Tag Archives: barebones

SHADOW OPS: Street Samurai

Oh man, the Street Samurai.

Years before I would know who Molly Millions was, I was a dorky 9 year old kid who laughed when my dad referred to my older brother’s weekend pastime as “Dungeons & Dumbass.” But then one Saturday morning, my brother had left out a book he borrowed from a friend. A book with a hot elf chick on the cover in cut off jeans, a book filled with gritty sci-fi urban landscapes, tribal shamans, and fantasy characters with electrodes plugged into their skull. And as I flipped through the full-color archetypes, the I saw turned the page to see this menacing commando with chrome eyes and wolverine claws. And at that moment I thought to myself: “WOW! I WANT TO PLAY THIS!”

And go figure… any time I showed my pre-pubescent friends the book, they all wanted to be that guy. And then I showed them trolls and they wanted to be a Troll version of that guy. (Except for the one friend who wanted to play a Dwarf Mage. That guy is a famous musician now.) Anyways, my rambling point is: When you say Shadowrun, the first thing that pops into my head is this artwork of the street samurai. Sure, he’s not an SR universe exclusive. But the Sixth World was my introduction to both role-playing games and the cyberpunk genre (which would lead me to other awesome sci-fi settings and concepts.) I didn’t even know cyberpunk was a thing, until I saw Cyberpunk 2020 and was like “What? That’s just Shadowrun without magic!” And my brother corrected me, and my fragile little mind was blown.

Original Street Samurai artwork that appeared in the first two editions of Shadowrun.

So today, you don’t get a cool character name or a back story. You just see the fruits of me sitting down and going: I want to recreate THAT GUY!

(And by That Guy, I mean the photo and not the original pre-made character.)

Race: Human
Origin: Military Veteran (Perk: Trained Soldier)
Archetype: Street Samurai
Can be really nasty when backed into a corner.
Impulsive; hates to sit around planning.
Likes to drink, hates to be drunk.

STR: 65                  DEX: 60 (70)
LOG: 55                 WIL: 50

BP: 33    DR: 10   INIT: 2   MOV: 10    Essence Toll: 56%
Bones: 2

Soldier Level 1 (Primary): 65%
Martial Artist Level 1 (Secondary): 53%
Thief Level 1: 45%
Subdermal Armor (Moderate)
Targeting System (Moderate)
Reflex Implant
Claws (2D+1 Damage)
Light Amplification Eyes
Move-by (allows a free sprint action with a martial attack.)
Point-Blank Shot (+10 to shoot a target 2 spaces away)
9mm Master Key

Gear & Resources:
Runner Pack, Assault Rifle (Heavier Caliber, 5 clips of ammo), Muscle Car, Infiltration Pack, Fake SIN (Complex Cover Identity), Pistol (Heavier Caliber, w/ Concealed Spring Holster, 4 clips of ammo) DocWagon Contract (treated as “Commandos” Backup purchase, except all medics.) Low-rent apartment (Traveller’s Lifestyle), four fragmentation grenades, Underworld Connections (Basic Contact Group), 4140¥ remaining.
+2 STR Damage
+3 DEX Damage
Moderate Targeting System grants +10 to firearms checks, may ricochet bullets off nearby environment. -10 per bounce, -2 damage per bounce.


Quick Thoughts after creating That Guy:

  • Neumann Protocol implants versus SR Cyberware has a distinct difference in feel, but I kinda dig it. Eye implants are pretty invasive versus SR’s cybereyes, and the Targeting System is brutal on the cost compared to Smartgun Links. But there’s also a bit of “oomph” to these implants — the ricochet feature from Neumann Protocol is kickass imo (I always play cinematic rule of cool, even in dark gritty settings.)
  • Subdermal Armor made me realize I needed to make a house calling on stacking armor. In SR, dermal plating added to the stat that was used to roll to resist physical damage, whereas in CO subdermal armor straight up adds to how much damage gets soaked. It’s a difference in mechanic, but it made me realize that it opens the floodgates for someone to take subdermal armor, but on full Body Armor, and in doing so easily have a DR of 20-30.So, I’m contemplating a house rule that a character is only allowed to stack one piece of “natural” armor (Troll’s natural Dermal Plating) and one piece of “unnatural” armor (subdermal armor implants, armor jackets etc.)
  • Wanted to recognize I was stumped for descriptors, so I took advantage of the 100 Descriptors for Covert Ops off the DwD site.

