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The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

All discussions regarding Board, Card, and RPG Gaming, including industry discussion, that don't belong in one of the other gaming forums.

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Zarathud
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud »

This weekend I'm going to encourage my daughters to roll up characters for Pandelver, which I'll use as an introduction to Tyranny of Dragons. My oldest wants to play a Dragonborn to meet, fight and befriend dragons. Because what good is a Dungeon without a Dragon? :)

At GenCon, I picked up StatTrackers, basically bookmarks that hang over the DM screen with Monster Manual creature stats. Well, at least most of them. Apparently the D&D OGL prevented certain trademarked creatures from being included. That's also disappointing as it's not certain monsters from the expansion books (Volos, etc) can be included in a future set.

GenCon also had a decent deal on dry erase Dungeon Tiles from Roll4Initiative so I picked up a set of earth and greystone. This will allow me to slowly reveal the map while they're adventuring, and drawing map segments before putting tiles in front of everyone should be easier on my back than leaning over the table.
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“It is the impractical things in this tumultuous hell-scape of a world that matter most. A book, a name, chicken soup. They help us remember that, even in our darkest hour, life is still to be savored.” - Poe, Altered Carbon

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

I have a couple of sets of those. They work great. Another thing that works well for certain dungons is to use a map and overhead projector transparencies. Just lay the transparencies out on a grid, draw on them with wet (not dry) erase, then pick them back up. During the game you can lay them down as you need to. It has the advantage that you can overlap them to work in different sized rooms.

A friend picked up a set of the stat trackers there. I didn't see them until afterwards, but really like them. Or at least I would if I still used a screen. These days I use a mini-screen just big enough to hide miniatures behind. I like my body and face not being hidden when I'm GMing. There's nothing blocking the players' view of me, or vice-versa. For rolling, I use giant sized dice in a clear acrylic dice tray so that everyone can see. My actual 'screen' is my laptop off to the side, where I keep my notes (I use OneNote for everything), pdfs of rulebooks, and 5eTools for quick reference.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau »

I got a set of the Stat Trackers and they’re great. And they give you enough blank ones you can fill in gaps if needed.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

Man, dilemmas!

Looks like I'll be running again in a month or two, as my main group's GM is wanting a break. That gives me plenty of time to prep, but prep what? I have two games that I'd really like to put on the table, but I can't for the life of me decide which one to try.

Torg Eternity
Pros:
~Quick to prep,
~Quick to play
~Huge variety of gameplay due to multiple settings mixed together (regions of pulp action, regions of cyberpunk, regions of fantasy, regions of horror, all within a single setting.)

Cons:
~Very little existing content, none of it reviewed to help me decide what to use, which means increased prep time to create a campaign from scratch
~What old content there is would require significant conversion, as everything about the game has changed since its first version in the early 90s.

Neutral:
~Theater of the mind (a pro because it seriously reduces prep and speeds up play, a con because I like toys.)

Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Pros:
~Piles of accessories and tie in materials (board games, PC games, novels.)
~I like the campaign world
~Tons of existing content with hundreds of reviews and piles of third party extras

Cons:
~More complex system, meaning slower play and more prep
~Much of the existing content would require some conversion from 1st edition

Neutral:
~Miniatures used (a con because it increases prep and slows down play, a pro because I like toys.)
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

Well, we wrapped up our D&D campaign yesterday afternoon. After years and years of GMing, it was nice to be a player for more than two sequential sessions. Now it's my turn again. For our next get-together I'll be running Torg Eternity. I've been considering running Torg again for years using the original 90s rules. It was one of my favorite games back then (and West End Games had a real knack for RPG design.) When Eternity came out a few years ago, updating the rules, it shot to the top of my list.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Paingod »

A little recent randomness - in my last Starfinder session, my character only survived because his drone scored a critical hit on a creature that WAY outclassed us and gave the GM a reason to turn around and smear it. Nothing but a natural 20 could have done it, and it was one of those "So perfectly timed, everyone cheered" moments. It bought me the one round I needed to get away and seal a door behind us.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by AWS260 »

Over the weekend, my son discovered the excellent mobile game 80 Days, based on Around the World in 80 Days.

