Genesys, Cypher system and new and old worlds

This blog has for a long time been dedicated to the Star Wars roleplaying game by Fantasy Flight Games. Initially it was dedicated to a world created by me and a few collaborators. This work was never finished.

Going forward, this blog will continue to be dedicated to roleplaying games, Star Wars will of course be part of this, but my exploration of other game systems and storyverses will play a larger part.

Currently I’m not running any games myself, but I’m participating in a game run by one of my players, the game is called Symbaroum. When I will run a game again is currently a bit up in the air, but it looks like something may happen this autumn. It won’t be Star Wars.

Over the last few of years there has been a slew of new (and old) games successfully funded through sites like Kickstarter. Games like Coriolis, 7th Sea second edition, and Mutant Year Zero to name three. I have supported several games in this way, some of which are already out, some of which are still in various stages of production.

The next stage of this blog and my gaming will see the exploration of these new and old games. As the previous post alluded to I’ve been toying around with world creation again, and an old favourite system of mine: HARP – the science fiction version.

While FFG’s system for the Star Wars game is close to a perfect system, it was until recently a closed system, that is to say a system only designed for running Star Wars. Several “hacks” have been made by fans of the system to fit fantasy type games or post-apocalyptic games.

With this generic version called Genesys coming out, this system makes itself a convenient target for world creation, as well as adaptations of existing storyverses with no RPG license of their own.

It enters into the company of several system that are designed as enablers of storytelling. From BRP and HARP to the Cypher system and numerous others. Some of these are easy and simple systems, quick to play and adapt, whereas others require more customisation and/or effort.

Over the next several weeks and months I’m hoping to test, explore and experience new storyverses and systems. The ultimate goal is an experiment that will result in something… enjoyable. Hopefully.

This experiment will be documented and presented elsewhere, when and if there will be something to present.

For now I’d like to thank any visitor, whether you were looking for my PDFs, hoping I’d written up some new stats or just stumbled across this site randomly while looking for something related to this hobby, or not.

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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.

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.

Way of Specialisations: Martial Artist part 1 – Skills and talents

As some might already know I have this Martial Arts specialist talent tree on dropbox. It started out as an idea for a Teräs Käsi expert talent tree. While this is a good idea – if I may say so myself – its kind of pricey and hard to make 20 talents specific for one martial arts style. So I started to plot in other talents inspired from other styles and old kung fu movies. The resulting talent tree is … well you can judge yourself, I’m not very satisfied (anymore), but I think it could work. It still needs some work – and the Stava talents are not elegant and I like elegant.

So how do I solve this, if I want to add in Stava, K’thri, K’tara, Echani and Teräs Käsi? I think I need to make a base talent tree, not unlike the one I already have, but which contains more generic non-original talents usable with Brawl. Let’s call this the Martial Art Initiate Specialisation.

Martial Arts Initiate Specialisation; skills

A martial artist knows how to fight, be ready for the unexpected, stay cool under pressure and take a beating. So giving the Initiate Brawl, Cool, Resilience and Vigilance as bonus career skills could work. It’s very combat oriented – but I think it shows how one school of thought can be applied to this initiate level trainee. One could also argue for Athletics, Coordination, Discipline and perhaps even Knowledge skills – and others. First off, I think Resilience is slightly misguided for an initiate level martial artist. This skill encompasses way too much, so we can throw that away. While Cool also can make sense, I think that its pointing in the wrong direction. Let’s remove that too. That leaves us with Brawl and Vigilance, and the other suggestions. From my own limited experience with Japanese and Chinese martial arts, I’d say Athletics is a good bet, or Coordination, I guess it depends on the style and nature of the art, but I’d go with Athletics – which is closer to endurance based activity like running, climbing, swimming, jumping etc. So for the fourth skill I’d like to add a Knowledge skill. I’m thinking of either Education, Lore or Xenology. Xenology is nice, but I feel it covers subjects that would not fit a martial arts initiate’s education. Education is very broad and perhaps not the best bet either – I think I’ll go with Lore, since that can cover the origin of the art, the myths and legends surrounding it and stuff like that. So in the end we have four bonus careers skills: Athletics, Brawl, Knowledge (Lore) and Vigilance.

