Sunday, March 30, 2014

Multiversal Menace

I'm back for a bit, and doing one of those "thinking out loud" posts. I feel like this idea has to have some legs to it, though.

I've been revisiting a lot of the games I've played (or wanted to play) throughout the years and stumbled on this weird old gem called Live A Live, which was made by Square back in the halcyon days of 1994. It looks like it was fairly standard game-play wise, but the structure was fairly unique; the game featured several characters with their own unique scenarios that took place in various points in (fictional) history. Playing through all of them unlocked a sort of prequel scenario, and completing that led to the final battle.

All the scenarios feature a final boss, all of which share a similar naming convention. The exception is the prequel chapter - it's there you find out why that is; it starts out as a paint by the numbers affair that spirals downwards catastrophically. I won't go into too much detail here, but it ends up with the lead - a classic knight in shining armor - with his best friend's blood on his hands and his beloved dead via suicide. Betrayed by everyone he held dear, he swears to make the rest of humanity understand his despair by inflicting it upon them. So powerful is his oath that he transforms into a demon king and actually manifests into the various time periods presented in the previous parts of the game in an effort to inflict pain and suffering on those involved. The final chapter involves the united protagonists attempt to finally defeat him.

I really dug this whole thing and was kind of sad it never made it over here, (ten year old Rey would have ate it up) but I also figured this would be a fun idea to apply to tabletop gaming. Sure, I've had NPC's that have shown up in multiple campaigns in various game systems before, but this was a bit different. The villain in live A Live,
True Form(s) take Center Stage

1) Shows up in multiple aspects and times simultaneously


2) Always has a form appropriate to the scenario at hand. He's everything from a cannibalistic god to a professional wrestler that murders his opponents as the game progresses.

In fact, the only consistent thing about all his various appearances is a similar nomenclature and a desire to kill as many people as he possibly can.

This could make for a terribly fun villain, but its kind of a hard set up for a typical RPG campaign. If in the hands of a single GM it could take years and years to set up if you don't devote an entire campaign to the idea (which could be fun too). That loses something though; the video game actually had different writers and artists create each scenario to ensure it would be unique. The wonderfully diverse community that has built up around FLAILSNAILS G+ games inspires a different option.

One person creates a villain of sorts. They should have a powerful, simple motivation - the example above is fun, but others are possible. It just needs to be something that can be applied to varied locales. "Unite the Orcs" doesn't quite work because not every world will have Orcs. "Make all creatures equal" is a good one because it deals with a far more universal concept. Give this villain as powerful of a back story as required and decide on a place of origin. A primary skill set might be fun, even if its whether they depend on brawn, wit, or external forces to get the job done. What's most important is that whatever it is, it can be translated into various genres and themes.

Brainstorm with as many other GM's that you know at once. Each one should stick an appropriate version of this villain in their game. From there, it's pretty simple - there ought to be something cool that happens if all the versions of this villain are vanquished or foiled and something else if they are entirely or partially successful. Maybe they subconsciously learn from one and others victories and mistakes, like some sort of transdimensional organic skynet? Its the sort of thing where communication between the Game Masters involved would be fun and profitable.

Nothing may come from it all, or it may become a big focal point for everyone. Some sort of crossover between games could be fun as well, if impractical. If I've learned anything from gaming for all these years, it's that the best stuff come from gestalts.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Digiplane G+ Campaign, Phase 3

I will be once again opening my G+ game to various players, with a single caveat; there is a main group - the Yeso Mini-Campaign has grown much deeper then I thought and that party shall be continuing their travels throughout the Blighted Isle, The Shining Kingdom, The Broken Empire and that Strange and Pixelated realm.

However! Schedules being as capricious as they are, it can be expected that not all of them will be able to make each and every session. That is where you come in, dear heroes and heroines of FLAILSNAILS. Whenever a position is free, one of you will be invited to fill that spot. I'll hopefully try and sort all these things out a week or so in advance, but forgive me if I occasionally am a bit late.

