Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Meanwhile ... yeah, it's been a while.

Thought I'd drop a quick post to give props to a mini-series of podcast episodes that I'm really getting into at the moment. Mostly Joe's 3-part series on Mutants and Masterminds (including episodes on the upcoming supplements Warriors and Warlocks and Mecha and Manga) is fantastic. He interviews Steve Kenson about Mutants and Masterminds in general, then goes into detail with the authors of the other two books - about the logic behind their books, stuff that interests them, how to use these books in play or preparation, and so on.

They can all be found at d20 Radio, along with other great podcasts.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Star Wars Conversions: Seperatist Droids

Hey all!!

Firstly, a very merry christmas to you all. I may not be religious, but there's nothing like spending time with family, with good food and drink and lots of presents :)

Secondly, here is another post from my star wars conversion series, where I convert things from the star wars universe to the mutants and masterminds RPG. This time, I have statted out some of the seperatist battle droids, as seen in Episodes I to III, as well as both clone wars TV series. As a guide, I used the stats as given in the star wars saga edition as well as greywulf's D&D conversion guide. I started off trying to convert things 1:1, but it was just taking too long and didn't seem to make much sense, so instead I chose an arbitrary PL rating for them, and statted them out to have approximately that number of power points. As for the weapons, I tried to just pick weapons of approximately similar power from the M&M equipment section and just made them energy weapons, with autofire. Ah, well...

Finally, a rant.

I've been watching a fair bit of star wars recently, particularly the recent clone wars movie and TV series (with the unique animation style, which I personally like; I know it drove a massive number of people up the wall). In general, I am really enjoying them as I feel they capture the feeling of star wars really well, and tell some pretty cool stories. However, there are a couple of things that I find just don't fit, and essentially just don't make sense. They both have to do with droids, which is why I bring them up here.

The first is that whenever two droids are talking to each other, they make stupid remarks, or act stupidly, or just generally act human. The fact is, the B1 series specifically is controlled by a remote processor (according to star wars canon), and the likelihood is that the remote processor that is controlling one of the droids is most likely controlling the other. There's absolutely no reason for them to say anything at all to each other, nevermind argue with each other or contradict each other in any way. Even with the B2 super battle droids which are somewhat independent, there is no reason they should say anything at all. It would be far more efficient and likely for them to communicate in droid speak, or even just wirelessly.

The second is the apparent accuracy of the droids. There are way too many scenes in the movies and the TV series where you see droids firing wildly at clones, and the clones find it possible to stand still and fire back. The fact is, droids should be able to improve their accuracy with every shot, especially at a stationary target. Any droid-builder worth their salt would have included programming that would take sensor information, process the placement of the shot, and improve it on the next shot. So, I would understand that the droids would miss for a few shots, but eventually, they should mow down anything that doesn't keep moving. The above theory notwithstanding, even if their accuracy were to remain the same, one of them should at least get a lucky shot in ... or why did the trade federation spend so much money on them? Before someone says it, I realise this is all dramatic license, and that lucas is just making the scene look tense for the clones, with laser fire all around them, and so on. I just think he's taken it a bit far, a bit too often...

Anyway, that's my rant over. Feel free to disagree with me.

Here are the stats I was talking about before. Well done to everyone that actually read my ravings. Please leave a comment, and tell me what you think.

B1 Series Battle Droid
Medium robot, PL 1 (15 points)

Str 14, Dex 10, Con -, Int -, Wis 10, Cha -

  • notice 4 (+4)

  • equipment 4 (20 equipment points)

  • immunity 30 (fortitude)
  • protection 1

  • attack +2 (base attack)
  • damage +5 (blaster carbine), +2 (unarmed)
  • defense +1
  • initiative +0

  • toughness 2 (+3)
  • fortitude --
  • reflex 0 (+2)
  • will 0 (+2)

  • blaster carbine (damage +5, crit 20,  energy, autofire, range increment 50ft, large) 16 EP
  • comlink 1 EP

