Showing posts from February, 2014

How to make a Super Robot with Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion 2nd Edition

(I just need to get this out of my head)

How to make a Super-Robot with Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion 2nd Edition
There are two kinds of mecha in this world: “real robots” like the walking tanks of Battletech and Dai-Guard and crazy-ass “super robots” like in Voltron  and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.  The former are characterized by adherence to something resembling real-world physics (having limited space for weapons, mechanical breakdowns, running out of ammo) and could easily be reproduced with the “walker” rules (and a little bit from the other vehicle types) in the new Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion.  The latter is a 100’ superhero that you drive.

Here’s how to build one:
Hindrances Gimmick (Two Characters): The vast majority of super robots are not intelligent and must be piloted by a human (or humanoid, depending on the setting).  If you’d like to run something more along the lines of Power Rangers, I’d allow splitting the Power Points for building the characters …

(NSFW) D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge: Why I Didn't Participate inthe D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge

The pall of failure and shame overshadows my memories of Dungeons & Dragons.  What joy I felt playing the game with my high school buddies is dimmed by embarrassment over my juvenile behavior and a painful falling out with my family that occurred last year.  While I will always be thankful to the system for introducing me to pen and paper roleplaying games – and while I will always love the Forgotten Realms – I cannot look back on D&D itself with much love.

(More self-pity and naked she-monsters after the cut)

Mystery Project Unveiled -- Steamscapes: Asia!

I have been hired to write a thing!

Eric Simon of Four-in-Hand Games has generously hired me to contribute the chapter on Japan for the upcoming Steamscapes: Asia!  Expanding on the realistic alternate history begun in Steamscapes: North America, this supplement will provide details on China, India, Japan, and other nations of Asia in a world where steam power and the difference engine have ushered in an age of adventure and exploration.

Expect more details of the book and the accompanying Kickstarter campaign in the coming months.

The King is Dead: Names in Malleus

Names in The King is Dead Commoners Given Names The most common male name for commoners in Malleus is Johannes or some abbreviation or diminution of the name.  Johannes the Mad was a false prophet of ancient Tsion who preached against King Hordos and Princess Salome.  When Salome was given the Gift of Sathaniel (which, as is taught by all right-minded preachers, was in order to bring the Gift to her step-father), she demanded Mad Johannes as her first feast.  Because of the high honor bestowed upon the deluded human, his name was bestowed upon innumerable human servants early in the reign of Emperor Etzel and has become commonplace since then.  While John and Jack have recently become more fashionable amongst city dwellers, Johann remains the most popular variation amongst the middle class.  Jan, Hans, and the diminutive Hansel are popular in the countryside while Ian and Sean are popular variations in Clavus and Lochland.  No man of aristocratic lineage is ever named Johannes.

The King is Dead: Plotting

I've been roughing out the shape and scope of the TKID book, and I find myself in a quandary.  I am, on the whole, an improvisational and (more or less) DIY GM.  I've run the Rippers plot-point campaign, but I can't think of any other canned plots I've actually used.   I've used the Forgotten Realms as a setting in which to improvise plots on numerous occasions, but I'm hardly the kind of obsessive FR fan that knows the different coins of Waterdeep and Cormyr.

In other words, I'm not the kind of GM who needs or uses hyper-detailed adventure paths or settings, so why would I write one?
Hmm...  A part of me would feel guilty if I didn't include a plot-point campaign, because that's the Savage Worlds trademark, but it's a small part.  Obviously, the whole goal of The King is Dead is to break the setting, but why should I dictate the path others want to take to get there?  No, my book is going to be low on metaplot and high on campaign seeds.
I thi…


I like Sakura Taisen, the story about musical actresses saving a steampunk Japan from demons.

I like Rurouni Kenshin, the story of a killer from the Meiji Restoration trying to atone for his deeds.

I like Lady Snowblood, the story of a vengeful assassin at odds with the Meiji drive for westernization.

Heck, I even like The Last Samurai, the Tom Cruise movie about how a magic white man fails to save the samurai.

Hmm... What could I possibly do with this interest in 19th century Japan?


I gave up gaming during the latter part of my admittedly extended college undergraduate career.  Most of my high school friends had moved away or we’d fallen out, and I felt like the little gaming I still did was stealing away time and creativity from “proper” writing.  I shelved my game books and concentrated on writing articles for my club’s journal and starting short stories and novels I never finished.
A couple of years out of college, my wife was accepted into a graduate program and we moved away from our hometown so she could attend it.  Robin and I are perhaps too much alike, and one of the weaknesses we share is an occasionally crippling shyness.  Friendless in a little college town with little to do, my wife asked me to run an RPG with her as the only player.
It was daunting, because I’d never run anything so intimate; it just seemed so weird, almost transgressive.  It was frightening, because I knew – I just knew – that if I began walking down the RPG road again I would nev…

The King is Dead: Thank you, Hellsing.

I started my day by working on fixing formatting for The King is Dead’s dedicated page, then I switched to turning the Word document I was using to compile the text into a PDF, and then I realized I was wasting my time because there’s a lot I want to change in what I’ve written for The King is Dead so far and there really isn’t any point in taking the old stuff and making it pretty, dammit.
Oh well…
I am dropping the Balefire Club from the roster of secret societies.  In play, the Balefire Club is kinda redundant; they don’t really add anything that other societies don’t do better.  If I really want good-guy occultists, then I should just play up that part of the Illuminated and interpolate some of the conspiracy theorist version of the Freemasons.  They’re also more than a little problematic.  The real-life Hellfire Club – unlike the basis for most of the other societies – was neither progressive nor oppressed; they were, bluntly, rich jackasses of the sort the setting is meant to s…

The King is Dead: Taking it seriously

So…  There are actually people in this world who want me to publish The King is Dead so that they can pay me to own it. 
Who the hell am I to argue with that?
I can admit up front that this is going to be a challenge.  I’ve had a few other projects on this blog fall through because I’ve taken them seriously, because I’ve gotten too caught up in historicity and minutia.  The reason I took a hiatus to write those wacky setting sketches and the Accursed Fan Five was because I was taking The King is Dead too seriously.  (I somehow forgot that Spirit is associated with Persuasion and not Smarts and the stats were all wrong for the aristocrat politicians which bummed me out tremendously and then the stat blocks for the vampires were just ridiculously huge and I got bummed out even more.)  Thankfully, the break has made me reevaluate a few aspects of the setting and helped me center myself again.
I can take The King is Dead seriously by remembering to not take it seriously.
There’s a reaso…

State of the Blog – 2/5/2013

I don’t like writing these kind of behind-the-scenes posts, but sometimes they demand to be done.  The Accursed fan-five project was a bit draining; I’ve figured out I have a cycle of four weeks on and one week off for my creativity, and I pushed through that last month to my detriment.  I need to take a breath and figure out what to do next.
I want to start publishing for profit this year.  I’m just plain not good enough at my job that I’m going to get promoted or get a serious raise anytime soon, and I’m way too cautious to quit and go looking for something else in this economy (plus my job has great benefits and I really wouldn’t mind retiring from that place), so it would be nice to very slightly improve my income stream by other means.  I don’t really feel comfortable having a “contribute” button on this blog (though successful professional writer Mark Evanier has one), so I’d rather publish work for sale on DriveThruRPG.  I’m not going to be an ass and just republish blog posts…