We’ve all been there. That moment when our best laid plans fall to dust around us, maybe chasing that kobold over that tiny stone bridge wasn’t the best idea, maybe choosing to keep the obviously evil yet enchanted dagger is coming back to literally bite you in the behind. Trouble is always around the next corner and it’s probably caused by your poor personal choices and not just in-game. Things can go south out-game just as fast. What seems like a brilliant idea on the drive over might reach its full potential when it comes to play. It always pays to show a little caution when bringing your best creative ideas in front of your friends and there are some things that you should just not bring to the table.
1) I’M GARY, LARRY’S TWIN BROTHER
Now a lot of these points are personal and this one sorta bugs me. Don’t cross off Larry’s name on your character sheet when he dies and jot down Gary. I know some times this must happen in circumstances when time becomes essential for the group but it kinda negates the more exciting elements of the game that involve risk and reveals you to be super lazy. As I’ve mentioned before character death should be meaningful for the majority of games to function as they were designed.
2) WHAT IS THAT? AN 8 OR 2?
Don’t bring dice so small or elaborate or written in some language or code that you can’t understand. Any roll that takes you over 1 minute to figure out is 50 seconds to long. When I DMed games I can honestly say that players that didn’t have their rolls figured out right away were super annoying. As a player I’m more understanding but don’t see the point in using dice that can’t be read, it slows down the game taking away time from the story.
3) YOUR ELDERLY COUSIN BOB FROM FLORIDA
Now don’t get me wrong bringing new people into the game is an important aspect of growth. We’re all ambassadors to the game and by principle we should attempt to be inclusive of others… but don’t bring someone new every week, or even someone new every 2 weeks. Whether it is an out of town relative who was only mildly curious or your girlfriend/boyfriend of 3 days, please put some thought into it. People who you care about and care about you are great but it doesn’t necessarily translate into a mutual love of gaming, and it might make others at the table a little weirded out.
4) 80 PROOF
To say I’m not a big drinker would be an understatement but I don’t mind if others do. In fact I prefer some of the other people I play with when they drink. But let’s get one thing straight: there’s drunk and then there’s DRUNK. Now I play with people that bring some serious game to the table and we know not to take ourselves too seriously, but I’ve heard some pretty crazy stories from others back in the day that destroyed friendships, campaigns, and bathrooms. It only takes one person to wreck a party and nobody wants to be THAT guy. Anyways have fun but don’t bring the toilet vodka your convict uncle made for you before his release.
Anyways if you are as annoyed by these things as I am let me know in the comments below. Aw man, I totally forgot to mention the babies.
A short time ago, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a reader who made mention of some upgrades that he and a few friends had worked on for the old West End Star Wars RPG. Accompanying this email was a copy of a massive PDF that presents nothing short of a full revision and expansion of the source material. With so much new content collated and created for and by fans of the original game, I decided to run it through its paces with my gaming group and write up the results for you folks at home. Suffice it to say that we all enjoyed the game immensely, and I’m delighted to share the details of the game and our experiences with it.
1 . Infinite Possibilities
As long-time readers of the High Level Games blog will know, West End Games created and expanded much of the Star Wars expanded universe via their many supplements. This newest version of the game utilizes much of this massive setting to allow players to play virtually any type of character. Rules are in place for creating alien races and new character templates, so that players can step into the shoes of their favorite species from any of the books, films, or games. What’s more, the creators have made templates for less common Force-users, such as Pattern Knights, Quixotic Jedi, and Force Mages (as exemplified by the Witches of Dathomir). Players can truly create any character they can fathom, and the tools exist within the pages of this edition to make the process manageable for everyone.
2 . High Powered
In addition to the expanded character template list and creation process, the authors have included rules for hyper-powered combat. Characters can take advantage of advanced martial arts skills with multiple levels of mastery, lightsaber forms that provide unique benefits and special moves, and a huge list of Force powers. Avid gamers and Star Wars fans will recognize the influence of The Force Unleashed, a video game that features an incredibly powerful force-user. GMs will be able and encouraged to create deadly adversaries with amazing abilities so as to challenge the player characters. What follows are epic battles where Force adepts spew red lightning throughout imploding space stations, master mechanics cobble together spare parts to create superweapons, and huge Wookiees spray myriad blaster bolts into hordes of Imperial Remnant Stormtroopers. I’ve found that this edition is best enjoyed in bombastic fashion and high style.
3 . Deep and Complex
It should come as no surprise that a game with such extensive combat options has a complex system to appropriately complement them. This extends to Starship and even Death Star scale interactions, as ships perform daring maneuvers and technicians rotate shields and weapons systems to best support the rest of the crew. Starting with a simple pool of six-sided dice and a difficulty rating, players can use Character Points and Edge Points (translated to Force Points for Jedi and the like) to achieve incredible feats. A host of complications can arise for the heroes as they solve their many problems, resolved simply by modifying the difficulty rating. Characters can even use additional actions to accomplish impressive things simultaneously, and many characters can use the Force or other abilities to gain these extra actions without penalty. This all adds up to a very deep and mutable system for combat and problem solving that makes each encounter unique.
4 . Very Accessible
Included in my lovable band of misfits was a relatively new player, whose reactions and interactions told me a lot about the edition’s accessibility. Despite the complex nature of character building and combat, our newbie found it quite easy to jump into the game quickly. Sure, there were a couple of bumps along the way, but overall the new player enjoyed the game and contributed to the group’s collective enjoyment. She played as the Mechanic (lovingly and hilariously dubbed “Todd”) and fell effortlessly into the role. While it is the simple dice system that made the game so easy to play, it is the expansive options and settings that make the game so much fun to play.
