Showing posts from April, 2017

Savaging Anime Rom-Com: Comedy Backlash

As mentioned in Savage Worlds, the Critical Failures setting rule works well in humorous games. Unfortunately, this rule disadvantages those faced with backlash, brainburn, and malfunctions from the Magic, Psionics, and Weird Science Arcane Backgrounds, as they risk hurting themselves with a roll of 1 on their skill die when activating a power. 

Many harem romantic comedies feature the frequent use of Arcane Backgrounds, or even offer a heavy dose of combat (Tenchi Muyo! certainly comes to mind). The emotional stakes of such battles are often quite high, but the chance of serious injury is usually fairly low. In such cartoonish settings, a different approach to backlash may be in order.  

New Setting Rule: Comedy Backlash

When a character utilizing Magic, Psionics, or Weird Science rolls poorly enough that backlash, brainburn, or a malfunction would normally be called for, the player (never the Game Master) can instead choose to suffer a Comedy Backlash effect. The hero is Shaken, b…

Savaging Anime Rom-Com: An Introduction

And by “anime ,” I of course mean “anime and manga” since most anime start as manga.

And by “rom-com,” I of course mean “harem.”

The seemingly vast majority of anime and manga romantic comedies revolve around love triangles – love triangles that usually expand as the series progresses, adding enough new sides to become love dodecahedrons or more. At the center of these complicated relationships is usually a single, audience-identification figure protagonist who gathers a so-called “harem” of would-be lovers. In a standard harem, the protagonist is male; in a “reverse harem” or “seraglio,” the protagonist is female. In a “supporting harem,” the protagonist has a single true love (or two rival loves) and the other members of the harem are only distractions and supporting players, while in a “balanced harem” all of the love interests are equal choices (and in a “bloodbath harem,” they’re hyper-competitive to be the chosen One True Love). 

Particularly in anime, high school is the prefe…

Setting Rule: Hindrance Trading

As mentioned many times before, the vast majority of my actual RPG playing time is spent playing duet (AKA solo or one-to-one) Savage Worlds games with my wife, Robin. Most of these short campaigns are romance stories in one form or another; the current one is a Victorian paranormal romance, while I’m looking toward prepping an anime-style sci-fi (reverse) harem rom-com.   

The essence of romance – and especially romantic comedy – is self-improvement. The plot of almost any rom-com can be boiled down to “person with Hindrances meets another person with Hindrances, they work them out, and everything ends happily.” While these Hindrances can be external – debt, idiot sisters, parents exiled from their rightful kingdoms, etc. – the most common and most important Hindrances are internal – prejudice, pride, unhealthy obsessions, etc. Conquering these Hindrances drives the plot. 

Several years back, I wrote extensively about Savage Worlds romance gaming in the context of Regency romances. B…

Mecha Ninja Ranger Paradigmatic Framework

Across the Megaverse® – in over threescore universes and parallel realities – god-like beings of wisdom and goodness channel their will through chosen champions, squads – or sentai – of young beings given the power and responsibility of Mecha Ninja Rangers. Tasked with battling terrible creatures of evil, inevitably some of these young heroes found themselves on Rifts® Earth.

Some Ninja Rangers are barely aware of their transcendent destinies, ascribing their powers to mere technology as their benefactors work in mysterious ways, but most are openly approached and offered a choice. Like Cyber-Knights, these champions are compelled to uphold a code of honor and heroism or else lose their powers. The sponsors then implant artificial psionic capability in their chosen champions (usually teenagers, as their bodies and psyches are quicker to recover than adults but their minds are better-developed than children) and fuse their psyches to incredible TW battle machines.

These battle machine…

Role as Race: Five-Man Band

Sometimes you’re going to have campaigns where everybody is playing a human. Sometimes these campaigns will be about science ninjas and/or martial artists who pilot super-cool vehicles and/or robots. Sometimes you want a little bit more to distinguish nearly-identical characters than just their choices of Hindrances and Edges.
(Sometimes they’re about teens solving mysteries, but the principle still applies.)

