Friday, February 26, 2010

Rant: I hate D20

Allright, D20 system can be used in Dungeons & Dragons, I don't mind that, but one thing what really, really aggravates me is that every single game must be converted to D20. I'd like to get BESM for my collection, but quess what, easily available version is D20. I think it isn't the original or it doesn't have the original feel anymore. I am not sure of tri-stat system (doesn't it use that) or is D20 actually better system or not, but I don't buy it (as a "feel" or a copy of it). Many of out of print games are again available, but in damn D20 format. There is many games that I'd like to collect, and they are hard to find nowadays and when browsing rpg shops and I actually find a copy of game I'd like to get, I allways get disappointed when I see that cursed D20 logo on them. Hey, c'mon! If I want to buy an older game, I want it older, not damn D20 incarnation of it.

As I am watching Farscape now and really, really like it and I knew there is Farscape rpg available, I almost wet my pants. When I did search it in rpg store's stock I cannot describe my rage, as it is - ofcourse - in D20. I don't want any level or class based Farscape science fiction. I don't want to roll D20 + modifier against difficulty number or what ever it is. I don't want uni-rules for all frikkin' games (at least when those uni-rules are damn D20), so I stopped lusting for my copy of Farscape rpg. D20 system ruined it for me, even if I didn't buy it.

I like Star Wars, not a big fan, but I like it. It has great value in science fiction genre, and I really enjoyed the movies when I was a kid, and I still do (even if episodes 1-3 are bull's butt). I got myself Star Wars SAGA and thought I can bear the D20 system, but never finished reading it. Most of the book is damn D20 rules and them damn D20 rules are stupid in my opinion. I will never run it. Nor read through. I wish I had Star Wars D6 instead of that stupid D20 book.

What about WoD D20? I don't want to even start about it, as in one forum I got my butt whooped over ranting about it. Okay, I know I haven't read it or even kept it in my grip, but still... D20 WoD with totally different backstory than original World of Darkness. I can take the idea of "dungeon crawl vamps and wuffies fighting with each other" and I can even bear the idea of supernatural beings from other darn dimension, but still... LVL 6 vampire. I don't buy it. It just feels so wrong. If the idea of D20 WoD is to give WoD to those D20 purists, it is a failure. If you cannot bear storytelling system and love your D20, don't play damn WoD. It is not ment for you. I can imagine conversation between D20 WoD-player and Storyteller WoD-player. Is there anything common with them? Might be, but I doubt. We are emo.

The fact is, that WotC is huge, they are one of the few dominating the markets, and they got money. It is good and respected effort that they actually cast resurrection spells to games what have been forgotten, or where setting was nice but rules sucked, but I am starting to get really, really angry about everything turning to D20. I don't like D20. I got my D&D 3rd edition and Blue Rose with True20 (please, don't tell me how D&D 3.5, or 4th, or Pathfinder or anything else with D20 system is better than my "experience" with 3rd edition) which is my actual D20 experience. Well, never played D&D 3rd edition but I have read it a couple of times. If I want basic high fantasy adventures, I wouldn't choose D20 even then. I just don't like it. I like to roleplay in my mind, not with minis and battlemaps. I do want to roleplay, not rollplay. I know, you can roleplay even with tv-guide with enough imagination, and I am not rules heavy gm even in games with lightest rules but still, whole D20 concept relies on rules in my opinion. And all those attacks of opportunities and other feats you basically cannot play without buttons, paperscraps or minis is so frustrating. I want to be able to fully play my rpg without any other items. If I want to use minis, I play a game like Necromunda (been adding rpg aspects on it also in the past actually).
True20 was bearable. Take D20 system, make it a bit more simple. But still, it didn't tickle me. It still is lvl based. It still has some combat manouvers what are used in big part of action. I like my action to be "throw dice and describe" not "read your character sheets dozen feats and decide what you use". I like freedom in action, not list of what my character can do and cannot do.

