Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hibernation Infestation

I made another flash game via playcrafter. It's a cute little time waste, kinda like the other one in that regards. This one's not as girly - you blow stuff up. :) You're the computer of a spaceship, that's become infested by alien bugs. You have to use your automated defense systems to get rid of all the bugs. Don't let that description fool you, though - it's more of a thinker, not an action game.

Monday, December 29, 2008

O, what were they thinking?

O-game looks neat, but I'm upset I don't have a spaceship yet.

I mean, if you're billing your game as one of intergalactic conquest, you should be able to build your first spaceship, or other military unit in say ...less than 6 hours after you started playing. Don't ya think? Just strikes me as odd.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lookie what I made...

I made this little flash game...

My game doesn't make a lot of sense, and over all it's a tiny bit ...girly, I suppose, what with the non-violent, female main character, and a color palette that sometimes dips into pastels. But, it was fun to make (and hopefully you'll find it fun to play).

It's a dexterity / "skill" game, with some minor puzzle and timing elements. The main character has a little too much inertia, on purpose, to make it tricky flying around obstacles. She also lacks any sort of weaponry, so you have to rely on timing and manuevers instead of just killing everything in site.

PlayCrafter is a very cool site that gives you online tools for building games, which is how I was able to make that. PlayCrafter is pretty much a WYSIWYG Flash game creator. It's still in it's Alpha stage, so there's limitations on what types of games you can build with it, but it's expanding. If I had wanted to spend more time and energy, I could have uploaded my own graphics and customized things a lot more. It was kinda fun, so I might make another game with it later.

PlayCrafter is a free site, and a fun way to kill time (though, since it's new and populated by mostly first-time designers, most of the games aren't terribly polished just yet). The creators of games get 10% of the ad revenue generated by their games, so if you like the game, embed it somewhere, and/or click on the ads, okay? :) Thanks!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Sarah and I were too sick to go to Wayward last night, and it occurs to me that the next two Thursdays are Xmas and New Years. Looks like I won't be getting my weekly one-shot gaming fix again till 2009. That sucks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Further Information Is Available

I forgot to mention it at the time, but, a couple weeks ago, I wandered into my local gamestore, and what should I see upon the used shelf? A $4 copy of Further Information: A Gamemaster's Treasury Of Time, the awesome supplement for the Continuum RPG. I've wanted this book for a while, but never actually found it for sale, as it had a fairly small print run.

It starts off with about 10 pages of really good GMing advice, including troubleshooting for various problems that stem from the fact that the characters can time-travel but the players can't. After that, there's a collection of time-saving charts and indexes -- I typed most of the data up into hand-outs and cheat sheets for my campaign, but it would have been nice to have this back in the day. New skills, a new strategem for Time Combat, several additional weapons, and some tricks you can do with spanning round out this section.

The remainder of the book covers history from the Libran to Aquarian ages, 12969 BC to 2200 AD. Technology, cultures, corners, narcissists, plothooks, etc. I sure could have used that in a few eras of my own campaign. 3 whole pages devoted to the history of horsemanship. Sweet, sweet, book. Before I got this book, I'd never dream of running a game past Span Two - which is a shame because the game has some amazing potential when the characters can hop a thousand years in a blink of the eye. Having this book to fall back on means you won't just fold the campaign when the PCs randomly dive into Vielavayan, circa 6000BC, to carry the fight to the enemy during the height of The Midwives Crisis, half way through the session. Instead, you'll take a 5 minute "smoke break" while the GM reads one page of a book and finds all the facts he needs to sell that era. Normally, I blow off the official backgrounds of most games and wing it, but Continuum is a game where you can't always do that. Verisimilitude and internal consistancy are of the utmost importance in Continuum - and this book offers some pretty robust tools to cover the GM's butt.

I'm very pleased to add Further Information to my collection, especially at the bargain price of $4 for a used copy in great condition. Score!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Savage Worlds Adventure Cards

That's weird. I wrote a lengthy post about running Savage Worlds for just one player, but when I put in a second Unordered List, blogger crapped out and deleted everything except this paragraph:

I can't recommend the Adventure Cards enough. I'd grown to like Savage Worlds without them, but once I added the deck, my love of the game shot up considerably. GMs who value control over improvisation may not find it matches their style, but I think those cards kick butt. If you're GMing Savage Worlds, or are considering doing so, do yourself (and your players) a favor, and drop the $10 needed to get yourself one of those decks. Definitely worth it.

I'll reconstruct the rest of the post eventually, but I probably don't have time this afternoon.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pleasantly Surprised

The fourth section of the Scion Companion released yesterday. (I think. I noticed and downloaded it at like 2 am.)

Flipping through it, I was quite pleasantly surprised to see my own words in it. My Improvised Weapon System is in there. It's not likely to be a matter of independent parallel invention, like Terrible As The Dawn / Visage Great And Terrible was. I can say that because the system presented there uses the exact same categories, names, and nearly exactly the same stats as my system.

I put that system on the Scion Wiki, and the Scion Forums, because I intend it for other's use. I'm quite pleased and thrilled and honored that they chose to use it. It's work based on their game, and they absolutely have every right to use it.

How neat. I'm on cloud nine.

Phys Soc Men

I've said it before, but an experience tonight really drove it home.

Here's my open request to GMs and game designers: If your RPG is going to have different attributes, such as Physical/Social/Mental, you need to have all of those categories carry roughly equal weight, or else make the lame stats cost less. If, as so many systems seem to do, only Physical ever gets rolled, then you really don't need the Social or Mental traits at all. They should be significantly cheaper, or just not exist.

(Amber, for example, has no social trait, and it's only mental trait is just a measure of psychic power. And that system works just fine. Matters of problem solving and intelligence are left up to roleplaying and the player's craftiness. That's much better than saying "you plan to role-play that you're smart? Well then you have to spend half your XP on stats you'll never roll.")

If you insist on charging the same amount for the three stats, they need to be roughly equal in their functional ability to solve problems.

In tonight's one-shot at Wayward, the system had those 3 traits: P/S/M.
  • I had Physical as my primary stat, and my character worked great and I had lots of fun. Someone else had literally nothing but Physical, and he did insanely well, too.
  • Everyone else (5 other PCs) had some measure of points wasted in Social and Mental, and had varying degrees of frustration.
  • The ship's Captain got creamed, because his maxed out social trait was unable to prevent any of the three fight scenes, and his correspondingly minimized physical trait meant he got hit again and again.
  • Even the two psychic characters only got to roll their psy powers twice each. Compare that to my Physical stat, which paid off at least a dozen times, in melee, ranged, and starship combat.
That's not intended in any way as a slam on the GM. It's an easy trap to fall into, because of the nature of how most RPGs are run. Here again is a link to a rant I wrote last year on this topic, which discusses the issue from a different (but relevant) angle.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

another Savage Worlds house-rule / experiment

Amongst my ridiculous dice collection, I own a couple of d14s and d16s. I wonder what it would be like if Savage Worlds carried up the die spectrum instead of making the step after d12 be d12+1. This would, of course, reduce the value of things like the Weapon Master edge, since getting your die up another slot would get it's effects and more. I wonder what other (if any) ripple effects it would have.

Obviously, it's not an ideal choice for a publisher, since 14 and 16 sided dice are rare and relatively expensive. But since I've got them, I may just try it that way with the upcoming Land of the Lost campaign. (Not that the PC in that game would qualify for such dice anytime in the first 20 sessions or so, but it's worth a hypothetical tinker.)

Perhaps I'll have Size still give it's normal bonus, and have the Professional and Expert edges give +1 and +2 to the trait (which could be a d12 or higher), but let Attributes and Skills continue up the scale into larger dice. Continual +1 is probably better than going up a die, but it's close. Being able to go up a die or two further, and still get that edge too would really allow for some high-powered Legendary Rank play. Hmm...

"Land of the Lost" Campaign

So, as mentioned in my previous post, I'm about to launch a campaign based on the old TV show Land of the Lost.

The show was pretty crazy, and some would say dreadful. However, episodes were written by well known SciFi authors such as Ben Bova, Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon and David Gerrold, so there's some real gems in there amidst the rough. I have a strong fondness for the setting, stemming back to childhood, and I must admit I bought all three seasons on DVD a few years ago. Dinosaurs, Aliens, Time Travel, Magic. Like Firefly, it's got everything.

This will be a one-player campaign. Sarah will get to develop a character over time, while I (as GM) get to riff all over the thematic map. If she does get sick of her character, but we're not sick of the setting yet, she can escape via Pylon Gate and be replaced by a new PC. I told her that as long as she doesn't abuse it by retiring characters every third session, I'll let her retain accumulated XP whenever she makes a new character.

And boy are there character options. In the series the main characters were just 1970s average joes, but supporting cast included Cavemen, Ape Men, Dinosaurs, Lizard Men, Medusa, a Yeti and a Unicorn, a Psychic Alien and his Robot pet, a Civil War Confederate, a NASA testpilot, and Talking Skulls from a long-collapsed civilization.

I had a bunch of dinosaur and megafauna minis I'd used for Og a while back, so I figured I'd want to do a version with minis for combat/chase scenes. Savage Worlds pretty much assumes miniature-based combat, and it mixes genres well, so it was a natural choice. It also gives me a chance to test out my proposed 1 Hit = 1 Wound rule, which should make Savage Worlds less dangerous for one-player. I don't expect it to be combat heavy, since that would conflict the themes of the source material - not to mention T-Rex's are pretty nasty in Savage Worlds.

