Showing posts with label True20. Show all posts
Showing posts with label True20. Show all posts

Friday, December 23, 2016

Blue Rose and True20

Ok, so there are not a lot of products out there for Blue Rose.  There are for True20. Given that True20 required more of a publisher investment for some companies they really took the time to do them right. In other words, I didn't see a bunch of slapped together True20 products to make a quick buck off of an existing d20 product.
While there were/are a lot of good True20 products that will work with Blue Rose, I want to spend some time with the ones for Green Ronin themselves.

True20 Companion
This book follows the form, if not format, of the Blue Rose Companion. In this case the book covers different campaign models.  This includes Fantasy, Horror, Modern, and Sci-Fi.  Each section includes various character paths, skill uses, feats, and powers.
Outside of the True20 mechanics, there is good advice for running the various genres and sub-genres presented. In particular, I enjoyed the Fantasy and Horror sections. The big surprise to me though was the Modern section.  While I did enjoy the Modern d20 rules, I felt it really lacked something. Turns out it wasn't laking, it was over done. Thr True20 Modern is stripped down to just what you need and it is perfect.   I lament not running more Modern True20 games with these rules to be honest.  Of course, you can mix and match. I pretty much add Horror to everything so Horror-Fantasy, Modern-Horror and Sci-Fi-Horror are all things I do and they are all here.
What makes the PDF better than the print book is the ability to print just the sections you want.  True20 is not 100% modular, like say GURPS, but it is pretty close.
For Blue Rose: The ideas presented in the Fantasy genre mention Blue Rose specifically. Other ideas for incorporating other types of Fantasy are also welcome.  Of course I used the Horror chapter most of all.

True20 Bestiary
If I have said it once, I have said it 100 times. There is no such thing as too many monster books.  This is the book you want to fill your games with all sorts of nasty beasties.  The monsters are largely OGL derived and that is 100% fine by me!  As with the d20 rules, True20 monsters are built like characters, so a creature that has certain powers has to be an appropriate level to have them.  It means that monster building on the fly is a bit trickier till you get the hang of it.  But this book provides hundreds of monsters, so that is not an issue really.
The creatures have a fantasy origin, no surprise, given True20's fantasy antecedents. The creatures here though are constrained to fantasy settings though. Dinosaurs and Dragons can attack in downtown Manhattan and vampires work well in every setting just to give a couple of examples.
For Blue Rose: More monsters are good, but add them with care.

True20 Fantasy Paths
Using only the True20 classes of Expert, Adept and Warrior you can create all the standard, or at least the d20 3.x standard, fantasy classes.  Yes, Wizards in the D&D sense are not the same as True20 adepts, but you can get them there if you have this book.  Each class is defined and then progressions from level 1 to 20 are given. Of course, you can stray from the various paths to do your own thing, that a strength of True20, not a weakness.   Also, an added feature of these fully stated out level progressions is that if you need an NPC, say a 3rd level bard or a 15th level cleric, then you have those stats ready to go.  It doubles as a rogues gallery.
For Blue Rose: The rouges gallery is nice, but also following familiar fantasy paths, or converting characters, is now easier than ever.

True20 Adept's Handbook
Adepts come in many shapes and sizes. Sorcerers, pact-bound warlocks, goddess touched witches, divine clerics, psychics, and even more.  This book helps you figure them out and given them form. Various paths are given and all the expected ones are here; necromancers, occult scholar, wizard, voodoo priest and yes there are even witches. In addition to detailing various types of adepts and the genres they appear in, there are plenty of new adept/supernatural powers, skills, and feats.
There is even a section on items.
For Blue Rose: This should be obvious. Adepts are a key part of the heroes and villians of Blue Rose. A book like this will add a lot of options to your game.

Character write-ups
I also did some character write-ups for True20/Blue Rose using the above books over the years.
I also created True Spell Casting. An alternate magic system for True20/Blue Rose.  Itports over Vancian spell-casting to the True20 system.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Blue Rose and the Palace of the Silver Princess

One of the biggest issues I have with Blue Rose is a lack of published adventures. I think if others could have seen the types of games that could have been played it might have done a little better.
One of Blue Rose's strengths though is it's True20 system. It means and adapting other game's adventures is fairly easy to do.

On such adventure that would be good to convert is the classic TSR Basic D&D Adventure Module B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

I do want to use the "Green" cover and not the "Orange" one since the first is more about the rescue of the Princess and discovering what happened to everyone.

Some changes though will need to be made to make it more "Blue Rosey".  Here are my suggestions.
Change:
  • Princess Argenta to Queen Jaellin, early in her rule
  • Ellis the Strong to Captain John Cowan (and new character that I want to set up as the Queen's future lover/chosen/life-bond mate)
  • White Drakes can be kept, but change them a bit to be more like the "Skybolts" of Valdemar.
  • The Protectors (which were annoying) should be changed to a manifestation of the Golden Hart (because this IS a situation where the Hart is needed). 
  • Arik is a trapped Shadowfiend or even a lesser Exarch of Shadow. Not sure if he will be needed, though.
  • The Eye of Arik remains largely the same.  But instead of being found by dwarves it was found by Night People.  More on that.
  • Catharandamus is a Shadow aligned Adept.  Alha is a human Warrior werewolf.  They are both members of the Cult of the Crimson Eye (World of Aldea,p. 21).  They are in their late 20s but fully devoted to Shadow and the Lich King Jarek.
The plot is largely the same with some differences in the setup.

This takes place early in the Queen's rule, say only five years in instead of the ten from the core rules.  Why? I want a younger Queen that is still likely to be tested by her enemies.
Queen Jaelin avoids parties, official or otherwise.  But not tonight. Tonight is the Winter Solistice and the night of the great Yule Ball.  Captain John Cowan is the newly appointed Captain of the Sovereign's guard.  He had been a member of the White Drakes, a mercenary band that fought evil far to the north in the Ice Binder Mountains. He is charismatic, young and has the eye of many of the court's ladies and not to few a number of the gentlemen.  Captain Cowan only has eyes for the Queen.  She thinks he is loud, a braggart, way too promiscuous for her liking, and she is absolutely in love with him.  But to keep him "in his place" he has been named "The Lord of Misrule" over tonight's ball and he dressed in a gaudy outfit similar to that of a court jester.  The queen is dressed like a scullery maid as per the custom and she waits on her guests.  On the throne sits Aggie, a ten-yer old scullery maid. She was chosen, as all Sovereign's are by the Golden Hart.  Only this "Golden Hart" was Captain Cowan dressed in a ridiculous costume with "antlers" of an old tree branch. If the Queen was trying to take the Captain down a peg by making him act the fool, she has lost that gambit. She looks scared but happy as all the nobles bow to pay her homage.  Everyone is happy and making rather merry on this night of Yule.

That is except for you lot.

Aggie may have had the luck of Selene, but you all are the newest members of the Sovereign’s Finest and that means guard duty.  Still the spiced wine is warm and one of the lesser nobles acting as a servant in the Inversion Festival brings you a cup each hour and is not unattractive.  Mostly your job all night has been to make sure guests that have partaken in too much of Athne's favor are seen safely to rooms.  Other guests that have taken, or about to partake, in the favors of Leonoth or Hiathas are also quietly and quickly ushered to rooms of their own.
After ushering one particularly amorous couple off with a many "yes, Season's greetings" and "have a blessed Yule", your small group sees the Golden Hart.  Not the Captain in his fools disguise, but the genuine Golden Hart. And it is rushing towards you at a terrible speed.

The last thing you hear before the screams and terrible explosion is the psychic voice of the Hart ordering you to get down.
That's the start.  The PCs (the poor guards) are given a psychic replay of the events just before.  A group of Night People approach the "Queen" (really Aggie, but they don't know about Inversion Festivals) and present her a gift; a huge ruby.  The girl goes to pick up and at that point Queen Jaelin knows what the ruby actually is. She yells for Aggie to not to touch it.  Captain Cowan rushes the throne, the nobles scream and then the castle explodes with red light.

The Hart ran to the PCs because they were the closest AND since the Hart sees into the future knew they were the ones that could make everything right.  You begin outside of the Castle (where you were thrown) and have to work your way back in.

