Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From the Dark Heart of Tartarus I Stab At Thee

So today had the unique experience of wading through my house after my eldest left a candle burning before she escaped to school. I walked through water-soaked, smoke and soot filled rooms as the fire marshal explained how he determined the source of the fire. It was strangely surrealistic and I was too tired from previous skulduggery to work up enough emotion to be angry.

Several calls to the insurance company and, after taking a long shower, I finally sit down to put this missive in. And yet in this new, smoke-free environment, I can still smell the smoke and soot that had penetrated my clothing. I spent an hour, maybe an hour and a half, in the house after the fire. The fire was contained to my daughter's room and the adjoining bathroom, but the soot prevailed everywhere. I grabbed a few items from the far end of the house and when I looked down at my hands, they were black with soot. By the end of the evening, my wife's eyes were stinging, her throat was closing due to the ash in the air, and we both were favoring aching heads.

So the next time your players decide to plane hop down to the lower hells, I would highly suggest to impart a penalty for traveling through such an inhospitable environment. Make it cumulative for the length they spend there and be sure to make their time in the ash and soot as annoyingly memorable as possible.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Escape from New York

Escape from New YorkIn my efforts to recapture the Post Apoclyptic (PA) genre of my youth, I'm going back and watching old movies that inspired me. This weekend I watched the 1981 movie: John Carpenter's Escape from New York. I included Carpenter's name because he made some of my favorite movies of that time.

In the future, crime is out of control and New York City is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables.
-- Written by Anthony Pereyra, IMDB

Escape from New York is not a true apocalyptic future, but the city is a good rendition of what may happen in a lawless city. The city was ruled by the "Duke" of New York and can easily transposed to a slaver type hierarchy. I fount the use of titles interesting as I did not think what people might call themselves in the apocalyptic future. In The Postman, the main antagonist was know as "the general", but it did not strike me as important as someone calling themselves "the duke".

The underground dwelling "crazies" that came out at the end of the month to find food was another nugget, and I had planned to have a race of nocturnal humans that shunned light, but were not necessarily cannibalistic, which is the general imprission I felt. One of the ideas that my wife offered for a post apocalyptic character class was a 'squaker' to represent the story teller of the apocolyptia future.

I do not want to go into the movie on how out dated the movie was. While searching for the cover image, I learned that there was a remake of the movie in the works. One last note that caught my eye in the movie was the graffiti "FTW" in the movie. I noticed this a couple of times and immediately thought of "For The Win". Being a 1981 movie, it is unlikely that anyone would know this term would be a common phrase in the future and it is highly more likely to be some set decorator's initials.

For The Win!

I am interested in what people think story tellers in a apocalyptic future would be called.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Being Proactively Creative (or Creatively Proactive)

While I blather on with what I did about this and how I plan to accomplish that, I have found that I don't have enough time to do anything, much less keep up on a blog. I have not made it to bed bedfore midnight this week and I have to be up by 5 am for work. I must admit that I am quite tired.

So I decided to focus this article on what I am doing on the production side of the coin. Knowing some game producers, I follow one on facebook that provided this nice little article, Creativity Is More Practice Than Magic. It basically encourages you to proactively seek out ways to hone your creative skills, I was a little disappointed it didn't provide any tips, but I have an idea of what I want to look for in this next week.

I also follow behance's sight 99% which deals with ideation and following through with actions. I found thier article How To Set Smart Daily Goals enlightening and I tried implementing their 90 minutes to focus on a task. I plan on writing out some goals over the next week.

I would like to also give a shout out to Brennan of Galileo Games who took the time to answer my questions on producing a role-playing game. They currently have a Science Fiction game on Kickestarter called Bulldogs! that looks cool. If you like RPGs, I highly recomend checking out these indie game producers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Defiler's Curse Now Available!

From the Earthdawn website.

Avarrin Quickhand and Therese Rothgard are experienced adepts enjoying a rest in Kratas. But the dangerous City of Thieves has other ideas.

A chance encounter with a young windling begins a hazardous journey across the wilderness of Barsaive, in search of a long-forgotten kaer. But what these two adepts discover upon reaching their destination may change their lives forever.

With help from the elf Wizard, Vion; Raddash the troll Nethermancer; and even Garlthik One-Eye and his infamous gang, only these powerful adepts can confront the ancient evil that dwells within Kaer Thardinn.

