Final Post

New Years Day 2018, fin.

Everything has a course For me this Blog has run it's course. It's time to close the door. I have a few thoughts about why  now i...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Seven Years of Fantasy Weather.

Just boosting the signal of an interesting product.

Seven years of Fantasy Weather Volume 1 Medieval England (by Written Oakes Spalding) has been bouncing around my G+ and social media Feed this week.

 The  pitch from Drive through is as follows:
Each twelve-hour day or evening entry includes information on temperature (in Celcius and Fahrenheit) weather events - fog, thunderstorm, blizzard, etc. - amount of rainfall/snowfall, occurrence or possibility of lightning, wind speed, wind direction, phases of the moon, effect on movement rates and chance of getting lost. It's an almanac for the fantasy gamer. No more annoying die rolling or consulting an app or online program to generate a random or patternless result. With FANTASY WEATHER you can see all of it at a glance
This is one of those things I never knew I needed. An Idea which out of the blue that makes me think, "Damn, I wish I thought of that." As such I wanted to  to pass it along, with a thumbs up. Furthermore it all looks well presented in a familiar / classic old school format that is user friendly and easy to read. The effort to compile this work, and format it with such an obvious eye towards the look and feel of  "Original Old School" products seems worth more than the asking price of $7.00 U.S.

Lastly there's promise of more Volumes of  "Fantasy Weather" which  makes me think how cool would it be to  print them all (once they are done)  into a binder for  reference as needed.

If it's the kind of thing you could use at your table give it a look.


Disclaimer: You have read this before. I don't know the author of this product, I did not receive this product, I don't do "Affiliate" links on this blog as of this writing.

Monday, November 20, 2017

"Marauder Task Force Role Playing Game" Kick Starting NOW.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I love kickstarter projects and I love the creators behind them.  I have been hoping to include more creator Q&A's on this blog moving forward. In that spirit here is the  second entrant in that series of posts.

Marauder Task Force Role Playing Game is kick starting now, and  it caught my eye the instant I saw it. What only a few regular readers here would know .. (basically only Otto honestly) Like many guys my age, before I loved RPG's I loved GI Joe.
This my friends is a game that allows you to use your 1:18 scale military action figures in both an RPG and a Skirmish game.

More interesting still is that Marauder GR has a a whole line of their own high quality  1:18 scale action figures that will be fully stated out for the game.  While it  would cost a new player some  money to get a squad going , I have viewed the site and I don't thing the entry expense is any  greater than the average big name miniatures game offering. If all else fails there are GI goes floating around most yard sales and swap meats just ripe for the buying.
This is a dream come true for we gamers of a certain vintage.

I personally backed the game at the PDF level , because I am dying to see the mechanics.

In an effort to spread the word I reached out to game designer David Willson Brown with a few questions and he was very gracious in answering them for me.

So with out further Adoo.. Here is our brief exchange about the kickstarter. Please check it out and learn a bit more about this  great idea!

If it grabs your attention like it did mine take a few minutes and, Check out the Marauder Task Force RPG Kickstarter Here.

First off, please tell me a bit about yourself, Marauder GR and the people involved in this project.
I’m David Wilson Brown, game designer of the Marauder Task Force Roleplaying Game (MTF RPG) and the Tactical RPG game engine. The Marauder “Gun-Runners” are the folks behind Marauder Task Force action figure line and their modular accessories for their figures. We have a score of great people lined up to contribute to the project, including Jay Little as a design consultant (the Yoda to myself as Luke); Ryan Lord, our artistic lead; Justin Bell, our fiction and setting lead; Jeremy Land, our editor. Not to mention possible contributions from Christopher West, cartographer extraordinaire, and Keith Kappel, RPG writer and Navy veteran.

Marauder has been making 1:18 scale figures and accessories since 2005. How did you get introduced to Marauder? What sold you on the idea of a game involving military action figures? 

I am an avid GI Joe collector (focused on the 25th anniversary line and beyond) and with the lesser focus on the 1:18 figs I was looking for something else. I saw the early offerings from Marauder Task Force and was blown away. I saw that the original Task Force Kickstarter called the figures “gaming figures” and wondered where the game was. I reached out to them with my idea about bringing the type of experience from a tactical video game to the table using their figures and that’s how we got here.

As a kid, I was a huge fan of GI-Joe toys having an RPG based on 1:18 figures like I remember is a great twist on nostalgia. Did the company always envision writing a skirmish or a role-playing game for use with action figures, or is this a new evolution in what Marauder is doing?

I don’t believe this was in their vision originally, but glad they bought my pitch.

The Kickstarter text says, "The intent of the system is to simulate a tactical combat system similar to turn-based computer games."  Then goes on to mention managing Action points and shots involving distance, conditions, and weapon choice. Without giving up too much, what would fans of turn based combat games be most excited to see in your system? 