The cultists Catharandamus and Alha were hiding below and are now using the Eye of Arik as a focal point to a new Shadow Gate for King Jarek.  Of course, the King will deny this in the future.

Why am I using the Golden Hart here?  Simple. I am totally trolling the people that don't like this game. Well...that and the fact that the Hart actually works here and does what it is supposed to do.  Also I hated the Protectors in the original B3 module.   Sorry but even when I was 11 and I bought this new I knew they were dumb.  The Hart is a much better choice.

I am cheating and using Night Folk as Orcs.  The the Night Folk that delivered the Eye of Arik were unknowing dupes.   The ones in the castle are shadow aligned and working with Catharandamus and Alha, brought in by them.

Candella and Duchess are still here. Still theives (Experts), and just because I can they are also caria daunen. They are Twilight aligned, but if they help the party then they will be rewarded by the Queen.

New Monsters
The wave of Shadow Magic turned the guests to stone, trapped the Queen and Captain, and knocked your party out of the castle.  It also is starting to gate in things from the Shadow Realms.

Decapus
Large 4th-level aberration
Initiative +2; Speed 5', Climb 25'
Defense 12 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +1 natural)
Attack +5 melee  (no damage, tentacle), +0 melee (+0 damage, bite);
Qualities: darkvision 60ft; Superior Hearing
Alignment: Twilight
Saves: Tough +3, Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +3
S: 0 D: +2 C: 0 I: -2 W: 0 Ch: -1
Skills: Climb +10, Escape Artist +13, Notice +5, Sneak +11, Swim +9.
Feats: Improved Grab
Arcana: Illusion; visual illusion 20ft. Radius, range 60ft.

Combat Special
Rend: 3 tentacle hits target is grappled next turn and suffers lethal damage from bite. Only one target can be attacked per round this way.
Multi-attack; 9 tentacle attacks, 3 per target.

My numbers might be way off, have to play this to be sure.

For this conversion, I also grabbed the Classic Modules Today conversion of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

PWWO: Blue Rose

Continuing my deep dive of Blue Rose, it's systems and world I want to see how well it Plays Well With Others.  I think for the sake of argument I refer to Blue Rose when I mean the campaign world and True20 when I mean the system.


Blue Rose and d20
I am mentioning this one just to get it out of the way.  Yes, you can mix and match Blue Rose/True20 with just about any d20 system.  I have done this in the past but I feel something unique is lost. Much like the Borg assimilating other cultures to where their individualism is lost, d20 sucks up other games and makes them a pale imitation of D&D. Or at least D&D 3rd Edition.  This is a real valuable lesson though. For something to work for my PWWO posts the uniqueness of both games, systems, books, whatever need to be retained.  The d20 conversion appendix in the back of the Blue Rose core book helps a lot and it also guides how other d20-based/derived games can be converted.  Just remember that "conversion" isn't the only thing I am looking for here.

Blue Rose and Ravenloft
Ahh.  My original Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Also what could be one of the first, in spirit, PWWO style posts I have made here.  Ravenloft was one of my favorite game worlds for 2nd Ed D&D. Heck it was my only game world for 2nd Ed.  The then new 3rd Ed Ravenloft was great, but left me underwhelmed.  Mixing in Blue Rose to the Ravenloft world gave me something new. Not totally new mind you, but new enough to highlight what made both games really shine. The darkness of Ravenloft made the brightness of Blue Rose even brighter and visa versa.
You can read more about my Black Rose exploits in these posts and here, Count Strahd Von Zarovich for Blue Rose / True20.
In this case, I want to convert everything Ravenloft to Blue Rose/True20.



Blue Rose + Ravenloft + Cults of Chaos
Ok, so what do you get when you combine Blue Roses, Black Roses, Red Roses and White Roses?  Well...a lot of thorns to be sure, but also something pretty cool.  Combining Blue Rose and Ravenloft is a given.  Since Ravenloft is, more less more "Gothic Earth" than "Gothic Greyhawk" it makes a good catalyst to add other Earth-like games. Cults of Chaos is part of +Kasimir Urbanski's Dark Albion world taking place during England's War of the Roses. Let's take my Black Rose idea and extend it to outright war between the Queen and Lord Savin.  Plus the Cults of Chaos are really not all that different that the Shadow Cults of Blue Rose. Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos goes into far more detail into the cults (naturally) which can add some more ideas for the cults in Blue Rose.  Indeed, England, the "mythical land ... of Roses" can share a lot with the World of Aldea. Aldis is, despite everything else, a mythical version of Western Europe. And let's be honest, a world where a Golden Hart can decide the ruler of one country can have a giant frog as the ruler of another.
In truth Cults of Chaos and Blue Rose have a lot in common.



Blue Rose and D&D 5
A lot of what Blue Rose/True20 did was revolutionary. A lot of D&D5 is evolutionary.  Both games though can be brought together to build something that is truly fun.
Character creation in D&D 5 is not all that different than D&D 1 when it gets right down to it.  I say keep the general rules for D&D 5 but adapt some of the Blue Rose True20 ideas. For starters, use Blue Rose's Callings to replace Backgrounds.  Sure there can still be an element of Background to this, but now these Callings of the characters are something that continues on.  A Background in D&D5 is sometimes relegated to the "oh that was what I used to be, but I am a <<insert class>> now."  Which is too bad really.  Callings can, and should influence what a character does all the time.

In this case I want to convert everything over to D&D 5 with plenty of Blue Rose material still intact.
This is going to be the basis for my "Monster Naturalists" game, but I need to figure out how to use Blue Rose's/True20's non-lethal damage track with D&D5 so the monsters can be brought in alive.
+Mark Craddock over at Cross Planes has already made some conversions of various races.
Atlantis: Second Age (OmniSystem)
Atlantis: Second Age by Morrigan Press (now +Khepera Publishing) was/is very interesting update of the old Bard Games "Atlantis" and the “Arcanum” books which were written to be used with "any fantasy role-playing game" but the obvious choice was AD&D.
This game uses the Omni System. It is a bit like True20 and this can be used with True20 with a bit of tinkering.  The differences are largely on of True20 having DCs and the OmniSystem having a table of Successes.   The author of the game mentioned online that he was a little surprised when he saw True20 but it was an obvious case of parallel development.  The natural idea is to keep True20's DCs, but use the Omni Table for Critical successes.
The book is titled “Atlantis, the Second Age” so it is Atlantis, after the Flood. A bit odd, but I’ll go with it. Plenty of information on the world and despite the name you could run it as a pre-flood/pre-sinking Atlantean empire. Tons of new races, spells and magic, all pulled from the old Bard Games books ad updated to the OmniSystem, and naturally True20. Great as a game in it’s own right or as a guide to an antediluvian time for any other game.
Now what exactly does this have to do with Blue Rose? Well the worlds are very different, but not so different that commonalities can't be found.  Atlantis (sunken or not) can most certainly lie to the west of Aldis.  Atlanteans share a certain level of egalitarianism and progressive social awareness with the folk of Aldis as well.  It could be that Atlantis was there all this time but forgotten after the Shadow Wars.  Hesparia (from Atlantis) is almost like Lar'tya (from Blue Rose) turned up to 11.
Atlantis:SA provides a larger world for Aldea and Aldis. Is it a perfect fit? By no means. But it is a fun fit. Atlantis:SA adds a number of races that are not really what Blue Rose is about (Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Hobgoblins) but others such as the Andaman (animal headed humanoids) are close enough to the the "Change Children" of the Valdemar book by Mercedes Lackey that a strong case can be made.  In A:SA they are said to be created by Atlantean Sorcerers. Ok. Or the Sorcerer Kings of BR.  Tritons (A:SA) are jsut another form of Sea Folk (BR).  Skills are largely treated the same way, I would just use Blue Rose's skills myself.  Talents in A:SA are a lot like the Feats in BR/T20.  Many of these Talents can also be used as alternate forms of Arcana.   Callings in A:SA are not exactly the same as Callings in BR. They are however very similar to the Paths introduced in the Blue Rose Companion.
Magic in A:SA is a treasure trove of ideas for any BR game.  While some could properly called Sorcery in BR, others are all together new, like Alchemy and Witchcraft.

