Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why I am not excited about D&D Next.

I think it is safe to say I am an example of a first generation D&D gamer. There are folks who have been doing it longer, but from what I see they are going negative HP at an alarming rate. My D&D started with no monster art, orange dice, pencil and pad, and flawed rules. I loved it so much I am still gaming today.

My game experience now is a lot different. I play online with folks all over the country, I have my PC built in a program and printed out all neat and pretty. My dice are virtual, the art done by folks of amazing talent and it's not D&D. Oh, and the rules are still flawed.

I supported the D&D brand up through 3.5. I dumped money on every release for 30+ years and got good value for what I paid. Yep, the rules were still flawed, but everyone worked around the flaws and managed to have fun.

Then came 4th Edition D&D, a solution in search of a problem. I like to think of it as D&D incorporated V1. D&D 3.0 / 3.5 had been envisioned and produced with a few radical differences from earlier D&D's and was done in a small business environment. As it evolved from early 3.0 to later in 3.5 you see a creeping influence from the newly enthroned owners.

Two things stood out to me; the first being the loss of full support for open D20. Sure they still paid lip service to it and more or less honored pervious openD20 licenses, but no real effort to add material to the open D20 library.

Second was the ending of the licenses to Dungeon and Dragon magazines. Pulling the control of the brand fully in house. A typical corporation style protection move.

At that point I decided not to give any more money to D&D. I was so glad I did once I understood the full pain that the 4th edition is. While the release may be a fun game, it's not D&D. It was too influenced by MMOs and the hope of selling miniatures, it lost sight of it's roots. D&D died with 3.5.

Now comes D&D next or D&D incorporated V2. The money masters are fully running things now. They must know how bad they did with 4.0, the PR system is in full swing. Big international play-test program. An online campaign to build interest. This is a game designed by a committee of committees. More then anything else D&D next is getting money, tones of it. I will bet more is being spent on playtesting D&D next the Gary Gygax ever saw from the game in his whole life.

No, I am not a play-tester. They want you to agree to this or that thing to be one of the play-testers, not going to happen. It is just another sign of the brand control mentality. I'm a gamer, not an income number on a spreadsheet.

I wish D&D next well. I know I am not its target market. I'm to old for the new masters of the D&D brand to care what I think. I still hope it brings in new players and makes good money for its masters. It just won't be my money.

A troublesome student.

Doing something a bit different for my GURPS game. Background for my young mage Upiyo via correspondence within his school.

From : Dean Logan Nostuff
To: Professor Carlmag Josten, Student field work coordinator.

Subject: Continuing field work for Mr. Upiyo Timinwell


I am writing to inform you of the boards vote regarding one Mr. Upiyo Snow. The board has chosen to heed my advice and continue support for Mr. Timinwell's time in the field. Professor Goesnoow tried to block the support, arguing for his return to the school's Gateway program. He kept insisting that the accident that led to Mr. Timinwell's present assignment in the field was a fluke and could never happen again. He withdrew his block when I reminded him the missing tower and its inhabitants have still not been found.

I continue to believe the raw power he is displaying at his age is reason enough to keep him in good standing with the guild. His work, that you have passed onto the board, is promising, and I am encouraged by Mr. Timinwell's ability to continue his studies independently. I hope you understand that I must balance our relationship with Mr. Timinwell with the safety of all the students and staff at the academy. Ever since we discovered Mr. Timinwell floating toys at the orphanage, his exploits have caused disturbances at the school. We had lost two good teachers due to his mischief, even before the tower incident.

Please have your staff transport the requested equipment and Mr. Timinwell's monthly allowance as soon as they can. Include instructions to add underground mapping to his studies when he can. In recognition of his young age for someone in the field I will agree to continuing weekly evaluations, have the scrying dept. bill my office for the time. Coach Gimblie is also including some exercises to help the boy build some endurance. Try and impress on the young man the benefit of the workouts.

My regards.
Dean Logan Nostuff

Thursday, April 25, 2013

One day of travel

One day of travel in GURPS

In a multi-world / multi-TL GURPS game one could encounter so many different modes of travel. I was pondering the changes in humanity imposed by the difference of distance someone can travel in one day.

I am going to look at this two ways: First, someone with full resources available at the time, striving to go as far in one day as they can. I will use the rules for long distance to determine this where I can. ((B.463) 60-70% of top speed X 24 hours) Second, from the viewpoint of the average person traveling with 1 months income. (Excluding serving on a faster craft as crew.)

TL -1 Pre-Stone Age - $0 income

Foot power only. No boots, no walking stick. No single tech for aid, not even health tech. Most would be sickly and weak even in their prime. A very fit Ogg might run 20 mile in fear for his life, but chances are he would be lost and soon dead unless very lucky or skilled, or both.