Sigil & Shadow Progress Report: Feb 2015

“Shadow” by Wolfgangfoto CC-BY-ND

Passing the 1-year mark since this project has started, I’m pretty damn impressed with how much it’s grown and changed. So many rules have been gutted, others drastically altered and streamlined. I have a folder filled player characters, several printed copies of draft rule books, and scattered notes among my hard drive. The latest January Draft I’ve posted has been my favorite by far, and even that is about to get a scalpel to it (thanks to a ton of feedback provided by play testers.)

The biggest item I have to report is a revision on the approach to characters in S&S:
There’s been significant feedback concerning the lack of motivation or incentive for a player to want to play an Illuminated character (the game’s term for everyday men and women who are exposed to the world of the occult.) In the previous play test versions, Illuminated characters wracked up more Bones (the “luck points” of the system) and had a steady refresh of them, where monster characters needed to indulge their Shades (one of four dark sources of power) to replenish their Bones (which they generally had less of.)

The new approach that we’re playing with right now is Castings. Now, all characters must select whether they’re Illuminated or Shadowed, and each casting is further divided into four archetypes. These archetypes determine how a character replenishes their Bones throughout a gaming session:

For the Illuminated:

  • Seekers: Characters who strive to seek out new thrills, new knowledge, and explore the unknown.
  • Hunters: Characters devoted to hunting down, undermining, and removing paranormal threats.
  • Protectors: Characters who are willing to risk their own safety standing up against the tides of horror.
  • Keepers: Characters who are sworn to keep others from discovering forbidden truths.

And of course, our Shadowed characters:

  • The Ravenous: Paranormal beings that fuel their powers from a source of desire, addiction, or hunger.
  • The Devoted: Faithful followers who are gifted power from gods, demons, angels, spirits, alien minds or even zealous oaths.
  • The Hosts: Individuals possessed by other beings, and must learn to live with this alien mind.
  • The Afflicted: Those forced to live with the curse of their existence.

Note: The Shaded were previously referred to as “Creepers”, but this terminology has been changed for several aesthetic reasons.

Distribution of Power

The use of Bones in Sigil & Shadow has also been shifted a bit. Previously, anyone could spend a Bone in the same ways you could in Covert Ops: re-roll a failure, make another player or the GM re-roll dice, or even prevent character death (at least a little bit longer.) In the current versions, any character may spend a bone to re-roll, but all other cool tricks are strictly a perk to being Illuminated. Shadowed characters, instead, use their Bone points to push their supernatural powers to their full potential.

The tricky part in this change will be conveying that while characters replenish Bones from indulging in what drives their Casting, that the GM’s will need to be the ones to make the call if their actions were worth it or not. There’s already been some response like “Oh, so Hunters are just going to slay monsters and recharge” or “Seekers are just going to pick up a book and escape death later.” In my vision, it’d be more like the Hunter who stalks a vampire at a night club and manages to discretely undermine their attempt to feed earns a Bone back. Likewise, the Seeker who overhears a rumor about a haunting at a local cemetery and decides to stake out the location and document the necessary conditions for a sighting would recharge (while the person who stays in the New Age section of a book store for an hour gets funny looks and maybe a phone number.)

Other Fun Bits

I’m really trying to adapt the d00Lite system for this game to only require two, different-colored ten sided dice. Aside from the changes mentioned in the October Update, I’m changing the traditional character creation system to die rolls of 50+2D for each ability. I’m also taking a cue from various members of the BareBones community, and implementing a system of “Advantage/Disadvantage” where certain situations will allow a player to swap which die is rolled in the 10’s place of a percentile roll.

Feel free to ask any questions about Sigil & Shadow in the comments below! You can also apply for the playtest on this page!

(After)Friday Free-For-All 6/13/14

Well, crap, second edition of the Friday FFA here and I’m already a day late.  I’m going to blame Friday the 13th, the Full Moon, and Mercury in Retrograde like everybody else does. Anyways, the ramblings this week seem to have a percentile-system based theme. Roll out some double-naughts and feel free to leave comments!

RQ Essentials Cover SmallRuneQuest Essentials

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Wizards of the Coast’s announcement that Basic D&D will be a Free PDF  probably got some of its competitors scrambling to compete with ease of point of entry.  I’m not sure if that was the motivation behind RuneQuest Essentialsbut the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s a free, distilled version of the RQ6 rules — significant rules, magic system, monsters and setting details have been omitted.  Still, it’s a hefty two hundred page PDF that includes a pretty solid foundation of character creation, combat mechanics, and bestiary.

