Category Archives: Star Wars Fantasy

W*rk is a Four-Letter Word

Last night, I wrote a lengthy piece on how work has been going lately. I’m in a better mood today, and I’ve decide it was too long and inappropriate to be posting in anything approaching a public forum. Suffice it to say, it has been very stressful lately.


Adding to the stress is Mom’s condition. One week, she seems on fire and is really working to come home. The next week, she seems completely unmotivated. She’s been out of the house since sometime in February, I think. We thought going to Yosemite for her birthday would motivate her, and it seemed to for about two weeks. My sister and I are getting tired of the delays, and they all seem centered on Mom.


I finished the Economix book. I really wasn’t too surprised by much in the final chapters. I’ve lived through them.

I still recommend the book to anyone interested in how our economy got as messed up as it is.


I otherwise haven’t done much of anything creative lately. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I’ve been doing with my evenings that aren’t Thursday through Saturday. Sometime in the last two weeks, I watched Arrival, which was a pretty amazing movie. I reread the Killraven comic book mini-series of a few years ago, written and illustrated by Alan Davis. There are some ideas within that series that have inspired some of my ideas in StarSea. That’s all I can remember right now, even looking at a calendar.


That’s pretty much it for this fortnight. Later.

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Thursday Nights and Super Heroes

It’s been three weeks, so we’ll try it again!


Titansgrave Finale

Last Thursday, we finished Titansgrave. The final battle was short and went pretty much as expected: No one ever considers not killing the bad guy. I think everyone was happy with the play, but not that we won’t be continuing until the second season comes out. I came to the conclusion that the world isn’t quite my thing. I don’t want to create my own adventures in the setting. I want my own world.


Next Thursday Game: Dragon Age Tabletop

One of the guys at our Thursday night game has run the Dragon Age tabletop game, and since it uses the same rules as Fantasy Age, we’re going to play that next. I’ve been researching the setting to find a character concept, and I think I have a couple of ideas. We’re doing character creation this Thursday, and we’ll see what shakes out.


Next as GM: Numenera Starter

We’re going to rotate games and GMs for a while, which we pretty much decided after the 4e campaign ended. When my turn comes around again, I’m planning on running the adventure in the above mentioned starter set. Monte Cook Games used the “glimmer” adventure Vortex for the set, so if that runs short, I can dig out the PDF and run the rest.

We’ve discussed doing a “Western Marches” style game as well. I’m only sorta interested, but a recent video made mention of using Microscope and Kingdom to create some of the setting elements. I had Microscope and I’ve picked up Kingdom, but I haven’t read Kingdom yet. We might end up doing sessions of those as well at some point.


Superheroes Redesign 

Once the toy I mentioned a few weeks got under my skin and inspired me to revisit an old Champions character, the big got into my head to collect more of the figures and repaint them to fit the characters.

Yeah, characters.

As I got to thinking about my old Champions characters, I felt that one of the other characters I played way back in the late 80s and early 90s had more stories to tell, and he fit well with where I can see Knyte going. His name was Dr. Power, and he was a Superman rip off for the most part. Thing is, I can’t find either character’s (or any of the characters’) sheets or histories. That may be a good thing, because I feel that I can play with the characters without stepping on the GM’s toes. The portions of the characters he created aren’t part of my records any more, or my memory, so I’ll have to recreate those details.

Sadly, in searching for those character sheets, I found that a box of game books that I had just recently reboxed (as they were in a cardboard box that was falling apart) had been placed just right to end up not sealed as tight as I expected and got waterlogged in the recent rains. Many of the books will have to be trashed, but only some will be replaced. The damaged books are largely just not things I’m especially interested in any more. It’s time to let go.


Random thoughts about StarSea and the Reincarnated

I’ve had the odd thought here and there about both settings. For the StarSea, the distance is making me feel I was thinking too scientifically about the setting and it’s trappings. Some of my ideas weren’t “sufficiently advanced magic.”

With the Reincarnated setting, I had some thoughts about the elves and gnobblins, how they relate to one another, and how the elves relate to one another. Not that this has any relevance to gameplay, but it’s an enjoyable experience that keeps the world interesting.


That’s pretty much all I’ve got for this go-’round.

Later.

