Game Settings

Ok so yeah I am teasing everyone by not just jumping in to World Building 109 and closing out the series. That is going to be a slightly longer than usual post and I am trying to build things up so I can cover everything I want with less than my usual grammar errors and not be quite as stream of thought as I usually am.

Now then the title of this article may be a little misleading to some. I am not talking about worlds here, but the settings we set up for individual game sessions. The tavern, the house on the hill, the local graveyard and so on are the topic of the day.

Depending on the person running the game your settings can be as simple as – You step out of the hallway and into a really big room with all sorts of wall hangings and a throne – all the way up to – As you are coming toward what looks like the end of the hall way you note the flickering of lights that you have come to associate with multiple torches. There is a scent of some kind of incense in the air that just barely covers the smell of worn and ill treated cloth. As you cautiously enter the room ahead of you, you can see the tapestries that cover the wall, once well made but now filled with mildew and rot surround a dais and throne. The flickering light you noted in the hall is coming from braziers on either side of the throne that give off an oddly colored smoke. Which may be the source of that incense you smell.

Now personally I enjoy adding as much description to things as possible, but I really dont see anything wrong with either of those descriptions. The first one is something I would use with a group that just wants to get in and hack and slash their way through the game. The second I would use for a group that wants to roleplay more and also for a group that wants to investigate everything.

I was going to put a link in for a manga-ish graphic novel series called King of RPGs but the Wiki sort of sucks and I cannot find one by the author himself that is not really a sales page. KOR is the only place I have seen setting up the setting go, in my opinion, too far. I mean when you need to set up a tent so you can add a dry ice smoke machine and have coolers set up with different sealed items to bring the correct scents to the game space and you brought your friends constrictor snake to put onto the game table with the minis so that you can have an accurate representation of the big bad monster snake… yeah… a bit far.

Also I have talked about music in games before, and I really feel like having a bit of well selected music can really enhance the game session. Adding music though you really have to consider the setting and the music you want to use. Its hard to mix things together unless you really know your group. Cranking up I am Iron Man with a fantasy setting may not be the best, unless you know the group loves rock, loves the song, or you just need something a little more intense for that Iron Golom that just crested over the trees. I can say that with all the streaming music apps though that you really want to have a plan going where you do not have commercial breaks as they can completely kill a mood.

Now then normally in an article like this I sit back and stress that every game, and every gamer is different. And that everyone needs to do what they enjoy or are comfortable with or whatever. Never feel pressured into doing something you dont want to do in a game. I would in this instance though like to suggest, that instead of thinking about yourself. You think about the group you are gaming with. Establishing a setting, be it the way a game master does it for the players, or the way the players establish their own presence in a setting, can have a serious impact on everyone who is playing. I know that many game tables have a mix of players at them, some wanting to roleplay until the world ends and some wanting just to get to the next combat. And that can be a hard mix to balance if you are trying to establish a setting. So make sure you have out of game conversations to really see what everyone wants. It may actually be possible to add a lot of detail in things like online blogs or classic blue booking to give the more detail oriented players what they need, and keep the time at the table fast and furious for the combat junkies. Then again other things may be needed.

What I am trying to get to here, really, is that the single most important setting in any game, ANY game, is the communication setting between whomever is running the game and the players. If that setting is get in, game get out, that is fine, just make sure that everyone has agreed to that setting. If the setting is tell a rich in depth story with every detail milked for the most dramatic and emotional response… again make sure everyone has agreed.

I am not going to drop a link in here but almost two years ago I did an article about sound tracks and theme music if you want to know my thoughts on that topic in more detail.

For the moment though I think I have the point across. Communicate. Build settings that you as a GROUP can get the most out of. And have fun damnit.

Ok now gimme the dice I need to see if I can pickpocket myself without me noticing…

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World Building 108

So by now everyone who has been reading these articles should have a fair idea of the world. I have only this article and one other planned for the series, because if I put it all together for you it would be a 200 plus page world book. 🙂 Not that the idea is a bad one, but I really don’t have the time to put it together get it edited and sell it to  a publisher right now. So then what does that make this article in world building about… POWER.

Yes thats right, power, well that and the classes that use them. You see in every fantasy game there are things that set characters apart from the every day Joe Blowstone and while high skills and hit points are great, the POWER that comes with those things is even better.

So lets talk about them in the game setting BASE classes shall we?

Clerics / Druids – Channels of the HOLY POWERs. Thats right these folks talk to the GODS, and get power accordingly. Notice this will not include Paladins as I think they are insanely hard to play and kill game balance. Now then in most game settings a holy power user is dedicated to one god or force of nature and that fuels what they do. In this world I plan on taking a different approach. Each one of the gods has its own portfolio of powers and so a holy power user has to know which god to invoke, and must stay on fairly good terms with all of them in order to cast all the spells available. While every cleric type will have their favorite (and that is how they get domain powers and such) they need to worship the whole pantheon. What this also means is that with undead being non-existent at the start of the meta story the Turn Rebuke power is something that no one would have.

Magic Users (Wizards / Sorcerer / Bard) – Yes there are sorcerers and they have bloodline powers, but many of the ones listed in the original rules do not exist as this world does not have fae, demons, angels and so on. Wizards and others who rely on spell books prove that you dont need a blood line and that just about anyone with a little practice can learn magic. Unfortunately learning magic requires just as much grunt work and also writing and reading and understanding weird as hell combinations of words and gestures that most who try it rarely make it to level one, let alone further. This is why you end up with odd smatterings of low effect magic items in places like farms and inns.

Chi / Rage and style powers (Monk / Barbarian / Ranger / Rouge / Bard) – Most of these are from focus and effort. Again there are a lot of folks that dont have the patience or the talent to really pursue them. This also means that there are more than a few folks out there in very basic roles that may have scampered off with books of martial art styles, know a move or two that takes focus and maybe could rage for a few seconds and so on.