I think where the game excels in is the ability to have an accessible and fun tactical combat system and then having a strong option to tie it into a roleplaying game concept of managing the development and advancement of their characters. Hopefully, you will have the feeling of playing a turn based tactical game and care about your character’s continued existence.

In the “campaign mode" description it mentions the CO "manages the team through their down time" and characters built on class templates.  Will there be any skill based system in this part of the game? Will there be character advancement as we normally see it in RPG's? 

So, short answer- Yes. The class templates, or character builds serve as two things: One, the easy way to define characters for skirmish mode play. Two, the starting point for any campaign mode character. You can advance stats, add traits, and gain access to more advanced weaponry as you advance your character. We also want CO’s to be able to guide a bigger story to connect missions and manage team morale. What happens to your characters after a mission where one or more of your team members are wounded or die? How do they integrate and adjust to adding new members? What do they do with the information they collected from their last mission and where do they go next? This is the RPG element that I think could be pretty cool to explore in a modern military setting.

As a big fan of the Cypher system myself, I was wondering if you have been able to apply anything you have learned spending as much time with that game and specifically while working on the CypherCaster magazine to this very different project.

Well, being anywhere near some stellar veteran game designers like Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell, not to mention the brilliant Shanna Germain and the whole staff is what kind of game me some confidence to do something like this myself. I’ve tried to learn from their example and my experience putting together the CypherCaster Magazine as well as running the Kickstarter for the Adventures in the East Mark game gave me skills that I am bringing to this game. I try to find the folks that could bring their talents to raise the quality of the project and get them excited about their contributions.

Combat ranges and areas of effect are one thing when dealing with Standard 25 mm 1:76 models but 1:18 scale action figures are another thing altogether.  As someone who has designed some table top skirmish rules myself, I have been dying to ask, how have you dealt with scale? 

Ask me that in a few months. Seriously though, this is something that only more playtesting will help us determine if we’re off on our thinking. We want the game to move quickly and not get bogged down in cumbersome rules that take away from the experience. It would have been easy with what Marauder GR produces to allow the game to get extremely “crunchy” in rules, striving more for simulation than accessibility and fun. And maybe later we could do “advanced rules” that goes that direction. But I wanted a game that both avid gamers and toy collectors would get something from.

What have you enjoyed most designing this rule set?

Just building something that I can play with my own friends to justify my large figure collection and doing something with them more than just staring at them on a shelf.

I read that Justin Bell is a part of the team, and that he will be bringing his expertise to the game's setting material. How is the game approaching setting? Is it a near future concept, a here and now setting, or perhaps something else altogether?

So just like we have two modes of play, we are approaching this with two “styles” of play, which is both of those you mentioned. The “here and now”, or what we’re calling “Modern Military Special Forces”, is a slightly more realistic approach to the game. The “near future concept”, or our “Cinematic Action Hero Force”, will be more reflective of our love of classic GI Joe vs. Cobra style stories. The combat doesn’t change, although a character is more likely to die than be miraculously saved in the former versus the latter.

Lastly, if someone were on the edge about backing this Kickstarter project what one thing would you tell them to get them to take the plunge and become a backer?

If you have always wanted to have a fun game that you could use your action figures for, if you have ever wanted to have a tabletop experience like that of your favorite tactical videogame, or if you wanted to play in a roleplaying game based on modern special forces teams this is your game.
I have been admonished that we are not pushing the skirmish mode enough, and trust me that mode of play is a significant selling point to the game, so here I am on the record as saying that. If the idea of a RPG is the last thing you would ever want to do, this is still an awesome game for you. We are making this game so nearly every aspect of it adds to the skirmish mode of play especially since the rules for it are the core to the gameplay of the RPG.
Thanks for the opportunity to share this information with your readers and I hope if the have any questions they will reach out to us so we can answer them. Spread the word!

So that's that I would once again like to thank David Brown for taking the time to do this.
I wish him and Marauder GR the best of luck on their kick starter project!

*Edit: In my rush to get this out before any more time ticked away, I forgot to add this: I asked for nothing and received nothing from the authors in return for this blog post. I approached the authors, None of the links above are affiliate links.*

As always,
Thanks for reading

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Anatomy of: AAIE Dice Mechanics.

Check out the rest of the  AAIE "Anatomy Of" series:
The series includes:
The Anatomy of Weapons.
AAIE "The town"
The anatomy of Balance.
The Anatomy of a Perk.
The Anatomy of an Ability
The Anatomy of AAIE Magic

Posting this to answer some questions that have come up lately , specifically about  what are the "standard" difficulties in AAIE, which was asked at Metatopia this year of our lord 2017.
I figured the best way to answer that question would be to  disgorge the die system in all it's fetid glory.

Try not to fall asleep this isn't the most exciting game stuff post ever..