You can still play D20 without rules, or modificate the rules to suit you, or make it rules light. You can ditch the attack of opportunities and other things you don't like, but it still is the same. You cannot change it.

I don't mean to attack all of you D20 lovers out there. Billion people cannot be wrong, and D20 is doing good. It just isn't for me. I don't mind what you play, more important thing is that you enjoy what you are playing. Most annoying about D20 what actually concerns me is that everything seems to be D20. Many interesting settings and books turn me off because of that D20.

Well, as a WoD fan, I don't like nWoD actually, but that is another story. I think Savage Worlds could be a good competitor to D20. I know, it will never take the crown from D20 and claim itself the "one" who resurrects old games, but it has potential. For Savage Worlds there is also good number of old games re-published.

It's good to get this out of my head. Now, peace, finally.

(Pictures from:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Watching Farscape, running Fading Suns

I am a proud owner of Fading Suns 1st edition. I remember my friend got that game long time ago but didn't like it that much, so I got it from him. Never actually played it before 2000-ish when I and my girlfriend started it. And I have to say, the game is lots of fun and the campaign was awesome. We still talk about it.

So, as previous post told, AFMBE didn't work out. So, checking out my rpg shelf and lately watching lots of Farscape, we decided to give Fading Suns another shot.

Just created character, and have played it for 15 minutes or so, so cannot tell much about the campaign yet. Still, expectations are high for this one.

I know, that running Fading Suns is told to be a bit complicated. The world and setting are quite rich of detail and a bit complicated in some decree. Still, I decided to approach game with more adventure and episode style play, so campaign set in same location shouldn't be a problem. And hey, I am watching Farscape big time, so there should be lots of inspiration! Inspiration worth of 4 seasons.

I have always thought Fading Suns settings to be somehow a bit like Star Wars. There is different planets with different societies and tech levels. But somehow, I think Farscape could suit that concept a bit better. Or what do you think? Only drawback for Fading Suns is lack of races. There is basically five of them. Human (divided to different orders, houses and guilds), Ur-Ukar and Ur-Obun, Vorex and barbarians. When watching many scifi-series from TV there is always countless numbers of different races. I could easily add my own races to Fading Suns, but I like to play game as it is "ment" to play. Still, there is genetic engineering and symbiots, what can add countless new races. Well, symbiots are bad guys, but genetically manipulated could come in any form and aren't necessary hostile. So, even if there is not many races presented in core rulebook, there is ways to hack many different races into game without breaking it.

Fading Suns rules have been criticized also but I find them ok. Basically you add charasteristic (strength, dexterity etc.) to skill and roll D20 to score below for a success. Victory chart adds a little twist. The more you roll under, the better the result is. And I think critical success is brilliant. If you roll same number as your charasteristic + skill you double the victory chart's result. So, better you are, better critical you can get. Roll 20 is natural botch.
Energy shields are also cool. They have value what damage they can absord. If damage is too low, it doesn't trigger on, and if damage is too high it cannot absord it anymore. For example basic energy shield has value 5-10 what means, it can absord damage between 5-10 but doesn't turn on on damage below 5 or cannot absord higher damage than 10. They also have "hits", what means how many times they can trigger on before their battery is used. I find energy rules quite fun and cool.
There is also "magic powers" so to speak. Divine miracles from religion and psychic powers. I have to admit, it's been quite long time last time I have read the book, so cannot remember those that well. Basically you try to balance with your light and dark side when committing them. Luckily, that is not important information to read at this moment, as those occult powers aren't available for player character.

There is much more in Fading Suns. I don't remember it all, so I must read the book again asap to refresh my memory. I don't care about other's opinions, but in my opinion Fading Suns is cool. One of the best rpg's out there. Propably even in top 5 (if WoD games go into one general position).

