Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Savaging Pendragon


So, ever since I've read The Great Pendragon Campaign, I've wanted to run it. However, as many of you know, my group plays a LOT of Savage Worlds, with detours to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, so The Great Pendragon Campaign in the King Arthur Pendragon system was...unlikely.

And then I sent out the new poll to my players and, to my surprise, this was the runaway winner.

I got to work wrapping my head around the system and getting prepared, devouring as much of the game as I could, and the more I read, the more I thought the system was seriously going to clash with my group's playstyle.

And then I watched Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and joked to one of my players that I should just convert it to Savage Worlds. He was all in.

The main thing that really pushed me in the Savage direction is that the bookkeeping seemed...a bit much, at least for half my group. Plus, I read something that said mass battles in Pendragon took *hours* and I didn't want to find out for myself. So I called an audible and decided to convert to Savage Worlds. After all, my group loves Savage Worlds, and - all presumptions to the contrary aside - it is a malleable system that can achieve multiple feels. Plus, mass battles in Savage Worlds take minutes, and I know this from experience (any additional time comes from narrating it to make it epic).

And so I set to work on adapting King Arthur Pendragon to Savage Worlds. Since some of you have asked, here's a breakdown of my notes.

What I Swiped

First, I let other people do the work for me, and I borrowed liberally from other sources.

From Rippers I took Status, as it serves a similar function as Honor does in Pendragon. Mechanically, it functions as it does in Rippers, allowing a PC to throw their weight around on social rolls at the risk of losing Status if they fail. From Pendragon, it also has the effect of causing the PC to potentially lose their station if their Status falls too low. To compensate, I started the PCs with higher Status than in Rippers.

The next trait carried over from another book is Glory, from Hellfrost. Aside from tweaking it away from vikings and more towards knights, it was again a pretty straightforward port.

The next, and biggest, resource I swiped was the Hellfrost Resource Management book (see a theme here, Wiggy Wade-Williams does great work) to replace the Manor/Estate system from Pendragon. It's as close to a Fast! Furious! Fun! set of rules for running a guild/kingdom/barony/anything as you can get, and there's not so much going on that I can't help my players along that are apt to struggle with such a thing.

As of the first session, I also used the Jousting rules from Daring Tales of Chivalry, and I'll likely use the Petitioning rules as well. My players loved the Jousting rules, by the way.

What I Changed

I switched around the skill list a bit. I used the new Athletics, Thievery and Perform skills from Flash Gordon, and added an Animal Handling skill. I also revised the Knowledge skills a bit, to focus on things the players were likely to need. Lastly, as a flavor thing, I renamed Streetwise into Intrigue, because they'll be spending a lot of time in various courts.

I won't get into all the changes to the Edges and Hindrances list, but I did a massive revision, adding a bunch of Edges from multiple sources (especially Hellfrost) and trimming ones I didn't think would work.

Setting Rules I Adopted

From the Savage Worlds core I found a few Setting Rules to use:

No Power Points seems to fit, even though Arcane Backgrounds are so rare that PCs may likely not ever have one anyway.

Critical Failures is one we use in most games anyway.

I also opted for Gritty Damage, as combat in Pendragon is meant to be pretty harsh. This won't be that harsh, but will still be rough.

New Rules

Two big ones:

Pendragon is a generational game. To emulate that, I adapted the Pendragon aging rules to Savage Worlds, so they face a chance of Attributes fading once they hit age 35.

The other, huge rule is Virtues and Vices. So I took the Traits from Pendragon and adapted them into Virtues and Vices. Each character must take a Virtue and must take a Vice, and they can't take the Virtue and Vice paired opposite each other in the list (like Chaste and Lustful). In-game, they are like supercharged Hindrances. If I, as the GM, invoke the trait in a situation, they can only act against it by spending a benny. However, if they argue that the trait can help them in a situation, and I agree, they can spend a benny on the relevant roll and add 1d6 to the result, based on how the trait fuels them in the situation.

Character Creation

Character creation was a mix of regular Savage Worlds creation, the family lineage rules from the Pendragon RPG, and the Savagely Useful character creation tool by Sean Patrick Fannon. The ultimately wind up a little stouter this way in normal creation, but it probably works as the required skills for a successful knight are a lot bigger.

