The Best Laid Plans…

A brief update : I’ve recently been in hospital with acute abdominal pain and while experiencing morphine for the first time was nice it still doesn’t make me want to repeat the experience.  I also managed to miss some major Pokémon  events too so poke-post hasn’t seen an update in ages.

Consequently I’m a bit fragile and have a massive backlog of housework to deal with as well as other real life stuff. So right now life is just a bit harder than normal at the moment.  But ho hum – evolve, adapt & overcome!

During all of this I’ve managed to update my mobile is to a snazzy blackberry keyONE – which I’m hoping will facilitate a bit more productivity and help me  return to producing game related content as well as possible future published pieces. It really is great for typing away on it like a mini tablet.

In terms of the YouTube I have a nice background cloth prepared (cut and hemmed) as well as better technology setup for mic+camera on top of optimising my workflow for the edit. So when I get a moment to write script topics I’ll be back to producing more videos. In the meanwhile EN world are making a podcast about RPGs so check them out if you need a fix of RPG news.

It’s not all doom and gloom, I’ve managed to spend a little time playing dungeons & dragons online (DDO) with my other half. Set in ebberon (and about 10 years old) it’s given me some interesting ideas and thoughts for actual D&D dungeons and methods of linking adventures. The lack of MMOG grind is nice too.

In real world I’ve managed to run the Secrets of Cats which is a FATE based system and despite not running fate before it went well and was enjoyed by all.

This then led me down a path whereby I’ve decided to switch hAccess to fate rather than PBTA for the simple reasons that I have limited experience with PBTA, it requires more bootstrapping to make a distinct yet playable hack which I don’t think I could manage without a dedicated PBTA group. FATE also allows for narrative framing of the level of detail depending on what sort of ‘adventure’ the players undertake. In short while I am enamoured of Blades/PBTA I don’t know it well enough to be able to make it do what I want. Whereas I do with FATE.

Finally in terms of TTRPGs we’re almost concluded in our side quest to save the sky whale and the group are really cool and have arranged too meet up and try a 1 shot of something. I’m going to bring FATE/ cats as well as some D&D I think. I’m enjoying the story and characters we have in the spin off but am looking forward to the getting back to the much bigger scale Red Hand of Doom.

We’ve also decided that we like miniatures for combat so I’ve spend a whole tenner on ebay to get about 60 lord of the rings uruk hai which work great as militarised hobgoblins. They’ll require stripping and painting too. More things for which I’m too tired to do *at the moment* but I’m sure will eventually get done.

Anyway if you’ve read all of this thanks for bearing with me while I continue to recover.


Nervous System – Choosing an RPG System for hACCESS

Nervous System

So I’ve decided on Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) which is the system behind Blades in the Dark. I figure that the clandestine nature of Blades lends itself towards hACCESS compared to FATE. While FATE is more open ended, it is better for shorter, more hands off type games and Blades borrows enough from FATE to keep that part of me happy. Blades skips over minutia to focus on the dynamic actions that directly effect the outcomes.

That said, I am still extremely inexperienced with Blades so feel unsure if I should be writing a system hack, even though I know that it’s the best system to cover the source material and capture the feel of the game.  Though the reality is that I need a place to start from, if in time I end up revising the main system to a different one or a bespoke one so be it.

Anyway I’ve been looking over the System Reference Document for Blades in the Dark, which itself is using the ‘Powered by the Apocalypse‘ system of mechanics. To utilize the Blades variant of PbtA, the licensing is referred to as ‘Forged in the Dark’. Most of the derivative systems seem to make light of the name such as ‘Glow in the Dark’ (Post Apocalypse) etc.

Mechanics of the System

CHESSEX LUSTROUS DARK BLUE & GREENThey say the best way to understand something is to explain it so here goes: The system is a d6 based dice pool. You roll a number of dice equal to a skill or attribute rating, choosing the highest single outcome. 1-3 is a failure, 4-5 is a partial success and 6 is an outright success.

Depending on the complexity and danger of the task the protagonists may suffer setbacks or take injuries. Any of these can be bought off by paying with stress which can also be spent in advance to gain bonus advantages or rewrite minor details via flashbacks. In this way its quite similar to Fate points.

System Rewrite

So to use this system I need to, at a minimum, reframe the 12 core skills and corresponding attributes (probably into insight, logic & physique). In addition the Playbooks for each ‘class’ and type of crew (working name: collective) need to be run. Then the additional world building aspects such as gear and types of jobs. But that’s par for the course. The main take away point is that I don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to start fleshing out my RPG and I can build on the mistakes and experiences of others who have made their own hacks via the Forged in the Dark licence.

Even the writeup licence allows one to essentially copy over their core rules and system, and then chop and change it. I have started but the main difficulty is keeping it all organised – it’s about 15,000 words and that’s without any of the worldbuilding, fluff or unique mechanics that I need to tie into the system.

Finally, it’s taken a little bit of time to get here and to have the courage and conviction to actually start working on this in an organised fashion. I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement of my good friend Simon, who’s an aspiring author. If you want to read some interesting sci-fi (and other stuff) check out his blog.