Perhaps as an exercise in narcissism, I’m going to ask questions that nobody has ever asked me about my upcoming rpg system: The Patchwork Manifesto. That said, I figured it’d be a fun way to talk about the Hows and Whys of the project. Besides, you can’t tell me that any FAQ posted at time of any other game announcement consisted of questions that were, ya know, frequently asked up until that point.
CarPG: A Universal Framework. Appropriate for Road Trips & at The Table
by Matt Bryant
Looking for a nice role-playing game to pass the time on a long road trip with friends? Or maybe something fast and simple to play during your lunch hour at the office? CarPG is a lite, fast playing, and diceless framework for quick one-shots and minimal prep. It features a resolution mechanic that offers similar results as dice rolling, and is flexible enough to be expanded on or kitbashed into any genre or setting you need it for.
Fate’s Wheel Mechanic
Both the GM and the Player choose a number between one and ten. The players then add bonuses (attributes or skills) to produce a Success Range. If the GM’s number falls within that success range, the player character succeeds at their task! There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the meat of the system. Alternatively, those who enjoy die rolls can get the same effect by simply rolling a d10+bonus against a difficulty of 10.
Free to download, play, and abuse.
CarPG is an 8 page PDF, perfect for mobile devices or printed out in booklet format.
CarPG by Matt Brytant is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Revisiting my old fantasy setting ideas in a new way — using the Cypher System Rulebook.
Last month, for my 33rd birthday, I decided to take a break from The Strange and run a more “traditional” fantasy game using the Cypher System Rulebook. The tricky part was I knew a couple of my players were burned out on the fantasy stuff, which made the weird aspects of our previous game so appealing. Having a conversation with one of them, I decided to scale back and lean towards a more ancient world/bronze-age setting to remedy the bad accents and tropes of high-fantasy feudalism.
What I ended up doing was recycling the setting notes I had for my Scorn of the God-Eaters setting (as well as a couple of other settings I ran using ACKS/LoTFP). The original concept was sort of a colonial/baroque era setting where exiled prisoners and heretics of an empire were forced to survive on a savage continent. Now, it’s been revised to: Descendants of a conquered empire have fled across the Shattered Seas to regroup and rebuild away from the wrath of an evil Pharaoh who usurped the throne.
It worked surprisingly well. The player characters felt unique and diverse, each one bringing a cool spin on old concepts. We were able to build off the flavor of the setting without having to adjust mechanics or house-rule everything crazy (the house rules I have are really just setting guidelines.) Even though we had a long play session, the pacing was pretty spot on — even with me going to the extremes of using miniatures (because I wanted to, not because they were needed) combat felt engaging and constant and wasn’t bogged down in rule-lookups or complex mechanics at all.
After a great session like that, everyone was on board for a campaign to emerge from this. Previously with The Strange, I was running episodic endeavors that were sort of a “Recursion of the Week” affair. Focusing on a specific setting and genre I felt would alleviate the sort of disconnect we were experiencing every time the characters hopped realities.
I’ll be blogging about this endeavor more throughout the rest of the year.
In the meantime, feel free to peruse my OneNote workbook for the campaign that I’ve set up for my players.
Today’s post is looking at five different supplements available from RPGNow, each of them no more than a few bucks. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of White Star. And one of the solid strengths of it is the amazing community and third-party support that is running with it.
Psionics is what it says on the tin: a psionicist class for White Star. The “Star Knight” and “Alien Mystic” classes are fine for Jedi-style flavor, but I know in my particular home campaign I’m not really a fan of having them. Not to mention their meditations and gifts felt too much like D&D counterparts, which isn’t exactly what I was hoping for. I loved the “Psychic” class out of Stars Without Number, but it’s a bit beefy to implement in the liter rules of White Star.
So for an alternative, Matthew Skail gave us a class that acquires a number of powers (and a limited number of uses a day) based on level. The difference here is each power (called disciplines) is available to choose from level 1, and it scales by the character’s level. Psionicists also get to choose a focus at level 1, which is an ability they can use that doesn’t spend one of their daily power uses.
What’s great is each discipline has a variety of uses, and even when you can only kick them off once a day they turn out handy. For instance: “Cellular Adjustment” provides a pool of d6’s equal to level. The duration of the power, however, is 1 hour. In that time, the psionicist can take that pool of dice and spend it how they want between themselves and others. Some of those dice can also be spent to grant a target extra saving throws versus poison or disease, and at max level can revive someone who was recently slain (but with some tolls put on them.
Other powers are what you would expect — mind assault, shielding, remote viewing, telekinesis, etc. But all of them offer an array of effects and aren’t just one time tricks that are spent and gone.
Pros: A damn fine alternative psychic-powered utility class that offers options but is mechanically sound for the lighter aspects of the system. Would even make a good class for fantasy-based games using Whitebox style rules. Artwork is pretty cool and appropriate.
Quibbles: The only cons I have about this are minor nags of preference: the flavor text still has this element of the fantastic, such as references to the “Akashic Overmind” and forming temples at higher level. This is easily remedied with hand waving, and isn’t terribly distracting. There’s also something not quite grabbing me about the choice of font and size, and I wished the tables and pictures ran alongside the text as opposed to being breaks between text and taking up their own real-estate — leaving a bit of negative space on the page. I’m guilty of these things in my own self-released games, though, so I really have no room to talk.
