Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Savage Worlds - Adventure Edition

I've been interested in the Savage Worlds game since the earliest days of its existence - maybe before if we're going back to Deadlands and the Great Rail Wars days. I played and ran some Deadlands in its original form, picking up pretty much all of the books and the Deadlands: Hell on Earth setting and books as well. I dove into GRW a little later and picked up a bunch of the miniatures and books for that too. I was on the Deadlands email list in the late 90's/early 2000's and followed the development of the system as bits came out there - you can see a more extensive version of that info here.

In my experience it's a great system with great support and I've had a ton of fun with it over the years. A lot of this is in the actual play of course. It's also in the way the game is supported - for the most part they do not publish 20 books on one setting - they publish 1 book for 20 different settings. Deadlands is the exception here as it's been a thing since before SW existed but most of their settings are a plot-point campaign book that has all you need to run games in a world for probably a year or more if you desire to. It doesn't feel like you're signing on for a long term subscription just to keep up with a particular setting. Recently a lot of their efforts have been published via Kickstarter and while I have some mixed feelings about that it does mean you can get a more complete set of  "stuff" for whatever setting is being presented - custom bennies, cards, extra books, maps, etc.

The last big Kickstarter was for a new edition of the rules - the Adventure Edition. Pinnacle has said before that they don't usually do new editions to dramatically change the rules. It's more about when they need to do a new print run and decide it's time for a revamp of the presentation and of some of the rules tweaks they've been trying out since the last one. I can vouch for this - I have at least one of each version and the rules changes from one to the next are fairly minor.

After reading it I can say that the Adventure Edition is still Savage Worlds. That said, let me talk about the changes:

  • Default Skills or "Core" skills - Everyone gets a d4 for free in Athletics, Common Knowledge, Notice, Persuasion, and Stealth. I get this and it's fine by me. 
    • Athletics is a consolidation of Climbing, Swimming, and Jumping into a single skill and that's fine too. 
    • Common Knowledge is new too. This sort of thing used to be a Smarts roll but they are trying to make things you typically make active rolls with an actual skill and not a stat.
    • Notice, Persuasion, and Stealth are all very commonly used skills in any given session and now new characters will start with a d4 instead of a d4-2. I'm fine with starting characters being a little more competent in these areas.
  • The Shaken change - technically this came out in 2015 but it hasn't been in the main rulebook until now. Previously when rolling to "unshake" success meant you were unshaken but could not act, while a raise let you act normally. Now a success = unshake and act normally. It's good for players when a character does it but less good for them when a monster/bad guy does it so ... I'm fine with it I suppose. 
  •  Experience: The old rule was the GM awards 1-3 XP per session and every 5XP is an Advance which lets the character upgrade in some way. The new approach is to drop XP and just talk over with your players at the beginning of the campaign how quickly you want to advance - every session? every other? every third? This one is the one that grates on me the most despite being the least important in many ways. I think it affects the tone of the game. 1-3 XP shows some evaluation of how much the group accomplished in a session. The set rate of advancement approach devalues that in my opinion. Its not a game breaker for me, it's just a change in approach I dislike. 
  • There are changes to various Edges and Hindrances - to be expected in a new edition. I don't worry about these too much until I'm running a character that has them so I won't go into any detail here. 
  • Lots of new conditions, or Statuses: Distracted, Vulnerable, Bound, Entangled, and Stunned.These consolidate a lot of separate very similar rules, weapons, and powers into a few set conditions. It's a smart change and one many other games have benefited from.
There are a lot of other changes as well. The chase rules changed again, as they do in pretty much every edition. There are short sections that present other ways to handle a scene or a task: Mass Combat, Quick Encounters, Social Conflicts, and abstracted travel and wealth rules. Some of them I like better than others and that's partly because I know what my players like and also because I know how I like to run things. At the very least though they give you something to push against if you want to explore some alternate approaches. 

One other positive thing that stood out is that there does seem to be more explanation on why things are the way they are. Pinnacle has been good about this in most editions of the game but this one feels even more so to me.

Visually the PDF looks great and I am looking forward to getting my hands on the hardcover in the near future. Then of course the question is "what will I run next and will it use these rules?" and the answer is "I don't know but probably so".

Anyway, more to come.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Gygax Story

This article came out last week and I read it, thought about it, waited a few days, and decided to put a link up here. It's tied to the very foundations of the hobby and it's worth a read.

Fantasy's Widow: The Fight Over The Legacy Of Dungeons & Dragons

No judgments other than to say it's fairly sad and it's a shame things don't work out the way you'd hope sometimes.

