Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back To School Game Mod

No, I'm not talking about the Old School Movement in the D&D blogosphere. Some of my most popular games have been Marvel Supers set in school a la New Mutants.

Even though I don't have a time slot for another campaign, while reading a comic (Pixie Strikes Back) I had an idea for a campaign. The jist of it was that the characters would start off as "normal high school students". Anyone that has played in my campaigns know there would be very little "normal", and the high school setting is just the launch pad for the campaign.

My question was, how to render characters in my version of the MSHAG engine in a way that would keep things simple, but would lend itself to complication once the the game got off the launch pad?

I hit on the idea of using cliches in place of skills. A little brainstorming and I came up with enough cliches to cover the bases. Below is an excerpt from the draft.

Of course, like all high school students, you fit not-so-neatly into the nine clichés. Odds are you are a mix of multiple clichés… being all one would just be too cliché. For example a hard-case goth might be half Hood, half Weirdo. The same combination could also be a D&D nerd that knows how to use a sword.

Artist – you’re a creative type. What you create could be traditional art such as painting, drawing, or sculpting, or you could be a writer or composer.

Brain – you’re one of the kids that throws the grading curve. You take may take honor classes, be prepping for college, or just be a brainiac. Of course, while you may be book smart, there is a difference between knowing and applying.

Dramatic – you’re likely involved in theater, band and/or choir. Dramatics are good at entertaining and can be good at fooling people.

Gearhead – if it has a motor, you can fix it and/or drive it. You’re probably at home in shop class and are more likely than most to have your own wheels. It may not look like much, but you can keep it purring. Okay, maybe rumbling.

Geek – technology is your friend. It maybe your only friend, not counting those 127 on Facebook. You may not have the highest grades, but you do have the highest level paladin in WarQuest Online.

Hood – most other kids think you’re scary. Rumor is that you have a knife and know where to buy fake hall passes. Grades don’t matter, just as long as you can dodge detention.

Jock – being an athlete has its perks. You’re the least likely to be bullied because you roam in physically fit packs and all that sports training helps in scuffle… as long as there are no hoods with switchblade.

Popular – through a combination of looks, money, and personality you are high school royalty. Even if they won’t admit it, the other students want to be you, or at least invited to your parties.

Weirdo – voted most likely to get stuffed in a locker, you know stuff, stuff they don’t teach in school. What you don’t know is how to fit in. Basement dwellers, teen witches, and that odd guy who stands in the corner talking to himself all fall into this cliché.


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Whedon News

The big one (don't know how I missed it) is that Dr. Horrible 2 looks to be a feature film!

Color me surprised. And I still think it should be something like DH2 - The Bride of Horrible in which Billy resurrects Penny and Frankensteinish hilarity ensues. NPH's mention of Felicia Day certainly hints at something like this.

I also found an article about a Firefly anthology by writers from the original show.

Sigh... another book for the list.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

D&D A Deal-breaker?

We know the jokes about male gamers being "romantically challenged". Evidently there is a book out that includes playing D&D being one of 311 things men do that ensures they won't date or have sex.


The article at The Escapist pretty much sums it up.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

French Steampunk Mummy Dino Movie

I wish I spoke French, but this looks like a cross between the Mummy and Jurassic Park set in a steampunky France.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Futility Of Wal-Mart Boycotts

There's another scandal for the evil empire in the news, complete with people getting all self-righteous and worked up and threatening boycotts. And even though Wal-Mart is being apologetic, they aren't losing any sleep.

No call for a boycott has ever had a significant effect Wal-Mart's results. There's two main reasons, according to this article.

The first is that Wal-Mart is too big. Even if somehow a pissed off group managed to deter $1 billion dollars worth of sales, that would have as big an impact as me making $2 less a paycheck.

The second is that no group can manage to wean enough people off Wal-Mart's low prices, especially not now with the rocky economy. Most people don't care enough about some vague and distant wrong (in their eyes) to pony up an extra chunk of change at the check-out line.

