A (New?) Space Game.

Anything tremendously new in mind? Well, not necessarily. I mean, there are scores of games that do space sci-fi action. There are more space RPG titles than easily fit on a typed page. Everything from old school 1950’s rockets and rayguns all the way up to super-futuristic psionics and world ships is represented somewhere in TTRPG form. Do I have a completely new take?

Here we go again. Again…

I love space games. My all time, number one favorite without a doubt is still West End Games’ Star Wars. The D6 system is still one of the best of all time. But, time and trademarks being what they are, I’m not comfortable doing another Star Wars game although I do miss chopping up battle droids with a lightsaber.

I’ve noticed most space game franchises have a pretty specific universe mapped out. Babylon 5, Aliens, Galactica, Star Trek, Starship Troopers, and Star Wars are all super specific. The same is true of RPGs set in space. Look at Star Frontiers for example. There are almost as many named planets and lore for it to have its own movie franchise.

Reinventing the space wheel, so to speak.

I have a kind of interesting take on a setting that really hasn’t been done yet. It’s based loosely on modern Ufology with a little bit of anime thrown in. I don’t know exactly how unique my whole crazy plan is, but I’m going to take a stab in the dark at it. I’ve always been enamored with deep space mecha such as Robotech/Macross and the Clan storyline from Battletech (which is a riff on Robotech.)

Anything tremendously new in mind? Well, not necessarily. I mean, there are scores of games that do space sci-fi action. There are more space RPG titles than easily fit on a typed page. Everything from old school 1950’s rockets and rayguns all the way up to super-futuristic psionics and world ships is represented somewhere in TTRPG form. Do I have a completely new take?

Bits of other game concepts loosely joined.

My desire to create a brand new space RPG came from love and disgruntlement with multiple systems. Some games are too crunchy. Ever build a starship for the PCs in Traveler? May as well build it in my backyard. It would be easier. Anything Palladium? Miles of d00% skills and endless MDC vs SDC debates.

Some games don’t go far enough. I love Star Frontiers for its simplicity, but the skill system doesn’t quite get the job done. It’s good for beer-n-pretzels blowing off steam in the OSR, though. The skill system in Star Frontiers leaves a lot to be desired, however. The revision of the game in Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier just didn’t quite go far enough for me. That, and I prefer the Marvel d00% CS system for that RPG.

ICRPG is great, but same lack of skill system. I love FUDGE/FATE, but if I’m going to design my skills from scratch anyway? Yes, FATE has a solid Space sourcebook. It’s cool, but then I have to mash in all the mecha components, too.

I’d go the Anime route with BESM or something similar, but it’s more mecha and less a space game at that point. I dunno. I could go on ruling out systems and settings for days. I want a game that takes the BEST components from all of these other RPGs and settings and combines them for something truly amazing.

That actually gives me another idea for Arpeggio of Blue Steel meets Space Battleship Yamato, but we’ll come back to that later.

So, here’s going to be the start of my as yet untitled space game.

By the time I’m done, it will cover all the things one might expect in an action/space opera game with mecha. Seems a tall order. My kids may have to finish it twenty years from now, but I’m going to give it a solid attempt.

I’m going to build it on the site here as I go as a sort of portfolio project and then compile/format it into a full pdf for better distribution, possibly Print On Demand. I’m going to try to keep the price as low as reasonably possible for the finished product.

More to come as I post the design blog. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you!

See you among the stars!

Would You Play in This Campaign?

What starts out as any other medieval forest fantasy game rapidly turns into a battle across dimensional planes to stop the Demon Emperor and his horrific army from rampaging across their world. The group will pretty much be all that stands between the dimensional conquerors and an innocent world full of otherwise good people. The PCs will also set the narrative for future campaigns.

Against the Shogun of Darkness

The first campaign set in my newest campaign world, but not the only one.

Campaign Pitch: What starts out as any other medieval forest fantasy game rapidly turns into a battle across dimensional planes to stop the Demon Emperor (Final name and title to be determined) and his horrific army from rampaging across their world. The group will pretty much be all that stands between the dimensional conquerors and an innocent world full of otherwise good people. The PCs will also set the narrative for future campaigns.

This campaign can be set in almost any fantasy world, but realize failure means the group sets a chain of events in motion that will undoubtedly rewrite canon and change the way the world develops.

The Emperor and his minions will introduce several new items and monsters to the game.

The entire campaign is planned for 12 episodes, with an episode lasting one to three sessions. The first two and the last two sessions are intended to be played in order, but otherwise, the DM is free to play the rest of the encounters in any order they wish. Episodes 11 and 12 can be moved up as needed. Episodes 3-10 can be skipped or shortened if preferred. There will be a lot of potential for character development lost in the middle, however.

