Category Archives: RPG

RPG Posts

Fantasy Flight Games’ new Star Wars RPG

Star Wars Edge of the Empire

Does anyone still play tabletop RPG’s? Fantasy Flight Games has released a new Star Wars RPG and it’s wonderful. The book is expensive at $60 but they have released a Free RPG Day adventure called Under a Black Sun that has an excellent rules summary and I have found myself referencing it over the core rulebook. It’s essentially quick start rules disguised as a free adventure. If you have an interest in the game, I would strongly suggest that’s the place to start.

Grab the adventure/rules summary here.

Buck Rogers

Nice outfit.

Flashback 1979:  Me, my dad, my uncle and my cousin go to the theater to watch a movie starring some guy named ‘Buck Rogers’. Being 7 years old I had no idea who he was and had no expectations going into it.  I ended up loving it of course!

As I got older and more into comics, movies and other nerdy stuff I discovered the 1939 serial starring Buster Crabbe, the original Armageddon 2419 story that started it all and finally Dynamite Comics fantastic take on him.

What got me were the differences between each version.  At it’s core, Buck Rogers is the story about a man out of time and how he copes in his new environment.  Although each version is recognizable, I always wondered why so many changes to it compared to say, Flash Gordon.  Here are some very basic differences.

Armageddon 2419: Anthony Rogers is surveying a mine in Pennsylvania when he notices a pungent smell and glowing rocks.  The cave collapses in on him and he awakens 500 years later (2419 AD).  After waking up, Anthony comes to the rescue of Wilma Deering who is being chased by Mongul Reds.  His name was changed to Buck for the comic strip.

1939 Serial: Buck Rogers is flying a dirigible with his young friend Buddy when they are suddenly caught in blizzard and forced down.  Not able to be rescued anytime soon, they activate ‘Nirvano Gas’ that so conveniently happens to be on their ship and are placed in suspended animation for 500 years.  They are found by two soldiers who use Ray Guns to free them from the ice.

Hubba hubba!

 1979 TV Show: In 1987 Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers is piloting Ranger 3, the last of NASA’s deep space probes.  In a freak mishap, he is blown out of his trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support system, returning him to Earth 500 years later (2491 to be specific).  He’s thawed out by the Draconians and sent back to Earth with a micro-transmitter attached to his ship.

2009 Dynamite Comic: Anthony ‘Buck’ Rogers, a retired Air Force captain is testing a gravity drive he help invent in hopes of faster than light travel.  He is sent on a mission by the government to retrieve a space probe that contains DNA of Earth’s animals.  The drive malfunctions and he is slingshot 500 years into the future.  He arrives in the  year 2519 (The 26th century).  He crash lands on Earth and is found by Colonel Wilma Deering.  In this version they sort of rescue each other from an intelligent genetically engineered bear.

The Dynamite version stays truer to the original comic strip yet modernizes it for today.  They also have Buddy in the book who, like in the original comic strip, is Wilma’s younger brother and a cadet.  There’s no Twikki but the Earth Directorates’ Trans-Suits make the ‘Biddi-Biddi-Biddi’ sound and in a later issue you see Twikki’s head in a 20th century earth storage room.  One of the neat things about the Dynamite version is how it flashes back to the 20th century throughout the series before and long after Buck has already been lost to the future.  The stylistic designs of the trans-suit’s jodhpurs and forcefield ‘bubble helmet’, spaceships and weapons have a distinctly 1930’s look to them and are a great homage to the 1930’s comic strip.

I’m my own nightlight.

My only complaint about the Dynamite series is that it seemed to try and cram a lot into a few issues.  The Air Lords of Han storyline only lasted two issues and really felt like it was anticlimactic.  The original Airlord’s of Han was the sequel to Armageddon 2419.  My guess is the writer knew the series was being cancelled  and felt the need to tell the story.

I picked these up not long ago when ComiXology had a 99¢ and I’m glad I did because I enjoyed Dynamite’s take on him very much.  There are two collected trade paperbacks out and they will end up on my bookshelf.

Doc Savage – First Wave Write-Up (Thrilling Tales/Savage Worlds RPG)

DOC SAVAGE

Real Name: Doctor Clark Savage Jr.

