I’ve spent most of this week dealing with that reminder from the past. Thursday, I posted this one Facebook:
I’ve just realized that what’s been disturbing my sleep all week is an internal conflict of my morals regarding my legal obligations versus my opinions of the morality of the practices of those to whom I have the legal obligations.
Suffice it to say I believe I resolved this Friday, after doing some research, and I don’t believe it will be a problem again.
This was a major distraction, but one I didn’t fell I could avoid. It only added to my situation though, and didn’t cause it.
I think I need a break from the mechanical/author-ish end of the StarSea for a little bit. I realized this after I found an app that allows me to print from my iPad. I printed the following image:
I actually have a better image, one that seems to be print quality, or closer to it. I prefer this image to some of the other images from the setting, as there are people visible in the ship and that the ship is shaped aquatic but by it’s lack of sails acknowledges that it is powered by something other than winds.
Last night, when I got home after D&D, I hunted up the adventure that the graphic is originally from. The deck plans look like this:
The two are unrelated. It looks like the editor simply commissioned two pieces of artwork and didn’t think that the two images needed to match. Kinda typically sloppy WotC art direction.
But as I looked again at this ship in the first image, I realized that in the past couple of weeks, I’d lost my way by focusing a little too much on the game mechanics of the setting and loosing track of the stuff I wanted to focus on. “Too much crunch, too little chrome.”
As a little but of a distraction, I want to do more appropriate deck plans for this ship. A creative exercise, if you will, related to the StarSea. Maybe get those juices going again, to help me resolve some of my choices. I’m having a horrible time with names this go-around, and it’s making me freeze up. But I need something to kickstart me again before I lose interest and put the setting on the back burner.
My eyes are feeling it, so I’m thinking it’s time to call it. Later.
Virtually nothing to report on StarSea. Did a little editing Friday, but that’s about it.
I’ve been distracted by a lot of things this week. Yard work, chauffeuring, work, keeping up Facebook (and that’s just keeping up with daily posts). My week ended with a reminder of some personal issues that I’ve been ignoring for a while that I need to resolve. I decided not to work tomorrow to maybe deal with some of this tomorrow.
The only thing of note this week was my trip out to Reedley (a small town South of Fresno) to a game store I’ve never been to before. Morgan’s Pair-O’-Dice is a pretty decent little location in the Downtown district. I found it a little on the dark side, as it’s in an older brick building with no windows but those in the front, and to my mind the lighting was a bit dim. Friendly staff was a definite bonus, and the discount on most goods was a nice bonus. I’d definitely shop there again, if I have reason to make the drive, as it’s about 20 minutes from Fresno.
That’s really all I’ve got for now. Maybe I’ll be able to focus more next week and get back on track.
The focus of this blog has kind of shifted over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed. I’m including more personal stuff here than was intended. As there are probably a grand total of six regular readers, I guess if anyone was going to complain, they would have.
On Tuesday last, I has an interview with the DMV. I’m 95+% certain I didn’t get the job. The first thing the guy who escorted me out said was a helpful “when you apply for DMV positions, do this,” which was my biggest clue. On the other hand, he said I presented myself well, so there’s that.
The State of California seems to like interview committees, as this is the second State job I’ve interviewed for in my life, and both (so far) have been by committee. And the make up of the committee seems to follow a pattern: There’s one interviewer who displays the personality of a lump of stone, and one who displays human response to humor, etc. When I applied a SCIF a number of years ago, there were two stone-faces and one personality. This time it was one and one. The personality was the one who escorted me out and gave me the critique. I came away from the interview feeling good.
On Wednesday, I spoke with one of the organizers of the local con, Bookwyrm, regarding not seeing my game on the list of games. Between a possible programming problem with my submission and my tardiness, it’s been decided that I won’t be running at said convention. I’m okay with that, but I’m going to continue to work on April 18th as a deadline for having an alpha test of the rules for the StarSea. I needed the deadline or I was going to keep futzing with things forever. Again, I am good with all of this. That weekend is also a Kids’ D&D weekend, so I don’t have to worry about multiple games that weekend.
This weekend, we did something based on something I was inspired to from a podcast I’ll call “SmallCon Winter 2015″. I’ve been listening to the Accidental Survivors podcast for quite a few years now. It started as a modern settings gaming podcast out of Canada, but has mutated into general gaming. One of their traditions is that every year or two, they travel to one of the guy’s family cottages and game all weekend. They call this “CottageCon”,
As the kids had a three-day weekend, our original idea had been to go to DunDraCon, but we found the pricing too high to be affordable this year, especially as we were going to be for only one day, in all likelihood. I’ve been catching up on this podcast lately, and a few of their older episodes mentioned one of the CottageCons, so I was inspired to suggest something like that as an alternate.
