Roll to Confirm


The Final Word on Jedi (For Now)
January 31, 2014, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, grad school came in like a wrecking ball and I’ve been knee deep in homework and grading, but I’m still filling my Moleskine and my Evernote with ideas.

I’ve settled on what I want to do with Jedi for now. I’m going to keep it random. Every level, including first, every character that wishes can choose a number from 1-100 which will be written on the character sheet. Every level, including first, every character that wishes may roll a d100. If any of their numbers comes up, they will experience a Force Awakening and gain two force powers, one random and one selected by the player. Additionally, at any level a character may sacrifice up to 5 Luck to choose 5 more numbers. These numbers, however, only apply to the roll at this level.

Example: Mal Ratto is a level 5 Specialist and has chosen the numbers 17, 26, 36, 85, 90. He rolls a d100 and gets a 44. He has not “unlocked” force sensitivity for this level. At 6th level he chooses the number 8 and also elects to spend 4 Luck points to choose the numbers 19, 34, 71 and 86. Mal now has a one in ten chance of having a Force Awakening.

I’ll admit, I’m still worried that the numbers are too small for the game but I’m very happy with how they work for Star Wars.

P.S. If I wasn’t so skeptical about Bennies or FATE points or what-have-you, I’d make it so you can do “heroic acts” or something to get more “picks” on your Force Awakening list.

Oooooh, or let players get “picks” by doing Dark Side stuff too.

So maybe I’m not as settled as I said I was, but it’s how it has to be for the game to work the way I want.



More Thoughts on The Jedi
January 16, 2014, 11:13 am
Filed under: Campaign Brewing, Kingdom Far Away, RPG's, Star Wars

On the last post Fik says:

Sounds like fun, but with only a 1% chance, once per level, doesn’t it seem like it’ll be so rare that almost no one will get the opportunity to experience all of the game play?

Yes, yes it does. And that’s been the sticking point for me. Really, a part of my internal monologue about force-users in this game. I tried to alleviate some of that scarcity by upping the chance every level, and maybe I didn’t make myself clear in that. Every level, your chance to become force-sensitive goes up by 1%. So for every level, you pick another number and then roll a d100. Meaning by 5th level, you have a one in twenty chance of being force-sensitive and by 10th, it’s one in ten. I’m also considering a luck mechanic and allowing players to burn luck points to improve their chances.

But then at that point, why not just give players who really want to be force-users a no fail way to do it? Fik’s more subtle question about people who just want to play a bounty hunter being “forced” to be a force user is valid. I haven’t talked about it, but I’m considering some in world complications for being a force user like being drawn into politics or being recruited/hunted by other factions.

Well my original reasoning was that Jedi are just so darn scarce in the Star Wars universe. That and I really don’t want to DM a campaign where everyone is force users, and even less a campaign where one person is a force user and he/she is way more powerful than everyone else. Or a campaign where it’s all about the force-users hunting for “spells.”

My holy grail here is to have characters who are good at stuff, and also Jedi rather than characters who are just good at being Jedi. Corran Horn versus Qui Gon I guess. It makes more sense to me to have a base class of fighter or specialist and then “bolt on” force-sensitive rather than having either:

1) A force-sensitive class for every style of character like The Old Republic did it
2) Or a force-sensitive class with a million options at character generation so you could be a sword fighter or a healer or whatever

My current rules makes it so you’re still a fighter, but you can do this one extra thing like jump high or read minds. And if you want to pursue it, you can. Maybe some sort of hybrid system that allows you to give something up for a guaranteed force power at character creation. But the thing you give up had better be awesome. And I don’t mean like the paladin having a code that everyone forgets.

If it seems like I’m arguing with Fik, that isn’t the case. I’m arguing with myself, and Fik happens to agree with that part of my brain. It bears some thought.



Thoughts on the Jedi
January 13, 2014, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Campaign Brewing, Kingdom Far Away, Sandbox Campaign

Of course, the very first question one would ask, when confronted with a Medieval Star Wars (Land Wars?) game is “will there be Jedi?”

