Just Thinking

So, life continues as it does. Nothing to really report there.

On to thinkings on the StarSea. I’ve actually had some. :-)

I’m kinda doing some worldbuilding again in my head. First, I was thinking about the dwarves and gnomes, and how maybe I’ve got them misconceived a little. I’ve wanted to take Earth mythological concepts for creatures in the StarSea and give them a twist. Mythologically, dwarves are miners and masters of the forge. Gnomes, in contrast, are literally earth elementals (as per Paracelsus, an alchemist of ancient Europe). Currently, I have the dwarves as earth and wood elementals, and the gnomes as pixies and tricksters. While the trickster personality can work with anything, I’m thinking the elemental nature should be part of the gnomes more than dwarves. The pixie aspect is not one I was enthusiastic about (except having created a concept image I really liked). If I go ahead and change the gnomes into elementals, that aspect of the dwarves will have to be changed. It a wyrd-technological setting, I think that focusing on the metallurgical aspects might be the way to go. These are largely my initial thoughts on the subject, and I likely need to do some more tinkering before I have these changes settled.

I’ve also been thinking about dragons and their anatomy. I’ve commented on how I want my creatures to have a logical anatomy (no muzzles on humanoids, no odd joints, chair-headed aliens, etc.). I want winged dragons, but I don’t want the wyvern-style creatures for dragons. That is, I want hexapodic dragons, not quadrapeds. The wings of dragons have to fit on their bodies and make sense with the rest of their skeletons and musculature. I just dug out my copy of Michael Whelan’s art book, Wonderworks, to see how he did the dragons of Pern, as there is a couple of different ways to do dragon wings out on the Internet. Some people swear by the wings in front of the forelegs, and some put the wings low on the back, down near where the kidneys would be on a human. A very few folks put the wings aligned with the forelegs, but if they do, they don’t seem to think anything of how the musculature for all four limbs work.

I’ve managed to get about 2/3rds of the way through the Fantasy AGE rulebook, getting into the GMs section, which seems to mostly be advice. I’m skimming that, as no one is ever a good enough GM to not learn more. I’m also starting to dig into the character creation stuff in the Cypher System, which is also largely skim-able. When I had for bed in a few minutes, I’ll see how much farther I can get.

That’s really all I have for now. Later.

So, where was I again?

That title is a riff on both the fact that I didn’t post last week and the fact that I actually have some memory holes over the past couple of weeks.

Last Sunday, I took The Kids to a baseball game. It was their last weekend before school started, and we’d managed to waste the summer without getting to a game. We finally coordinated a weekend as the last Sunday. I didn’t get home until late, and had to work Monday, so I didn’t even get to draft anything. We all had a good time, so maybe some time in the future we’ll do it again.

I got my physical copy of the Cypher System, but I haven’t gotten to really read much of it. I did do a page-by-page skim, and read the odd paragraph here and there. The upside is, it looks sufficiently like Numenera in writing that I don’t think I’ll need to do more than a more thorough skim of older rules, which will allow me to read it faster. I’m also not expecting to read all of the setting advice, as I’m creating such a fusion setting that I’m betting the printed advice will be of limited use to me.

In the reading time I’ve gotten (mostly at work), I’ve focused on the PDF version of Fantasy AGE. I like the system (and I’ve enjoyed the Titangrave liveplay series on Geek and Sundry immensely), but I’m not sure it will work for the StarSea. It is less open-ended than Fate, but I also feel that’s a good thing. It looks, though, like I’d have to create a fairly large amount of house rules to get the setting to work like I’d prefer. It’s not off the table yet.

Reading the basic AGE mechanics, as well as an article mixing the Apocalypse/Dungeon World system with Fate, the two mixed in my head, and I thought of another way that might help folk get used to the Fate Invocation/Compel mechanics. The idea is to mix dice colors of your Fate dice. One die is a different color, and that’s your “Stunt” die. If that die comes up “+”, the player can use a stunt or get the effect of a Fate Point. A “–” on the die results in a GM compel. This might be too easy, and success or failure might be used to determine if the Stunt Die is in effect. As players get used to this, the GM might ween the players off this and start using Fate Points instead. All of this is just an idea, and I don’t know if I’ll implement it. If you read this and you’re a Fate GM introducing new players, feel free to give it a try.