And that's it, a breakdown of the tweaks I made to Savage Worlds to get Savage Pendragon!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Savage Worlds...and Why I Keep Coming Back

Started a new Savage Worlds campaign last night. This one, to the surprise and apprehension of many, is an adaptation of Greg Stafford's classic RPG King Arthur Pendragon.

Yep, I went there. Been hard at work on an adaptation that captures the cooler elements of Pendragon while still providing the same mechanics and gameplay my group has known and loved for years.

But, y'know, why?

Why adapt King Arthur Pendragon?

I mean, Savage Worlds is one of my two favorite in-print game systems (with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition) and one of my three favorite games of all time (with 5e and Marvel SAGA), but still...

Why go back to Savage Worlds again, for a medieval fantasy game, with domain management at that? It's not like Savage Worlds can do that. Savage Worlds is for crazy pulp action and tactical skirmishes, not political intrigue and knights being driven by their personal values.

We'll get back to that in a minute.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Interview with Sean Patrick Fannon (Freedom Squadron)

Freedom Squadron throwing down with VENOM

Hey guys,

I had a chance to have an email chat with Sean Patrick Fannon, writer of the upcoming Freedom Squadron Savage Setting currently on Kickstarter. I'm pretty excited about this book, being a fan of the Deckbuilding Game by Spyglass games that it's based off of (Venom Assault).

I'm a terrible interviewer, but I wanted to do a bit more than just say "Hey guys, check out this Kickstarter!" and, as a fan of Venom Assault, wanted to ask a few questions about the game anyway.

With that said, let's get to the interview.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Parable of Rulings, or "It's Okay To Make a Freaking Decision"

Warning: The following story has spoilers for The Curse of Strahd...but it's not really about The Curse of Strahd. Just didn't want anyone to walk in blind.


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Monday, November 6, 2017

Savage Worlds Setting Rule: Plot Armor

Savage Worlds combat can be wild and explosive. This can be fun and amazing...and some people find it anticlimactic when a Big Bad is blasted by one exploding hit, inflicting more Wounds than can be realistically soaked without a similar bout of luck on the Soak roll. So I propose a modest solution: Plot Armor.

Plot Armor - When a Wild Card makes a soak roll and fails to soak all Wounds from an attack, they may immediately spend a second benny to soak all the Wounds from the attack. However, the spent benny immediately goes to the attacker's benny pool as a reward for forcing the Wild Card to use the Plot Armor. This does not remove any existing Wounds.

The idea behind this is that it removes the possibility of a Wild Card being wiped out in one hit, but also helps rapidly deplete the Wild Card's resources and rewards the attacker so it doesn't feel as though they were completely ripped off.

Obviously, only use this if you have a problem with one hit kills. I don't, personally, and we've gotten great stories out of one hit kills, but it's a common enough complaint about Savage Worlds that I thought I'd toss it out there.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Kickstarter Exclusive Halloween Adventure Written by Me - Available RIGHT NOW

Some of you may or may not know that I have been working with CCS Games and Fabled Environments on the Monster Hunters' Club Kickstarter for Savage Worlds.



I was approached by Darren over the summer to take on editing duties and I loved the idea so much that I jumped at it. Inspired by Stranger Things, IT, Goonies, The Monster Squad, The Lost Boys, The Quest (one of my favorite obscure films starring ET's Henry Thomas) and more, it is a love letter to 80s kid-centric action horror. We released a free preview a month ago, but tonight we have released a free adventure, complete with 6 pregenerated characters, written by me, to give you a taste of the setting this Halloween. All you have to do is back the Kickstarter (even as low as the $2 level) and go to Update 8 (which is Backers Only), and download the documents (complete with amazing graphic design by Karl Keesler.

If you like it, consider pledging for a PDF, softcover book or hardcover book. Thank you for your time, I hope you check it out, and I hope you have a Happy Halloween.

Oh, did I mention that I'm signed on for a stretch goal that would involve a whole campaign featuring adults returning to the scene of their childhood horrors and flashing back to the events they thought they were escaping? Juuuust over $1000 away from that one.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Long Overdue

Almost two months?

Wow.

The blog seems to have been steadily winding down for a while. Looks like it petered out on its own.

Too much real life. Work. Depression. No real gaming going on. It's kinda killed my energy, enthusiasm and desire to do a lot of RPG reading and reviewing.

It's okay, though. There's lots better bloggers out there.

