Thursday, September 29, 2011

All about rings. Me and Lord of the Rings

My relationship to Lord of the Rings. Even though LotR is not the only older fantasy series still popular, I think it is most well known of them all. There are several titles in different platform about Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth everything from movies, comics, roleplaying games, video games etc. But where do I stand?

The Books

I have to admit, I haven't finished "the trilogy". I don't even remember how much I have read of it. I might now be a heathen, but it was boring and it never captured my attention. I did read Silmarillion and the other book about unfinished stories (or something) but I did skip all the dull parts of both of them. So I cannot say I really did read any of those.
But I did read Hobbit and liked it. It was easy to read, only one book so finishing it was relatively quick. Story was more action and adventure. And I don't even like hobbits. Or is it just Frodo who I don't like?

The Movies

Does anyone remember lord of the rings movie from 1978? The first part what never got followers? Real video what was drawn over at some points and used funky effects?

It was awesome when I was a kid. I watched it hundreds of times and wanted it to continue. What never happened...

Much later people was talking about Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. It looked really good. Well done. But there was a problem for me. Some parts were dull and I hated watching the hobbits and somehow the movie made Frodo an idiot.
"Don't look there Frodo!"
*looking there and almost drowning*
"Frodo nooo!"
So annoying. I did like orcs and bad guys. They looked awesome. I also liked war scenes. They were awesome. And I liked all the clothing, armor, weapons and other apparel. They were really living and cool because usually you only see that kind of stuff drawed.

So, the movies? First one from 70's I liked but the new ones never excited me that much.

Roleplaying Games

Middle-earth. Finnish translation. Based on Rolemaster I remember. That's what I've played long ago. I liked it but because I never enjoyed the books that much I didn't know that much about Middle-earth. So basically I didn't have this Middle-earth or LotR feeling in the game. It was more like generic fantasy adventure with a different map.

Now I bought myself Lord of the Rings RPG. The new one with screenshots from the movie. I'd like to try it out, but there are so many things wrong in it that I am not sure will I ever. First of all, I don't like the pictures. Second, layout is horrible to read...

Old MERP I would maybe appreciate though and maybe would like to play or read it.

Video Games

I got one for PS2. It's a bit like Dynasty Warriors. You control a character you can choose and run through a level hitting swarms of orcs and other evil monsters. Graphics are kinda cool and gameplay is simple and nice. Characters gain experience and can buy new attacks and skills. You can also co-op with your friend. Nice action game. Unfortunately playing it alone after you've played it with a friend feels pointless and dull.

I also got this real time strategy game for PC. I haven't played it that much, but it felt ok. I don't like RTS where you just harvest resources and build huge army and ram everything (Starcraft). I might play this more, but am a bit afraid that maybe it's just another not that good game wrapped in Lord of the Rings package. And as I am not that big fan of Lord of the Rings, only the game matters to me. No fan-boy bonus.

And now the sad part. Started playing this with my Xbox:
40% through and while saving I got disk read error. Save file corrupted. Wasted time. Basically this game reminds me of Final Fantasy X-2 (not sure about X because haven't played it). You run around in map and fight enemies. Occasionally find NPC who talks with you but you cannot choose what to answer because it's scripted. And then find treasure chest what give items.
You naturally gain experience points to raise your attributes. Learn new skills to use in combat and gain better equipment.
That's it. No cities to visit. Just running around, fighting, running, fighting, apply points from new level, running, find items and equip, fight...

Really, this game sucks. But I liked it because you just could sit down on sofa, turn your brains off and play. No complicated plot to follow, no hard puzzles to solve, no problems to navigate to next point. No free roaming. Just endless running in a tube and endless fighting...
One feature was cool. The game used video clips from actual movies but rewrote them to another story!

But that joy was destroyed because my copy was scratched second hand game. I'd give this game... 3 stars maybe.

Anyways, playing this was still a bit inspiring. Being in Middle-earth and actually I felt like I'd like to roleplay it also. So not that bad.

Finally, I did play Lord of the Rings Online and liked it. It's free to play but with real money you can get all nice extra stuff like more quests etc. It was better than most of the f2p mmorpg I've played. Only problems was, that when I changed PC I couldn't get it installed. And searching internet other people had similar problems. Don't remember if it was PC or new update or what... I contacted EA support but those morons did not help me. Just told stupid things like "restart your computer, run virus scan" etc stupid shit any half-wit has done already. So, I would have liked to play LotRO but cannot... Maybe I could try to install it again someday.


Nope. Some of the swords look really good, but idea of owning an elf sword and hanging it on my wall is way to nerd for me. I do like the concept of some of these items. Other items, as you can guess I couldn't care less. LotR mug? I wouldn't use it. I think that Frodo has made LotR unappealing for me.

So What?

I don't have any relationship to Lord of the Rings except I really hate P. Jackson movie's Frodo. I wouldn't mind playing Lord of the Rings RPG and EA has done mediocre games about it. Books are too boring for me, but maybe I could re-read Hobbit.

Basically thanks to video games I could be interested in MERP. LotRRPG what I already own is too unappealing for me. It does interest me but it is too horrible to watch. Perfect coffee table book, if I wouldn't be embarrassed to give it a good spot at my home.

Fuck you Frodo.

About Mutants & Masterminds and movie The Spirit

The Spirit - Quick Review

Movie what is close to Sin City and 300 movies both in comic style and people behind it. Cool comic style superhero adventure with stylished black and white contrast in some parts. Even though The Spirit is visually awesome it left me a bit cold. I think I must see it again, because I really did not know what to expect. I bet, that the second view it will rock harder.

