Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Monday, November 14, 2022
I've had the PDF for the first edition of The Black Hack for quite some time but only recently got around to reading it. I found that I like it for several reasons.
First, I can pretty much hold all of the rules in my head. Since I got back into RPGs about two decades ago I discovered that I prefer rules-lite games. As a working parent who was perennially tired I just did not have the brain power to expend on complicated games. Now I'm old and just plain tired and still don't. And besides, it turns out my favorite games are rules-lite.
Second, it is familiar. Two of my favorite games are B/X and White Box: FMAG. The Black Hack is based on the Original Edition and so is very close to these games. Same attributes, same spells, same monsters and similar adventuring style. So you know what you're going to get and what you're supposed to do.
Third, it is pick up and play. TBH is excellent for one shots. Characters can be generated quickly and you can be off and running. You don't have to spend a lot of time prepping if you don't want too.It's my understanding that it can be used for campaigns also but I haven't played more than a couple of sessions so I don't know this personally.
And fourth, support and adventures. In the years since the first edition was published many adventures and supplements have been published. Often these are free or very low priced. This makes it easy to keep playing if you like the game. The supplements range from new classes and ways to add in races to full-blown games based on TBH. What's more, I understand that the modules and adventures from the original games are easily compatible too. So you can pull out any of the your old TSR modules, or new OSR stuff for that matter, and run it with TBH.
Another thing I like about TBH is what people have done with it. Not just the adventures and supplements but the full games people have created using it. TBH has an OGL and is open content, what ever all of that means. I've never really understood it except that it means people can use it to make other games using the material under certain conditions. And people have created many, many different variations in many different genres. Some are a few pages long like TBH's 20 pages to others that are over 200 pages.
For example, I haven't played straight The Black Hack. I have run my son through three or four programmed solo adventures using Bluehack. Bluehack is an expanded (to a whopping 26 pages) version of TBH which fills in some of the gaps in the sparse TBH and is modified to feel more like Holmes Basic, which was the RPG that started it all for me. In fact it was created by the same person who created Holmes' clone Blueholme.
There are many fantasy hacks that take it in different directions. There are several D&D versions including Red Hack and Heroes & Monsters. There are at least three sword & sorcery versions. I have two, Black Sword Hack and Swords Against the Shroud, and will get the third version, By this Axe I Hack, soon. There is also a Tolkien version that incorporates some features from The One Ring called There and Hack Again.
There are also various science fiction versions ranging from spacefaring to post-apocalypse. This includes serious to full on Gamma World gonzo in the form of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, which is a big, beautiful full color book that I would like to have some day.
I could go on but suffice it to say that the full range is covered. Anime, cyberpunk, noir, modern, pirates, supers and even dinosaurs. You name it, it's probably out there.
Now there is one last thing I like about The Black Hack. It gives me the urge to create. Not just that. It actually makes me feel like I could be successful in these creative endeavors. None of the variations of TBH that I have read are exactly how I want them to be. I know what I want to change and clarify, add and subtract. The thing is, the chassis that this game provides is so simple yet so sturdy and I understand it from a lifetime of gaming that I know I could do it. I just need to sit down and do it. Write my perfect version of this game to suit my personal tastes and quirks.
I think I've just set myself a goal. Dammit.
Thursday, November 10, 2022
|Art by Alan Gutierrez|
So, planetary generation would need to be modified in several areas.
- Tech Level Cap (TL 10)
- Starport Type
- Planetary Atmospheres
Here is what the World Generation Checklist would look like.
- Determine world occurrence (1D for 4, 5, 6 is standard).
- Check system contents table for details of world.
- Check for gas giant.
- Name world.
- Generate universal planetary profile for world.
- Planetary size: 2D-2.
- Planetary atmosphere: 2D-7 +size. Ignore Tainted designation (unless GM has special circumstances in mind). If planetary size is 0, the atmosphere must be 0.
- Planetary hydrographics: 2D-7 +size. If planetary size is 0, then hydrographics must be 0; if atmosphere is 0. 1, or A+, then apply a DM of -4.