Let’s try something different. Let’s swap out the free Edge for being human for a small package of other bonuses (and balancing Hindrances) for a role or personality archetype that substitutes for race. These roles are based on the Five-Man Band archetypal structure. The Leader Some are born to lead, some have leadership thrust upon them -- but all Leaders display a talent for coordinating their teams.  Examples: Freddy (Scooby-Doo), Ken/Mark (Gatchaman/Battles of the Planets), Akira/Keith (Beast King GoLion/Voltron: Defender of the Universe), Ayeka Masaki Jurai (Tenchi franchise), …

Celtic/Gaelic VENUS Packages

The following V.E.N.U.S. (Venturers, Experimenters, Navigators, and the Unusually Skilled) packages are based largely on the legends of the Irish Heroic Age (1st through 4th centuries CE) as depicted in the legends of Cú Chulainn and Fionn mac Cumhaill– though they can also be used for Celtic and Gallic characters in a Weird Wars Rome or similar setting (say, perhaps, as the defenders of the last independent Gaulish village). There is some deliberate simplification of certain cultural roles for ease of play (not the least of which is conflating two periods of the era). Bard/Fili Gaelic bards or filid serve as entertainers and historians for the warrior nobility. Though a branch of the druidic tradition, they are known more as satirists and storytellers than priests.  Bonus Skills: +1 die Knowledge (Occult), +2 dice Knowledge (History) & Perform  Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Troubadour (see Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion)   Bonus Gear: harp   Brehon/Druid Though the anci…

Mega Horror Powers

The Savage Worlds Horror Companion contains a small selection of new powers appropriate for a horror setting – but what if you wanted a high-powered horror setting? The following are some options inspired by the Mega Powers of RIFTS® for Savage Worlds.
Banish Entity - Exalted Banish Entity The caster may either target a single Wild Card entity for Power Points equal to the being’s Spirit die or target all Extra entities in a Large Burst Template. Bind Entity - Greater Bind Entity For twice the usual Power Point cost, duration increases to one week (5/one week). Consecrate Ground – Blessed Sanctum Duration increases to 1 hour and Power Points cost increases to 6 (1/hour). Corpse Senses – Meat Puppet Power Point cost increases to 5 (1/hour) but the caster can now control the undead’s actions and speak through it. Undead created by the necromancer obey commands issued by the meat puppet. Drain Years – Drain Life Power Points cost increases to 40 points. Any character that fails their Vigor ro…

Wuxia VENUS Packages

Let’s simply assume that the dividing line between wuxia as a genre and martial arts stories in general is the presence of “wire-fu”-style quasi-magical abilities and move on from there. As one is sure to notice, these are very generic V.E.N.U.S. (Venturers, Experimenters, Navigators, and the Unusually Skilled) packages. Wuxia characters are all defined by their mastery of the martial arts; it's in their backgrounds, personalities, and fighting styles (defined by the Combat Edges and powers they choose) that their individuality is found.  

Enlightened (Deadlands-style) Adept
Bonus Skills: +3 dice in Fighting & initial super power skillBonus Hindrances: either Code of Honor [Major; follow the Code of Xia] or Vow [Major; serve your master or temple] AND either Enemy [Minor; see below] or Vengeful [Minor] Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Chi Mastery; see Deadlands: Reloaded), Martial Artist, Superior Kung Fu (see Deadlands: Reloaded)Bonus Gear: one martial arts weapon of the player’…

Pre-Modern Japanese VENUS Packages


Heian Ghost Story Packages

These are some V.E.N.U.S. (Venturers, Experimenters, Navigators, and the Unusually Skilled) packages for supernatural investigator characters in a Heian Japan setting, as discussed in previous blogentries.
Bonze/Monk Note that this is for a Japanese-style scholar-monk, not a Chinese-style martial arts monk. Bonus Skills: +2 dice Faith & Knowledge (Occult)Bonus Hindrances: Vow [Minor; obey your abbot]Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Exorcist (see Savage Worlds Horror Companion)Bonus Gear: Buddhist rosary


Bonus Skills: +2 dice Knowledge (Occult) & SpellcastingBonus Hindrances: Vow [Minor; serve the Ministry of Onmyōdo or some minor spiritual taboo]Bonus Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), New Power (bind entity; see Savage Worlds Horror Companion), New Power (summon spirit; see Savage Worlds Horror CompanionBonus Gear: shikiban (divination board; adds +1 to Occult Knowledge rolls) and other occult tools 