Related links (Fading Suns generally from newer editions):

Fading Suns @ wikipedia
Farscape official site
Farscape wikia reviews listing

AFMBE - It's a shame

I started AFMBE scenario with lots of enthusiasm. As I have told before, I had lots of inspiration from various zombie-movies and the book itself is really inspiring. But unfortunately, my player didn't buy it. We played around 3 short sessions, and after it the game withered. I couldn't get player to continue it.

I think the setting itself wasn't that bad at all, but the player isn't that big for the zombie-action. She enjoys zombie movies, but gaming a zombie movie didn't turn her on. So sadly, no All Flesh Must Be Eaten for me.

I tried to plan it to be quite short game, but still. I personally have lots of drive for running it, but if player doesn't enjoy it, then it wont happen.

So, after 3 short sessions my AFMBE scenario is frozen. I don't know if it is just temporary, or is it for good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Call of Kult - Kult/CoC convertion

I have planned my next FARP (stands for Forum Action Role-Play) for ages. I started planning it last year, but still haven't started it. I have to thank future players of that FARP for their patience.

First I planned to use my own rules set for the game, but decided to ditch it. My own rules are just at way too early stage to work properly. Actually I thought that FARP might be ok to playtest it, but there is still too much work before actually playtesting the rules. So, I had to make a decision to use ready existing set for the FARP.

I have been playing Call of Cthulhu at home for 2 or so weeks and nearly 20 sessions for now, so I decided to use CoC BRP system for the FARP also. Call of Cthulhu is also familiar game for the players I would be game mastering. I can use rules and dice rolling in FARP as they are presented in rules for I trust my two players that they wont cheat. BRP is good for FARP, because the rules are really light and easy. Not much rules twisting, everything works almost with the same mechanics. And as my game is horror with normal people, insanity rules are absolutely a must.

But, as CoC is behind it's surface about Mythos, and I am not using Mythos as the background of my horror scenario, I wanted something else to fill that empty slot. Kult RPG.

Kult is the game I love the setting really much. It is totally awesome, gives dozens of adventure and campaign ideas just by reading it and it's universe is actually quite horrific.

So, BRP as the rules set and Kult as the background setting. I also like Mental Balance rules in Kult. When you see too much stuff, you see through Illusion and horrible things happen. I decided to include that in BRP rules and with just a little thinking it is quite easy. Replace Sanity Points with Mental Balance and 99-Cthulhu Mythos with 99-Terror. You can ditch the skill Cthulhu Mythos as it is not needed.
New characteristics Mental Balance and 99-Terror work as their original source. There is small houseruling though:

- When character encounters something horrible, make SAN check based on current Mental Balance. If your score is lower, you success and loose minimum amount of MB (Mental Balance). If you score higher, you fail and loose maximum amount of MB. Amounts of MB are concidered as in Call of Cthulhu (ie. 0/1D3).
If you loose 5 or more MB from one encounter, you gain temporary insanity (as in CoC rules). Throw a table how long it lasts. After it, throw again against your MB score. If you roll higher, Illusion shatters and you see through it (as long as your temporary insanity lasts). See more information about seeing through the Illusion in Kult rulebook.

When trying to resist the truth behind the Illusion, use character's Idea.

Notice, when you encounter scary and horrible things, you're 99-Terror value decreases. It indicates your maximum possible Mental Balance. More you loose MB more easily you go nuts... and see through the Illusion.

More about setting and rules check on Call of Cthulhu core rulebook and Kult RPG core rulebook. Everything is detailed there. This is just a fast conversation to use Mental Balance rules of Kult in Call of Cthulhu.

In my convertion I have referred to Call of Cthulhu 5th edition and Kult RPG 1st edition. Rules between different editions may differ.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

[AFMBE] Angry Mother Earth and her rat army

Funny rat and cheese isolated on white background photo
I am now reading AFMBE, because after this ongoing Call of Cthulhu campaign it is the game next in line. Luckily AFMBE's Unisystem is easy enough to run, so there is more time for brainstorming the campaign than learning the rules.
I am going to run my idea of BBQ from Hell (posted about it here) but got this idea reading the rulebook I want to share.