If one wanted they could take all the OGC from Blue Rose and what little OGC from Atlantis that is open and create something that would work well with both.  Though that is a lot of work for two effectively dead systems.  Though I still enjoy this Atlantis book.  The new Atlantis book from Khepera Publishing is much more polished, but is further removed from the basic Omni System (now Omega System). Plus the book lacks some of the charm of the earlier books.

Blue Rose & Birthright
Two other games that work well together, and fit the Mercedes Lackey Valdemar feel well, is TSR's Birthright campaign setting for 2nd Ed. AD&D.  Whether you use the countries in BR or the ones in BR (err..that won't work) Birthright, the political intrigue between the rulers is now the main story telling element of the game.  Birthright also has a lot to offer players of Blue Rose in terms of inter- and intra-court affairs.  I would limit the races to Blue Rose ones; Birthright already limits races from the menagerie that was 2nd Ed AD&D.
I will say that this combination really is the ONLY time that the Golden Hart will effect what the characters could or could not do in a game.
Birthright also has that "built in maturity" factor I associate with Blue Rose. That is there is a certain audience that will enjoy playing at this level of social interaction and that audience tends to skew older.  Neither Blue Rose nor Birthright are about killing things and taking their stuff.  Unless of course, you are a king. And the things you kill are armies of other kings.
Makes me want to pull out my old Birthright materials! Have not even cracked them in years.

Consequently, I'd also throw the Basic adventures B11 King's Festival and B12 Queen's Harvest as intro adventures to this mix-up.  Just downplay the combat aspects and change the orcs to humans.
I have one other PWWO that I want to try out, but I am thinking of posting that one by itself tomorrow.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Blue Rose (True20 Edition)

Blue Rose was published in 2005 by Green Ronin.  The book is 224 pages perfect bound soft cover. Color covers and black and white interior art.  Cover art is by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and the book was largely written by Steve Kenson, Jeremy Crawford, Dawn Elliot, and John Snead

I am reviewing my softcover book I bought at Gen Con 2007 and the PDF.
Full Disclosure in Reviewing: I bought these on my own and Green Ronin has no idea I am reviewing a 10+ year old product.

I printed out my PDF in 2008 so I could write on my book.  I am inserting those notes and observations here.  Most of those were written during my “Black Rose” campaign where I mixed elements of Gothic Horror in with my Blue Rose.

What is Blue Rose?
Blue describes itself as a “Romantic Fantasy Role-Playing Game”.  It starts off by telling us what Romantic Fantasy is, at least in this context.  So. Romantic Fantasy. The premise is simple enough really. Instead of the works of Howard, Tolkien, Burroughs and (to some degree) Lovecraft we are going to base this game on the works of Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, and Diane Duane among others all listed on page 13.  This is the Appendix N of Blue Rose. Also. I seriously don’t understand some other arguments brought about Blue Rose and Aldis in light of these books.  I have the feeling that many of the critics of this game just don’t understand, or have read, this genre.  Calling this SJW gaming shows a profound lack of insight to the source material.  Aldis is Valdemar with the serial numbers filed off.

Now let me pause here and it will not be the first time.  If this was 2005 I would feel the need to keep moving, but this is 2016, and a lot has been said about Blue Rose and I am not deaf to that.  So I will add bits like this where needed. This is the first. Since I am giving over to retrospect we can also dispense with the notion of not knowing was True20 is/was.  True 20 and Blue Rose is a very, very stripped down version of the d20 rules.  All the dice rolls have been reduced to a single d20.  Attack? d20.  Cast a spell or use magic? d20.  Sneak into a dungeon to free slaves? d20s all around.  There are no hit points, only a damage track so no rolling for damage.  Other games now do this. Both back then and today.  This makes things move a bit faster in combat and can make combat very, very deadly.  Sure if you are high enough level you might be fine. Unless your combatant is also equally skilled or greater.

Chapter I: World of Aldea
As a campaign world we get a history of the World of Aldea, from the Mythic Age (when the Gods were created) to the Old Kingdom (the “Golden Age” of the world), the Empire of Thrones (or the rise of the evil Sorcerer Kings) to the present age in The Rebirth of Aldis.  The history of the world is given from the creation of the world by the four greater gods and then into the creation of the lesser gods, demons, and mortal races. This history is compelling and does make you feel there is much more that is not written down.  We can come back to this in the supplement book “The World of Aldea”.  I rather liked the Exarchs of Shadow.  It helps solves the age old philosophical question of "From whence comes evil?" It gives a good explanation of how good gods such as these would have created evil beings.

From the new version, but same gods.  I really like this picture, I think I love that art of Maurenna.
This chapter also covers that background of the world, the half a dozen countries/cultures you can encounter.  We have Aldis, the country of the main heroes and the “good” land of the game.  This is one that characters are most likely from.  Jarzon, a theocracy that shares some history with Aldis but is a vaguely evil, or least intolerant, land.  Kern, home of the Lich King Jarek, is a remnant of the old time before the great shadow wars.

Yes. This is the chapter that introduces us to the now infamous Golden Hart.  You know what else it is?  The last time you ever hear about it.  Unless one of the characters is going end up becoming the next Sovereign of Aldis the Golden Hart will have no affect on the characters whatsoever.   I never once cared how the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk or Waterdeep was elected or even who that person was. It has never affected anything in the last 36+ of gaming for me and neither does this.  It’s really no different than the Lady of the Lake.  Claims that the Golden Hart "tramples" on Role-playing also shows that the person complaining never actually read the book, or played the game.

Information is given on Aldis. Aldis is not just the idyllic land that some have depicted it.  It is “enlightened” but there are still internal strife, crime, the odd sorcerer or even a leftover gates from the time before the Sovereigns, and the ever present threats from inside and outside. A number of threats to Aldea are detailed. Various unscrupulous merchants, a very effective criminal organization known as “The Silence”, fallen nobles, bandits, defective shadow gates,  and the remains of various shadow cults.   In a handful of pages we get plenty of ideas for characters to do.

Aldea with Western Europe superimposed over the top. Original file here

Chapter II: Creating Your Hero

Character creation is mechanically a breeze.  Since it is d20 derived nearly everyone knows what to do here.  The big difference is that instead of scores 3 to 18 you have just the bonuses. So -5 to +5.  Everyone starts at 0 and you are given 6 points to divide up.  In more “Cinematic” games I have given out 10 points.  I also prefer players create their characters together.  With backstories that would either augment or complement each other in some way.   In Romantic Fiction we often have a single protagonist that joins up with others and soon new bonds are formed.  Here we start out with potentially a lot of protagonists.  So the dynamic is already slightly different.  Now when I say created together I mean in cooperation with each other; the characters might not know anything about each other and even come from different parts of the world, but the players have a vision for what they want and should work on it together.

Races include human, vata (somewhat like elves), sea folk, Rhydan (intelligent animals), night people (likewise somewhat like half-orcs) and the human Roamers.

Blue Rose/True 20 only has three classes; Adept, Expert and Warrior.  There are no XP advancement tables; characters level up after a set number of adventures.  To borrow from D&D4, you could level up after 10 encounters, but really it is up to the Narrator.
An aside...the Game Master for Blue Rose is called a Narrator. Personally I would prefer to call them “Chroniclers”. Seems to fit the feel of what I want in my games.

This chapter also introduces “Callings”, “Conviction” and “Reputation”.  Callings are the most interesting of all.  Each heroic calling is associated with a Tarot card major arcana.  These are related to the alignment system in Blue Rose (Light, Twilight and Shadow) and to the Natures of the characters which are associated to a tarot minor arcana.  While it can be used purely as a roleplaying device (as I have done) to guide your character. The mechanical aspect in relationship to Conviction.  Conviction is more or less like “Hero Points” or “Drama Points”.  A similar mechanic can be found now in D&D 5 with the “Backgrounds” and “Inspiration” systems.  They are not 100% the same, but one could be used in the place of the other or used to inform the other.   Personally I think it is a damn shame we never got a set of Blue Rose Tarot cards.


Chapter III: Skills
This covers the skills the characters can take.  Again in something that was new in the d20 times, and became more common later on is how Blue Rose does skill ranking.  Skill check = 1d20 + skill rank + ability score + miscellaneous modifiers.  Skills are grouped into Favored Skills (based on class), Trained and untrained skills.  Need new skills? There is a feat for that (next chapter).

