Here’s another Kickstarter that’s landing in backer’s hands but not yet out to the general public. So yeah, I’ve got my PDF of it. Yes, I’ve ranted about it before (here and here) when the Quick Start became available. Now that I’ve got the full PDF, it’s time for more rants.
As I said before, I like the Urban Fantasy genre and have ran a few campaigns of it. And I think it’s under served when it come to RPG’s that fit my own personal tastes and this is even more true when it comes to old-school games. Night Shift does a good job of blending old-school mechanics and making available the wide array of character possibilities in Urban Fantasy.
So if you’re an old hat at RPG’s and especially old school then the system isn’t that hard to grasp. You’ve got your standard array and range of attributes, classes, and “races”. The classes are broad and specific at the same time. There’s isn’t that much niche protection but relies more on the you can try anything, but what you are good at is really based on your character. For races, there’s only two. Mortal Human and “Supernatural”. Supernatural is just the catch all for anything weird that a player may want (with GM approval, of course). On the downside, Supernatural characters basically start off with a deficit of XP (about 3,000) before they can take a class. This add a little balance between the mortals and supernatural.
For the classes, you can see the DNA of the classes from standard fantasy versions. The Chosen One, The Survivor, Witch/Warlock, and Veteran lean towards the Monk, Thief, Magic-User and Fighter respectively. The other classes (Sage, Inventor, Psychic, and Theosophist) each have their own abilities and tricks that they bring to the table.
The basic game mechanics are something that most folks should be used to. Saving Throws are based on each ability (rather than type). Most actions including combat are basically handled with ability checks (d20+ability modifier+other modifiers). Now, specific class abilities are generally handled with a percentile roll. You know just like old-school Thief skills. Players are encouraged to have their characters try anything with an ability check. Characters with specific skills get to use their skill and try with an ability check; giving two chances to succeed. There’s also the Rule of 2 which is basically everybody has at least a 2 in 6 chance of doing something. As always it’s up the arbitration of the GM. And everything does a d6 damage like in really old school games.
There’s other cool stuff in there too. A few campaign ideas. Lots of options for setting the tone of the game (cinematic to gritty) plus optional rules. There’s also some great notes on converting your Night Shift game into a different old-school game. Like BX/Old School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry or White Box or whatever of retro-clone you like? It will take some work but you can convert it. Now, I know my players. And I know that at least one of them will say, “But what about 5E?” I would say that it is possible. It will take a lot more work than with an old-school game but yes it could be done. And you could even bend it around enough to use Basic Roleplaying percentile system with enough tweaking.
There a couple of things I did find a bit annoying. I do think the book could be organized a bit better. I found myself bouncing between different sections of the PDF to make sure I understood a specific concept, rule or ability. This is easier with a physical book, I just found it a pain with a PDF. Plus there are a few rules here and there that I personally think could have been written a little more clearly. But this is all my own personal preference and not a huge biggie.
So am I going to run this? I dunno. If you read the blog regularly, you know that I also like Dark Streets & Darker Secrets and it’s a tough call between these two but then since both have that old-school DNA there’s no reason that they can’t be kit bashed (as I tend to do). But then Night Shift has plenty of inspirational material that I could see myself taking some of the concepts and porting them into Savage Worlds. And of course if my players whine enough, I might try my hand at doing a 5E conversion. So we shall see.
In summary, glad I backed. Glad it’s out there. And I know I’m going to be seriously playing around with this game soon.
I did say that I’d do something gameable next for my crazy rants on the Night Shift Kickstarter. So here you go. But let me give you a little background first.
My personal urban fantasy setting is New Bay City. You can read a bunch more about it here. The recent work on it is for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets but along came Night Shift so I’m considering that system too. It all depends on when I get to run it again which will probably be after I run Frog God Games The Blight. In a nutshell, New Bay City is a fictional town in east Texas on the Gulf. It’s part Houston, part New Orleans, a little bit of San Francisco, and a whole bunch of Sunnydale.
At first I was going to do these two characters as PC’s but I just don’t feel confident that I can do it well based on what I know about all of the mechanics of the game. So heck. They’re NPC’s. So make them NPC’s. And that’s one of the many cool things about old school games. NPC’s and monsters don’t have to follow the same rules as player characters. So without further ado, here’s Jennifer and Whisper.
