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Bending the Game: Shadowrun 4th Edition House Rules

August 26, 2013 Comments off

shadowrun4ed

Please welcome our guest blogger, Brian Braddock:

No game is made perfect. Everyone hits a bump in the road in their gaming lives where the rules are getting in the way of the action. Maybe you’ve been in the middle of a major combat, have come up with a great improvised move that would be brilliant, but has no mechanical effect. Maybe you and your troupe find a great game with an amazing world, but the rules are just for the dogs. Maybe you’re happy playing your wizard, except for that one rule about conjuring that just doesn’t make sense. We’ve all been there.

When the rules get in the way of the fun, it’s time to reach in the GM toolkit and break out house rules. House rules are powerful tools that, if used correctly, can improve the flow of any game and tailor a system to meet your needs. For example, if your player has put in the time, energy, and engagement to come up with an inventive combat move, and there are no rules to back it up, make something up. Give them a penalty to do the amazing thing, but a bonus to damage if they pull it off. In some cases, it’s just that simple. Your player feels like their work is rewarded, and other players feed off the example and become more invested. When that happens, everyone has fun.

When creating house rules, however, you have to be careful. Most popular game systems are playtested rigorously and refined to maintain balance. When you create a rule that fundamentally changes the game, the balance can be changed as well. Let’s take the wizard as an example. Your player is running a Pathfinder Conjurer. Based on the style of play within the troupe, the Conjurer can’t summon anything without being interrupted. You could shorten the casting time from a full round action to a standard action. This fixes the first problem (interrupted casting), but opens a whole new can of worms, with the player able to exploit a host of loopholes. As a general rule, I’m conservative with the number of house rules I make, especially if I’m in a system I’m not familiar with. You pay people good money to refine the rules–change only what you need.

When you use house rules you learn more about the rules in general, which becomes a self-perpetuating process. Eventually you get a deep enough understanding of rules systems that you know what you can tinker with and what is best left alone. When you do this with multiple games, you start to recognize rules trends that can apply across systems. You may have a house rule for rewarding inventive combat, and then you see a better version of it in the Exalted system–which happens to be close to your system. This kind of house rule understanding ranges from intermediate to advanced, and prepares you for the biggest challenges.

Sometimes you find games that have great stories, great worlds, and rules that are tougher than a UFC fighter. This may be fun for troupes of rules lawyers, but not for the general group, and especially not for new players. This is when house rules take another step. If you like the world but not the rules, and you really want to play, then change the rules.

One of the most iconic examples of this is the Shadowrun system. Shadowrun has a detailed setting that is imaginative, inventive, and unique. It also has a rules system that is massive, ponderous, and daunting to new players. Even GMs with strong rules understanding have difficulty with Shadowrun. I’ve played every iteration of the game, and while it’s gotten easier, it is by no means user friendly. However, I love the game, and I want my troupe, a mix of drama gamers and old school dungeon crawlers, to play with me. So, in an effort to make things easy on them, I streamlined a rule here and there, over and over, just to keep the action running. One player even went so far as to talk about the ease of Matrix rules online, not realizing that the smooth rules weren’t the game makers, but mine. Eventually I created an entire set of house rules that presented different degrees of play for Shadowrun. One set works for newbies, one for intermediate players, and the advanced level is the core game as written. Since creating these rules we’ve told some great stories and had some great combats, all within the Sixth World.

All of this, however, came about for one reason alone: we wanted to have fun. Rules are there to give us structure and to keep fights from breaking out. Dice add that flavor of fate that keeps things interesting. But in the end, they’re all tools for you to tell stories and have fun with your friends. If the rules aren’t working towards this goal, then it’s up to you to make them work. Once you do, you’ll be working within a game system tailored to you—and frankly, there’s nothing quite like it.

Here are some House Rule suggestions for the Matrix 4.0 and more! ShadowRunHouseRules

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Cthulhu Fthagn! Ia! Ia!

August 19, 2013 Comments off

Tomorrow is H. P. Lovecraft’s birthday.

Chances are high that something you’ve played has had a “Lovecraftian” influence. Whether it’s Chaosium’s “Call of Cthulhu” or Munchkin Cthulhu or even perhaps just an aberration like the aboleth in your local D&D game, you owe it to Mr. Lovecraft.