Chapter IV: Feats
Like d20, Blue Rose has feats. The feats are your means of customizing your character.  Want to be a classic thief? Taken the Expert class and the right skills and feats. Want to be a Paladin or Ranger, take the Warrior class with various feats.   Unlike D&D the feats do not have ability score minimums. They do have class requirements and some have other feats as requirements.

Chapter V: Arcana
The magic of the Blue Rose world.  Magic is both ubiquitous and mistrusted.  Nearly everyone has some level of magic.  Either they are an Adept or they have a wild talent or two (taken by a feat).  At the same time magic, in particular the form known as Sorcery, is mistrusted due to the wars with the Sorcerer Kings.
Arcana is divided up into a few categories:
  • Animism
  • Healing
  • Meditative
  • Psychic
  • Shaping
  • Visionary
and finally Sorcery.
You can make a number of different sorts of Adepts using the different types of Arcana.  In particular I had a lot of fun making various “Benders” like those seen in Avatar the Last Airbender and Avatar the Legend of Korra.  You can easily make Air, Earth, Fire and Water Benders.  You can even make a “Spirit Bender” which has a lot of potential.  Of course I have made many witches.
This is not Vancian magic. Once you have a magical gift you can use it all you like...until you can’t that is.  There is a fatiguing effect here. Makes magic really feel different than D&D.

Chapter VI: Wealth and Equipment
Since the accumulation of wealth and the killing of things is not as important here there is an abstract wealth system. Instead of gold you have a Wealth score. If you want to buy something less than that, then you can. If it is greater, well you will need to roll for that.  The system is very similar to what was found in d20 Modern.
As expected there are plenty of lists of goods and services. Aldis is a civilized place.  Additionally there are arcane items that can be bought, not a lot mind you, but some.

Chapter VII: Playing the Game
This includes the very typical combat and physical actions found in every game; especially one based on the d20 rules which has D&D in it’s ancestry.  There is good section on social interactions. If run properly a good Blue Rose game will include people that can talk or socialize their way out of problems as much as fight their way out.

Chapter VIII: Narrating Blue Rose
This is the GM’s section.  Again, I much prefer the term “Chronicler” to “Narrator”. “Chronicler” also implies that the characters are doing something worthy of Chronicling.   The chapter has the very pragmatic “Assigning Difficulties” which works well for any d20 derived game, which includes D&D editions 3, 4 and 5.  It covers Blue Rose’s particular form of level advancement.  There are guides for roleplaying situations like Romance and Intrigue. Again, while situated in the Blue Rose and True20 systems, they could be used for any game.  What is particularly useful is the very old-school like table of 100 Adventure ideas.  Need an idea? Roll a d100. Each one of these can be expanded into an adventure. This flies in the face of any notion that Blue Rose is a limited game.  Equally useful is the section on “About Evil” which gives advice on how to handle evil NPCs.  They suggest avoiding using “mustache twirling evil stereotypes” or “evil for evil’s sake” NPCs. Though I will point out that some of their source material does exactly that. They favor a more nuanced approach to evil, reminding the reader that no evil person thinks of themselves as the bad guy.

Chapter IX: Bestiary
There are some familiar names here, but don’t automatically assume you know what these creatures are about.  Griffons for example are given more emphasis and intelligence here than in their D&D counterparts.  This is completely due to how they are treated in the Romantic Fiction novels, in particular the novels of Mercedes Lackey.
Also, unlike the books, there are a lot more creatures here than what I recall reading.  So there are plenty of creatures that can either guide, beguile or challenge the characters.  There are about 70 or so creatures here. Adding more would be easy, really TOO easy to be honest.  Most creatures need have a good reason to be in the game/world. For example there are no Manticores here. You could make a very good reason for them to be there as something like anti-griffon or even a magical race the bred true to fight griffons.  Maybe they were created during the Shadow Wars or even before in the Empire of Thorns. They are rare now since most were killed.

Introductory Adventure: The Curse of Harmony
What it says on the tin. An introductory adventure featuring some of the different aspects of this game.

Appendix: D20 System Conversion
Of course you know I loved this.  The ability to mix and match from d20? Hell yes.  In fact I did just that for my own Blue Rose/Ravenloft mash-up.  I found that it works best to convert to Blue Rose than trying to convert Blue Rose to some d20 system.

And True20
True20 came out after Blue Rose and offered some improvements on the base system. For example Toughness no longer increases with level.  This is a good change.  As my gaming in Blue Rose increased I found I used more and more True20.  In particular anything with a horror, supernatural or magic bend to it.  Plus the True20 system, as published,

Normally at this point I make a case as to why you should buy this book.  I figure most of you have made up your minds about this game long ago.  So instead I am going to say give this game a try.  It is fun. It is different that most of the Murder-Hobo games out there.  Even if you don’t like the game there is the setting. If you don’t like that then there are plenty of mechanics and ideas that can be used in any other game.  If nothing else check out the Quick Start version of the game that Green Ronin still gives out for free.

There is a lot here that could easily be added to a D&D5 game.  Indeed, some of the roleplaying ideas in D&D 5 share at least some history with Blue Rose and True20.  Maybe a D&D5 version of Blue Rose is in order.

Also found on Green Ronin's site:
Next I am going to see what I can do with Blue Rose and it's supplements and some other games.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Retrospective on Blue Rose

Cover for the new AGE version of Blue Rose
Blue Rose was always one of those games I felt people talked more about than played.  I remember running into it at Gen Con in 2007. I had wanted to go over to the Green Ronin booth since I was already enamoured with Mutants & Masterminds and thought Green Ronin seemed like one of those “cool companies”. Like Eden was in in the early 2000s and Cubicle Seven is today.  Green Ronin is still cool, but they are no longer the scrappy little upstart, they are elder statesmen and stateswomen now.

Blue Rose attracted me from the start. The Stephanie Pui-Mun Law art, whom I had known from her days at the Elfwood art website so long ago, was so eye catching and so different than anything else I had ever seen.  The game inside lived up to that art.
I picked up the book and saw the names. Of course I knew who Steve Kenson was (and he was standing just right over there too), I had played M&M and of course had his Witch’s Handbook from GR.  There was also John Snead, who only the most uncouth plebeians didn’t know.  I had worked with John on the Magic Box for the Buffy game and he was a great guy and great writer.  I saw other names that were unknown to me then (not now), but picked it up on the (substantial) merits of the first two authors.   Jeremy Crawford is now one of the people behind 5th edition D&D and he did quite a bit of work on 4th edition D&D as well.

Now I had an idea what “Romantic Fantasy” was.  I had read Diane Duane, Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley, but years ago.  Reading through the rules then I was struck by how much was here that I wanted to work into my own worlds.  By 2007 I was weary of d20 and the True20 of Blue Rose seemed like such a breath of fresh air.  It was almost a Cinematic d20 to me.

I played a few games of Blue Rose.  I ran a few others.  I found that converting some of my old WitchCraft RPG plots to Blue Rose was actually quite easy. For example my “Vacation in Vancouver” under Unisystem became “Vacation beyond the Veil” under True 20/Blue Rose.  The story was essentially the same; gifted individuals were being kidnapped for a demonic sex trade. The problem in both cases was that some of the victims didn’t want to be “rescued”.  It looked into issues of slavery and sentience and what people do for pleasure.  In “WitchCraft” there is a serious horror over tone, but in Blue Rose the horror shifts away from the demon to the victim.  What if a victim is sentient and a slave, but in return lives in a lap of luxury and pleasure. Are they different than the “Companions” of Valdemar or the Blue Rose analogues, the Rhy-Creatures? It became an interesting story to unfold.  When I took a turn as player (because that is something you can do in touchy-feely story telling game) I want to explore this and have my witch (hey...gotta be me) “go native” and go from would be rescuer to something needing rescued.  Sadly like many games and most online chat games we never finished the story arc.