Otherwise, I’ve been feeling I need to start creating a setting bible. I’ve been listening to D&D podcasts from back about 2012, just after the 5e playtests started. I’m only now getting to those as I got behind when I lost my iPod, and I had a lot of backlog to dig through. But there was a lot of talk about a Forgotten Realms setting bible, and it’s inspired me to do the same. I have a skeleton of same, and I think I need to start fleshing that out.

Thing is, I think things will start being delayed by my ramping my job hunt up again. Things have been going on at work I’m not happy with, so it’s time to get out, and the DMV job test is about to run out. In three years, I’ve had maybe three interviews that have led nowhere, so I’m thinking that line is exhausted and there’s no point in continuing to bark up that tree. I have no idea where I’ll go, but I can’t stay where I’m at much longer.

In fact, I need to get another application out to the DMV (I’ll keep responding to the interest letters I’m getting), so I think I’ll call this a post.

Later.

Nothing new under the Sun

So, again, not much going on. An emergency situation came up that’s requiring me to do a lot of yard work in short order. It leaves me drained, as it’s freaking hot locally. I’m not much in the mindset to think about much creative. However, I’ve got a few ideas rumbling around my head, but nothing really new or complete.

I have been inspired to draw a little, but I’m just not getting the time to do anything display worthy. Just sketches, on my tablet, that are very incomplete.

That’s really about it. No lengthy discussions of ideas; just a guy trying to get a lot done in six weeks.

Later.

Irregularity

Yeah, that’s where I’m at right now, where this blog is concerned. At the moment, I’m trying to get over being pissed off because of a post on Facebook (someone being an asshole on my wall), and I’m full of nervous energy. I’m hoping writing will work off some of that energy.

I’m still in the mindset that Fate is almost too flexible. I can’t get over that idea. I’ve gotten my copy of the Cypher System in PDF format, but I haven’t taken time to do much more than skim it. I know the system is solid, but I don’t know if the character building will work to create what I want. However, it looks like I might be able to make it work with just a little tweaking. I could be wrong, of course. I’ll have to figure out how cyphers (powerful, one-use items) would fit into the StarSea, but I’m betting I could figure out something.

I’m also interested in seeing Green Ronin‘s Fantasy AGE when it comes out in a couple of weeks. It’s the system that Green Ronin created for their Dragon Age tabletop licensed game, without the Dragon Age stuff. I’ve been watching Wil Wheaton use it for a “Thundarr the Barbarian“-style game on the Geek and Sundry website. I’ve been interested in the system, but I never picked up any of the books. I was expecting that the Dragon Age stuff could be taken out and still have a viable game system, and Green Ronin went and did it. So, I’ll pick it up when it becomes available.

Other than that, I haven’t really been thinking about the StarSea. I’ve been reading stuff from Games Workshop on their new version of their fantasy battle game, called Age of Sigmar. I like their “Sigmarines”, as they’ve been dubbed, but they are huge compared to other figures. But I like their fluff, and the Realmgate scenery pieces look really cool. It’s been a little bit of a distraction, but not a huge one.

So, that pretty much covers my last two weeks. I’m feeling better now. More relaxed. Later.

Another Week of Nothing.

Nothing but being sick. The cold I reported last week was rough on me this week. It migrated, as usual, to my chest, so coughing became the norm. One afternoon after work I came home with an upset stomach that had me in the bathroom a number of times. That night I went to bed early, after forcing myself to stay up longer than 8PM. I have found that NyQuil gives me weird dreams and has me sleeping 12 hours at a time (with a full dose). So, many days I’ve been out of bed late and into bed early. Not much going on otherwise.

Yesterday was the Boy’s 13th Birthday. He got into Magic the Gathering just before the end of the school year, and I found out that this weekend was a big pre-release weekend at the FLGS, so we went and played MTG until the Midnight Release of the new Core Set (said to be the final Core Set), got our cards, started deck building for the sealed deck tournament, but left before the first round as the Boy was tired. He said he had a good time, and even though he said he was tired, he was kinda hyper, so I think he was honest with me.

