBuckler [+1 AV]

Now, the cool thing about these guys is that most any fantasy miniatures can be used - a mix of humans and other fantasy races, and the Reaver could be anything from a Half-Ogre to a Khornate Warrior. This might be the first Warband I actually model up, due to easy availability of suitable minis.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Look What I Found: MiniSix Firefly Conversion

So, while perusing my old gaming notes on my laptop, I found a conversion I had worked up for running a Firefly game a while back. I borrowed liberally from the MiniSix Perdition setting, which is pretty much Firefly's 'Verse with the serial numbers filed off. I added some Perks, Complications and rules from other settings, and a few of my own devising, including rules for making ships more of a part of the crew.

Today, I'll post up some of the character creation stuff, and next time it will be the ship creation guide, along with a few supplementary rules.

The game uses the standard MiniSix rules, found here .

Skill List
Might: Brawling, Melee Weapons, Lift , Stamina
Agility: Athletics, Big Ruttin’ Guns, Bow, Dodge, Drive, Pickpocket, Pilot, Pistol, Rifle, Stealth, Throwing
Wit: Computer, Cortex, First Aid, History, Language, Medicine, Navigation, Repair, Science, Security, Tracking
Charm: Command, Courage, Companion “Techniques”, Diplomacy, Persuasion, Riding, Seduce, Streetwise

Attractive (1): Others find the character pleasing to look at. This can help reduce suspicions or distract others depending on the given situation. Once per session the character can double one roll for any action related to their appearance. Examples include full-on seduction, a subtle bluff or simply distracting guards.
Aristocrat (1): Your name has some weight on occasion. When attempting to gain access to a noble’s residence, avoiding arrest, or any other occasion where status is a factor you can try and draw on your family. Once per session you can double the result of any one Charm based roll when attempting to exploit your name. Note that many Aristocrats hail from the Core Alliance Worlds, and throwing your name around on the Rim ain't too clever a move.
Daredevil (2): Once per session you may throw caution to the wind taking extremely reckless action that may result in your own death. Your dodge, block, and parry are reduced by half however all Might rolls are doubled when resisting damage for one round.
Determined (2): Determined characters know what they need to do, and know exactly how they are going to do it. They may declare a failed roll is not going to stand, and immediately reroll to get a different result.
Favours (1): People owe you - you have friends in either very high or very low places. Once per session you can call in one of those debts. This can take the form of information, a temporary use of equipment (borrowing a mule, a gun, etc.), a place to hide someone or something for a brief time, or any similar event.
Lawman (1, 3 or 5): You threw in your lot with the Law, and hold a badge to prove it. Maybe a gun, too. For 1 dice, you are a Sheriff of some small moon, or a city on a larger settlement. You have little authority outside your jurisdiction, but being a man of the Law can grant a lot of respect and maybe a little help.
For 3 dice, you have authority that crosses borders (like an Interpol Agent or Federal Marshal), and can, once per session, spend a Hero Point to gain one of the following:
Back-Up Force on Standby, Suitcase Full of Marked Credits, Department Vehicle, Sniffer Drones, SWAT Gear, Fake Contraband, Trumped Up Warrant, Lie Detector, Wiretap
For 5 dice, you are an Alliance Operative - laws mean little to you, borders even less, and you are willing to do anything to fulfil your mission. You can spend a Hero Point to requisition nearly anything, given enough time and approval. Note, this isn't appropriate for most games.
Lucky (2): Once per session you can declare you are feeling lucky. Double the result of your next roll.
Perceptive (2): The GM may reveal small clues to you that others would miss. Once per session a character may announce they are studying an object or situation and the GM may reveal something that would be impossible for a normal character to determine. If nothing is revealed this perk may be used again.
Reader* (2 or 4): You have a very special gift. For two dice, this manifests as being able to read small, almost imperceptible thoughts as they pass through someone’s mind - once per session, you can reroll the result of one Charm based roll (as you know what the other person is thinking). You probably don’t know you are psychic - you just see things that other people can’t.
For four, you are a full blown telepath - you gain the ability to read thoughts as per the ESP spell. Telepathy defaults to Wit, and with GM approval, telepathy can be purchased as a skill if you have the four dice version of this Perk.
Recall (1): Any time the character chooses to recall anything he has experienced, the GM must tell him the truth in as much detail as the character would have been aware.
Registered Companion (2): You're an officially registered Companion - a very high-class whore, in other words. As well as your very high societal standing (which can be a great help in many situations, at the GM’s discretion), once per session you can double the result of any one Charm skill when exploiting your status (as the Attractive Perk).
Tough As All Hell (2): You've taken your fair share of beatings, and got pretty good at rolling with the punches. You gain a bonus to your Soak equal to half your current Soak value, rounded down. (So, a Soak of 9 becomes 13).
Wealthy (1): Born into Old Money, hard industrialist, or ill-gotten gains: however you did it, you have money. Far more than most. Each month the character receives a stipend of 10 times the average income.

