I know I haven’t blogged about any Cepheus stuff in quite a while. Heck, I’ve been busy. But then this little jewel popped up. And oh man is it good.
Warlords of Atlantis is from Zozer Gamers and they already have a great pedigree when it comes to Cepheus Engine games especially Hostile and Zaibatsu. Warlords of Atlantis is specifically designed to used the rules for Barbaric! In case you haven’t been keeping up, Barbaric! is a very rules lite take for Sword & Sorcery adventures.
It’s mostly a setting book and it’s a really inspiring setting while I was reading thru it, I heard this in my head, “Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of….” Warlords of Atlantis presents a classic pulp style Atlantis that not only brings forth Conan but also Kull of Atlantis and all of those classic Harryhausen movies. The setting is an alternate ancient world with inspiration from so many damned sources. Often, when that’s done it can dilute a setting. But all of those elements are put together with consistency making just a plain cool setting.
This is just plain cool and fresh step away from the usual elves, dwarves and kitchen sink. Don’t get me wrong. I do love playing with the standard D&D races is nice but it’s also nice to have something different.
There aren’t a lot of rules changes or additions. A few spells are changed. A couple monsters are added. Character generations is spiced up with backgrounds that offer up an extra specialization. There is a cool tweak to the Hero Points. You just don’t get them. Warlords of Atlantis takes this metagame currency and makes it part of the setting. You see. Hero Points are a gift from the Gods and they demand sacrifices. Cool right.
But wait there’s more. Want to take some 20’s or 30’s character into the time of Atlantis or may be do the good old Hollow World thing. Yep. There’s rules for that too.
It’s great to see an adventure come out for Barbaric! It’s one those fun games that hasn’t gotten as much love as it should. So what you get for under $2? A nice tidy little adventure.
It Came from the Scriptorium is mean, horror dungeon crawl set in a corrupted abbey. There’s plenty of mean nasty things to rip your head off. This adventure has a strong Lovecraftian vibe going and isn’t your usual just a bunch of undead and monsters that the players have seen a dozen times before. A few times it even slips into an Army of Darkness/Evil Dead tone with some the bits that show up. Yes, I’m trying to do this spoiler free. There’s plenty of weirdness to keep the players on their toes or into a shallow grave.
Clocking in at just 23 pages (including cover and legelese), It Came from the Scriptorium packs in new freaky monsters, villains, and bizzaro magic items. All which can easily be added to add a little more spice to an existing campaign.
While the adventure is technically written for Barbaric!, it can be easily used with Sword of Cepheus or, heck, just tweak it a little bit and you could use it with any of the 2d6 based games.
Because why not. I threw this together for yet another option for Barbaric! It’s just something that hit this morning so I scribbled down some notes. Yes, another random idea.
So first this would replace the standard crit tables but not the additional damage from crits as per the Barbaric! rules. This still adds a whole bunch of danger and dismemberment to combat. On the referee side, I wouldn’t worry too much about a hit location table for each and every monster morphology. Just roll with it.
First the table. Throw 2D:
3: Right Arm
4: Left Arm
5 to 9: Torso
10: Right Leg
11: Left Leg
So what do you with that location? Well, first you can do piecemeal armor. Assume the price listing and optional encumbrance in the book is for a full set of armor. For piecemeal armor, adjust the price and encumbrance based on the percentages used below. Yes, you are going to have to do some math.
Damage Modifier: Any damage that gets by the character’s armor is modified by the location that’s hit and damage effects applied as normal.
As I said earlier, this is just a wild idea that popped into my head. YMMV.
So where does this take my little mind? Well, Cepheus Light is a lighter version of the full Cepheus Engine rules but not any where near as light as Cepheus Quantum games like Barbaric! So why not start with something like Barbaric! and tack on more of the details skills and some other the other mechanics from Cepheus Light plus more tidbits from Sword of Cepheus. I will say this the Quantum games offer much less complex monster stat blocks and thus makes the referee’s life much easier.
And yes. I know Cepheus at its heart is a SciFi RPG and I keep ranting about Barbaric! and Sword of Cepheus. SciFi is sort of my GM blind spot. For some odd reason, I’m just not good at it.
I’m still gaming via VTT’s so anything that is more rules light with quick character generation is the sort of thing that I’m looking for right now. I’m still brainstorming this whole idea which is why I’m posting. I’m sure folks have an opinion out there.
First, Quantum games don’t really have Attribute scores for the characters. This is handled via Skills and Traits. So add Attribute score. Now, working via a VTT (and with gamers who have never played a Cepheus (or it’s progenitors) normal character generation would (IHMO) really bog down. Quantum games just give a pool of Skill points to distribute. Much quicker but there’s a very limited number of skills. So my initial thought is to run with a template approach for skills. Pick this career and boom there you go then use discretionary Skill points for additional terms in a career. I’d limit to only three terms and have something for changing career paths. And just do one big Events Table for anything interesting that could happen.
This is just the kernel of an idea that’s bouncing around inside my head. I don’t how far I’d run with it or maybe change up the whole thing. Just throwing it out there.
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.