My only creative thing I did this week was working out a spark I got while listening to a podcast. It was the Gaming Careers podcast, and it was really a long chain of thoughts, but I sparked on a mystic circle idea, as it relates to game stats (but not necessarily anything I play or am reading right now). Maybe by next time I’ll convert it to a graphic I can post up here. It’s very bare-bones and incomplete, so you’ll have to forgive me that.

I was trying to get a hold of Issue 75 of White Dwarf, which shipped with a promo mini for their new game, but no one in town has had it. It’s already going for $25 to $50 on eBay, so I doubt I’ll be able to get the magazine. >sigh<

Anyway, I think that’s all I’ve got going for this week. Later.

The Fate Fractal in Other Games

(Basic Idea: Why can’t the Fate Fractal be applied to other game systems? Answer: It /can/. Provide examples.)

The past few days I’ve gotten my summer cold. Today the tickle finally appeared in my chest, which is the beginning of the long haul of the chest portion of my colds. It sucks, and I felt somewhat yucky yesterday (less so than Saturday, when my head was congested and achy), so I didn’t get around to posting. Something I’ve learned this time around that I don’t think I really realized before is that A) NyQuil really wipes me out, as in a full dose will have me sleeping up to 12 hours, and B) I have some really strange dreams while on NyQuil. In my dreams, I don’t have carpet in my bedroom, but rather weeds and grass. Go figure, the teetotaler gets wasted on NyQuil.

Lately, I’ve picked up and read bits and pieces of some rules-lite systems. Breachworld and MiniD6 in particular stick in my mind, and I’ve mentioned previously that I’m being attracted to Cypher System again. After looking at an older version of Fate, I think I’ve finally figured out why:

Fate gives me analysis paralysis.

There are so many ways I could do what I want for the StarSea that I feel like I’m trying to shoehorn the setting into the game. I’m trying to find the most efficient way to do what I want with the game system, and no one way is shining as particularly efficient or screams “Pick me! Pick me!”

The idea of creating my own game system has crossed my mind. That’s a whole lot more work than I want to take up, though. I’ve tinkered with my own systems before, and I tend to overbuild. I think in that route lies madness (and frustration for players). That may be an issue with the setting in general (that is, I may be trying to throw too much stuff into the world), which makes it more important that the system be clean and free of cruft.

On the upside, I did trim down one idea. I’d wanted to include tanks and personnel carriers, but as I’ve gotten to thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you have flying ships of various sizes, why do you need tanks? Well, you don’t, assuming that the boats can do the same thing. I’m thinking that I may need to start doing some cutting with other parts of the setting. Possibly some of the orders, possibly going from a groups of planetary systems to a single world (which will sink the whole “sea of stars” thing), and maybe a few other changes.

However, one idea from Fate that I’d like to port around is the Fate Fractal. The idea of the Fractal is that any object can be built like a character, with aspects and stress tracks, etc. One variation of the game includes the plot line as an item that can take stress. However, typically the Fractal is used for vehicles or other character possessions, and often for organizations.

I found myself asking “Why can’t this idea be used in other game systems?” And I realized the answer was “It can.” Cypher is one that does it, in a round about way. The rules are a bit simplified, but they’re basically there. Back when I had wanted to write for Wizards, I proposed an article about large scale combat in 4e, making military units extensions of PCs (or other characters), acting as weapons and armor, and in the case of 4e, potentially giving them powers that would be appropriate on a battlefield.

And I think scaling is another issue that needs dealing with that the Fate Fractal handles better than others. Breachworld and MiniD6 both wind up giving battleships and other large objects mountains of defense and offense (upwards of +24D6!) because of their size, rather than simply rule that such huge objects can’t be harmed by man-portable weapons, and they can’t target objects smaller than a certain size. It seems a waste of everyone’s time to be rolling such phenomenally large numbers of dice regularly. Of course, Champions lives on that, but that’s another kettle of fish altogether.

Well, I need to be up in the morning, so I’ll end things here. Later.