But at what cost...?

RedBrick LLC is pleased to announce that Defiler's Curse, written by Donovan Winch, is now available as paperback and deluxe hardcover. An eBook edition will follow shortly

The Rule of Fibs

Through my many years of gaming, I've always had a problem with 'experience' systems. I never realized this problem; it normally just materialized into a frustration with the game. I have since discovered the beauty of Fibonacci. So what is Fibonacci? I like to call it the rule of life, the system is related to the golden ratio and a basis for how living things grow. I am not a Mathematician so my answer may not be 100% accurate (but that's it in a nutshell).
So what does this have to do with experience in a role-laying game? Well, in my opinion, the problem with most experience systems is that they allow characters to quickly ascend to levels that puts them above the mean of the game. This lends to a unsatisfying scenarios as many of the challenges are beneath the player. Fibonacci allows a game master to put a limit on progression without actually placing a limit. There becomes a point when acquiring the next level is just not as feasible. Lets compare a Fibonacci experience system to D&D 3.5, as I still haven't had the urge to buy the 4th edition books.
Level 1 0
Level 2 1,000
Level 3 2,000
Level 4 3,000
Level 5 5,000
Level 6 8,000
Level 7 13,000
Level 8 21,000
Level 9 34,000
Level 10 55,000
Level 11 89,000
Level 12 144,000
Level 13 233,000
Level 14 377,000
Level 15 610,000
Level 16 987,000
Level 17 1,597,000
Level 18 2,584,000
Level 19 4,181,000
Level 20 6,765,000
As you can see, by the time you hit 20th Level it will cost 6.7 mil+ as oppose to 190,000 it costs in D&D. I know what some are saying: "That cost's too much." and for D&D, I agree with you. But for a RPG that you pump experience directly into skills/powers, this rule is great. It prevents people from overloading one skill/power. Players who want to get the most for their experience will spread it around causing something that is difficult to find, a well rounded character.
This is the system I decided to use for experience in OverBurn. I also present this video which helps illustrate Fibonacci.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blight Dwarf

In one of my recent earthdawn games, the party descended into a corrupted kear to gain a powerful artifact. I did not want to throw out one of the standard creatures, so I started looking for something to design an encounter with. I recalled the following image from the new D&D 4ed adventure, The Kingdom of the Ghouls (iirc). Since the kaer was an old dwarven stronghold, this image fit perfectly for my more corrupted inhabitants.

Blight DwarfBlight Dwarf

DEX: 6
STR: 9
TOU: 8
PER: 5
WIL: 8
CHA: 4

Initiative: 6

Physical Defense: 9
Spell Defense: 10
Social Defense: 14

Number of Actions: 2
Attack (2): 16
Damage: Claws 19

Physical Armor: 4 (skin)
Mystic Armor: 2

Death Rating: 54
Wound Threshold: 14
Unconsciousness Rating: 46
Recovery Tests: 6
Knockdown: 9

Combat Movement: 5

Description: Blight dwarfs were some of the first dwarfs to be corrupted in Kaer Korinth. Scythan Dwarfs are a proud and honorable people, but they are also known for there love of gold and gems. Yethshg’la exploited this weakness and turned the Korinthians against one another. Blight dwarfs are a mockery of their former lives, hating everything except gold and gems. A single gem, a reminder of their selfish curse, burns within their forehead. Blight dwarfs will fight until slain, but fleeing dwarfs have found that throwing gold and gems will cause them to pause long enough to pick up the treasure.

Legend Points: Journeyman

Equipment: None
Loot: Gem set in forehead worth D6 × 50 silver pieces (counts as treasure worth Legend Points).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Necromancers, sheesh.

I wonder if this is how necromancers spend their childhood.

Overburn: Table of Contents

I did not rest on my laurels this weekend and came up with a rough draft of the chapter outline. Without a bunch of foofaraw, that's my new word, I present the OverBurn Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter covers the introduction into the OverBurn game. It includes:

1.    Opening

2.    A fictional short story

3.    History of the OverBurn world.

4.    Game concepts

Chapter 2: Character Generation

This chapter covers most things that you need to know in order to create a character for the game. Includes:

1.    Creation Rules

2.    Sample Archetypes

Chapter 3: Species

          This chapter covers the major species in the game.