Recent background

After world started to get great leaps towards advancement, it had its costs. Pollution, overpopulation, destroyment of nature - humanity has done in past few decades more damage to nature than in millenia. World is suffering. It is cycle of nature to reset Earth from time to time. When ecosystem is really screwed up, places are overpopulated, evolution takes it's step and starts to destroy the things what burden ecosystem.

Now or in near future is time for humanity to decrease in number.

Army of rats

Rats. They are everywhere. In rural areas of world to greatest and modernest capitals. Their number can be decreased, but they never will vanish. They are extremely adaptable and resilient for enviromental, or human, hazards. They also multiply fast in great numbers

They start to be everywhere. They increase in numbers no one has seen before. And they are big. And hungry. Rats aren't that picky. They can eat flesh as comfortable as grain.

Among rats is also new plague. It doesn't affect rats, but rats are carriers of it. It does spread easily amongst rats, as rats do bite and skirmish together. The main problem with this plague is, that it is really adaptable, so there is no cure for it. As soon as it can be cured, it has evolved to even more recilient.


What is the problem? There is swarms of rats. They are bloodlusty. That is only drawback of infection to them. They become bloodlusty and frenzying. Rats can also easily get almost anywhere. They can squeeze in small spaces, climb on high towers, even eat their way through a wall. You cannot hide from them. And if the swarm is big enough, they are capable even rolling a car over.

As said, infected rats lust for blood. And they are ready to eat human. They do kill humans on their sleep, or even attack whole office to bite and eat people. But after the blood turns cold on a corpse, rats start to find new fresh and warm prey.

What is the effect of the dicease to human then? After human is bitten or eaten to death, infection starts to affect dead tissue and nervous system actually animating the corpse. Half-eaten corpses rise in 24 hours (2D12) to shambling undead zombie terrors. And the contamination has done them bloodlusty also.
If human survives the rat attack, he must success on resisting dicease or he/she is still infected and turned to frenzying half-dead flesh eater!

Rats and zombies

You can find stats for zombie rats in AFMBE rulebook page 169. But you have to adjust the information a bit. Stats are okay though. They aren't dumb. They can teamwork. Rats are actually very intelligent and determinent rodents.

They aren't actually living dead, but you can use zombie special stats for them. You can find stats for zombie rats in AFMBE rulebook page 169. But you have to adjust the information a bit. Stats are okay though. They aren't dumb. They can teamwork. Rats are actually very intelligent and determinent rodents.

Getting around: The Quick Dead. Even if this is for humanoids, you can simply use these rules for rats. Also Climbing but take a note, rats can climb even to places where human cannot.
Strength: Single rat isn't anyway compatible to human strength, but in a pack or swarm they can be pretty powerful. You can use your own advice to determining how many rats needs to be in a swarm to get benefices of each Strength category presented.
Senses: Like a hawk. Rats have very keen sense of smell. Scent tracking.
Sustenance: Need to Feed Daily and All Flesh Must Be Eaten. They are greedy and hungry little buggers, even if they don't consume whole body.
Intelligence: Teamwork. They do move in swarms and can even roll over a car if they are plenty enough. Still, they don't actually plan things, it is more a animal instinct thingie. You can also get Problem Solving, as rats are intellect and learning critters.
Spreading the Love: Both Only the Dead and One Bite and You're Hooked, as killed body is most certainly turning into a zombie, but also failing resistance of biting turns you to zombo.
Special Zombie Features: Diseased corpse. Yes, they are infected. They spread the infection by biting. Also, as there is swarms of rats they can carry other diceases as well.


People, who get killed from rat attack use basic zombie stats from AFMBE rulebook page 146. Although, they infect people same way as rats do.


Use basic stats of basic zombie on AFMBE rulebook, but add those specialties from rats to them. Even if they are like human, well dead ones, they behave a bit like rats do. It is like rabies, makes you animalistic.

