Tag Archives: dwd

Sigil & Shadow: Seasoned to Flavor

A lot of folks ask what the mechanic differences between Sigil & Shadow and other d00Lite games are. The bulk of the mechanics are derived primarily from Covert Ops, with some of the fantastic from BareBones Fantasy sprinkled in. But I didn’t intend for S&S to be a mash-up of the two games with a new skin. I wanted things to have a certain ebb and flow to them, allowing the game’s pace to be optimal to my style of gaming.

moralityFor those who’ve never had the pleasure of indulging in DwD’s previous titles, here’s the hallmarks of the core system:

  • Percentile Based System — The core mechanic is about rolling under a percentile score, either against one of four ability scores (STR, DEX, LOG, WIL) or against a Skill (which the base half of the score is derived from half of an ability.) 00-05 always succeed, 95-99 always fail. Rolling doubles are critical success/failure.
  • Professions as Skills: The skills tend to use names that sound like classes in other RPG’s.
  • Multiple Action Economy: Performing multiple actions in a round is a big part of the game, but it’s handled rather elegantly: On your first action, you roll against your score as normal. Each additional action results in a cumulative -20 per action to the score (even if it’s against a different score.) Also, defensive actions (like dodging) also count as actions. So, all because you have a score of 100 or over and can make multiple attacks, you’re also stacking penalties for when you need to defend against others beating up on you!
  • Bones: being that the system is also known as the “BareBones” system. bones are the action point/luck/bennie economy of the game. The interesting factor is that you start off with a pool of these at character creation, and can permanently spend them to make certain key decisions which are usually determined by random rolls at chargen time.
  • Morality System: I think the d00Lite Moral Code system is my favorite alignment system. It’s a matrix where you select key moral aspects, and then rate it as somewhat, very or totally.

Here’s the big list of what separates S&S from the rest of the d00Lite family:

  • Design Goal: Players only need 2d10 to experience the whole game.
  • Character Creation: Lots more options for Bone expenditure to tweak the character. Ability scores are now 50+2D. Starting characters may take two skills at Level 1, receiving a third from either a Background or spending a Bone.
  • Castings: Characters fall under one of two alignments (Illuminated or Shaded), further divided into four castings. These archetypal roles determine what drives or burdens allow the characters to replenish their Bones during play.
  • Backgrounds: The core backgrounds are similar to Covert Ops, with mild tweaks. Backgrounds now also have a Monthly Allowance tied to them to determine funds the character has. There’s also Special Backgrounds, which are really weird and give strange little benefits to the character.
  • Skills: Skills have been flavored more as archetypes than professions. A lot of them have been condensed/streamlined compared to the original system. A “Socialite” skill has been introduced, replacing “Leader” which I felt was too crunchy and genre specific for this broader, more open ended title.
  • Equipment: Characters have a Monthly Allowance based on their background, and can pay a Lifestyle cost to cover their holdings such as home, vehicle, business and what kind of random belongings they may own. Characters still pick around 5 specific pieces of equipment (like weapons or equipment packs) to establish what they generally have on them at any time.
  • Weapon Damage: All weapons roll 2D, and are rated as Lowest, Average, Highest, or Total. Lowest and Highest means, well, lowest or highest die rolled. Likewise, Average is the average of the two, and Total is the sum of both. Unarmed is still 1D/2.
  • Body Points: All characters have a base BP of 20 points. The STR bonus for damage now also serves as bonus BP for the character.
  • Advantage/Disadvantage: Characters who have advantage roll their two dice, and uses the lowest in the tens place. Disadvantage, therefore, means the highest die is used in their tens place. This replaces a lot of circumstantial rolls that originally cut scores in half. For instance — being shot at without partial cover leaves defensive actions at a disadvantage, where originally in CO the character’s DEX score was cut in half.
  • Driving: Operating civilian vehicles are just a given, and any actions taken with a vehicle are based on the DEX ability instead of a skill. Those who want to pilot/drive more complicated vehicles can do so by taking a specified focus under the Technician skill. DEX is still used for piloting, but they’re considered to have operational and diagnostic training.
  • Manifestations: The Medium skill allows the character to acquire special powers. These powers are actually based on or inspired by the spells found in BareBones Fantasy. They are relatively scaled back in power, however, and the amount the character adopts is greatly reduced (two at first level, one again levels 3 and 6.)