  • Limited: no on-board computer; requires a remote processor to operate (Uncommon, Major, 3 points)
  • Vulnerable to electricity: double toughness save DC (Common, Major, 4 points)

Cost: Abilities -26 + Skills 1 + Feats 4 + Powers 31 + Combat 6 + Saves 6 - Drawbacks 7 = 15

B2 Series Super Battle Droid
Medium robot, PL 2 (34 points)

Str 16, Dex 10, Con -, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha -

  • Notice 8 (+8)

  • Power attack
  • Equipment 4 (20 points)

  • immunity 30 (fortitude)
  • protection 3

  • attack +3 (base attack)
  • damage +5 (wrist blaster), +3 (unarmed)
  • defense +1
  • initiative +0

  • toughness 2 (+5)
  • fortitude --
  • reflex 0 (+2)
  • will 0 (+2)

  • wrist blaster (damage +5, crit 20,  energy, autofire, range increment 50ft) 16 EP
  • commlink 1EP

  • Vulnerable to electricity: double toughness save DC (Common, Major, 4 points)

Cost: Abilities -16 + Skills 2 + Feats 5 + Powers 33 + Combat 8 + Saves 6 - Drawbacks 4 = 34

Droideka Series Destroyer Droid
Large robot, PL 6 (90 points)

Str 16, Dex 14, Con --, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha --

  • notice 12 (+14)

  • Improved Initiative 2 (+8)
  • Equipment 4 (20 points)

  • Immunity 30 (fortitude) [30]
  • Growth 4 (Power feat: Innate; Flaw: Permanent) [13]
  • Protection 1 [1]
  • Force Field 8 (Extra: Impervious) [16]

  • attack 6 (+6)
  • damage +8 (laser cannons)
  • defense 5 (+4) (including -1 due to size)
  • initiative +10

  • toughness 3 (+4)
  • fortitude --
  • reflex 3 (+5)
  • will 3 (+5)

  • 2 laser cannons (with blaster rifle stats + autofire capability):
    • damage +8, crit 20, energy, autofire, range increment 80ft, size large)
    • EP 16
  • comlink; EP 1

  • Vulnerable to electricity: double toughness save DC (Common, Major, 4 points)

Cost: Abilities -6 + Skills 3 + Feats 6 + Powers 60 + Combat 22 + Saves 9 - Drawbacks 4 = 90

Pictures are from the official Star Wars: Clone Wars site, and are their property. Everything else is also the property of George Lucas, Lucasfilm, and so on.

Friday, December 12, 2008

First M&M game evar!!

First up, sorry for a long post. Kudos for anyone who perseveres and leaves comments at the end ;)


The night before my wedding, I stayed at the hotel where the ceremony was being held, along with my best man and groomsman (and his girlfriend). I took this opportunity to run a game of M&M. I've been itching to play for a long time, and I've been talking it up to these guys for a while, so they were keen. Snacks and drinks were broken out, and d20s were rolled.

My group constituted a fairly hardcore gamer (mostly computer experience, but has run his own fallout campaign, and has plenty of RPG experience), a keen gamer (with little experience, but very clever and strategically minded), and a complete noob. This gave me a chance to see how different people would react to the system, which was pretty cool.


Alex Trebek (a.k.a. Game Breaker)
  • this is my player who just lives to annoy the DM (we all have one; this guy just happens to be entertaining enough to get away with it)
  • having just finished watching those old SNL celebrity jeopardy skits (highly recommeded if you have never seen them; hilarious), his character naming inspiration was obvious...
  • his character concept was a highly skilled ranged blaster with one annoying power, a few cool gadgets, and more skills and feats than you could poke a stick at
    • a skin-tight suit which gives him enhanced Con, Str, and Dex as well as a force-field
    • innate concealment from hearing allowing him to make surprise attacks basically at will (the jerk)
    • 2 plasma pistols (with disintegration for those pesky obstacles)
  • one of his favourite tricks is beating down opponents, then raiding their bodies for anything and everything, then asking me if he can use anything he finds to make jury-rigged explosives of electronic devices *sigh*
  • as background, he was actually the fabled game-show host