AAIE is built around a concept of Bell Curves vs A straight distribution.
When I started this game I ripped the die mechanic form my table top skirmish game lovingly known as "The Block Game." Way back when I wrote the Block Game I decided that I didn't want a straight distribution of 5% per vlue that 1D20 provides. I wanted something that offered more options. More ways that the game could manipulate the chance of a characters attacks being successful. IN that effort I started looking at  the distributions of rolling more than one die with one being designated an "Effect Die" to  determine  attack damage. I figured the success chances back then, when AAIE came around I just used the same methods..

Hold your breath lets do this:

At its base  the game is this: For any normal action the player rolls 3D20 and looks at the  middle value versus a difficulty to  determine success.

For example:
If the player rolls three dice and they come up 12, 7, 16  the middle value is  12.
IF the  player has disadvantage on the task they look at the lowest value in our example 7.
If the player has advantage they look at the highest value in our example 16.

Typical difficulties look like this:
Very Easy: 6
Easy: 8
Average: 11
Difficult: 13
Very Difficult: 16

The  Game master lowers the  difficulty of a task based on the attribute (if any) the character can use during the task. If lifting a log's difficulty is 11 and the  players brawn is  4 the  final difficulty  will be 7. For the example character an average task is actually pretty easy.

Question: "Why does the  GM do subtraction? That seems strange and  kind of shitty."

Well yes it is.  That brings us to the straight distribution portion of this  dance.
The simple Answer is  if the  Difficulty falls to 1 or below  the  player doesn't have to roll to succeed they just do.

The complex answer involves the "Effect Die." The effect die is any one of your three D20 designated at the beginning of the game which determines how successful a successful roll is and how horrid a failed roll is.

Effect die:
Rolling a 16 or over on the  effect die during a successful roll means the  character can invoke perks, which are special effects that character skills or equipment can bring into the story.
Rolling low on the effect die during a success allows the GM (at their discretion) to interject complication into the character's success.
Rolling high on the  effect die during a failure allows for the Gm to  create partial success situations, where the character fails but still gets something done.
Rolling a 1 on the  effect die during a failure creates a critical fail situation which is about as bad as it gets.

Remember the question a paragraph or two above? 
If the difficulty is 1 or less the player only needs to roll the effect die. They automatically succeed but  they still need to determine how strong a success they have scored.

So they roll 1d20 giving them a 25% chance to score at east one perk by rolling a 16 or better.

Which as you will see below is a solid 5% better chance of scoring at least one perk then the best chance a  player can get on an average difficulty roll. In  fact it's .70 % chance better than  scoring a perk on a normal roll if the difficulty is only 2. Lastly it's still .02% better (WHOOPEE!) chance to score a perk even if the  player has advantage on the roll and the difficulty is only 2.

In other words in it's mathematically in the players best interest to get the  difficulty down to  or less if they can.

The maths:
Here are how the difficulties stack up with disadvantage versus Normal versus Advantage.
The chart also shows the % harder a disadvantaged roll is vs a normal roll, and the % easier easier an advantaged roll is vs a normal roll at each difficulty tier.

Here is any dice figuring the  Advantage  distribution:

Here is the  Normal roll distribution:

Here is the Disadvantage Roll Distribution. 

So Using the  same maths,  I can figure out the  chance to get a success vs a difficulty of 11 and roll over a 16 or better on one D20 to score a perk. ...

At the same time I'll look at what the chances of rolling a failure versus an 11 difficulty and also roll a 1 on a separate D20 (which is what is in effect happening when you designate one of the D20's as the "effect die."

What you want to look at here is the  bottom graph  which shows the  % chance of the statement being "true" as in "did I roll over 11  and also over 15 on the effect die"

This tells me that if I have Advantage I have a 20.84% chance to  be successful and score a perk.

On the  other side of the  scale if I have Disadvantage I have a 4.38% chance of  failing vs a difficulty of 11 and also  rolling a 1 on the effect die...probably causing my character to  explode in a mushroom cloud of  feathers and  bile.

To wrap this up nicely the game die mechanic can be said to revolve around the base chances and how the player's actions / characters attributes stack up against challenges in the narrative environment.

The middle ground ... those  base chances.
A  normal roll vs an 11 difficulty the player has 50% chance of success or failure, an 10.63% chance of success with a perk, lastly a 2.5% chance of a critical failure.

So that's that a look under to hood at how how the  dice in AAIE shake out. (HAr HAr)
I'm sure there have been some mistakes along the way.. I'm no statistician, Not even close. However if there are mistakes, I'm going to have to let them be because I built the mechanic on this foundation a long time ago.

WHEW .. That's a bunch.
Thank you for reading ..

Check out the rest of the  AAIE "Anatomy Of" series:
The series includes:
The Anatomy of Weapons.
AAIE "The town"
The anatomy of Balance.
The Anatomy of a Perk.
The Anatomy of an Ability
The Anatomy of AAIE Magic

All calculations done with  "Any Dice" found here on the web. It's a great tool.