Category Archives: D&D 4e

Sketches and Agency

So, I said I was going to take a break from the StarSea.

Yeah, that lasted about 10 minutes. My mind drifted into imaging things, like how a dwarf should look, or a troll, and I set about sketching those ideas. Didn’t get much done, but I did start rattling things around in my head. I’ve got an image floating around based on the podcast description of an adventure site that I still need to get out.

While mentioning podcasts, I heard something on an episode of The Tome Show that got me thinking and questioning: “When did DMs/GMs/STs/whatevers become afraid of player agency, and who says there’s a finite pool of agency, so that when one side gains, the other side loses?”

This is something I’ve heard as one of the many criticisms of 4e. Players have more agency because they can point to the rulebook to gainsay some story decisions of the GM. To an extent, that’s true. It forces the DM to either be more creative, know their system better, or both. I never really had a problem with agency in 4e, as a DM, over the story or the rules. I’ve had problems with other DMs and whether or not they have a solid grip on the rules. And I’ve seen some truly terrible adventure writing, including from WotC… especially from WotC, but rarely have the rules themselves been the source of the issue.

More of what I’ve seen hasn’t been a totally broken system (although they’re out there) but rather broken  subsystems, or issues with my own inexperience. I remember an instance, which I ultimately handled poorly, while running Villains and Vigilantes in which one player had that game’s version of the Green Lantern “solid illusions” power. The PC in question was like Dr. Manhattan to the rest of the PCs’ Watchmen. Basically, I couldn’t threaten him without killing the other PCs, or resorting to non-physical attacks (as he could use the illusions as armor), something at that time I didn’t have the creativity and sophistication to accomplish. I eventually stripped him of his power, rather brutally stripping him of a fantasy power to recapture my own.

There was one “campaign” I ran in high school in which a vampire merchant turned one of the PCs before the others killed the merchant. I therefore had a PC vampire taking up the old merchant’s schtick. Things got out of hand quickly, and we closed the “campaign” by the end of the afternoon. It was a couple of years before I ran another game. The PCs had more power (AKA agency) than I knew how to counter and challenge.

That situation had nothing to do with the rules and everything to do with my inexperience. When I started this part of the article, I really wasn’t cognitive of where I was going with the article, but I can see where I am being lead. It seems that the power issues we play out in our games are an extension of those we have in our real lives. They are the power issues we have between one another.

So the real issue isn’t whether you as DM or player have agency. The real issue is are you, the participant, willing to give up your “agency” to further the story of the game? I know the best games I’ve had were the ones where we all gave up some of our agency at some points to be handed by the other players more. Those games in which we all set our egos aside to enjoy the hobby. I’ve gone to the point of trying to actively give up my power to other players, especially younger players, like the Kids.

I wish I could offer more solid conclusions and advice. I can’t. I don’t know what creates another’s power issues, emboldens their ego, and might make them crave more agency than other players at any particular moment. I can only suggest players and GMs be more aware of their own behavior, and question their own motives for pushing for agency. Whatever way you go, it’s not the game; it’s the participants.

That’s all I’ve really got for tonight. It seems like it’s a pretty heavy discussion, and I doubt anything will come of it, but it’s something that’s been on my mind this week, and I felt the need to discuss it. Hope it’s fruitful for someone else out there.



NaBloPoMo 2015 – Entry 22 – More Gaming Frustration?

I finally have had a day and evening in which I have plenty of time to write more than what amounts to a series of tweets.

Last night’s post I discussed being frustrated with my character in our current home game’s sideline scenario. This issue with my character might not be the only source of my frustration. I’ll need to phrase this carefully, as one of my sources of frustration has recently joined Facebook and he may read this.

Our game includes two of the adult players’ children. I’ve mentioned them before, naming them as The Boy and The Girl, or The Kids. He’s 13 as of this summer, and she’s 10 as of about a month ago.

Last night was problematic with their behavior, and I’m not sure what the exact issue is. Both left the table at various times that resulted in game delays. Once was The Girl leaving in the middle of her turn to go to the bathroom. While coming back, she distracted herself with one of the cats. The Boy disappeared to the bathroom, and his dad had to take over his character while he was DMing. We do this on occasion, as we have a small group and expect the players present at the beginning of the night to be there through the rest of the evening, except the kids.

The Girl has left the game before, as has her brother, to go to bed, and this usually includes them waiting until the end of the round or the end of their turn before trotting off to bed, so one of the adults can take up the character for the missing player. Last night though, it was as if they forgot their gaming manners completely.

I’ve been wondering what’s going on for a few weeks now. The Boy has never been especially interested in the stories we adults tell, being more interested in combat. The Girl is pretty much the same, but she’s been showing more interest in story recently. Not a lot, but some. But both of their incidents of leaving the table last night was during combat, the stuff they claim to enjoy.

