Monday, August 30, 2010

Nuclear Winter

Greg Costikyan loves taking the piss out of his fellow gamers. He skewered the mentality underlying most hack-and-slash gamers with Violence: The Roleplaying Game of Egregious and Repulsive Bloodshed. He also took on the post-holocaust genre with this short gem.

Nuclear Winter

The Realistic After-the-Holocaust Game

Design: Greg Costikyan
Development: Joe Balkoski, John M. Ford, and Nick Quane

(1.0) The 90-Minute War Table

1-4 You survive the first strike; roll on table 2.0.
5-6 You are killed in the fireball.

(2.0) Fallout Table

1-5 You survive the fallout with only minor radiation sickness; roll on table 3.0.
6 You are killed by the radiation.

(3.0) Collapse of Civilization Table

1-3 You survive the collapse of the food distribution network, the marauding bands, etc.; roll on table 4.0.
4-6 You die at the hands of looters, from starvation, etc.

(4.0) Nuclear Winter Table

1-6 A cloud of dust encircles the globe. Global temperatures drop by several degrees. Most plant life dies because it does not receive enough light. The glaciers advance. All animals larger than the rat become extinct. You die.

(5.0) Optional New Jersey Rule

If you live in New Jersey, add one to all die-rolls.

(6.0) Optional Breathing Rule

Each time you take a breath, mark off one breath box. When all six boxes have been marked off, you are dead.

Designer's Notes

For some reason, after-the-holocaust games seem real popular right now. Why is beyond me; I can think of few more depressing environments in which to live. In addition, most such games are patently ludicrous; a few years after a full-scale nuclear exchange, nothing will be left by the rats and the roaches. However, I might as well cash in on the trend, too.

Coming Soon from Costikyan Publishing Empire


The sequel to Nuclear Winter

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hordes of the Things!

Yesterday James M. posted the good news that the mass combat wargame, Hordes of the Things! (2nd ed.) is available as a free download for personal use. HOTT! is a really fun abstract wargame based on Wargames Research Group's popular DBA/DBM ancient & medieval rules. (I think the name comes from the BBC radio series Hordes of the Things that was a parody of LotR.)

Because they're abstract and use several figures mounted on a single base to represent huge hordes of troops, you can have entire armies using just a handful o figures. The abstract nature of the rules also means you can make an army based on just about anything you can dream up, like a Dr. Who army.

The premiere resource for HOTT was The Stronghold website which had a bunch of army lists and stuff, but it seems to have gone 404. (Here's a link to the archived copy).  If you do play you might want to use these rule tweaks that come from the mailing list:

HOTT is a very well balanced game. There are no uber-elements that are game winners in all circumstances. General opinion, however, is that if there is an elements that's good value for the points it's the Shooter. Likewise Warbands are regarded as a little underpowered.

There is a substantial minority (and a clear majority of the regular contributors to this list) who are using the following modified rules:

Shooters' move in good/bad going reduced to 200 paces

Warbands' move in good/bad going increased to 300 paces.

This makes a surprising difference to the perceived usefulness of the two elements.

Richard C

And don't worry if you don't have models on hand. You can always play HOTT without miniatures.

Monday, August 23, 2010

BESM2 Call of Cthulhu

Rescuing some more BESM fan rules from obscurity. In this case it's William H Timmins' rules for playing Call of Cthulhu with the BESM 2 rules (which could easily be tweaked to work with the free Tri-Stat rules).

They are the one's formerly linked to on Blackbird's (of BESM EX supplement fame) BESM links page. They're too long to post here, but just follow the link to find an archived copy of them. I'm pretty sure they were written before the Revised Edition was published and it's surprising how similar the Sanity rules are to the Psyche rules in 2RE. Something else I really like are the Occupation rules.

Designing an occupation is simply a matter of collecting a series of skills so that the skill cost, per level, is divisible by 10. The cost in Character Points is the skill cost divided by 10.

I like the way games like Call of Cthulhu and Mekton Z handle occupations by treating each profession as a group of 5-6 specific skills, so it's nice to see something similar implemented in BESM. Here's the example he gives.

