About Me

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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Mortal Conquestor

Conquestors were the first class I started design on in Phoenix, and they show it.  Having been through the most iterations, they are the class I feel most comfortable with.

I know that much of the OSR audience abhors complex mechanics for fighters, but I confess to liking some of that sort of thing, with the fundamental requirement that it is both fun to play and adds to the flavor of the class.

I don't much buy into the concept of encounter or daily types of powers for fighters, so don't be worried that I'm going all new-age.  My reasoning for not liking these is simple - I have yet to hear an associated explanation for it.  It seems 100% game-balancey to me and that's not a good enough reason, especially since I'm a big fan of not over-prioritizing balance in a co-op game.

So, what is a Conquestor in Phoenix?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Attacks of Opportunity do not solve the Problem

For those not aware, Attacks of Opportunity (AoOs) are free attacks earned when one character either disengages from, or moves around, another character in melee combat.  Well, there are other times such a thing can occur, but this is the most common, and what I'm focusing on in this discussion.

AoOs have existed in D&D officially for a number of years, and somewhat more unofficially for years past that.  Other games can have similar rules.  Lately the debate has risen up again due to 5e, which doesn't currently have them but probably will soon.  Neither proposal in 5e is effective to me, because it's either "nothing happens" or "roll extra dice that have almost no effect."

In fact, I've never really liked AoOs in most systems, because they don't solve the mechanical problem they are meant to address.

Let's do an experiment to illustrate my point.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What makes a Character?

A character or person is defined by what they are, what they know, and what they do.  This is formally defined in the US Army:  Leadership is defined in terms of Be, Know, and Do.  Characters in most campaigns are leaders.  They are the protagonists of the stories and have significant impact on the world around them.

When defining a game system, I've found it useful to organize my thoughts around this structure.  Each of these categories should enhance fun for players and provide storytelling opportunities.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Playtest Campaign

I am starting two campaigns, one OTB and one virtual, to do some more extended testing with the new Phoenix system.

I am full on virtual players, but if you live in the Denver area and think this sounds fun, go ahead and drop me a line.

Raiding the Clip Art gallery for "games"
is a little disappointing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Awesome Tool: Adobe InDesign

Some of you might already be familiar with it.  For those that aren't, Adobe InDesign is the professional page layout tool.  I really enjoying using it.  My game copy - formerly in word documents - is slowly starting to look less like a word document.

I recently upgraded to version CS6 (from CS5) and there are some interesting differences.  Most of it seems to surround enhanced capabilities for eBooks on readers like the iPad and the Kindle.  I've been slowly learning about things like Liquid Layouts, but mostly I've been working on page layout for Phoenix.

For instance, here's a low-quality image export of a chapter heading page in the current draft.

While this example may not express the most interesting content, I have to say it is pretty exciting to see the layout taking shape and filling with content.  Of course, I'm sure I have quite a few edits ahead of me, even on deceptively simple pages like this.  Tweaking feathers and fighting with the flattener are my new hobbies.  And, honestly, watching windows play with the flattener is actually kind of amusing....

... and next time I have some extra cash, remind me to get a Mac for this sort of stuff.

If anyone else out there is using CS6, drop a line and let me know how you're doing with it so far.  Maybe we can trade amusing font manager stories.  My email address is on my profile.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Will 'o' Wisp: Origins and Ideas

Some readers might realize by now that one of the things I enjoy is taking well known creatures in fantasy RPGs, and tracing them back to their historic or mythological origins.  I also like to build off of those origins to make new versions of the creatures.

Today, it's all about will o wisps, those little balls of light that like to make adventurers go for a swim in the local swamp.  A very long swim.  According to the 2e D&D Monstrous Manual, they feed off of the electrical activity of panicked folks.  So, of course, these malevolent entities want the death to be slow and horrifying if at all possible.

So where does this creature originate?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Random Thoughts on Software

The Wall Street Journal published an article on why many software hiring tools are hurting the US economy.

You can read the article here.

Or if you want the part that's relevant to my post today, it's this bit that caught my attention:

"A Philadelphia-area human-resources executive told Mr. Cappelli that he applied anonymously for a job in his own company as an experiment. He didn't make it through the screening process."

He had these problems because of the software.

I have 15ish years in software design, development, and management, and I am constantly amazed at the lack of basic concepts understood by some companies and engineers, to say nothing of my fellow managers.

Now, this isn't a business blog, so how does this relate to tabletop gaming?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Revisions to Weapons

Having simplified Defenses, I have been able to turn my attention to revised weapon groups.

There are no attack rolls in Phoenix, so the primary focus of a weapon group is the Damage dealt.  It's only partially the total die value - it is also the size of the die.  This is important to the feel of the weapon in play, because Phoenix dice explode.  When a weapon should rely more on these critical events to do its damage, it should use smaller dice.  When a weapon should rely less on critical events, it should have a larger die size.

Weapon descriptions themselves are left up to the players and the GM.  The weapon must be made in a fashion that intends it to be used as a weapon; otherwise, it is either reduced in die size or considered nonproficient.  Nonproficient weapons always do 1d6 and never gain a bonus from any attribute.

So, if a player wants an anime-sized scimitar, and the GM's okay with that, then so be it.  It's still a 1-H Striking weapon.  If a player wants to use nunchuks with his kung fu, then great.  It's still Martial Arts.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hidden Things

A fellow that played in one of my campaigns a little while ago has managed to trick HarperCollins into publishing his novel, "Hidden Things".

Great cover.

Check it out on amazon.

Baby Bat has a pre-publisher copy of the story from around a decade ago.  It looks a little different.

A lot of tabletop folk think about writing a novel, but for most of us it doesn't get this far.  How awesome is it when one of us not only follows through, but also convinces a major publisher that it's worth printing?

Well done.
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