Being Brief

This week, things are going to be brief. It’s too damned hot to think, especially after being out working in the heat. Only a half an hour about did me in today. I think I’m just a little dehydrated.

One thing I did want to discuss is a question I thought of while working. I wonder how much reading reviews of things we buy before we buy them affects how we feel the thing we purchased is performing once we use it. For example, I bought a weed-eater last week. I researched the prices, and then checked reviews, and bought the device that had the best reviews and price. I’ve now used it a couple of times. It has some issues, but generally, I’m happy with the purchase. But how much is the idea that I bought the best reviewed item affecting my opinion of its performance? Just some thought games, to which I have no answer.

Other than that, I have had little going on in the StarSea department. When I failed to get the game going in April, I really lost steam. I think I need to set a new deadline. I’m beginning to vacillate on the Fate System or the Cypher System, which is not a good thing. On one hand, I have very little designed for the Fate System specifically. On the other, I have to wait for the setting-neutral rulebook and then potentially design for that. Am I experiencing the “Shiny!” Effect (“shiny thing distracts me from current direction…”), or do I have real concerns.

I have given a little bit of thought to a couple of things in the StarSea: Mapping the ‘Sea, the economy, and rulership. My thoughts are very vague for now, so I won’t go into detail. They’re thoughts and concerns recently, for whatever reasons.

Most of my free time has been spent with the kids recently. Now that they are out of school, I usually spend my days off with them. Not today, because of the heat (106 locally, with high humidity and bad air quality), but otherwise, I’ve been by there frequently. I resurrected my notes for a game the Boy and I were working on. It was too ambitious, I now realize. Too many things going on, and too many dice rolls and such. We might try something similar later. I’ve been inspired to do something with the game from the Gaming Careers podcast.

That’s it for now. Head ache is getting to me. Later.

Lots of Stuff

I was kind of at a loss for a title, so forgive me for so meaningless a title.

I was able to unclench after last week, but with one exception, I can’t remember what I was going to discuss. I started a post that was really just ending up a big pity-party after last weekend. I’ve decided that the draft is going to stay that way, or get ‘ported out into another program, but it will not be posted. I see no need.


One of the items I was going to discuss from last week was watching the previews from the upcoming DC Comics animation, JLA: Gods and Monsters. The idea is that the places of the DC Trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) are replaced with other characters from the DC Universe, and they are very different. I felt these clips had a very “Watchmen” feel, being more gritty and dark, rather than the bright, hopeful world the DC Universe is usually seen as.

After watching the three videos (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman here), I got to thinking how I’d like to do a game like that. Everybody selects a hero and warps that hero into something different. Even something like the Tangent Universe would work.

But I’m trying to avoid distractions from the StarSea, so this idea will just sit in the back of my mind and percolate.


 

I managed to finally complete assembly on my bard figure for our LFR games. I need to paint him now, but I’m vacillating a lot on his color scheme. He’s sort of based on Corum and Jhary-a-Conel, which might imply a good deal of red, but I’ve done red a lot in my figures, and I’f like to do something else. What I want to do is take some photos and try coloring him on the computer, but I keep forgetting to take pictures while I’ve got him out the game.


Caught the season finale of Game of Thrones, and like some others, I think I’m done with the series. I cannot think of a world that so deserves to be destroyed. I can live with characters being killed, but it seems that all of the characters with any knowledge of the threat to the world and any chance of saving the world are being killed off as well as those who deserve it. Except the ones that really do. The villains are winning, and with them, the evil will rise. Let it all burn. I won’t bother with witnessing it. I just don’t care any more. In fact, that’s almost more the problem: I’m now so apathetic about the remaining characters that I see no reason to watch any more. So fuck it. I’m done.


Yesterday was Free RPG Day. I finally got a chance to play Numenera, a game I kickstarted a few years ago. I read the rules when I got them, but I never played the game, and I set it aside a few months ago when I became disenchanted with d20-based games. In playing it, I find that my issues with d20 play have a possible solution.

To revisit quickly what my issues are with a d20, the additive nature of the d20 systems usually published means the die is grossly important at low levels, where bonuses are low, and virtually unimportant at high levels, when bonuses are so high that most challenges are overcome before the die is even rolled.