NaBloPoMo 2016-16

Had the day off, but spent it catching up on email. I’ve developed a bad habit of checking it only about once a week, and a couple of boxes had a couple of weeks.

Did some job browsing, too. Chewed up a lot of time looking at jobs I was under qualified for.

Squeezed in reading a couple of blog posts of someone out there building a variation on the Star Wars setting that seemed similar to the StarSea kinda of track, but had links to a couple of Rob Donahue posts, rich are always enlightening.

That’s it for today. Later.

Catching Up

I had meant to post last week, but I got distracted, as usual. I’ve got some downtime while I ride around for work, so I’m using the WordPress mobile app on my phone to compose this post.


Mom, Infection, Palliative Care

Part of last week’s distraction was another trip to the hospital for Mom. Another UTI had her blood sugar dropping through the floor. She went in last Tuesday and should be home today. (She did, and the first night was rough, as she’s got some sores on her bottom and her special mechanical lifting chair broke at bedtime. No one got good sleep here last night.)

The biggest bit of news out of this visit was her doctor at the hospital suggesting Palliative Care. Apparently, the doctor flat out told my sister that Mom is dying. Very slowly, but dying all the same. This isn’t really news. Mom is in Stage 4 renal failure, and is not a good candidate for transplant. That’s pretty much a death sentence in 5 to 10 years. Palliative care is for chronic diseases, kind of like pre-hospice. And it’s meant to help the family as well, which would be a good thing for us. We’ll see how things progress from here.


Job Testing

I applied for a couple of different jobs recently that required online tests. These were the sorts that they claim have “no right answers.” I have since learned that’s a lie. The tests are those things that are like college aptitude tests: “Do you agree or disagree that you never lie?” “Do you agree or disagree that you like dealing with angry customers?” And one employer quite plainly told me I’d failed a test “with no wrong answers.”

From what I’ve learned, these are make-or-break tests. Managers have lost skilled workers because someone somewhere decided that these “character tests” are more important than having skilled workers.

I’m not a super enthusiastic, cheerleader sort of person, which these tests seem to screen for. I’m pretty middle-of-the-road when answering these questions. I hate that I can’t be myself in order to even get an interview.


Notepads Instead of Blogging

On to gaming…

I’ve been noticing that I write down a lot of things in my notepads that would make good blog entries. Sadly, they never get transposed to digital format. I need to keep this in mind next month for NaBloPoMo. Not using the notepads and instead using the apps might make daily posts easier.


Adventurers! Revised

The creators of Adventurers! currently have a Kickstarter going for a revised version of the game. I won’t be participating as my bank will not handle international currency. However, they have made the core rules available at the KS website. I’ve downloaded those rules and read them, and I’m going to continue to work with my new system.

While there are some nice improvements to the system, my two most important issues were only partially addressed. Shields still don’t activate often enough (on doubles, which is 1:6), although it’s easier to get Advantage while using the shield, which helps but is still too uncommon (only 4:9). And greatswords are still super weapons. I have my own plans to deal with these in my system.


Critical Hit World Building and My Worlds

In listening to this week’s Critical Hit, I was fascinated by the story of the spread of civilization and the place of Aasimars, Rakshasas and Daevas in the DM’s world. It made me think of where I’m going with both The StarSea and the Reincarnated worlds, and how I feel I’ve lost some of the focus of both. As Reincarnated is fresh in my mind, I feel I need to remember that it should have a certain “fairy tale” aspect to it that is present in the Corum novels. The StarSea should be somewhere between Star Wars, Spelljammer and Exalted’s First Age, with a sprinkling of Thor: The Dark World, as well as other of Marvel Comic’s cosmic stuff. I’m letting my desire for verisimilitude overwhelm my vision in both cases. I need to balance feel, mood and theme with need for grounding.


Digging up old adventures

A couple of weeks ago, I joked with my Thursday night gang that I’d like to see how they would deal with Moldvay Basic D&D. That spurred me to go out to my storage and try to find it. I failed to do that, but I managed to find some old adventures I’ve wanted to have handy for play tests.

One is T1 – The Village of Homlett, which is the lead-in to Temple of Elemental Evil. I don’t have that adventure, but T1 is a nice intro adventure with a base of operations for the PCs. It should be easy to convert the adventure to other systems, whether my own or Moldvay Basic.