With these skills serving as a basis we can move on to the more important stuff: talents.

Martial Arts Initiate Specialisation; talents

If we look through the beta-book there are a lot of talents that could be useful as they are, and some that could be useful if tweaked slightly: Anatomy lessons, Body Guard, Brace, Confidence, Convincing Demeanor, Crippling Blow, Deadly Accuracy, Defensive Stance, Disorient, Dodge, Durable, Feral Strength, Forager, Frenzied Attack, Grit, Hard Headed, Heightened Awareness, Heroic Fortitude, Intense Focus, Jump Up, Knowledge Specialisation, Lethal Blows, Master of Shadows, Mental Fortress, Natural Brawler, Nobody’s Fool, Precise Aim, Pressure Point, Quick Strike, Rapid Reaction, Rapid Recovery, Resilience (Now Enduring I believe), Resolve, Scathing Tirade, Second Wind, Side Step, Smooth Talker, Soft Spot, Stalker, Steely Nerves, Swift and Toughened. Now this list is way too long obviously, and some of those talents do the same, or have similar effects off different bases. Some are more fitting ninjas and assassins, than monkish type characters. Now. Here comes a design issue: what type of martial art initiate am I thinking of, what sort of martial arts stereotype do I want to make. Do I want the straight forward fighting type? No. I don’t. I want the wise, strong-willed and disciplined type. Bear in mind also that this is the initiate level – so no access to the deepest secrets or most powerful concepts yet. Still, it has to be useful and enjoyable to play – it needs to offer something for the players that would spend XP to pick this up, beyond the roleplaying and thematic aspect, but also a mechanical incentive.

I’ll start by adding Grit and Toughened – I’m not starting on the tree itself, only a list of 20 talents. Jump up and Swift are also very useful and thematically they fit. 16 left. Intense Focus seems like a good idea and reinforces the chi/ki/qi focus thing of the shaolin-stereotype monkish characters (at least some of them). So does Nobody’s Fool and Precise aim. I also add Dodge. That leaves 12 spaces for the rest. Brace is a nice fit, similar to Intense Focus. So is also Feral Strength, Frenzied Attack and Deadly Accuracy, not to mentioned Crippling Blow. I’ll add Crippling Blow, Frenzied Attack and Deadly Accuracy (although I’d like to modify this to apply automatically and only to Brawl – not now though, I’m trying to stay within the rules). I also think, despite already having Dodge, that this specialisation could benefit from having Defensive Stance. Additionally I’d like to add Disorient to increase the power of their punch in a non-damage way. Rapid Reaction and Quick Strike also could provide benefits. For the last four talents I think Natural Brawler, Resolve, Confidence and Lethal Blows. With the Natural Brawler they have a once per session chance to actually do some unarmed damage – which is low to begin with, even with two instances of Feral Strength the average human will have 4 base damage unarmed, not extremely high. Resolve lets the Initiate suffer less Strain from stun attacks and the like, something I think is fitting – I could have gone for the Enduring (Resilience) talent, but I feel that Resolve is more in line with what I’m going for. Confidence makes them more steady when confronted with dangerous situations, so I think that represents their strength of will and … confidence in their skills and capabilities (even when they should run). Lethal Blows was added to let them have a bonus if they actually managed to score a critical. Unarmed damage is low and has a high crit rating, thus you need lots of successes (to penetrate soak) and lots of advantages to score that crit.

So this leaves us with: Grit, Toughened, Jump up, Swift, Intense Focus, Nobody’s Fool, Precise Aim, Dodge, Brace, Crippling Blow, Frenzied Attack, Deadly Accuracy, Defensive Stance, Disorient, Rapid Reactions, Quick Strike, Natural Brawler, Resolve, Confidence and Lethal Blows. A long list, quite a few ranked talents – even if they only appear once.

Now, before I go ahead and put these into a tree, I’d like some comments. Are these the same talents you’d use? Which one would you change? What about those skills? I think, if you look at the dropbox specialist I link to above, you can see some similarities, except for the absence of new and original talents on this list. Also, if you have ideas of how to distribute these in the talent tree, please add that in a comment, with or without your suggested changes to the talent list itself.