The first two chapters included with the campaign will describe my world (to be named later.) This is intended to give the players some background and a feel for the world they will be trying to save. While monsters and evil things lurk in the shadows of dungeons and cities, there are good things everywhere. There are faeries, unicorns, good dragons and kind-hearted folk everywhere. Yes, there are bad people, as well, but fortunately, the hero populations keeps their numbers in check.

The PCs start out in the quiet village of Blooming Fern. It’s a quiet logging and farming community. It’s on a river which provides for commercial opportunities and plenty of fish. Daily life is quiet for the most part and other than the constable and a few night watchmen, a large police force is simply unnecessary. The mayor and the town council of elders make fair decisions and rulings, acting as both political leaders and judges for disputes and sentencing criminals. All are fair, hard-working, family fold with property and local businesses.

*Editor’s notes: This campaign idea was based off of some rough notes I scribbled into my calendar notebook. As I’m getting ready to switch notebooks, I found it and thought it might be cool to throw out there. Thank you to all who responded via #ttrpgTwitter

It’s pretty rough yet. Lots of revisions and changes before it would be a full fledged game.

Game World Creation Journal Revised

And I have a TON of ideas. Heck, I’ve got ideas for getting more ideas. Creativity fountain for days. I have that in spades, hexagons, even. Heh heh… makin up my own card suits. See?

I won’t lie. I start a lot of projects. I don’t necessarily finish them. I get sidetracked rather easily. Okay, more like derailed. No promises on this one, but it’s a set of ideas that’s been brewing for ages now.

And I have a TON of ideas. Heck, I’ve got ideas for getting more ideas. Creativity fountain for days. I have that in spades, hexagons, even. Heh heh… makin up my own card suits. See?

My latest venture, among others, is creating my own Dungeon Crawl Classics Campaign world. I have some challenges to overcome. I also have a ton of cool stuff I want to do, probably more than I can fit into one book or even one world. I get really excited because they’re all things I’ve wanted to do for years and years.

I have all these cool plans for kingdoms. Challenge: Mapping. I’m building it as open sandbox for now. I’m having my own little group of characters explore random hexes as we go. The cities, settlements, and kingdoms will be there when they’re discovered.

I have all these neat ideas for various race/culture combos. Challenge: Fitting everything on a map and still having characters discover them. Races have been controversial as of late. Do we even call them races any more? This is mostly an OSR issue. Maybe it’s time to borrow a page from Pathfinder 2e and D&D 5E?

I want to add a bunch of game mechanics including new classes, spells, deities. Challenge: Players are going to freak out. Possibly in a good way, but still. Am I literally trying to reinvent the wheel here? Maybe. It’s like Advanced Dungeon Crawl Classics or something.

Classes are one of my favorite things to tinker with. Challenge: How will players and Judges react to certain traditional classes and items being tossed out? I want to bring some old school D&D rules in. How’s that going to go over? Moreover what’s already been done before. DCC has a long and rich history.

I think world design and campaign design should break certain rules and go outside the guidelines. Creativity isn’t about stressing over who’s getting offended today. Maybe coming up with new ways of NOT stressing the audience out, sure.

So my plan here is to simply start the damn thing and see it all the way through. It may take me 20 years and be published after my death, but hey- we’ll get there. More to come as I develop it. Prepare to be freaked out, possibly.

Originally, I was going to do this with D&D 5E, but… where’s that edition going to be one year from now? I think I’m backing off of 5E until the dust settles a bit. Let’s be honest, that particular market is getting oversaturated anyway.

Thanks for stopping by. There’s a lot more coming. I appreciate you!

Hex Crawl Advances

Mapping by hand really brings back that Old School feeling.

I took the liberty of rolling up the next ring.

After this, I’m only rolling for the hexes as the party enters them. Should be entertaining. I’ve already rolled one hex from the Paraelemental Plane of Mud, two jungle hexes, and and a random desert hex. Mapping by hand really brings back that Old School feeling.

The Hex Map Round 2
  • (Home) The quiet town of Dunbury Glen and its immediate surroundings before they were flung across time and space.
  • C3 Mountains. Dungeon here.
  • D4 Forest
  • D6 Wasteland. Elementals present.
  • C7 Plains/Grasslands. No roads.
  • B6 Fresh water.
  • B4 Plains/Grasslands.
  • C1 Grassy hills
  • D2 Forest
  • E3 Mud from the Paraelemental Plane of Mud. Elemental Chaos!
  • E5 Eerily cold, some trees, some grass
  • E7 Forest
  • D8 Jungle
  • C9 Grassy Hills
  • B9 Jungle
  • A7 Fresh water.
  • A5 Desert/Sand
  • A3 Jungle
  • B2 Grassy Hills.

