Category: Campaign Planning

Obsidian Portal Kickstarter wrapping up

A possible dashboard layout. Spiffy!

I’ve frequently gushed on this blog how much I love Obsidian Portal. In fact, I’ve been a fan of the site for a long time. It’s been very functional over the years however I understand the people running it really want to give it a face lift.

A Kickstarter campaign is wrapping up in a few days. Fortunately, they’ve made their funding goals and then some. I’ve been a freebie user for a long time and I appreciate Obsidian Portal allowing that. If you aren’t a regular subscriber to their system this kickstarter is a great way to support the site.

So I hope folks are willing to send a few dollars their way. The project is funded. It’s a nice way to thank them for all the support they give to the gaming community. There are only 5 more days until the campaign ends, so if you are inclined be sure to support it soon.

Who is the captain of this PC ship?

A long while back I ran a very short stint for Traveller using Savage Worlds. The group ran a freighter and while most important decisions came down to a vote, they opted to have one player always break a tie as the captain of the ship. Ultimately, that person had more say in what would be the next course of action, whether they took a job or not, would they try and pick up passengers, etc.

We might be doing a spin off occasionally with a game in the Star Trek universe where I’ll finally be able to sit at the table as a player (yay!). We haven’t sketched out too many details, but we are expecting to be Star Fleet enlisted (or officers). Something that’ll likely come about from this will be planning out how we all work together and who will be the ship captain.

This got me thinking about other campaigns, especially military campaign settings. If you have a somewhat formal chain of command, how could that work with most ‘democratic’ groups? I would expect your typical fantasy adventure company settles everything with a vote. If everyone decides to relinquish this to a single player, say a captain of a star ship, how well would this work in the long run?

Granted you could have plenty of opportunities to get feedback from the other players. Likely get their opinions on certain matters and then make a final plan of action. However some times I would expect you could have that burden of decision making shift to that one player, after all they are the captain. Other players might decide to let more tricky choices not be their responsibility.

You might end up with a player calling most of the shots for the group. Things go to pot, they might get more of the blame. Some players acting as the leader might not enjoy being the continual decision-maker for the group. Likewise it could be very easy for some players to slip into a passive role around the table, letting someone else think up solutions for tackling problems, i.e. ‘Hey, I’m just a grunt following orders.’

So how could this play dynamic be altered? Have the GM be the captain. You are the person that makes the final decisions. You are the one giving the orders. You can ensure that everyone gives you an opinion on a thorny situation, have them plead their case on a plan of action, and you choose the plan of action. Note that not all players have to be the same ‘rank’ as the others with the same weight. One might serve as the XO having a bit more pull with their say. Some might just be subordinates to other PCs.

A big plus for this is you can direct the flow of events for an adventure and give immediate tasks to the group. You can directly influence the general direction of an adventure. One major tripping stone with this is the danger of railroading. It could be very easy to slip into forcing the other players into a story they are not interested in. I think a key point of avoiding this is to provide plenty of opportunities for independent action and allowing players to offer opinions on tackling problems. Rather than telling players they need to beam down to a planet, find information on the situation, and negotiate with aliens to approve a trade agreement, a more open approach would be needed. Instead I might say that the Federation needs a trade agreement with these aliens. You all have to make this happen in 3 days, keep me informed and utilize any resource to make this task successful. This allows for players to be a little more creative with how they handle the problem rather than following a laundry list of tasks to complete.

Another alternative to this would be to run an antagonistic officer. This person is either incompetent or just does not like certain PCs and wants to continually put them into situations that will make them fail. Consider a classic WWII drama, The Caine Mutiny, as a potential source. What would the PCs do if continually given poor orders? Would they go through with a bad order that would put other people at risk? Or would they stand up to the captain and potentially incite a mutiny?

To muck things up even more, maybe you (as the captain) are a competent officer in peacetime, but freeze up in combat situations. Players might have to agonize over willfully disobeying poor orders, even though in other situations you make the right calls. What would be the potential fallout from that? Could that erode any confidence the captain had with PC crew members?