On Monday night, he invented a pen-and-paper version and GMed me through a game. It was delightful. He drew the map, added routes throughout the game as I learned them from talking to locals. We recorded inventory on another sheet of paper, used dice to track stamina, and the calculator app on my phone to track my funds.

Here's the map at the end of the game, with my route highlighted.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau »

AWS260 wrote:Over the weekend, my son discovered the excellent mobile game 80 Days, based on Around the World in 80 Days.

On Monday night, he invented a pen-and-paper version and GMed me through a game. It was delightful. He drew the map, added routes throughout the game as I learned them from talking to locals. We recorded inventory on another sheet of paper, used dice to track stamina, and the calculator app on my phone to track my funds.

Here's the map at the end of the game, with my route highlighted.

Image
That’s really cool.
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The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud »

My daughters and their friends crushed the first encounter of Phandelver. They also revealed themselves to be Murder Hoboes.

When we reveal the dead horse (and the horror that I used a unicorn mini for the body), my youngest decides to dash for the woods to “find a cat to speak with” as her Tabaxi catfolk thinks the idea of talking to cats is the coolest thing in the world. She walks right into the bad guys but has a crazy high passive perception. No one is surprised except for the slow mages. Before the bad guys even act, two players score kills. After the next round, the wizard and sorcerer take turns to light the last retreating baddie on fire, then put out the fire with frost. Because starting a forest fire would be unforgivable. Then they cut off the guy’s head “just to be sure.”

Apparently the goal was talking to a cat or a corpse, no other options. Except deciding whether to tell the rest of the party about their various insights from skill checks. Much discussion about being a team. Then it was time to loot the bodies and strip them of pants. Not the expected team building exercise....

After a long discussion of what to do with their cart and horse (and again debating over splitting the party), the most important decision came down to naming the horse — Lunch — and using the now pants-less bodies as scarecrows. I suppose it works on everyone but hepcat.

Next session will feature breaking and entering. But they’re hooked at 10-12, I think. :)
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
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“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867
“It is the impractical things in this tumultuous hell-scape of a world that matter most. A book, a name, chicken soup. They help us remember that, even in our darkest hour, life is still to be savored.” - Poe, Altered Carbon

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

My latest homemade accessory:

I'm running a game or Torg now. Torg uses a card system for combat initiative, including various bonuses/penalties. The same cards are used from dramatic skill resolution (IE - disarming a bomb, chases, etc.) The problem I discovered in my first session two weeks ago is that the cards are too small for anyone to read, leading to frequent pauses to ask what's on the card.

For Sunday's game I designed a rig out of foamcore. it holds the deck, has a discard area, and has a 'stand' that holds one card upright. It also holds my old webcam. When you put a card on the stand, it is in front of the webcam and is displayed, giant-sized, on the TV screen where everybody can read it.

I'm looking forward to seeing it in action.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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The kids had negotiated with the bad guys to kill the boss and save the human hostage. After killing the boss, they decided to let the surviving bad guys flee down the garbage chute same they spent a lot of time figuring out how to climb...failing 3 climbing rolls with 3, 1, and 5. Because they wanted to take a long rest to get ready for the final negotiation.

Not surprisingly, that didn't turn out well. A scout sent to check what happened found the characters sleeping, then warned them to leave or the hostage would die. Fearful for the hostage's life, the adventurers rushed to the negotiation but didn't have much beyond a jade frog statute for leverage. Apparently, they thought jade was super precious so the bluff failed -- especially after deciding to demand that the goblins throw in "one of their dogs with the hostage." My youngest decided that the negotiations needed to end, so she shot the new leader of the bad guys. And then rolled enough damage to severely injure, but not drop the new leader -- assuming I have the sneak attack rule right.

Does a bound captive held by the new leader permit a sneak attack to trigger? At 1 hp, he's not incapacitated. But he's helpless.

If I'm wrong, the players get a chance to roll the sneak attack damage and a 6 would drop the leader in one shot.

