Interwebs Treasures #17

Working more on Game 4

Today was my morning off. Got up early (6:30am), had coffee and breakfast, chilled, read, and then spent two hours working on Game 4 of CyberTex. I’m doing Scene 1 in 3 parts — 1a thru 1c. These will deal with separate, concurrent events for each of the PCs (two of them together), which all intertwine and bring them back together for another story arc. This was originally planned as a one-shot, but my players seem to be really into the game, so I think I’ll make it another three game arc. Anyway, I wrote up the plot of 1b this morning. I’m writing this game in a more narrative fashion, which I think is helping me immerse myself in the game world to really describe everything more richly — the NPCS, the environment, the potential dialog, etc. Kind of writing it as a “module” specifically for my own PCs.

I’m really happy that my players have taken so well to GURPS. I am certainly no ace with it. I really haven’t delved into the magic system (since this game has no magic), or even more advanced combat. But GURPS really offers the kind of customization that makes for interesting PCs, and a nice toolbox for the GM to pull from.

I’ve got two skateboard contests coming up this summer, which I’m really busy practicing for, but I think when they are done I will try to actually play more.

Interwebs Treasures #16

  • A video from the interwebs – Crit or Miss Special: The Problem with GURPS : not a criticism of GURPS, but a video by a huge fan of GURPS about why he often chooses not to use it. My commentary: I’ve purchased many RPGs over the years. Few have been played more than a few times. D&D. Traveller. Champions (HERO system). GURPS. Those are the systems I’ve used a lot. When I’ve purchased other games that create their own systems for a particular campaign setting, I’ve usually thought the systems sucked, even if the background material was really good. A few exceptions. My friend Bob had this game called Demon: the Fallen, which I looked through and it looked awesome. Technically it was part of the World of Darkness thing, so whatever, maybe it wasn’t entirely it’s own thing. Still, if I see a game system for a cool setting, I think there’s an 80% chance I’d just GURPS it, or use the Hero system.
  • A cool interview with Marc Miller, designer of Traveller.
  • Travellermap.com – mind blown. Zoomable, printable map for Traveller’s Third Imperium setting.
  • Zhodani Base – incredible Traveller site.

Interwebs Treasures #15

As usual, a few cool things from the internet.

Working on a session

Finally getting serious about writing up CyberTex Episode 4. I’ve got this nice notebook and a nice pen, and I’ve spend a lot of time noting ideas for this game, so tonight I started typing it up. I’m doing it, once again, in scenes. This may be a much more free-ranging game. A lot less certainty about what actions the PCs will take, which is fine, it just means I’ll have to be thinking a bit faster. This is intended to be a one-session game. I have some encounter scenarios I can drop in when appropriate. They are flexible that way. I’m working on a contingency tree for the game as well — if they do this, then this, but if they do this, then this other thing, etc etc. I’ve used this before and it helps me guide the game a bit without railroading the players. And finally, I’m working on some interesting NPCs to encounter, as well as weaving the character backgrounds into the game. Will probably throw in a few hooks for future games as well. Fun!

Brainstorming New GURPS Campaigns

As I’ve written before, I think GURPS is best suited for somewhat oddball campaign settings. Honestly, I feel like if one want to run a pretty standard fantasy campaign, D&D is fine. If you want a standard supers game, Hero System/Champions is really good (You can do it with GURPS, but the game mechanic in the Hero System of Stun damage vs. Body damage, makes it uniquely suited to supers.) But if you to do something unique, GURPS is the way to go. I cite Victorian Apocalypse as a great example. This guy came up with a really fun and novel game world, and GURPS is very well-suited to realize it in the game.

I am kind of interested in doing an urban fantasy/magic style game. Not sure exactly where to go with it. I started reading the Dresden Files books this week. I’ll read a few of them. The first one was really quite enjoyable. Coming up with a setting like this, the would allow players to modify some of the classic fantasy archetypes into modern versions might be fun. It might also be easier than cyberpunk to give them a continuing motivation to band together.

Back in the 1990s I read George R.R. Martin’s Wildcards series. It’s kind of a “what if supers existed in the real world” kind of thing. Really fun books. There is a GURPS sourcebook that came out back then for this world. I think I’d be interested in running that kind of supers campaign as well. Honestly, I’m really good with the Hero system, and it would be a lot easier for me to use it, but I think the level of realism in the GURPS system lends itself to a better approximation of this kind of world.

I’m also interested in a science fiction/space campaign, but I’m not sure where to go with it. I could see using some of the old Traveller materials like “the Spinward Marches” as a campaign setting. I’m really not interested in the whole space ship building and combat thing. I think I’d rather have people get around via teleportation or some Doctor Who-ish way. I don’t know. Haven’t thought enough about it.

