Showing posts from 2014

Nikolaos the Wonderworker

Instead of presenting my usual Xmas rerun, I thought I'd present some possible stats for that character. Nikolaos the Wonderworker
An Encounter for Historical Settings
The being known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker may be encountered any time between the late 4th century CE to the 18th century CE. After that point, he transforms into the modern Santa Claus. He is an appropriate encounter for Weird Wars Rome, Pirates of the Spanish Main, The Savage World of Solomon Kane and even 50 Fathoms.

Nikolaos the Wonderworker is the transcendent form of the man known in life as St. Nicholas of Myra. An exceptionally devout and generous thaumaturgist in life, St. Nicholas was transformed at his death into a beneficent undead known as a transcendent being. Literally given new life and new purpose by his faith, Nikolaos the Wonderworker wanders the world, battling demons and bestowing boons.

By the 1600s, Nikolaos’ long centuries of undeath and absorption of the ambient Power Points of thousands of…

Hobbit 3: Rise of Legolas

I went to a matinee showing of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies yesterday, and I have opinions (after the cut)!

A Terrible Idea

I sometimes get ideas stuck in my brain, ideas that demand I write about them even when it interrupts the flow of other work I should be doing. I should be writing The King is Dead and then a bunch of mecha/kaiju ideas pop into my brain, or I should be working on the Japan section for Steamscapes: Asia and all I can think about is wuxia instead. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve really, really wanted to write some kind of holiday post (some Rankin-Bass-inspired stats, or a Peter Pan-inspired adventure) but all I can think about is sex.
You see, I’ve got this really terrible idea.
I’ve decided to expand the scope of Wine and Savages to include D&D 5E. My intention, after all, wasn’t to use this blog as only a Savage Worlds fansite, but to use it as a platform to launch a professional writing career. It only makes sense that I try to learn to write for the most popular RPG out there.
That’s not the terrible idea.
As I’ve candidly admitted in the past, Dungeons & Dragons (specif…

May I Interest You in a Wuxia Character and Some House Rules?

Budding Legend
Legendary Human Wild Card (80 XP)

Attributes:  Agility d10, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d8,* Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d10, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d6, Streetwise d6,** Subterfuge d6,*** Survival d6,** Tao d8 (see below), Taunt d6
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 7; Toughness: 7(1)
Hindrances: Curious, Heroic, Quirk (attracted to scoundrels), Vengeful [Minor]****
Edges: AB: Taoist Internal Alchemy, Martial Artist, Power Points (x 4), Taoist Adept, Youxia (Gift of Water - Mind and Body)
Gear: jian (long sword; Str+d8; $300), many-layered silk robes (Armor +1; $200).
Special Abilities
Power Points: 30Powers:boost/lower trait (Adept), healing, qinggong (Adept)
*Setting Rule: Substitute for Climbing and Swimming rolls
** Setting Rule: Substitute for Tracking rolls in appropriate terrain
*** Setting Rule: Replaces Lockpicking and Stealth
**** Setting Rule: Storm of Passions – Wuxia characters live tempestuous, passionate lives. They may take an additional M…

Another Crappy Map

That map post I put up last week was surprisingly popular, so I thought I'd post another map for the hell of it. This is Zhàndòu, a wuxia-themed setting I created for Savage Insider. I expect that when the "Taking Action" issue is printed, there will be a much prettier version of the map in it; I gave permission to Vickey Beaver to have someone else redraw it because I suck.
I mean, look at that river! Rivers don't have up-and-down waves! What the hell was I thinking?! And why didn't I draw it all the way down the map? Why didn't I label it with its name?
I'm not going to go into any detail about it because that would give away the article. One thing I am specifically  proud of though is that I don't actually describe all of the locations in the article. I deliberately left the tofu shop and ruined temple as mysteries for the GM to fill in, which I think is an awesome, punk rock, DIY thing to do.
(Or not.)

The King is Dead: I Do Not Claim to be a Mapmaker

I've never really drawn a lot of maps in my GMing career, but I find myself in need of one for the The King is Dead playtest campaign I'm running these days.

This is Hammershire (almost called Thornshire, again), the new base of operations for the heroes.  It is a wealthy, vital county that is nevertheless basically a backwater because it's way up in the hills and just a bit too rustic for vampire tastes. Any resemblance to the Texas Hill Country is completely deliberate.

The majestic River Hammer begins here in the lofty Gianthalls Mountains before it winds its way into the lowlands and the sea; one could take a boat all the way from Thornburg to the nation's capital of Hammerstadt. The county is otherwise dominated by the broad, low hills of the Dimmsmoor, the pine forest of the Dammerungenwald, oak forests (the Feywald, Buckwald, and briar-infested Thornholt), the deep and cold Grostlake, and the ragged granite Broken Hills. The misnamed Boggan Stream (it's mor…

The King is Dead: Fencing/Martial Arts Schools

Despite being an unathletic nerd, I’ve never been much into wizards. I vastly prefer swords to sorcery, and I’m a little disappointed that the majority of the players in my current The King is Dead test campaign chose to play magic-users.I can’t blame them, though; taking an Arcane Background is basically getting several more Edges for free, and the only penalty is that you have to use a special Skill to utilize those Edges.
Which gives me an idea for fencing/martial arts schools…
What if each school used a special, separate-from-Fighting Skill and gave access to an increased number of Combat Edges?Something like this:
Turner School of Fencing* Skill: Turner Fencing
Starting Edges: 3
Available Edges: Block/Improved Block, Counterattack/Improved Counterattack, Elan, First Strike/Improved First Strike, Quick.
Allowed Weapons: Rapier, Saber (short sword)

In order to utilize the bonus Edges from the school, the hero would have to use the specialized skill (not Fighting). When she took additio…

Steamscapes: Asia -- Strider

Strider has been published! If you're a Steamscapes: Asia backer, you should have an e-mail waiting for you with a link to download the PDF.

