Wednesday, April 10, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 10

Day 10: How are my games dismantling colonialism?

Uh...They are not?

My games really don't have that kind of effect.

My design principles start with "Is it fun?" and end with "Is it fun to write?"

I mean sure there are some subversive messages explicitly about Colonialism (and in particular about the British Empire in India) in Ghosts of Albion.  But the message is not one of action it is more directed to people who already understand what a bad thing it can be.

So yeah.  I guess the scope of my writing is just not that large.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Review: Blackest of Deaths Ashcan Version & Kickstarter

Bloat Games has been putting out some quality games for a little bit now and they are certainly the new "It" company in the Old-School scene right now.  Their newest Kickstarter is now up, The Blackest of Deaths - A Dire Old School Fantasy RPG and I have been given access to the "Ashcan" copy of the rules.   Let's have a look and see what this Kickstarter is all about!

There is The Blackest of Deaths - Dire Old School Fantasy RPG - KS Sneak Peek on DriveThru now. It is free so have a look.

The Rules
We are greeted on the very first page with a "Caution" and "YOUR CHARACTERS WILL DIE."  I think that sets the tone for the game quite well.  The aesthetic reminds me of Dungeon Crawl Classics mixed with HackMaster to be honest.   Not my usual vibe, but I like what I am reading so far.
My favorite is the line "yes, this is the type of game your grandparent’s preachers warned them about in the 70s & 80s!"  Ok then!

We start out with what are the two big "rules" of the game;
1. "Rulings vs Rules", there is no rule for everything in that can happen in the game.  The GM is in charge and will make up what they need to make up to keep the game going.
2. The Core Mechanic.  Roll a d20 and d6 at the same time.  If the d6 comes up 1 you get a Hinderance. If it comes up as a 6 then you get a Benefit.  2, 3, 4, or 5 are ignored.  There are also Advantage and Disadvantage rules.

The character Attributes are the same, but instead of a range of 3-18 you just have your pluses or minuses.  Max is 3, the lowest is -2.  You start with 10 hp +/- your Con score.  The only way to get more is via magic!  There is no leveling up! This is you.
To offset this all characters have some Luck points.
Armor and Dex scores don't add to "AC" but reduce damage given.

There are four races, elf, dwarf, goblin and human.  Races can raise or lower your scores.
There are six classes, Assassin, Barbarian, Monster Slayer, Necromancer, Ranger, and Street Rat.
They work as you expect, each one with a specialized purpose.  Monster Slayer has a unique talent for killing a particular monster you choose for example.
There are a limited number of spells (no levels) and most deal with combat.
Equipment and weapons finish off the Player's Section.

The GM's section is the other half of the book.
We go over the basic rules again and discuss some difficulty checks.  This is where the game's "New School" roots show from under their "Old School" dye job!   But in truth, it all works great.

There is a good sized monster section with the monsters in a very distilled format.  Just the essentials.
All the favorites are here and it is easy to see why and how these monsters will mow through most characters.

There is also a good-sized section on treasure and magic items.

The game is fast to pick up and lethal.  It is close to an OSR "Beer and Pretzel" game to be honest.  Great for a single night or weekend or even as a side-quest with a "Magnificent Seven" style adventure.

The Kickstarter
Well, one thing you know.  The rule book is finished and ready to go, it's now all about those stretch goals.  And there is a good set of those!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ericfrombloatgames/the-blackest-of-deaths-a-dire-old-school-fantasy-r?ref=theotherside

As of this writing, the game is funded (in the first 2 hours!) and they are at the first stretch goal of 20 more monsters.  There are plenty more where that came from too.

Really looking forward to seeing what this game does.

April TTRPG Maker, Day 9

Day 9: How Do Your Games Distribute Power Among the Players?

Well, I would have to say I try to focus on mechanical balance as much as I can within the scope of the rules.

Some games, say for example many old-school games, balance is not really a consideration.  But you also don't play those games for balance, you play them for the game-play-experience you get (not XP in this sense).

So I create witch classes that are, for the most part, pretty weak at love levels.  This in on purpose since it fits in with the design constraints of the games I am working with.  The payoff is once you get to higher levels you are pretty damn powerful.  Like scary powerful really.

In other games, I also look a lot into the balance of the character types.  For example in Ghosts of Albion Tamara and William, the "stars" of the show are also some of the weaker characters power wise.  They are not the great powerful warrior Queen like Boadicea or the magic using vampire or the poet whose words can shape reality.  This balanced with their ability to affect the plots and course of the game via their greater Drama points.

After that, it becomes the realm of the individual game masters to do their job.

Monday, April 8, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 8

Day 8: Favorite Collaborators

Oh wow. With this, I am afraid I'll miss someone.

At the top of my list, I will say is Jason Vey.  We worked on Buffy together and a bunch of other projects.

We agree on all the "big stuff" and respect each other's backgrounds and areas of expertise.  But we are also not afraid to go at it when defending something we both want.

A collaborator should bring out the best in you and you for them. 

I also would not hesitate for a chance to work with Christopher Golden and Amber Benson again like we did on Ghosts of Albion.

Lots of people I would love to work with too.

Monstrous Monday: Lilith, Queen of Demons

It's April. And I have to admit I am kinda missing the A to Z challenge this year.  Maybe I'll do it next year.  But in any case, I was thinking of past challenges last week and the topics I have done and one topic just kept coming up nearly every time I did it.
Lilith.