So we spent the weekend gaming at the Smalls’ home. Saturday afternoon, the Boy and I played Quarriors, which has since become the Dicemaster series of games. Since he’s now becoming interested in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game lately (the kids at school play that instead of the Pokemon TCG), and WizKids Games is now doing a Yu-Gi-Oh! Dicemaster game, I managed to get him to give the game a go. As usual, he beat me pretty handily. We played our usual D&D game that night, and I stayed the night so we could continue Sunday. The Smalls had gotten me the expansion for Pandemic for Christmas, but as the cards in my base set were in sleeves but I didn’t have extras, we couldn’t really mix the sets without wasting time unsleeving the base set, so we still haven’t used that set. We lost that one. As I had to work today, we brought “SmallCon Winter 2015″ to an early end. I expect we’ll have other “SmallCons” in the future.
For all of this, I did get some work done on the StarSea rules. I’m still stuck on how I’m presenting exactly the Aggressor race (my nickname for them so far). They’re basically Githyanki, but I’d like to have a more mythological basis for them, but I may have to forgo that.
I started trying for figure out how to handle magic. Last week, I’d found a couple of example systems that I wanted to try to pull from. I ended up favoring one over the other, but still incorporating some elements of each. But then I came to a problem of how to give players what was expected from these magical knighthoods. I knew the key laid in the Extras rules, and a re-reading later, and I had an idea.
The Knighthood Extras are going to actually provide a number of benefits as a package. A “Wyrdshaping” skill, along with a choice of stunts that inform the expected practices of the subdivisions within the knighthood. For example, the Psionics have their telekinetics, espers, and physical adepts. Each is a specific set of effects, which I need to delineate. There will be additional stunts to increase the levels of effect any of the three fields can achieve. For now, I’m focusing on getting the Psionic Order up to snuff, then I can expand into the other orders later.
I think that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m running out of steam on a lot of levels, so I think this will be the end of this week’s post. Thanks for reading. Later.
Monday, I didn’t work driving, so I worked on mechanics for the StarSea Fate rules. I started by looking at the one game I have available to me that uses Skill Modes, the Atomic Robo Role Playing Game. It made me realize I may have to do some research if I want races to act as modes, or more accurately mad me realize I need to simply reconsider the entire idea of races as modes.
But 4e Roles as Skill Modes is workable, once you examine Roles the right way. What I discovered is that since combat is detached from skills, you have to look at Roles a little differently. 4e’s roles are almost purely combat oriented, but there are certain skills you can expect with each role. As well, there are a couple of roles whose names have little to do with their skill bases, Controllers and Leaders being the primary sinners. The reality is, Controllers are the learned folk, most of them having a lot of Lore-oriented skills, while Leaders are typically social characters. To round things out, Defenders are strong, tough types, and Strikers are agile, generally sneaky types (although they also include some blitzers, who act more like Defenders). Once I did this analysis, I was more easily able to see how I’ll be dividing up the skills.
For reasons similar to race, I won’t be making Power Sources modes, either. While I haven’t re-read the Toolkit on Modes, the way they are handled in ARRPG, each character can have most of the modes. Your character rates each mode, which gives him a cluster of skills all at the same rating. Skills in multiple modes become reinforced, and gain a level edge. As characters should not be of mixed power sources or races (there are no half-species in the StarSea), then those things cannot be modes.
Doing all this also started me on setting up a skill list, and comparing it to the Camelot Trigger setting (King Arthur’s Court in a future in which all of them ride Mecha) provided on the Worlds on Fire book. It has some similar concepts to the StarSea, so I decided I wanted to look at the names of skills, as they do a fair job evoking the chivalric ideal. I want to make some changes (for example, I’m pretty certain I don’t want a Resources skill, and I’m not real sure about contacts, but a Rank skill or some such to represent a character’s ability to requisition equipment might be more appropriate, as might something to represent knowing other knights.
I also started getting the mechanics of magic going, based on some of the ideas presented in the Fate Freeport Companion. Therein, magic is basically an extra that gives characters access to different spells based on which extra he chose (evoker versus necromancer versus “cleric,” etc.). While I originally didn’t care for the idea, as I looked at it again this week, I realized that I had bounced around the idea with myself of having different specialties for each order (such as telekinesis and telepathy for the Psionics, etc.) that I could use to create similar sets of extras for the StarSea.
I need to do a little research on the Modes issues, make some decisions about which skills exist and what modes they are in, and detail out my extras system, smooth things out into an integrated system, and I should soon after begin playing around with creating characters. I also need to work out a plot for the con game by the end of the week.
So, last Monday, Scott Martin, one of the gnomes of Gnome Stew, posted on Facebook about a mini-con done here locally at one of the County Libraries called “Bookwyrm.” This event is in April, on the 18th, and he tagged me in a comment as follows:
Craig runs a wide variety of games for a lot of different audiences… if we’re lucky, maybe StarSea will be ready for an alpha playtest.
