Monday, August 31, 2009

The Exalted Spirit: Part One

Well I guess i should start by saying this Exalted conversion to Spirit of the Century is being done with a copy of Spirit of the Century and the 2nd Edition of the Exalted core as the main basis for the whole thing. I will include a few things from the Starblazer Adventures core also. The reason I am going with the 2nd edition core is for some reason second edition really sets up the mood of the setting for me. 1st edition did to some extent, but 2nd really hammers it home for me. That being said, I am currently going on the idea that the PCs will be Solar Exalts, later as I feel like it, or decide the time is right I might give the other Exalts a try, but for now Solar is it. A lot of my ideas here are modifications or direct rip-offs from the Poster Gregor on RPGnet.

My first thought is to use the d6-d6 mechanic of SA, instead of the normal 4dF(Fudge Dice) of SotC. There is a very good chance that when I run this it will be online and d6-d6 is much easier to accomplish online. Another thought is this makes the range -5 to +5, which sounds better to me it allows the range to go higher into more legendary abilities and colossal failures, which sounds like Exalted to me.
I don't like the idea of changing much of the rules from SotC from what they are, so most of my ideas add to them more than directly change them. So first in a nutshell some of my ideas/thoughts/likes in summary.
  • Aspects - I keep the 10 Aspects per character, that should not change. However each character also recieves a Caste Aspect, a Virtue Flaw Aspect, and 4 Charm Aspects.
  • Skills - There is not much about skills I feel needs changing. Drive becomes Ride, Pilot becomes Sailing, Guns becomes Ranged and Weapons becomes Melee. The "trappings" of the skills(and stunts) simply need to be changed for the setting. The pyramid is unchanged and everyone gets 15.
  • Stunts - As stated in skills, I feel it doesn't need changed much except instances of setting trappings. Incidently skills and stunts are the two areas I could see me changing more as playtesting happens, but for now I feel I should err on the side of caution instead of changing to much from the get-go. Everyone gets 5 stunts.
  • Stress - Health and Composure work as in SotC, however I like the idea of having an Anima and Limit track.
The Character creation phases would look something like this:
  1. Age of Sorrows - This is the time before a PC's exaltation, their mortal life growing up. Choose two Aspects.
  2. Exaltation - This is when the PC has just exalted. Pick two aspects, your caste aspect, your virtue flaw aspect and a charm aspect. Aspects linked to past lives work best here.
  3. Force of the Unconquered Sun - This a character's main "novel". Choose two aspects and a charm aspect that are related to an adventure you have had.
  4. Forging the Circle - Work yourself into another player's Force of the Unconquered Sun story then choose two apects and a charm aspect from it.
  5. Forging the Circle - Repeat phase 4 with a different player.
A character's refresh rate is still equal to his normal aspects number.
Charm Aspects are apsects that cover a general style, formation or group of abilities that make the character near god-like. Some examples would be Iron Whirlwind Attack, Will Bolstering Method, Flawlessly Inpenetrable Disguise, and Venemous Whispers Technique. These are all from the Exalted book and the names leave no guess as to their abilities. What makes Charm Aspects special is they can be "stacked" with any other normal aspect, skill and/or stunt. Using a Charm Aspect makes the action fueled with Essence and adds to the Anima stress bar. The Charm adds an additional +2. This means coupled with another apsect it could be +4 or a reroll+2. With stunts it could take a bit more on the GMs part, but assume it adds +2 ranks or an equivalent.
Anima Stress Bar - Anytime a Charm is used whether by itself or in conjunction with other abilities, it puts a point of stress on the Anima bar. The Anima Stress Bar starts at 5 and is increased with Mysteries using the same table as health and composure. Once the bar is filled anything causing the Anima bar more stress causes a consequence. With Anima the PC can take four consequences any stress beyond the fourth just maintains the consequences at the fourth. The four consequences are:
  • Caste mark appears.
  • Caste mark lights up.
  • Anima flares up.
  • Anima becomes iconic.
A PC can use a Caste Aspect ability for 5 Anima stress, depending on what charms they have used this could jump them from no consequences to all 4.
Virtue Flaw Aspect - This aspect covers a moral that comes from the very core of the PC's soul. It covers an aspect of the character that they are so passionate about that at most times it cannot be denied. A good example of this could range from "Heart of Tears" where the PC cannot stand to watch suffering to "Hits the Bottle" where the PC is a drunk.
Limit Stress Bar - The Limit Stress Bar starts at 5 boxes and is modified by Empathy using the same chart as Health and Composure. Using the examples before a "Heart of Tears" PC would exchange places with a tortured hostage or the "Hits the Bottle" one might be completely unconcious.
to be continued.....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Spirit of Creation? or maybe The Exalted Spirit?