So far, the group has explored enough to discover the 6 hexes directly around Dunbury Glen. They have not, however, run into sentient beings or any signs of civilization yet. They made a note of the dungeon in the mountains north of town, but decided to come back later. They are currently working their way Northeast through the forest at D4.

Thank you for stopping by. More fun tomorrow. I appreciate you!

1d12 Hex Crawl Land Terrain Interactions

Dragon! Very large, very powerful, and hungry.
Apex Predator. (T Rex, Dire Ape, Giant Feral Carnivorous Chinchilla, etc.)
Snake! Either one giant snake or a pod of several venomous snakes.
Un-dead: Intangible. (Wraiths, ghosts, will-o-wisps, etc.)

Designed for DCC. Suitable for any Fantasy RPG.

Roll 1d12 and consult the tables below each time the group enters a new hex:

Encounter?

  1. Bad News!
  2. Negative Encounter.
  3. No Encounter,
  4. No Encounter.
  5. Negative Encounter.
  6. Neutral Encounter.
  7. Positive Encounter.
  8. Neutral Encounter
  9. No Encounter.
  10. No Encounter.
  11. Positive Encounter.
  12. Great News!
Bad News!

Roll 1d12 and consult the table below.

  1. Dragon! Very large, very powerful, and hungry.
  2. Apex Predator. (T Rex, Dire Ape, Giant Feral Carnivorous Chinchilla, etc.)
  3. Snake! Either one giant snake or a pod of several venomous snakes.
  4. Un-dead: Intangible. (Wraiths, ghosts, will-o-wisps, etc.)
  5. Monstrous Wildlife. Regular wildlife magnified up to 100x.
  6. Pack of demons. A pack of wild demons/daemons roams the area.
  7. Little monsters. Small, rabid, vicious creatures. (Stirges, rabid squirrels, etc.)
  8. Un-dead: Powerful. Lich, Vampire, Zombie Lord, Wights, etc.
  9. Giants. At least 2d4 of any type.
  10. Another adventuring party. Opposite alignment/intentions of the group.
  11. Frightening, Vile Predator: Displacing Beasts, Chimaera, Wyverns, Manticores…
  12. Huge Demon/Devil/Big Scary Evil Thing. Plus multiple summons/adds.
Photo by nordsu00f8en on Pexels.com

Negative Encounters:

  1. Hydra (Keeper’s Choice as to type.)
  2. Giant Arachnids: Monstrous spiders, scorpions, etc.
  3. Carnivorous Plant Life: Strangleweed, Man Eating Plants, Venus Mantraps.
  4. Lycanthropes. Will attempt to accompany group during the day.
  5. Snakes! As few as 1 or 2 venomous, slithering locals. Could be more.
  6. Larger Humanoids. Ogres, Cyclops, Minotaurs, etc.
  7. Vicious Medium Humanoids. Hobgoblins, Gnolls, Lizardfolk, etc.
  8. Lesser Un-dead. Skeletons Shamblers, or Zombies. (Relatively unintelligent.)
  9. Trolls. Vicious, feral, highly regenerative, aggressive.
  10. Mutants! Two headed, fire-breathing mutant prairie dogs or something.
  11. Forgotten Constructs. Someone left golems just wandering around.
  12. Predatory Pack Hunters. Lions, Wolves, Velociraptors, etc.
Photo by patrice schoefolt on Pexels.com

Neutral Encounters:

These encounters have the option to go either way or not be a serious encounter at all if the group chooses not to make anything of it. You leave them alone, they leave you alone.

  1. Medium Humanoids. Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, Humans or ???
  2. Herd Animals. Antelope, Deer, Bison, Llamas, etc.
  3. Giant Flightless Birds. Ostriches, Emus, Penguins or other wild flightless fowl.
  4. Small Humanoids: Goblins, Kobolds, Halflings, Gnomes, Pechs, etc.
  5. Pixies/Faeries. Small, potentially annoying, magical creatures.
  6. Lumbering Herbivores: Plant eating dinosaurs, giraffes, other large creatures.
  7. Centaurs. They might be harmless or very hostile toward intruders passing by.
  8. Giant Beetles or Ants. As long as they don’t perceive the group as food.
  9. Rodent Swarms: Massive packs of rats, gophers, weasels or lemmings.
  10. Skunk! Possibly a giant skunk. Be nice or be smelly for days.
  11. Elementals: Creatures from the elemental planes of earth or air playing around.
  12. Strange Caravan. Why are they here? Are they who they claim to be?
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Positive Encounters:

If the group plays their cards right, makes nice, or shows kindness, something good might come their way.

