Let’s Talk About: More Classes in DCC RPG.

Here are some classes I’d like to see come into DCC RPG. Please remember Races have their own class in DCC, just like Basic D&D and some other OSR games. Some classes deemed mention in order to be ruled out or suggested as variants within preexisting classes.

One of the few issues I have with Dungeon Crawl Classics and some other OSR games is the lack of variety in the character classes/races.

I know. I know. It’s the Interwebs. I’m sure if we can think of it, someone out there has already done it or something similar. With enough time and digging, I’m sure I can find the magical answer to the question: Has this already been done? I will do that digging later. Then again, “Do yer research,” has some people believing the Earth is flat, so…

Here are some classes I’d like to see come into DCC RPG. Please remember Races have their own class in DCC, just like Basic D&D and some other OSR games. Some classes deemed mention in order to be ruled out or suggested as variants within preexisting classes.

Let’s start with some of the classes from AD&D:

Acrobat: They’re nimble, dodgy and athletic. They may excellent second story burglars. This simple adaptation of Thief would focus on Strength, Agility and mobility in combat.

Assassin: I feel to properly capture this class it would need to be a blend of Warrior and Thief. The variation on this would be Ninja, much as Samurai are an adaptation of Warrior.

Barbarian: Is pretty much just a Warrior with a gnarly attitude and usually some sort of large weapon. Strictly a roleplaying choice unless the Judge wishes to modify it.

Cavalier: Cool as it might be, this class would only be a fit for certain campaigns and maybe be better relegated to a variation on Warrior. Originally I did consider it.

Druid: I have two schools of thought on this and the Shaman. One is they’re just dressed-up Clerics. The second one is, heck yeah. Separate class! Shapeshifting, different spells, different social orders, exciting spellcasting restrictions. Let’s do it! Druids are in tune with nature more than their gods. Maybe they would require a different casting table with new and exciting consequences?

Monk: This is somewhat the Mystic from D&D Rules Cyclopedia. It’s a freaky cross between the Shao-Lin tradition and like a Benedictine monk. I think it has a place in DCC. I suppose an argument could be made for making them a roleplaying variation of Warrior or Cleric. I would give them a little of both.

Paladin: Again, seemed like a cool idea at first, but maybe not. This can be played as a slightly holier-than-thou Warrior or a zealous, more aggressive Cleric. Probably not a good basic OSR choice overall.

Ranger: As I love this class is other games, I’m really tempted to convert this. But, it could just be a very woodsy Warrior or Thief. Again, somewhat like the Mystic from D&D Rules Cyclopedia, living alone in the woods, studying Wizard spells while practicing with a bow and two-weapon fighting, stealth… Yeah. This one has the potential to get out of hand real quick, so probably no.

I think a good case could be made for less powerful versions of the Ranger such as Scout, Archer, or some sort of Dual Wield specialist. It’s ultimately up to the Judge as to whether or not to allow a class to make Warriors almost completely obsolete overnight. Maybe it is best left as a simple roleplaying variation on Warrior, Thief, or Elf.

Shaman: “But Jeff, that’s just another Cleric!” Yes, it could play out that way. But I think it’s a very viable class. For those who remember 2nd Ed AD&D, there were some pretty cool Druid and/or Shaman spells. Shaman would also tap into the spirit world a lot more and their spell table would reflect it. It seems a very viable option to me, but could be a roleplaying variation of Cleric or maybe even Wizard.

Porting a couple of classes in from video game land.

I’d like to see a few classes brought over from newer editions of D&D and/or a couple of my favorite video games.

Necromancer: I would dare say there are a fair number of players from Everquest, Diablo 2 and 3, as well as other games who would eat this up as a class beyond Wizard. A similar argument could be made for Enchanter/Artificer with automatons or suits of magic armor.

Warlock: Take the magic table and make it super harsh. Have some sort of Void beings, Fell hounds, Succubi, or other nasty demons as servants. (*ala World of Warcraft.) Give them supernatural patrons that would make the player’s skin crawl a bit. With great power comes great sacrifice. Maybe not quite so evil, just creepy.

Things I think would be fun to bring in from Blizzard properties:

(Oh don’t sue me. Please don’t sue me…) I would like to see the Diablo 2 AD&D magic item tables converted for DCC. I think it would be fun to give players the Wailing Fiery Broadsword of the Whale, as a made-up example. That way if they find a really cool item, they know it’s legendary. I might work something similar into my game. I also like the idea of using green, blue, yellow, purple, and gold sticky notes with the items on them to denote rarity. Could be fun.