My personal favorite Lovecraft-influenced game was Living Death. Back when Living Greyhawk was the organized play opportunity of it’s time, two other properties were among the ones I played that were supported by Wizards of the Coast: Living Force, a Star Wars-themed worldwide campaign and Living Death. LD was unique in that it didn’t have a big bunch of sourcebooks that WotC was trying to sell. There were a few books, the Masque of the Red Death (Ravenloft) chief among them, but mostly it was a series of modules published by volunteers over the span of 10 years, run mostly at conventions from 1997 to 2007. It had a very defined beginning, middle and end. It was Victorian Horror at it’s finest: you started as your choice of character in 1890 and progressed until the year 1900. My character was Lady Cora, a septuagenarian nanny who had lost her latest charge under mysterious circumstances. Well… lost to everyone but Lady Cora, as his spirit lingered and only she could see him. During that campaign, she tangled with vampires, saved the Queen, was punched out by the evil Kaiser Wilhelm and once spent an uncomfortable weekend trapped in the coffin of a mummy.

Living Death and many others of it’s kind wouldn’t be possible without the imagination of Mr. Lovecraft. And his birthday would make an excellent excuse to grab your favorite plushy horrible monster and play some Call of Cthulhu. It’s only your sanity at stake, right?

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Role-Playing Repertoire: Building your game music library

August 12, 2013 Comments off

Creating the right mood for a game can be key to getting your players to enjoy that game to its fullest. While Black Sabbath will do for a beer and pretzels board game night, the perfect song can telegraph what you’re trying to establish with your game and transport your player into the world you’re trying to lure them into (so you can kill them).

By way of example, several weeks ago we did a conversion of the Slave Lords modules for Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) which went over pretty well. To start The Funnel (where you make 3-4 zero level characters and see who survives to first level), I started the players at a wedding of the beautiful Miller’s daughter to the tavern owner’s son. As the wedding reception got started, I played this old chestnut from the original Conan the Barbarian Soundtrack by Basil Poledouris (an absolute must have by the way).

When slaver pirates attack, the would-be heroes have to fight off the raiders to buy the other villagers time to escape. After being captured, they mutiny and wrest control of the Slavers’ ship as it drifts into the harbor of Highport. It was then I played this piece which, to me, perfectly captured what I was going for as they viewed the scenes on the streets and docks of the approaching slaver city (taken from the Borderlands video game soundtrack).

And with that, everyone was there. Right there with me as to what the world was going to feel like and the direction we were going.

Sometimes you can stumble across these sorts of things, but for the most part, it takes listening to a wide variety of instrumental music (soundtracks, mainly) and categorizing things into either specific scenes (somewhat challenging) or by building your repertoire for broader categories of music.

I’ve made, lost, changed, and remade numerous lists since my mix-tape days, but largely you can do whatever you think you need based on how much work you want to put into it. At a minimum, you should have Combat Music and Non-Combat Music. However, if you care to listen to and sort some songs, additional folders for Exploration, Chase scenes, Exposition, or downright Creepy music are good selections.

If you really want to go for broke, however, Spotify is your new best friend. It contains a vast collection of music, which is fully searchable. There are some downsides:

1) It links through Facebook, (Like us here BTW) so you’ll need to have a Facebook account to use it , even if it’s not one you use for anything other than Spotify.

2) The advanced features cost money, but allow streaming through other devices offline.

3) While it maintains a vast and ever growing catalog, there are limits to what’s available on it at this time.

In my opinion, the features and deep catalog greatly outweigh these shortcomings. You can search for other people’s playlists and share your own playlists, add music from your own hard drive that can’t be found in Spotify’s catalog, and you can play these lists on ipads and other devices, so you can take your game music out of the house.

Currently, I have playlists for sci-fi/shadowrun combat and downtime, as well as fantasy oriented playlists for town, creepy stuff, adventure, exposition, and combat. I then cull from there to make adventure specific playlists.

So, to get you started, here’s a few of my songs from Spotify. Feel free to share yours!