  1. Wandering Merchant. Has only what he can carry and pull in a small cart.
  2. Monks. A small group of monks has been making their way across the land.
  3. Small Barbarian Band: 2d6+ Leader + Shaman. Kind and respectful.
  4. Horses. The group runs across 1d6 wild horses. No idea how they got there.
  5. Good Omen: A hawk circles overhead or some other sign of good fortune. +1 luck bonus on any one roll following seeing whatever it is.
  6. A discarded or abandoned chest containing random non-magical loot.
  7. An abandoned rickshaw or pull cart.
  8. Lost Troubadour. Will trade wine and song for company and safety.
  9. Benevolent Fae. Fairies and/or Brownies, Pixies or other easy going Fae.
  10. Retired Orc Warrior. Has a small homestead and a farm. Friendly.
  11. Someone’s dog. It’s very friendly. Follows the group. Begs for food/water.
  12. Abandoned Satchel. 3d12 Gold, scrolls with correspondence and a treasure map.
Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

Great News!

However, sometimes this could come with some other news…

  1. Benevolent Dragon! A Dragon with good intent lives nearby.
  2. Humanoid Caravan. 5 wagons looking for more. Looking for civilization.
  3. Magical Shelter. An abandoned magical tent that creates food and water.
  4. Abandoned magical carriage. May need parts or magic to power it.
  5. Shutdown Automaton. Will follow whomever reactivates it.
  6. Civilization! A small village of fewer than 100 beings welcomes the group!
  7. Wizard’s Tower. May or may not still be occupied. There may be loot?
  8. Big, Gentle, Sphinx greets you. He may be of assistance to the intelligent.
  9. A Large Oasis Appears. Edible fruit trees, fresh water, nearby camping space.
  10. Filthy Lucre Mountain! An overturned wagon with loot, possibly magical.
  11. A Ki-Rin descends from the clouds above to check out the party.
  12. An angelic being appears before the group. How can you help one another?

That’s it for this round of d12 tables. Scenarios to be added at a later date. Aquatic and Wasteland tables are also in the works. Oh, and the ever so popular (or dreaded) Dungeon encounters are coming.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Game on!

DCC RPG: Hexcrawling Around.

Your characters are everyday villagers, or maybe even young, budding adventurers in a run of the mill medieval fantasy village of Dunbury Glen. Dark forces have been at work, unseen in the background for years in the quiet farming/fishing village.

Welcome to my thought exercise/solo roleplay hexcrawl to start defining my new campaign world.

Hand drawn. Colored pencils. Starter map. (Already has a coffee stain.)

A Little Background: Your characters are everyday villagers, or maybe even young, budding adventurers in a run of the mill medieval fantasy village of Dunbury Glen. Dark forces have been at work, unseen in the background for years in the quiet farming/fishing village.

Black stone obelisks appeared in the fields and on the river bank. No one knew where they came from or when. It was if some great dark hand planted them during the night while everyone slept.

Then one day, it all changed. In the early dawn hours just before everyone would normally rise to do the daily chores, the entire village and much of the surrounding area was ripped from the very ground and flung across space and dimensions, possibly even time itself.

The PCs at first find themselves waking up to this strange new world. Everything is askew from the village’s abrupt landing in the new environment. Livestock and pets are behaving strangely. Crops somehow look different. We are definitely not in the proverbial kingdom of Kansas any more.

Things are just getting started. There are many questions to answer and ground to explore. We’re just beginning to uncover the mysteries.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

First Step: Dealing with the DCC Character Funnel. The characters’ lives have just been turned upside down when some unseen force wrenched the world that they possibly grew up in out of the ground and planted it millions of miles away. This makes it easy for the characters to have come from almost any walk of life waking up in this new reality.

The first and most obvious mystery will be the swirling dark portal at the center of the town square. It contains a dungeon suitable for 0 Level characters that will unlock part of the mystery regarding what happened to the village. Upon surviving, the characters will receive their 10 XP and First Character Levels.

At the Judge’s discretion, would-be adventurers can face trials and tribulations elsewhere, possibly just running around the village checking on friends and family in the wake of the disaster. All kinds of secrets lie within Dunbury Glen itself, including the “who” and “why” of what happened to the village. Eventually the group may wish to explore the mysteries surrounding the obelisks and assist the village in recovery.

