26 November 2012

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 02 - Unrequited Wave

This is the second Anatomy of a Thread Item in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.


If you happen to be a player in one of those games, please do not read this series. There will be spoilers and some of this information is subject to change.

This Thread Item was created pretty specifically for one character to support what they wanted out of their Discipline. I started with a set of mechanical goals and a set of story goals. The mechanical goals were to address common issues faced by characters using Second Weapon and support a Swordsmaster that was having issues deciding what was more awesome - a big ass sword, or two swords? "Both!", was my answer.

A significant obstacle associated with Second Weapon in general is the cost: for the Talent to be worth it, the weapon has to be worth attacking with. This means it will need to be forged and ultimately a Thread Item. That means money, Legend Points and Threads, the latter two are valuable resources, one rather limited. All of this is for a Talent that you may not necessarily use every round - it costs Strain and your primary weapon will be better, so Second Attack (if you have that) becomes the first additional attack to use.

To address all of this, I created a Thread Item that can become whatever melee weapon is desired. This allows for a single big weapon (eventually, really big), multiple medium weapons (including the potential for a tail weapon), or lots of small weapons for throwing or concealing. Overall, there is a nice blend between straight forward damage bonuses and subtle combinations that can be capitalized on later. The mechanics developed here figured in nicely to the overall story that I wanted this item to be a part.

Story goals are based around introducing certain elements into the game, and there are a few elements that this item touches. The first and most prominent is the story of a legendary figure from before the Scourge, Jynis Y'mns, and her activities in the nascent Barsaive. Her legend and legacy will figure prominently for one of the characters, in particular her failures. While she accomplished many great things, she left some very important things unresolved. 

he other element that I wanted to introduce is a somewhat touching story of love, though leave it a little ambiguous. Between two Namegivers that clearly can never be together; their worlds are completely different. I wanted to juxtapose their associated elements, earth and water, with how the addressed developments: earth cannot deny what it is, but water can adapt to what it needs to be. This leaves open the question of what water truly wants. That particular resolution will be required (even if not listed) to further develop the legend of this item.


 Unrequited Wave
Maximum Threads: 2
Spell Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

The default appearance is a two-handed sword with an intricately carved stone hilt lettered in archaic t'skrang. The blade is blue crystal shaped as a crashing wave, embedded with True Water and with carvings in obsidiman. When immersed in water the blade almost disappears, only a shimmer betraying its presence.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the weapon’s Name.
Effect: The weapon’s Damage Step is now 14.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: For 1 Strain, the wielder may split the weapon into smaller weapons, totaling Size 6, as a simple action. The Damage Steps for these weapon’s are as though they have been fully Forged (e.g. a broadsword, Size 3, would be Damage Step 8) in addition to any damage bonuses from further Thread Ranks being applied fully to each weapon.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the Name of the weapon’s creator.
Effect: The weapon gains +1 Damage Step.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The weapon gains +1 Damage Step (+2 total).

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the Name of whom the weapon was created for.
Effect: The wielder may remove 1 additional Size from the weapon without reducing the overall Size of the weapon. The weapon additionally gains +1 Damage Step (+3 total).

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The weapon gains +1 Damage Step (+4 total). Additionally add +1 to attacks made with the weapon that do not use the wielder’s primary hand.

Thread Rank Seven
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the fate of the creator and first wielder.
Effect: The weapon increases in Size by 1, with associated damage increases when wielded at Size 7. Additionally the weapon gains +1 Damage Step (+5 total).

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: The weapon gains +1 Damage Step (+6 total). Additionally add +2 to attacks made with the weapon that do not use the wielder’s primary hand.

Back Story
Before the Scourge and before Barsaive was broken, there was an obsidiman who loved that which he could never have. He would stare longingly at the waters of the Aras and the Serpent, the waves lapping at his feet, but he would always be a Namegiver of Earth and never truly know the kiss of water. As a testament to his love, he crafted a weapon of both worlds. 

Key Knowledge
Rank One: Unrequited Wave
Rank Three: Pytkriss
Rank Five: Jynis Y'mns
Rank Seven: The first wielder, Swordmaster Jynis Y’mns, died battling the Horror Nu’wyve. Pytkriss took up his Heartblade and was a great hero by any standard, but over time he could not bear the weapon any longer: it was a constant reminder of what he lost. He retired to his Liferock, Ayodhya.

