Category Archives: Mutants & Masterminds

RPG Blog Carnival: Technology in my Games

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Greetings dear readers! Michael recently wrote about our efforts to revitalize the blog, and I think we’re off to a good start. He invited our readers to discuss the types of posts and topics they enjoyed, and in one such comment Voidman said he liked one of my earlier pieces about using technology at the gaming table. Thank you for the kind words; it’s a pleasure to have you, and so many others as our readers.

This topic, the technology I use as a GM, is constantly evolving, and is one that deserves some revisiting periodically. On this post I’d like to discuss the technology I currently use to run our Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition campaign. It also happens that the topic of the RPG Blog Carnival for September 2016 is Game Master Tools, Aids, Apps & Hacks, so it all comes together rather fortuitously!

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RPG a Day 2015 Challenge – Day 23

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Another Sunday #RPGaDay2015 challenge entry, Day 23! Today’s topic is one of those over which edition wars are fought in the trenches of internet message boards, perfect game! Thankfully David Chapman (The creator of the challenge and whom I haven’t linked to back enough! Thank you for this idea.) added the caveat, for you. So here we go…

Day 22 – Perfect game for you

There may be those who argue that for the characteristics I’m about to list there is already a system out there that covers them, and I’ve tried many, but haven’t found one that meets all the requirements to my satisfaction. Let’s make a list of the characteristics of the perfect gaming system for me:

  • A moderately complex rules medium game that emphasizes role-playing and creativity.
  • If it is point based (doesn’t have to be!) the math has to be simple, preferably not greater than a hundred.
  • It uses a single mechanic, preferably roll high and the math complexity is limited to adding and subtracting.
  • The rules reward creativity and allow for players to have narrative control over aspects of the story pertaining to the characters, including resource management that allows rerolls or mechanical control as well.
  • It uses traditional polyhedral dice, no rare dice or dice with symbols that must be interpreted.
  • The rules are easy to pick up for a new player, but it allows for more complex options and rewards the player for learning the system with.
  • The major complexity would be in character creation, easy to follow and apply in the game, but with plenty of options to create the character the player wants.
  • The final character contains most of the information you’ll need to play in the character sheet, reducing the need for looking up rules.
  • When you play the rules applications and interpretations are easy to implement and follow.
  • The mechanics are applied uniformly to skills and combat, and there are sufficient tactical options to keep play interesting without it slowing down.
  • Combat works with a map and minis or theater of the mind, its ok if some complexity is available in the later and not the former.
  • It maintains the illusion of realism through the application of armor and damage, but action feels cinematic and fast paced.
  • The rules support short and long term campaigns, allowing for characters to grow at the appropriate pace of the campaign.
  • Leveling up ties into the options and complexities of character creation, but is not a chore, nor does it penalize players for not making the right decisions long term.
  • Preparation for the Game Master is easy and minimal.
  • It allows the Game Master to create encounters and opponents with minimal work that feel as complex as the player characters.
  • Pre-made adversaries are easy to re-purpose, re-skin.
  • Handling out experience, or however the advancement process is handled, is separate from the narrative or mechanical control, the players don’t need to decide whether they advance or use the experience resources for other mechanics.
  • There is no overreliance on outside factors for character viability, i.e. magic items, trinkets, they can add to the experience but are not integral to the characters viability.
  • There is internal balance between options in the game, avoiding some options to be suboptimal when compared with others whenever possible.
  • The game would ideally be able to handle multiple genres with little rule variation, but power scaling may be an option.

Those are the main points I can think of. You could argue that there are systems that do this, Savage Worlds, True20, Mutants & Masterminds, GURPS, even the Cypher System, but having played most of them, none meets all the requirements I’ve outlined above. And that’s a tall order to fill, I know, but as long as were are going with my wish list for a perfect system, I can dream can’t I?

Let us know what’s the perfect game for you in the comments. See you all tomorrow, hope you had a great weekend!

RPG a Day 2015 Challenge – Day 19

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Third entry on favorites week for #RPGaDay2015! This time around it’s supers…

Day 19 – Favorite supers RPG

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For the longest time my answer would be Champions. I loved the idea of being able to make whatever character you wanted! I read the books and made hundreds of characters, and could never get anyone to play. Such was my burden! But the story has a happy ending, read on…

Just like sci-fi yesterday, superhero games are a category of RPGs to which people bring varied expectations. Despite the long history of superheroes and the icons and tropes that come with them, ask two people what makes a good supers story and you’ll rarely get them to agree. Some love classic golden age heroes, where good guys are good and the bad guys worse, everybody has over the top powers and the existence of superheroes has little real effect on the real world. Others like gritty street level heroes, low powered, very realistic, and everything in between, angst ridden mutants, comedic sidekicks, alternate history, you name it!

I grew up on classic DC and Marvel, collected them for the longest time, and worked at a comic book store after High School and through College, so I’ve been close to comics all my life. Before the big two publishers in the USA I also read  a lot of comics in Spanish, there were a lot of different heroes and character, such as Kaliman or Aguila Solitaria, so my tastes and sensibilities were an odd mix.

For a long time I tried to run a successful super campaign, and while there were some good runs with the Marvel FASERIP system (mostly a Daredevil solo campaign I ran for a friend) a couple of Heroes Unlimited campaigns, It wasn’t unlit recently that I ran my definitive (so far!) superhero campaign.

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When I began posting on this blog I had just discovered Icons and wrote a lot about the system, including some character write ups. I wanted to use that system, but not all my players were keen on the idea. I had participated as a player in a Mutants & Masterminds 2nd edition campaign son when DC Adventures, using the Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition rules, I set on that system and what was meant to be a seven month campaign, became an almost two year-long game. I posted about the experience here in the blog in case you want to check it out.

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Mutants & Masterminds had the flexibility of character creating just like Champions did, but the system, while far from simple, was definitely easier to grasp and run than the Hero System, So Mutants & Masterminds is my current favorite supers game, with Icons a close second for shorter or lighter games. And like a pointed out in a previous post, bit games by Steve Kenson, the supers game guru!

So what’s your favorite supers game? Let us know in the comments. See you all tomorrow for my horror pick…