Monthly Archives: June 2014

Issues on my mind

Not much to report this week.

I used my iPad to “scan” some images I had drawn in Notepad 1, but then accidentally overwrote them re-downloading the folder of files for Notepad 1 from the iPad.

My work week left me exhausted (which makes me wonder if there isn’t some other issue going on with my body or sleep cycle), and I had very few long trips that would allow me to actually write.

I really didn’t even give the setting much thought. I’ve had some personal issues on my mind this week. So much so that I’ve thought on little else without some external distraction. Nothing I’ll comment on here, but I might start journalling elsewhere (and privately) about the issue.

That’s it for this week. Sorry to disappoint all six of you who read regularly. Later.

“And boy, am I tired…”

That old punchline is a good description of where I’m at right now. Last week was hard, and the weekend wasn’t any easier. I worked a lot last week, getting nearly 30 hours. Usually, I float around 20 hours, so you can see I’m busy. I got in a few hours to type, and managed to complete the first of my old notepads, and this morning I got the images digitized as well, with the help of my iPad.

This weekend was the Crazy Squirrel Free RPG Day MiniCon, which I attended for a couple of events. The MiniCon happened to sync up with my usual weekend for D&D for Kids, an event I run to introduce kids to D&D (I currently use 4e, and will continue to do so, with the management’s approval). One of the Wednesday Night Pathfinder guys had asked me a few weeks ago about bringing his boy to a game. What he really did was end up bringing five new kids to the game, giving me a table with NINE kids! The kids were fine though (mostly being girls, who always tend to have better social skills than boys); what exhausted me was the heat. I seemed to be in a area dead to the AC, and the heavy decal on the back of the shirt had me sweating like a pig. I started increasing my fluid intake, and started increasing my pacing just a bit, as nine kids skewed heavily towards newbies is a little like herding cats. After the game ended, I got some Gatorade and went on to our home game, but by 11pm, I was exhausted. Yesterday, I got roped into chauffeuring my mother around in the warm weather, and spent today finally relaxing.

Now, another thing I did at the MiniCon (which no doubt contributed to my later exhaustion) was play a game of FATE. Scott, the GM, was a champ for working me into the game late (I misread the announcements on timing). We were amnesiac supers, captured by alien invaders who needed to escape an invader spaceship. So, I got to see how the game plays.

One thing I think all of use missed as players was the variety of actions our characters could execute. Only rarely did we choose to create advantages for one another (or even ourselves), and I don’t think we ever truly overcame an obstacle, but I may be wrong. I think this is partially because I think we were all old hands at the table, used to D&D and other such games where a certain amount of independence is the norm. But Scott knows the game well, and kept our play running smoothly. I’m looking forward to getting more exposure to the system.

Well, it’s late, and I have work tomorrow. Later.

Where Do Artificers Belong?

There are times when the tool is irrelevant. For example, yesterday (Saturday, as I am writing this) was a workday for me. Most of my time was spent driving, and when I wasn’t driving, I wasn’t really doing much else. On one trip back, there was too much glare for me to read my iPad, which pretty much excluded anything else. On my last trip, I was crowded into a back seat, on top of the axle. Too crowded to type, too bumpy to read without getting sick. Those conditions would have been impossible to work with just about anything. So, yesterday was a lost cause, except for brainworking.

But the week was not a loss. I got a lot of typing time in, retyping more of those old notes. I’ve been making decent process, but I’m not retyping every day. However, as I wrote above, I am thinking about things. I had some shower ideas, but they got overwhelmed by thoughts on Artificers (or Wyrd-technologists).

The StarSea setting has a lot of concepts from D&D 4E; one of those is power sources, another is roles. I want my players to have a more focused number of niches pre-planned. In the modern military, you have specialties, so the idea isn’t necessarily unrealistic. I think there are a lot of folks out there in the gaming community who didn’t like the roles and their association to MMOs. I had no real opinion on the MMO linkage, as I’m not an MMo player, but in my experience, roles have been part of D&D for a long time. However, I think some of the 4E designer choices were questionable.

For example, the “Leader” role. One, the name is largely a misnomer where powers are concerned. In reality, they’re healers. A couple of the leaders, especially the Warlord, have powers that move their allies, which to me would more say leader. Some of them have decent access to social skills, but the classes in question are rarely party leaders in the games I usually see played. A “face man” role is almost needed, separate from the healer role.

The Artificer class is lumped in with the leaders, another Arcane Leader alongside the Bard. I re-read the first few levels of the class this week, after some remarks at our Living Forgotten Realms game this Wednesday, and listening to the Critical Hit podcast this week. I’ve been tempted by the class for a long time, but I think in re-reading it, I’d never play it again in a game. The powers I was reading just do nothing for me.

However, I still like the concept. My favorite Tradition in Mage: the Ascension was the Sons of Ether (soon to be the Society of Ether in the 20th Anniversary Edition). I’ve always liked gadgeteers in superhero games, even if I rarely played them. I like the idea of there being folks in my setting who specialize in creating and maintaining these sorts of items. It makes sense. But how do these people fit into the grand scheme of the orders?

The orders will have specialties within squads of knights (PC parties), which will include guardians (defenders), infiltrators (strikers, for the most part), healers, and battlefield manipulation (controllers/artillery). I thought about a social specialty, but FATE is a more socially-oriented game than D&D is in general, and I’d rather play to that than resist it.

