October 17, 2015

It has been a while…

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 6:16 pm

Hey folks, I am going through a site update and hopefully will have some time to work on a few projects that Linda has been encouraging me to do. First, she wants a revisit of the Squirrel Attack series. We need to look at making the system more streamlined and I would like to look at the first couple of adventures that parodied popular genres of games while celebrating the style. I think it would be interesting and worth while.

Second, Nebuleon really needs to get a revision. Healing is poorly covered and I think some of the civilizations could be expanded on. As well, A.I. need to be tightened up as I think they sometimes run a little too loose with the definitions. In general, and this leads to the next point, Iridium needs a refit that could smooth its play a bit.

Third, Iridium makes me happy but I would like to see a few changes. First, fewer stats that have broader application. So, drop to 5-6 stats and let those drive to hit probabilities. I am toying with decreasing body locations to 5 and generally simplifying the system with a decrease of rules and clutter. That said, I am not set on a path yet.

Finally, I would like to revisit and update the site, specifically go after CHARGen and make it more flexible with upgrades to modern tech.

So, I hope to be posting here more often.


September 25, 2011

Design Note: When a mechanic works properly

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 9:24 pm

So, it has been a while but I had a bit of inspiration the other day. I thought back on the many vehicular combats in Nebuleon and how happy I am that they work out well most all the time. This comes from having envisioned how I wanted a mechanic to work and then putting to paper just how to do it. More than that though, it is the realization of a idea in a corporeal form.

Example: A team was sent to a polar region of the planet Dons-Kal-rien, a Dremin world. The arctic region was a corporate preserve and proving ground for W.A.R. Ind. These jokers were supposed to use their formidable stealth skills to infiltrate and do some espionage. What they found surprised them. It turned out to be an illegal clone farm for elite Dremin looking for spare organs and such. Well, lots fo adventure later, they end up in a hanger for experimental vehicles with a ton of security. Basic running fire-fight (remember, stealth). They come across a crate of AP shoulder mounter ground to air missiles. One of the security guys is a pilot and powers up a vtol with an experimental (and illegal) particle cannon that basically melts flesh. They get the drop on the pilot as he has to roll piloting to take off (weapon wont fire on the ground) and a weapons tech check (usually you have a gunner to handle that) at a minus. Joker ex-marine has a Heavy weapons skill. Whips out the Missile launcher and fires.

Here is the part that filled me with joy. The weapon hit. We determined the location randomly, and it turned out to be the weapons pod holding the beam weapon. Bam! Taken out. But this monster has high velocity rapid fire gauss rifles on it as well and the pilot switches over to auto-fire and blazes away taking down one of the Jokers. The medic is on her in a flash and begins life support. Ex-Marine joker fires a second missile and this one hits the engine taking the vtol down.

What is missed in that description is the effortless back and forth of the system. It PLAYED like that. The system did not get int he way, it faded but emphasized, it guided but did not dictate the actions.

In short, the system was informative to the outcome of the actions of the players. That, to me, is cool.

April 1, 2010

Creating Races in Iridium

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 2:57 pm

This is taken from an article on the site. I will be updating it for Iridium V2 but surprisingly it probably will not change much.

The following is for people who might wish to create their own races for any of our settings. The process is very simple and can be accomplished in about half an hour.

Racial Concept
The first step is to form a mental concept of the new race. For example, a new, inoffensive race is needed to populate a newly discovered planet in a Nebuleon (Sci-Fi) campaign. Knowledge of the planet (a temperate water and swamp world) and what is needed for the campaign (primitive natives that can help or hinder the player characters, depending on how the first meeting goes) should help develop a racial concept. With that goal in mind, the following concept for the new race, called the Rihdahn, can be created.

The Rihdahn are amphibious and live on the many riverbanks of their word. They use tools but are not very dexterous. They stand between 1.4 and 1.8 m and weigh about 50-60 kg. The have rubbery skin like a dolphin but have a large number of tentacles for their base and an upper body with three primary tentacle stalks that they use as hands. Their heads are compact and they have no neck and shoulders to speak of. Their face is a mash of six eyes placed around their head and a central mouth filled with teeth. The Rihdahn appearance can be misleading, allowing one to believe they are ferocious hunters when they actually prefer a form of fresh water vegetation.

