Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pirates of Dark Water RPG

Back in the '90s, Hanna-Barbera produced a fantastic cartoon called The Pirates of Dark Water. This was a pirate-themed fantasy adventurers on the alien world of Mer. It had the look of an '80s cartoon, and the budding maturity of a '90s cartoon. If you have never seen this show, you have no idea what you been missing. As neat as the characters and stores were, the real draw to role-players is the setting and all the strange trapping there in.

Awhile back, I found a site with role-playing materials about the game. The funny thing is, it was a real RPG book. SOMEONE ACTUALLY MADE AN OFFICIAL ROLE-PLAYING GAME OF THE CARTOON, AND IT WAS ILLUSTRATED JAMES "FUCKING" HOLLOWAY!!! That is awesome, and yet, its not that well known. Its almost tragic, as it is full of strange and exotic stuff, and a grate diversion from all the bland old Tolkienesque dungeon crawls.

Well, I almost forgot about it after a big move, until I was going through by old backup files (I download and hoard so much shit), and I found the PDF source book. Here is the World Book, a download (no pictures), and the Monster Stats. I have to note that this is not a system I would personally use - if anything, its best to cherry-pick the rules to your own chosen game system.

I'm also going to contribute this added info to the Pirates of Dark Water Wiki.

World Wide Wikis

When I'm not not on old-school gaming forums, reading nerdy "Top-10 Lists", or watching YouTube and classic anime online. I am editing on Wikis. I started on Joepedia, the Star Frontiers Wikia and a few others. I then started the Mutant Future Wiki to help the fans consolidate our ideas and materials. Do to a lack of interest and an inability for some people to learn the basic codes, their have not been much activity beyond my efforts, the efforts of a forgotten few, and nameless editors who are just here to fix my shitty spelling and grammar mistakes. Where I lack in the basic spelling and typing skills (fucking dyslexia!), I have learned how to work the coding system. I like to scout around for unique codes and templates on different Wikis.

Sometime I find a Wiki with few, if any editors, about a show I have seen that no one else gives a shit about, and turn it into my personal sandbox site, where I can fuck with it, without consequence . Yeah, its a little dickish, but I learn a lot, and what I learned helps that site and others. The best example of the is the Zevo-3 Wiki (its basically a team of cartoon superheros, based on sneaker mascots). Its hard to believe that someone who have contributed the most to the site, is not much of a fan of the show.

Wikis are nice, as you can find info beyond what Wikipedia has to offer - as long as they have a good number of dedicated and informed contributors. Gamers can also find a lot of fodder for their own games. Here are some interesting Wikis I have found or contributed to:

I would like to thank editor Marhawkman for showing me the Thundarr the Barbarian Wiki. This has been a two-man effort, and it needs more love.

The Superpower Wiki a great place for folks looking to find more mutations for their Gamma World-like or Superheroes-themed games.

This is a good wiki for those who like to add new creatures and additional fluff to their Monster Manuals: The Monstropedia has lots of info on mythological creatures!

The tutorial section at the Micro-Heroes Wiki has great advice on making and editing Micro-Heroes and game sprite.

For Open D6 fans out there, I recommend the Open D6 Resurrection Wiki, and the D6 Holocron Wiki.

I have made a system-neutral Wiki for Necromunda, with added materials for it's prototype game Confrontation (published in parts, in White Dwarf magazine). For those unaware, Confrontation was more of a role-playing game (akin to Inquisitor or Rogue Trader), then what the final game ended up as.

