Thursday, February 2, 2023

Top Ten Posts of 2022

I had hoped to go out this evening, but the bitter cold is killing my shoulder. I had wanted to throw so dice and push mecha around. Instead of that, I will do a Top Ten list.  

I've never done a top-ten list for two reasons: 

1. Google Docs Templates for D&D

2. TGT-1415C-1 Embark 9Person Tent by HKD International

What the heck are those? 

The first is a post about a great D&D 3.5 found in Google Docs, by Benjamin Connell. At some point, Google Docs changed its search format making everything hard to find, which meant coming to a website like this is a good choice for content. Damn you, Google. I really think that it is a good public service to provide great links to content, and Benjamin Connell’s 3.5 D&D character sheet is amazing content. I've thought about deleting it, but I would be doing a disservice to 3.5 fans. 

The next item is a walk-through post on my favorite tent. This tent went on dozens of trips and graced our backyard when we weren't on trips. It was one of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts. It died a good death, we wore it out. We probably spent 365 days in that tent over all the years. I'd take the post down but it has been on one or more of my websites for a ridiculously long time. 

These two posts are my highest clicked posts every year for many, many years. I guess it's time to just ignore them for the next 10 posts. 

Number 10 is a surprise entry, a fragment of a short story called Ghouls. I don't often write fiction on the blog. This post is one of my favorites as it uses a trick I learned to embed a Google Doc into a webpage. The downside of this is, everyone can see when I edit the file. 

This short follows the adventures of Rolf, a cleric of Mercury, and his family against a wild and creepy threat in the forest. 

Number 9. Question From The Hive Mind - Variable Damage in B/X. In this post, I weigh the pros and cons of variable weapon damage. I am solidly on the side of variable weapon damage, but there are some wonderful side effects of not permitting it. I have a collection of house rules to offset the difference between the two styles of play, hopefully realizing the best of both. 

8. Finally, a review! In The Hollow Of The Spider Queen is a great little solo game Powered by the Apocalypse. It's nice to see reviews in the top 10 because of a stupid promise I made to myself. In 2021, I tried to post 52 reviews, one a week. Then my house burned down. Ultimately, I was successful, but it was a success that stung a bit. Like a spider bite you can't itch. 

7. Next up is another House Rule entry: Refined House Rule Armor Class in Old School Essentials. I have a ton of house rules and to be honest, it feels strange to see this one in the top 10. It was posted at the beginning of December and cracked the top 10 of the same year. That makes me super happy. 

Number 6 doesn't surprise me at all. A Review of Hexcrawl Basics by Todd Leback. If you need a good intro to hexcrawling, this is a good one. 

Number 5. This is a review entitled: "Oh, Dear. What Happened? Review of Farscape Roleplaying Game". Sometimes a favorite has worts. This game is 99.9% D&D 3.5. In fact, it really wouldn't be hard to use Benjamin Connell's D&D sheet at the top of this post for Farscape. It'd be weird, but not hard. That is fun of 3.x D&D. It's a great tool kit. 

4. I have over a hundred reviews on this website and I am really glad to Necrotic Gnome's Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy at the top of the list. The OSE rules are amazing and now my go-to ruleset. If I am doing fantasy, OSE is my game. 

3. Up next is another review. The Review of Into the Wild (Kickstarter Complete!). This was my first foray into Kickstarter and it was perfect. The book holds a special place in my heart because it survived our house fire sitting out on a table. It does smell vaguely of laundry soap and campfire, something I don't mention in the subsequent mocking posts about another Kickstart by Todd Leback. I flat-out claim that Todd Leback's books are fire-resistant, which is maybe a lie. 

Good fun, though. If you don't laugh at some things, you'll go crazy. 

2. Sundiver By David Brin Review. This is one of my favorite books of all time, and for it to be number two on this amazes me. I can't believe how many hits this book review got. This review is strictly by the numbers, so I am really happy with how far up the list it is. As a bonus, David Brin is on MeWe and you can follow him. I'd be remiss if I didn't share a second review, GURPS Uplift an RPG based on the books.  

I have to say, I didn't plan it this way but... now for the ad. 

Number 1 on this list is a post about a title I made available on DriveThruRPG called The Hex Pack. The title of the post is "And another thing... 6 Mile Hex pack". Yeah, number one is one of my products and that really should surprise no one. 

But it does. Let me tell you a secret, you can totally skip this post. I won't even link to my #1. 

Back at item 2, I gave you three links because of the surprise, wonder, and sense of discovery I had at realizing the readers love something I love. What a great thing.  

What I would really like you to do is check out Steamtunnel's The Hydra's Grotto and his post about 6-mile hexes. This was my source of inspiration not just for a product I made, but it was also THE THING that inspired me to review Todd Leback's Hexcrawl books. In turn, those review couple of review inspired me to continue post reviews through all the wacky and crappy things that happened in 2021-2022. 