* While the option to play as a telepath has been presented here, such characters are rare in the ‘Verse, and aren’t available at the 3-dice level without creepy brain-altering surgery and personality-destroying chemical treatments and all that jazz (possibly including the Whimsical In The Brainpan and Hunted Complications, see below).
As an optional consideration, other psychic powers may be available at the GM’s approval. It depends on your take on the setting. Appropriate powers may include Charm, Clairvoyance, Illusions, Possession and Telekinesis. Each of these would taken as a separate Perk, with a 2-dice version available (which would count as a reroll to a type of skill, like Might for Telekinesis, Wit for Clairvoyance, etc) and the full power for 4 dice.

During character creation only, players may select up to two complications. These grant no additional skill dice during character creation; however, if one comes up in play the character earns one CP. Characters may not earn more than one CP per complication per session regardless of how often it comes up.

Age: You’re either really old or really young. In addition to all the social issues caused by your age, the GM might choose to impose a penalty to an action based on your character’s age. Grandpa throws a hip, a weird dude offers you candy on the street, and it’s hard for either of you to seduce the Companion at the bar. Whenever your age causes you great difficulty receive one CP.
Bad Rep: You have a history. You might have been a loose cannon who couldn’t back up your swagger. Maybe you lost a large quantity of criminal resources. Perhaps you just couldn’t keep from pointing out the leader’s faults in public. If your boss rips you a new one, or you lose the chance of a job, or the respect of your equals due to your past, earn 1 CP.
Browncoat: You fought on the right side of the Unification War. Problem is, "right" don't always mean "winning". You're a staunch opponent of the Alliance, and you can bet they'll be on you like white on rice should you trouble come your way. Earn 1 CP every time your allegiances get you in trouble, even if you go find yourself an Alliance-friendly bar on Unification Day for "a quiet drink". However, you might gain yourself some respect when dealing with fellow Browncoats, so it ain't all bad.
Bull in a China Shop: The character is a klutz. Choose one Agility skill that the character can use without penalty. Increase the difficulty of all other Agility rolls by +5. Dodge skill isn’t
penalised. Earn one bonus CP each session.
Big Damn Hero: The character follows the code of honour, like some Robin Hood of The Black (except for the giving to the needy part. A Hero’s got to eat). You don’t leave a man behind, your word is your bond, the whole deal. This is really just a Personal Code, so earn one CP whenever acting like a Big Damn Hero complicates your life (It’s suggested that most of the player characters in the game have this complication, if not all).
Dependency: You have a problem. Whether it's gambling, whores, smokes, or maybe something harder, you have a compulsion to follow your addiction. Gain 1 CP every time you get in trouble for it, or when the GM tells you that you need it. Resisting the urge might have its own problems...
Enemies: Someone doesn’t like you at all. And they are a credible threat. Maybe they have more friends than you, maybe they’re just bigger and meaner; either way you have your own personal bully. You earn the bonus CP when they complicate your life.
Greedy: Maybe you're a merc who's always on the lookout for "better opportunities" (read: more cash), or maybe you're a big fella, always taking an extra bite of the ration bar. Earn one CP whenever the GM throws you a temptation you just can't resist, and that seriously screws you or the party over.
Gremlins: You have a special touch. Specifically the kind that breaks machines. You’re no good with engines, electronics, energy weapons, or any other trinket. If it’s a device, you can’t trust it. Earn 1 CP whenever the GM takes his one free shot on you this way.
Hunted: All criminals are sought by the Alliance, but some are more sought after than others.  The Alliance has a standing bounty of 10,000 credits for information leading to the capture of a criminal of such calibre. Some have additional bounties attached to them, depending on the breadth and severity of their crimes. Some are even escaped test subjects, or are in possession of information that might destabilise the entire Alliance. Hunted characters receive 1 CP when this becomes an active issue in the adventure.
Large Debt: You owe someone a lot. Maybe one of your deals went bad, maybe you borrowed enough to buy that ship you always wanted. No matter how it came about, you are in debt. Most of your spare money is going to go to pay this off and whoever you owe will likely call on you from time to time to perform extra favours for them as a “friendly” form of interest. Gain 1 CP for any adventure where your debtor gets involved in your business. This Complication can be bought off, with the GM’s approval - however, you no longer gain the CP.
No Book Learning: The character didn’t benefit from an Alliance education. Choose one Wit skill that the character can use without penalty. Increase the difficulty of all other Wit skill rolls by +5. Earn one bonus CP each session.
Not Pretty Cunning: The character is uncouth and or unattractive. Choose one Charm skill that the character can use without penalty. Increase the difficulty of all other Charm skill
rolls by +5. Earn one bonus CP each session.
Personal Code: You live by a creed and you will not cross that line. Maybe you won’t shoot an unarmed opponent and always make sure they know its coming or maybe you never tell a lie. No matter how you define it, your code has to mean something. Shepherds love thy neighbour, honest lawmen won’t resort to deception, and sometimes there is even honor among thieves. Earn one CP whenever your code complicates you or friends’ success.
Skeletons in the Closet: You’ve been a naughty boy. Maybe you’re a closet smoker. Maybe those hookers buried themselves. Maybe that Alliance uniform in the closet really isn’t yours. Maybe the bank really meant to let you take all that money out that day. Whatever, the universe doesn’t judge. You earn the bonus CP whenever your past comes back to haunt you.
Uncontrolled Reading: Sure, you got yourself crazy mind powers. But you can't always control them. You get to experience people's petty revenge fantasies, get to see what they think you look like naked, or get to see the faces of all their victims. Gain one bonus CP when the GM determines you catch a glimpse of someone's thoughts you really don't want to see.
Unlucky in Love: Things just don’t work out for some guys. Your love interest is always dying, being kidnapped, betraying you, or even worse dumping you. You earn bonus CP when your love life falls apart in a meaningful way.
Unlucky in Money: You have a hard time holding onto money. You earn the bonus CP when you lose a significant amount of cash through your own foolishness or bad luck and have nothing to show for it.
Weak: The character is less powerful than his build would imply. Choose one Might skill that the character can use without penalty. Increase the difficulty of all other Might skill rolls by +5. Resisting damage and healing checks aren’t penalised. Earn one bonus CP each session.
Whimsical in the Brainpan: You have issues that are guaranteed to put the therapists’ kids through college. Could be you’re just really paranoid, or maybe just a touch too OCD. That fear of most everything could also be a problem. Then again maybe you really are Napoleon and everyone else is wrong, good luck convincing anyone else since you’re a lunatic. Hastur, Hastur, Hastur! Take your pills and earn one CP any time your psychosis really gets in the way.
Womaniser/Good Time Girl: You like the attentions of the opposite sex (hell, maybe the same sex) a little more than is strictly healthy. Gain 1 CP whenever the GM throws you someone who's "just your type" and full of trouble, or your philandering puts you in bother.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Games Workshop's Specalist Games Shutting Down?

