For those do don't know, the DriveThruRPG website offers not just game books in a digital Portable Document Format (PDF), but also physical Print-On-Demand (POD) copies, much like with Lulu.com. I have a TON of PDFs on my computer and backups storage mediums (disks, USB sticks, etc.), along with a small tablet to read them, and I love that I have access to a lot of gaming resources (legal or otherwise) at my finger-tip, but I also like to run games with actual physical books instead of fumbling through a sea of digital files that cannot be booked-marked or recalled with any amount of speed. Here is something about having books right there at your desk and in your shelf. Plus, a number of the current PODs are for old, discontinued products, with a good number providing extra income to their creator (although, I could care less about WotC or who ever took over White Wolf Publishing).
Mind you, in a number of cases, retro-clone POD books are cheap enough to buy out of hand, but I still have to save-up for them. It this case, I had to save up for months to buy these "big books":
For a while I was reading through some pirated PDFs about the setting and fell in love with it. It is a rich and beautiful backdrop deep in history and culture. To me, this is true fantasy, as its far beyond the mundane and ordinary fantasy we see everywhere today. This is not a setting like Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms where you can jump right in without effort. Tékumel requires a bit of research (and some mental adjustment) to get into. I know this is really off-putting to most, but I eat the setting details up like candy. As a fan of the Barsoom Saga, I'll usually fall back on the Tsolyáni culture to round-out the Barsoom people... or a derivative there off. Buying the hardcopy felt great, as I know it would go to Baker's estate.
I quite enjoyed the book, but I could care less about the rules. I'm more interested in the setting itself, so I put my sights on Swords and Glory vol. 1: Tékumel Source Book, which I ordered last month, along with the next book...
For few a years now, I have been in an '80s nostalgia-driven classic cyberpunk kick. Back in the '90s I was into the cyberpunk genre, but the only thing available was Shadowrun, but I never liked that game. All I wanted was pure, unadulterated cyberpunk! No punk-rock elves! No street-mages! No dragon-CEOs! I have a number of cyberpunk RPGs on my files — Shadowrun, Cyberspace, GURPS Cyberpunk, C.O.P.S., etc. — and I like to mix things up, but the cyberpunk backdrop that really stood out is Cyberpunk 22.214.171.124. It has all the right mix of elements: Gibson/Sterling-styled "Mirrorshades" cyber-punks; Bladerunner-like backdrop; Tech Noir-styled bars bathed in blue & pink bisexual neon lighting; OCP-like Machiavellian corporate politics; Mad Max-styled Nomads (and Water World-styled Pirate-bikers for good measure) Rage Against the Machine-like Rockerboys; weapons, gear and vehicles that look like concept art form late-'80s OVA-era anime; a sex-positive attitude towards nudity and sexuality; and a fashion sense and outlook that is so entrenched in the 1980s.
Now, I'm not a fan of the Cyberpunk 2020 rules: I find the game mechanics to be dull and I never liked Humanity Loss, as I see it as a wonky limiter on the number of cybernetics that you can install. Plus it makes no sense that a few cosmetic implants that change your physical features in smalls ways (color-changing hair/eyes/skin, glow-in-the-dark tattoos, etc.) and things that folks do even think about (blood-filters, contraceptive implants, and the like), above and beyond the major mental and physical alterations, would push someone into becoming a murderous psychopath. (If anything, only have the cool, useful things strip one's psyche.) It also has a strange aversion to recreational drug-use in that "Reefer Madness" sort of way. I don't care what Maximum Mike said: Cyberpunk is vary much "Dungeons & Drug-Dealers"! Much like in the real-world, safe recreational drug-use is a skill all its own (hell, even as a kid I was taught: "Even with weed, always know the person you are buying drugs from!"), and drug-dealers do not last long peddling bad shit.
But still, I bought the reprint of Cyberpunk 126.96.36.199. (second edition, version 2.01). You might be asking way I would put money down on a system I don't care for. The truth is, I see the Cyberpunk 2020 setting as a foundation for my own cyberpunk games. I can add, mix, alter and remove things as I see fit, using a rule-system of my own choosing. I have a ton of other cyberpunk-related books, RPGs, movies and anime to work with. More over, there is a a great resource for EVERYTHING Cyberpunk 2020-related called Datafortress 2020! It list every item, weapon, armor, cyberware, lifestyle and vehicle found throughout the history of CP2020 and than some. It expands on Night City. Goes into the major military conflicts in Africa and South America. And it really flesh out the Nomad culture. (All while using a lot of images found on countless search results.) I highly recommend that site, even if you are not into the CP2020 setting.