This is my first time writing a long-form adventure, but I think I did a pretty good job. (I certainly hope I've picked up something after 25 years of gaming.)  I'd love to hear your feedback, though, so please feel free to comment here or on Google+. Send me an e-mail if you like!

Steamscapes head honcho Eric Simon tells me he's pretty pleased with the whole thing.  I'm happy to hear that, given that I kinda tweaked things more in the wacky, weird direction mind brain goes...  
Eric kindly calls it a mini-campiagn, but I'd say it's more just an old TSR-style adventure. In either case, it's 27 pages of NPCs, new equipment, plots, and random encounter tables that should hopefully add up to a month's worth of gaming sessions.

It's a cross-country quest and a murder mystery rolled into one.  There's a robot…

Deadline accomplished!

Okay, it took a little longer than I wanted it to, but I got sick and it couldn't be helped.

Strider -- the adventure module I promised backers of Steamscapes: Asia -- is finished. I just e-mailed it to Eric Simon, so that gives him a week to get it formatted. I certainly hope he's not trying to do anything too fancy with it...

This now means that I have to start working on completing the Japan section of the book, but I should be able to work at a more relaxed pace. Which will be good for my health... And the blog... And The King is Dead.


(And, yeah, module.  It's like 11,000 words.)


EDEN3 A Savage Worlds Setting Sketch Yesterday on Google+, I wished that somebody else would write a Super Powers Companion-compatible science-fantasy sword and sorcery setting in the vein of Blackstar, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Crystar the Crystal Warrior, etc. Response was enthusiastic and – of course – my stupid brain immediately began churning out ideas. Dammit.

Anyway, here’s some notes toward an SFS&S setting…

World of Wonders
 Worlds have risen and worlds have died many times since the Cosmos was born. Now – one the far reaches of the Cosmos – a new world is in its birth pangs. Eden3has been seeded by far-traveled, long-lost civilizations and now its barbarous inhabitants struggle to master the strange wonders their forebears left behind. Though the orbiting supercomputer DeusMAX and its cadre of ARC-Angels were set in place to defend Eden3from extraplanetary interference, a serpent has still come to this wondrous garden…

Probes from the Blight, a malevolen…

Gentleman Thief

Gentleman Thief
The gentleman thief (also “lady thief” or “phantom thief”) is a cunning and charismatic cat burglar. He is as adept in social settings as he is in picking locks and scaling heights. The gentleman thief is generally averse to physical violence, and prefers to use his cunning to confound his foes. Gentleman thieves usually work alone or with small bands of allies, but have been known to become leaders of criminal syndicates.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d4, Investigation d4, Lockpicking d6, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Stealth d8, Streetwise d4, Taunt d4, +2 skill points
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 4; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: One Major (Arrogant, Code of Honor, Curious, or Overconfident) and two Minor (Cautious, Death Wish, Greedy, Loyal, Pacifist, Quirk, Vengeful, or Wanted)
Edges: Thief and either Noble (for genuinely aristocratic gentlemen thieves) or Attractive (for those who are merely social climbers) G…

Edo Era Samurai

The following are stock NPC archetypes for a Savage Worlds chanbara setting. They represent typical samurai that might be encountered in the tense, uneasy “peace” of the Tokugawa Shogunate rather than the martial valor of the Sengoku era.
New Background Edge Samurai
Requirements: Novice
While the samurai are often thought of as Japanese nobility, this isn’t quite true. The samurai of the Sengoku and Edo eras were a much larger, much more varied caste than European nobility. They ran the gamut from impoverished farmer samurai to the wealthy retainers of the shogun. They were united by a common background as the warriors or servants of their lords, but otherwise varied greatly. The defining aspect of the samurai was the exclusive right to own and wield the daishō – the matched pair of katana and wakizashi – and so any character with the Samurai Edge begins play with those weapons. As the only authorized wielders of swords, even the poorest samurai also had the right of life and death over…

How Much Backstory is Enough?

I am not a fan of overly-detailed character backgrounds. Playing an RPG is not the same as writing a novel nor is it the same as acting for the stage or screen. Player characters need to be flexible and open enough that players can always find a way to justify their characters participating in the game at hand. “My character wouldn’t do that” is the stupidest, most selfish thing a roleplayer can say at the gaming table, and far too many gamers of my acquaintance use detailed character backgrounds as an excuse to be jerks to their fellow players (and those fellow players include the GM).
That said, when you’re writing an adventure (as opposed to a dungeon) or a setting for others to GM and play, you obviously need to provide some background on the NPCs. Action comes from motivation, and motivation comes from background. How much background do you need to include to provide motivation?
I’ve got three articles coming up in the next Savage Insider. One is an Auspicious Archetypes article…

Halloween 2014: The King is Dead Collection

I really wanted to produce some awesome Halloween content this year, but writing for Savage Insider, running a new The King is Dead campaign, promoting Steamscapes: Asia, and drinking my way through Texas Wine Month have kind of gotten in the way.In lieu of new material, I present the following annotated list from the Wine and Savages archives.
The King is Dead My longest-running project here is The King is Dead, a gonzo Gothic 18th century revolutionary setting where the aristocrats are vampires so you don’t have to feel guilty about slaughtering them all.As much as there is on the blog, there’s even more unpublished.It will – eventually – get published, but paying writing work is too tempting to resist right now.

The King is Dead The original post that started it all is a fictitious quote from another world’s Declaration of Independence.
The King is Dead: What does that mean?
An explanation of the setting concepts and themes.
The King is Dead: Revised Introduction A new version of the …