Jennifer the Sound Girl (Fledgling Vampire)
Jennifer has an interesting back story dating back to the first I ran New Bay City. It was the very first adventure where the PC’s where tagging along with the crew of a documentary about a famous serial killer. They end up facing off against said magically empowered serial killer. Jennifer was a no name NPC, just the Sound Girl. She was supposed to be just another slasher victim. But no. She was the only NPC to survive. She became sort of the party mascot for the first run of the campaign. Unfortunately at the end of that campaign, she was kidnapped and forcibly turned into a vampire. During the second run of the campaign, she turned into a key provider of information to the player character about the local vampire factions and the party scene and since it was mostly the same group of players. They were glad to see her back.
Jennifer was never trained in the use of her vampire powers so she isn’t fully aware of what she can do. While she hates her current existence, she’s compensated by adopting the party all night, sleep all day life style. What else is a vampire going to do? She does her best to keep a low profile and doesn’t to get involved in of the machinations going on between the supernatural factions in the city. She really just wants to get on with her life and be as “normal” as possible.
Hit Dice: 4
Special: 2 attacks (claws, bite), when Jennifer attempts any of the “standard” vampire powers (expect blood drain type power) use the Rule of 2 for her chance of success.
Whisper the Hot-Tempered Sorceress
Whisper comes from the second time that I ran New Bay City. We were using the Dresden Files RPG and one the players wanted his character to have girlfriend. Cool, so what do you want? I dunno but make her interesting. So here’s what we ended up with.
Whisper is a street-smart spellcaster who puts on an air of being cool and tough but she’s really a closet nerd. She’s one of the regulars and the Four Horsemens D&D Game. (Note: Not those Horsemen. This is four buys that were inspired by the Lone Gunmen from the X-Flies.) Whisper’s biggest problems are that she can be insanely jealous and she has a really bad temper. Her bad temper even influences her magic and she’s gain a reputation that she may be a powerful spell caster, she has very poor control of her magic and is known for causing more than her fair share of collateral damage.
Hit Dice: 5
Special: Attack: by weapon or Firebolt! (ranged attack) (2 in 6 chance of starting something else on fire if she hits; 4 in 6 if she misses). Spells(Spell Casting: 75%)*: 1st Level: Read Languages, Light, Protection from Evil, Detect Magic; 2nd Level: Hold Person, Phantasmal Force; 3rd Level: Monster Summoning
*Note: I used Swords & Wizardry as my source for spells for her. So I’m not sure if the quantity of spells match up with Night Shift.
So even more rants on New Bay City and Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. This week I want talk about Black Magic and Haywire. Both of these are standard tropes. How many times have read/heard something like vile arcane rituals? How about the characters are running away from the monster and the car doesn’t start? Both of those are examples. It’s not secret that I’m a fan of the Dresden Files and both of these things figure prominently in the books.
Now, Black Magic doesn’t need too much of tweak. There’s already plenty of Gifts that cause automatic Corruption or Sanity loss. However, (just based on my own interpretation) a few more should have that caveat. Namely, Cannibalize and Transfer Life. Of course, there may be more but that should be based on the Concept being used for the Character and for the Gift.
Now on to Haywire. Yes, this plays big into the Dresden Files. I also remember from Pacesetter Games’ Creature Feature. So I’m approaching this two ways. First, Gifted Characters that don’t have the Haywire Gift. It’s just a form backlash. Screw up a spell and trash everybody’s cell phone, laptop. or whatever high tech device happens to be around. And there’s the actual gift.
This gift disrupts the use of high tech devices within medium range for PL turns. Maybe resisted with a successful Luck check.
Pretty simple actually and I’ve got a few more random thoughts to throw out there. So this campaign might be postponed a bit. We do an alternating GM thing in our group. One GM one week, then the other the next. It works and helps reduce GM burnout. But one thing we do is avoid very similar campaigns. That’s so the players don’t get confused about what’s going on and keeps the games and genres fresh. So he’s wanting to run Scion. And folks are pretty excited about it. So this may get postponed a bit. But that doesn’t mean my ideas will. So stay tuned for more. And it just may mean I start blogging about my brainstorming for another campaign.
If you’ve been following along I’m converting/resurrecting the old New Bay City campaign for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. The first time I ran this setting it was with World of Darkness then I ran with the Dresden Files RPG. Each time I’ve made some tweaks to the universe based on the game mechanics. This time it ain’t any different.