Spirit has this 50's feel in it. It is a superhero story where superhero doesn't wear bright spandex and shoot lazer from his eyes, but more gritty. The Spirit is a superhero who can fight and endure a lot of damage. Basically that is his superpower. Super-stamina. Also as he is "the spirit of the city" he uses the city as his weapon and says and performs it in one really cool scene. That I call abusing environment to fight.

Main bad guy is Octopus, mad professor who created spirit. He shares the similar power with spirit, enduring lots of beating. And he is batshit insane changing his appearance in every scene from samurai theme to even nazi theme. Samuel L. Jackson rocks here! Plot was simple and there was nothing extra in it. Everything what happened had a reason and was securily tied to the plot. Actually, I liked this movie a lot.

I would give it 4 stars. Or maybe even 4½ stars after re-watch.

Mutants & Masterminds Problem Solved

I have had two problems with M&M. First player didn't know what kind of character she would like to play and second I didn't know what kind of setting I would like to run. We already decided that we'd take the line where superheroes wear bright colors. Really Marvel style actually. I have read a lot Marvel comics when I was a kid and early teen, but today I am not that interested in that kind of superhero action. We thought anyways that we should try something different and go with bright colors and comic like plot.

Neither of us were that excited. Well, excited yes because it would have been different but there was a problem that would we enjoy it? Sometimes different is good, but why risk it? Neither of us are superhero fans today, so planning to play M&M is something different we would usually play, so why put extra pressure of risk in it?

Anyways, I have liked the movie and comics Sin City. I've wanted to play a gritty city adventure with strange NPC's, corruption and violence and always thought that World of Darkness with mortal characters would be great for it. But after seeing The Spirit all the parts got together. The Spirit + Sin City = Mutants & Masterminds adventure. That felt right time right when me and my player thought and discussed about M&M. So now we found our style what kind of Mutants & Masterminds game we want.

Warming Up

First step is that my player tells me her character concept. I told her that she can imagine basically what kind of character she ever wants. M&M character creation rules most probably will perform it. So, I am waiting for her character concept. When I know her character concept, I create a couple of NPC character. Possibly some ordinary human to interact with and who maybe even can help in smaller scale. After it I will create a couple of bad guys. Those you can beat and then I will create main bad guy. Most important things creating a main bad guy are:

a) Why is he a bad guy? What happened that he turned out to be evil?
b) What is his goal and motive? What does he want that makes him a bad guy?
c) How will he make hero's life hard?
d) How can he be beat? Captured and sent to high security prison or destroyed?

Then I'd just fill the holes. Write down a couple of cool scenes I'd like to run. Start for the adventure and loose ending conditions. Fill few spots in between but leave enough space so course of play can change things. Thanks to The Spirit I am now excited about Mutants & Masterminds! And I really am waiting for character creation so I can create the other things for the adventure. It will propably last for... 5 to 20 sessions approx. Like CoC adventure did.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

YDIN - Current overview

Slowly but steadily I am writing YDIN. It doesn't happen as fast as I wish, because I basically write it in my freetime. And I also have other things to attend to in my freetime. Anyways, I have a clear picture in my head what I just basically need to write down in great layout.

I have several versions of YDIN but for some reason it works me best that I basically write it again when something new comes in. I can do minor edits to current texts but with bigger scale changes it's easier for me to write whole thing than start editing possibly several pages. This slows my work down a bit but at least I know what is happening and there should not be that many errors.

I have stuck with six abilities. I changed name "secondary abilities" (hit points and those based on abilities" to sub-abilities. They aren't secondary, because they are as important as basic abilities are. Name "secondary abilities" was a bit lame. I am not perfectly happy with name sub-abilities though but that's something I am looking for.

Skills now have five levels.

Skill level - description - used die - ability modifier

  • 0 - Unskilled - D6 - -2
  • 1 - Learned - D6 - +/-0
  • 2 - Routine - D8 - +2
  • 3 - Professional - D10 + 4
  • 4 - Master - D12 + 6
Tasks work same as previously. Ability score + skill ability modifier VS. skill level die.

Dexterity 4, swordfighting 2 character would roll D8 against target number 6.

I will keep rolling under and over, but the default system is rolling under.

Some critical hit table would be neat for attacks but I suppose I leave it for supplements.

Also I thought that every character should have initiative skills they know in "Learned" level, like athletics, reading/writing, brawling etc. It's silly to start using skill points and within every character spend same points so they can speak and climb... So there is set of basic skills.

In combat there will be different extra rules. Piercing both for bullets and sharp weapons, different conditions like fallen and so on.

Modifiers from different conditions I will keep the same. Harder or easier conditions are to use skill, more or less you roll dice. In easier you keep best result, in harder worst result.

Dexterity 4, athletics 2 character tries to climb up a wall. (6 against D8). If there are plenty of cracks and places to take a grip, it would be +1 positive modifier. So character rolls 2D8 and takes the result what is better for his success. If wall is slippery, it would be -1 negative modifier so character rolls 2D8 and picks score what is worse for his success.
There is enough calculating numbers to define task number, so I don't want positive or negative modifiers to add math any further.

Critical successes and catastrophic failures (botch/fumble) also included. More skillful you are (higher skill level) less likely you botch! This is also really easy system you don't need to calculate or think too much. Basically you instantly see did you nail it or screw it.

Weapon damage is a question currently. Easiest would be, that weapons do certain die and possible bonus damage. For example scimitar D8+1. At first I thought that damage has Power and Dice but it was over complicated and problem was that even though you hit a target if your damage roll sucked, you still didn't inflict any damage (White Wolf, I am looking at oWoD). So I thought if you hit, then you must determine how hard you hit, not that even though you did hit do you damage opponent.

