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A Game of Game of Thrones

March 31, 2014 Comments off

GRR2707_450Winter is… actually over, but almost here. Again.

This Sunday, the newest season of Game of Thrones returns on HBO. To celebrate this, our gaming group has decided to give Green Ronin Publishing’s “A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying” a try. SIFRP, as it is called, has been out for a while now and there’s several sourcebooks out to help both players and GMs play on the continent of Westeros (and beyond).

We’re going to play through the adventure included at the end of the book, which presupposes the players all being of the same house who set out to increase their fortunes at a tourney held by King Robert Baratheon. While character generation is pretty standard and straightforward, the game really shines (for me) during the House creation, which is unique in my experience.

I’ve created a House for the game to be used as needed. It could be an ally, it could be an enemy. The generation system is both simple and complex, and allows for quite a bit of leeway for the Narrator (GM) to adjust as they see fit. I followed the system as is, without making any changes and came up with the following:

Step One: Realm

You roll 3d6 and that determines which part of Westeros the house is from. The North, Dorne, King’s Landing? All are possible, but with my roll of 11, the house is located in the Mountains of the Moon.

Step Two: Resources

Defense, Influence, Land, Law, Population, Power and Wealth. You roll 7d6 for each resource and adjust it based on location. For example, The West (Casterly Rock) has all those Lannister gold mines and get a bonus to Wealth. The North is vast and gets a bonus to Land. The Mountains of the Moon is a sparse (minus to land) location, but very hard to assail in battle (bonus to Defense) and all those clans in the mountains continually cause problems (minus to Law and Population). The rolls were above average in both Influence and Power, so this tells me that the House is well known and influential… about the size of House Florent or House Frey in the books. But we’re not done yet… as all of the Resources can be influenced by the next step, History, or by a monthly Fortune roll (to increase one Resource).

Step Three: History

Rolling a d6, I got the highest result, meaning the House is very old and was founded during the Andal Invasion. That certainly explains it’s Power and Influence! A number of “Events” are generated. The six I got were: Victory, Ascent, Victory, Scandal, Decline, Scandal. Each “event” adds or subtracts a random amount to the resources. I can see why maybe nobody has heard of this House tucked away in the Mountains of the Moon. In the past, they were well known and even on their way to a powerhouse, but their more recent history is plagued with a couple scandals with perhaps a death of an heir? That could cause all manner of problems. The last step with resources is for each player to roll and add to their choice of Resource where they think it would do the most good.

Adding It Up

I rolled expecting four players and, after all was said and done, came up with the following:

Defense 48 – This is a house with excellent defenses. A castle? Soldiers? Plenty of resources to spend there. We’ll spend 40 points to have a Castle. Because: castles are cool.

Influence 43 – Again, an excellent score and still commands respect, and is perhaps well known outside of it’s Realm for one reason or another. This score they like to (as I said above) either House Frey (Red Wedding, anyone?) or House Florent in the South. With that much Influence to spend, we can have an Heir for 20 points, a second son for 10 and a first daughter for another 10. Don’t fret, if we had been in Dorne the Heir could be a daughter.

Land 13 – Small holdings. Not much room in the valley or the mountains, so this makes perfect sense. Not much to spend here, but let’s spend it all. We can have a stream for 1 point, a road for 5 and hills for 7.

Law 18 – Banditry is common and lawlessness outside of the main environs. Rampaging clans of Black Ears maybe? This has no effect except later during our monthly “Fortune” roll, and gives us a -5.

Population 19 – Small. One small town, probably in the shadow of whatever keep or tower we decide upon. Again, no effect here, but just barely enough so we do not suffer a penalty to our Fortune.

Power 31 – 20 points spent means least 1 “Banner” house sworn to the main house (maybe the player house?), and some soldiers; as well as being generally respected by other houses militarily. We can buy Household Guards for 6, Archers for 3 and Scouts for 2. We’re not concerned so much with chivalry (and horses are expensive) so we’ll stick to our scouts and archers for now.

Wealth 36 – A surprising good roll means that there is something on the land or in the past that makes the house prosperous. 10 points buys us the presence of a Maester. Another 10 buys us a mine, which gives +5 to our Fortune roll for a net of 0. Another 10 and we can have a Marketplace. Makes sense… with our road and stream, trade is brisk in our little town.

