25 September 2019

RPGaDay Day Five: Space

Space. The Final Frontier.  But I've talked at length about the Star Trek RPG(s) in other posts.  The first Space RPG is often said to be Jim Ward's Metamorphosis Alpha, and Traveller followed not long after.  Perhaps space and sci-fi are the second most popular game genres, but I'd have to do some research to confirm that.  
The first thing that pops into my head when I see the prompt for this post is "Space" at the moment is Traveller.  It's an old favorite of mine.  And I came into it in the best possible way- a gift from an adult gamer to a kid.  When my mom's coworkers found out I was into tabletop, books started coming home with her as the more mature gamers fed my hunger for more games.  Traveller appeared in the small box containing the Little Black Books- and tons of supplements.  Traveller blew me away.  What do you mean there are no classes and levels?  What do you mean your PC starts with real world experience, not some fresh-faced 18-year-old?  And you can DIE before character gen is over? 
I was immediately taken with this game.  I loved the Universal Personality Profile- how Traveller expresses the stats of a character in a six character string, with each stat expressed in hexadecimal.  7 is average, so if I was average in everything but, say, DEX, my UPP would be 7A7777, since the second digit is DEX.  You could sum up a character on an index card. The career system, rolling to see what your PC did for a living, for how long, were they successful?  What skills did they learn?  What monies or retirement benefits did they carry away with them?  You sort of had a mathematically-based life story when you were done.  Or you died.  And started over.
Traveller was mostly hard sci-fi.  Jump Drives allowed for limited FTL, rated by how many parsecs could be traveled in a week.  No FTL commo, everything moved at the speed of ships, meaning a sort of galactic pony express existed.  It was easy to lose onesself out in the black.  Many campaigns followed a group of veteran or retired military or paramilitary (Merchant Marines, Scouts) folks with a ship trying to make it running cargo or passengers.  It felt a LOT like Firefly would later feel.
The ship building system lost so many hours for me in Middle School and High School.  I remember watching Lost in Space on USA Network and trying to build Jupiter 2 as a Traveller vessel.  We played out Book 2 ship battles in my living room floor with measuring tapes and protractors.  It was a freaking blast.
The adventures were a lot of fun, too.  Tracking deadly creatures through a doomed lab ship.  Going to a prison world.  Discovering forgotten secrets of a dead civilization.  And the Imperium itself was mostly implied rather than expressly described in the early books- you had starting points, and fleshed things out in your own head.

 So... there are many Space RPGs. But in the case of this writing prompt, the first thing that came to my mind was Traveller. Check it out HERE.

New SWADE Blues

Image result for savage worlds adventure editionSavage Worlds.  I remember taking the first edition of the game for a spin years ago and loving it.  I've kept up with the line since then, enjoying one-offs here and there of the Fast! Furious! Fun! game in multiple genres.  So if I love the game so much, why title this blog post New SWADE Blues?  Well, one, the Elvis pun.  But two, and more importantly- the blues part comes from not having enough time to run about six campaigns using this game system. 

Savage Worlds is a system I've become increasingly fond of over the years because it fills that multi-genre system niche without being GURPSd or BRP or D20.  It handily runs just about any game, but without some of the things that hold other games back from running quickly or cleanly.  GURPS' 1-second turns, Palladium's three mile long skill list, things like that.  Savage Worlds has a short set of attributes and skills backed up by Edges that act as Feats do in D20-based games.  The system uses ratings beginning at d4 and running to d6, d8, d10, d12, d12+1 and so forth.  A d6 is average ability.  Dice "Ace"- sometimes referred to as "exploding" in other games. This means if the die rolls its maximum value, the die is re-rolled and the total added.  This continues as long as the maximum value continues to be rolled.  So a roll of a d8 might result in a 22 if the die comes up 8, 8 and 6.  Rolling 4 or more better than the target number is a "Raise" and represents great success.  And that's sort of it- the basics of the rules. 

Now, add Edges to do anything you might want to add.  Magic, weapon expertise, social skill, linguistic talent, you name it.  The Edges bolt on to the basic die conventions to create an extremely flexible, yet simple, construct.  There's no Hit Points, but would levels determined by rolling damage vs. Toughness, which is a function of an attribute modified by Edges or armor. 

Throw in Bennies, poker chips (or other counters) that allow a player to do a number of fun things to manipulate the game, and the concept of Wild Cards and Extras, and you're ready to rock.  Wild Cards are the important characters of the game- the players and non-players alike.  Extras are orcs, stormtroopers, cops and other background or run-of-the-mill characters.  Extras drop like flies, while Wild Cards are tough and more likely to excel. 

When I introduced SWADE to the Royal Dragoons at our gaming meeting, I asked what genre the players wanted to play.  I got "Fantasy", "Cyberpunk" and "Sci-Fi."  OK, then.  We jumped in and created characters- lo and behold, there was zero issue constructing characters to fit this Shadowrun-esque melting pot of genre.  Even the caster/cyberdeck jocky was a simple build.  We jumped into the game and had no problems with all the moving parts interacting in the game because the system was simple and consistent.  We had to reference things like spells once or twice (and had the help of the Power Cards included in the SWADE Essentials Box) but the game moved swiftly and without much delay.

I remember a halfling assassing parkour-ing off a fire escape to land on an Orc in a dark, wet alley between tenements while spells and guns flashed and fists and feet flew.  It was great to have the battle run so easily with so many separate elements freely mixed.  And it didn't take a truckload of dice to do it- I'm looking at YOU, Shadowrun 6e.

This test run was ruled an unmitigated success by the players, and I've had several requests to run SWADE again, as a one-off or ongoing campaign.  For a group that swears by its 5e and Star Wars D6, it's a pretty fun thing to find a new system people enjoy.  Bonus if it's a system that handles many disparate genres.  I can't wait to run it again- and I have about 20 ideas for campaigns I'd love to run.

SWADE is supported by several campaign settings, notably Savage RIFTS, the new Robotech Macross game, and Savage Worlds standards like The Last Parsec, East Texas University, Weird Wars and more.  Want Weird West?  Try Deadlands.  Space: 1889 for that steampunk itch.  Mix them, match them, SWADE makes it all possible and all good.

Yup, I've got the New SWADE Blues in that I don't have tons of free time to run about a half dozen SWADE games in the near future.