Armor will be simple. Decrease armor value from damage. There will also be hit locations. Head will for example always be double damage. Critical hits do extra damage of course. Wounds determine how bad the damage is.

Wounds I have to thank Ville Vuorela's Praedor for. Characters have lots of hitpoints. But the point is, they have less wounds. Loosing hitpoints you die slower, loosing (gaining actually) wounds you die faster. Every character has Wound level. Damage exceeding it deals a wound. Twice as much deals two wounds etc.

In example character might have 20 hitpoints and wound level of 8 and 4 wounds (I pulled these values from my hat). So 5 points of damage is taken only from hitpoints because it is less than character's wound level. 9 points of damage would be 9 from hitpoints and 1 wound, as it exceeds character's wound level. 16 and over damage result would be 16 worth of hitpoints and 2 wounds.
Also more wounded character is, more negative modifiers he gets.
Basically, if you hit your opponent with fists dealing D4 damage is slower to kill another than shooting him with plasma-cannon 4D8 damage!
And in damage dice are exploding, because I like that! Ok, fists D4 will more likely to explode but so what.

There will be also plenty of special setting or genre specific rules like magic, fear etc. etc.

There are two things I hate to do. Skill list and equipment list! I don't want skills to be too specific and in way too wide range, but I want there to be enough of them. For example I think that GURPS is too specific in many skills. Equipment lists are also boring to write.
Would it be bad if I wrote down every single skill from every one of my rpg books and then pick up and combine different skills under one main skill to make my own skills list? Same with equipment?

Also, YDIN is generic rules. You can use YDIN as usual generic rules for every setting you want to, but main focus is that I will write my rpg settings and sourcebooks for YDIN. Now I have to think would YDIN core book with only rules be too bland? I mean, I don't intend to compete against all those generic rules out there. I have had a couple of ideas that I could include a couple of setting overviews you are ready to use and add your own details or I could include a couple of starting adventures of different genres.
I myself think that what AFMBE core book does with Deadworlds would be good appendix material. Few setting ideas with adventure seeds from different genres.


Also, my small project YDIN D6 Mini is compatible with main YDIN. Rules are different, but still. Same attributes, same sub-attributes, same skills. Only difference is that you roll D6 equal to your skill level against your attribute. Difficulty modifiers are added or decreased from skill. -2 if no dice to roll. Two examples:

Dexterity 4, swordfighting 2 rolls 2D6 and tries to get 4 or lower to success.
Dexterity 4, athletics 2 would suffer -3 negative modifier, but then he wouldn't have any dice to roll. So he rolls one die and gets -2 on his dexterity.


You can also find me at twitter: Thaumiel_Nerub! I am tweeting about game related stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

[MRQ] Character creation seemed to simple, so let's try it out!

Mongoose Publishing's RuneQuest is one of my new games. It is a light book and easy to read so I thought I'll read it at work when ever I got time for reviewing it.

After I read character creation section, I wanted to try it out. It seemed to be really simple and fast. And I only have this one book, so basically only human characters are available. So, no duck for me.

Let's start.

First I roll characteristics. 4D6, drop lowest and add remaining together. Except Size and intelligence where you roll 3DD6, drop lowest, add remaining +6. That is because human are average in intelligence and size compared to for example animals. I also have a couple of options. Roll all characteristics in order, or I can place them where ever I please (except SIZ and INT I can only swap together because of different rolling). I roll them in order and keep them that way. Here are my results:

  • STR: 9
  • CON: 12
  • DEX: 12
  • SIZ: 15
  • INT: 18
  • POW: 16
  • CHA: 12
Weak in strength and both psychically and socially average, but he's intelligent and his willpower/life-force is high. I can see where this is going...

Next attributes, what are calculated and based on characteristics.

  • Combat Actions: 2 (how many times per turn my character can act, this is average).
  • Damage Modifier: +/-0
  • Hit Points: Legs: 6; Abdomen: 7; Chest: 8; Arms: 5; Head: 6
Fast this far! Now I have to determine Starting Skills what are based on characteristics. Characteristics give Starting Skill %-values. Obviously it would be faster to record these on character sheet. Writing takes more time.

Acrobatics: 12; Athletics: 21; Boating: 9; Dodge: 7; Driving: 26; Evaluate: 18; First Aid: 18; Influence: 22; Lore (Animal):18; Lore (Plant): 18; Lore (World): 18; Perception: 34; Persistence: 26; Resilience: 28; Riding: 28; Sing: 12; Sleight: 22; Stealth: 7; Throwing: 12; Unarmed: 9
Weapon Skills: All Close Combat: 31; All Ranged: 12

Previous experience tells character's cultural background from where he is and what is his profession. Both I can choose in Games Master's [sic] approval. I think my character is noble, because he is more brains than body. Cultural Background gives few modifications to my character. Basically in skills. Some of them are from a selection I can choose from to make my character a bit different from other noble.

My basic skills look like this after picking up Noble background:

Acrobatics: 12; Athletics: 21; Boating: 9; Dodge: 7; Driving: 26; Evaluate: 23; First Aid: 18; Influence: 32; Lore (Animal):18; Lore (Plant): 18; Lore (World): 28; Perception: 39; Persistence: 36; Resilience: 28; Riding: 28; Sing: 12; Sleight: 22; Stealth: 7; Throwing: 12; Unarmed: 9
Weapon Skills: All Close Combat: 31*; All Ranged: 12
*These at higher %: Dagger: 46; Rapier: 46

I also get the following Advanced Skills:
Language (Native) +50%, Lore (Regional), Language (Extra), Lore (Alchemy)

At this point I also have 240 silver pieces.