Zero income and no storage, would put limits on how far someone can truly explore to around 10 miles max range in a day. Even dried meat is beyond them.Chances are they would stay much closer to home or to the herd they are following. They would need to either: A) keep their home with them, a heavy load, or B) They need a home base and will need to leave time in the day to return to it. The only difference in the resource uses is in how healthy they might be, but travels would be just as limited for both the powerful and the ordinary.

TL 0 Stone Age, $625 income

This TL is the age of water. Canoes enter the picture. Max speed 4 MPH (62 miles in a day)Per The basic book. They competes with such speedy brethren as dog sleds, skis, and well fed runners with foot protection (or not in some places.) But the ability to travel down river in a canoe, or over long flat calm waters, will get the edge.

The average person is still plodding along on foot, always looking to improve boot tech. All income is spent on surviving day to day, max range still right around 10 miles in a day.

TL 1 Bronze Age, $650  income

Age of the horse. At the top end a horse can go 60 miles in a day max, with nothing but a rider. No saddles yet and horses are only for the rich.

The average person is moving along just a bit further thanks to the newly invented roads, so his range could get to just over 20 miles in a day. That one month of income is not going to get them a horse.

TL 2 Iron Age, $675 income

The use of a penteconter, an early sailing ship with rowing ability, would move you fast, 10 mph top speed. But I think that was with rowers not sail. If your relief rowers are all from Sparta you could make up to 170 miles in a day.

The age of the horse is fading for the rich, but for the average man it is just starting. A man may rase his own or buy a low quality horse for one months income. Saddles and the numbers of horses in use can push the average persons range out to that 60 mile range, but most stay with in a 20 mile range.

TL3 Medieval Age (Most fantasy games), $700 income.

At sea sailing gets a bit faster and you can make that 170 miles in a day without killing banks of rowers. The big advances are in load capacity, navigation and control.

Land based traffic for the average person is still limited to about 60 miles in a day on a horse. For a months income one could buy short passage at sea and travel with the rich, just not as nicely.

TL4 Age of Sail, $800 income.

The rich and powerful travel on sleek 3 masted ships at top speed of 23 MPH covering up to 360 miles in a day.

The age of the horse tops out with the stagecoach reaching a max of 70 miles a day for the average person on the land. Their income could also buy one day passage on the fastest of ships, traveling deep in the hold I would expect.

TL5 – Industrial Revolution, $1,100 income.

Steam is king, and it rides on rails at a top speed of around 70 MPH and can make 1100 miles in one full day. The travel method of both the rich and the average, the distinction being the comfort of the travel. But with max resources you might top out early air travel close to or just over this range.

An average person would also make their best range on the rails for their one months income. They could not expend the resources to push out to anywhere close to the maxim range, closer to 100-200 mile range.

If you want to travel away from the rails then you are still going to make your best time still with horses,  a max of 70 miles a day.

TL6 – Mechanized Age, $1,600 income.

The Age of Air travel begins, and the ability to travel gets a big kick in the pants. A twin prop transport tops out at 128MPH or almost 2000 miles in one day, and are the travel choice of the rich.

The average person is discovering the capabilities of the early Sedans and speeds up to 60 MPH and just over a 900 mile a day range. If we don't count the train, this makes for the single most radical jump in range for the average person.

TL7 – Nuclear Age, $2,100 income.

Once we enter the age of space flight, for someone with a nations resources behind them, no place on earth is out of reach with a full days travel.  Apollo 10 set the record for the highest speed attained by a manned vehicle at 39,897 km/h (11.08 km/s or 24,791 mph) during the return from the Moon on May 26, 1969. That makes it 594,984 miles in one day.

The average person is going further and faster in improved autos, with speeds running about 100-110 MPH max. pushing the range out to just over 1700 miles in a day. But the real kick is cheep air travel. For a mounths income they can cover a flight on a 747 taking them over 5,000 miles.

TL8 – Digital Age, $2,600, income.

From this point it is all conjecture but I will try and use GURPS books and a bit of thought to keep going.

The space age is reaching out, in 1976( TL6) the Helios 2 solar probe, became the fastest man-made object at 157,100 MPH or 3,770,400 miles in one day. Given that this was done one TL lower then TL8, it would be possible to make a manned craft to go this fast. Nation level or mega-corporation resources would be required. At this speed you could reach the moon in less then 2 hours, but with the time and distance needed to get up to speed you would have to bypass it entirely.

Average man is still earthbound, but one months pay will get you most anywhere civilized, any place on the planet, in one day. Baring flight delays.

