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Topics - Marchand

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1
Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Onebookshelf sales?
« on: January 20, 2021, 06:22:26 AM »
Does anyone have much of a clue about OBS sales or turnover?

Question prompted by genuine curiosity - I have no vested interest one way or another.

I've noticed some stuff on drivethru for games I like, but that I would have thought was pretty niche, achieving what seem quite high places in sales rankings. E.g. Mongoose is releasing some high-priced pdf's of Third Imperium (official Traveller setting) material, $30ish for pdf only. One such item is currently ranked 3rd. I can see a few hardcore Traveller fanboys buying this, but... really?

Likewise, there is a community-content item for Coriolis that is a "copper seller" (whatever that means). It's effectively an illustrated version of the setting calendar. It looks quite nice from the preview, and it's quite cheap, but still.

Either this stuff is far more popular than I would have thought (great, cos I like these games); or as I suspect, overall sales are incredibly low; or, the algorithms on the website are screwed.

Edit: I have heard of an exploit where a publisher can buy a ton of their own stuff through dummy accounts to bump it up the rankings. OK but at least for the community content guys, I would expect they would do this for more of their stuff, not just 1 item.

2
Media and Inspiration / Film and TV criticism done right
« on: November 08, 2020, 10:48:10 AM »
Came across this guy Critical Drinker on youtube. To get a flavour, check out his review of Ghostbusters 2016...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhnQsk3G_2c

He knows something about how story and character works, and he doesn't mind calling out some SJW bullshit.

3
Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Cyberpunk RED
« on: October 10, 2020, 08:37:10 AM »
In case anyone is interested and missed it, R Tal put out some more info on Cyberpunk Red.

Link: https://rtalsoriangames.com/2020/10/09/cyberpunk-red-alert/

Scheduled release 14th Nov pdf, 19 Nov physical. So the physical book is due out the same day as the CP2077 videogame (surprise...). USD60/30 for the book/pdf. 456 pages.

I'll almost certainly buy the pdf, but the page count is sounding a bit bloated. There will be 3 pieces of fiction and a lot of art. To be fair, the samples available so far look pretty good.

4
Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Flames of "Freedom"
« on: October 05, 2020, 10:08:00 PM »
Just came across Flames of Freedom quickstart on drivethru - powered by Zweihander, remake of Colonial Gothic.

"It is the dawn of the American Revolutionary War of 1776. A tangled web of conspiracy spans North America." sounds promising...

"In the war for survival, it does not matter what your creed, color, culture or gender is – all stand together."

Er... apart from slaves, Tories, and many native Americans I suppose.

Open up the free preview and there is a preamble called "Uses and Abuses of History": "...this game is not an excuse to reenact harmful words or acts of the past, including ageism, ablism [etc.]... trans or queerphobia"

Uses and abuses of history, indeed.

5
Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Albedo
« on: September 24, 2020, 05:34:37 AM »
I just noticed Albedo, what I think are first and second editions, on drivethru yesterday. One of them is definitely First Edition, the other one is called "Platinum Catalyst".


I'd vaguely heard of it as a combination of hard military SF and furriness. One of those elements interests me, one rather less so.


Anyone have any experience of it? Are the background and/or system good enough to interest alone? How easy is it to look past the furriness - I am guessing that should be very easy as reskinning is generally trivial?

6
This was a while ago so it may already have received the response it deserves, but I just came across it.


"Whatever I am writing, I always hope to make the material inclusive and accessible... One of my writing challenges has always been finding a way to make history accessible and engaging to the reader; understanding history is important in real life and doubly so in Dune with the shifting political alliances, power struggles, and knowing the telltale signs of a Face Dancer that may save your life. The books themselves were very white-cis-male-focused [my emphasis]. I wanted to attempt to expand that world, bringing different marginalized groups to the front. My goal was to show the history of humanity is vast and inclusive, and to explore the struggle as one where we must all work together to succeed".


On one level, why am I surprised and why I don't I just face the wokeness and let the wokeness pass over me and through me?