The short answer is “yes, of course.” The long answer is a bit more nuanced.

Scarcity

My first impulse when converting Star Wars to D&D was to call Wizards/Sorcerors Jedi and be done with it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would take the game in a direction I didn’t want to go. I fear that if Jedi was a class one could pick at the beginning of the game, unless it were balanced precisely, it would be the default for most players. Why would you be a fighter when you could be a Jedi fighter? And I fear that those who don’t pick Jedi would be less effective, or even less invested, in the game. Basically, the general perception is that the Jedi are the ones in charge and the most powerful and everyone else can just follow in their wake.

That, of course, isn’t actually the case in the original trilogy but it seems to be the general consensus. I also want the force to be mysterious. No midichlorians in this game! This is a low magic, high tech sort of setting. And considered in the scope of the whole galaxy, there aren’t that many force users out there.

I want the path of a force-user in my game to be that of Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. Luke was rather older when he became aware of his power. He sought training from Master Yoda. He grew in power. He still relied on mundane methods of fighting and problem solving. In the Extended Universe he again sought training from the Emperor Reborn and ended up falling to the dark side. He resisted taking on apprentices and when he finally did, some of them fell. Luke’s path was one of experimentation and resistance. Much like the path of your everyday D&D adventurer.

To Become a Jedi

Becoming a force user, then, must be difficult and at least partially random. The current iteration of my rules states that at character creation a player picks a single number between 1 and 100. A percentile die is rolled every level the character obtains, including first, and if that number comes up the player has “unlocked” force sensitivity for that character.

But you’re not done yet! When you become force sensitive, and at every level, you get to pick a force power and one is randomly selected for you from the three schools: Control, Sense and Alter. To gain more powers you must seek them out. Force powers can be discovered through holocrons, scattered in the deep places of the world. Perhaps you seek wisdom in the force through practice and meditation (and I have yet to develop rules for “spell research.”) You may also seek a master. But finding a master has it’s own set of difficulties. You have to follow their rules now and you’ve chosen a side.

Force Sensitive Factions

So there have to be Jedi and Sith but in the Extended Universe there are other groups of force users out there. The witches of Dathomir, the Aing-Ti Monks and the Grey Jedi are all out there and seeking one or more of these communities could make an adventure all of it’s own.

This game will rely heavily on a factions system that I’m developing. Each faction will have it’s own rules and affiliations and will come with perks that will develop much like prestige classes.

Using the Force

My current plan is to use a modified version of this spell dice system from Brendan at Necropraxis.



A long time ago, in a kingdom far, far away…
January 10, 2014, 11:25 am
Filed under: Campaign Brewing, Dungeons and Dragons, Kingdom Far Away, RPG's

So, last post I talked about the campaign settings I’ve written and DM’d. I’d like to think I’ve matured as a Dungeon Master and as a campaign setting writer and I’ve decided it’s time to tackle a “big idea” and to make a setting that is uniquely mine.

My weak point has always been with the lore of a setting world. I’m good at coming up with encounters, plot hooks, NPC’s and the like. My struggle has always been with “what’s the history of this place?” So I’ve decided to co-opt a setting with history and places and make it my own.

I’m taking Star Wars and turning it into a medieval setting.

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Instead of Dwarvs and Orcs and Halflings, we have Mon Calamari, Bothans and Wookies.

Instead of the Corellian system we have the Kingdom of Corellia.

Instead of blasters and vibroswords, we have crossbows and…well, real swords.

Planets become cities, systems become kingdoms, the galaxy becomes one big world.

The idea here is to use the Star Wars setting but reinterpret it into a generic fantasy setting. I’ve found I have to do a lot of rules tweaking to get it to work the way I want, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far. So, the next series of posts is going to be all the building of this new campaign. I haven’t decided what to call it, but for now I’m tagging all the posts with the “Kingdom Far Away”category.



My First Time
January 8, 2014, 11:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The first time I DM’d I was just out of college. I started playing D&D in college using the 3.5 rules. I was, as most people, hooked immediately. We played every week in my DM’s homebrew campaigns and we changed games every semester and sometimes multiple times during the semester. My first character was a human favored-soul named Chocho San (because of the Weezer song.)