Knowing we'd be using minis, I told Sarah to flip through the figs we have and pick any 25-30mm humanoid figure to base her character on. She picked one with wings, which complicates things mildly, but should be fun. She took the Flight Power from Savage Worlds for the character, so it's not permanent mundane wings it's more like magical Flight. More importantly, that means she can only fly short distances/durations, with long recharge times, so the various dinosaurs aren't completely without threat.

Speaking of Og, that's actually what made me realize I wanted to run a Land of the Lost game. I threw several Land of the Lost references into my Og one-shot. As I researched and prepped for Og, though, I just kept thinking how much fun it would be to do something more serious in the setting. After all, the concepts in Land of the Lost were awesome, it was technical faults of the special effects and child actors that made it silly and not stand the test of time. Well, in an RPG, there's an infinite special effects budget and my wife's certainly no child, so this has some potential.

There's several different themes in Land of the Lost, which I'll be flipping between as I plan/run sessions. The following list is more for my benefit/brainstorming than your entertainment:
  • Survival. Food is a little odd, and there's all those darned dinosaurs.
  • Pakuni Shenanigans. Sa, Ta, and Cha-Ka sure caused some headaches in the series, with their tribal magic and niavete.
  • Sleestack Sneakiness. The tribal magic and ignorance of the lizardmen leads to many of the same issues the Pakuni can generate, but Sleestack are conveniently sinister badguys.
  • Malfunctioning Pylons. Throughout the series, it seems that perhaps the pocket dimension is falling apart. Pylons can do all sorts of metaphysical and scifi craziness.
  • Time Travel. NPCs can be sucked in from period in history, and even other worlds or dimensions.
  • Rampaging monstrosity. Not only do normal dinosaurs walk the valley, but there's also fire-breathing and/or two-headed dinosaurs, and a variety of Mythological creatures show up, so that's Carte Blanche for anything. I may order Dinosaurs That Never Were to see if it kick-starts any ideas.

I'm psyched for this. We start Wednesday night.
Update: Things came up Wednesday that prevented us from playing. The game has been pushed back to Friday.

Multi-genre-ism: Firefly, Deadlands, 7th Sea, even Land of the Lost

Man, do I ever love Firefly. I've wanted to game it for a long time, but have never quite made it happen.

What I love most about Firefly is the many Genres it draws from. It's relatively hard SciFi, but it's also a cliche-ridden Western. Every so often, an episode will be about courtly affairs and dueling, or creepy Reaver-laced Lovecraftian horror, or a good old fashion heist/caper film. There's even Orcs in Serenity. You can do anything in that setting. Each new planet or episode can have a completely different roots.

In particular, I think it'd be a great RPG setting because you could run a long-term campaign with recurring characters, yet keep everything fresh by setting each session in a different genre. I love trying out new things, yet also get significant pleasure out of ongoing character development. A setting like Firefly gets the best of both worlds in that regards.

There's other RPG settings that get a similar multigenre feel...
  • Deadlands explores much of the same territory, but includes pulp and steampunk elements instead of SciFi, and plays up the Horror aspects much more than Firefly ever did. It also has magic, which is about the only genre trope you couldn't work into Firefly. It uses a variant on Savage Worlds these days, and I expect I'll end up running it or playing in it someday. The poker hands used in Hexslinging and fastdraw shoot-outs is pretty slick.
  • 7th Sea is all historic fantasy, but it leans heavily on more than one era of history. I like that one PC can be a pirate, another a viking, the third a french musketeer, the fourth a celtic bard, and the 5th a spanish inquisitor. Despite all that crossing of the streams, it manages to stay coherent. It's also got the most flavorful magic systems ever set to paper - Porté is damn creepy. Which brings up it's other cross-genre embellishments: Swashbuckling pirates, noble nights and scheming courtiers cross paths with supernatural archaeology, witches and demonologists, the sidhe, dark conspiracies, and Zorro. Good stuff.
This week, I'm embarking on an ongoing RPG experiment. I'll be starting a one-player Savage Worlds campaign with my wife. The setting will be the cheesy old children's show Land of the Lost. More on that in my next post.

Back to Cybersavage

Here's a far better Cyberware system for Savagepunk 2020 then that dreadful thing I'd put together last month. This version is super elegant (but has yet to be playtested, and will result in a very cinematic campaign if used), and doesn't require making a Savage Worlds equivalent of the Chrome Books.

The Cyber-Die
The Cyber-Die works very much like the normal Wild Die in Savage Worlds - having cyberware is very much like having a second Wild Die. You roll it in addition to your Trait die and Wild Die for anything that the character's cyberware could effect. As with the Wild Die, you keep only the highest die rolled. PCs will frequently roll three dice and use just the single highest die.

Categories of Cyberware
Cyberware falls into a few basic categories, and these types determine what sort of rolls the corresponding Cyber Die can be rolled with.
  • Cyber-Legs: Applies to Climbing and Swimming checks. May also be used on running rolls, adding the better of two dice to your base Pace. Since a large amount of your flesh has been replaced with metal, you may use it on your Soak rolls, too.
  • Cyber-Arm: Applies to Climbing and Fighting skills (the later of which makes the Full Defense combat option a bit more attractive than normal). You may roll and add your Cyber Die to the damage total of your unarmed attacks. Since a large amount of your flesh has been replaced with metal, you may use it on your Soak rolls, too.
  • Cyber-Senses: Applies to Notice and Tracking skills. Can also be used to resist Smarts and Agility tricks. The GM may allow you to use it to resist social rolls when someone is lying to you, as the improved senses will pick up their tells better.
  • Neural Ware: Applies to Agility rolls (but not to skills). Applies to Spirit rolls made to recover from being Shaken. Can be used on Shooting rolls on any smartgun you plug into.
  • Cosmetic Enhancements: Applies to Image rolls, and to any roll where your Charisma Modifier could be applied. If you're gaming with a silly group that rolls to find out how good the sex was, this would certainly apply.
  • Synthetic Organs: Applies to Vigor rolls to resist Diseases, Poisons, Fatigue, and environmental effects. Also applies to Soak rolls, and rolls to recover from being incapacitated.
Starting Cyberware:
The default assumption is that PCs begin with one of the above categories of Cyberware, and a Cyber Die of d6. A cash-poor campaign about characters struggling to survive in the gutters (like the old MOC game) might restrict them to a d4. A campaign about more afluent characters at the tops of their careers would still start with a d6, but PCs would get more than one category of cyberware at the start of the campaign.

Increasing Cyberware:
For game balance reasons, additional cyberware is increased by Rank, not money. Once per Rank, a PC may spend an Advancement to either increase the size of their Cyber Die, or to pick up an additional category of cyberware. The Cyber Die represents not just the tech, but also how well you've acclimated and mastered the use of your enhancements.

Optional Money Rule:
Still only allow the Cyber Die to be increased by Rank/Advancement, but you could allow someone to buy the parts

Humanity Loss and Cyber Psychosis:
Willingly having parts of your body carved out and replaced with chrome and circuitry takes a psychological toll, making you cold, distant, and inhuman. Every time you improve or increase your Cyberware (except via minor Chrome, see below), you gain a permenant -1 penalty to your Charisma.

Installing Chrome:
You don't just want better eyes, you want better eyes with telescoping infrared vision. You don't just want a cyber-arm, you want one with a digital "kill counter" that ticks up every time you grease another scumbag. Part of the fun of having a Cybered character is the various options, gadgets and subsystems. For simplicity, we'll call all that good stuff "Chrome".
Chrome is primarily cosmetic and minor. Chrome almost never gives mechanical benefit (if you want your cyberware option to give some extra benefit, take an Edge to represent that boost), but they can give narrative/flavor benefits, similar to the way players can decide on the Trappings of their PC's Powers. If the narrative benefit seems too potent, the GM can deny a particular bit of Chrome, or choose to allow it only if the PC takes an additional -1 penalty to Charisma as a trade off or some other penalty to balance it.
Chrome is free, but you are restricted in how much you can have. At character creation, characters may choose two bits of Chrome. Every time they go up a rank, they may choose one more. Every time they increase or expand their Cyberware, they may choose another.

Chrome Examples:
Players are encouraged to make up their own Options, but here's some short lists to get the pumps primed for you...
  • Cyber-Legs: Spring legs. Telescoping legs. Talons. Built-in spike heels. Skatefeet. Hoverskirt. Cyberlegs that look human and normal.
  • Cyber-Arm: Digital kill display. Tool hands. Detachable fingers. Concealed weapons. Pneumatic Piston Arms. Telescoping arms. Joints that rotate nearly 360º . Four arms.
  • Cyber-Senses: Telescopic. Microscopic. UV. IR. Recording devices. Nasal filters. Eyes that change colors or display messages on the iris.
  • Neural Ware: Reflex boosters. Datachip sockets. Math processors. Smartgun link. Remote piloting. Built-in phone or modem. Music database.
  • Cosmetic Enhancements: Grooming nanites. Mood skin. Furry. Adjustable cup size. "Mr Stud" implant. Pheromones. Concealing your other Cyberware.
  • Synthetic Organs: Communicable antibodies. Ultra-efficient digestion. Perfect bladder control. Internal air bladder. The ability to mentally shut off circulation to wounded areas.
Further ideas for Chrome can be found in any Cyberpunk 2020 book.

The point isn't to have Chrome add extra powers. Instead, Chrome does two things:
It looks cool and is fun to narrate.
It explains why and how you get the benefit of rolling a Cyber Die.

Cyber Weapons and Cyber Armor:
Any armor or weapon can be installed as cyberware, and so can most bits of equipment. Doing so costs 10% more than the mundane equivalent. The benefit is you can't accidentally leave home without it, and you can't be disarmed.
There's two drawbacks:
  1. Each such built-in item inflicts a -1 Charisma penalty as it edges you deeper in Cyber Psychosis.
  2. It's pretty obvious. A cyberlimb can hide a weapon or two via Chrome, provide they aren't big anti-tank weapons. Cosmetic Enhancements can use Chrome to make armor look decorative, or hide a few small weapons or gadgets. Beyond that, if you're a walking tank, it's probably obvious to any cop, bouncer or booster that sees you.