So, I might be somewhat late with the news here, but apparently Games Workshop has decided to stop producing its Specialist Range figures - those old classics like Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and Inquisitor.

While this has been confirmed through several sources (including GW's Customer Support line), GW haven't put it up on their website as of yet, attempting to simply let the figures run out of stock and not replace them. Even Forge World is getting in on the act - they will no longer produce any of their specialist games (like Aeronautica Imperialis).

This is something of a blow to those gamers who enjoy the less "cut and dry" nature of these models - the Specialist Games models had some of the coolest sculpting work done at GW, and had a retro charm that modern models just seem to be missing. For those looking to add a little something different to their armies, or even to play these specialist games, many will be forced to take their custom elsewhere, or to use models from another range that may not fit particularly well.

Well, it's their bed, so they can lie in it. I am sure they don't make that much money from the SG stuff (even when they are stupidly overpriced, even by GW standards), but it's going to lose them a fair amount of business (or at least, a goodly amount of respect amongst certain circles). My advice would be to get yourself over to the Specialist Games Website and download everything you can for free - while you still can.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Welcome To The Wall - ASoIaF By Way of 2e AD&D...

So, the weather outside is frightful, and it recently snowed in Glasgow for about two weeks straight. Between that, and playing Skyrim and watching the new season of Game of Thrones, snow has been on my mind for a while, and I decided to follow through with one of my New Years Resolution to try a game I have never tried before.

Put all these together, and you get... The Wall.
HBO's A Game of Thrones
"Welcome to the Wall, boys. You are here not as a punishment, but to perform a great service to the Kingdom. The fact you are thieves, rustlers, liars, cheats, bastards and outcasts, who have been sent to the frozen arsehole of the Kingdom is coincidental, surely. This Wall marks the end of our hold on the land. Beyond it, there are savages, The Restless Dead, and creatures you thought only lived in your grandmother's scary tales. The Black Watch's job, our job, is to man this Wall, and keep those fuckers out."