ADVENTURE – anything from dungeon crawling downtime to wilderness exploration

Trevor Jones – Elk Hunt
Trevor Jones – Munro’s Office/Stockade
Midnight Syndicate – Cathedral Ruins
Midnight Syndicate – Shadowed Grove
Midnight Syndicate – Descent into the Depths
Midnight Syndicate – Heroes’ Valor
Midnight Syndicate – Relic Uncovered
Midnight Syndicate – Beasts of the Borderlands
Midnight Syndicate – Cathedral Ruins
Midnight Syndicate – Shadowed Grove
Midnight Syndicate – Meeting of the Acolytes
Midnight Syndicate – The Revenants
Midnight Syndicate – Called From Beyond
Midnight Syndicate – Across the Chasm
Midnight Syndicate – Cemetery Gates
Midnight Syndicate – Exodus
Midnight Syndicate – Dark Legacy
Midnight Syndicate – Theme to the Rage
Midnight Syndicate – In the Forest Deep
Midnight Syndicate – Dr. V’s Lab
Midnight Syndicate – Don’t Go in There
Midnight Syndicate – Uncle Ben Montage
Midnight Syndicate – Crash Aftermath
Midnight Syndicate – Uncle Ben Under the Winnebago
Midnight Syndicate – The Waterfall
Midnight Syndicate – Meet Dr. V
Midnight Syndicate – Kiss the Monkey
Midnight Syndicate – Dr. V’s Theme
Midnight Syndicate – Realm of Shadows
Midnight Syndicate – Born of the Night
Midnight Syndicate – Legions of the Dead
Midnight Syndicate – Eye of the Storm
Midnight Syndicate – Solemn Reflections
Midnight Syndicate – Nightstalker
Midnight Syndicate – Noctem Aeternus
Midnight Syndicate – Sanctuary
Midnight Syndicate – Into the Abyss
Midnight Syndicate – Masque of Sorrow
Midnight Syndicate – Forbidden Crypts
Midnight Syndicate – Shadows
Midnight Syndicate – Soliloquy
Midnight Syndicate – Beyond the Gates
Midnight Syndicate – Eclipse
Midnight Syndicate – Prisoner of Time
Midnight Syndicate – Druids
Midnight Syndicate – Mansion in the Mist
Midnight Syndicate – Forgotten Path
Midnight Syndicate – Time Outside of Time
Midnight Syndicate – Fallen Grandeur
Midnight Syndicate – Hands of Fate
Midnight Syndicate – Mausoleum d’ Haverghast
Midnight Syndicate – Family Secrets
Midnight Syndicate – Vertigo
Midnight Syndicate – The Watcher
Midnight Syndicate – Cellar
Midnight Syndicate – Cold Embrace
Midnight Syndicate – Harvest of Deceit
Midnight Syndicate – Grisly Reminder
Midnight Syndicate – Deadly Intentions
Midnight Syndicate – The Lost Room
Midnight Syndicate – Living Walls
Midnight Syndicate – Return of the Ancient Ones
Midnight Syndicate – Prelude
Midnight Syndicate – Troubled Times
Midnight Syndicate – The Fens of Sargath
Midnight Syndicate – Stealth and Cunning
Midnight Syndicate – Eternal Mystery
Midnight Syndicate – Craft of the Wizard
Midnight Syndicate – Secret Chamber
Midnight Syndicate – Lair of the Great Wyrm
Midnight Syndicate – Ancient Temple
Midnight Syndicate – Army of the Dead
Midnight Syndicate – Ruins of Bone Hill
Midnight Syndicate – Awakening
Midnight Syndicate – Graveyard
Midnight Syndicate – Unhallowed Ground
Midnight Syndicate – Crypt of the Forsaken
Midnight Syndicate – Winged Fury
Midnight Syndicate – Blackest Rose
Midnight Syndicate – Ravages of Time
Midnight Syndicate – Undead Hunters
Midnight Syndicate – Vampyre
Midnight Syndicate – Halls of Insurrection
Midnight Syndicate – Cage of Solitude
Midnight Syndicate – Residents Past
Midnight Syndicate – Phantom Sentinels
Midnight Syndicate – Gates of Delirium
Midnight Syndicate – Procession of the Damned
Midnight Syndicate – Room 47
Midnight Syndicate – Alternative Therapy
Midnight Syndicate – Ebony Shroud
Nox Arcana – Blackthorn Asylum
Nox Arcana – The Nameless City
Nox Arcana – Legacy of Darkness
Nox Arcana – Necronomicon
Justin Caine Burnett – Opening To Profion’s Dungeon
Justin Caine Burnett – Breaking Into The Magic School
Justin Caine Burnett – Council Of Mages
Cris Velasco – Borderlands
Sascha Dikiciyan – Welcome To The Bunker
Cris Velasco – Exploring Overlook
Cris Velasco – Into The Rift
Cris Velasco – Into The Depths
Cris Velasco – Lost
Cris Velasco – The Covent Gardens
Cris Velasco – For The Living
Klaus Badelt – One Last Shot
Hans Zimmer – Jack Sparrow – Score
Hans Zimmer – Davy Jones – Score
Hans Zimmer – I’ve Got My Eye On You – Score
Hans Zimmer – Tia Dalma – Score
Tyler Bates – Prologue
Tyler Bates – The Mill
Tyler Bates – The Mask/12 Years Later
Tyler Bates – Freeing Slaves
Tyler Bates – Death Of A Priest
Tyler Bates – One Way Ride
Tyler Bates – The Temple
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – The Wild Lands of Zelata
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – Night of the Serpent
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – Field of the Dead
RMaster – Theme Song – From World of Warcraft 2
Harajuku Nation – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Sons of Skyrim
Inon Zur – The Chantry’s Hubris
Inon Zur – Mages In Their Chantry
Inon Zur – Ruins Of Ostagar
Inon Zur – Enter The Korcari Wilds
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Strength And Honor
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Reunion
Michael Hoenig – Leaving-Home
Jerry Goldsmith – The Cave Of Death
Jeremy Soule – Thornwood Shadows
Jeremy Soule – Thus Spake Tippy
Jeremy Soule – Poe’s Nightmare
Jeremy Soule – The Zodiac Islands
John Ottman – Jack and Isabelle – Theme from Jack the Giant Slayer
Cris Velasco – Into The Rift
Cris Velasco – Respite
Cris Velasco – Into The Depths
Cris Velasco – Lost
Cris Velasco – Remember The Dead
Bear McCreary – A mysterious Jungle
Bear McCreary – Altar Sacrifice
Bear McCreary – Crash Site