Yoo Ping (a.k.a. Master Yoo)
  • based on the martial artist archetype in chapter one, this is your classic no-powers, melee-focused combatant
  • my player chose to pack a light pistol too, for when he was too lazy to get close to his foes
  • as background, he chose to be a small business owner who runs his own car wash ... points for originality

Rebecca (a.k.a. Sanke)
  • this player chose to go with the energy controller archetype from chapter 1, focusing on gravity control
  • she took telekinesis and gravity blast as alternate powers, and she somehow talked me into letting her have teleport (based on the theory that her control of gravity could let her form wormholes allowing her to teleport)

Planned Plot

I didn't have much time to play around with this, so I kept it simple. A robot rampages through the city, heading for the experimental physics building at the university. The robot is going to extract a new technology that has been developed. The heroes will see the robot on the news and intercept it. If they defeat the robot, they find a serial number on the armour casing, and use skills and contacts to trace that to the BBEG (a souped-up gadgeteer). If they lose, the robot will abduct them and take them to the lair of the BBEG under custody, for use in another evil plot.

The BBEG's minions are basically robotic versions of standard monsters from the core rulebook (adding the construct template and some impervious protection), such as the monstrous spider, monstrous wasp, carnivorous plants, and animated trees. As required, I was prepared to add or remove attack, damage, protection and so on, as I discovered the players' capabilities.

Anyway, the plot would involve the players infiltrating the base, getting almost to the inner sanctum, getting captured by some gamemaster fiat, having the BBEG gloat and monologue for a while, then the heroes miraculously escaping, beating the snot out of the BBEG, until he gives up, activates the self-destruct on the base, and teleports away, using his gadgets.

Actual Play

So, I started off getting them to the university. Game breaker decided to try and ask the experimental physics guys for a device to deactivate the robot. I told him this would take several game minutes for them to set up, so he chose to go outside and shoot the robot in the face with plasma. Sanke had some fun throwing the robot up into the air, and having it take falling damage (surprisingly effective). Master Yoo would wait for the robot to fall into a crater at his feet, them pummel him with a power attack.

The robot went down in a pile of burning metal. They extracted the serial number, and game breaker used the university computer network to find the manufacturer and the point of origin of the robot.

After healing up, they headed down to the factory, and had to find a way past the electric fence. After sneaking into the loading dock, Master Yoo set off the alarm, releasing robotic guards. For some reason, this fight took forever. So long, in fact, that I had to cut out a few scenes and fights from the rest of the adventure.

After finding access to the lift down to the next level, they found some robotic spiders in the R+D labs, and dispatched them before the spiders even had a chance to act (a pity, cause I really wanted to poison them and snare them and so on). Ah, well ...

After finding their way to the lowest level, they got caught in the sleeping gas room, and woke up to a monologuing BBEG.

The BBEG explained his evil plan to drain their powers to power his generator for his robot factory, and then turned his back. At this point, Game Breaker succeeded on an escape artist check, and used his concealment to sneak to his weapons. He then shot the BBEG in the back with a sneak attack, getting an awesome roll, and completely knocking him out (a very disappointing ending to an otherwise fun adventure).

I told them the BBEG set off the self-destruct and teleported away, swearing revenge. Sanke teleported to the front of the building to clear innocent bystanders away from the surrounding streets, leaving the other two to a suspenseful lift ride (complete with elevator music) followed by a dive away from billowing flames (I tried to be cinematic here; probably just ended up being cliched).

Then the heroes were debriefed by the police and returned to their daily lives.