I’m pretty certain the next game I run that has room for one PC being the leader, I’m going to take over that role. I don’t think it would work for a long campaign (much better for short term runs). Certainly railroading could be an issue and something I’d have to have to watch out for. However having a little more control on the flow of events would be great, and having that not continually fall on one PC’s shoulders would be even better.

malfirefly

Railroad flashbacks as a first session

It’s always a bit of footwork to get a new campaign rolling, especially that first session. I like a short adventure giving the PCs some action. I also like all the players having some shared background to help cement relationships. It just helps get the ball rolling.

For my latest Savage Worlds campaign I decided to do a slight departure from having a lot of open talk on past relationships, and avoid the players starting off with a small adventure to tackle. Instead I put them on a story railroad to help create a shared experience and let that be the backdrop to how the players established their own relationships. There were a few key aspects for how I set this up.

Less details, more a thumbnail sketch – I didn’t want players to get all their powers, abilities and stats all lined up. I wanted very broad ideas of who they were. So a dwarf psionist or human tracker good with a bow was all I needed. I especially did not want any backstory.

Use paper dolls – I created a simple set of generic stats and types of abilities for typical hero icons. I created a melee type, a ranged weapon type, and a caster type. All with average D6 stats and without any edges or hindrances (for the 4E fans out there, consider a character with 14 in all stats, using a basic attack, possibly a magic missile at-will for spell casters, with no feats or class abilities). I didn’t need them having anything special.

I did this primarily as much of my group had not played SW before. I wanted to get one combat in and let them learn the nuts and bolts without a lot of distractions of power choices and edges. The fight would be heavily scripted with a hard stop, to allow any fallen characters a chance to recover. It was designed just to get a feel for how fights work in the system.

Run a story railroad – I created a context and background for the situation, including a short melee conflict. There are a lot of ways to do this. The key points are to have the group forced in a situation where they are around each other for an extended period of time, and have the opportunity to get into a combat. Maybe the group is part of a military campaign, or under a castle siege. Possibly the group are doing some required service for 6 months to a local lord, with the keep being attacked once during that period. Maybe they were all shipwrecked on an island for a year (cue the theme to Gilligan’s Island).

In my Dark Sun conversion using Savage Worlds I had the group leaving Tyr joining a merchant caravan. The caravan was ambushed (playing out the fight), creating a dire situation for the group. They managed to crawl to Raam and were promptly put into indentured service for a year to pay off losses incurred to the merchant. I fast forward everything so that they had completed the year of service, and were preparing to leave the merchant house in Raam. It was heavy handed, but created a situation where the group was forced to have a common experience and be in each other’s company for some time.

Determine set relationships randomly – I had each player roll a D6 and paired off everyone. The highest rolls were with the lowest, next highest with the next lowest, and any pairs rolled were given a matching partner. I did it in such a way that everyone at the table had a least one relationship with another. They were free to have other relationships among the other players, but it was required to have one with the other PC they matched up with through the die rolls.

Have the players fill in the details – Once that was set, I let the PCs tell me what happened throughout the year. How did they initially meet? What key events happened throughout the year? What did they do as individuals? How did they establish this connection with another player? In the end they all knew each other, but likely had some particular shared experience with one other player.

What is important about this is that I let the players have control over the story. I’d set some ground rules and potentially reign in some ideas (they couldn’t kill the merchant they worked under during that year). However I let the group tell me how they spent their lives during that time. I let them figure out where they came from, and how deep their friendship went with the others. The setup was just the backdrop, the players had firm direction with they did during that past time.

Another great thing is the DM can slowly set up other elements in the campaign world. As past events unfold, you can allow rumors and bits of information to accumulate. Maybe a player learns more about a key NPC, or finds out some important news, or gets the real inside scoop on the relationship between different NPCs.