Example, in standard genre:

Antiquarian – Art, Bargain, History, Law, Library Use, Other Language, Spot Hidden, + any one skill as a personal specialty

Visual Arts (any) 3/level

Persuasion (Bargain) 3/level

* I added this, it is not in normal BESM2. Other specializations: fast talk, persuade

Cultural Arts (History) 4/level

Research (any) 4/level

* I added this, too. Specializations: library use, lab work, internet use, statistical analysis

Linguistics (any) 3/level

Standard package costs 2 CP, gets one level of Visual Arts (any), Persuasion (bargain), Cultural Arts (History), Research (any), and two levels of Linguistics (any).

And since skills are optional in 2E you could always just use Occupations as a rough outline of what kinds of things a character would be proficient at.

In any case, there's lots of good advice here for running CoC using BESM rules, or (if you want to make Lovecraft roll in his grave) playing a Demonbane campaign.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hooker Cop!

Hooker Cop (40 Character Points)

Body 6  Mind 4  Soul 5

ACV: 6  DCV: 5  Health Points: 35

LVL PTS Attributes:
1      3      Attack Combat Mastery
2      4      Defense Combat Mastery
2      4      Gadgets (Police kit, car)
       -1     Conditional Ownership (Gadgets)
2      2     Highly Skilled
2      2     Organizational Ties (Police Dept.)

LVL PTS Skills:
1      3      City Knowledge (Red light district)
2      4      Driving (Car)
1      3      Intimidation (Street)
1      3      Law (Criminal)
2      4      Seduction (Male)
1      2      Street Sense (Influential Individuals)
2    16      Gun Combat (Pistol)
1      7      Melee Combat (Baton/Club)
1      8      Unarmed Attack (Holds)

PTS Defects:
-2    Not So Tough
-1    Red Tape
-1    Significant Other (Partner)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Forbidden Books

Form "The Lovecraft Variant" by G. Arthur Rahman and Philip J. Rahman in Sorcerer's Apprentice magazine (Summer, 1980).

Forbidden Books
Bygone occult investigators and mystics have recorded some of the Old One's secrets. Sometimes reading a forbidden book will prepare a character to see the Greater Significance of a discovery. To establish the identity of a book randomly, roll 2d6 on this table.

2 - Prehuman Religions. Uncanny, rich, and dreadful (English)

3 - Unaussprechlichen Kulten. Stunning and terrible (German)

4 - Pnakotic Manuscript. Recorded secrets of a pre-Homo sapiens race (English translations available)

5 - Revelations of Glaaki. Psychic dreams of a mystic (English)

6 - Book of Dzyan. Suggestions of true horror expressed in vague oriental style (ancient Sanskrit)

7 - G'harne Fragments. More pre-human writings, widely considered to be a modern hoax (English)

8 - King in Yellow. A play that presents eldritch horror in the guise of an allegory (French and English translations available)

9 - Les Cultes des Goules. Dread knowledge confused by the vacuous interpretation of a mad nobleman (French)

10 - Vermis Mysteriis. An important revelation of horror (Latin)

11 - Liber Ivonis. Manuscript of a prehistoric wizard, rich and powerful (medieval French)

12 - Necronomicon. Masterwork of arcane knowledge (Latin), a book so frightful an ES-SR [Emotional Stability Saving Roll] is required to read it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Lovecraft Varient

The other day James M. blogged about The Prehistory of Call of Cthulhu and how CoC originally began as a generic Gothic horror RPG. And Ed commented,

More fun facts:

Issue 7 of Sorcerer's Apprentice magazine (Summer 1980) contained an article called "The Lovecraft Variant," which was a Tunnels & Trolls rules hack for playing 1920s Cthulhu Mythos adventures. It was pretty damn cool.

It later evolved into Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes.

So I decided to revisit this little gem and dug out my stack of back issues of Sorcerer's Apprentice magazine that I bought from Flying Buffalo a few years ago.

Written by G. Arthur Rahman and Philip J. Rahman it appeared under the full title "The Lovecraft Variant, or the Lurking Shadow Over Pickman's Unnameable Hound on the Doorstep of the Shunned Witch House of the Terrible Erich Zann." (If you can recognize all the Lovecraft stories alluded to in that humorously verbose title, award yourself five geek points.) The article begins with fulsome praise for Lovecraft, crediting him with the creation of "a new sub-genre in fantasy." And while they acknowledge that Lovecrafty elements can be added to the standard dungeon crawl, they set out to provide rules to play in the Jazz Age milieu in which the stories were originally set.

This article shall endeavor to adapt T&T to the special requirements of Lovecraftian adventure.

