New project …?

Hola, bandola!

It has been a while since I had an ongoing project – excluding the never-completed update of Cartol’s Emporium, that’s not happening by the way. There is no reasons to anymore. So many books have been published, I’m not sure if any of the ships I put in the catalogue remains unstated by FFG. Same thing with a lot of the gear. I may, perhaps, one day, remake it into a shorter supplement consisting mainly of the optional house-rules and ideas for how to improve/change the game to fit certain styles of play.

But before I get into that, I’ll move back to HARP, more specifically HARP SF. I’m not done with Star Wars, I don’t think I’ll ever be, but I need a different storyverse and rule system for a while. Somewhere I can tell my own, different stories. Stories not bound by the tropes of Star Wars.

So, I’m making my own storyverse.

Currently the setting is loosely based on the HARP SF setting Tintamar, but that is merely a framework that serves as a starting point – you could arguably also call Expanse, Alien, Prometheus, 2001 a space odyssey, Oblivion and Arrival starting points each and every one of them. The ambition is to move beyond that, and make something of my own. Something that is not Tintamar (or any of the other influences I mentioned), but still be used with HARP SF without too much tweaking or adjustments of what can be found in the two existing books for that game.

Currently Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) is rather restrictive, as I understand it, when it comes to publishing stuff using their systems. So here’s to them adopting an attitude more along the lines of MonteCook Games and other companies.

I may end up having to use the Cypher system if ICE doesn’t change their stance by the time I have a manuscript done.

Going hard…sci-fi?

So.

Our campaign ended a little while back. In short, it got complicated, there were some betrayals, but it ended good. With everyone dead. Real heroic like. Star Wars Rogue One-style – except no Death Star, but thousands of metric tons of stones and falling rocks.

Instead of having a break, or starting up another Star Wars game straight away, we decided to try some of my other games. We settled on HARP SF. A game I was part of testing many years ago, but never really ran a proper campaign in. It is highly recommended if you want something a bit more gritty, deadly and “sciency” than games like Numenera, Star Wars and the like. It’s got a high level of detail, many skills, high potential mortality rate – yet it is no Rolemaster or Spacemaster.3

My game is set in a version of the included setting: Tintamar. Tweaks include: no FTL or alien species, the gravitic drives are not as unaffected by the orbits of the planets and the sun’s gravity as in the presented setting. And of course, history, dates and years have been shuffled around, events and other stuff not fleshed out a lot has been fleshed out, differently.

Inspirations for my game comes from numerous sources: Blade Runner, Prometheus, Avatar, Alien, The Expanse, Babylon 5, Farscape, Stargate SG-1, Oblivion, Elysium, and that’s just the visual media.

I call my version Sepsis. It’s a corrupt version of Tintamar, it’s a world where everything is controlled by mega corporations and dictatorship-like governments. The recent establishment of the Terran Federation could be seen as a kin of the Alliance in Firefly. It’s Earth-centric, but supports Mars and Venus. These inner planets are strong, if reluctant and suspicious allies. The Federation also includes the Belter League and the Jovian Confederacy, who supports and receive support from a few colonies in the Saturnian system.

The solar system is suffering under the weight of the power struggles between the political factions, new and old militaristic faction, and a growing market for illicit goods and services that the various political factions are powerless to control and the various militaries and police forces struggle to pin down, define and root out.

The years is 2282, Eris is almost 30 years past its perihelion and a brave new outpost has been established there. The Syndicate is increasing activities outside the belt, and the Terran Federation has produced its first new battleships. Some independent operatives on their way home from Eris must decelerate to investigate some irregular signals (maybe a mayday?) deep in the Saturnian system.

Kyber crystals – Stygium crystal

Rarer than a selfless, altruistic and pacifist Hutt, these crystals are extremely difficult to find and locate, even where they are supposed to exist.

While the crystal is a key component in cloaking devices, some (even rarer) Stygium crystals can also be attuned to force users and be used in lightsabers. Legends tell of these crystals bestowing great powers of illusion upon the wielder.

