Monthly Archives: April 2012

Weekly Assembly: Monte Leaves as Drow Invade

I knew I couldn’t keep from compiling gaming links. I also toyed with naming this article “Invasion of the Cyber WereDrow”, but restrained myself. Enjoy!

At Home

Articles posted here on The Gamer Assembly.

  • The Call To Assembly, Volume 1, our collection of the first 2 months of Gamer Assembly posts is now available as a free PDF at RPG Now and as a not-free printed magazine at Lulu! Volume 2 is now available at RPG Now as well. The printed version of Volume 2 is in progress.

Away

Content from people involved with The Gamer Assembly posted elsewhere across the Internet.

Notes From Abroad

Other interesting articles and cool links.

Wizards of the Coast went public with their announcement about the next edition of D&D on Monday 09 January 2012. We’re collecting D&D Next links in our wiki. If we’ve missed any good ones that you’ve read, feel free to let us know in the comments or join us in the chat.

  • While we’re on the subject of drow, check out the UK D&D Drowathon Promotional Blog. If you’re anywhere near Nottingham on Saturday 12 May, get yourself over to Mondo Comico by 11AM to play The Sun Never Rises, which starts the whole Rise of the Underdark storyline, and the first session of the Web of the Spider Queen encounters season.
  • Going Last jumps into the land of RPG Blog Carnivals by hosting May of the Dead. If you like the undead, hurry on over and sign up. Guest bloggers welcomed.
  • Truth of the week: “Roleplaying is a team sport.” Read more sage advice for players who want to GM in Your Time Is Now at Gnome Stew.
  • Artist Jenna Fowler sees some large expenses looming on the horizon, so she’s rustling up some business by having a Commission Sale! Take a look around Art By Jenna Fowler, especially the Gallery, and see if you can’t throw some work her way before the end of May.
  • The Board Games Edition of Tracy Hurley’s Joining the Party takes a look at favorite board games for gamers, including an overview of all the D&D-themed board games from Wizards of the Coast. Also be sure to check out the links to articles across the D&D community in the Tavern Tales section.
  • And like we need another distraction, there’s a new lazy MMO fantasy RPG based on your Twitter traffic called Tweenk. Lazy or not, I want better loot.

MetaRoundup

A roundup of roundups featuring links of interest to the tabletop RPG community.
Please let us know about other weekly roundups in the comments!

  • Keith Davies maintains In My Campaign and on Mondays he publishes a collection of Links of the Week including recommended Kickstarter projects and interesting YouTube videos. Take a look at this week’s collection which includes silly putty for potholes, a Coat of Arms Design Studio, and two takes on analyzing and building random encounter tables.
  • Gaming As Women gathers links in their This Week in Gaming and This Week in Feminism series of articles on Sundays. Both series are collected under the News category. This Week in Gaming features Dungeon World’s switch to a Creative Commons license and the finalists for the 2012 Game Chef competition.

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Science Skill – Modern Assembly

Fields of Science by Image Editor on Flickr

Science (Intelligence)

The Science skill encompasses modern analysis and knowledge gained from it, including the chemical analysis of materials, experimentation to draw new conclusions about a particular object, creature or behavior and the use of computers for research and analysis.

Training in this skill represents either formal study or extensive experience at an University or with a Research facility. Those with training are more likely to know esoteric information or gain new knowledge through active experimentation.


Science Knowledge

Make a Science check to recall a relevant piece of information from modern studies, such as chemistry, computer science, or physics. You may also make a Science check to recognize a Science related clue.

Examples of Science knowledge checks include identifying a common substance in the field (Easy), identifying a potentially dangerous chemical (Medium), and predicting the course of a new mutation (Difficult).

Monster Knowledge

Make a Science check to identify a creature created or altered by Science.

Computer Hacking/Programming (Trained Only)

Creatures that have training in Science can use the skill to break into a computer, write their own programs, identify foreign and malicious elements in computer software and trace their origin. The following checks may often be part of a greater skill challenge.

Create Program
(Standard Action. Easy DC of the creature’s level)
Make a Science check to create a program intended for a particular task, including security software, games, or malware.
Success: You create your intended program. The result of your check becomes the DC needed for creatures to counter your program.
Failure: You cannot attempt to create the program again until after a short rest.
Special: You can make an attempt, after a short, rest to increase the DC of an already created program. Make the check as normal, if your result is the same or higher than the current DC, the new DC matches the higher result. If your result is lower than the current DC, then decrease the DC by 2.

Hack Computer (Standard Action. Variable DC, determined by the security of the computer)
Make a Science check to gain access to a computer, program or network you would not normally have access to.
Success: You gain access, and can gain any information the target may hold, or allow a created program access.
Failure: You cannot attempt to gain access again until after a short rest. If you fail by 5 or more your intrusion was detected.

Detect Hacking or Malware (Standard Action. Hard DC of the creature’s level)
Make a Science check to detect the presence of foreign or invasive elements in a computer. The skill is often used in this way when no intrusion is observed but they suspect it is present.
Success: You detect each source of hacking or malware on the computer, and recognize whether each program is running locally or from a network connection.
Failure: You detect nothing. You cannot try again until after a short rest.