Just plain Skill (Fighter / Rouge / Bard) – Raw skill is never a problem. Although a high level rouge can do just about anything they set their mind to. Just once though I would love to see a high level character who has been keeping a skill up in Shepard or Farming for the day they retire. Oh and word of advice, never trust a rouge that keeps up a skill in carpentry or ditch digging… seriously…

Non Base class powers and combinations

Technology vs Alchemy (Alchemist / Gunslinger / Swashbuckler) – So technology in this world is rather low. So there are no guns and even siege weapons are rare. Running water comes from many people using buckets to pour water over something. So this means that there are no ‘Gunslingers’ or Swashbucklers as written. However if someone wants to use those classes but with hand crossbows, that could work. Alchemy is sort of pervasive though. Or at least it looks that way to non-practitioners. Say it with me now, snake oil salesmen. Yup. Alchemy is known as being a great way to fix tons of things. Can you think of a better ongoing con? For every actually skilled Alchemist in this world there are likely ten to fifteen snake oil salesmen.

Psionics – I really debated adding this power set into the game setting or not. For games that start in the begining of the meta storyline, no psi. About a third of the way through the meta plot I have in mind Psi can be added.

Cultural (Samurai / Ninja / Swashbuckler) So while they have a mix of powers and skills, These three are kinda right out.

Others that really dont fit the world – PALADIN (sorry but I have to say it many times, just like that thing with gno… ) Cavalier, Oracle, Summoner, Witch, Kineticist, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Spiritualist, Bloodrager, Slayer, Samurai, Ninja, Swashbuckler, and War Priest.

Others that do fit – Arcanist, Brawler, Hunter, Investigator, Magus, Shaman, and Skald

Why do they or dont they fit… well…

Cultural (Samurai / Ninja / Swashbuckler) So while they have a mix of powers and skills, the cultures in this world really do not support the character arch-types completely. These three are mostly out. Cases can be made that with the stereotypes in the dwarven community that both Samurai and Ninja could abound. However the culture of the dwarves would more likely mean that someone studies to be a fighter and something else… two… classes… 🙂

Mixed power sets and classes that really don’t fit the setting…

So with base classes like the Ranger, you get a combination of fighting and spell casting dedicated to nature. And this works. Bards mix a ton of things together and they work. Some of the more unique power sets from advanced classes though, like the Summoner, don’t really work in this world. Mostly because there is very little out there to summon, and that would raise the question about why don’t the Titans just follow that hole and then… yeah… it gets ugly. And why do things like Oracles and Witches not work, but as written the Shaman (which mixes both classes) does work. That stems from the focus of the abilities. Shamans deal with spirits. Oracles work with Gods and monsters. Which is why this article is from the perspective of players… they should also know that Witches will be present, as mortals who serve the Titans. That’s right the Gods get Clerics the Titans get Witches.

With the elements that are not present, you can take a look culturally and see things like the Ninja just not really being there. Since the main seafaring culture is the elves and greatships and piracy are not their thing then swashbucklers are kind of out. No guns so no gunslingers. Oracles and Paladins in essence turn themselves over to A god. And at this time there is no one in the world that has faith of that magnitude in any SINGLE god to make that happen.

With the ones that do work, you can see a lot about the game setting.

Dwarves take their religion as a whole rather seriously. And so they have Inquisitor / Investigator pairs that search for heresy and lack of faith. Clerics that teach. And then Rouges that master oh so many skills, and Bards that teach them how to party when all is good. Humans with their connection to nature and deep reliance on themselves have Barbarians, Monks, Brawlers and Rangers in equal parts. Sorcerers, Wizards, Arcanists, Magus and Alchemists run a lot of the show in Goblin communities. Halflings with their love of life and travel see Bards, Skalds, Hunters, Rouges and Rangers fill many of their jobs. And with the Elves love of nature and life they have many Bards, Druids, Rangers, Hunters and Rouges. Now then you notice I did not mention Fighters in there. Thats because every culture has fighters. Well actually every culture has all of the classes, but look at the highlights and see where the POWER lies.

Thats right I came back to the POWER there at the end. Because POWER is not just the magic or the chi. Its not just the skills and the stats. POWER is having a great character that you have fun playing… HAH!!!

Ok so as random as that all seemed. I am out…

Gimme the dice I need to roll a crit hit on fun with the wife… my wife.. the best wife ever… (she thought I would not leave that in when she typed it while I was AFK)

Peace and fun to all y’all.

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World Building 107

Yeah we had another gap week. Life… you know how it goes.

I know there are two more races to talk about in more detail and there are a ton of other little details that could be gone over. But at this moment what I want to do most is start bringing things together so that the game world at the start of a game series can be seen. There will be bits and pieces that come up in this one that will require readers to roll with it because they don’t know those other details. I hope that everyone can just roll with it.

So on this world, adventure starts out on one continent. Five races make up the main population. The gods had left for a time without explanation, but came back about fifty years ago. Minus one of their number, that for some reason, none of the mortals could remember the name of. The dragons who at one time guarded the mortal races have become divided over whether they should protect them any more. And some of them have actively defected to the enemies of the gods. The mortals, blissfully unaware of enemies of the gods go about their lives trying to pursue whatever goals and dreams they enjoy. Some of the mortals, especially the wandering Halflings, and the more primitive humans who live in the wilds have seen things that make them wonder if there is not a bigger change, or problem coming. About seventy five years ago the first stories of strangeness started coming back to the rest of the races from the humans. But until twenty years ago, when a bear hide that was over five feet high at the shoulder and had many other unnatural features made its way to one of the goblin cities, no one took them seriously. Now only a small portion of the various peoples of the world think that something is going on, but more evidence is finding its way to cities and courts all the time. Even among the humans in the North East of the continent, where these things are most common, not all believe.

