Archive for category SGR

Game Review – Module Champions To Serve and Protect

Howdy readers

I thought this week I would pull and oldie but a goodie off the shelf and give you a review of an adventure that is a lot of fun on the super hero scale.

Champions tsap

To Serve and Protect was originally printed back in 1988 for Champions 3rd/4th edition. I say 3rd/4th due to the fact that some players still argue over the publishing of the rule books with Champions / Champions II / Champions III and then Champions 3rd Edition being out of synch regardless of what the publisher said.

This edition of the rules comes for the time when the game system had starting characters running at 250 points for a character build. 4th Edition also was at 250, 5th  became 350, and 6th (current) is 450. This will be important a little bit later in the review.

The general premise of To Serve and Protect is that a team of established heroes, The Protectors, starts getting darker. Their views on ‘Justice’ become more and more extreme. And then they start getting down right criminal. And the PCs are going to be the ones to figure out why and put a stop to it.

The lineup of characters in To Serve and Protect (TSAP) reminds me a lot of the Justice League International or one of the lineups for the West Coast Avengers.

They are not the ‘A List’ team like the Avengers or Justice League of America (in game terms the A List would be the Champions), but they still have a cool lineup and their power level should not be underestimated in any way shape or form.

Now while the idea here is that the characters in TSAP are not supposed to be the A List, the characters in the module are averaging 385 points. and there are eleven of them in total. That does not count the fact that these heroes were smart enough to fund a private company called Protectors Inc. that functions like a private industry version of SHIELD. I mean the company only has about 1000 active agents world wide, but all of them are built on about 180 points (leaders may be 225). So, that is a lot of potential opposition. Most game sessions that I had been a part of when this was the main rules was three to six players. Using 250-300 point characters. And here we are supposed to be taking on eleven hitters averaging 385 points and possibly a thousand other ‘agents’ (Hello Mr Agents… its only a… Yeah Dan you get it) that are about 180 points each. Needless to say you are going to need some pretty sweet tactics or have some significant power to take on a group like this that are all acting more and more like the Punisher every day.

I wont give away the final stage of the adventure, but lets just say this module is also heavily timed. Once you are underway, do NOT slow down.

Now then there are going to be a lot of folks out there who say that this sort of thing sounds like no fun at all. Too much power in the bad guys hands. To me however it is a cool challenge. Also with the inclusion of the Protectors Inc company it ties into the Super Agents sourcebook created for Champions which made it possible to play Agents of SHIELD in a super hero setting back in the mid 80’s. Which to me is awesome.

Another element of this module, sort of, is the fact that the writers at Hero Games kept the Protectors and Protectors Inc in mind as they continued to develop their universe into their 4th edition. Both the team and the agency continued to pop up in the backgrounds of other groups, both hero and villain, as part of the ongoing history they were developing.

Ok so that covers the basics… lets see what I do with the numbers.

Overall Fluff 5/5 – Solid background material for every character, the team and the organization introduced. There is also plenty of material to take the story elements given and drive it further into a campaign. Even tying your PCs into the Protectors for part of a longer term campaign.

Overall Crunch N/A – No new rules or material, so you cant really calculate crunch.

Overall Mod 4/5 – As mentioned in fluff, this material is presented well enough so that you can tie it to another campaign. There is also the potential, as with any point based system, to easily rewrite the characters to make them better fit.

Overall Fun 5/5 – I really have had fun with this. As both a player and a GM. This is a really solid 32 pages and there are so many ways to use it, I cant call its fun level anything less than the top.

Total Score 14/15 – Pretty high rating for just a module. But I honestly think its worth it. Even if you just want to take a look to get ideas for something else.

Well, thats it for now folks. Hope you are all having fun and staying safe in the age of Covid.

Now gimme the dice. I need to see the level of damage that could happen if all of the agents shot one hero at once.

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Game Review – Infinity

Infinity

Welcome readers

Time for another round of game reviews.

Infinity is a game that I had waited for, waited several years for in fact. This has happened before when I took an interest in an RPG that was created outside the US like with Anima or In Nomine. But unlike the Anima RPG, I was not disappointed in the final product.

The team over at Corvus Belli first created a war-game with the name Infinity that formed the basis for the RPG. The war-game itself is pretty easy to play. The minis are awesome and can be used with the RPG without an issue at all. In fact, for myself, this is one of the big draws as I love good looking minis when I am running a table top combat scenario. I am not afraid to use anything, even thumb tacks with lettered dots on them, to map things out so that folks can better see what is going on. But when you have minis and the bad ones in the batch look like this…

Infinity Minis

… why even bother with something lesser. And yes, in my opinion these are some of the lesser quality minis in the series that has been produced for the game.

To give you an idea of the game itself, it is a sci-fi setting that is far enough in the future that humanity is spread over multiple worlds and has encountered multiple alien races. AI has developed to the point that it is a stable an ongoing part of every day life, doing everything from helping humans muck through their media intake all the way up to running a sort of secret society that tries to replicate great people from humanities past.

Being based in a war-game there are a lot of factions of humanity that are looking to be the biggest game in town. And the issues with aliens are sort of all over the board. The state of humanity is sort of a Transhuman place, but not completely. The sci-fi elements are not quite hard sci-fi, but not really in the realm of space opera either. So the setting is a fun mix of elements. And surprisingly coming from a war-game the potential for social, personal, and exploratory elements in the game are just incredible. I seriously went through character generation and worked out an adventure concept so that I could try to have a game session that would look like the episode of Babylon 5 where they followed a maintenance team around the station for a day. Just to see if something that mundane could be both playable and fun in the setting. Got a big yes to both.

The game engine for this system is the 2d20 engine by Modiphus. They have used it in multiple settings and it is not bad overall. It gets a little clunky in some situations. Like just about anything outside of combat needs a bit of wiggle room in how it goes together in the engine. I am not saying it is a bad engine. In combat it is one of the smoothest beasts I have ever had the pleasure to use. It is just that outside of combat the challenge rating for actions can be so fluid and dynamic that it can take several minutes to just figure out what you need to roll if you have not worked with it for a while. Sort of like trying to figure out how to trip someone in D&D 3rd edition for the first time.

