Sunday, April 30, 2023

One More Add to Favorite Blogs

I just realized I follow Evlyn Moreau over on Dice.Camp. 

I might as well add her to the favorite blogs roll


Too Many Irons in the Fire

I'm working on a few too many projects. I need to get myself on a posting schedule. The countdown tells me I have 92 more days to finish my first module, POP-001. 

To that end, I am working on artwork. Or at least, sharpening my skills. 

This is a copy of Frank Frazetta's style, which I hope will assist in creating pictures for POP-001. 

Project 2 is a little more down to earth. I'm getting the raised beds ready in the backyard. I'll have two 8x4 foot areas this year to prevent the overcrowding I experienced last year.

In addition to the tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, and peppers I grew last year, I'll be trying out lettuce, beans, radishes, and herbs. I plan to keep the strawberries, beans, and herbs out of the raised beds with a new area plus large planters. 

Ideally, at the end of the year, I'd like to bring the herbs inside. I didn't plan for that last year and managed to kill off everything by mid-December. There was some saving grace as I had a ton of dried herbs from the summer. 

Next up is a slow-moving project, one that may turn into a regular series here. I'm making a castle. I really love the classic look of Bodiam Castle and I recall drawing a rough floorplan for fun and as a blog post. 

Funny, I apparently forgot to blog about it and you are seeing the rough plan for the first time today. 

Anyway, I am upcycling some junk I have lying around to make this happen, I will probably detail my progress as I go. 

I don't plan on being too faithful to Bodiam or even rudimentary scale. I am letting the supplies on hand control the look. For a base, I used a bit of wood used for packing material. The towers stand 6 inches tall and will be spaced out 2.5 to 12 inches. The idea is to have something that would help out as a game space. 

As you can see from the image above, I have a bunch of different figures arrayed in front. I have a 1:144 scale T.I.E. Fighter, 1/296 Battlemechs, a 25 mm Space Marine from Aliens, a Lego figure, a couple of 25 mm fantasy figures, random plastic animals, and 20 and 15 mm figures. The block in front is 1.25 inches on a side. Roughly, anyway.  

It all seems pretty reasonable. 

Monday, April 17, 2023

A Broken Hearts System

I'm brainstorming ideas for a new game system. Initially, I called it the Hearts System, but that may change. I kind of like A Broken Hearts System or ABHS. 

I am starting to formulate ideas for mechanics. 

The first mechanic I created is generating characters using a standard (or custom) set of cards. I shared this in a post a while ago but I will recap it here. 

Aces are your abilities and they are laid out Spades, Diamonds, Clubs, and Hearts. I have retitled them Swords, Shields, Coins, and Hearts which correspond to: 

(Swords) Fighting ability, 
(Shields) Defensive abilities,
(Coins) Resources, 
(Hearts) Life points.  

Below them are the Kings, the Queens, and the Jacks. These cards map to three classes. Kings are Squares; Squares use brawn more than any other skill. Queens are Pures; Pures prefer to use their mental facilities over everything else. And Jacks are Semis, people who mix physical and mental facilities with ease. 

In the following examples, we are using just Kings to build a Square character. I will write about Pures and Semis in a different post. 

A starting player assigns one or more Kings to their four abilities. Once complete, the player looks down at each pile and totals them up, adding Kings and Aces together. 

Swords: 3
Shields: 2
Coins: 1
Hearts: 2

All starting characters have distributed 8 cards (or points) among 4 stats. 

Now, here is the first twist. Put the Shields over your Hearts, like so: 

It is always Shields on Hearts and the stats are adjusted like this: 

Swords: 3
Shields: 2
Coins: 1
Hearts: 2 (4)

Now this character is fit to fight. We need to talk about dice. This system assumes you'll use six siders and two. I took a poll and this was what the hivemind thought was best. Of course, the hivemind can make its own games, so I will modify this two-die standard later on. 

This is a roll-low game. The lower the better. Nothing special happens if you roll snake eyes. By the same standard, nothing special happens if you roll 2 sixes. 

One of the quirks of this game is we only have two cases where we modify the die rolls directly. We'll handle that later.   