Monday, March 11, 2019

BatRep of the Week: Orks vs. Orks

Steve the Mountain and a battle of Orks against Orks! It's a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

RPG Stuff: Our 50 Fathoms Campaign Log

So I'm actually playing in two ... that's TWO (!) ongoing campaigns now - and have been for a few months! I could not tell you the last time that happened. I've been playing in one for about 5 years now - more on that in another post - and I've had a few one or two-shot games in that time but it's been longer than that since I played in two sustained games at the same time. I'm also still running a campaign or two myself so it's a really cool situation I find myself in game-wise right now.

I'm playing a kraken water-mage who is also an expert swordsman and it's been a lot of fun. The setting is roughly 1700's tech plus magic and some non-traditional fantasy races (like mine!). There is some one-way crossover with Earth of the same time period so we have the East India Company running around among other familiar landmarks. In the group we have the gun-nut, the trade specialist, the recon/sniper character, and out fearless monkey-cursed captain. So far it's been a little reminiscent of some old Traveller campaigns - lots of trading between different ports while following up on local problems/quests/missions and connecting some larger threads, all while trying to make some money so we can tackle larger issues.

Anyway here's a link to the session logs so far if anyone wants to see how a campaign like this can go: The Caribdus Cruise

Monday, March 4, 2019

BatRep of the Week: Armada!

Something a little different this week as Blaster and I dig back into Armada for a change:

First, a very casual intro by the guys at Shut Up and Sit Down:

Then another "how-to" with a European Champion:

Then the first of a series covering a normal game of Armada with the same two players:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

BatRep of the Week: Imperial Knights Vs Khorne Battle Report Warhammer 40K

A fun battle with lots of heavy hitters knocking each other around.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Sentinel Comics RPG Kickstarter

A lot of you probably already know about this but just in case the RPG based on the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game has a kickstarter that wraps up in a little more than a week. The campaign is here and it looks pretty good to me.

There are a couple of things I really liked about the original card game:

  • Each hero has a set deck and expansions add new heroes and villains, not new cards for existing ones. So it's expandable but it's not collectible. This keeps it a "game" and not a "hobby" - or an "investment".
  • It's based on a fictional comic book universe including a fictional history of the comic book company and it ups and downs over the years.
  • It's a cooperative game. You team up with the other players to defeat a villain who runs off of his own deck. So everybody can win but it doesn't feel like a "gimmie" game - everybody can lose too.
The thing I like about the RPG (having played the starter kit last year) is that it's an evolution of the Marvel Heroic / Cortex+ system with more tightly defined mechanics. I've played multiple sessions of the Marvel game and had one try-out session with the starter kit and it went well as the players got familiar with the mechanics.

Here's a pretty thorough review of the Starter Kit that explains some of the mechanics.

Anyway it looks like fun and I thought I would help get the word out.

BatRep of the Week: Grey Knights vs. Tyranids

A new one from Miniwargaming that's fun and shows off some of the new Urban Conquest Rules

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

40K Tuesday: Chaos Daemons Update

I spent a fair amount of time in 2018 building up this army alongside the Grey Knights and while it's still a work in progress I did at least make some progress.  I have all of the pieces I want, for now, and I managed to get the Nurgle half just about finished a while back.

As far as that Nurgle half Chapter Approved 2018 dropped the cost significantly. Now, 3 Soul Grinders and a Daemon Prince add up to 729 points where they were over 900 before. I'm not really looking to add any Plague Bearers or Nurglings or Beasts right now so that frees up some room for more Khorne.

The Khorne "half" looks like this right now:

  • Daemon prince
  • Blood Throne
  • 30 Bloodletters
  • 10 Bloodletters
  • 10 Bloodletters
  • Karanak
  • 3 units of 5 Flesh hounds each
  • Option A:
    • A Jugger Herald
    • 5 Bloodcrushers
  •  Option B:
    • 3 Skull Cannons
So yes it's a Bloodletter bomb with some smaller units plus a speedy swarm of hounds. With the Grinders providing a solid fire base my Khorne units are free to rush over and engage the enemy force up close. My main plan is to take the Jugger squad as a fairly tough mobile unit (upgraded to 4 wounds each in Chapter Approved) but the cannons could be a nice "extra-shooty" option as well. The hounds, cannons, and juggernauts each run 250-300 points so I can arrange as needed. All of those are Acquired, all but the throne are Built, and I'd call Painting about halfway done on this bunch. They should get finished up the first part of this year and then I'll put up some pictures.

Future plans: At some point I need to get one (or three) of the big plastic Bloodthirsters but right now all I have are 3 of the older metal ones. I may have to test those out and see how they do after their big point drop in Chapter Approved as well. One of them could swap out with any of those modules mentioned above ... or ... they could swap out with the Nurgle force and let me go full Khorne. It's good to have options! 

Monday, February 4, 2019

BatRep of the Week: Imperium vs. Khorne

This one is from Tabletop Tactics and it looks like they are having a ton of fun in this one. Also: comically bad dice rolls!