However, the emergency town meeting held by the local baron and the village elders will take precedence over much of the day’s proceedings. The second way to proceed with the Character Funnel will be in the form of volunteers to explore the immediate surroundings outside the village. At first no one will be allowed to travel more than one day (A single hex) in any given direction. A hex will be worth 10 XP regardless of the encounters within, assuming the characters survive.

Please note there are only so many pack animals and mounts available to start. Certainly most horse owners will NOT want to part with their animals. If nothing else, the various animals are still panicky from being moved abruptly by unseen magical forces. The characters will all be on foot to begin their journey.

The third potential character funnel will come in the form of NPCs the characters know asking for help and support in the early days living in the new environment. The village could randomly come under attack from any number of threats, causing the 0 Level characters to come to its aid. The group should be rewarded accordingly in conjunction with their efforts.

Time to break out the 12-Siders.

Step 2: Random Tables and a Map.

To be continued…

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Lots more to come.

Thoughts On a New Space Campaign.

‘ve been inspired by “The Orville” as it is somewhat as I imagine someone’s starship RPG campaign to look like. Unlike other TV series that take themselves too seriously at times, I think many RPG groups do pretty much insist on dropping some witty side banter and the occasional humorous situation.

Picture, if you will, “The Orville” using Star Frontiers Rules.

The sheer awesomeness of Space Freighter One.
Art by @tinyworld96

Gonna try to make my friend on Twitter, @FreighterOne proud with this one. I’m contemplating writing a short series of adventures or at least an outline for 9-12 episodes. It’s going to be centered on a smaller starship crew (the PCs and a few select NPCs) traveling through space and their wacky adventures every week.

I’ve been inspired by “The Orville” as it is somewhat as I imagine someone’s starship RPG campaign to look like. Unlike other TV series that take themselves too seriously at times, I think many RPG groups do pretty much insist on dropping some witty side banter and the occasional humorous situation. I think gamers tend to take things less seriously than Hollywood most of the time, anyway.

The only question I’m having currently is which system to use?

Nothing new, right? I’m always sort of hemming and hawing about which system I want to use for any given game. This is a campaign calling for something easy to learn, easy to play, fast and fun. This campaign will be designed around getting a group together for about a dozen sessions, so nothing too complicated.
My short list of contenders for this game:

  • ICRPG by Runehammer. Warp Shell gives us some sci-fi/space context. It’s a very easy system to work with. I could almost create a generic series of adventures and fill in the details later.
  • FATE by Evil Hat. This game company has been on a roll as of late. I like FATE for its simplicity, ease of adaptation and spiffy dice.
  • FrontierSpace by DwD. I mentioned Star Frontiers earlier. This is sort of the next generation of SF. It’s a bit crunchier than the previous two games. I like it a lot because of its harder sci-fi edge.
  • D6 System by West End Games (Nocturnal Media.) I mean, it worked for Star Wars, right? Plus I can design ships and characters in my head in less time than it takes me to write them down. I can still run this game blindfolded.
  • Shatterzone by West End Games (Precis Intermedia.) If you follow my blog, you probably know I have lots of love for old WEG products and Precis Intermedia for keeping some of them going. Shatterzone has awesome backstory and a deep world design, but it is a bit crunchier than everything else on the list.

Other thoughts included Starfinder, Cortex, SWADE, EGS, MCC, and even D&D 5E. I’m trying to minimize the crunch and find a base set of core rules that most players will have good access to. At the same time, I want a product that is more easily licensed in the event I decide to publish the campaign on DriveThruRPG.

I think with Spelljammer coming out soon, it might be fun to run a space game for a few weeks. You can only do so much fantasy, right? I think a space game set in Earth’s future might be a fun change of pace.

The next part of the series will be the first two episodes.

I like to link the first two episodes of any campaign together and usually the last two or three episodes. What can I say? I take a lot of RPG inspiration from TV and movies. My more structured campaign style functions very well with that format.

I want to do all of this without railroading the players, but unfortunately most published RPG campaigns and many adventures tend to be somewhat railroady in their presentation. I have learned a lot from Monster of the Week in terms of presentation, though. I might create episodes as missions this time.

Thanks again for stopping by. Space Freighter One isn’t helping me with any game development and probably has no idea I mentioned it. I just really wanted to give a friend a shout-out. Please go visit their site if you get a chance. I can’t think of humor and starship without thinking of SFO.

Anime RPG is Mindset as Much as Ruleset.

My point is, you can slip a little of that anime flair into just about anything. Ask my college writing professors. It can be done. (*Pretty sure one of them retired early. I’m not saying it was my fault, but…)

With Dyskami dropping Anime 5E on us around June 1, it’s time to briefly discuss Anime as attitude and game system.