5 . Continuously Updated
Perhaps the best feature of this game is its contemporary nature. The creator is still working on this labor of love, and in fact released an updated version just a few weeks after I was given the PDF, which itself was released in September of this year. It’s quite clear that the people who worked on this game do not wish to see it go away, even this many years after the game system has stopped receiving official updates. If you miss the original game or wish to see support for it continue, I encourage you to check out this supplement for yourself.
I would be remiss in my duties as a reviewer if I didn’t share some of my criticisms of the game. While the PDF does have the same general outline of the Second Edition core book, it’s missing some of the basic rules. Now, if the GM has a copy of the original product they can run the game just fine. Still, it would be convenient to have all the rules in one place. To this end, this edition would also benefit from an alteration in the way information is presented. It was clearly written by fans and for fans, and there’s beauty in that. Yet, the structure could be changed to help new players and GMs get into the game more easily. To its credit, the game does include a useful table of contents, so information isn’t too difficult to find. Once the game receives a bit more polish, it will function as well or even better than the official editions that have preceded it. Keep up the great work, LegendaryExGamer!
David Horwitz is a gamer and freelance writer with an obsession for exploring new forms of leisure. If you’re looking for an inquisitive mind and a deft hand, or just want to chat about gaming, contact him at www.davidhorwitzwrites.com/contact . If you want to check out the game mentioned in the article, you can download it here: https://sabercathost.com/2oLS/Star_Wars_3rd_Ed_10312016.pdf
I hope Chapter I of this series has burned a hole in your mind and prompted you to try out the awesome system it described, it’s time to turn the page to the next big piece of entertainment in this series.
Hold on to your death sticks and let the wookie win – here are d6 reasons why this system is a gem from a long time ago that holds strong today!
1. You Will Never Find a More Wretchedly-Overflowing Trove of Scum and Villainy
If you’re a Star Wars fan – and why wouldn’t you be? No, I’m asking, really, why wouldn’t you be? *pulls out blaster and waits for the answer* – you definitely know about the movies, the cartoon shows, the videogames, and maybe you’ve heard of at least one of the three RPGs that tackled this setting over the years.
Did you know that West End Games are single handedly responsible for a large chunk of the Star Wars lore? I’m afraid to even picture what the scene would look like without their input? Sure, we’ve had the novels, the fan fiction, toy lines and so on, but the sheer amount of material that WEG came out with is gargantuan. With the sourcebooks alone being a well of information that can be read through, even if you’re not into RPGs in the first place!
And that’s skipping the weapons, aliens, beasts, planets, starships, vehicles, and droids published in collections or put together by fans that blow that amazing Universe we know and love wide open into Unkown Regions (sic!) that would take weeks to sift through.
I’ve recently started a new Star Wars campaign using this system following a rather long break and I’m once again amazed at how deep down the Sarlacc pit you can go, pumping variety into a campaign using nothing but the WEG books…
Here’s a few rather obscure items for you to research (if you’re not a die-hard fan and already know more than I do) while I prove my point: Givin, T’surr, singularity mine, Ghtroc 720. On you go!
2. Explosions! Explosions Everywhere!
Well… Not literal ones. Although a bounty hunter player character did blow about 5 NPCs to bits with a well-placed grenade…
Note to self: give villains blast-proof armour, and a hover tank, inside a Star Destroyer. Then just hide the Destroyer out of the way for good measure, let the PCs wander around aimlessly with no targets to speak of.
The system uses a pool of d6s which are based on 6 main characteristics and you need to meet or exceed a certain target number. So far, so straightforward.
Add to this the fact that 1 of the dice is your “Force die”, the one that can make or break your roll, and you’ve already got a neat variation – critical rolls are, as such, influenced by the Force itself… And we all know how fickle the Force can be. There’s no forgoing the fickle features of the Force, in fairness… I’ll stop now.
On top of that whole aspect, though, lies the exploding dice mechanism – simple, yet spectacular. This means that any die that comes upa 6 is added to the total and rolled again, and again if it still comes up a 6. And again. Aaaaand again.
Until the T’surr “diplomat” rolls a 26 in brawling, almost punching the life out of someone. Literally.
The six main skills are Dexterity, Perception, Knowledge, Strength, Mechanical, and Technical. Each race has certain maximum limits of expertise in every area, gaining bonuses or penalties that are highly lore-infused and make sense not only in character creation (which takes about 10 minutes at most) but also in subsequent adventures.
When creating your character, you’ve got a certain racial range that each attribute must adhere to, with Duros being Technical masterminds, Wookies brawling like mad… and so on. Usually, you’ve got around 18 dice to spread across the 6 categories, more or less.
You can also ‘split’ dice into pips, which come to the tune of either three +1 pips, or one +1 and one +2. What this means is that you can end up with attributes gaining moderate boons no matter the roll, say a 3d+2 Dexterity attribute.
This is good to bump up your weaker attributes, or just flesh out the top-end ones and really push the boundaries with your First Aid skill, for example.
Following the attribute dice allocation, you are awarded 7 dice to spread around your skills, all of which depend on a certain attribute and start out at that attribute’s die code unless otherwise stated by special rules. Skills allow you to go over your regular attribute allowance and have a Willpower of 6 dice even if your knowledge is a measly 2 dice. The sky’s the limit here.
The exploding dice mean that while your Wookie may have a 1D+1 in Mechanical (for a theoretical maximum of 7 on his roll), if you get a couple lucky rolls and pull two 6s one after the other, you’re bound to knock some sense into that droid one way or another…
You can also use Character Points that you gain over the course of your adventures to add dice to your roll, but using those can mean you put your character progress on the back-burner, since the same points are used to learn/improve skills.
