Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fun with Crowdfunding - Four Current Projects

An easy one:

 I have a fair amount of stuff for the original edition though I've run it all of ... once. Ah well, it's still cool though this one is a little pricey if you want an actual book. It's already done and just waiting to be published, apparently. I have no worries about this one getting out the door.

Another easy one:

It looks interesting and it's Savage Worlds so I'm probably there on this one.Pinnacle has delivered on all of its Kickstarters, so no worries there, but the physical book level seems a little pricey here too.

I noticed something else about these:
  • Atlas Games: 1st created, 24 backed
  • Shane Hensley: 4 created, 65 backed
These two are pretty regularly involved in crowdfunding.

This one has been popping up in various RPG Facebook groups: Dragonwars of Trayth

Wow, that home page looks like a 90's website. "2 created, 0 backed" - that's not a good sign. The bio:

"Epic Quest publishing is a group of experienced RPG game designers, artists, and authors who work as a team to bring Epic adventures in many versions of RPG products."

That's pretty generic. Watching the video the whole thing looks tremendously 90's. They have a lot of pledge levels that don't have anything to do with the actual adventures - lanyards, water bottles, and T-Shirts. A character sketch or a painted mini at $200 seems ... optimistic. Ernie Gygax seems to have some involvement, presumably tied to the museum funding stretch goal once it goes over $35k. This one seems all over the place to me. Oh, and this:

"Between all of our employees, we have over 30 years experience in the RPG world..."

So that's a total for the whole team? Of at least 4 people? I'm not sure this is a feature. What else have they done? The bio mentions "experienced RPG game designers" - experienced on what? This is a good way to draw in fans of other material if you can point to something else out there that you had a hand in making.

I'm also curious about the repeated "never been done before" type claims. It seems like a series of 25 adventures taking characters to 30th level is supposed to be unprecedented. Well, Scales of War for D&D 4E was published in Dungeon magazine with 18 adventures taking characters from 1st to 30th level, and this was in a system that actually had rules for going to 30th level, unlike some of the systems they are using. Pathfinder AP's also seem like something that might warrant a comparison. Claims like this make me wonder how in touch they creators are with what's going on in RPG's now.
At the very least it will be interesting to watch.

ANKUR: A gofundme project to publish a setting and system that I'm still trying to figure out. Home page is here, request for money is here. I've never heard of the author but he's put a fair amount of background info out there, just not much in the way of mechanics.

From the home page:

"There are five player character races to choose from in the game world of ANKUR. Choose between standard humans, a race of pigmies, Neanderthals, highly intelligent coneheads, or powerful Yeti"

Not sure what to make of that. 

The world of ANKUR attempts to immerse you in a setting that puts a distinctly sci-fi spin on various ancient world mythologies. The game’s setting is largely based on ancient Sumerian mythology and is further inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Maurice Chatalain, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, and Zacharia Sitchin. The game’s timeline takes place on Earth (known as Ki) just after the Great Flood, some 25,000 years in the past. A race of Alien beings from the planet Nibir, in the farthest reaches of our own solar system, come to earth to mine gold for the production of Mana. Through genetic manipulation, they create a variety of humanoid slave races to mine the gold. A series of cataclysms and power struggles, set in motion events that will entwine the destinies of these races forever!

That is a whole lot to chew on. Most of the site past the home page is blank so it's not looking too good here.  I'll give it this - it's not a cookie cutter setting.

That's probably enough for now. I'll take another stroll through these down the road and see where they are and what else is out there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Getting into a Well-Supported RPG

Does anyone run games from just the "Core Rules" for a given game anymore? I will say that I have for some games, usually smaller games like ICONS. It seems like that used to be more of a thing, but now if a game has been out for any length of time it's likely to have a set of supplementary material from the "Advanced" book or "Player's Guide" with some extra crunchy stuff to the inevitable "GM's Guide"to a whole pile of adventures. If you're coming in late, where do you start? I did this recently with Pathfinder, and it probably has more "stuff" available than any other in-print game right now,  so I'll share my plan and experience with that.

First, you need the main rulebook. I knew I was going to be playing with the Apprentices so I picked up the PF Core Rulebook and the Beginner Box at the same time. One for them, one for me. We played through the adventures in the box and I decided we should look at a full campaign.

The heart of the whole Pathfinder system is the Adventure Paths. You know the idea by now - each AP is a full campaign from Level 1 to level 13+ in six installments released once a month. The *fifteenth* of these is being released now and the 16th has been announced for early 2016. That's a lot of options, and that's on top of standalone modules, third-party adventures, and of course doing your own. Your choice here will drive some of how you tackle the rest of the system so I think it's important to make this call fairly early. Example: The "Kingmaker" AP features building and ruling a kingdom - the Ultimate Campaign book is useful here. The "Wrath of the Righteous" AP assumes that the Mythic Adventures book is in use. Then of course every AP is supported by a regional supplement and a player's option type supplement, a map pack, some cards, and maybe more. You don't really need any of that extra material, but if it interests you or the players choosing an AP lets you focus on a smaller set of the options.

Creating your own adventures might mean you need some non-traditional races - there's an Advanced Race Guide with all of the mechanical details for doing that. Want non-traditional classes? There's an Advanced Class Guide with that kind of thing too.