If your Sword is 3, then you need to roll a 2 or a 3 to hit. Damn, that would be a tedious game. At this point, we need some modifiers on your character's skills. Remember, this is not modifying the die roll. We need the player to be aware of what they need to hit before rolling. 

You get +1 for having a weapon, say a spear, and another point for each skill in skill you have. Since you have 3 Swords, you can learn up to three combat skills. In this case, let's make them 3 points or ranks with a spear. Now we have a total of 3+1+3=7. 

See how we didn't add to the dice, but modified the ability to hit? The rationale behind this is all characters should know, roughly, their ability to strike something before they make that attack roll. Remember, I do have an exception to this no-modifier rule which will come into play later. 

You must roll equal to or under a 7. Now that is more like it, there is a good chance of rolling that. Here is my modification on using two six-sided dice. We're gonna use more. In the first step or interval of combat, you roll 2d6 and compare it to your to-hit number which is 7. 

We roll a four and hit. This removes one Shield or Heart from the opponent. There are only hits, we won't use damage dice. A very powerful creature might have 18 Shields and Hearts combined, but against a group of characters making a couple of attack rolls per combat turn, these defenses will go fast. 

The next mechanic is the duration of the combat turn. We're calling each cycle of combat a turn and each one is 12 seconds long, divided into 2-second intervals or steps. Every character may take one action per step. BUT they can only attack once per unit Sword and only once per interval or step of the combat turn.  

Our Square with a Spear can take three swipes with their weapon per combat turn because they only have 3 Swords. They are not skilled enough to do more. This is an inversion of D&D style rules as it assumes characters are pretty quick. 

What does he do with the rest of his time? He can move, open doors, duck, dodge, or whatever.  Basically anything other than sticking a spear in someone. He can move three times and attack three times. There will be cases where this particular character will move four times and attack twice, losing one attack because they ran out of time. Higher-level characters are entitled to swing every combat step or interval, but probably won't for... reasons. 

Now we get the exception on modifying die rolls. Remember when you put your Shields on Hearts? If you get hit, you lose a Shield point. When they are gone, you start losing Hearts. When your Hearts are gone, you are down. Not dead, but down and unable or unwilling to stand back up. 

Here is the modifier on die rolls. A character can choose to defend themselves instead of attacking. They can do this once per Heart, per opponent, per combat step, or interval.  This adds to the attacker's die roll. The cost of doing this is, if you get hit, you lose the Heart you risked instead of the Shield.

Ouch! You can go down by making risky moves. By the same standard, if you successfully defend yourself, you lose nothing but that one attack. This also slows combat, kind of like casting from hit points in reverse. 

If you are a numbers person, you'll realize that a minute of combat is 5 12-second combat intervals. Using our Square with the Spear, this could be 15 attack rolls in just 60 seconds. This would be really violent and quick, which is why I wanted to slow things with defense. 

To slow this down more, I'll modify the number of dice thrown per combat interval or step. The first time you attack in a turn, you need to get a 7 or less on two dice. Assuming nothing changes, the second attack requires rolling 7 or less on 3 dice.

That spear is getting heavy and you are getting tired.

Guess what? The third attack requires throwing 7 or lower on four dice. This continues for each attack, a high-level character could be throwing 7 dice to hit on that sixth swing.  

Also, it makes risking a Heart on Defense more worthwhile later in the combat turn.

This is a neat mechanic as new players will swipe at opponents very quickly while learning the combat system until they realize that maybe they should hold back a bit once they master it. The mechanic itself is simple, just add a die but your chances of hitting are plummeting. It also encourages players to work together, say having three guys up front taking turns at attacking an opponent, rather than everyone hacking away wildly. 

At the end of the 12-second combat turn, there is a reset moment. Shields are restored at the start of every combat turn, but Hearts are not. If you started with two Shields and lost them to two blows from an opponent, you get them back for the next turn. This restoration isn't repairing a bit of armor or picking up a shield, but making an adjustment to the item itself or modifying their use against a specific opponent. 

I hope you found this interesting. Next time I will get into missile combat and magic. Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Top 20 Sales on DriveThru RPG - Part 2 - Swinging and... Hits?