Identify Hacking or Malware
(Minor Action. Moderate DC of the intrusion’s level)
Make a Science check to identify the source of the malware or hack and know it’s effects.
Success: You identify the program and/or programming language used to create each piece of malware or hack and you know the effects of the intrusion.
Failure:  You cannot attempt to identify the hack or malware again until after a short rest.

Counter Hacking or Malware (Standard Action. Hard DC of the intrusion’s level)
Make a Science check to counter malware or hacking, preventing further damage to your system.
Success: Choose one effect per success. Against malware, you may disable or remove the program. Against a hacker, you may trace the hacker’s location or cut the hacker off from the computer.
Failure: You take a cumulative -2 penalty against further counter attempts until after you take a short rest.

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What if each setting had its own alignments?

'Good or Evil?' by furryscalyman on Flickr

'Good or Evil?' by furryscalyman on Flickr

Alignment in Dungeons & Dragons often provokes arguments. Can PCs play evil characters? What is “evil?” Aren’t the PCs murderous thieves anyway?

Doesn’t the real problem lie with the alignments’ assumptions?

D&D started with three alignments: Law, Neutrality, and Chaos. This was soon expanded to the classic nine alignments, but they’re all based on assumptions about the kinds of characters native to the setting.

In a standard D&D Points of Light world, “good” and “evil” usually mean “selfless” and “selfish.” A “good” character protects others, throwing herself into fights with monsters to prevent them from threatening innocent villagers. An “evil” character pursues his own gains, possibly adventuring alongside “good” characters, but primarily to accumulate wealth and powerful items.

Now imagine a mixed party of “good” and “evil” characters in the intensely moralistic worlds of The Lord of the Rings or Avatar: The Last Airbender. Imagine a resource-scarce world like Dune, Dark Sun, or Fallout. How do the alignmens map there?

Of course, these alignments can map to various worlds, but are often mapped differently by different people. Ay, there’s the rub.

This can be remedied: make alignments part of each setting. A setting should explain all available player alignments (which may be along several axes).

Here’s one suggested alignment set to demonstrate how this might work:

Alignments in Dark Sun: Independence vs. Social, and Savage vs. Calculating

An independent character prides himself on extreme self-reliance, avoiding others’ help and undergoing rigorous training to be as self-sufficient as possible.

A social character has learned that Athas devours those alone. One must use others to survive; otherwise, why would cities exist? Even the Sorcerer-Kings need their subjects.

A savage character does not concern himself with questions of morality or humanity. To a savage character, life is about satisfying basic needs and impulses. Higher values are luxuries one can ill-afford on Athas.

The calculating character knows that blind pursuit of base impulses eventually leads to death. The animals live quick and die young, because they lack one thing: intellect. A shrewd mind will keep one not just alive, but long-lived.

What alignments might exist in your favorite setting?

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Filed under D&D 4E

Weekly Assembly: Free Games Improve Morale

Welcome to the 20th Weekly Assembly post! That means 20 weeks of gamer linky goodness lurks in this category if you’re brave enough to explore it. Fair warning: Given my workload in the next few weeks, forthcoming lists may not be quite so extensive as this one, but we’ll see how it plays out. So many wonderful links fly through my browser on a weekly basis, and I want to capture and share them all, so I may not be able to stop myself from collecting another 20+ links this week.

I’ll stop gabbing so you can enjoy this week’s data smorgasbord.

At Home

Articles posted here on The Gamer Assembly.

  • April’s Blog Theme at The Gamer Assembly is “Gaming Fools”, covering the outlandish, crazy, and over-the-top games and situations that grace every table at least once. Have a gonzo RPG article idea? Contact us for guest blogger opportunities!
  • The Call To Assembly, Volume 1, our collection of the first 2 months of Gamer Assembly posts is now available as a free PDF at RPG Now and as a not-free printed magazine at Lulu!
  • Designing a Ghibli RPG by Brent Newhall starts brainstorming by listing useful pieces of existing RPG systems with the ultimate goal of making a game in the style of a Hayao Miyazaki animated film.

Away

Content from people involved with The Gamer Assembly posted elsewhere across the Internet.

Notes From Abroad

Other interesting articles and cool links.

Wizards of the Coast went public with their announcement about the next edition of D&D on Monday 09 January 2012. We’re collecting D&D Next links in our wiki. If we’ve missed any good ones that you’ve read, feel free to let us know in the comments or join us in the chat.

