Boldly Going…

A bit of context: Since 2009, before I even lived in Southampton, I ran a game of D&D there and made friends with some people, one of whom I consider a close friend and who I still meet with weekly to play RPGs.

Usually we play D&D (4E, now 5E) but after unsuccessfully ending our excursion into Ravenloft in a TPK (Every time he DMs the party dies!) we opted to try out the relatively new Star Trek Adventures by Mophidius.

I must admit that I was slightly offput by the Mophidius affiliation. I used to play Infinity a lot, and saw their alpha/kickstarter preliminary release for that as an RPG. Frankly I thought it sucked. Clunky and generic, it didn’t inspire me to even give it an attempt at playing so I didn’t bother with the kickstarter.

I was also afraid at the rate of which they seemed to be acquiring licences to various IPs and churning out RPGs based on them using their ‘2d20 system’. It’s not that I have anything against them as a company, I just wonder how focused a small company can be when they’re producing new games at a rate of knots! However despite my apprehension the system looked interesting. It seemed to draw on mechanics from FATE and used a d20 pool based system which in itself is a bit novel.

Aside from D20s the game uses special 6 sided effect dice that are marked 1/2/-/-/*/*  You can get a set of 4 of these and 3 d20s for about £18 retail which is about twice what a sensible price point should have been. I made my own using blank dice and a handheld engraving tool. I get that it’s got the Star Trek licence, but at the same time it’s not an excuse to gouge prices.

Additionally despite the sexy LCARS computer style of the layout and design, the game lacks Klingons which is clearly being held for a future splatbook. Considering they are a protagonist race I was surprised. I understand that they’re not in the federation but again they must have realised that players would want to play a Klingon – although it would probably require a lot of exceptions and become the ‘drow’ of the system!

Anyway onto the system – the core mechanic – an attribute + a skill to determine the target number which you have to roll equal to or under is fine. It’s all of the other stuff stapled on – there’s values, momentum, determination, talents and traits. All of these are basically FATE aspects and fatepoints with a different name and made much more confusing. Momentum is something you get by achieving more successes than you need and can be used to buy extra dice or re-roll damage and other effects. Basically FATE points. But they are applied in a very metagaming heavy method.

Case in point are the skill challenges – some of them are literally unachievable unless you have maxed out stats and the corresponding focus and pump a lot of momentum into it. They get easier as you succeed but the odds of succeeding initially are extremely low. Add to that a time factor and if you screw up the first roll you might as well be toast!

Ship to ship combat is a nightmare too. We have been playing pre-written adventures so it’s not a case of a bad GM.

That being said, I really like the setting and it tries to incorporate a lot of Star-Trek like themes. However, we’ve decided to axe the system and use FATE instead because ultimately that is what the system obviously was based on before it got ‘2d20’ stapled to it’s face!

 

 

I Never Asked For This…

Jensen Meme

SitRep

So despite a plethora of illness* this past year, I’m trying to keep sane by focusing on my 2 main hobbies – Pokémon & RPGs – while I recover. I’ve managed to expand playing RPGs to 2 nights a week which is a major achievement considering health and previous commitments.

Miniature games aren’t really holding my interest due to the time investment required coupled with the sheer lack of local communities that I want to be a part of, (and I really don’t have the stamina to chivvy another community along after the last time). I still enjoy painting and that side of things though.

My lovely other half is quite busy with studies so even playing casual GW stuff at home isn’t really happening though Terraforming Mars is proving to have been worth the investment. (Seriously when it’s back in print, get it if you can!)

Aside from health issues and goals my new year’s aims were mostly Pokémon TCG based, and I’m managing to do pretty well at them too! (You can keep up to date with that journey here: Poké-Post.)

Anyway as mentioned, I’m really digging RPGs at the moment – from the Southampton guild of RPers to my own friend group I’m managing to play in and run some games and also have gotten to try out RPGs that I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. (Blades in the Dark, Starfinder, Star Trek Adventures to name a few). It’s social and fun and lets me be creative.

Moving Forward

With all of that in mind I’m in the middle of writing 3 short PDFs for 5E D&D to offer variant monsters that are usually encountered at low level (Goblins, Hobgoblins and Bugbears). It’s a small step to break into writing for RPGs but I might as well try to make use of my 20+ years of playing RPGs to help other people while I wait for medical appointments to get sorted out.

Finally I’m managing to get some Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in, including the eponymous 1 save only perma-death ‘I never asked for this’ mode. I’m claiming it as research for a cyberpunk, conspiracy, non-magic (sorry Shadowrun!) post-human RPG that I want to write. Right now I’m thinking of basing it on Blades in the Dark / PbtA since the system is great and captures the nuances of the feelings I’d like to convey. However this is still early days.

*Seriously, at this point I’m expecting it to actually be lupus!

New Name? D&D&D

The new title was for Dungeons & Dragons & Diabetes. Kind of makes sense in an odd sort of way! I’m not sure if I’ll change it!

Anyway I don’t really have much to add in terms of D&D knowledge as the internet is full of interesting stuff. I often feel that I don’t particularly innovate anything other than my own plots or ideas and any ‘hacks’ or slight modifications other than the Action Point and no XP thing are shamelessly inspired stolen from the interwebs. That being said I’m a cynical sort and see a lot of material out there as being untested and severely wanting.

I’ve also managed to finish pokemon gold with mostly an unevolved Spinarak. There were HM slaves and a lvl 30 Gliscor for double battles but all the rest were filler. He was level 79 when he finished (Moves = poison jab, bug bite, shadow sneak and psychic)
Interestingly I thought being a bug/poison he’d take 100% damage from psychic, turns out bug is +50% vs psychic (+100% since he has STAB too) but confers no resistance, but the poison confers +50% weakness. Similarly with the orginal ghost (Gengar/Haunter/Ghastly) who are Ghost (+50 vs Psychic +100 if STAB) but have the poison secondary giving them weakness to psychic instead. Thankfully against the E4 after weathering the first attack if they were faster my little spider managed to bug bite any psychic attacks. The only other problem was some fire attacks (houndoor and a couple of Bruno’s fighters) and Kogas flipping minimizing, regerating Muk… his attacks were useless against me but I couldn’t hit him by the time I got eastablished. Eventually I got 2 hits close enough together to KO it but it was tough.

Welcome

I’m still tinkering with the settings but this is going to be my webpage/blog about various RPGs (D&D, Star Trek, Starfinder, FATE, Blades in the Dark, Rogue Trader & Deathwatch), and a touch of miscellaneous geekery – board games, some tech stuff, my messing about with pokémon and of course – SCIENCE!