Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

I had planned on working diligently through the end of August on Mythweaver stuff to give myself a big backlog for when my beginning of school year tidal wave hit- I'd be ready to keep a steady online presence for a few months. As you can see from the fact that I haven't updated the blog in two weeks, it hasn't panned out that way.

The tidal wave effectively hit two weeks early. I haven't even been able to think about gaming stuff with the 'real life' stuff that's been coming my way. I plan to keep working on RPG stuff on and off, but I'll warn you now it will likely be more off than on for the next while. I am close to done on a few projects, and I'll use the time I have to put finishing touches on things so I can get a handful of releases out there ASAP.

Thanks for your ongoing support!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Monster Mash: Infernal Hellhound

Here's a nasty doggy to spring on your heroes... I'm going to have a few of these tracking my wife's character tomorrow when we play. I expect she'll make short work of these, but you never can tell.

Infernal Hellhound (70 CPs)
Bite (hit +7/ dmg +10); Evade +4; Soak D12+4
Bite +5; Intuition +7; Invulnerability +4; Might +5; Prowess +7; Speed +3; Stealth +3

Summoned from the heart of Pandemonium, the Infernal Hellhound tracks its prey with relentless fury.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Monster Mash: Chaos Pixies

Now for a low-level threat.

Chaos Pixie (8 CPs) Pixie blade (hit +1/ damage D6+1); Evade +1; Soak D6
Flight +1; Intuition +1; Lore +2; Prowess +1
Chaos (+2), Linked to Lore
1' tall faerie folk dedicated to absolute chaos, chaos pixies delight in confounding mortals. When a chaos pixie dies, it explodes, dealing 8 wounds to all targets in the same unit; targets roll to soak this damage.

Chaos (spell trait): Once per scene, you may cast a spell on a living target in casting range, forcing the target to behave in random ways. If the spell is successful, the target either wanders aimlessly for D6 rounds (roll of 1-2 on D6), attacks an ally for D6 rounds (roll of 3-4 on D6), or performs a bizarre action for D6 rounds (roll of 5-6 on D6).

A little poetry...

I'm working on my novel set in the Splintered Realm, and FINALLY figured out how to weave in the story of the Great Reckoning and the way in which the world came together. It's turning out as a sort of Rime in three parts. Here's the first part (at least in draft form) to show you how it's coming together... the novel draft itself is in the 52,000 word range right now, and I'd like to get it up past 55,000 before I try shopping it around. By the way, if you know a good agent- let me know!

I. The Great King’s Folly

There was a king
O’er mortal things
Whose palace bright did shine.
T’was coveted
so many said
For leagues a hundred nine.

He’d settled lands
And forged war bands
That stretched from sea to sea.
But this regent
Was not content
To rest ‘pon victory.

He knew above
A queen of love
Kept more for her than he.
This Queen of all
Lady Yahall
Ruled all things, even he.

Arvathon’s gaze
Through clouds and haze
Espied her Citadel.
His jealous heart
spurred wheels to start
To draw us all to hell.

For to his side
Spurned on by pride
The king did counsel call.
And told each one
When year was done
Her husband he’d be called.

Their kingdoms true
No longer two
Would now united be.
Earth and above
With binds of love
Would death itself set free.

So word he sent
And up it went
A call to marry her.
For seven days
Off’rings ablaze
They waited her answer.

And down it came
On tongues of flame
No consort could he be.
The Queen Above
All men did love
Such favor he’d not see.

But undeterred
Knowing she’d erred
The king resolved anew,
To seek her hand
Anew he planned
To make a husband true.

He’d earn his place.
He’d see her face.
He’d yet make her his bride.
In mounting rage,
Seen not this age,
He vowed to save his pride.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Monster Mash: Grendel

Reading Grendel by Gardner with my seniors this week inspired me to go back and read through parts of Beowulf where Grendel appears... and then to stat him up for Mythweaver. I decided that he's right at the cusp of immortality. I put him at 90 CPs to show that he's far superior to Hrothgar's Thanes (treating 40 CP fighters as mooks), but up against the world's greatest mortal fighter (Beowulf just has to be 99 CPs), he's just a step behind...

