All posts by Chuck

I've been a gamer, a geek and nerd for about 30 years. Any questions?

Patreon Update: Tax Time

In case you haven’t heard, Patreon will start charging sales tax to patrons. This all depends on where the patron lives and what sort of benefits are being offered under an individual Patreon campaign. Patreon doesn’t really have much choice in the matter, it’s all determined by the local tax codes of where a patron lives. Also, what is considered taxable is determined by where the patron lives.
It’s up to the creators to do their best and guess the value of any benefits to patrons. Patreon has admitted that there will take the risk of something is supposed to be taxed and creator doesn’t set their advanced tax settings correctly. That part is a good thing. But here’s the part that starts to really bug me. In some places, apparently, early access to a podcast is taxable. If a creator gives away PDF, well, that’s still taxable for some mystery amount. And god only knows what else. At least from what has been said so far, “general support” and shout-outs still aren’t taxed.
I know there a few very successful Patreons that are almost like a private little store front. They’re shipping out T-Shirts and god only knows what else. These items are easy to put a value on. I feel there’s no way that I can fairly put some sort of arbitrary value on a podcast episode or even a little one-page PDF. My goal with Patreon was never to “make” money. Not even beer and pizza money. The goal is still to just make enough to pay for the web hosting of the blog and who knows, maybe a new microphone for the podcast.
So with that, I’m going to be redoing the Patreon in a manner that isn’t going to cause Patrons to be needlessly (IHMO) taxed on what I provide. I’m going to reassess the goals and the tiers. Since I’m basically using it as a tip jar, I’m also exploring other options such as KoFi and Buy Me A Coffee. Like I said before, I’m not out to make a bunch of money but giving potential Patrons other options is a good thing. And I’m going to look at the Patreons that I personally back and see what I might get taxed on.
Thanks and let’s back to rolling some dice.

The Cult of Mordiggian

Mordiggian is old and omnipotent as death. He was worshipped in former continents, before the lifting of Zothique from out the sea. Through him, we are saved from corruption and the worm. Even as the people of other places devote their dead to the consuming flame, so we of Zul-Bha-Sair deliver ours to the god. Awful is the fane, a place of terror and obscure shadow untrod by the sun, into which the dead are borne by his priests and are laid on a vast table of stone to await his coming from the nether vault in which he dwells. No living men, other than the priests, have ever beheld him; and the faces of the priests are hidden behind masks of silver, and even their hands are shrouded, that men may not gaze on them that have seen Mordiggian.-The Charnel God by Clark Ashton Smith

My own take on the Charnel God for my campaign world.

Mordiggian’s temples are scattered throughout Zoong. Some are tolerated like in Ularax whiles are hidden in shadow. Ghouls and other eaters of the dead view Mordiggian as the God of the Eternal Harvest. More civilized (and living folks) barely tolerate Mordiggian as a God of Funerary rites. He is not the God of the Dead nor does have anything to do with pass of the soul or spirit into the Afterlife but what happens to the mortal remains. In these areas, the Cult does have a mortal high priest who acts as the public face of the Cult.
Clerics of Mordiggian have a special rapport with low level undead. With a (D)estroy result on a Turn Undead attempt, the cleric may opt to change the attitude of undead to “Friendly”. How the GM determines what a “Friendly” reaction from a horde of zombies, well, that’s up to the GM.

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Playing It Wrong: Roll Initiative!

This episode I talk about initiative and high some interesting methods I’ve seen over the years in such games as TWERPS, The Hero System, Shadowrun, and Savage Worlds. Find out where I stole my house rule from. And finally back to reading from the Tomes of Ancient Forbidden Knowledge. This time Druid Spells from Eldritch Wizardry, Supplement III.
You can listen to the Episode right here or subscribe on most podcasting platforms.

Thanks for listening.

No Gaming But Lots of Ideas

Circumstances put me into place where there’s absolutely no gaming. Sure lot’s of folks are in the same or similar situation. But I’ve been totally idle on the gaming front. It’s a good time to sit back and plan about future campaigns. Our little group at least had a little time before every thing went crazy to do a little discussion. So I figured what the heck, why not share some of those crazy ideas on the old blog.
Cyberpunk Just for something different. Way back in the day, I ran the hell out of Shadowrun. I still have all my books. I ran a bunch of Cyberpunk 2020 too and have them as well. However, both of them have the same problem for my purposes. The hacking rules aren’t that great and it pretty much turns into one character going off on their own adventure while everyone else sits around and waits. The other problem is that there are so many options when it comes to gear especially weapons and cyberwear, that even character generation would take a couple of sessions. On the off chance of doing a straight up Shadowrun campaign, well, the magic system is cool but it’s probably going to be a pain for a modern newbie to learn. Once again. we’d be using old books so a player’s ability to their own copies would be limited. But hey if they really want to then I’m game.
We also talked a bit about Carbon 2185. This little gem is a 5E take on cyberpunk. It’s a pretty expensive PDF and the reviews have been good. But deep down I just don’t have a great feeling about getting that gritty cyberpunk feel with 5E. I’ve also got the old editions of Interface 0 for Savage Worlds. But once again, it just doesn’t hit the right vibe for me.