I’ve never actually played or read any edition of RuneQuest, but I’m aware of its influence on the industry. I have played Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu and I also own a few PDFs of Mongoose’s Legend, which I believe is derivative of RuneQuest second edition. Either way, this is my first foray into reading any official RQ book, and I have to say at first breeze-through the “Essentials” feels like a solid game to itself. The artwork and layout are pretty stellar, and the book seems full of ideas and guidelines for scaling the game. Even knowing a chunk of the magic system is missing, what’s presented here feels more than enough for anyone who’s spent entire campaigns in other games just using core rule books. If you’re wanting some detailed fantasy but sick of twenty siders, this is definitely worth the look.

Sigil & Shadow Playtest

I had our first full-session play test for Sigil & Shadow last weekend. We only got midway through the adventure, but it feels like everyone had a good time. Character creation was relatively painless, although there were a few hiccups in trying to explain the skill development progress. There were some other minor issues that have already inspired some quick revisions and editing, so hopefully those won’t be a big deal anymore. Monday I plan on sending out emails to select folks who have shown interest in play testing and feedback for the game.

Erinbour & Barebones Fantasy: Dynasty

I want to bring some attention to the guys at Heroic Journey Publishing.  They are developing an interesting new fantasy setting called Erinbour, and I’m really excited to see where they take it. Mark Reed has been posting a lot of historical and background information, as well as details on the magic and religion and how it operates within their world. A couple interesting design decisions that have grabbed my attention is that they are co-developing the rules for both Pathfinder and BareBones Fantasy. I think this is stellar because not only does that broaden their audience market, but it helps expose BareBones Fantasy to more players as well.

The other interesting tidbit is that this is also to be the official setting for their BareBones Fantasy: Dynasty game book! Dynasty is supposed to be bringing epic campaigns in the lieu of settings like Birthright to the d00lite rules. I’m excited to see their take on the style, and to potentially have politically-heavy domain-based games using the BBF rules.

That’s All I Got.

Let’s hope next week I can stay on schedule. If you have any news or game promotions you want me to plug, leave me a line in the comments. Also, feel free to stalk me on Google Plus.

Sigil & Shadow Update

A while back I announced a new project:  Sigil & Shadow – a Barebones Game of Modern Horror & Urban Fantasy.

I wanted to post today just to ensure interested parties that this is still a thing, and hasn’t fallen to the back-burner. That last few months have mostly been about brainstorming — how should we approach character creation? What new mechanics are we bringing in? What old ones are we bringing back, and leaving out? The challenge of this product, for me, is to maintain the best aspects of the DwD “d00lite” design philosophy while also breaking some new ground, and shaping up a game that I would want to run at the table (and hopefully, you guys will, too.)

The college semester is winding down for this non-trad, so I’m looking forward to putting the hammer down on the forge this week. Already the initial draft is around roughly 80 pages — and I still have a bit to go. The first important thing about this project is going to be size — Covert Ops really pushed the edges of “lite” gaming design at around 100 pages. So there may very well be some drastic changes coming up, before we even start sending play test copies out!

SigilBut here’s a bit of the design philosophies I have in place that I’m pretty sure are going to stay:

    • Style and Genre: At its default, the game swings more in line with modern horror fantasy style settings: World of Darkness, Unknown Armies, Buffy & Angel, and even Dresden Files have inspired the style and themes of the game. That said, those wanting more horror-investigation style games in the vain of Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green, Chill, and Beyond the Supernatural should also find something to love here.


    • Bones and Origins: Before I even raised my hand to work on this for DwD, I was already working with a friend on developing a supernatural themed campaign for Covert Ops. I love the character creation system built around the Bones — do you let the fate of the dice determine your character? Or do you cherry pick everything at the cost of being able to manipulate your destiny? I felt this ties over to a modern horror setting equally well, if not more. Not only do you get to spend Bones to determine your origins, if you’re playing a Creeper (our term for supernatural characters) you can spend them to acquire new abilities or learn occult arts.