One of the elements that I find a lot of joy in with this system though is the Life Path generator. It has a feature in it that is unique in my experience. You start out character generation with a small set of option points. As you roll your way through the Life Path generator you can keep what the fates have given you in regards to your rolls and spend the option points at the end on added features, or you can select elements of you Life Path by spending options to have the parts you want. Now then there are also more steps in the Life Path than you will have option points, so you are going to have to accept your fate at some point. And if you are worried about someone spending those points to max out skills or something at the end, well, there are enough random elements in the tables that the chances of someone getting perfect rolls to make a character that is totally over powered and min maxed is tiny. There is one, and only one path that I have found in the Life Path that could lead to an  OP character. Considering the number of tables that use a d20, the subtables that also require rolls and the selection process you have to hit dead on in the sub sub tables, I figure the odds at about .000005% of a chance to get it to happen. Now then you also have it in the rules though that if no one wants to roll their background (all players must agree to it though) selecting your own background is fine. There is a collection of notes though in the GM section on how to deal with groups that abuse that power, and some of that is down right subtle and mean.

I really like this setting. I would have enjoyed having more than just the humans and one ‘alien’ species in the initial book. But I understand they have a company to run and need to publish more books to keep the product alive and selling. So I wont fault them for that.

So what do my numbers say?

Overall Fluff 5/5 – Nice art, good layout, and enough detail on the setting to let you really feel what the game environment is all about. The room for character depth at creation is great, and that leaches into everything else you do with the game.

Overall Crunch 4/5 – The rules are pretty solid. Non-combat situations can get a little challenging to resolve with the rules initially. But it is nothing you cannot work through. I may have been doing this since the 70’s but I think even a rookie who likes the setting could work it through with some practice.

Overall Mod 3/5 – So modding things for characters is easy. Setting changes are a little more intricate. Vehicles not so easy. Adding aliens, I would not even try since you cannot generate a Life Path for them without a LOT of work. There are some elements like that which feel as if it is not worth the effort.

Overall Fun 4/5 – I really like it, I think it is a lot of fun, and that this 2d20 system has a ton of potential. The setting is cool and the things you can do by abusing an AI just… well… yeah you really need to try it yourself. But you can trust me, its fun.

Total Score 16/20 – A solid game engine, a solid setting, supporting things like minis and the details already worked out in the war-game that can be added to the setting. Yeah I like it. I like it a lot and I am very interested to see what they do next. Both with the setting and with the game engine. Publisher Power Creep (yeah Palladium I am lookin’ at you) could get out of control really quick in this engine.

 

Well that’s it for this week. Hope everyone is having fun and staying safe in the times of Covid. Just remember that doing something stupid in the name of having fun is a 2 step alignment shift down.

Now gimme the dice. I need to see how many times I can get a stage on the Life Path to repeat and make me a totally one sided character.

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Marvel Super Heroes RPG – MH5 Cats Paw – Review

MH5 Cats Pawy

Hey there readers.

So a quick review while the little one sleeps and I have a couple of minutes being awake for my own fun.

MH-5 Cats Paw is one of those moments for me that we had two great tastes that taste great together. Marvel Super Heroes RPG and Alpha Flight

. One of my favorite superhero game systems and my all time favorite super hero team.

Now then I did not find out about this module until years after its publication. But after getting it I had to do a little research . There were a few things going on here that struck me as just a bit odd. And as I dove into them a bit it became kinda cool.

So in this module there is a representation of the Alpha Flight team that only sort of happened once. Alpha Flight Vol.1 #16 November 1984. I say sort of because all of the characters were in there, they just did not really act like a team… really. Anyway the module itself lists a copyright date of 1984. So I have to figure with comics having a two to three month lead time and most game publications having a two month lead time that someone had to be writing this module around the same time that specific issue was being written. Which implies to me that the ties between TSR Inc. and Marvel Comics were pretty tight. Which gets really reinforced when you know that John Byrne the creator of Alpha Flight did the cover art for the module.

They also did something I was not sure was possible for a licensed publication at the time. TSR introduced two new characters. The new characters did not go into the actual comic book series. But they were created in a way that fit them both into the mythology that John Byrne and Marvel Comics had been putting together for Alpha Flight since their first appearance in Xmen 120 in 1979.

MSH xmen 120

Anyway the two new characters are Cascade and Kimara the Cloud Stalker. And Kimara actually is one of the Great Beasts, the biggest villains that Alpha Flight has on their hit list. Sure they are also spiritual forces of nature and evil. But hey yeah lets get supers to fight those too. 🙂

While the adventure is simple, Jeff Grubb was not at his most… discerning… when he wrote it, the adventure still feels like it could easily fit into the pages of one of the Alpha Flight comics at the time. Fast paced. A bit of a double if not triple feint as to who the real big bad is, and great ideas for follow up.

Now then while fun and mixed with favorites this module, just like everything else MSH RPG related, has some technical issues due to some of the rules just absolutely sucking. Most of that due to things like ranges and movement being covered in “areas” but no real definition of what that means space wise, and how it relates to anything on the sodding maps they give you. The other real challenge that you face is how they are trying in the module to tie things into other, more popular Marvel characters. Using villains from the Xmen, Iron Man, and the Hulk, instead of using the lesser known (at the time, well truth be told likely still lesser known at best) characters from Alpha Flight to try and bump up the attraction to others. However they fail to publicize that little detail anywhere on the cover. So it is unlikely that in its original release this module got the kind of attention that it could have. It also leaves you feeling like the module and characters were just sort of shoe-horned in. Regardless of that though it plays well.

So how are we looking number wise?

Overall Fluff 4/5 – Like all modules from the early 80s you get more crunch than fluff. But what fluff you get here is pretty good. The little blurbs about characters and villains feels comic booky, and the art in the interior, even though not by John Byrne, it has his feel to it so it feels like it is part of the comic books of the time.

Overall Crunch 2/5 – No new game mechanics in this module. There is the ongoing issue with ‘areas’ for space and ranges. And I dont know if it was because Alpha Flight was not that popular, abilities were sort of in flux in the writing of the comics, or the game writers were just not paying that much attention to the characters, but the stats and some of the powers just do not match up. Its easy to fix, but sort of frustrating.

Overall Mod 2/5 – This is one of those, I have to mod it, bits. You have to come up with a new method for ranges, and you have to come up with accurate stats if you are a fan of Alpha Flight. Just like every other MSH module though it is possible to run your own characters. Or add one or two of your own to Alpha Flight so you can be part of the team. In the end there is fun modding and there is required modding which dropped my score here.

Overall Fun 5/5 – Regardless of the bad points, this is a total fun win for me. Like I said earlier, two great tastes that taste great together.

Total Score 13/20 – Not a great score for something I really enjoy. But what the heck they cant all be awesome on the score. Just goes to show you that you dont always have to have the top rating to be loved.

Ok so thats it for today. Im out to make sure I am ready to take care of the little one.

Stay safe out there everyone. have fun, but stay safe.

