Saturday, 28 March 2015


So our latest campaign, Operation: ANTIQUARIAN has just come to a dramatic and rather final end, with one PC obliterated from the universe by the Great Old Ones, another reduced to a SANless husk, temporal distortions, people literally wearing other people's faces, a complex Cold War nuclear gambit aimed at bringing about the apocalypse, and oh yes, two PCs who are basically more or less fine actually.

But this is not a time to evaluate that scenario, it's a time of change. For with the end of that campaign comes a new one, and that new one is of Oliver, and it will be Planescape!

In case anyone's reading this and doesn't know what Planescape is: it's like The Faraway Tree, except Dame Slap is replaced by an omnipotent theocidal regent* called the Lady of Pain, the Tree is a city called Sigil built on the inside of a torus hovering over an infinitely tall spire, the place is populated with gangs and sinister philosophical guilds rather than happy elves, and you can never run home to mother ever again.

*I was going to say "with a strong BDSM vibe, and then I thought, y'know...

So obviously we had to come up with character concepts, for a 3rd-level character, and naturally the first thing that came to me was a Gap Yahoo or a spoilt Elven Prince(ss) (I have prior form with the latter). Then I thought, obviously, combine the two. And thus, after much toing and froing about builds, it was done.

The problem I had wasn't mechanical, but simply how the heck do you go about building "gap year traveller" in D&D 5e? It doesn't lend itself very obviously to any class.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Jacobeans versus Aliens: weaponry

A significant part of the setting is, of course, period-appropriate(ish) equipment, and weapons are the first thing that tend to come up. One obvious and (I think) interesting point is the interplay between technologies, because at this time firearms are still very much in development.

Here we run into some problems. The New World of Darkness rulebook provides precisely one archaic weapons, sef the crossbow. And it's not that archaic, because it's clearly there a) to hunt vampires, and b) on the assumption that they're fairly readily available in the modern day. What we don't have is black powder. Jacobeans need black powder.

After much digging around, and a lot of forum threads that are unreliable or houserules, I find a couple of websites that feature weapons tables from actual White Wolf books. There's a problem. Over the years, White Wolf has used the Storyteller System (old World of Darkness), the Storytelling System (new World of Darkness), a rerevamped set of rules in the God-Machine Chronicles that is technically (I think?) a new setting/canon for the ruleset but also includes rule changes, variant rules in Armory supplements, and quite possibly variation between books. I can't find any discussion of exactly what is changed. I can't find any explanation whatsoever of what the different weapon properties are supposed to represent in each edition. As such, trying to assemble a coherent set of weapons from the disparate material is a formidable challenge.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Impressions of Demon: the Descent

As you might remember, I played and bought Demon: the Fallen some time ago, and despite some positive feelings, I found my early confusion was thoroughly compounded by appalling editing and skewy mechanics, until I yielded to complete apathy.

So naturally, when Arthur revealed that his copy of the successor, Demon: the Descent had arrived, I was keen to take a look.

DtD, from what I've read and what Arthur told me, basically throws out everything from DtF and starts all over again from scratch, and I would just like to pause for a moment to offer my appreciation for what must surely be one of the best decisions ever made in the industry.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Jacobeans versus Aliens: worldbuilding

Yeah, I'm still not super keen on any names I've thought of.

One of the big issues with this game is deciding how to represent aliens. Basically, I think there are two choices (thanks Dan).

The first one is my initial instinct: try to create aliens as they might have been depicted by Jacobean sci-fi if that actually existed. So they have wood and metal vessels, use weapons that Jacobeans can imagine (even though they didn't have that science), and so on. This has a sort of appeal in that I just like the idea of Jacobean sci-fi. On the downside, that didn't actually exist. And I have very little idea what it would hypothetically have been like. And when you get right down to it, would it really be all that different from either sci-fi or steampunk? Because it's kind of going to be somewhere between the two, to be honest.

The other option is a bit harder to articulate. Basically, the aliens are more or less like aliens as depicted in 20th century sci-fi, but described entirely in Jacobean terms. I'd also try to incorporate strong flavours of Jacobean worldview. A disadvantage here is the suspension of disbelief: how can these spacefaring aliens not just eliminate their human foes?

At this point, my inclination is just to go for the latter.