My Kingdom for a Shield

The final step is heraldry. I rolled randomly for house colors (blue and silver) and followed the directions and got something completely unworkable. Therefore, I took some of the books other advice, which is to come up with something on my own. Swirling those around with all of the information rolled previously, I’d ended up with the followng:

 

silverstream

House Durant of Silverstream

Formed shortly after a decisive victory during the Andal Invasion of Westeros, House Durant has been a fixture in the Mountains of the Moon. Sworn to House Arryn, they comported themselves with great honor in their antiquity, being granted lands north of the Eyrie and a silver mine as well. However, when the Targaryens conquered Westeros, they attempted (perhaps unwisely) to stay out of the fight and were called to task for their cowardice. That led to a long period of decline. In what could have been a fatal blow to the House, twenty years ago the last Lord contracted greyscale and the only children left were a bastard and several distant cousins. Jon Arryn took pity on the ancient house and raised the bastard to Lordship, married him to one of the cousins, and let him keep his father’s mines and titles. The current Lord Durant hopes that the tourney he and his household are attending will be a turning point for the family.

 

So there we have it: an interesting House generated almost entirely via the rules of Green Ronin’s SIFRP to use in our latest game. We’ll have to wait and see if the players have what it takes to win the Game of Thrones, and which house will Fortune favor?

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Dangerous Covenants Review – Star Wars Edge of the Empire

March 27, 2014 Comments off

AggressiveNegotiationsThe latest sourcebook for Edge expands on the Hired Gun career. The TL;DR is this is my favorite Edge sourcebook yet. First off, the cover has a heavily-armored Aqualish brandishing a smoking multi-barrelled repeating blaster. This is the book to use when the party decides “aggressive negotiations” are in order. The races added are Aqualish (walrus dudes), Weequay (Hondo Ohnaka and his pirate gang) and Klatooinians (tough dog-faced people from Klatooine). The new specializations for hired guns are Enforcer (good mix of melee/underworld social skills), Demolitionist (Awesome for setting traps, and blowing stuff up of course), and Heavy (Unstoppable tank, best at wielding the biggest guns possible).

SWE08-book-leftTo Edge of the Empire’s credit, it’s not just all new guns and new characters to use them. It provides a lot more detail and ideas for hired gun backgrounds and obligations for the new as well as the originial hired gun specializations. The book is divided into three chapters, the first is all about the new backgrounds, races and specializations as well as new signature abilities like the ones added for explorers in Enter the Unknown. The second chapter is new weapons, armor, explosives, attachments and vehicles. Toward the end of the chapter there is a quick conversion table to turn a civilian vehicle into a paramilitary version. This allows you to drop a template on any stat block for vehicles already detailed in previous books and make them armed and armored! The third chapter is GM-focused, and deals with encounters, campaigns and rewards that cater to the hired gun career, as well as tips about running cinematic combat.

The page count breaks down this way: Total 96, intro 6 pages, new races/specializations/talents 30 pages, new gear/vehicles/ships 34 pages, encounters/campaigns/rewards 26 pages. Most of the stuff in this book is going to appeal to PCs, though really any of it could be used by the GM. If there is one thing I’ve learned from running this game, put big guns on the field and the PCs will find a way to use them. I think the combat system is one of the real strengths of Edge, and this book gives you a much bigger toolbox to work with than what is in the core. Plus, I’ve already got a smuggler in one of my groups that is always trying to rig up a trap with grenades, he may want to stat up a demolitionist!

If you’ve been on the fence about buying any of the expansion books for Edge, but really like the combat aspect of the game this book is a must have. If you enjoy more of the diplomatic missions/characters you may want to pass, but I don’t think any party of scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells would be complete without one guy with a whole lot of firepower.

DCC Leprechauns!

March 17, 2014 Comments off

271px-Leprechaun_ill_artlibre_jnlJust in time for St. Patrick’s Day, we present a new twist on an old favorite for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG: The Leprechaun!

Leprechaun Init +2, Atk shillelagh +2 melee (1d6); AC 17; HD 3d6; MV 20′; Act 1d20; SP invoke patron (The King of Elfland) at 1d20+5; SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C. Patron spells: Forest Walk and War Horn of Elfland (caster level 5). Always found with triple treasure.

