Wednesday 15 October 2014

Dreaming: The End of the First Aeon

Prologue; The Song

It was a different time, you see. Not in a way that you could understand. This was an era where thoughts and ideas were tangible things. They were not limited by the restraints of shape, or the physical. Save that nonsense for the dwarves, deep in their little passages. Save it for Promise, sealed away from us entirely. We had no need for something so brittle and temporary as substance.

The Outer World was our playground. We sang joyously and lived our many tales. The Cosmic Things and their lesser counterparts played and battled with us interchangeably. Mortals were our game pieces and toys, all too fragile but interesting enough. It was our finest time, as children of possibility. I lived a thousand stories in mere moments, each one intensely real. Even now. Especially now.

The Wondersmith gave us the world, amused with us at first. For reasons unknown to me, it sent forth a terrible warrior to end us. The Cosmic Things chittered as it marched past them, perhaps glad to see us go. Our greatest deeds crumbled like fallen leaves against its great sword called "Doubt". For the first time we felt that which you mortals have always known, as fear bled into our beings.

One remained to stand against him, our hope, the golden knight Regulus. Father of swords, second to none, great Regulus needed but four exchanges to defeat the blackguard. Each of the first blows broke part of Doubt, and the final one ended the march of its terrible wielder for good. We cheered so loudly that none heard the words the broken blade whispered. None, save Regulus.

"As with all things, this too must end." He would later tell me.

Our hero changed after that. He would not take part in any tales, even when goaded or begged. He spent much time contemplating something, furrowing his brow, palming the broken bits of the black blade on occasion. His eyes had grown cold. When he finally stood again to speak, I knew our time was over.

"No more." He said, descending on us at once. We were unprepared. Armed with but a fragment of the black sword that was our intended doom, Regulus dispatched many of our number like a farmer would harvest grain. We ran, and the strikes that followed cut away the things we could be, leaving us with but one form. Some became what mortals would come to call elves. Others were forced into strange and terrible shapes, monsters that still roam this world in pain and confusion.

His dark task done, Regulus set out to build a great city on the world's farthest point, intending to helm all creation from it one day. He left the mortals in the charge of the Great Cosmic Things and their God children, who were all to pleased with their new acquisition.

I, and the other elves, did our best to adjust to this new existence. Another Era has come and gone, and they have changed, grown content with hedonism or simple reminiscing. I have not. I persist. I tell you this story with bile in my throat, and I promise you this: 

One day, I will kill Regulus. But not before I have torn down his golden city and made him watch.

Saturday 11 October 2014

Hobo Thundercats and Pushover Monsters

Running a new game is exciting, if a bit stressful. No matter how intimately you know the rules, no matter how much you understand the theory behind the game, it's almost always a bit different on the ground. These concepts to not exist in a vacuum; there are other people there to, and they interact with mechanics differently then you do. It's multi-leveled learning experience, and one I dread and never get tired of.

Multiply that by ten and it sums up how I felt today, running prototype of a game that I've put a great deal of effort into.

Fortunately, I can say that I had enough fun that any nervousness I felt was shooed of for the duration of the playtest. Not only was Trident Con full of lovely, friendly people, I also managed to find enough players to fill my table and they all seemed to have fun playing Break!!

(Special thanks to My friend at Dungeons & Donuts, who helped me with the Pre-Gen character sheets. Great guy, I'll tell you what)

Also fortunate was that I got both positive and critical feedback. While you secretly want everyone to tell you how great it was and how you're obviously some game design prodigy, the truth is that critique is necessary for this sort of thing - and regrettably uncommon. (Well, in a constructive manner at least.)

I don't want to drone too long, but basically;

The Positives!
- The basic rules were easy to pick up and were fun in play. Someone pointed out that they would likely be easy to teach to someone who didn't have much experience with these games at all, which is a big pro for me.
- People liked the special species and calling abilities for the most part. They came into play a lot, and while I could use a bit of tightening on the verbiage, there was enough there that people felt their characters unique and interesting to play.
- I had one unplanned player, but we had a new character rolled up for him rather quickly. The "Hobo Thundercat" he ended up with was popular, so I think I may have to make it an official pre-gen.
- Apparently the bits of setting they got to interact with interested some of the players enough they wanted to see more, which is a great feeling when you're a giant ham like me.

