Monday, June 26, 2017

Savage Robotech

Thoughts on Savaging Robotech

When I was about 9 years old, my older brother Rob, introduced me to the Role Playing Game. My first experience was with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. After my friend and I concluded our short campaign I wanted something different. As I looked around my local comic book store I saw a book with two robots on the cover in a snowy landscape.

The SENTINELS in large print on the cover drew my attention. Upon closer examination, I discovered it was a Robotech book by Kevin Siembieda. I immediately recognized the name as I routinely watched the cartoon and thus this was the very first RPG book I ever bought. Thirty years later I eventually got back into RPGing. Like most people, my first thought was D&D. I found a local game group and got back into it. Then I started to get bored with D&D and d20 in general. So, I started scouring YouTube for live plays of different RPG’s and came across one called The Enigma Equation: The Last Parsec.

Ever since entering this rabbit hole known as Savage Worlds, I’ve been trying to figure out how to translate Robotech into Savage Worlds. When I heard that Pinnacle convinced Palladium to allow them the opportunity to create a Savage Worlds Rifts setting I was hopeful that it would allow me to make Savage Robotech a reality. My first thought was to look at the Rifts: Savaging Your Favorite Rifts Ideas. Specifically converting O.C.C.’s to the Savage World’s platform. It was recommended in that 17-page pdf to use the Custom Race’s section of the Rifts: The Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide. It also states that “For O.C.C.s based on the use of Power Armor or even Robot Armor, you’re much better off going the M.A.R.S. route.”. At first, I looked at the custom races option and a friend of mine told me that the custom races in The Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide is very similar to the Science Fiction Companion’s custom races. So, I decided to compare the two.

Custom Races Comparison
Science Fiction Companion (SFC) and Savage Rifts: The Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide

Everything in the SFC is included in the Rifts players guide except the section on how to incorporate Super Abilities which references the Super Powers Companion.

The Rifts player guide added Bad Reputation, Cyber Resistant, Distinctive D-Bee, Non-Standard Physiology, and Restricted Path negative racial modifiers.

Well, Eric Lamoureux was right. They are very similar.

Mercenaries, Adventurers, Rogues, and Scholars. This is the framework that I think is best suited for Robotech and is located on page 27 of the Rifts: Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide (I need to find an acronym for this). It does include a Robot Armor Pilot package but that would only cover the Destroid Pilot O.C.C.. I would still need to make a Veritech Pilot O.C.C. which I think would be doable with the Personal Concept Option package on page 28. Ok, so now I’ve decided to use the M.A.R.S. approach, I have to figure out which edition of Robotech to use.

Palladium’s Robotech RPG
Yep, you guessed it. There are two versions of Robotech RPG from Palladium. The first version which ran from 1986 to 1998 consists of 8 source books, 4 adventure books, and 2 Robotech II source books. The second version of Robotech titled, The Shadow Chronicles, runs from 2008 to present and consists of 6 books total. This newer version appears to have renamed and condensed some of the O.C.C.’s from the original version. The Shadow Chronicles starts you out somewhere around 2038-2039 with the Invid occupation of planet Earth. The human race has been betrayed by an unexpected traitor and there is now a new threat to contend with. I think I’ll start with this newer version but also use the older version as a resource. I like the starting timeline of The Shadow Chronicles because I think the Invid are a better enemy for player characters. The Zentradi and the Robotech Masters are just giant humans after all. The Invid aliens provide a much richer aspect to the game. Just in case you didn’t know, Palladium Books has started to release their older RPG books on OneBookShelf, the parent company of DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. Welcome to the third millennium Mr. Siembieda. Unfortunately, The Shadow Chronicles is not yet available as pdf.

Final Thoughts

As much as I love the Robotech universe, I don’t know if I’ll actually get around to seeing this come to fruition. It’s been over a year since getting into Savage Worlds and Fantasy Grounds and I still haven’t completed this pet project of mine. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, Pinnacle Entertainment Group will persuade Palladium to make Robotech. If anyone has any ideas or thoughts on savaging Robotech I’d love to hear them. 

I'd like to take this time to thank Jamie Pierson for inviting me to join the Nerds-International community. Jamie is the remarkable host of a show/podcast called The RPG Brewery on Twitch and in his next episode he will be interviewing the acclaimed author Margaret Weis. Go check out his YouTube channel.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Class Clown Kid update

This is just a short update to add my poor attempt at a final version of the Class Clown Kid. I'm going to be running Tales from the Loop at Con on the Cob this year for my friends over at Nerds-International. I also plan to run this for my friends at my LFGS, Affinity for Gaming in DeKalb IL. You can click on the hyperlink above to get your own copy or you can see a quick preview of the file below.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Aliens vs. Rednecks Review

Aliens vs Rednecks is Just Insert Imagination's newest entry in what they're calling a "plug & play adventure". This latest adventure is their 5th in this line of PnP adventure series. The other PnP adventures from JII are Fuhgeddaboudit!Size MattersBadabing Badaboom!, and White Noise (which will be reviewed later). Coming soon to this line of adventures will be Ashen Thorns, a "spooky and creepy, perfect for a dark night with the wind howling outside." PnP adventure.