Leprechauns are small fey creatures in service to The King of Elfland as guardians of His Fey Majesty’s treasures. Typically found at the end of a rainbow in deep forest glades, these seemingly friendly creatures look like small elves wearing green garb and shiny black boots, but are ferocious if confronted — fighting to the death to protect their hoard. Capriciously, however, they do sometimes seek out adventurers to play tricks upon. Even after their defeat, the pernicious magic of Elfland can reach out and curse anyone who steals from the King: the first person to touch any part of a leprechaun’s hoard (which is usually kept in an iron cauldron) will be affected by The King of Elfland’s patron taint (spellcasters roll 1d6, non-spellcasters roll 1d5).

Speaking of Dungeon Crawl Classics (and Goodman Games)… they are currently seeking funding via Kickstarter for next year’s World Tour. In 2013, the “Band” of DCC RPG creative team ran games at different conventions around the country, and fans and GMs were given free swag to support events at local game stores and conventions. There’s a lot of chances to get some cool swag for you and your group as well as games ran by “The Band” and even *drumroll* A WIZARD VAN! Sounds like a great opportunity to increase the play of DCC in your area.

Categories: DCCRPG, holiday, kickstarter

Review: Ultimate Psionics

March 10, 2014 Comments off

psionicsOne of the Kickstarters that I had been waiting for excitedly and impatiently was Ultimate Psionics by Dreamscarred Press.  The original Kickstarter back in 2012 was to combine Dreamscarred’s Psionics Unleashed and Psionics Expanded into a single hardcover.  With all of the stretch goals achieved, the book grew even larger with more content that took this book to a level that I was not expecting.  I purposely did not partake in the forums or even read the previous editions because I wanted to be introduced to psionics for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game in a bold and fresh way.  Psionics have always intrigued me and I backed this one without hesitation.  And I am glad I did.

The content of this book is very informative and provides options for anything that a player may want to play.  The races, classes, skills, feats and powers run from the very simple to the more complex to be used easily by both beginners and experienced players alike.  Advanced options, such as archetypes, alternate racial traits and prestige classes, fit seamlessly with original and psionic character concepts.  Psionic weapons, armors and other items in the equipment chapter provide a few new options for any character, psionic or not.

The only drawback I could see is if you are not prepared for a psionics campaign.  Specifically targeting a player could lead to problems, but on the other hand there has to be ways to counter psionics.  A GM will need to be able to balance that effectively.

Let me just finally say that Ultimate Psionics is a beautiful book.  I was unable to get the full-color version of the book, but the art inside is top notch.  Dreamscarred did a great job with their artist pool and the gorgeous Wayne Reynolds cover ties it all together.

My recommendation?  Buy this book for your Pathfinder campaign.  Do it.

It was during the D&D 4th Edition Encounters season that introduced the Player’s Handbook 3 and I created the infamous Banglor Granitehide, dwarf battlemind.  It was during this time that I met the rest of the Skyland Games fellas.  After the end of the season we decided to keep our adventures going and create a campaign where each of us played a dwarf.  Sort of a bit of nostalgia for me; now back to Banglor.

Banglor Granitehide was a tough son-of-a-dwarf and I longed to convert him into Pathfinder, but there was no real way to do that, until now.  During his adventures in 4th Edition, he was basically untouchable as a battlemind (except for falls from ladders and beholder’s death rays) and even received an Elan body.  Keeping all that in mind I set about re-creating Banglor for Pathfinder.

I decided to go with the Elan race, but take the ‘failed transformation’ alternate trait to signify his origins as a dwarf.  I then chose to go with the Aberrant archetype of the Aegis class to give him the incredible resiliance he was known for.  Finally, I decided to level him to where he could take the Warmind prestige class, which closely matched the Paragon Tier he achieved in 4th Edition.  His character sheets are below; the first is just regular and relaxed, the second is focused and armored up.  I did this all by hand and I only found 2 mistakes (Will save is 1 too high and I think the Power Points are off).  I cannot wait until the Hero Lab files are released!

BanglorGranitehide BanglorGranitehideArmored