Ok, that’s my history as a player, I’ll move on. So the summer I graduated I talked all my homer friends into playing with me. I made up this introductory encounter where all the PC’s were prisoners of a king and they were brought in and the king was poisoned and there was a passage behind the king’s throne where they could escape and…it was awful. If they hadn’t just gone through the secret passage, I would have had literally nothing for them to do.

The rest of that year is a little foggy for me. I think we played a couple more sessions but as usual everyone was busy and there were varying levels of interest and it just petered out. But a couple of the guys ended up getting really into it and we played quite a bit. I think they got really into story games after they moved away and I know they were much more interested in the story than the “rules” or things making sense.

That fall I got a job and one of the guys that was hired right after me was a D&D player and he had gotten his group, who had been playing since 1st edition, to try this new game called Pathfinder. I joined them in the spring playing a halfling bard and got really into Pathfinder. I played with those guys for quite a while and ended up sharing the DM’s chair some. I DM’d a lot of games off the top of my head and I began to realize that having a setting was advantageous over using pre-prepped modules because if you didn’t know the answer, you knew enough about the world to make one up.

This post is getting kind of long and since I think I’m probably the only person really interested in my gaming history, I’m going to list the campaigns I’ve written and give a short summary.

Weights and Measures live game, set in the capital city of Ashmont. The central theme was that in the government seats on the high council were auctioned off every year and if you had the gold, you could have the power. The idea was to grow a campaign all the way to high level with intrigue and stuff. It lasted maybe 10 sessions.

Chaos Rift The central theme was a demon had attacked the world and when he was smitten, his ruin opened a deep rift in the world where monsters came out and adventurers made their living hunting minerals and gems and killing monsters. Lasted a year or so with multiple players.

Lights of Dawn My first attempt at an online campaign with my ex-WoW friends. This idea came from Chris Perkins’ “points of light” explanation on the Penny Arcade podcast. The players started in a little town and were adventuring to rid the world of a blight. Lasted 6 months or so, but we only got through one combat before jobs and life took over.

Heart of the Mountain A one-shot campaign I wrote to play with those same ex-WoW friends came to my state for a visit. It was set in a steam-punk-ish world at the top of a dwarf mountain. This was a really cool campaign and part of me wishes the players hadn’t spent most of their time on side quests so they could have found out what was actually happening. I’ve kept it a secret for years now and I wonder if it’s about time I go ahead and publish that.

The Chronicles of Ashmont I cannibalize my own stuff quite a bit so the Kingdom of Ashmont was cribbed from my old Weights and Measures. I’ve been running two parties (actually three parties, but one is made up of some of the same people in a different part of the world) in Ashmont for a couple of years now. The home team is up to 5-6th level and the online group has just taken a break so another person can take a shot at DM’ing. Ashmont is a relatively generic D&D setting with the regular orcs and stuff. After the steampunk and a break with Star Wars d20, I wanted to get back to my fantasy roots.

So that’s that. I’m surprised by how much I’ve run and I’m also surprised at the relatively short time most of those lasted. I think it’s mostly due to my player’s being grown-ups and having other things like kids and jobs and mortgages to deal with.

Next post, I’ll talk about my new campaign setting project!



Previous Campaigns Introduction
January 7, 2014, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It has occurred to me that, since I’m a terrible blogger, I haven’t actually posted all the campaigns I’ve run. Nor have I posted much of my history as a DM at all. I intend to correct that oversight in the next few days.

This all stems from the new campaign I’m brewing at the moment. A campaign setting I’m very excited about.



A Shift in Perspective
January 5, 2014, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m still working on the little ruleset-some might call it a “fantasy heartbreaker”- I started posting about last…wow, last September, but it has taken a backseat to a new project! A campaign setting with quite a few tweaks and houserules.

Just dropping a quick line to update and let you know to be watching for a new series of posts about what I’m working on, and why.