I also think it would be cool to bring in a lot of the spells from both Diablo games and WoW. They’re mostly quickly cast offensive spells for Wizards. The only downsides I could see to this would be failed casting checks and the poor Wizards wearing out rapidly from repeated casts.

“Third wizard this week that had to be put down because he sprouted extra tentacles and an eyeball in the middle of his forehead.” –Bob, Warrior Extraordinaire

I’m sure there could be cases made for bringing in all kinds of things unofficially from other RPGs, video games, and even movies/tv. (Krull’s spiky blade thing, for example.) I’m also giving thought to making my own campaign world where I can slip in a bunch of these character concepts, spells, and items.

Next time, I’ll cover races and possibly a few other class options that might be fun. I appreciate you! Thanks for being here!

Fantasy TTRPGs- Starting a Dungeon

Dungeon crawls. Why do they exist and who would build such a thing?

Giving the dungeon, and the module, a backstory.

Whether I’m creating a typical five room dungeon or a massive underground mega sprawl, the first question that always comes to mind is: why? And the why actually goes both ways. Why would anyone in their right (medieval fantasy) mind want to build the complex, possibly underground at all? Furthermore, why would a group of characters want to go into a dank underground complex full of terrible traps and drooling, slobbering monsters?

Now, not every dungeon adventure the party is going to face is necessarily underground. It could be a hedge maze, an old manor, a shipwreck, or something even stranger. The question always remains, why is it there?

Who built it and for what purpose?

Not every dungeon is built for a reason. Some occur naturally. But every dungeon is inhabited for a reason. (Or worse, abandoned for a bigger reason.) I mean, every creature needs a home, right? Even drooling, slobbering, scary monsters gotta live somewhere.

But a true dungeon, a real stereotypical fantasy underground complex, springs to life with a legitimate reason of some sort in mind. I find it important to decide on a cause before I start construction so I know what the centerpiece of the place is going to be. Bear in mind, a truly huge dungeon would take thousands of man hours and gold coins or lots of magic in order to build it safely. Guards and traps are extra, of course.

Then we come to the who. Sometimes it’s obvious from my GM/DM’s perspective that said BBEG or villain needs a cool lair. Sometimes (Out of character) I need a particularly deadly place to stash some epic loot the party might need some time down the road. Other times yet, it’s just for flavor, like a sidetrack or incidental.

The builder’s in-character motive always comes to mind as well. Maybe it’s a tomb full of stone soldiers constructed in memory of a forgotten general. Perhaps a power mad necromancer needed a secluded place to build his golem in peace. (Darn villagers with their torches and pitchforks…) It’s possible a well meaning group of beings long ago wanted to seal away a gate to their realm. It could be the lair of an innocent Ancient Red Dragon that just wanted to keep it’s modest filthy lucre mountain safe before he can donate it to the orphans. Maybe a group of well meaning good samaritans wanted to seal something truly horrific away forever and throw away the key. Still another reason might be to bury a powerful artifact away from those who would abuse its power.

These are mere examples. We could go all day and night coming up with cool reasons to build a dungeon. The history and lore should play an important role in the next step: getting the player characters in the door. To be continued…

Fantasy TTRPG: The ‘Why’ of Dungeon Crawling.

One of my favorites is the group stumbles onto the thing completely by accident through a buried entrance or random hole in the ground. “While doing your character’s business off the trail, he stumbles into a hole and plummets 30 feet into (dungeon room number 1.)”

I like to give players a reason for their character to enter the spooky underground maze of despair and certain doom.

Picking up where we left of yesterday. Why would anyone in their right mind enter an underground complex full of locked doors, deathtraps, and horrifying foul creatures of every sort? Okay, beyond the motivation of, “We’re perpetually angry thieving murder hoboes looking for the filthy lucre mountain to steal.”

What is the hook of the dungeon going to be? What can I put out there to get at least one player, if not the whole group motivated to go traipsing down into The Lair of the Vampiric Devil Dragon? What logical reasons could there be for wanting to cheat death? Okay, aside from it being a fantasy game.

The two most basic kinds of motivation: Intrinsic or Extrinsic.

We’ll start with the complicated reasons- the intrinsic kind. Maybe the group wants to rescue someone. Maybe the lost component of someone’s backstory lies within. Perhaps the lich that built the place is someone’s great grandfather. In extreme cases, it might be to keep some really frightening thing from ending the world. Whatever the intrinsic reason is, it’s something motivated by the characters themselves.