I’m beginning to wonder if the problem is 4e’s tactical combat. I’m wondering if that’s part of the problem I’m having with my store game as well. Although that may be a player who tries to make the game conform to his thinking rather than conform his thinking to the rules. Last night, I was distracted between rounds, and spent my time poking around at things on my laptop. I’ve been doing that a lot more lately, but doing theatre of the mind gaming the night we played Fantasy Age, we all stayed much more focused.

As far as my issues, I think I just need to be more aware of my own feelings of interest or boredom, and see what I can do about that without disrupting the game. I think the Kids and their parents and I need to discuss my feelings about how last night went down, and see if we can get the kids to be more expressive of their needs or boredom, again without being disruptive.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for tonight. Working tomorrow, so I need to call it a night as soon as I spam this out.


NaBloPoMo 2015 – Entry 21 – Quickee 3

Started the day with a shiny new Costco membership and some shopping. Got a thing that won’t do what I thought it would. Hmm…

Played D&D tonight. Became completely frustrated with my character’s blasts that seem somewhat useless, as they’d either fry my party or only hit one creature, and that only after a lot of maneuvering. Screw it, this is a short term aside (we’re not playing our regular characters, but characters in another part of the world), the character is essentially a warlock-priest committed to ancient evils, it’ll be time to betray the party soon.

Day’s over. Need to go home for the night. Just keeping up with the daily posts.


NaBloPoMo 2015 – Entry 19 – Really Quick Post

Drove a lot today.

Played D&D4 tonight. Hanging on my a thread.

Signed up for a Twitter account so I can claim a Kickstarter reward tomorrow evening. Find me here.

Got eBay purchases and skimmed them (for Age of Sigmar).

Decided that the aggressive race in StarSea will be Trolls, who become Ogres when Corrupted (unless they are part of a Order, in which case they follow the usual Corruption path of the Order).

Need to go so I can go to work in the morning.


NaBloPoMo 2015 – Entry 14 – More Killable Than You’d Think

Kinda sucks using the iPad app to post, as you actually have to change your settings to make the app actually post an app when you’ve finished. So, yesterday’s post was completed, but not published. Blech.

Today was Kids D&D, which I know I’ve mentioned is run with 4e. A big complaint of 4e is the lack of lethality. I refute that with today’s game. Bad rolls on the parts of the player’s with even mediocre rolls on the part of the DM can result in the party getting their collective ass handed to them. I had two of the players down for the last half of the battle and the archer had to pretty much end the rest of the enemies. That included TWO NPCs, who were both pretty tough. Our group Thursday also almost got TPK’ed, and we’re newly epic. Yeah, you can kill parties in 4e.


One of the other things I want to comment on is the morality of the setting. It’s one of the thematic elements that I’m focused on. One of the influences on the morality of the setting is the Ophidian Virtues from Ultima VII: Serpent Isle. I really don’t have time for it tonight, so I’ll just leave you all that link and discuss them…


NaBloPoMo 2015 – Entry 12 – Hrm.

Worked late in the day, which is kind of annoying, but I always could have said no. I just wanted a few more hours on my time card, and that’s what I got. A relatively casual day in an office, but not one in which I sat around bored. Stomach continued to be grumbly, but not as bad as Wednesday.

Played our newly Epic Level D&D Living Forgotten Realms game tonight, but as one of our players couldn’t attend, one quit her job, and one just has money management issues, we didn’t go for Afters, which left me a bit down. It doesn’t help that the writers of the LFR adventures are so lame as to not have any idea how to write an adventure that threatens players without cheating. We faced minions in one encounter that had a special defense that allowed them to basically “save versus death” when struck. Lots of cheesy crap in these adventures.

That’s pretty much all I have for today. Not much done today. Working tomorrow, and the Kids D&D I run Saturday. Maybe something will come up that will be worth discussing. Later.

Getting the itch again…

As this week has progressed, I’ve come to realize I really want to GM again. I’ve been listening to The Tome Show a lot, especially the Behind the DMs’ Screen episodes, which is three DMs discussing their games and giving each other advice and ideas. They’re the ones that have inspired me to try to run Madness at Gardmore Abbey, which if the kids don’t want to run it, I might do it with my Thursday night group as a short term game after our current campaign ends.

This has dovetailed with stuff going on in our home game. Therein, our DM has decided to use a storytelling technique I’ve found and used from the Critical Hit podcast. In this technique, part of the story is being told with alternate characters in the past or some other part of the setting. In our home game, I’m playing a dragonborn sorcerer from Abeir, the parallel world to the Forgotten RealmsToril. I’ve been doing some research into dragonborn (as there are a few light texts on them, and I stumbled across the stuff on Returned Abeir, a chunk of the world of Abeir now part of the Realms (or at least in 4e; I have no idea if this has been erased by the Sundering event that transitioned the Realms to 5e). Just looking at it inspired me to run a game there, as I tend to dislike the Realms.