The Tékumel Source Book and Cyberpunk 188.8.131.52. reprints arrived a day before Halloween and I have been reading both. The Tékumel Source Book is full of great information, but lacks page numbers with it indexing. Everything is in 1.XYZ index numbers with the "1" being the book, the "X" being a section of a broad topic and "Y" and "Z" going into more and more specific topics. As such, I'm having to write the section headers and index numbers on the top corners of each page to be able to find everything as the sub-section headers tend to get buried it the walls of texts. Due to a lack of artwork, I cannot rely on them to "landmark" sections, so I'm more dependent on the indexing. The top-page headers I put in looks like this (bun in pencil):
Early History — The Historical Empires 1.200 — 1.310
Besides that issue, I really enjoy what it has too offer. Its going to take more time to fully absorb it, but so damn worth it!
Beyond the rules, the Cyberpunk 2020 book is great! The artwork is good, although I wised that it was a little less prudish. I have seen the non-English CP2020 books, and they have less restraint. (Although, if I had my way, Tim Bradstreet, with his hard realistic, film noir style, would totally be apart of their artist pool.) What I really enjoy about the game is how it is presented like a series of magazine articles with magazine adds here and there for notable equipment. I love this! It really adds to game immersion. When you read the start of the chapters it really casual and, much like actual magazine articles, you'll find quotes from the chapter placed in sidebars as large, bold text to really highlight what the section is about. You'll find newspaper articles related to a situation only to turn the page and find a game scenario about it. You'll find quotes form the likes of Johnny Silverhand, a rebel Rockerboy, Morgan Blackhand, the "Solo's Solo", and Maximum Mike, who is essentially the Word-of-God for the game (the game was written by Mike Pondsmith). With all the art, tables and sidebars, is hard to to get lost in this book.
In both cases, the books kind of suffers from the black & white line illustrations due to how both setting love vivid colors. In Tékumel, they love bright, contrasting colors. Houses, clothing, banners, the works: Bathed in bright colors with a lot of meaning. Cyberpunk maybe a futuristic film noir, but it is covered in Hajime Sorayama-styled chrome, with the bold color contrast of Patrick Nagel, and the aforementioned blue-N-pink bisexual neon lighting. (Although, that would have made the reprints more expensive and time-consuming.) Also, I'm not above altering the artwork of a new or reprint RPG, if I have issue with it — I did this for my Crimson Blades books and some others. Being line art, it makes my job way more easy.
If there is one thing I wish DriveThruRPG had for Tékumel is Book of Ebon Bindings. Is is a book about demonology and the occult. Damn good stuff!
For some years now I have been rally into Cyberpunk-genre gaming, mostly out of '80s and '90s nostalgia.
grew-up in the '80s, will all the cheesy cartoons, comic books, and
blood-n-boob filled action & horror films that came with it. On top
of that, being from the San Fransisco Bay Area, I was exposed to the
Puck scene, the Hip-Hop scene, sci-fi/fantasy/comic/RPG conventions, and
bootleg "Japanimation" more-or-less at once. It was neat, but I was
mostly in the background as a child too young to really understand a lot
I started to come in to my own as a
young teen in the '90s. By then, I was into heavy metal, discovering a
lot of legally made "dubbed" anime (before then, you had to rely on
bootlegs having subtitles or own a magazine that lists the translations)
that came of the OVA video market, and I was running my own D&D
games. The '90s anime market had a wide range of genre, but the one that
really stood out was cyberpunk, with titles like Akira, Appleseed,
Battle Angel Alita, Bubblegum Crisis, Ghost in the Shell, etc. (Much of
it was inspired by American films from the '80s) Back in the '90s, I
mostly played D&D, Battletech, 1e Gamma World. My first exposure to
cyberpunk gaming was Shadowrun (2e). It was classic cyberpunk mixed with
fantasy elements. I never liked that combination. By the time I
discovered SR, the Tolkien elements of fantasy — elves, orcs,
overly-useful magic, etc. — was wearing thin on me. All I wanted was a
pure cyberpunk game and I was unaware of Cyberpunk 2020 or ICE's
Cyberspace. It felt like everyone was playing 2e AD&D, Shadowrun or
Vampire, without much variation.
I finally discovered Cyberpunk 2020 in the mid-2000s.
The site that really got me to looking into CP2020 is an old site called
Datafortress 2020 by Deric "Wisdom000" Bernier. It is a great resource
of CP2020 that helps expand upon the setting, often using anime and
images found across the internet.