Dyskami Anime 5E

Btw, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m a bit biased toward this particular genre and anything Big Eyes, Small Mouth in general and have been for many years. I actually had the privilege of going to a Gen Con seminar with Mark MacKinnon all those years ago. I learned a lot about RPGs in general and anime/manga games in particular. I also think Lemmings in Space would be a hilarious but short-lived RPG. Mark and the team at Dyskami have delivered a wonderful new spin on this genre, attitude and rules.

*Note, if fantasy is less your jam and you want more cyberpunk/mecha/space anime action, I highly recommend BESM Fourth Edition from Dyskami. Anime 5E is very much fantasy genre oriented, being based on the 5E D&D rules. All of the races, classes, monsters, magic and other tropes are based around fantasy stuff.

But enough shameless promotion, on with the show!

Just as a writer can pick up different tones and perspectives while writing, RPGs can come with differing attitudes for GMs and players. If a writer is working on a horror novel, for example, the tone might be dark, gritty, and have almost a feeling of hopelessness hanging in the air. Where as a horror RPG might have rules for insanity; penalties for PCs casting dark, creepy ritual spells; and foreboding, unfathomable, undefeatable old gods and monsters.

What does one think of when we hear the term “anime” or “manga?” It’s a pretty broad genre. Japanese animation and comics cover a pretty large spectrum of subgenres such as horror, science fiction, fantasy and cyberpunk to name a few. Personally I think of giant robots and cyborgs followed by high flying fantasy martial arts and determined samurai. It’s a different flavor of roleplaying gaming all together.

If it’s an attitude, won’t any old RPG system work?

The short answer to this is: I guess. Mileage may vary.
The long, complicated answer is: Nope. Don’t do it. You’re trying to force a square peg into a triangular hole. There’s an easier way.

I love a lot of basic European style medieval fantasy RPGs. Pathfinder 2E, D&D, ICRPG, DCC, and dozens more. Orcs, elves, dragons and labyrinthine death dungeons are the order of the day for me. Good stuff. I can certainly approach those with the anime/manga mindframe. But, then the rules fall a lot short of the mark.

How do you pull off a 50′ anime character leap while wielding a Bisento as an unarmored samurai? How do we set the scene for a brief chibi moment during a long rest? What do you mean I can’t play a cat girl ninja? It’s just not in the rules. (In fairness, I did stat out cat folk and ninjas for ICRPG, but…) If you want anime rules for a “classic” game, it’s going to end up being heavily homebrewed.

If I’ve learned anything from being a GM/writer over the years, it’s don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If someone else has done the legwork for you in terms of an RPG system, by all means- beg, borrow, or steal as much as you can for your game. If another system does something better than the one you’re currently using it’s not like you’re married. Switch to what works or adapt bits as needed. If that means switching to a new ruleset, then by all means.

The question is always how far to go.

If your D&D game is running just fine with a few anime moments, then maybe stick to D&D proper. If you’re just borrowing a few tropes here and there with the Monk, Fighter (Samurai) and Rogue (Ninja) characters and the players are cool, stick with it. Maybe the characters yell a lot. There are some chibi character moments that don’t detract. Dragons are worshipped as gods in the campaign setting. Certain weapons and armor are re-skinned. Maybe add some homebrew rules for unarmored defense?

OR- things are crazy overly stiff an rule dependent and you’re dying to be able to do more cool stuff. Try an actual anime RPG and setting! As a GM, boot whatever seems too outrageous or unreasonable. It’s still your game!

The main thing is do what you, as a GM, and the players will have the most fun with. Typical fantasy settings don’t do mecha and/or firearms at all. Anime games have to such restrictions depending on the GM. Giant leaps are very possible in anime. Ninjas are more Naruto and Ninja Scroll than historical black pajama party. Stuff blows up more in anime games. Trust me.

Complicated Relationship Table.

Another advantage to anime games is the amount of character drama. I once drew a very complicated flow chart for myself to map out all of the very complicated relationships in an anime supers game I was working on. This person has a crush on this person, but is secretly liked by this other person who they want nothing to do with and so on. It ate a couple of entire pages of my notebook and looked like one of those crazy conspiracy theory board memes by the time I was done. It ended up being useful for dealing with specific character interactions, though. It made for a fun game, despite over 20 pages of NPC backstories. I might have overdone it a little.

Anime fits in with so many other tropes and themes.

SCS mecha by Zsolt Varga is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Anime does very well with several subgenres either as a separate game or as part of a preexisting one. Many anime videos exemplify this.