A-ha! Plans within plans! Me likey!
The combination of these mechanisms makes for the off-chance that even characters who aren’t particularly adept at something can still have a chance of succeeding against all odds. And we all know that’s the best kind of succeeding there is.I enjoy that immensely in a system, and seeing that this is a multi-dice-rolling one, that can only mean higher odds of getting exploding dice and more opportunities for shenanigans. In space.
3. I’ve Got a Good Feeling About This…
Do you want wookies poking their heads out the top of a teepee, pulling it out of the ground, and then running across the battlefield, shooting their bowcaster around like a laser tent of doom? We’ve got that.
Do you want bounty hunters with malfunctioning jetpacks trying to falcon-punch their enemies but instead veering off-course and ending up pulling a tent out of the ground, flying straight up with no idea where they’re headed on account of being blinded by the tarp? We’ve got that too.
Seemingly related as they are, those two situations happened in separate campaigns, I just came up with the set-piece, it’s not my fault I’ve got this bunch of tent-obsessed freaks for players. That being said, combat is fast, it’s fun, it promotes going all in after making sure you’re taking advantage of your surroundings and deals with scale in a simple to grasp, and very well thought-out manner.
What it boils down to is a two-way street: smaller objects have a higher chance of hitting larger objects, although those objects are harder to damage. Subsequently, smaller objects have an easier time evading larger, more lumbering, heavy objects, but the latter lay the hurt down if they do manage to hit. That said, no matter how agile your Jawa is, going against a Rancor and hoping to dodge like no tomorrow can still have your plans flattened, and your career as an ‘extreme zoologist’ flatlined…
There are rules for targeting weak spots *cough*exhaust port*cough*, throwing grenades in such a way as to ensure you don’t deal too much damage – then outright killing 3 characters anyway – starfighter dogfights, giant walker-to-walker duels, and even tactical map guidelines for miniature combat, should you want to try out a more tactical approach.
4. May the Force Be With You…
The Force works in mysterious ways in this game… No, really!
The way the Force is implemented is a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s probably the most fun you can have playing the WEG system, but it can also become very overpowered, VERY fast.
Gamemasters should be careful when negotiating Force-User campaigns, and I advise against starting out with a full Jedi party with noticeable dice pools in the three Force categories, unless you want to end up literally throwing an entire planet at them to keep them down…
I tend to start off with no Force Users and allow the players to grasp the system first (easy as it is to get, yet complex to understand all the nooks and crannies) before throwing a monkey wrench into the mix. A space monkey wrench.
Then again, I do strongly encourage eventually having Force Users around, because the unadulterated fun they bring to the table is off the charted courses.
Solving every issue with a wave of the hand and a witty one-liner never gets old, and should all else fail, just throw a bunch of Toydarians at the group, all armed with red-and-blue dice and have them actually haggle over something for a change.
5. To Infinity and Beyond!
Wrong setting there, but as a final point, I’d like to emphasize the possibilities and variations this system offers once more.
You’re faced with all of the Star Wars staples you know and love: the ruggedly handsome bounty hunters, the sleazy merchants, noble Jedi, brooding Sith, and everything in between. Once you get past the joy of having a fully published (albeit out of print) system at your fingertips, you start digging deeper into it, finding wonderful storylines and timelines we might never even get to see in movie or comic form.
The Thrawn Trilogy, the Yuuzhan-Vong invasion, even the shorter Graveyard of Alderaan book (my personal go-to starting adventure, heavily modded over the years, and never the same two campaigns in a row), any of these can give you hours upon hours upon more hours of light speed fast rolling, role-ing and all around fun.
What’s more, thanks to the very straightforward d6 mechanic, creating additional rules that characters gain as they’re evolving is not only a blast, but can be easily tweaked so as not to become game-breaking.
The way skill progression works in this game (you need a teacher to learn a particular skill, otherwise you’ll spend weeks figuring it out) is also a good opportunity for bringing back retired characters, having that blast-from-the-past nostalgia moment that takes you right back to glory days.
Coming up with aliens, ships, weapons and most anything you can think of is easy, with the main six attributes governing characters, and a few main characteristics making up any inanimate objects heroes might use in their adventures. There are dozens of fan-made supplements, adventures, sourcebooks and variants already out there, why not try adding to the trove?
All in all, there really are no bad things I can say about SWd6, apart from the system being out of print... But plenty of PDFs are out there if you can’t get your hands on some books.
The artwork works great with what Star Wars is to me, keeping it simple, gritty, and very old-timey (this is the 80s we’re talking about, even if they went well into the 90s with the system).
If FFG’s newest incarnation is too flashy or gimmicky for your tastes, adding character cards, custom dice, and a host of other bells and whistles that may not appeal to you (including, but not limited to, needing 3 books to play a rather reduced swathe of character archetypes, all things considered…), if Wizards of the Coast’s D20 system feels too much like D&D in space (ten foot laser pole included), then grab WEG’s Second Edition, Revised and Expanded, and you’ve got a full 300+ page book that is self-contained, neatly presented, narrated as though it were an instruction manual, and which can be used as a solid basis on which to build many a space-faring campaign for a long time to come in a galaxy far, far away...
Writer, gamer, and - provided he's got the time for it - loving husband, Costin does not rule out sacrifices to the Great Old Ones in order to get into the gaming industry. He's been role-playing for the better part of 6 years, but has been a joker, gamer and storyteller for as long as he can remember.
His greatest pride is once improvising a 4-way argument between a grave digger, a dyslexic man, an adopted child and a sheep, all by himself. That moment is also the closest he's ever come to giving himself a role-playing aneurysm... thus far.
