Friday, August 22, 2014

1988: Stuff for the Duffel Bag

Once a player has decided on a day job/vocation, he receives a bag of mundane equipment. Each player can take ten types of goods (no firearms), and can trade equipment whenever they are not in danger. Here are some kits with specific uses:

  1. Trauma Care Surgical Tools
  2. Assorted Pills
  3. Waterproof Blanket
  4. Gas Mask
  5. Spray Disinfectant
  6. Water Filter
  7. Bandages
  8. Chemical Suit
  9. Preserved Rations
  10. Small Fire Extinguisher
  1. Cheap 35mm Cameras
  2. Work Gloves
  3. Binoculars
  4. Folding Shovel
  5. Hacksaw & Blades
  6. Tape Recorder
  7. Hand Drill
  8. Retrieval Magnet
  9. Specimen Jars
  10. Construction Headlamp 
  1. Visored Helmet
  2. Animal Catch Pole
  3. 2 Way Radios
  4. Halogen Lanterns
  5. Sledgehammer
  6. Duct Tape
  7. Hand Axe
  8. Incendiary Flares
  9. Pepper Spray
  10. Steel Foothold Trap 
  1. Spool of Wire
  2. Modern Bow
  3. Quiver of 12 Hunting Arrows
  4. Wood Nunchaku
  5. Metal Snips
  6. Assorted Cloth Masks
  7. Small Bottle of Acid
  8. Firecrackers
  9. Climbing Rope
  10. Search Mirror
  1. Coded Calendar Book
  2. Electronic Voice Changer
  3. Assorted Fake Identification
  4. Fine Booze
  5. Lockpicks
  6. Radio & Headphones
  7. Stack of Counterfeit Bills
  8. Bogus License Plate
  9. Local Maps
  10. Heinous Adult Magazine

Saturday, August 16, 2014

1988: Winners Never Quit, Roll a 1

Excerpt from the autobiography of Joe Fenimore Halleck, "IN THE RING WITH EVIL"

I awoke the next day at sunset, needles of light forming a burning dot on the ceiling fan overhead. Five inches of crusted stitches protested a pivot out of bed, soothed only by the extra thirty seconds I took staggering to the kitchen. At the freezer door I paused. Beneath a sack of ice from the last Superbowl was twenty grand in wax paper. I nestled the dough beneath Sheila's jacket, which still covered the snack bar. She would find it after I returned to the lab.

I spotted my flask in the sink, a curious thing since it never holds water. Then, Sheila appeared at the bedroom door, draped in a silk sheet, looking like a parachutist from the airborne division of hot leg artillery. A purple blush of insignificant bruises proved her years in Japan were more valuable than my failures in collegiate boxing. I coughed, and the wounds from yesterday flipped the cursing switch in my brain. Aware of the fact that groceries do not reside at my address, she tossed my keys at me. I crept back into the bedroom to grab my jeans, dismayed that the bedding veiled her backside.

The traffic outside my building seemed to be pulling storm clouds from the coast. My Camaro would need more work than me, although the blood on the steering wheel was mine. At the corner stop, I looked in the mirror to make sure her Kawasaki GPZ was not behind me. Leaving for good became my only option when I learned who was responsible for the insane experiment. I returned my eyes to the avenue when a sunburned patrolman pulled alongside. His visual assessment of my vehicle bore the fender dings, but stopped at what was between the seats. I thought a monstrous spider leg was pretty benign, once severed and not moving.

I shifted gears and said, "That Radon shit is worse than advertised."