The Cypher System, which is what the core dice-rolling mechanics for Numenera and the Strange (the second game in the line) is called, deal with the issue by having the GM simply set the difficult of something, and then the player has ways of shifting the difficulty downwards, and then you roll to beat the final difficulty.

Outside of the pre-gen I was playing being poorly built, the  game played well. I always felt the possibility of failure, but it never seemed hopeless or too easy. The threats of the enemy’s seemed appropriate at every turn. I really enjoyed the game, if not the character.

[An explanation: The character I was given was a strongly Dex-based warrior-type, having a high Speed stat, a power chosen to increase defense when without armor, and the ability to do Speed-based things easily. The character’s equipment included armor, shield, and a heavy weapon. So, a fast character with nothing but hampering gear. I don’t blame the GM; he simply used the pre-gens that came with the adventure. I blame the adventure’s writer and editor for missing such a poorly designed character.]

The second game I played was the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, the newest set being based on the adventure path called Wrath of the Righteous. It was a very short game, being a simple introduction to the game for new players who had never played. I was a little disappointed with the brevity, as it meant I was free hours earlier than I expected to be. But I hung out for a while before leaving. I was interested in the game as I thought it would be something I would be able to play with the kids. I think the Boy will like it, if we ever play.

As to the freebies, I picked up the Wyrd Minis Into the Breach Quickstart and the Catalyst Games Valiant Universe RPG Quickstart. I also got the free Goblin character for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Sadly, I wasn’t interested in many of the others. Too many OSR clones. The only other one I feel I missed was the 13th Age book, but I expect they’ll put it up for download eventually, so I’ll pick it up then.


I haven’t taken the time to do the research on weapons in Fate at this point. I’ve been working a lot, and when I get home, there’s always other things on my mind. I’m slowly parting from Kings Road, as I’ve finished the story adventures, and that leaves just trudging through the grind and gaining “levels” for no apparent purpose. So, I’m bored with the game at this point, and I’ll probably drop it soon. I’ll try to turn that time back to the StarSea.


I think that’s enough for now. I need to finish my laundry and get to bed for work tomorrow. So…

Later.

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s post is cancelled.

I was going to try to write something, but my home life sucks right now, so I’m not very inspired. All I am is angry, and not in the productive sort of way. My head is throbbing from the effect that my anger has had on my blood pressure, and I feel about half sick.

Sometimes, you just really wish people would listen, stop trying to explain, and just shut the hell up.

There’s more on my Facebook, and if you’re a friend there, you can find out what’s going on. Otherwise, I’m done for tonight.

Another Three Week Post

Life has been both hectic and slow at the same time. I really didn’t think I had enough to report on in the week before Memorial Day, as I’d only last posted on the Tuesday before, so I put off posting on Memorial Day weekend. That week of the last post had been pretty average at work, but the following couple have been in all over the place. I only worked the Saturday before Memorial Day, and the Tuesday after, but not again until Friday, so I had very few hours in. This past week, I worked pretty much every day (including lots of overtime), and had something going on most evenings (including collapsing and falling asleep early a couple of evenings). I’ve been thinking on things, but not really formulating full ideas. I’ll cover some of those below.

One of the things I’ve been distracting myself with is a tablet game called Kings Road. It’s a Diablo-style RPG. I became obsessed with acquiring a certain set of equipment for my character, and spent a good deal of time playing in my spare time, and not thinking on the StarSea. I’ve had some creative flashes, but nothing lasting. I need to indulge those impulses at some point.


Weapons and Why They’re Important to Me

I’ve commented on one of my babies in the StarSea: Weapons. I feel I need to explain why they’re important to me, and the setting. This is likely to work something out in my own mind, or to justify to myself a choice, or to figure out if this is something I can remove.

In my source fiction and in history, the sword is the symbol of those invested with a certain level of power and responsibility. The Jedi are signified by swords, the Christian Knights were symbolized by their swords (which also looked like crosses, so they served two purposes), the Samurai and the knights of Saladin, the Furusiyya, were also defined by their relationships to swords (and typically, also horses). I want that relationship as part of the setting. However, I have no idea how necessary it is to the setting, or the game in question.