This is an odd one. I like G.I.Joe, and I love the fluff printed on the filecards. I also like to collect these sorts of figures, so I can modify and display them. I scout for non-Joe figures to full-out my collection, as G.I.Joes are expensive and getting harder to track-down. One day I found some action figures - called S.T.O.P. vs. S.C.U.M. - at the Dollar Tree. As the name of the store suggests, they are really fucking cheap! The figures themselves are really shitty, but I really liked the background info - Mad Max meets Modern Warfare, with a Latin-American vibe. When I was looking for more info, I found that someone made a Wiki of it, with only one page (beyond the front page) made, and the creator's account vanished..! So I not just fulled-out the rest the info, but I also added more (unofficial) stuff to it. (if you cant tell from looking at it, I have a bad case of insomnia! :P) This would make for a grate RPG setting, or the background for a 1:18 (scale) army diorama buff.

I hope there are folks who are interested in editing some Wikis. There are some that really need more lovin'.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Battletech Universe

I have never been content with the Clans in Battletech. Hell, I feel the same about Earth's Colonial Expeditionary Forces from Heavy Gear. The Clans was the big build-up from the Stickpole novels, based on the mystery of the Wolf Dragoon, but like the GRELs from HG, the Clans felt like something that was thrown in to shake things up. When I first got into BT, it was the mid-90s, and I was influenced by the non-canon cartoon (dont laugh, I did not know any better), so I assumed they were just an integral part of the fiction - a superior force is taking over the galaxy, and its up to a rag-tag team of heroic Mechwarriors to save the damn day. I did not put much effort to learn the setting (although, I knew about the general background and some key points of history), as I just wanted to blow shit up, so I handed the game like an anime.

Then one day, I found an old mid-80 BT booklet, and it made the whole game look primitive - the art, the layout, the setting, the technology, and everything within - and I liked it! It felt like a whole other take to the fiction: a once great galactic empire that fell to war, and the prolonged conflict knocked the galaxy to the stone-age. All the basic technology and salvage rule made a lot more sense, and the game now feels like Mad Max with mecha!

So now I dont what to have anything to do with the Clans. I never like their retarded sense of honor, their game-braking mecha, and their general intrusion on the setting. It would have made more sense to have one OmniMech to take on a whole lance of basic 'mechs, but their honor would not allow that. Fucking stupid! As much as I hate them, I still like some of the tech, like the Mad Cat & Vulture (the designs, not the stats), Protomechs (not the designs, but the rules) and their second-line 'mechs and vehicles.

So basically, my BT game have no Clans. The Wolf Dragoons are still supported by mysterious outsiders, but they are out-of-the-way worlds that still manufacture Lost Tech. As for Star League 'mechs, I remember seeing them in a 2750 TRO, and they did not live up to the "superior" designs as noted in the old rule books, so I thought:
  • The basic "level 1" 'mechs are just the old scrapped-together machines from the Succession Wars;
  • The "level 2 IS" 'mechs are built using using technology that was reversed-engineered from an old memory core (as in the canon), so they are the most advanced models to be manufactured, and are seen in limited numbers;
  • While the highly advanced "Star League" 'mechs are built useing the same rules as Clan Omnimechs, and are to advanced to be manufactured.
House Warriors would pilot the newer level-2 'mechs, while they provide their loyalists with their old fleet of level-1 models. Protomechs - called "Armored Infantry" - are used for garrison duty, as are seen as nothing more then mechanized infantry. The old Clan designs are just basic level-1 models. The Mad Cat, for example is just armed with some basic lasers, 2 Cluster Missile Pods (see below), 2 light autocannons, and 4 machine guns. I liked the Dark Age IndustrialMechs so much, they are common civilian models. Battle Armor are considered Lost Tech.

Another thing I never cared for, are the blatant historical allusions. Reading the history of the Draconus Combine felt awkward and forced, as the founder was a Otoya Yamaguchi-styled despot, who turned the Combine into galaxy's largest reenactment of Tokugawa dynasty. I dont mind allusions, as long as they are subtle. Forcing a culture to look like a past one dont work, as there are numerous influences that can even supersede even the dreams of a highly charismatic demagogue. I prefer when a setting takes the sprite of what its alluding to, and make something that feels original around it. Plus, after centuries of galactic expansion and cultural developments, there would be whole new civilizations, languages, religions, customs, est. I keep their influences somewhat, but I try to make things feel different and exotic.