Now gimme the dice… I need to see how many versions of Sasquatch I can merge into one character… Oh wait they already did that in the comics… shoot…

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Torg – Roleplaying the Possibility Wars – 1st edition – Review

Torg

Hello fellow gamers 🙂

So as of this post you will note that I am not numbering the reviews any more. While it was fun at the start, having lost track a few times and no longer really seeing a point in it I have decided to just stop doing it.

Sorry I could not get this out last week. And this one may be a bit shorter than I intended but I am still gonna get it going.

So I know a bunch of you will be asking “What the heck is Torg?” Historically speaking Torg was the first game that West End Games produced that used what would become their Master Book system. Hitting the shelves in 1990 it came as a boxed set that included a rulebook, worldbook, adventure book, a deck of drama cards and a d20. There were a lot of pages in that box and it was one of the earliest examples I can remember of a game product that could also be used to commit assault.

Story speaking Torg is a title. It basically means he/she/they who control reality. And in the game setting the candidates for that title are the main enemy. So pretty much anyone who has played an RPG is familiar with the idea of an alternate reality. Well in the Torg setting it is possible for realities to invade each other using the power of possibilities. When one reality invades another it creates possibilities. If a reality is rather mundane, like our own, it already has a bunch of possibilities that it has not used to develop its own unique environment. Apparently our earth, Core Earth in the setting is so freaking rich in possibilities that one Torg candidate alone cannot invade. Its just too much potential backlash. So the biggest bad in the setting reaches out to others who have the same goal of becoming Torg, and says lets all go get this place together. And they do. And you start the setting with six alternate earths invading Core Earth to try and force it to become like their reality. Winner would merge Core Earth with their earth and all our possibilities would end up adding fuel to their world. Sort of like the Borg from STNG but with a lot more diversity.

The game setting is put together so that you are playing after the invasions have started. And that is important. Because players can be from any of the seven realities in the game. Yeah you can be from an invading reality and not be on the side of the bad guys. And this is why some of the game mechanics that are in the setting exist. You see things like physics and magic change depending on which reality you are in. So super science is standard in one area, cybernetics in another, magic in yet another, and strange mixes in some. However in Core Earth it is all standard tech and no magic. You have to force reality to change. But the heroes (and a rare few villains) called Storm Knights, have the power to force their reality to work where ever they are. They burn personal possibility energy and so a magic user can cast spells in a cyberpunk world when they need to.

Each one of the different realities is actually very engaging and they created supporting books later to expand on them significantly over the materials in the core boxed set.

Those books are not the point of the review but at least you can see some of it here and dive in further if you like.

So how do they handle all of this mechanically? It does it in three parts. The first is that it has a standardized value table. This means that you can take a number from a stat, a skill, a damage value, weights, whatever and make it immediately comparable to something else. The die mechanic is using an open ended d20 roll. So things can get way out there just on the dice alone. The second is that heroes and main villains have possibility points. These can be spent to alter reality in varying ways. Changing die rolls, altering a scene slightly, and even asserting your reality so that you can use something or stop someone else from using a power or tool that does not work in your reality. The third is via the cards in the Drama Deck. These cards have two values on them, one for the Heroes and one for the GM. They look like this…

Torg Drama

So the orange part is for the GM and the grey part is for the heroes. Players will get a certain number of cards at the start of a session. GM controls the rest of the deck. And while players can add in a card at any appropriate time. The GM needs a reason to add something. Of course those rules can be bent or broken like any other. In the example card above the GM gets to complicate things for the heroes by forcing them into a different position and making them more tired. Where as the player side gets to add a bonus onto one of those open ended stat or skill rolls. The player can also use it to enhance one of two stats to have a sufficient ability to do something without a roll.

So how do things come together?

Honestly it is a little messy in the first edition rules. Not impossible to get through by any means but if you do play first edition I would suggest you be ready to go…. hmmmm screw it, it works like this now… off and on for a while. I am not the biggest fan of a system that uses multiple methods of determining random results. And I really am not a fan of using cards for the randomizer at all. But there is something in Torg that makes it all work. I have a funny feeling that in my case it is the fact that I am drawn to multi-genre environments like you can find in comic books or other games like Rifts. Mechanically its got a bit of chunk. Story wise I think its great because it is reality versus reality.

What does this look like by the numbers?

Overall Fluff 3/5 – So while the story is great, and the presented character templates have some very cool quotes, it can be a bit messy and disjointed at times. The quality of the art varies a lot in the box set. You have a few pieces that look mind blowingly cool. And several that look more like someone tossed ink on a page and someone thought it looked usable in an RPG for some reason. Overall not bad bad, but not great.

Overall Crunch 3/5 – As I mentioned above the rules can get a bit chunky. Not because the rules intention is bad, but because it is poorly written. You can figure it out with a little effort. But you can also home brew quickly to cover.

Overall Mod 2/5 – Having said what I did about the rules I am pretty sure that folks would feel I would put the mod value higher. Well even though you can create even more realities to invade with, and you can mod rules to make them fit your groups play style, I have to score it lower because due to the rules you are going to have to mod at first. I have never found someone who could just run it as is right out of the box. Being forced to mod and being able to mod are two very different things to me.

Overall Fun 5/5 – Ok so I may seem to be a little harsh above. But even with all the challenges, I have a ton of fun with this game. Somehow the multiple mechanics work for me. Somehow being forced to mod the rules at first worked for me. Somehow it all came together and it had always been a blast when I have had the chance to play.

Total Score 13/20 – Not the highest score I have given my any means. Is it a game that I can recommend? Yes, to certain players and groups. Not to everyone by any means. The ‘you got peanut butter in my chocolate’ crowd will be good with it, but the ‘no no no, everything has to be separate on the plate, not touching at all’ crowd might find it too blended to handle.

Ok so thats the review on Torg. Just remember that you and I may have a difference of opinion, and to your point of view I may be full of crap. So please take a look for yourself, read for yourself, and figure out if you like it.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see if I can get game engines to invade each other and determine who is the Torg of the dice… but who will be Core Earth… hmmm.

 

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A closer look at a Champions RPG element

Welcome back all from whatever holidays you choose to celebrate, or are still celebrating, or are about to celebrate…. you get the idea 🙂

So to get things rolling I wanted to jump back into one of my favorite RPGs for a bit and take a look at one element of building characters using their mechanics and to offer up another idea to expand on it.

So lets take a look at Champions… and their ‘Package Deals’…

Champions 4th

Ok so go ahead and get your junior high package jokes out of the way now, cause if you dont the work package is going come up so often here that you will need to be hospitalized from laughing at yourself so much.