Now as much as it pains me to admit it, the latest flap involving the racial remark over Wal-Mart's PA system in New Jersey really isn't their fault. I really doubt the Emperor told his dark minions "hey let's make a racially charged statement in a random store to piss off a bunch of customers and draw bad publicity."

It was either a customer, or in my opinion more likely an ex-employee. All of those people coming out of the woodwork with indignation are just looking for an excuse, and since no one cares if Joe Asshole gets called to the mat for being a racist but all the networks will cover it if the nation's largest company does, they are talking about Wal-Mart instead of the clown that did the deed.

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Alexandria Codex - Want

This piece of furniture makes me wish I'd gone with a bigger house. By the same folks with those fancy (and uber-expensive) gaming tables at GenCon.

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IU Prof Gives XP Instead Of Grades

Why couldn't this guy have been one of my professors? Ceck out the actual article here.

Not only does he use an xp system, giving points for assignments and quizzes, he also has PUG assignments and puts his students in "guilds".

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Hit It With My Axe

This video (posted after the jump) posted on The Escapist has been a popular topic on the RPG blogs. Because it's not just a video of people playing D&D, it's a video of (mostly) porn stars and strippers playing D&D.

Before you get all excited and clicky, there is no porn. Everyone has their clothes on, it's really people playing D&D. We get to see the new player being introduced to making a character and the explanation of the basis of the game, something veterans will find familiar. There's the deliberation as the party debates how to get out of the latest jam (the new player wants to hypnotize the guard, freeze him, then chop him in half).

My favorite line:
[DM] ... and last session you started a drunken brawl, burnt down the inn, and killed a bunch of people...

That practically gave me flashbacks.

The video is not safe for work due to dialogue in a couple of spots, so use headphones.

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Lazer Swords And Thundersabers

Stumbled across an interesting article at The Escapist about the history of the lightsaber and similarities found in myth.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Feats For MicroZ

Note to self - I really need to update lordoz.com so I can actually post the rules for perusal.

Note to reader(s) - MicroZ is inspired by and based on Microlite d20.

Note to blog - don't worry blog, I won't leave you for microblogging like Twitter. I need more than 140 characters.

Any ways, feats. I decided that I still needed some crunch and customization options to differentiate characters a bit more. What I had seen in my a la carte experiments was that players loaded up on feats, both because they provided useful abilities and they had a flat rather than escalating cost.

I had two design decisions to make. How to handle and reign in the gaining of feats, and what kind of mechanics did I want to use for the feats themselves?

The first was simple when I hit on it. Break feats down by Stat association and tie the accumulation of feats directly to the Stat. Want another STR (Strength) feat? Buy up your STR. This limited the number of feats a character could have, meaning I could also keep my feat list small without characters ending up with most of them. But assigning gaining of feats to odd numbers greater than 11, I made to odd Stats actually useful rather than a stepping stone.

As for the feats themselves, in the case of skill-affecting feats I borrowed a page from Star Wars Saga d20 and used feats that gave a reroll under certain conditions or uses of skills. It's also possibly to expend an additional feat to upgrade it to rolling twice and keep the best roll. I just had to make sure not to let it be available for combat (including magic) skills.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

MicroZ - Testing Starting

So I got some positive feedback from my players when I sprung on them converting from 4e a la carte to MicroZ. The downside is that we haven't tested combat yet, they were too busy role-playing, investigating, and rescuing innocents from burning farmhouses to get in a fight. I expect the combat system to get a workout next game session when they catch up to the nefarious brigands that set said farmhouse fire.

At some point I need to clean up my LordOz website and post the MicroZ rules there, but I'm partly waiting to see how things shake out with the recent sale of Microlite d20.

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Clips On Predators Movie Site

So far the buzz has seemed pretty positive. Check out the site for clips and soon the trailer.


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Why Firefly Was Too Awesome To Live

I think that the title pretty much says it all. Why Firefly was too awesome to live does a pretty good job of summing up what was great about Firefly and why The Suits couldn't understand it and Foxed it.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer

In the vein of DaVinci's Notebook's "Title of the Song"...


