All posts by Peter R.

I have been blogging about Rolemaster for the past few years. When I am not blogging I run the Rolemaster Fanzine and create adventure seeds and generic game supplements under the heading of PPM Games. You can check them out on RPGnow. My pet project is my d6 game 3Deep, now in its second edition.

Reading Up On 7th Sea 2nd Edition

I noticed after my last post that despite being a fan of 7th Sea I had never gotten around to reading the new edition of books. Michael gets to list his “Currently Reading” as he is head honcho. So I hopped over to RPGNow and I saw this…

After a couple of sessions I can say with great certainty, that the 2nd edition is a great disappointment. 
The rules are mishmash of FATE, Houses of the Blooded, 7th Sea 1st edition and multiple tacked on sub-systems without any cohesion. The resolution system is a marginal improvement at best. The backgrounds are artificial limitations much like classes, totally unnecessary for a fiction simulator. Story rules are a more complicated version of the first edition backgrounds. Now you have Virtue and Hubris (why do I have to have them?), Sword schoools have one rule each, and duellists are and advantage, loosing much of their flair, etc. All in al not very elegant.

I know full well that when you create new editions of games that people know and love that you are not going to please everyone. What is the saying?  “Some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time but never all of the people all of the time.”

I don’t really care about this reviewers opinion too much but what caught my eye was the reference to FATE. I surprised myself by enjoying Ghost Ops recently with FUDGE at its heart is it possible that this could be my way into something FATE-like?

So right now I am reading up on 7th Sea Second Edition and I admit that yes it does feel very different but so far it seems to be different but better.

How many of you have tried the new 7th Sea? How do you feel about it?

Incidentally, does the guy in the image above remind anyone else of Leonardo DiCaprio?

Looking after the pennys

I kind of suspect that most GMs harbour some kind of desire, however small, to make a living from gaming. After all if you look at the success of the Forgotten Realms haven’t we all created just as good a campaign setting? Haven’t we all written adventures as good if not better than the off the shelf adventure modules?

All GMs almost by default are creative. We know our chosen game systems almost inside out. I am certain that any one of use could write and stat out and adventure at the drop of a hat.

And don’t get me started on writing your own games…

So, as many of you know I like creating stuff and selling it on the OneBookShelf network, RPGnow and DriveThruRPG etc., I have created many adventure hooks that typically sell for 99¢, random die tables, the odd supplement and my own game that sells for $7.99. I also publish a fanzine on a monthly basis both on OBS and on Amazon as print and kindle. None of this is earning me big bucks but it is fun, the barriers to entry in self publishing is very low, the new skills you need to learn are fun and the creation process is quite satisfying.

You will also undoubtedly know that I quite enjoy solo role play. It is more satisfying than watching TV and like most GMs I have more games than I will ever be able to play with my regular players. Solo play lets me take those games for a spin.

Most of what I create is branded as ‘system neutral’ meaning that I don’t include stats for any particular game system. It is just an adventure outline, pen portraits of NPCS and suggestions of monsters or foes for the encounters. Finding monster stats is not hard it is the creative idea for the adventure that is the bit that is worth paying the 99¢ for.

In total I have maybe 100 documents that I have published or co-authored and in general they collectively earn me about $2 a day. It is no great income but it does mean that I can basically pick up anything I want at any time from RPGnow and it costs me nothing. My publishers commission is accumulating faster than I am spending it which is rather nice.

So last week I created a little HTML/Javascript tool that I shared here for Fudge Solo Play. So far there have been 25 downloads of it and I kind of hope people are enjoying it. So this weekend I wanted to have a go at 7th Sea. I have not played the 2nd Edition but it does look awesome. So me being me the first thing I did was rewrite Karl Hendricks One Page Solo Engine to fit the D10 mechanics of 7th Sea. I then updated my Fudge HTML page for 7th Sea and built a Dice Roller that accounted for the exploding dice and the roll 4 keep 3 (4k3) mechanics of the game. So that was Friday afternoon while I was quiet at work (you know how Fridays can be when no one wants to return your calls).

Incidentally, I have recently bought myself a second hand copy of Adobe Creative Suite 4 just so I can make better looking RPG products. I am still very much learning how to use Photoshop and InDesign having moved up from CS2 to CS4.

Having now got a 7th Sea solo engine I cannot stop myself from trying to put together a published version using InDesign. To tempt me even more John Wick Presents actually have a free InDesign template to help people create good looking supplements and a Community Created Content programme so you can sell them through their own OBS portal. This is just too good for me to turn sway from. So Saturday evening is spent creating my document. There is a sample page…

I am really pleased with how it turned out. So on Sunday I published it on the Explorers Society portal and over night it has sold 13 copies. This makes it my fastest selling document so far.

