Thursday, January 2, 2020

Star Wars: Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook

Title: Star Wars: Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
Author: Andy Collins, Bill Slavicsek, JD Wiker
Rule Set: d20
Year: 2000
Pages: 319
Number of players: 2 or more
Rating: ★★★★


For many years, Star Wars was in the stable of West End Games. Over the years, I accumulated many of their books, but never had a chance to play. In 2000, with The Phantom Menace coming to screens, Wizards of the Coast produced a gamebook for the series, which included everything you needed to play, including a set of rules to convert from WEG Star Wars to d20.

The system is a pretty close skin of D&D 3.0 or 3.5, with some great differences.

The system is a standardized d20 system. Standardization from the ground up is very good. One of the great advantages is it breaks every character down into a couple of stat blocks, which makes building a quality, unique character easy. Each character is made of 7 different categories of descriptions, all of which is uniform between classes. You start with ability scores, then everything changes. You select a species which is an approximation of race in D&D terms, a class, skills, feats, character descriptors like reputation, equipment and finally spells, if any. All characters have the same 6 items, unlike D&D where some characters get spells in addition to their other "stats".

So, what about The Force? Those aren't spells, they are tied into one Feat and several Skills for Force Sensitive people. Hit points are replaced with vitality and wound points. This changes the dynamics of how characters work. Vitality is how much energy and stamina you have, while wounds are actual chunks of flesh. Hike through a hellish landscape will reduce your vitality, but a blaster to the head is a wound. Wounds stick around or are fatal, while vitality tracks how much "give" you've got. Nice system, considering how dangerous a lightsabre is. Vitality returns with rest and wounds require healing. The reputation system is a replacement for alignment, which actually has some mechanical advantages or disadvantages, unlike the alignment system.

While this is a d20 system, there are several advantages to this rule set over a typical d20 RPG. First, your players will have a general idea of what they want to be if they have seen Star Wars. To this end, there are 25 character templates so you can play right away. The rules allow you to flavor these characters, so you are a cutout character, but perhaps not made of cardboard. Additionally, if you played WEG Star Wars, there is a set of conversion rules in the back. There is a section on Starships, Droids, and a Game Master Section, with a module included. Everything you need to play is right there.

4 of 5 stars.

You can pick it up on Amazon for less than $20.00. The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.

Strictly (Duke) Springer - Day 002

Having reviewed the game Star Smuggler, I wanted relive my past and play it. If you aren't familiar with the game, you can read the review here or download the whole game there.

This series will be a day-by-day play through of the classic game Star Smuggler from the point of view of the fictional hero, "Duke".

Dear Diary,

I don't really have a U-suit,
but I do have a sidearm.
It's day two of my criminal career and I am just as bad as being a criminal as I was as a trader. In the last hour daylight yesterday, we took off from the spaceport to the ruins. The ship can move without expending fuel, but is way easier to detect entering an area.  

So what are we doing?

The ruins have all kinds of junk scattered around. Emily and I are scouting around looking for stuff to salvage. I get just two chances a day to find something of use, it takes 5 hours to investigate a section of the ruins.

In the top half of the day, we found an intact but fuel-less skimmer and the bottom half of the day a single repair unit. A skimmer can hold six cubic units (CU) of stuff and takes up 10 CU worth of space in the

At the end of the 10 hour day, we're sore, but have some loot. Here are financials, crew status and assets at the end of day one:

1 Antelope starship,
1 Hopper with 15 units of fuel,
1 Stasis pod 2 CU,
26 Repair units,
1 Skimmer
and the ship is fully fueled with 6 hypercharges.

Crew:
Emily, weekly pay 15 secs. Sign-on bonus of 20. Death pay to the family is 200. Let's not die, ok?
Ratchet, weekly pay 15 secs. Sign-on bonus of 15. Death pay is 120.
Doc, weekly pay 10. No bonus which feels weird and death payment to family is 80.

Designated Heir: Emily.

I still owe 120,000 secs. in principal on the ship. I have 350 secs. in my pocket.

Spacesuits are called Utility Suits
or U-Suits in this game. 
If anything on the ship was more than Tech level one, we'd be doing maintenance to keep it in operation. Tech level adds a bonus to most things, but the higher the tech, the more likely it will breakdown. Rolling under the Tech level indicates a breakdown, which means T-1 level items never breakdown, but have no bonuses. 

I thought it was a good idea to play this choose your own adventure, but I recall another series you might like at Amazon. The link below is a paid ad and will take you to Amazon.com. 


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My Amazon Picks for 2020

I have a list of books I want from Amazon. Here they are, in no particular order: You can read about these choices on this post from 2019. The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.

The TEK - December 2019 Stats

December 2019 Downloads via DriveThruRPG:
AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana - 5
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting - 6
Kobold Folly Minisetting - 7
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - 4
Swashbucklers Character Class - 4

Webstats:
Google Analytics Pageviews - 1,345
Google Analytics Sessions - 884
Pageviews per Session - 1.52


Pageviews were up by 11.34% over last month. That is cool.

What did I do last month? I did an update to the Kobold Folly Minisetting. Oddly, downloads were way down. I checked with DriveThruRPG and found out there is no mechanism to see how many people downloaded an updated file. It sort of makes sense, so I hope you got your update if you previously downloaded. Just go to your library tab and the new files will be there.