Oh Exalted, how could such a wonderful and delicious setting be attached to a system that I hate so much? I read the fluff and am amazed at the beauty of the setting. It truly is one of the greatest settings I have ever had the pleasure of reading in an Rpg. I even ran a couple of games of 1st edition. And we enjoyed it, but it was unanimous amongst the players and I that the fun was in spite of the system. And when I bought the 2nd edition core, the system immediately screamed "Don't even try!" before I was even a quarter into it. I am sure there are lots of gamers out there that play it and love it, hell I wouldn't even mind trying to play in a game of 2nd edition with some folks who are intimately familiar with it. But for me and my kind, its a horrid atrocity that will never work for us, even houseruled and stripped down, its just a no go.

Enter FATE 3E. Spirit of the Century is one of those games that opened my eyes to different ways a pen and paper Rpg could be played. Sure there have been tons of games that try to make role-playing more narrative or more based on group storytelling than the game side of things, but I usually ended up disliking such systems(or lack there of if you get my meaning). I don't know exactly why I dislike these games, but its usually that it lacks being a game to me. A prime example is Wushu. Wushu to me is more like a "Hey let's sit down and tell a story" type system, and it just seems way to lite for me. If I wanted to simply sit around with people and tell a story, I don't need a "rulebook" for it. Now don't get me wrong, I can see how lots of people would have loads and buckets of fun with Wushu, but I just can't get into it. Same goes for Risus and even PDQ, they just seem to lack "something" to me and I run back to my more traditional games.

Spirit of the Century somehow found the line for me. It truly tries to be one of those "let's tell a story" type games, and succeeds big time, but it also has just the right amount of rules with decisions to make me feel like I am playing a game. Aspects, stunts, manuevers, tagging and compelling all add a lot of fun to the game. Now I know I am being slightly hypocritical here and realize even some of the games I mentioned before have much lighter equivalents or could have with a snap of the finger in their rules. But its not the basis like FATE, so they lost out for me.

Anyways to get to my point. FATE/Spirit of the Century is perfect for Exalted, and doing a little research across the world wide intrawebbies I see I am by no means in a small group who thinks this. The Aspects based storytelling rules system is such a nice fit that its amazing Exalted didn't use it to begin with. Exalted is based on over the top Asian style action and court play with just a pinch of Western thinking to taste. A player being able to say "I fire an arrow at the advancing hoards, fueling my Rain of Terror style with the exalted essence of my spirit to rain hundreds of arrows from my one into their ranks..." is a perfect example of aspect use if I ever heard it. And excites me with the possibilities that could come from this combination of setting and system.

So I plan my next post or two to be my rules for running Exalted using FATE/SotC and maybe take a few things from Starblazer Adventures as well. I have read a lot of peoples' ideas on how to do this online some of it influenced my ideas completely. Check RPGnet for the many threads on this very topic for some of my influences.

.....maybe Spirit of the Exalted?....hmmm.....Spirit of the Exalted Fate?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This hobby needs an enema!!

So its been around a week since GenCon ended, and wow. I don't know if its just the power of such things as twitter or facebook, but so much information flowed and buzzed from and around GenCon this year. All companies that I have heard from are saying that sales and excitement seemed to be on the up and up. Paizo had waiting lines at one point near 2 hours for the new Pathfinder Core book, Mind Storm Labs sold completely out of both the year old Alpha Omega Corebook and the brand new Encountered creature manual, Gaming Paper was to be seen everywhere, Dark Sun was confirmed and so much more.