The other is L1 – The Secret of Bone Hill. Like T1, L1 is an excellent beginner adventure, with a town and a couple of excellent quests, including the titular Bone Hill. There is a lot of easily adaptable material in both adventures. TSR could fit quite a lot in 32 pages.

AnyDice, probabilities and my system

I’ve been doing some research on dice and probability while tinkering with A! Eventually, I stumbled across AnyDice.com again. I know I’ve seen it before, but I’d forgotten about it.

AnyDice has immediately proven invaluable. I was able to get statistics on how Advantage (3d6, keep 2 best) and Disadvantage (3d6, keep 2 worst) would play out in a 2d6 system. And with that knowledge, I think I’m beginning to a handle on how to figure out threats and make everything else in the system work.

Right now, I’m weighing numbers in my mind, and I’m going to be comparing them to the probabilities that AnyDice is providing me, and see what shakes loose. The system will have a certain Cypher like mechanical feeling, but I think it will be just a little easier.

I feel that I’m running out of steam at this point, and that it’s time to wrap this piece up.

Later.

Feeling Creative Again

Last post needed to include a couple of events that I neglected. Well, one that I can remember right at the moment. The Smalls and I went out and saw Captain America: Civil War, which as has been commented elsewhere was basically the unannounced Avengers 2.5 movie. That’s not a bad thing, nor can I think of any connection to gaming, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Probably because that’s the point I felt this current creative streak started.

I also watched Pacific Rim. It had some neat ideas, particularly the explanation as to why the mechs/”jagers” required two pilots. However, it also had impossibeasts. While that’s part of anime, I really find them frustrating in all the artwork I see on Pinterest. To define “impossibeast,” I mean those impossibly large monsters that are most kaiju, as well as many large dragons in artwork. Get much bigger than a dinosaur like an apatosaurus, and their ability to move, much less consume enough calories to get the nerve impulse down a foot of tissue, becomes impossible. My mind has a lot of trouble suspending disbelief when encountering those crazy things.

That influences my thinking on creatures in my settings. So, the StarSea will have no creatures larger than a dinosaur, nor will the Reincarnated setting. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s something I want to keep track of. Of course, since I dislike the idea so much, I doubt I need the reminder, but it is part of my personal mission statement.

I actually did the analysis of the Dungeon World system last weekend. I ended up with about 4 pages of condensed notes, and those got me going on ideas for the StarSea. Mostly, I was considering ideas for how to work Corruption with the DW system (and likely, by extension, any Apocalypse World-based ruleset. I just need to figure out some of the details, but the idea that there are some actions/moves anyone can take, I was able to cobble together a basic idea.

In regards to the Reincarnated setting, I did come to the conclusion that I’m going to want to add in alternate realities. That’s part of the Corum books and part of Age of Sigmar, both major inspirations for the setting (there’s even a bit of that in the Forgotten Realms where the Salvatore book I got the initial idea from). I haven’t much planned anything yet, but I think it’s a necessity. Maybe part of the plotline is to find allies in other worlds, or maybe the other worlds will show the players what will happen if they continue to lose to the Invader Gods.

Anyway, it’s now late and I need to get up in the morning, and I need to get the house shut down, so that’s all I’ll report.

Later.

More of the Same.

Continuing certain themes from last time….

Mom is still not home, but she’s no longer in the hospital either. Thursday, we got her to a physical rehabilitation center, so she can recover her strength and the use of her leg. Hospitals suck in many respects, but especially in the respect that they keep you sitting in a bed your entire visit. When you’re old, like my mother, that’s bad. In the course of her last visit, her left leg has become stiff, especially one of the muscles in the thigh. She’s can’t get up and move easily right now.

She’s pissed that she couldn’t come home, and my sister and I aren’t very happy either. We’d like to have Mom home, but if she can’t move around by herself, we would have to be around with her all the time. So, PT it is.


In more pleasant news, I started re-reading Kobold’s Guide to World Building. I read it a couple of years ago when I was in the middle of working on the StarSea. As I started reading, I realized a number of mistakes I was making with the StarSea, such as trying to do too much and being too interested in too many details. I really wish I’d re-read it months ago. In fact, at this point, I want a paper copy rather than the electronic version I’ve been working with lately.