That leaves with the new gem that I found, Zaibatsu.I did a review of it a short while ago. In a nutshell, character create is pretty quick. Game mechanics are easy to learn. And the hacking game mechanics are pretty cool and quick. So that’s what I’m leaning towards but then I’ll see what the players say whenever we get back together.

Cthulhu I’ve had the urge to run a Cthulhu game for a while now. The “simple” one would be around Delta Green. But instead of all sorts of Federal Agents, I’m leaning towards something that’s more of a cross between Twin Peaks and True Detective (Season 1). But I’ve got other ideas.

Cowboys: I’ve thought about an Old West horror game for a while then I discovered Down Darker Trails and started listening to Ain’t Slayed Nobody. So Cthulhu is a natural choice. Of course there’s Realms of Cthulhu for Savage Worlds and it wouldn’t be that hard to add in the Old West elements to the game.

Pirates: Because everything is better with pirates. This idea has bounced around inside my head for years using Savage Worlds. There’s Tales of Solomon Kane, Pirates of the Spanish Main, and Realms of Cthulhu. I’ve got all those and it’d be easy to kit bash them together. But then I could also use Blood Tide from Chaosium.
For both Cowboys and Pirates, I’ve the idea to make the campaigns so that mortal vs mortal combat is slightl cinematic and not as deadly as the core CofC rules. But when the monsters come out they better run. So that’s why I’m leaning towards the Savage Worlds versions. There’s a few nobs and dials that I can tweak to make it like that. Of course, the CofC system is pretty simple and I do love doing house rules so maybe I might do some tweaking there.

There’s other ideas bouncing around inside my head but these are the major ones. And of course, we shall see
And remember folks. Sometimes the monsters kill you and take your stuff but still have fun.

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Some Random Thoughts on 6th Editon

Well, folks are already thinking and speculating about 6th Edition D&D. So why shouldn’t I? I will say that I did get one thing right back on the old blog. I made the guess that the 5th Edition OGL and SRD would be much more restrictive than 3rd Edition’s. Also, guessed that WOTC would adapt some sort of spp store model where they’d a bit out of every sold. Hello, DM’s Guild.
So why even think about 6th Edition now? Well, based on other editions its about reached its life expectancy and WOTC just hired a new guy. So. Maybe? I dunno. One thing about 5e is that there’s been many fewer splat books. They left to DM’s Guild. Sure there’s some good stuff there but there’s also a bunch of crap. So maybe there’s life in the edition yet?
Another thing WOTC has to think about is the fan base. Now, I’ve heard tell of a few that just read the books and watch various Youtube stars play. This segment is at least large enough to put a blip on the radar. Another thing there’s many 5e fans who have only played and probably will only play 5e. They aren’t like us grognards who will bounce between games. Sure we’ll bitch about it. But a lot of us play more than one game. If WOTC really wants to keep a very vocal part of their fan base, they’ll need to make 6th edition more like 5.5. Not too many changes to the actual game mechanics but I do suspect that the game would be more friendly to the players in the sense that game would be even less lethal and more, dare I say it, super powered. You know every character is a special little snowflake before character generation is even done. And then there’s the crazy Internet lynch mobs. They’ll find something that upsets them.
So maybe a “6th Edition” might be on the way but my guess it will be like 5th but written like every character is a Mary Sue. But we shall see.
So go out there and roll dice, kill monsters, take their stuff, and have fun.

Playing It Wrong: I Hate Some People

Yes, I know I missed last week and barely got this week’s done. Life around the Gazebo has been busy and I just ain’t used to all the moving furniture and appliances around. So I’m still dog tired and sore.
This episode is a total ramble cast. I hate “some people”. You know that mythical bunch that is always cited by someone in online arguments. It’s always “some people”. Not much going on in the way of gaming but got lots of ideas bouncing around inside my head. But that’s for a later blog post. Plus a shout out to the new Kickstarter by Bloat Games, Survive This Fantasy. And there’s some other stuff too. No Tomes of Ancient Forbidden Knowledge. That’ll be next episode.
You can subscribe on most podcasting platforms or just stream it right here.