COMBAT – ‘Nuff Said

Trevor Jones – Fort Battle
Trevor Jones – Massacre/Canoes
Horner, James – Horner: Attack on Murron [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: Revenge [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – ‘Sons of Scotland’ [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: The Battle of Stirling [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: Falkirk [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Mornay’s Dream [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Midnight Syndicate – Ride to Destiny
Midnight Syndicate – Skirmish
Midnight Syndicate – Heroes’ Valor
Midnight Syndicate – Beasts of the Borderlands
Midnight Syndicate – Forging the Scarab
Midnight Syndicate – Injecting the Formula
Midnight Syndicate – Birds of Prey
Midnight Syndicate – Surrounded
Midnight Syndicate – Showdown in the Lab
Midnight Syndicate – Gor
Midnight Syndicate – Final Confrontation With Dr. V
Midnight Syndicate – Into the Abyss
Midnight Syndicate – Forbidden Crypts
Midnight Syndicate – Cold Embrace
Midnight Syndicate – Gruesome Discovery
Midnight Syndicate – The 13th Hour
Midnight Syndicate – Skirmish
Midnight Syndicate – Heroes’ Valor
Midnight Syndicate – Deep Trouble
Midnight Syndicate – Beasts of the Borderlands
Midnight Syndicate – Lair of the Great Wyrm
Midnight Syndicate – How Strange…
Midnight Syndicate – Army of the Dead
Midnight Syndicate – Final Confrontation
Midnight Syndicate – Welcome
Midnight Syndicate – Dark Discovery
Midnight Syndicate – Unrest in the East Wing
Justin Caine Burnett – Thieves’ Fight
Justin Caine Burnett – Battle On The Rooftop
Justin Caine Burnett – Fighting Profion
Justin Caine Burnett – Antius City
Justin Caine Burnett – On The Run
Justin Caine Burnett – The Maze
Justin Caine Burnett – Damoadar’s Curse
Sascha Dikiciyan – Removing The Bandit Threat
Cris Velasco – Burning Rubber And Shooting Bullets
Cris Velasco – Fighting Sledge’s Minions
Sascha Dikiciyan – Smoking Out The Bunker
Cris Velasco – Fighting Krom And His Gun
Cris Velasco – Trash The Bandits Some More
Cris Velasco – Trash The Bandits
Cris Velasco – Fight For The Crypts
Cris Velasco – The Dawn Of War
Cris Velasco – Bedlam
Cris Velasco – Ambush
Cris Velasco – The Battle Begins
Cris Velasco – The Battle Begins
Klaus Badelt – The Black Pearl
Klaus Badelt – Will And Elizabeth
Klaus Badelt – Swords Crossed
Klaus Badelt – Walk The Plank
Klaus Badelt – Barbossa Is Hungry
Klaus Badelt – To The Pirates’ Cave!
Klaus Badelt – Skull And Crossbones
Klaus Badelt – Bootstrap’s Bootstraps
Klaus Badelt – He’s a Pirate
Hans Zimmer – Jack Sparrow – Score
Hans Zimmer – The Kraken – Score
Hans Zimmer – Dinner Is Served – Score
Hans Zimmer – Wheel of Fortune – Score
Hans Zimmer – I Don’t Think Now Is the Best Time – Score
The Last Samurai – Spectres in the Fog
The Last Samurai – The Way of the Sword
Tyler Bates – Egg Race
Tyler Bates – Cimmerian Battle
Tyler Bates – Prison Interrogation
Tyler Bates – Off With Their Heads
Tyler Bates – Horse Chase
Tyler Bates – Outpost
Tyler Bates – Oceans Of Blood
Tyler Bates – The Dweller
Tyler Bates – Skull Mountain