By comparison, extrinsic reasons are pretty simple. The group has a reason to believe wealth, fame and fortune lie within. They’ve been promised a great reward for braving the depths and retrieving the MacGuffin. Gold and magic items top the list of extrinsic motivators.

There’s always basic curiosity and dumb luck.

All of us veterans know some hooks by heart. For example: a ragged looking wizard stumbles into the inn with a map in his hand. He falls over dead in the middle of the group’s table, dropping the map in the unsuspecting rogue’s lap after muttering something about an ancient curse.

One of my favorites is the group stumbles onto the thing completely by accident through a buried entrance or random hole in the ground. “While doing your character’s business off the trail, he stumbles into a hole and plummets 30 feet into (dungeon room number 1.)”

Last, there’s always basic curiosity. Rumors abound at the inn about a miner’s discovery of a door covered in an ancient, unknown dialect. The cleric’s order recently unearthed a series of forgotten vaults underneath their oldest temple. Why is the humble town of Tristram suddenly under siege by hordes of demons and undead? Who lives in the Death Fortress on Skull Island? There might be some sick loot in the old ruins at the top of the hill.

Whatever the reason, good luck to you and your players. Thank you for being here. I appreciate you!

Creating Worlds

But here’s the kicker- you don’t need all of that. Even in a completely random game or fictional environment, location is just another plot element.

The Multiverse is HUGE!

I’ve been playing space games since around 1982. I grew up watching Star Wars and Star Trek. For the longest time, I’ve thought about the vastness of space.

There are billions of stars out there. There are billions of planets around them. Now, those billions of planets, there are billions upon billions of moons. By this logic, how many of them support life of some sort? It staggers the imagination.

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Want to go another step deeper? The human eye can only perceive maybe 3% of what’s actually out there. Take any “regular” planet and add the onion layers of dimensional energy beyond human sight. Then include the notion of time and alternate timelines.

Whew! Now we’re pretty deep in this particular rabbit hole. And I’m only talking about ONE planet! What else is out there?

We humans haven’t even explored a vast amount of Earth. That’s the “normal” realm. Imagine the amount of those myriad onion layers of dimensions can be explored within the sphere of one planet.

Did I really just go there?

Yes, build rockets and warp engines to go explore. Sure. Hyperspace is potentially one of those onion layers of energy I was talking about above. Traveling at speeds beyond mere human comprehension is one of the great mysteries we struggle to overcome in fiction and real life.

Once we get out there, and we discover a new planet, it’s going to have all those facets to potentially explore on top of whatever sentient three dimensional creatures we might encounter.

So the next time you’re writing about “strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations,” just remember that we’re talking about an infinite source of adventure and wonderment. Please also remember not everything in the Universe is determined to kill, probe, or eat humans.

Ha! I bet some of you thought I wasn’t going to bring this back around to fiction. I’ve seen so many RPG sourcebooks and charts try to simplify planet creation. I mean, yes you literally can roll dice all day and determine populations and weather patterns. I’m sure Traveler probably has an entire sourcebook dedicated to it.

But here’s the kicker- you don’t need all of that. Even in a completely random game or fictional environment, location is just another plot element. GMs- save yourself the headache and just describe it the way you want to fit it into the story. I mean, unless you really are worried about how many milliliters of rain fall on the opposite side of the planet from where your characters currently are. (Not trying to squash anyone’s fun here.)

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you! Take care. See ya soon.

Collateral Damage in Superhero RPGs

Another gruesome point to be made, while we’re on the subject. You’re a giant transforming robot from another planet here to save the day. You are walking down the street. You hear a kinda crunchy squishing sound. Do you dare lift up and inspect the bottom of your foot? (Cringe.)

Sometimes it’s worth reminding the heroes they’re supposed to protect someone.

Superman punches Doomsday through five or six large Metropolis buildings. The Avengers thwart an invasion from space while wrecking entire sections of New York City. The Power Rangers regularly blow up mega sized baddies in the middle of the city in massive explosions. Ever notice there never seems to be anyone squished in these battles.

Moreover, you never see that many new buildings going up in Power Rangers and only rarely do we ever see fire crews and ambulances picking people up. Police? Fictionally speaking, you never see anyone beyond the occasional parking cop or comedy relief.

*Disclaimer: we are purely talking fiction. Real police, fire, and medical personnel are amazing. Lots of love for them.