In the central part of the continent where the Goblin cites stand tallest innovations continue. Alchemy and magic are mixed in odd ways. Ideas with little or no practical purpose are chased, and business is good. In one of the smaller goblin cities, the governor Gillim Flamecaster is working on two things. He is trying to get a group of governors together to make a decision that will affect all of their cities, and he is also trying to act as his own commissioner, in disguise of course, to get a group or even several groups, together to investigate the strange things that are rumored to be going on in human territories.

Under the mountain ranges in the south west of the continent the current lord of the forge, Lady Deliandriaiin Mournhammer is for the first time in a hundred years looking at the possibility of taking a mate. Her rule over the dwarves has been one of the most stable they have seen. She codified the export of raw metals and alloys and dwarven goods to the outside world. She was the first lord of the forge to open direct relations with the elves. And in the last few years of her reign her people have been worried. No mater the clan, no mater the holding, the people think she has been ‘one’ too long. Now that she is actively looking at developing a relationship and moving forward, which should be a positive to her people, she has been spending a lot of time with a halfling woman. Her people do not care that she is with another woman, but the fact it is a halfling. This has clans in an uproar.

On the islands to the west of the continent the elves, well for the most part they are elves. But they have all started talking about the bodies of whales that have been turning up on their island homes. Some have had huge bites taken from them, others have had full trees punched through their bodies like spears. While many of the families are talking about what to do, representatives from a couple of islands have headed to the continent to see if there are any strange things going on there as well.

The humans with their connection to the wild places have been noticing a change for years. Like a pervasive shift in the way things happen. Bird migrations shifting, plants not growing in the same volume as they have in the past. The strange dire creatures that were once very rare becoming all the more common. They have sent word to the other races through the halflings before, but it seems no one else really cares. At least to them. They know the change is underway. Not coming, not soon, but it is ongoing. But they have no idea if it is a natural change or if it is being pushed by someone or something. This worries them.

The halflings continue to be everywhere. Trading information, music and goods all over the continent and occasionally to the elven islands as well. Many of the caravan matrons see something coming, but like the humans they don’t know if it is natural or pushed. However they suspect. They suspect it is not natural. And so now more than ever before the caravans are trading information on the secret locations they have set up. Where they have been hiding some of the best goods and more useful items they have stumbled across in their travels. Since all of the caravans are trading more and more information about their caches, it is getting harder and harder to know if there is someone out there looting them, or if there has been a need when they find one or more that have been emptied.

The dragons no longer debate. For over a hundred years they argued and discussed and even fought over whether it was right to still serve the mortal races. To guard them from the coming titans and their creations. Or to let them fall. Of the one thousand dragons created, lines have been drawn. Three hundred and eight side with the mortals. Four hundred and seventy three side with the titans. And the remaining two hundred and nineteen have decided to go it alone.

The titans have their foot hold in the world. In the extreme northeast of the continent, in the frozen wastes near the top of the world the first hole was opened and they work to keep it that way. Lesser titans and giants are already at watch in the physical world. Speaking with the dragons and looking to the local life forms to see what they can do to add to the number of troops they have on hand. They know the gods had plans for the mortals, and that involved growing into something more than they were, stretching their reach and being challenged on the other two continents on this world. So many of their minions are heading to those other places to see if they can find what the gods left there.

The gods are worried. The mortals were never meant to know about the titans. About the giants, or the powers they wield. The dragons were to be a last line of defense, not a first. The missing god worries them the most though. They found no trace after the conflict, and they do not know if the god has been reconstituted elsewhere, or has truly been destroyed forever.

And somewhere, out there in the dark beyond this world. In between the spheres that the gods have made containing their little worlds and realms. Something as old if not older than the gods has taken notice. And they stir.

This is the very big overview of the world that an adventure would be starting in.

Now gimme the dice… I gotta see if I can roll up a bachelor party.

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Electronic Assistance

So while I was sitting here this morning working on updating my mobile device I took a look at the applications that I use and then realized that there was a topic I had not brought up here yet. Applications that can help, or hinder your game.

I have talked before about getting PDF versions of games that you can carry around a lot easier than a stack of books, but books are not the only thing going when it comes to applications. There are die rollers, map makers, hosting services, character generators, campaign tools and toys, and even just game community blog and calendar sites.

Now then I have not used a lot of them but I have used a few…

From Ufisk there is the PFSRD app. I really enjoy having the SRD (System Reference Document – It is all the rules and mechanics of a game but none of the fiction, art, examples or in depth explanations of the game) on hand like this, even if I am paying 99 cents per added book from the core rules. It is inexpensive and makes it even easier to game with because of all of the book marking features.

I have a couple of die rollers but I dont want to be linking into iTunes or another service so please dont mind the lack of a link.

Obsidian Portal is one of the blog, plus calendar, plus player finder sites that are out there that anyone can take advantage of. I know there are more out there but this is the one I have used the most.

There are some rather good character generators out there. My favorite so far is from Lone Wolf Development. Now then one of the things that I really like about the guys and gals at Lone Wolf is that they offer up a look at their software to anyone who wants to buy in and develop more material. Next on the list is that they are not a subscription service. You buy it and you got it. That goes for their game maps and other tools as well.

Something several of my friends have gone gaga over has been Fantasy Grounds. And while I have to admit that the tool is cool and can be used for a lot of gaming needs, I hate the fact that it is a subscription service. That sort of thing bugs the crap out of me. Let me buy the sodding thing once and get on with my life… but it is pretty… So is d20 Pro but it has the same problem for me.

And these are only some of the items that are out there. Let me make sure that you get what I am saying here… that is a TINY… TINY TINY ITSY BITSY FRACTION of the digital things that are out there to help gamers run things.