Tyler Bates – Wheel Of Torture
Tyler Bates – Zym’s Demise
Tyler Bates – Skull Mountain
Tyler Bates – Wheel Of Torture
Tyler Bates – Zym’s Demise
Movie Sounds Unlimited – Conan the Barbarian – Main Theme
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – Day of Wrath
Yvonne S. Moriarty – The Battle
Yvonne S. Moriarty – The Might Of Rome
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Barbarian Horde
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra – Theme From Hook
Howard Shore – The Black Gate Opens
Michael Hoenig – The-Last-BattleMichael Hoenig’s work is found on the Baldur’s Gate games, available on GOG.com for a pittance
Michael Hoenig – The-Gibberling-Horde
Michael Hoenig – Swords-Against-Darkness
Michael Hoenig – Hobgoblins-And-Worgs
Michael Hoenig – Gorions-Battle
Michael Hoenig – Giant-Spiders
James Newton Howard – The Skyboat
Michael Kamen – The Cardinal’s Coach (Estampie)
Erich Kunzel: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra – Willow – Main Themes
Erich Kunzel: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra – The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad – Overture
Michael Hoenig – Fighting-For-Survival
Michael Hoenig – Bandit-Melee
Basil Pouledoris – Conan the Barbarian – Riddle of Steel (Riders of Doom)
Basil Pouledoris – Conan the Barbarian – The Kitchen (The Orgy)
Erich Kunzel: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra – Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves – Main Titles
Erich Kunzel: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra – Clash Of The Titans – Main Titles, Love Theme & End Titles
Howard Shore – The Riders Of Rohan
Howard Shore – Helm’s Deep
Howard Shore – Minas Morgul
Howard Shore – The Black Gate Opens
Jerry Goldsmith – Viking Heads
Jerry Goldsmith – The Horns Of Hell
Jerry Goldsmith – The Fire Dragon
Jerry Goldsmith – Swing Across
Sam Hulick – I Will Watch Over the Ones Who Live On
Jeremy Soule – Rise of Valgore
Jeremy Soule – Trolo’s Complaint
Jeremy Soule – Ahab’s Abyss
Jeremy Soule – Bonus Track
John Ottman – The Battle
John Ottman – Chase to Cloister
Bill Brown – Reincarnation of Tragedy
Bill Brown – Apocalyptic Divine Evil
Hyobum Lim – To The Evil’s Cathadral
Cris Velasco – Fight For The Crypts
Cris Velasco – The Dawn Of War
Cris Velasco – Bedlam
Cris Velasco – Ambush
Tyler Bates – Prologue
Tyler Bates – His Name Is Conan
Tyler Bates – Egg Race
Tyler Bates – Fire And Ice
Tyler Bates – Cimmerian Battle
Tyler Bates – The Mill
Tyler Bates – The Mask/12 Years Later
Tyler Bates – Freeing Slaves
Tyler Bates – Prison Interrogation
Tyler Bates – Monastery Approach
Tyler Bates – Off With Their Heads
Tyler Bates – Horse Chase
Tyler Bates – Death Of A Priest
Tyler Bates – One Way Ride
Tyler Bates – Outpost
Tyler Bates – Fever
Tyler Bates – Victory
Tyler Bates – A Kiss
Tyler Bates – The Temple
Tyler Bates – Oceans Of Blood
Tyler Bates – The Dweller
Tyler Bates – Skull Mountain
Tyler Bates – Wheel Of Torture
Tyler Bates – Zym’s Demise
Tyler Bates – Conan Returns Home
Bear McCreary – Village Attack
Bear McCreary – Archon
Bear McCreary – Taking Flight