Vampires and Werewolves are pretty much stock creatures and sometimes even player characters. One of the things that they usually have in common is that they were once regular mortal humans and then something happened. Some fight against their respective supernatural natures and others may relish or even be consumed by it. Plus each of these types has a buckets of folklore attached to them. So how I am going to throw this into Dark Streets & Darker Secrets? Corruption.
OK, I already did a rant on expanding the Gifted Class and in a way this is an expansion on that. Lets’ take a very common example and run with it. Vampires and sunlight. In most games/factions, young vampires poof if they even smell sunlight and older/ancient vampires can tolerate it. In this iteration of New Bay City, the opposite is true. That young (low level/HD) vampire has some of the strengths but those weaknesses are the result of Corruption. A Vampire has lots of hang ups that probably means that they are a bad ass and be thankful for those weaknesses. However, that extra that plays into why there is so much different lore out there. Each is sort of unique in their set of disadvantages.
This is only something that would apply to the “Blooded” types as I rambled about in The Gifted Expanded post not anything that’s purely supernatural. I may do some specific charts but I also grabbing something that seems most appropriate to the specific situation when things go horribly wrong. So here’s the lists of that I’ll be using for inspiration by type. And is no way complete and other changes/tweaks will be based on specific characters.
Vampires: Animal Antipathy, Aversion Holy, Addicted Blood, Allergic Sunlight, Allergic Garlic, Need to be Invited, Aversion Mirrors, Smell of the Grave/Cadverous.
Werewolf/Lycanthrope: Animal Antipathy, Allergic Silver, Addiction Raw Meat, Full Moon/The Beast Within, Feral Appearance
Changeling: Allergic Cold Iron, Need to Tell the Truth, Aversion Holy, “Alien” Appearance.
Cambion: Animal Antipathy, Aversion Holy, Addicted to Sin, Smell of Brimstone, Demonic Features.
Nephilim: Overzealous Virtue, Aversion Unholy, Angelic Features.
And that’s this week’s rant on New Bay City. Enjoy! Oh and here’s my scribbled map of New Bay City.
I continue to work on my campaign for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. One thing I want to talk about now is overall world setting and factions.
The biggest difference (IHMO) in this setting is that there aren’t any huge international conspiracies or group. Most of the supernatural factions hold or at least vie for power on a much more local level. But that doesn’t mean that such large organizations don’t exist. But generally the more territory a group tries to cover, the thinner their power is spread. So let’s talk about the big groups first in this post.
1. The Inquisition*: Yes, the Vatican knows about the supernatural and tries to keep things in check. With that being said, The Inquisition may be far reaching internationally, it’s also one of the smallest group. The group is intentionally kept small. It’s easier to maintain secrecy and security that way. While they get some legal leeway thanks to the Church, they don’t get that much. And generally to maintain some plausible deniability, members of the Inquisition are usually “excommunicated” or “defrocked”. The modern Inquisition isn’t a crazed fanatical organization. They are more about protecting the innocents than just hunting monsters because they are monsters. They know they are outnumbered. Inspiration: John Carpenter’s Vampires, Bloody Mallory.
2. The Wardens: Yes, I took the name from the Dresden Files. This is a loose network of civilian monster hunters. They generally work alone or in small teams. There is no real organization or hierarchy. Wardens are up to their own devices as far as financing their own operations. Compared to the Inquisition, the Wardens have a much deeper connection with the Supernatural world having contacts and informants to keep tabs on the happenings in the shadows. Because of this many Wardens also end up acting as diplomats or at least neutral parties between the local factions. If a Warden takes up permanent residence in a large city, they make it their territory acting as sort of sheriff, judge, jury, execution, and as said before diplomat. Inspirations: Grimm, Buffy, Supernatural, Lost Boys (The Frog Brothers).
3. The Network: Law enforcement isn’t totally ignorant of the Supernatural but they really can’t say or do anything officially. That doesn’t keep various law enforcement officials from various jurisdictions from sharing information and offering insight into what might be going on. The few members of the Network probably know the least, they do their best to keep too much mundane crimes with supernatural connections under control. Inspiration: Twin Peaks, True Detective, X-Files
And yes, there some specific local factions in New Bay City but that’s for the next post.
*It’s a fictional world, ok? It doesn’t reflect the real world.