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.

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.

4 games in 4 days

I have a game that is one proof read away from being Kickstarter ready, if you remember my Devil’s Staircase Wild West game. I was going to go live earlier in the summer but a friend who has written a Zweihander inspired wild west game (Ballad of the Pistolero) went live the week I had earmarked for my launch.

I then had a rather unfortunate health thing that landed me in hospital for a month, major surgery and all that sort of thing and it and everything kind of went by the wayside.

I am just starting to get back into the mood for setting up a kickstarter and looking around at some of the interesting things that people are doing.

Talking of which I have come across Nerdburger Games and an upcoming kickstarter for four four page games in a Kickstarter that lasts just four days.

I quite like seeing how these off the wall Kickstarters perform. I like rules light games. When Ballad was in Kickstarter I know the waiting for the 30 days was agonising. A four day campaign sounds much more bearable for the nerves.

If you want to keep an eye on this you can follow Craig and his campaign on twitter.

If you are not familiar with Nerdburger Games they have a variety of games available on DriveThruRPG.

The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG

I have only just discovered The Witcher RPG from R Talsorian Games. Actually, I have only read the first two Witcher books so far. I only discovered them in March this year. I am obviously well behind the curve.

The full Witcher RPG is a 300+ page single volume rulebook that covers everything you need.

If you wanted to have a play there is also a quickstart version called Witcher: Easy Mode.

My taste in games these days is for ever simpler rules. This game is certainly not rules heavy by any means but at the same time it feels a little disjointed. The characters are nice and simple and the character sheet is well laid out which keeps things simple in play. The skill system is nice and easy, roll a dice, add your skill and get over the target number. So far so good.

Then we get to combat. It feels like combat was written by a different author. As there are two writers on this game that is entirely possible. All the speed and elegance of the skill system disappears and instead we get a seven step process for rolling an attack doing your damage. You need to roll your attack, then you roll damage and you may need to double it. You roll for hit location and then you may need to triple it or maybe halve it depending on where you hit. Then you have dodging, blocking and armour to take into account. Once you do hit there is a critical wound system, I am a Rolemaster fan so criticals are fine by me!

When we get to magic we are back into simple territory again. Ever spell description contains everything you need from a description of the effect, any damage, ranges and so on. They have pride of place on the character sheet and there is a good variety of spells. My favourite is Earthen Spike that rips a stalagmite out of the ground and up into your intended target. Too often I read spells and they just seem like reworkings of D&D spells but that is not the case here.

The bundled adventure looks well thought out and designed to test drive all the sample characters and give each their moment in the spotlight.

All in all I am impressed with the game, the interpretation of the setting and the presentation. I think combat could be slicker but to balance that it is hard to imagine a game detailed enough to bring the setting to life that could be any less detailed. The Easy Mode version is free for you to take a look at and play the sample adventure, the full game is $24.99 for the PDF but DrivethruRPG are about to start their Christmas in July sale in about 2 weeks time so you may well pick it up cheaper. Either way it is worth the money if you are a Witcher fan and want a new fantasy game to play with.