The hope is that we get all the long term goals and consistency of a normal campaign, with all the fun you get letting random jerkasses champions from other worlds come in and muck around. Said games will be run weekly, at 10 PM Eastern Time. Please contact me on G+ if you want to join in and you're not being invited already.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So updates might be scarce for a while...

This is why.

I will try and update old' Bum Rush once a month at least, and there will still be Akenia/Barovania G+ games going on. My main focus is just going to be Break!! for a while.

Expect things to pick up again when I finish this bad boy and have a bit more time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Origins, Part II

Part, the first

Having broken off with it's mentor, the Wondersmith would be left to stare at what it helped create. Denied that right by an absent God-King, it instead looked upon the ebon sphere that surrounded and protected Promise.

It was a strange thing, that pulsated almost like a beating heart. It was warm to touch and supple, but unyielding. It was entirely different from earth and stone, and yet...

The Wondersmith acted on impulse. The words of creation were still fresh on its tongue, and it yearned to speak them again. And it did. It watched with glee as it saw mountains rise from the previously sterile black surface. Oceans came next and life soon followed. It was a world born in moments; to a more discerning eye, this place would seem haphazard, wild and dangerous. To the Wondersmith, it was a delight. It became The Outer World, a simple name that suited its maker just fine.

It explored this new place with eager joy, traversing its landscape and molding new creatures at a whim. Unlike its mentor, these lifeforms were crafted without greater thought and often were reflections of the Wondersmith's erratic mindset. On both poles of the sphere, it erected grand towers to direct the orbit of a  miraculous device called the "Sun Machine". 

An eternal flame lay within this sphere, and its light and warmth shined on the new world. This gleam did not go unnoticed, however. Forces young and primordial were drawn to it, and their presence was quickly felt by the impetuous Demiurge.

The first were from the swirling void; Atrocity, Desire, Rot and Whisper. These things were unafraid of the Wondersmith, but the Sun Machine challenged them. Its light seared them and drove them back. They became content to move back and forth with the luminous apparatus, filling the spaces of the world where its touch receded. Their collective would be known to humanity as "The Dark."

From the bright without came Oppression, Judgement, Zeal and Winter. The four regarded the sphere's creator with respect, wishing only to dwell within the brilliance of this new place. They took a stance opposite of their predecessors, following the glory of the Sun Machine and becoming bolstered by it. Appropriately, mankind came to call them "The Light."
The People

The third to arrive came from the unpredictable Wylde. Refugees from some distant fey schism, they begged the Wondersmith for refuge. It granted them succor near immediately, amused at the vibrant dramatics of the strange beings. They constructed a great city of ice on the northernmost point of the planet, beginning their courtly romances anew. Known first as "The People" and later "The Others" after the dawn of mankind.

The world existed in a sort of stasis for a time. Knights and wanderers from among The People would venture forth from their great castles of frost, slay beasts, claim treasure, and return home to spin great tales of their journeys. W
hile much would happen, nothing truly changed. The forces present could strike and repel each other, but they could not meaningfully interact.

Sometime afterwards though, mortals arrived. They emerged from a variety of places; some had found their way to the surface from Promise, others came from beyond in vessels of Starmetal. At least one species was born from the Outer World itself. Within these frail beings were the catalysts for progress, amalgamation, discovery and fear.

And with fear came the Grey Marquis, whom others would call death.

The demiurge met with the sullen figure whom taught it dread. For it gave the Wondersmith knowledge that someday, it too would perish. It would be no better then its mentor, leaving the world without it's creator.

Such a thing could never be allowed.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Defense (Rating) of Style

So Pearce, Chris and I were talking about Kill la Kill and an entry Jeff Rients had written about this one adventure whose cover had a fighter in a diaper on it.