But let me get to the point of my bloggins' title. The thing that I noticed most from the news, videos and articles about this year's GenCon is that signs make feel that we are on the verge of seeing the hobby expand its boundaries and having much more diversity than it has had for many years. For years now the hobby has seemed to be stagnant with a few basic ideas. Now before you go all ape on me and say "But Spirit of the Century is sooo different form Dungeons and Dragons and yadda yadda..." let me there is too much...let me sum up.

I am only partially talking of the actual gameplay, the other and biggest part I am talking of is the format. Somewhere along the way game companies, and I would assume gamers, got the idea that RPGs needed to be released as a book. That's it. The game needed to have mechanics and setting and have all of it crammed in a book and besides some source books, the end. This has caused a yearning in me that keeps growing and growing.....longing for the days of yore. Where are the box sets? Remember them? The ones that came with dice, maps, forms, paper miniatures, and whole bunches of joyful love. Those sets went leaps and bounds beyond just a book in making your imagination explode, these extra bits made you feel like you were holding actual relics from the game itself. It made non-gamers look and go "Wow thats cool, what's it for?". It drug people into the hobby and, well, for me it just made things more exciting. I have been sick of the "here's your textbook for RPG #2306, now go enjoy, and find your damn bits somewhere else" mentality for a long time now.

GenCon has been a beacon of hope. The Ennies showed that the lines between big business and small press are blurring. Which means that the hobby needs a new direction to expand. 4E Dungeons and Dragons, I believe, has gotten the mentality rolling again. Its style of play lends itself well to the boxset with fiddly bits concept. I don't think it has embraced the boxset idea at all following the more MtG sale mold with its miniatures and tile packs. GenCon however showed us things like the new Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd edition that will be a large boxset with 4 full color books, around 40 dice and lots of fiddly bits. It started to show us glimpses of Dragon Age, an Rpg that is going to be both a Pen and Paper game and a Video Game, and the PnP version...yup thats right a boxset core. Those companies that make both Rpgs and Boardgames are starting to realize that the two don't have to be mutually exclusive.

So whats my point? Well I believe adding games like these to the hobby and industry will do much to invigorate the hobby. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying the games of the past so many years are bad, on the contrary, some have been tremdously brilliant. However the hobby needs diversity, we need games that scream "check me out" in our hobby to grab people that are, or would be, attracted to that style of flash and fiddly bits and our scared away by the "textbook" looking games many of us love. These games may not be for all of us, but I am all for as many different styles of games and as many types of players as we can get. Too often we as gamers like to poo-poo on each others fun, which is a shame. Grognards or soon-to-be grogs, often decree foul play when their beloved game gets a new edition, just look at the recent 4E DnD conversations and some of the internet threads on "How dare they change my Warhammer RPG to a board game!" and its not even out yet. I feel this attitude is the wrong one. There are editions of games you already like, why would you want the same thing again? I wouldn't. If my favorite game in the world went into a new edition, I might not like it, but I am happy for the ones who do. I hope all games, even those I personally dislike not only make their players happy, but drag in new players to populate my hobby.

That being said, I am still going to complain, rant and maybe downright bitch about games occasionally in this blog, but you'll never see me complain about someone having fun with it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

...And So It Begins.

I decided that I needed a place to vent my thoughts on my favorite hobby, Role-Playing Games. Many people know me as NulSyn on several web sites and online forum dealing with the RPG hobby and industry. And recently I have jumped a little further into the industry than I previously was. I have been writing lots of reviews and helping with playtesting some games. And this has caused me to need a place to jot down some thoughts as they slide around my mind.

I plan to keep the blog close to RPGs but other issues may very well crop up as I need a place to write. So you may see thoughts on Board Games, Video Games, Web Design(my current major) or even Popular News Topics. I hope you all enjoy this blog and I will attempt to keep it updated on a regular basis. Enjoy!