The game borrows liberally from both A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and Skyrim, to create something almost entirely unoriginal, but at the same time a lot of fun. Hopefully, at least.

Players have been inducted into the Black Watch - once seen as an honour, one of the highest accolades a warrior can receive, to protect the Kingdom from the weird horrors of the Frozen North. As these Horrors stayed quiet for a few generations, many believe them to be gone (or to have never existed in the first place), leaving many feeling the Black Watch is an artifact of an age of superstition and unenlightened men. Hence, instead of sending great sending of criminals (mainly traitors to the crown, the dishonoured, bastard children of nobles, and those who want to be shown as an example).

I am currently swithering over which races will be available - I am considering sticking to Humans only. I can maybe see Half-Orcs, Half-Elves, maybe even Mul (Half-Dwarves) and Half-Giants/Half Ogres (the Wildlings in ASoIaF did have Giants among their numbers,after all...).

Players can choose from the Fighter, Ranger, Thief, and Wizard classes. Fighters will be most common,with Thieves and Rangers not too far behind. In order to help differentiate these relatively limited roles, each class will have a list of Kits (and optional rules) available to them.
  • Fighters get the Tight Weapon Groups Proficiency, Style Specialisation/Fighting Style bonuses, and the following Kits:
    • Barbarian (Wildling only), Berserker, Myrmidon, Noble Warrior, Savage (Wildling only), Wilderness Warrior (Wildling only)
  • Rangers gain access to the following Kits:
    • Explorer, Falconer (redone as the Crow Keeper), Feralan (Wildling only), Justifier (Black Watch only), Pathfinder, Stalker
  • Thieves gain access to the following kits:
    • Acrobat, Assassin, Bandit, Scout, Thug

However, to emulate the low-magic feeling of the ASoIaF universe, and to make the game that little bit more challenging, I am thinking about proposing a few rules for the use of magic - though I am not sure what yet. Ability checks to cast spells, a strict enforcement of material components (though they might be changed from the originals), limited access to spells, maybe even limited advancement - any NPC spellcasters will be low-level, maybe even with limits on their Intelligence scores to help keep higher-level spells out of reach. This is a game where the day is won by grit, determination and steel - not with a flabby sorcerer throwing a few spells around.

I also imagine that there would only be one (or no) Magic-Users in a group-after all, they are a valuable resource that can't be wasted. After all, most mages who commit crimes are either press-ganged into more valuable military service, or else sentenced to death. You really need just the right combination of military uselessness, lack of honour, and circumstance to end up a Wizard in the Black Watch.

Those caught practising unlicensed necromancy (using a few of the rules from the Complete Book of Necromancers) are always a good option. Their abilities to control and affect Undead creatures are much-valued when facing the Restless Dead beyond The Wall.

More on this setting as I think about it...
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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Datafortress 2020: An Awesome Cyberpunk 2020 Resource

So, Datafortress 2020 has been floating around for years on the net, and I kept seeing the link in Wisdom000's signature on for ages, but as I've been looking through the old Cyberpunk 2020  Chromebooks for inspiration for gaming and modelling, I thought I'd swing by and see if there were any new updates.

Luckily enough, Wisdom000 has just put up a massive update, collecting loads of older PDFs together, rearranging various items, and adding new stuff.

One thing I never realised - not only has Wisdom000 added new content, they've went back and totally rehauled the Interlock system to make it the universal system it was always touted as. One of the reasons I had been avoiding running Cyberpunk 2020 was that the system looked a little dense for my tastes - but the Interlock Unlimited update he's done is simply astonishing, rebalancing the rules, adding new ones, and stripping out the chaff the system has accumulated. He's even included tons of optional rules, new ideas, and all manner of cool stuff - but, in a flash of awesome, kept the all separated out. The basics are simple, then you pick and choose which extra books you use. It's like GURPS, only it doesn't make my head hurt (as much. It's still a pretty complicated system in parts, but I am getting it a lot easier that reading through the original books).

It also has one of the most comprehensive armouries I've ever seen. The volume of gun porn somehow manages to be even greater than usual in the Cyberpunk genre. I drool a the thought of unleashing a few of these beauties. Same with the cyberware - there's a ridiculous amount of cool toys for every occasion, from the cheapest, clunkiest Soviet Block roboarms, to the sleekest Raptor legs in town. It's all there, and it's all awesome.

It's actually leaving me itching to run the game. Rarely does a set of house rules do that for me, when I find the source material too much to swallow.

Touche, good sir.