For three consecutive challenges, I posted about Lilith on "L" day for Demons, Witches and Vampires.
2013 L is for Lilith and Lilim
2014 A to Z of Witches. L
2015 A to Z of Vampires: Lilith

The story of Lilith has always fascinated me.  The character has always fascinated me.
I suppose then it is no surprise that she lies at the intersection of all my interests.

Also this weekend I finished a nice binge watch of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Part 2. Here the amazing Michelle Gomez plays Lilith the Mother of Demons and the First Witch.

So, I figured it was time to revisit my muse.

Lilith by IsraLlona
Lilith
Queen and Mother of all Lilim (demons)
Hit Dice: 18d8 + 33 (114 hp)
Armor Class: -3 [22]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4), 1 weapon (1d8)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: +2 magic weapons to hit, magic resistance (65%), immune to fire, magical abilities, summon minions
Move: 12/18 (flying)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil*
Challenge Level/XP: 20/3,400
Lilith appears an inhumanly comely woman standing 5’7” tall and weighing roughly 130 pounds. Her skin is cinnamon colored, and her hair is waist length and blood red. She has a pair of leathery black bat-like wings that she can hide or expose at will.

Lilith never openly attacks.   She considers combat beneath Her and will not partake in it.  Her arena is intrigue, guile, and deception.  Why fight when a cup laced with poison or a dagger in the night is much quicker.
She can use ESP and cast fireball, hold person, charm person or charm monster, suggestion and teleport at will. Three times a day she can cast lightning bolt and wall of fire.  She can see perfectly in darkness of any kind. Lilth can summon 1d4+4 lilitu with a 100% chance.

The First Witch
was the first witch and can cast any witch spell.  She cast spells as a 20th level witch but does not have any occult powers other than her magical abilities listed above.
Lilith was the first human woman. She rebelled against the gods that created her and now controls armies of demons.  The gods won't work against her or strike her down because she knows all their True Names.

Lilith has no true friends because most fear her.  She is known to ally herself with the Goddess Ereshkigal since both have similar portfolios and areas of concern.  Some even claim that Lilith spent some time as Ereshkigal's handmaiden.  Others claim she served Astártē or Ishtar.

Appearance and Emissaries
Lilith always appears as a young very attractive woman.  Most often with long flaming red hair.  It is claimed her true form is that of an ancient hag with long, but sparse wild black hair, talons, fangs and the feet of a predatory bird.  Either or neither could be her true form.

Servants
Lilith is typically honored by the Witches of the Mara Tradition.

Naamah - Known as the Daughter of Lilith Naamah is either a demon, a human or something else.  She is honored in her own right as either the Patroness of Whores or the Patroness of Those Who Hunt the Night (slayers of the undead).  Her title as The Daughter of Lilith, as opposed to just a daughter of Lilith, is significant.  She may be her first true daughter or she may be her first human daughter.

Abyzou - Another daughter of Lilith. She is a powerful Lilitu Demon. She takes pleasure in possessing others and destroying them from the inside out.

Nox - The Petty Goddess of the Dusk is also believed to be a daughter of Lilith.  Possibly the offspring of Lilith and a Sun god.

Camazotz - a Son of Lilith and the bloodthirsty god of Vampires.  Some claim that his father may have been Orcus.

*Lilith's alignment is listed as Chaotic Evil.  The Chaos part should be obvious, she has rebelled against the entire universe.  While many of her actions are evil, she still kills babies, she is also a lot more complicated than that.  Lilith has a high personal morality. She honors and keeps her friends and associates.  You can trust that she will always do what is best for herself, but she also cares for her own "children" so she will protect them.

Holy Texts
As witches, the worshippers of Lilith hold their own Books of Shadows as their holy texts, but a few are are considered to be helpful in understanding Lilith.

The Splendor - The foundation text on which many of the Gods of Light have based their own holy texts.  The Splendor mentions Lilith as one of the first demons of darkness. For this reason, many religions will see Lilith as a threat to their religion.

The Enochian Tablets - More details on the life and rebirth of Lilith. Written in an ancient angelic script that is difficult for many sages to translate. Also discusses her relationship to the divine and the demonic.  It also details the origins of Those Who Hunt the Night.

Other posts about Lilith here
Every Angel is Terrifying: The Secret and True Origins of the Slayer
Pseudo Slayers
Going Up to Hell: Cosmology
Sympathy for the Succubus
- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Let's Talk About Sex(y)
E is for Eodemon
The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 7
Season of the Witch: Episode 2

Sunday, April 7, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 7

Day 7: How to Increase Accessibility

Good question, wish I knew how!

For the games I write I try to make things as flexible as I can within the guidelines of the rules so people can do anything they want.

I don't want to be the one to say "No. You can do that."  I would rather write my material so I can say "Yes, you can do that, let's figure out how."

Want to play a Winter Witch that is just like Elsa?  Yeah, you can do that.  Want to play a White Witch, but make him psychic instead?  Yeah, ok do that thing!

Whatever else beyond that is up to whoever is running the game.

At the same time, I try to market my games and books to appeal to all sorts of crowds. 

Looking forward to seeing what everyone posts for this!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 6

Day 6: Long or Short ttrpg texts?

Not 100% sure I know what this one is asking.

So I am going to repeat what my Ph.D. advisor told me when I was writing my dissertation.

"Make it as long as you need it to be, but no longer."

Another bit of advice he gave was to quote an anecdote from Napoleon.

"Dear Josephine, I am writing you a long letter because I don't have the time to write you a short one."

Brevity is key. Keep things concise and simple for everyone to read. Avoid a page of text where a paragraph will suffice.

Good advice for academic writing and good advice for game writing as well.
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