In Summary:
Wow. I wrote a lot of words, but the overall concept is pretty simple and there's not much added to character creation. You get a Cyber Die and a couple of fluffy "Chrome" options. The Cyber Die can be improved (to a higher die, or to apply to more types of rolls) once per Rank. To "balance", you get -1 to your Charisma. You get another free bit of Chrome at each rank and each time you improve your Cyber Die. Have fun making up your own Chrome.

Monday, December 1, 2008

1 Hit = 1 Wound

One area of Savage Worlds has consistently bugged me: that being Damage. Here's why:
Most of the game is really fast and simple, and practically math-less. Unless a die explodes, you never do anything more complex than adding +1 or +2 . When a die does Ace, you can generally stop counting/adding somewhere around 8, as there's rarely any benefit to going above a single raise. 

Damage, however, breaks that rule/generalization. Getting a higher roll on damage means doing more wounds, which in turn means it's far harder for the enemy to soak the wound away.  Even if one wound was likely to kill them, you still are encouraged (by the system) to keep rolling and adding as high as you can to get an unsoakable total. Getting to 40+ on an open-ended 2d6 happens more often than you'd think, as it turns out, and takes forever to roll and count it out. 
From my first play of the system, I wanted to simplify that damage roll in some way, but I wasn't willing to do so till I had a some experience with Savage Worlds from the GM's seat.

Well, I've now run about 13 hours of it, all very combat-intensive (old-school D&D-esque dungeon romps), and I'm even more convinced that my initial instincts were correct. Damage rolls have some serious potential to bog the game down.

On top of that the spectre of the one-hit-kill looms pretty large. The owlbears and the dragon both came pretty close to doing just that to PCs in my most recent session, which would have sucked. (The PCs dropped one big badass NPC in a single hit as well, but that's rather less of a problem.) I want there to be danger and risk to the PCs. I'm okay with it being random. I just don't want it to happen in the first round of combat, or without warning, or as a result of a fluke die roll where the main character (a PC) gets killed by some two-bit extra. 

Some GMs would just fudge the dice - for me, with my Magic Tournament Judge background, and my Amber Diceless background, I don't see the point in ever lying about the dice. If I wanted something to be a foregone conclusion, I wouldn't roll. I roll all my dice in the open, unless I'm rolling for something the player shouldn't know - like, say, the results of a "Detect Lie" spell.

So, I've come up with a really simple house rule to solve what bugs me. Here it is:
Any single attack can only do 1 wound to any single foe. 
Only exceptionally deadly forces can break this rule. Exceptions would include Heavy Weapons, such as Rocket Launchers, and Powers intended to represent really big and dramatic earth-shattering magics, and really nasty traps in the second-to-last-room of the dungeon. Your typical Bolt or Blast won't do more than 1 point, nor will the swing of a mundane sword by the beefiest hero or villain. The GM has the final say on what can circumvent this rule.
I think that's sufficiently elegant and easy to remember. Obviously, it's only meant for fairly cinematic campaigns, as it lacks gritty realism. It does, however, have many benefits for campaigns concerned with story and character:
  1. This greatly speeds up the damage process, as the GM can tell the player the target's Toughness, and once you hit 4 more than that number, there's no need to keep counting. Less math = faster combat = more excitement.
  2. It also makes it very clear when a PC is really in danger of dying. Players can act bravely and heroic, at least at the start of fights, with no fear of character death. You'll have lots of warning before getting greased, unless the GM throws something special at you (like the nastiest of Grimtooth's Traps, or a rocket launcher ambush, or the fight with a dragon that starts with a breathweapon inferno), which he should do only when dramatically appropriate. 
  3. Lastly, it empowers the GM to have a finer degree of control over the length of encounters and the challenge they provide. In addition to the current distinction of Extra vs Wild Card, you could add in Henchmen (ala 7th Sea) that can take one wound just fine (well, a -1 penalty like a Wild Card would get) but are incapacitated by the second wound. Likewise, you could make a boss extra tough by  giving him 4 or 5 wounds instead of 3. 
Of course, it's not without some measure of troubles. Soaking wounds would become much easier, and that may have subtle ripple effects I haven't foreseen. I'm considering this corollary rule to keep that in check:
Possible corollary to "the 1 wound rule":
Soaking wounds is now a bit harder. Instead of soaking the first wound with a roll a simple success, and an extra wound for every raise, soak rolls would have a difficulty of 8. 
I might also consider a Legendary Edge (with Trademark Weapon and No Mercy as prerequisites) that would let you break this houserule with your Trademark Weapon. Spellcasting could get an Edge that mirrors that, or just have one or two "high level" spells/powers that count as heavy weapons. I haven't made the big decision on how (or if) to deal with it at the higher ranks, as so far I've run only Novice-rank games. 

Common gaming logic would be to give "higher level" characters access to more potent weaponry - but at the same time, it feels like high level fights need the "no one-hit kills" policy more than the low level conflicts. You certainly don't want you all-powerful wizard or two-fisted-pulp-hero to go down in one hit, after all. I'll try the rule out first for a few sessions before deciding whether or not to make it circumventable at the high levels. I imagine the call on that will have a lot to do with just how cinematic the campaign is. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Run Away! (RPing in non-RPG games, and other fun from yesterday)

Gwen and Andy invited us (and many others) over for gaming yestay, and we had a ton of fun. I came in distant second in a 4-player game of Settlers. I was inundated by siege engines and betrayed by victorious traitors in Shadows. 4 games of "Time's Up!" was enough to melt my brain (Idi Amin, Joseph Stalin, Yuri Andropov, Margaret Thatcher and Janet Reno walk into a bar - now differentiate between them via charades and sound effects). I died a lot at werewolf, but I also did a really good job in my first ever time as Seer, and was on the winning side in all but 2 of the 5 or 6 villages. It was like a one-day mini-GwenCon.

About the new Merlin's Company expansion for Shadows Over Camelot:
Somehow, our 8-player game ended up with 2 traitors, which stunned us all when they won. They may be part of what lead to my feeling the expansion made things much harder than normal. The travel cards trounced us, and that flighty Merlin abandoned the Excaliber quest just when we needed him most. Even without the 12th Seige Engine, we could have lost by black swords.

It was also hard parsing all the new character powers simultaneous to the new rules. Some (including mine) went underused. If I buy the expansion, and I probably will, I'll want to play 3 or 4 times with the old characters and the new rules before adding the new characters in. Or perhaps vice-versa.

One thing I didn't like about the new expansion: The Python quotes. If you're an Arthurian purist, this could ruffle your feathers.
To me, the best games of Shadows are when people play in-character, it's not only fun, it helps make the mystery and bluffing elements of the game work better. I'm really uncertain whether the Monty Python and the Holy Grail references on the new Travel cards would help or hinder that. Will it enhance the fun, or make it harder to stay in character? There was so much new to learn, that we didn't get much in-character anyway, so it had no real impact. Long-term, though, I expect it's a mistake to have gone there. Time will tell.

About Werewolf: We used flavorful non-secret roles this time (in addition to the normal secret teams/roles), such as the Village Idiot, the Butcher, the Serving Wench, The Blacksmith (and his Apprentice), etc. These were just for flavor, to add RolePlaying to the game of mystery and mob-rule. Doing so favors the werewolves (because it becomes much harder for the Sherriff to keep the village on task), but man does it ever breathe new life into the game. On the drive home, Sarah agreed it was the most fun we've ever had playing Werewolf, and that's saying something.

2d4 Answers

About a month ago, I posted about d4s. In that post, I mentioned two questions I intended to ask Andy Collins next time I saw him*. Last night, he answered my questions for me. What follows is a very rough-paraphrase of his answers, please don't take these as word-for-word quotes. None of this is official, either, it's just stuff he said as a friend and fellow gamer, not in any Wizards capacity.

My two questions were:
  1. What's with the 2d4 weapons in 4th Ed? There's 4 mundane weapons that roll two dice in 4th Ed, and they have precious little in common. Greatclub, Falchion, Glaive, and Spiked Chain all roll 2d4. Heavy Flail and Maul do 2d6. Everything else has a flat damage probability, but those 6 weapons have a curve. It's been bugging me, no doubt because I hate d4s.

  2. Does Wizards own this patent? If so, why not make that style of d4?

Apparently, the 2d4 weapons are an artifact from an earlier draft, and now devoid of the meaning they once had. At one point in development, all 2-handed weapons rolled 2 dice for damage (and all one-handed weapons rolled one die). That was a fairly fun and flavorful idea, but the many 2d8 weapons at the top of the scale proved broken in playtesting. So, everything had to be scaled back. The 2d8s probably became 2d6s or 1d12s, which meant the existing 2d6s became 1d10s and 1d12s. The 2d4s at the bottom of the two-handed scale were largely left untouched. Roughly. The phrase "I think" was inserted generously into his answer, and this was far from priviledged information or a prepared interview. Purely off the top of his head.

I share it because I think it illustrates a point about game development. The 2d4s made perfect sense in the original context, but now that the "2 hands = 2 dice" concept had been abandoned, they stand out as just a touch odd. The next time I'm ranting about some game mechanic I don't like, I'd do well to look for the greater context that might facilitate understanding of how and why that mechanic came to be.