Chapter 4 : Skills

This chapter covers the various skills that exist in the game.

Chapter 5 : Combat

This chapter covers combat, duh.

Chapter 6: Psionic Rules

This chapter covers the use of psionics in the game.

Chapter 7 : GameMaster's Information

This chapter gives the background information that only the referee should really know.

Chapter 8 : Equipment

This chapter lists a variety of items that characters can buy (acquire) in the game.

Chapter 9 : Scenarios

This chapter will contain any scenarios created by the authors and playtesters which are considered to be worth distributing.

Appendix 1 : Bibliography

Appendix 2 : Credits

Any comments are greatly appreciated.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"It worked! I am alive, alive!!!"

The red dragon is slowly rising, its eyelids painfully cracking open. The dragon turns back and looks at you, a leer now crackling onto its feature.

If your gamemaster is true to the game, one of the most frightening things your party can encounter is a dracolich, an undead dragon returned from the nether realms.


If that dragon happens to a polyhedral dragon, you may want to want organize your party and head out on a dragon hunt. That was a bit longer intro than I had planned, but I wanted to give a shout out to the makers of:

Dragon dice was on of the games that never really took off in the circles I played. I have a number of Dragon Dice thet I have kept over the years, but I only played it once. The game came out in the mid-ninties, and I thought it died off like so many other TSR/WotC projects. But in reality, the game has been alive an well all these years. The game was sold to a game company called SRF Inc. Like so many other hobbies, there are some die hard Dragon Dice fans. If you are one of those fans, I am sure you are already aware of this, but for those who wondered who ever wondered what happened to the game, happy dragon hunting.

P.S. The title and the intro are excepts from the adventure "Fighter's Challenge" by John Terra.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

You Stink Pretty

Concerned about odiferous emminations at the game?

Didn't have time to shower before heading out to kill that Tarrasque?

Looking to impress that special someone at the next session?

Well polyhedrites, there's now specialized fragrance for just you in mind. Black Pheonix Alchemy Labs has created a line fragrances to scentualize your favorite character concept. Want to play a Chaotic Neutral Orc Ranger? There's a scent for that; and let me say ewww in advance. Want to play a Neutral Good Elf Cleric? There's a heavenily scent for that. No longer will they claim that gamers smell funny, now they will just say "Man he is mad method!!! Always in character."

Seriously, I once heard that a good environment is one that caters to at least three of our five senses. Roleplaying games are highly imiaginitive and our imiaginations do not always agree. I have seen some very impressive 'gaming rooms' on the grid, and many use props and mood music to help the players envision the game. This helps with the vision and sound to set the mood of the game. Black Pheonix offers gothic scents to help bring that third element and put you closer into the game. Here is an excerpt for their main page.

We specialize in formulating body and household blends with a dark, romantic Gothic tone. Our scents run the aesthetic gamut of magickal, pagan and mythological blends, Renaissance, Medieval and Victorian formulas, and horror / Gothic-themed scents. By utilizing our knowledge of homeopathy and aromatherapy, the conceptual theories of hermetic alchemy, and the aesthetic artistry of perfumery, we have mastered the art of encapsulating allegorical ideas into singular olfactory experiences. We are the first of our kind, and have over fifteen years of practical experience in the field. Our expertise shows.

I've never been one for girly perfumes, as most people know I call stink-pretty. But I think that adding some gothic-themed hermetic alchemy may just push your session into a new level of awesomeness. That is, of course, if Chaotic-evil Dwarf Fighter doesn't smell like the inside of a demon's cod piece.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hey Barkeep, A Round of Tea for My Friends

Ever since I could remember, when our characters made it to some quaint hamlet after a month-long, arduous trek through the hinterlands, maybe 30 minutes game time if there was an encounter, our first order of business was a bee line to the local tavern. I am unsure why every hamlet had a working inn and tavern, but it was high time our characters were able to do some carousing, I remind you again, this is in a hamlet.

From dwarven spirits to elven Firewine, obsidianman Rolling Rock to Blue Troll Ale, ork Hurlg, made from fermented animal fat, to halfling cheeeeeese wine, there has been no shortage of alcohol to choose from even in my younger days. Now that I'm older and, I like to think, a bit more refined, I look for new aspects to give characters added depth.

