May 26, 2015

Violent Resolution - Armor Up

First of all he forged a shield that was huge and heavy,elaborating it about, and threw around it a shiningtriple rim that glittered, and the shield strap was cast of silver.There were five folds composing the shield itself, and upon ithe elaborated many things in his skill and craftsmanship.He made the earth upon it, and the sky, and the sea’s water,and the tireless sun, and the moon waxing into her fullness,and on it all the constellations that festoon the heavens,the Pleiades and the Hyades and the strength of Orionand the Bear, whom men give also the name of the Wagon,who turns about in a fixed place and looks at Orionand she alone is never plunged in the wash of the Ocean.                                                -Homer, The Iliad 18 (478-489)

Weapons get their own special place, but fighting kit is not truly complete without some amount of armor. Or at least a studded loincloth. Armor is an important part of storytelling, and Homer lavishes upon the Shield of Achilles something like 1,500 words. and the taking and reclaiming of the armor of heroes featues prominently throughout the RPG campaign gone awry that is the Iliad. In modern cinema, girding Tom Cruise in his yoroi (The Last Samurai), or King Theoden in his magnificent armor (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), or the sequence where Bruce Wayne assembles his fearsome batsuit piece by piece all are given fairly long screen presence.

Protecting yourself comes in many forms, from many games. Let’s look at a few, taking some classic examples as above: a padded gambeson, a mail hauberk, a japanese yoroi, full plate harness, and finally, we’ll throw down with Interceptor Body Armor with trauma plates while we’re at it.

May 25, 2015

Manor #8: Follow Me and Die likes grappling

This review of Manor #8 by Follow Me and Die might be the nicest review I've ever received for something I've written.

I think this system is what we have been needing for a simple mechanic for grappling, that makes grappling an option players would choose. Various options and outcomes that are realistic in grappling are discussed and addressed. While not perfect, I can’t think of how else to handle it without building yet another new subsystem just for grappling. This is simple enough that it can easily be implemented at your next session. I know that I will use it, if I need to resolve a grappling issue.

Thanks to the proprietor of the blog, and I sincerely hope he enjoys it! I'm sure +Peter V. Dell'Orto and +Tim Shorts will be pleased to see it as well!

May 23, 2015

Throwback: I still don't like impaling

Another throwback while I edit 90 minutes of video from my daughter's musical peformance last weekend and ensure I meet my Violent Resolution commits.

Today's throwback is a series of posts that deal with the impaling damage type.

The first is from Jan 2013, basically within a month of starting the blog, where I complain about the impaling damage type in GURPS.

The second is a look comparing the impaling and piercing damage types.

Finally, something I'd worked out as part of an article that wound up being an interesting idea, but too fiddly to try and try for publishing. Part of an article that started life as The Cutting Edge, putting wound modifiers and penetration modifiers on an adjustable scale.

May 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Choosing Armor by Cost and Weight

Highlighting some old posts, because I've been having quite the week at work. So highlighting something that goes along with my Violent Resolution column for this week.

Here's a fun post about choosing the best possible armor you can get at the lowest cost.

And another, this time if cost is no object, but you're trying to minimize the weight.

The cost one is more interesting.

Expect a few more "hey, this is an old post that might be interesting" type things this week. I'll try and get back to new content when work isn't quite so insane.

I'll repost the original articles below the break.

May 18, 2015

Majestic Wilderlands - Best Loot-to-time ratio ever

The game was slow today to get responses, and it wound up being just two players. That wasn't enough, so we decided to call it.

But not before Rob told me that Leshar and probably our halfling, or maybe Keyar, had snuck into the ruins of Caer Tain and looted a suit of +2 Plate Armor - which needs 500sp worth of work with straps and buckles, but is otherwise perfectly sound.

Boom. Done. So now Marcus is AC 22, after five minutes of play.

May 17, 2015

Violent Resolution - That's Going to Leave a Mark

The Violent Revolution continues!

Perhaps even more important to how a roleplaying game resolves whether or not a fighter strikes home at his foe is how his opponent reacts when struck.

I’ve been reading  +Jon Peterson's “Playing at the World” recently, a densely packed and quite informative history of games, gaming, and (most specifically) Dungeons and Dragons. In it, he notes carefully the evolution of wargames from “one hit and you’re out” to the concept of hit points, partial damage, and other devices and mechanics that enhance the longevity of your hero and by doing so, promote drama.
I was going to make a joke here along the lines of “unless you’re a 1st-level Magic-User, then you’re screwed. Sorry.” However, looking at the more-pure spell-slinging classes in D&D5, the Sorcerer and the Wizard, while they both start with 1d6 base HP, the availability and free use of 0-level cantrips make this much, much less true. “Back in my day,” I remember that you were lucky to be swinging for 1d6 or 1d4 HP - usually with a staff or dagger - as a Magic-User. Now, you can do anywhere from 1d6 to 2d6 or 1d12 every round with a cantrip. You may only know a couple of them, but they can be used freely and often from the “back row,” with a range that can be quite long. Fire Bolt is 1d10 out to 120 feet, for example. And Blade Ward, which halves (confers resistance) mundane physical damage, is also a 0-level cantrip, though it’s one-round duration limits its utility at effectively doubling the caster’s HP. Alas, one can’t pick on the Magic-Users anymore.
He uses a useful taxonomy for this process that I’m going to steal: after accuracy, a target of a violent attack may invoke several types of life-extending mechanics, including avoidance, mitigation, and endurance. I paralleled this in a previous column, dealing with Action, Opposition, and Effect to some degree, but I read Peterson’s structure a few days after finishing that up.

In any case, character longevity and persistence in a dramatic fight – not just if a character can be incapacitated, but how, and perhaps as importantly, how suddenly – is a huge contributor to how the stories unfold. It can drive tactics, risk decisions, and ultimately how enjoyable a game experience can be - at least as far as the fighty bits go.

May 14, 2015

Apropos of Nothing - Supergirl (CW show)

So, there's a 6 minute trailer out. I like it, or more specifically, my daughter will freakin' LOVE it. If you've watched this blog, you'll know my family kinda has a thing for Superman.

So, I'm not going to talk much about the bulk of the trailer. However, I was chatting with a coworker, and he was asking - what happened to Superman? How did he not know and show up?

Well, if you feel like breaking out the frame-grabber, you can see it. Between the launch of Kara Zor-El's spaceship and a furious set of near-subliminal images, you can see a few things, some of which are known already.

So there you go. Superman is well aware, thank you very much, of the existence of his cousin Kara. The house in the background, you see it in the next frame with the Danvers' in front of it. 

Who are the Danvers, you ask? Dean Cain and Helen Slater, for a spectacular bit of symmetry.

And Dean Can is awesome. Just sayin'. 

My coworker also noted that Kara pretty much "tells everyone" the Secret in the trailer.

Hmm. Don't think so. Her stepsister? She already knew, obviously. And her parents.

And Kal-El. He delivered her to the house, as a little girl - well, maybe not so little. Ten to twelve years old, I think. 

So . . . I'm betting the only person that didn't know the Secret was the guy who asked her out, and she told after she rescued the plane. James Olsen? 

I bet he already knew. Superman sent him to watch over Kara. 

Anyway, I hope the show is good, though it's clearly a bit too close to the Black Widow Parody SNL did. But that doesn't bother me because while that's spectacularly out of character for the freakin' Red Room assassin, it's not out of character at all for Supergirl. Go look at her brief encounter with Nightwing in the Last Daughter of Krypton run.