For my group, Tyr was firmly under control of the sorcerer king. I had them initially explain why they joined the merchant caravan heading to Raam. Then I had them describe their lives and what service they provided the first 3 months at the merchant’s house. At the 6 month mark, I got more information on their lives and what happened at the house, however I dropped rumors that Kalak, the sorcerer king of Tyr, was slain. Fast forward another 3 months, after getting more details of their lives from the PCs, I gave them information that the impossible had happened in Tyr. It was confirmed that the sorcerer king was indeed dead, Tyr had abolished slavery, and was now known as the free city.

This is a great way to offer some background on the world in broad strokes, and not just give an info dump to the players. Additionally, you can have the players become part of that knowledge gaining experience. If players were doing required service at a noble’s keep, maybe a PC overhears a fight between the local lord and a duke emissary. Maybe the player working the kitchen hears all the juicy gossip about the lord’s youngest son being a rake and a gambler. Maybe the player working the keep library stumbles across an ancient map.

Wrap everything up and get the characters completed – At the end of the night, all the player characters should be completed. It is quite possible things can change during the course of the evening. Maybe a player learns that a ranged fighter wasn’t as exciting as being a melee swordsman. Maybe the idea of being a scout-type hunter wasn’t as exciting as being a bounty hunter. You will very likely see players getting a lot of different ideas about their characters after they get some time to work out their relationships with others.

So let them explore that with very generic characters initially, and then follow up with having them get the nuts and bolts ironed out on their character sheet. At the conclusion of the first session they should have their character details and stats completed and ready to go.

I had a lot of hesitation initially with my group. What do you mean you don’t want to hear my backstory? What do you mean you don’t want me picking all my skills? What do you mean it’s not important why I joined this group? And trust me, when I said that the group was forced into service in the merchant’s house for a year, plenty of eyes rolled up at the table.

However at the end, that perspective completely changed. That heavy handed story railroading lay a foundation for creating a shared experience for everyone. They could say they all knew each other for over a year (with some knowing each other even longer). They all had encountered difficulty and learned to depend on each other. It really allowed the group to gel and get past that uncomfortable part of getting to know one another. Give it a try sometime for your game. You will be surprised with how much backstory and adventure fodder will come from your players.

Doing a Dark Sun hack using Savage Worlds

MapofUrikRegionSo the consensus of my group was if they were to dip their toe into fantasy, it would be a setting far away from traditional Tolkien-like high fantasy. Likewise, I think 4E was just not in the cards. Many of the players had that ‘been there, done that’ feeling with the game. After a year and a half, it was time to try something new.

So I took the plunge into Savage Worlds. A big part of the reason was that if we got tired of our regular campaign we could jump into something else without too much of a learning curve. I wanted modularity and Savage Worlds offered that. Also, I liked the streamlined system that Savage Worlds has. GURPS is a bit clunky for me and the character creation system, while very detailed, seems a bit of a chore to dig into.

We had made a short stint with a Savage Worlds hack of Traveller but that petered out due to extended summer vacations and a bunch of new folks coming into the group. The crew of High Hopes is still wandering the stars, but put on the back burner for now. Given some of the folks were acclimated with SW, likely we would stick with that for our next campaign.

With the game system decided, the next task was the setting. Supernatural horror and campy super hero stuff was on the table. Fantasy was initially a no go however I got to worrying about adventure ideas. I did not want to craft a huge overarching campaign story like last time and keep things pretty much a sand box. This was a bit of a kink for me if we dabbled in a more modern setting, as even with fantastical elements, I’d likely hit a wall with adventure ideas. Lately, fantasy settings seem to get my creative juices flowing more.

So I thought about using Dark Sun. Fortunately there is a ton of stuff that you can find online that has used Savage Worlds rules for the setting. Armed with a lot of good resources, I was able to whip up a rules a mishmash from different sources and other conversions to get a framework together of the different races and magic system.

One thing I did tweak a bit was the rules for weapons breakage. So in my game non-metal weapons will break on a critical failure for a fighting roll. If being used against a foe wearing metal armor, a roll of 1 on either fighting die results in the weapon breaking. Metal weapons are exempt from this rule. Further, metal weapons do +1 damage to targets not wearing metal armor.