Just another day in downtown Angel Grove.

Too much realism is sort of a bad thing in superhero games.

Nobody wants innocent bystander injuries or worse on their conscience in a game. It’s pure escapist fantasy. Most superheroes would hang up their capes and tights if hundreds of people were getting injured as a result of their actions.

Not to mention the hours upon imaginary hours that would be spent in front of a judge. In Avengers terms, Tony Stark would spend more time in court defending just the Hulk’s actions after every battle than running his own company. Yeesh.

Senseless fictional property damage is fun and all, but can you imagine the amount of insurance payouts that must occur in some of these superhero cities? No one in their right mind would stay in Metropolis. The property values of Angel Grove must be insanely cheap after every Megazord battle.

Which is okay, because the insurance rates are through the roof. $10K+ per month house insurance? $5K+ per month car insurance? C’mon down to Angel Grove Insurance for shockingly low payouts and insane premiums today. Because Megazord battles make us wish the entire city was just a bunch of Styrofoam and cardboard models.

Another gruesome point to be made, while we’re on the subject. You’re a giant transforming robot from another planet here to save the day. You are walking down the street. You hear a kinda crunchy squishing sound. Do you dare lift up and inspect the bottom of your foot? (Cringe.)

Needless to say, it’s probably easier to just say everyone escaped with only minor injuries. Buildings have fire, tornado, earthquake, and kaiju evacuation plans. Your character’s family bakery is flat, but somehow your family and all of the midday customers made it out alive.

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Real collateral damage can be a red flag for some players.

I think honest, open discussions are becoming more important than ever during Session Zero of superhero games. There are so many of us out here in the real world who have been in horrendous traumatic events that it’s important that we all agree to some boundaries so everyone has fun.

In superhero game terms, it might be most effective to use the Comics Code Authority standards or even create something more tame. I tell my players we keep it somewhere between four color supers violence and cartoon violence. I grew up during the Iron Age of comics, and we really just don’t need that level of blood, guts, and gore in a game.

I’m also going to remind my Power Rangers players regularly that they might want to lead the baddies out of town or into some abandoned area of the city. That way the massive propane explosion of the megabaddie doesn’t wipe out an entire residential district. I may also do a couple of comedy relief insurance investigators snooping around to try to bill the Rangers for all the damage. I’m also constructing a subplot around one of the Rangers parent’s business getting squished. At least let the players think about some of their actions.

Out in the real world, stay healthy. Stay safe. Thank you for being here.

Multiversal Misadventures

Reality is fluid. Different reality timelines are created with every decision. Chicken and waffles for lunch? Somewhere in the Multiverse you became Vegan. Somewhere in the multiverse, a version of you is a billionaire.

It’s becoming more common in RPGs.

One of my favorite comics of all time is Crisis on Infinite Earths because I read a lot of the comics before and after the big change happened in the 1980’s and I’ve tried to follow most of the DC reality shifts since. There have been many. More recently Marvel has gotten into the act with all the Infinity Gauntlet business. Okay, so it’s been a few decades. Anyway…

I used to bemoan Star Trek for their reality/time screw plots. The only true reality mix-up of the Star Trek: Next Generation series that I truly enjoyed was All Good Things Parts 1 and 2 and that was the end of the series. Dr Who was a different story because monkeying with the timestream and reality is the Doctor’s main thing. Yet Star Trek is a far easier game to run for me.

But I see this coming up more and more in RPGs these days. Power Rangers RPG from Renegade Studios actively encourages players and GMs to change the canon storyline and mess with major villains. Power Rangers has alternate realities built into its canon. My first campaign takes place on Earth 129, where Rita and Zed won’t be making an appearance right away.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing in the real world, it’s not just science fiction.

My wife thinks I’m nuts, but at least I’m harmless.

I promise, my coffee isn’t spiked and the mushrooms on my pizza are very normal. In the spiritual community especially, we talk about higher timelines. Try to imagine an Earth where the dinosaurs never became extinct. Or maybe a certain US president was never assassinated. Or maybe an Earth where the alternate version of you insists on eating toast for breakfast every day.

If this sort of thing appeals, please look up The Mandela Effect. Some of us remember certain products having a different label. The Berenstain Bears had a different spelling. Nelson Mandela died in prison following a hunger strike. Basically, some of us get certain history facts “wrong” because we remember it differently. I experienced one of these shifts directly once and it was brief, but incredibly intense. Deja vu is another example of this effect.

