RPGs

When your old Star-Fall NPC is obviously from 20 years ago

WARNING SPOILERS !!! 

I have been running Starfall for over twenty years. As you may know, I have used many systems to run the game. Lately, I have discovered some of my old notes that I scanned into the computer before throwing them away (Yes I threw them away) and moved to Australia. Part of this is nostalgic. Discovering the long-forgotten NPCs, Equipment, and backstories. Another part is a measurement of how far I have grown as a gamemaster and Storyteller over the years.

Some of my NPCs at the time were just a pile of stats just to give the players something to shoot at. Some were more complex friends with overly winded backstories. Part of the problem of going through all these notes is that my note taking skills back then were also very limited. 

Looking at the notes I started to think what would happen if I put these NPCs into the current Starfall RPG campaign. Would the NPCs have enough depth of character to be interesting? 

The answer is YES.. if I flesh them out more. After all, I am running a story with rules, not a tactical simulation. (Though we are talking about tabletop tactics at some point)  

Example: NOVA-R71E

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So most of you already know by reading the short story Chicken Soup almost all the robots and AI are totally insane and very powerful in comparison to the tech used by the players. Nova in my first campaign was a hero. He was a robot assigned to assist earth scientists going through a wormhole. His (Yes the robot is a he ... as in its brain patterns were originally copied from a human male ) was a Non-combat science assistant database. The personality was more of a British Buttler. He also was the ship's psychologist. 

 

So looking at this NPC .. I started to ask some questions. 

-What would happen if he survived the Fall? 

-How would his insanity take form? 

-How can I make this a badass villain? 

-What would the motivations an insane robot have? 

 

The Answer is ... The Church! 

Many of you know that the church of the illumination is the bad guys in this world. They feel that old tech is the source of all the evil. However, they are also consumed by acquiring power over the universe. What would happen if they discovered one of these working Robots who had all of the earth understanding of how the human brain works. What would happen if he could offer people of power almost godlike tech in exchange for favors? 

We have a Deamon in charge of one of the orders of the church. NOVA-R71E has worked his way through the ranks of the church and is now the leader of the order of the ancient light (The Research division of the church ) He was the creator if the Paladin power armor (more like remembered how to build them) and is obsessed with acquiring old tech. 

Motivations? Why would he do this? 

To find a way to update his firmware! Thinking that this AI is insane he would have found a way to remove his "Non-combat" Programming but would still have bits in his firmware that forces him to obey a superior  (In this case the grand profit). So now we have a very powerful robot who has been performing upgrades to itself but is required to obey regardless if he likes it or not. 

Powers and abilities 

Like all Villans there needs to be a reason to fear this NPC .. otherwise, its own organization who considers him pure evil (not fall off the mark) would have destroyed him. From a Gamemaster standpoint, the Players should never meet him. The reason for this is that you do not want this NPC to be killed accidentally or cause a TPK (Total Party KILL) because the players did not listen to the advice "Are you sure". As any experienced Gamemaster will tell you .. giving stats to a big bad is a bad idea just don't. 

-Force fields. This alone would be enough for the world of Starfall to think he was a God .. or a Deamon.  

-Godlike intelligence having the power to outsmart a G'dar would give anyone an advantage 

-Immortal he is older than the previous empire there has got to be some amazing knowledge there somewhere.  

-Pre-Fall weapons. Now here is where things get scary. Think about what kind of weapons he would have built into his pinky. 

-The Backing of the Grand Profit 

-The Reputation of being a demon. This is extra powerful. I have seen real-life people terrified of someone just because they hear a roomer that they were a devil worshiper. And there is very good evidence to prove the devil does not exist. What would happen if the demons were real (or in this case made by humans) and he actually was one? oooooh scary 

 

What would the disadvantages be?  

 One of the things I hate about fiction is that it's too easy to make a supervillain exactly that "super". Having no flaws, nothing beyond having some kickass stats. So how do I fix this? 

-He has to work within the laws of the Church. This is a big one. a Robot must have rules. 

-- Cannot harm a true believer except in self-defense. 