- Population: 2D-2. No population if atmosphere 0-3, A+
- Government: Roll d6, 1-3 Balkanized. Roll D3+1 for # of major political units. Governments can be roll for or determined by GM. If not balkanized 2D-7+population as usual.
- Law level : 2D-7+government.
- Technological Level : 1 D+DMs from tech level table. Ignore starport modifiers. TL8 cap unless referee decides otherwise.
- Determine starport type. See tables below.
- Determine naval base as appropriate.
- Determine scout base as appropriate.
- Decide if travel zone coded.
- Establish communications routes.
- Note trade classifications based on universal planetary profile.
- Note statistics for reference.
|Spaceport Type||Spaceport Type|
|TL 7-8||TL 9-10|
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Garnett Elliott* asked me a good question. Am I going to include Fuzzies in my Space Viking inspired setting? That me made take a close look at what I'm doing. How close to the fiction do I want to adhere?
I knew from the start I couldn't do a straight conversion. To much history, background and differences from Traveller for me to want to do that. At first I thought I would incorporate some of the planets, names and history into the setting. But I need to decide how much to
steal borrow. Or do I just go for the vibe.
At this point I'm thinking I will just go for the feeling of Space Viking with a few bits and pieces built in. Maybe a few key planets. An alien race or two, like the Fuzzies. Then again, it might be "inspired by". I'll have to see how it goes as I work on it. Because honestly I've been vacillating between the two on an almost daily basis. And it will probably end up somewhere in between.
So, I guess I don't have an answer to G-Man's question yet.
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
I've been thinking about my Space Viking inspired Traveller setting. Here are some preliminary notes.
- Space Viking vibe without trying to reproduce it specifically.
- Classic Traveller, Books 1-3 (or the Traveller Book) plus Supplement 4 Citizens of the Imperium.
- TL 10 limit. However, the old Terran Federation had a higher TL so artifacts might be found.
- Only a few planets have rediscovered interstellar flight.
- Terran Federation tore itself apart leading to the Long Night.
- Humancentric. There may be aliens but they are low tech levels and have not discovered interstellar flight or spaceflight.
- The location of Terra has been lost.
- Few multi-planet polities.
- Do I leave interstellar travel and jumps alone?
- Special resources for jumps. In the book
- How big should the pocket empires/confederations be? Two or three planets? A few more? There are apparently 12 Sword Worlds though I don't remember all of them being named in the book. That seems like too many, at least for what I'm shooting for.
- Ship size. CT using the first three books is a small ship universe. However, the ships in Space Viking are huge. A Space Viking ship (and all ships in the Piperverse) is spherical and could be 2000 feet in diameter and have a crew of 300 and carry 500 ground fighters. Looking at High Guard and Fighting Ships, a ship with that crew size is something in the 30,000 to 50,000 ton range. Much larger than I was thinking. So, what do I do about that? Ignore it?
Saturday, October 22, 2022
Many years ago I wrote a blog post about the novel Space Viking by H. Beam Piper and how I always wanted to play a Traveller game in that setting. I wrote how complex the background was and how
Since I can't do a direct conversion and I don't want to use the Sword Worlds from the Third Imperium I've decided that I should create a setting has the feel of the book. Namely, humanity is coming out of a Long Night after the collapse of a large star-spanning empire/federation. Most planets have not regained spaceflight, let alone interstellar flight. Those that have have only started to voyage outward and there is still much unknown about the remnants of the empire. And some of the planets will have regressed pretty far technologically, as far back as preindustrial.
I've thought of this before but I didn't know how to pull this off when randomly creating the couple of subsectors I wanted to start with. How do I keep the tech levels low enough for most of the worlds? How do I ensure that there are two or three systems that have a high enough tech level but not too high? The randomness of the subsector creation project would make it difficult..