I hardly know any of them at all and would really appreciate it if readers would consider giving me a few more to look at in the comments. I dont want to be the online resource of where to go to get things, but hearing about your favorites and hates would be really cool so I could have more material to work with in the future.

So tis a short post this week, I hope that everyone is having fun out there in the real world, and feeling creative as all hell in the game spaces.

Now gimme the dice I need to see how badly I can burn breakfast for me and wife 🙂

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World Building 106b

Hello again and welcome to the next part of the world building series. Today I am going to add another racial description. This is one that I have thought about for quite some time. There will be cultural references made just like in the entry about dwarves, and others to come. Please note that these references are not intended to insult, belittle or in any way screw with an existing culture on earth. These cultural references are in here because I find them to be very cool, and I would love to have more people look into them. Even if it is just the stereotypes that us ignorant fools have come up with.

Ok so who are we looking at today… now that I have you all prepped and ready for conflict and indignation… Elves. That’s right… elves. In our modern earth the idea of elves has been around for a long time. Historically, fictionally, and even holidasically (no that’s not a word… yet). In gaming terms the elves are usually either something like the historical northern European elves or like those in the works of Tolkien. But about twenty years ago a game came out from White Wolf called Changeling the Dreaming, that expanded my point of view on what an elf could be. So for those of you who know the native mythic structures of the first nations in America, the peoples of the Hawaiian islands and some of the Taoist faiths you may recognize names like Nunnehi, Menehune, or Xian Jing. None of these have complete influence on how the elves in this world were created. However from the number of comments I received in private messages about the stereotypes that I used involving dwarves, I thought I would put a lot of the inspiration up front this time.

And now the details about elves in this world…

Shortly after the gods had removed their contract labor of the Titans, the gods started to wander this world they had, had created. And they liked it. One of the best features they felt was the number of rivers and streams that lead to larger and larger bodies of water, until eventually they poured into the oceans on the surface or in the underworld. This rolling flow inspired several of the gods to work together to create the first of the mortal races. The Elves.

The very first elves looked at the world around them, felt the connection to the nearby streams, and left the point of their creation. Much to the dismay of the gods. The gods had intended to create guardians for the waters. Poets and dreamers that would sing their praises. And here their creations just packed it in and left. The gods confronted the elves about their actions, and the elves responded that the world there was beautiful, and the only ones that could change that would be the elves themselves. So instead of being the only danger there was to that beauty. They were going to go some place else. Stunned by the simple truth of the elves statement the gods retreated to watch.

It took some time but that first group of elves followed the waters. Staying in one place no more than a year and then moving on. And in just over five years, they found their way to the ocean. When they reached the ocean they, as a whole race, stopped. The ocean surface was constantly changing. It never stopped moving. The elves explored the shore and found so many kinds of life that they knew they had found something very special. They could see things in the distance, across the surface of the water and as one, they knew what they had to do.

The elves called out to the gods, said farewell to the mainland, created the very first boats, and headed to the islands they could see in the distance. In the islands they found small places. Potentially fragile places that could see the end of very unique forms of life in a storm. They found an ebb and flow to life that felt natural to them. They tied themselves more and more in to the nature around them. And by and large they decided not to care about the gods, the mainland, or anything other than things that would threaten life as it was known.

All in all the elves are a very physically impressive people. Thin and lithe. Their bodies mark them as natural swimmers and runners. Taller than most humans with bodies that hold a deep reddish tan to the skin. Their hair and eyes are usually black. Other colors are taken as a sign that the individual is destined for something interesting.

The elves live in a council style of community. Men and women are treated equally, unless the woman is pregnant. In that case she is given a role of authority. Basically all of her wishes and votes count double. The elves are truly community based. They have no need for a big government. If someone in a village has a problem, they help each other. If a village has a problem, then other villages on the island help. If there is a problem on a whole island then many villages on other islands help. They do not do it because a god tells them to, or a government tells them to, they do it because it is the right thing to do. Yes there are those who dissent from that opinion. Who feel there should be something in it for them for helping. And most of the time the dissenters come around after being helped many times even though they are not asked to help. Those who do not usually take one of the village boats and head for another place.

This dynamic is why other races in this world feel there are two tribes of elves. There are the islanders that they are told about who trade freely and only for what they need. Who wander nearly naked save for the tattoos they bare. And the elves who wander the main land looking for more. They may be physically the same. But in philosophy the mainland and island elves are very different.

As mentioned tattooing is a very important part of the elvish culture. As they never bothered to develop their own written language, they did come up with a way to record their personal history. Tattoos. Each element tattooed on a elf is part of the story of their lives. The placement and the image all mean a lot. And given that island elves only wear as much clothing as the weather requires, it is actually very easy to understand the accomplishments of one another just by paying attention. This openness is hard for any other race to really understand. The halflings appreciate it and a few of their wandering tribes have been accepted by the elves. A group of goblin pirates tried to invade an island once, only to be met with total indifference for almost a month before they left. The elves thought it was the best joke ever played. Because in truth there were seven other villages ready to make war on the goblins. But since no one was harmed, they just let it go.

The deep thinkers among the elves, usually the deep sea fishermen and divers, often wonder if bringing mortal races into such a beautiful world was a good idea. They are usually met with a splashed drink and a more immediate question, like, did you catch any fish?

And while tradesmen may see a primitive people, or simpletons, when they look at the elves. In fact the opposite is true. They have a tendency to grow their boats so they do not have to harm a tree. They use natural caves and trees in combination to make homes and public halls. They know how many kinds of life are on and around their islands and what it takes to live in balance with them. Their medicinal knowledge is vast, and they have composed songs that it takes a whole village to sing. The elves are a wondrously complex and beautiful people. That most others refuse to understand because they are so different.