So, I’m left wondering where the Artificers fit in. Are they one of the five mentioned above, or are they separate. Right now, I’m leaning towards a separate role. However, I’m also considering making them a neutral faction. Way back in the history of gaming, there was Mekton, a game of giant robots. In the sample setting in Mekton II, there was a society of mek jocks who owed no allegiance to the two warring factions in the game, and whose technology was superior to either side. That setting element inspired a land that I’ve used in a couple of the settings that I’m working into the StarSea called Spyre, a land of technologically advanced people who usually remain neutral. However, this time, my thinking is that the Artificers could be more like “Lords of War,” selling their technology to both sides of the battle, so to say. A very mercenary point of view for my wyrdtechs.

Part of me likes the idea, and part of me doesn’t. I want each faction to have it’s own technological style, which really wouldn’t exist if one group is building all the tech. And I want PCs to be able to operate their own gear, rather than depending on outsiders (who would likely be NPCs, which is more work for the DM, if the players don’t choose to link to necessary NPCs).

However, I do like the wyrdtechs having different positions in the factions. For example, the “techno-priests” of the Divine faction might be outsiders considered nearly heretical, but tolerated, while the Arcane “techno-wizards” hold the kind of dark power the mercenary Artificers do. Psionic wyrdtechs would simply be folks with specialized knowledge, contributing to the advancement of the entire society, and Primal wyrdtechs might be considered quite mad, but too dangerous and helpful to ignore or exile.

All this has been rambling through my mind, and I’m not sure exactly which direction I’m going to hammer these guys into. I particularly favor the last one, but I need to get a little further along in my completion of the setting before I can answer these questions. In fact, my mind if bubbling up a compromise right now, in which there’s a neutral college of wyrdtechs, but each tech himself has his own loyalties, which brings me back to a state more like my original concept of Spyre.

Anyway, it’s getting late, and I have to work tomorrow, so it’s time to wrap this up. Later.

This Week in the Wild World of the Doctor

This week has been rough on me physically. I worked a early a couple of days, and slept late on a couple of others. Early morning trips mean long distances, but that can also mean a sleepy Doc while traveling, usually while not driving. I did get some typing of my old notes done on a trip home the other day, but mostly, I’ve been reading while riding.

I read a couple of articles on the FATE system, as well as on Numenera, as both systems include opportunities for the GM to create issues for the players. The purely FATE articles were Ryan Macklin’s new product on DriveThruRPG, and focused on Character Creation, which I found helpful, as there were plenty of references to D&D style gaming, which gave me a lot of good idea on how to handle Character Creation in the StarSea.

I also read a comic I’d picked up a while back called Ravine. Some really nice artwork there, and some neat ideas for alien races that I might steal from, a little.

Last thing for this week is that this is my first post with my new keyboard for my iPad, a Zagg Folio. I saw it for $18 off, and Target’s regular price is below MSRP, so I decided to strike while the iron was hot. It’s a little tight, but it works a little better than the virtual keyboard, in that it’s easier to edit what I’m typing, as I have arrow keys. Those are easier for me to use than the magnifying glass that Apple provides.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. I have to work tomorrow, and I have a couple of things to complete before bed. Later.

The Work Proceeds…

Tuesday, I had to reset my iPad due to a corrupted podcast. Seems the file thought it was about 12 GB, and neither the iPad nor iTunes on my laptop could get rid of said file. So, I had to reset the iPad. Not really a big deal, just a pain in the butt.

However, I did manage to start getting some of my old notes typed up. It’s helpful to look at the old notes again every once in a while. It’s interesting to see how many decisions I’ve made and how I’ve changed things. However, without an external keyboard, the going is slow. I only today learned how to get some precision with the cursor, which has been my bane up to this point. I’m going to have to wait at least one more paycheck before I can take care of that. And I still need to get AppleCare for the iPad before I do other stuff.

Early this evening, I got to reconsidering some my thoughts from last week, especially the demon realm. Last week, I think I’d talked myself into not having the demons exist in a different dimension. I kinda think I need them in another realm, or I need to come up with some other way for them to move from world to world. In fact, I prefer them being trapped somewhere so that they need to corrupt and tempt People into summoning them from wherever they are. My original thought, way back in the ’90s. was that the demons lived in a nebula that screwed with people’s senses. The right people could detect that disturbance. Those people could also detect the wrongness around the demons themselves, assuming they were sensitive enough, breaking through any illusion or shapeshifting the demons might use to hide themselves. I like the ideas of the demons having a wrongness about them that can be detected, but I’m thinking the nebula can go as the home of the demons. I think that idea will get shelved for something else.

Maybe the demons are trapped in a subspace realm, in which they are like phantoms or some such, until they can find a sucker to bring them back into reality. The image in my head is a ghostly smudge in the air, like a shadow, in the shape of a humanoid figure with visible eyes, lurking in a room behind an unsuspecting future victim of possession. I rather like this, but I need to give it more thought before I commit to it.

I also got to looking at the Legends of Anglerre (a British comic-based FATE RPG) “plot stress” system. Basically, it’s a system for setting u a plotline with a tipping point, and then activating it through “player inflicted damage.” If you understand the FATE Fractal, then you likely get how this works. (The FATE Fractal is the idea that any thing can be built in game terms like a PC, and act and be acted on accordingly.) I’m hoping this is something I can incorporate into the StarSea.

I was reminded of a game that could be in my “Influences” chapter: Fading Suns. It seems that FASA now has the rights to the game, publishing a third edition, now in two books. I have the first and second editions, and I liked the setting, but my setting is going to be a bit different. My setting is more like Spelljammer, but less silly and with some more modern influences. Fading Suns is more like Warhammer 40k: a sci-fi setting with some magic-like weirdness.

I repeat these things to remind myself as much as my readers; maybe more.

Well, I have to be up a little earlier tomorrow (to earn the money for that keyboard!), so I’m calling it a night. Later.