It's an amazing thing to be a part of the OSR community. It really gives me a sense of awe and wonder, exactly like the first time I sat down to play a game with people that loved the fun of imagination. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Preview of the Weekend to Come!

Last week, I got the immobilizer taken away from me. This week, I'm gonna have some fun. I have a couple of ideas for my next couple of posts. As you probably know, I am writing a campaign setting over on Ko-Fi that has sparked the idea of creating my own ruleset

To that end, I have decided that I need to stop cross-posting between Ko-Fi and here. It's super boring for me and I love this stuff. Also, I need to dig deep for ideas and things that make gameplay fun. I would like to thank everyone on MeWe for taking my poll, it was really helpful. 

So, what's happening this week? 

I've never been there, so I can't wait. Hopefully, I can use a light mech like the locus. There is something really fun about a hot rod little mech on the battlefield.

I haven't played Battletech in a hot minute, so I really hope it's Beginner's Night. I hope to do a game report, a review of the Beginner's set, and meet new friends. I really need a night out and pushing mechs and throwing dice sounds great. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Polling Data In...

I'm doing this thing where I create a new game system. Over on MeWe, I ran a 24-hour poll, polling seems to be the way to collect user data nowadays. Click the link to follow me there. Even WotC tried it right here

It's surprising what you can get from a little consumer feedback. I did two polls, one for my friends on MeWe and a duplicate poll in the Sandbox gaming group. I felt these were the two places to find "generic" gamers, not necessarily system-specific gamers. The Hearts System is created with fantasy gaming in mind but should be pretty adaptable to other genres. So, if swords and blasters are your thing, this could work for you. 

My poll size was rather small with only 32 respondents. The question I asked was about the number and type of dice. As I originally pictured it, The Hearts System would be a single 1d6 game. However, at this point in the planning, I could totally change that. 

The nice thing about the MeWe polling system is it allows for both a choice of responses and comments. That is really helpful. 

Here was the question: "For a quick, easy-to-play RPG, I need to roll... 

The choices were: 

1 six-sided die. 
2 six-sided dice. 
I need more dice. 
You can't roleplay with just one type of die, freak!

Both groups came down pretty heavily on the 2 six-side dice option at 18 of 32 votes. Next up was "I needed more dice" followed by "1 six-sided die" and "freak". 

People were more likely to call me a freak than select "1 six-sided die", but only just barely. 

A full 50% of responders wanted 2d6 and 25% wanted more dice. Based on these responses, I need to retool The Hearts System. This is exactly the time to do so, as nothing to too hard-coded to change. 

Many commenters mentioned that one die is too "swingy". And they are right. The funny part about this is when I hear the word "swingy", I immediately hear this: 

Now for the sales pitch and favor. 

What brought on this impetuous to create a completely new game was my goal of writing a system-agnostic campaign setting called "A Handbook for Travellers on the Peninsula of Plenty". Being ruleset agnostic, theoretically, I can completely ignore the whole OGL Version RND#" debacle. But where I can't is that when you play a game for so long, like I have with D&D, your headspace is locked to certain ideas. To be completely system agnostic, I need to start having new ideas and new ways of thinking about things that have nothing to do with D&D.  Hence, The Hearts System. 

This is tangential to my "A Handbook for Travellers on the Peninsula of Plenty" project, but it would be great if you came over to Ko-Fi and followed me. It would cut down on the number of times a week I'll have to crosspost. It would cut down on the number of things I have to keep track of, social media vs. ko-fi, vs. Blogger. 

You might just get some great ideas for your table over there, too. I have three backing options, but without backers, I am limiting myself to open posting to just followers which is the free option for you.  

I have this wonderful vision of not having to post every blog post to every kind of social media out there. So, go ahead, follow me here on blogger, and over at Ko-Fi, MeWe, and even Mastodon and Dice.Camp if you would be so kind. Go pick a place where you are going to get the content you like, I would really appreciate it. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Hearts System

 In my last post, I spoke about creating a whole new game system. I think I have settled on the name "The Hearts System". At least the abbreviation, THS doesn't spell out something too horrible. 

One of the advantages of B/X games is the speed of character generation. Everything you need is on 4 pages, class on one, equipment on another, saves on the third, and special details someplace else, if even needed. I want an even faster system. 

So here we go: 

Step 1: Lay your cards out. I wanted a simple graphical way of displaying information with a low entry cost. So a standard deck of cards works. As soon as I find my Rider-Rider Deck, I will start using Tarot cards for fun. 

The Aces are your abilities and there are four: Swords (Spades), Shields (Diamonds), Coins (Clubs), and the titular Hearts. At this point, you can probably guess what each means, but you don't need to know. 