OK, so my setting starts out like the old 3025 game, where a prolonged conflict erodes science and technology. Some time in the 3030s, someone found a memory core, which inspired a lot of technological development, but the application was strictly limited. The map changes as usual, but the Federated Commonwealth never formed because the space around the Sol system has been a highly disputed wasteland since the outbreak of the war, and because the Clan invasion never happened, the periphery states are more-or-less still intact.

I have also never been content with the weapon list. It felt like it was held-back from the shortcoming from the original game, so I made some changes (I have made notes, but I cant find them).
  • Light Autocannons are more like Machine Guns, but with better range.
  • Medium Autocannons are like AC/5s, but can fire off-map as artillery, with a range of 12 maps (as Thumper).
  • Heavy Autocannons are like AC/10s, but have the range of LRMs on the map, and as Thumpers off-map.
  • Stubcannons are short-barreled Heavy Autocannons, so they have the range of AC-10s.
  • Medium Artillery Cannons are like Autocannon/20s and Long Toms.
  • Heavy artillery cannons are like the artillery systems from the game, but do more damage (they are like those big-ass guns the Germans like to mount on train cars back in WWII).
  • Rotary Autocannons are Light or Medium Autocannons, but weigh more, and have rapid-fire.
  • Rail-Guns (MRG, HRG) are like Medium and Heavy Autocannons, but they have greater range and velocity (moves across maps faster), but they produce heat like partial cannons.
  • Rail-Cannons (MRC, HRC) are the Rail-Gun equivalents to Medium and Heavy Artillery Cannons.
  • Cluster Missiles (CM-5, 10, 15, 20) are like Short Range Missiles, but come in groups of 5s.
  • Missiles Launchers (ML-x) are single-shot missiles, that can do 5-points each, and have the range of LRMs on the map, and as Arrow-IVs off-map.
  • Melee Weapons comes in all forms: knives, swords, axes, maces, work tools, est.
I also like handheld weapons, so I houseruled that too. The two free item slots on each arm are for arm-mounted weapons, while the 6 free slots below them are limited to handheld items. If you what to mount more or larger weapons on an arm, you have to remove the hand and lower arm actuator respectfully. This makes a lot of sense in context, as it never made sense to remove these actuators when you can pile so much stuff on the 8 free slots. An arm have 1 free handheld slot for every 15 tons of tonnage (minimum 1; maximum 6), and the weight of carried item per hand is 5% tonnage (round-up to nearest half-ton), or 10%, if item is carried with both hands - in this case, torso-mounded items are useless. A mech can only hold one type of item in hand at a time, not counting ammo clips, and they are unprotected by armor. Energy weapons require a .5 ton extra for chargers. They may carry armor in the form of a shield.

Other houserules includes:
  • Piloting and shooting rolls have static target numbers with normal adjustments, while skill levels are added to the roll. The target numbers are: 6 for piloting; 4, 6, 8 for short, medium and long ranges.
  • To-hit penalties from heat build-up now makes a 'mech easier to hit do to increased heat signature.
  • With missiles, half damage (round-down) applies to adjacent sections.
  • Vehicles have one internal structure box for the main body, with front and rear armor sections (no sides). Turrets have their own internal structure based on its size, and they also have front and rear armor. Rotors have no internal structure.
  • Quadmechs have can have turrets. They have 6 slots.
  • LAMs in Air-Mech mode cannot run while on the ground, but have a VTOL speed based on Jump speed, plus a bonus based on the Lift Factor of a VTOL.
  • Battle Armor have fewer armor points.
  • Large cannons impose pilot rolls when fired, to keep the 'mech standing upright.
I have other rules and notes (pages full of them) but that it for now. What can I say, I have played this game for years. My first rulebook looks like shit with rough-use, graffiti and cliff-notes. The spine alone is held together with thread, tape, and a prayer!