Prior to the Meiji era, miko…

Rippers Resurrected Irregular VENUS Packages


Based on a conversation I had yesterday on Facebook with Tavis Hill, here's some V.E.N.U.S. (Venturers, Experimenters, Navigators, and the Unusually Skilled) packages for Irregulars inspired by some of the Character Concepts in Rippers Resurrected. With these packages, I went with the concept that Irregulars are ordinary folk caught up in the supernatural, not trained monster-fighters like long-term faction members; that's why the doctor/medical professional package doesn't revolve around the Surgeon Edge and its concentration on rippertech.

Alienist Bonus Skills: +1 die Notice, +2 dice Healing, Knowledge (Psychology), and PersuasionBonus Edges: Alienist Bonus Gear: book (blank), writing equipment, 4 doses of morphine

Aristocrat/Celebrity/Gentlefolk Bonus Skills: +1 die Intimidation (or Taunt), +2 dice Persuasion & Taunt (or Intimidation)Bonus Edges: Noble or Rich, SocialiteBonus Gear: bottle of champagne or wine, fine clothing

Cat Burglar/Gentleman Thief
Bonus Skills: +…

Rippers Resurrected Faction VENUS Packages

It’s no secret that I like my Savage Worlds heroes a little tougher than the rules as written provide, which is why The King is Dead incorporates something a bit like the M.A.R.S. (Mercencenaries, Adventurers, Rogues, and Scholars) packages of Savage RIFTS® into character creation (and why I’m looking forward to Fannon’s Freedom Squadron). Out of pretty much nowhere yesterday, I suddenly got to wondering what that approach would be like if applied to the factions of Rippers Resurrected.

Each V.E.N.U.S. (Venturers, Experimenters, Navigators, and the Unusually Skilled) package below grants a bonus of 5 skill points to relevant skills, avoiding combat skills whenever possible (the Rosicrucians are an exception because of the heavy penalties to magic use in the setting). They also grant two bonus Edges, which do not replace the standard free Edge for playing a human; I limited myself to Novice Edges and those available in the core rules and the Rippers Resurrected Player’s Guide, but also …

Review - Accursed: Strained Allegiance

Want to wipe away everything I contributed to Accursed: World of Morden? Pick up Strained Allegiance, the latest adventure by Melior Via head honcho John Dunn!

I jest, but it’s true. Strained Allegiance gives players the chance to remove one of the Witches – the goddess-like entities who are the main antagonists of the setting – completely from the board, freeing all Shades (including player characters) from the taint of her influence and destroying all of the Banes in her Witchline.

Which includes all three of the monsters I created for my contribution to World of Morden

…And upends the political structure of the Outlands that I developed for that book.


All kidding aside, it’s a brave move by John, a radical twist in the ongoing metaplot of Accursed that could provide a template going forward for any ongoing campaigns in that setting. It’s pretty much standard operating procedure in Pinnacle’s original settings (50 Fathoms, Slipstream, etc.) that the Plot Point Campaign ends w…

Mecha Kaiju Sensō Tai!!!: Reptilicus and Yonggary

As hopefully everybody knows, today sees the premiere of a new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix. As a backer of the Kickstarter project that brought the series back, I had early access to the new episodes a few days ago. I’m not really the binge-watching type, though, so I’ve only watched a handful of episodes so far. I watched both of the kaiju episodes, of course.

Reptilicus (1961)
On the surface of it, a kaiju terrorizing Denmark isn’t really that weird. Denmark, after all, is part of Scandinavia and heir to the same mythology that gave the world the Midgard Serpent. They were doing kaiju before kaiju were cool. Unfortunately, animating the kaiju via a marionette utterly wrecks any possible tension this goofy Beast From 20,000 Fathoms kock-off could have possibly generated. The paper cut-out people it eats don’t help.
Novice Street Fighter Kaiju Wild Card

Despite sprouting a pair of wings from its back, the serpentine monstrosity called Reptilicus displays no …