Next I'll choose profession. Not all professions are available for me to choose, because of my cultural background. Wizard it is. I'll get my hands on cool Rune Magic!

After choosing Wizard profession for my character's background, my skills look like this:

Acrobatics: 12; Athletics: 21; Boating: 9; Dodge: 7; Driving: 26; Evaluate: 28; First Aid: 18; Influence: 32; Lore (Animal):18; Lore (Plant): 18; Lore (World): 33; Perception: 39; Persistence: 46; Resilience: 28; Riding: 28; Sing: 12; Sleight: 22; Stealth: 7; Throwing: 12; Unarmed: 9
Weapon Skills: All Close Combat: 31*; All Ranged: 12
*These at higher %: Dagger: 46; Rapier: 46

And my Advanced skills:
Language (Native): 68; Lore (Regional): 18; Language (Extra): 18; Lore (Alchemy): 18; Runecasting (Fire): 28; Runecasting(Cold): 28; Lore (Geography): 28

One of the final touches is freebie points for skills. 100 skill points, 30 maximum usage for one skill, 10 points to start a new skill from characteristic value. Really simple. I used my 100 points to:

  • Dodge 10 = 17
  • Evaluate 7 = 35
  • First Aid 2 = 20
  • Influence 8 = 40
  • Lore Plant 12 = 30
  • Lore World 7 = 40
  • Language (Native) 12 = 80
  • Lore Alchemy 2 = 20
  • Runecasting Fire 30 = 58
  • Runecasting Cold 10 = 38
NOTE: Runes have been already Integrated to character. Both of them integrated looses one point of POW from character. Also all skills related to POW are decreased the number POW is decreased! From above skills I should decrease 2% what are related to POW and my character's new POW would be 14 instead of original 16.

General information is a bit boring. Movement for all human are 4m. All beginner characters start with 2 Hero Points and starting character's age is between 15 to 30. It also tells that "upcoming" RuneQuest Companion gives rules to play nonhuman characters.
Appearance is your own description. My character is 26 years old but looks at least 10 years older. His hair is grey like old man's and he looks like sickly and weak although he is in perfect condition. Just not that physical. He is taller than average.

Character personality is next step. He was bullied at school because he was weaker, taller and more intelligent than others. That has determined who he is now. He wants power via intelligence and runes and is willing to sacrifice even his physical health in his quest for "real" power.

And now equipments. 240 silver pieces to spend in weapons, armor, basic equipments etc. I won't purchase them now but I do expect that my character has a hidden knife and a rapier what gives more impression that he is noble than he would be a sword fighter. Armor gives skill penalties and they are too expensive for my character. General items would be like backpack, bedroll and other camping equipment. Parchments to record adventures and findings, lantern and oil, a couple of candles writing kit... All basic items you could think a noble wizard scholar would carry around. If he could afford after all that, a mule (125 SP) would be cool. And enough money for saving so he could afford bed & breakfast.


Mongoose's RuneQuest character creation is really fast. You have also some power to choose what direction your character will take. Different cultural background plus profession combinations produce different starting skill sets.
Unfortunately this book is only the basic book for MRQ and it is not that detailed.
You can basically create a character from different race as you can see how attributes are rolled for diferent races. That doesn't give much detail though and I can only guess what difference RQ Companion provides for character creation.

But for basic fantasy game, I think MRQ character creation is both fast and versatile enough. You can create a character from a commoner to a lord or (rune)wizard.

This works smoothly!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Twitter, updated YDIN logo and YDIN talk

I can now be found at Twitter. @Thaumiel_Nerub. Basically I will use my Twitter for roleplaying and Cradle of Rabies related tweets and to follow interesting people in roleplaying hobby.

I also made a quick new logo for my YDIN to use for my Twitter profile picture. It looks like this:

I have had trouble coming up with a good catchphrase. I have puzzled with it for some time trying to come up with something really cool. Everything sounded silly or clumsy.

When I started to create my Twitter profile picture I made box with even sides. Wrote YDIN and saw a big black space. Then I wrote what first came in my mind.

One core - Unlimited possibilities

And that's exactly what I am working with. One very basic rules you need to play. Character creation and mechanics. That's YDIN (Finnish word for core).
When you have the core, you can make unlimited setting specific rules. You can add magic, super powers, psychic powers, monsters, gadgets, special setting rules like fear or insanity... Everything.

You can also mix and match. If you have this sourcebook with different or advanced wounding system, you can use it with the other sourcebook with magic system. Or you can make your own house-rules and own systems to use with YDIN.

I am trying to build YDIN core in the way that it is easy to use with different setting specific variations and extra rules. Character creation for example is quick. Basically rolling, point assigning and small calculations take less than half an hour and in normal character creation you can already customize your character with your own imagination if you like. There is no skill what you want? No worries. With hobbies you can include them. Want special talents (gifts in game term) but you have a better idea than provided in list(s)? Make up your own. Starting equipment, you decide some before you buy from inventory list(s).

It is really versatile system to customize your character but still simple and it doesn't consume time.

That's what I want to do. Basic core system what I use as a base when I create things. One system to rule them all. But what if you do like some ideas or settings? Do what you do with all the other roleplaying games! Custom, house-rule, or use different system!