Ok… we good? All righty then…

So Champions is a point based game system. That means that when you create a character you have a certain number of points to spend to get everything you want into your character. If you play a fantasy or hard scifi setting that might be 100 base points (the points that you get up front) and maybe 50 to 100 points that you can get from Disadvantages (complications for your character like physical or psychological quirks/hinderances, being hunted, or maybe vulnerable to something). In a superhero setting it is really going to depend on edition of the game, but in the one pictured here you would have a 100 point base and 150 points in disadvantages.

Ok I needed to give you that base so you could see the value in what comes next.

A Package Deal is a collection of skills and abilities that defines something like a role/job, a race (like elf or dwarf), or a martial fighting style. If you take all of the required elements and disadvantages in the package then you get a Package/Style bonus. That bonus is like a disadvantage that is not really a disadvantage. Lets take a look at one directly from the book (Page 129) the Rouge.

Skills Cost
FAM w/Melee Weapons 2
Language: Thieves’ Argot 3
KS: City Guards 11- 2
CK: City of Operation 11- 2
PS: Type of Crime 11- 2
Stealth (Dex/5)+9 or less 3
Choose two appropriate 3 point skills at + 1 10
Perk: Contact 13- 4
Disadvantages
Package Bonus -3
Hunted by City Militia 11- -20
Monitored by fellow rogues, 8- -5
Package cost 0

Ok so in the first section several skills and benefits are given and their cost to purchase is listed. The second grouping is the disadvantages you are required to take if you want to call yourself a Rouge. The last bit that says the Package Cost is zero has caused a lot of discussion and arguments over the years. Sixth edition got it fairly well sorted, and I am going to use that explanation, even though the edition pictured here kinda sucks at telling you what is going on.

So when you are building your character, and choose to use a Package Deal, you still record all of the advantages and disadvantages on your character sheet as normal. The package does not cost zero points. The example above the advantages and the disadvantages balance. If the package had more disadvantages than advantages it would be seen as having a negative cost.

This is not phrased well in the rules and so you or other players may end up thinking “Hmmm so I can take an infinite number of packages then at no cost? YES!!” Welll no. Not really. In character examples in the book you can find characters that use package deals and… nope… not working that way at all. But you can take several if you have the points for it.

So what is the real advantage of getting a package deal? See there where in Disadvantages it says Package Bonus? Those three points… that’s your advantage. Going by the rules as published three points is the most you can get for a package bonus.

And to clarify in regards to fighting styles… there have been three versions (at least) in Hero Games products. Originally a Style Bonus (then also called a Style Disadvantage, and something else that I just cannot remember right now so I may edit this post later if I can find it or find out that there were only two), is a 10 point bonus that only means that if someone has set up a special skill or power that only works against that fighting style they can use it, and that other characters can go “Ohhh that’s Karate”. Thing is to get that 10 point bonus… you usually only need to spend about 12 points, and take no disadvantages.

Ok so that is how it all works. Why is this important to me at the moment though?

Well that is because it seems to me that the package bonus is a bit under rated if you decide to do a big package. The rules have a package bonus maxing out at three points for anything other than a fighting style. And for a fighting style it is a flat ten points.

To give you an idea of what I see as being out of balance here lets go take a look at another game engine, and hopefully that will help you see what I mean about having a big build.

In GURPS (yeah yeah I have mentioned my hate for the game but the love for the sourcebooks on more than one occasion) Black Ops you have characters that are supposed to be normal humans pushed to the limit in training and in skill. In a basic GURPS fantasy or modern setting you usually see 100 point characters. In Black Ops they are 400 point characters. They are highly skilled and have fairly high stats. Nothing super human. But still impressive. These are your Men in Black (no not the movie) who fight and control alien incursions on Earth. There is a HUGE list of skills connections and stat requirements… racking up about 350-375 of those 400 points. Its nuts, but also very cool.

I was taking a look at building out a setting in Champions where you could have highly trained and highly skilled characters like that. When I finished breaking out my basic build in Champions I ended up having spent 299 points and given the framework 45 points in disadvantages. And going by the standard rules in Champions that would only be worth a 3 point package deal. That just kinda seemed wrong to me.

So in this case I decided to see what I could do to revise the Package Deal idea and see if I could make something a bit more reasonable to make something this monstrous seem like a good idea in the game engine.

So originally a Package Deal was set up so that if you put a certain number of points into the package you could get a certain level of package deal bonus. Specifically the following…

  • 1 – 4 Points = 0 Package Bonus
  • 5 – 9 Points = 1 Package Bonus Point
  • 10 – 14 Points = 2 Package Bonus Points
  • 15+ = 3 Package Bonus Points
  • 3 Maneuvers and one Skill in a fighting Style gets you a 10 Point Style Bonus

And to top it all off the Package Bonus and the Style Bonus both count as Disadvantages.

Ok so what did I look at changing?

    1. Package Bonus would be in Categories.
      1. Stats and Movement
      2. Skills
      3. Perks
      4. Combat Training
      5. Gear
      6. Disadvantages
    2. Package Bonus point value would be discounted from the points in a specific Category, not count as a Disadvantage.
    3. Scale is changed
      1. 1-9 Points in category = 3 Package Discount Points for that category
      2. 10-19 Points in category = 5 Package Discount Points for that category
      3. 20-29 Points in category = 8 Package Discount Points for that category
      4. 30+ Points in category = 10 Package Discount Points for that category
    4. A Package needs to have at least Three Categories
    5. The Bonus for Disadvantages can only be applied if you have taken the WHOLE package.
    6. You are limited to one Package for Role and one Package for Race.

So as an example if to be a rouge you need to spend

  • Stats
    • 15 points on Dexterity
    • 10 points on Speed
    • 4 points on Running
  • Skills
    • 10 points on specific skills
  • Disadvantages
    • 20 points of specific Disadvantages

Then you would take 8 points off your stat costs, 5 points off your skill costs, and eight points off your total build cost, if you took all of it.

It seemed like a good system. I have been tinkering with it a bit to apply it to different genres that Champions works in and it seems to flow well. The biggest problem it seems to have is that when you do have more than one Package, especially when it affects Stats, the discounts can have a more significant impact. I am not really sure how to dance it around yet to mitigate that. But overall I like this set up better than the original Package Deal concept.

If folks have an interest I may explain the setting I have been creating and even put out the build that started all of this.

In the mean time enjoy gaming, have fun, and I am looking forward to writing you all more in 2020.

Now gimme the dice, I have to randomly roll a new year. 🙂

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Unboxing & Review – Cyberpunk Red – Jumpstarter Kit

Hello Readers

I know that the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstarter Kit has been available since late August. I only recently picked it up though. Well ok that’s not completely true. I got it about a month and a half ago but between work, life, gaming on many Sundays, and personal stuff I just have not gotten to it until now.