As to the other question, well, it took some effort to explain which version of d4 I was talking about. Not a regular platonic solid that rolls so poorly, nor the d6 with pyramids on two ends that only rolls one way, nor the four-sided curved surface football-shaped one that also only rolls one direction, nor the d8 numbered twice which could lead to accidental rolls of the wrong die... Eventually, we were both talking of the correct top-reading isoceles d4 shape. Apparently they'd been used for Magic Items in Dragon Dice, which was news to me.

Andy's recollection was that the very acute angles resulted in a die that had very little plastic (or, more importantly, weight). As a result, they don't actually roll as well as you'd hope. In order to make ones with the right heft to roll better, you'd have to make them larger than the other dice, and then the size would make them awkward. Again, with a lot of "I think" and "if I recall correctly" punctuating the very informal discussion. Off the top of his head, he didn't know (or didn't comment on) the legal status of the patent that was filed by TSR.

*sigh* I guess I'll just have to suck up my hatred of traditional d4s, 'cause they ain't likely to be replaced anytime soon. Ultimately, why go to the trouble (and expense) of using a new/abnormal die mold if it's not going to dramatically improve the die-rolling experience? I don't want to put words in Andy's mouth - he didn't actually say those sentences, it was just the impression I walked away from the conversation with. The statements above were a very rough-paraphrase of his answers, please don't take them as word-for-word quotes. Again, none of this is official, it's just stuff he said as a friend and fellow gamer, not in any Wizards capacity. I certainly never thought to ask "can I quote you on that?"

But man would I ever love to see d4's culled from the herd.

*: Andy is a friend of mine, but the friendship is not so tight that I can just randomly call him up out of the blue and ask about dice mechanics in D&D. Maybe he'd be okay with it, he does love gaming afterall, but I'd feel like I was taking advantage of him and/or our friendship.
I also could have asked Gwen Kestral, his wife. My rapport with her is at least as strong, but I'm not sure at what point in 4th Ed development she left Wizards. The 2d4 weapons decision might have been after her departure. I'd hate for anyone to wrongly conclude that I went to Andy for gender-discriminatory reasons.
Part of it was the timing issue, and part of it was that I've actually connected more with Gwen, and wanted an excuse to just "chew the fat" with Andy. I wanted the question to come up organically. That didn't happen, but I was at his house for what I expect to be the last time until January, so I just decided to risk rudeness and ask about (his) work rather than wait another month and a half (or more) for the answers. The resulting conversation was fun and enlightening.
Besides, Andy and I were both sitting around dead duing werewolf, repeatedly, so I had my chance(s) to ask.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The big undead-off

Warning: I don't usually "work blue" on this blog, but this post has some adult content. It's pretty minor, but I didn't want to shock anyone.

In the 3 different RPGs I've played in the last 7 days, all of which were great fun, I have one particular scene that I'm proud of.

It was a Risus game, and I was playing a Vampire. The main villain was a Liche/ Necromancer. We had this big battle at the end, where I guess I shamefully stole the spotlight, but everyone got a kick out of it. We were out-undeading each other, not so much fighting as having an undead-off. (The other PCs were trailing behind and either fighting minions or just watching the show.)

Our actions back and forth involved all sorts of tropes from various films: gliding weightlessly, vamping menacingly, raising the dead, having our shadows wrestle while we just locked eyes, etc, all the while with massive velvet cloaks unfurling behind us and blowing in the wind. Since it was Risus,we didn't have to make real attacks. "Damage" isn't neccesarily flesh and blood, it can be anything demoralizing or penalizing.

It came 'round to my action in the back-and-forth, and I realized this could be the killing blow. So I pulled out all the stops:
"For my final act of contempt, to show how vastly superior my undead mojo is to his, I turn my back on him dismissively. On cue, my three vampiric brides, previously unmentioned, slink forth from shadows that concealed them and proceed to fellate me. Take that!"
I got applause not only from my table, but also from the NaNoWriMo group that was sharing the cafe with us.

Unfortunately, I completely blew my roll - nothing but a handfull of "1's" on the dice. The GM laughed and said:
"What you described happens, but your taste in women leaves much to be desired. Three pathetic, scraggly-haired, disease-ridden, ugly hobgoblin vampires attend you and your member."

That was probably the best laugh of the year, even better than "Can I roll to make Sarah Palin rub my belly?"

Not technically Space 1889

Since the theme of the Emerald City Game Fest was Steampunk, both games I played in were set in 1889.

The second of those games was actually in the setting of "Space 1889", the seminal Steampunk RPG. It did not, however, use Space 1889's mechanics, which, I'm told are a little clunky for a one-shot. Instead, he used a system called "Science vs Savagery". At first, I thought it was homebrewed, but half way through I realized it was derived from some of Ed Texiera's "2 Hour Wargames". In other words, it was a rules-light skirmish miniatures system, shoehorned into being an RPG. That said, it was a brilliant move by the GM (whose name escapes me, sorry), as it made for fast combat and simple character sheets.

Brief complaints: PCs were a little fragile, and we got knocked out fairly often. The "taking fire" reaction chart favored the target a bit too much. We kept getting charged by the winged monkees we tried to shoot - I would have been happier with them (and us) ducking for cover more often.

On the other hand, since his plot hinged on us barely escaping alive, and having to sneak and fight our way back, it worked out okay. He threw overwhelming force at us in the first fight, and faded to black once we'd all been KO'd. We woke up "left for dead" in the desert, with our airship moored to the badguys castle. Survive the desert, find the back entrance to the mesa, disrupt the villains plans to unite feuding factions of barbarians to overthrow Brittain, steal our airship back, sabotage or steal Blavatsky's invisible airship, and escape. All in a days work.

He also did a great job with his NPCs. Specifically, Professor Blavatsky! (which needs the exclamation mark to catch the character) will be with me for a while. I'm chuckling as I write that. Superb, very memorable.

I must say, I really took to the Space 1889 setting. Thomas Edison built a steam-powered airship and flew to mars, and the various colonial powers followed. Mars has some antigravity trees ("liftwood"), and there's apparently atmosphere in space, so you can literally sail from planet to planet. Liftwood airships are fun, adding the 3rd dimension to old-school naval battles is neat.

Like 7th Sea, it does a good job of blending familiar history with the mystery of supernatural/unexpected. The three martian cultures seem flavorful. As presented in the one-shot, the Canal Martians were roughly analogous to colonial India, the Hill Martians had Zulu and Native American influences, and the High Martians were Flying Monkees. Now, I suppose that could be interpreted as racism, but I'm confident it's not intended as such. I think the point is really to give you a hook on which to hang your concept of the various Martian types, so instead of being random anonymous aliens, they have a cultural niche. You get a starting point, but no smart-alec history buff (or armchair anthropologist) will be able to tell the GM how to run his game. That's my take on it, anyway. (It may also be that the Martians were grossly oversimplified for the sake of a 4-hour time block, I don't know.)

I ended up playing a largely forgettable character, which I now regret. I'd played a flamboyant noble dandy earlier in the day, and so wanted to try something else. I knew I was going to be a Native American warrior in the game I thought I'd be playing this week (going to a free movie instead, it turns out), so I passed on the opportunity to play a Hill Martian scout. I ended up as an airship crewman with a dodgy past, and I never really found the character. I had lots of fun, but I don't feel I contributed much to other peoples fun (unlike the InSpectres game, where I was on fire), which is regretable. I tend to over analyze and self-depricate, so I probably wasn't as dissapointing as I imagined. Still, I could do better, and did so earlier in the day.

InSpectres 1889

Each year Emerald City Game Festhas a theme. You get extra raffle tickets for running a game that fitthat theme, and I think there might be other incentives that I'm justnot remembering. This year it was "Steampunk". About a third to a halfof the games in the program were in-theme, as were both of the games I played in.

The first one I played in was Saint George's Arms. It was an InSpectres game, run by Sophie Lagace.I'd played InSpectres recently, with mixed results. That game had fallen flat, but that was largely the players fault, and seemed like the sort of thing we'd not have trouble with on our second outing, so I was tentatively excited to give it another go. We'd gamed with Sophie before, 3 or 4 times before she moved to California. It was pretty cool that she and Edmund drove back up here for the free con they'd helped create, and we were glad to see them.

Standard InSpectres is basically Ghostbusters. This was Ghostbusters in 1889, so we could do some steampunk. We ended up with minimal steampunkishness, but had a blast anyway. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was found dead in his home, with possible occult causes, and so the Queen's own ghostbusters were called in to investigate. Sophie did a good job of creating an opening situation that was easy to grok (some sort of pixies or faeries had killed him) and riff off of. We lampooned the era, the spoiled gentry, the notion that England was the pinnacle of civilization and everyone else "savages". Lots of good tongue-in-cheekiness, and some zulu pixies.

InSpectres GMs get to sit back a lot, providing minimal structure and letting the players chew the scenery. Sophie did a good job of this, nudging us to new scenes when the plot slowed, calling for die rolls when needed, etc. Her administrative skills were showcased well. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I mean it sincerely. If the InSpectres GM assumes all the work will be done for them, the game can bog down in a morass of meaningless meandering subscenes or zip to premature conclusion due to a string of good rolls that should never have advanced the plot. For a game that is so player-driven, it actually takes a good GM to keep it rolling, and Sophie was definitely up to the task.

I played a flamboyant bit of puffery named Reginald Carter Fizzlebottom, Esquire, 58th in line to the throne. He was a talented athlete, a royal scholar, a foppish dandy, and a womanizing rake. Very fun. I'm a little worried that I've given Sophie a poor impression of me, though, as my two most recent characters in games she was present for included this windbag womanizer and a vampire with a host of undead brides. Oh, well...