CREEPY

Midnight Syndicate – Nightfall
Midnight Syndicate – Entering the Crypt
Midnight Syndicate – Alchemist’s Chamber
Midnight Syndicate – Tear of Osiris
Midnight Syndicate – Shadows Descend
Midnight Syndicate – Inside the Scarab
Midnight Syndicate – Lullaby
Midnight Syndicate – Darkness Descends
Midnight Syndicate – Return of the Apparition
Midnight Syndicate – Haunted Nursery
Midnight Syndicate – The Night Beckons
Midnight Syndicate – Theme to The Dead Matter (Vampire\’s Kiss)
Midnight Syndicate – Soliloquy
Midnight Syndicate – Theme to Journey Into Dementia
Midnight Syndicate – The Drawing Room
Midnight Syndicate – Footsteps in the Dust
Midnight Syndicate – Veiled Hunter
Midnight Syndicate – Sinister Pact
Midnight Syndicate – Catacombs
Midnight Syndicate – Unseen Eyes
Midnight Syndicate – Spectral Masquerade
Midnight Syndicate – Haverghast Asylum
Midnight Syndicate – Adelaide
Midnight Syndicate – Non Compos Mentis
Midnight Syndicate – Infestation
Midnight Syndicate – Morbid Fascination
Midnight Syndicate – Revelation
Nox Arcana – Threshold of Madness
Jeremy Soule – Darkwood Vault
Jeremy Soule – The Cave
Cris Velasco – The Covent Gardens

EXPOSITION

Horner, James – Main Title [Braveheart]
Midnight Syndicate – Soliloquy
Midnight Syndicate – Prelude
Midnight Syndicate – Troubled Times
Midnight Syndicate – Secret Chamber
Midnight Syndicate – Ruins of Bone Hill
Tyler Bates – Prologue
Harajuku Nation – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Sons of Skyrim
Inon Zur – Dragon Age: Origins
Inon Zur – Mages In Their Chantry
Inon Zur – The Dalish
Michael Hoenig – Night-on-the-Plains
Various Artists – 06 – John Whelan – Eileen Ivers – Trip to Skye
Sam Hulick – Wake Up
Sam Hulick – An End Once and For All – Extended Cut
Jeremy Soule – Poe’s Nightmare
Jeremy Soule – The Menagerie
Jamie Christopherson – The Beginning of Gracia
Bear McCreary – Da Vinci’s Demons Main Title Theme

TRAVEL – For those chase scenes or overland journeys, I’ve found this is more appropriate

Trevor Jones – Main Title
Trevor Jones – Top Of The World
Randy Edelman – The Courier
Horner, James – The Legend spreads [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Midnight Syndicate – Ride to Destiny
Midnight Syndicate – City of Sails
Cris Velasco – Legends
Cris Velasco – Our Hero
Klaus Badelt – The Medallion Calls
Klaus Badelt – One Last Shot
Hans Zimmer – What Shall We Die For – Score
Hans Zimmer – One Day – Score
The Last Samurai – Taken
The Last Samurai – Safe Passage
The Last Samurai – To Know My Enemy
Tyler Bates – Monastery Approach
Tyler Bates – A Kiss
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – The Wild Lands of Zelata
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – The Lure of Atali
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra – Theme From Waterworld
Inon Zur – Dragon Age: Origins
Inon Zur – The Dwarven Nobles
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Strength And Honor
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra – Theme From Alexander (Titans)
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra – Theme From Waterworld
Howard Shore – The Return Of The King (Featuring Sir James Galway, Viggo Mortensen, And Renée Fleming)
Various Artists – The Butterfly
Michael Kamen – The Cardinal’s Coach (Estampie)
Basil Pouledoris – Conan the Barbarian – Column of Sadness (Wheel of Pain)
Erich Kunzel: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra – Jurassic Park – Main Themes
Jerry Goldsmith – The Sword Maker
Various Artists – The Butterfly
Various Artists – 06 – John Whelan – Eileen Ivers – Trip to Skye
Jeremy Soule – Elegant Plot Exposition Theme
Jeremy Soule – The Zodiac Islands
Bear McCreary – Theme from Dark Void
Bear McCreary – Defending the Ark

TOWN – Downtime, romance, etc.