(I am also playing fast and loose with the suits, I will probably make my own deck of cards so that doesn't happen.) 

Down the left side, the King, Queen, and Jack represent your class. Ignore that for now, we will just generate a character using the Kings. 

Step 2. Place a King on the matching Ace. 

This is an average starting character, each attribute is two. Every living creature has an attribute of at least one. 

Step 3. Customize. A starting character can only move one card as a choice. In this case, Coins as been reduced by one to increase Swords by one to a total of 3. 

Step 4, (not shown) Record your attributes on the character sheet I have not yet created. 

Step 5. Rally your defenses, place your Shields over your Hearts and add this to your character sheet. (Again, not shown as the sheet hasn't been created.) 

In this case, we have created a warrior. He has 3 Swords which is his attack strength. He has two shields, which is his defense. He has one Coin, which is a measure of starting resources. He has two Hearts, which is how much damage he can take. But we put the Shields over the Hearts meaning that the character can take two more hits than someone with just two Hearts, thanks to the Shields. 

In the next post, we'll talk about the difference between King, Queen, and Jack or your class choices. 

This game is going heavily featured in my new Ko-Fi Project, and there is going to be a time when I stop double posting. Why don't you follow me over there? 

What Makes a Great Game? Return to Star Smuggler

My last post addressed my desire to create a new game system. In order to make great games, you need to know how to play games. This helps create new mechanics that are hopefully fun. So for the past week, I have been quietly playing a lot of games. 

I've also been collecting data from the gang at via a poll. There will probably be more polls over there. It used to be that Blogger had a poll system, but that has been depreciated to unhelpfulness. 

This week, I busted out Battletech, Star Smuggler, and the classic risk game. I have a feeling that my system will use only 1d6, but the question is how many of them. 

During this process, I happened to notice a good tactic for "winning" at Star Smuggler which is very simple. On day one, you start in the Regari system at the Spaceport with 1d6+150 credits (secs. not credits, actually. I hate that abbreviation). One of the highest-priced items with a good rate of return is e37 GM bots. They cost 120 and can be sold for 100, not including multipliers. Yes, you can sell the ship boat for more, but only once. 

Spend the day collecting your GM bots. We are talking 5, max. You just don't have the funds to do more. Next, jet off to Nipna. Nipna has a wealth of 60 which allows for a 10 multiplier. You can offload those bots for 4000 or 5000 creds. 

WARNING: You have a 1 in 6 chance of damaging your ship on the way to Nipna and once that happens, you have another 1 in 6 chance of being forced to turn in the Status Unit in pilotage which is very negative to gameplay, if not impossible to recover. I won't tell you the event number, but it is interesting as it is one of the cases where Duke can patch up the ship like an engineer. 

That takes the bite out of it, assuming he survives the event. The real kick in the pants is the event becomes more difficult if you have a lot of crew, as they could just outright die from it OR subject Duke to death by not piloting his own ship. 

This is not the end, as you just burned 4 of 6 hypercharges getting to Nipna. That is a cost of 2000 to replace cutting into your bottom line. Before we do that, spend some time hopping back and forth from the space station to the colony. You are looking for two interesting events:

e153 Buy High Technology items and 
e198 Disgruntaled Colonists. 

Also, be on the lookout for cheap items that can be resold at a profit. Due to e198, there is a good chance that selling your ship's boat is a good idea because you're going to need the space. 

How I imagine an empty hold looks like on the
The High Tech Items has a collection of fun items, but the Portable Life Support unit is my favorite. It allows you to provide 50 cu of goods with life support for a month. After that, it takes a week to recharge it with the ship's engines. What is interesting to me is, it doesn't say where you can use this. So, what if you strap it to the side of the ship? You now have a good-sized second hold for goods for 3 weeks a month. 

All of this space plays positively with the Wealth code of 60. You have a 1 in six chance of picking up items at the base price and an equal chance of selling them at 10 times their value. This is helpful no matter what you buy. The lowly repair unit is 1 to buy but you sell it for 10 on this one planet. Heck, even with half of that rate of return, it's well worth doing. Nipna is played as dark and dangerous, but more dark than really dangerous. 

This is where e198 comes in. Once you sell off the boat and add the PLS system, you can carry all of the disgruntled colonists no matter what you roll. The closest destination that meets the criteria is New Karma. You could probably do it without the PLS with a lucky roll. The result of this event scores you 30 creds per colonist, so even 30 of them is almost enough to buy 2 hypercharges at New Karma. 

New Karma is kind of the End Game planet for Star Smuggler and getting there in week 1 or week 2 totally changes the dynamic of the game. It is strongly suggested that once you build your bank account, you should try to take on crewmembers at a low-wealth planet, so you haven't completely abandoned the rest of the Pavonus Sector.