JP On Gaming

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Meet your Master: Legacies in Saggakar

This new series about the Legacies Campaign in Tyrants of Saggakar examines the four masters of the campaign. Although it is possible to belong to others, these are the four "starter" ones a PC can select at creation.

Like in other places in Saggakar, I decided to reward behavior that "played to the setting" rather than compel such activities. This is a concept Cubicle 7, IMO got right on the money in their Doctor Who game, where players who "play according to the show" get rewarded with story points. A simple idea, but one that is very effective.

Having said that, I want to encourage players who opt for the harder path. In this case, the First Ones have created a system that makes THEIR desire easiest to follow.

Yes, they stacked the deck in their favor.

This series will introduce the four Masters, their personalities, their House, their goals and what benefit they can provide you for service. They will function in a similar way as patrons did in the previous Legacies. However, they now own you and are all thoroughly evil...

Welcome to servitude.

JP

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gostor: Bandits!

Last week, I was reading the excellent Sea of Stars blog and he posted a mini-bandit gang post.

Suddenly I remembered that I started on a book about gangs myself but that I dropped the product as my need for it waned. The project I started it for didn't need it anymore, so I left the notes with charts and options in a document in my "Work In Progress" directory.

Reading the post, I remembered my own abandoned work and thought "Hey I should get this bandit book of mine finished!" Sean's own post had a concept which I did not have in my own book and thus I quickly added it.

For the last two days, I have been going over my stuff and completed some entries, cleaned up some of the text and added a few example gangs. The book now includes the Forty-Seven Ronin, Ali Baba's Forty Thieves, Bonnie and Clyde, Grace O'Malley's pirate empire, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the Vendean rebels of Revolutionary France, and a Viking raiding party.

My original notes were for a book that was definitely focused on fantasy (and to a large extend it still is). However, the more I read about outlaws and bandits into the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, the more I thought "You know, I could use this for some modern or sci-fi." So I did some more web-searching and added Bonnie and Clyde and the Vendean rebels as example of a more modern group of thieves. There are a lot more examples I could have used, particularly with the "Old West": the James Gang or Billy the Kid. I tried to limit myself to one example per country.

EDITI forgot the Link to Gostor: Bandits!!! *Dohp*

JP

Friday, May 22, 2015

Slavery in Saggakar and Legacies

I wrote a post long ago about this topic. And with Tyrants coming out I had to go over the subject again. I have recently been reading books of ancient history - most recently Plutarch's Fall of the Roman Republic which details the life of six very influential men. Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, and Cicero. Very interesting read.

One of the elements that pop up frequently is that of slavery. Many of whom become elevated to freemen. One of them is an Egyptian general for Ptolemy XII.

Which if you have been looking into the ToS setting you know is a major concept. "Freedom is a lie" is one of the taglines. So this made me to think. In Tyrants of Saggakar, the First Ones care little about others. So they enslave everyone and force them to obey through whatever mean required. Make sure the slaves would keep their evil order.

Naturally no one wants to be a slave. We all want to control our own destinies. So how to make that playable?

The House Slave vs Field Slave distinction is one that is important. House slaves worked in or near the house while the field slaves worked the fields. House slaves with their attachment to the master's house do not make for good adventurers. And field slaves are kept under the watchful eye of brutal overseers. Neither of which have great adventuring potential.

So I need another type of slave: the envoy-slave. The envoy slave represents the master and travels throughout the land. Thus, they would be sent to work as envoys to their masters. This gives the players some measure of freedom, yet keep them in the system.

What kind of system would make people find slavery easier than freedom? After some thought, only one answer was possible: make freedom hard. Make it so one is freer under a yoke, that the benefit/ penalty is not in favor of freedom. But at the same time, it must not be impossible to overcome. This sounds just like the First Ones: this theme I have of evil usurping good, of freedom under an iron fist. It is really inspiring because it bakes in a lot of conflict to the campaign. And conflict create stories. And stories create adventures. And adventures creates campaigns.

 

So I did some research about cultures and slavery through Google. BAD MISTAKE. The internet is filled with stuff you cannot unsee. While I'm fine with consenting adults doing what they want... I am still a naive and innocent Canadian boy.

No more.