In finishing this two-post series, I had to modify my thought process. To recap, every time someone clicks a link to DriveThruRPG I make a small amount of money. This occurs every time someone goes from a link here to a product on DriveThruRPG, even if it isn't the product I posted about. 

For example, on the left are links to my products. If someone clicks one of those links but ultimately decides to purchase a completely different product, I still receive a small amount of income. What started this two-post series was the realization that MOST people do not buy what I suggest. I shouldn't be surprised because a review should say why you might like something, not that you will like it. Add in the fact that authors also have varied interests, you will likely see something vaguely related to one of my reviews and enjoy that item more. 

As I mentioned before, this was actually a top 26. I removed my 6 products from the list. This website is dedicated to selling my things. Today that thing is this post, not my books, with the links off to the top left on every stinking page! Yes, I am bad at marketing and I am ok with it. 

To recap, within items 20 down to 11, I only reviewed one item and own only two. Let's count down from 10 to 1 with one hiccup. It seems that 4 of 10 books are part of a series, so I grouped them together. 

Number 10 was Savage Worlds Adventure Edition. I have exactly one post about Savage Worlds and it wasn't a review. The system was used for a Flash Gordon-themed game at a local con. It is a funny story though. Click here to read it

This is a jump to 8, as nine pairs with another title appearing high on the list. 8 was A Guide to Thieves' Guilds by Todd Leback. I own this and meant to review it but did not. 

Legendary Bloodragers was number 7. This is a Pathfinder book that I am not familiar with at all. 

Number 6 isn't a surprise to me, but it was not a topic I normally cover here. It was Shadowrun: Better Than Bad (Deep Shadows). This should be no surprise as Shadowrun hit its 30th Anniversary in May of 2019. There was a special banner for it and just a few months later COVID kicked us all and my web stats went nuts:

There was a bit of a lag in the data, there was a small uptick in March followed by that massive spike in May. I started posting daily between March and May which might explain some of it. 

Number 4 was Filling in the Blanks, which I reviewed back in March of 2021. I also fell in love with the cover art and end up posting about Jenna Drummond's artwork

Into the Wild was 3 and another excellent product that I reviewed. This one was special because we all received a preview of the product on Kickstart. It also features Jenna Drummond's artwork on the cover, which I love just as much as the other covers in the series. 

The last 4 items were surprising, the Game Outbreak. Nine was Outbreak: Undead Starter Kit Card Set, and five was Outbreak: Undead 2nd Ed - Pocket Book. Two and one were Outbreak: Undead 2nd Edition - GM's Pocket Book and Outbreak: Undead 2nd Edition - Survivors Guide. The card set and the Survivor's Guide don't seem to be available. 

This is a big surprise as I love The Walking Dead and zombie films in general but I have never posted about them here. Maybe I should start posting about these sorts of things. 

Anyway, thank you again for your continued support in this strange adventure. 

Monday, April 10, 2023

Top 20 Sales on DriveThru RPG - Part 1 - Swinging and Missing

When I start an idea, I often have an idea of where something will end or at least how it should go. Not so with affiliate links and such. I've bombed out affiliate sales so many times, I don't even know what to think. My website does not have a lot of traction with cross-sales, all my readers care about is gaming. They totally don't care about non-gaming books, movies, or Legos. 

DriveThruRPG is my most significant revenue stream. So, I must know a lot about it... 

Yeah, no. 

Here is the funny bit. I've reviewed hundreds of products from DriveThruRPG. It would be reasonable to assume that most of my revenue would come from these. It was easy enough to run a top 20 report and see how effective this tactic is. I actually had to run the top 26, to remove my own six products.

Obviously, a whole website revolving around my products is a good way to sell products. Even I know that much.   

With my products removed, number 20 was How to Hexcrawl. My Review of this can be found here. It was really gratifying to see that my reviews were moving product. 

Well, that is where my assumptions and hopes ended. 

19 was a product called Easy Settlements. I purchased it to do a review but for whatever reason, I did not. It's a really nice and helpful product, it packs a lot of details into just 14 pages. As an added bonus it is system and theme agnostic. It just rocketed to the top of my "To Review List".  