  • Spotted by Martin Ralya and shared in this Google Plus post, Jason Zavoda transcribed Gary Gygax’s Letter from Alarums & Excursions #2. I hear some of the design ideas for D&D Next in this passage:
    I desire variance in interpretation and, as long as I am editor of the TSR line and its magazine, I will do my utmost to see that there is as little trend towards standardization as possible. Each campaign should be a “variant”, and there is no “official interpretation” from me or anyone else. If a game of “Dungeons and Beavers” suits a group, all I say is more power to them, for every fine referee runs his own variant of DandD anyway.
  • And while we’re looking at the early history of gaming, Your Blog Is Your Eighties Fanzine at Fighting Fantasist asks you to take the last five posts to your blog and format it like a cheesy home-copied game fanzine. Bonus points awarded for using typewriter fonts and filters to mimic early photocopy or even mimeograph reproduction.
  • It’s been a year since it’s been updated regularly, but Hell Yeah, Gamemasters! is once again soliciting stories that describe awesome GMing.
  • Frothsof 4e offers a system for creating and handling OD&D-style Henchmen and Hirelings in 4e. I love the idea of generic themes to breathe some life into hirelings, and the Morale Score rides again!
  • On Decisions & Delvers at Hack & Slash examines a list of the virtues of D&D and encourages implementing all of them in whatever version or variant you’re playing right now.
  • 10 Free RPGs You Must Play at Trollish Delver lists several great and free RPGs. It’s hardly an exhaustive list (*cough*Warrior, Rogue & Mage*cough*Stars Without Number*cough*Voidjumpers of Space*cough*too many others to cover with coughing*cough*), but it’s well worth a look.
  • On Wednesday, the folks in charge of Paizo decided to solicit and answer questions on the /r/rpg Reddit in a thread called We Make Pathfinder — Ask Us Anything! Great questions and conversations are contained in those 862 comments.
  • Troll in the Corner tackles life’s inevitables in the series Reality Makes the Best Fantasy. Last week’s article looked at death, and this week’s article covers Taxes and Fees.
  • Jonathan Roberts runs Fantastic Maps, and he’s released some of his work for personal use in a section of his site called Free Maps, including a set of Creative Commons dungeon tiles that can be assembled in a nearly-infinite number of ways.
  • Poor Abby Farnsworth from Hyperbole Games takes deckbuilding to the Salem witch trials an adds a dash of Monty Python. The design process continues, but the current rules, notes, and cards are available through the site for enterprising people interested in playtesting.
  • Tracy Hurley’s Joining the Party: PAX East 2012 went up this week on the Wizards site. Great overview of PAX East, great pics and videos, and great community links in the Tavern Tales section.

MetaRoundup

A roundup of roundups featuring links of interest to the tabletop RPG community.
Please let us know about other weekly roundups in the comments!

  • Keith Davies maintains In My Campaign and on Mondays he publishes a collection of Links of the Week including recommended Kickstarter projects and interesting YouTube videos. Take a look at this week’s collection which includes impelementing danger rooms in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, how basic needs cause massive pleasure, and faithfully translating tabletop cameraderie into the online world with the Roll20 Kickstarter.
  • Gaming As Women gathers links in their This Week in Gaming and This Week in Feminism series of articles on Sundays. Both series are collected under the News category. This Week in Gaming features the Farewell to Fear Kickstarter, a well-done apology to women gamers from the Oatmeal, and a question: Does the success of Tabletop mean that analog games are getting more popular?

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What does a kobold sound like?

Brent P. Newhall answers the question: What does a kobold sound like? And the same question is answered for other famous monster races: goblins, trolls, orcs, slaad, sahuagin, giants, vampires, and dragons.

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Filed under Miscellaneous

Mechanics Skill – Modern Assembly

We’re using two new skills in Modern Assembly, to help fill in the gaps on opportunities that just didn’t exist in medeval times. You may notice that these skills really could be multiple skills. We chose to condense modern knowledge to 2 skills, to keep the total number of new skills down.

Mechanic by slagheap on Flickr

Mechanics (Intelligence)

The Mechanics skills encompasses knowledge of engineered constructs, as well as the ability created, repair and operate them. This includes vehicles, computers and other machines such as a power generator or crane.

Training in this skill represents either formal study or extensive experience at formal institution or as an occupation. Those with training are more likely to know esoteric information or be able to solve unknown issues through active repair.

Mechanics Knowledge

Make a Mechanics check to recall a relevant piece of information about mechanical construction, operation, and applications. You may also make a Mechanics check to recognize a Mechanics related clue.

Monster Knowledge

Make a Mechanics check to identify a creature created or altered by Mechanics.

Drive (Move Action. Variable DC)
Any creature can operate a simple land based vehicle, such as a truck, car or motorcycle without being trained or making checks. In a more stressful situation, such as driving during combat or while being chased.

Pilot (Trained Only. Move Action. Variable DC)
Creatures that are trained in Mechanics can operate boats, airplanes and other advanced devices.

Repair (Trained Only)
Creatures that are trained in Mechanics can aid machines which are failing.

Heal Construct (Variable)
You use a Mechanics check to treat a mechanical creature as if using heal against a living creature. (See Heal)

Quick Fix
(Minor Action. Easy DC)
Make a Mechanics check to quickly patch a machine.
Success: You are able to temporarily stop further damage to a machine. An object immediately stops its actions, or continues properly at its slowest speed.
Failure: You are unable to affect the target.

 

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