An active interest in the Cthulhu Mythos will greatly aid the playing of the Lovecraft Variant. Players who opt to be characters in a horror story must recognize that the Gm is only doing his duty if he gives them a rough time. In this genre, death and madness fall with horrifying frequency.

Unlike most role-playing games, the characters in the Lovecraft Variant  are little-motivated by hope of money, fame or self-improvement. They are explorers of the nature of Evil, questers after the frightful secrets behind the world's mysteries. Their reward is knowledge for its own sake; even the most persistent and successful delver may end his career old before his time, with a burden of secrets too dreadful to bear.

They them proceed to the specific game mechanics needed to run the LV. These included a new attribute, Emotional Stability, which "quantifies the character's ability to withstand terror without mental trauma." This prefigures CoC's Sanity attribute, and is one of the things which set these games apart from the sword-and-sorcery genre. In your average FRPG the adventures can confront all manner of demons and beasties and only have to worry about becoming monster chow. In a Lovecrafty game they also have to worry about wigging out.

Other paragraphs cover Equipment (e.g., Cheap revolver 5D6+15), Magic ("A scan of Lovecraftian literature will derive very little magic that is equivalent to the spells of T&T."), and rules for Character Types (Investigators, Scholars, and Dilettantes). Then comes some random charts for Personal Secrets, Fear Reaction, and Forbidden Books (yes, the Necronomicon is there). Then comes a short list of Ancient Gods and Monster Ratings and descriptions for a variety of Minions (Shoggoth, MR 500). The article wraps up with eight Scenario Suggestions.

I never played the LV because by the time I saw it I already had CoC for that kind of game. But thinking about it now, this short article gives you everything you need to do Lovecraft. You don't really need whole new books of rules and supplements (fine as those were). You just need to spend a few hours tweaking your favorite rules (you could do the same thing with D&D, RQ, Traveller, or whatever) to play a horror game. In a way I wish I'd used the LV to run my Mythos games, and maybe at some point I will.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jeff's vlog

The always interesting Jeff Rients has started volgging. I swear that almost every time I do a search on some game idea his blog comes up in the results because he's thought of it first.

Monday, August 16, 2010


What the hell happened to the RPGbomb site? I haven't been able to reach it for over a week now. Now when I go to the address I get a generic Apache HTTP Server page.

I even tried opening the page with a different browser, but no luck. I know they overhauled the site a while ago, but it seemed to be working fine. They haven't sent me any emails saying they were changing servers or shutting down. The worst thing is I got an email notice that someone PM'd me over there, and now I'll never know what it was about. And it's a good thing I wasn't part of a PBeM game there. Has anybody heard any news about this? Are they still around, or what?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Damnation Van

By Syd Mead, who is quoted in Mekton as saying that spaceships fall into one of two categories, techno-form boxes or ninja rocket-ships. Looks like the same principle applies to vans.

[via Jeff Rients]

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Metagming collection

I've managed to collect quite a few of Metagaming's old MicroGames. They were small, fast playing wargames using hex maps that were published back in the '70's and '80's. And they're a blast to play.

MicroGame #1: Ogre (1977)

Designed by Steve Jackson and inspired by Keith Laumer's Bolo series of sf stories, this game has you using hovercraft and other AFV's to fight a giant cybernetic tank called the OGRE. An easy game with a lot of replay value. With art by Winchell Chung.

MicroGame #3: Melee (1977)

Another by Steve Jackson. Melee is a game of individual combat that includes many fantasy creatures. Uses a simple point-build system to create characters. Along with Wizard (see below) it was the basis of the FRPG The Fantasy Trip and eventually GURPS. A very good game that I blogged about earlier. And probably the only game ever published with a gargoyle wiener on the cover.

MicroGame #4: Warp War (1977)

Designed by Metagaming founder Howard Thompson, this is a starship combat game with a solid diceless game mechanic and a simple strategic element. A fun game that can easily be expanded upon. More art by Winchell Chung.

MicroGame #5: Rivets (1977)

A toungue-in-cheek take on the old "the humans are gone but the robots keep on fighting" cliché. Each player controls various Boppers that can be programed in different ways. I haven't played this one yet, but it looks fun.

MicroGame #6: Wizard (1978)

The follow-up game to Melee (above), this one covers magic users, obviously. Each player controls a spell caster as they face off in an arena. The spells were all combat oriented, natch, but they were expanded in The Fantasy Trip.