I'm probably not taking this blog down, and I'm not 100% saying I'll never start posting regularly again, but I don't see it happening for a good long time. Trying to write comics again, handling real world stuff, all that.

Sorry to anyone that was hoping for a new review. In the meantime, absolutely check out blogs like Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque, Wine & Savages and Life and Times of a Phillippine Gamer.

Their stuff is worth your eyeballs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Buccaneer: Through Hell or High Water, The Blackwood and Tall Pines Kickstarters

A trio of Kickstarters caught my attention, so I thought I would bring them to yours:

Buccaneer: Through Hell or High Water

Powered by Savage Worlds, Buccaneer looks to pretty much cover the Pirates of the Caribbean niche (and just in time for the new movie), being more grounded than fan favorite 50 Fathoms, but more fantastical than Pirates of the Spanish Main. Being released through a partnership between Fabled Environments (of Olympus Inc fame), and Yellow Piece Games, Buccaneer promises new ship combat and customization, new Edges and Hindrances and even a new Encounter mechanic. It's already passed its funding goal and is working on stretch goals. You can buy in for the PDF at $15, the print book at $25 and there are all kinds of interesting add-ons you can get, such as gold doubloons, captain's journals and even a telescope. This isn't Fabled Environments' first rodeo, so I'd classify this as a pretty low risk prospect, and worth looking into if you're wanting to scratch that Pirates of the Caribbean itch this summer.

The Blackwood

Another Savage Worlds Kickstarter (shocking that I gravitate towards those, right?), The Blackwood promises a wuxia setting inspired by American and German folklore. Per the Kickstarter, you will need the Fantasy Companion in addition to the core rules, but they have a free setting primer, archetypes and four one sheets up as a bundle on RPGNow so you can get a taste of it yourself. With 6 days left to go, it's struggling to the finish line, which is a shame as it's one of the more unique settings I've seen come down the Kickstarter pipeline lately. You can get the PDF for $10 or the print book for $20. It's got some top lads involved, whose works I've been a fan of, such as Eric Lamoureux, Richard Woolcock, Karl Keesler and Nathan D. Paoletta. Download that free bundle and check it out this weekend before the Kickstarter ends.

Tall Pines - A Surreal Murder Mystery Roleplaying Game 

I love quirky games I never get to play, and I love quirky small town shows. This Kickstarter is timed perfectly with the revival of Twin Peaks, and seeks to emulate just that kinda storytelling. And no, this one's not powered by Savage Worlds. I don't know as much about this one other than the Kickstarter looks neat, but it's a card based game divided into three acts. They say it's already finished, they're basically just trying to raise the art and printing budget. $10 gets you the print and play, while $25 gets you the print game plus any stretch goals. They have 15 days to go and are juuuust under budget right now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Shaintar: Thundering Skies Campaign Ending Soon



The Shaintar: Thundering Skies Kickstarter is 6 days away from ending, and could use your attention.

The Kickstarter is for a full campaign book, the first plot point campaign for Shaintar, which is pretty much the gold standard for fantasy in Savage Worlds. It kind of pioneered, if informally, some of the higher powered mechanics that Sean Patrick Fannon brought to bear in the Savage Rifts adaptation. After Sean moved on to other projects, the setting landed into the capable hands of Darren Pearce, who has exhaustively detailed seemingly every nook and cranny of the setting.

The Kickstarter is still more than $3000 away from funding, and the full PDF can be had for the $20 pledge, while the physical book is a $45 pledge. You can bump up your pledge to get anything currently available for Shaintar, if you're new to the party...and, if you're a Fantasy Grounds gamer, you can sign up for the Fantasy Grounds version of the campaign for $20.

Shaintar is explicitly heroic in nature, which actually kinda separates it from the pack in this age of antiheroes and dark settings, and if you sign up for one of the collaboration tiers, you can make your mark on the setting by helping create villains, allies or even plot twists.

I'm a big fan of the Shaintar setting (especially loving the higher powered slant of the Legends Unleashed book), and would love to see it carry on into the future with this campaign, so check it out, see if it's your thing, and sign up if it is!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tommy's Take on Arthur Lives! 2nd Edition

I do like Greek Myth, and  I like Arthurian Myth just as well. So it makes sense to end the week reviewing Arthur Lives! 2nd Edition as it closes in on the halfway mark of its Kickstarter.