All posts by Peter R.

I have been blogging about Rolemaster for the past few years. When I am not blogging I run the Rolemaster Fanzine and create adventure seeds and generic game supplements under the heading of PPM Games. You can check them out on RPGnow. My pet project is my d6 game 3Deep, now in its second edition.

The Mirror Tells Her Lies

I have many fond memories of playing RuneQuest back in the day and amusing discussions about if elves don’t see by reflected light, but see the intrinsic object can they see through windows? Or maybe that was just our group that got caught up in this quandary.

The point is that OpenQuest is a very easily hackable variation on the RuneQuest theme that has spawned half a dozen new games based upon the open ruleset from Clockwork to Pirates to the Renaissance.

For me I have not really touched much upon except then I was comparing starting characters from a wide range of starting characters in d100 systems to see just how competent characters are comparatively from one system to another. (it turns out that you can very easily take a starting PC from any d100 game and play then in any other d100 game with no significant modifications.)

The adventure module in the title The Mirror Tells Her Lies is a fully funded Kickstarter for the OpenQuest rule system. It is also the writers first foray into digital publishing. I think the whole thing, kickstarting an adventure module, was a pretty brave thing to do. Modules are notoriously hard to sell as most experienced GMs pride themselves on writing all their own adventures and OpenQuest is pretty niche as a game system.

The writer is very open about the risks involved in completing the project but despite that the project is well on its way to doubling its funding goal. That is no mean feat.

Reading the kickstarter campaign it is obvious that the writer, Michael Hopcroft, has many more plans for the future and the fact that this first one funded bodes well for those future adventures. If you enjoy OpenQuest in any of its variations, BRP or RuneQuest then you may want to check out this writer.

Hope Playtest

This week I am reading the Playtest for HOPE RPG. I skim read the document when I got it last week but I haven’t had a chance to make a character yet or got a chance to play it.

It is also too new to have any actual plays online.

So my first impression is that this is a fusion of Zweihander and Gamma World with a healthy dose of MY:Z thrown in for good measure.

The Zweihander bit is in character creation and skill resolution. Zwei uses d100 and you roll under your Stat + skill. Typically this is going to give you about a 45-50% chance, all things being equal. In addition if you roll a double eg. 11, 22, 33 all the way up to 99 and 00 you get a critical result. Double when you succeed is a critical success, double when you fail is critical failure.

HOPE uses stats in the 1 to 5 range and skills typically give a +1 or so. To succeed in a skill test you roll under stat + skill so typically four or five. You roll d10 and try and get equal to up under your stat + skill. You also roll a second d10 as the critical die and if it matches you skill roll you get a critical success or failure. So in effect this is Zwei stats and skills divided by 10.

The professions are rather zwei-like but they go hand in glove with the skill system, rather then being more like character classes where everything is bundled up together.

When you get to the combat side, mutants and monsters it starts to feel much more like old school Gamma World. You are using a full set of polyhedral dice with weapons doing from 1d4 for something small and improvised to 2d8 for big bad shotguns and magnum ammo.

And then there is the Hope settlement. This is where it starts to get a bit MY:Z with its Ark or even Zombie Run with Able Township, for the fitter roleplayers (LARPers?). One of the starting objectives in HOPE rpg is to defend and build up the Hope settlement in to something safer and more sustainable.

Impressions?

Given that I have only skim read the rules I have come away with two overall impressions. The first is that although this game claims to be grim and perilous and characters don’t live long, it actually looks a lot more fun than Zwei and more survivable.

The second impression is that this simplification of the core Zwei mechanics means that the game should play quite quickly at the table. I am going to start making characters this week, probably tomorrow. I get the impression that a character on a post-it may be a viable goal for this game. I like games where you don’t need a playbook just to know what your character is capable of.

I will blog about this game later this week or early next week when I know more.

Scion and StoryPath

I don’t know if this is intentional but the more I read about Scion, and watch actual plays on Youtube the more I am seeing this as the Percy Jackson role playing game.

I absolutely loved the Percy Jackson books, even if they were written for teenagers. Reading those books is a lot like remembering your very first forays into D&D, in my case the basic set. The films on the  other hand appear to have been made by someone who hadn’t read the books. The first film was one of the few films I have gone to and I actually felt like I wanted my money back.

So Scion and Percy Jackson share the same basic idea. Your character is the offspring of a god but doesn’t know it. They have gone through their life quite happily, probably, until now and then weird stuff starts to happen all around them.

Scion 2nd edition comes as two books, conveniently called Book One and Book Two, to save confusion and the pair will set you back $35 or so ($29.99 if you buy the bundle of both books).

The biggest change between first and second edition seems to be the adoption of the newer Storypath system from the older Storyteller system. The intention being that storypath is better able to cope with the most powerful of entities better than the previous rules.

I never played Storyteller so I don’t know if this was much of a problem or not. It looks like all the new Onyx Path games will be converted from Storyteller to Storypath. 

So what is it like?

I am developing an liking for ‘dice pool and count the successes’ based systems so I was already onboard before I even started. I also had a soft spot for Percy Jackson so I knew the sort of thing I wanted to experience.

I have not played this game a lot, I have only had the rules for 10 days or so. This is not an authoritative review. The game is hugely fun to play but I found it demanded a lot when running the session. That could be down to me and my lack of experience of the game. Even the more experienced GM I got to play with started to jump back in time within the scene to clear up confusion or occasionally to change facts. I like rules light games and Scion while not really rules light it is certainly no more than rules medium, it that is a thing. With less rules it often puts more emphasis on the GM to paper over the cracks. That is accepted game play. In scion you are asking, or asked, what do you want to do and how are you going to do it. What skill and what attribute are you going to apply. At times I got the impression that the more experienced players were min/maxing on the fly. They has a kind of stock answer to how they could apply their strongest skill and strongest attribute to just about every situation. The players that could leverage their best abilities had bigger dice pools to play with and got more successes.

If everyone is doing this then it really doesn’t matter, if four successes is the norm then the GM can set the target number of successes accordingly. If only one or two are adept as min/maxing like this then it becomes harder as to challenge most of the group is to allow the others to simply walk all over the challenges.

Is this a Good Game?

I would say yes. I enjoyed it and it was quick to pick up and learn. The caveat is that you need good players who are driven by a desire to explore a great story. I suppose your typical power gamer is not likely to be drawn to the storypath system unless it is the only game in town.