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Topics - SageNytell

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RPGs / Masks of Nyarlathotep Advice?
« on: February 01, 2013, 03:04:43 PM »
So it looks like I might be doing a Let's Play thread over in Something Awful of the classic Call of Cthulhu campaign Masks of Nyarlathotep at some point in the semi-near future. Any advice on running the campaign from those here who've run it? I really dug the APs Shallazar posted on the community site, I'll be listening to those again as well as the Yog-Sothoth guys. Looking forward to this.  ;D

RPGs / The Great Kickstarter Bet Game - On Once More!
« on: November 19, 2012, 02:52:45 PM »
Working on an idea for a hack of the game to be based off a certain video game (which will not be named here for a bit because someone who's in it might read this), trying to mess around with Weird Kids eventually starting to scale like Wild Talents. Has anyone played extensively with Weird Kids as compared to Monsters to know how they tend to scale and how the system behaves with them? On paper it looks like they'll be a lot more vulnerable to full-out Monster opponents.

General Chaos / Bureacracy Amid Catastrophe
« on: October 29, 2012, 04:59:53 PM »
Or - How I Learned To Stop Smiling And Dread Sandy
I work for the department of Taxation and Finance for the state of New York in their Collections department, and I had an interesting day today.  First off, some clarification - while, yes, to an extent, I am 'that guy' that you don't want to be needing to talk to ever, but I do my best to help people fix their root issues so they don't need to keep talking to my department.  What those people do from there is up to them, I can only give them the tools and information.

In an average day, I field between about 30-60 calls, with call length varying depending on the time of year (filing season, refund season, audit season) and the type of issue. I'm on the phone probably 5.75 hours out of the 7.5 I'm at work.  This matters only insofar as to tell you that today I've handled maybe six calls, none of which were of any particularly strange length.  Not as many of my fellow employees called out today as I expected, so we're not too short-staffed, but even still this is a tiny number of incoming calls.

Add on top of that the events of the storm and a sort of relaxation of the prohibition of internet use in between breaks so long as that use was storm-related, we had a rather strange atmosphere.  First the sky - from the time the sun was up this morning through when the phones clicked off for the day our skies were soot-gray.  My office is a side building connected to both of the main tax buildings with walkways and connecting tunnels, and we have the benefit of some rather large windows.  Those windows gave a particularly cheery view of the last remaining leaves being forcefully ripped from their trees and branches deforming in the wind, and of people moving in harried fashion through the courtyards and walkways of our office campus.  The ceiling started a weird whistling noise that has slowly ramped up at about 12:00, that's certainly been a bit unnerving.

The hurricane's been a constant and escalation source of discussion and news today.  Approximately 375,000 people in Battery Park and other low-lying areas of NYC were evacuated last night, in an attempt by Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg to prevent another Katrina. I would have to assume that some others evacuated voluntarily, but that's guesswork.

I do know that we've gotten over a half-a-dozen emails today regarding the ongoing progress of the storm - bridges and tunnels being closed, river crossings shut down, and all 'non-essential' state employees in NYC, Westchester and Long Island being directed to go home and stay there for the duration of the crisis. Fun thing about 'non-essential' - while I'm geographically separate from the city up here in Albany, my office is deemed 'essential' so there's realistically little chance of ever being directed to leave similarly. On top of that, when catastrophic events hit (and as the President has mandated a federal state of emergency, this qualifies) my office can sort of shut down on a conditional basis and reopen as an emergency management call center. The same people who may have cursed me out a week ago could be calling in begging for assistance, and I'll help them the same.

There's sort of a quiet, banal sense of urgency and dread, but through it all, bureacracy continues. It's damned weird to watch!
Wish me luck on keeping power and heat in my home in the next few days!

Take one part Dungeons and Dragons, add one part FATE, and sprinkle with Old School Hack to taste - Welcome to 13th Age!

13th Age combines classic elements of fantasy roleplaying from D&D, especially 4th Edition, but it takes character customization to an unparalleled new level.  The game uses a variant on  the D20 system but makes use of modern game design concepts to provide customizable backgrounds, character relationships with the icons and factions of the world, and flexible, fast-paced combat. It's currently being developed by both Jonathan Tweet (who worked on both 3e as lead as well as 4e D&D and designed Ars Magica, Over the Edge and Everway) and Rob Heinsoo (lead designer from D&D 4e and designer of Feng Shui), and my group and I were given the privilege of taking part in the closed beta test of the system.  I was under an NDA preventing me from discussing the game until today, thus providing some of the more cryptic posts I've been making for the past few weeks.