The final character class that was prohibited for natives in Domains of Dread was the druid. Here the justification was that Ravenloft's patchwork world model was not suited for a single world spanning fraternity of caretakers for the Earth. And once again, this produces its own counter argument--many worlds beget many traditions. So which domains might have inherited a druidic tradition from their world of origin, or might have acquired one in the time since?
Starting with the low-hanging fruit, the druids of Forlorn were the only ones not changed into goblyns when the domain crossed into Ravenloft. They have been fighting the corruption for generations ever since, divided along strategic and ethical lines into the Oak faction--who seek to restore balance by bringing in good creatures--and the Rowan, who seek to exterminate evil. As of Gaz1, the Oak has more power, but as killing goblyns is much easier than recruiting fey, the Rowan might be easier to join. Of course, one might imagine that Oak druids would travel far abroad looking for recruits, and might take students to pass down their druidic lore to along the way. At the very least, the Forfarian druidic tradition should also be available in expatriate communities in nearby domains, such as Hazlan and Barovia.
The wildest reaches of this land are home to savage elves who live amid nature as part of it. While their warriors may vary between the more civilized rangers and the completely feral barbarians, their spiritual leaders are almost certainly going to be Druids. They aren't likely to share their druidic secrets with non-elves, but it's possible that some of these secrets have found their way to the feral "bitterkinder" halflings who also prowl the region--survivors of a village massacred by the Black Rose to create his "vampiric kender" servants. A PC from either background might be an outcast, or might have actually been instructed to go abroad for some purpose within the community.
Another elf subrace may also hide druidic secrets in the easternmost parts of Darkon. The reclusive elves of Nevuchar Springs have reputedly been tending their rune covered tree-shrine for hundreds of years. Before the Grand Conjunction, the tree stood on the Misty Border, half in and half out of the fog at the fountain headwaters of the Vuchar River. It's possible that their nature magic has special ties to the Mists, making them truly unique among all the druidic traditions listed here. Getting them to share such lore with outsiders would be hard, but the arrival of the Nocturnal Sea brought with it the encroaches of civilization, which can lead to strange alliances. Appalled to suddenly be part of a thriving port after the grand conjunction, they might even be seeking to build another shrine at the new furthest edge of the Mists, wherever that may be.
Gaz3 says the druids in Mordent are mostly members of the Church of Hala, "keeping the true extent of their knowledge secret from their neighbors." This is curious considering that the druid class is unheard of in Falkovnia (Gaz2), suggesting that any Hallowed Witches in the many, many hospices there qualify for this VRA prestige class using other means (Cleric of Hala?). While there's certainly room here for a DM to rule that Gaz2 was in error and the entire Church of Hala espouses druidic teachings, another way to read the text is that the church in Mordent hides within it a secret druidic sect the other domains don't share. It's even possible that the "neighbors" the druids hide their lore from include the other Hala worshipers themselves. Of all the other "hidden faces" the Hospices of Hala has masked over the years, a secret society of druids might be the most benign.
Druids are actually the first class listed in Gaz3 for this wilderness, which makes sense when a strict interpretation of the rules would allow a druid to be immune to lycanthropy while in Wild Shape, and--even if afflicted--to resist lycanthropic change by remaining in wild shape in the presence of a trigger. Note that these rules depend somewhat upon what edition you play--clear it with your DM before taking point with a werewolf! Assuming your DM approves some of these interpretations, the roles for druids in Verbrek are myriad. One might imagine that afflicted druids might have a strong presence at Duskpeace Lodge among those who are trying to control the beast within, or that they might offer druidic training as an alternative to Duskpeace's Moonchild prestige class. Daring druids with the right feats might be able to impersonate lycanthropes and gather critical information from among the werewolves, or even brave the Circle itself! Of course, proving yourself one of the pack is much easier when you are actually evil, so beware of NE druids who have embraced the savagery of the wilderness, whether or not they are lycanthropes.
As I've said before, this is the third in a series of three articles inspired by Classes of the Damned, which tried to do an end-run around the class prohibitions of Domains of Dread by creating three altered classes. But I think it spoke too rashly when he argued that these mysterious proto-druid "caretakers" had been exterminated from Tepest. Sure, hags are the natural enemies of druids, and the Three Hags ruling Tepest have a lot of power stacked in their favor, but the primary religion of Tepest is still the worship of Belenus, a NG sun god from the Forfarian pantheon who can sponsor NG and TN druids as easily as he sponsors misguided LG zealots. Even if the hags managed to kill everyone of a druidic bent in one generation, more are sure to spring up like weeds for as long as the mother faith remains alive. That mother faith remains strong as of Gaz5, and might be inclined to welcome an upsurge of laid-back nature-children after so many xenophobic inquisitors.
Belenus is also revered in the Shadowlands, where vast tracts of uncharted wilderness are just begging for druidic care. And they might be less likely to be persecuted if they viewed the ruler Elena with characteristic druidic neutrality, insofar as she doesn't detect evil as much as she detects strong emotion towards her. Of course, the darklord might still view them as heretics and try to destroy them, but that's hardly different from many other domains, except for having a lot more space to hide in. Outlaw druids worshipping the same God as the darklord might give an interesting religious counterpoint to any other outlaws they encounter in the wilderness. The Book of Shadows describes one such outlaw band, the followers of the Red Wolf. A druidic circle allied with such a group might give them the resources to truly fight the darklord and win.