The Rihdahn are willing servants and love the chance to travel. They were first discovered by a RFW survey team and have since worked well in water environments as scouts. Unfortunately, they have little aptitude with technology and have had little success in the greater sense of the Nebuleos.
Racial Modifiers

Racial modifiers should reflect the nature of the race to be defined. Minor modifiers of plus one or two should reflect natural aptitudes, such as an increased agility for multi-legged creatures. Larger modifiers of plus three or more should be restricted to truly super-natural attributes beyond the ability of humans to attain. On rare occasions, a guaranteed above 20 stat may be appropriate, such as the appearance of elves in our fantasy setting. It is not necessary to have stat pluses and minuses balance out, but any obvious stat advantages need to be compensated with a social or physical restriction (race is discriminated against, or lacks a corporeal body, etc).

The Rihdahn have the following adjustments:
-5 +4 -1 +2 -2
+2 -4 +0
Spiritual LUC PIE WIL
+0 +2 +2

Remember, not every attribute needs a modifier.

Racial Abilities
Racial abilities are innate things like natural armor, spell casting capabilities, or flight. Abilities like night sight and extraordinary sense of smell can be defined in terms of percentage beyond normal sense or their chance to use it. For instance, extraordinary sense of sell of 40% means the race has a 40% chance of smelling a scent not normally available to humans. A race with 40% night sight would be able to see 40% as well in the dark as they would in daylight. Alternatively, the GM could make the character check on percentiles making them roll under the 40%.

The Rihdahn have a thin layer of blubber that gives them a small amount of protective armor. This equates to 10 points in all areas. They are also amphibious and can hold their breath under water for 20 minutes.

Racial weaknesses should also be included here. The Rihdahn dehydrate quickly and do not handle heat well. This translates into a CON check for every day they are away from water. If they fail, they will collapse and be unable to even walk. They will need to be immersed in water for one hour for every day of dryness.
Racial Skills

Racial skills are those skills that a race shares coming from a similar culture. In other words, elves from the woods might use and make bows but elves from the desert would more likely be able to find water. The number of racial skills depends on the general likelihood that all in the race would be exposed to learning it. Alternatively, it can be an indicator of cultural diversity within the race.
The Rihdahn are excellent swimmers and trackers. They also know a great deal about plants.

They receive the following skills:

* Two Tracking Skills
* Three Swimming Skills
* One Herbology Skill

And that’s an example of creating a new race for Nebuleon. This example was more detailed than necessary. A faster creation method merely requires an outline of Racial Modifiers, Abilities and Skills.

Here is a printable version of the Rihdahn
. Have fun creating races!

March 15, 2010

Who’s Yer Con

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 11:05 pm

I went to Indianapolis and it was a pretty good time. Mostly, I went to see Mike Noorman from the MU Skulls who has done a great job Demoing Shades of Earth. He ran an adventure called Thor’s Hammer. We were a group of Department 12 operative recruited by from the British military and some Americans. We were parachuted into Germany where we were set to meet Annette and Anna, spies already in place. They were to help us find Thor’s hammer and keep it from the Germans who hoped to harness it for a weapon in the upcoming war. Hijincks ensue and I end up stabbing an SS soldier int eh face and draining him of all his spirit points while the rest of the team take care of finding the magic belt, gauntlet and book that will allow us to open a gate in the ancient Oak that is the source of all this trouble. It is hoped that the Hammer is hidden inside the Oak but it turn out to be a gate to another world where there is a blue oak with blue pseudo-humans guarding it. We also find some German soldier who went in before us and we enter the fry with me throwing grenades with abandon and the others reading the book to get the hammer. In the end, the thing nearly kills the engineer but we drive off the bad guys and leave the strange land.

All in all, a good demo and a fun time. The criticisms I have, upon reflection, are ones Mike has mentioned himself. This was a combination of two adventures. I think it suffered a bit from the compression and his knowledge of the uncompressed version. I think it would have worked best to go through the tree and ended up in the past (part of the adventure had us finding German weapons from 1200 years ago and the tree obviously acted as a portal), tracking a band of rogue Germans (or even a group of German soldier who joined with the local tribe) to recover the hammer. The problem being you would need to compress the leading a bit in order to get it all in a 4 hour slot.