Trevor Jones – The Kiss
Trevor Jones – The Glade Part II
Trevor Jones – Promentory
Randy Edelman – Cora
Randy Edelman – Rival Walk and Discovery
Randy Edelman – Parlay
Randy Edelman – The British Arrival
Horner, James – Main Title [Braveheart]
Horner, James – Horner: A Gift of a Thistle – A Gift of a Thistle [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: Wallace Courts Murron [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: The Secret Wedding – The Secret Wedding [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: Murron’s Burial – Murron’s Burial [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: Making Plans/Gathering the Clans [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: For The Love Of A Princess
Horner, James – The Legend spreads [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Horner, James – Horner: The Princess pleads for Wallace’s Life [Braveheart – Original Sound Track]
Midnight Syndicate – City of Sails
Midnight Syndicate – Ancient Tomes
Cris Velasco – Respite
Cris Velasco – Remember The Dead
Cris Velasco – Stepping Through The Wardrobe
Cris Velasco – Perfect Neighbors
Klaus Badelt – Fog Bound
Klaus Badelt – The Medallion Calls
Klaus Badelt – Moonlight Serenade
Klaus Badelt – Underwater March
Klaus Badelt – One Last Shot
Hans Zimmer – Two Hornpipes (Tortuga) – Score
Hans Zimmer – You Look Good Jack – Score
Hans Zimmer – Singapore – Score
Hans Zimmer – Up Is Down – Score
Hans Zimmer – I See Dead People in Boats – Score
Hans Zimmer – The Brethren Court – Score
Hans Zimmer – Parlay – Score
Hans Zimmer – What Shall We Die For – Score
Hans Zimmer – Guilty of Being Innocent of Being Jack Sparrow
The Last Samurai – A Way of Life
The Last Samurai – A Small Measure of Peace
The Last Samurai – Idyll’s End
The Last Samurai – A Hard Teacher
The Last Samurai – Taken
The Last Samurai – A Way of Life
Tyler Bates – His Name Is Conan
Tyler Bates – Fire And Ice
Tyler Bates – Victory
Tyler Bates – A Kiss
Tyler Bates – Conan Returns Home
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – The Wild Lands of Zelata
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – Night of the Serpent
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – The Lure of Atali
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – The Sands of Forgetfulnes – Tortage Beach
Knut Avenstroup Haugen – The Damp Barachan Nights
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra – Theme From Waterworld
Jason Hayes – World of Warcraft: Seasons of War
Video Games Live – World of Warcraft: Lament of the Highborne
The Stereoscopic Orchestra – World of Warcraft – Son of Arthas
Inon Zur – Dragon Age: Origins
Inon Zur – Elves At The Mercy Of Man
Inon Zur – The Dwarven Nobles
Inon Zur – The Common Dwarf
Inon Zur – The Dalish
Inon Zur – Human Nobility
Yvonne S. Moriarty – The Wheat
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Sorrow
Yvonne S. Moriarty – To Zuccabar
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Patricide
Yvonne S. Moriarty – The Emperor Is Dead
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Reunion
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Slaves To Rome
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Am I Not Merciful?
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Elysium
Yvonne S. Moriarty – Honor Him
Lisa Gerrard – Now We Are Free
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra – Theme From Exodus
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra – Theme From Excalibur
Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra – Theme From Black Robe
Alasdair Fraser – Calliope House / The Cowboy Jig Medley
– Hommlet_Level_loop — This is from Greyhawk: Temple of Elemental Evil available on GOG.Com
– good_vignette This is from Greyhawk: Temple of Elemental Evil available on GOG.Com
Michael Hoenig – Streets-of-the-City
Michael Hoenig – The-Beregost-Night
Michael Hoenig – The-Dream
Michael Hoenig – The-Friendly-Arms-Inn
Michael Hoenig – The-Ladys-House
Various Artists – Carolan’s Ramble To Cashel
Various Artists – Christina
Various Artists – Wayfarer
Various Artists – Simon Wynberg – Strathgarry /
Michael Hoenig – Helms-Temple
Erich Kunzel: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra – The Princess Bride – Main Titles
Howard Shore – The Breaking Of The Fellowship
Howard Shore – The Return Of The King (Featuring Sir James Galway, Viggo Mortensen, And Renée Fleming)
Michael Hoenig – Night-on-the-Plains
Michael Hoenig – Safe-in-Beregost
James Galway – Slievenamon
James Galway – The Dark Island (With The Chieftains)
Michael Hoenig – Cloakwood-Forest
Basil Pouledoris – Conan the Barbarian – The Gift of Fury
Basil Pouledoris – Conan the Barbarian – Theology (Civilisation)
Basil Pouledoris – Conan the Barbarian – Love Theme
Basil Pouledoris – Conan the Barbarian – Mountain of Power Procession
Basil Pouledoris – Conan the Barbarian – Recovery
Erich Kunzel: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra – El Cid – Fanfare & Entry Of The Nobles
Howard Shore – Brooklyn Heights Part 1
Howard Shore – Evenstar (Featuring Isabel Bayrakdarian)
Howard Shore – The Steward of Gondor
Howard Shore – Twilight and Shadow
Jerry Goldsmith – Old Bagdad
Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna – The Blood Of Cu Chulainn
Peter Gabriel – The Feeling Begins – 2002 Digital Remaster
Peter Gabriel – Lazarus Raised
Peter Gabriel – Before Night Falls
Peter Gabriel – Passion
Peter Gabriel – With This Love – Choir
Peter Gabriel – Wall Of Breath
Peter Gabriel – Disturbed
Various Artists – The Butterfly
Various Artists – 06 – John Whelan – Eileen Ivers – Trip to Skye
Various Artists – 07 – Alasdair Frasier – Are Ye Sleeping, Maggie
Various Artists – Moving Hearts – Tribute To Pea
Various Artists – Relativity – Siun Ni Dhuibhir
Various Artists – Simon Wynberg – Strathgarry /
Jeremy Soule – Frontier Home
John Ottman – Goodbyes
Cris Velasco – Borderlands
Bear McCreary – Tesla’s Laboratory