However, I think that CyberTex is going quite well, so I’ll continue developing that campaign as I experiment with ideas for other game worlds.

 

Homebrew Worlds

Reading the blog for the Victorian Apocalypse campaign has been fun. Honestly, I’ve never had any interest in Steampunk as a genre. It’s always seem like more of a fashion movement. I don’t know if I’d say Victorian Apocalypse is straight-up steampunk, but I do like it. The time line (that link) is really well done. I’m always amazed when people can come up with homebrew settings that seem to well-reasoned, creative, and engaging. My friend Bob does that with his Wuxia games. He’s become very knowledgeable about ancient China, and he’s able to weave that knowledge into his campaign. Being a massive Wuxia fan, familiar with all that genre’s characteristics doesn’t hurt either.

From the time I started gaming, it really never occurred to me to run anything but a homebrew world. We bought dungeon modules, but we always just dropped them into our own campaign worlds and modified them as we saw fit. But being  young kids at the time, we didn’t expend a lot of brain cells considering the histories of our worlds. We just tried to create fun dungeons to explore.

Anyway, back to steampunk and stuff like that. Reading that blog has gotten me thinking a lot about my own cyberpunk world, it’s timeline, etc. I’ve been working on a timeline, and damn, coming up with something that doesn’t seem stupid is not easy. There’s some retconning that needs to be done too. There are some technologies that the cyberpunk literature seems not to have fully anticipated. Wireless tech is one of them. The Sprawl Trilogy seems like it largely missed that.  Bladerunner did too. The real game changer is nanotechnology. How far should I let nano go? Because if it goes too far things start getting really weird. Or quantum computing. I may simply have to say that those technologies — nano and quantum – are simply so dangerous to work with that few people are willing to delve into them, and perhaps there’s some super-secret agency that goes around “handling” those problems.

Such are the problems of a person of limited intelligence trying to design a tight homebrew world.

Yesterday I found a copy of GURPS Deadlands: Weird West at a local gaming shop. It’s a very cool setting. I bought it, and read the introductory chapters at lunch. Very well done. I think these kinds of setting books are great. I love seeing how talented writers create a good setting, incorporating real history with all sorts of weirdness and fun. I’ve never wanted to run a full western game. But the notion of weirding it up is really appealing. How about the world of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (already super weird!) with magic and monsters? I like that.

I need another five hours in every day to pursue all this stuff.

First D&D game in many years

I’ve had a standing invitation from members of my GURPS group to join their regularly meeting D&D 5e game for some time. This last week I decided to take them up on it, and joined their group for at least that afternoon. I’d like to play more often. They seem to play about twice a month. I might be able to do once per month. Depends. I have a lot of stuff to do on the weekends, and 6 hours of D&D is a large block of time. Still, I would like to.

I had a great time. I haven’t been involved in D&D since about 1993, when I ran a game for my wife and three others who had never played before. I haven’t played since probably 1984. So it was really enjoyable.

Jeff, our DM, is running the a series of adventures (I still call them “modules”) from the publisher. The group was all at 8th level, so Jeff let me roll up my character at 8th so I wouldn’t just immediately get killed. I rolled up a monk, inspired by the Wuxia RPG campaigns my friend Bob runs. Saturday night I watched this movie to get me in a good frame of mind to play him.

Not being familiar with the new edition, the party, or what exactly was going on in the game, and seeing as how my character is a quiet, thoughtful man, I mostly sat back and let the others do a lot of the decision making. I did however, in-character, remark on the animal-like behavior of some of the underlings the party had with us. Needed to say something judgmental to account for his low charisma score.

So I had a good time.

5e is a fun system. It retains the flavor of D&D while increasing the options for player character class, race, and abilities. Gone are the limitation of class and level based on character race from 1st Edition. It’s a much more open game now, and I think that’s really good. At first glance the player characters seem overpowered, but when you look at the stats and abilities of 5e adversaries you see that game balance is retained.

I’ve owned all the 5e books for a couple of years now, and I have to say they are well-written, well-organized, and very easy to use. My fellow players had some nice playing aids, like spell cards that give quick access to your PCs spellcasting abilities.

One thing I’d kind of forgotten is a what a blood bath a D&D game can be. I wouldn’t characterize this campaign as hack and slash at all, but man, we did a lot of killing. In my GURPS Cyberpunk game, the game centers more on skill use.  Of course, GURPS is a much more lethal system, so it’s harder to stay alive if you fight all the time.

Looking forward to playing again.

Interwebs Treasures #14

It’s been a while since I did an Interwebs Treasures post. So here’s a new one.