So how to use this knowledge into a game? No you pervs, not the sexual stuff. Sheesh really? I'm talking about running an RPG. Not porn.

Lowers head in shame, knowing what most readers are thinking of right now.

 

Next, how to give the PCs freedom in servitude? My idea of the envoy-slave really got traction here.

Simple: my boss is not over my shoulder all the time, micromanaging what I am doing. She tells me what to do then goes off to do other things. That's it. The First Ones would do that. Having multiple slaves, they would not be able or interested in micromanaging everyone of their slaves. Instead they would give commands which, in an organized play campaign is pretty much the "go here, do this" part. Where you are ordered to go somewhere for them. Thus allowing me to place the PCs in a location where "mysteriously" adventure happens.

This gives me the chance to include the masters in the campaign, at which time they would be more directly involved in what is happening. Much the same way patrons were in NeoExodus: they would be distant most of the time, but occasionally be major actors in what was going on.

So slavery is alive and well in Saggakar. After all, Service is Eternal and Freedom is a lie!

JP

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Legacies: Seeds of Rebellion Logo

Earlier this week, I asked the members of the Legacies Facebook Group to select a theme for next year. The themes offered were "Oblivion", "Rebellion" and "Tyranny". They chose by a large margin to give me Rebellion.

So I chuckled as I gathered my ideas for it.

And I chuckled some more.

Then last night, during an L5R game, I spent some time creating a logo. I took the feedback and played with my old Paint Shop Pro.

What do you think? I especially like the black sun symbol in the background.

JP

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tyrants of Saggakar: Psionics or Occult?

I have been having conversations with players about what to allow in the Tyrants Campaign. One element players really liked from the previous campaign was the addition of psionics.

I will freely admit that I do not really care either way. That said I am a big fan of Dreamscarred Press' Ultimate Psionics. The rules are elegant flavorful, clean and very usable. One element of theirs I have issue with are the constructs and the monsters' balance they are very much overpowered.

Enter Paizo's Occult Adventures. While I am not very enthused about this product, its inclusion warrants some thought. Paizo' core books tend to be pretty good and balanced.

So my dilemma is whether I can or should allow both. On the one hand more options is always fine, on the other, I wonder if there may not be too many options. A thin razor's edge to thread on really.

I am currently leaning towards allowing both in the campaign.

Do you have a favorite, prefer one, hate the other, or want me to burn them both?

JP

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tyrants of Saggakar: New LR format

I spent a number of hours trying to find a way to create a new-style LR. So I spent a few hours on Microsoft Publisher, playing with the format. I needed something that would give me room to add material, but also leave the players with room to write material.

After playing with it, I tried to go landscape and everything formed together. I may still play with it a little, but I think this is it. I need to start making the LR for Origins.

The image is clickable for a larger view.

What do you think?

JP

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tyrants of Saggakar vs. DragonLance

As part of this series wherein I examine the best of other people's game settings and see which elements I want to include into Tyrants of Saggakar (ToS). This time lets have a look at DragonLance, one of the oldest settings out there.

Let me preface this stating that one of my personal favorite settings is DragonLance. From the outset, the world was different from many of the others.

First, it was presented to us through the eyes of a group of PCs. Through their adventures, we got to know Krynn. As such, they only worry about the immediate threats and the world immediately around them. Until later, do they begin to see things in a wider scope. And even then, though they lead armies, their concerns are fairly immediate.

Next, the world was set on the verge of final collapse into darkness, with only a few heroes standing up and rising to save the world. It made the world into the first heroic fantasy setting (for D&D). To this day there is a feeling that in DL, players are called to become bigger than they are, to become more important. True, this is part of all campaigns, but DL, to me, has it in its DNA more than others. The stories and plots led themselves to it.

Next, we were introduced to new races that were not the typical Tolkienesque fair. Okay they were. But they also had some twists to them: did I say Kender? Minotaurs? Irda? Gully dwarves? The gully dwarves sucked in the books and they were terrible in the game too. However, the amount of comedic relief they poured out was quite interesting.