Grendel (90 CPs) Two Claws (hit +8/ dmg +12); Evade +4; Soak D12+6
Amphibious (+2); Claws +5 (x2); Intuition +6; Invulnerability +6; Lore +2; Might +8; Prowess +6; Stealth +4
A fearsome humanoid, Grendel delights in inflicting pain and terror on the mortals in his lands.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More Fun With Horses: Pegasus

He's not quite as powerful as the Nightmare Steed, but the pegasus appears as a pretty impressive pony (sorry, had to go for the alliteration)...

Pegasus (40 CPs) Kick (hit +6/ dmg +7); Evade +3; Soak D6
Intuition +4; Kick +3; Might +6; Prowess +4; Flight +3; Speed +3
A neutral, winged steed, the pegasus soars majestically through the heavens, carrying the noblest of warriors into battle.

Mythweaver Solitaire #1: A Dwarf's Tale Now Live

I've released the first solitaire adventure for Mythweaver. Swing by RPGNow and grab yourself a copy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monster Mash: Nightmare Steed

We went horseback riding the other day, and I've been thinking about the awesome power of horses... I can't even imagine how much force that creature must exert when it goes to give a back kick. Okay, I guess I can imagine it, because it appears in game terms below... of course, this horse is summoned from the fields of Pandemonium by powerful lords of chaos, but other than that- just like the horses we were around the other day...

Nightmare Steed (60 CPs) Kick (hit +7/dmg +11); Evade +4; Soak D12+2
Intuition +5; Invulnerability +2; Kick +5; Might +7; Prowess +6; Speed +3; Unhallowed (+2)
Summoned from the fields of Pandemonium, the chaotic Nightmare Steed crushes foes under its mighty hooves.

Group vs. Solo Adventure Design

The difference between designing a solo adventure and a traditional adventure is the difference between a monk and a monkey (to paraphrase Twain). In a traditional adventure, you focus on creating a location or environment for the heroes to explore, hopefully crafting an interesting story into which the heroes can insert themselves and play some role.

In a solo adventure, you focus on scripting the story, and giving the player choices (and including the random nature of the dice) in shaping the story’s ultimate outcome. The solo adventure ends up far less open-ended as a consequence; however, the trick is to keep it from becoming a railroad with one clear path to ‘win’. Choices the player makes should be meaningful and have an impact on the ways in which the scenario plays out.

My first such adventure, A Dwarf’s Tale, is relatively straightforward. You make decisions, and these decisions can lead to your fortune, moderate success, mere survival, or death. There are four distinct ‘roads’ you can ultimately take, with dozens of avenues through them and places where they overlap. That’s not bad, but it’s still a sliding scale of one level of possible result- from terrible to great in terms of success...

For my next adventure, I want to work on one of two things:

The tale of a young thief sent on a dangerous errand assigned by his powerful guild in a major city
The tale of a young apprentice wizard undertaking a task to prove his worth to join a powerful wizard brotherhood.

In both cases, I want the sliding scale to include not only degrees of success of the mission itself, but choices that shape the character’s place in the game world. For the young thief, these should include decisions about whether or not to join one of two rival guilds, and his role in the development of the guilds going forward. For the apprentice wizard, these choices include whether to follow the path of good or evil, whether to seek power or knowledge. I can see how these work in principal, but as a story flowchart, they become quite difficult to manage...

Once your apprentice wizard selects the path of power over knowledge (for instance), certain options may no longer be available to him. To whit, your fledgling wizard visits the apothecary’s shop. His choice of whether to offer to help the apothecary with a personal problem (at no apparent benefit to himself) would be an option only if you have chosen the path of Law (or if you still are on the path of Neutral). However, if you’ve followed the path of Chaos, different options present themselves.