TL9 – Microtech Age, $3,600 income.

From this point on we turn to GURPS Space and start to look at reaction mass and looking at ship speeds in  two numbers, acceleration in G (Earth gravities) followed by delta-V in miles per second (mps).

A military Heavy cruiser running at 4G/28 mps pushes the limit of the human philology without any way to counter the G force.  Running at 4G/28 mps will move you at least one AU in a day, 93,000,000 miles.

 You only need 12 mps of delta-V to travel from Earth orbit to the Moon in about 11 hours, with this we can make a round trip to the Moon and back in one day. With no reason a person cold not buy a ticket on such transport.

TL10 – Robotic Age, $5,600 income.

The age of FTL begins. The robotic AIs and raw computing power needed to deal with FTL navigation mesh and the speed of light is no longer the limit.

The fastest craft are military or other mega-power controlled. Parsecs now count the path a man can travel in a day. FTL-1 gives us one parsec a day.

 FTL might be an option even for the masses. In system still limited to about 4G/30mps or 93,000,000 miles in a day.

TL11 – Age of Exotic Matter, $8,100 income.

The rich and powerfull travel between worlds in luxurious vessels covering up to 2 Parsecs in a day.

Gravity is mastered, and near c travel in-system happens.With in system craft reaching 100G/c average people can book passage on in system transport using high G/c drives putting mars in one day range.

TL12 - Age of Miracle Sciance, $10,600 income.

Where would you like to be and when would you like to be there? POOF... it happens.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Map Makers Guild

I just started playing Upiyo, a boy mage with a powerful patron. I wanted to try a one college caster and picked the movement college.  The kid has Magery 3 and one spell at level 25. I had also made him a minor (12yo), young and skilled. So I figured he needs a dang good teacher. I  tried to think what kind of patron would train someone so young and then lose him on the world. I had given the patron the advantage of "Unusual reach in time and space." a +100% add and made them pretty powerful. Balanced out the cost with low appearance (6 or less) and a low intervention. and a duty to the same patron with also low appearance.

I needed a powerful group that would have a need for the movement school, had access to places in time and that space most folks do not, taught magic, and allowed its members a good deal of independence.

I used GURPS city Stats as a guide, but lots of stuff needed adjusting.

I think I have a good start on this, at least it would be useable at this point... I think. Feel free to chime in with anything you may think I missed or did in a dumb way.

The Map Makers Guild

Headquarters: Tredroy (For Banestorm use) or campaign major city.
Members: 3,000-3500 (Search -1)
Located: In cities 1000+ population (70%)
TL: 3 ( 0-11)
Wealth: Multi Multimillionaire 2 (10,000 X TL 3 starting wealth, $300,000,000 assets, and $7,000,000 a month income)
Status: 1 to 5
CR: 3
Corruption: -1
Military Resources: $140,000 (Military Budget Factor 2%)
Defense Bonus: +5

Members: Spell casters (30% ) and non-spell casters (70%). Any race is welcome as long as they contribute to the overall quest.

TL: Sometimes Guild Mages will poke a hole in time while looking for a new way to get from here to there. Gizmos and other things that fall through can end up being studied and used.

Religions: Patron gods of Knowledge and travel are most common.

Objective: To Mape the whole of reality

Secrecy:  Low; Knowledge is power, and it is all for sale at the right price. The guild will provide any map they have to anyone but the more obscure the higher the price.

The Academy: A full 70% of the guilds income goes to maintaining the Academy of Cartography

Military Elements: The guild maintains 6 defensive / rescue military Elements.

Element                 TS       Class                WT     Mob          Raise     Maintain   TL
Battle Mages           5  Art, C3I, F, Recon      1       Foot          200K     40K          0
Flying Mages          5  Air, Art, C3I, F, Rec   1       Foot, SA    600K     60K          1
Heavy Infantry(X4)   4          –                      1       Foot           40K        8K          2

Monday, April 15, 2013

Is this wisdom?

Two game sessions, one practice battle, three PCs, one turned NPC. Already I am getting that GM itch. But this is GURPS, not my old D&D. I don't have the years of training in my brain with the right function and flow of combat. I don't know the spells inside and out. I'm still fumbling for rules like a rookie with a new Pokemon deck.

In our last (my second) game session We had a nice contained battle on a ship. I watched in amazement as our dual wielding fighter calls out his attack: All out attack, rapid strike, vitals, the first weapon -9, the second weapon -10, (no, not the real numbers), roll.. hit, parry roll, roll ..hit, no perry.