24 November 2012

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Discipline 07 - Cavalryman

This is the seventh Anatomy of a Discipline in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

Overview

Mounted characters have a strange place in any game where they are featured. The reasons are pretty simple: your mount cannot go everywhere you can. Mechanically they tend to be powerful when mounted and be considerably less so when on foot, creating a situation where they steal the spotlight, or have a hard to shining. This is perhaps more true in Earthdawn than most games simply because of the focus this Discipline has on its mount. Selecting this Discipline in a game that prominently features dungeon-crawling (kaers) is a commitment. Which is good, because this Discipline is all about commitment.

The most important thing in any Cavalryman's life is their mount. More important than anything else, including Namegivers. Cavalrymen are Initiated when a suitable mount is born and they are drawn to them by another Cavalryman. They will raise their mount and bond with it when it is two and a half years old. During the bonding, each half will receive a permanent mark to share with the other, ritual branding, scarring or tattooing are common.

Due to the dichotomy of their social natures and preference for livestock, most Cavalrymen prefer to travel in groups with other practitioners of their Discipline. Not many Namegivers appreciate a companion eschewing their company in favor of their steed. Choosing a mount is going to be one of the most important decisions for any of these adepts. Some Namegivers many have vanishingly few options (windlings) to one option, which isn't really an option anymore (obsidimen). The nature of the shared mark will also be important to the character, in addition to developing the relationship they have with their mount. Deciding about their Initiation, training, and the views of their master will also lend some depth, though not necessarily to the degree of other Disciplines - the bond between rider and mount is so strong that it will override a great deal. Traditions of their former company (if they rode with one) can also be of interest.

Discipline Violations

These are best not employed as a stick, but as a chance for the player to take a deeper look at what it means to follow their Discipline. For a Cavalryman, the treatment of their mount is by far the most important thing in their existence. There isn't a lot of room for drama in that area, but there is some. Not spending enough time in the mount is perhaps the most common, with the other side being the strain that relationship can put on the one the adept has with the rest of their Group. The Cavalryman makes no effort to hide the company they prefer and some Namegivers can be put out by that, particularly if there has been a Blood Oath sworn around the whole thing. This can be a source of low-level tension that causes the Cavalryman to examine their priorities, what is important, but also come to terms with the difficulties they have in their relationships because of the path the follow.

Dealing with the death of their partner is the most serious issue for adherent of this Discipline. A Cavalryman cannot allow for a permanently injured mount to live - it will hobble them both. There is a ritual for this and it should be a character defining moment. In my mind, this is not an "if" question, but a "when". The world is dangerous and their partner has no inherently magical protections - it is their sacrifice to the adept. It should be painful and emotional, nothing should be easily about this event. These are two creatures that have shared thoughts and emotions; one has spent its entire life with the other. After it is done, the adept will have to find a new suitable mount as it is being born and bond; setting themselves up once again for the inevitable. It cannot be avoided, because that is who they are.

Talents

Initiate
Talent Options: Animal Training, Avoid Blow, First Impression, Haggle, Unarmed Combat

First Circle
Discipline Talents: Animal Bond, Charge, Karma Ritual, Melee Weapons, Trick Riding

Novice
Talent Options: Blood Share, Creature Analysis, Dominate Beast, Speak Language, Tactics, Tracking, Wilderness Survival

Second Circle
Discipline Talents: Durability (7/6), Empathic Command

Third Circle
Discipline Talent: Sure Mount

Fourth Circle
Discipline Talent: Thread Weaving [Rider Weaving]

Journeyman
Talent Options: Fearsome Charge, Frighten Animals, Heal Animal Companion, Heartening Laugh, Leadership, Mount Attack, Mount Durability (6/5), Spirit Mount

Fifth Circle
Discipline Talent: Wheeling Attack

Sixth Circle
Discipline Talent: Armor Mount

Seventh Circle
Discipline Talent: Wheeling Defense

Eighth Circle
Discipline Talent: Double Charge

While mounted, Cavalrymen are powerful combatants. Unmounted, they don't really have much to do. Realistically, they have one active Discipline Talent that does not involve being mounted. While mounted, however, there is serious potential. Charge is a damage replacement Talent at 1st Circle and charging attacks also adds the mount's strength Step - ridiculous. Wheeling Attack allows for more versatility in charging attacks: it can be exceptionally difficult to deliver them consistently. While Wheeling Defense is a physical defense adder that reduces their movement (preventing charging). 