So, for a first try at M&M, this was an awesome ride. There are probably a few comments I can make about it, off the top of my head, in no particular order:
  • the one of my players who worked to create an original character (Game Breaker) ahead of time told me that character creation was a harrowing experience he will relive in his nightmares (probably a little melodramatic, but an understandable sentiment); in trying (and succeeding) to be customisable, M&M character creation is also not noob-friendly and ends up being a complex and lengthy affair. For this reason I'm glad they included the archetypes in chapter 1. I could tell the others to just pick one, maybe customising it a little, and it did not take long, with some encouragement and guidance.
  • I had major difficulty in estimating what my players would be able to handle. There are 0 (zero) guidelines in the core rulebook regarding this. I suppose on one hand, due to the wide range of possible characters, something that might severely challenge or kill one character might be a mere speed-bump in the path of another character. On the other hand, it means that you have to have a few options prepared, and be able to modify things on the fly, fake a few rolls/modifiers, and just generally use description and fluff to awesome things up, if they don't cut it.
  • the actual combat system takes a lot of getting used to, having been raised on a diet of D&D and star wars; the attacker makes an attack roll against a fixed defense, then the defender makes a toughness save against a fixed damage? on one hand, it's awesome that both parties get to participate in the process (D&D is very one-sided; if you're the defender, you just get to suck it up and lose hit points without feeling like you're doing anything). on the other hand, it's different and a little maths intensive. I have a feeling that we'll get used to it soon enough, and it'll seem as natural as hit points.
  • speaking of toughness saves, the rules on taking damage are also a little odd (the rules for non-lethal damage):
    • If you miss by less than 5, you take a -1 on further toughness saves
    • If you miss by less than 10, you miss a turn, and take a -1 on further saves (so far so good)
    • If you miss by less than 15, you miss a turn, and only get one action per round
      • this is where it gets annoying. repeated failures of less than 10 reduce your defenses, meaning that a critical failure will statistically occur more often
      • however, when you reach the point where you are missing by between 10-15, you just keep missing turns. There doesn't seem to be any additional penalty re: toughness, and if you're staggered already, you just stay staggered. It means that at this point, you just need a really poor roll to be knocked out ... There's no suspense. It just seems weird
    • If you miss by more than 15, you are unconscious (fair enough)
  • the sheer number of combat options and powers meant that as a relatively new GM, I spent a lot of time looking up rules for various powers, feats, skills, etc etc; also, when the players wanted to do something I had no immediately obvious rules for, I was a bit at a loss as to what to let them do. I have a feeling this will improve with time and experience. I will get better at saying yes to my players (letting them use hero points, power stunts, extra effort, making up skill DCs and things like that on the spot), but it's really hard at first. Luckily my players were very understanding about this, and had fun anyway, but players like Game Breaker make this quite painful, wanting to use every skill and feat and just making shit up as they went ;)
  • I think I needed to make more use to minions coupled with one or two strong enemies, to give the feeling I wanted where they beat through the guards at the door without breaking a sweat, but had to work to defeat the squad leader. This is really my fault, and I'm sure will improve with time.
  • The disappointing end to my BBEG was ... well, disappointing. I suppose with time and experience, I will learn what constitutes a good fight for the players. Maybe more minions around, not letting the player sneak up on him, traps, etc might have made a difference... The next fight with this guy will be very different *evil laugh*


In general, I think M&M is a great game, and an extremely promising platform for further gaming with my group. It doesn't need miniatures and battlemaps, only uses one dice (d20), is hideously customisable (and will only get more so with experience with the rules, and further supplements), and is just pure fun. Starting the game with a powerful hero and blowing away evil dudes is just plain fun. There's no other word for it. I felt like I did fairly poorly all up, but my group gave me really good feedback. So, sounds like I will be running another game hopefully soon (maybe after Christmas).

Anyway, thanks for putting up with probably my longest post ever. I felt like after the game, I had so many thoughts buzzing through my head, I wanted to share them. Any advice, comments, feedback or even stories of your first M&M experience would be massively appreciated.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gaming table extraordinaire!!