A horde of goblins is swarming over the sides of the ship, our GM and the experienced players are smoothly calling out each action and each movement. Goblins are bleeding out, wounded,  falling down, dodging rocks and attacking. Spells are cast, information requested, and players distracting. That is a lot to keep on top of. The GM does what GMs have always done, he makes it work.

All this combat is just part of the GMs labors. Our party has bought a small fleet of ships and is responsible to the Queen for taxes from a region they are running. Background functions including regional economic factors will influence a lot of that role play. And we players, just when our GM has had time to work up some nice juicy backstory plot we up and change PCs on him.

Sure, I'm wanting to start that GURPS Supers game, or maybe the SG-1 spinoff idea I had. But for now I think I better just keep being a player for a while longer. The hard work of a GM can wait until I get my brain working a little more in the native GURPS way.

I think this may be Wisdom.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I'm a Dungeons and Dragons guy. Heck, I even have a tattoo of the 3.5 DMG. I have easily logged thousands of hours behind a GM's screen or sweating over my PC's situation as the dice rolled. In the last 35 years I have also dabbled in RPGs like Champions, Traveler, Toon, DC Heroes, and lots more. Most of the none D&D systems I experienced were short lived campaigns with a limited exposer. I flat out enjoyed almost everyone, RollMaster not so much. But that's a different BLOG post. Only two systems did I keep coming back to over and over, Dungeons and Dragons and GURPS.

Dungeons and Dragons died with the end of V3.5. 4th edition broke Dungeons and Dragons in my view. I have lots of reasons why I think like that, enough for a nice lone blog post all its own. But for here and now I just know that I have chosen to look forward to new things, well sort of.

GURPS: Generic Universal Role Playing System, that other old friend, the forgotten younger sibling of the RPG giant D&D. Over the years I played GURPS on and off, anytime I could lure any of my current game group into a few games of GURPS I would. Sadly most would play a few times and then we would go back to whatever else we had been playing. Folks would say it was to complicated, combat is to long, or a lot of.. "Wait, that's not how we do it in (other game).

But sometimes, it would all just click. Like the GURPS Supers game where my Force Field wielder got punched through a few buildings, or the game where our time-displaced PCs struggled for days trying to bypass a massive crack in the planet while fighting of waves of Morlocks, all before their ride home left. I also played in a GURPS Cathulu campaign, In the second session I failed so many fright rolls I was left drooling on the floor.

I had a LOT of fun in those games. I enjoyed the choices in combat. I enjoyed the complex weave of campaign worlds and limitless possibilities of PC creation.

So, You may see why GURPS was once again an old go to. 4th edition GURPS is new for me, that's a bit of splitting hairs, I know. From what I can tell, getting back in touch with GURPS, the 4th edition has done nothing but improve the game. I'm looking forward to one system many worlds again. I will no longer be stuck with only Dungeons to explore and Dragons to slay. I want to travel to another world in a starship, plead with an old one for my mind back, or maybe punch a few bad guys in their turkey necks.

I'm ready to argue over the advantage of DR vs cost and the impact of different skills. I will count my smallest turn in combat in my move points, I will happily watch an hour of real time pass for one combat round in a massive battle.

I will do all this and..I will like it.

Well, unless I find a D&D 3.5 group, always time for two games...right?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Knocking my head on knock-back

I haven't played a lot of GURPS for over 20 years. PD was big back then. One of the things that I liked, it had knock-back. One other game I played, Champions, had it also. If you have ever played Champions you know the level of complexity involved in creation and combat. GURPS has a good level of complexity but a lot less so then Champions. Thus I liked to play GURPS more then Champions.

Knock-back is a blast in a GURPS supers game. You get to watch your buddy get thumped with a hotdog cart and go crashing through a building and then another.. and.. another. I think the GM was making a point. But after that I remember thinking I need to make a PC with knock-back protection. Never did get around to it.

So here I am, today, thinking about knock-back again after watching the party's donkey launch a poor orc 8 yards into a tree. Dead orc, or more like jelly orc.

You folks may know Gobo. He is a Gnome with a bad temper and a daddy who was an earth elemental. He likes to get in close and mix it up. knock-back could cramp his style. I want to rework him with some kind of knock-back protection. Should be easy I think.

Hmmm.. nope, no knock-back protection advantage in any book I checked yet. Gravity control power maybe? Sorry no. Binding maybe, but, baneful effects. Root spells, does not say and again, baneful effects. Movement powers..body control, nothing says those magic words, "Works on knock-back"

New approach, knock-back is based off ST. I need a way to trigger, on knock-back damage, an increase in my ST for the one second I need to calculate knock-back. So I'm off to see of I can coax GCA into letting me do this. I don't hold out much hope and see a possible few buildings coming my way.