Another similar theory is parallel to the movie The Matrix. If you look up David Icke, he explains it well. Basically our reality is a simulation from an extraterrestrial or extradimensional beings, or possibly humans from the future trying to prevent global catastrophe. It’s a bit deep for some. Whenever you hear someone talk about “a glitch in the Matrix,” alternate reality theory is what they are referring to.

Back to RPGs for now.

A good friend of mine once ran a Star Wars campaign where the PCs killed Darth Vader and stopped the Emperor in his tracks after the first Death Star was destroyed. Reality shifts can be fun in some RPGs because it makes the PC’s actions matter much more to the overall story, which is ultimately what we all want as role players.

The same GM and I were also building a Mutants & Masterminds game where a city was leveled by a nuclear blast. A terrorist supervillain went supernova and wiped out a sizeable number of mainline story characters, so the PCs were going to have really big shoes to fill. Picture something akin to Marvel’s New Mutants taking over for the Avengers. Like I said in the beginning, this kind of thing happens in comic multiverses all the time.

More later. Or at least in my current reality timeline. (Wink wink.) Have a good week.

Let’s Talk About FUDGE-ing It!

Here’s the awesome fact about FUDGE: It can be used to substitute for ANY RPG System. I’ve seen people adapt preexisting character sheets from other games into FUDGE. You can be as ridiculously detailed as you want, or as easy going as you need with this game. Not only does this game suggest ways to deal with attributes and skills, but it actively encourages you to borrow from other games! Is that amazing or what?

FUDGE is a derivative of FATE from Grey Ghost Press.

As of this writing it is still available FREE on Grey Ghost’s website. I highly recommend everyone go get a free copy of this game and see what it can do for you. I know a couple of other GMs that swear by this system for a lot of things.

This is the title page of FUDGE.

It’s a little older TTRPG, but I think every GM who has ever gotten frustrated with another game system should really give it a look. It’s also a great jumping-in point if you want to design your own RPG from scratch. It’s kind of like GURPS only far less crunchy and as easy to learn as you want it to be.

FUDGE has elements that will look familiar from other games, or possibly we wish they did.

[Editor’s note: I’d give a nickel for good old Matt Mercer to plug this game, but WotC would probably have a conniption fit.]

Here’s the awesome fact about FUDGE: It can be used to substitute for ANY RPG System. I’ve seen people adapt preexisting character sheets from other games into FUDGE. You can be as ridiculously detailed as you want, or as easy going as you need with this game. Not only does this game suggest ways to deal with attributes and skills, but it actively encourages you to borrow from other games! Is that amazing or what?

I was talking to a very wise friend of mine today about converting a well-known mecha and magic rpg into FUDGE. You can use the scaling in FUDGE to cover everything from superheroes to giant space robots. Magic is but a footnote here, too. Yeah, there’s spells and then there’s scaled up spells!

Much like FATE and other universal core systems, you can customize everything.

Sure, borrow from D&D if you like. Or, if that’s not your jam, as may be the case with several members of the community these days, you can make up all your own skills spells, items, and powers. This game encourages players and GMs to get together and combine their brain powers into a giant… well, you get the idea. Grow your game world and campaign the way YOU want to see it.

Like the Elves in Pathfinder? Great, use em. You like the Wolfen in Palladium? Great, add em in. It takes seconds to stat most things up once you’ve been playing FUDGE for a while. Jedi? Easy. You’re literally a couple of power suggestions away. Magic sword? Easy. (Almost as easy as ICRPG, but we’ll cover that another day.) Basically, if you can describe it, you can build it.

Please be thoughtful when building items, spells, and such. GMs will still want to keep some kind of balance, probably… We’re funny that way, us GMs. We want you to have fun, but please don’t one-shot all the monsters with your Wand of Orcus Fireball cannon-thing? Please? That Tarrask had a family. (Typo intentional to protect the innocent.)

Fair warning, combat can be super deadly or a bit abstract depending on how your GM wants to play it. If Mr Tarask steps on your character, well, that might be a Superb wound and back to character creation you go… Much like firing an anime style missile volley onto the Snurfs village. (You get the idea.) Pelting a mech with snurfberries and little tears will still prove futile.

One thing I should mention is that with the way this game comes together, you can use it to emulate many different genres. Space Opera like Star Wars is a good example. You don’t have to go through every book and movie and stat out every single creature and vehicle unless you really have that kind of time. It works superbly for anime style play; being as bold and outrageous as you’d like. You can also emulate Toon style slapstick comedy with just a few rules modifications. Whatever you come up with, you can FUDGE it.