It’s a small tweak, but I wanted something simple to remember and allowed for some advantages for wearing metal armor. Definitely this is something that will creep up on my player’s wish list of gear to get.

So far the group has been having fun in the setting. They have started in Raam and are making their way to the newly freed, Tyr. I think there will be lots of exciting things for them to do. Expect more posts in the future about the game.

DMing a solo player party – Part 2

So for a while I tried DMing a single person and found you could run a fun 4E game. However changes are needed to how you typically run it. Last time I talked about the general ideas of DMing a single person for a D&D game. This time I’d like to get into some tips to make the game work mechanically.

Three is the magic number – Coming up with interesting encounters was a challenge, until I just decided to round out the party with a few NPCs. I originally used PC types with a limited power selection of one at-will, encounter, and daily power. After the DMG2 came out, using companion characters was another option. However, I found with a smaller group the use of a daily power was really needed over having a utility companion power.

With a trimmed down list of power choices, having the player helm another NPC in fights wasn’t a difficult task. I ended up running the other NPC in combats. Having 3 combatants gave me enough of an XP budget to provide interesting opposition for fights. I could field a fair mix of monsters with even some traps/hazards thrown in.

Spread the skills around – One critical thing was making sure the NPCs in the party complimented the player. I think with a larger group, you can have a lot of repetition with character roles. However with a smaller group you really need to cover a lot of different roles in the group. It gives the player enough resources with the abilities of the NPCs to help them get through fights, recover after them, and keep the action moving.

So I would really try to make sure different class roles are covered. My player was running a rogue, so I complimented them with a fighter (to maximize the player’s ability to get sneak attacks), and an artificer for a little healing and some controller abilities. If any class is needed, you should really try to make sure there is a leader-type with the group. Even if it is a secondary role, such as a paladin or druid, having that little bit of healing utility really helps out.

The player is still the star – Even with a few companion character/NPC types around to make fights more interesting, I kept the player the center of the action. The character is the leader of the party. The NPCs in the ‘group’ defer to his/her judgment and listen to the boss. Occasionally I’d feed the player some information via a group companion character, but very rarely. Once I kept this up the player realized that they were in charge and decided the plan of action. They never bothered to metagame and prod the party NPCs for info. I’d reply they had no idea and defer back to the player.

For skill challenges, the player was the one making the checks. I kept NPC skill checks to a minimum and made sure that the player was the one actively doing things in challenges. I would frequently limit the NPCs to just making aid another checks for skill challenges. It was a nice way to give a little help to the player, but not have NPCs dominate skill checks. I also made sure I made all the skill rolls for the NPCs, to reinforce the idea that the companion characters were there to support them and help out. They were simply a resource for the player, but not the ones driving the action.

Using these tips I kept things interesting for the player, with fun fights and just enough resources to allow them to have some heroic adventures. Even with the other NPCs, the player felt in charge of the action and was the center of the story. Having some companion NPCs also allowed me to slightly push the story a certain direction if needed. However they really added to the player’s game, rather than dominating their influence on the story.

To wrap things up, you can run a 4E D&D game with a single player as the party. It takes a little work and a willingness to have a few NPCs tag along. Yet in the end the player has enough resources and abilities at their disposal to strive for some exciting challenges. All the while they are the center of the story and can make for some engaging and interesting adventures.

DMing a solo player party – Part 1

Willingham-IronCobraTwo years ago I had a few players drop from my group. It’s typical given where I live. Many westerners that come through Korea are here temporarily, so it is difficult to keep a lot of players for more than a year. So I was at the position of having just one player and ready to wrap up my 4E D&D game until some other time when we could get more around the table.

Thing is the other person did not want to stop. They really enjoyed the game and were perfectly willing to do so as a solo player. I agreed and sat down to try and see if I could make it work. So we played for several months. At the end I can say with confidence that, yes, you can play 4E D&D with a single player party. However you definitely have to alter things to make it work.

Limit options – Here’s a thing about roleplaying major conflicts for players, typically most of it has little to do with the DM. Sure you get some of it as players face off against you through an NPC, but the bulk of the real choices players grapple with around the table has little to do with you. It’s all about the interaction with the other players.