Remember: Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun.
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Zaibatsu RPG: Cyber-Fun

Yes, I’m still around. This are just do damned busy but let’s get this post rolling. A few weeks ago before everything went pear shaped, I mentioned that I was thinking about Cypberpunk games and a kind Tavern goer over at Tenkar’s Tavern Facebook Group suggested that I look at Zaibastu. So I searched around the Net, read some reviews, and decided to pick it up. Wow, I’m glad that I did.
Zaibatsu uses a streamlined version of the Cepheus Engine. And just in case you didn’t know, the Cepheus Engine is basically old-school Traveler. At it’s most basic, it’s a skill based system with 2d6 resolution (which means that +1 means a hell of a lot more than the d20 systems). Unlike old Traveler, you won’t die in character generation.
Character generation is straight forward. Roll 2d6 for your stats, pick a career (that gets characters +1 with one skill and a piece of gear), buy some skills based on your Education stat. Then buy your Retrogenics. This is replaces the old standard of cybernetics. It’s one of the few places that the game has taken the approach of updating based on real world tech. I think of it as Alice from Resident Evil. But if you want to do with cybernetics then just change the name. It’s an old-school at its heart, you can do that. Wrapping up character generation, players can roll up an appearance, a contact, a life event, a pistol, a radio, and 4,000 Yen. And you’re ready to go.
As I mentioned previously, Zaibatsu uses a streamlined version of the rules. It uses Stat checks for “common” type tasks. Half the stat+2d6 and need to roll a total of 10 or better. Simple. Skill checks are basically the same (but ignore Stats) and require an 8 or better. The streamlined rules make the action move quickly. There’s no initiative but attacks are resolved in phases and considered simultaneous within each phase. First is melee attacks then ranged and then movement. This makes melee combat important even if everybody is carrying a gun. This makes combat pretty deadly. Making it even more dangerous, your armor only affects one attack. Ouch.
Since it’s a “modern” era game, there’s got to be some vehicle chase rules. We got those too. And it’s a simple and really easy to use system. It is a little abstract but I’d rather have that then an overly detailed system that would take hours to play out one chase. I especially like the “Weave” maneuver. The chased vehicle makes a check with a penalty and the chasers need to make their check with the same penalty in order to keep up. It kind of reminds me of the auction system from the old James Bond RPG.
You can’t have a cyberpunk game without hacking. And as many have mentioned over the years, this the point were so many cyberpunk games fail. A lot of times, it just ends up that the hacker goes off on their own adventure while everyone else sits around. Way back when I was running Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun, I just house ruled that all the hackers were NPC’s. Zaibatsu solves this with a simple, fast and really interesting way. You sue a deck of cards. (Deck, get it?) Once again, I’ll explain it at its most basic. The hacker gets a number of free guesses based on their Skill level. Start guessing the suit of cards as they are drawn, and hope you don’t trigger the ICE. It’s that simple. Once again, this is some thing that I really like because of not only its simplicity but also it makes hacking different than regular actions in a way that’s fun and quick.

Zaibatsu comes along with its own setting. Characters are working for a megocorp (Zaibatsu) in the a dystopian Tokyo. It presents enough detail to be usable and still gives a GM plenty of room to maneuver and add their own stuff. Personally, I’m thinking of throwing together various bits and bobs from my old Cyberpunk and Shadowrun games. (Don’t worry. No magic stuff for this idea) and using primarily Cyberpunk’s Night City. There’s nothing that says you can’t. Both the crunchy bits of game material and the fluff put the game into a cool retro-future type tech level. It’s very much Blade Runner and William Gibson style attitude and setting. And speaking of Blade Runner. Zozer Games has another game Hostile which is set in the same universe. I havent picked up Hostile yet but it’s basically Aliens. And yes, Blade Runner and Aliens are the same universe.
So overall, I really like this game but… Yes there a couple of little annoyances. This has to do with organization. I noticed this especially with weapons and vehicles. It would be nice if all the stats were in the same place. For weapons, the damage and range are in one chapter but cost, ammo capacity and other stats are in a different chapter. The same goes for vehicles. It’s annoyance but doesn’t really undermine the game over all.
All in all, it’s a good game of low-lifes and high-tech. It’s about quick and dangerous combat. It presents itself with a sensible retro-tech style dystopian setting. I like and it’s probably going to be my go to system for cyberpunk when gaming gets back to “normal”. It’s not “rules lite” but as I like to put it rules efficient. It’s got that old school flair of rulings not rules and there’s plenty of room to house rule and tweak to your own setting or preferences.
You can find more resources over on Paul Elliott’s site.
You can pick up the PDF on Drivethru or a dead tree version on Lulu. NOTE: If you buy they dead tree version, you’ll get a free copy of the PDF.