Cyberpunk 2020, I found the rules to be... well... Dull. In a nutshell,
it was basically "Roll a d10, add relevant attribute, skill and any
other adjustment vs a static Target Number." With rules, I want
something with more pizazz with the game mechanics, as well as a focus
on actual role-playing. On top of that, it also had a "Humanity Cost"
for getting fitted with cybernetics, with the ultimate cost being
Cyberpsychosis: A mental infliction that turns a character into ether an
emotionless introvert who balls-up in the corner and withers away, or a
mindless berserker that must murder-fuck EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING!!! I
was never a fan of this rule. I see it as a cheap game-balance mechanic
to limit the amount of cybernetic a character have at one time. To me,
the best limitation to what you can have installed is power and
maintenance. That is, some of the more powerful cybernetics would
require a lot of power. You might have to use some of the internal areas
of a cyber-limb to mount batteries, while a whole cyborg body would
require portable motor! Maintenance goes without saying. Its silly to
think that you get your right arm replaced and it would stay as good as a
natural arm: A cyberarm cannot mend its own cuts and brakes, and you
still have to keep it oiled and what have you. If anything, you should
be able to mount any number of cosmetic, superficial cyberwear, like any
fashionwear, sensory-enchantments, the Mr. Studd™ sexual implant (yes,
this is a thing), Skinweave, etc. After all, being able to go "full
cyborg" should be an achievement into itself, and not something that is
relegated to a murderous corporate attack-dog.
And yet, I still really like it! The game gets "Cyberpunk" right! The
chrome, the fashion, the scene, the punk! You can never downplay the
fashion or the "punk" enough. Its high-tech lowlife adventure! Cyberpunk
took a lot form other fiction and it is better for it. You'll find a
lot of great content with it its rulebook and supplements. The art is great. Although, its a
shame that is mostly black & white (the cyberpunk future is best
viewed in that punk-n-blue neon-back-lit "bisexual lighting"), and a
number of the more risqué artwork found in the French language editions
was altered or expunged from the English edition, which is a big no-no,
as cyberpunk is supposed be erotic. Another great part of CP2020 is that
due to people getting disenfranchised by the mega-corporations (aka, the only employers in town), they avoided becoming homeless rats in the urban war-zones by coming free-roving families called the Nomads. Beyond "The Sprawl" of the big cities, fly-over country is an endless
landscape of dead farmlands, suburban ruins, old decayed roads, lawless gangs of bloodthirsty raiders, the Nomads trying to survive in the wild countrysides of North America. Basically, Cyberpunk 2020 goes into Mad Max territory.
this game, you can freely sample classic cyberpunk novels, '80s sci-fi
action films, '90s cyberpunk anime, post-apocalyptic biker films, and
even the stranger cyberpunk films of the '90s. You can watch
Bladerunner, Freejack, and Crime Zone for the urban backdrop, Robocop (1
& 2) for the corporate backdrop and corporate-controlled media, Mad
Max (The Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome, and any number of their
imitators) for the Nomad communities, Liquid Sky (and Patrick Nagel's
art, and Jem and the Holograms) for the fashion, '80s punk for the rebel
Rockboy scene, Hackers for Netrunner scene, Strange Days for the
directive stories, and so much more!
I'm still not a fan of the rules, and I will use a system that will
strike my fancy. In the past I'd use Dream Pod-9's Silhouette system.
Right now, its something more cobbled together from a number of
different rule systems. I will ape content from Shadowrun, Cyberspace
and any other cyberpunk game I can find. I find the Cyberpunk 2020
setting to be easy and available.
Cyberpunk 2020 is going to see new life with the upcoming video game
Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt RED and tabletop RPG Cyberpunk Red by
R.Talsorian Games. Here is the tailer for the video game:
Battles of the Mechacyberoids is a setting that I just came up with. Years ago, at the old (now defunct) Goblinoid Games forum, we were fooling around with the character generation system used in Mini-Six during its beta-testing stage. We were making stats for all sorts of characters, established and original. Among them, I managed to make stats for some of the Gen-1 Transformers, namely Optimus Prime, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Megatron and Starscream. One of the key things with this was the use of scale. In the rules, scale determines size and firepower (and the resistance there of). Bumblebee had the smallest scale in any form, while everyone else were huge in size. Although, the rules did not cover scale in chargen, it was a neat gimmick. After that, I have been thinking about a Transformer-inspired that was different enough to be its own thing. Only until now, did it hit me...