DOESN'T FEEL PAIN: Use COLD to determine your STUN boxes.
YOU'RE TOO SLOW: Extra move after a successful strike.
GET BEHIND ME: Extra defense for you and ally not in melee.
JUST ONE MAN: Extra defense for you even if flanked by enemies.
SECRET NINJA STYLE: To hit bonus at melee range only.
STAY ON TARGET: To hit bonus when choosing to act last.
MOOKS FOR BREAKFAST: Extra damage against non-special enemies.
NO HOLDS BARRED: Converts STUN weapons to lethal damage.
QUITTERS NEVER WIN: Vocation test bonus.
A LITTLE PARANOID: Trauma test bonus.
CHIN OF STEEL: STUN attack damage reduced by one point.
ONE MAN LEAVES: Remain conscious unless reduced to -2 WOUND.
WEIRD WEAPON ENTHUSIAST: Extra damage with specific weapon type.
BOWELS OF RESOLVE: Extra action for one encounter per adventure.
CHECKLIST OF REVENGE: To hit & damage bonus against one nemesis/monster.
READ THE MANUAL: Double vocation test die once per adventure.

Monday, August 11, 2014

1988: Third Rule Set a Charm?

Completing this game as a mod of Hollow Earth Expedition somewhat necessitates the purchase of that game book. I'm thinking that GMs would prefer a free framework, something short that could be downloaded right away. I also wanted to avoid any system that that makes having a vast list of gear and skills a requirement.
To emphasize fast heroic play, I looked at a 1KM1KT release in the superhero genre called Hi/Lo Heroes. This game makes the player decide how his dice rolls will read based off his character's qualities. The player has to deal with tests that could force him to use his "LO" stat; there is no way to be tops in everything. A basic example would be a physical attribute that must favor either Strength or Dexterity. For my 1980's game, I'd add one extra stat to represent pc style. Here is the first pass/hack on player creation using this system:

STATS: Player chooses which build is "High" for each.
HEALTH: 6 lethal wound boxes, roll BODY for STUN boxes
TALENTS: Pick two from different categories
RESOURCE: If desired, choose one option AND a complication
EQUIPMENT: shop from first tier, players must make opposed rolls for same item.

Since 1988 is the theme, dice will be 2D8! Games with die numbers in the title are RAD!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Harlock: A New Sword & Planet Movie?

I was astonished to see this new CG movie on Netflix, so I sat down to watch it right away. I'm less familiar with this Matsumoto story than Space Battleship Yamato, so I wasn't mentally comparing it to the hand-drawn versions. Although the designs have a contemporary finish, many draw from what I'd identify as heroic space fantasy. In particular, the mammoth "ships of the line" and pirate marine space armor. When boarding an enemy craft, the Arcadia crew wear gladiator-styled suits and wield a variety of weapons. In the image above you can see the crewman with a battle-ax.

The melee scenes remind me of the assault on Ming's navy from the classic Flash Gordon movie. Harlock himself is equipped with a rapier-sculpted laser gun. Excellent inspiration for a sword & planet RPG, where martian cruisers spewing plumes of dark matter roam inhospitable alien landscapes! Traditional combat has a strong involvement in the designs of Japanese animations. Rarely do you see characters that don't have "plate" armor and blades for themselves or their giant robots. A recent example, and not even fantasy sci-fi, is the Full Metal Panic anime. Speaking of robots and swords, you may remember how the first Cylons went about kicking ass.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bronze Age Starter Cave Map

The northern coast of Spain is dotted with ancient, formerly occupied caves. I found a few maps online, and made a combination from two. To bring in other classic dungeon trimming like traps and statuary, I wedged a few crypt-like area into the organic cavern shapes. I'm not sure that using authentic surveys are any better than just drawing imaginary locations, but it looks good on the page.