CPRed kit

As you may remember from other posts I am a long time fan of R Talsorian‘s Cyberpunk games… well all except for Cyberpunk 3. And it is best if we never talk about Cyberpunk 3.

For those who are interested in knowing, according to the FAQ for Cyberpunk Red the official timeline for the game goes as follows…

  • Cyberpunk (2013)
  • Cyberpunk 2020 (2020)
  • Cybergeneration’s Carbon Plague (2027 but did not have the results that created the Cybergeneration setting)
  • Cyberpunk Red (2045)
  • Cyberpunk 2077 (2077)

Personally I find this a very interesting move on everyone’s part. This means that anyone interested in playing a table top version of 2077 will have to homebrew a fair bit of stuff. But from a product standpoint it is going to establish a much more defined timeline and make each product unique and supportable on its own. In the end it will mean a lot more work for everyone involved in order to maintain the unique elements in each product. So I for one applaud the effort they are going to be putting into place for this.

Now then for the Jumpstart kit itself. As with any intro box that comes out these days you have incomplete rules. Incomplete settings. Sample characters. And gimmicks to entice gamers. Lets take a look at what we got…

  • Rule Book – An abbreviated look at the Interlock system that R Talsorian produced in the way back, with a few updated elements for the current edition. There is a short version of the classic Lifepath setup to give you a background. But not as much material as I hope they have in the full version. Also when it comes to Role related skills only the one for Netrunners gets detailed to any real degree. Lastly the combat system that was Friday Night Fire Fight has been slimmed down a little into Thursday Night Throwdown. Anyone familiar with FNFF will see what has changed immediately and my be just as appreciative as I was.
  • World Book – While this does have a lot of flavor material in it, I was sort of surprised and how limited the background material was for the world. That is mostly covered in a timeline format that leaves a lot of room to play with. The main focus of the book is on how the cyberpunk world feels. And that to me is very cool. When the full version of the game is published I hope they keep all this work in there, because that is an element that many games leave out. Lastly there is a pre-generated adventure in the book that should give you a look at how things can run in a cyberpunk game.
  • Pre-generated characters – Now then in most games you will get three to six characters. In this box you technically get thirty six. Now before you blow your stack let me explain. There are six character sheets. But each one has six sets of stats and you are supposed to roll to see which one you get when you play. You also get to use the Rule Book to roll up a lifepath for any one you use. So in theory you could say the number of characters are… well… huge. I am not going to count them out. Or you could say the characters are not pre-generated and they only provide a framework for six characters.
  • Cardboard punchouts and stands – The six characters, some thugs and a couple of cars so you can use them on the maps provided and really get a nice visual.
  • Maps – Encounter maps. Two double sided maps that are about 11×16. Easy to box and basic so you can help players establish where they are in a scene.
  • Custom dice – 4d6 and 2d10 that are styled up for Cyberpunk. With the classic CP logo for the 6 and the 0 respectively. Nice dice with a good look to them.
  • The box itself is covered with new color art and carries both the new R Talsorian Games logo and CD Project Red’s logo.

The only real thing that gives me any pause here is the way R Talsorian and CD Project Red are getting tied more and more tightly together. I have bad flashbacks of the Hero Games allied with Cyber Games / DOJ / Cryptic Studios era. Which did not have the most positive impact on Hero Games, but it kept them up and running. But going into depth on that will have to wait for another time.

If I was going to review this Jumpstart box by my usual game review standards I would have to give it the following numbers…

  • Overall Fluff – 4 – There is some good material and art here. It could be better, and it almost feels like something is missing without the old black and white art the older versions came with.
  • Overall Crunch – 2 – The rules are incomplete but you are warned about that up front. The parts missing though are kinda important.
  • Overall Mod – 3 – It is painfully easy to mix in older rules and run with it. Unfortunately to play anything more than the boxed adventure, you have to.
  • Overall Fun – 3 – This one is a swing for me because I am seriously jonesing for the whole thing, but I can have fun with what has been offered so far.
  • Total score – 12/20 – I have no doubt that given my love of the work that R Talsorian puts out that I will have to give a huge score for the complete game. However given that this is a teaser box this score is not bad. And lets face it, this is a tease. A dirty dirty tease that wants to whet our appetites for both the complete version (still no specific distribution date) and Cyberpunk 2077 (April 2020 last I checked).

Should you buy this product? Well that is up to you. If you are a long term fan like me it would give you a great look at where the game is going. If you are just waiting for CP2077 then it can give you a little insight as to what the game may include. If you like a complete game it may just piss you off. So there is a lot to consider. And you are the only one that can make that choice.

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstarter Box.

Have fun out there and keep gaming.

Now gimme the dice… I need to see if the rules for Vehicle Zen still work to do extreme maneuvers.

 

 

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Not really a Game Review… more of a Flashback

So dear readers, I know not how many of you may remember back in the day, but in 1979 Bantam Books started publishing Choose Your Own Adventure books (CYOA). Similar to an RPG but without the dice or other random resolution features. You reached a point in the story and made a choice to go in one of possibly several different ways.

They were really popular and it surprisingly took a couple of years but in 1982 TSR started publishing their own CYOA books under the Endless Quest moniker.

EQ DND

While the first few books were based directly off of their classic Dungeons and Dragons line of role playing games. It did not take long before they decided to make a few that were in support of their other wholly original games like Top Secret, Star Frontiers, and Gamma World.

EQ TSR

Then in 1984 CYOA books got a bit of an upgrade when the Lone Wolf adventure books started getting published where you added an actual character sheet, and a few random elements into the CYOA method and made them even more like an RPG.

Well TSR was not to be outdone and so they started publishing their own adventure game books under the Super Endless Quest blazon.

EQ Super Set

When they started doing the Super Endless Quest… later just called the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Gamebooks… they also got the ok to do one of their biggest licensed products Marvel Super Heroes. They had been doing licensed books already with Conan. But the big surprise came when they teamed up with Steve Jackson Games and published adventure books for Car Wars.

EQ LIC

Now then being a bit of a collector when it comes to these things, and being a bit of a nostalgia freak I was thrilled a few years ago to see that the original CYOA books were coming back into publication. So I was wondering what would happen with the Endless Quest series. So far what has come out in 2018 and 2019 has been a total of six books that I know of that are similar to the originals, but in my opinion since they are trying to make things 5th edition specific and supportive, it makes it a little more challenging to have fun with. On another note the original creators of the  Lone Wolf series have released an app for your smart devices that you can play out the original ten books of that series. It actually has a character tracker, random roller and everything.