I suppose it's because I do actually really love Dune, the novel and the 84 film both, and that is why I am so angry at this guy rubbishing it while cashing in on it, so he can cash in on it some more.



"White-cis-male focussed" - ok... apart from one of the main factions (Bene Gesserit) being entirely women. And female Fremen being clearly depicted fighting alongside men. The Fremen's "whiteness" is unclear to me. More generally, would it not be a bit odd to have people clearly belong to present-day Earth racial classifications in the year 10,191?


What if those classifications were no longer relevant or even in existence? What would you talk about then, Chris?


For the cherry on the turd, is it really that "challenging" to "make history accessible and engaging to the reader"? History is intrinsically fascinating, if you're at all interested in people on any level; that is, people as people in their own context, rather than treating the past as raw material to be twisted into an endless morality play to make political points or for commercial advantage.

I was recently telling someone I would almost certainly buy the RPG, because Dune, even though I don't care for the 2d20 system. Now I know I would be giving money to someone who not only seems to have an issue with people like me, but who doesn't seem to like the story of Dune itself. Instead of all that passion and conflict and crazy mysticism, we are going to get a story about how "we must all work together to succeed".

**

Apart from not liking the 2d20 system, my more fundamental issue with a Dune RPG is, what are the PCs actually supposed to do?

Either you try and engage with the themes of the Dune universe, species memory and predestination and the interaction of civilisation with the physical environment, or you don't.

I am sceptical about the ability of pretty much any group to engage with the big themes in a satisfying way. Unless you are retelling the story of the books, the GM needs to come up with a story of equivalent power and scope, presumably happening at some other point in the future history, or it risks falling flat. I struggle to see it working.

If you don't try and engage with the big themes then you could do spice smugglers on Arrakis or something. Which is fine, but you might as well be playing Traveller, except there is a mild fanboy thrill from using Dune terminology.

I have seen the old LUG RPG and wasn't that impressed with the example campaign setup, of PCs as a house retinue (on some non-Arrakis planet) engaged in a petty feud about a lost baliset. I could imagine playing it and thinking, OK what's going on on Arrakis right now?? I read somewhere the PCs' doings should be the most important thing happening in the game world, at least as far as the players are concerned. Hard to do in Dune.

7
Harn is one of those games I've always wanted to learn more about. So my interest was piqued when I saw Columbia Games' sale advertised on Drivethru, badged "No Quarter Sale!".

I guess they mean they are taking no prisoners... 100-ish page supplements (e.g. region books, a supplement on sailing) routinely seem to run $30-$40 even on sale. This is for pdf's, mind. Core rules are a bit more reasonable at $15 but seems to be a gateway drug marketing model.

Any views on Harn? Rules or setting? Are these books anywhere near worth the prices?

8
Proximately caused by the Sengoku thread, but this is something that comes up every so often - Fuzion does not seem to have many fans; in fact it seems to get a lot of hate. Why is this?

I have a core book for Fuzion that I think I picked up free off drivethru and it seems like a fairly bland but serviceable rules-medium RPG ruleset. I have never run or played it.

I think it was supposed to be a mashup of Interlock (Cyberpunk) and HERO. It looks pretty similar to Cyberpunk to me; I don't know HERO.

I personally dislike point-buy character generation where you get points back for disadvantages, with all the metagaming crap that can lead to, but a lot of people don't seem to mind that sort of thing.

There is a weird "choice" of D10 or 3D6 for task resolution, which radically changes the probabilities of success given there is no suggestion of changing the task success target numbers, but that seems easily fixed or ignored.

I have no axe to grind here. I doubt I'll ever play it and I don't have a strong wish to. I own Sengoku and enjoyed reading the book but Feudal Japan isn't a setting I'm particularly excited about.

Maybe it is just the case that Fuzion is so deliberately bland that people decided to hate it?

