May 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Choosing Armor by Cost and Weight

Highlighting some old posts, because I've been having quite the week at work. So highlighting something that goes along with my Violent Resolution column for this week.

Here's a fun post about choosing the best possible armor you can get at the lowest cost.

And another, this time if cost is no object, but you're trying to minimize the weight.

The cost one is more interesting.

Expect a few more "hey, this is an old post that might be interesting" type things this week. I'll try and get back to new content when work isn't quite so insane.

I'll repost the original articles below the break.

May 18, 2015

Majestic Wilderlands - Best Loot-to-time ratio ever

The game was slow today to get responses, and it wound up being just two players. That wasn't enough, so we decided to call it.

But not before Rob told me that Leshar and probably our halfling, or maybe Keyar, had snuck into the ruins of Caer Tain and looted a suit of +2 Plate Armor - which needs 500sp worth of work with straps and buckles, but is otherwise perfectly sound.

Boom. Done. So now Marcus is AC 22, after five minutes of play.

May 17, 2015

Violent Resolution - That's Going to Leave a Mark

The Violent Revolution continues!

Perhaps even more important to how a roleplaying game resolves whether or not a fighter strikes home at his foe is how his opponent reacts when struck.

I’ve been reading  +Jon Peterson's “Playing at the World” recently, a densely packed and quite informative history of games, gaming, and (most specifically) Dungeons and Dragons. In it, he notes carefully the evolution of wargames from “one hit and you’re out” to the concept of hit points, partial damage, and other devices and mechanics that enhance the longevity of your hero and by doing so, promote drama.
I was going to make a joke here along the lines of “unless you’re a 1st-level Magic-User, then you’re screwed. Sorry.” However, looking at the more-pure spell-slinging classes in D&D5, the Sorcerer and the Wizard, while they both start with 1d6 base HP, the availability and free use of 0-level cantrips make this much, much less true. “Back in my day,” I remember that you were lucky to be swinging for 1d6 or 1d4 HP - usually with a staff or dagger - as a Magic-User. Now, you can do anywhere from 1d6 to 2d6 or 1d12 every round with a cantrip. You may only know a couple of them, but they can be used freely and often from the “back row,” with a range that can be quite long. Fire Bolt is 1d10 out to 120 feet, for example. And Blade Ward, which halves (confers resistance) mundane physical damage, is also a 0-level cantrip, though it’s one-round duration limits its utility at effectively doubling the caster’s HP. Alas, one can’t pick on the Magic-Users anymore.
He uses a useful taxonomy for this process that I’m going to steal: after accuracy, a target of a violent attack may invoke several types of life-extending mechanics, including avoidance, mitigation, and endurance. I paralleled this in a previous column, dealing with Action, Opposition, and Effect to some degree, but I read Peterson’s structure a few days after finishing that up.

In any case, character longevity and persistence in a dramatic fight – not just if a character can be incapacitated, but how, and perhaps as importantly, how suddenly – is a huge contributor to how the stories unfold. It can drive tactics, risk decisions, and ultimately how enjoyable a game experience can be - at least as far as the fighty bits go.

May 14, 2015

Apropos of Nothing - Supergirl (CW show)

So, there's a 6 minute trailer out. I like it, or more specifically, my daughter will freakin' LOVE it. If you've watched this blog, you'll know my family kinda has a thing for Superman.

So, I'm not going to talk much about the bulk of the trailer. However, I was chatting with a coworker, and he was asking - what happened to Superman? How did he not know and show up?

Well, if you feel like breaking out the frame-grabber, you can see it. Between the launch of Kara Zor-El's spaceship and a furious set of near-subliminal images, you can see a few things, some of which are known already.


So there you go. Superman is well aware, thank you very much, of the existence of his cousin Kara. The house in the background, you see it in the next frame with the Danvers' in front of it. 

Who are the Danvers, you ask? Dean Cain and Helen Slater, for a spectacular bit of symmetry.

And Dean Can is awesome. Just sayin'. 

My coworker also noted that Kara pretty much "tells everyone" the Secret in the trailer.

Hmm. Don't think so. Her stepsister? She already knew, obviously. And her parents.

And Kal-El. He delivered her to the house, as a little girl - well, maybe not so little. Ten to twelve years old, I think. 

So . . . I'm betting the only person that didn't know the Secret was the guy who asked her out, and she told after she rescued the plane. James Olsen? 

I bet he already knew. Superman sent him to watch over Kara. 

Anyway, I hope the show is good, though it's clearly a bit too close to the Black Widow Parody SNL did. But that doesn't bother me because while that's spectacularly out of character for the freakin' Red Room assassin, it's not out of character at all for Supergirl. Go look at her brief encounter with Nightwing in the Last Daughter of Krypton run.



May 10, 2015

Violent Resolution - Hit Him with my Mace

If one is to discuss combat in RPGs, one might as well start with the medieval fantasy genre that still dominates the industry. For many games, hand-to-hand (or hand-to-tentacle, hand-to-claw, hand-to-mouth . . . ) combat is a central point of the game, hearkening back to the origin of fantasy RPGs in wargaming.

This Violent Resolution column will look at several classic weapons that might be brought to bear on foes. A relatively inexpensive set of weapons that are mostly for brawlers and massed militia: the club, axe (weaponized), and a spear. On the other side of the coin, we have more classic weapons of war and status: a one-handed sword, a mace, a warhammer (which is really an armor-piercing pick), and a pollaxe.

May 9, 2015

Rules for Grappling Rules

Well, +Peter V. Dell'Orto and I went and did it - we took GURPS Technical Grappling and made it into an OSR-compatible short rules set

Having now done this twice, what is it with me and grappling rules, and what principles are involved?

Coming to Grips

Grappling is probably one of the oldest forms of combat on the planet, is most often used by animals when hunting, and is something that both kids and animals (and animal kids) do for play.

And yet, the rules, by and large, suck

Why is that? 

The TV Tropes entry gets it both right and wrong. Grappling seems complex, and is often made so. It's different enough from "hit him with my mace" or "boot to the head" that complex systems are often created.

That's not required, though...