I went back to Blue Rose in 2009/2010 to try again with my “Black Rose” idea.  This was a merging of the Blue Rose and Ravenloft games I detailed a while back.  Now there was a fun game.  Also one that did not see a terminus, but that is fine.   In Blue Rose I felt there were a lot of the same things I liked about Ravenloft.  Emphasis on character development and storytelling, less on combat.  One by nature the other by choice.  In BlueRose/True 20 I saw the answer to a lot of the problems I had with Ravenloft.  Ravenloft as an idea was Gothic Horror stapled onto a fantasy action adventure game.  True 20 at it’s core was systemless.  It was much easier to represent more people with combinations of the Expert, Warrior and Adept classes than the standard D&D ones; or worse the 36 some odd classes we had in the d20 Masque of the Red Death.  For me the match was so good that I have considered to see what bits of both True 20 and Ravenloft are OGC to try it on my own.  I never went that direction, other games have since done it.  Some of the ideas from this game lived on in my current D&D 5 “Come Endless Darkness” game.

Some binders of notes for my various Blue Rose games.
“Kingdom of Rain” was game I ran inspired by Lovecraft.  My attempt to bring a little Innsmouth to the World of Aldea.  It was an intentionally short lived arc dealing with the Sea Folk and how some of them were becoming more like Deep Ones.  I will openly admit I based it more on the 2001 movie Dagon than the story “Shadows of Innsmouth”.  I wanted to continue the game dealing with some winter-related ideas, but I only got one session in.  This was also the first time I used a Wendigo as inspired by August Derleth.

I later went back to Blue Rose after reading the works of Barb and J.C. Hendee and came up with a “prequel” to Black Rose that I called “The Guardians of the White Rose”.  I went back to fertile ground and converted some ideas from a 2001 WitchCraft/Buffy game I was running at the time called “Coming Up Roses”.  The Guardians of the White Rose was the Queen’s special cadre of adepts used to fight the many supernatural threats to Adlis.  Their motif was a White Rose intertwined with a Blue Rose.  There were two characters, Helyg and Bryn, two new adepts.  Helyg had been a scholar in Jarzon and Bryn was raised with the Roamers.  They both were also caria daunen, just to add to the in universe feel.  Only got a little bit into that one, but played it out over a long course.  The lessons learned here? There is a LOT to do in Adlis that doesn’t require any form of “Murder-hoboing”.

More recently I have been going through the newer books of Mercedes Lackey. I picked up a bunch at a local library book sale and managed to Half-Price Book find the ones I was missing.  It has put me in the mood to try out some more Blue Rose.  This time I would feature the Guardians of the White Rose, but they are background.  This would be my monster hunter game.  The non-lethal damage track in BR/T20 makes this mechanically easier.  The idea is that the great Magerium is opening in Adlis. Rare and nearly extinct creatures are going to be brought in for study and give them a place to live.  Ah now if you are at all savvy to the Blue Rose world or many of the books that it is based on you will see a problem with this.  I want to see if my players do too.

I am now coming up on 9 and half years of personally playing Blue Rose. Nearly 10 years and four (or five) different and nearly unrelated campaigns.  I have read the background material and other books that would fit the definition of “Romantic Fantasy”. I think I am in a good place to provide a nice comprehensive review of the game.


Now I am going to be looking at the True20 version of the game, which I am sure is going to be sunsetted in favor of the new AGE version.  Well. When the AGE version comes out I'll have to review that one as well.

So until the new one is out, let's get to it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gaming Weekend

Did a little bit of gaming this weekend. My son got to play some Mongoose Traveller with his other group.  Here at home we started up a new D&D 5 game set in the Skyrim universe that my oldest is going to run.  So far it's a lot of fun. We are hunting down the murderer of the Emporer and have managed to hit level 2 already.

I also got a desire to dust off an older game and give it another go.  It was a lot of fun back in the day and I have been itching to do some more with it.


Should be fun.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 27

Day 27: Favorite idea for merging two games into one

I have had a few to be honest.  In fact they get their own label here, Plays Well With Others.

My favorite though is "Black Rose", my mixing of Blue Rose with Ravenloft.

Here are some of the posts from back then.


It was a lot of fun.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Strahd Von Zarovich for Blue Rose / True20

True20 might be dead, but that's doesn't mean I have to like it.  So to celebrate the new version of Blue Rose AND the start of my month of vampires here at the Other Side.   Here is D&D's first "Vampyre", Strahd as he appears in my Black Rose games.


STRAHD VON ZAROVICH
Type: 15th level Undead (Adept 4/Expert 1/Warrior 9)
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 ft
Abilities: Str +8, Dex +7, Con -, Int +3, Wis +1, Cha +3
Skills: Acrobatics 18 (+25), Bluff 7 (+10), Climb 8 (+16), Concentration 6 (+7), Diplomacy 10 (+13), Disable Device 2 (+5), Disguise 2 (+5), Escape Artist 2 (+9), Gather Info. 7 (+10), Handle Animal 2 (+5), Intimidate 13 (+16), Jump 2 (+10), Languages 5 (+5), Medicine 4 (+5), Notice 2 (+3), Ride 6 (+13), Search 4 (+7), Sense Motive 2 (+3), Sleight of Hand 2 (+9), Stealth 5 (+12), Survival 7 (+8), Swim 0 (+8), Knowledge (History) 2 (+5), Knowledge (Arcane) 2 (+5), Knowledge (Religion) 2 (+5)
Feats: Iron Will, Menacing, Leadership, Armor Training (Heavy), Armor Training (Light), Weapon Training, Armor Training (Heavy), Weapon Training (Long Sword), All-out Attack, Canny Dodge, Attack Focus (Long Sword), Defensive Attack, Diplomatic, Improved Strike, Dedicated, Influential, Fascinate, Uncanny Dodge, Power (Imbue Unlife), Smite Opponent, Greater Attack Focus, Power (Suggestion), Power (Summon Beasts), Power (Corrupting Shadow)
Traits: No Constitution, Dark Vision (60ft), Proficiency (Natural Weapons), Immunity (Mind Influencing Effects), Immunity (Sleep,Poison,Paralysis,Stunning), Immunity (Critical Hits,Fatigue), Immunity (Fortitude Saves), Unhealing, Healed by Harm (Harmed by Heal)
Powers: Imbue Unlife 7 (+10) DC 15, Suggestion 7 (+10) DC 15, Corrupting Shadow 7 (+10) DC 15, Summon Beasts 7 (+10) DC 15
Combat: Unarmed +18, Damage +8 (20/+3), Longsword +18, Damage +11 (19/+3), Defence +18/+19, Initiative +7
Saving Throws: Toughness +7, Fortitude +5, Reflex +11, Will +10

Not too bad I think.  Poor Queen Jaellin isn't going to know what hit her.

The Return of Blue Rose

Green Ronin has announced the return of Blue rose for the AGE system.
http://greenronin.com/blog/2015/03/23/ronin-round-table-blue-rose-returns/

And as you can imagine there are posting of varying degrees of interest.
http://therpgpundit.blogspot.com/2015/03/blue-rose-is-meaningless-until-someone.html
http://towerofthearchmage.blogspot.com/2015/03/blue-rose-review-part-1-again.html
http://spriggans-den.com/?p=1189

I am on the record many times over on the side of liking Blue Rose. I liked the idea, I liked the play and I liked the system.  Sure I ended up doing some very different things with it, but there was something there that I really enjoyed and never quite understood why the masses hated it so.

I have seen some people complaining about this new game and others praising it.

Currently I am in a "discussion" with RPGPundit. His stance is that most people praising it have never played it.  I take something of the contrary position: most people that criticize it have never played it.  We might be the exceptions to each other's claims, but I do stand by mine.

Here are my thoughts.  While I get why they want to use AGE (and it might even be a great fit) I am going to miss True20.

I hope that Green Ronin puts more support into this version of Blue Rose.  There Dragon Age products are very nice, but as a licenced product they can only go so far with it.  Blue Rose gives them a campaign background and a world to play in.

You can still find all the True20 versions of the books on DriveThruRPG


I hope Green Ronin does not pull these.  I still hope against hope that the True20 system will resurge one day.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pacific Rim True20

Ok I am totally getting geeked out over Pacific Rim.  I have loved giant monster movies since I was a little kid.  And unlike some movies, the more I hear about this one the more excited I am to see it.  So are my kids.  Let's be honest that scene in the trailer where the Jaeger beats the Kaiju over the head with a boat? Damn.


This got me thinking about the True20 campaign setting Mecha vs. Kaiju.

It's pretty much Pacific Rim, only done 5 years ago (5 years? holy crap).