If I'm right, the players get to fight 11 goblins and 3 wolves at the same time. The mages and cleric are out of spells, but the dragonborn still has a breath weapon in tight quarters. It's going to get hairy.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867
“It is the impractical things in this tumultuous hell-scape of a world that matter most. A book, a name, chicken soup. They help us remember that, even in our darkest hour, life is still to be savored.” - Poe, Altered Carbon

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

Zarathud wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:08 pm


Does a bound captive held by the new leader permit a sneak attack to trigger? At 1 hp, he's not incapacitated. But he's helpless.
Do you mean does it count to allow sneak attack on the boss? No. It has to be an 'enemy.' That's a combat enemy, not a social enemy. A helpless target is not a combat enemy.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

Zarathud wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:08 pm


If I'm right, the players get to fight 11 goblins and 3 wolves at the same time. The mages and cleric are out of spells, but the dragonborn still has a breath weapon in tight quarters. It's going to get hairy.
At that point in that cave, they're probably still 1st, maybe 2nd. That isn't hairy, that's execution. Strongly hint that they retreat. It it is inexperienced players on their first game, don't hint. Tell.

/edit - I did a check. That is classified as a 'Deadly' encounter all the way up to 12 1st level characters.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud »

I'm tempted to just rule that the shot receives the sneak attack let them roll the damage, then have the bad guys stand down after their leader dies. It would be a hell of a way to start the new session.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867
“It is the impractical things in this tumultuous hell-scape of a world that matter most. A book, a name, chicken soup. They help us remember that, even in our darkest hour, life is still to be savored.” - Poe, Altered Carbon

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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I could also choose to hand out XP for the last session, anime-style. The adventurers have completed enough of the dungeon over 2 sessions to be level 2. That would give the mages burning hands and sleep for crowd control, and the cleric a heal. The thief and fighter are lucky enough to regularly 1-shot opponents. That could swing things pretty quick. I'm pretty sure the players will throw their lunch or cast a cantrip illusion at the "doggies" because they want to tame them.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867
“It is the impractical things in this tumultuous hell-scape of a world that matter most. A book, a name, chicken soup. They help us remember that, even in our darkest hour, life is still to be savored.” - Poe, Altered Carbon

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

Man, I love playing Torg: Eternity, but I'm finding it a bitch to write for. There is zero guidance on design. The party walks into a room. There are Nile Shocktroopers. How many? There is no mechanism at all by which to determine that, and a fine line between easy and deadly encounters. They say that the issue is that there are so many variables in combat (the luck of the cards, the exploding dice, player skill with the cards, etc) that it isn't really definable. That's all well and good, but how many damned Shocktroopers do I say are in the room? :grund: The game is too mechanical to just hand-wave that stuff the way you can in a FATE or Powered by the Apocalypse narrative game.

I think after a few more sessions I might suggest switching games for a while. I've got some new GMing tricks I'd like to try that D&D 5e would be good for, and I've been spending a lot of time reading Pathfinder 2e. I like Golarion (the Pathfinder world), and would really like to give that a shot, too.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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Tomorrow is the grand battle.

I leveled up the kids (+80% max HP) and will give the 2 mages their extra spell just to be safe. With a Dragonborn’s fire breath and a sleep spell, they should be able to swing the odds significantly. The wolves will try to brush by the front line fighter to get to the Tabaxi cat rogue who they previously couldn’t attack when she taunted them, which will create 1-2 attacks of opportunity. Assuming the fighter doesn’t offer food. I’ll just need to make sure the Cleric has a moment during the battle — and that the dice gods aren’t unfavorable.

"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867
“It is the impractical things in this tumultuous hell-scape of a world that matter most. A book, a name, chicken soup. They help us remember that, even in our darkest hour, life is still to be savored.” - Poe, Altered Carbon

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

Remember that goblins are cowards. They attack when they have numbers, and they attack when they have some advantage. Otherwise they run. Kill their leaders and thin their numbers and they'll turn tail and run.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Smoove_B »

Possibly related: The Monsters Know What They're Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters and coming in May:
In the course of a Dungeons & Dragons game, a Dungeon Master has to make one decision after another in response to player behavior—and the better the players, the more unpredictable their behavior! It’s easy for even an experienced DM to get bogged down in on-the-spot decision-making or to let combat devolve into a boring slugfest, with enemies running directly at the player characters and biting, bashing, and slashing away.