8. Sri Raji:
Most of the things that make Verbrek a good place for druids work for Sri Raji as well. A druid could run through dense jungle, make peace with the ferocious animals, ignore the stings of vermin, and duke it out with the Stalkers in wildshape without contracting lycanthropy. The Rajian (i.e. Hindu) pantheon has many, many more members than the two mentioned in the RLCS, and deities like Prithvi (earth), Rudra (animals) or Aranyani (forest) might have druids among their worshippers--a little research into Hindu mythology could go a long way toward making a character that is far from a cookie-cutter druid. Of particular note is that the river goddess Saraswati is primarily a goddess of knowlege, and would have shrines at the City and University of Tvashtri, where druid followers could access one of the greatest repositories of knowledge in the Land of Mists.
Like with the previous two articles, I like to throw in a final suggestion for unusual but workable bonus domain that might foster a given character class. Most people would imagine that Saragoss wouldn't actually have any natives at all, that everyone there hails from somewhere else. But even if that were true, this domain could make a great "second origin" story for an outlander druid reborn into the Ravenloft setting, as the druid's unique powers allow them to survive and even leave the domain easier than any other class. Imagine a doomed party working in vain to restore their ship, living on goodberries and getting warnings from the far-stretching sargosso seaweed. As her last teammate succumbs to tragedy, the druid gives a heavy sigh, abandons the half-repaired ship in the shape of a bird or fish, and departs into the Mists. Or if that druid chose to remain, those same abilities make her well adapted to surviving and thriving in Saragoss, and perhaps finding a student among the crews.
Matthew Barrett has been playing and writing for Ravenloft for over twenty years, starting with the Kargatane's Book of S series (as Leyshon Campbell). This article draws inspiration from J. W. Mangrum's article "Classes of the Damned," in the Kargatane's Book of Sorrows.
A few weeks ago I got to do an interview with Neall Raemonn Price, the lead developer of Scion 2nd edition, for my other blog www.keepontheheathlands.com
You should check it out. I’ll wait.
Yay! You’re back or you never left, its fine either way, really.
Some of you might be wondering what Scion is, and why it’s a game you should be excited about. Well, let me tell you this. Scion is a game of modern myth and epic heroism. In this game, you have the ability to endure a heroic journey that may exalt your players to Godhood. The game recently wrapped up its Kickstarter, where they raised $334,714, wow!
Here are X reasons to be excited for this new edition of this great game.
Callings are archetypes that are a big element of your character creation. In the new edition there are 11 callings in the new edition. They are, Creator, Guardian, Healer, Hunter, Judge, Leader, Liminal, Lover, Sage, Trickster, and Warrior. Your Calling is impacted by your Divine heritage, but this can change through play and can by syncretized with other Divine elements. This allows for a significant amount of customization and character creation.
The Pantheons you can be associated with have increased significantly. First, the core book will include: Aesir (Norse), Devas (Vedic), Kami (Japanese), Manitou (Algonquian), Netjer (Egyptian, formerly Pesedjet), Orisha (Yoruban), Shen (Chinese, formerly the Celestial Bureaucracy), Teotl (Aztec formerly Atzlanti), Theoi (Greco-Roman, formerly Dodekatheon), and the Tuatha de Dannen (Irish). On top of this, the Scion Companion that was funded through Kickstarter funds will increase the options with; the Loa, Gallic, Yazata, and the ability to create your own with an example the Atlantean Pantheon.
3) Earplay Audio Drama:
Scion will have an audio drama created to highlight the world. Onyx Path has been working with this cool new company called Earplay for a few projects and so… is White Wolf! This is a really innovative way of developing a new gaming related product. I got a chance to hear the teaser at the Grand Masquerade, and then again on their website. These are supposed to be interactive, choose-your-own adventure type audio dramas. Combine that with the heroic elements of Scion and I think this will be a super exciting product.
4) Scion LARP:
What? Yes, during the Kickstarter Onyx Path revealed they will be developing LARP rules for Scion. They will be working with Damocles Thread to develop this new version of this game. I personally think this is great. Scion is a fun system, and LARP is a fun activity as I’ve said before on this blog, so I hope you check it out.
5) Community Content Creation!?:
Similar to the Dungeon Master’s Guild, Onyx Path will be pursuing a plan to allow fan created content to be officially released and sold with Onyx Path approval. Whoa. This program is still being developed and exactly how it will look is up in the air, but I think this is a great move. Someday I’ll be able to develop my entire pantheon of Middle Earth based Malar and Valar for use in Scion… doesn’t that interest you? What… come back… it’s a great idea… really.
6) Storypath System:
This new version of the d10 system that White Wolf/Onyx Path fans are used to is great. I did a quick review of the preview over here, and I really think it will make for more cinematic and action orientated games, without being as dice heavy as the original edition of Scion. Plus, this system will be used for the Trinity Continuum of games, including Aberrant, Trinity, and Adventure! All of this is incredibly exciting for long-term fans of that universe, like myself.
There is a ton of information out there for those of you interested in taking a look at Scion. Please let us know what elements you are most excited about!
With 17 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He recently launched,www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a player in Underground Theatre’s and One World By Nights Vampire LARPs and is running both a Mage game and a Dark Ages: Vampire game. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a recent graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C.
Many gamers have enjoyed role-playing in a galaxy far, far away over the years. As one of the most expansive and engaging settings ever conceived, Star Wars has drawn in creative types like artsy moths to a flame of inspiration. As such, three major pen and paper game releases for the sci-fi titan have graced our tables over the decades. Fantasy Flight currently owns the license for the official table-top game line, but it has not always been so. Both West End Games and Wizard of the Coast have produced completely independent game systems in the past, and each has their own fans and supporters. What follows is my effort to compare and contrast them so you can decide which one will work best for your group.