Now then these books, and I know I am focusing on TSR products here, were all over the place. And I did not even touch on the Adventure Hearts materials that TSR published, or the fact that there were books published in the UK and Europe that never made it into the states, for an assortment of reasons. And to be quite honest I don’t have the time or the resources to go into every variation of CYOA or Adventure Game Book that is out there. But I dont have to.

If you are interested in checking out more titles or if you have some of the old Adventure Books but do not have the character sheets then I want to suggest you check out Demain’s Gamebooks page. The owner of that page has put a ton of resources together to set up a pretty much global database regarding these books and you really should take advantage of it.

In thinking about doing a review for these books I found out that I really could only rate them in some of my usual categories, and since there are variations on how they are made and how they play out, with or without character sheets, and other concerns, that the only rating that really maters in the end, is Fun…

So in rating this game medium I have to give it a 5/5 for fun. I know professional book reviewers back in the day gave them 3/10 to 6/10. But to be honest those folks were usually comparing CYOA books to fantasy and sci-fi novels by their most revered authors. So comparatively speaking yeah they may suck as a literary masterpiece. But that was never what they were meant to be. They were meant to be fun. They were meant to take you on a little adventure. They were meant for the little ones. In the flesh and inside us. And to be honest they were meant to help folks learn to take the consequences of their choices… unless they cheat… ahem… hummrmmm… yeah… yeah don’t cheat…

Anyway I am really hoping that in whatever format publishers choose, be it digital or print, or even both, that these ideas make a comeback. CYOA books are fun, and really can be a great way to help little ones learn about choices. They can also be a great way to introduce them into the idea of gaming.

Ok then. We end up here with a high score, something fun, and a bit of a prayer that they come back in force.

Hope you all have a great week. Keep gaming, and keep making up your own mind. Don’t take my word for it, figure out what you think is fun and run with it.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see if I need to go to page 33 or 97 next.

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Game Review #52 Champions (mostly BBB edition)

Champions (2)

Hello Readers. Welcome to one of my all time favorite games. Champions. While this review will focus heavily on the Big Blue Book edition also known as fourth edition by most, fifth by math purists and contrarians, I will be hitting on the history of the game, talking about some of the differences in editions and making a comment that will make the blank space in the collage make sense.

Ok so just what is Champions? Champions is a superhero role playing game that first showed up in 1981 published directly by Hero Games. A very detailed point based game system that allows you to build just about any concept you could imagine. As the game engine has evolved over time point values for specific things have changed. And with those changes there has come an evolution in what the base points you have for a starting character, and how many points in disadvantages/complications/flaws you can take to add more kick. Back with the very first printing it was recommended that you use 75 – 150 base points with 75-150 points in complications. With the standard in fourth edition being 100 base and 150 disadvantage points. The standard in sixth edition is 400 base points and 75 disadvantages. And while there is an element of power creep in there, there have also been changes in values on powers and abilities, reductions in values for disadvantages, and changes in calculated abilities that mean when you make a comparison a base character in first edition (100 + 100 points) is roughly equal to a base in sixth edition of 300 + 50). The other element that works into the power creep that is seen across editions is that in first edition you were looking at characters like the 80’s version of the Teen Titans or New Mutants as a starting character. However in sixth edition you are looking at character builds more like Xmen #1 from the 90’s.

ChampionsCharacterSheet

Here is a sample of the first ed character sheet. I really loved the fact that they put in a space with a body outline so you could create your own costume and really show off your hero. In later editions they used multiple poses and genders to give more inclusion, and even offered ones with a blank space so you could use your own art entirely. Unfortunately this practice dropped off in fifth edition and beyond.

 

 

Even though the game engine did spawn alternate genre books like Justice Inc., Fantasy Hero, Robot Gladiators, and Space Hero, it was not until 4th edition (the Big Blue Book) that Hero Games pulled the system together officially and called it the Hero System. Between Champions and the Hero System there have been so many books published to date that I wont even try to start a list in a presentation like this. However there is one in Wiki that is thorough, but I have spotted a few things missing so I am trying to send an update in on that.

Over the years there have also been a few times that Champions has strayed from its base game engine. Such as the Champions New Millennium era where Hero Games was working with R Talsorian Games to create the Fuzion game engine that used elements from both the Hero System and the Interlock System to create something new. In one of those rare instances when two tastes really do taste great together in gaming. And even back in first edition there was a collaboration with Steve Jackson Games to create Champions Autoduel, which actually helped Hero Games clarify their rules for vehicles when the published them in Champions II. There are a number of other crossovers that Hero Games has done with other publishers, mostly in regards to translating characters and effects from one game engine to another. Mutants and Masterminds, Super World, others have all had this treatment. They even went so far as to have a Champions Online MMO set up which was tied very heavily into 5th edition.

Champions comics

However my favorite crossover was when they took their characters and actually made them into a comic book series. The comic series actually got them in trouble with Marvel comics for a little while since Marvel had a series called The Champions in 1975, but the courts decided that Marvel had abandoned their trademark on the name and so Hero Games comics could go forward with it.

 

While they are not currently printing new books directly for Champions (at least nothing that I can find in any distributors catalogs) you can still get the products online in PDF or Print on Demand format, and Hero Games still runs a web site with community pages so that you can contribute on your own.

One of the interesting aspects of the game setting is that while it has evolved over time it has not (save for the New Millennium era) really changed its overall composure. In every setting there is a group of heroes called the Champions. The ones from first through third editions appeared in the comic books but never got an official write up. In fourth edition on there has been an official Champions team, but the line up has been a bit fluid. There has always been a criminal organization known as Viper. But being comedic or a serious threat has varied. There has always been a Dr. Destroyer, the one character that really could conquer the world. There has always been a mystical villain organization called DEMON, seriousness varies. There are a lot more characters that show up all the time too. Strangely some of the original Champions in the comics, and in the art for the game, have their names show up in backgrounds of other characters or as the founders of organizations and support groups in fourth edition and beyond.

The best aspect of the game engine is its scale-ability. You can create anything from a man on the street to a galaxy ending villain just by sliding the scale bar. To give you an example in fourth edition it is recommended that if you are playing in a basic fantasy setting with mid to low magic you use 50+50 for your base and disadvantages. And that you do not make basic gear like weapons and armor cost points. If you are playing basic scifi without psychic powers its about the same. Super hero settings get a base of 100+150. But villains like Dr Destroyer have a total of 1500+150 on the low end. And one of the supporting books that gave you an inter-dimensional world beater that has a spread of 3000+150 for its highest power avatars. And they even have a few characters without point values because you will never beat them if you want to have a fight. The only real question with this engine is how big do you want to go?