Some of their Discipline Talents are upgraded versions of similar Talents with the requirement of being mounted. Trick Riding is effectively Avoid Blow for both rider and mount (while mounted). Sure Mount functions similarly to Wound Balance, though works against all Knockdown Tests.

Overall, this Discipline is a one-trick pony, for the most part. To be fair, Charge is a hell of a trick.

My preference for selecting Talent Options with Cavalrymen is to extend them beyond things they can do while mounted and even outside of combat. There are a few exceptions to this. The Initiate Talent Options are pretty good in this regard:
  • Animal Training - Some Gamemasters may allow you to get away without having this, others not so much. You should figure out which you have and then take this accordingly.
  • Avoid Blow - I don't like Avoid Blow when it isn't a Discipline Talent (the math doesn't work out for the investment). I like it even less when, ideally, you will virtually never be using it.
  • First Impression - This is one of my favorites for any Discipline, but particularly Cavalrymen. They tend towards decent charisma, but it opens options for them outside of combat and being mounted without continual investment.
  • Haggle - Similar to First Impression, this can be good for certain characters, though one one character in any Group needs this and whoever is most dedicated to raising it should be saddled with it.
  • Unarmed Combat - Given every Cavalryman's goal should be to always enter combat while mounted, this isn't going to be useful and will require continual investment to even remain viable.
There are a number of good options in the Novice Talent Options for a variety of characters, which is good:
  • Blood Share - Moving damage between the adept and their mount can be very useful. This one is highly recommended (even with the Karma cost associated with it).
  • Creature Analysis - Another attractive option; information is always valuable and it can give you something to do when unmounted or riding back to the fray after a charge.
  • Dominate Beast - For certain concepts, this can be valuable (friend of the beasts/trainer type characters), others may not get any mileage.
  • Speak Language - If you find yourself being one of the primary social characters and/or don't see many other Talent Options that appeal to you, this one requires little investment to start paying off.
  • Tactics - Certain concepts (leaders and officers) will want this, others will probably want to give it a pass. Few PCs will get much use out of it in a traditional campaign.
  • Tracking - With their high mobility, Cavalrymen can make excellent scouts. This also tends to be a useful Talent that not many Disciplines get access to. If there happens to be a Scout (or someone with it as a Discipline Talent), you should probably give it a pass.
  • Wilderness Survival - Similar to Tracking, though this can be doubly important for a Cavalryman as they always need to feed two, not just one.
Continuing the previous tiers' trend, there are some good Journeyman Talent Options for nearly every concept:
  • Fearsome Charge - Something like a mounted version of Steely Stare. While good, it's requirement to be mounted makes me think again simply because the adept already has so much to do when mounted.
  • Frighten Animals - If you wanted Dominate Beast, you will likely want to consider this as well. The Karma cost associated with it is can be steep as a Talent Option - it is unpredictable how much use it will see.
  • Heal Animal Companion - Extremely useful and less costly (in terms of Karma) than Blood Share. It isn't free, however - it costs your Recovery Tests to use. If you have Blood Share already, I would give this a pass. If you don't, then this will be an attractive alternative.
  • Heartening Laugh - With the cost of a Karma, there is bound to be something more useful. Also, I have never had a game without a Swordmaster and they get this as a Discipline Talent and 2nd Circle.
  • Leadership - If you took Tactics, you will want this to go with it. If you didn't, odds are you will want to give this a pass as well.
  • Mount Attack - While it doesn't give the adept anything more to do when not mounted, it certainly makes your mount more effective in combat. Before you jump on this, make certain your mount has an attack that is worth making more effective.
  • Mount Durability (6/5) - This is pretty much a must for what it means to a mount's ability to survive. Particularly against opponents that have nothing against cutting down your mount from underneath you. It's incredibly effective and much easier than killing the rider (though there is more than a small amount of gamer stigma attached to it).
  • Spirit Mount - For pretty much any other Discipline, I like this whenever it is available. For a Cavalryman - why? You already have a mount all of the time, that's what the Discipline is all about. If you can somehow convince your GM that your Spirit Mount is actually your real mount, perhaps their spirit pulled back from the beyond or whatever you can get away with, then this will allow you to take a mount into all kinds of silly places.
Races