Another kind of encounter area would be a (ruined?) city-fortress, cobbled from the Urartian plans I've found. Strongholds are perhaps best as safe zones, if your setting isn't ravaged by monsters or intense warfare. Leave a reply if you favor unearthly caves or sinister citadels!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Compiling all Bronze Age Designs

Before I began the research on ancient armies, I had a S&S project partially crafted with the Mini6 rpg system. I'm going to expand those original class choices with choice portions from the Armenian and Celtiberian historical information. The former will see representation with strong beast-men, the latter with Celtic combat and Druidism. From my first project I'm keeping an alternative magic-user, the Cabalist, and some helpful talents for each PC option. I think playing a "half-human" that resembles a Bronze Age deity is a good change from the customary faerie race...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Retro Phaze Elf Magic

The race of Elves, like the Dryads, was an addition to the Dungeon Siege universe with the release of the second game. Each race has their hub of activity in a forest, but the Elves are not strongly linked to the weald. For a look into the game designer's lore, the following is snipped from the DS2 manual:

Elves have an ability to access the collective unconscious, a window into the dream-life of the world they're in. This super-sensory ability grows stronger when Elves are in close proximity to one another. They can cast illusions drawn from the dream world, which are especially terrifying. Their powers come with a dangerous side effect - Elves can lose themselves in the altered state, severing their connection with the real world. Partially as a result of these visions, the Elves have their own code of conduct.

Oddly, no illusion magic is provided in the game! So, I decided to make a special spell list for "Shadow Elves". I pulled well known ones from the OSR Alteration & Illusion schools, increasing the list count to hint at their mastery of the arcane. The accordant format applies, with spells ranging from 1 to 6 MP and having a bonus MP effect.

This is the last data PCs need to know; additional layouts (like Treasure) for the GM will complete this hack.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1988: Hangout Name Generator

Roll 2D20 and let everyone know where the action is! Use it for a club, trashy band, or independent movie title. If it still sounds too normal, add in a foreign colloquialism like MAXI.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

1988: Super Synth Soundtrack!

A game of late 80's action needs some background audio, and that means analog electronics in the classic John Carpenter style! Fortunately, many artists have returned to the "synth wave" genre, and created tracks perfect for high octane adventuring. My mix is zipped on G-Docs, just click on the link:

1. THUNDERCLAW - "Street Brawler"
2. SFERRO - "The Overload"
3. AIRWOLF [TV] - "Sins of the Past"
4. FIGHTING VIPERS [SEGA] - "Viper Venom"
5. NOWTRO - "After Dark"
6. SFERRO - "High Tech Low Life"
7. CARTRIDGE 1987 - "Chase"
8. CONTRA [KONAMI] - "Fortress of Flame"
9. NEON VANDAL - "Shadowdancer"
10. THUNDERCLAW - "Magicc"
11. POWERGLOVE - "Blood Dragon Theme"
12. BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA - "Into the Spirit Path"
13. NIGHTCRAWLER - "Diary of a Serial Killer"
14. ICZER ONE - "Kikai Seimeitai"
15. BETAMAXX - "Fighting Off Your Demons"
16. WARD IZ - "Life Force"
17. HARDBOILED - "Overture"
18. COMMANDO - "Prologue/Main Title"
19. DYNATRON - "Stars of the Night"
20. GROOVEWORTHY - "PantherForce V"
21. GOST - "Dead End"
22. POWERGLOVE - "Death of a Cyborg"
23. EZO - "I Walk Alone"

Depending on player constitution,  I suppose you could just tune in a streaming 80's channel, but that seems dangerous.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Retro Phaze Nature Magic

In arcade and computer games, the spell casters that don't focus on destructive spells aren't totally denied offensive capabilities. Often they will command elements of the storm, unleash plant powers, and direct summoned beasts. With additional support powers like healing, a Nature Mage can survive longer than "glass cannon" types that limp away from every big fight. When the adventure boils down to "kill or be killed", you don't want to lose (or irritate) the pointy-hat with the rez spell.

In Aranna, the beer-brewing Dryads are creations of wild Nature magic, along with their forest minions, the Bracken. The Shadow Elves only favor the deep woods because they prefer stately seclusion. Lightning and Ice evocations inflict damage almost on par with the fire school. The Bracken minions may not look as eerie as skeletons, but they can meld into a single treant-like golem. Like the fire users, the Nature sorcerer can summon a troll. The ice troll's boosted power is more interesting though; it can transfer frost damage to opponents that land strikes with limbs or metal weapons.