Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More X-Plorers blogging from yours truly

I immediately fell in love with X-P on my first reading, so I feel quite lucky to be involved in its future and responsible to help create something that is a strong product – both well liked, and FUN. Here are some of my thoughts for the 2nd edition, and your chance to help save it from me with your comments. 

What I loved about X-P right away was that the elegant simplicity lends itself to easy house-ruling. It is a toolbox that says, ‘make it your own’ instead of ‘this is the only way’. Any number of skill rules, like the suggestions on the Exonauts blog, will work well, but by default, there are simple rules for newbs or those who favor it fast and loose.

At this point in my life, I favor the simple approach, though back in high school I was running a couple 2nd edition AD&D campaigns with scads of rules from about a dozen optional books. I appreciate that a ‘crunchy’ approach is fun for many and a lighter approach is fun for others. I say there is no wrong way to have fun, so I’d love to accommodate both in the newer version if it all fits.

So what does that mean for X-P? I favor interpreting the skills as broadly as possible, like in Star Trek or Star Wars. “Scientist” knows chemistry, nuclear physics, and can even breed mutants. “Pilot” can fly a car, operate a crane or an alien warship. Realistic? Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think everyone has more fun when the default answer is “yes” instead of “you don’t have that skill/feat/power/or whatever. YMMV. I drive well, but I wouldn’t want to race in the Indy 500 anytime soon, or haul cargo down the ice road. But Luke Skywalker can hop into any flying vehicle and off he goes like he was born in that cockpit. The suspension of disbelief makes it more fun, IMO.

Therefore, while I favor keeping the skills broad and the skill rules simple, I like it to be clear that anyone can do whatever they want also. Maybe some space in the rulebooks can list two or three examples of optional skill systems. I hesitate to codify one system, because the reader, especially a new gamer, may think they cannot do it differently at all.

While it’s always true that the GM can rework any rules in any game to their whim, doing so makes it more difficult to run the game “out of the box” which I think is how we want X-P to be: grab the box, roll up characters, (which should take 10 minutes tops IMO), and GO. Hopefully we can put dice in the box too.

There’s the simple, but here’s an idea I had for character creation and skills that I think is strong: each class would still have 4 skills by default, but a list of 6 to 8 skills from which to choose. This way, they are still archetypical, but not cookie-cutter identical. What do you all think of this?

I think a new Mystic/Psionicist/Jedi-type class is (pretty much) required, even if optional, but are there other classes you’d like to see? Jay and I have had some preliminary discussions about a post on Grognardia about Scifi archetypes, but I’d appreciate more opinions. Jay’s Space Pioneer is more of a profession than a class, so that’s another way to go; sort of layering these benes and drawbacks over the existing classes, similar to Savage Worlds.

(BTW: I haven’t played it, but Savage Worlds looks pretty cool, check it out.)

Does anyone like a class-less character creation system? Maybe a list of 20ish skills and you pick 4 or 5 to create a character? 4-skill characters would need fewer Experience Points to advance in level than the 5 skill characters.

Do you think any skills are “missing” from the rules now? “Tinker” comes to mind, the ability to build gizmos that do wondrous things. But going broad as I mentioned above, this might fit under the Technician’s mechanic skill, and arguably under the Scientist’s science skill (we’ve seen Spock modify photon torpedoes and stuff like that, though he’s usually helping Scotty do it). I’d say no to the science one, though because it’s already too broad.

So there is this balance to maintain… what’s needed, and realistic enough to allow suspension of disbelief without limiting the other characters? Where do we draw the lines? Why is Robotics separate from Mechanics? Is there an artistic alchemy of computers and mechanics that makes Robotics a separate skill? Or simply game balance? At some point, it get to, OK there’s ONE SKILL! You can do ANYTHING! Yeah, no.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Build a better geek....

Since people are supposed to blog about the professional or private projects they’re working on, I’m going to make an effort to do this in my silly little blog here. I’m going to make it link-tastic as well to help pimp everything to my one reader (thanks dude!).

{re: last post… look how much progress already! Yippee!}

Aside: Goal two: get to 5 followers by year’s end…. That way I’m not like THIS. Not 100% like it, at least.

So here we go:
I’m involved in the re-launch of Dave Bezio’s X-Plorers, a sweet little SciFi RPG that has been re-formatted and made glorious by Brave Halfling Publishing. The re-launched version will be published soon. If you like RPGs, sci-fi, and/or fun, you should totally get X-Plorers. Here’s a review from Grognardia.

For the Brave Halfling re-launch of the original X-P, I helped proof read, is about all. But what really has me jazzed is that I’ve written two adventure modules for the game, which could see the light of day by year’s end (guessing), maybe sooner. When these are published, it will be literally a dream come true! I’ve dreamed of publishing RPG stuff since my high school days of running and playing in multiple AD&D games (the nightmare begins afterwards with the flaming reviews, LOL).

What also has me pumped is that I’m involved with shaping the 2nd edition of X-Plorers, a next generation, if you will. We’re not sure what we’re calling it yet. “X-P 2.0” seems to be a popular working title. By “popular” I mean, none of the other Halflings have yelled at me for calling it that yet (there’s no guarantee they won’t in the near future). Jay of Exonauts is taking the lead on the editing and steering the 2nd edition of X-P, while John at Brave Halfling does the layout. There is awesome art for the BHP Version of X-P that really knocks it out of the park. HERE is a good update from Jay’s Blog about the progress on X-P.

I’m also psyched about this: Arcana Creations, a subsidiary or subdivision of Brave Halfling Publishing, has accepted the manuscript of an adventure module I’ve written for the Castles and Crusades Fantasy RPG, which will make it to publication in some form. I’ve already written a sequel, and have an outline for several more. My ultimate delusion of grandeur goal is to have a usable campaign or adventure path from these adventures. Something like A Hero’s Tale for 2nd edition AD&D. (A Hero’s Tale was totally sweet, grab a copy if you can).

Our robust economy (irony) has put the kybosh on the print publication of my module, Hide in Plain Sight (the original idea was to get Hide in Plain Sight in stores and ready for direct sales like The Secret of Ronan Skerry and A Trick on the Tain). Pat is good people and the goodies I’ve created will be used at some point, perhaps in Arcana Creations’ publication, Ballista.

There’s also an Accessory for C&C about which I’m very excited. It should be easy to port to other games (or we might re-design it slightly with this in mind) to broaden its appeal. I feel comfortable saying it’s a solid product, biased as I am, because it’s been enhanced by the great brainstorming and brilliant ideas and suggestions of Pat and Keith and others at BHP and AC, and not just my own mess of a mind. This one, I am proud of and eager to have it hit the public.

So we’ll see (isn’t that always true?). These things for C&C may end up in print on their own or in the newsletter Ballista, but in any event, I’m psyched to have these opportunities. Between the X-P material I’m working on, and the C&C material we’ll be revisiting soon, I’m very excited to be involved with Arcana Creations and Brave Halfling, and I hope everything is well received. Nothing would be more gratifying than to hear that people have enjoyed one or more of my products and that I’ve had some part in enhancing their RPG fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

> 3

It may be already halfway thru May, but by gosh, I'm going to beat last year's post count... a whopping 3 in 2010.

I think I can do it.
I'm 25% of the way there already!