Base of Operations: Empire State Building, New York City and The Fortress of Solitude, The Arctic

Occupation: Scientist, Adventurer
Height: 6’8″
Weight: 285lbs
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Blond
Skin: Bronze

Marital Status: Single

Group Affiliation: None

Attributes: Agility: d8, Smarts: d12, Spirit: d12, Strength: d12, Vigor d12

Charisma:+? , Pace: 6, Parry: ?, Toughness: 9

Skills: Climbing: d8, Fighting: d10, Healing: d??, Investigation: d10, Knowledge (Medicine): d12, Knowledge (Science): d?, Notice: d12, Persuasion: d?, Piloting: d10, Repair: d?, Survival: d?, Swimming: d6.

Edges: Alertness, Attractive, Block, Brilliant Scientist*, Brave, Brawny, Charismatic, Connections, Combat Reflexes, Fast Healer, Filthy Rich, Font of Information*, Hard to Kill, Imp. Tough as Nails, Iron Jaw*, Jack-of-All-Trades, Photographic Memory*, Scholar.

* Denotes an Edge from Thrilling Tales

Hindrances: Heroic, Vow (….)

Equipment:

?????

Vehicles:

Auto Gyro:

Notes:

I’m going to post this as is and when I start tweaking it to  my liking I’m going to make it a page (as opposed to a post) and link it up off the main site.  I will also do that with the Batman First Wave write up too.

Doc is this world’s Superman.

Digital RPG’s: Why PDF’s will always trump eBooks

I’m a bit of a collector and because of that I have a large collection of Role Playing Games filling up my bookshelves.  What’s the problem with that?  Nothing at all, except I move so much it’s become quite a hassle to pack and unpack so many books that end up sitting and collecting dust.  Because of this, I don’t buy as many RPG’s as I normally would.

Enter RPGNow, where you can buy PDF copies of RPG’s, I have started collecting again.  There are two big reasons for this; First is Price and selection!  With most PDF’s being, roughly, 50% of cover price I can save money but with the huge selection I end up finding some great games that I didn’t even know existed.  Second, of course, is I don’t have to pack and move them.

Recently some manufacturers started converting their rulebooks into ePub or Kindle formats.  I was pretty curious about this until I bought one and took a look at it.  Meh.  I am going to compare some screenshots from my Nook Color and post them in the native 600×1024 resolution.

NOTE: This is nothing against the manufacturers of the games themselves.  I use the Castles & Crusades example below only because it’s the first eBook version of an an RPG that I bought!  I love Castles & Crusades and it’s my preferred fantasy RPG.  In other words, don’t get your panties in a bunch!

The Hardware

Barnes & Noble Nook Color (7″ screen), rooted with CyanogenMod 7.1 with the processor  overclocked to 1.2GHz.  This custom ROM turns the Nook Color into a poor man’s tablet.

This would be considered a very low end tablet but I still get decent performance out of and I’m able to read larger, graphics intensive PDF’s without too much trouble.  On an iPad2 or similar Android tablet it would be quite responsive.

The Software

Aldiko eBook Reader – My prefered eBook reader.  It allows me to import my purchases from Barnes & Noble.
ezPDF Reader – A great PDF reader with some really nice features that you will see below.

_______________________________________________________

Below is page 1 of the Castles & Crusades Players Handbook.  Strangely there was no cover included with this eBook.

Castles & Crusades ePub

Not bad... not bad...

 

As you get further into the book it looks like any old digital novel and not a nicely formatted RPG.

Castles & Crusades ePub a little further in

Bland is as bland does

eBook Pro’s: 

Size: Very small, thereby not taking up much space.
Less processor intensive: The fancier the PDF the more it taxes the cpu.
Easier to read: Mainly because you can size the text to what you want.
Good for older hardware: Older Kindle’s or Nook’s can take advantage of this format.

__________________________________________________

Below is a screencap of a PDF zoomed out.  As you can see the text is small and hard to read but you get a better overall view of the format of the page.

Casles & Crusades PDF

Zoomed out

 

A quick double tap of the text zooms you in on it.  The nice thing about this is it keeps the text locked in position.  In other words if you swipe a little to the left or right it won’t drag what your reading around with it.  You’ll notice “sf < >” superimposed over the bottom of the screen.  Clicking “< >” will scroll you to the next section of text to the right or left respectively.

Castles & Crusades PDF whole page view

Zoomed in

PDF Pros: 
Formatting: This is the big one.  RPG’s are a visual medium too.  There are some full color books that are almost works of art in and of themselves.
Portability: PDF’s can be viewed natively in most operating systems and can also be printed out.