Most Namegivers have nothing notable for this Discipline, having a wide variety of mounts available to them. Dwarfs have some particular mounts for their stature, and orks are probably the most famous Cavalrymen - particularly known for riding thundra beasts. While t'skrang have no size issues, no mounts are aquatic and there will be some interesting explanations going on for that character. Trolls have a harder time due to their size and weight, though they have a number of good, if rare, options. Between their unique racial characteristics (being part of, more-or-less, a hive mind) with relation to the fundamental nature of being a Cavalryman as well as their sheer mass, obsidimen Cavalrymen would be considered extremely rare on the best of days. For any player that wants to go that way, they have one mount availabe: the dyre. Nothing else can actually support them and equipment.

Windlings deserve special mention because they are the one Namegiver that can circumvent pretty much all of the issues all other Cavalrymen face; they can take their mount pretty much anywhere that a big dog can go. They have two mount options, one of which flies; so be expecting to see that one. While powerful, their small size means that a windling cavalryman won't be unbalancing a game anytime soon - weapon size and low strength limits their damage potential, even with Charge, considerably. Ultimately, this is the Cavalryman option that fits best into a normal Earthdawn campaign.

Equipment

There are no Talents which require a Cavalryman to go first, which mean they can load up on heavy armor that most other Disciplines pass over in favor of higher initiative. Coupled with the ability to use normally two-handed weapons in one hand, shields will also be a popular option.

For weapons a lance or a pole-arm are the most common choices. The lance does 1 Step less damage, but will not break on a charge (pole arms break if they do 25 points of damage). When Thread Items come into the picture, the difference becomes moot; when weapon size is factored in the base damage for both is Step 12 and Thread Items do not break. When unmounted, a Cavalryman may consider an alternate weapon, or giving up their shield. In that situation, however polearms are the superior option; lances lose 1 Step of damage when unmounted.

22 November 2012

Kickstarter: Part 9 - Updates

This is the ninth part in an ongoing series about crowdfunding. Overview and Index.

This post is going to have updates of the projects I introduced back in Part 8, new projects and a running list of the projects that are still waiting for deliverables and their current status (including those ongoing). Any projects where everything has been delivered will be removed at each update, hopefully with a note and pictures regarding what arrived.

Updates

Some projects have funded since the last update. Making it by the narrowest of margins at the 11th hour, Emergence has funded - raising $20,098 of their $20,000 goal. Hillfolk ended up pulling in $93,845 for a $3,000 goal; pretty awesome. That project had an astounding number of stretch goals; there is a genre for everyone in that game. Magicians' final total was $34,056 for a $3,000 goal, and features Chinese and Japanese in addition to Korean in the final strech goals. Wilderness, a supplement for Houses of the Blooded, brought in $11,157 for another $3,000 goal. Base Raiders, a FATE-based (also for Mutants and Masterminds, Savage Worlds and Wild Talents) dungeon-crawling supers game is still open until 24Nov2012. It has been funded and there are still some nice stretch goals that can be reached; if you know what I mean. Finally, the Shadows of Esteren Prologue is still open until 26Nov2012 and you can get in on many of the features from the previous Kickstarter if you missed out on them. These projects have always had excellent stretch goals and the books are gorgeous. 

New Projects

Cairn is a game set in a town of the same name. It is populated by very small anthropomorphic animals that now seek to fix humans' myriad of failures. The system is light and suitable for children (and spouses that have a deep and abiding love of cute things). This campaign is only running for 10 days and closes on 25Nov2012, so if you want in on this - hurry! It is fully funded with a number of add-ons, including, but not limited to, dice and miniatures. Softcover is $24 and hardcover starts at $34 (hardcover is $10 add-on to any level with a book). One of the major promises is that this will be in your hands prior to that winter celebration. This is one of the few crowdfunding projects where that narrow deadline is going to be an absolute must, especially if you selected the gift option.

