Showing posts from June, 2012

The Grand Unified Savage Worlds Theory

The Grand Unified Savage Worlds Theory
I love Savage Worlds because it's a big, crazy mash-up of everything good about role-playing games.  I don’t have a specific “type” of game I favor above all else.  Riffing off of popularmodels of RPG theory, I can (and do) enjoy what I'm going to call board-gaming (rules, dice rolling, battlemaps), storytelling (meta-game control of genre simulation, player agency to control the game world, “we are all telling a story together”), and immersion (old-fashioned “I am in the head of my PC; I interact with the world from her frame of reference”-style play).  And I can do all of that – or as little of that – as I want with Savage Worlds.


The board-gaming or gamist elements of miniatures in Savage Worlds are pretty obvious, and they’re really not something I ever got into before playing Savage Worlds.  I was always a “theater of the mind” GM because I’ve got better things to spend money on than miniatures (like comics and wine), but…

Today at the bookstores

Yes, I am a weirdo. Yes, I will read all of these.

(I've never read Elizabeth Hoyt, but the book's about a masked vigilante in 1738 London. How can I resist that?!)

Breaking News: Scandal Wears Satin on sale today

Now that George MacDonald Fraser has passed away, my favorite living novelist is Loretta Chase.  Her Regency historical romances are a bigger part of the inspiration for the Regency/Gothic project than Jane Austen (they have far more sex and danger).  As announced on her blog, her latest book goes on sale today.

Now I have to swing by a bookstore on my way home...

How WOTC Can Get My Money

Wizards of the Coast is reprinting the D&D 3.5 core books.Interestingly, they are actually fixing the errata, so the new printings will be a useful purchase for anybody still playing un-Pathfindered 3.5.
Is there anybody who does that?
I bought the 3.5 core books at Half-Price Books right after 4E came out.I ran one horribly disastrous group campaign and one clumsy-ass duet campaign with them.For the most part, it just convinced me of my bias toward point-buy/skill-based systems rather than class/level systems.
There is, however, one condition under which I would happily buy new printings of the 3.5 books – a condition under which I suspect another 14,951 people would, too – and that’s if they did a licensed Order of the Stick edition.
I might even try running it again.
(Admittedly, I already plan on buying Ed Greenwood Presents: Elminster's Forgotten Realms.  I'm a sucker for the idea of unadulterated Ed Greenwood.  And it comes out on my birthday!  And then I'll run …

Game Wine: Wine Paparazzi

I lied.  There's no game content in this post.

Robin EB is now officially part of the Texas wine paparazzi. We spent a big chunk of last night at William Chris Vineyards in Hye, Texas, for a press event and wine club thank-you (as press; we don't spend enough money on our membership to be part of those thanked). You know those wine blogs I list over on the right-hand side of this page? We met most of them, including the big-name guys who have actually published books! And Robin didn't embarrass herself the way I did when I met Warren Ellis.

Full details are upcoming on Vitis Poema but check out some of my crappy phone camera pictures below!

Setting Rule: Fear of Intimacy

New Setting Rule:
Fear of Intimacy

In many cultures throughout history (ex. Heian Japan) and fiction (the planet Vulcan), the expression of powerful emotions has been censored by societal norms.  In such a setting, the GM may require a player to make a Fear check (rolling either Spirit or Guts, depending on the setting) in order to overcome their character's fear of public censure in order to admit and/or act upon a socially-unacceptable desire or impulse.  In most settings, failing the roll will result in a Fear/Nausea result but settings that emphasize extremes of emotion may instead result in Terror and call for a roll on the Fright Table (Savage Worlds Deluxe p. 85).

In the most obvious use of this rule -- forcing characters to screw their courage to the sticking place in order to confess love -- the object of affection's Charisma is used as a negative modifier on the Fear check and a positive modifier on the Fright Table as per the normal "Fear penalty" rules.  I…

Regency/Gothic: AKA Regency/Gothic

I'm off at Hilmy Cellars, one of the many delightful wineries along Highway 290 outside of Fredericksburg, Texas, and I really want to blog but I only have access to my phone app so I'm going to babble about something I don't have to consult rule books for: the name of the game.

I've stumbled into using "Regency/Gothic" for the name of the Regency Romance + Gothic Horror project (for obvious reasons) but I never intended to use that as the actual title. It's kinda catchy, though, and Robin and I haven't come up with anything really better.

