Saturday, January 31, 2015

New Group After Action Report

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, last night was the first session of a new group. It went very well. The players didn't know each other before the game, but they quickly established a rapport. The players new to RPGs overcame that initial awkwardness quickly, and got into their characters, and the story.

The session covered a complete story (that is hopefully the springboard to a larger story). The players saw through the NPCs ruse very quickly, and solved the mystery a lot quicker than I expected.

It was a great beginning, and I'm very happy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

New Group

Tonight's the first night of a new campaign with a new group. There are three players (not counting me, who will be GMing), only one of which has previous RPG experience. It will be a fantasy campaign set on eastern edge of my campaign world, between the Dreadwood and the Firelands. For the rules, I chose Savage Worlds, though I wonder if old (basic) D&D would have been an easier introduction.

I love introducing new people to the hobby, but it always makes me nervous.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Savage Traveller

The reason that my blog is called "Vagabond GM" is because I constantly move from game system to game system in search of the mythical "perfect game."

I have to give my players a metaphorical hat tip for never complaining about making that journey with me. For instance, the Wednesday night space game started with original LBB Traveller. It was fun, but a little too "old school" for them, so we migrated to GURPS. GURPS is a great system, but I feel there are too many skills and too many rules for my current style of play. I thought it would be a great idea to migrate the game again, this time to Savage Worlds. This way we'd be using the same rule-set for both campaigns. My players didn't complain once.

The characters converted pretty easily, and I invented stats for a blaster gun. I still need to work on some armor, but that's another story.

One of the things that became apparent, though, was that Savage World's skill set isn't really genre appropriate, at least not for my "Commonwealth of Man" campaign. Sometimes one size does not fit all, and skills designed for a "wild west" setting don't necessarily make sense in a space opera campaign. Rather than scrap the game, I decided to revamp the skills. My goal, though, was to touch as little as possible but to still make it feel right in my gaming world.

td;dr Version

the rest of this blog post can be summed up in this simple table. If you have better things to than to read my blathering (and, really, who doesn't?), you can read this table and go on with your life.


Untouched Skills

The first thing I did was identified those skills that worked well in the setting with little or no modification. Those were:

This is used for grav cars and tanks and stuff. I might even be tempted to include small shuttle craft as driving.
I wanted to rename this as "Engineering", but I found that renaming skills that didn't change caused more confusion than it was worth.
I wanted to rename this as "Medic".
I was mightily tempted to combine this with Survival as one skill.

Modified Skills

The next group of skills were those that worked well in the setting, but needed some changes. Those were:

In vanilla Savage Worlds, the lock-picking skill is a twitch skill that covers both picking locks and disarming traps. In other words, it bypasses security systems. In my campaign it's still useful to bypass security systems, but in the high tech future, this is a Smarts skill, not Agility. I also rolled in the security systems of computers. To reflect this, I changed the name of the skill to Hacking.
The only change I made to shooting was to de-link small arms and starship weapons, as these skills have nothing to do with each other. Shooting now covers only the small arms. There is a new skill ("Gunnery") for the ship-based weapon systems.
I moved this to Spirit, because it "feels" right there. I also moved Gambling under this skill. I wanted to rename it as "Carousing" to match the old Traveller skill.

Deleted Skills

The next thing was to drop skills that I didn't see as having a general usage in the campaign. I defined "general usage" as "has this skill come up since the beginning of the campaign"? While these skills are "de-listed", they can be taken as a Knowledge type skill if a player really wants to fit some character concept. The dropped skills are:

  • Climbing (but see "Athletics", below)
  • Gambling (use Streetwise/Carousing)
  • Swimming (but see "Athletics", below)
  • Riding

New Skills

Lastly, there were a few skills that were so significant that I felt they needed to be added:

Astrogation is an "old skill" in my campaign. Most ships have navi-comps. But if you're going outside the established trade routes, you need this skill.
This is a generic skill that covers the old skills of Climbing and Swimming, as well as other physical tests like jumping and running.
In my campaign, starships fight at distances that are measured in light-seconds. That means you're trying to hit something that you last saw three seconds and guessing where it will be three seconds from now. This requires zero-agility, but a whole lot of smarts.

Does anyone else have any custom Savage Worlds skill listing? I'd be especially interested in hearing about ones for a fantasy campaign.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Problem With Too Much Color

Like every other world-building GM, I like to add color to my campaign. But this is something that needs to be held in check, because there's a point where the color interferes with the play of the game. If you've ever read World of Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, or any source book for the Traveller universe, you probably know what I mean.

Whether or not the following is a transcript of a real life gaming session, and whether or not I was the GM in question are mysteries than mankind may never know the answer to.

(intently making plans)
What time of year is it?

It's the 19th of day of Fairy Song!
(out of immersion)
What the freak is that?
(eyes wide with excitement)
Well, eons ago, when the first Elven queen was coronated, there was...
(Camera pans to the clock which speeds up to show the passage of 23 minutes as the GM's voice cross-fades with itself...)

...and ever since then this month has always been known as Fairy Song!
(nearly asleep on the table)
Dude! I just wanted to know if it was hot or cold outside!