My first thought was a little bit of panic. “Omigod! I’m not ready!” But then my next thought was, “No, wait a minute, I’ve been thinking about where I am lately…” And the reality is, I have a pretty good handle on the StarSea as a setting. Most of my vacillation is really about historical elements of the setting, and some on the way I’ll use the Fate System to accomplish my goals with said setting. Most of the rules stuff I’m uncertain about is character creation, and I can do pre-gens for the con, so that’s not an issue. I just have to make some decisions on how weapons and armor works. So, I chose to view this comment as an unintended challenge to myself. I’ve never run a con game (not a Con Game, but… well, you know what I mean), but I can either wilt or meet the challenge.
Once the idea was set in my mind, I pretty much let it go, to be something I’d post about. However, I still hadn’t run Fate yet. Strangely enough, our DMs cancelled our regular LFR game this week, and I jumped on the chance to run a Fate Accelerated game. Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) is kind of the training wheels version of the game. We did some abbreviated character creation, and I used the players’ creations to formulate a plotline (after stealing a hefty chunk of concept from WWGS’s Exalted). I didn’t cover all the rules, but I hit some of the high points. I got into invoking and compelling, and fate points, but didn’t get into Overcomes, Creating Advantages, Attacking or Defending specifically, but let the players get used to the die roll system and applying skills. Everyone had fun, or so they claimed at Afters. :-) I was quite happy with the results. I was still gushing about it after work Friday with one of the Wednesday Night Regulars.
This week, I’ll be working on figuring out what I can do for a plot for a short run game, cook up some characters that fit within the StarSea, and then putting together an elevator pitch/game summary, as paperwork needs to be submitted by the end of the month.
That’s all I really have for this week. Later.
It’s been a while. Things have been hectic, and I’ve found a new distraction. Yay.
I’ve been working quite a bit. Usually, I’ve only been off one day a week. Most weeks, that day off has involved Christmas shopping and errands related thereto, focusing on my mother’s physical therapists and her therapy, but also a little bit of gaming has. And then there’s EA’s new SimCity BuiltIt, an iOS game that I fell into last weekend. Truth be told, that was why I didn’t take the time to make this post. I obsessed over the game for quite a while last weekend. I’ve cut back since, only checking progress every hour or so. It’s basically a farming game, harvesting resources used to make a more robust city that requires more resources, etc. I’ve enjoyed it, but as I said, I’m finding ways to pull away from it.
I kept forgetting the other movie I’d seen a few weeks ago was X-Men: Days of Future Past. It was a pretty well done integration of that comic plotline into the movie franchises. Lots of good special effects and interesting character choices. I had really balked at X-Men: First Class, but once I unclenched, I enjoyed that one, and I had no misgivings with Future Past. An enjoyable flick.
After my last post, I got a response on Facebook from my High School friend, Eric:
re: characters devolving. Is there a reverse for this? If regular humans become Orcs under a negative stimulus, then is there a positive stimulus? What happens under it? Perhaps you’ve already worked this out, but I thought it might be interesting to have a surprising positive path to follow for your game.
No, the effects of Corruption are permanent, but to fall requires a couple of things. Most groups have some form of counseling. The Psionics are probably the best at it, as I want them to have certain edges in the setting, although I may give that honor to the Divines. The Arcanists are probably the worst at it. Counseling will be the method of “healing the moral damage”caused by Corruption. Morality therefore exists as a bulwark against Corruption, and the Wyrd rewards morality with power. Normal mortals who become orcs, et al, are those who live away from civilization and forget their connections to the rest of the People. That can include the poor and underprivileged in a city, especially as desperation sets in and immoral choices get made. It can also happen to other mortals, such as soldiers, who too closely embrace the seedier side of their profession, pirates without a code of honor, etc.
However, counseling should not be the version of Confession we so often see in Mafia fiction. The GM of a StarSea game will be recommended to punish repeated offenses of the some nature with a failure if counseling to work, to show the degradation of the soul. However, players whose characters continue to work towards redemption should receive it.
I’ve made this choice because I wanted an explanation for how certain humanoid monstrosities can appear in the setting in large numbers. It started with the undead (based mostly on the Pharon faction in a game called Vor the Maelstrom, but also the Necron of the 40K universe), but I realized it could easily be spread throughout the other groupings. As the leadership of a group become corrupted, they lead the lesser members of the society into moral weakness. A society without the leadership of one of the Orders could easily exist without falling to Corruption, but they’d have to have strong leadership with a solid moral base of some sort. That does conversely mean that the Arcanists have a weak moral base, and that’s fine to me.
Well, it’s getting on, and I work tomorrow. I thank those who read and comment for your assistance. Your comments help me find direction and see the holes in my explanations of events.