As is the case with InSpectres, things can get a bit whacky. Our pixies ended up being zulu-pygmy-pixies. They had glowing teeth that left glowing bite marks. They had tiny blowguns with poison darts, but you had to get hit by several of the tiny darts to get an effective dose. Taking photos of them stole their souls. Killing them by traditional means would actually make them regenerate into bigger, nastier bodies. The sounds that we thought were zulu drums instead turned out to be dozens of pixies beating eachother to death to inspire their own metamorphosis into combat-form-super-pixies.

I'm now sold on InSpectres. I ordered a copy from my friendly local game story (Gary's Games), which should show up in a week or two. I'm even more excited for the third session of the game, since we have yet to really make use of the Reality TV narrative structure the game assumes, or the campaign rules, and I think both will boost the game to a higher level. As with Wushu, InSpectres is a game that needs a good group to make it fly, but if you've got good players it's an awesome little pick-up game. Check it out.

Emerald City Game Fest rocks!

Last Saturday, I went to the Emerald City Game Fest. It's a free, one-day gaming convention. It was lots of fun. I wish it were longer, however. I'm pretty sure they only had the space (the Northgate Community Center) for 9 hours, including 8 of gaming and an hour of set up / break down, so things were a bit rushed. Still, for a free event, it was pretty awesome.

ECGF had board games, miniatures games, RPGs - the whole gamut. The only aspects of gaming they noticably lacked were computer games and hardcore CCGs. There were a couple of vendor tables, but due to the tight timing, I didn't get to visit them. If they'd scheduled an hour-long lunch break between events, I think the gamers and vendors would be serviced better. I'll mention it next time I see the group (I know 5 of the organizers of the event, and game with 3 of them nearly every week), since it may help make their sponsors happy.

Those minor complaints about time aside, I got far more than my money's worth out of the free con. I played in two RPGs, about which I'll post more in a couple minutes. I also won two prizes in the free raffle drawings. One drawing was for a pick from the table of swag - which included a Cyberpunk 2020 book we didn't already own (Corp Book 3). The other drawing was for two tickets to a sneak preview of The Transporter 3, which we'll be seeing tonight.

Other minor swag included neat grenade stickers for some upcoming Punisher sequel (too bad they're bigger than blank white cards) and flyers for gamestores and cons I'd never heard of. This town has more cons and gaming opportunities than any other city I've ever lived in.

The big table of swag had a copy of the book I wrote part of, so I signed it for them. I felt famous again, but just for 15 seconds this time. :)

What's this gray line doing here?

There's this weird vertical line running in the midst of my words on this blog. It wasn't there when I was using my old computer. Since my hard drive fried I've been using an old machine with a really old browser.

When I first noticed the line, I thought it was just that this ancient platform was misinterpreting the HTML. No big deal, I thought, since it misinterprets everything - can't figure out frames or div or java or anything involving video. This machine can barely handle posting to this blog, so I doubt it'll go well if I use it to fiddle with bloggers layout editor.

Besides, with my novel-writing (I'm at 47,010 words, btw), I haven't had much time for this place. Out of sight, out of mind.

But yesterday, I happened to need to reference something I knew I had linked to here. Sarah's computer was running, but she wasn't teleworking at that moment, so I grabbed it for a sec. I get here, and see the ugly gray line running down my text column. I haven't edited the layout here in a good 6 months. Has it been there the whole time, and my mac laptop just didn't display it? If so, I apologize. Next chance I get to steal Sarah's computer for an hour so I can hunt for the offending code, I will.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Feast and Fest

Nearly every week, I go to the Wayward Coffeehouse on Thursday Nights and play in the Emerald City Game Feast. It's a group that plays one-shots and short-shots, trying out lots of different systems. In the past 4 months we've done Risus, Wushu, InSpectres, Og, several varieties of Savage Worlds, some weird homebrewed Cthulhu/DeltaGreen variant called the B3 System, and recently made characters to use for Godlike next week. The experience varies a great deal from week to week, but I'm really glad to have joined the group.

This weekend is the Emerald City Game Fest. Note the lack of an "a". It's a once-yearly free gaming convention, affiliated with the Feast group. It's pretty laid back compared to most Cons, so despite it being tomorrow, I don't know what I'll be playing in. There's card, board, miniatures, and role-playing events on the schedule. I'll probably be playing RPGs, since I wrapped up my scion game, I'm now RPG-deprived. (A single one-shot every week isn't enough! I need to GM again soon. Need my fix, man. In fact, I'm going to haul with my Og stuff, just in case I have trouble fitting in the existing games and need to GM. It's unlikely that'll be neccesary, though, as the site shows me there's around 40 events on the schedule. Still a good scout is always prepared - or something.)

Simple Systems Are The Best

Last night, I played Risus.
  • Of the rules-light RPGs I've played lately, Wushu is still my favorite. Wushu, however, is very much a "Hippy Game" - it's got an unconventional structure, that takes some getting used to. It's very easy for a new player (or GM) to miss the point of Wushu and fail to make it deliver to it's full potential. If I was GMing for a new group of random players I'd never gamed with, I'd run Risus over Wushu. Both have about the same potential for abuse by a player who defines excessively-broad attributes, but Wushu adds to that the potential to fall flat if the players are timid, since the GM does less in Wushu than in most RPGs, and the players have all the power.

That said, Risus, too, is not without it's problems. At it's core, Risus is a game with a terribly broken fundamental flaw. Yet despite that glaring problem, both times I've played it, I've really enjoyed Risus. The rest of the rules are so simple, that both GMs were able to compensate for the flaw and keep it from mattering. There were no ripple effects to account for when you altered one of the games handful of rules / paradigms.

The primary mechanic (and source of the flaw) is that each player has a small number of attributes/skills (known as "Cliches") numbered from 1 to 4. Whenever you take an action, you roll d6s equal to your relavent cliche and add them together. Where this breaks down is how it relates to damage. Each point of damage (you get one each time you're hit, or each time you fail a roll) reduces one of your Cliches by one die. As you can imagine, this leads to a quick and nasty spiral of death. I get one bad roll and mydie pool drops by one. Which makes it more likely I'll have another badroll. One unlucky roll means you're going to lose the entire fight,unless your foe rolls even worse (despite now being a die up on you) twice. Once you hit zero dice in any Cliche, you're incapacitated.

The two GMs I've played under have both managed to entirely sidestep this fatal flaw.
  1. Honestly,I don't recall how Jeremy dodged it, probably because the game he ran was 2 to 3 years ago. If forced to guess, I'd say it was via a house-rule that changed how damage worked. I remember him discussing the flaw before the game started, so he was aware of it, and probably had a work-around.

  2. Last night, Malachi got around it by providing healing potions at various points during the game. This felt pretty forced, he was obviously pulling our fat out of the fryer. Not that we complained. Still, it didn't feel balanced or natural, and therefore eroded his verisimilitude.

  3. Solving it via the age-old tradition of fudging the dice is unlikely to work. There's 99% transparency on the monster stats. Die pool equals one stat minus damage, so if you see the GMs roll just once (not even the result, just the number of dice rolled) you can conclude the monster's strength, hit points, and capabilities. Therefore, it's fairly hard for a GM to fudge things without the players noticing he'd just thrown them a bone.

The secret to why I've enjoyed Risus is that it's so incredibly freeform. The system lends itself to light-hearted goofiness, and both one-shots started out ostensibly serious but quickly developed unique quirkiness. This can be directly attributed to the Cliche system.
Cliches can be:
  • traditional ("Ranger" or "Smart"),

  • over the top ("Blood-Sucking Vampiric Fiend"),

  • damn-near useless ("Philosophy Major"),

  • a wee bit odd ("I know I've got one of those around here"),

  • or truly bizarre ("Oh, dear God no, don't tell me I'm actually a Unicorn").

Description is just that - flavor text only. Yes, "Hollywood Vampire" allows forsome cinematic effects that are harder to justify from "PhilosophyMajor", but mechanically it's no better. Nothing really stops you from doing damage with "Philosophy Major" as long as you think quick and describe how your actions make the enemy doubt themselves. One or two bad die rolls while turning into a Bat, and your vampire stops being so fanciful and cinematic.

That said, there's a definite advantage to having just a couple of broadly-defined Cliches, and rating them as highly as you can. Standard character creation involves spending 10 dice, and you can't take anything above a 4. Three stats at 4/4/2 respectively seems pretty darned optimal, though I could see a case for a 4/3/3 build if you didn't have two Cliches you felt were likely to cover everything you'd want the character to do. That said, PCs with just three defining characteristics/concepts tend to besomewhat flat.

One or two of the 6 PCs last night were built differently than those two models, and it was noticable. The player with 3/3/2/2 had trouble being useful - she could do a lot of very different things, but none of them very well. Further, a 3-Cliche PC could fail 7 rolls and still be on their feet (though reduced to one very vulnerable die in everything), where as the 4-Cliche PC is in that dire strait after just 6 failed rolls. Luckily it was a one-shot, since being the unintended sidekick would suck heavily after the second or third session.

I'd recommend Risus for one-shots and short-shots, especially if you don't mind the game getting a little goofy. However, you'll need to be prepared to handle the out-of-control PC-death-spiral, and you'll want to keep an eye open for PCs that are spread too thin at character creation. Still, Risus is free, so you expect it to be a little rough around the edges.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Godlike isn't.

Tonight we made characters for the Godlike RPG. The concept is "Superheroes in WWII", which sounded kinda cool. Mechanics use the One Roll Engine (or One RollSystem?)... I was not impressed with that system at all.

  • Attributes are too restrictive. You get 6 attributes, each of which is rated from 1-5. They all start as 1s, then you split 6 extra points. So, you could have all 2s. If you want above average in anything, it means below averagein something else. Human maximum is a 5, but to get human max inanything requires human minimum in 3 other attributes - half of allendeavors.