The single largest issue that the elves get into regularly, is balance. Does the world balance, do the scales balance. Is our relationship in balance. When things are out of balance, the elves act. And sometimes in big ways. If things are in balance then the elves are the most relaxed peoples you may ever meet.

The most common reason for an island elf to be on the main land is because something is out of balance. Which because of cultural differences can be hard to explain. When they can elves visiting the mainland try to stay away from mainland elves and will do their best to stay with halfling caravans. Their wandering nature reminds them of the ocean.

I think that gives a fair introduction to the elvish culture, and some of the things that inspired it.

Now gimme the dice… I gotta make a save vs cold roll…

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Review #11 Street Fighter The Storytelling Game (G)

Ok so first let me say that I know it has been over eight months since my last review. Welp, that just the way a blog goes. Kinda lost track of the whole review thing for a while, and kept going… oh yeah now that this is in the collection I need to do one on that one… and then world building… yeahhhh.

And now that a review is back you may be going… what… nonono Street Fighter is a fighting game, a really bad movie, a cartoon, or an anime (or two), and Storyteller is White Wolf’s RPG system… what the heck! Well Street Fighter is all those things and more. However here we are going to focus on the RPG that was published in 1994 by White Wolf games using their Story Teller system.

So back in the early 90’s White Wolf was hitting their stride with the Storyteller system and their World of Darkness setting. I have no idea what prompted them to do so, but they reached out to CAPCOM and got a license to make a roleplaying game for their Street Fighter setting. Now then I have talked about licensed games before (Tolkien v Tolkien) and you may know from books and movies already that a licensed product can really make a mess of the original. Now when you look at the original Storyteller format you may think that pain and suffering is all that this mix of fighting video games and table top rpgs is going to create. And to a certain degree you are right. But that pain and suffering is on the battle field not for the players.

White Wolf did something rather interesting with their own system when they made the Street Fighter game. They limited the skill selection and they significantly expanded combat while still keeping their game engine in tact. Unfortunately for many fans of the fighting video game style they did not add a huge number of martial arts in the original book, nor did they add weapons elements. They did give you rules though for expanding the combat system, and made it rather easy to combine elements from other White Wolf games into the setting without over-balancing things too much. And before you start screaming about power creep and all, I did run a World of Darkness LARP in 95-96ish where we actually let a couple of Street Fighter characters in. I have to say that even with special abilities an super moves a starting Street Fighter got his a$$ handed to him by a werewolf, a mage, and a Pooka fae in that order. And they were all starters too. However he did turn it in to a role playing effort and ended up after a while becoming the bridge between a group of garou and a house run by a member of the Akashic Brotherhood. For those who don’t know those terms don’t worry. They are in there to help White Wolf players see balance is possible. For those of you who don’t know White Wolf games just imagine a werewolf who can go toe to toe with a kung-fu wizard from the best Chinese wire fu movies. So if anything starting characters in Street Fighter are a little under powered compared to their bretherin. And if you compare them to later offerings in the Storyteller system, like the Aeon Trinity (sorry MTV but I support White Wolf on this one… stupid stickers and re-editing) they seem way under-powered.

What really got me hooked on the Street Fighter version of the Storyteller system was how they broke out the combat skills. Instead of having a general melee skill, or brawl skill, you have Punch, Kick, Block, Grab, Athletics and Focus. What this did was it allowed you to really define the fighting style of your character. Sure they had several styles in the system, however you could still give a boxer a strong dose of Kick just to add something unexpected. Now then some people may look at that and feel things have just become over complicated. Others may look at that and say, but what about weapons skills. And depending on how you use the system both are potentially valid. To look at weapons first, if you remember Street FIghter II, when it came out originally only one character had a weapon. Vega/Balrog (if that confuses you then refer to the links above and find out how the characters were renamed in the US to avoid an issue with Mike Tyson). The game was about empty hand and chi powers (yes the sonic boom and Blanka’s volts were chi powers). Not weapons. They did add rules for weapons in Contenders, and really fleshed it out more in the World of Darkness book Combat. But those are supplements. If you are willing to take the game as a representation of the original Street Fighter II, then there you go. The fact that you could then take special moves, basic moves, and build up combo moves (oh and if you want to create a corner beating move combo you can actually put together a trip kick combo that will allow you to drain almost everything from an opponent, you just have to make sure he cant make a move back… or you are toast).

Now then sadly, White Wolf did not really support Street Fighter as well as their other products after initial publication. Their Players Guide brought the power creep hard core, but skimped on the details like adding a merits and flaws system as they had added to every other Storyteller game in the players guides. The Shadowloo supplement brought more power creep than you can imagine by actually quantifying Vega/M. Bison ‘s martial art and making it accessible to players. However this game is still popular enough in the hands of fans that it shows up at conventions to be played and there are more than a few online groups that have added characters, styles and more to support players who want to get into things from Street Fighter Alpha, SF3, SF4, and even SF5. All in all the ongoing fan support makes things kinda cool.

All in all I have to say that even with the flaws added in the supplements and it seeming a little incomplete by not thinking about things like weapons right off the bat, I feel like this is one of the best martial arts engines to date for table top. And really who would not enjoy being able to take on Vega/M. Bison where your GM can be the cheese and not some smegging computer. 🙂

Ok so ratings… lets see if I remember how to do this too…

Fluff – 2/5 Of all the parts of this book that I enjoy I have to say the fluff is the weakest spot. There is very little art in the book that comes from CAPCOM studios. And even though many of the main characters are depicted when they describe individual martial arts there is next to nothing about the characters that those of us who play the video game would have loved to see. The fiction that they add in, usually a White Wolf strong point, seems weak because once again it does not involve any of the classic characters except as being a dropped name. Lastly the added art that is not from CAPCOM seems a little half assed. Really it is one of the weakest White Wolf products I have seen in the fluff category.