Drongo: Planet of Peril
So I’ve established my home game is a bit more gritty science fiction, but that’s not to say I don’t have a special place in my heart for pulpy science fantasy. I’m a lover of Heavy Metal magazine, my dad raised me on old Flash Gordon serials, and Krull has to be one of my favorite movies. Drongo cites Burroughs and Howard as inspiration — and frankly if you don’t love those guys, I’m not sure we’re on the same level.
This is a world ruled by a powerful magician in a city that marries science and magic, who is ruthless and is described as being only steps away from godhood. This is a world of swords and rayguns, of nomadic tribes and futuristic armies (and at least one time traveler.) The booklet gives us a brief history, seven major factions, about seventeen regions/places of interest, descriptions on a handful of common languages, a couple pages devoted to the ruler Tiverrig, Tamer of Worlds, and finishes with a brief bestiary of six creatures. The artwork is thematic and kicksass, the font choice is crisp and looks good on my tablet. It’s gonzo without being overboard, and is a great example of a setting that can pull in things from other OSR games regardless of genre.
Pros: An awesome Gazeteer for an insane setting that fits the bill for those wanting to go more sci-fantasy/pulp with their White Star games.
Quibbles: No map provided, which is a bummer since we have all these cool regions offered to us. I’d settle for a plain global map, with blobs of regions just so I knew a vague concept of where everything was in relation to each other.
Hyperspace Messenger #1: Stunners
This tiny rules add-on introduces a mechanic for stunning opponents using a tweak to the Saving Throw system. From there, it provides a few new weapons and a couple pieces of defenses specifically around stun attacks.
Pros: Manages to successfully tack on stunning/knock-out system without having to track “bashing” hit point damage or adding an entirely new subsystem. DwD products have a nice layout for the digest format, meaning easy to read on a tablet.
Quibbles: For a buck it’s hard for me to say it’s a bit short, but I wished there was a little more to it. Regardless, it’s a sound mechanic and at least the nice layout and formatting means I have no probs stuffing my printout for game night.
Hyperspace Messenger #2: Robots
This is substantially beefier than issue #1, and in a lot of ways is a steal. This book functions a mini-bestiary, I suppose, of NPC robots to use at the game table. It takes the assumption that PC robots are unique, cool, or stand out compared to normal everyday ones. That said, Bill has provided 9 fleshed out robots to serve as a basis for different uses (medic, scout, protocol, etc.) He’s also provided a variety of scanners, and each robot is listed with a cost should a player want to recruit the aid of one (or more.)
Pros: A robot for (almost) every occasion, fully statted out and ready to roll in your campaign.
Quibbles: Would have been cool to have some add-ons for PC robots, but once again for a buck who can complain?
Hyperspace Messenger #3: Aliens
Bill’s gone crazy, folks. I think my comment towards issue #1 drove him mad, and now he’s pumping out high-value products for dirt cheap.
Aliens is all about creating new “race as class” Alien types tailored for your campaign (or completely made at random.) The first chunk of the supplement is an easy step-by-step guide to cherry pick or randomly roll up features and characteristics of the new alien race. When it’s all wrapped up, you tally up XP value based on the results. This is what it takes to reach level 2 for the character, and each level after doubles that value. Easy peasy.
But he doesn’t stop there — He then presents 5 sample alien classes, each one with a full page write up and full colored artwork by the incredibly awesome Khairul Hisham.
Pros: A really fun, random, old-school style method of generating new and unique alien races to populate your game. Once again, good layout and the artwork rocks.
Quibbles: The overwhelming sense of guilt I have for only paying a buck for this.
Yes, I wrote this because I’ve been gushing fanboy for Mad Max: Fury Road. Honestly though I’ve been kicking these thoughts around any time I fire up Fallout or Borderlands. Regardless, I present to you a 3-page hack for REWIRED describing how I would run post-apoc wasteland using the rules. Honestly, going from cybernetic urban sprawl to post-collapse anarchy isn’t that far of a stretch. Even my base campaign setting was practically on the edge — this just allows us to kick that bastard over and watch it fall face first.
The largest change isn’t mechanical, just in attitude: it’s no longer about acquiring new drugs, new tech, more bullets and more connections on the neon-lit rainy streets. It’s about acquiring the right supplies in the hopes of getting to live another day in the radioactive fallout. To reflect this, I replaced the Wealth skill with Resources, which is broken up into three tracks: Scrap, Food and Fuel. “Cred” don’t mean shit in this type of setting — coin metal is melted down, paper money is good to wipe your ass with.
I also tossed in a couple new equipment Tags and a few Perks. For those wanting mutations, I pretty much put in a perk that reskins bionetic augmentations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of bonkers/gonzo, weird-as-fuck super mutant settings. But there are far better games out there for that kind of thing. REWIRED works as a quick, gritty, low-powered action game.
The zip file includes the three page document and an altered character sheet.