Friday, July 22, 2011

Role Playing History Part I (An Introduction)

When it comes to games, I'm something of a grognard. Oh, I'm not a crotchety old geezer who still insists that RPGs went into a state of decline around the time AD&D 2nd Ed came out. In fact, I don't run any system, outside of Call of Cthulhu, that is older than the last decade. I've tinkered with One Roll Engine (A Dirty World), 3.0/3.5 D&D (including a lot of 3rd Party stuff. I've run d20 Modern, all d20 versions of Star Wars, Savage Worlds, Mutants & Masterminds, FATE (Spirit of the Century/Dresden Files), and World of Darkness/Vampire (more new than old).

I'm meaning that my entry into the hobby, like a lot of gamers in the 1960's and 1970's came from board wargames, not RPGs. My first wargame was Avalon Hill's The Russian Campaign. From there I moved into a lot of games at a time when Avalon Hill and Simulations Publications Inc. (SPI) were still going strong.

My first purchase of an RPG was the Black Box, three Little Black Book Traveller set. I didn't really know what I was getting into when I bought it. I'd heard of, and even played a little D&D, but SciFi was more up my alley at the time. I'd already devoured a lot of Heinlein, Asimov, H Beam Piper, etc., and Traveller was right up that alley. From Traveller, I moved on to AD&D, and then from there into a bit of GURPS, gave up the hobby for a while, moved back into games in the late 1990's, and have basically never left.

But my first love, and fondest memories were of laying out a card table, and playing games of Panzerblitz, Squad Leader, Russian Campaign, and other board wargames, and reading history.

What I'm hoping to do with this series, is point out, from a very amateur historian's point of view, a few settings, and system suggestions for running games based at least loosely on historical topics that I've come to know, and why such a game would be cool. I'll have a post up next time when we discover the ancient world, specifically speaking, RPGs in the Stone Age to early Bronze Age (from the rise of Egypt and Sumeria, circa 4000-3500 BCE up to roughly 1500-1000 BCE).

Feel free to comment out there if there's anything I've missed, or if you have other ideas.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


This is a particularly nasty beast that I developed for the Anakin Takes a Bullet Campaign. I'm still dicey on the CL, but I thought it stretched the boundaries of beast building for SWSE.

Terna, Carnivorous Insect

Description: The Terna is a particularly feared and nasty creature that resides in the grasslands and swamps of Kitos V. It's tiny size belies its great danger. A stealthy, 12 legged creature that resembles an oversized beetle, this medium to dark brown creature lives underground in small burrowed nests during the day, and hunts its prey at night.

Each bite of the Terna implants eggs into its unfortunate victim. These eggs will mature into living Ternae, killing the host in the process. Because of the pervasiveness of these creatures, particularly in unsettled areas of the planet, a treatment has been developed in New Home, while various folk remedies have been developed among the native Qaplans that achieve the same effect.

Terna, Carnivorus Insect
Diminutive Beast 8 CL 10
Init +7; Senses: Darkvision, Perception +15
Defenses: Ref 20 (flat-footed 15), Fort 12, Will 11
HP 52; Threshold 12
Speed: 4 squares
Melee: bite +6 (1d2) or
bite +4 (2d2) w/ rapid strike and
2 claws +6 (1) or
2 claws +4 (2) w/ rapid strike
Fighting Space 1x1; Reach 1 square
Base Attack +6; Grp +12
Special Actions: Egg-Laying, Darkvision
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 21, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 7
Feats: Rapid Strike, Skill Training (Stealth), Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills: Initiative +7, Perception +15, Stealth +24

Egg-Laying: The Terna has an unusual means of reproduction. After fertilization, the Terna implants its eggs in a living host through its saliva. When a Terna bites a living being, 1d2 eggs will immediately be injected into the victim's bloodstream. Each egg will make an immediate +10 attack roll vs. the target's Fortitude Defense. Failure means the egg dies in incubation. Success has no immediate effect, other than the egg is successfully implanted.

Each hour after the egg is implanted, the same +10 attack roll vs. Fortitude is made. Failure has no effect. On success, the victim suffers a -1 persistent step on the Condition track. If this step results in the character falling unconscious, the same +10 attack roll vs. Fortitude is made again. If this attack succeeds, the character dies instead, and the egg successfully hatches, giving birth to a new Terna.

Terna eggs can be removed any time before the victim takes their first persistent step down the Condition Track with simple medical treatment (DC 19 Treat Injury check (+5 modifier to the roll if the player possesses the antidote)).

After the egg has forced the victim to take their first step down the Condition Track, the larva is considered too large to be successfully treated with drugs (short of applying a dose that would also kill the patient). A Perform Surgery application of the Treat Injury skill (DC 24) will be required to remove the immature larva. One hour is required (as per the standard rules) to remove one larva, which means that multiple surgeries may be required to completely remove all larvae from the victim.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Qaplan Species

This is the write up on a new species for a Saga adventure I'm writing for the Anakin Takes a Bullet Campaign. The species is modeled a bit after the Aslan species from Traveller, though I've taken a few liberties.

Qaplans (Azerbaijani for panther). Taller, lither than human standard (2m avg height for males, 1.9m for females). Definite feline features. Covered with fur, ranging from tan to dark brown in color (most will be lighter shades. Males have fuller faces.

Culturally, their political organizations are clan-oriented, with shifting alliances being the norm when operating outside of clans. Qaplan wrestle with their more bestial natures. When they fight, the fights tend to be short, sharp and vicious, with no rules of conflict as such, though such fights are normally not to the death (usually decided when one opponent effectively has the other rendered helpless). Outside of combat, they show a forced politeness, which should not be mistaken for kindness (a Qaplan will betray you with a bow and a smile). Qaplans are lither and more agile than humans, but not as worldly wise or self-aware.

Most Qaplans have never been offworld, and have had little to no contact with outsiders. These Qaplans will expect other species to adjust to their cultural norms.

Qaplan Species Traits:
Abilities: +4 Dex, -2 Wis

Medium Size: As medium-sized creatures, Qaplans gain no special benefits, or suffer no penalties, due to size.

Speed: Qaplan base speed is 6 squares.

Primitive: Qaplans do not gain Weapon Proficiency (lightsabers, pistols, rifles, or heavy weapons) as starting feats at first level, even if their class normally grants them.

Conditional Bonus Feat: A Qaplan trained in the Ride skill receives the Skill Focus (Ride) feat for free.

Expert Riders: A Qaplan may choose to reroll any Ride check, but the result of the reroll must be accepted, even if it is worse. In addition, a Qaplan may choose to take 10 on Ride checks, even when distracted or threatened.

Low-Light Vision: Qaplans ignore concealment (but not total concealment) from darkness.

Languages: Qaplan.