Next at 18 is Downcrawl. Never heard of it, but the description is interesting. It's a generator for open-ended adventures. As an added bonus, it comes in pdf and soft cover. Since I lost most of my books, this makes Downcrawl an attractive title. Maybe I'll buy it on payday. 

# 17 was Dishonored: The Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Again, I have no familiarity with this title. From the description, it sounds like it would be perfect for a Gray Mouser or perhaps a Thieves World Adventure. 

Again, this is something I find attractive yet I didn't write about it. 

The rest of the list goes the same way. From 11 to 20, I reviewed exactly one title. Here is the rest of the list, with the links leading to DriveThruRPG: 

16. Berlin - The Wicked City
15. The Codex of the Black Sun: Sorcery for Stars Without Number
14. The Black Hack Second Edition
13. Outbreak: Undead 2nd Edition - Gamemaster's Guide
12. Knave
11. Barbarians of the Ruined Earth (Standard Cover)

This is a very curious collection of works. Of the 10 titles, I only have 2 own two. What I find interesting about this part of the top 20 is I can see how these titles run parallel to subjects and topics I really enjoy. Except for one, I don't care for the setting of Berlin. I do love Zombies. Traveler (but not to play) and the concept of a Dying Earth. 

Clearly, I am not reading my audience, and my audience is not guiding me, it seems we are on a parallel adventure together. That is really cool. 

Stay tuned for the next half of the top 20 list. Click here to read. 

Sunday, April 2, 2023

My Very Own Appendix N

As my friends and I entered high school, we really diverged in our interests and reading habits. Ryan read Douglas Adams and the Robotech series. Michelle read Doctor Who. I read all of the fantasy stuff like the Dragonlance series. 

This would have been around '84 to 1986. 

Almost every game session started with The Great Book and Mix Tape swap. In that spirit, I'll share a mix for you: The Great '86. This one year was amazing for music. (Editing note: You don't need a Google Music account, you can simply go on Youtube and listen with this link.) 

Anyway, back to the books. In swapping books, I lost more books than I will ever own. I also read more than you can imagine. Many of these books were yellow, pages dogeared and in some cases missing covers. 

I've been feeling nostalgic lately and picked up a Dragonlance book at Barnes and Noble. I am only 100 pages in and it fills me with both wonder and nostalgia. Clearly, I read it nearly 40 years ago. All of the details are gone, but it is strangely familiar.

I think I'll add this series to the review list, Dragons of Autumn Twilight is pretty cool and clearly made an impression on me because I freely stole ideas from it. 

This is the odd part, decades ago things moved with glacial slowness. I had this book from a used bookstore before I ever saw the Dragonlance Modules. I had no idea it was related to D&D until I saw DL-1 in about 1990. Bookstores were wacky like that. 

Since I ran down this memory hole, I've also returned to watching Doctor Who. The whole D&D gang watched the show, the old-school stuff. It was shown out of order, the local PBS station only honored the serial order, so at least you could see a whole story. But we had no idea what was happening in the larger Doctor Who story as they would happily skip from Doctor to Doctor, willy-nilly. 

I didn't care. It sort of matched the way I read the novels. Here is a silly bit. I had to go back to 2017 to pick up where I left off. The Master became Missy and slightly more and less diabolical. I was vaguely aware that Jodie Whittaker took over as The Doctor and I wondered how that would work. 

The transition reminded me of the novels I had read in the 80s. Remember, I mentioned that many of the books I read had no covers? The Doctor Who novels featured the image of The Doctor appearing in the story, so if you are missing the cover and the first couple of pages, you have no idea which Doctor features in the story. 

I thought that Whittaker was pretty great until I reached the episode, "Fugitive of the Judoon". In that story, The Doctor really shines. The series owes its success (and failures) to the author. The Doctor and the actor who brings these stories to the screen has be spot-on in translation from mere words on the page to funny, scary, and amazing stories to life. 

In a strange collision of real life, check out The Other Side Blog. He is doing an A to Z of Doctor. Totally love it.