Horror- easy. I’m sorry, have you seen some of the scarier anime? Eesh. I don’t want to give video examples. Just… it’s the internet. Feel free to explore, okay?

Supers- Sentai, giant robots, psychic cops even four color heroes. Again, it’s an easy catch. Power Rangers, Patlabor, Witch Hunter Robin and Tiger & Bunny are great examples of video anime supers. In fairness, I have to mention Sailor Moon, which is the premiere magical girl supers anime. It’s also one of the older anime RPGs.

Fantasy- Such a broad category by itself. Fantasy anime covers things such as Record of the Lodoss Wars. (Fantasy anime emulating a fantasy rpg emulating Tolkien. Mind bending.) Ninja Scroll is serious fantasy anime, and brutal. Rurouni Kenshin is great fantasy samurai anime. One of my personal favorites, which is also sorta shoujo, Inu Yasha makes for amazing rpg fodder. I also highly recommend Princess Mononoke. I should also mention Full Metal Alchemist, too. Again, they’re all fantasy anime, each with its own unique angle.

Mecha and cyberpunk are more or less ready made for anime games. These two subgenres pretty much started out as anime. Masamune Shirow was a pioneer in both genres with Appleseed, Dominion Tank Police, Black Magic M-66, and Ghost in the Shell. Mecha anime would not be complete without a mention of Macross/Robotech just to start. I should also mention Gundam in all of the many series on video. There are a lot of other cyberpunk anime on video, many are ultra violent in nature. Likewise, I’ve barely scratched the surface of mecha anime on video. The RPG potential is almost unfathomably deep for both subgenres.

Action- Last is all of the action anime. This would work with any modern type RPG. It could be martial arts, detectives, pirates, demon hunters, or any other number of action tropes. There are more anime video examples than I could list. I would recommend Gunsmith Cats if you get a chance.

I realized I barely dove into inspirational videos.

Anime 5E Magical Cat Girl

I’m probably going to write more articles in the coming weeks/months about anime RPGs. I didn’t even mention many of the anime I’ve taken inspiration from over the years.

I’m a huge fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but I’m not sure how it would float as an RPG? I’d also recommend Big O and Giant Robo as both mecha and superhero anime. There’s also A.D. Police Files, Bubblegum Crisis and Bubblegum Crash. These series were all a mix of police, mecha, supers, and cyberpunk anime with a tiny bit of psychic stuff thrown in. Last, Starfinder fans especially would benefit from watching Iria: Zeiram the Animation.

Like many otaku, I could go on for hours mentioning tasty videos to watch. Bringing character concepts and tropes over to RPGs is a subject to approach with your GM. Likewise, GMs probably shouldn’t expect players to just jump blindly into an anime series if it’s not what they’re expecting.

More, much more to come. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Thanks.

Monster of the Week: Continuing the Conversation

I’m loving Monster of the Week more every day. This game is well-designed and has so much to offer new Keepers.

Monster of the Week by Evil Hat Productions.

MotW is a fascinating RPG.

I really dig this game, but it’s taking a little bit of getting used to. Specifically, the Keeper’s section. I’m probably going to have to run a couple of mysteries before I get the hang of the system.

I still feel like it’s a little stiff and rigid from the Keeper’s side of the table. Then again, I’ve always felt that PbtA in general is a push toward GM-less roleplaying. As I say often, if that’s what you’re into, go for it.MotW would be a tough run without a Keeper because someone has to come up with all the cool monster and plot stuff, right?

I keep coming back to Page 131.

I actually think MotW is great for new GMs (Keepers.) They give you a play-by-play how to way to run a game session. They give all kinds of really solid advice on running a #ttrpg. The core book gives two mysteries and walks the reader through how to run them.

How awesome is that if you’re brand new? I would have loved this back in ye olden days. I’m still wrestling with it mentally now. It’s like learning to run a game all over again.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It’s the same thing I’m already used to doing, but I never referred to it as “using moves.” Up until this came up, I never had a strict list of principles to stick with in order to run the game.

My long standing way of setting up a campaign (*Oops! Not supposed to say, “campaign” any more. Now they’re “plot points.”) So, my long standing way of setting up plot points is episodic in format. I plan 24 sessions/games. At one episode per week that’s about half the year give or take. It rarely works that way, but that’s how I plan it.

My original planning for this game was to set up 24 episodes with pretty specific agenda. So, I hit rewind. It’s going to be more of a sandbox now, kinda like I planned Power Rangers RPG campaign. (Which is also still in the works, btw.)