Crunch – 3/5 How then after I have raved about how much I like the combat system can I say that the crunch is weak. Well I said it was good and that it reflected what was in the original Street Fighter II. I did not say that I appreciated that myself. It is solid. It is easy to use. It also feels incomplete to me. It can be fixed, and added to. But the fact that you have to add things like weapons use and the number of initial martial arts is small just makes it a little weak overall.

Mod – 5/5 Ok so in this space, yeah. This thing is so easy to mod, just like most Storyteller products. Add things from other books and settings. Create new moves so you can punch ghosts. This is one of the strongest points in the Storyteller system overall. You can mod the hell out of it and really enjoy adding your own creations with only limited risk of massive power creep. And that limit is you reader… you are the biggest risk here for that. 🙂 heh

Fun – 4/5 Ok so why only a 4 of 5. That is because I had to add other books and work for it to add weapons in in a reasonable manner. Because I had to bar the use of one of the nastiest martial arts ever presented because it was a combination of power creep incarnate and corruption on a stick. Because there was very little effort on White Wolf’s part to help others see how you could incorporate Street Fighter into their other products and lastly because it takes a fair bit of play (going by the Storyteller experience rules and spending about 96 sessions) to actually get your brand new Street Fighter up to the point where you can take on the guys and galls from the video game on an even footing.

Total Score – 14/20 So how does this play out overall? I said a few seriously negative things in my scoring. Well as usual that is going to come down to the players and what they want to do. If you want a cool system for martial arts that you can use to simulate fighting games, wire fu, and kung fu comic books then this is the place for you. If you like the freedom to set up your own martial arts, and even modify existing ones to create wild and crazy new ancient schools of combat then this will work. If you want more description in a fight scene than “I swing at him.” then this engine encourages it. If you want to exactly replicate all your favorite Street Fighter series characters, then be ready to buy more than one book and likely spend some time online. Unless they are Ken and Ryu… bastards get the best of everything… they are the freakin Barbie’s of fighting games. In the end I can say I enjoy the game despite its flaws and weak points. I have successfully made versions of all of my favorite fighting game characters. Even those with weapons, in spite of this game calling itself Street Fighter. But as always you dear reader are going to have to make the choice if this game is for you. Not my call 🙂

All righty that is it for now. Hope you enjoyed. Soon more world building and more reviews.

So gimme the dice, I have to see if the game field is monster free or I need to get the hose out…

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World Building 106a

Ok so there were a couple weeks off there. Had to have time to enjoy other aspects of life before getting back to this fun.

So in World Building 106 I started to talk about the races of this world I am making and the cultures that they have. I started with Goblins and now I am going to move into another fantasy staple, Dwarves.

In most fantasy settings dwarves are rather isolationist, somewhat greedy, and talented miners and workers of stone. Their metal work is usually considered superior to most other races, save occasionally for elves. They are also usually portrayed as some of the biggest pessimists and drunks that you could imagine.

In this setting dwarves are some of those things.

In this world dwarves have a deep connection to the physical world. They were the second of the mortal races that were created by the gods. And they take pride in that. The number two is considered sacred to them and when they look at the other races they see (cultural bias here) that the first race created was obviously flawed and that their creation was the gods getting it right. Every race that came after them are shadows of what should have been. Essentially more dwarves. In this they were the first of the mortal races to see the gods as flawed. This ends up being reflected though in how they work. They never expect things to be perfect the first time. But when you have to do something more than twice you have failed.

These dwarves are very clan and family centric. Every family strives to specialize in something so that they can stand out. The head of the family runs the family forge, and gets the power to approve or deny any projects that would happen in that families work. The head of the clan also has a clan forge that is used for multi-family projects and they also have the power to approve or deny. While this kind of structure might seem to lead to inter-clan conflicts, fighting over specializations, who’s work is better than someone else’s, is does not usually. Recognizing superior work and effort is also a part of the dwarven make up. Be it weapons, tools, art, or any other made product dwarves actually take pride in having items made by the best of the best. Even when it is not from their family or clan. This mutual respect gives the dwarves a kind of racial unity that most others lack.

The dwarven families are divided up into castes based on the work that they do. At the lowest caste you find the miners and the farmers. The next caste forges items. The highest caste is responsible for developing alloys that are used in the forges. You will note that there is no religious caste, no warrior caste, no servants who cook or clean. Every family is expected to fulfill those duties. However should a dwarven army march you would be able to tell the caste by the weapons they use. The lowest caste will use picks and shovels and occasionally swords. The mid caste uses hammers. The highest caste uses pole arms and weapons that combine two or more other weapons into a single device. Now then dwarven culture also shows respect to warriors and cooks just as much as those doing any other duty. Dwarves will freely admit when the best warrior is from the lowest caste. And higher ranked families may even offer him or her the chance to advance through marriage. I plan on including a story into this world about a cook who ended up becoming a high caste clan leader because of their skills.

You may think with all this focus on work and caste that dwarves would have no culture, no music or humor. They do however. Their version of art and music and humor is all based on precision. Finely crafted things that my seem delicate but are not. Songs that take two hundred years to write. Jokes that only have to be told once because they are that precise.

For a culture that is so willing to wait and to look for precision they are very frequently frustrated with other races and see them as being slipshod. They marvel when, to dwarven eyes, they actually get something right. This has most of the other races seeing them as, well, assholes. And they really can be. But if someone actually understands their culture and deals with them in a manner they find respectful, dwarves are more than willing to accept someone who puts in the effort. Not as an equal mind you but as a respectable individual.