The danger here is that the branches run too far from the core story, and take you off in unusual directions. While it’s somewhat of a railroad to say that all decisions regarding the apothecary ultimately lead you into the nearby woods in search of a rare mushroom, your approach, the things you learn, and the ways in which your character grows are distinctly shaped through these choices, determined by the arteries you pursue off of the main path. At the end of the adventure, you are a more learned and more powerful wizard ready to take on the big challenge at the end, but the way your character views the world- and in fact, the way in which you overcome this final obstacle, is largely determined by the choices you’ve made throughout.

It’s a complex flow chart, but I see this working as a campaign-building tool for solo play.

The criticism of the solo adventures I’ve read through is that they are too generic. Since you can play ‘anyone’ you want, you end up with a very dry and somewhat vanilla adventure. I want these adventures to be dynamic and interesting, so I need to have specific characters in mind as I write. The good news is that characters, like people, do not always respond the same way in every situation, and you can create a wide range of options in most situations that are ‘true’ for a character, even when they are vastly different options.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Solo Adventures

A few months ago, I started to draft of a solo adventure for Resolute: the Splintered Realm, but I never finished it... it got caught in the tempest of material that got shifted to the back burner when I started work on Mythweaver.

In the last few days, I found it, dusted it off, and found that I had great fun working on it. It hit all the sweet spots (at least for this week...) of design. I got to make up a character; I got to create a short adventure; I got to write some prose; I got to flesh out some sections of the game world; I got to create a handful of new magical items and a handful of monsters. In short, I got to do all of the stuff I love to do in a manageable chunk. Good fun, and I'm very happy with the result. I hope this will be the first of many solo adventures for Mythweaver (and maybe I'll follow this up for Resolute too! This is a great way to build the game over time, and fits superhero play as well as fantasy play). I've got a half-dozen ideas for further such solitaire adventures, so we'll see ...

Mythweaver Solitaire #1: A Dwarf's Tale will be out by the end of the week.

Monster Mash: Spirit Trolls

During college, I played part-time in this ongoing D+D game of epic proportions. For some reason, I couldn't free up my afternoons on Sundays, but this group went strong for nigh on the fulls school year with somewhere in the neighborhood of ten regular players. There were several major foes of the campaign (including a beholder and vampire), but I remember most the sidekick for the beholder. He would dispatch this annoying ogre mage to pester the party, interrupt their camps, sick things on them, and generally make their lives as annoying as possible. He wasn't all that powerful, but ultimately many of the players (as far as I could tell) hated that ogre mage as much as the beholder or vampire. Okay, they definitely hated the vamp more, but that ogre mage was a close second.

It always struck me as odd that it was an 'ogre mage', because it didn't seem all that ogrey... or magey... to me. The creature always struck me as more attuned to magic than having learned it, and it always seemed a closer relation of the troll than the ogre.

Here I am to set things right at long last.

Spirit Troll (80 CPs) Two blades (hit +6/ dmg +8); Evade +4; Soak D12+3
Arms +4; Armor +2; Intuition +3; Invulnerability +2; Lore +7; Might +4; Prowess +8; Regeneration +2; Stealth +3; Two Weapons +4
Spell Talents (linked to Lore): Burst of Ice (+2); Charm (+2); Dispersion (+2)
Two blades +4; studded armor +2
A chaotic, 8' tall humanoid of devious nature, the spirit troll serves powerful masters of the Unseelie Court, undertaking secretive missions among the lands of mortals.

Burst (Spell talent). Use 1 turn to strike a target within rating range with a powerful burst of your arcane energy. This energy automatically deals rating x5 wounds to the target; the target rolls to soak this damage. You do not roll to hit or for damage; you automatically deal rating x5 wounds. If you use a Resolve point, you increase the effective rating for your casting.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Monster Mash: That's One Big Crawdad

Keeping with my inspiration from White Plume Mountain, here’s one big crawdad. This one may not lair under a huge water balloon about ready to burst, but he should still be pretty nasty for low-level heroes nonetheless…

Crayfish, Giant (40 CPs) Two claws (hit +5/ dmg +8); Evade +2; Soak D12+5
Claw +4 (x2); Intuition +2; Invulnerability +5; Might +4; Prowess +5
Lairing in the murky deep, the neutral giant crayfish attacks with a pair of sharp pincers.