It is so remarkably easy and fun to build things with FUDGE. Please go check it out. I had forgotten how much I love playing around with these mechanics and I love any excuse to pull out my FATE dice.

Hope your week is going well. Please, stay safe and be kind to all you meet out in the real world. (No Snurfs of any kind were harmed in the making of this blog. Their little mushroom houses grew back with a little magic. All is well.)

Sandbox vs Structured

I don’t think this is a matter of better vs worse as much as preference. Please do what works best for you and your group.

Is it “Railroading?”

About a month ago, I had a discussion with someone about using a more open-ended story structure when writing RPG adventures. We came to the consensus, as many have in the past, that it’s probably better to treat one shot adventures (modules) as a closed structure like a play or a novel. Now, that’s okay for published works. But what about other events?

I used to run literally everything as a closed structure, only to hear comments about “getting run over with the plot wagon,” or “being tied to the railroad tracks.” I take it with a grain of salt at conventions because, again, that’s how they’re supposed to look. At home it’s kind of a bitter pill to swallow sometimes.

Yes, I have certain plot points I prefer the party would get to. Looking at my upcoming Power Rangers RPG series, I have a mix of both styles. Some episodes are going to be pre-planned, especially the two and three part season opener and finale along with some episodes scattered throughout. For everything else, there are random tables and asking the players what they want to do.

I think a certain degree of more structured adventures has its place in campaigns. Dungeon crawls are usually laid out A to B to C and so on. It all usually leads to that boss fight on Level 3 of the dungeon. Or at least back in the day that’s what we did. Nowadays players are somehow more sophisticated? Sometimes I’m still down to break down a door with an axe and smash an orc in the face with a mace. Dungeon Crawl Classics and other OSR games are truly grand for this playstyle.

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Choo Choo! Plot train comin through!

I also think it’s okay for new players and very casual players to experience a more structured playstyle. My family group falls into this category. My kids are new enough to gaming and their characters are new enough to adventuring, that the structure keeps things flowing along. My wife is a very casual player, and will go along with just about anything as long as we’re having fun.

My wife has managed to derail campaigns in the past. Her druid cast Comet Fall on a mill that my BBEG Vampiric Ancient Black Dragon happened to be sleeping under. Um… during the day. <poof!> Days of planning up in smoke. She makes good snacks for the group, though. Lol! I couldn’t exactly deprive the group of the victory. They were smart enough to find it without being discovered.

Ironically, the Dungeon Crawl Classics game that I’m planning is going to be mostly sandbox. Actually, I’m doing it as a Hex Crawl. Yes, there will be some premade dungeons and those are structured.

I wanted to add some good old flavorful exploration to my DCC game. Maybe they’ll run into some dinosaurs and other hazards normally found outside of a dungeon along with way. My main focus was to set a game in unfamiliar environs so the group has to explore. Survival will depend on it . They’re going to be in a completely untamed and unexplored (by them) world. As a GM, I’m not even going to know more than a hex or two at a time what’s going to be there.

Example of explored Hex Crawl area.
As I plan to “wing it.”

I think a lot of us in the community have determined a mix of both is best.

Okay, I could possibly be wrong. A lot of it depends on your group, too. If you’ve got a group that’s been together for ages, there’s a lot more leeway in what you can get away with. For example:
DM: I want to start a new D&D campaign on Thursday night at 5:00. (Let’s pretend there are no schedule conflicts…)
Player 1: Forgotten Realms?
DM: As usual.
Player 2: Standard character gen? 4d6 drop lowest. Reroll 1’s.
DM: You know it.
Player 3: Can I play a Warforged Druid Circle of Cenarius WoW homebrew?
Rest of the Group: Groan!
DM: Do we ever say yes to this?
Player 3: Regular Elf Druid, then?
DM: Yup.
Player 4: Got anything planned for adventures yet?
DM: Nope. Don’t need to. Lemme see all your backstories first.
Player 5: We doing a Session Zero for this one?
DM: Anything change since the last Session Zero?
(Everyone looks at one another.)
Player 5: Don’t think so?
DM: Awesome saucesome. Please have your characters and backgrounds ready next Thursday. See you at 4:30. Please bring chili fixins.

DMs with a steady group have an easier time running on the fly than pugs or one shots at conventions for example. They can build off of player character backgrounds. They can improvise. They can even pull out old material and rearrange a few things. A DM with a steady group can even do something off-the-wall occasionally like dropping the group into Ravenloft, and not get too much static for it.