Trailing on the previous, our villains were not orcs and goblins. No here we had wizards priests dragons and hordes of draconians. New goodies to tackle! The villains had a deeper backstory that drove their motivations. One could say that DL, more than any other setting was about motivations. And most of the villains' motivations were understandable and reasonable: they sought power, revenge, or riches. They did not seek "magical items" type of motivation.

The original hardback also added a few new classes such as the Solamnic Knights. These were indeed fun and flavorful classes to play. I would go so far as to say they were precursors of 3e' multiclassing system. The progression of Knight of the Crown to Knight of the Sword to Knight of the Rose was one that required a player to really focus on what they wanted to do. Definitely one of the elements of 3e I enjoyed most of all.

DragonLance is a small world especially when compared to Forgotten Realms or even Greyhawk. It seems there are much fewer nations, cities and locations. However, this is not a weakness here. Why? Because we got to know and use these locations over and over. I never felt overly constrained when GMing or playing in DL, in spite of this size issue.

No. Taladas does not count.

Finally, DragonLance is about a storyline. Setting a campaign there requires the GM to specify when you are and what are the effects on the game. For example, the early Chronicles do not have clerics casting spells. Or the reign of the King-Priest of Istar where good dominated the world. Obviously this is something that talks to me directly as I been a strong proponent and supporter of storyline in game settings.

Those are the high points of the setting. True, it does count as one of my biggest campaign fails, but still I like it.

So what do I like from DragonLance in ToS? Though perhaps a little too manichean for my taste, it was the best we had early on. I have grown more accustomed to shades of grey in settings. Alignment is not a reason, it is a measure of personal morals and ethics. The grey in Greyhawk, if you will.

One of the big things I want in ToS is the motivations of the villains. They should be understandable, relatable, and either supportable or opposable. I want these NPCs to be living counterparts to the PCs.

JP

Friday, May 15, 2015

Last chance to back WitchHunter Kickstarter

Let me take a moment to get my nose out of Tyrants of Saggakar and take a look around, see what's going on.

You certainly all know by now that I am a HUGE fan of the work PCI does with Arcanis and that on a personal level, I am a huge fan of their WitchHunter setting and what my good friend Clint Blome has been doing (I need MORE MODS).

How can I describe the world of WitchHunter? Think Solomon Kane with the serial numbers filed off. Two-fisted, pulpy and dark. I can't quite describe it as horror, but it might be because... WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONSTERS! It just happens that they have a Kickstarter for a book filled with monsters and opponents for WitchHunter. It is in the last two days and a little bit to go before they get funded. It is inching up there, but let's make this a reality.

In short, as I told Henry: SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Where JP whines and cries

Now let me tell you this sad tale of how I failed big time at doing something I said I would do. As I pride myself on doing what I say and saying what I do, I take this one personally. Last week, I got on the phone with Henry about putting together an interview about the kickstarter and posting it here at the start of the week.

Then shit happened: car engine blew up, had to rent a car, shop for a new car, etc. And I will admit that I COMPLETELY DROPPED THE BALL.

I'm more than a little angry at myself for this as - as usual - I had questions I would've liked answered about it, the organized play campaign, Arcanis, and a number of other bits and pieces. I guess this will have to wait.

Please go and check it out. Even if you do not plan to play WitchHunter, the content can certainly be used in other game systems. I mean... MONSTERS!!!

Here is a Link to the Kickstarter please back it if you can. It would be awesome if this funded.

JP

More Art: Shafell the Cambion

Originally created for my home campaign, Shafell was a matron who arranged for the PCs' unwilling assistance. Since then, she appeared in Sugar and Spice with the same role. There, she tried to get the PCs to follow the laws of her people. She failed.

In Secret Project X (SPX), she will return in a similar role. However, she won't have her family around her anymore. The ancient pacts that protected her no longer binding the imps and other devils. I plan on re-introducing her again very soon...

The commissioned piece from Kaitlynn Peavler/ @TheDiceGoddess on Twitter. I really like her drawing style. Shafell is drawn here heavily pregnant - as she often is. Her "you want some of this, lover?" look is just awesome and really captures the essence of the character.

I have more pieces coming from her and I can't wait to get them!

JP

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Meet the Iconics: Okayaaa the rogue

The sixth and final member of our group of iconics.