I purchased a tea pot for my wife on her birthday, with it came a sampling set of various teas and an informational book on tea. As I was doing more research on tea, I found that many cultures have special ways for serving tea. I was aware of the Japanese tea ceremony, but did not realize how tea worked in to the social aspect of life. Even in England, when you mention tea, it is implied that there will be food accompanying the tea. A 'spot of tea' is usually how you reference tea on its own.

Well this got me wanting to play a character that chooses tea over other forms of drink. I never really preferred monks in my fantasy game, but a far eastern monk type character would seem appropriate. And what type of tea does he prefer? Dragon Well tea of course, right before he hits you with a Dragon Punch.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sky Raider Crystal Knuckles

Mordom posted this picture over at the Earthdawn Blog: Crystal Raider Brass Knuckes. This stoked my imagination and I wrote up some quick stats for it.

Crystal Knuckles

Common Thread Item

Maximum Threads: 2

Spell Defense: 13

Legen Point Cost: Journeyman

Damage Step: 3

It is said that the first Crystal knuckles were created when the first mate, Khoran Bloodhorn, of the the Blackfang moot's drakkar, the Mourning Glory, challenged the T'skrang warrior K'srak T'sir to ritual combat in order to see the ship's captain. The veteran sky raider was several circles above the warrior and confident in his fighting abilities; he allowed the challengee to choose the weapon of combat. Without hesitation, K'srak chose unarmed combat and started the combat without hesitating. K'srak had travelled with a sky raider for many years and knew that sky raiders did not focus on unarmed combat the same that warriors did. The fight only lasted a few minutes and Khoran learned that a well trained warrior, even one of a lower circle, was not to be trifled with.

Rank 1

The wearer adds +1 rank to his unarmed combat talent, or gains the Unarmed Combat talent at Rank 1 if he does not have it.

Crystal Knuckles damage step increases by +1.

Rank 2

Trap - The character gains the ability to trap unarmed attacks. For 2 points of strain, the character makes Trap Test equal to his Dexterity Step + the thread Rank woven to the crystal Knuckles. The Target Number is the result of the Unarmed Combat Test. If successful, the character takes no damage from the attack. The wearer of the Crystal Knuckles can make one Trap Test per unarmed attack in a round.

Rank 3

The wearer adds +2 rank to his Unarmed Combat talent, or gains the Unarmed Combat Talent at Rank 2 if he does not have it.

The wearer's Physical Defense increases by +1

Rank 4

The wearer adds +3 rank to his Unarmed Combat talent, or gains the Unarmed Combat Talent at Rank 3 if he does not have it.

Crystal Knuckles damage step increases by +2.

Rank 5

Counter Strike - The wearer of Crystal Knuckles gains the ability to Counter Strike an unarmed attack. For 3 points of Strain, the characater makes a CounterStrike equal to his Dexterity Step + the thread Rank woven to the crystal Knuckles +5. The Target Number is the result of the opponent's Unarmed Combat Test. If successful, the result is compared to the opponent's Physical Defense. If the result is higher than his opponent's Physical Defense, then damage is applied as if the Counter Strike was a successful Unarmed Combat Test, using the Crystal Knuckles for damage. The wearer of the Crystal Knuckles can make one Counter Strike Test per turn.

Overburn 6 Month Plan

I meant to post this a little while ago, but was hesitant to lay it on the line. Since the 6 month plan does not really give away any details to the game, I figured why not? So here is the my plan for the game so far. The first bullet of may is complete and I hope to have the second, and part of the the third further along this week end.


  • 6 month Plan
  • Chapter Outline
  • Core mechanics

  • Archetypes
  • Races
  • Skills
  • Equipment
  • Experience
  • critters
  • Psionics
  • additional crunch
  • additional fluff
  • Working copy

On a side note. In six months I should be relocated to our new facility and my commute time will be reduced greatly. Right now I'm suffering through it, but I hope in 6 months I wil be able to put more effort into Overburn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The State of Role Playing

Type I Demon

Well not really. I just saw a promotional video Dungeons & Dragons and it made me laugh. With the advent of the internet, I've seen a lot more peddling for RPGs and honestly it's good for the industry. I find it funny that many people consider D&D as a 'nerd' game as I don't consider it as much anymore. I recently watched a video about D&D Encounters and coupled with the new 4th Ed. Rules, D&D feels more then ever like a board game and less like an RPG.