If the group doesn’t know one another, Session Zero is pretty much needed if the group is going to go awhile. My sense of humor is pretty raw and a couple of my children might not have a language filter for example. My DM shenanigans might not run as well with some new players, so I try to stick to published mods early on with new players until we get used to each other.

Otherwise, my group who knows me will be on the lookout for crazy good homebrew artifacts, one PC being the designated harbinger of doom, and at least one person in the party becoming my pet weird luck magnet. That’s only a small part of it. Wait until I say, “Roll a d12…”

Established groups know they can mess with major global events in a campaign world and there will be ramifications down the line. Entire storylines might change. Certain well-known canonical characters might disappear entirely. It’s easier to flex and bend when people in the group aren’t likely to correct the DM on canon, too. Plus, my group knows me and my disregard for Spellhintster and Fritz the Drow.

My default advice is always do what works best for you and your players. If practically running off of a script is your jam, then by all means. There is no wrong way to RPG, and anyone who says otherwise obviously needs to examine their own choices. Some styles and techniques just work a lot better than others. Find your flow with your group and have lots of fun even if it’s a one-shot at a convention!

Please, stay healthy. Stay hydrated. Have fun this weekend. See ya soon.

Power Rangers RPG Campaign Season One- GO!

My intention here is to enjoy building the campaign, share its construction with you, and hopefully not get in massive copyright trouble.

Power Rangers Lightning Force.

I’m putting this together because one of my kids already has his character put together before I’ve even shown him the PDF. This kid is stoked for Power Rangers RPG. Which of course got me excited to build a campaign.

I mentioned last time I had a plan for villains. I may have to take this whole thing down, so I’m going to do this the wrong way all in. My villains for Season One are referred to as The Triumvirate. They are Generals Gnarl, Krohn, and Slayn. Besides Putties, each General has his own types of troops.

Of course, I’m borrowing heavily from the Warhammer 40K Universe for villains and (probably miniatures, too.) I have plans for Season Two to revolve around Dreench and his Machine Empire. (Machine Empire is borrowed for the bootleg Power Rangers movie, but I’m not going all ultra violent with this.)

There is a LOT of stuff behind the scenes in this series and I’m excited to discuss more. I’m not going to use “demons” or even “daemons” so much as freaky, somewhat campy, rubberized suit versions of many of the 40K Chaos monsters. Obviously I have to tone Khorne way down from the usual frightful mess that he is.

General Gnarl is basically Nurgle. I’m going to have his creatures be a slimy mess and we’re probably going to do a Halloween episode where he raises zombies from the town cemetery. General Slayn has a lot of sound based monsters, such as a kind of cartoony thrash metal guy. Slayn will mess with the Rangers’ powers, too.

That’s going to lead us to Season One Part Two: Super Lightning Force. where basically the Rangers get access to new Zords, new powers, and a new Megazord. So far we don’t have a Pink or White Ranger planned. There’s also other Ranger Aspects, such as Gold, that I want to introduce.

I don’t plan to use any GW images and I’m going to be really careful with the Ranger art that I put here on the site. My intention here is to enjoy building the campaign, share its construction with you, and hopefully not get in massive copyright trouble.

My plan is to run episodes like the TV Series.

Other than my distinct plots for the two-part episode to start, episode six, twelve, and 22-24, I don’t have specific plots for the episodes. We’re going to run monster of the week type stuff in between. We might even be looking at doing two episodes per game session depending on how fast the format goes.

I’ll talk more about pacing in my next installment. If you watch any of the Power Rangers TV series, like- ever, there’s a pretty distinct formula to most of them and it changes very little from one series to the next all the way from Mighty Morphin all the way up to Dino Fury? Which one are we on now? (Honestly, my youngest has watched Ninja Steel about three times all the way through. I dunno what’s current.) There are some distinctly different episodes in every series, but some episodes are pretty formulaic and I’ll break it down for you next time.

There is so much behind the scenes I haven’t even discussed yet.

Lightning Force is going to be set on the East Coast of the United States unlike most of the other series that seem to take place out in California. I’m borrowing some from Angel Grove, but I want to call the town Bennet’s Cove. I know I originally said I was going to keep Angel Grove, but I kinda want to make this more original and I’m no stranger to designing fictional cities. I might be using some really awesome products for ICONS RPG. I love Stark City for building a lot of superhero stuff.