Okayaaa is a skythian rogue. Skythians came to Saggakar with the First Ones as devoted warriors, a task at which they both loved and excelled. However, in the past two centuries, many have begun doubting the wisdom of their way of life, wondering if there was anything more to life than an endless stream of destruction. To this day, they struggle with their warrior nature and their desire for a more fulfilling life. Skythians are best known for their ability to make weapons out of their bones. A skythian can create jagged weapons equivalent of a longsword, or with added feats, rapiers, bastard swords and even greatswords!

Okayaaa is a physical rogue, focusing on her skills at acrobatics and trap finding/disabling.

Okayaaa grew up in a poor neighborhood of a large city. She developed skills to survive on the streets. Today, she seeks to be accepted and know her skills are highly sought among adventurers. Though she longs for battle, she wonders about retiring as an elder.

But for now there are battles to be fought and money to be raised.

Will she be updated to the Unchained Version? Very likely. When? Soon.

Meet the Iconics: Korb the Blind

Let's continue our series on the new iconic characters for Legacies. Today: Korb the Blind

Korb the Blind is a kaliban, a race of marauding and cannibalistic humanoids. Their skin is milky white and their eyes are all black, much like a great white shark, many file their teeth so they can cut through meat better. Kalibans are found everywhere as they are hearty, tough and resilient. But it is their omnivorous nature what they are best known for. Normally quiet and reserved, the call of battle makes them frenzied, like sharks. Korb is no exception, he can eat defeated foes and learn things from them. Korb has a bad case of personal hygiene. His situation is so bad that taking a bath would not be sufficient to wash him. However, because of it, Korb is evermore resistant to diseases and poisons, and the old he gets, the more resistant he will become.

Now Korb the Blind is an oracle of the Ancestors with clouded vision. He devoted himself to Sanlys, the Goddess of the White Hands - the goddess he saw as a boy.

As a boy, Korb got lost in a forest and went missing for a week before he was found. During that time, he had visions of a beautiful woman with white hands. From that day, he seeks to understand why he was chosen.

Like many kalibans, Korb has terrible personal hygiene, that he is known as a filthy beast.

Today Korb travels the world reading bones and entrails as a soothsayer.

Sanlys, Goddess of the White Hands

Sanlys is the NE goddess of intrigue, ambition and murder. Always appearing as beautiful maiden whose hands are always hidden, she is associated with dragons and devious nobles.

Sanlys is a member of the Pantheon of Man, a group of five human who attained godhood through means unknown.

Her title as the goddess of the White Hands comes from the story that though she was known as an assassin and a murderer, no proof was ever found that she had done any of it. She answered any accusation with a wry smile.

JP

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Meet the Iconics: Awelara and Kraan

For the mid-week slump, I decided to post two characters for you. Today Awelara and Kraan.

Awelara the Cambion Witch

Meliana Awela Awelara is a witch dedicated to an ancient family pact that seeks to guide the cambions. She does not fully understand the pact, but it has allowed her to advance her own goals and those of her masters. Awelara has a strong affinity for medicine and the healing arts, like most females of her race.

Cambions are a subrace of tieflings that live in a matriarchal society. They control the Covenarchy of Hellassam (a nation ruled by cambion witches). Resistant to fire, and part human, cambions are fascinated by both their human and infernal or demonic ancestry. Females are known as great healers while the males join and organize criminal syndicates.

Every cambion is named after their ancestral grandmother – the founder of their line; then their own personal mother, and their own first names.

Awelara is a witch. She inherited a family-made pact with creatures she believes is the spirit of a very powerful and ancient succubus. She communicates with this entity through her familiar, a rat named “Peeker”.

Today, she presents herself as an apothecary and as a physician.

Kraan the Hareen Ranger

Kraan is a hareen - or lesser people - in hajit. These halflings are children of nature, living in harmony with it. They live a simple lifestyle and most never learn to read. A hareen focuses on the things immediately influencing his life, not abstract concepts.

Because of this most other races think them dumb and dimwitted. The hareen are crafty, resourceful and full of life. They make much better slave than the lazy hajit.

They don't understand their hajit cousins and their schemes. They often become embroiled with them because they want to please and be helpful.

Kraan was enslaved as a child and spent his youth farming for a cruel master.