I am particularly interested in Camp Myth, a setting featuring all of the classic mythological creatures attending a summer camp. Based on a series by the same name, this rules light game is all about emulating the camp experience. Through badges, homesickness, letters from camp, and the standard issue Myth-Army knife, there are a number of cute ideas. This is the kind of game I would like to trot out for a few sessions every summer, watching the characters grow just as the players do over the intervening year. Hopefully funding will be met by 02Dec2012.

6d6 is a game out of the UK which is been making the rounds in the convention scene for a while. It is a generic system, suitable for numerous genres (pledging will likely get you at least one adventure from the four different genres available), but what is most interesting is the most recent version of the rules will always be made available to anyone who purchases it (which is nice) and that it is licensed under the Creative Commons. They want the system out there and being played by pretty much everyone, but the emphasis seems to be on sharing it, not just downloading it. Certainly an interesting experiment and one I am supporting. It has been funded and the project ends on 04Dec2012.

Project H.O.P.E. is an English translation of an Italian game about superheroes in WWII. The system seems serviceable (dice pool with target numbers, count successes), but the layout and artwork what sells this project to me. Well, than and I enjoy superhero games with relatively simple systems. This is quite simply a very visually appealing book and looks like it will be great for inspiration if nothing else. 


The Saga of the Dragon Star and N.R.G. Core Rulebook project is perhaps a little more confusing than it needs to be. There are three different books being offered, two are different systems (Pathfinder and Savage Worlds) of the setting (Saga of the Dragon Star), and the third book is the N.R.G. Core Rulebook. The setting is a blend of fantasy and western against the backdrop of fading magic and the inevitable return of big, badass demons. These are all things that I like and I want to see them together. The new system that is being launched is a generic sword-and-sorcery game where the goal is to make each action count. It is rather unique in some ways with how it goes about this and a preview can be downloaded. Neither of the systems offered for the setting particularly appeal to me, but I am in for the N.R.G. Core Rulebook. There is a push to get the setting with the new system as an option, which I wholeheartedly support. First, the project needs to be funded (though I wonder if that offering would help reach that goal). Nonetheless, the project has until 14Dec2012 to find out.

The Morrow Project 4th Edition brings back a classic, if potentially somewhat obscure, game. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, you were relatively normal person. Except that you were put into cryo-sleep to survive the apocalypse and trained to help rebuild society (which explicitly means the U.S.A.) Unfortunately, you slept too long and are over a hundred years late. Things are in a bad way and it is your job, along with others in your group, to try and make the best of this messed up situation and maybe find out what happened to the other groups. Post-apocalyptic games have a special place in my heart and I remember this one from back in the day. It has an interesting premise which I cannot help but feel like I've read some classic sci-fi along those lines. The end of this project is just into next year, on 03Jan2012.
Ongoing Projects

Quantum Roleplaying Game
Funded on 30Dec2011
Goal: $13,000
Raised: $42,747
Backers: 580
Status: Late; beta PDF has been issued.
Estimated Delivery: Apr2012.
Last Update: #53, 19Nov2012

Always/Never/Now
Funded on 08Jan2012
Goal: $1,500
Raised: $8,363
Backers: 266
Status: Late.
Estimated Delivery: Apr2012.
Last Update: #27, 10Nov2012

Tephra
Funded on 04Feb2012
Goal: $1,000
Raised: $22,821
Backers: 374
Status: Late: Most rewards have been received (late); still awaiting Adversary Book.
Estimated Delivery: Mar2012.
Last Update: #19, 15Nov2012

School Daze
Funded on 25Mar2012
Goal: $3,000
Raised: $6,440
Backers: 159
Status: Late: All physical rewards have been received (late); still awaiting a bonus Group Project. (Review)
Estimated Delivery: Jul2012
Last Update: #32, 30Sep2012

Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone
Funded on 20Apr2012
Goal: $10,500
Raised: $11,907
Backers: 210
Status: PDF has been delivered and project still within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Nov2012
Last Update: #23, 27Oct2012

Witch Girls: Book of Shadows
Funded on 10May2012
Goal: $2,000
Raised: $8,717
Backers: 167
Status: Late (due to litigation).
Estimated Delivery: Oct2012
Last Update: #55, 29Oct2012

Farewell to Fear
Funded on 20May2012
Goal: $4,000
Raised: $18,696
Backers: 420
Status: Late; some pdfs have been provided.
Estimated Delivery: Aug2012
Last Update: #43, 16Nov2012

Mecha Combiners
Funded on 31May2012
Goal: $2,000
Raised: $3,655
Backers: 108
Status: Late.
Estimated Delivery: Sep2012
Last Update: #24, 10Oct2012

The Book of Jade
Funded on 01Jun2012
Goal: $10,000
Raised: $16,794
Backers: 206
Status: Late; updated shipping timeline indicates it should happen by the end of October.
Estimated Delivery: Jun2012
Last Update: #8, 17Sep2012

Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Funded on 01Jun2012
Goal: $7,500
Raised: $16,240
Backers: 314
Status: Within (new) delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Originally late Oct2012, now Nov2012 (as of 15Oct2012).
Last Update: #21, 17Oct2012

curse the darkness
Funded on 06Jun2012
Goal: $5,000
Raised: $11,861
Backers: 288
Status: All physical rewards have been received (late); still awaiting some stretch goals.
Estimated Delivery: Aug2012
Last Update: #38, 29Oct2012.

Blade Raiders
Funded on 14Jun2012
Goal: $5,000
Raised: $8,424
Backers: 223
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Nov2012
Last Update: #16, 15Nov2012

Champions of ZED
Funded on 16Jun2012
Goal: $4,600
Raised: $8,077
Backers: 259
Status: Late.
Estimated Delivery: Aug2012
Last Update: #15, 05Nov2012

Our Last Best Hope
Funded on 17Jun2012
Goal: $3,000
Raised: $12,620
Backers: 360
Status: All initial rewards have been received (dice were late); waiting for stretch goals. (Review)
Estimated Delivery: Aug2012
Last Update: #25, 05Nov2012

Dungeon World
Funded on 30Jun2012
Goal: $4,000
Raised: $82,879
Backers: 2,455
Status: Late; beta PDFs have been provided
Estimated Delivery: Aug2012
Last Update: #32, 15Nov2012

Westward
Funded on 01Jul2012
Goal: $3,000
Raised: $19,227
Backers: 454
Status: Late.
Estimated Delivery: Oct2012
Last Update: #17, 12Nov2012

Last Stand
Funded on 02Jul2012
Goal: $1,500
Raised: $11,206
Backers: 245
Status: Late; some electronic files have been provided.
Estimated Delivery: Jul2012
Last Update: #35, 20Nov2012

Project Panda Ninja Taco
Funded on 22Jul2012
Goal: $12,500
Raised: $14,808
Backers: 386
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Dec2012
Last Update: #10, 08Nov2012

Project: Paradigm
Funded on 02Aug2012
Goal: $2,000
Raised: $4,700
Backers: 69
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Apr2013
Last Update: #10, 25Sep2012

SteamCraft
Funded on 19Aug2012
Goal: $5,500
Raised: $7,091
Backers: 126
Status: PDF has been delivered, within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Nov2012
Last Update: #18, 12Nov2012

Better Angels
Funded on 26Aug2012
Goal: $5,000
Raised: $21,593
Backers: 639
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Dec2012
Last Update: #13, 02Oct2012

Tenra Bansho Zero
Funded on 16Sep2012
Goal: $9,000
Raised: $129,640
Backers: 1,704
Status: Within delivery schedule
Estimated Delivery: Feb/Mar2013
Last Update: #29, 17Nov2012

Numenera
Funded on 17Sep2012
Goal: $20,000
Raised: $517,255
Backers: 4,658
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Jul2013
Last Update: #50, 16Nov2012

13 True Ways
Funded on 21Sep2012
Goal: $29,800
Raised: $70,101
Backers: 846
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Apr2013
Last Update: #43, 16Nov2012

tremulous
Funded on 01Oct2012
Goal: $5,000
Raised: $62,753
Backers: 1,555
Status: PDFs have been provided; within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Jan2013
Last Update: #29, 17Oct2012

Act Ten
Funded on 28Oct2012
Goal: $1,000
Raised: $2,379
Backers: 170
Status: PDF has been provided; within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Dec2012
Last Update: #13, 13Nov2012

Outlive Outdead Companion
Failed funding on 31Oct2012
Goal: $1,300
Raised: $1,004
Backers: 29
Status: Supplements can be a tough sell.