Stygium crystal

Stygium Crystal
Exceedingly rare by the time of the Empire, this strictly regulated crystal sometimes appear in such a pure state that it can be used in a lightsaber. The blade produced by this crystal is all but silent and the edge of the energy blade seems blurred.

Base Modifiers: Installing this crystal changes a lightsaber’s base damage to 7 and critical rating to 3, and the lightsaber gains the Breach 1 and Sunder weapon qualities. Additionally an attuned wielder of the lightsaber gains Indistinguishable +1. If the crystal is removed, the lightsaber loses those qualities and reverts to its previous base damage and critical rating.
Modification Options: 1 Item Quality (Vicious +1) Mod, 1 when the lightsaber is lit increase level of concealment by one (see page 219 FaD CRB) Mod, 2 Item Quality (Disorient +1) Mods, 1 Item Quality (Ensnare +1; Discipline check to break free, not Athletics) Mod.
Hard Points Required: 3
Cost/Rarity: 16,000/15R

Ongoings and going ons.

So. I’m running a game. I have been for about 8ish months now. It’s going great, so great in fact I barely have time to produce new stuff, for RPG or this site. It’s sad really, but when I was starting to get into using some more time on making new stuff, one of my players declared he would be starting a game of his own, so that I could get to play too (at least that’s how I choose to see it.)

The campaign I’m running is up on Obsidian Portal, if you’re that kind of person, you can have a look and read about it here. We want to have a good adventure log, as it is kind of fun to chronicle the deeds and misdeeds of the characters in the ongoing story (and it’s helpful for players that don’t get to come every session.) The wiki is also growing.

So, I have a lot on my plate, work (more and more responsibilities), life partner, hobbies… The RPG team is finishing up work on the beginner game adventure Shadow over  Tarkintown, they are doing an amazing job (I’ve been involved, but a lot less than I’ve wanted to). The group is also starting work on the Rebels season two sourcebook. I hope to be more involved on that one. If time allows. The new sourcebook will also include information from parallel comic book series Kanan: The Last Padawan series, check more about the season two project here.

In other news, Gamernation Con 3: Beyond Thunderdome happened a couple of weeks back. I went this year too. It was well worth it. While I’m not big on cons, I find this little con to be really nice, inclusive and exciting. I guess it’s the communal feeling, it all happens in two big rooms, 150 people, lots of games. No wonder most GMs have ruined their voice by the last day. It’s also nice to meet what amounts to celebrities of this hobby in a very informal manner. This year this included: Christopher West from Maps of Mastery and Rodney Thompson, designer and design-team member of Star Wars Saga Edition, D&D 4th edition and 5th edition, as invited guests. Additionally Sterling Hershey, Sam Stewart and Keith Kappel showed up too, a very friendly and sociable gang. All in all a good experience. Sadly, next year it seems the con has to get a new venue, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but neither is it necessarily a good thing. The communal feeling of gaming at DGM can hardly be reproduced anywhere else, nor should it of course. Gamernation Con: Episode 4 A New Hope will be something new, it will be different. Hopefully it will be equally good and social.

I’m still looking at ways of improving and adding to the game, so perhaps in time I’ll post some of the stuff I’ve used for my campaign – after adjustments from having been exposed to my players.

Crush the Competition!

A game about intrigue, mystery, oppression and … winning.

Casey Steven Ross and Brandon Reinert of the Triumph & Despair  blog, the home of Star Wars RPG resources such as Rogue Events, Cause & Effect and the EotE Alphabet, and the DDE Adventures blog have produced their own game. What they call a structured competitive storytelling game. They’ve named it Crush the Rebellion (CtR).

Bow down to your God-Emperor!

The game is set in a dark space opera setting where the Human Empire rules countless galaxies. At the top there’s the immortal Emperor, a mythical and mysterious figure. He rules a significant portion of the universe, employing skilled, dedicated and fanatic agents to root out any spark of rebellion, any resistance, to hunt down and kill (or capture) any surviving Sorcerer-Lord. From where I sit, the setting seems to be a cross between Star Wars and Warhammer 40K.