Here’s what has been added:

  • Terror System: An optional system for fear and terror. Players encountering terror make WIL checks to resist being frightened, going temporarily insane, or traumatized to the point their Moral Codes shift! The table of effects rolled on uses the sum of 2D, putting the most extreme results on the lower end of a curve.
  • Gifts: A system of general powers and abilities that players can pick and choose from to flavor their own supernatural characters.
  • Occultist Magic: Comes in two forms — Rituals and Thaumaturgy. Both use the Academic skill (with Occultist focus). Rituals are slow, time consuming spells that either Illuminated or Shadowed characters may pick up and learn. Thaumaturgy, on the other hand, is spontaneous magic that uses a free-form system. Both spell systems are centered around the six Arcanum: The four elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth) and the two fates (Life and Death). The elements include not only the literal forces, but the common tarot interpretations as well. For example: Fire is an element of emotions and passions, air is an element of the mind, and water is the element of illusions.Sound interesting? Then go download the play test and let me know what you think!

Sigil & Shadow: The Road Ahead

So first off, I’d like to announce a change of plans:

Sigil & Shadow is going to be the first “big-time” release under the ChaosGrenade Press logo. I originally embarked on this at the request of DwD Studios; but after some long talks and contemplation, my gut instinct is to finish this product up under my own roof. Please, please know that there is no bad blood or falling out with Bill & Larry at DwD. Those guys have been nothing but supportive of this endeavor, and it was a really rough call for me to decide to finish this another way. Their developer DNA is still a huge part of this project, and I’m thankful to them for allowing me to carry on with this. They have a lot of cool stuff coming out — including White Liesa spy-thriller using White Box S&W rules, due out this weekend. Better believe I’ll be throwing more greenbacks at them.

folding-map-360382_1280So What Happens Now?

The first big priority is that, for all the folks who’ve been waiting to see this game, to get something in your hands. I’ve had a loyal cadre of play testers who’ve been amazing with their feedback and support, but I know there’s still plenty who keep asking “Okay, where is it?”

The first stage in my road map is to brush up a public play test copy, hopefully in time for the holidays. It’s going to be a no-frills, minimal art version similar to what I’ve been putting out for the closed playtest groups. It won’t be fancy, but it’ll be the core of the game. I feel pretty confident this far down the road that the system is pretty complete, and just needs to be checked for fiddly bits and oddball numbers. I’m hoping a public playtest of this will give it the scrutiny it needs in that department.

Following that, I will begin putting things in motion for the final release version of this game. I’m blessed to have a local circle of talented artists, layout, and editing buffs who are wanting to be a part of this endeavor. These are folks who share similar interests in games and media with me, and I believe working together will bring a cohesive and thematic experience to the presentation. The downside is we will be taking a while to get it right — but on the upside, we will be transparent with the process and keeping more up-to-date as it develops.

The end goal is to have a free, core edition of the game available for free online. Again, this will be a no-frills version, but it will be all of the Creative Commons content in an openly distributed document. The premium digital version and the POD copies will include extra setting, GM tools and content not available in the free copy.

Keep your eyes peeled here
(or follow me on social media — @TheChaosGrenade on Twitter, ChaosGrenade on Google+)
for news on the upcoming public playtest. And, more than ever, thanks to everyone who’s been involved with this journey so far — both online and face to face.

State of the Grenade: Summer 2015

Just a bit of an update for projects we’re working on over here.

 

Sigil & Shadow

SigilThe game is getting closer and closer to being ready. There’s been some hefty revisions to how certain parts of the game have been approached. I’m pretty certain, though, that I’m finally at a point where I’m happy how the magic system and the supernatural powers work. Right now my main focus is in the flavor of things — the default cosmology and setting details. The goal is to provide a game world mythology that can be taken out easily and replaced with whatever mythos the GM intends to run, but still delivers plenty of flavor and intrigue so others would actually want to run the default setting.

Up until now, my goals with the game have been merely mechanical — I wanted to create a game that fills everything I want and love in the genre of modern horror and fantasy without all the stuff that I felt bloated things down for both players and Game Masters. Now that I have that, I want it to be something more than just a rules alternative. A friend of mine asked me the other night “What makes your game stand out from, say, the Buffy RPG?” All I could answer was in terms of mechanics. My goal in the next couple weeks is to provide a better answer with content to back it.

Main Sequence

Main SequenceSomething I’ve been keeping a lid on for a bit: Matt Bryant is currently doing some revisions and brainstorming for a big update of Main Sequence. He’s let me in on some juicy intel, some of which includes a provided setting that spans three eras of play. We plan on giving this version the works — a new layout and design, some better attentions to detail, that kind of stuff.