So, the answer may seem obvious to you but, to be honest, I'm not very good at modifying game rules or even thinking my way out of the box created by the rulebooks. I've always been this way for some reason. I've never wanted to tamper with games because I don't want to mess them up. I really can't explain why. It's probably the same reason I have troubles writing in a fresh blank book. I don't want to besmirch it with my lame thoughts and ideas.
However, I've been reading the blog Den of the Lizard King lately and I've drawn inspiration and practical advice from it. Den of the Lizard King is the blog of Omer Golan-Joel. He runs Stellagama games and has done a lot with Traveller and Cepheus. One of the main things that has inspired me is his posts about low tech settings he has worked on called Hard Space and Harsh beginnings. These really got me thinking about how I could apply what he was been writing to my desired setting.
Then I ran across one particular post which freed my mind up and gave me a practical method to create the subsectors I need. The post is called "Hard Space: Thoughts on World Generation". In it he discusses the population levels, government types and the law levels for each of the worlds. And then he creates his own random tables customized to get the results to fit his setting. This was a revelation to me. I don't know why is was, other than me being slow and not very creative.
Then I re-read this in Book 3:
Finally, the referee should always feel free to create worlds which have been deliberately (rather than randomly) generated.
Now, I believe I will be able to create the Traveller setting that I've always wanted. Of course it won't be Space Viking but that's ok. It will be something I can be happy creating and be close enough for my tastes. All I had to do was see an example of how to do it and give myself permission to deviate from the book.
Monday, September 5, 2022
Monday, August 29, 2022
I own a lot of RPGs. I mean a LOT. It's a weakness with me. Or an addiction. But that's between me and any future therapist that I get. Most of them are in PDF form. I have a comb binding machine so if a like a game enough I print out a copy and bind it into a book myself.
I will state up front, for those who don't know, my favorite S&S game is Barbarians of Lemuria. It is a light, flexible game that can be played in many different S&S settings. Not just the interesting one it comes with. It fact, it has been used for different genres and eras as well and it has been turned into a generic pulp system with Everywhen.
Unfortunately, I haven't played all of them. Or most of them. And there are few I haven't read yet, too. There are several I really want to try out but I actually have very little opportunity to play.
So, here we go:
- Barbarians of Lemuria
- Barbarians of Lemuria - Legends of Steel Edition
- Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria
- Barbarians & Basilisks
- Beasts & Barbarians: Savage Worlds
- Black Sword Hack
- Blades & Black Magic
- Blood of Pangea
- The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze
- The BoL Hack
- Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed
- Crimson Blades
- Crypts & Things
- Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery
- GURPS Conan
- Into the Bronze
- Jaws of the Six Serpents
- Lankhmar: City of Thieves (Savage Worlds)
- Lankhmar: DCC
- On Mighty Thew
- One Dice Pulp (One of the "skins" is for sword & sorcery)
- Red Mists: Swords Against Sorcery
- Shadow, Sword and Spell
- Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
- Sword Noir
- Sword of Cepheus
- Swords Without Master (in Worlds Without Master #3)
- Through the Sunken Lands
- USR Sword & Sorcery
- ZeFRS - Cimmerian Quickstart
Sunday, August 28, 2022
I didn't even meet my modest goals for RPGaDay2022. So, I'll just give the rest of my answers in one post.
7. System Sunday: Describe a cool part of a system that you love.
I really like the career system from Barbarians of Lemuria. Instead of a list of skills a character has several careers from their past. So whenever a character attempts a task, if it relates to one of his careers, he gets a bonus.
9. What is the 2nd RPG you bought?
It's hard to remember for sure but I believe it was Gamma World. I remember reading Star Man's Son by Andre Norton and Hiero's Journey by Sterling Lanier not long after getting Holmes Basic and then seeing Gamma World. I loved the post-apocalyptic worlds and wanted to play in something like them.
10. When did/will you start Gamemastering?
It seemed like fun! It WAS fun!