    • Play Off Existing Mechanics: While I am adding some new systems for powers and magic to the game, I didn’t just want to add new stuff for new stuff’s sake. I wanted everything to feel organic to the existing d00Lite system, and play off rules that have already been established and show them in a new light. For instance, instead of just tacking a “sanity system” like in other games, I wanted to try something new. What I’m fiddling with right now is a Terror system that ties into the Descriptor and Moral Code mechanics, giving them a bit more play than what is normally used in BBF or CO. Imagine your character confronting a horrible, blasphemous entity for the first time — and the traumatic event causes them to take Suffers Frequent, Hellish Nightmares as a negative Descriptor — or having their Moral Code shift from Very Brave to Very Cowardly, and you get an idea of where I’m going with this.


    • Generalized Skills: One thing I do want to state that is being changed is a departure from professions as skills, which I know is a hallmark of d00Lite. Character concepts operate less on “party role” and more on individual development. Because of this, you’ll see broader names like Marksmanship, Investigation, and Subterfuge. But I assure you, they’re still modeled off traditional d00Lite skills, and mechanically operate no different (although certain traits of these skills may be adjusted for genre sake.)


    • A Supernatural Toolbox: We all have different styles of campaigns we want to run. Zombie apocalypse, vampire dramas, haunted houses — running “horror” is about as diverse as running “science fiction.” So instead of pinning everything down into details, I’m creating a quick system for GameMasters and Players both to design the kind of monsters they want to play with.  Are your werewolves part of a curse? A bloodline? Demonic spirits possessing people? Are your vampires allergic to holy symbols, or are they quite fond of them? Are your mummies shambling corpses or beautiful immortal entities? Mythology is wide and varied, and modern literature and cinema continues to broaden those boundaries.
    • Alternate “Magic” Systems: There’s three different systems in the game, completely compatible side-by-side but also designed to be stripped out if need be. The base level is “Manifestations,” which mechanically functions similar to spells in BareBones Fantasy. The skill itself is sort of a hodge-podge of Cleric and Enchanter, allowing “mediums” to tap into extensions of the human will to perform miraculous abilities, read auras, create small charms or scribe sigils of power. Thaumaturgy, on the other hand, is a more free-form, dynamic magic system. Academics who specialize in the occult can align themselves with beings and forces to control the different elements and fates. Lastly, Rituals are special thaumaturgic blue prints for any mortals to potentially cast spells — at a cost of time, energy and components. Game masters who feel Thaumaturgy is a bit too fantastic for their campaigns can easily trim that system out, but still use it as a guide for designing rituals for their players to uncover.

Expect more information to come in the very near future, as this is starting to finally take shape from the ether. Feel free to leave comments or questions here, or, join the BareBones Fantasy Community on Google+ (I’m admittedly more active there than I am on the DwD Forums. Shame on me, I know.)



COVERT OPS by DWD STUDIOS has launched ahead of schedule! 123056

COVERT OPS is a modern day role-playing game of paramlitary action and espionage, using the d00Lite System (that same found in BareBones Fantasy.) At the risk of repeating myself any further, I’d like to point any new readers to my previews BBF Review and CO Preview:

COVERT OPS Sneak Peek 

BareBones Fantasy Review 

All of the excitement I had previously remains. The books look solid, the layout is easy on the eyes and the artwork rocks. The system, while “lite” on the mechanics, offers more than enough nitty-gritty when it comes to gun fights, car chases, cool gadgets and enemy organizations. Lots of tools for the GM who wants to run a bad ass spy game, or an explosive adventure in the style of G.I. Joe or The A-Team, but doesn’t have a lot of time to prep.

And I say this with strict confidence, as the PDF release has become a massive bundle! You get the Core Rulebook (which is more than enough to run the game,) the Game Master’s Operation Manual (with all of the optional rules, tweaks and suggestions any RPG tinker gnome could want!) Plus The Usual Suspects, thirty pre-generated character archetypes ranging across different tiers of experience to be used as NPC’s for your campaign. Oh, wait, there’s also character sheets, hand outs and even Initiative & Condition cards all bundled  for ten bucks. 

There’s also print-on-demand options, including an all-inclusive Hardback book that comes with the PDF bundle for free. Seriously, Bill Logan & Larry Moore have outdone their previous offering and continue to deliver one of the best deals in the gaming industry. For less than the price of a lot of major Player Handbooks or incomplete “Core” Rules for other games, they give us the whole enchilada — and then some!

Check out COVERT OPS on RPGNow!