  • Skills are limited by Attributes. You can't have a higherskill rating than the attribute it's linked to. So, for thoseattributes you have at 1, you can't get more than the lst level ofskill. There's lots of things for which you'll only roll 1 or 2 dice.

  • Success is measured in pairs. If you're rolling 1 die (lowest attribute, and noskill) you always fail. I can live with that, but it's not ideal. Ifyou've got the skill, you can succeed, but if your rolling just twodice, your chance of success is 10%. Backing up slightly, the PC with a5 in some stat, has no better than a 10% chance of success in half ofeverything he might be called upon to do. Yuck. And trust me, the 7 or8 dice he'll be rolling in his area of expertise isn't going make upfor that.

  • You get 20 levels of skills. 4 dice (2 levels of skill ona human average attribute) grants roughly a 50% success rate. 50% on 10skills out of 30+. Don't expect to succeed much. I rolled 4 and 5 dicerepeatedly in our opening scene, and never succeeded at anything.

  • There's a "Commando package" of skills you can get if you're character's been through training. It gives you 1 die in 19 skills, so it nearly doubles the skills any non-commando character has. Yet, since they're just 1 die, you'll probably still fail a lot. The package gives you a broad base of incompetence.

  • Most of those Commando skills aren't on the skill list. Since you can make up your own skills to augment the list of 30 or 40 basic skills, at first this seems like it's not a problem. The issues crop up when trying to figure out what Attributes the skills are based on, since that effects your die pool and limits how many dice you put into it. Is Knife-Fighting a Body or Coordination skill? Is Mortar based on Coordination or Brains? How about Demolitions? The book offered no help there.

  • The power system is very flexible, and definitely the selling point of the game. However, a single very basic "classic" superhero power can easily run more than 20 of your 25 points. Even then, many tricks are unattainable - the example of how the "Immunity" power functions would require having 64 points invested in the power, and even if you spent 256% of the starting character's power budget, you'd still be vulnerable to rifle shots. For freakin' superheroes?

  • Seems like making a character who isn't an extremely narrow one-trick-pony would be impossible. If your one trick isn't offensive, don't expect to ever hit a villain with your mundane stats and skills. If your trick is offensive, you'll probably score lethal headshots with every use. For anything more than a one-shot, that's pretty undesirable.

This system seems stupidly broken. A typical "mundane mortal" rarely ever succeeds at anything. We're not talking about abnormally difficult tasks - the minimal threshold for success is one pair. It's hard to sustain disbelief when grenades are duds 90% of the time.

It's called "Godlike" but your characters will feel anything but.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Not as much fun as I thought.

Much to my surprise, I was unimpressed with InSpectres (Sarah, however, enjoyed it, so I will with-hold serious judgment till giving it a second try). The GM also didn't seem pleased with the way it played out. He'd diverted fairly far from the default structure of the game, and I think that hurt it. Since 3 of his 5 players had no experience with the game, it may have been better to try it straight-up and without alteration. There was also an unexpected amount of rules-lawyering going on. It was surprising and weird to see that happen in a game that's so rules-light.

More than anything, I think what doomed it was two early uses of the word "supposedly". Several of us (me included) kept making "supposedly haunted" equate to scooby-doo-ish "turns out it wasn't a ghost afterall". That undermined our fun. Wish I didn't deserve any of the responsibility for that, but I do. I was trying to play sort of a "Doubting Thomas" style of character, who'd be skeptical early on, then eventually become a believer. I gave one thing a mundane "we were wrong"explanation, and everyone else followed suit thereafter. Such a shame.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

InSpectres tonight

Tonight at Wayward, I'll be playing in an InSpectres one-shot. A week ago I knew nothing (or next to) about this game. Today, I'm really excited and jazzed to be playing it. It's Ghostbusters meets Ghosthunters. You're a small company of paranormal investigators battling ghosts/vampires/zombies/cthulhu/urbanlegends/etc, and the RPG is structured like a Reality TV show, with side-scenes and non-linear story elements. The rules are uberlight, and a good roll doesn't determine success: it determines narration rights. Lets say you go to the library to research the occult danger you're investigating. Instead of rolling high and getting info from the GM (or rolling low and hitting a dead-end) you're rolling to find out whether you or the GM will decide what info you'll get. Win that roll, and you're free to say the villains are Cthuhlu worshipers with ties to the military - it's retroactively the truth, even if the GM was planning to have the villains be masonic werewolves. To run InSpectres right, a GM needs to be freewheeling and egoless. I think we're in for a treat tonight.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Silent November

Just a reminder: Don't expect much to be posted here in November. It's NaNoWriMo, and I've got a novel to scribe.

Amber +/-2

I also admire Amber more thanks to that observation.

Amber had 4 attributes. It has 7 powers. They're very clear that the vast majority of your points should go into the 4 attributes and 1 or 2 powers. Erick Wujcik was also quite up-front that Pattern costs 50 points but is a bargain. He encourages you to buy Pattern, because it's such a sweet deal, and that encouragement has saved the bacon of many a new player on more than one occasion.

Unfortunately, he also claims "Psyche is the most important attribute," then says the same about Strength, Endurance, and Warfare. That makes players not want to trust his advice (and the GM's advice, since we typically use that same line on the players).

Better character creation for Amber would happen if you invert the order. Tell the players to pick (and commit to) one or two powers before the attribute auction. Do it secretly, so no one benefits from knowing how many points others have left. Adjust point totals, then auction as normal. If you have points left over, then we haul out artifacts, worlds, and followers/creatures. If not, don't sweat it.

Still, it's hard to find a more brain-friendly character creation system than the one from the Amber DRPG.

Scion +/-2

Thinking about my latest post, I find I admire Mark Rein-Hagen just a bit more, and the work of the 15 or so authors of White Wolf's more recent Scion line that much less.

  • Mark designed Vampire: The Masquerade. In that first edition, he said there were 13 tribes of vampires, but only let PCs choose from between 7 of them. It was relatively easy to store the archetypes of 7 vampiric tribes in your mind. Easier than 13, anyway.
  • In the game he had 9 attributes, and seemed to know that might be pushing the envelope of some people's memory. So, rather than giving you points to split 9 ways, he instead had you first rank Physical vs Social vs Mental. You'd make that 3-way decision, then move on to subsets of 3-way decisions to make it all easier to handle. Smart move, that.
  • Likewise, instead of 30 skills, you had Skills, Abilities, and Talents, IIRC. You'd prioritize those 3 groups based on your concept of the characters professional or educational background. Then, within each group you'd get some number of points. This wasn't quite as fluid as the Attributes, but it was worthy effort, at least.

But then compare that to Scion:

  • 6 pantheons to choose from in the main book. That's not too bad.
  • But each pantheon has a dozen Gods statted out, and you have to choose one to be your parent. Luckily, you've got mythology to draw upon, it's not clans or characters you've never heard of. You probably already have one or two favorites from mythology.
  • For attributes, they kept the Phy/Soc/Men distinction, and it's subchoices. Good for them. But for skills, they just made one big list of 25 or 30 skills, many of which are further subdivided into specialties. Luckily, skill dice become irrelevant fairly quickly, so poor choices at this stage won't hurt you much.
  • Then you get 10 dots to split between Epics and Boons, combined. Here's where the problems set in.... There's 9 Epics (available at 1-3 dots each, and 15 knacks to choose from for each Epic), and 50+ boons (3 boons each in 16 standard purviews, +3 special purviews that use levels, one of which also has spells which adds another half-dozen choices at least) to choose from if you're making a Hero-level PC. Your divine parent gives you an xp break on half a dozen of those, but it's not such a break that it makes you stay purely "within type" - you can take any boon you want, and most PCs will dip outside the parently purviews.
  • By mid-campaign, you've 200 to 400 things you could be spending your XP on, and it's downright overwhelming.
That last point pisses me off. Faced with a landslide of possible expenditures, the players who are playing for fun, or to portray a character or tell a story just don't work at figuring out the puzzle. They grab whatever strikes their fancy, 'cause they don't want to spend time trying to balance out everything. Meanwhile, the munchkins who are playing to stroke their own egos find it worth their time to analyze and dissect between games. So the very people you don't trust with the most powerful characters end up with characters that are more powerful than everyone else. If you simplify things, and are up-front about the best choices in character design, you end up with minimal power gap between the players you trust and the players you want to throttle.

7 +/- 2; no more than 3x if it's magical

Here's a link to a cool blogpost at Delta's D&D Hotspot about the limitations to how our minds process information, and how those limits should be applied to RPGs. It's good advice, and I plan on heeding it in my own future designs. In a nutshell...
  • The human mind can evaluate (and store in short term memory) between 5 and 9 parcels of information at a time. More than that leads to analysis paralysis (or just forgetting things).
  • Therefore, no single step in character creation should include a choice between more than 5-9 alternatives.
  • Likewise, no single die roll should ever have more than 5-9 modifiers.
  • The more complicated the parcels, the fewer you can handle, and the exact limit varies a bit from person to person. So, to handle the lowest common denominator effect, you should really read "5-9" as "5, maybe 6 if it's fairly simple".
  • Another, largely unrelated property of the human mind is that we tend to think of things as: one-time unique event, two-time coincidence, and three-times means there's a pattern.
  • As a result, things that you want to feel exceptional or magical shouldn't happen more than twice in any single game session. If you can cast that spell 4 times per session, it no longer feels special.
  • An exception would be things that happen 3 times, but with a long pause between the second and third iterations. Like a recurring joke in a movie, when the long-delay third riff occurs, you laugh heartily and say "I shoulda seen that coming!"
Okay, so that wasn't a nutshell - it was 7 nutshells, coming from 2 different nut-trees. But, as a result, it was still just short enough for you to grok the point. (Well, most of you, anyway)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Professional Edges for Savagepunk 2020

New Professional Edges for use with Savage Worlds games trying to emulate the feel of Cyberpunk 2020.