In The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, Keith Ammann lightens the DM’s burden by helping you understand your monsters’ abilities and develop battle plans before your fifth edition D&D game session begins. Just as soldiers don’t whip out their field manuals for the first time when they’re already under fire, a DM shouldn’t wait until the PCs have just encountered a dozen bullywugs to figure out how they advance, fight, and retreat.
I remember reading in-depth articles in Dragon magazine that covered this (and more) as part of the "Ecology of...." series they'd run.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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I have stumbled across that as an epub which I downloaded but haven't read yet.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear »

Blackhawk wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:17 pm
Man, I love playing Torg: Eternity, but I'm finding it a bitch to write for. There is zero guidance on design. The party walks into a room. There are Nile Shocktroopers. How many? There is no mechanism at all by which to determine that, and a fine line between easy and deadly encounters. They say that the issue is that there are so many variables in combat (the luck of the cards, the exploding dice, player skill with the cards, etc) that it isn't really definable. That's all well and good, but how many damned Shocktroopers do I say are in the room? :grund: The game is too mechanical to just hand-wave that stuff the way you can in a FATE or Powered by the Apocalypse narrative game.

I think after a few more sessions I might suggest switching games for a while. I've got some new GMing tricks I'd like to try that D&D 5e would be good for, and I've been spending a lot of time reading Pathfinder 2e. I like Golarion (the Pathfinder world), and would really like to give that a shot, too.
Is that system sort of like Savage Worlds? I backed it thinking it was, realized after reading it that it wasn't but haven't really read it in depth. I know in Savage Worlds the encounters are hard to scale for as exploding dice can make a trivial encounter a deadly one...my savage Rifts character was taken out by a minor monster - a skelebot. Luckily the system has built in safety nets so even though I took a ton of damage I didn't actually die...not sure if Torg Eternity is similar

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

IceBear wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:18 pm

Is that system sort of like Savage Worlds? I backed it thinking it was, realized after reading it that it wasn't but haven't really read it in depth.
It's so similar that some elements are lifted straight from Savage Worlds. Which isn't a coincidence, given that Shane Hensley wrote both of them. The underlying mechanics border on identical, although there are certain things that are Torg specific that were adapted (the drama deck, dramatic skill resolution.)

Example:

Savage Worlds damage is an attack roll against the target's defense. If your attack gets a raise, you get bonus damage dice. Damage is then rolled and for every raise above the target's toughness they take one wound and become shaken. Said wounds give a cumulative -1 per up to four, at which point the target is incapacitated, and must make a roll to see if they die, are permanently injured, or injured until their wounds are healed.

Torg Eternity damage is an attack roll against the target's defense. If your attack gets a raise, you get bonus damage dice. Damage is then rolled and for every raise above the target's toughness they take one wound and two shock. Said wounds give a cumulative -1 per up to four, at which point the target is incapacitated, and must make a roll to see if they die, are permanently injured, or injured until their wounds are healed.


And yes, I had the same issues writing content for Savage Worlds.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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Yeah....when I saw Shane pimping the Torg Eternity kickstarter I just assumed it was SW

For SW I tend to use 1 or 2 non-wild card enemies per PC, but yeah it's hard to judge. I often use waves so I can add more enemies as needed or stop when it's enough. With time and experience I can gauge better now but I honestly don't worry about balance in SW...and my players are ok with that. I tend to make sure there are lots of Bennies and with Rifts there really isn't balance when you have a Glitterboy and a scholar in the same group. The newer rules have a 4 wound cap and a few edges (like certain monsters only suffer 1 wound per attack or their henchmen jump in front of attack) that help keep the players from being outright killed by exploding dice and keeping bosses alive for longer so the fights aren't anticlimactic

