Friday, January 29, 2021

Out of the Ashes, OpenQuest and Groundedness

I'm gushing a lot about the beautiful weirdness of Troika!, but I also have a soft spot for a very different type of fantasy, something that feels more grounded and familiar, something about relatively ordinary, good-natured characters doing the right thing. It probably comes from the fantasy I read as a child: LeGuin's Earthsea, Lloyd Alexander's Taran and, maybe most importantly, Ronja Robbers Daughter by Astrid Lindgren. (I've just read the latter to my daughter and was suprised how many of the themes and monsters I'm using when designing scenarios can be traced back to it.)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

God Creatures and Cults with Ulterior Motives

... I seem to be unable to come up with something else!

Well, it's not quite as bad as that. I'm okay with writing low fantasy stuff that doesn't touch on fantasy religion at all - dealing with wacky goblins, negotiating with a bored dragon, finding out about that giant boar that terrorizes the village.

But whenever I'm writing something that is supposed to feed into my far too ambitious weird fantasy heartbreaker setting, I come up with some combination of the following elements: Some (usually giant) god creature (floating in space in an ancient cocoon, sleeping at the ocean bottom with its back bristles breaking the surface, living in a giant hive of beetles conditioned to do staggeringly complicated calculations for it), some kind of cult that has access to a valuable ressource (a drug produced by people turned into trees that lets you experience a jumble of their memories, the boiling, poisonous blood of that sea good, impossibly accurate answers to complex mathematical and mathemagical problems), and an event that involves the player characters and that will probably upturn everything.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

What's Up?

I haven't blogged for a while - so here's what I'm up to and what you can expect in the next few weeks from me:

First, I'm reading Sword of Cepheus (Sword&Sorcery based on the Traveller-inspired old school Cepheus Engine) and FrontierSpace, and I'm hoping to give both a spin soon, so reviews are coming up.

Second, I have a lot more Troika! backgrounds in store, but I'm also working on two scenarios to tie in with them, so I'm holding some of those back to see how exactly the scenarios shape up.

Third, I'm eagerly awaiting the "Zero Edition" of Newt Newports new d100 game Skyraiders of the Floating Realms. Don't know exactly what I'm going to do with it, but a lighter, more streamlined version of Newt's OpenQuest sounds very enticing to me!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Troika! Background: Godmiller

You operate the giant temple machines that feed the thousand gods of Dorpal. Back then, it was congegrations chanting and shouting their adoration under the iridiscent domes of the godstills, the essence of their worship drip-dripping through the central shaft and down into the Adyton cellars. The invention of the godmill changed that: Theologists scribbled down and analyzed the rites of worship and translated them into codes for punchcards. Now, most temples are filled with the creaking of giant clockwork mechanisms, the lowing and bleating of the beasts powering them and the stench of their manure.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Houseruling Troika!

So here's the Troika! houserules I plan to implement next session:

1. Roll-high all the way. I'm actually still a little on the fence about this, because I tend to finde roll-under slightly more intuitive, and more importantly, you have to do less math for it. However, my players keep asking me whether they need to roll high or roll low every single time; and since it's pretty much impossible to go all roll-under in combat, I'll go for always rolling high, including on Luck rolls. The standard target number to beat for unopposed tests is 14 - that way, you end up with exactly the same chances for success. I'll make everyone chant "High - is - Good! High - is - Good!" before the start of our next session, so they'll remember!

Friday, February 14, 2020

My Deceptive Memories of Star Frontiers

Back in my school days, when we were playing pretty much every rpg game we could get our hands on - one of them being TSRs Star Frontiers. My memories of this rpg are vivid: I remember the illustration of the amorphous Dralasite with its eyes that looked like textbook renditions of cancer cells (I immediately called dibs on that one); I remember the characters on the cover, expecially that kind-of-cool, but also kind of revulsive ape-bat creature that turned out to be a Yazirian (my best friend called dibs on that one, which figured, since his favourite childhood plush toy had been a little smiling monkey in a striped tee); I remember the big city map with its ugly, squarish design, that, I think, was supposed to show a spaceport city; and I remember that, when you held the boxes lid against the light, that it was actually from a D&D red box and they had only pasted the Star Frontiers cover on it! (What had happened there? Had they produced too many D&D boxes and saw no choice but to publish another rpg to make use of them? I guess that's not how it went, but it would make a good anecdote. Also, I'm writing about the German edition of Star Frontiers here, which was called Sternengarde, so don't be surprised if you find nothing of that kind when you hold up the lid of your original Star Frontiers box).
Anyway, my memories are so vivid and create such a deep sense of familiarity, I naturally assumed that we must have played the hell out of Star Frontiers and loved it. (I even claimed just that recently on social media).
However, thinking about it a little harder, I actually can't remember playing it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

New Troika! Background: The Swanosaurologist

You come from a noble house (or or from some upstart merchant family) that can afford paying to provide you with a reputable education that could not possibly be of any use. You have studied the biology, thaumology and the habits of the Swanosaurus, a fierce and beautiful swamp creature that has been extinct for decades. Others may sneer at you for learning fighting techniques you'll never have to put to use; but you know that one day, you'll find that last remaining Swanosaurus and slay it.