Follow this link for the coolest (and probably the most expensive) gaming table you will ever see:

A must for any obsessional gamer with lots of $ to spend.

I'm thinking when I have a bit more time to spare, it might be worth looking into building my own variant of this table, for all the pure gaming goodness it would provide.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Yay. Sorry to all of those who only read my blog for the RPG stuff, but I can't help it. After many months of preparation, I finally married my beautiful bride yesterday. Everything went off without a hitch.

Leaving on my honeymoon today. Should be good.

In other news, ran a game of M&M on the night before the wedding, which was a lot of fun. Will be posting details when I get back from the honeymoon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

RPG Bloggers

Woo hoo!! Finally made it onto RPG Bloggers. Very exciting. Hopefully means more comments and input, telling me what people want to see up here. I like M&M, SWSE, and D&D, and if I can get people excited about them too, that's awesome.

There are so many people I want to thank ....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Books I want

Due to the recent world-wide economic downturn, the Australian dollar has taken a massive hit, and now only buys 0.00000001 of a US dollar (NB: figures may not be factually accurate). Therefore, I will not be ordering anything off Amazon.com in the near future.

I have been in recent contact with my local gaming store, and have attempted to order the following:
  • Mutants and Masterminds: Ultimate Power

    Powers are potentially the most confusing part of mutants and masterminds, due to their sheer potential complexity. The amazing number of modifiers that give that incredible customisation that we know and love are one of the ways that people who are indecisive (like me) can become stuck. Also, there are a number of generic modifiers that are clear in themselves, but can be unclear as to their actual implementation with each power.

    This book has an entire section devoted to a detailed description about how powers actually work, how they can be modified, and so on. It then goes on to describe power effects (which are the actual-things-that-powers-do), how they can be modified, reasonable alternate powers for each of them, reasonable flaws, and examples of each. Then it goes on to introduce more powers, and give more details about selected powers from the core rulebook, similar to their treatment of effects.

    One of the really cool things in this book is that it actually explains power constructs: arrays, dynamic arrays, etc... This is not clearly explained in the core rulebook (probably due to lack of space), but is worth knowing about, for that added layer of flexibility/customisation.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting this one. Looks awesome. Ultimate, if you will.... *eeexcellent*

  • Mutants and Masterminds: Book of Magic

    As the title clearly states, this is a book about magic. How it might work in your campaign, for your heroes, some sample spells/spell-books, sample magic items, monsters, new hero and villain archetypes, and more magic than you can poke a stick at.

    As someone who loves magic in its many forms (I almost always play a mage of some sort), this is a must have for me. The only problem I foresee is that when I finally get a group together to run an M&M campaign, I won't know whether to run a superhero campaign, mystic/occult campaign, or a fantasy campaign (thanks to W&W, which I'll come to next). Truly are we spoilt for choice *drooool*
  • Mutants and Masterminds: Warriors and Warlocks

    Alright, the reason my gaming store didn't have this one is that it's technically not out yet. According to amazon.com, it's due out November 29th (the day before my wedding), which is pretty soon, so I guess you can call it a pre-order.

    Basically, this is the way to finally replace D&D with M&M. Presumably including new hero and villain archetypes, fantasy equipment, weapons, and so on. Also going to include a cruchy re-working of Green Ronin's fantasy setting Freeport, which I admit I've never read, but a lot of people on Atomic Think Tank seem to be excited about.

    At the same time as this book, Green Ronin is also releasing another supplement called Mecha and Manga, which is supposed to be devoted to running anime-style campaigns. Sounds cool, but I'm not really into that. For those of you that are, of course, visit the mutants and masterminds web page, amazon.com, and Atomic Think Tank for more details.
Anyway, there is my up-coming reading list, assuming that I can get my hands on these book. When I do, expect reviews/articles about them.