In CtR every player takes on the role as an agent of The Emperor, one of which is Mission Leader. This player has a somewhat similar role to a GM in that he serves as a storyteller,  delegates some tasks to the other players and creates the mission for the session, but he or she also makes his/her own agent with a secret (only to the Emperor, not fellow players) agenda, and will be replaced by another player if incapacitated during the mission or executed. Generating the mission for the session is done through drawing a card and then weave a narrative and story inspired by the information provided by the mission card.

The game is played through a series of steps or Moves, that further the narrative and the creation of the fictional world. While the moves are simple enough and the process seems straight forward, it is here the game happens. It is during these moves the story is made, the fiction created and vying for position and the favour of The Emperor (or his death) happens. And there is not necessarily anything simple about any of that.

CtR-flowchart

CtR definitely falls in the RPG genre, but is somewhat more free-form and lacks the normal structure of GM and players. The game can be played perhaps most easily as a one-shot, potentially as a dinner party type of game, but can also be tied together into a string of missions and a larger collaborative narrative, like more conventional roleplaying games. Any such campaign would of course be a collaborative effort, where every player would have their say in the events, plots and directions it can go. The game also differs from conventional RPGs in the competitive aspect: The game can be won and the characters only cooperate when/because they have to, they all have their secret agenda to complete to win the game.

The game is what you could call rules light. Rolls are made during the Moves, but the focus seems very much to be on the storytelling, the joint creation of a fiction that cannot be changed once it’s been pronounced, and established. In fact, the game has a list of principles for telling the story when playing CtR, one of which is: Abide by the fiction. The fiction is sacrosanct, this is a further emphasis from the preceding page: When a player describes something in the fictional world as the result of a Move or other activity, that description holds true and cannot be invalidated. As such the fiction or narrative is the superseding element or rule of the game.

Setting it up and playing the game seems easy enough, but I have not tried this myself yet. It is in the playing the challenge comes as I see it – and not in the game mechanics and rolling of dice. The game requires everyone to be involved, to be on top of things, interested and inspired to create, improvise, vie and betray. The game requires investment and skill in storytelling and thinking of things on the spot to further the plot, their agenda and so on. I believe this game can be rewarding to play, but also challenging, potentially creating (small or large) conflicts between players as well as characters, but mainly I think it can be fun as long as everyone is similarly invested.

 

While we’re waiting for something Good’oh.

I’m reading and writing about Numenéra these days, for another blog, first post here, second scheduled, third still in the process of being written.

Also, from the man behind the Triumph & Despair blog and his friend: Crush the Rebellion, a narrative, competitive roleplaying game. I’m reading it. Looks exciting and epic!

Also, I’m returning some activity to the side of my brain that is dedicated to HARP, Spacemaster and other ICE games. I need me some sci-fi and more fiddly stuff.

I’m running a FFG Force and Destiny group, we have our campaign on obsidian, here. Kind of exciting.

That’s one update, also I’m still working with the Rancor Publishing Group, but as with most free and fan made stuff, things take time.

Numenéra – while we’re waiting for something else – say what?

So as I mentioned earlier I’m testing Monte Cook’s Numenéra. I’m actually quite infatuated with it, which is a first. Considering it’s not Star Wars and not HARP (my last big fantasy love), this is perhaps the most excited I’ve been about a game since I discovered roleplaying games 20 years ago (although in my childish naivete I did probably show a lot more enthusiasm for both MERP and Rolemaster [Standard System].)

It started, as many things do, with Numenéra being mentioned (and mispronounced) on the Order 66 podcast. I missed the initial kickstarter, but that was ok, I was busy playing Edge of the Empire and didn’t have time for some wibly wobly willy nilly fantasy game in a futuristic setting with funkiness going on and I still had nightmares about rolling a d20, so it was a no go.