Edge of the Empire – Star Wars RPG Review

August 5, 2013 Comments off

coverI recently picked up the Core Rulebook for Edge of the Empire, just minutes before a game session being held at our Friendly Local Gaming Store, the Wyvern’s Tale. I wasn’t completely new to the rules, having picked up the beginner game a few months ago. I had really enjoyed running the beginner game for some friends, and so I had high hopes for the big book. It did not disappoint.

Weighing in at 448 pages, the book contains everything you need to run an Edge of the Empire game, other than the dice (more on that later). It is filled with rich full-color illustrations and is very nicely laid out with relevant sidebars and examples for different aspects of the game.

Edge of the Empire focuses on worlds around the “outer rim” of known space. The character careers and specializations reflect this Space-Opera meets Wild-west sort of feel. Each career has 3 specializations. When combined with the different race options, there is a huge variety of character options in this book. Careers include: Bounty Hunter, Colonist, Explorer, Hired Gun, Smuggler, and Technician. Each have three specializations which allow access to skill-trees that reflect that specialization. For instance, the three specializations for Technician are Mechanic, Outlaw Tech, and Slicer. A mechanic is mostly going to focus on skills that keep ships operating smoothly, An outlaw tech focuses on improving and modifying equipment and droids, sometimes with less-than-legal components! A slicer is unmatched in computer skills and accessing systems to gain advantages through information, or control over those systems. That is a LOT of variation in one career!

The system itself is a unique balance of rules-light improv, and rules-heavy tables and mechanics. My favorite aspect of both the combat and skill system is that it isn’t as simple as hit or miss. When you roll a check you assemble a dice pool. The dice pool is made up of positive dice from your skill and proficiency dice, as well as boost dice that represent any factors that may be in your favor, and the negative dice made up from difficulty dice, challenge dice, and setback dice representing everything that is working against the action you are trying to accomplish. For a very difficult task, you add more negative dice to the dice pool. Rather than just being numbers on the dice, there are several symbols that can come up. On the positive dice you have symbols representing successes, advantages, and triumphs. On the negative dice you have symbols for failure, threat, and despair. For an action to succeed, you need to roll more successes than failures, but here is where it gets interesting: whether or not you succeed you can create an advantage or a setback. For instance, if you try and shoot a storm-trooper with your blaster, you may not roll enough more successes than you do failures, meaning your shot missed. However, if you roll more advantages than you do threats, your shot has had some advantageous effect. What that is is up to you and the GM to make up. Maybe your shot hits a coolant pipe near the storm-trooper, reducing their visibility which makes it harder for them to attack you! Mechanically this adds negative dice to their die pool on the next attack, but you decide the flavor to make the action awesome! Conversely, you may get enough successes to hit, but you may also generate a threat. This could be shooting the storm-trooper in the chest, but the force of the hit backing his body into an alarm button on the wall! Your imagination is the limit, just like what every good RPG should strive to be.

diceShip to ship combat is done in much the same way, and in my experience moves quickly and is action-packed. There is a conversion table for regular dice (d6, d8 and d12) but looking up all of those and figuring out which is cancelling what would bog down the action to the point where the dice really become worth it. There is also an application for the dice for iOS, Android, and Kindle, for $5.00, but if your interest is piqued, I would recommend the Beginner Game, which includes a set of dice, a two-sided map, character and baddy markers, and an excellent adventure that throws you in to the action right away. I’m looking forward to running this for the guys, hopefully for many sessions to come!

Pros:

– Many players will be familiar with a lot of the “feel” and details if they are Star Wars fans

– Narrative action system combines the best of mechanics and improv for a cinematic, fast-paced combat

– Tons of options for characters and backstories

Cons:

– Custom and expensive dice

– High buy-in between the Core Book (MSRP $59.95) and dice (MSRP $14.95)

– No PDF version of the book