Survive The Night: A Horror RPG Review

With Halloween approaching I felt this was the perfect time to cozy up to Horror RPG for a review. After some careful consideration and the irony of fate, I picked Survive the Night. It has been on my review radar since March of this year. While at MACE West I had the absolute pleasure of playing in a pick-up game of the RPG ran by DM Scotty (Linked to his video of StN). It left such an impression on me that I reached out to the creator and asked if I might have a copy for review. They were more than happy to provide me with one in short order. As fate would have it, I was unable to write my review of the game at the time. Now both the season and timing are perfect. Survive the Night just became available on DTRPG.

Can You Survive The Night?

Survive the night knows at its core it is a narrative one-shot horror game. It wastes no time like other horror products with things like a leveling up system. The Game Mechanics are simple, smooth and designed to get out of the players way letting the story take center stage.

Mechanics

The only dice you need to play is a single D6. With that one die, you can do everything in the game. At first, I thought rolling only one dice would bother me, dare I say even lessen the experience. Instead, it further pushed focus to the action taking place in the game. Dice rolls didn’t become an afterthought. They became exciting. Everyone at the table knew a roll of a six occurs great things are about to happen… Yet, that 1… Might be the roll that sends you to the grave.

Characters

There are four classes in the game and each class has three character types. These classes are by design Tropeish, further setting the atmosphere of the game. 12 pre-gen characters are included with the product if you want to just get right into the game. Or if you prefer you can make your own character via a point-buy system. Players assign a class and choose from a selection of 18 skill and 24 traits.

Narrator’s Guide & Adventure Section

The Narrators section is short sweet and to the point. There are no special rules that you need to know. All of the rules of the game are provided in the player’s section of the book. This section focuses as a guide to assist in running a session of Survive the Night. What you will find in this section are tips on controlling the mood and, setting the pace of play. This is important in a game where a total party kill is likely a great end to a fun night of gaming. The last section of the book is four full adventures spanning over 50 pages.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy a good horror one shot from time to time, but you do not want to learn another rules heavy system. Survive the night is exactly what you are looking for. The gameplay is fast and fun. It’s easy to learn in a matter of a few dice rolls. Leaving you all the time to dive deep into the story and lose yourself in the game. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this game.

Cypher Shadowrun Totems, Fetishes, and Talismans

So here we are again readers Totems, Fetishes and Talismans! The long-awaited adaptation of Shadowrun inspired Foci Magic in the Cypher system. Long awaited, so long awaited one of my awesome gamers took up the task of tackling most of the work. He took the foundations built on the new version of cybernetics found Here and built a solid set of options for magic items in Cypherrun.  So if you like the following be sure to give my good friend Nick (@Negeta76 over on Twitter) a thank you because if it was not for him we likely would be just starting not finishing this blog. So, let’s take a deeper look at what Shadowrun style magic in the Cypher System.

Terminology:

It should be noted that in Shadowrun magical gear is called “foci”. With the term “Focus” existing as a keyword in the Cypher System, it is important to separate the two so that we can minimize any confusion. So in the Cypher System, Shadowrun Foci are classified as “Magical Gear” and further divided into three groups. These Groups are.

  • Fetishes– Items that can summon spirit animals or grant single-use abilities.
  • Talismans– Act as power Assets tied to specific skills or powers.
  • Totems– These powerful Magic Items give access Tier Powers or Power Shifts

Limits of Magic

For balance with cybernetics, it was determined that only characters who have taken Adept or the Magic Flavor are able to unlock the magical potential of these items. Additionally, to keep the balance both ways in Cypher Shadowrun the same item limits apply to Magic as they do Cybernetics.

One difference between magic items and cybernetics is that a player must bind themselves to their magic item. Given time a player can shift their bond to other magic items that they own or find, but this takes time and they must adhere to the Item limit rules for bonded items detailed below.

Cybernetics Limits

1 Major, 2 Standard, 3 minor

Magic Item Limits

1 Totem, 2 Talismans, 3 Fetishes

Further, if you are playing a concept that might have both magic and cybernetics the only requirement that you must meet is adhering to the Type or Flavor of Adept or Magic. The mixing of magic and cybernetics is a costly one in Shadowrun. Installing cybernetics costs Essence in Shadowrun. To represent this in Cypher System if you meet the requirements to access magic items and chose to install cybernetics. You lose access PERMANENTLY to whatever analogous slot that you have taken. Make these choices with the knowledge that there is no going back.

To be clear Magic Item Slots lost due to Essence loss can NEVER be restored.

  • Each Minor cybernetic implant PERMANENTLY removes access to one Fetish Slot.
  • Each Standard cybernetic implant PERMANENTLY removes access to one Talisman Slot.
  • A Major cybernetic implant PERMANENTLY removes access to the use of  Totems.

Also, the power that a player gains through Magic Items has diminishing returns. The more often a player attempts to call on their power over the course of a day the more difficult the check becomes.

Item Level

Fetishes, Talismans, and Totmes much like artifacts and Cyphers each have an Item Level. In the case of Magic Items, the level of an item is tied directly to the power level of the summoned spirit or Tier associated with the ability the Item is mimicking. This was done for balancing factors and if wanted to play a high power game from the jump. You could forgo this. But I think in the interests of game balance this is a good rule of thumb.