1 . West End Games (d6)
This first incarnation of Star Wars tabletop is still held-up by many fans to be superior to later iterations. Supplement after supplement expanded the game to herculean proportions over its 12-year lifespan (over 70 supplements, not including adventure journals). It’s received a full second edition, followed by a Revised, and Expanded version of that edition. Any GM will find more content with this line than they could ever hope to utilize within even a decade-long campaign. What’s more, the game system proves simple to run and fun to experience. It uses d6s for all actions and damage rolls, with the player adding the results and attempting to reach a target number set by the GM. Character and Force points can be spent for even more dice to throw. One die is considered wild and explodes on a 6 (take the 6 and roll again), or drops out on a 1 (remove the die entirely). Results can be impressive, leading to some awesome heroics. What’s more, the combat system allows for player agency while keeping things simple. Starship combat functions similarly, with some alterations to make if feel genuine and fast-paced. If I could levy one critique, it’s that the game doesn’t have much that sets it apart from similar game systems. This is no fault of the creators, mind you. West End’s game arrived pretty early to the table-top scene, and this game doesn’t have any direct predecessors to build upon.
The simple system and massive library of expansions West End produced have led to some fantastic user-generated content as well. For instance, I will be playtesting a fan-submitted upgrade to the game and writing an article about it soon. I’m very excited for some high-level play in the expanded universe!
2 . Wizards of the Coast (d20)
What might be most appealing about the second Star Wars table-top game is its familiarity. If you’ve ever played D&D or Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic, then you’ll be ready to jump into the d20 version of Star Wars. Wizards of the Coast produced books for this title for about 10 years (from 2000 – 2010). The game plays a lot like 3rd edition (and 3.5) Dungeons and Dragons or d20 Modern, with some noticeable alterations to better fit the setting. Roll d20 for all actions against a difficulty set by the GM, adding modifiers where appropriate from Feats, Force Powers, Skills, and other features. In combat, you test against a character’s Will, Fortitude, or Reflex defenses. If you’re able to get your hands on the Saga edition, largely viewed as a superior revision, you can even enjoy the redesigned armor system, which adds to your avoidance stat (Reflex, typically). Characters are free to multiclass without restriction or penalty, so two characters are rarely the same. Combat is fluid and manageable, though can become a bit bland after a while due to players’ options being relatively limited. Nevertheless, it provides an easy entry point into the Star Wars galaxy for D&D and KOTOR veterans, though I would encourage GMs to consider turning to the other two entries in this article after spending some time with this one.
3 . Fantasy Flight (d?)
The newest Star Wars table-top games form a trilogy: Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, and Force and Destiny. Each uses a unique proprietary dice system (hence the question mark above) that is quite easy to get a hang of. I’ve had repeated success introducing the new system at conventions, and I’ve had a blast playing. Each of the three aforementioned core books provides details on playing different types of characters. The first allows players to create outsiders, bounty hunters, smugglers, and the like. The second helps players create soldiers of differing stripes that belong to the Rebellion. Finally, Force and Destiny lets you make (you guessed it) Jedi. These books can be mixed and matched with ease, allowing for diverse and complex narratives forged through creative systems. Specifically, when you roll the dice you receive two types of results: successes/failures and advantages/disadvantages. Achieving success on a roll does what you’d expect: you hit the Rancor with your blaster, fix the hyperdrive, or program the coordinates into the navicomputer. Rolling advantages or their counterpart, which you can accrue independent of success or failure, provides a secondary effect that can benefit or hinder your allies, create or exploit environmental effects, or cause critical effects in combat. As with the other systems, players can use Force points to influence their dice pools or the narrative, but when they do so the point flips so that the GM can use that point later in the story to cause complications for the players. What follows is an intriguing push and pull of the story that creates exciting encounters, all within a genuinely fun system.
Some flaws that bear mentioning, however, are the way shields are portrayed, acting as damage avoidance rather than ablative wounds, and the gimmicky nature of the special dice required for gameplay. You can use regular polyhedral dice, but you’ll be required to consult a chart every time you roll to determine the results. This can turn a lot of players off to the system, especially role-playing veterans.
Hopefully you now have a bit more insight into the three major Star Wars table-top experiences that are floating around out there. As always, please share your experiences and your opinions with me, and let me know which system is your favorite and why. Cheers!
David Horwitz is a gamer and freelance writer with an obsession for exploring new forms of leisure. If you’re looking for an inquisitive mind and a deft hand, or just want to chat about gaming, contact him at www.davidhorwitzwrites.com/contact
Voting Your Way To A Better Role-Playing Experience: 5 Reasons Why An Election Should Be Part Of Your Next Campaign
* High Level Games does not take political positions, we take funny ones. This is meant to be funny. Just sayin'. -VP Quinn
Jingles, cheer and joy will soon be upon us once again, and with them, the sheer happiness, mutual respect and thoughtfulness of the election season. One of those statements is sarcastic.
While the entire world is waiting with bated breath to see what lies in store for the political landscape as a whole over the coming year y, some of us like to approach what is certainly a grave business... With a not so grave tone (back in your hole, you bloody ghoul!). As Heath Ledger so adequately put it, why so serious?
The spirit of debating, scheming, undermining, feces-hurling and posturing exercises could very well translate into our favourite gaming environment. To that end, we will regale you with a short list of great things you can get out of organising an election of in your next campaign, while vehemently denying we had any sort of extramarital relationships with that particular individual.
Whether your players will be actively running for office, running a campaign, or just aiding a candidate on the side, the possibilities here are endless, bound to birth a few twists and turns, and definitely prone to uncovering a lot of dirt on the front runners...
As the electorate would say, impeach it, brother!
1. Them's be Lovin' yer Speakable Skillses!
Nothing can get your creative speech juices flowing faster than having to go against someone else running for a position… say... mayor. That position can apply to more settings, so let's go with it.