Overall though, it stressed something I have always believed. There are people who run games like I do. That is to say, in an almost system-less manner. He could have run that game with any system and made it work. The fundamentals were there. Mike is a great GM and I am very lucky to have him demoing my games. I cannot tell him how much I appreciate that (although I sure tried).

Here is a picture.
Mike and MU Skulls

March 8, 2010

Nebuleon SE : Classes

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 12:56 pm

Now, even more so than in V1, Iridium V2 has essentially classes with little meaning beyond character generation. So, classes become life path short hand for skill packages. Essentially, you are picking what you have done for X years. One idea I have is to allow a package to be picked for each 10 years of age beyond 10. For instance, I might be 30 years old and I have been a spy and a soldier garnering me 2 groups of skills.

The problem I have with this and with any life gen system is that I have seen more than once, a group of impossibly old traders bumming it through the galaxy. I am not sure I will incorporate this but it is an interesting idea. You could also stack the packages taking spy twice and getting a better initial package.

Now, all of that said, this is the “classes” from V1:
Fighter Types
Bounty Hunter Pilot Police Soldier Specialist
Performer Types
Actor Artist Craftsman Reporter Tech
Intellectual Types
Medic Engineer Psi
Thief Types
Criminal Investigator Politician Raider Smuggler Spy

The two classes I have received the most flak from are the Reporter and the Politician. These are not popular. I was thinking of cutting them. Thoughts?

Also, I am considering adding Marine, Scientist, historian (although I expect the same “They are worthless”) comments.

So what do you think? What should I cut, should we go with the more life pathy setup?

February 25, 2010

NEB SE: Planetary Generation

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 10:45 pm

First go at the Planet Building system.

Aspects: These are descriptors. So, Physical Aspects are things like landmass, seas, size, environment and the like. They can:
1. have no quantifier
2. Have a quantifier between -10 and 10

For the quantifier we would use it like so. Say, Price Index has a quantifier of 3, then all product prices would be multiplied by 1.3. If it was -3, then they would be multiplied by 0.7.

GMs can make up whatever Aspects they want but some are suggested.

Below is a rough draft of the planetary fact sheet. Click for a bigger version.

Nebuleon SE

Filed under: General — Tags: , — bilbo @ 9:30 am

Matt is asking about Nebuleon SE on facebook as well as Alan over on our forums. Here is what I told Matt:

Gee Matt, you don’t ask the easy ones. 😉 Basically, it has taken a back seet to development of the Squirrel Dice Game. To be honest though, I have been struggling with changes I wish to make to the Iridium version. I really like where Iridium V2 has gone and get great feedback from the play testers but it is still a case of whether to update the Nebuleon SE to Iridium V2 or just stick with V1 and the setting updates I would like. I think what I need is a good editor.

So, I have kind of hit a loop/block. Part of what I am having trouble with is what should be included, what should be added and what should be subtracted. Short list off the top of my head:

1. V1 or V2?
2. Planet generation system? If so, what kind?
3. Ship gen system? Change the ship combat system?
4. I will be clarifying FTL, the effects of travel. the specifics of travelling.
5. Better/clearer rules on healing.
6. ???
7. Profit!!!!

Of course, any suggestions are very welcome. In fact, much like Clash over at Flying Mice I would ask for suggestions, modifications, revisions and requests for Nebuleon SE.

January 28, 2010

Chevalier Play Test

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 9:23 am

This time around I had a go at what I will be calling Aspects. This is inspired by a designer I very much respect, Clash Bowley over on I Fly By Night. Essentially, Aspects are a free form descriptor that the player can generate and invest experience in. However, it goes a bit further than that allowing the GM to imbue items with an Aspect (or more than one). For instance, the other night a knight got a crit on a bandit that had been plaguing the thoroughfare. The sword cut off the limb of the bandit. After the battle, I told him to write down the Aspect: Vorpal Rank 1 for his sword and to give it a name. He named it Thrond as he imagined it came from the north and had Nordic runes on it. As play progressed, he brandished the sword and made a stirring speech to rally his men against a dragon. I gave him the option to advance his Vorpal to Rank 2 or give it an Inspire of Rank 1. He chose the Inspire.