9
While reading about D&D's Combat Wheelchair, this caught my eye:

"Views on disability in the RPG space are slowly changing. WotC has made edits to the text of Curse of Strahd on D&D Beyond to remove mentions of NPC being ashamed of her disability."

In its tiny way, this is some "cropping out Trotsky from the old politburo photo", Orwell Ministry of Truth level shit.

I now actually find the trigger warning on WotC content on drivethru etc. to be reassuring; it means it's less likely they will go through and retroactively edit historic material to make it compliant. Not that I would consider that very likely anyway, as they are a commercial operation and presumably would not find it profitable to do so.

As for the wheelchair... ok, hope there are no stairs in the dungeon. That said it has magic in the arms (so you can make it go without spinning the wheels), so maybe it can just float up the stairs, like new Daleks.

More generally, I don't know any disabled gamers, but generally the attitude among disabled people I know is they want to get on with their lives with the disability being as small a thing as possible. If any of these folks decided to play D&D, I imagine the last thing they would want is to have the "combat wheelchair" option shoved in their faces. Would this kind of thing not just make people more self-conscious and therefore uncomfortable?

10
For some reason, I decided to research whether it would actually be feasible for adventurers to go clanking around a dungeon in plate armour. I found this material on the Met Museum website that I thought I would share.

"An entire suit of field armor (that is, armor for battle) usually weighs between 45 and 55 lbs. (20 to 25 kg), with the helmet weighing between 4 and 8 lbs. (2 to 4 kg)--less than the full equipment of a fireman with oxygen gear, or what most modern soldiers have carried into battle since the nineteenth century. Moreover, while most modern equipment is chiefly suspended from the shoulders or waist, the weight of a well-fitted armor is distributed all over the body. "

In fact, "...historical sources tell us of the famous French knight Jean de Maingre (ca. 1366–1421), known as Maréchal Boucicault, who, in full armor, was able to climb up the underside of a ladder using only his hands."

And "chainmail" as such is apparently the wrong term (somebody should have told Gygax and Perren...)

"Defensive garments composed of interlinking rings should correctly be referred to as "mail" or "mail armor" (14.25.1540). The common term "chain mail" is in fact a modern pleonasm (a lingual mistake meaning "the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea": in this instance, both "chain" and "mail" refer to an object made of interlinking rings). In short, the term "chain mail" is saying the same thing twice."

11
I've been re-reading River of Heaven, D101 Games' vaguely Revelation Space-y setting with a slightly simplified D100 system. Before that I read some of the books for Transhuman Space for GURPS. There's Eclipse Phase as well.

The games I am talking about are slightly harder SF (although I'm trying not to start the "what is Hard SF" debate), based on themes in 90s/00s SF literature rather than the 50s/60s/70s SF behind Classic Traveller; no or very limited FTL, no artificial gravity, no anthropomorphic animal aliens or ridge-forehead aliens, maybe AI and transhumanism.

The author of RoH earlier wrote Cthulhu Rising, CoC in a 23rd century vaguely Aliens-like setting. In that or Eclipse Phase you have got a Call of Cthulhu type default campaign setting of going up against big mysterious bad guys and their minions.

Has anyone run an interesting or successful campaign without the extinction-level-threat-of-the-week fallback? Or bughunt of the week?

River of Heaven has a cold war going on between factions, but they all seem fairly unpleasant so it's hard to get motivated to take sides. The setting kind of leaves me cold for that reason.

12
Tekumel came up in another thread and kicked off a discussion about what if anything makes "sword-and-planet" a distinct sub-genre from "sword-and-sorcery".

Tekumel has swords, and sorcery. Conan has swords, and so far as I can tell, happens on a planet (indeed, this one).

So what does "sword and planet" mean to you? Especially as distinct from "sword and sorcery"?

To me, S&P implies ancient, sophisticated civilisations whereas S&S is about untamed frontiers / post-apocalyptic. But then Conan has some ancient civilisations in it.