I mean it. Folks don’t want to admit it, but the DM usually just sets the stage. They give the group that quandary to solve. It is the party going back and forth with each other that makes the bulk of your typical engaging RP in D&D. Do you go left or right? Do you go after the crazy wizard or warn the villagers about the goblin horde coming their way? When a group is noodling through a solution in character that is where you get a lot of meaningful RP.

With a single player that is thrown out the window. That person is in charge of where the game goes. Having a ton of options and possible choices might make up for an interesting session in a large group. With a solo player it can become daunting as they get saddled down with so many quests and potential adventures they get lost, or even worse, they feel choices they make have no impact on the world. This leads to a second point…

The story railroad ain’t so bad – Sometimes it isn’t too awful to pull out the story railroad. With a group, having players ride along from point A, to point B, to point C, can all get very tedious quickly. I think it’s a huge sin to have players get on the rails of a story. However with a single player this can be forgiven as the lack of clear direction on what to do next can be a little frustrating. It’s not something I would do all the time, but it is an option to fall back on when running a solo player game. Sometimes you really need to give the player a little direction and focus. Having sequential goals clearly lined up for a few adventures is not a bad way to DM (something I’d typically avoid with a full group).

There are no ‘bad’ choices – When that player makes a choice it is the DM’s responsibility to make sure it pushes the story forward. Setbacks are always an avenue for new opportunities (and quite possibly a chance to redeem the character in then end). In a group, the DM can really put them through the wringer if they go a poor route, primarily as the group made a collective decision to go that way. Making a bad decision with a solo party is amplified 10-fold.

Things can get extremely adversarial with a single player if every choice is considered a bonehead idea in the DM’s eyes. A DM has to let that go and run with it. Granted if a player continually pulls out a ‘I jump in the lava’ plan of action, you might have to throw in the towel and just kill the guy off (but if you are at that point, you’ve got bigger problems with your game). However, you have to put yourself in the player’s shoes. They have no one to bounce ideas off of. They are going completely on intuition what they feel is the right course of action. You have to adjust your play style to accommodate them and make sure that they feel the choices made aren’t ‘bad’ ones, just ones that lead to interesting consequences.

The player is the story – With a group sometimes the DM can get away with having a player or two not have a developed background. You can also allow those relationships with the NPCs ferment a little, to the point the player’s have a greater interest in helping them out when needed. Right from the get go with a single player you need to engage them. Just about everything needs to relate back to them somehow either drawing from old acquaintances to events from their past. They have to be the center point.

In a way, it helps move the action along. The DM has an easy time pulling the strings of the player. They know the people near and dear to the PC’s heart. The DM can find it an easy task to get the player moving in the direction needed. It can be a little self indulgent for the player having all this attention, however they have to be the focal point. If the player sees themselves as the driving force for the story, that their actions (or inaction) have consequences for future events, then you’ve got something that keeps the player engaged and having fun.

Next post I’ll go into some more practical advice along the lines of game mechanics for the single player party.

Virtual tabletop roundup

I’ve not used virtual tabletop software in my games. I’m a sit-around-the-table kind of guy. However I have to admit the sheer connectivity via skype and google hangouts is drawing me towards possibly looking at running online games. I think for 4E tabletop software there are some kinks to work out. However stuff I have thought about before will likely never see the light of day given the edition change coming.

I’m curious how the development of the official DDI Virtual Tabletop will go. Sadly, I guess the 4E support for that will evaporate. But with a looser, gridless system possibly in the works for DnDNext, this might get more support. Dread gazebo put up a nice old beta tutorial on his blog.

There are some other paid versions out there like such as the one at Fantasy Grounds. I’ve heard some give the software positive reviews and it looks pretty nifty. Typically I shy away from trial versions, but I might give this a spin. They also seem pretty committed to updates for the program too.

While possibly not as full featured as others out there, you’ve got Map Tool which is free. A bonus in my book as you can try it out without having to worry about any hassle with a trial version. I understand quite a few folks have used and enjoy this for a while now.