On the other hand, I’ve also been thinking of running the Neverwinter season of Encounters for my home game, as I ran it before at CSGS for Encounters. As well, I’d want to continue using the Neverwinter book to run longer. I was impressed with the book and how it detailed enough material to go beyond just 10th level, as the book itself states.

This morning, in the shower, I was inspired again, but this one I put out to all of you who might read this blog and GM. I ran into someone at one of the hobby shops in town that sells gaming stuff. This particular player had fielded his Warhammer 40K Tyranid army during a D&D for Kids game a few months ago. The Tyranid are a biotech “species” who move from world to world, ingesting all life, adapting whatever genetics improve them, and moving on. My mind moved on into how this faction of beings could be incorporated into an RPG. In the games that include such creatures (the Zerg of Blizzard’s StarCraft and WH40K), they are pretty much nothing that can be negotiated with. The Bugs of Starship Troopers are similar creatures.

My idea was to incorporate similar ideas into a fantasy RPG. This could give a more unifying framework to the aberrant creatures of D&D as currently, through 4e, the only unifying element of the aberrants is that they are from the Far Realms. Something like this gives them a more coherent set of goals. The idea could also be the machinations of some creature like Kyuss or Lolth, if she decides to forego the drow and instead rely on insects. Either way, the invaders are rapacious, destroying everything in their path. Beyond that, the idea is very sketchy. I didn’t really get time to think it through beyond that. Just a unifying theme for a campaign.

Even though I haven’t mentioned the StarSea, it’s not far from my mind in all of this. I’ve been thinking about the place of the Orders in the setting (Are they rulers? Are they law enforcement? Are they something else?), as well as other things, like technology and economics. I sometimes wonder if I’m thinking too much about all of this, but I want a solid setting with a lot of verisimilitude.

Well, that’s pretty much all I’ve got for this week. I’m out for this week. Later.

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.


Three Weeks of Stuff, in One Big Blast

If you read my last posting, you read about how I’m having difficulty focusing. This post has been a couple of weeks in process, but my inability to focus is (figuratively) killing me. I can’t seem to stay on task much the past couple of weeks.

It might have to do with a job interview I had on the 15th. I was very aware of when the appointment was, etc. Like I was anxious, but without nerves. The initial call was very regimented, not more casual and flexible like most employers. I was given an appointment time, not asked what was good for me, etc. I felt like the interview and my distraction were related, but I can’t tell you why. Now, five days later, and I don’t believe they really were. I’m still very distractible, and I don’t know why.

I was going to rant about some personal stuff, but after writing it, I looked at it and said, “Why? This really doesn’t belong here.” Aren’t you glad I edit myself?

So, to the meat of my posting…

Divine Characters and Gods – A couple of weeks ago, after my last serious post, I was working my way through the second Corum novel, Queen of Swords. Moorcock used the priesthood of the gods of Chaos in a rather interesting way I’ve never seen in an RPG. The clerics in this book were truly tools of the gods. The first novel is called Knight of Swords, and the story revolves around how the gods of Chaos have defeated the gods of Law some while back, and this is what allows humanity to rise to power and exterminate Corum’s people. Corum defeats the titular god of Chaos. That being said, you can see who the villain of second novel is, and as said goddess can’t make herself known on the plane due to the rules of the Cosmic Balance, she uses the Knight’s priests, empowering them to create upheavals, and thereby draw people to Chaos (“Only Chaos can protect you from the upcoming troubles! The gods of Law are too weak!”). Magic is used to back up their claims.

I can’t think of a time in which I’ve ever seen a DM actually hand the word of a god to a PC, or seen a group of evil cultists being anything other than psychopaths. Even though this god-mortal interaction is only commented on in two or three chapters, it struck me. DMs seem to more often than not simply make sure the cleric is doing things that make sense for that character’s god, but do little in the way of having the god actually nudge the character down a path that furthers the god’s goals. I think that’s something I’ll be investigating the next time I run a more traditional fantasy game. (More later.)

Movies – I also caught a few movies that I felt I would comment on, as each had an impact on my mind.

Jupiter Ascending – I caught this one at the local cheap theater. I’m glad I saw it on the big screen, but I’m also glad I saw it at the cheap theater. It wasn’t an especially good plotline, and in fact the plot had holes you could fly a solar system through. The effects were cool, and it looked good on the screen, but the story was weak, and some of the performances were overdone. It had some neat ideas for tech, but some of the animal people were a bit silly. I’ll probably buy it on DVD when it becomes available.

Birdman – I think this one only won the Oscar because the Screen Actor’s Guild understood the movie. The movie is about an actor acting and directing and producing, and I don’t think many of us on the outside really get it. Even after watching the “Making of” featurette on the DVD, there were confusing things about the movie and plotline. I also hated the Jazz drums-only sound track. I bought the DVD, and anyone who reads this blog is welcome to it; you need only ask. It’s nothing I want to keep in my collection.