Have fun

This was not much of an information, but more a idea. How does Cast members find out about rat epidemia, how does it affect them, and main question, how to survive - if to survive at all? Those questions need a bit more detailing, and can be described more specifically when making the campaign.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

[Call of Cthulhu] Call of ice

Call of ice is my recently started Call of Cthulhu campaign. Inspired by movies like The Thing, 30 Days of Night, Whiteout, The Abyss and reality series Ice Road Truckers I decided to use campaign to be set to something cold, icy and remote place. What could be better than Antarctica?

Plot of the campaign is quite simple. Character gets job assignment to join exploration group at new research facility at Antarctica. Character has no idea what it is all about, but payment is tempting and experience unique her to join it without bigger hesitation.

She met a person who lost both his hands and legs because of frostbites, but the horrible past of that poor man didn't stop her for leaving.

The new research facility goes with name X-123. It is new enough not to have proper name, or is not intended ever to get one. It is highly classified, what the research facility is doing. Ever character did not have a clue before she entered it.

At the facility they got quick briefing about journal what tells about something what lies within the ice. That is what character and rest of the research group is after. Journal or their supervisors at the facility didn't tell what they are exactly looking and retrieving for. Some kind of stone tablet is all group knows about.

First problem came, when character was asked to study few corpses coevered with fungus like mold. Nothing she, as a biologist, had ever seen before. As they didn't have a breakthrough on investigating the mold-fungus, X-123 decided to put it away. Character learned, that the destination they are going to go had one previous investigator group. The infested corpses.

When one corpse rised dead-alive and puked fungus on the face of another X-123 executioner, things started to get bad. Fungus lives in living tissue, spreading on skin and through nervous system. Same time it developes seeds in the stomach of the corpse. When corpse rises alive as a zombie, it is ready to contaminate nearby victims by puking on them. That is the way how fungus like mold spreads.

Another higher status X-123 executive is now infected, and the only cure for the mold on skin is the heat. But it needs atleast over 200 celsius to kill the fungus. And it is not quarantee to cure it. It might be in blood, as it contains by swallowing the seeded fungus-puke of the mold-zombies.

That is what has happened this far in the game. The stone tablet they are after, is a valuable artifact for human, but just a signal beacon for Mi-Go, race from Pluto. Mi-Go are at Antarctica to harvest ore, and that tablet investigation group and X-123 are after is just a spot-marker for Mi-Go. Nothing valuable for them.
Mold is actually, and basically Mi-Go snack. They cannot sustain anything for nutrition from Earth, so they bought their mold-fungus with them. They can eat mold-fungus from people. As it is contanious, their stack of snack doesn't end.
The purpose of this weird extraterrestial dicease is not to launch pandemia of strange hard to cure dicease, but just to feed Mi-Go. They are just doing their own business there, and human are their cattle - snacks.
Mi-Go doesn't want fungus to spread, as it could draw attention to Antarctica and their job, so they don't use animals to harvest mold.

So, what is the purpose of this campaign? For first, I have this "cold snowy icy places" period going on, and wanted to run a game in a setting like that. Second, I have for long wanted to run Call of Cthulhu. So, combining them two and result is this campaign.
Also, I wanted to add something from Mythos to game, as this is Call of Cthulhu after all. I asked at some ideas about what Mythos could suit to mold-fungus, and got two options to go. Yog-Sothoth or Mi-Go. Read through both on basic rules book and decided to go with Mi-Go as it is not as threatening as a God. There is a change, and it is not too "at the last session you see huge monster, go insane and it eats you".

There is also a learning curve in the game. Have learned lots of Antarctica when searching for background data for campaign, and during game as player's character is a biologist, learned few things about DNA.

This game has been fun, and there is still few more sessions to end it. I am not sure yet how it will end, and will the character survive. Anyways, someone is going to a space travel in a brain container, that is sure.

Unfortunately I write campaign in finnish, but you can find it session by session from here:
Call of Cthulhu - Jään kutsu