I considered "A Taste of Claret" because "claret" (one of my favorite kinds of wine and one that was popular in the Regency) was used as Regency slang for "blood." That would seem to imply vampires as being central to the setting and -- while Polidori's "The Vampyre" is a product of the Regency and Lord Ruthven will undoubtedly appear in the plot-point campaign -- I just…

Regency/Gothic: The Power of Persuasion 2

Sometimes I just want to say "He ain't buying it" when a player tries to con an important NPC or when somebody appeals to common sense in an affaire d'honneur.  But I like to play fair with my players.  I roll in the open.  I like to avoid GM fiat when I can.  Since Persuasion is going to be as ubiquitous in the Regency/Gothic setting as Shooting is in Deadlands, I think some guidelines are in order. 

On page 62 of Savage Worlds Deluxe, the "Modifiers" subheading under "Trait Tests" advises a +2 bonus to easy Trait tests, a -2 penalty to difficult tasks, and a -4 penalty to very difficult tasks.  Examples in the "Situational Combat Rules" section later on (like the "Suppressive Fire" example on page 71) show that a combination of penalties can exacerbate the penalties to -6 or more.  Let's extrapolate from that.

How about:
Suggested course of action is in NPC's best interest - +2Suggested course of action is not in t…

Regency/Gothic: The Power of Persuasion

I'm concerned about the use of Persuasion in the Regency/Gothic setting.

The Persuasion Skill in Savage Worlds is defined as the ability for PCs to make NPCs cooperate with them.  (Persuasion explicitly does not affect PCs.)  Savage Worlds Deluxe states NPCs "start at one of five different attitudes: Hostile, Uncooperative, Neutral, Friendly, or Helpful."  A success on a Persuasion roll (a roll of 4 on the Skill die, which can range from a d4 to a d12) changes the NPC's attitude by one step friendlier while two successes raises it by two, with a failure decreasing it by one step and a critical failure decreasing it by two.  It is one of only two skills modified by the Charisma attribute (the other is Streetwise, the ability to get answers by questioning people).

Unlike some games, Charisma in Savage Worlds is a secondary Attribute derived from Edges you can take (Edges being comparable to both Storyteller System merits and D&D feats). The default Charisma is 0. T…

Regency/Gothic 2: What is Gothic Horror?

First of all, "Gothic Horror" is a bit of a misnomer.  Back in Jane Austen's day, a Gothic was a "romance" in the same sense that Le Mort D'Arthur and The Song of Roland were romances -- fantastic tales of extraordinary people with supernatural occurences.  A novel like Pride and Prejudice, on the other hand, was about normal people doing realistic thing -- a concept so new that it was a novelty.  So Matthew Lewis' The Monk -- a story of black magic, incest, rape, and Satanism -- was a romance and Persuasion -- the story of two former lovers who discover they still have feelings for each other -- was not.  Wacky, huh?


Gothic is really hard to define.  Sometimes there's haunted castles and sometimes there's ruined manor houses.  Sometimes there's explicit supernatural elements and sometimes there's not.  Sometimes it's a male genre with blood and guts and violence and sometimes it's a female genre with psychological suspe…


I saw this at the museum last weekend and just had to share it.  I haven't been able to find any indication that it is based on a specific myth or folktale and statting it up for Savage Worlds seemed superfluous, so I just thought I'd post my photos in all their fuzzy glory.  Look at the worried way she's biting her lip!  The tiger seems kind of unimpressed, though.  Hey, why don't you guys tell me what the story is?  Feel free to stat it up for your favorite RPG!

Deadlands: Noir, Cast a Deadly Spell, and My First Duet

I've already played a game like Deadlands: Noir -- once -- and it was one of the most bizarre RPG experiences of my life. It was also the first one-one-one or solo game that I GM'd.  (Following a pretty savvy series at, I've decided to start calling this "duet gaming" as well.)  It was a homebrew setting I created inspired by an odd little film called "Cast a Deadly Spell."

 "Cast a Deadly Spell" is a 1991 made-for-HBO film about a private detective in 1940's Los Angeles named H. Philip Lovecraft and his attempts to recover the Necronomicon for his employer.  Seriously.  It's one of the last TV works of director Martin Campbell before he went on to make "Goldeneye," "The Mask of..." and "The Legend of Zorro," "Casino Royale," and (*cough*) "Green Lantern."  It stars Fred Ward (Remo Williams!), Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor!), David Warner (Ra's al Ghul!), and Julianne Moore (the…