Powers and spells and psychic abilities can all be sculpted with whatever advantages and limitations you can imagine. So if you can dream it up you can make it happen.  You can create skill sets and attribute combinations with limitations and advantages. I am quite serious that if you can dream it up you can make it. For many the big limitation on this system is the math. Yeah you have to do a little multiplication and division with fractions during character building. There are calculation tables to get you past most of it though. So you dont even have to do much math really. It just looks intimidating.

Now then there are a TON of super hero game out there. There are a TON of point based games out there. So why does this one stand out to me?

In the end it comes down to that scale-ability factor. If you take a look at a game like GURPS, it is point based and scale-able. However when you get into the supers settings you end up getting nerfed by Unusual Background costs and an ever increasing cost for strength that makes a Hulk style character impossible. If you are looking at Heroes Unlimited you are being blocked at about early Xmen levels for power and skill. Super World works best at the low end to, and actually shines on the high end, but the mid range is so messy its not really worth trying. Marvel Super Heroes RPG using the FASERIP system is scale-able on the powers but it has no skill system to really allow you to get away with anything other than power use. DC Heroes system with its logarithmic development scale jumps from mid tier to high end so fast it hurts. d6 Powers, it can work, but you need to have split development pools for power, stats, and skills to cover what you are developing. Here is the thing. NONE of those systems (save for GURPS) is a bad system in my mind. They are not. They are not as good as Champions at what they do. Or they are really targeted to do one thing well and trying to cover the same gamut of power and detail that Champions does is just not a real possibility.

Ok so I have rambled, and made a point of my overall thoughts, so lets see how I break it down by the numbers. This part is solidly on 4th edition.

Overall Fluff 4/5 – In the core rules there is enough about the world, some basic villains and even a couple of encounters that you can run anything. The art is very 1980s indy comic publisher and RPG game. Very little of it has relevance to the world, but the character sketching is very good. While there is not a ton of material, what they do give is a good quality for a game book of the time period.

Overall Crunch 5/5 – I freakin love these rules. I can build anything.

Overall Mod 4/5 – As shown by the number of crossovers with other games, and work at hybridizing with other games there are a ton of ways to mod this material. And even thought the rules have changed over the years there are a lot of ways to migrate any character or vehicle from one edition to another.

Overall Fun 5/5 – I love this game. I love playing this game and characters like Foxbat make it all the more fun.Foxbat-Champions-RPG

 

 

Total Score 18/20 – A great game engine for a fun world. I think everyone should give it a try.

 

 

Ok so thats it for today. I hope everyone out there keeps gaming and having a great time.

So gimme the dice, I need to see how many d6 I can fit in my hand.

Oh and that bit about the blank spot. Hero Games did a Purposefully Blank page in three supplements that I know of. And if you contacted them about any of them they would send you the missing page. I only ever found out about characters being missing. Have fun with that thought 😉

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Game Review #51 Gamma World (mostly 3rd edition)(G)

Gamma World History

Morning readers

So today we are taking a look at the venerable grandfather of post apocalyptic role playing games. Gamma World.

Now then the only reason I call it that is because the source of Gamma World is technically Metamorphosis Alpha. MA was published in 1976 with the first official version of Gamma World coming in 1978. The next post apocalyptic game appears to be Aftermath! in 1981 and then Twilight 2000 from 1984. Now then I will freely admit that this is all based on my own research and there may be games published outside the US that I am not aware of, and other smaller press games that I have not heard of. So if you know anything about other games in the genre that come earlier please let me know so I can look them up and maybe get a copy some place.

So what is it that makes a setting post apocalyptic and not just dystopian. In a dystopian setting culture is falling. People are mostly indifferent to the falling moral standards, violence and crime are so bad that for the most part they warrant no notice. And most folks in the setting will be running on what would usually be called the side of evil just to survive the day. Post apocalyptic settings are where someone, something, or some group/agency has completely @#$%ed up and everything is in ruins. Now depending on how far you go past the @#$% moment in your setting you can get very different overall effects in the world. Twilight 2000 is about a year after the event. Rifts is about 300. Gamma World varies with the edition. What causes the #$%@ moment will also change the setting. Twilight 2000 it was conventional war with a limited exchange of nuclear weapons. Rifts was war with high tech ‘conventional’ weapons and then bombs causing the release of so much spiritual energy that magic re-surged into the world furthering the destruction and opening portals to places that were even more dangerous than the fighting. And again with Gamma World it changes with the edition.

So you can of course see that some people might have a problem taking a look at Gamma World and saying that it is the same game as it was from day one. Well, you may be right if you see things that way. The other thing to consider though is the game engine. Only, hmm, yeah that changes based on edition as well. With only the first two editions sharing a complete rules engine. Sooooooo, does that mean that there have been a bunch of different games called Gamma World? Or is there some kind of continuity that brings them all together?

Fair question. The first thing I would have to say is that there is a continuity of sorts. In the adventures published in modules for the first four editions there is actually an ongoing story of sorts. The adventure modules GW1 through GW10 can be looked at as episodes in a story. With GWA1 and GWA2 of forth edition putting a capstone on the series. Now then you have to do a little mod work (rules not matching up) and make a few tenuous connections (setting bits like ‘your village’ and ‘the nearby ruins’ then linking in NPC organizations so they can all match up) to link it all up, but for me it seemed like it was just, natural. Now then in later editions several of the modules from the first and second editions have been used for adventure titles in the books and boxes of the fifth through seventh editions. Frequently with many of the same NPCs showing up and the same adventure goals. So in my mind the adventure, the story, or whatever you want to call it is what keeps it being the same game. It is told in different shells with different ways of looking at things many times.

Now for those of you who want to call that stupid or gripe about it being a waste. I want to ask you what game it is that you play? How much stuff has D&D repeated over the years with the same settings and not evolved a single thing? The World of Darkness seems to have evolved edition to edition in story and setting but the mechanics… well in some cases yeah. GURPS? Hmmm, RoleMaster? Call of Cthulhu? Any Star Wars Role Playing Game? (and yeah there are no links there… Wikipedia is your friend too 😛 )

So out of all the editions that have come out for Gamma World, for myself, one stands out as a favorite for a few reasons. And that one edition is third.

GM3

Now then my reasons for third being a favorite are going to seem a little weird to some. Those who know me are going to go… ahh, yeah. To start off with third edition was my first actual encounter with Gamma World. And it was using a mechanic that I was familiar with from the TSR Marvel Super Hero RPG the action resolution table.ART.