Giant mechs aka Jaegers and the pilots vs. Kaiju in True20s simple system.
Anyone that has been a longtime reader here knows of my love of True20.  I would love to see True20 make a comeback, but I am not holding my breath on that one.

On the other hand there is nothing in MvK that could not be adapted for Mutants & Masterminds easily.


I might have to give it a go after this weekend.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Campaigns I'd Like to Run: RPG Blog Carnival for May

I am participating in my very first RPG Blog Carnival.  The topic this month is Campaigns I'd Like to Run, and is being hosted by Lowell Francis over at Age of Ravens.

In truth there is a lot I'd love to run.  But there are some that stick out.

Black Rose
Black Rose is my Ravenloft/Blue Rose mash-up.  I detailed it in a series of posts back in the early days of this blog.  Black Rose takes place in the same world as Blue Rose, but only after it had been pulled into Ravenloft.  I am using more of the 2nd Ed and 3.x versions of Ravenloft, not the 4e revisions. I played the hell out of Ravenloft during the 2nd Ed era.  I loved it, but there were things about it that I wanted to do that didn't quite mesh with the "kill things and take their stuff" mentality of AD&D.  The True20 system, while it still has the same roots, can go a little bit beyond that.  True20 is also quite good for doing horror as I discovered.

Generation HEX/Ordinary World
Both of these campaigns would be in the same world and preferably use the same system(s).  Both come out of my enjoyment of modern supernatural books and TV shows.
GenerationHEX is a game focused on kids in a magical school.  Somewhat like Smallville meets Harry Potter.
Ordinary World is a game about supernatural types trying to live in a world full of humans.  sort like Being Human, but also a bit like Charmed.
Unisystem seems like the logical choice here, but I also considered using a different system each time to get a real feel for the characters.  This would be character focused, not plot focus.
Given the character focus of these games I also wanted to try something different.  I wanted to use a different system for the different eras in the character's life.  So Little Fears for when they are all children, Witch Girls Adventures or Monsterhearts for high school, and then Unisystem or World of Darkness for adulthood.  I would sprinkle in other systems for one shots as needed, like ChillCall of Cthulhu or Mutants and Masterminds.
This is something I tried with Season of the Witch and I liked it.

Greyhawk 3000
This one is D&D in SPAAAAAACE!  I'd mix up D&D 3.x and Star Wars with ideas from Gamma world, Star Frontiers, Planescape and Spelljamer.  Have all the D&D worlds as planets and the planes as something like solar systems.  I'd also use some ideas from Starships & Spacemen and some other games.  A bit of Traveler too cause I like that.
I do want to use the D&D mythology, just advance it to something like Star Trek Next Gen level tech.  I think it would be a blast to be honest.

Those are the ones I'd love to do that I don't see me doing anytime soon.  Have too many games going now.

One though I am very likely to run is my Celtic-theme Fantasy Game.

Éire
This game has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Unisystem, True20, Spellcraft & Swordplay.  I think with the release of the Codex Celtarum I might start adapting it to Castles & Crusades.  This is one I would really like to play and am working on getting it done sometime soon.  While I'd love to play this one with my kids, I would also enjoy a more mature approach.  Not "Adult" per se, but a group that appreciates Irish myth and willing to play in a world like that.

These are the campaigns I'd like to run.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Modern Systems, Part 2

So.

I am burned out on Unisystem.  There are a few very good reasons that I just don't want to get into now, but the bottom line is the same.  I am burned out on it and what to try something else.

Not just play or run, but write about. Maybe even publish somethings for it.

I have had in my mind now for a while the idea that I want a game that would simulate modern supernatural/urban horror, and there are a lot of systems that can do this well, Unisystem at the top of the list really.  But I want to be able to do more with it and have something that I could if I choose, publish stuff for it.  So that rules out many of the systems that would otherwise be fine.
Also I want the focus of the game to change from "killing things and taking their stuff" or even "we are saving the world again, it must be Tuesday".

I am looking for something where people can play supernaturals or normal humans side by side with out too much of an issue.  A goal would be to have it be able to emulate any modern supernatural TV show or book you can think of.  Well, not Harry Potter, that is a different animal completely.

Here are my choices so far.

True20 - I am inordinately fond of this system.  It is easy. It is simple and it gets out of the way while playing.  I am not thrilled with levels, but I have an idea about that.  I have already done a lot of work with True20, both here and in some unpublished material that I can now use.  While it's support is also next to nothing and the fan base is thin, the rules are solid and I can use them thanks to the OGL.  Though one of the issues with True20 is that humans basically start at 1st level and a vampire or werewolf is much higher.  Plus there is no system of Drawback or Complications in True20 (though I have written one).

Fate/Fudge - Another open system with a lot of support.  I am just not overwhelmed with it.  I suppose I could go the route Icons did and use numbers.

ORCS - Jason Vey's system in Spellcraft & Swordplay. Flexible and has many advantages.  I would though end up making it look more like True20 in the end, which is why I put True20 on the list.

Mutants & Masterminds - Now this is an interesting choice.  Nearly everything I need is here.  The system is open and with Superlink I can even do more.  I would need to redo the magic systems a bit to be honest.  4Color/superhero magic and urban fantasy are not really the same.  It has the things I like in True20 and Orcs, plus it has a ton of support.

Savage Worlds - Not a fan of this system, even though it is good and has a ton of support as well.  Again, I'd need to redo the magic system to get it to my liking.

"Power of Three" - you have not heard of this one.  It is a system that I have been poking around with for a couple of years.  The name comes from the three basic abilities all the characters have, Body, Mind and Spirit.   Yeah similar to Tri-Stat, but the mechanics are different.  It is also based on the Charmed game I'd like to write one day.  Of course the system is perfect for what I want to do except for the little problem that it is not done.  It's not even in a playtestable shape yet. So much for that.

The one thing all these games have though is the means to support a lot of mini-campaigns or min-campaign worlds.
Here is what I have in mind. This is not all of them, nor are these even set in stone.

Generation HEX - the most developed of the three mini-worlds. Lower powered, kids in a magic high-school

Ordinary World - Supernatural creatures trying to live in modern suburbia and trying to blend in.  That doesn't always work so well.

Power of Three - My "Charmed/Witches of Eastwick/Rachel Morgan" homage.  Witches saving the world.

Daughters of Death - The children of the old gods are walking the earth again and not all of them have humanities interests in mind.  This includes the stats for the eponymous daughters.

Each world then would have additional rules to support their respective views.  So Gen HEX would need to scaled for magic school high jinks (Jinx High?), Ordinary World would need rules for hiding powers and suggestions for stories to tell.

One thing though, I am going to avoid using Lovecraft/Cthulhu type stories or monsters.  The exact thing that he was trying to do the werewolves, vampires and ghosts of a past age have now been done to his creations.

I'll keep thinking about this.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose for True20

So I have been doing some Tarot posts of late and playing around again with True20 so this should really be a no brainer.  Plus Tarot #66 is now out, so why not.

Now one would expect that her True20 stats should be somewhat similar to her M&M 2nd Ed stats.  But if I build her by the book she ends up a touch weaker.  These are her "by the book stats".  In comparison to her M&M counterpart, this Tarot lives in a more darkly supernatural world, say like that of most modern supernatural novels like The Dresden Files or even the urban fantasy of Kim Harrison.
As typical I am using the Adept's Handbook and the guide to Horror Role-Playing from the True20 Revised book.

I would see her as something like a member of an Occult Guard or a Witch Knight.  Her armor then would be more traditional and ornate, but I would not change the character one bit.

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose

Human
Adept 6 / Warrior 3

Abilities
STR: 0 INT: +1
DEX: +2 WIS: +1
CON: +1 CHA: +3

Combat
Initiative: +2
Defense: +8
Base Attack bonus: +6  (Melee +8, Ranged +8)

Saving Throws
Toughness: +4
Fortitude: +3
Reflex: +5
Will: +8

Virtue: Compassionate
Vice: Impulsive
Calling (Blue Rose): Justice
Reputation: +3

Skills
Bluff +5, Climb -3 (armor), Concentration +8, Craft (Blacksmith) +3, Diplomacy +4, Disguise +3, Handle Animal +4, Intimidate +4, Jump -2, Knowledge (history) +5, Knowledge (Occult/Supernatural) +10,  Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +10,  Medicine +5, Notice +6, Perform (Ritual) +6, Research +6,  Search +6, Sense Motive +5, Sleight of Hand +3, Survival +5

Feats
The Talent, Imbue Item, Connected, Weapon Training (Sword), Armor Training (light), Attack Focus (Sword), Iron Will

Powers
Object Reading, Wind Walk, Heart Reading,  Elemental Blast, Elemental Resistance, Plane Shift, Ward

Other
Languages: Latin, English
Equipment: Sword of the Goddess, Armor

Conviction: 7

Starts out as an Adept and then picks up some levels in Warrior to cover her training.
Adept powers are based on Charisma.
Philosophy: Witchcraft.