With their specific tastes and looks I had been thinking that a dwarven city would have winding tunnels as the dwarves follow veins of metal and precious stones. With buildings, alcoves and chambers for entertaining built in places that perfectly suit the purpose of the building. To an outsider it may seem a little haphazard, but in reality it is more about finding the correct place for everything. That sense of precision coming up again. I was also thinking that for attire and design aesthetics that it would be a good kind of difference to see the dwarves having a new cultural theme. I actually like the idea of a Shogunate era look for the dwarves. Formal kimonos and the like for entertaining and relaxing. Worked leather for work clothes. Very meticulous carvings for buildings and even things like an alloy metal worked to paper thinness that is used to separate rooms and even to make doors.

Now then I know that this last paragraph may have some people thinking “Ohhh he is being so racist” “He is being disrespectful of Japanese culture” and other such things. However that is not my intent. Not at all. I enjoy the style and the trappings of the Shogunate era. I enjoy some of the classic stereotypes that developed about the Japanese and that era. And I think tying it into so unlikely a place is actually a good way to show it off. Like it, don’t like it, its up to you.

Ok so one last thing to talk about here. You may have noticed that I did not put any gender restrictions on any of the dwarven roles in life. And that was on purpose. Other races do have them, and that confuses the dwarves to no end. Male and female are part of the whole. that sacred two thing. And if two parts make the whole they must be equal. So yes. Both male and female dwarves have equal roles in the culture. Both can be workers, cooks, religious types or leaders. Skill and drive are what the dwarves respect. And gender bias in other races just makes them sad.

So that is the brief on Dwarven culture. Not massively different from other dwarves but the specifics can give you room to pause and a reason to think about them differently.

Coming soon to the blog, another game review and then more world building. Hope everyone is having a great new year so far, and that it only gets better.

Now gimme the dice, I gotta figure out what culture to do next…

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Buying Games Online

Ok so its not a world building moment nor is it a game review. Thanks to the holiday season and the chance to play with a little gift cash, I of course got games with some of it. And this is about that experience.

So anyone who is a gamer or knows a gamer knows that there are a few ways to get games. Go into a local game and hobby shop, a book store, maybe a comic shop, and then ordering online. Now then some people will tell you all about the convenience of ordering online. Some will talk to you about the cost savings versus cover price. And all those things are truly possible. And in the case of board games or boxed sets then you may very well see a quality product at your door.

The thing that makes me edgy about going online to order games though is that you are going to be relying on someone you have never met, to ensure the quality of an item you have not seen with your own eyes, that they will package it in a manner that means you are getting your new game all in one piece, and that it will actually get to your door and not be delivered into some other state.

Am I paranoid about these things. You betcha 🙂

Let me give you the example of my latest online game purchase. Being a table top RPG player I ordered from Amazon. But since I ordered a few things that were out of print I ended up actually ordering three books from three different vendors. Now then I start out a little nervous but these were items I wanted in my games collection… again in a couple cases. So my order ends up having one book from Amazon itself, one from Vendor X (not naming them directly), and one from Wayne’s Books.

So the king of dance swing, Amazon, actually fulfilled my order from the local depot, or so it seems as it only took two days to get here by USPS. When it arrived I opened the mailer envelope. Inside I see my book. Oversized 8×10 or so book format like a magazine (for those of you who remember them… heh) The mailer is one of the plastic, heavy sealing, padded bags. And that was it. USPS had shoved it into my mail box and ran. So I take a look and there seems to be some damage around the edges, and with the cold weather there was a little curl…but nothing too bad. SO I took my new book and read through it a bit… and it all seems ok. But this could have been shipped much better, with out adding much cost to Amazons shipping process. More on that later.

Vendor X… Well their Amazon listing for the book they sold me said near mint condition on the book. But they were selling it at a fairly low price. They sent the book in a paper envelope with a small padding structure inside. The book was much lower in quality than they had it listed for, and if it was not for the fact that I feel I spent what the books quality was really worth I would have sent it back and asked Amazon to consider some sort of financial reprisals. I am still considering it because they charged me six bucks for shipping and forgot that I could see the stamp on the envelope that said “Media Rate”, and having worked in shipping I know that with the cost of the envelope included, I was wayyyyyy overcharged for shipping.

Now then to Waynes Books. I was not surprised after I got the book that they not only have their own website and store, but that they have been at this for a while. The book I ordered from them was listed on the Amazon site as being – Very Good – quality. When I got it I would actually say it was more Near Mint. I was expecting bad pages, roughness around the edges, a slightly discolored or damaged cover. And instead I get something that has a slight crease in three pages. If the quality grading scale they use is that strict. I like them a lot. Actually getting to my book was kinda fun and it showed me they have a lot of respect for the product they send and the people they send it to. The book was first wrapped in a plastic media bag. Like the kind you store comic books in. That was then padded with a layer of cardboard that was slightly larger than the book. And then a little more cardboard that was smaller. This collection of material was then put into a plastic padded mailer envelope. Someone was going to have to do some serious work to damage that book. They also used “Media Rate” for shipping and it took a few days to get to me, but for a quality book and quality shipping like that I can wait.

Now then on Amazons web site both Vendor X and Waynes have 99% satisfaction ratings. Both have 4.5 stars overall on reviews. So mayhap with Vendor X I just happened to get the wrong guy or someone was having a bad day or who the heck knows. I can say however that the next time I go game hunting I will likely look at Wayne’s site directly first. And may just go to them right off the bat and order from them. Because with their first effort for me. They impressed me. I cant say it better than that. Amazon did a so so job, and Vendor X got the only 2 star review I have ever left someone… they got two stars because they got me the right book, I can use it, and I know I dont have to go back to them. For me leaving a one star review means that I have actually sent something back, along with comments regarding our next steps with the lawsuit I am initiating.