Badge (Professional Edge)
Requirements: Novice, Vigor d8+, Guts d8+,
You don’t just have police connections, you’re actually a part of the force. A character with this edge is a cop or a member of a licensed security service with the legal right to use deadly force. It functions like the Connections edge, but if you use these connections to commit a crime, the GM is free to make you the target of a nasty Internal Affairs investigation. In addition, you have a fancy badge you can waive around to make the riff-raff get into line. The authority and power invested in you by your law-enforcement credentials gives you a +2 bonus to rolls of Intimidate and Persuasion whenever the target of your rolls is afraid of being arrested.

Sway Audience (Professional Edge)
Requirements: Novice, Spirit d6+, Artistry d8+, a positive Charisma modifier
Your artwork has been known to move people to action. While performing (or via a gallery show or other large exhibition) you can sway the crowd to your way of thinking. With a successful die roll, you can affect larger than normal groups of people. A success on an Artistry roll can affect up to 20 people, a raise brings that up to 100 people. Each additional raise doubles the size of audience you can affect.
You can get people to sing along, inspire the crowd to feel a strong emotion, or even provoke them to riot. Getting more precisely controlled action requires not only an Artistry roll, but also a Persuasion roll. The lower of the two rolls determines the maximum number of people influenced, following the scale sited above.
In order to have this impact, you must have an audience. If no one can see or hear your art or message, it will fail to move them. This is not magic.

Jacked In (Professional Edge)
Requirements: Novice, Smarts d6+, Computer d8+, CyberEnhanced
You’ve undergone the necessary cybersurgery and neuroaugmentation to directly interface with computers. You have neural plugs and/or a short-range wireless interface. The upshot of this that you may give commands to computers via thought, rather than keyboard or mouse. You may interact with computers from several feet away, not needing to sit in front of a monitor, and you have an internal heads-up-display of any computer you’re interacting with. What’s more, your reaction speed is much faster than those archaic hardware systems would ever have allowed.
You may take one extra action every round without penalty, but only if that action involves giving a command to a computer or rolling your Computer skill. Therefore you can monitor two computer programs at once, or even search a database while dodging bullets.

Investigative Reporter (Professional Edge)
Requirements: Novice, Smarts d8+, Spirit d6+, Guts d8+, Image d6+, Artistry d4+
You’ve established your reputation as a hard-hitting reporter and champion of truth. Your regular column or special reports pull no punches in exposing corruption, incompetence, and evil amidst governments and corporations alike.
This gives you a +1 bonus on Persuasion, Intimidate, Streetwise and Taunt rolls. In order for the bonus to apply, you must be using the name that you publish under – you can’t be entirely anonymous and use your reputation at the same time. Should you make a public statement that is later proven false, you lose this benefit for about a month.
The other benefit of this Edge is that your editor or publisher has great confidence in you. You get a +2 bonus to any rolls you (or they) make to resist pressure to censor your work or pull you off of a case.

Savagepunk Roles

In Cyberpunk 2020, character Roles are really important. They’re thecharacter classes of CP2020, defining your likely initial skills, andyour special power.

Savage Worlds has nothing of the sort. Butit does have Professional Edges, which allows me to create abilitiessimilar to the Role powers of CP2020.

The primary roles (and their corresponding special skills) of CP2020 are:
  • Cop – Authority

  • Corporate – Resources

  • Fixer – Streetdeal

  • Media – Credibility

  • Med Techie – Medical Tech

  • Netrunner – Interface

  • Nomad – Family

  • Rocker – Charismatic Leadership

  • Solo – Combat Sense

  • Techie – Jury Rig

…andthen there’s some variants in sourcebooks. There’s a variety ofdifferent cultural groups (Spacers, Gangers, etc) that have renamedversions of the Family ability. One of the books had some Stripper orProstitute class with a special ability called Vamp.

Looking at that list, I don’t think I’ll have to make Professional Edges for all of them.
  • Mostwould be just variations on the Connections Edge. Family (and it’s manyderivatives), Resources, and Streetdeal could all be viewed as justConnections with flavorful trappings.
  • CP2020’s Jury Rig isclose enough to SW’s McGyver. Mr Fixit and Gadgeteer kinda catch thefeel as well, but are a bad match since CP2020 doesn’t really allowthings with the power and versatility of Savage Worlds’ ArcaneBackgrounds.
  • A Solo’s Combat Sense can be covered in Savage Worlds via Danger Sense or Level-Headed or Quick or some combination of those.

That does leave a few things for me to design before we can start the game…

3 Savagepunk Skills

A cyberpunk-influenced game of Savage Worlds needs a couple of extra skills that aren’t on the normal savage skill list. These are (as I see it) Artistry, Computer, and Image.

Artistry (Spirit)
This skill governs composition, innovation and style for endeavors of the performing and visual arts. Consider it a gauge of talent and design sense. It does not convey an understanding of art history or musical styles (those would fall under various Knowledge skills), nor does it grant flawless virtuoso performance or photorealistic renderings (either of which is probably best handled by an Agility roll should they ever prove necessary in game). What Artistry does determine is how compelling your style is, and whether or not people think you’re cool. A successful roll of Artistry means the audience likes you. A roll with a raise or two grants you the metaphorical 15 minutes of fame, possibly including glowing reviews, future gigs, lucrative contracts and/or being hounded by the paparazzi as the GM sees fit.

Computer (Smarts)
This skill governs your ability to use, program, optimize and hack computers. It’s what you roll to break into the enemy datafortress, speed up your own processor, search for hidden files in memory, wipe a drive, or install new software. You can also use this skill to size up a computer system by sight, guessing its likely capabilities. Internet searches typically use Investigation, as that skill governs your ability to piece together clues and follow leads. (If it’s a fairly simple fact-checking or database look-up, don’t even roll, just assume anyone with even d4 in Investigation, Computer or any relevant Knowledge can find it.)

Image (Spirit)
This skill is all about what you wear, how you wear it, and how you carry yourself. It’s how you fit in, and how you stand out. It serves as a measure of how well you control your personal image, and also governs your taste in clothing, the size of your wardrobe and the extent of your acting and personal grooming skills. A successful roll of Image can catch someone’s eye, or, if you’d rather, it can hide you in a crowd. Any attempts to disguise yourself use this skill, as well.
In addition, a successful roll of Image just prior to any scene allows you to adjust your wardrobe and perceived style to match (or impress) the group you expect to interact with in that scene. Make the roll as you arrive at the scene’s location, and specify the group/organization/culture your roll applies to. If you succeed on the Image roll, you gain a temporary +1 bonus to your Charisma when interacting with that group. This assumes you have at least a casual awareness of the group. If you’ve been lied to or mislead about their personality or nature, the bonus can’t be used. If you interact with any groups that are radically different from how you've dressed yourself, the bonus becomes a penalty. Dressing to fit in with the Fashion Yakuza won’t do you any good on Posergang turf, or vice versa.

Me Fix Og

Me play Og. Me like Og. Og fun. ...but it's not quite perfect. Of the 7 classes, 2 or 3 seem underpowered.
  • Problem: Banging Caveman's power is inferior. There's two cavemen who are designed to be more effective in combat: Banging and Strong. Out of every 6 attacks, Banging caveman averages 3 damage, Strong averages 4 (1 more). Against a critter with Evade or Armor 1, their damage is 2 from both of them. Against a critter with Evade 2, Banging caveman finally comes out ahead. But even then he's then only averaging 1 damage every 6 attacks. At best that makes for a really long boring battle (he'll forget how to attack once or twice before the fight is over), but it's more likely to result in Banging Caveman becoming Dead Caveman since dinosaurs and megafauna will do 4 to 20 times as much damage. Worse yet, anyone who takes the Throwing ability outperforms Banging Caveman.

    Solution: Improve Banging Caveman's attack rating to 3+ (the same value for hitting that one gets if they take the Throwing ability). He'll outperform Strong Caveman most of the time, but it's balanced a little by Strong Caveman's bonus to Lift rolls. Strong Caveman can also take the Throwing skill to do 2 damage at a range, making him again better than Banging caveman, but only if he devotes an ability choice to it. Banging caveman's real advantage then is he gets the good attack without spending a skill choice to do it. It's not a great advantage, nor terribly well balanced, but it's better than it was.

  • Problem: Grunting Caveman's power almost never works. Obviously, that's intentional - he's not a wizard, he's a proto-shaman. However, it's also "balanced" by the power only being attemptable once per scene. Scenes in Og aren't clearly defined - the PCs wander about largely randomly, and the GM improvises wildly. As a result, Grunting Caveman could fail the roll early in the game, and think he's not elidgible to Grunt again the rest of the night.

    Solution: Treat the roll for Grunting more like it's an unskilled action, but allow only two successful uses per session. That is, roll a d6 when you Grunt. On a 1 you get a disasterous result (ala double 1's in the default rules) or forget how, GM's choice. On a 2 through 4 the Grunt does nothing, but you can try again next turn. On a 5 or 6, the Grunting is a success and it saves your bacon. You can keep trying as often as you want, subject to the normal forgetting how rules, until you've had two successes. This makes it more readily usable, but still far from a sure thing, and a series of bad die rolls can leave you uselessly accomplishing nothing for 5 or 6 turns in a row.

  • Problem: Eloquent Caveman's bonus is kinda small, if you're using random word assignment (which is my preferred method - I have the PCs draw words out of a hat).