-Must obey commands from the Grand Profit 

-Has memory flashbacks of his service of humankind. This would be fun to write into stories where NOVA forgets that he is not trying to rise to power. This might have moments of compassion. Or maybe he forgets that he is not still on the exploration craft from earth.

-He is hated by his peers. Have you ever worked in an office where your peer is causing problems for you? I'm thinking this is going to be a big one. I am already thinking that Targon wells from Starfall Episode one would hate him deeply. 

 -He would be obsessed with tech over political or strategic advantage. This is not necessarily a disadvantage as when you live forever sometimes you are willing to have some of your short-term goals put on the back burner for some time. This might look like a tactical retreat for no reason. 

-Batshit crazy  I'm not talking about the Joker or a chaos kind of way (that is done to death in RPGs and comics) but the kind of crazy that is a little more subtle. like talking to himself in another language. Or perhaps making orders that make absolutely no sense but not in a comedic way. Something that would make the peers uneasy around him and want him removed but not enough to actually do anything about it. (I have a real life coworker like that) 

 Time To update the artwork 

As you can see from my artwork from 1993 it was done with pencil on graph paper (Arnt all good RPGs start that way)  I have grown as an artist and so has my tool. So after I publish Episode 6 I'm going to start working on updating the art using some drawing programs. Also this artwork was done when he was a hero ... what would the Villan look like? 

Fighter Week "How to Roleplay a fighter" Video

Wow, what a week! 

I have been working on this video for some time. It took me about a week to gather everything that I wanted to put into this video. It Does not matter if you are playing a D&D fighter, Pathfinder warrior, or a Numenera Glaive. This video is for you.

Fighters are almost always "Under Roleplayed" not because they are a boring class to play but because it's so easy to get caught up in the stats and forget that there is a personality behind the numbers. So this video talks about 

  • Is your fighter a legend? 
  • Does your warrior have a code of honor? 
  • Are you playing the fighter correctly because you did not take a powerful feat 
  • How to make your Fighter's fights more exciting
  • Comments from the Twittersphere

No as always if you are playing your fighter like an accountant crunching stats to make sure that every swing of the sword has the optimum chance to do damage there is nothing wrong with that. However, numbers are easily forgotten. This video talks more about finding reasons for your character to fight. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKvJkhX7TiY

 

 

Games and websites we love

Like many geeks, I like many things. I love Games, Video games, Board games, nd RPGs. My media appreciation extends beyond just Scifi. So I wanted to take a moment and share some Link Love to those things that matter to me .. and an explanation of why. So to be clear none of the links that will follow are paid links. So if you tell these people "Kevin's Sent me" they will most likely say "Who?" 

Also, many of these categories overlap a bit 

 

RPGS

Let's start off with my favorite category RPGS. This category is dear to my heart as I am always working on trying to be a better game master. 

 

Cypher System / Numenerea 

This is one of my latest loves to enter my life. Cypher system is by Monte Cook and is absolutely fantastic. The simple but elegant rule system that focuses on the story vs just rolling stats. It's also big on having the player having a larger part of the narrative. I'm currently working on converting my homebrew called Starfall to the Cypher system. Expect me to post a few Youtube episodes on this topic.

I also would love to get my hands on Invisible sun at some point 

 I think what else is a big deal for me when it comes to this systems is that the people who are involved at Monte Cook Games all seem to be just good people at the core. It inspires me as a game creator myself to be a great person and be able to make some Awesome games too. Some day I plan to shake Monte Cook & Shanna Germain's  hand and thank him for the inspiration not just for the Games but for being awesome humans. 

Wish List 

  • Invisible sun (Signed by Monte ... I hear he has been asked to sign some crazy things)
  • Predation hardback (Signed by Shanna) 
  • Cypher Deck
  • Expanded Worlds 

https://www.montecookgames.com/

 

TORG

Yes, this was a blast from the past. This system made a lot of people hurt their heads trying to figure out the "Everlaws". The idea of having our reality being superimposed by others is a very interesting one. I loved how the characters could be a mix of a Cyberpunk and a pizza delivery boy from the 80's and a wizard from the dark ages all in the same group. This was my first attempt at running a game for the players as an experience vs "Here is a dungeon". 