Age rating of my blog

In RPG Bloggers everyone is doing this, so am I. Here's my rating: OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site

I've used word hurt twice what is logical and word porn once what is related to Zak's blog Playing D&D With Porn Stars. But anyways, my blog is for all ages! Maybe after this post as I have used that other word what you can find in Zak's blog title a couple times more and as I used the other word once more. It might change. EDIT After this post I immediately ran the "test" again. The h-word wasn't included anymore, but the p-word was again. This is my new rating: OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Sites


Thursday, September 8, 2011

INTERVIEW: Ville Vuorela from Burger Games

Ville Vuorela is a man behind Finnish hobby game publisher Burger Games and leading
independent roleplaying game publisher in Finland. He also actively participates in different hobby
related conventions and is active in roleplaying forums.

Ville is not only roleplaying games developer but also an author of the following books:
Vanha Koira, pub. Jalava 2004; Pelintekijän käsikirja, pub. BTJ Finland 2007; Elämäpeli, pub. BTJ
2008 and Häirikkötehdas, pub. Finn Lectura 2011.

You can find Burger Games' website here:

For some time I have wanted to interview him and he agreed to be interviewed. Here it is, interview
with Ville Vuorela from Burger Games.

At which point and why did you decide to start to publish your own roleplaying games? I bet that before your commercial games you have done your own games and possibly additional homebrew material for existing games?

I had been writing my own game systems since late 80's but it was only after I became interested in setting
design that I really wanted to push stuff out onto the market. The original impulse to do that came from watching  "Three Musketeers" by Richard Lester (1973). There was a scene where the protagonists engage in a mock tavern fight with the real intention of actually stealing food while at it. Looking at this, it suddenly dawned on me what kind of heroes I wanted and what kind of a world I was going to build around them. Rules-wise it was an evolution of my primitive early systems but the power was in the setting and the role the player characters played in that setting. The end result was Miekkamies (1994).

What happened with Taiga? In the book there are many plans and hints about upcoming sourcebooks but something didn't go according to plan.

Every Indie RPG writer does it at some point: overextends his resources and marketing potential. Taiga was a niche game to begin with and I took a far too big print run of it in 1997. The sales were a disaster and I was left with a big bill and an even bigger pile of boxes. That was the last time I went through with a game project just because of I though it was cool. Most Indie RPG-writers drop out at this point. Fortunately this was already my second game and the first one, Miekkamies, had been a success. Still, continuing the product line did not make commercial sense and I was depressed about the whole thing that it killed off my personal interest in Taiga for a long time.

Why is Praedor so popular? It is still sold and asked and most definitely played.

It was made into a pre-existing franchise and no matter where you open the book there is always something
beautiful and topical from Petri Hiltunen to look at. The system is also very popular and that came as a bit of
surprise. It was a radical departure from my earlier approach to system design but although I did a lot of work on it, I did not expect to get it so right to begin with. But most importantly, I consider Praedor to be a validation of my belief that strongly defined character role in the setting is the key. Experienced players can easily deviate from this niche if they want to but for new players Praedor offers an instant, enjoyable and intuitively recognizable "job" as adventurers and the system really supports the intended pulp-fantasy playstyle and genre.

What kind of gamemaster Ville Vuorela is?

You are better off asking this from one of my players. I would say that he is a descriptive and eloquent, with
great emphasis and even pride in not becoming stymied whatever the players do or wherever they go. My focus is on otherwhere, the sensation that players are in a different world where lots of things are happening even without them. Wherever they go, there is something new and interesting there, even if I have to whip it up on the fly.

Unfortunately Vuorela has also become a very busy gamemaster and my dayjob and roleplaying draw on the
same reserves to some extent. I was able to run multiple campaigns simultaenously as a young student but
now stress at work may lead to creative blocks before and during gaming sessions, which I find very frustrating.

Apart from your own games which ones are your favorites or worth to mention?

Over the years, my favourite games have been those I have been able to pull long and successful campaigns
out of: Stormbringer/Elric, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (the old edition and really for the setting), Legionnaire (ancient scifi-rpg by FASA) and finally Shatterzone (the original Masterbook System RPG from West End Games). In addition, I have a great deal of respect for games like CP2020, Harnmaster, Traveller and Syndicate. I also have a special soft spot for D&D Cyclopedia rules and Heimot for its bold and ambitious setting.

However, very few roleplaying games are outright bad and almost all of them are worth mentioning, especially if they do come with a setting. They are doorways into other worlds, in a way that non-interactive fiction can never be.

In which direction in your opinion Finnish roleplaying games publishing is going? Am I right that in late years Finnish roleplaying publishing is in high rise?

I am living fossil, having both seen the previous boom of the Finnish RPG industry and survived the ice age that followed from 1998 to 2004. As far as writing RPGs is concerned we are in another boom, largely because the remaining gamers that were drawn into the hobby during the previous boom are now ambitious young adults. However, I am worried about finding players for all these new roleplaying games. The global RPG market has all but collapsed and from what I know about Fantasiapelit sales the Finnish market is not doing too well either.

This is a point of contention between me and other RPG authors out there. I sincerely hope they prove me

With or without miniatures?

As necessity dictates. In a highly tactical scenario you are probably using graph page or other improvised
markers anyway. Having miniatures to help you out does not hurt. However, I find it odd that miniatures would be a core part of the game. I love social interaction and intrigue in my games and neither of those requireminiatures in any shape or form.

Probably Dungeons & Dragons is the most popular just because of its name. What kind of influence the game and it's newest edition's style has in general roleplaying in your opinion?

Actually, it has had surprisingly little impact. The impact of D&D3.5 is still being felt and while D&D4 did
introduce an alternative playstyle for roleplaying games, unlike its previous iterations if failed to replace what
had been before. Lots of people have dabbled with the new D&D and then returned to the older and in my
opinion much deeper style of roleplaying they know and love.

What are current plans for publishing STALKER in English? According to forum STALKER as a setting is interesting and you have rights for the roleplaying game.