This setting is a cross between super sentai fiction (think Voltron and Power Rangers) and cartoons with giant transformable robots (Transformers; Go-Bots), with some magical girl transformations (Cutie Honey; Sailor Moon). I wanted to make a setting about giant transformable robots, but to do so, without being reliant on human sidekicks — such characters, often teenagers, were used as intermediates between the young viewers, and the strange alien robots. I wanted the action to jump between human-scale and mecha/vehicle-scale without having to change characters. One of the key ideas came from Transformers: Headmasters; a strange take on later Gen-1 Transformers, where alien humans had the idea of turning Cybertronian heads into transformable exo-suits, allowing humans to serve as a supporting brain, while leaving the Cybertronian in alt-mode (vehicle mode) when not together. I just dropped the human partner, and made it so that the giant robot can detach its own head in order to transform into an artificial human. "Mechacyberoids" is a working title, but it is based on the long-winded titles found in a lot of old '70s-'80s giant robot anime.
In this setting, some alien cyborg drones called the Mechacyberoids, who in their natural state, resemble giant robotic bugs, found their way on earth in the late '70s to early '80s. They were on a mission by their master, the dreaded Cybergorgon, to secure an artifact (a blue gowning dodecahedron) that is believed to had fell on earth. While there, they discovered a strange form of life that could threaten the mission. Initially, they though the machines and cities were a living hive collective. Without a means to communicate, first contact was not pretty. They damaged cities, killed bystanders and had a deadly conflict with the US military. To understand the treat better, they took on new forms. Initially, they formed into vehicles and moved aimless round cities and highways. On further examination, it was revealed that smaller beings that called themselves "humanity" were in control. From there on, they separated their own heads form their bodies, and human form...
After years of close contact, the Mechacyberoids began to understand humanity better and became enamored with human idols and culture. They exist in two bodies: a human form; and a telepathically-linked vehicle. Their human body is mechanical, covered by life-like holographic skin. They have the ability to pull out weapons and tools from out of nowhere, and to transform into "soldier mode." The transformation is vary much like Cutie Honey, and when done, they are in a cool outfit, covered in armor plating and assessors (HUD-set, hover-feet, jet packs, bunny-ear antenna, utility belt, etc.). Their vehicular body can change into "battle mode", where weapons and other equipment (wings, ram-plates, grapple arms, etc.) fold out of the body. The transformation is vary much like M.A.S.K. When the threat gets too big, they can transform their vehicle bodies into "robot mode", jump onto the torso to transform their human body into the giant robot's head. Their giant robot bodies resemble the classic Transformers. Their giant robot bodies are build and armed for battle. Unlike Transformers, their vehicle forms are not fixed to one type of vehicle, but change their alt-mode takes time to scan and reconfigure. And also unlike Transformers (which never had any concept of scale), they are bound by their default size.
They can also combine freely, creating "Gestalt" (aka Combiner) forms form nearly all combinations of fully-formed giant robot Mechacyberoids. A Gestalt form increases the size and power by the number of Mechacyberoids formed into it. The only problem is that all the joined Mechacyberoids form a telepathic link, and they all need to be unified in thought and action in order to function. Normally, in the past, Mechacyberoid drones could work freely in this mode in great numbers, but the differing identities that came with human contact, had made this a difficult feat. (This is vary much like Fusion in Steven Universe, but more mechanical.)
These earth-bound Mechacyberoids pass off as normal people, living one human lifestyle or another. Although, unable to start families, they do engage in human relationships. They have no sense of gender or sexuality, but they have embraced such concepts and take on these identities as part of their "human role." They have two names: A "human name" that is part of their human identity; and their "true name" that would sound like a strange nickname to most people, but is the name chosen, and used with each other, that reflect their unique identity or dispossession. For example, a transformable dump truck was named Granite, as "he" is a stubborn oaf who throws his weight around, without an ounce of grace. As a human, his false identity is Arnold James Bolton, a construction worker from Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Despite their attempts as being as human as possible, they tend to exaggerate what is expected of them in their human roles based on what they see in media. For example, a Mechacyberoid living as a normal husbands, might emulate a fictional husband from an old TV sitcom (smoking jacket, penny loafers, and all). A Mechacyberoid who wants to "protect and serve" might join a local police department and act out a fictional TV/movie cop (short fuse, over-sized pistol and all), or dress in a loud outfit and fight crime as a costumed vigilantly (cape, tights and all).