Something else on my radar has been the Roll20 Virtual Tabletop. A few things I like is that it is web based. Also while the program is geared for 4E, it is also system neutral. A plus with the new D&D playtest on the horizon. They’re currently in closed beta, but I’ll be keeping an eye on how they progress. It seems to have some potential.

EDIT: As expected I just scratched the surface. There are a few other programs out there that folks have brought up. I’ll just provide a list of the links here:

Gametable Project – a java opensource program

Tabletop Forge – that utilizes Google+ hangout

d20 Pro – a paid program but has a 30 day free trial

Fallcrest – where a new 4E DM should start

Cruising the WotC boards a while back I came across a new DM struggling with the notion of all the work they’d need creating a starting town for their players. Thinking up locations, inns, and NPCs all seemed like a daunting task. I was happy to point out however of a fantastic starting town right in the DMG, Fallcrest.

First off you have a decent starting delve to get the players going that is high on action and low on plot, Kobold Hall. There are a lot of resources online to help with running that adventure including a great starter kit from Newbie Dm. It’s a decent one shot adventure to allow the players to get a feel for their characters, gain a little wealth and notoriety around town, and give the DM a little time to formulate a more intricate campaign story.

But after they clear out Kobold Hall, what’s next? They won’t have to travel much out of Fallcrest to find excitement. The town has a ton of potential ideas and possible avenues for adventure right within the town walls.

Barstomun Strongbeard and Kelson – Both are unsavory guys with their hands in the underworld. Barstomun has the porter guild under his control. Kelson has his criminal gang in the lower quays. It’s only a matter of time before they butt heads. Clearly the elimination of one group is highly advantageous for the other (not to mention merchants that would be happy to see both go). Or maybe some sort of negotiation needs to be brokered between them before a gang war spirals out of control leading to open murder in the streets? A great opportunity to get your players into a gritty criminal underworld adventure for certain.

Armos Kamroth – Jerk noble? Check. Secret cult leader of Tiamat? Check. Guy for the players to handle? Absolutely.

What makes this guy work wonders as an NPC is that he stays within the law and his suspicious activity is secret. This could easily be played as a noble with the political connections, wealth, and decent reputation in town to be a difficult adversary. A tough reputation to smear publicly, so the ‘he said/players said’ game can easily shift in Armos’s favor. A decent villain for the characters to face off with for sure. And where would his secret cult meet? Why in…

The Catacombs – Yup. A network of old tunnels running right under the bluff. Just what a DM needs for a little dungeon action. How else could the River Rat gang transport stolen goods through the city? Not to mention a few secret areas where some evil cultists could meet (and move some poor sacrificial peasant to a ritual chamber). Clearly some sections would be unexplored. Sealed off sections with secret passageways leading to unknown horrors and wealth. Fun stuff indeed.

Tombwood Cavern – A nice wooded location in the middle of town with a series of old crypts and entrances to Moonstone Caverns. Most have been explored, but there are rumors of some tunnels that lead to the caves. Who knows what lurks in there or what treasures might be found? Tombwood is a fair size (about 200 x 300 ft across) so you could easily have a decent dungeon jaunt right within the woods exploring a few old crypts or a network of caves.

The Tower of Waiting – Still not enough dungeon ideas for you? How about an old abandoned tower (spoiler alert at link). How about a cool looking map to serve as more inspiration. Yeah, another spooky abandoned place for the players to dig around in. This place might be haunted by ghosts. Or maybe the players could be employed to investigate and find some clues to a secret dark past of Lord Markelhay’s family. After all there is that dubious guy hanging out in the Nentir Inn…

Serim Selduzar – Maybe the tower of waiting might hold some evidence that the father of Lord Markelhay was really not quite that nice ruler everyone remembers. Evidence of torture and human remains locked away behind a secret wall might do a lot of damage to the public reputation of Lord Markelhay, something Selduzar would love to take advantage of. Could the players end up being duped into helping this evil tiefling? (insert soap opera music here)

Yeah, Fallcrest has a lot of neat NPCs, locations, and potential stories right within its walls. Not to mention if you dig around you can find a ton of material out there like this wonderful map I lifted from D&D Doodle. Did I mention he even has a DM friendly version?

