Time Again to Start Navel Gazing

It’s that time of year when I begin to think about the whole status of the blog and all the other little online RPG things that I do. I know most people wait until the end of the year to do this but, for me, it’s when I get the notification that it’s time renew the domain and web hosting. I go through this debate every year. I just need to think and justify it to myself to shell out the dollars to pay for a better blogging plan.

There’s a lot of things that did happen this year. Some successes. Some new insights. Some are kind of what do I do know? The most interesting insight so far this year is the uselessness of posting to Facebook. I used to cross post from the blog to a few RPG groups there. I haven’t done that in over a month and a half. You know what? It hasn’t hurt the traffic on the blog at all. Looking further back on the good old stats, the only posts that did garner any traffic from Facebook posts where one’s that were a bit controversial. I know I’m sounding really biased with this but even outside of RPG Circles, Facebook is more about ads and controversy.

Sales over on DrivethruRPG have been good this year. Well, I should say good by my previous sales numbers. A few sales came in from Lulu but nothing spectacular. And traffic here on the blog has been much better than last year. Those are all good things.

So what about the bad and not so great things? I think it’s safe to say that idea of a podcast is totally dead. When I compared time versus listenership, it just isn’t worth the time. What about Youtube? Well, there’s plenty of things that annoy me there. Ads and god only knows what the community standards are gong to be this week. Sure it’s popular but… Then there’s Patreon. It’s handy for a reoccurring tip jar and I’ll probably make a few more adjustments for that. And Buy Me Coffee has made an even smaller impact. Like I said, I’m not trying to make a bunch of money but I would at least like to break even and have a little extra RPG fun money on the side.

So these are things that bouncing around inside my head right now. I’ve got a couple more ideas that lingering in the back of my skull but I’ll see where things go from there. I dunno.

Cepheus Deluxe!

I’ve been excited about this one since I heard it was coming out. For me, the whole Cepheus sphere of games has been a breath of fresh air. I’ve spent plenty of time with d20 based games and lots of others but coming back to the simple 2d6 mechanics of yore has been fun. Plus I just haven’t taken the time to dig through some boxes and find my original Little Black Books.

Let me get this part out the way. What’s this whole Cepheus thing? To put it simply, a bunch of folks who are way smarter than me created the Cepheus Engine SRD based on open gaming content and created a game inspired and basically compatible with good old Traveler. (Google it.) To put it in more generic terms, it’s a skill-based, roll-2d6-high game system.

What does Cepheus Deluxe bring to this party? It streamlines the key elements of the game (like character generation) without making a “rules light” game. (If you want that may I suggest Cepheus Faster Than Light or Cepheus Quantum.) And it does this while still maintaining basic compatibility with other adventures and supplements made for Cepheus. You may have to do a little converting depending.

My initial thought is to marry up Cepheus Deluxe and Quantum. At first this may sound silly but hear me out. Deluxe for player characters and important NPC’s then use the Quantum rules for minor NPC’s or other nasties. It would just make the referee’s job a whole lot easier.

Like most games, there’s an implied setting. It’s what I would call hard-ish Sci-Fi. It ain’t Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy. Think more Aliens, Starship Troopers, Bayblon-5 and the like. It doesn’t mean that you’re stuck in Sci-Fi if that isn’t your thing. There’s plenty of supplements and complete games that cover other genres.

I’m really pleased with Cepheus Deluxe and it’s a welcome addition to my gaming collection. I just may have to come up with sort of Sci-Fi campaign to suggest for my gaming group. And in case any one was wondering, there’s the optional rule that your character can get killed during character generation.

You can grab the PDF up over on DrivethruRPG and POD should be coming soon.

You’re Responsible for Your Own Fun

Ever hear that old saying, “You’re responsible for your own orgasm?” Well, this is sort of like that but without the awkwardness and clean up afterward.

This isn’t about just you having fun at the game table and ignoring everybody else. Everybody should be having fun. You see, I keep seeing posts (usually on FB), “Is there an adventure that has….?” “Why isn’t my favorite class part of this game?” and so on. And, of course, I got thinking. Just make the damned stuff yourself.