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Goat Bagpipes

Take a look after the jump.

The Goat Bag Pipes - Watch more Funny Videos


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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Battlestar Galactica MMO?

The news broke during the Game Developer's Conference that a company was putting together a browser-based MMO based on the Battlestar Galactica IP.

As much as I liked BSG (before the end), I just don't see it as an MMO.

Two IPs that beg for an MMO:

Firefly (The Verse Online)

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Felicia Day - Werewolf Hunter

I'd better set the DVR for this one. Felicia Day will play a werewolf hunting descendant of Red Riding Hood in one of SyFy's spins on fairy tales.

That's almost enough awesome to make me forget about their stupid name change. Almost.

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Nerdtastic Blog

And I mean nerdtastic in the best of ways. John Eaves has done a lot of art in sci fi, mostly around various incarnations of Star Trek. He shares samples of his art as well as a trove of other geek gems on Eavesdropping with Johnny. Check it out. I went through every entry today.

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New Iron Man 2 Trailer

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Vader Riding A Cat

"That's not something you see every day... unless you're us."

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Lego Lightsaber Duel

OK, this video is full of win. Bravo.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Gilligan's Island Movie?

I guess it was inevitable, with all of the other tv shows coming back as movies. There's rumor that a Gilligan's Island movie is in the works. So far I've only seen one post about it, but I'm not surprised and I'm sure there will be more news on this contemporary update.

Frankly, I think they'd be better off with a tv series remake.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Micro-ing Weapons

I'm continuing on my adaption of Microlite for my own evil purposes.

Originally I thought that weapons would be a matter of copy and paste, but as I looked at the weapon tables, a couple of things struck me.

The first was that even in Micro form, D&D clung to an esoteric assortment of weapons for what I could best attribute to nostalgia. The original D&D was derived from war-gaming, and that pedigree shows in the variety of weapons. But when was the last time someone used a pick? How about those various flavors of polearm? In the interest of keeping MicroZ micro, I started dropping weapons.

The other thing I noticed was that simplification made certain weapons in each category more desirable than others. Why use a scimitar for d6 when you can use a bastard sword for d10? Why use a dagger for d4 when you can use a shortsword for d6? So I began looking at the weapons in the various categories and tried to balance them. It meant adding a little more detail, but hopefully I'll do so without encumbering the system.

In some cases it meant tweaking damage values... the scimitar, longsword and bastard sword in one hand all do d8. A flail only does d6 but is +2 vs. shields, a shortspear does d6 but can be thrown and a rapier does d6 but subtracts 2 from the DR of armor.

DR of armor? That's another post.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Starting on MicroZ

First to give credit where credit is due, and in case you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, Microlite is a super-condensed form of D&D. Intrigued by the possibilities I've started tinkering with the system.

Two of the big considerations are adopting Microlite for my level-free experiment, and adopting it for my campaign world.

Stats was easy. I'm keeping the three used in the original Microlite design, Strength, Dexterity, and Mind. While I debated on the idea of combining Intelligence, Wisdom/Willpower, and Charisma into the Mind stat or not, I finally squashed my mechanics-hydra by rationalizing that specific aspects of mental abilities are also reflected in skills.

Speaking of skills, level-free construction and the voices in my head required me to beef up the 4 (or 5 for expert) skills used in Microlite. My skill list consists of Athletics, Discipline, Influence, Knowledge, Magic, Melee, Missile, Subterfuge, and Survival. While this may seem to be a bit much for a "micro" system, these skills also replace attack bonuses, caster levels, and armor class (more on that in a later post).

Each class has three class skills, which they start with 2 ranks each. Class skills are less expensive to advance than other skills, but there's no rule to keep a fighter from buying up ranks of Magic. It will be more expensive and he won't have a mage's special abilities for casting, but effectively multi-classing is a matter of investing skill points.

Advancement is easy now (compared to my 4E a la carte). You have class skills, other skills and stats.

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