Classic D&D

Don't get me wrong, there will always be warm spot in my heart for Dungeons & Dragons... Luckily I don't consider the current name-bearer Dungeons & Dragons. It's kinda like what they did with Coke, sure it has the name but that does not mean the product is the same. I like my games to be equal or more on the fluff side than on the crunch side. Oh, and using the old packaging does not make the new game more like the classic.

I remember back in the day when my friends were not allowed to own the books; the term 'From the makers of Dungeons and Dragons' had to be blacked-out on the other games like Gama World and Star Frontiers so that thet were not burned in holy intervention while the family priest performed an a excorcism of a Type I Demon (see pic above). I still feel weird about playing in a public place and while I am more comfortable with my hobby, I rarely try to upsell role-playing to others (even to console jockeys).

So the State of Role Playing is good these days and I'm glad it's getting more facetime. I am of the opinion that a good Game Master (GM) can make any game enjoyable and D&D did throttle the power gamers so that Rules Rapists had a harder time usurping the game. I am going to give 4E another try one day, but until that day comes I offer the follow video:

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Wife the Goddess

I recently had the oppurtunity to contribute a diety to the game Azamar. Although I had a couple of ideas, I wanted to honor my wife for putting up with my many years of gaming. Here is a picture from the artisist blog.

Syndia of the Cliffs

Syndia of the Cliffs, the Goddess of the Moon, the Enlightened One, the Shining Lady.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dream a Little Dream


Last night I had a strange dream. To be honest, I suffer from sleep apnia so I tend to not hit REM state very long. Any dream I have would qualify for a strange night. That being said, I am not one who writes down their dreams or ponders its significant. I usually toss it to the the bit bucket and proceed with my day. This dream was a little different, it took the form of a post apocolyptic trip, probably heavily influence by FallOut 3, throught the wasteland to battle the evil deeds of the "Family". The Family consisted of the several "raider" factions who's leaders were siblings. The were fighting each other try and win the other factions members, talk about sibling rivalry. I decided that instead of letting this one slide, I would post it and leave myself a little not on things to do.

To do list:

  • Freebie mini-adventure: Sibling Rivalry.

(There is my Avatar as NeoProxy from the game)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Damage System

One of the many aspects of gaming I have run into is the propensity to turn combat into statistics. I love new players because they attempt to visualize combat in actions and not bonuses or penalties. I often see new players stand and enact what they envision their character doing, where more experienced players a willing to let the die roll speak for their succes.

To this end, I am leaning towards a damage system with levels. This adds at least a little flavor to damage when a character rolls. I based the levels from wound levels used in hospitals. I made some revisions so that all the levels start with a different letter (for speed and brevity in the game). The levels I have thus far are:

  • Light Wound
  • Moderate Wound
  • Excessive Wound
  • Serious Wound
  • Crippling Wound
  • Fatal Wound
The damage right now is based on a Fibinacci system, much like the entire game is. The more successes you get, the amount of damage goes up dramatically. I hope I can make the system exciting, without making it unbalanced. but only play-testing will tell.

A New Blog Deserves a New Tool

Having started multiple blogs and not really having time for any. I found a, thus far, nice utility  for blogging. The utility is a chrome extension called ScribeFire, and it lets you post an article on multiple blogs. I fine this desirable as I have not crossed posted because of the hassle of logging into another interface, cut-n-paste, check the format, and what ever else violates my head in the process. This extension allows me to write an article, select a blog sight and add the article to the site.

This will be the first post using the extension across multiple sites. Please feel free to ask any questions.

A New Frontier

While it may seem that I have not been active on this blog, I have actually been active on-line none the less. During a particularly fun evening of grilling and gaming, there was some discussion on ideas for role-playing games. Having had many ideas over the years, I presented some half baked conceptualisms to members of the group who displayed great interest. We discussed various points of mechanics as well as the idea of playtesting some new mechanic without any pretense of a solid rule set. The response was good, so I started working on a new game. To separate this from all my other ramblings, I created a different site for it.

The new game called is called OverBurn, which is a futuristic post apocolyptic game. You can find the site at www.overburnrpg.com. The idea was to document the process and see what becomes of it. I will be reposting the articles from on here, since it is gaming related. As always, I welcome any comments you may have. If you are interested in helping out let me know.