 

It’s quite clear that I prefer PDF’s over  eBook’s for my RPG’s.  While I can understand why publishers are going the eBook route I’m hoping it will be a moot point soon with Android based color eBook readers like the Nook Color and Amazon Fire coming out at affordable prices.

The Batman – First Wave Write-Up (Thrilling Tales/Savage Worlds RPG)

THE BATMAN

Real Name: Bruce Wayne

Base of Operations: Gotham City (near Los Angelas, CA)

Occupation: Businessman/Investor
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 210lbs
Eyes: Black
Hair: Blue
Marital Status: Single

Group Affiliation: None

BatmanFirstWave

Attributes: Agility: d10, Smarts: d8, Spirit: d12, Strength: d10, Vigor d10

Charisma:+2 , Pace: 6, Parry: 8, Toughness: 7

Skills: Climbing: d8, Fighting: d10, Intimidation: d10, Investigation: d10, Lockpicking: d12, Notice: d12, Pilot: d10, Shooting: d10, Stealth: d12, Streetwise: d10, Swimming: d6, Tracking: d10.

Edges: Alertness, Attractive, Block, Bring It On!*, Charismatic, Connections, Combat Reflexes, Filthy Rich, Investigator, Thief, Two-Fisted.

* Denotes an Edge from Thrilling Tales

Hindrances: Heroic, Vow (….)

Equipment:

M1911’s (x2)
Range: 12/24/48  Damage: 2d6+1  RoF: 1 Shots: 8+1  Notes: AP 1, Semi-Auto

Utility Belt
Smoke Capsules: MBT (-6 to sight based rolls)

Grapple Gun:
Bat-line (As per Swinging, Ensnare)

Grenades

Vehicles:

Bat Cycle:

Hang Glider Cape:

Notes:

Still a work in progress!

I decided to not use any superhero genre rules and to go with a strictly hero pulp style write up using the Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds) by Adamant Entertainment.  The Edges and incapacitation rules presented in this supplement are fantastic and capture the feel of the hero pulps that First Wave is based on.

This is a young, somewhat inexperienced Batman who is still mostly unknown by the general populace.  Even as a new hero Batman has high traits and plenty of Edges.  He isn’t quite as dark as his Earth-1 counterpart and most notably uses twin .45’s like many of the heroes in pulps do.  He also doesn’t have an over abundance of gadgets.  No Batarangs, Batmobiles or even BatGyro’s make an appearance, just his .45’s, a smoke grenade and a couple frag grenades(!).  He has no qualms with shooting back at the bad guys or using one as a shield to protect himself from enemy gunfire.  His attitude on killing is much like his very early Golden Age appearances.

 

DC’s First Wave written up in Two-Fisted Tales RPG

I love pulp, comics books and role playing games!  When I created my Classic Site back in the early 90’s it was to showcase my character write-ups and house rules.  Being a huge comic book fan, 99% of those write-ups were superheroes using a superhero based RPG system.  DC tried getting into pulp comics in 2010 using their street level heroes as well as licensing some popular pulp characters.  I thought I would try to do what I’ve done in the past and showcase them as write ups but using a pulp based rules system instead.

First Wave #2

I was happy to see DC make an attempt at getting pulp comics going with their First Wave series but sadly the spin off books were quite bad and they neglected to launch a pulp Batman one!  Still the Batman/Doc Savage Special and the original First Wave mini series were a lot of fun to read.

The concept of DC’s pulp world has no super powered beings in it and uses a blend of licensed pulp characters like Doc Savage and the Avenger along with Batman, The Blackhawks and even Will Eisner’s The Spirit.  The time period it took place in was just as blended.  Dirigibles and 1940’s looking cars were seen along with cell phones and flat screen TV’s.

Brian Azzarello wrote the special and the mini series to set the world in motion.  Sadly First Wave ended before it uh, ended…  In other words it was pretty much cancelled before the last issue came out.

World's Finest

This World's Finest

The Two-Fisted Tales RPG by Precis Intermedia Games is an ENnie nominated Role Playing Game made for the pulp genre.  It features an easy to learn, fast paced rules system that scales perfectly with DC’s First Wave.  My goal is to create character write-ups using the Two-Fisted Tales rules set for Batman, Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Spirit and others.  This will be a work in progress so stay tuned.