29 March 2013

Savage Worlds and Savage Pizzas...

  Good morning, readers.  This week finds me as many do at the crossroads of excitement and frustration.  Excited because we now have an adoption date for our kiddos - see the video...
  So... that part of my life?  Absolutely happy about.  K said "Star Wars" for the first time, and I was extremely proud.  Z and I hit two Game Overs and a Half Price on our trip out to the park with Trenton last weekend, and had a great time.  I'm really digging the Daddy gig more and more. 
  As followers of the exploits of the Royal Dragoons gaming club are no doubt aware, we've decided to leave A Time of War behind and use Savage Worlds as our RPG system of choice for our Battletech campaign.  One of the things in the increasingly tardy Interstellar Operations book that our group was looking forward to when we were using AToW was faction rules.  Since our previous campaign had noble houses as a feature of the campaign, we had hoped to have the advertised faction rules to play with.  Such was not to be.  What we ended up doing was kitbashing a system from MechWarrior 1st Edition, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Traveller Book 12 : Dynasty.
  Now that we're using Savage Worlds, I've been looking at doing a Savage version of faction rules.  One of the things in SW that I loved was the treatment of cyber hacking in the old Savage Worlds Sci-Fi Toolkit.  It basically treated a Cyberdeck more or less like a character.  Programs and defenses we treated like attributes and skills.  Not only was this intuitive, it was SIMPLE.  Simple is something Shadowrun and Cyberpunk could never really say about their hacking rules.
  What I'm looking at now is establishing a factions ssytem for Savage Worlds Battletech that we can use for our campaign.  Here's some of my ideas:
  Houses will have attributes representing military strength, wealth, tech level, etc.  They will have skills like Diplomacy, etc. representing the agents of that faction.  I'll probably crib heavily from the Traveller : Dynasty rules for this.
  Houses will have advancements and rank like characters.  Rank will correspond to the tier of the faction.  Non-peerage noble houses would be Novice.  Seasoned would be peers on a planetary scale.  Veteran would be rulers of planets.  Heroic factions would hold a march, Periphery state, etc. and Legendary would be the House Lords themselves.
  Edges for Houses would include things to beef up their performance socially, technologically, economically, etc.
  I had an idea that a 'scale' would be attacked to each rank.  F'Rex, here's some numbers I came up with off the top of my head.
RANK            Military Force

Novice            Single 'Mech
Seasoned         Lance
Veteran           Company
Heroic             Battalion
Legendary       Regiment 
  So say you had to roll "Military" to see what kind of forces you could muster for an operation.  If you were a Novice House (like a MechWarrior holding or a Knight Bachelor) with a D8 in Military and roll a success, you'd have a single 'Mech to throw at the problem.  On a raise, you could muster a Lance.  On two raises, you could gather a Company (perhaps of allies or kinsmen.)  If you were a House Lord, and another House Lord attacked your nation, you'd roll Military.  On a success, you could throw a BattleMech Regiment into the fray.  On a raise, you'd have an RCT, and on two raises a Brigade.
  The same thing could be done for money and other resources.  Bonuses and penalties could be worked in the way they work in Savage Worlds.  For instance, a Trick or Feint against the Intelligence of an enemy House might place a negative modifier on their Military roll as available troops are moved to counter a fake assault...
  There's a lot of potential here, I think.  Edges, Hindrances, skills... handling Houses like characters.
What say you guys?

19 March 2013

Good news, Mediochre News, and Savage Worlds...

  Well, dear readers, we're back after taking a week off for Spring Break.  That means two posts this week to catch up.  The Battle of the Bulge continues - last week an encouraging loss of 6lbs, but it looks like 3 of those have come back this week to haunt me.  I took the Z-Man to East Texas to see my grandmother and her husband, and I should have predicted a complete and total lack of anything that resembled MediFast's concept of "Lean and Green."  Boudin.  Fried chicken.  At least when we had BBQ I could do the BBQ chicken - but no green sides.  Not one.  Potato Salad?  Check.  BBQ Beans with sausage and ground meat in them?  Check.  A.... salad?  Nope.  Green beans?  Negative.  I did the best I could, and avoided totally killing my diet (or so I thought) and still somehow ended up putting back 5lbs, which is down to 3 as of this morning.