Needless to say, Friday I wrote the rules up, Saturday I did the page layout and Sunday I published it via their community portal so as a result I never got to play the game at all. What it does demonstrate is just how fast and easy it is to go from idea to published product. So easy in fact that any one can do this. Michael publishes for free just so others can enjoy what he has created. I do it for money but not for mercenary reasons. I was once told that if I don’t value what I create then why should anyone else? I took that to heart and have stuck to it ever since.

So the next time you have a dull weekend ahead why not give self publishing an RPG product a bash? You never know, you may surprise yourself or make enough commission to get a free game!

Ghost Ops QS & One Page Solo

This is a sort of double play test as I was using the One Page Solo Engine that I talked about last time, specifically the Fudge version I wrote in Javascript, to play test the adventure provided by Ghost Ops RPG Quick Start.

This was also my first encounter with Fudge and to support my weekend I downloaded the 1995 Fudge rules from http://www.fudgerpg.com.

Part One

So lets start with Ghost Ops specifically. The game works really well! There are a few editorial issues with the quick start rules but the beauty of modern PDF publishing is that these could be fixed and the PDFs updated in no time. I am not worried about those as I am sure they will be fixed.

The Fudge rules I have makes a point of using words rather than numbers for the difficulty factors and player attributes. The actual wording says “It [Fudge] also uses words rather than numbers to describe character traits.” The claim is that “Fudge’s descriptive nature makes ideal it for novice players.” I am not a novice and I detest the adjective based difficulty levels. I am pleased to say that Ghost Ops leans much more towards Target Numbers rather than difficulty descriptions for example to quote the sample mission “There is roof access and it would be easy to rappel down the building from the roof (TN 3).” In pure fudge I guess that would have been an Average challenge or something like that. Ghost Ops does have the descriptions and specifies ten levels from Easy TN1 to Mythic TN10.  For me rolling the dice, adding my skill and trying to beat a target number makes perfect sense and I am comfortable with that.

There are 13 skills in Ghost Ops and they are the way I like them, suitably broad that a single skill is used for all related tasks, one skill covers picking locks, disabling traps and bomb disposal. There are enough skills to need a balanced team to get a good coverage of the skills and the individual skill abilities differentiate characters even further. Over all the combination of pools, skills,  abilities and talents means that characters can be as unique as you could possibly want.

Character creation (in the full quick start book) is really quick and easy and is all choice based, no dice rolling needed. The source material is really cool, describing the SAS, Delta Force and a few other special forces units as your starting point.

Combat is quick and easy. In the play test the first half of the mission I was dealing with mainly innocents and tested the unarmed combat. At the end of the mission it was a lot more Frank Castle (Marvel’s Punisher/Netflix) and the body’s soon mounted up.

I never thought I would play a Fudge (or Fate) game and enjoy it but after this weekend I am a convert. I will be using Ghost Ops as the yard to measure all others against.

I am really looking forward to July when the full game is due to be released.

Part Two

The One Page Solo Engine performed extremely well. I don’t want to give any of the mission details away but at one point I was making my way stealthily up an access stair way when the solo engine prompted guards would be coming down, ducking out a fire exit there was another guard out there. Having avoided them and got to the right floor the solo engine was a bit kinder and the mission progressed. Trying to make my way out after completing the task Not only were there security guards on the roof but they were also fully aware of me coming up the stairs, cue yet another encounter.

Looking for a safe side of the building to rappel down to get away I asked the question “Is there anyone in the street below?” The “Yes and…” result, given that all the security and fire alarms in the building were blaring, suggested that not only was the street occupied but the police and fire services would be screaming into the street.

This is the sort of thing that you just have to go along with when you are using a solo engine. The mission went rather off piste for a while but that allowed the solo engine create a range of threats and challenges. The javascript plus dice roller together in the same window make running the solo game really easy and the solo engine almost became invisible. By comparison the paper version required multiple dice rolls for most questions and table look ups. It is a lot more imposing than my version.

People new to solo engines often ask too many questions, not trusting themselves to improvise. In total I only needed to ask eleven questions of the solo engine. For my eleven questions I got four unscheduled encounters any of which could have ended in combat, two new locations and when faced with the the moral dilemma over collateral damage of civilians I learned a lot about by characters moral position. No innocent NPCs were killed during this adventure although several probably had to call in sick the next day.

Over all the solo engine was a great success and it is now my engine of choice. I have saved it to my phone and as it works entirely locally it even works in flight mode so long plane journeys are now even easier!

Part Three

Fudge… The 1995 Fudge rules are certainly not to my taste. Ghost Ops was described to me as ‘leaning towards Fudge’. While I agree the dice and the skill resolution mechanics are defintely Fudge-like the implementation is much grittier than Fudge and comes across as more empirical. I think Target Numbers do that where as Good or Great sound a bit fluffy or fuzzy.

What this has done though is make me want to look at other Fudge games. I may not get on with the original implementation of the rules but I can no longer tar derived games with the same brush.

This has been a really enjoyable and educational weekend.