I should note that the group itself was a very good mix of players; some of them were fans of games like Dungeon World and Fate, others liked older games and Dungeon Crawl Classics and one had only recently started playing, with 4E D&D. I was really happy for this, because what they seemed to like during the session was pretty diverse. I want Break!! to be enjoyable on multiple layers.


The Negatives!
- The Wounds system has a good structure, but it isn't as severe as I'd like it to be as is. I'm going to tweak it a bit to be a tad more dangerous, at least in the standard game. I'll probably keep the current method in as a sort of "Easy Mode" for GM's who want to tone back character death/mutilation without eliminating entirely.
- The Monsters were a bit too easy to beat. While the players enjoyed themselves, they pointed out that with the exception of one rather nasty creature they were generally convinced they could take on anything they met without much hesitation.
- Minor, but as stated before, I really need to tighten up some of the verbiage.

I think of all the problems to have, this is one of the best. Hope you are all ready to hear me go on about monsters for a while.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Objects of Wonder: Biomechanoid Characters

Mechanoids as a whole are regarded somewhat distantly by the other species of the Outer World. As orphans of a lost era and keeper of its secrets, they are feared, scrutinized and all too seldomly loved. In the worst cases they are forced into servitude or even destroyed on sight, though this is thankfully rare.

Most of these lost constructs "awaken" without any clear recollection of the past and are bereft or home or purpose. It's not surprising many are drawn to adventuring!

All Biomechanoids have the following qualities;
    • Biomechanoids use the Damage/Destruction table in lieu of the Injury/Death table
    • They do not heal naturally through rest, but may be repaired by anyone with the proper ability and tools. They may only benefit from repair once a day.
    • Effects intended for purely organic creatures do not function on Biomechanoids, for good or ill. Healing Spells, Potions, Poisons, Radiation and the like are all equally ineffective.
    • Effects intended for objects do work on Biomechanoids, including arcane enchantment.
    • While they do not need to eat, Biomechanoids must go offline periodically to maintain their systems. This is more or less mechanically equivalent to sleep, including the onset of "fatigue" if it is missed or skipped.
    • After Rank 5, Biomechanoids may choose a standard War Mechanoid upgrade instead of an elective calling ability. This may only be done once.
    • There is no standard appearance among Biomechanoids, primarily because such a thing seemed cruel to do to beings that are able to think and feel. Many even have distinctly masculine or feminine designs, though gender is a largely arbitrary factor among them.
There are three common variants of Biomechanoids, each created by one of the three prominent societies during the golden age of humanity.

Akenian Magiroid - Created for both magical research and application, Magiroids are able to interact with the arcane du to their Spell-Engine cores.Thanks to Akenian aesthetic senses, they often appear to be beautiful suits of armor or idealized metal sculptures.
    • Magiroids are the only Mechanoids capable of being Battle Casters, Casters, Murder Princesses or Battle Princesses
    • Magitech Analytic systems allow them to identify the properties of an artifact or magical script with 100% accuracy, assuming they have at least 4 hours to do so.
Calian Expy - Designed as companions, spies and assassins, the Expies epitomize the Dark Empires skill at blasphemous fleshwork. They appear completely human under all but the most intimate scrutiny.
    • Expies have an exterior identical to a normal human being, but have obviously mechanical inner workings. Severe damage or inspection that goes beneath the skin will reveal their true nature.
    • All have either a retractable concealed weapon or 20ft length of grappling cord hidden within one of their arms, usually emerging from the wrist. These may be deployed or pulled back freely.
Argussian Laborer - The strongest and most durable of mechanoids not specifically meant for combat. Originally intended to work alongside a human populace, they have a strong, encouraging work ethic and sense of community. While obviously robotic, they tend to have friendly looking faces.
    • Laborers may carry a base of 12 items before becoming burdened, and begin play with an additional heart.