Friday, April 29, 2022

Three Statlines for All NPCs

Jack made it clear that you can just use bears

I utilize this all the time in general handwave fashion, but when I specifically run Into the Odd/Weird North/Cairn/Monolith etc, I've landed on a three-tier measure of NPC power so as to better represent varying tactical levels of possible encounters. It's not rocket science, and it's not perfect, but it's what I do and it's been nigh-on effortless for me for years now.

There are three NPC statlines, and that's it. Ever.

Obligatory image because blogpost. Also because Stepan Alekseev. Artstation.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Star Wars Faction Write-Up, Inspired by a Board Game

 Mood Music

This, right here, is one of my all-time favorite board games, packed so full of chrome and drama that you can rewrite the Original Trilogy with a single play. This is not a post, however, about the board game, nor the similarly-styled and eponymous computer strategy game which came before it. This post is about how my friends and I played this video-game-turned-board-game in order to inspire the setting for our tabletop adventure game campaign. Layers

The same new Galaxy Far Away campaign which I mentioned last time (including the example of real play therein) came about when I pitched "Star Wars D&D" to some guys I mentor on a regular basis. Both of them have played Rebellion against me many times, so one of them said "hey, what if we play again and whatever the outcome of the end-game state is, that's the prompt for our Star Wars RPG setting?" It was a stroke of brilliance, and it led to a near-five-hour haul to reach the natural conclusion of play. And hoo boy, did we end up with a compelling springboard.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Fantasy Flight Dice with Galaxy Far Away (and other thoughts)

For as often as I run my games diceless (or nearly so), I do really enjoy dice. I promise.

I started up a new local Galaxy Far Away campaign just over a week ago, and I realized I did not take a liking to the standard opposed 2d6 resolution that I originally penned for the game. Maybe it's because using d6 in Star Wars should belong with West End Games' timeless take on the genre, or maybe because I tend to find traditional opposed resolution less and less compelling these days. 

I have grown stale on finding out if something happens or not. Instead, stuff always happens. The question is not "does it happen?" but "how?" and I'm finding that said qualitative result generation is much more interesting than pass/fail. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, as the whole "yes, and" or "yes, but" style of adjudication easily traces its origin back to many storygame oracles and even further back into the distant, halcyon days of the hobby and its adjacents. 

Look at all of those silly symbols.

The point is, I am really quite taken with Fantasy Flight Games' "narrative dice" which they first debuted for Edge of the Empire and later more generically with their Genesys system, and I want to adapt them for Galaxy Far Away. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

d6 No-Hands Character Concepts

It's that time again--secret jackalope! Magos of the Mind#1349 wants "Beyond Humanoid: or guidance for playing something without hands I guess. Can be something like the "Really Good Dog"* glog class or something more original/alien."

We take it for granted that we have two average human hands. You can eat a sandwich, fold your clothes, and stare at your smartphone for much more time than is necessary with typical hands. Take those away, and you get all sorts of curious different conceptions of everyday ambulation and motor control. 

So what do you do without hands? Are you like Zacian, from Generation VIII Pokemon, who is a superpowered dog that holds a straight-up legendary sword in its mouth? That is, admittedly, quite rad.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Meta NPCs - Reusing My Favorites Across Game Worlds

I have found, as an evergreen referee, that I'd much rather pilot NPCs than play a proper character in an ongoing campaign. I've mentioned this before, but as I consider today's topic, it is especially relevant. 

NPCs are skeleton keys to the campaign world for referees. They are direct representations of tropes, themes, needs, and wants that you (if you're running a game) want to convey to the players to make the setting come alive. I'd rather spend three hours playing a dozen+ NPCs than a single, titular character. I've learned this over time. It remains my staple experience in adventure games. 

This is brief preamble for my sharing with you my Meta NPCs. That is, my favorite NPCs that show up in just about all of my games regardless of genre or setting (tailored to fit, as necessary). I've lived with these characters in my head for years now, and they always bounce around when I daydream some idea or another. Some were spawned originally in my 5e games, and others elsewhere. All of them have been a blast to drop in and out of my various tables.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Weird West, or Some Hoot-Hollerin' Hijinks for Weird North

Mood Music

Far from the titanium citadels of the Necrothanes, the unblinking gaze of the Blood Moor obelisks, and the shadow of the dinomancer-ridden Dank Tower, a tumbleweed ambles like an aimless toddler across sun-choked plains of brittle soil. The world has changed so many times, shedding its skin like a desert rattler. What is old is new, what is new is old, and nothing is saved from the long finger of the weird. 

Falls of the Colorado Chiquito

Weird North is a setting. It is a cracked world. An old world. A new world. A place somewhere in the acid fantasy dreams of Jack Vance's cat who had to put up with years of listening to the author prattle on just so. Weird North is a cheater's setting, to be entirely honest. It makes sense in consistent meta terms, at least as far as shared history or global effects and parameters are concerned, but it is still a cheat. A cheat, because frankly neither I nor my players really care that everything must make perfect sense. Perhaps some call this gonzo, perhaps some call this amateur. Perhaps, well, perhaps I don't have much vested interest in what most folks think about my mental gymnastics. The Post/Post/Post Apocalyptic genre is a toolkit and sandbox fit for the kings of recess playgrounds and Saturday morning cartoons. It is, at least, useful for my daydreams.