As enamored they are with human ways, they all know that if Cybergorgon finds the earth, he will consume it, turn it into a dead planet. He would also see any free-thinking Mechacyberoid as an abomination that would infect other Mechacyberoids with its corruption, and thus destroy any humanoid Mechacyberoids. And if he gets the artifact, he would become an unstoppable force in the cosmoses. As such, there are four factions with the earth-bound Mechacyberoids: The Guardians; The Renegades; The Rogues; and The Loyalists. (all are working titles)
The Guardians were founded by a noble leader who dreams of a future were humans and Mechacyberoids live together in harmony. Their primary goal is to keep the earth a secret form Cybergorgon, and to keep the artifact from him. They also seek to defend the earth, when Cybergorgon's forces come looking for answers.
The Renegades are ruled be a power-hungry despot, who wants to secure the artifact, in order to defeat Cybergorgon and take his place as the master of the galaxy. Followers are drawn be the more proactive defense against Cybergorgon, and are more willing to sacrifice the earth and its people, if need be. They look down at humans for being weak on all levels. As the Guardians and Renegades cannot see eye-to-eye on most things, they are always at conflict with each other.
The Rogues are, for the most part, self-indulgent hedonists. They do want to keep earth a secret, but they do not want to engage in outright rebellion. They would rather lay low and hope Cybergorgon forgets about them. They have no leader or unified ideals. They mostly operate as gangs. They make up the majority of Mechacyberoids on earth.
The Loyalists want to continue the mission and hopes that Cybergorgon would forgive them for the delay. As they are seen as a threat all other factions, they operate in secret, trying to rebuild the communication network damaged by Guardians and Renegades forces. They have no regard for humans. Thankfully, they are few in number.
Cybergorgon resembles a large spaceship with three mechanical dragon heads, each mounted on a long articulated "Doc Ock" styled neck. Without any human contact, he has not concept of empathy or free agency. As he built this Mechacyberoid as semi-autonomous tools, he expect all his drones to serve him, and sacrifice themselves, if need be, without hesitation.
So far, it is a premise with a lot of room to build upon. I have no idea when I'll make a sourcebook for this, and I want to stock it with some key players and items. As this is new, I'm still coming up with new ideas, and even this basic premise would likely face revision.
(Yes, I made is review of this game before, but that was a test of CharGen; this is an actual review. Pardon the spelling errors and the length of the review; that is how I review things.)
A while back, I purchased the first edition
of Crimson Blades: Crimson Blades Dark Fantasy RPG (core rulebook) and
the Crimson Lords Dark Fantasy RPG Supplement. Together, they were a
great ruleset, offering a lot of neat rules and ideas. That I found out
that there was a new edition in the works, and Simon was nice enough to
send me files with a sample of the newer rules and content. Although,
largely unchanged in setting, save for a better map, rule-wise, it was
way better that what came before. The rules are more consistent and
easier to run. I love it!
Originally, the second edition was
going to be in a box-set, much like Astonishing Swordsmen &
Sorcerers of Hyperborea, containing sheets, fold-up map, (possibly) dice
and four rule booklets, each dedicated to a content of the game:
Through reasons beyond his control, he was unable to make that happen, so he published the game in a single book.
"For the honor of Greyskull!!"
(Sorry, it was that sword that made me say that)
rules are simple and play like the old Basic/Expert D&D rules, but
the game uses d6s exclusively. The game is tailored to play in the sort
of fantasy seen with Conan of Cimmeria and Elric of Melniboné.
biggest change between editions is how it handles dice rolls. In the
first edition, what you need to roll was based on how you kick-down and
hear though doors: roll a d6, with a set number (e.g. 4+; lower, the
better) based on ability score or class ability (respectively). Some
tasks (including saves) would be based on ability scores, and would not
change through level progression, while other tasks would be based on
level, with no consideration to high or low ability. Doing anything
"untrained" would require a roll of 6 or more on a single die. The
second edition streamline the possess by requiring only 4+ on a single
die to succeed, high and low ability adjusting all rolls (from -1 to
+2), and granting additional dice (thus increasing ones chances of
rolling a successful die) through level progression. This also removes a
number of ability-based checks like Strength Feat, Lore Roll, Notice
Roll and the like.