Avengers 2 – Well, of course I saw Avengers 2! Great fun! I think the Black Widow controversy is mainly from folks who haven’t watched Agent Carter and didn’t get what Natasha saw in her “chaos magic” spawned dream. I enjoyed seeing the vision on screen, as well as all the little hints about his connection to Wanda. With the little bit of hinting about CA:Civil War, I’m interested in seeing how they’ll handle the end of that one.


Games on consignment – I spent a couple of days working on checking prices and getting some of my old games, as well as some that Roger left behind, out of the house. They were taking up space. These were books I’d taken into Crazy Squirrel‘s Game Swap Meet a couple of times, but they never sold. This time, a couple of items have sold and made me a little money. As well, we had a rainstorm around that time, and I discovered some of the bins of fabric Roger had left behind had fallen over and broke. I took some time to dig through those as well, and start to get then out of the storage, which is no longer secure from weather. I have a lot more to do on that mark, but it’s getting warmer and more difficult to work outside. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make the time to get more of the stuff cleaned out of the greenhouse/storage.

Campaign Ideas – I’ve been thinking about games I’d like to run, in addition to the StarSea (more in a moment). Here’s a list. Some of these would likely work well for the D&D for Kids game, as I’m running out of adventures for them.

  • Neverwinter – Both the Encounters season and the stuff from the sourcebook. I have the Encounters module still, and I really enjoyed the plotline. However, I doubt the kids would enjoy it, because of the politics. They just like beating up enemies. A superhero game might work better.
  • Heroes of the Feywild – Again, using the Encounters season, as I have that one also. This idea might be good for the next D&D for Kids campaign, including the cool character creation extras. I could expand out that Encounters season, but that would be a lot more work than Neverwinter, as I would be creating from whole cloth.
  • Scales of War – This one looks like a cool campaign that I’d enjoy running. Has a cosmic level of doings, with Tiamat warring with Bahamut and the ensuing chaos. Wouldn’t work for the kids, but would probably work for our Wednesday Night game (which may be moving to Thursdays, but I’m hoping not).
  • The Swords Trilogy – Well, not exactly Corum’s world, but close. If I pull the entire setting and plotline, it would look something like this: The world would be a faerie tale, idyllic world to start, with a barbarian race coming in to destroy what the PCs hold dear. The PCs escape, and find themselves allying with another nation that is next on the barbarians’ hit list. The gods are silent to start, until the PCs learn that those gods have been barred from the world by the evil gods. This is due to some force the PCs learn they have to undo or reverse, probably by defeating the some servants of the evil gods. There should be some mention of the influence of the evil gods towards making the world a darker place, swaying mortals to unleash their dark sides (as mentioned above, in the first part of this post). That might be something to link to the Feywild game mentioned above.

These are, at present, all 4e campaign ideas. I’ve thought about the idea, as well, of running these as Fate games, using the Freeport supplement to give me the fantasy and magic rules. I’m thinking I need to do something like that at some point anyway. It would get my players used to the rules for StarSea, assuming I don’t go nuts at some point and drop Fate.


Regarding that last statement, I have thought about that lately. Again, I’m looking at tinkering with the Fate system more, at a deeper level. I’ve already mentioned changing the Advancement System, and building my own. As I listen to the Critical Hit podcast Fate superhero game, or I think about things like lightsabers (which I’m also thinking of removing from the game; sometimes you have to kill your babies, and this is one of those), I’m thinking I may need to tinker with how combat works. I like having combat in my games, as do the kids (although they may outgrow that). The point of using Fate was to avoid doing so much tinkering. Of course, there’s nothing I don’t tinker with, gaming-wise, so maybe I’m just being foolish and finding reasons to distract me. But if the system really won’t do what I want…

Then again, the Cypher System setting-neutral book will be out this summer. Maybe I need to re-examine my feelings about that system, as that was where I was going to start pulling ideas from for my Fate concerns. Or maybe I need to look at alternate Fate games that tinker with those rules. There are lots of ways of dealing with this. I just need to start looking into rules systems, again.

Gaming Careers podcast – I started listening to this podcast a couple of weeks ago. I’m really enjoying it, even the shows that I’m not especially interested in (i.e. the video game episodes). It’s sparking some creative ideas, and giving me insights into how to get into the industry part-time. As one of the other podcasters I listen to said, “Do you want to be a publisher or published?” I want to be published infinitely more than be a publisher. In fact, I have no desire or inclination to be a publisher, at all. It seems like a lot of number-crunching and such I don’t want to deal with.

So, after three weeks, that’s about it. I think that’s more than enough. Later.


Getting a Start on Mechanics

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.

Just that…