Yes on both counts. The proofreading is still going on (we are being both busy elsewhere and just plain lazy at times) but should be done this fall. There will be a PDF version of the rulebook available from some relevant store (RPGNow springs to mind) and a crowdsourcing scheme for a small print run of physical books.

Do you believe that something would be different with STALKER if it used dice based mechanics?

It would be easier to sell but far less cool as a game. FLOW really does help to build the atmosphere and I think abstracting the gameplay challenges into dice algorithms would only hurt it. Of course, in retrospect I should not have made the game completely diceless. The anomaly and artifact tables could use some dice and the game as a whole would benefit from a few more loot tables. But I will not give up on the diceless challenge resolution and combat.

From your own games, which one is your favorite?

Stalker. For me, personally, Stalker is not only my best game but one of the best RPGs ever written. Perhaps the best, although it is naturally limited to its specific genre and niche. I know that this sounds awfully selfish but I really do believe all this.

What would you say to Burger Games fans and to foreigners about Burger Games?

There have and always will be these one-man shows in the RPG publishing. What sets Burger Games apart
from the rest is its very survival to this day. And the Stalker RPG.

Thank you for your time and honor to interview you.

No worries, it was fun.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Games I have played

Do YOU dear reader have a list of games you have played in your blog or website? Be free to share it in comments section!

Oh gosh, I don't remember all the roleplaying games I have played from the beginning, but I try to list as many as possible. I most definately will forget maybe few or even tons of them, but here are what I remember now.

I did use this list from Wikipedia to help me remember all the games I have played. Some of them sounded and felt really familiar by name but I didn't include them as I am not 100% sure if I have played them. I am also not sure if that list includes every single RPG I have played. Still, that list helped me a lot.

This list has 32 titles I have played but last time when I still remembered something (early senile) I got a higher number. Around 50 or so. I suppose those games are those I don't remember and aren't included in Wikipedia list. Also some uncertain games from Wikipedia list what I didn't count into because of a hunch I bet I remembered few years back better that I had played them.

Overall, I am a bit disappointed on my list. That's not too many games considering I have been playing around 18-19 years for now. I hope in following months and years I can grow my gaming experience with different titles more as I got plenty of unplayed games in my collection.

Anyways, this is roughly my RPG history.

In alphabetical order. Games I still own I have marked with * and games I have own but don't have anymore I have marked with **. I do own more games than those marked here, but haven't played them so I obviously don't include those in this particular list.

Roleplaying Games I Have Played Or Gamemastered Over the Years From The Beginning Of My Hobby (Circa. 1992-1993)

*Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition (with some commercial settings)
Wasn't my cup of tea but maybe today because of it's historical value
*All Flesh Must Be Eaten
I digged, player didn't but I will re-run this most definately
*ANKH - Adventures of the North Kalevala Heroes
First game I played, first game I bought
Ars Magica (first or second edition)
Only a session or two so cannot say much about this one
*Blue Rose
Lame setting but campaign was nice to GM
*Call of Cthulhu (Finnish translation and 5th edition)
Great horror-mystery game
**Cyperpunk 2020
Early teenager boys and cyberpunk, go figure the fun we had
Felt really interesting but unfortunately only played one session
Dungeons & Dragons (Finnish translation)
Wasn't made for my group
*Dungeons & Dragons 3.0
It was surprisingly fun actually as a GM
*Earthdawn (first edition)
Nothing much to say about this but we didn't dig too deep to Earthdawn setting lore
*Fading Suns (first edition)
Favourite sci-fi game
**GURPS (with different sourcebooks and settings)
For some reason I don't dig GURPS anymore although it has some interesting sourcebooks to use
Keski-Maa Roolipeli (Middle-Earth RPG a.k.a. MERP)
Only a player, really bad experience mainly because of the GM
*KULT (first edition)
Awesome setting but I am not that sure about rules
Legend of the Five Rings (first edition)
Had so much as a player with this
Paranoia (Finnish translation)
Don't remember much about this but GM was first-timer
*Pendragon (first edition)
Didn't play enough to see all the cool family line things
One of the best or even best Finnish low-fantasy RPG
Roolimestari (Rolemaster Finnish translation)
Only a player, don't remember that much about this
Runequest (Finnish translation)
Didn't dig that deep into Glorantha lore but we were young then
**Shadowrun (Finnish translation and some English edition)
Didn't dig that deep into this and had worst and good gaming
*Stormbringer (Finnish translation)
Really interesting, but didn't dig too deep into the setting lore
**Tie Tähtiin 2300AD (finnish translation of 2300AD)
Loved to GM this but it was full of translation errors what made rules hard to get right
Twilight 2000 (Finnish translation)
GM was really good and made war adventuring great
Finnish cyberpunk focused on girlbands tested with MSN and it was different in a good way
*Vampire: the Dark Age (first edition)
Absolutely love the atmosphere
*Vampire: the Masquerade Revised
My all-time favourite
Warhammer 40.000 (early one)
Was kind of disappointed and not sure was it because of GM
Warhammer RPG (first edition)
GM had his good and bad phases but generally I liked this
*Werewolf: the Forsaken
Great gaming but not that inspired about nWoD
*World of Darkness
Basically started W:tF with mortal character and I liked it althought not inspired by nWoD

...and homebrews too many to even remember.

Why is it so hard to end a campaign?

Still running V:tM and other plans are naturally delayed because of that. It's just so hard for me to end an open ended campaign what is a bit of sandboxed also. I have succesfully ran like one campaign with clear ending and it was Call of Cthulhu set in modern age. There was clear goal and a story. Of course actual playing did change it and affect it but still I knew exactly when to end it.