The best plot point and creation of the entire series hinges on the fact that Lightning Force is set in an alternate Earth timeline. Tentatively it is Earth 129. Rita Repulsa from a different timeline threw a spell that had unintended consequences across several Earths. Zordon from Earth 129 knows most of what happened, but will keep it a secret.

One of the changes is Alpha Four or “Alphour” as we’re calling him. I’m going to sketch him as a sort of praying mantis style robot with a more serious tone and demeanor than the dreaded Alpha Five of the TV series and Rangers RPG main book. Honestly, I’m one “Ay yi yi yi-yi.” away from jumping out of a window. I wanted a slightly more serious helper for Zordon. She’s going to have almost a creepy tone to her voice, like the one Google uses. I’m going to do a whole bit with the group and her being able to change her voice at will.

I’ve got other plot stuff in mind that I’m going to discuss later, along with a timeline build for the campaign. I’m pretty excited about this. We’ve got villains, monsters, a place to roam… Next time we’ll talk about the Zords and some other plotlines.

Have a great weekend. Stay safe. Please stay healthy. See you soon,

Power Rangers RPG Campaign

I looked at the character sheet for the new Power Rangers RPG and I can’t help but to want to build a campaign.

I just saw the character sheet for this game…

And like so many other character sheets, it got me thinking. There is so much potential for this particular RPG to be outstanding in my collection as a GM. I have four kids who are all huge fans of the series, plus my wife is a huge fan of the original Green Ranger played by Jason David Frank.

I’m going to walk through some of my design process without a system attached on here just for fun. The first thing I want to consider is the version of Earth’s timeline or alternate Earth. This happens in several Power Ranger series and is referenced throughout some seasons. Personally, I love cameo appearances by rangers from older series. Megaforce was probably my favorite for this reason.

The opportunities presented by this new RPG are just too juicy to pass up.

Looks very familiar. Similar to D&D.

Needless to say, we’re going to probably start with an alternate timeline to Mighty Morphing. I mean, the original characters were cool and all, but why not kick it up a notch? Think about it. The Time Force Rangers knew alternate Earths exist. What’s to keep our old original arch enemy, Rita Repulsa from doing the same? What if she cast a spell that broke the time/space/dimensional barrier?

I’m going to start out with Lord Zed as the main bad guy in Season One of Power Rangers, uh… ooh. We need a name. Power Rangers Lightning Force. Okay, I can work with that. My 12 year old already has his character designed, like the minute I mentioned it. He wants to play Blue Phoenix. Can you tell he’s excited?

The idea here is not to just replay the old scripts.

Hence an alternate timeline. We’ll keep a few things here and there, but let’s mix and match. Gonna try to go slightly more serious than the Bulk and Skull type characters, but not as dark as the 15 minute remake with Katee Sackhoff that got banned. (Loved it for what it was, but yeesh. Dark…)

The characters are still going to start out as high school students in detention together. We’ll have a Breakfast Club type opening with them all in weekend detention together. My wife will probably want to play Tommy Oliver as a girl, if I had to guess. Tommi Oliver it is. I want to minimize the use of NPC rangers, but so far I’m betting I’ll have three or four solid players at the most with my wife and oldest popping in and out. My youngest is still learning how to play games and sit still, so he might get relegated to GMs helper to begin with.

I’m going to plan on the team only having four colors starting out.

We can always add more later, right? The original team for Lightning Force will be Red (Dragon) Blue (Phoenix) Black (Chimera?) and Green (Pegasus?) I may have to recruit a player or two online and adjust. Again, we’re in the development phase, so nothing is locked down. I’m feeling a very magical flying monster vibe so far.

We’re going to leave the gang in Angel Grove but I’m thinking the population might change. Ever notice how monsters regularly rampage through the town, smashing buildings and crushing cars? Why don’t we ever hear about innocent bystanders during these battles? I want there to be some kind of consequences to not leading the giant monsters out of town whenever possible. Who’d want to live in that town? Can you imagine the real estate nightmares? But I digress…

In the next installment of this campaign building series, let’s talk about the bad guys a bit. I want something more than a gold monkey with wings. I’m kinda considering borrowing extensively from a gaming company that is no stranger to trademark lawsuits. Think of it as a tribute to 40K. But if I’m flirting with danger, why not go all in?

Til then, take care. Please stay healthy. Eat your vitamins, drink plenty of water, get some exercise, get some sleep, and avoid giant monsters rampaging through your town if you can. Game on.

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