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

Yeah, I always defaulted to 1 WC or two Extras per character, although that got predictable. I've run quite a bit of Savage Worlds, mostly fantasy or Deadlands Reloaded. I eventually got bored with Savage Worlds due to the lack of character variety, although I like some of the settings.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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Yeah...I use it mostly for Savage Rifts (I always loved the setting and lore for Rifts, just hated the Palladium system with how megadamage worked). The characters in Savage Rifts have a lot more options than most other settings so while I can see what you're saying about character options, the "classes" used in Rifts have helped alleviate that issue

It's been our go to system for the past couple of years as we normally play Rifts but then one of the group will run a short campaign of Conan or Terran Trade Authority or Weird Wars as everyone is already familiar with the rules. That and Shadowrun Anarchy...much lighter system but in need of work.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

It's a good system, but every system has its flaws. The issue I had with characters is that there are lots of options, but for any character there is always an obvious one. For an archer, for instance, there are only a couple that make sense (Trademark Weapon, Marksman) that every archer, and by extension every sharpshooter, every sniper, every rifleman ends up with the same set of options. Or the flaws - after about forty characters with some combination of mean, code of honor, loyal, and greedy, I burned out. The problem is, again, that the choices aren't min-max so much as they're either mildly annoying or seriously crippling. Greedy vs One Leg.

I think if I ever run SW again, I'll rewrite the edges and hindrances to be more like GURPS: with a point value. Taking Greedy will net you 10 points to spend on Advantages. One Leg might net you 50.

Like I said, though, a good system. I could point out similar flaws in any other game I've ever played (for example, D&D 5e - you make every meaningful character choice by level three, then are left with nothing but filling in the blanks for the rest of that character's career.)
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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I agree with what you are saying. When it comes to Hindrances I always take those that make sense for the character concept and then roleplay them as much as possible for Bennies. The ones with mechanical penalties I tend to avoid as you can't really roleplay those; I tend to find those come from gameplay and injuries rather than players picking them. I did have a guy playing a Glitterboy who took hard of hearing because he thought it made sense for his character after shooting the Boom gun so often in his less than perfect suit of armor

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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Dishonored the RPG
Modiphius Entertainment is proud to announce the launch of a new tabletop roleplaying game set in Arkane Studios’ Dishonored® video game franchise. The game has been developed using a streamlined version of the company’s proprietary 2d20 System, popularized by its award-winning Star Trek Adventures and Conan roleplaying games, and is slated for release Summer 2020.

In close collaboration with Dishonored’s co-creative director Harvey Smith, Modiphius has worked with a diverse selection of writers and artists, some of which have already worked alongside Arkane Studios on the video game series, ensuring that the final product will live up to the fans’ expectations — while at the same time allowing them to explore the Empire of the Isles under a new lens.

...

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A host of antagonists and a myriad different storyhooks to inspire you, from the harsh, cold lands of Tyvia to sunny Karnaca.
Insight on the strange nature of the Void, as well as rules to harness the its reality-bending powers.
"The Oil Trail", a mini-campaign in four acts that serves as a perfect introduction to the City of Dunwall.
A streamlined narrative edition of the Modiphius 2d20 game system.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

I've had a couple of RPGs recommended to me:

Shadow of the Demon Lord
and
Strike!

Does anyone have any experience with either?
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IceBear
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear »

I kickstarted Shadow of the Demon Lord but it has yet to hit our table here, but I liked what I read. Rob designed it for busy gaming schedules and he's been adding lots of cheap supplements and adventures. It uses boons and banes instead of modifiers. Both boons and banes are d6s that add or subtract from your d20 roll. Boons and banes cancel each other out but if you end up multiple boons or banes you roll multiple d6s and take the highest. So the most you'll add or subtract from your d20 roll is a +- 6. For most skill checks the target number is 10 on a d20...combat is vs the defense of the target which tends to be more than 10.

The default setting is dark fantasy but I've read many groups using it for Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance so if dark fantasy isn't your thing don't let that turn you off.