I also caught up and completed my series called 52 Weeks of Magic, with 17 posts in a month. Behind the scenes, I started preloading posts for January. I had 13 schedule and the first 3 went off without a hitch. I like posting in advance, but I don't have a tool to post across social media, automatically. I need to look into a tool for that. 

This year, you can expect to see many, many more reviews. January already has 2 set to go. Other new changes are I've become a Rakuten affiliate which possibly means better ads. I also decided to continue with Amazon ads for another month. My DriveThruRPG ads are the only ones generating any revenue at the moment, so keep on clicking those links.

Best wishes in 2020.

UPDATE Jan. 12, 2020. I've decided to add some images of my Google Analytics to this post.

November 2019

December 2019

File Under Creep Factor 11 - A Quiet Place 2

For the past few years, film makers have been filming for A Quiet Place around New York. The first film was film closer to NYC, in Ulster and Dutchess county, but they stopped in to Akron and Olean for minor things like background shots, lunch and research.

This year, they filmed a lot of footage in Olean, Akron, Buffalo State College and a few other places around Buffalo. The funny thing is, I work at a school where we sometimes communicate in sign language and take 2 outings a week to places around Western New York.

It's one thing to see a place you've been to in a film, it's entirely different to see characters in a film in places you know, doing things that you do...

Check out the new trailer down below.



It's already creepy enough to have several horror films shoot in the same camp site my kids use.

Can you recognize these totem poles? There are actually 3 of them and they are totally overgrown. They show up very briefly in a couple of horror films at night, mostly for a jump scare. They have nothing to do with the films themselves.



Strictly (Duke) Springer - Day 001

"Duke" Springer is a child of the future...
 of the children of the 80s. Nice shirt, "Duke" 
Happy New Year!

Having reviewed the game Star Smuggler, I wanted relive my past and play it. If you aren't familiar with the game, you can read the review here or download the whole game there.

Anyway, what I am doing for my 2020 series? Last year was 52 Weeks of Magic. 2020 brings Strictly (Duke) Springer. This series will be a day-by-day play through of the classic game Star Smuggler from the point of view of the fictional hero, "Duke". I'm not sure what his first name is, but it has to be better than the one in the quotation marks.

Here are the general rules for this series. "Strictly", means I won't flub rolls one way or another. Second, all commentary on the game itself will be in bold. Third, if Duke dies before all 52 weeks are up, I will simply carry on with a henchman designated as Duke's Heir. If there are no henchmen, I will start over.

Here we go.

Dear Diary,

It's day one of my criminal career. I'm not really good at this. I have an Antelope class starship, starship's guns, a 2 cubic unit status pod, a side arm, a ship's boat called a hopper, 15 fuel units and passion for trouble. I also have 750 secs, which is good because I owe 120,000 secs. for the ship. The interest only payment is 300 secs. A week. It was a better deal than college.

Obviously, I'm at the Spaceport, so I'm going to spend a few hours looking for hirelings... er, employees. My first four hours are wasted, but after that, I manage to hire a few people.

First, I hired on an Pilot/Navigator. I'm a pilot/navigator like her, but unlike her, I can fire the ship's guns. The two of us together can defend the ship. Her weekly pay is 25 secs., but she'll cut me a deal at 15 secs. because the cockpit is equipped with a status unit. She also needed a sign-on bonus of 20 secs., which wasn't too unreasonable. She... she... she...

"Are you looking at a book of baby names?" she asked.
"No, that would be totally demeaning... Emily?" I said.
"My name isn't Em... Ugh. Whatever, 'Duke'. "

With that all settled, I also hired an Engineer I named Ratchet and medic I'll be calling "Doc".

Doc looked sheepish. "I'm really not a doctor, I just have some battlefield experience..."
"Do you want the sign on bonus or what?" I asked. According to the rules, Medics don't get signing bonuses. Oops. 
"You're the boss," he said.

Ok. Having invested some good time with my new associates, I managed to waste most the rest of the day. I did purchase 25 repair units, which are instrumental to my plans. In the 9th hour, I made a 300 secs. interest payment on the ship early, so I don't have much to worry about for a while. The rules don't specify a specific payday except by the last day of week, so I accept early payment within the same week as acceptable. 

We take off and set course for the Ruins of Regari, just an hour away.

At the end of the 10 hour day, we're beat. Here are financials, crew status and assets at the end of day one:

1 Antelope starship,
1 Hopper with 15 units of fuel,
1 Stasis pod 2 CU in size,
25 Repair units,
and the ship is fully fueled with 6 hypercharges.

Emily, weekly pay 15 secs. Sign-on bonus of 20. Death pay to the family is 200. Let's not die, ok?
Ratchet, weekly pay 15 secs. Sign-on bonus of 15. Death pay is 120.
Doc, weekly pay 10. No bonus which feels weird and death payment to family is 80.

Designated Heir: None, but I know it'll be Emily.

Death payments are meant to be a money drain, but there are light consequences for not paying it. 

I still owe 120,000 secs. in principal on the ship, but paid 300 in interest early, which gives me almost 2 ten day weeks until the next payment. I have 350 secs in my pocket, which is only enough to cover basic expenses for another 29 days. At that point, the crew will walk unless I can use some cunning plus the ship will be up for repo. Cunning is a stat that only Duke has, it allows him to roll a die to trick people into doing things. I have a rating of 4 out of six, so I could theoretically keep the crew without pay so long as my luck holds out.