Now, you might ask, that is fine but how does it play out in the system. This worked so much better than I thought it would. Basically, the Vorpal Rank 1 added 1 to damage roles. I switched back and forth between that and adding 1 die to the damage roll. I could see either working. The Inspire affected his Renown (previously called Honor) allowing him to gain 1 addition Renown point whenever he earned 1 normally. Also, I added it to any skill checks for leadership. This mechanic will have more weight in campaign play.

Finally, I want a method to remove Aspect ranks as well. So, a thought would be with weapons and tools, you could have crit failures do this. Perhaps a save of rolling under the rank on a d20. This means you most likely will loose your Vorpal 1 on a failure but could just as easily gain it back (on a crit success).

I look forward to more play test on this as I think it has applications in Nebuleon, Shades and just about all out games.

January 5, 2010

Adaptability of a Game

Filed under: Games — Tags: , — bilbo @ 12:35 pm

To me, any game can be adapted to another setting or genre but, as with any spectrum statement, ease of which one can do such things is variable. Now, in rare cases, a system can be so handicapped as to make it prohibitive for adaptation but this is rare and, to be honest, I have never encountered such a case. I can imagine the possibility but I believe it would indicate a willfulness on the part of the designer to make a system incapable of being adapted as opposed to being such a good fit for a specific setting.

When considering adaptability, the system should be split into three basic parts. Task resolution, special abilities and combat mechanics. It is not so important how these are resolved as it is what they are designed to support. For instance, under special abilities, you might define a spell list and lists are the mechanic however, this makes a lot of work when adapting to a new setting. Say, one based on modern psi powers. However, a free form system allows for higher adaptability and flexibility. The same applies to task resolution. With skills you have a lot esier time adding and subtracting elements while with a class structure it becomes more problematic.

In the end, it is a trick to balance blanding out the system with keeping the mechanics interesting. It is easy to make an ultimately adaptable system but far more difficult to make such a system interesting.

December 28, 2009

Thoughts on Weapon Damage

Filed under: Games — Tags: — bilbo @ 6:01 pm

I have always been of the school that weapons like swords really do similar damage but that the varying damages reflect the ease with which that damage is deliver. So, if you were stabbed with a bowie knife and you were stabbed with a short sword and stabbed yet again with a broad sword, you would essentially be delivering similar damage with all things being equal….but they are not. A broadsword has longer reach and greater heft. These are factors that make the potential to deal damage higher. A dagger can be “faster” but that does not balance out against the inertia that a broadsword or even a short sword has on its side.

All that said, what are your thoughts on incorporating these types of factors into your combat? Does it add something to have the same damage for these three weapons but then have reach and heft play in as factors on to hit and damage?

Just the inkiling of an idea here and not even one I might be considering but basically a weapons would have a broad type of damage so say:
Sword, thin : d8
Sword, broad : d12

Long Sword : Reach = 4, Heft = 3, type = Sword, thin
Broad Sword: Reach = 3, Heft = 4, type = Sword, broad
Zwei-hander : Reach = 6, Heft = 6, type = Sword, broad
Dagger : Reach = 1, Heft = 1, type = Sword, thin

In practice:
A person using a long sword would have init over the guy using the broad sword. In addition, the LS (Long Sword) would have a +1 to hit (Reach: 4 (attacker:you) – 3 (Defender : BS) = +1. The BS would have a -1 to hit under similar calculation. However, damage would be 3(heft)d8 for LS and 4(heft)d12 for the BS.

There would be a total of 4 actions per round. This would be ticked off via heft of the weapon being used. So, the LS would have 3 the first round with one left over, 3 the next round with 2 left over, and then the third round be able to take 2 attacks. With a dagger you could go to town with 4 per round but if you are fighting a BS then you would be at -2.

Does this sound crazy or just familiar?

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