I wouldn't have jumped to AD&D so quickly. It seemed expected at the time but I wish I hadn't. And what I really wish is that I would not have dismissed Moldvay when it came out. I only started exploring it when I got back into RPGs years later. It and its derivatives are now my favorite versions of D&D.
Does it exist? That's hard to say. I really like Barbarians of Lemuria but it and its system isn't perfect. But it's solid and adaptable. I don't actually think there is a perfect game for me. It would have to be anything and everything I want it to be all at once.
17. Past, Present, or Future? When is your favorite game set?
In the fantastical past. In Lemuria. My other favorite game is B/X. B/X is pure fantasy.
19. Why has your favorite game stayed with you?
BoL. Its ease of use and flexibility. I really like the way that the character generation inspires my imagination. And that it can work in many different settings.
21. Setting Sunday: Share an intriguing detail from a game setting you enjoy.
The setting for The Fantasy Trip: In the Labyrinth is the giant world of Cidri. Cidri was created by the Mnoren. This dimension traveling race imported people from across Earth at various times in the past as well as from fantasy worlds. This allows GMs to create almost any historical or fantasy setting they want and mix and match as they please with a tech level up to early gunpowder equipment.
31. When did you first take part in #RPGaDAY?
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
I would like to reintroduce my sons to RPGs. We haven't played in a long while and it would be nice to play.
Monday, August 1, 2022
There is another RPGaDAY challenge happening. These can be fun but sometimes I can't complete monthly challenges like this. So I'm going to approach this on a little different. I'm only going to answer the questions I want to, at the rate I want to. That way it is enjoyable, as it should be, and not a stress.
Friday, June 3, 2022
Quickstart or jumpstart, call it what you like. These truncated rule-sets serve the purpose of introducing players to a game, usually for free or at a minimal cost. Some do this more effectively than others. I want to do a couple of posts about quickstarts that I like and the reasons I like them. Ones that I liked so much that I acquired the full game as a result.
Characters have three abilities, Strong, Clever and Quick. Three derived stats, Health, Defense and Move. And then you have some skills. Pretty quick and easy.
The basic system is ability + skill + die roll vs. target number.
The book itself is 42 pages overall with 27 of them being character creation and rules and the rest divided between two adventures. The first is a GM run fantasy adventure and the second is a programmed SF adventure for a single character.
So, why do I like this quickstart? There are a couple of reasons.
The quickstart has the complete character creation system. It only leaves out rules for character advancement. There are a lot of quickstarts that come with pregens and that's it. I think that getting a taste of the character generation process is an important way to get to know the game.
The two adventures really give you a chance to see how the game plays. The solo adventure allows you to do this even if you can't round anyone else up to play. It also shows how it can work with different genres. The adventures do highlight different aspects of the game. Playing through the solo adventure, for example, taught me that combat can be deadly.
And I did pick up the full game, OneDice Universal, after reading the quickstart. I've also picked up several of the genre books also, including Pulp, Science Fiction, Steam Punk and several more. What's beautiful about the genre books is that each includes the full rules suitably modified for the genre. If you are only interested in OneDice Fantasy, for example, that is the only book you would ever have to buy.
So, if you have any interest in the OneDice system at all, pick up the free quickstart.
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Gundobad Games is a gaming blog written by "a professional ancient/medieval historian who teaches at the university level."
I really like this one because it blends ancient and medieval history with gaming. It's fun as well as educational. He's currently discussing Merovingian Gaul/France and how to build a campaign around it. In the past he's covered creating quick histories for a campaign, archaeology and rpgs, the decline and fall of civilizations and more. Check it out here.
Friday, May 20, 2022
You can find a list here.
Friday, January 7, 2022
I received a late Christmas present yesterday. A friend gave me The Folio Society edition of The Hobbit. It's a beautiful book, wonderfully illustrated with a nice slipcase.
In game related news, I also received the RPG Romance of the Perilous Land. I haven't had the opportunity to read the book all the way through yet but it seems like an interesting game. An Arthurian game in an England-like setting.
(None of these photographs are mine. I've borrowed them from various places across the internet.)