Different it is with Vampire: the Masquerade. I enjoy playing it so much I cannot end it when it could story wise end. I just continue, open new hooks and so on. I planned, that it would be around 20-30 sessions total to end this story. But currently we are at around 70th session. Way too much.
Really, the problem is I don't want to quit. But actually, why I should quit if I like the game and the campaign? Because I do want to play also other interesting games and also when I over continue the campaign just because I like playing the game they loose the focus and start to feel a bit bland. And the problem is that last time we played Vampire: the Masquerade a lot I got serious roleplaying game burnout. I basically used all my ideas in that time. I ended the campaign successfully, but it was way too long. After that I felt empty and couldn't start a new game or a new campaign for V:tM.

Break from gaming helped and switching to other game. Other game, what is also horrible for ending it. Fading Suns. Fading Suns games also always stretch to horrible long because I like playing it so much. Last one, over 160 sessions. Before it, well over 100 sessions. And after that and before it Vampire: the Masquerade.

When I get this Vampire: the Masquerade campaign to end I totally will play other games. I write down an adventure frames I want to play and maybe write down some scenarios that adventure will contain. I will leave of course space enough so actual situations in game can affect it but still I will narrow sandbox to more focused scale. I try to keep those other games in 10 to 20 sessions long so I don't get stuck and bored to them...

...And I can try out other games. Or again get stuck to Vampire: the Masquerade and Fading Suns.

One problem is, that I do have already games I have never played and I want to play. And now I am having these all new four titles which three are ones I do want to try out. The fourth is more for collecting purpose. I have tried to keep a pace of Vampire -> something else -> Vampire -> something else for a couple of reasons:

  1. I don't get overdose from Vampire: the Masquerade
  2. I can try also other games I own and am interested in
  3. I get variety from just running personal-gothic-punk-horror
  4. Other games are also fun, it doesn't need to be personal-gothic-punk-horror all the way
And can I say that I am a roleplaying enthusiast if I play like only a couple of games? Also I think that it is also relaxing and fun to play other games and genres it also developes gamemastering skills. I remember when I ran Vampire for a couple of years almost non stop and after it tried another game, I did bring that personal-gothic-punk-horror feel into that other game even though the genre and possibilities were totally different.
I don't want to get stuck into a box or manouvers as a gamemaster. Good example was Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. It totally is something I don't play. Or it was. I did buy three core books and Forgotten Realms Campaign setting just to add into my collection but never planned to play it. Then I decided to try out something totally strange from Vampire and I did enjoy it. It was lighter to run and adventure and location or situation based. Encounters you could say with more talking with NPC's though.

So, next will still be Mutants & Masterminds. Maybe after it I won't go directly back to Vampire: the Masquerade, but will also GM other games I have. Maybe I will wait for some special day to start Vampire, so it feels special. Christmas Holidays are too long away though, otherwise would be great Christmas to get back to Vampire!

My new games are waiting for me

Yesterday I got note from post that my order's been arrived. I hope I have time today to fetch them. Maybe around lunch hour. I am not that familiar with the products but I am a collector and price was right. So I had to get them.

I will post in more detail about them when I get to open the box. The games are:

  • HARP
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Mongoose Runequest
  • Ravenloft Campaign setting
I did do a little bit of research on those titles using reviews and am quite excited about them. Maybe not that much about LotR but I thought that some kind of roleplaying game based on Tolkien's Middle-Earth is a must have for a roleplayer and game collector.

I will post about those titles with a bit more detail when I get them in hand.

I also counted my roleplaying game books (core rulebooks and sourcebooks) yesterday. With these four new I have total of 84 + a double of Werewolf: the Apocalypse Second Edition. My goal is to get to 100 titles now. After it? More I suppose.

I need to get a nice shelf for them but I think I won't buy or get one before we move. Not moving right now, but there are plans. In my opinion it is not now relevant to decorate this house because we won't stay in there. At the moment most of my books fit well to current shelf but few are just piled there. And with these four I will have more space problem. But because I am a roleplaying game collector especially when it comes to great deals, I won't sell any single of them (except W:tA double) and I am not that happy about idea storing those in a box.
So, this is how I go.
Maybe I keep 100 books a top for now, and 101th will be in our new (hopefully own) house. Yeah. I can squeeze space for 16 books in that shelf!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Warp shitted

Sorry for bad language of this post, but even imaginary science characters do curse if it suits their character concept. So... here is a term for science fiction roleplaying games: Warp Shitted.

I came up with this term when I saw term "sharp witted" on one site and just twisted it to warp shitted. After a short laugh it all was clear to me.

Some people cannot stand warping. They get nausea and or headache. This is called "physiological short term symptoms of warping". But generally in slang, it is just called "warp shitted".

You can use it in sentence like this:
"Oh man, I don't like this at all. I get warp shitted so easily."
"That newbie, he was totally warp shitted after his first wormhole."
"I drank too much last night. I feel so totally warp shitted now."
"Hands up who needs bags for warp shitting after a Jump Gate?"

You can also use it in more witty ways. Like this:
"This song totally shits my warp!" (This song is awesome, or horrible depending on context.)
"What a warping shit way to die." (What a horrible way to die.)
"What the shitwarp are you talking about?" (What the F*** are you talking about.)
"Don't mess with my warp shit ever again!" (Don't mess my things ever again.)
"I warp the shit out of him!" (I totally kick his a**.)
"What the warpshit is this?" (What the heck is this?)