Hillfolk
Funded on 02Nov2012
Goal: $3,000
Raised: $93,845
Backers: 2,185
Status: A PDF has been provided; within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Apr 2013
Last Update: #34, 13Nov2012

Emergence
Funded on 05Nov2012
Goal: $20,000
Raised: $20,098
Backers: 246
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Aug2013
Last Update: #27, 11Nov2012

Sixcess
Funded on 05Nov2012
Goal: $2,500
Raised: $6,097
Backers: 149
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Feb2013
Last Update: #20, 09Nov2012

Nova Praxis
Funded on 10Nov2012
Goal: $10,000
Raised: $29,808
Backers: 635
Status: Within delivery schedule. 
Estimated Delivery: Feb2013
Last Update: #20, 10Nov2012

Wilderness: Houses of the Blooded
Funded on 11Nov2012
Goal: $3,000
Raised: $11,157
Backers: 259
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Dec 2012
Last Update: #13, 20Nov2012

Magicians
Funded on 18Nov2012
Goal: $3,000
Raised: $16,097
Backers: 466
Status: Within delivery schedule.
Estimated Delivery: Apr 2013
Last Update: #26, 19Nov2012

Base Raiders
Project closes on 24Nov2012
Goal: $6,000
Raised: $12,049
Backers: 359
Status: Ongoing [Funded]
Estimated Delivery: Jul2013
Last Update: #10, 18Nov2012

Cairn
Project closes on 25Nov2012
Goal: $2,000
Raised: $11,905
Backers: 249
Status: Ongoing [Funded]
Estimated Delivery: Dec2012
Last Update: #6, 21Nov2012

Shadows of Esteren Prologue
Project closes on 26Nov2012
Goal: $3,000
Raised: $49,019
Backers: 490
Status: Ongoing [Funded]
Estimated Delivery: Mar 2013
Last Update: #27, 21Nov2012

Camp Myth
Project closes on 02Dec2012
Goal: $5,000
Raised: $3,145
Backers: 67
Status: Ongoing
Estimated Delivery: Dec 2012
Last Update: #4, 17Nov2012


6d6 RPG Core and Adventure Books
Project closes on 04Dec2012
Goal: £2,000
Raised: £2,967
Backers: 84
Status: Ongoing [Funded]
Estimated Delivery: Apr 2013
Last Update: #2, 21Nov2012

Project H.O.P.E
Project closes on 11Dec2012
Goal: $14,000
Raised: $2,465
Backers: 49
Status: Ongoing
Estimated Delivery: Mar 2013
Last Update: #2, 17Nov2012

The Saga of the Dragon Star and N.R.G. Core Rulebook RPG
Project closes on 14Dec2012
Goal: $15,000
Raised: $8,639
Backers: 132
Status: Ongoing
Estimated Delivery: Jul 2013
Last Update: #7, 21Nov2012

The Morrow Project 4th Edition
Project closes on 03Jan2012
Goal: $15,000
Raised: $9,921
Backers: 91
Status: Ongoing
Estimated Delivery: Mar 2013
Last Update: #1, 20Nov2012

19 November 2012

Earthdawn: Part 18 - Play Aids 1

This is the eighteenth part in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

This article is a compilation of five game aids that were introduced in the Adventure Logs, and discussed how they were constructed (if applicable) and what they brought to the game. Covered here are player boxes to hold trophies, coins, dice and sundry; physical coinage; note cards; binders; and a party treasury. If you have been keeping up with the Adventure Logs, there isn't much to see here. If you have given them a pass, there may be something of here of interest.