It’s the mechanics of Fate that are creating a break in my mind. I don’t care for any of the game’s mechanics, and that frustrates me. I think I may need to sit down with the various books, enumerate the rules, and figure out how to apply the Fate Fractal to the weapon rules, without creating something that overwhelms the magic rules. Or maybe just tone down the ideas I have in mind for weapons. Maybe just requiring them to work the Wyrd is all that’s necessary, beyond some simple rules for making them somewhat superior to what the average soldier carries, which is all I really need.


Dice Mechanic – Zombie Dice

One idea that I was sort of obsessed with about a week ago was using weighted dice as a method to shift dice probabilities. The idea came with a thought about Zombie Dice and how that game functions.

The different colored dice in Zombie Dice are weighted. Green dice have more brains and fewer shotguns, and red dice are weighted in favor of shotgun blasts. Yellow dice are neutral, and work like Fudge/Fate dice. The thought I’d had was that one might weight rolls by using Zombie Dice to represent an advantage provided by a superior weapon or superior armor, with the red shotguns reducing damage, like the armor rules in the Fate Toolkit. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to calculate the new probabilities the different dice would produce, as I’m not that good with the level of math involved. I was able to figure out that getting a +4 result with 4 green Zombie Dice would be about 1 in 16 rather than the 1% or so the regular dice provide. Ultimately, I think this idea would require a new system, rather than a modification of the Fudge/Fate system, especially without the ability to work the probabilities.


High Elf Skycutter and similar models

A couple of weeks ago, I got a bargain on this model, the High Elf Skycutter.

I’m planning on building it with a more draconic motif, and without the eagle (he’ll be built separately, as an individual unit). This model very much fits some of the ideas I have in mind for the vessels of the StarSea.

I also picked up this Lego set: Naida’s Epic Adventure Ship.

It’s a very cool little model, and it also sort of fits the thoughts I’ve had about vehicles in the StarSea. The Girl and I built it, and it looks very nice, if a little girly with the color scheme you can see above.

I believe there were others I was going to comment on when I originally outlined this post, but I’ve forgotten the others now. I’m sure I’ll remember then at some point when I won’t be able to post about them. :-)


Playing MTG

Thanks to the Boy, I’ve been cycling through collectable card games lately. We did some Yu-gi Oh! for a few weeks, including me replacing a deck that was stolen from him, but now he and his friends have moved on to Magic the Gathering. So, I bought a Deck Builder Kit (no, these I won’t link to) and we built decks and played. I was able to keep up with him, and I actually kept him on the ropes in early play, and even beat him once. He’s got an amazing mind for strategy, as well as the ability to pull off his strategies.

I finally see the appeal of the game, one I’d resisted because of the feelings I’d had back when MTG first came out. At that time, the owners of TSR had started pissing away all of the cachet that had been built around the D&D brand. D&D 2nd Ed was in its waning days, and people were dropping D&D for this new game, Magic the Gathering (or, as I called it in those days, “Money the Gathering”). I developed a resentment of the game, feeling MTG was draining away the players that D&D used to have.

MTG is easy to learn, plays fast, and has enough possibilities in even a limited number of cards that you can find numerous variations on the game play, thus replay-ability is high. I can see why MTG garnered such a following, one that made the publishers, Wizards of the Coast, enough money to buy up TSR and the D&D brand, resurrecting D&D with 3rd Ed. I expect we’ll be playing more this summer, maybe including the Boy’s birthday party next month.


The Art of Blizzard Entertainment

I mentioned Diablo above when I discussed the video game that ate my brain. Friday, the Family and I went to Barnes and Noble for the first time in years, and I found a copy of the monstrous tome named above. I read it cover to cover today (not hard as it’s an art book), using it as an escape from my addiction. Wasn’t a lot of meat there, but I am interested in poking through it again and again, looking for ideas for my own designs.


That’s pretty much it for this post. I’m up late as it is, and my eyes are feeling it. It’s time for me to head for bed. Later.

 

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