Time in fantasy games

Here are few tips for GM how to handle fantasy terms of time. In fantasy games months, weekdays and even hours and minutes might have different names than in our real world. It gives some detail in setting, but I also see some problems in it. They do give detail to setting, but is it necessary for players to learn this new time system to keep track on "what time it is"?

Years are basically simple. As it is fantasy, you cannot compare time line to ours. So in fantasy setting it could be year 2300 but they don't fly with space ships as it cannot be compared to our time line. Also I think that in fantasy settings years are count from something important. Like 230 years after King Diamond. 500 years before The Plague and so on.
In some games it is more important to know what year it is to know what kind of the setting is in that time period. Example is Middle-Earth. But for some games it doesn't matter for players if it is year 300 or 500 if there is not that much detailed history or GM doesn't want to put game in specific place in time line what differs radically from default setting.
Also you should note national differences. Orc nation doesn't care do they live year 150 after King Great of White Reign was crowned, but they might live year 1400 of Orc Awesomeness. Little detail what might confuse a game. Basically it is easier to use this default time. (In real world Jews live in different year than "we").

If fantasy setting uses 12 month years it is easy and logical to track days. Still, if months have different names that we are used to, it might be a bit unclear for players what season it is currently. If GM just announces, that "it is third day of the month of the three diamond stars" players who aren't familiar with setting's calendar might be confused. And then GM must explain: "well, it's kinda like our March."
It is easier for GM to say "it is third day of the THIRD month of the three diamond stars". This way players hear the fantasy setting month name but also hear which month it actually is they can compare it to.

But if there are more or lass than twelve months in a year, it get's a bit complicated as there is not enough or there is more months to compare. But it can be easy still. Instead of saying "month of the golden moth" you can add: "EARLY AUTUMN month of the golden moth." That also explains directly what season the month is in.

I don't think GM should convert strange setting months to our months, but when telling what month it is currently GM can also tell in what season and place of the year the month is located. That saves a bit of time and confusion, as GM doesn't have to explain when that fantasy month is.

Seven days per week, more or less? It actually doesn't matter that much. Week as we know it is usually work from Monday to Friday, rest in Saturday. In fantasy setting usually people work every day of the week. There might be "holydays" what are free, but otherwise weekdays are a bit different than ours. Players should know how many days there are in a week, but should they know what they are called? Not necessarily. Same as with months. Instead saying it's Gorkaday, you could say "it's fifth day of the week, Gorkaday". Players can keep track of time knowing which day it is instead of just a name. Weekdays are easy to learn I suppose, so if players start to remember them, GM can drop the ordinal number out.

Hours, Minutes, Seconds
How many hours there are in a day? That's easy to learn. GM can go the easy way and just say how many hours it takes to travel, how many minutes some action takes or how many seconds character has time to react. It helps the game a lot. But if GM wants to put setting fluff for example when NPC is talking, he can use suggestion of times from his rulesbook. If one hour is one hourglass, then 45 minutes is three quarters of a hourglass. That should be easy to understand and remember. I mean, it is a HOURglass. Second might be a blink of an eye. And so on. But to make game faster, it's just easier to say that it is five hours away than: "to travel there, it takes the time to turn hourglass five hours around". Little detail, but is it necessary?
Also in combat situations minutes and seconds are way much easier to handle than setting specific times. Basically fights are using rules and dice what aren't in game world (characters don't roll dice against orc bandits to see who wins) so to make combat easier to comprehend, use times easy to comprehend.

Final Thoughts
With little setting details you can make fantasy world more realistic and living, but don't make gaming too complicated. If you describe something in setting terms and have to repeat it in our world terms, I think the effect is partially lost. Hide our world terms or explanations in your setting terms.

"Prophecy tells: After seven moons, Shabanday -the seventh day of the week- the dark lord will rise again."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Currently my hobby

Few things and thoughts what I am currently doing in rpg hobby.

Saw some cool rpg books on this rpg forum market, made an offer and after it a deal. I probably wont play them, but I do collect games so I couldn't resist. I am not going into details what those titles are but will totally post about them after I get them.
I can say, that one of those is really well known fantasy role playing game I am not familiar with; another I got because of Tolkien's influence on mainstream fantasy; third is different version of one really popular fantasy role playing game I played when I was a kid and the last one is campaign setting for D&D 3.0.

I am still storytelling Vampire: the Masquerade for Nosferatu character. It's longer than I expected. This weekend we are running almost the 70th session! Well in the other hand Vampire is our favourite game so it was expected to stretch.

I try to read all there rpg books I have bought but never bothered to dig in. I love how they look on my shelf, I love to shuffle them but for some reason I don't have time to read them. Currently I am slowly reading Ghoul: Fatal Addiction for Vampire: the Masquerade. Really sweet book. I like thinner books. Easier to finish. Thicker books are intimidating even if they were interesting in concept. But luckily I got few Masquerade and Apocalypse sourcebooks which are thin enough.

Thinking about when I get YDIN in print. It will take aeons with this pace but I am ok with it. It's more important for me to create something new. It's been quite some time when I last created something new but autumn lessens the stress level at work so maybe then.

Need to finish rules and campaign/adventure for my online friend who is virgin in role playing. Will use YDIN. It will be mystery set in middle ages about superstition, a werewolf, murders etc.

Have watched 3 and a half of my Bud Spencer and Terence Hill four dvd box and am thinking what rpg system would do the trick for humorous fist fighting rpg. Savage Worlds is fast and furious and I have read Test Drive rules but I never got that exited about it. I gotta try YDIN for it some day with one or two special rules. That's what YDIN is for; core mechanics you can tweak for different needs.

Also got my gaming pc running again and building rpg characters and locations from my games with The Sims 3.