The first play aid I introduced for my players was binders. They were created for each character and have a combat summary; a chart with the action dice, steps, and result levels; combat option sheets; expanded character sheets; full descriptions of all Talents and skills (including any relevant tables); and pouches to keep note cards. Everything is in sheet protectors and all of the players have dry erase markers, which can be used to make notes on the sheet protectors - track damage, make notes, reminders, gibberish that can only be interpreted as some kind of psychological warfare as I puzzle over it for hours, you know, player stuff. All of this is to try and move things along quickly, particularly combat, by putting all of the relevant information at each player's hand without anyone getting lost in the Player's Guide. The ability to write on the sheets and then easily clean it up means that everything stays legible longer and combat notes are easy. For games that have a lot going on, this is a very helpful system for me. In other games I have included information from between games in the binders as an easy way to disseminate information without exactly letting each player know fully what was going on.

One of my favorite play aids, no matter what the game, is note cards. These are the best way for me to distribute things that I want players to have in some way and tend to quickly go on replacing traditional ways to track various things. For example, I have cards for every piece of equipment with the game effects and stats (including weight and cost), along with a description. This helps save time looking things up (including buying more, or even making it), gives a place to take notes and also tracks who actually possesses the item in question. All of this is doubly true for Thread Items. They make great handouts and a useful way to introduce new characters. Make a card with their Name and some key traits about them; easy descriptors to convey the important elements about them. Players can then take notes about that character in one place. I prefer to color code my note cards, so I know at a glance what I have; for example, purple is people, green places, red blood magic, white equipment, blue key items, and yellow consumables. An interesting way to implement theft is to quietly remove a card from a stack and then have the theft noted when the player notices the item is missing. This is not a good idea for every group or player, though can be effective for groups that appreciate that kind of play.

To really up the ante on personal production values and give them a place to keep all of their stuff, I introduced boxes for each player. Since they were going to be getting more props, it was clear that they would need something in which to keep them. Also, dice rolling was getting a little out of hand at times - I'm not a fan of dice continually rolling off the table and onto the floor. To solve all of these problems, I picked up some pine boxes from a local craft store (Jo Ann's), wood stain in a variety of colors, and adhesive backed felt in a number of colors. The boxes were stained and the bottom of the interior and underside of the lid had felt applied to them. The idea being that the box would be a holding place and the lid would be used for rolling. Unfortunately for me, the lid tended to just become another holding place for Karma dice. The best laid plans.

In a continuing effort to remove actual bookkeeping from my players and give them tactile elements to play with, I introduced Campaign Coins. While the players were hesitant at first (it seemed something like an extra step with counting and all to manipulate the monies), it was quickly shown to be a success. There is something visceral about handling actual money that writing and erasing numbers cannot replicate. It is difficult to write about because it is purely physical. Funds become more real, and players are both more willing to spend them - a cost may be incidental if all you have to do is hand over some coins - and also more aware of them: their piles of coins start to actually vanish. From a GM perspective, it's much easier to track funds: players either physically have them, or they don't. Doling out treasure can be as simple as grabbing a handful of the right color and size; much faster than a die roll and has a more random feel since it will be in different denominations. This is made much easier by having a box to put all of these coins in for each player.

The group treasury was an element which really helped to bring everyone together. The idea certainly isn't a new one, but many players are hesitant at the idea of one player recording all of the group things and effectively having control over this resource in addition to their own resources. This is not an unfair sentiment. To directly address that, while still providing the benefit of pooled resources, I got a physical box to keep everything in. It's similar to the player boxes, but a little smaller, a different shape (hexagon vs. circle), with hinges and a latch - it is clearly a different box. Since money is tracked by actual coins and nearly all of the other consumables have tokens, everything fits in the box nicely and can be clearly interacted with by each player. This means there is no gatekeeper to the funds, that donating to it is as simple as tossing coins inside, and what is available is readily apparent. The actual results are very different as well. Since it's introduction, most of the players donate nearly everything to the group treasury. One player only donates most of it, and he gets some gentle ribbing, which is still remarkable. The physical construct focuses attention in a way that abstractions do not. For any groups looking to promote more cohesion, I cannot recommend these enough.