So this Tarot is physically weaker than her M&M counterpart, but still rather powerful for the world she would be in.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reviews, True20 Edition

Some more reviews from DriveThruRPG.  Since I have been on a True20 kick again of late, here are some True20 products.

Colonial Gothic (True20 version)
The world of Colonial Gothic using the True20 system instead of it's normal house system. Typically when a product is converted to a "generic" system some of the style and feel is lost. Though I will say that CG survived with much more of it's soul intact. The system is normally a very easy one to learn so the conversion here does not sacrifice complexity. The game is still same, one of a supernatural New World as it becomes a new country, America.
The conversion does highlight many of the pluses of the game including it's atmosphere and style of play. It also allows you know to bring other True20 that might be helpful. In some ways I prefer this to the original. This one also gets a plus from me as a fan of this time period for play. So kudos for giving revolutionary era America a go.
5 out of 5 stars.

Legends of Excalibur: Arthurian Adventures (True20)
Legends of Excalibur, True20 edition. This conversion of the very, very good d20 edition is also very, very good. In some ways I prefer it since it takes much of the d20 overhead and trims it out. Instead we are now focused on a game that strives to emulate Arthurian Legends with a very tight and neat system. Everything in the d20 version is also here, so this is not a "trimmed down" version of anything except rules. Maybe some of the unique flavor is lost (no prestige classes or new magic systems), but they are all there expressed in terms of the True20 system, so what would have been a class in d20 is now a background feat in true20. I think the system works well in presenting that low fantasy, high romance feel that one often associates with Arthur too. In the end I think the True20 version works better than the d20 one.
I think I even like this better than Pendragon.
5 out of 5 stars.

Gearcraft: Amazing Machines and Their Construction: The True20 Steampunk Sourcebook
Gearpunk and Steampunk for your True20 games. It is in interesting book. Not set in any particular genre or time the illustrations are evocative of Victorian Steampunk, Pulp and even weird science. The rules are fairly straight-forward on how to build various machines; almost as if they were characters in their own right. Feats and skills are discussed. If you have True20 or a TRue20-based game and want to add some gear based machines (no Matric here yet) to it then this a great little book.
4 out of 5 stars.

World of Nevermore (True20)
Ever wonder what the lands of dream are like? Wonder no more with this world guide book, World of Nevermore. Filled cover to cover with a fantastic world where dreams live. A perfect world for someone with True20 and desire to do something very different. Take your characters (and players) out of their reality and into this one. The book reads like one part Lovecraft's dreamlands, one part Shakespeare's land of the fae and one part Ravenloft.
Plenty of new rules for characters including roles, feats and powers. Plenty of new monsters and 200 pages worth of world to play with them. Really fun stuff here.
5 out of 5 stars.

Shadows of Cthulhu
Any game that tries to do H.P. Lovecraft mythos has an uphill battle against the very venerable "Call of Cthulhu" which is arguably not just the best Mythos game, but maybe the best horror game ever. That is some steep competition. Shadows of Cthulhu holds up quite well really. Looking at it as a Modern Supernatural game using True20 it works out really, really well. There are plenty of new roles and backgrounds for characters. SoC does what only CoC has been able to do well and this incorporate a sanity system into the game that makes sense. Here SoC makes good use of the True20 rules and gives us the Sanity Save. Works just like the damage track already used by True20 it works very, very well with the system.
There is a great section on role-playing in the 1920s (as it should have) and a great section on sanity and the Mythos, which includes the magic common to the HPL games. All regulars are here in the bestiary and some of the "gods" of the Cthulhu mythos. I didn't notice anyone was missing. The book ends with a bit on the town of Innsmouth.
SoC had an uphill battle, but I think it did a great job of giving us a good mythos-based RPG. You would think that we were all Cthulhued-out by now, but SoC is so good and makes True20 really shine. Fantastic use of True20 and the rule additions, while not earth shaking, are great all the same. A must buy if you are Cthulhu fan or a True20 fan.
5 out of 5 stars.

The Imperial Age: True20 Edition
True 20 has become a great solution for all sorts of Modern d20 based games for me and Imperial Age shows why. The rules are adapted from the Imperial Age supplements for d20, so a lot here has been seen before, but all of it looks new through the lens of True 20.
All the Imperial Age products ooze style and this one is no different. There may be better Victorian Age games out there, but one can't deny that this is a great product and a welcome addition to any Victorian gaming library.
5 out of 5 stars.


Unlike some of the d20 books, the True20 games even by 3rd party publishers, seem to work together a bit better.  Hope these games are as fun for you as they were for me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Witch Hunter Robin: True 20

Been going through a stack of True20 notes and thought I'd post some of the better ones here.

Here is another take on Robin Sena, aka Witch Hunter Robin.

Robin Sena

STR: -1 DEX: -1 CON: +1 INT: +2 WIS: +3 CHA: +2

Initiative: -1 Defense: 0 (-1 +1 leather trench coat)
BAB: +1 (2 -1)
Toughness: +1 FORT: +2 REF: +0 WILL: +7
Virtue: Determined Vice: Stubborn

Skills
Bluff: +6, Computers: +4, Concentration: +8, Craft (‘craft’ items): +8, Drive (Vespa): +2, Escape Artist: +1, Gather Information: +8, Knowledge (Foreign Culture): +4, Knowledge (Religion): +8, Knowledge (Supernatural): +8, Notice: +4*, Perform (ritual): +8, Survival: +4

Feats
Benefit (STN-J contacts and clearance), Quicken Power, Supernatural Focus (Elemental Blast)*

Powers
Fire Shaping, Elemental Blast (Fire)*, Elemental Aura, Psychic Shield, Psychic Blast

Languages
Italian (native), Japanese, English

Equipment
Leather Trenchcoat, Vespa Scooter, STN-J issued phone/com link, glasses*

Conviction: 5

*Robin can’t use these powers without the aid of her glasses. Without them she can not strike any targets beyond 20 feet.

Age: 15 (in 2002)
Gender: F
Height:5'1"
Weight: 105#
Eyes: Green
Hair: Auburn

Mother: Maria, dead
Father: Toudou, dead.
Grandfather(maternal): Juliano Collegrie, priest and high ranking officer of Solomon HQ.
Allies: Amon, Nagira, hunters from STN-J
Enemies: Rogue witches, rival hunters

I think this one compares nicely with some of the other versions I have done of her; OVA, BESM 2r, and
Witch Girls Adventures.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

True Spell Casting: True 20

True Spellcasting – an Alternate Spellcasting Rule for True20

I have been enjoying playing with True20 off and on and it has really met my needs in a game, but there are still some things about it that I miss from other games. In particular is magic.

The True20 powers system is a very good one and it can emulate almost any magical system I have wanted to try, but there is one area where it falls short and that is in terms of spells. By spells I mean magical effects that are typically written down and can be learned or taught. Yes, very similar to D&D, but also spells that could be found in Call of Cthulhu or the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPGs.

Why Spells?
Part of it is one of storytelling, sometimes I need a one-time magical effect and I don’t really need a new power to describe it or I need a way of transmitting the knowledge of magical effects in a portable means; ie. in books.
The other the is one of necessity. I have dozens of D&D 3.x/d20 books, many are filled with spells, so all in all hundreds if not thousands of spells.
Wouldn’t powers-as-spells work just as well? Well yes, and in fact it would work for I guess 80% or more of all the spells. With a limited power selection the difference between Adepts are often mostly cosmetic.
Also there are spells that there are not True20 Power equivalents, wish is a good example, and most of the spells in d20 Call of Cthulhu.
And finally, I like to run a magic-rich game. True20 is perfect for this low-magic game I am working on now, but less so to emulate say D&D or my modern horror/supernatural game.

