Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thoughts on the Space Templars

Over at my Tales of the Templars blog, I recently posted the conclusion to my first Space Templars adventure. I'd like to share a few thoughts about the experience.

1. The open-ended 2D6 rules I used worked very well for solo play. Sure, I fudged things at times but overall they produced a rousing, unpredictable adventure with minimum fuss.

2. The Tales of the Space Princess approach - basically a dungeon crawl in space - creates excellent sci fi adventures. Long ago, I owned the Traveler rpg but never played. I just could never figure out how to create a good adventure. Furthermore, the game seemed more geared toward a mercantile campaign, which never really interested me. A dungeon crawl, however, is easy to prepare.

3. Having the characters be part of a large organization (in my case, the Templars) which gives them assignments seems to work well as a campaign structure (even for a fantasy rpg). It explains why diverse characters work together and it allows the gamemaster to skip over economics (one can assume that the organization provides the characters basic needs) and focus on adventure.

4. Because of my exposure to Traveler I always assumed that a sci fi campaign required the star systems and planets to be mapped out before adventuring could begin. After playing the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic I realized that this was not true. That game only had a few planets mapped out; they could easily add new ones as needed. I decided to do the same for my sci fi campaign. I created a large scale map of the galaxy but I'll add details as needed.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thank You Mr. Featherstone

I was saddened to read that Donald Featherstone passed away last Tuesday (reported here). While certainly not a household name, he was a giant who had a remarkable influence on modern gaming culture. As I mentioned before, he helped popularize wargaming, turning the childish activity of playing with toy soldiers into a hobby for adults. Dungeons & Dragons would evolve out of this hobby (one of D&D's creators, Gary Gygax, started as a wargamer; he even published Chainmail, a set of rules for medieval wargames). Of course, D&D would essentially spawn the entire role-playing industry, including video and computer games like World of Warcraft.

On a personal note, Featherstone certainly influenced my gaming life. On his bookshelves, my father had a copy of Featherstone’s War Game Campaigns.

I repeatedly and excitedly read the battle reports and pored over the pictures of hordes of figures marching across the table top. I even tried to play one of the campaigns. Unfortunately, this book is actually for advanced wargamers so it doesn’t have all the rules and guidelines a beginner would need to get playing. Still, this book fired my imagination and spurred my interest in wargaming. For that, I owe Mr. Featherstone a great big thank you! 

Space Templars First Adventure

Over on my Tales of the Templars blog, I've added a game report from a solo session and I'll be adding more in the next few days.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Space Templars

Inspired by my recent exposure to Castle Death I decided to run an experiment.

Like Dungeon World, task resolution (including combat) will be handled with 2D6s:

Roll                 Result
10-12             Complete success!
7-9                 Marginal success.
2-6                 Failure.

This is a very free-form system, as the DM needs to interpret the results depending on context. We’ll see how I do.

I decided to use a sci-fi setting for my experiment. Ten thousand years in the future, an organization of warrior monks called the Templars (basically a rip-off of Jedis) helps to keep the peace. I have a rough map of the galaxy that I sketched out a few months ago (more on that later)

I created 2 characters – a Templar and his robot sidekick.

What about an adventure? I used the Space Opera Adventure Generator  to create a basic plot, and got:

Track a princess located in a temple while dealing with a computer failure while opposed by a starship.

OK, that last part was a little weird, so I changed it to a religious figure. Inspired by Tales ofthe Space Princess, I decided to turn the adventure into a sci fi dungeon crawl. Now I have a space princess held captive by a cult leader in an ancient temple. The heroes need to make their way through the temple to rescue the princess.

I thought about drawing up a map of the temple and then populating with random encounters, but then I decided to simplify a bit and assume a linear progression. There will be four main sections – travel through a jungle to the temple, the temple, the crypts underneath the temple (where the princess and the cult leader are), and the escape. Encounters during the first 3 sections will be random, according to this chart:

A trap
A trap
A trap
Carnivorous plant
Cultist guards
Deadly predator
Cultist guards
The living dead
Cultist guards
Hell hounds
Cultist guards
A puzzle
A boon
A boon
Move to next section
Move to next section
The villain’s lair

Each turn, I will roll to determine an encounter or challenge. If the challenge is overcome, roll again but with a +1 modifier (cumulative for each challenge in the section). A roll of 7+ will take the heroes to the next section or the final boss.

Now I have my adventure; let’s see how it works.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A New Adventure

Wow! It has been a long time since my last post. I've done little gaming in that time. : (

Last weekend, however, we pulled out pen, paper, and some miniatures for some role playing. I added my wife and brother in law to my solo Templar campaign. I posted a couple of reports to the Tales of the Templars blog.

Castle Death

While poking around for some rpg adventure ideas, I came across a series of posts about a "game" called Castle Death. The "game" is actually a very free-form method of role-playing designed for kids.

Castle Death Part 1
Castle Death Part 2
Castle Death Part 3
Playing Castle Death for First Timers
Castle Death Revisited

The rules struck a chord with me, not because I want to play with kids, but because I see potential as a solo system. I've been wanting to do a solo sci fi rpg campaign, but I'm stuck on the rules. A free form system, like CD, may be the ticket.

I may add a little to character creation. I've been thinking about the following components:
  • Name
  • Race
  • Profession
  • Talent (what the character is really good at)
  • Equipment (weapon(s), defenses, professional gear, adventuring gear)
I'll have to set up an experiment.