You'd be addressing your constituency on a constant basis, dealing with issues that arise during the campaign, unforeseen situations, and the odd monkey wrench nobody would even waste time preparing for.
You don't even have to be the one that's running... Maybe someone asks you for advice/help thanks to your extensive wisdom on the matter of rampant wererats in the hillsides of Nothalapagus. Maybe you come across an election and feel the urge to get vocally involved.
Maybe you're just good at making banners?
Maybe it's Maybelline.
2. The Thrill of the Hunt...
Dirty deeds, skeletons in closets (sometimes actual skeletons in peoples' closets), buried secrets (or skeletons), all of these can surface if you were to organise an investigation into an opponent for that high-prised General Assembly position...
The amount of shenanigans, quirks and downright weird events that can result from such an endeavour make my twisted little mind jump for joy... Which in turn is giving me a headache.
Seriously now, how cool would it be to discover that the current and running-for-a-second-term mayor's taxidermy hobby also extends to a rather 'passionate' relationship with their trophies?
Talk about flogging a dead horse...
3. Diversity, Thy Name is Politics!
Modern-day politicals may seem cut from the same mold, but certain differing personalities arise once in a while, and that's a breath of fresh air. Which would become a breadth of fresh air in a role-playing campaign since GM wants important characters to have some memorable attribute.
Thankfully, due to the very nature of the game, these attributes can transcend normalcy and you can end up with a sentient platypus standing up for pachyderms' rights against a licensed hunter.
The platypus is also a mage that dabbles in necromancy, and his favorite target are hunters who he kills before bringing them back as thralls. He's also got a lisp and loves collecting unique headdresses which he wears to each gathering.
The hunter is in cahoots with the taxidermy-afficionate mayor.
4. Mark-My-Words-Age Galore
Never has so much infinitely quotable material been owed by so many to so few. I'm coining that phrase. It's mine, I tell ya!
From 'the bastard brat of a Scotch peddler' or 'the candle in that great turnip has gone out', through 'a lot of our imports come from other countries' to 'I will build a wall', history has taught us that even the weakest of jokes/insults coming from people in high places can turn them into one-liner gold.
Imagine, if you will, how far one could go inside a fantasy/cyberpunk/sci-fi setting with well-defined social norms and discriminations, hatred and bigotry, those 'above' looking down on the 'lesser' people (dwarves, mainly), and the odd maniacal megalomaniac who just wants to build a wall to solve everything.
"But sir, the rats are flowing into the city from below it..."
"Then build the wall lying down, dammit!"
5. Victory in Death
We all have that one candidate/political figure/outright ass we'd really like to gouge the eyes from, beat over the head with their own skull and then feed them to themselves one tiny morsel at a time... In no particular order.
While the oh-so-annoying laws that govern this big, blue, round bulb of a thing we call a home would prevent us from doing that and enjoying the fact for too long – provided we even got into a position where we'd be able to perform such a wonderful feat of justice in the first place – fiction is something entirely different.
It's true there may be repercussions there as well, but those are easily mitigated by a lucky dice roll, a well-placed bribe, or the complete relocation to the nearest neighbouring kingdom and the pledge of allegiance to its king.
Let's face it: could you think of a better final debate between the front-runners than an all-out no-holds-barred battle royale? In a pool of piranhas? Inside a lion's cage? Surrounded by fire? Suspended high in mid-air by the league of varyingly-intoxicated monks that may or may not be able to sustain their spell until the end of it all so there's always the risk of the election process literally crashing down to smithereens?
No. No you couldn't.
Fox News, make it happen!
Wildly rampant as it is, I hope you've enjoyed this short take on what a satisfying election with a side of (literally) bruised egos could yield were it to be done within the confines of tabletop role-playing.
I'm sure there are plenty more examples and variations, so don't be shy to share your opinions on how to best serve rotten political bastard stew at noon down in the comments.
And be sure to make it juicy!
Writer, gamer, and - provided he's got the time for it - loving husband, Costin does not rule out sacrifices to the Great Old Ones in order to get into the gaming industry. He's been role-playing for the better part of 6 years, but has been a joker, gamer and storyteller for as long as he can remember.
His greatest pride is once improvising a 4-way argument between a grave digger, a dyslexic man, an adopted child and a sheep, all by himself. That moment is also the closest he's ever come to giving himself a role-playing aneurysm... thus far.
Greetings once again!
Is there any more ubiquitous forum for adventuring than the haunted house? From Mordent to the Shadowlands, rousting the restless dead proves to be one of the most common activities for adventurers. Some haunts, of course, prove more dangerous than others. These abandoned dwellings are some of the most dangerous hunting grounds a hero can find. Although the profit is certainly worth it, the fact that so much of it comes in the form of wealth from previous heroes should serve as a cautionary notice for those wise enough to heed such signs.
Everyone is familiar with the most famous haunted locations, from Castle Tristenoira to Shadowborn Manor, to the granddaddy of them all: Heather House in Mordentshire. There are numerous other haunted locales that have escaped this fame, however. Please find enclosed my personal files on a few choice examples.
1. Kefnucken Mine
In Falkovnia, about a day's travel before the West Timori Road terminates abruptly at the Shadow Rift, one can find a dusty and beaten sign among the Crumbling Foothills bearing the name 'Kefnucken' in Falkovnian script. This marks the turn off for a path to what was once a large copper mine, although it has fallen into disuse, the path overgrown. Kefnucken mine was a forced labor facility, which fell under a deadly curse after Taraya, a Zarovan vistani, died within its depths, worked to death for the Falkfuhrer's cruel regime. Officially, it is recorded as having been destroyed in one of the many cave ins common to the region, although it is very much intact, the truth having been concealed by Falkovnian officials desperate to keep their lives. Taraya dwells within the bottom of the mine, and her tomb has become as much a weapon as it is a prison. One would think that she would welcome adventurers willing to remove her remains and lay them to rest, but her violent response to any intrusion speaks to the contrary.