13th Age is a breath of fresh air, especially when I think most of us have seen D&D Past 5E and are a bit dissatisfied. 13th Age is a very simplified system - unlike 5E it has a definite level curve and works with much bigger numbers, however the math in terms of conditions and attacks and defenses is actually much flatter. Movement is not based on a grid, however there is still a fun and easy to use system of engagement based on relative distance that means you can still use your gridmaps if you played 4E, just ignore the gridlines. Essentially, if you can see it, and it's not an incredible distance away and if there aren't any fun obstacles between you, go there, stand there, attack that dude, why not? Just be prepared when his buddy intercepts you, and disengaging from combat can be a challenge in itself.

Classes, at least those released thus far, are what you would expect in standard D&D - So far there's the Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorceror, and Wizard. Classes in this system are a little more like 'chassis' that you can build any sort of character around - but more on that later. The playtest at least ranks each of the classes in terms of complexity, from the Barbarian to the Rogue, but you can relax in terms of questions of balance. Damage potential between classes is incredibly smooth, and trap options are nonexistent. The Barbarian doesn't have a lot of choices to make but the options he picks are reliable and effective, and he'll still serve a player who wants a simple play experience just as effectively as another's Dying Earth Magic Wizard.

Classes each get to pick at least three 'features', and most classes have some sort of signature mechanic to go along with it, from the Barbarian's rage to the Fighter's flexible melee attacks to the Rogue's momentum and the Sorceror's ability to Gather Power. Even at high levels casters only have a few spells to work with and there is incentive to use your daily abilities in many fights because most classes have the ability to regain spent abilities through different mechanics. Most martial characters either build off of basic attacks or utilize a system of flexible attacks that can trigger off of how the die rolls rather than the end number, and allow for a number of adaptable tactical options. One class, the monk, works almost like a fighting video game and specializes in martial arts that offer opening moves, flow attacks, and finishers, much like a combo system.

Skills. Are. Incredible. Forget what you know about skill systems, in 13th Age you get a number of points that you can sink into Backgrounds. Backgrounds have a value between 1 and 5, and you add them with your level and a relevant stat for all of your skill checks. These backgrounds are things like 'Former Knight of the White Rose', 'Disconcertingly Popular', 'Urban Orphan' - they evoke a history and theme to your character and allow any character to be skilled in any field that fits their character's background. One PC I've seen statted up was a fighter who used to be a wizard's apprentice - all of his skills were based around magic. This allows for incredible customization, and with some of the changes they've made to defenses means your stats are only as relevant as you'd like them to be - anyone familiar to the concept of Death To Ability Scores will like this.

Next on the subject of customization is your One Unique Thing. Every character gets it, and it can be literally whatever you would like it to be so long as it doesn't break your GM's game and make him cry. I've seen everything from 'Upon This Man's Flesh is Scriven The Name of God' to 'I Used To Be A Bird, Why Am I An Elf Now' and 'I Was Cursed To Live Forever, Help Me Find Out How To Die'. This 'unique thing' doesn't have any sort of mechanical benefit attached to it - instead it is a way to give GMs hooks, to help you flesh out your character, and to allow you to have a bit of narrative control over this medium of collaborative storytelling.

Speaking of storygames, one of the other nifty additions is the Icon system. The Icons are major figures of the gameworld - not gods, but figures and factions, real people that exert power and influence and can be aided or opposed. Every character starts out with 3 points of relationships that they can spend on the Icons of their choice to have positive, negative, or conflicted ties to the Icon - these are used in play to influence a scene by rolling a number of dice equal to your relationship. This can have straightforward positive or complicated effects, but if you succeed at a relationship roll something interesting is bound to happen.

The game itself has 13 icons already statted out, from the straightforward High Druid (hail the power of nature) to the slightly schizophrenic Elf Queen (three elven peoples have very different agendas but only one queen) to the amazing Crusader.
The Crusader is probably my favorite Icon - he is described as the Fist of the Dark Gods. He has been sent on a quest from his dark and evil gods to wipe out all demons from the world, and will work with the humans of the Empire, the elves of the Queen's Court, and the dwarves under the Dwarf King to do it... until the world is finally cleansed and is pure enough for his gods to enter the world and corrupt it to their whims.

The setting is very cool, and it has a lot of interesting ideas - the Eastern Sea hates civilization and spawns monsters to attack us, the Inner Sea was purged of monsters long ago, Behemoths of titanic scale wander through ancient migration paths, demons fester in hellholes. It's certainly not the traditional Tolkienesque world I've come to dread.

Monsters that came with the playtest seemed interesting, and I haven't run enough games to try most of them out, but designing new monsters takes only a concept for any interesting powers and a moment's work. I've designed three or four monsters thus far, and it's incredibly simple. Combat is fast and fun, and my players have specifically requested that we switch systems because of how much faster and easier things run.

TL;DR: This game is awesome and you should check it out. My NDA's finished, I'd be happy to answer questions.