Nentir Vale was going to get some support from WotC, but long ago that official campaign setting was dropped from the upcoming products listing. Still with the published adventures already available, not to mention the free Keep on the Shadowfell, there is a lot of potential for a long campaign in the area. With some wonderful maps of the area and specific regions over at D&D Doodle, you won’t be short on sources for inspiration.

All of this can be kicked off with a group spending a little time in Fallcrest, building up their chops at being local heroes. If you’re a new DM struggling to think of a place to start. Don’t turn your nose up at this great location right in the DMG.

Giving Savage Worlds a spin

SavageWorldsGraphicSo last month I wrapped up my one and a half year D&D campaign and was looking for some new worlds to adventure in. I was clamping at the bit to get into Dark Sun and was pretty excited about DMing it. My players ranged from don’t-care-let’s-play-something, to I’m-not-too-big-into-fantasy. Given that the old campaign was a little dark, the idea of jumping into another bleak setting like Dark Sun was also a minus for some folks. So I had to think of other options.

I floated out an idea of playing the new version of Gamma World, possibly a 30s supernatural game using Savage Worlds, or maybe jump into the new version of Traveller. All were well received but Traveller was at the top of the list. I like the newest version from Mongoose Publishing and the rule system is pretty easy mechanic-wise, but I kept looking over my Savage Worlds books.

Traveller would be an entirely new system for everyone (including myself as a GM). So I’d have to go through the ropes of getting everyone into the mechanics of the game. If we wanted to take a break and jump into another genre, likely they’d have to learn an entirely new system. Gamma World wasn’t an issue for them on this point. As we had played it before and everyone knew 4E very well. So while I liked Traveller and was eager to give it a whirl, I didn’t want to get my group into a tailored system for just that game. If we wanted to jump into a superhero game, or maybe try out the 30s supernatural campaign for a few games, it would cut into our play time having to get everyone up to speed with different RPG systems.

So I decided to put work into making a Savage World (SW) conversion for Traveller. There are all ready quite a few conversions out there. Not to mention that SW all ready is pretty generic to run just about anything right out of the book. I’ve also decided to focus on a few key bits within Traveller to work with SW. That way for a good chunk of the game, like spaceship combat, buying and selling goods, etc. I can use the values in Traveller, just quickly port it over to SW.

The biggest hurdle was trying to distill the various skills from Traveller down to a more truncated list for SW. A tad daunting, but something I was able to do. Likely there will be some more changes and not everything fits perfectly. However I think it’s good enough and my players will likely not be too irked by some of the skill swapping.

I’m liking this as Savage Worlds is very modular. If we want to take a break from Sci-Fi opera and try something else out, both myself and the players can switch gears pretty easily and not have to worry about learning another completely new RPG system. I think with posts on the blog you can expect a few directed more to Savage Worlds in the future. Yet I’ll still be plenty focused on dispensing my opinionated, bloated ego and ideas on D&D topics too.

Secret Santicore 2011 is available

Zak S., the guy that runs Playing D&D with Porn Stars, came up with a pretty nifty idea. Send in a generic D&D campaign idea and roughly how many pages you’d take up in a publication. A raffle for slots would be taken up. The winners would be notified and then have until the 3rd week of December to submit their material. It would be packaged up in a nice pdf and be available for free.

Secret Santicore is out and available at Giblet Blizzard. Most of it is geared towards OSR, but a good chunk is fairly system generic. And I dare say about 99% of the book could work with a 4E game with a little elbow grease. It has a ton of ideas, tables, and fodder for your game. Not to mention an old pal of mine that runs the excellent blog, the Fearless DM, has got some of his stuff in there.

I salute the guys and gals that got this together. You all did a fantastic job and nod to Zak S. for coming up with the idea. I’ll have to try and get into this next year if folks consider doing another one.