Basically, the idea was that fighters in elaborate outfits are fun, even if they aren't the most practical. It would be cool to encourage people who felt the same way to go wild with their imagination. However - I also think gritty, realistic and/or clanky armor is cool too, so I wouldn't want to make that worthless in the process.

Jeff characteristically came up with a simple and fun rule for this - any Fighter in such a costume would get the equivalent AC of Chain Mail. I like that; its not the best armor class, but its respectable. There is still a reason to put on that magical armor you found or work for something like plate armor.

I'd like to up the ante a bit though, since my games have some penalties for wearing heavy armor that most B/X style ones don't.

Said outfit will give you an AC bonus of +4 in Barovania/Akenia if;

  • The outfit is elaborate and conspicuous enough that it will be recognized instantly when seen.
  • The wearer is a Fighter, Murder Princess or Battle Princess
  • If a shield are similar object is incorporate into the outfit, it is cosmetic and does not provide an AC bonus. Magical shields may provide other effects, just not the increase to AC
  • The character wears it constantly, or at least whenever they fight. The outfit should be a big part of their personal style and maybe even their identity.
  • The character may wear other clothing over top of it (perhaps for a disguise) but the second that danger is a foot or a fight begins, they should throw off their disguise and reveal themselves properly. They may attack OR move while doing this.
  • If the Character has an opportunity for a surprise round, they may sacrifice it and instead announce their presence with some sort of speech and a pose. This grants them a further +1 to their AC in combat. Here's an example. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Origins, Part 1

So right, you've been about. You've heard whispers, you've seen things. You know there is something odd about the ground you're walking on, but you only know a bit of why.

I suppose I should tell you, shouldn't I?

Barovania was an accident. Akenia is the digital echo of a distant past. The world itself is half a Blazing Garden with the other a Wistful Dark.

Oh, that doesn't tell you much at all, does it?

Fine, fine...

So a long time ago, a God-King from another world was wandering the Wyldspace. An odd combination of curiosity and weariness had overtaken him - he left his birthplace in hopes of finding the answers to the questions that torment a god.

In this realm of total possibility he discovered one of them. This God-King was a talented craftsman you see, and he had found a place to build. He set upon his labors in a fervor and created a perfect dodecahedron.

One of the things that troubled him most was that his home had many imperiled peoples on it. He concluded that this planetoid could be a sort of refuge for them; Each side would be its own world, and each world would be designed for specific ways of life. It was a monumental task, and he would need help.

He set upon fashioning a helper. In an uncharacteristic moment of vanity, he fashioned this assistant in his own image. He gifted it with colorful clothing and a talent only rivaled by his own. This string-less marionette was named "The Wondersmith" and due time they were working alongside each other in near perfect harmony. Landscapes were hammered out, oceans filled, and life moved gently onto its surface. The place they had made was beautiful, and the God-King named it "Promise". The last thing created was a great, protective sphere to be placed around it - its creator knew how harmful Wyldspace could be to such a world. Satisfied, he proceeded to seal it away forever.

The Wondersmith watched passively initially, in till it realized what had occurred - neither of them would ever look again upon the thing they had made together.

"Why!?" It demanded, confused and angry. "What if it needs us? How will we know?"

The God-King smiled, and placed his treasured cap on the Wondersmith's head. "This land will be without gods, my child. We are a petty lot, and we tend to ruin what we touch."

"Our time here is over." He continued, turning away. "You may follow me, child. One day you will understand."

But the Wondersmith did not follow.

And it never understood.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Domain Turn Event Table

Like most AD&D supplements, Oriental Adventures is a big bundle of verbosity with lots of fun and useful bits hidden away in its folds. One such thing is a collection of tables for yearly and monthly events for domains; something I think was going to be figured into AD&D proper someday, but never quite was.