RPGs / Should we loose a broadside or come back for another pass? CYOA
« on: October 11, 2011, 09:20:35 PM »
Found this little gem the other day - it's pretty damn fun for a bit of distraction.
If you're familiar with the movie 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World', this is a choose-your-own adventure taken from the same literature the movie is based off of. I liked it.
Choice of Broadsides

General Chaos / RUN FOR YOUR LIVES - Zombie Obstacle 5K
« on: August 11, 2011, 08:28:08 PM »

Tell me someone else here is interested. I've already got a few people who are going to run be devoured with me.
This is gonna be soooooo cool!
And I'm totally packing Ross's book when I go!

RPGs / Names for a Cult
« on: April 07, 2011, 11:39:31 PM »
I'm about to start my pre-WWII Wild Talents supers game this weekend (I hope), but I've run into a small bit of a road block. I'm working on antagonists, evil organizations, gangs, ruffians, hooligans, etc., and on the small scale groups that will be dealt with in a session or a single plotline are not an issue. However, I've been leaning on the Esoteric Order of Dagon (expanded) as my primary cult of reference, and over the last week or so I've become disenchanted with that idea. The concept is not the EOoD as it is portrayed in the Lovecraft Mythos, but as a larger, sinister conspiracy of various cults to ancient entities and forbidden knowledge, from the mythos as well as various outside sources. To simply repurpose the EOoD seems kind of cheap.
I need a name (or several aliases) for a grand organization that seeks to organize the end of the world as we know it, using every obscure and arcane method they can find.
Any suggestions?

Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / Offsite Discussions of RPPR
« on: March 19, 2011, 04:16:42 PM »
Threw this together for one particular reason, but also noticed that it wasn't really being discussed anywhere else. I'll get to that in a minute.

Alright, which of you jokers is Fenarisk over on the Something Awful forums, specifically here?  :D Damn, dude, I'm trying to make points on why Call of Cthulhu is fun. Mentioning RPPR was a peripheral thing to help make my point, it wasn't to start an indepth discussion on GMing styles and why Caleb is cool. He is, by the way, but besides the point. Anyway

To the point, then? RPPR is a kickass site, and a great jumping-off point for a ton of things on and around the subject of gaming. I've mentioned the site to a few people in a local gaming store, and certainly to my gaming group (not sure if any of them have actually looked here, but since my gaming group is a bunch of ridiculous manchildren/womanchildren, it's not so surprising  ;D). I've also linked here a couple of times on Something Awful.
So where do you discuss RPPR offsite?

RPGs / Pantheon, anyone?
« on: January 14, 2011, 08:24:19 AM »
Time for a quick interest check:

I won an Ebay auction for Pantheon and Other Roleplaying Games. The book is absolutely tiny, only 24 pages, and comes with 5 games using the same ruleset - Grave and Watery, The Big Hole, Destroy All Buildings, Boardroom Blitz, and the eponymous Pantheon.

Truth be told I won the auction for like $3.00, so I thought I made out like a bandit.
Then I got my copy in the mail - or should I say copies, I was sent 5!
So... Two of my copies are spoken for. Would anyone be interested in a copy of their own? We'll discuss how best to get it to you if there's interest.

There are currently 3 copies available.

RPGs / Ahahaha what have I done (CoC Oneshot)
« on: October 28, 2010, 09:15:42 PM »
Soooo... In one week, I've decided to run my first Call of Cthulhu game, write my first Call of Cthulhu game, and... teach myself the Call of Cthulhu system. Oh, and apparently there could be as many as eight players.

And the game is Saturday night.

Ahahahaha what have I done.

I'm not incredibly worried - I've listened to a lot of the recorded games, and I've been DMing various versions of D&D since 2001, so I'm not new to running games. But I've never done Call of Cthulhu, neither have any of the players - simple system, but still new. As far as I know, none of them are new to gaming, in fact most are part of my regular gaming group.

I have a few plans for moving things along - the scenario is very time-based, and I know what the cult is going to be doing at each half-hour mark, how their plan is proceeding, and how it can be influenced by the players.

I guess I'm looking for a few recommendations. Any suggestions on running a game for such a large group? I've thought about printing out little cards for each pregen to show their main skills a little bit easier, for weapons, and for any spells, so that constantly referencing the book won't be necessary. I also thought about trying to get some creepy public domain music (we record our sessions) if people start to drift, but I have no idea where to find what I'm looking for - sort of a Celtic-sounding drum loop and creepy flutes, for a fertility cult slowly preparing to summon their god. None of the 'free sound effect sites' seem to have what I was looking for - any good sites for that kind of thing?

Also, love the site! The RPPR crew has been awesome teachers in running better games!

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