  I'm going to be honest - frustration and just plain fatigue with the situation has begun to set in.  Every month I'm not at 217 is a month I watch my friends go to drill and learn and serve our great state in the Texas State Guard.  Even with the hopefully temporary regain, I am 45lbs lighter than I was when I originally attempted to enlist - yet I am still worthless to the battalion until I lose another 25ish lbs and hit 217.  In the meantime, there are a few members of the regiment who are quite a bit more overweight than I am, and they continue to serve under some unspoken grandfather clause.  It's frustrating.  If there's a standard, there's a standard.  If not, then I would dearly prefer to be training and serving as the weight comes off rather than being permanently benched.  I've even stopped going to drills because a lot of the training the unit is doing these days is of a nature that I cannot take part in until I'm sworn in for insurance reasons.  It's frustrating, and borderline depressing.  My son watches Thomas the Tank Engine, and I now totally understand the obsession Thomas and his friends have with being "Really useful."  I know I'm a good dad, and I've been told that by folks from Arrow, CASA and CPS as well as friends and family.  I know I'm a good student, I have my BA with honors to show me that.  I know that I could be a "really useful" soldier, and an even more useful NCO, but every day I struggle with my weight makes me that much closer to just saying "screw it" since I watch the people around me happily eat what they want, and even a tiny deviation from my MediFast plan means no weight loss or even a small gain.  I miss rice, gorramit.  I miss being able to indulge in the kind of food my Mammaw serves.  I miss going into a restaurant and not immediately looking at the salads and grilled chicken items.  I realize I'm never going to be able to eat chicken fried steak or chinese food as regularly as I used to - but a once a week comfort meal would be nice, and I can't even allow myself that.  Every ounce is that much longer my good friends wait for me to swear into the battalion with them, that much longer the officers and NCOs have to pass judgement on my lack of commitment to getting into the Guard, and that much longer I get to look at myself and see a goal that I just can't seem to reach because the Guard doesn't care if I've lost 45lbs, they will care when I hit 217.  Do or do not, I suppose, there is no try.

  So what's the good news?  We have a tentative adoption date.  As things firm up I'll post here what it is.  This means we're counting it down, we have an actual goal date.  Next week I have to go to a court hearing to see what's up with the case, but it's pretty certain at this time that Mary and I will be parents in the near future without the "foster-" prefix.  This cheers me up some, but there are still the two hurdles of figuring out what the hell we're going to do about childcare once the state is no longer assisting us, and getting our fire marshal certification at our home.  That's right, they found something else they didn't like - I have to move our friggin freezer because it uses an "extension cord."  Ugh.  Dammit.  That's the mediochre news.  At least Lt. Davis from RRFD is giving us the opportunity to correct the situation without getting charged again.  He's a pretty awesome guy, and I appreciated his information and his honesty about stuff.  It's nice that he took the time to explain *why* the FD is so concerned with extension cords, and how permanent use of one can screw the homeowner if there is a fire.

  Now - on to the gaming part.  SAVAGE WORLDS. 

  Readers who've tagged along for a while have noticed that we love us some Battletech, but the current RPG rules set leaves us a bit unsatisfied.  It's more complex than it needs to be, and in trying to cover the entire Battletech timeline ends up containing none of the information you really need to do any one time period aside from the rapidly changing current one.  We've looked at several other systems, including a homegrown one based on the older MechWarrior and MechWarrior 2nd Edition games.  This past RDG meeting, we tried Savage Worlds for 'Mech combat on the heels of our previous test of Savage Worlds for characters and interpersonal combat. 

  It worked well.  Very well.  The folks at Dischord Company have done a Savage Worlds Fan conversion of Battletech to SW and it's pretty damn good.  They've hit all the high points of Battletech while keeping the Fast! Furious! Fun! rules lightness of Savage Worlds.  To take a look at what they've got going on, check out their latest version on the Pinnacle forums here.  As of this writing, they're in Revision 12 of their rules.