So yeah this has been a somewhat ranty post. And that was the intent. Ya see this is the kind of situation we get ourselves in when we dont have well supported brick and mortar stores. You have to go online, and trust that what you ordered will in fact be what you get. And you have to be ready for it not to be so you can play the return and send me what I want game… over and over again. With an economic power like Amazon backing the stores that sell through them I can understand giving a bit more trust… because if Amazon pulls their support or offers a bad review from their own perspective… that could be the first or last nail in a vendors coffin.

In the end what I really want to say is pursue your hobbies and your joys. Chase the games and titles and such that you really want. But just be ready to have to either fight for it, or be totally surprised by how good it comes out.

Ok so gimme the dice, I gotta see whats on my collection list that I want to pursue next…

Peace and games to all in 2017, next week a return to world building… or a review… may have to roll for that one…

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A Brief Pause

Hello all readers…

Ok so you likely noticed if you have been following the blog that I have been doing one a week for a little while now and then suddenly, last week, nothing. Yeah. Christmas. Family. Sorta had other things to do.

This week. New Years. Snow. Sorta had other things to do.

However I am posting this so you know things are still coming. The world is still being built, and fun will still be had.

Personally I am going to start mixing more reviews and rants in with the world building, and some time in February I plan to put a post out about gifts to gamers. Not so much a rant or review but honest advice for both gamers that want stuff and people who have no clue what the hell to get a gamer in their life. Might have been handy before the holiday season I know, but you can look forward to it for 2017.

Happy holidays to everyone, play safe in the season, and lets do what we can to make 2017 a crit.

Gimme the dice, I gotta see just how much I can push this breakfast thing 🙂

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World Building 106

Welcome one and all to the ongoing saga of me building a world for table top gaming. Last episode I revealed what was going on in the meta/mega/uber history of the game world. Stuff that no character should know in game for quite some time. This section is stuff they could and maybe should know about depending on their character race and background. I have a feeling WB106 will have all sorts of A B C extensions because I am going into racial cultures and backgrounds. The only real question is what race to start with first… Ok lets go with Goblins.

Goblins were created near the end of the gods period of making the mortal races. The big and showy environments like oceans and mountains had already been covered. But these vast flatter areas like the plains and deserts had no real sentient life in them. Sure there were animals and some of them are really impressive. But there was nothing there to try and drive or control those areas. Since the gods did not want to let any race run completely free and mayhap over take everything else they had created, they decided to create the goblins as a smaller, more intelligent species. They tanked the goblins wisdom and social skills to keep them from using their natural intelligence and speed to overtake any of the other races. And to make them vulnerable to predators.

Even with a lower wisdom that some of the other races the goblins learned quickly. They adopted a written language before any other race and built walled cities to compensate for their lack of physical power. Truly, many of these advancements were spurred on by hints from the gods, however the goblins would have made many of them without divine intervention. The goblins were the first to form nations. And they are responsible for formalizing magic into the schools of wizardry. Their schools of magic are the most impressive and other races fight for the chance to gain admittance.

With the help of the halflings the goblins made their major cities trade hubs. The dwarves had metals, the humans had wood and lumber, the elves had items unique to the seas. And the goblins needed all of these things to build up their cities. The halflings being masters of trade and being social wanderers were happy to help out. Their caravans brought products and peoples to the goblin cities and they helped the goblins form positive relations with many other kingdoms.

Being knowledge hungry, the goblins have tried to replicate dwarven smith work. But as the dwarves refuse to share their refinement processes, or sell the highest quality ores goblin work is usually a significantly lower quality than theirs. But still higher than human or elven work. They have also tried to replicate human wood work. With the same kind of results as they see in their metal work. While some goblins are jealous of the work of the other races, most consider it an accomplishment to come close and see it as a chance to improve later.

The goblins hunger for knowledge and racial lack of wisdom has caused them no end of social problems. And the goblins that go looking for something new or to try and surpass their predecessors has given the goblins a reputation as a people that likes to blow things up. Physically, socially, magically. Things will blow up because they do not think it through. However should anyone survive the experience they do record it all. And they publish as much as they can… printing and copying books is done by hand so it may take time for a confirmed idea or warning to spread.

The biggest pride for the goblins is their races use of magic. Their wizards are the best trained. Their colleges have the most impressive libraries and spell collections. When it comes to working with magic they are the top of the food chain among the mortal races. While there are a great many personalities and opinions about magic most goblins take the stance that they will show others races the basics, but that they really need to develop magic on their own. This is because they know their own history and how much failure, as well as success has taught them. This is their one big point of wisdom as a culture. It will never stop them from trying to get as much as a they can from everyone else however. Because, well, goose and gander does not really make sense to them as a whole.

Goblins do have standing military in each of their cities. They function both as police and as soldiers. The lowest ranks are the mercenaries that they hire from other races. The main duty on the soldier side is to keep the farms and roadways safe from predatory animals and rouges.

Goblins also have an organized form of government. Maybe a little too organized. Each city has an independent governor. Each governor has control over his city but also has official relations with every other goblin city. This creates a web of inter city relations. In each city the governor will have between three and ten lieutenants who are responsible for overseeing specific duties. Those specifics change from city to city. Each lieutenant has a group of domo’s who are in charge of sub functions of their specific responsibility. Then come the egriero, and then the commissioners. The commissioner is someone who actually hires or commissions people to get things done. The web that this can create in a city can get rather arcane. And there is a rumor that in some cities there are governors who actually also work as their own commissioners. Additionally there are rumors that this sort of twisted web of government social structure is also the precursor of some massive social spell being cast by the goblins and when everyone is in the correct alignment the spell can be cast. No one has yet to confirm or deny this rumor, which has many worried.

Ok so that gives you something to go on for goblins… another race next week…

Until then keep the dice rollin and play it safe in the cold.

Now gimme the dice, gotta see if I can help the wife roll up breakfast. 🙂

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