Taraya can move any object within Kefnucken Mine as though it were an Animated Object. She can fill rooms with an explosive gas (6d6 fire damage to all within the room the first time a spark is struck) three times per day. Her lair is filled with any number of her victims, reanimated as subordinate undead by proximity to her malevolent influence. In the deepest part of the mine she lurks over her own remains, her hatred and pain having combined with the temporal unpredictability of her vistani heritage to transform her into a vasuthant.
2. Giraud Museum
The Giraud Museum in Port-a-Lucine is one of the most well known haunts in some adventuring circles. For the last two years Rollo Giraud has offered a handsome reward to any adventurers who can put to rest the uneasy spirits which haunt his museum. On the surface, the art museum he curates appears to be rather mundane: adequate pieces of art, mostly paintings and sculptures, with a few exceptional pieces scattered in. Only a student of both politics and crime, with a breadth of experience across the entire Core, could realize the link all these pieces have in common: they all feature, either as subject or creator, a person whose life was cut short by assassination. Beneath the new moon each month, the spirits of these murdered souls wander the halls of the museum, torturing anyone they find until morning, when the museum staff invariably finds no trace of the missing heroes.
The ghosts of Giraud Museum are in fact Rollo Giraud's victims--the man spent three decades as an accomplished assassin before retiring with his art gallery. Although he pays at least one adventuring group a month a lucrative reward, none have thus far managed to keep it. The ghosts tied to the sculptures (animated as various forms of golems) and paintings (which house ghostly spirits capable of generating illusions to torment anyone foolish enough to be trapped with them) lash out at anyone around them, perceiving only the influence of their murderer. If Giraud were given to them to destroy, they would be laid to rest. If he should die without the ghosts receiving retribution, then only the destruction of Giraud's museum and legacy would suffice to end their torment.
The tragic loss of Baron von Aubrecker's son Rudolph was a great blow to the Lamordian ruling family, made even worse by the failure of searchers to turn up a body. I have recently begun to receive rather disturbing reports than in the time leading up to particularly nasty storms off the coast of Lamordia, travelers have received invitations to lavish parties at sea. Those who have gone have never returned, and only their companions who declined the offer survive to carry the word that the ship named in the invite is the same as the one which went down with Rudolph Aubrecker: the Haifisch.
The Haifisch is a ghost ship which appears before severe sea storms during cold Lamordian weather. The revelers aboard the ship appear like living people at first; it's only as the night wears on (and the party aboard the Haifisch becomes increasingly debauched) that their sinister nature becomes slowly revealed. By the time that the storm reaches its peak, the party-goers have descended to activities which are as deplorable as they are futile, the ghosts themselves now revealed as bloated, waterlogged corpses with flesh peeling from their bones. Unless a party member is able to steer the Haifisch back to land (an incredibly difficult task) before this point is reached, the storm will destroy the boat, sending the heroes into the freezing Sea of Sorrows along with the ghosts that lured them to their icy doom. Only by bringing the remains of Rudolph Aubrecker (whose corpse is still wherever Dr. Mordenheim discarded it) can the spirits be granted peace.
4. Verger d'os Estate
Nestled in the Richemuloise trees of the Silent Fields, just about halfway between the Falkovnian Border and the Gasping Lake, stands a farm that has long been abandoned. Once a thriving estate owned by the Ossemeur family, the Verger d'os Estate boasted a beautiful manor home, a small mill, and modest farmland, surrounded by more generous orchards. The grapes the family grew were particularly prized for the wines they produced. Tragedy seemed to follow the family (it's rumored that they were descended from the cursed stock of the Blackburn-Bruce), and after investigators from Mordent followed up on the disappearances of several young women, the family upped and vanished, leaving their expansive property abandoned. These days, however, stories have begun to circulate that whatever dark deeds the Ossemeur got up to have come home to roost: the bandits of the Silent Fields tell tales of strange lights and ominous spectres. According to these stories, the home which was once a derelict hideout for bandits on the run has become the lair of some dark energy that seems hellbent on terrorizing any creature that attempts to approach.
In reality, the Verger d'os Estate has no undead presence whatsoever. The estate has been taken over by a mixed community of escaped demi-human slaves from Falkovnia. With a more open mind to magic, the elves and gnomes of the community have taught many of the others rudimentary illusory magic, while the halflings have shown great skill in rigging mundane traps. The estate is now a maze of traps, nonmagical illusions, and diversions which allow one of the residents time to approach and scare off any intruders. Anyone who is deemed a threat that can't be frightened away will be killed: the slaves are beginning to establish a network to funnel other escaped slaves into Mordent, and are prepared to kill to keep this network a secret.
Hopefully you'll find some of these tantalizing prospects for your adventures. (Or you'll consider staying away out of caution.) If you're bold enough to bring peace to one of these places, or lucky enough to escape one of them with more detailed information, feel free to write me so that I can update my files. Personally, it only took one haunted house for me to coin my first rule of adventuring: Just because no one lives there, doesn't mean no one's home.
As always, wishing you safe travels and happy hunting,
Frankie "Farshot" Drakeson, Lord Mayor of Carinford-Halldon
Jim Stearns is a deranged hermit from the swamps of Southern Illinois. His mad scribblings can frequently be found in Quoth the Raven, as well as anthologies like Fitting In or Selfies from the End of the World, by Mad Scientist Journal.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.