    Solution: Next time someone makes an Eloquent Caveman, I'll have them pull half their words out of the hat, and then decide on the other half.

    Alternate Solution: For an on-going campaign, this problem could be solved by just working into the plot a semi-friendly tribe that the Eloquent Caveman can trade words with. This is the intended balancing feature in the game, but considering the plot tends to be pretty random (and player-driven, or more likely feigned-stupidity-driven), it's hard to force it to happen in the game. A semi-friendly tribe becomes an enemy tribe with one bad roll or goofy moment. Still, if you plan for it, you can make Eloquent Caveman's advantages pay off.

Those solutions should get all the PC classes back into rough parity.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Contemplating Options

I'm working on a random chargen system for use with SavageWorlds campaign that is designed to capture the feel of Cyberpunk 2020.I wantthe system to be reminiscent of the Lifepath charts from CP2020.

However,insteadof charts, I want a shorter & more abstract system. I thinkI'llhave it use playing cards: Cards are used for initiative inSavageWorlds, but not much else, and I'd be happy to justify theirexistencea little more. As a plus, it might feel a bit reminiscent ofthe systemfrom the original Deadlands (and/or the tarot card spreadsfrom 7th Seasourcebooks).

I think I'll have each PC be definedby 5 cards,and each card represents a specific event in yourcharacter's life thathelped define the person they became. Possiblyit's draw 7, discard 2,but it may just be 5-card stud. 5 is a nicenumber - it's notoverwhelming or overly detailed, and a normal SavageWorlds PC gets 5Attribute points and 15 Skill points. That means Icould try:
  1. Eachcard gives you +1 to one specific Attributeand +1 to 3 skills. Thiswould work with a draw 7, discard 2, method.Characters would be alittle random, and tend towards generalization.

  2. Eachcard givesyou +1 in one of your choice of two attributes. Likewise,each cardgives you 3 points to spend on a short list of two to fourskills. Thatway, two PCs with similar events in their past wouldn'tbecarbon-copies. However, it would also make the chargen systemslower,so I'd be tempted to make this a straight draw system. This mayplay havoc with the system by which Attributes limit Skills in SavageWorlds - what happens if you get 3 skill points but the skills inquestion are above your attributes so they cost 2 points per level?

  3. As #2, above, but instead of skill points, you get +1 to three skills from alist of 3 to 5 per card. We dodge the Attribute bullet by disconnecting skills from attributes at chargen. More exciting cards can also give you Hindrances and Edges, as long as the card balances out. On the plus side, we don't care whether the PC has the legal number of Edges or Hindrances, since they don't (in this version) ever get to take Hindrances on their own, and, when all is said and done, only get to pick Edges to represent cyberware. The big downside is that PCs are even more random than the previous method.

  4. Eachcard gives you +1to one skill (on average). In addition to the 5 carddraws, PCs get 5 attribute points and 10 skill points. This gives you alot of flexibility in character creation, but at thecost of making thecards/backstory less important. However, it means the Attribute-to-Skills feed becomes more important since PCs can customize the character more.

  5. Cards only give Hindrances and Edges. Attributes and Skills remain yours to pick and spend as you see fit.

There's probably a few other options I haven't even considered yet.

I roll Romance

Great quote from last night, that just popped back into my head:
"Can I roll the Romance skill to try to get Sarah Palin to rub my caveman's belly?"

Savage Cyberware

Update/Edit: This post is a nightmare. You'd be far better to use my new system, which is far more elegant, and doesn't add all this unnecessary complication to the character creation process. I'm leaving this old post here for posterity, but the new Cyber Die system is a huge improvement. It puts Cybernetics into Savage Worlds without adding ridiculous numbers of Edges to your typical character, as the system below did...

Context: Cybernetics system for Savagepunk 2020.
CyberneticEdges are only available as bonus edges via the Cyber-Enhancedbackground edge. Because they can be made inaccessible by damage(until repaired), they should be marked or recorded on a different partof the character sheet. Other Edges may be taken as Cybernetic Edges, provided a good rationale explains them as such. If taken as a Cybernetic Edge, the Edge is treated as Cyberware from then on, and is vulnerable to being damaged.

The following tend to be a little bit better than normal Edges, which hopefully is balanced/mitigated by restricted access (unless the PCs are rich, they can only get these at the start of the campaign) and the vulnerability of being shut down when damaged.

Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Novice, Cyber-Enhanced
Oneof your arms (your choice) has been replaced by a cybernetic limb thatis stronger and harder than organic flesh. This gives +1 to yourdamage for Fighting attacks made via that arm, +1 to any Strength rollsmade predominantly via that arm, and grants +1 parry.

Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Novice, Cyber-Enhanced
Yourlegs have been replaced with cybernetic models that are faster,stronger, and harder than organic flesh. This gives +1 to your Pace, +1to your damage when kicking, and +1 to any Strength rolls made torepresent things you’re doing with your legs.

Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Novice, Cyber-Enhanced
Oneor more of your sensory organs have been replaced by cybernetic devicesthat with superhuman capabilities. This gives you +2 on rolls of Noticeand Tracking where such a sense would be useful.

Expanded Sensory Data
Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Novice, Cyber-Enhanced, Cybersenses, Notice d8+
Yourcybersenses are augmented to not only outperform human senses, but toextend to frequencies that humans don’t normally perceive. You may seeinfrared or ultraviolet, hear ultra- or sub-sonics, etc. You may ignorepenalties for darkness or other environmental distractions to yourNotice, Tracking, and attack rolls. This also opens up possibilities ofsecret communication via those expanded frequencies, should equipment,some other Cybernetic Edge, or player ingenuity come up with a means.

Smartgun Link
Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Novice, Cyber-Enhanced, Cybersenses, Shooting d4+
Yourgun is wired directly into your brain, with a targeting reticle in yourfield of vision or heads-up-display, and the ability to fire by simplythinking “shoot”. When wielding a Smartgun, you add +1 to your Shootingrolls. Nearly any shooting weapon may be purchased in a smartgunversion. Smartguns cost double dollar value of a “normal” version, andtypically must be special-ordered from gun stores. They cannot be firedby anyone who doesn’t have a Smartgun Link. A smartgun must be pluggedin and/or turned on before it can be fired, so drawing one requires anAgility roll. Should a Smartgun be broken or damaged, the difficultyto repair it is 2 higher than for the normal version.

Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Novice, Cyber-Enhanced
Whethervia covert subdermal armor, Kevlar fibres woven into the skin, or moreobvious external plating, your body is protected by a layer of armorthat can’t be removed. You gain +2 armor to your entire body, and itnegates 2 points of AP from bullets. You may wear normal armor overthis with no penalty.

Improved Cyber-Armor
Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Seasoned, Cyber-Enhanced, Cyber-Armor
Thebonus armor from the Cyber-Armor edge is improved by +4, to +6 total.The AP negation to bullets is increased from 2 to 4. However, thisarmor is too bulky to hide (though it may still look flashy, it doesn’thave to scream “armor”), and you can no longer combine it with externalarmor (such as helmets or kevlar jackets).

Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Novice, Cyber-Enhanced
Viaadvances in miniaturization, power systems, polymers, and otherscientific breakthroughs, an amazing new marvel of technology has beenpacked into your alloy-and-organic chassis. When you chooseState-Of-The-Art, pick one other Cybernetic Edge (or non-cyberneticEdge being taken as a Cybernetic Edge) you are purchasing at the sametime. You may reduce any one requirements of that Edge by up to twosteps. For example, if the Edge normally requires Fighting at d10, youcould take it with a Fighting of just d6. If it’s normally a LegendaryEdge, you could take it while at Veteran Rank. However, you can'treduce two different requirements - only one.
You may takeState-Of-The-Art multiple times, but only once per Rank, and only onceper affected Edge. Subsequent State-Of-The-Art edges must apply todifferent (new) Edges.

Weapon Arm
Cybernetic Edge
Requirements: Novice, Cyber-Enhanced, Cyberarm, Strength d6+
Yourcyberarm has a built-in weapon. It may be any type of gun or meleeweapon you can afford, provided that you are strong enough to carry it.As an extra restriction, your Strength code must be higher than anysingle die in the weapon’s damage code. So, a character with d8Strength could have a shotgun, knife, or most pistols built-in to theirarm, but not a Molecular Sword, since that weapon’s damage codeincludes a d8. Note that the +1 damage bonus of the Cyberarm adds tothe damage of the Weapon Arm if it’s a strength-based weapon, but hasno impact on what size of weapon can be built into the arm.
If theweapon is a small one that normally requires only one hand to use, itmay be somewhat concealed in the arm, requiring a Notice check to spotit when not deployed. Larger weapons, however, are obvious to even acasual observer.

I've got lots more ideas for CyberneticEdges, and the above is just rough drafts. The design goal is basicallyto convert the feel of Cyberpunk 2020's various cyberwear into SavageWorlds without going to the painstaking detail that CP2020 dictates.

Remember,they work just in the context of the proposed system from a few postsago, so they can be a little bit better than some non-Cybernetic Edges.I'm also toying with a lifepath system, a bit like Cyberpunk 2020,which would make characters a little more random than in normal SavageWorlds, so putting slightly more power in these Edges isn't a horriblething. That said, I do still have to be careful about power creep.

I'll be posting more (and possibly revising some of the above) between now and when I run the first session.

Update/Edit: This post is a nightmare. You'd be far better to use my new system, which is far more elegant, and doesn't add all this unnecessary complication to the character creation process. I'm leaving this old post here for posterity, but the new Cyber Die system is a huge improvement. It puts Cybernetics into Savage Worlds without adding ridiculous numbers of Edges to your typical character.