I’m working on making notes from it for the Reincarnated setting. The Guide has given me some ideas for filling in some of my details for creating the setting and keeping the creation process rolling.


That’s really all I’ve got worth discussing at this point, so I’m going to call it a night.

Later.

 

Motivations and Multitudes

One of the first things that ran through my mind was an expansion of last week’s ideas. That is, if we’re irrational creatures, why aren’t my NPCs? That is, why do so many of my NPCs, and most other DM/GM/ST’s, allow themselves to be swayed by reasonable arguments? Why don’t they have extreme emotional commitments to their point of view? And I’m not talking about the major villains. Most folks do a pretty good job keeping the Bad Guys bad, and a little crazy. But the merchants and kings and barkeeps tend to be convinced by simple, logical arguments.

I think many of us think the average person is a reasonable human being who will be swayed this way. But the reality is that the average person is motivated by their emotions and shouldn’t necessarily be swayed by logic.

I think, in the future, I’ll make notes on NPCs that include some note on what the NPC won’t compromise or negotiate on, or how they’re irrational. I think it’s something DM/GM/STs need to think about, even if you’re doing improv gaming.


Something else I’ve been thinking about the past couple of days is whether or not I’ve way overcomplicated the StarSea. Do I really need five races? Do I really need four factions of sapients, not to mention the demons, undead, dragons, and giants, the Ür, civilians and the Corrupted versions of same?

There are also questions raised by the way the factions interact with Corruption. Why do the Powerless become various creatures (like orcs and goblins), but the Empowered become something else, based on their faction? There’s a certain illogic to that, and while the answer could be “Pure Freakin’ Magic”, that’s a dissatisfying answer.

I don’t have answers to these question yet. They’re just things starting to creep into my head as I look at storytelling and listen to book reviews on podcasts. I know that some of the most popular RPGs have had a large number of factions (World of Darkness, I’m looking at you), but do I need them for my setting. It might be I want to have them there, but in the background for the time being, to be developed later. Or it might be I want to completely eliminate them. It’s something I’ll continue to be thinking on for a while, I’m sure.

Yeah, so much for a break from the StarSea. 🙂


Well, it’s nearly bedtime, so I need to go.

Later.

 

 

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.

Later.

NaBloPoMo 2015 – Entry 23 – A Wide Field

The other night, I got a freebie sampler of a new setting for Pathfinder called Aethera. It was being Kickstarted until yesterday. I missed the campaign, it closing before I could read the preview.

The Aethera setting is another one like the StarSea: A space opera with a heavy dose of magic. I’m seeing a lot of setting like this coming out recently. Fate has The Aether Sea (a title far too close to my own), Sails Full of Stars, Masters of Umdaar, and The Three Rocketeers (See here). There’s Strange Stars and Baroque Space Opera, which are more Sci-Fi than my setting, but they’re similar. There’s this new Aethera setting and Golm. I’m sure I’ve seen others recently that combine magic with space opera, or have a heavy emphasis on psionic powers or some similar wyrdness.

How will the StarSea standout from the crowd? If I publish this setting, I have to face that fact. It seems that, right now, this idea of magic in space is very popular.

I wonder how much of that is being fueled, however unconsciously, by the upcoming release of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens?

Well, that’s more than I thought I could write tonight. Later.

NaBloPoMo 2015 – Entry 20 – Another quickie. (WooHoo!)

I notice when I don’t spam social media, no one visits. Now I’ll have to add Twitter to my spamming.

Lots of driving today. Back and forth across the north valley part of our territory. Read through some Age of Sigmar novellas.

Thought about magic items in the StarSea thanks to a podcast. Not sure how much I’ll add. How over the top do I want wyrdtech? Communicators, tablet computers, and lightsabers are a given, but is powered armor or gauntlets of ogre power appropriate? I’m not sure.

“Went” to the Monte Cook Games Numenera Online Party as a Kickstarter reward. Kinda cool, but the Periscope app acted up and started to refuse me the ability to chat. And the time-scrubbing function kept setting me back to the same point in time, as did my attempts to relaunch the app to get the chat function working again.

Kinda done for tonight. Another night of unquiet brain last night and I am beat right now.

Later.