There are probably some scifi trappings in S&P, albeit probably 1950s SF rather than, say, cyberpunk (although there's a thought... or maybe that's just shadowrun). Rayguns, crashed starship dungeons, ancient subway systems patrolled by silver robots.

I've never read Barsoom but I get the sense the heroes are generally lawful-good/neutral whereas S&S shades more to neutral/chaotic good, in D&D alignment terms. Does that matter?

13
Came across this in the Players' Handbook:

"Your character's class will determine which sort of die you will roll to determine hit
points. In some campaigns the referee will keep this total secret, informing players
only that they feel "strong", "fatigued" or "very weak", thus indicating waning hit
points.
In other campaigns the Dungeon Master will have players record their
character's hit points and keep track of all changes. Both methods are acceptable,
and it is up to your DM as to which will be used in the campaign you participate in."

Has anyone ever played this way? It sounds like a great idea, except for piling more book-keeping on the DM.

Another downside is there would need to be some pretty strong table discipline around not interrogating the DM. "OK, very weak, what does that mean? You said Bill's guy was weak but that troll hit him twice and only hit me once, what gives?" etc.

14
Having not long ago complained on these very boards about my lack of gaming, I now find myself GM'ing Call of Cthulhu (7th ed) tomorrow.

So, interested to hear your tips and tricks for refereeing CoC/horror well!

15
Had a spare half hour tonight, sat down with my 1977 Traveller rulebooks and a couple of dice and rolled up a few characters with the lifepath generation system.

In case anyone doesn't know the system, stats are rolled on 2d6. For one character, I got Strength 8, Dexterity 8, Endurance 4 (pretty bad), Intelligence 7, Education 5 and Social Standing 2 (worst possible).

I randomly decided to try him for the Navy where you get a higher chance of joining if you have high Int and Edu. Failed, unsurprisingly, and got drafted into the Marines.

He just makes Survival (despite lack of bonus for the relatively tough save, given his low Endurance), no commission or promotion throw because drafted. He gets Cutlass by default because he's a Marine. 2 skills thrown: Blade Combat, which I'm sinking into Cutlass, and Gun Combat, which I take as Shotgun, because Marines would be trained in boarding shotguns and because they are badass weapons in Classic Trav.

Failed his re-enlistment throw, so he's turfed out of the service at age 22. 1 benefit throw, which gives me +1 Education.

Marine (1 term) 884752 Cutlass-2 Shotgun-1

While I'm throwing dice I'm getting a picture of this guy from a tough background, maybe a low-tech world where he got exposed to some disease as a kid accounting for the low Endurance, but still fairly brawny and athletic. Maybe he was born into more-or-less serfdom and had to escape the plantation; he smuggled himself to the world's spaceport to try and sign on to some offworld service to get the hell out of there. The Navy would get you offworld right? They had no need for a farm kid, but a desperate Marine recruiting sergeant signed him right up. Urgent need for warm bodies for whatever police action was going down a few systems over. He's an ambitious kid and he hits the books during the downtime between missions, but he's seeing plenty of action as well (a skill level of 2 in Classic Trav is a pretty high level of expertise). But his poor health eventually gets noticed and he's discharged with an education credit. He's standing outside the demobilisation office on whatever world where play starts, duffel bag over shoulder, with a lot to prove.

I really want to play this guy now. In game terms this is an underpowered character; his stats are in aggregate well below average and 1 term is about the worst you can do without actually dying during chargen, but I don't care.

My point is, I wouldn't come up with any of that background if I was designing a new character in a point-buy system. Even if I did think of something like this, and gave him [pissed off about getting punted from the marines -5] in return for [education enhancement +5], I don't think I would be excited about this character in the same way.

I also love the way the system just gives me plain results for things like getting recruited, promotion, re-enlistment, skills acquired etc. It's up to me to build the story around that. I don't find more detailed narrative systems that give you scripted "life events" to be as engaging.

Probably comes down to the way your brain's wired; for me, the Classic Trav system gives me just enough detail to work with to get interested.

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