  Man, did they hit the high points.  There are background packages for all the major (and some minor) factions currently extant, build with a zero-sum scheme so that they add to the characters without being a "race" and thereby losing the free Edge humans get.  They have edges that work inside a BattleMech, like offsetting the penalty for indirect fire, or rapid movement.  Their 'Mech rules use standard BTech ranges, 'Mech sheets, etc. but offer quicker combat resolution, fewer phases, and the ability to score crits on a Raise as opposed to just when armor is breached or snake-eyes is rolled on a location chart.  We found that once we got the rules down it move a LOT faster than standard Battletech.

  We decided to make a couple of modifications to the fine work the Dischord Company did.  First, we eliminated measuring the distance a 'Mech travels during the movement phase and used a fixed value based on speed as is done in Quick Strike.  This means that there's no more need for us to futz with movement dice as such, although we did keep glass beads so we'd know who had moved and fired at all.  The reduction of phases to make move, fire and physical one phase is a mixed blessing.  This makes the game run a LOT faster, but also makes some of the tactics of winning initiative a bit different.  Players will have to learn to hold initiative if they want the advantage of moving last, but this will allow them to be shot at first unless they win the contest of Agility to interrupt an opponent's action...

  We also decided that a raise when firing on a MechWarrior who is an Extra means an automatic single crit to a location rolled - the most damaging weapon in a weapon group.  This will help Wild Cards stand out over Extras, and will also help keep tanks popping when compared to 'Mechs.  Sadly, we forgot we wanted to try this rule and played a whole battle without it.  The result was ridiculously tough tanks, as we were also using the OLD tank crit charts.

  The folks present for this test-run voted unanimously to adopt Savage Worlds as our game system for our Battletech campaign, and we will be using Savage Battletech for combat.  I look forward to seeing where all this goes.  I can't wait for Saturday, when we'll be doing character creation for the new campaign...

Singing off, for the moment.

04 March 2013

So... even when asleep I think about gaming...

  I slept through most of yesterday due to being sick with some form of creeping crud that's going around here.  I remember before being a parent that I very, very rarely got sick.  Now I seem to have a sniffle of some sort every couple of months...  Anyway, last night I got my first good night's sleep in about four weeks.  The Good Lord smiled upon us and both kids slept through the night.  What a welcome surprise.  While I was sleeping, I dreamed I was working on a Savage Worlds conversion for the Royal Dragoon Guards campaign.

  Last weekend we took Savage Worlds for a spin at the character level, and it seems everyone really enjoyed it.  The Savage Battletech fan conversion by Discord Company is a great start.  This document is in its twelfth version as of this blog post, and contains information not only for character creation, but for 'Mech combat as well.  It had a very interesting section on the Great Houses and Clans.  The authors used the race creation rules from Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition to create a zero-sum pair of Edges and Hindrances to give characters the feel of House Davion, House Liao and other factions.  In my dream I was creating these for the Houses Minor of the planet Royal.  I decided to do that in the waking world as a part of our thoughts on replacing A Time of War with a simpler, faster-moving system.

House DeChevalier

  The House of DeChevalier held the ducal title of Royal until the Second Succession War, when their resources became inadequate to maintain the planetary militia to the standards of the March Lord, Archduke Sandoval.  The DeChevaliers maintained County over County DeChevalier, albeit with a much diminished esteem from their fellow Houses Minor.  The DeChevaliers recently rediscovered an ancient Star League-era manufacturing facility deep beneath the mountains of their barren holding, and have begun a rapid return to power and economic favor.

Barren Fief - The lands of House DeChevalier are notoriously barren of all but mineral resources.  Natives of these lands receive a free d6 in Survival.

Out of Favor at Court - The von Kalmens know the DeChevaliers are looking to regain the throne of Royal and react accordingly.  von Kalmen characters react at -4 to characters loyal to the DeChevalier family.

I will have to detail House DeChevalier and House Eversole when I have more time...

Until Tomorrow, when I (hopefully) add to his article!