Then the limited edition boxed set was announced… I’m a sucker for limited edition of anything. Yeah, proper consumer. I waste money like the western world waste resources, food, water and air.

So I kickstarted that. And boy…. but before we come to that, the story needs more set pieces.

About a year ago I had just started a new job, I was cleaning up in some digital archives, updating surveys and documentation for online distribution and publication. Yes, you got it: I work at a social science data archive. It sounds a lot more exciting than it is, or if you find that it sounds boring, it’s actually a lot more fun than you can imagine.

This archive is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Not that that means much in the bigger scheme of things, but it means we’re potentially pretty important within the limited field of social science research infrastructure.

Anyway, at lunch one day I meet a migrant – I guess that’s what you call it, she came here after being offered a job. She was very charming. To say the least.

Cut to a different part of town. My mum has moved into a care home, she’s ill. She’s got a rare type of lung cancer. In other words. Life is pretty messed up.

At this time I’m not really playing any games. I’m working and dealing with the fairly recent death of my father and the looming death of my mother. Simultaneously I meet this charming lady. I have no time for games, but I want to play of course. There’s just no time, nor any available players.

So then one day (earlier this year, almost as early as possible this year) me and this woman become a thing, as the saying goes, and less than two days later my mother passes.

Cut to about six months later, we (the lady friend and I) have just come back from a 2 and a half week road trip to the north of Norway, and there’s a big box waiting for me at the post office. Numenéra has arrived. At this time I haven’t played any roleplaying games for over a year (barring a quick trip to Texas for a small cosy con and a skype game some time after that), not in town at least.

I quickly start to read and look through this treasure trove of a box. I like what I find. It offers a freedom that few other games and established franchises can. The lady I’ve been seeing all this time has showed some interest in roleplaying as it’s such an important part of my life. We considered The One Ring for a while, as this is familiar territory her (she’s familiar with LotR), but actual playing never happened.

Three weeks ago (or so) I started a new Star Wars group – Force and Destiny this time – and we have played weekly (playing tonight). This lady friend of mine starts asking when she will be able to play with me and another friend of mine. I speak with him – he’s updated on Numenéra as he’s the poor sod who willingly spends time with me in the evenings talking about games. He decides he wants to play Numenéra. I ask the lady, she agrees. So next week we’re playing, on my birthday.

Now, why all of this text about stuff, why mix in death, illness, work and lady friend? Well, all of these things have been the centre of my life for two years or so. Death made me reconsider life, hobbies, work, career and the future. The lady did the same. Lots have changed, but some things remain more or less, at least seemingly constant: I love to play roleplaying games.

Furthermore, getting into Numenéra. Looking at the various beasts, creatures, ideas of supernatural and fantastical worlds, concepts, technology and more, I started to look around. To me the strength of Numenéra is that fact that it’s not an old franchise, it’s not settled, there’s no canon, there’s nothing that says this is the way it is. The game and setting answers few questions, but encourages the GM and players to make these up themselves. When I looked around on the interwebz I discovered two good communities I’ve been lurking on, reddit and G+ where people post their own stuff, share stories and enthusiasm. Refreshingly there’s obviously no or very little “canon”-discussions and quarrels. The focus is the game and how to have fun playing the game.

Over the last six months I also discovered Patreon, got a bit more familiar with it when the Order 66 podcast started their own Patreon campaign/subscription thing. To those not familiar with it, it’s like Kickstarter except you pay a sort of subscription fee rather than a one off payment. Looking around on Pateron I discovered this guy. Now for Star Wars I wasn’t convinced of his usability, at least not in my games… but for Numenéra … he seemed like the perfect fit! He creates new, fantastical creatures, illustrated professionally and with descriptions and indications on how to make use of it in roleplaying games, but he provides no game specific stats (I believe.)

I recommend this Patreon simply because it looks gorgeous and I firmly believe it’s very usable in any rpg where creatures and monsters of unearthly like design roams and live.