So the idea is to decide what kind of campaign you want to run after reading the basic/core rules, and letting that guide your early acquisitions. If nothing really inspires you, wait. Set it aside. The moment will come.

The other consideration is players. Have a few that like to play wizards and clerics? Plan on getting Ultimate Magic. Lots of focus on combat? The Ultimate Combat book is probably in your future. Rangers or Druids a guarantee? The "Animal Archive" is a good idea.

For me, I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with the game but I knew even more character options would be welcome so I added the Advanced Players Guide as my first book. More classes, feats, spells, etc. - that was an easy choice. I grabbed "Paths of Prestige" too to add even more options as we advanced.

Setting-wise I realized there were a ton of area books out for different parts of Golarion, many tied to a particular AP. I had no idea where to begin so I started with the Inner Sea World Guide, the big book that covers the whole setting. After reading that, I was up to speed and had the big picture.

I still had not decided what kind of campaign to run and then they announced the "paladins and clerics vs. demon invasion" campaign and I knew I had a winner. One of my players is a paladin fan and this one had his name on it as soon as I read about it. So then it was a matter of watching for the specific books that added to this one campaign and that's worked out very nicely. I had a couple of hardbacks, a few softcover player and DM books, and I was ready to roll. I did not need the entire PF product line to run this campaign.

Now I have added more books since I started running this last year. Partly because I like to have options, partly because I started playing in another game, and partly because over the course of the campaign things just naturally come up where supplement X might be handy to have. Playing in a campaign certainly modified my perspective as I became a lot more interested in some of those player companion books. If you're going to invest in a system, might as well get everything out of it that you can.

Pathfinder is a little different in that most of the rules material is covered by the OGL and is available online, meaning you don't need to purchase a lot of the rulebooks to run a particular situation. For myself, I like to have them if I think something will be a regular part of the game, but it's possible to run just about anything from one of the SRD sites.Setting material is not a part of this, so if you're using the campaign world that might make that material a higher priority than the big rule books.

The main area of impact for me with this is with the monster books - I already know what most D&D type monsters look like, and the numbers are freely available, so the "Bestiary" books are not a priority at all for me. I'm sure I'll end up with a few of them sooner or later but I haven't felt the lack thus far.

I have most of the big rulebooks now, I've been both running and playing the game, and I have a fair number of the smaller regional and player books. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the system, I like it, and now I'm just picking up what looks interesting and what might be useful in a future campaign, particularly APs I've acquired along the way. I do check reviews at times, but those are a secondary consideration at best.

Anyway, that's how I did it, for what it's worth. The short version:

  • Get the core rules to the game
  • Figure out a campaign concept or at least an adventure idea
  • Pick up a supplement or two that enrich that particular idea
  • Listen to your players, see if they're interested in something covered by a particular book
  • As the game goes on, add material as it makes sense
Final thought: Never assume that you need "everything" to start your game. Some kind of rules and an adventure idea is all you really "need". Online discussions will often assert that you can't run X without a particular book, or you really need Y to have fun with a certain adventure - ignore that. Get a game going, then worry about the add-ons.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Current Events & Coming Attractions - Pathfinder, D&D, etc.

Felt like summarizing what's going on here game-wise:

  • Just ran the 18th session of the Wrath of the Righteous Pathfinder campaign and having a ton of fun. The Mythic rules add a lot of options that feel a little like 4E powers and add a lot of flexibility for the PC's. There a lot fewer "can't do that" moments where important skill checks are failed, a big melee strike misses, or a caster doesn't have access to the right spell. I'm starting to think I might keep them around for any future PF campaigns for just that reason. The oldest characters just hit 6th level and are still only Tier 1 Mythic so it could get crazy later on but right now it feels more flexible, not so much more powerful numerically.
  • The "catch-up phase" of my Pathfinder experience is wrapping up. Lots of books on the shelf and PDF's on the tablet now. I've been trying to keep a rule of "no ordering the next rulebook til I've read the last one and it's worked fairly well so far. I'll probably have more on this later this week.
  • Reading the new D&D 5E big campaign book and so far ... I'm not all that impressed. Size-wise it's directly comparable to a single adventure path installment. It's nice that it's hardcover, but at $23 vs. $30 I don't think it's all that much better physically - though I have had AP's split their binding. Content-wise, I'm just not that excited about what I'm reading. I'll post something about this later too.
  • Refreshing my knowledge of Freedom City for a Mutants and Masterminds game coming up. It looks like I'm actually going to run some supers in the near future. Definitely more on that coming later. 
  •  Continuing to make notes for a "one of those days" Star Trek game. I don't know when or who will play, but I'm working on it. I've had notes floating around for years but this is an idea for a new run with a set scenario, not just an open-ended campaign. It could turn into one, certainly, but I think the only way I get people to play Trek here is to present set "missions" kind of like I did with Star Wars years ago. I'll probably have more on that once I feel like I have something worth sharing.  System-wise it's going to be LUG Trek as I want to give that system another chance. 
  • I'm also toying around with an idea for a D6 Star Wars game. I like Saga just fine but I'd like to give the older system a spin for the first time in a while and I have an idea that fits it well, I think. We'll see. 
Well, that explains the stack of books on the bedside table ... on to the next post!

Motivational Monday