How to Do it?
I do not want to abandon the Power structure in True20, nor do I want to adopt the d20 Spell system wholesale either, but a simple compromise seems to work out well.

To do this I have created a new Supernatural Power called simply enough, Spellcasting. An adept can take Spellcasting up to nine (9) times.
To actually cast the spell the adept uses the Spellcasting power just like any other power.

Spellcasting 1
Concentration
You can cast spells of the First Level. Read the spell description for effects and it the spell needs to be Maintained and if it is Fatiguing.

Spellcasting 2
Concentration
Prerequisite: Spellcasting 1
As Spellcasting 1 except now the caster can cast spells of Second Level.

And so on…

Learning Spells
Taking the power at a new level is not enough to cast spells. The adept must first take the power then learn the spell. This allows the Gamemaster to control which spells can be entered into the game. It also allows which spells can or can’t be learned. For example the Gamemaster can restrict Wizard spells or even “Ranger” spells to a particular group of casters, or even by schools or descriptors (Necromancy or “Fire”).
Spells could be learned via enrollment in specialized “Wizard schools” (D&D or Harry Potter), from occult libraries (Buffy) or found in ancient tomes (Army of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu).

To learn a spell requires a difficulty check.

DC = 15 + Spell Level (in magic rich games) or 20 + Spell Level (in magic rare game)

The bonus for this check is like a skill check. A d20 + Bonus
Bonus = Power Level (Adept Level + 3) + Key Ability (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma)

Alternately you can make this a true skill check with Knowledge (Supernatural) or even bringing in the Spellcraft skill.

If the spells can be found the Adept can learn 3 + Key Ability number of spells per Spell level in total, though they can have as many spells in their library as they can.

For example, Taryn, a 1st level Charisma-based Adept takes Spellcasting 1 as a power. She has Charisma +2. She can cast 1st level spells and can learn up to 5 total 1st level spells (3 + 2). Even though she has a library full of 2nd level spells from her mother, they cannot be learned until she takes Spellcastng 2.

Casting Spells
To cast a spell the Adept needs to have appropriate level of the Spellcasting Power.

Casting a spell is not quite the same as using a Power. They often do require the movement of hands, saying special words and the use of material components. Because of this anytime a spell is cast, a spellcasting check needs to be made.

Spell Casting DC = 10 + Spell level
Bonus = Adept Level +3 + Key Ability.

So in our example Taryn our 1st level adept casts Color Spray, a 1st level spell.
The DC for her to cast this spell is 11 (10 + 1) this represents her getting her colored sand and saying the words.
Her bonus is +6 (Adept level 1, +3, +2 for Charisma). So she needs to roll a 5 or more on a d20.

To Save Against a Spell
DC = 10 + Key Ability + Spell’s Level

Converting Spells
D20 spells are not written like True20 powers, but there is enough similarity to allow conversion, for the most part the conversions are dealt with in the True20 book.

Healing or Damage that does 1d6 per caster level has a damage bonus of +1 per level of the Adept.
For the odd case where damage is 1d8 or more then use the follow conversions.
1d6 per caster level = +1 per adept level
1d8 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +1
1d10 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +2
1d12 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +3

Damage the effects abilities is dealt with the conversions below
1d3, 1d4 = 1
1d6 = 2
1d8 = 3
1d10 = 4
1d12 = 5

Converting Spells, Part 2: d20 Call of Cthulhu
The spells in the d20 Call of Cthulhu are mostly d20 compatible. What they lack are spell levels and most cause some sort of damage to the caster, usually damage to an ability, but often damage in terms of sanity loss.

For ability damage divide the listed damage by 2.
For HP damage use the conversions above.
For Sanity use the Mental Health track from the True20 Companion. Sanity damage effects the base Sanity Bonus (page 88, T20C).

To convert Sanity damage take the amount the of d6’s rolled as the loss. For example if sanity damage is 3d6 then the damage to the Sanity Bonus is -3. For any die other than a d6 then add +1. So Sanity Damage in d20 CoC that causes 2d8 would be 2+1 or -3.

Spells in d20 Call of Cthulhu are all considering to be 1st level in terms of learning and casting. But do not let that fool you. The CoC spells are all difficult to cast and often dangerous to both friends and enemies alike. The DCs to learn the spells are often given not with the spell itself, but the books in which they are written in (the Necronomicon, Nameless Cults, etc.)

Alternately you can consider CoC spells to be of level 10, thus requiring another level of Spellcasting in order to cast, but that removes the ability of the regular investigator to cast these spells.

Converting Spells, Part 3: BESM d20 Advanced Magic
Spells in BESM d20 Advanced Magic were another attempt to overhaul the magic system. Instead of levels the spells are given in terms of DCs.
To find the level of any spell take the DC divide by 10 and round up.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My First New Game of 2011: Mutants and Masterminds 3

Well, it's still 2010, but 2011 is starting off like 2010 did , with a new Supers game.
In this case the new supers game is Mutants and Masterminds, 3rd Edition.

M&M 3rd Edition first off looks a lot like the DC Adventures RPG also from Green Ronin out earlier this year.

What are the big changes from 2nd Edition?  Well GR is moving more and more away from the d20 3.0 standards and more into True20 land.  That is the Abilities (and there are now 8 of them) are the pluses.  So instead of Strength 18 (+4) like you see in other d20 games, M&M3 just uses Strength 4.  Easy enough and a logical extension of their line of thought with True20.

I mentioned there are 8 abilities now; Strength, Agility, Dexterity, Stamina, Intellect, Awareness, Presence and Fighting.  Agility and Fighting are the big new ones.  Agility had been part of Dexterity and does some of the things Dex used to do.  Agility relates more to "bodily dexterity" and dexterity is more like "hand-eye coordination".  Fighting is now the close combat ability. Now while I rather see this more of a skill than an ability, this is a comic book world and it works here.  There are "close combat" and "ranged combat" skills as well.  So Fighting I suppose is more of a natural aptitude towards combat.

Skills are given greater coverage and are streamlined from the d20 3.0 base, but not quite as streamlined as say D&D 4.  They are closer to Cinematic Unisystem in nature really.  Skills are still linked to a specific ability like d20, but are also now detailed on what sort of action they are, move, standard or free.  Much more detail is given for skills and how to use them in a variety of situations.

Feats have become more Unisystem/GURPS like and renamed Advantages. They are ranked and used very much like a Advantage or Quality would be used in another game.  I can see the next evolution of True20 doing something like this too since they are organized in a similar manner to True20's powers.

Powers come next.  Powers are similar to Advantages, but have a much greater effect on various game systems.  An Advantage might boost a skill or change an aspect of combat.  Powers go above an beyond that.  In general the Powers are much more detailed than earlier editions.  There are a lot of Extras and Flaws to add to Powers for a lot of customization.  Gadgets and Gear are separated from Powers in this edition.

Damage is handled differently in this game.  The Damage Track is gone replaced by a very Marvel Superheroes looking chart.   The results are basically No Effect, some penalty all the way up to incapacitated.  It is simple enough to use.  I am of two minds on this.  First, while I never really warmed to the damage track in M&M/True20 it was easy to use and innovative. The damage chart here is also very, very easy to use as well and works on similar principles. The chart has some Old School "feng shui" about it without it being an "endless chart".

Green Ronin has always produced top notch products.  This one is no exception.  I didn't notice much in the way of recycled text from earlier editions or even from DCA, but it very well could be there.  I would be surprised if there wasn't really;  I only really noticed one or two bits of recycled art and that was from their Magic book and Powers book for 2nd Ed.  There were few other bits here and there and there might have been others, but if I didn't notice it that is the same as it not being there right?

All in all this looks like a great game and it might even be superior to M&M 2nd ed aka "The World's Greatest Superhero Game", which I notice M&M 3 does not say on the cover.

The big issues for me of course are conversions.  How easy will it be to convert to/from M&M2 or Unisystem?  Converting actually looks pretty easy.  To/from M&M2 might even be trickier than Unisystem.  I am going to have to give it a try in the next few days.

Well I just put away all my M&M 2 books.  Looks like it was only to make room for my new cache of M&M 3/DCA books.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...