One of the biggest hooks that got me into the
game in the first place is how it handles Hit Dice. Unlike D&D, Hit
Dice is not equal to one's level. Hit Dice in this game determines two
things: Hit Point total and attacks per turn. Also unlike D&D, you
do not keep a running tally of Hit Points per level. Every time you gain
a new level, you re-roll your hit points. If you rolled higher that
your old total, record the new score. If it equal to or less, than keep
the old total. Although, in the new rules, you'll always get the minimum
of one hit point per level, which makes hit point totals per level less
stagnate. Hit Dice also features a bonus that is added to hit point
rolls, but is only applicable to the current level and has no effect on
combat rolls. Your Hit Dice is also the number of attack dice you can
roll in a single turn. If you have two or more HD, you can use them on a
single enemy, or split them between different opponents. You may
convert extra dice for bonuses (for yourself or to aid an ally in
combat), in order no hit tougher targets. Heavy weapons on the other
hand use only one attack die, but the damage dice rolled is equal to
your HD, and it is totaled! What that means is that instead of handling
damage dice per attack, each effected by Strength and armor, heavy
weapons can dish out more damage, with armor being less effective.
Originally, defense was much like AC, where armor effected the
opponent's ability to hit. Now, AC — called Defence Class (DC) — is
based on DEX, shield-use and level bonuses. Armor now absorbs damage,
making it possible to not take any damage.
The effects of this
system, compared to D&D, is to prevent high level characters from
becoming human pincushions, with the trade off being that high level
characters are granted more killing power. If find this option to be way
better than D&D, as characters who gain level can quickly cut
through mobs and down powerful beasts, instead of being bloated
meat-shield, who spend all day hacking at monsters.
rule is its simple encumbrance system. A thing to note, is that I tend
to ignore encumbrance. I handle movement and what a character can carry
in the laziest way possible. This "Thing" system is insanely simple, and
reminds me of the Stone-based (units of 14 lbs.) encumbrance systems
used in some of the newer retro-clones. In this game, weapons, armor and
gear are rated as "Things." Most weapons, as well as the shield, count
as a "Thing." Armor range for one to four "Things." The clothes on your
back, some basic adventuring gear and pocket change all counts as only
one Thing, but beyond this, what you are carrying is subject to the DM's
discretion. In D&D, the thresholds to how much a character can
carry is ether static (Basic/Expert), or requires a separate lists,
based on STR score (Advanced). The amount of Things a character can
carry are such a low numbers, that STR bonus adjusts them without
Your class options in this game are: Barbarian,
Griot, Fighter, Mountebank, Thief, Sorcerer, Wayfarer, and the inhuman
Dendrelyssi race. This is not a game about characters turning into
virtual demigods, so levels are caped at 10th level for all classes.
Also, you cannot
Fighters are your basic D&D Fighter, but with
the ability to preform the kinds of stunts you'll see in Errol Flynn
films. Barbarians are your typical berserkers with survival skills and a
reliance on agility than heavy armor. Griot are African-styled Bards.
Unlike the standard D&D Bard, a Griot can summon spirits to
supplement their knowledge. They also have a lot of political clout.
Wayfarers play out like D&D Monks, but are strange runaways with
mystic abilities. Thieves are like their D&D equivalent, but are
focused towards tomb-robbing and second-story work, and possesses no
slight-of-hand ability. That ability goes to Mountebanks, who are like
Thieves in many ways, but their skills are based on being con-artists.
Where a Thief still uses Dexterity as a Prime Requisite, the Mountebank
uses Charisma. Sorcerers are like D&D Magic-Users, but they can use
meany types of weapons, and can even wear armor. They also benefit from
the new rules governing the summoning of unearthly spirits, but not to
the same degree as the Dendrelyssi. The Dendrelyssi are a race of
white-skin dark elves. Much like D&D Elves, they are as skilled with
a sword, as they are skilled with the mystic arts. Their ability to
cast spells is weak compared to Sorcerers, but they are exceptional
Most of the classes have a special skills akin to
Thieves' Abilities. They have between three to six skills. The player
sets priorities to each skill. The priorities are set as Primary,
Secondary and Teriary. From the start, Primary skills offers the best
odds of success, while Teriary skills have the lowest odds. As
characters progress in level, the odds improve more rapidly with Primary
skills as they grant two dice and give more dice sooner, while Teriary
skills start you with one die improve only slightly. Mountebanks and
Thieves, who have six skills each, can set two skills for each priority.
Wayfarers on the other hand, only have four skills, so they can only
place one skill in Primary and in Secondary, with the remaining two in
Teriary. Saving throws use the same rule. You have the same set of saves
as in 3e D&D, with Fort, Ref and Will. Saves by default advance as
Teriary skills, but a favorite save, as determine by class, is treated
as a Primary skill.