One of the spells is called Horrible Defecation...you literally makes your enemies shit themselves to death

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear »

Sorry I had the name wrong
HATEFUL DEFECATION FORBIDDEN ATTACK 1
Target One living creature with a physical body within medium range
The target’s guts twist and rumble noisily. If the target’s Health is 10 or less, it dies instantly, streams of blood and feces gushing from all of its orifices. If its Health is higher than 10, make an Intellect attack roll against the target’s Strength. On a success, the target takes 1d6 + 2 damage and becomes dazed for 1 round, as its guts violently and spectacularly expel their contents. If this damage incapacitates the target, excrement, organs, and blood explode from its body, which instantly brings about its death. Each creature within 2 yards of a point in the target’s space must make a Will challenge roll; on a failure, it becomes impaired for 1 round. Attack Roll 20+ The target takes 1d6 extra damage.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear »

This is Rob's preface for the core book
About a billion years ago, I got my hands on a copy of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay®. D&D® had been my game—at least until it was decided there was too much Satan in its pages for me to play and keep my soul intact, and so I was forced to find other games to scratch my roleplaying itch. The Old World of Warhammer proved a far darker and scarier place than anything D&D had to offer, and thus it had me entranced. It was a world of grim and perilous adventure, mud, madness, and blood oozing from its pages. The game held many frightening secrets, revealed hordes of daemons clamoring to tear the world apart, and presented an assortment of monsters both familiar and strange. Warhammer taught me many lessons about fantasy, lessons that cultivated an enduring appetite for dark, grim, and nasty adventure. For the first game from my fledgling roleplaying game company, I could have done anything: a dark future of fast cars and the psychopaths who drive them, colonists stranded on a distant planet, self-aware microbes living inside an unhealthy human body. Fantasy has always been my first, true love and it’s the well I go to first when playing and writing for tabletop roleplaying games. You’d think the itch for designing fantasy fun would have been properly scratched after spending the better part of three years on the fifth edition D&D design team, but it wasn’t, as this book proves. You see, D&D was never mine, nor was it owned by anyone else on the team. D&D is a game far bigger than the folks who have had the privilege to work on it. We labored in the shadows of giants, those gods of game design who had come before and provided us all with endless hours of adventure. As custodians of this game, our task was to produce something worthy of being included in the pantheon of editions and that would capture the best and brightest moments of all. To further complicate matters, we worked in the open, soliciting feedback from the keen-eyed and enthusiastic playtesters who would curb some of our more radical ambitions while embracing others. The result, as I’m sure you’ve seen, was a resounding success and people have come back to D&D in droves. I discovered, after my time on D&D came to a close, I wanted something to call my own, a tabletop roleplaying game freed from canon and born from my imagination, shaped by my tastes and interests, all to produce a tabletop experience that matches those I have witnessed at game stores, at conventions, and at my gaming table and the tables of my friends. To feed this hunger, I began design on what would become Shadow of the Demon Lord, subjected the design to rigorous testing, designed and redesigned, clarified, scrubbed, cleaned, and more to arrive at this product that you now see before you. Shadow of the Demon Lord is a distillation of everything I crave from fantasy games, presented in a tight and tidy package. It gives you the tools to tell horror stories set in fantasy worlds teetering on the edge of annihilation. It reveals horrible, terrifying things creeping under the cover of night. It presents magic that is both weird and powerful. And it gives you the tools to create flawed protagonists who might just have a chance to make a difference in the world before it’s too late. It has been a long and winding road to reach this point. There have been wonderful surprises and terrifying setbacks. I’ve put this game in its various incarnations in front of gaming tables from Seattle, Washington to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, from Nashville, Tennessee to Indianapolis, Indiana. Along the way, I’ve met so many wonderful people, bright, funny, imaginative, and just as weird as me. These were the friends, new and old, who made the Kickstarter campaign a success and turned these words into a finished product. So before I go, thank you all. Thank you for your support in the campaign, your encouragement by email or by post, and for giving your time and imagination to playing this little game of mine.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk »

That actually sounds really, really good. Especially as a fan of Warhammer Fantasy who loves the setting, but hasn't liked the products or company for a while now.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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Yeah...the default setting has the world about to die as the demon lord is about to invade and destroy everything. The assumption is during the campaign the players will slow the progress of the end of the world but eventually it's doomed