Another big announcement related to MS — WYRED is officially getting retired. I no longer really support or endorse it, as REWIRED was the direction I chose to take with that game.  Fans of the WyRM system shouldn’t fret, though! MS was originally a derivative of WYRED — pretty much the same game, just one had augmentations and the other had spaceships. So why not both? WYRED will now be merged with MAIN SEQUENCE, making the upcoming revision our one big go-to for WyRM powered science fiction!

+++

I can’t give a proper ETA on either project. S&S is the top of my priorities, and I’m shooting to be complete by late August or September. MS is dependent more on Matt’s schedule, which is centered around his own full-time (and over) work schedule. We can assure you, though, that we’re putting in lots of work and love to make these releases spectacular. We will be keeping updates here as best as we can.

 

SHADOW OPS: Street Shaman

Last couple characters were pretty combat heavy, let’s roll up some support shall we?

Today’s pre-made is a Snake Shaman. I went total utility belt with this guy, and he’d be a welcome addition to any runner team. I’m also using him to showcase a couple things about making characters in my SHADOW OPS hack:

For starters, all Magicians use the same skill. Hermetics and Shamans are two sides of the same coin. I also didn’t bother writing up all of the totems/mentor spirits because, frankly, I’m lazy. Instead, characters who want to incorporate their ties to a mentor spirit into the games should just use them in a descriptor. For instance: this chummer is a Snake shaman. Snake was a healer, detector and deceiver of sorts. Snake also wasn’t keen on combat. At the basic level, the descriptor of being a snake shaman would imply similar personality characteristics in the character: he’s cautious, tends to his wounded comrades, and is hesitant about being caught up in combat. Although not written in the current draft, I feel a GM who wants more mechanics to totems/mentor spirits could get away just declaring +10 bonuses / -10 penalties for spells and actions that fall in line with the mentor’s personality.

Those used to SR magician characters will probably feel underwhelmed by the number of spells they can start off with here. The key thing is that A) There’s only 16 or so spells in BareBones Fantasy, and B) Those spells offer a range of effects compared to other systems.  Take Cleanse, for example. This single spell can be used to remove poisons, diseases, toxins, conditions such as blindness, etc. At level 3, it can be used to “cleanse” death from a freshly fallen comrade. Another factor here is this character in particular also took levels in Enchanter. Enchanters under the BBF rules can practically cast any of the 16 spells. The catch is: you’re doing so either in enchanting items (foci), brewing potions (or making fetishes), or at the speediest: casting runes on a person or item (which still takes a few turns to pull off.)

Lastly, for those who’ve never played Covert Ops, I’m listing the contents of the equipment packs bought. It’s so much easier at character creation to just allow packs to be acquired. I keep listing “Runner Packs” as a replacement for the Operative Pack every character starts with, although if I was running a contracted merc unit or corporate security squad, I’d probably stick to the original.

Race: Human

Street Shaman from 1st ed. Shadowrun
Street Shaman from 1st ed. Shadowrun

Origin: Shamanic Lodge Member (Perks: Shaman, In-Tuned Domain)
Archetype: Street Shaman
Descriptors:
Mentored by Snake
The rain doesn’t phase me.
Distrusts people in business suits.


STR: 50                  DEX: 55
LOG: 65                 WIL: 60

BP: 25    DR: 5      INIT: 2   MOV: 8
Bones: 2

Skills:
Magician Level 1 (Primary): 63%
Scout Level 1 (Secondary): 53%
Enchanter Level 1: 43%
Medic Level 1: 43%
Spells:
Heal, Cleanse
Gear & Resources:
Runner’s Pack: PDA, encrypted credstick, commlink, etc
Medic Pack: canteen, flares, surgical instruments and tools, bandages, hypodermic needles, several doses of common pharmaceuticals, defibrillator, appropriate professional credentials, etc.
Survivalist Pack: backpack, boot knife, machete, 10 days of military-style rations, compass,
collapsible tent, compact sleeping bag, GPS system, mess kit, flares, etc.

Bullet Proof Vest, Pistol (w/ Laser Sights, 4 clips of ammo), Talismonger (Basic Contact).
570 ¥

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.

Street_Samurai
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
Descriptors*:
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

Skills:
Soldier Level 1 (Primary): 65%
Martial Artist Level 1 (Secondary): 53%
Thief Level 1: 45%
Implants:
Subdermal Armor (Moderate)
Targeting System (Moderate)
Reflex Implant
Claws (2D+1 Damage)
Light Amplification Eyes
Maneuvers:
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.
Notes:
+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.