There are other classes, but they are NPCs
only. In this case, they are the Fleshcrafter, Merchant, Royal Redeemer
and Witch. Fleshcrafters are Dendrelyssi who are skilled in torture and
surgery. Merchants are expert hagglers and travelers. The Royal Redeemer
are inquisitors who hunt down Dendrelyssi and their sympathizers. And
the Witch has a limited cast spells ability (though her familiar), but
can brew potions.
Much like Elric of Melniboné, the game is set
to the "eternal balance of order and discord", and as such, you can
choose to play as Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic. The book makes good note
of each of their strengths and shortcomings, without making any side
inherently good or evil. Its mostly about being conservative in your
outlook (Lawful), or being recalcitrant (Chaotic).
system in this game is the same as D&D, and does not offer much in
new rules or ideas. The rules for summoning are wholly original.
Whenever a class gains the ability to summon, the player must determine
what kind of spirit the character can summon. The are: Elementals (air,
earth, fire and water), Demons (of Combat, Desire, Knowledge, Pain,
Possession, Protection and Travel) and Undead (corporeal and
non-corporeal). Dendrelyssi and Sorcerers can choose what type of spirit
they can summon — if they meet Intelligent requirements — then they
must roll to see would type they are able to summon. Some classes, like
the Griot, are limited to Undead or Demons of Knowledge, while Merchants
can call on Demons of Travel. Intelligent and powerful summoners can
even summon the lords of these spirits: Elementals Rules, Demon Lords,
Liches or Vampires. Instead of the usual D&D-styled magic items,
demons can be installed in objects or even people. Demons of Combat can
be placed inside weapons to imbue great power to the welder. Demons of
Protection can be placed in armor, doors, locks, chests and any other
barriers. These items can be dangerous and fickle to use, but they can
be awesomely game-braking in the right hands, and that is not a bad
Beyond the core dice mechanics, another major change
between edition is the complete removal of Experience Points. The reason
for this is that the game is not a dungeon-crawl, nor a hack-n-slash.
The goal of this game is to focus on adventure, exploration, mystery,
intrigue, drama, politics or anything else that motivates the players
beyond just mindless (and eventually boring) killing and looting. In
fact, there are no Treasure Types, nor list of random treasure to be
fund in this book. The system to rate monsters and encounters by level
is still there to help the GM rate the difficulty of an encounter should
it get bloody, but is no longer a critical component to the game. Based
on how you look at it, this may be a good thing or a bad thing, but to
me, it really cuts-down on the time it takes to do a post-game audit.
are categorized into Weapon Class (Vary Light, Light, Medium and
Heavy), and further divided into melee, throwing and range, with example
for each. Weapon Class are the same as weapons sizes in Basic D&D,
but with different damage dice, or in the case of Heavy, the way you
apply damage (although, Medium and Heavy weapons have the same d6 damage
dice). Vary Light is basically an unarmed strike or throwing
stars/darts (d2 damage die). Armor is categorized into Armor Class
(Light, Medium-Light, Medium and Medium-Heavy and Heavy), with each
class determining weight (in "Things"), Damage Reduction, Defence Class
and penalty to physical actions that requires agility or stealth.
game comes with a setting installed called The Crimson Lands. The world
was once ruled by a race of amoral, degenerate albino-like elves called
the Dendrelyssi, who treated other races, not notably humans, as slaves
and lab rats. They are like D&D Drows with their cruel and wicked
nature, but they
are modeled on the appearance of Elric of Melniboné, with their pale
skin, although there eyes are whited-out instead of being pink. They
used demons and sorcery to maintain their vast empire. Long ago, their
empire crumbed, humans rebelled — eventually forming their own nations —
and the ageless Dendrelyssi are barren and slowly dying out. The
Crimson Lands is made of around half a dozen small continents,
surrounded by several large islands and archipelagos. There are around a dozen of human nations, with the Dendrelyssi largely contains to an small continent to the east. Language is mostly derivative of High Dendrelyssi: the language of Dendrelyssi royalty. As the lands are covered in the ruins of ancient Dendrelyssi
cities and temples, there are a lot of strange mysteries and horrors
lurking in the shadows, waiting to be uncovered by the greedy and
Braking from the standard quasi-medieval esthetic overused in most fantasy RPGs, Crimson
Blades tries for a greater sense of orientalism that inspired pulp
fantasy in the first place. The art chosen for the book (mostly public
domain and stock art form Sine Normine Publishing) evokes an orientalesthetic throughout.Save for Goblins and Beastmen, you'll find a lack of Tolkienesque races.