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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We wrapped up Torg: Eternity yesterday with the Cyberpapacy chapter of Day One. We'll be taking a break from it to try out Pathfinder 2 for a while, then will be coming back sometime after the rebooted Eternity Chalice adventure has been published. I loved the 90s original, and hope to run this for my group. My thoughts:

~Mechanically, if you've played Savage Worlds, you've played Torg: Eternity. They're built around the same bones. They have many of the same strengths and weaknesses. SW's strength is that it is completely separated from any setting or genre, so can be adapted to any of them. Torg's strengths over SW is that the combat is more exciting (thanks, Drama Deck and Destiny cards!) and that character design is less... flat.
~Torg does a fantastic job with genre-jumping. It covers action movie Earth, prehistoric, fantasy, post apocalyptic, 30's action pulp, high-tech espionage/horror, cyberpunk, and Victorian horror, and lets you jump between them with ease (short version - different parts of the world have been invaded by alternate realities, and you're fighting back against them, so parts of the US are prehistoric, France is cyberpunk, India is Victorian horror, and so on.)
~It also does a great job with world laws and Cosm cards of making each setting feel like it is supposed to. The action pulp setting feels like Indiana Jones/The Shadow, while the high tech horror feels like Black Rain meets Resident Evil.
~With that said, if you jump between settings very often, it's fairly challenging as the GM to put your head in the right place to run it. It's tough to suddenly jump from running dark, gritty cyberpunk to action-pulp without letting them flavor each other.
~The game is fast to play, characters are fast to make and offer quite a few options.
~Combat has enough depth and options to keep strategists busy, especially with the Destiny card mechanics.
~The game is tough to write for, something it inherits from Savage Worlds. Unknown cards in play plus exploding dice mean that the difficulty of the encounters is nearly impossible to gauge. One time a dragon is a breeze to put down, the next time a pair of Yakuza could nearly wipe the party. This makes it really tough to plan out content.
~The fact that it takes place in the real world makes it easy to find inspiration and references (and yes, props too ;).) I used Google Maps all the time. It was great to say, "You're standing right here in Orange, France. Feel free to pan around."

Pros and cons included, I really like the game, and am actually looking forward to going back to it in the future. That said, I'm l am happy to be spending some time going back to a fantasy game for a while. It'll be nice sticking with a single setting, and one where I know the tropes and conventions better than any others.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau »

One of my all-time favorite RPGs is on Bundle of Holding right now. Get the core rulebooks for Castle Falkenstein for about $10.

Castle Falkenstein Bundle of Holding
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

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I'm on the second read-through of the 600-page Pathfinder 2 rulebook. After years of lighter games, it's making my head spin.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau »

I'm going to be at C2E2 all weekend running D&D games. I'm going to be mostly manning the event booth, but I have a feeling I'm going to be called upon to run things. Sunday I'll be on the show floor (somewhere?) running "Learn to Play" D&D sessions.

And tomorrow night I'm going to be going to the Critical Role live show at the auditorium theater. Looking forward to that one!
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Cylus Maxii »

hentzau wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 4:50 pm
I'm going to be at C2E2 all weekend running D&D games. I'm going to be mostly manning the event booth, but I have a feeling I'm going to be called upon to run things. Sunday I'll be on the show floor (somewhere?) running "Learn to Play" D&D sessions.

And tomorrow night I'm going to be going to the Critical Role live show at the auditorium theater. Looking forward to that one!
I completely envious about the CR live show!
My nephew, Jake - "I mean is there really anything more pure? Than sweet zombie monkey love?"

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by NickAragua »

Looks like I'm going to be running a Shadowrun 5th edition session (or more if it works out) within the month. That is one intimidating-looking rulebook. I think I'm going to print out a cheat sheet or something, 'cause flipping through 500+ pages every time I want to look up the modifiers for "firing at a target while it's diving behind cover with chameleon camouflage activated while the attacker just got bird poop in his eye and his gun is under wireless attack by a hostile decker" doesn't smile on me at all.

(it's not actually quite that bad, I think)

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