Anyway, the players in my home game have actually hobbled a domain together and I've put together some simple rules for them, mainly using An Echo Resounding and stuff I remember from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms video game series as guides. One thing I needed was a way to decide if anything interesting happened between "Domain turns" that was better then me going "I feel like ripping off of Attack on Titan today". So I pulled out my copy of OA and appropriated the table from it. Results below!

d20 Roll
Freak Accident
Something entirely unexpected and very terrible happens. A stable bridge collapses, a dependable wizard botches a magical ritual, or something else to that effect. The accident should be related to something already existing in the domain.
Asset Shortage
One of the domain’s primary sources of income or livelihood has come up short, such as a poor harvest or meager pull from a local mine. This is likely to cause financial hardship unless cleverly addressed.
Bad Weather
Roll a 1d6, on a 1-2 the domain suffers from torrential downpour, 3-4 its either a heat wave or blizzard (depending on the terrain and season), 5-6 its a dry spell that may cause a drought.
Bandit Activity
The locals are being terrorized by a gang of criminals who have been looting, pillaging and other awful things. The bandit gang has 3d12 members, and a leader who is a fighter, barbarian or anti-paladin (Roll 1d3 + 2 for level). If the domain has a coastal city, then there is a 50% chance there are issues with Pirates instead. (Same as the above, but they have a boat!)

Auspicious Birth
A child with great destiny or potential has been born in the domain, and pretty much everyone knows about it! How lovely! Except for the fact that an important NPC or newly discovered villain seems to want to kidnap or eliminate the newborn...
Tragic Death
A person of great renown has quietly perished in the domain. They have bequeathed something unique or important to the rulers of the domain. Roll a d4.
  1. Its a powerful magical item! Please use it wisely!
  2. A map to a far off treasure. Please claim what I could not!
  3. The secret to a lost technology. Please make it of use to the people!
  4. A cursed item! Please keep it away from those it could harm!

Natural Disaster
This is bad, a Tornado/Tsunami/Earthquake or some other terrible thing suitable to the area has hit the domain! One city or town is totally devastated.
Famous Persona
A rather famous individual has ventured into the domain. Something about it has struck their fancy, and they've gone to look into it. Whether they contact the players are not depends on what it is.
Monster Rampage
Nuts, some awful thing is scooting around, eating people and burning stuff down. Select a monster appropriate for the setting, or roll randomly. The monster has (1d8 + 4) HD.
Agents from a from another country or organization have snuck into the domain for the sake of espionage, sabotage or theft. These are likely the sneaky sort, but they may have a rough and tumble type or a magic user in their midst.
Domestic Incident
Two local powers are going at it for whatever reason. This may be a family feud, or a spat between businesses. Its not going to solve itself either, unless the domain leaders are content watching one side destroy the other.
A big, important wedding is happening in the domain. Its going to be a loud colorful affair, and will likely have as many disgruntled guests and crashers as it will happy ones.
Notorious Villain
An infamous ne'er-do ell is skulking around the domain, or at least their agents are. They aren't here for a vacation - its likely they are either laying low or planning something wicked.
An area of the domain is being plagued by ghosts, poltergeists or other spirits. Someone must have kicked over an important tombstone or something.
Divine Occurrence
A great miracle has occurred or an avatar, walking god or prophet has come to the domain and made itself known. This is actually bad news; if you haven’t noticed gods are jerks, for the most part.
Otherworldly Visitor
A space ark full of transforming robots, spell jammer filled with odd gnomes, or spider-ship filled with slavers has landed in the domain. Tell me you don’t want to check that out.
Rival Adventurers
Hey! Some other adventurer types have shown up and started bad mouthing you guys. Better show them up! Or avoid them entirely, they may be dangerous.
Roll on this table a second time. That is what’s going to happen next turn - and the players get advanced warning of it via prophet, sign or other mystical nonsense.
A cloaked rider from another land has come with a message for the domain’s leaders. Is it a request or a challenge?
Dimensional Rift
Oh dammit, a hole in reality has opened up in the worst spot, and things are coming out of it. Ugh, I heard the next hex over is nice...