You will find some Lovecraftian, along with classical Greek creatures,
as well as some iconic D&D monsters with a name-change in the
monster list. Much like the 5e monster list, there are a good number of
typical human NPC types (Bandits, Cultists, Townfolk, etc.), and vary few Orc-like
humanoid adventure fodder. After a while in D&D, all those
Goblinoids become the same, so having more human types available is
refreshing in any RPG. The one predominant humanoid monster found in the Crimson Lands are the Beastmen. They include a list of minor
mutations akin to the Hoards of Hades from the MMII, thus keeping them
from looking all the same. In a way, they are like Broo form RuneQuest, but way primitive and beastly.Even with all the added killing-power
of high-level character's, there are monsters that surpass the ability of a party of 10th level characters to slay. Like in any RPG, such monsters help keep players on their toes, and when used sparingly, is good to give the players a memorable encounter, without loosing all awe to ease or repetition.
book is filled with DM advice that helps adventure go beyond the
generic dungeon setting. You'll find find hooks and ideas for running
adventures in a wide range of environments (cities, wilderness, seas,
old ruins, etc.), and without throwing huge lists of random encounters
(although, is a list, but its only takes up a single page). The primary
advice is not to railroad the party into a pre-scripted story, as players
would just derail such efforts, but to allow the players to determine
where they want to go, and to figure out their own way out of a given
situation. One of the fun things I enjoy doing, is reading the list of
hooks and figuring what book or movie the ideas came form. Some people
might find that unoriginal or lacking in creativity, but any DM worth
their salt knows how that the best adventures takes liberally form great
works of fiction, and the less the players know, the better! I do this a
lot. Plus, anyone who casually pitches the idea to incorporate the
premise of Alien (1979) in a fantasy game is a winner in my book,
because, even with all the clues and foreshadowing, the players will
still fall for it. Yes, if they figure it out off the bat, likely avoid
it the situation (as they should). But in most cases, they would find
out once they are neck-deep into the adventure, and when they do, they
go into total panic mode! (Its good to be DM!)
yeah, this game does a lot differently. The rules are simple enough to
be altered easily. With some changes here are there, you can use the
rules for nearly any setting. The setting by itself strays from the same
old vanilla fantasy. Which I find strange
and funny, as I need an escape like this, for my escapist hobby.
Although, I have not had a chance to get the full feel of the game as I
have not had the change to house-rule the hell out of the game. I don't
always run a game "by the book", so I cant wait to see would I'll add,
and what I'll drop. I'm like a grease-monkey with RPGs. To me, tweaking a
game engine is high art and a way of life. I know there are rules form
Conan (Mongoose Publishing) and 5e D&D that might work well with
this game. Recently,
I discovered an old, iconic third-party D&D setting form Judges
Guild called The Wilderlands. I quite enjoy the premises of the setting,
but their are a number of minor issues I would change about it (and not
the odd skin colors; as a Carcosaian fan, I don't mind that much at
all). If I was to run a Wilderlands-inspired setting, I would strongly consider run it with this ruleset.
Not not long ago, I made a pic to highlight the capabilities of the
HeroMachine 3 app, based on a set of
videos by this guy.
There are limits on what you can do on HeroMachine 2, but with HM3, you can
do a lot more. Even with the wider options, HM3 is still limited with its
features, so people find creative ways to make the most with whats
available, and come with novel ways of getting around the limits. One of the most
common things is to re-purpose objects into different things by tilting
and reshaping them. It is neat what you can do with the fading and
transparency of some of the background objects to emulate the effect
lighting and shadowing. It is also good to learn how the "masking"
feature works, as you can get a lot of neat results form it. Experiment!
Dick around! It is a lot of fun!
Not too long ago, I posted
the image on this one forum based on D&D and free-speech, but to
the chagrin of the founder/administrator — Prespos — the perverts at
ProBoards have issue with breasts. They see it as
pornography, and if he dose not take action on pics like them, ProBoards would
pull the whole site down. I do not fault Prespos for this, as he hates the restrictions more than me, but he wants to keep the site running. ProBoards is
run by faggots who would rather make things kosher for the sake of the
ad sponsors. Sponsors should not care who they get advertised to, as longs as someone see the ads. Simply put, if I was to run a forum, I would not use them,
and for their shameless and draconian policy, I will maintain my AdBlock
on all the ProBoards forums I frequent.
OK, enough with that shit,
here is this the picture. Basically, it is a slightly drunk sunbather
lying on the beach, dressed as God intended... well, as how I'm used to
seeing beach-goes dressed, growing-up in the San Fransisco Bay Area.
(click for full-size image)
Who knew such a simple little program can do so much? _\\\