I’m going to build a set of case files that the group can fall back on for clues and in-character advice. They’re following a group of three hunters that have vanished or moved off grid for mysterious reasons. Not really X-Files, but more like Giles’ school library in early Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The group’s mystery files won’t cover every mystery, though.

I already know who the first season BBEG looks like and what they’ve got going on. We’re going to touch on some real world conspiracies and paranormal events. I already know who most of my Bystanders, Minions, and Monsters are going to be. I have most of the behind-the-scenes stuff worked out. I think we’re still going to do episodes, but they’re going to be more like story arcs and done similarly to the way they’re described in the MotW core rules.

They have a very nice template worked out for writing mysteries. They walk the reader through all of the steps of mystery creation. It’s brilliant! Other game companies could learn from Michael Sands.

In short, with any game system, harvest what you like, pass on the rest. There is no one set way to run a game, as many, many of us have said. I’m personally just struggling to learn and adapt to the PbtA way of doing things.

I’m going to be dropping some of my mysteries on here, since I’m not expecting my players will read my blog. Bwah Ha Ha. I’ll put trigger warnings on the really gruesome stuff. I have an in-game calendar of events in my head, depending on which hooks get a bite. <“evil” Grognard Keeper noises.>

Thanks for being here all. I appreciate you! Have a great weekend!

Inspiration for Dungeon Crawl Classics Material.

I am a big fan of the Beg, Borrow, and Become-Inspired-By school of campaign and dungeon design, however. What’s a game without homebrew materials? Especially one like DCC that strongly resembles old school D&D.

I borrow from other RPGs when building campaigns for just about anything.

I have three games that I am drawing a lot of inspiration for my DCC campaign. I’m building this game for fun, partly on here, partly just for fun. Three games immediately came to mind when I first read through DCC. They were Warhammer FRP (First Ed mostly,) Hackmaster, and Earthdawn.

I’d be remiss if I left off prior editions of D&D, but I think that should be pretty obvious. I really liked a lot of 3rd Ed. The Diablo 2 books were of particular interest for DCC given that game is almost a never ending dungeon romp. There are also some keen things in 4th Ed, oddly enough. I’m thinking of borrowing some items and abilities from that edition.

*Disclaimer: I’m not publishing anything that I borrow directly from any of these games. I am a big fan of the Beg, Borrow, and Become-Inspired-By school of campaign and dungeon design, however. What’s a game without homebrew materials? Especially one like DCC that strongly resembles old school D&D.

The 0-Level funnel and class abilities in DCC immediately made me think of Warhammer FRP.

Ran this a lot back in the day.

The first edition of WFRP was epic in its own right. The classes and utterly brutal combats made for an outstanding game. The combat and class abilities are a nice fit with DCC. I may actually consider pulling some of the classes over. They’re pretty simple. Heck, DCC is a pretty simple system to begin with.

DCC only has 10 class levels to work with. The previous 0-Level career also plays in a lot like good old WFRP’s mulitclassing options. Not to mention WFRP’s rich world and grim fantasy adventures. This system begs to be pillaged for spells, items, and character classes.

The Dungeon Crawls and overall camp value reminded me of Hackmaster.

Using a game that emulates another game for ideas in a game that emulates the same game… Deep thoughts.

I still have all of the Hackmaster books within easy reach on my shelves. I’m most likely going to pull some of the less cartoonish weapons and monsters from Hackmaster. Every time I look at DCC, I think of Knights of the Dinner Table. The Hackmaster sword, the Crossbow of Slaying, and a Fireball coming online.

Yes, Hackmaster is a campy take off of Rolemaster and old D&D, but it is hilarious and a lot like DCC in its delivery. Given a +2 weapon is noteworthy in DCC, I’m sure the big ticket items from Hackmaster will fit in quite nicely. The modules for Hackmaster are knockoffs of old D&D modules, so converting them should be fun. I also like Flateroy’s Guide to Fortification and plan on pillaging some from that book.

Last but not least is Earthdawn.

FASA really out-did themselves with this RPG in terms of campaign creation and world design.

I played a lot in the first two editions of Earthdawn. The Horrors are ridiculously powerful. Magic was its own sort of special. The gods? Long gone, IIRC. I miss a lot of the Earthdawn world

When I read through the magic system and saw the variable monster tables (*Demons, Dragons, etc) toward the back of the book, Earthdawn immediately came to mind. I think a few d12 tables of unspeakable random horrors would be good for DCC. I’m also considering adding Windlings to DCC and possibly Orks and as friendly races. I think adding Trolls and Obsidimen might be a bit too much.

Thanks for stopping by. More to come. Have a great week!

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