MicroHistory #2: Ram Speed (1980)

"RAMSPEED is a fast playing game from the age of mythical heroes, a time when gods roamed the earth and mystery veiled the oceans." How can you not want to play this game? You command individual ancient ships like triremes or penteconters and try to outmaneuver your opponent.

That's it so far. I'd really like to get MicroGame #7: Olympica (1978) too and maybe a few others. I just wish I would get to play them more often.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mecha Malfunction Table

This is another chart from the vanished Shigata Ga Nai High site, taken in turn from SJG's Tooniversal Tour Guide. You could update results 15 and 53 to something like, Viewscreen only displays "K-ON!"

Mecha Malfunction Table by Matthew Webber

Based on "The Dreaded ‘Uh Oh, Equipment Failure' Table" in the "Tooniversal Tour Guide" Mektoon section by Rrobert Cross, with some Anime-esque modifications.

Roll on this chart whenever the player rolls a 12. If an attacking character chooses, they can roll on this chart instead of Critical Damage Table.
To roll on this chart, use 2D6, designating one die the "Ones" and another "Tens" and roll like you would roll 2D10 to get a D100 result. (ie, one die rolling a 4, and the other a 3, would yeild a result of 43, or 34.)

11 Random weapon stops working
12 Limb freezes up and won't move
13 Limb falls off
14 Viewscreen only displays in black and white
15 Viewscreen only displays "Fist of the Northstar"
16 Weapon gets hot, can only be fired once every two rounds or it will melt.
21 Mecha is knocked over
22 Sound receptors shut off. All combat rolls are +3
23 Mecha cannot walk, and runs at full tilt when it moves
24 Mecha stops halfway through a tranformation (if transformable, if not, roll again)
25 Powerpack explodes. Mecha takes 15 damage an cannot move
26 Mecha becomes SD
31 Targeting computer malfunctions. +3 to hit
32 Mecha will no longer transform (if tranformable, if not roll again)
33 Power source malfunctions, will lose all power in 1D6 rounds
34 Air conditioner shuts off. +2 to all rolls
35 Air conditioner won't turn off, +1 to all rolls.
36 Limbs only function on a roll of 6 or less. (Roll 2d6 for every movement)
41 Head is damaged, mecha takes double damage. If the pilot is in head, then they take 10 damage.
42 Mecha will keep repeating its last movement until the Pilot can roll a 2.
43 Entire team's viewscreen will show only the shocked faces of their teamates
44 Mecha can only walk backwards
45 Random weapon explodes. Does 10 damage
46 Short circuit in electrical system . Pilot must make body roll every round or suffer 5 damage
51 Pilot is unconscious for 2d6 round.
52 Communications with other pilots are out
53 Viewscreen displays "Brave Fencer Musashi"
54 Mecha can only fire all weapons at once
55 Targeting computer malfunctions, and begin to target other teammates.
56 Mecha changes movement modes randomly
61 Limb explodes. Does 15 damage
62 Weapon falls off
63 Cooling systems malfunction. Mecha will overheat and shutdown in 2D6 rounds
64 All controls go dead for 1 round every 1D rounds
65 Communication system malfunctions and broadcasts all transmissions on an open frequency.
66 roll again, twice

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pike's Enterprise

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post. Here's a great exterior illustration of Capt. Pike's Enterprise from Neale Davidson's Jaynz Ships of the Fleet.

"Captain Christopher Pike commanded the Enterprise from the early 2250s into the 2260s. His missions included voyages to the Rigel, Vega and Talos systems."

The Vintage Starships site even has the specs for the ship, at least as far as the FASA RPG is concerned.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ray Guns

To compliment today's cool post over at EXONAUTS!, here's a picture of a bunch of ray guns I stumble upon over at Fist of Blog.

I also found this pic by Dusty Abell, which makes me want to play an anime Star Trek game more than ever.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dorkiest Mechs of 3025

More Battletech lulz. Here's a look back at some of the dorkiest Mechs that was posted a while ago over at Something Awful LLC. Battletech ripped off most of it's best art from Macross (or rather Robotech). The other designs were mostly full of suck.

On the other hand, the Japanese version of Battletech, which featured art by the creators of Macross, Studio Nue, was full of awesome.

Now that's a mech.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Battletech lulz

Over on the chans, Anon sez...
Real men play 3025. Before there was shit like cell phones and the internet. When you had to write out your own record sheets with a pencil and a calculator or make copies at the library for $.05 a page. Enjoy your clantech targeting computer pulseboat, you munchy pussies.