Taken as a youth from his tribe, Kraan grew up toiling the land. Although his overseers were cruel and wicked, he developed a healthy love for farming and a healthy respect for the land. During those days, he met and spoke with a priestess of Usha who taught him of the good he could do in the world.

Once he became a man, he took up a bow and left to become an adventurer. His master keeps asking him to do things, which he usually does in order to remain free to travel the world.

JP

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Meet the Iconics: Sel’ar’otallya the wizard

Continuing the series on the new iconics. Today, Sel'Ar'Otallya the enchantress.

Otallya is a hajit - or "Greater People", a race of halfling from Secret Project X. Hajit used to rule the world until the First Ones appeared and took the world away from them. Since then, the hajit consider the world to be theirs, but usurped by "upstarts". They are manipulative and devious, which they hide under an apparent laziness. Why do all the hard work yourself when someone else can sweat and toil?

Hajit tend to add a number of honorifics to their own names, which only they understand the exact meaning. For most other races, those with the longest

Otallya is small, even amongst her people and suffers from something of a Napoleon complex. Learning the ways of magic and enchantment in particular really suited her well. She sees herself as the power behind the group, the brains of the operation.

Otallya was a born in a large family who bullied and insulted her for her small size. As a child, she sought the solace in books and the safety of libraries. As she grew older, she realized with joy that magic could impose her will upon them.

JP

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Meet the Iconics: Jaw-Breaker the Barbarian

With the upcoming release of Secret Project X, I thought it would be a good thing to introduce to you the new iconic characters that will replace the previous ones.

The first of the iconic is someone people may recognize from Dousing Fire With Blood. She is the Anuka barbarian, Jaw-Breaker. Jaw-Breaker is a warrior and a hunter for her people, in game term. She has a strong instinct for pursuit and rarely lets her prey escape her. She is a typical alpha female of her race: she perceives herself as a leader and as the one in charge. Others usually humor her, since this often means sending her first into combat. She does not understand why the others are so subservient, but she accepts their deference as a sign that she is right.

Playing Jaw-Breaker is straightforward. She is a combat machine looking to beat things and people up. She is an anuka barbarian. However, to call her a killing machine is far from accurate. Jaw-Breaker is firmly devoted to doing good in the world and improving the lot of the downtrodden.

Anukas a simian-minotaur creatures that adapt to their environment, making them into apex predators wherever they live. Not very bright, they are nonetheless cunning and powerful.

Jaw-Breaker is a large female anuka. As such, she considers herself the alpha and the leader of any group she joins. She is very protective of “her” people. She challenges females she does not know by pounding her chest and grunting menacingly. A male doing the same signifies his willingness to mate.

She is a veteran soldier and though not overly bright, has a lot of experience and has a decent tactical mind.

Throughout the week, I will introduce the new iconics, complete with Irene and James-H's awesome art pieces for these characters. I will have those fellows available at Origins and Gencon. They may also make surprise appearances elsewhere.

JP

Friday, May 8, 2015

Gostor: Warriors of the Americas

If you follow this blog, you definitely know by now that I am a history aficionado. I love to read about history and recent archaeological discoveries. Then, mixing my love of gaming and my love of history is something that brings me a lot of personal satisfaction.

This book was started many weeks ago as a side project with me adding all kinds of prestige class, archetypes and other material ideas into a document. Then, a few weeks back, I stumbled upon an article related to a Maya find. After reading it, my mind went to my drop file and after some editing, I realized that I had more than a few things worth making into a small PDF document. Really, perfect size for a Gostor product!

A few hours later, some tidying up the wording, I already had most of the art, so I focused trying to come up with classes that were more flavorful than historical. I also put a few historical details, after all why create a book based on historical warriors and not pass on a little of that knowledge?

The Dog Soldiers, Eagle and Jaguar knights and the False Face Society are detailed in this book. From the history of the Aztec, the Cheyenne and the Iroquois. The research into these groups was easily my favorite element, so that when I finalized everything, I felt I could really pass their flavor on to the reader.

The content of this book will be allowed as part of the Legacies Campaign.

Check it out here: Gostor: Warriors of the Americas on RPGNow!

JP