My Tips fro running Torg is to keep the players in the dark. They don't need to know the Everlaws. They also don't need to start off as anything other than core Earthers. 

Sadly West End Games is no longer producing Torg, However, it would be easy to convert part of that to "The Strange" from Monte Cook Games.

Wishlist: As I had to leave my collection back in the states 

  • Torg Box set 
  • Core earth sourcebook 
  • Orrish sourcebook 
  • Nippon Tech 
  • Practical Grimoire  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_End_Games

 

Shadowrun 

IF there is every a reason to go buy a bucket of D6s its Shadowrun. I love this game. I started running Shadowrun because the players in my group always argued the rules and did not spend a lot of effort in the story, Becuase the players did not know the rules to Shadowrun they had to focus on the story. This is perhaps the game I have run the most. Even today with 5th ed I can quickly put together a Run with almost no notice. (I also have a ton of Pre-Made PCs ready to go) 

At some point ask me about the Aztec dancers on the light rail after running Shadowrun in Sacramento 

http://www.shadowruntabletop.com/

 

Eclipse Phase

 You think Torg messed with people's Heads ... Eclipse phase will do even more. This game always starts a deep conversation about humanity often leaving the dice on the table. The idea of swapping bodies and Genders on a whim is something that makes interesting conversations at my table. You want a killer sci-fi game .. HERE YOU GO! 

Wishlist 

ALL OF IT! 

http://eclipsephase.com/

 

Podcasts. 

I used to be a podcaster back in the day (Wow that sounds strange). Back during the time were we knew for sure that we were going to upset big radio. These days I'm working mostly with Youtube videos, but I have been known to be a guest on more than one RPG Podcasts. 

These days I'm a podcast junkie. I'm always listening to podcasts. if you follow me on twitter I'm always tweeting about a few podcasts that I love. 

 

Steamrollers Adventure Podcast 

I love this show!!!! I got hooked within the first episode. The characters are fantastic and the story crafter took more than a few levels in worldbuilding. What is even cooler for me they use Role Vs Roll in the show!! HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS THAT!! Jackmonkey games is the official sponsor for Season 2 by the way. I liked the show sooooo much the Role Vs Roll card  "Dapper D" was inspired and dedicated to them 

If you are going to start listening to the podcast do yourself a favor and start with the first episode! 

http://riggstories.com/the-podcast/

 

 

Boardgames 

It seems that you can't really call yourself a geek and not love boardgames (Not always but most of the time) And I am not one of the acceptions. I love boardgames. To be honest, Imp is the board game champion in the house (She is ruthless) 

Here is a collection of the games we Love to play 

 

Killer Bunnies 

This a fun game with a simple strategy ... Get Carrots and hope you have one bunny at the end of the game. The reason why we love this game is because our house rule is that you are allowed to cheat, Steal, Convince, Bribe and threaten the other players to get your way. However, if you get caught cheating you loose all your bunnies. You also have to tell everyone at the end of the game how you cheated. 

The reason why we love this game is because our house rule is that you are allowed to cheat, Steal, Convince, Bribe and threaten the other players to get your way. However, if you get caught cheating you loose all your bunnies. You also have to tell everyone at the end of the game how you cheated. Sounds like a nasty game but it's actually a lot of fun when everyone knows they are going to be cheating. 

http://killerbunnies.com/game/index.html/

 

The Captian is Dead 

This is our only Co-op Game we have in the house at the moment. What I enjoy about the game is the discussion about what to do next. That and out of the 20 times We have played we have only won the game 3 times. I was lucky to discover this game on Kickstarter and I must say we have been very happy with it. 

 

RPG Fighter Week

So what is "Fighter Week"? 

It's a whole week where we talk about playing a fighter in RPGs. Yep, that is right. The simplest of all character classes get an entire week of Role playing tips  

  • All my twitter posts are on the topic of Fighters #rvrFighters 
  • My Pinterest activity all week has been about fighters 
  • This week's Youtube video is going to be about how to Role-play a fighter. 

If you have some tips on how to Roleplay a fighter Please send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  I'm looking for Video Tips, Twitter Posts, Blog Posts etc!