I may be just plain crazy or an RPG conspiracy theorist but I’m getting the feeling that it’s becoming all too common for folks to look for “officially sanctioned” adventures and other gaming material. Those things do make life easier but they aren’t necessary. If somebody hasn’t made what you want then DIY it.

I don’t have the time to write adventures. Work with what you have. Do your best. What if the adventure or custom class for my friend is totally screwed up. Then fix it. What if I post online and people don’t like it. Screw ’em. Everybody makes mistakes. Not every adventure, class, or whatever is perfect. Some times things go well and sometimes they suck. Deal with it and do better next time.

But here’s not what to do. Whine that somebody else hasn’t made that exact something that you want. Like I said at the beginning. You’re responsible for your own fun.

Meeting The Girl Born Under The Serpent Star

We managed another online session this weekend. Sure Owlbear Rodeo was having some server problems but we worked around it.

So here’s a little recap. The party was hired to help one of the local nobles find his missing daughter. They soon find out that the local Temple of Set was also looking for a girl and quickly deduce that they are all looking for the same person.

After some shenanigans, the party finally gets an audience with the High Priest of the Temple of Set. Of course, he looks like this.

I couldn’t help myself. Here they learn that that temple doesn’t want to sacrifice her. They want to outright kill her. According to the High Priest, Kalia, the girl, is a gateway and will become the mortal vessel of the ancient evil serpent god Yig. The only way to stop it is to kill her. The High Priest offers to double the reward from the noble if they help. The little mercenaries agree.

They do a little more detective and find a tavern that seems to be under new management. They go in, they get suspicious, and the fight breaks out. Panicked bar patrons, brute guards, and oh yeah Serpent People. Spells and body parts go flying. The party’s henchman, Daryl, is killed in the fray. A pair of burly serpent man guards try to rush Kalia out of the tavern but the party prevails.

And things get more interesting now. The Druid was still in wolf form and quickly notices that the “girl” they are rescuing isn’t Kalia. The Serpent folk assassin drops her disguise spell, fails to stab anybody, and gets cut down quickly.

That’s when they notice one of the “dancing girls” hasn’t fled. She drops her disguise spell and it’s Kalia. Just evil green-glowing-eyes Kalia. She mutters, “You just can’t find good help. You can’t stop me, mortals.” She blasts the party with a spell, dominates the Barbarian and orders him not to let his friends leave this room, and she runs.

The chase is short. Only two characters manage to get passed the Barbarian, the Monk and the Courtier. Kalia with the use of a few spells easily looses them.

So the party got to confront the big bad of the campaign and they survived.

YARC: Saves & Skills

This is my last part of general overview and navel gazing and then I have to really get down to details.

Saves are actually the easiest part. As I’ve said before I really like Swords & Wizardry with its single Save but I want to go a little beyond that with just a little bit of tweaking. So the easy part there’s the base Saving Throw determined only by the character’s level. It starts at 15 for 1st level characters. Then you’ve got the four broad modifiers for Saves determined by stats, race, and class. In essence, there’ s four categories “Saves”: Death/Disease/Poison (CON); Magic (WIS); Traps/AOE (DEX) and Luck (CHA). Most are pretty obvious except Luck. That’s the when in doubt, just make a Save to see what happens, and catch-all for anything else. Simple and easy.

Now Skills are always a big headache. Some folks like them Some folks hate them. A lot of game just have too many damn Skills and some not enough. It’s a fine line. For this I want to break skills down into three very broad categories and work from there.

First, there’s the crap anybody can do with little or no training. That’s an Attribute check using the good old x in D6 model.

Second, cool stuff a character because of their class. For this I’m talking about cool tricks the only characters of certain class. Once again these are on an x in D6 model.

Then there’s stuff any character can try if they’ve got a bit of training. And this is where I’m really brainstorming. There’s those handful of tasks that just about every adventurer wants to do sometime during their career. Everybody wants to sneak somewhere, forage for food, climb, and so on. To keep things consistent, I could still use the x in D6. But I’m also think of something with more granularity. Maybe x ind d12. Because, hell, d12’s need more love. But then Thief skills were based on percentages so there’s that option. On the positive, it does give skills a different feel than other rolls and can add a different twist to things.

I guess next I need to start actually putting all my rants and ideas together.

Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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