Coming from a life of D&D and AD&D first edition the ART was a miracle of gaming. One table… just one… and you could do anything. Even when playing Role Master there are dozens of tables for combat and critical hits. But this, you could do everything off of one table.

The next bit was the art. Yeah being barely into my teens when the 3rd edition and its modules were hitting the shelves I have to admit the whole young male thing was a factor in the covers… but seriously… these covers…

And the interior art

It was all just the right thing to catch and keep my attention.

Now then anyone who has looked at Gamma World will hear the stories about how third edition in its first printing was full of rules holes and that TSR had to put out notice that anyone who wanted the fixes and addendum’s could mail them and get them for free, and when they did a second printing of the box set instead of fixing the books they just put all the fixes in the box in a separate document. To many this sounds like crappy editing and poor quality control. And to be honest the younger me thought it was kinda shoddy but something I could work with. Adult me looks back and just sorta goes… Ya know it really makes it more like its post apocalypse. Things are broken and scattered but when it all comes together it is pretty cool.

Now then in my lifetime I have run only four Gamma World games, and played in three. Most of that was in third edition. And sadly none of that was ever with one of my regular game groups. It was pickup sessions in book or game stores every time. And to be totally honest I only had one group that was not 90% plus male teen and preteens that really wanted to play the module with the gal in leather on the cover so they could chase her down. But were willing to play whatever because there might be other ladies in leather. That one other group though. Bloody hell. They really showed me what Gamma World could be. And it has stuck with me. 1987, mom and pop bookstore, I had been let loose while dad was in Sears trying to get tools. I had gamed in the shop before. And yes for those who know me it was “That” book store and yes I still feel some kinda way about the owners and their asinine behavior when I was employed there about a year and a half later… but that is not really important at the moment. The game session lasted three and a half hours, well for me anyway, it was not done when I got pulled out. And all of a sudden the Mad Max movies seemed tame. Mutants did not have to be like the Xmen to be heroes or be nasty monsters like you see in B-movies to make you cringe. And it completely reinforced my ideas that I had held since I had first seen a Cylon that robots are not your friend. That session made me see the potential. And I have hoped to get it back ever since.

Ok thats enough rambling down memory and history road…

So what do I think of this by the numbers? Since things change so much in edition to edition comparison lets just take a look at my favorite… 3rd edition

Overall Fluff 4/5 – The art is awesome. The story bits are awesome. The world is nearly blank on purpose, but still its really light and I always want more so I cant give it a five.

Overall Crunch 4/5 – If you feel like my adult self that the messed up boxed set makes it more like a post apocalypse adventure on its own, then you might say its this high. However if you feel like my younger self you might call this a two because of the fact you have to search to get everything in place to play well.

Overall Mod 3/5 – Given the ART system you can actually mod this to work with every other TSR game that used it. The scaling is the same but the raw numbers change. You can also fairly quickly mod adventures to fit it. However to get the impact of a huge ongoing story, or to incorporate some of the more evolved features that came later… you HAVE to mod it. I cant go higher than a three with that sort of a restriction.

Overall Fun 5/5 – Look at that bit of flashback and realize that for nearly thirty years I have been looking to get that feeling back, and then tell me how fun you think I think it is. 🙂

Total Score 16/20 – A really solid score. Just like any game it has its limits. But this is also only for one edition of the game… there are six (or seven if you count Metamorphosis Alpha but that bugger actually has five editions of its own so… yeah I will leave it there and let you worry about the math) other editions waiting for you to try as well. Personally my next favorite is the sixth edition, then second, then fifth then fourth, then first, and then seventh (seventh is based on 4th ed D&D… we dont talk about 4th ed) So even if you do not like third edition Gamma World there may be one out there you like.

Ok so thats it for today.

Hope everyone out there is having fun playing, and remembering to think for themselves when it comes to the games they play and the things they enjoy.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see if my mutant plant character with chicken features has a powerful enough psychic presence to get the robot war machine to make it breakfast.

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Player Participation – Driving a game publisher

Hello Readers

emailstorm

Todays blog is about a little thing that I think will appeal to everyone who games. The influence that the gamers have on the products they use. Now I am sure that everyone out there knows that if you dont buy a product it will go out of print. Sure it may be picked up by another publisher or show up in online forums or scanned in and shared. But at that point there is fan generated content and nothing that can be considered cannon for the timeline and stories that had been generated by the publisher. And if you remember the original World of Darkness, or have played Shadowrun for more than a couple of years, some of those story-lines can get rather epic.

Not to dis on those stories and worlds but there was one in particular that really caught my attention back in the way back. Torg.

I know there are going to be a lot of readers that go WTF and have no idea what Torg is/was, but there was something very interesting about what the publishers were doing with their world. They created a way to get ongoing feedback from their players that they called the Infiniverse. It was handled in a newsletter format that published rumors about things going on in the world and depending on the feedback from player groups they would take some of the information and make it fact for the main story-line in the world they were publishing. The idea was that there were an infinite number of alternate realities (every group playing Torg was its own splinter reality) however if something is happening across enough realities then it was what was happening in the core reality of the Torg storyline.

Think about that for a minute if you will. Players, all over the globe with access to the game could subscribe to the Infiniverse Newsletter and be part of the driving force that was creating the game they were playing.

Now then while there have been groups set up for player participation for, well, nearly every RPG that has had some success over the years, like the Pathfinder Society, and the Adventurers Guild, these are more about organized play and keeping everyone on the same story. Feedback can be important in these groups and does help create product improvement but they do not necessarily drive the ongoing meta plot/story-line that the publisher is developing.

Now then the next thing to think about is that the Infiniverse Newsletter idea was set into motion in 1990. At this time the most technically advanced game publishers like Steve Jackson Games were running BBS to get interaction with players. And over time those have evolved into forums (same thing really but much prettier now) and nearly every game publisher runs one. And while I think the publishers may take a bit of what is put in the forums seriously it is hard to imagine that it is driving any of their development. If you doubt that thought then consider the number of publishers that continue to fumble on power creep and the number of them that fail to draw players into their ongoing stories and so sell less and less material over time, or get stuck selling volume after volume of new rules because they dont have an ongoing story.

From having met several game writers at conventions over the years I know that at least the ones I have met are always interested in getting gamer feedback. It helps them drive things forward and lets them know they have been connecting to the people who love their products. So my real thought here is why dont more publishers take an interest in making the players a driving force in the worlds they are publishing?

Seriously.

Anyway, thats all I am going on about today.

Hope everyone out there is gaming hard and playing safe.

Now gimme the dice, I need to roll up some old feedback articles.

 

 

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