I've been resisting the urge to read this adventure in the hopes that I would get to play in it beforehand. Oh well, at least I can say I tried. The basic synopsis of this adventure written by Eric Lamoureux and Harrison Hunt, is that the Klarrgian aliens are in danger of being extinct and they need to abduct a human female named Jenny. She is believed to be the only gene carrier that can save the planet Klarrg from a plague. This beauty pageant queen is somewhere in the town of Jefferson and the aliens can't leave without her.

This adventure introduces a couple of new setting rules, Hold mah beer! and The Xeno Shroud. Basically, they’re rules for in game drinking and allowing the aliens to walk around amongst the humans unnoticed by the townsfolk. If you haven't already figured it out yet, the players will be playing the roles of the inept aliens attempting to abduct Jenny. In this PnP there are a total of 9 scenes/plot twists with my favorite being Just Ridiculous. Another identical race of aliens unknown as Qlarrgians are after Jenny for the exact same reason as the Klarrgians.

AvR is a 20 page PDF which includes a cover page, 3 pages of adventure with NPC’s, a town map, 2 pages of basic figure flats, 5 pre-generated character sheets, a blank character sheet, 5 pre-generated table tents, a blank table tent, and a one page advertisement of JII products.

Overall, I’m really digging this adventure. I mean, who doesn’t want to be an awkward bungling alien searching for (in the voice of Forrest Gump) Jen-ay in the backwoods town of Jefferson. Some of the things I like about this game are the Alienudes, an alien inspired version of interludes and the Klarrgian slang included (which are also on the table tents for easy player access). As usual, the artwork is fantastic and I only have a couple of gripes. The first is the page layout on pages 2-4. They tried to make those pages look like an open book laid flat so you can see the crease in the middle of the page. To me it looks like everything is slightly squished on those pages. This gripe is not a major thing at all. It is merely a personal preference on my part.

The second gripe which is the big one for me, is that I can’t copy and paste anything in the document. As a Virtual Table Top user of Fantasy Grounds, this means I have to re-type everything into the program instead of Ctrl C, Ctrl V. This is easily fixed in Adobe but the PDF is locked and only the publisher can unlock it to make the changes to allow copying. Edit: This issue appears to have resolved itself as I can now copy and paste from the document after a power restart on my computer.

Depending on the players at your table, this game will be a hillarious, gut ripping, and flatulence inducing alien adventure to remeber for a long time.
I’m giving this one 4 out of 5 Jalizaran Moons. After an error from within my computer has been resolved, I would still give this 4 out of 5 Jalizaran Moons.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Curse Of Calimah

A while back, on April 8th, I had a chance to run my first Fantasy Grounds (FG) game during FG Con 10. I ran an adventure I wrote, titled The Curse Of Calimah. This Savage Worlds adventure was designed to be an introduction to the Pirates of the Dominions sourcebook from the Beasts & Barbarians setting published by Gramel. I would say that overall, it was a success. Unfortunately, I had to omit lots of information in order to try to finish the game on time. Even after that we still went an hour over the scheduled time. The players said they had a good time and it was fun but I’m not sure if they were just being polite.

I learned some valuable lessons. First is to make sure the images and maps are under 1MB in file size. The images I used were large and stopped the game for 5-10 minutes while the players downloaded them. Alternatively, you can set the images to be Force loaded to the players. This means when the players connect to your game all of the images will be downloaded at that time. This can take some time if the file sizes are large but that also means that the game will run faster for everyone during actual play.

Second, if at all possible, try to have a veteran Fantasy Grounds GM as a player. They can help tremendously for a first timer in FG. There were times I felt bad because the game slowed to a standstill. I couldn’t figure out some of the nuances of the combat tracker like adding multiple NPC’s under a single action. I’ll have to go back and revisit that. I know Eric Lamoureux has a video on YouTube about that here. You should go visit his channel because he has a good selection of instructional videos as well as recorded game sessions.

The third and last lesson I learned was that, if you make the players unnecessarily chase after a bad guy, they will either hate the NPC or you, the GM. There is a fine line here and hopefully I didn’t cross it. The first few rounds of combat during the final encounter were slow to say the least. Each player had an allied extra that were relatively close enough to engage an enemy but most of the players were out of range. Then the final bad guy is revealed and the players had to chase after him. They hated the NPC (or me, it’s hard to say for sure) so much that when one of the players killed him, they wouldn’t let him die until I spent all of my GM bennies to try and soak the damage.

I’m starting to come around to the idea that I ran a good game because the players had some laughs and by the end they got emotionally involved in making sure the bad guy felt every last wound. 

With the announcement of the Beasts & Barbarians Steel Edition crowdfunding via Indiegogo, it's fitting that I can announce I've finally gotten approval from Piotr Koryƛ to release this adventure. For anyone interested, you can download the adventure for free here The Curse Of Calimah.