Fetish Level

  • Level 2 Items = Tier 1 & 2 Ability or Spirts
  • Level 4 Items = Tier 3 & 4 Ability or Spirts
  • Level 6 Items = Tier 5 & 6 Ability or Spirts

Item Level Restrictions

Magic Items of Higher Tier than the Player cannot be bound with until they reach the same Tier as the item.

Control Checks

Any time that a character wishes to activate a Magic Item he must make a Control Check 999d438d5ab66f7dac4303ded84dad01 summonto activate the power of the Magic Item or gain control over the Summoned Spirit. When a spirit is summoned the spirits appear in at an immediate distance to the item they are bonded with and may act immediately. The Spirit will behave as instructed by the player who is bound to the magic item as long as the character succeeds in their control check.  Once Summoned and Controlled the spirits will remain until Dismissed or Destroyed.

Example:

Nick chooses to summon a Level 2 Earth Spirit. The check needed to summon and control the Earth spirit is a Rank 2 check. On the third round of combat, the Spirit is destroyed. With combat still going Nick chooses to resummon the spirt. The difficulty increases by 2 requiring a Level 4 check to summon and control the Earth Spirit again. When the combat ends Nick can choose to dismiss the spirit or retain control until the end of the scene.

If Nick decides later in the adventure so summon the Earth Spirit yet again this check would now be a Level 6 Control Check.

In this same example if Nick was summoning a Level 6 Fetish Spirit the check after the above example would be a 10.  
Level 6 CC to activate + 2 to resummon in combat, Lastly an additional +2 if he decided to summon it later in the adventure. 

If a Spirit is Dismissed it returns to its plane of existence until called again. Likewise, if the Spirit is destroyed it is only its Material body that is lost and can be resummoned. At the end of a Scene if the Spirit has not been dismissed or destroyed the player. They may choose to attempt another Control Check to force the Spirit to remain for an additional scene.

Loss of Control

If a player makes a control check and the result is a fail, the summon breaks free.  A free summon has the preference to attack those that have damaged it or the conjurer that failed to control it.  

Additionally, if you wanted as a possible GM intrusion on a rolling a 1. The summoned creature only goes for the conjurer that failed to control it, ignoring others that attack it. At any point before the control check, the summoner can choose to release the creature. Released creatures will simply disappear before it takes its turn.

Bonding with Magic Items

Magic Items alow Adepts and Magic flavor players a bit of versatility similar to the “Casts Spells” focus. Players may unlock the powers and abilities contained in a Magic Item. They take the time to Bond with the Magic Item and are of the appropriate Tier. The length of time required to bond with an item varies. Players must also be of the of the same or higher Tier of the item to bond successfully.

Time Needed to Establish the Bond:

Fetishes:  These magic items can be bound within just 10 min.

Talismans: Talismans require 1 hour to bond with. 

Totems: These powerful magic item can only be rebound to a character once every 10 hours.

SPECIAL: A player may force the bonding with a Magic Item at the cost of 1Exp. Spirts will NEVER like this and it will prompt an immediate Control Check.

 

Now with the basics laid out next blog will give you some sample Magic Items. I hope you all find this useful. Comment below and let me know what you think

 

Olympus Inc The Pelion Report for Savage Worlds Live

Last week my friend Charles White launched his newest campaign on Indiegogo.  An expansion to Olympus Inc Savage Worlds. Part Percy Jackson Part Shadow Run made in the Spirit of Scion Olympus Inc is a fresh look on a modern world where the gods, in fact, were real.

The new project features several new things.

The Pelion Report presents five new Paragon bloodlines (Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Hephaestus, and Hera) and two new Demihuman bloodlines (Cyclospawn and Centaur) for Olympus Inc. Along with the new bloodlines, the book also presents powers for new and existing bloodlines, rules for working with Orichalcum, new corporations, new edges/hindrances and so much more!

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If you are not familiar with the Olympus Inc setting here is a brief rundown:

In a world that appears identical to our own, the Titans of myth have deposed the upstart Olympians and now rule the heavens. But Zeus and the other gods of Olympus have found a new way to harvest the power of worship—through mankind’s love of money! Step into a world of shadowy politics, satyr cyber-raiders, demigods, and an ongoing clandestine war for control of the firmament.

The campaign is slated to run until March 29, 2018. For more information, visit the campaign page on Indiegogo.

The Pelion Report Savage World

 

Revisiting Cybernetics in the Cypher System

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A little over two years ago I set out to start running a Shadowrun RPG game using the Cypher System rules instead of the Shadowrun Rule Set. I had two options that I could see in regard to Cypher system and how I was going to have to handle cybernetics.

1. I could treat all Cybernetics as flavor, thus having no in-game impact on the overall way that the Cypher system was run. This would allow my players to have as little or as much cybernetics as they desire, accomplishing the feel of the setting with no extra workload.

2. I could come up with a few simple options based on examples already set forward in the Cypher System and find a common ground between the two settings that would allow for cybernetics to stand out in the game yet remain simple and very flexible.

I had come to the realization that if I was going to run a faithful conversion in Cypher I was going to have to make some modifications. As I said in my previous blog the easiest answer would just make cybernetics in the cypher system Artifacts. On the surface, this would appear to be an easy fix. Yet as a solution, it posed its own problems. First, in Shadowrun and other Cyberpunk settings, Cybernetics are commonplace. Artifacts are not commonplace,

In the Cypher System

“Artifacts are considered to be more powerful than equipment and can’t simply be purchased.”

Second I did not feel 100% comfortable with the idea of allowing most of the table to begin the game with one or more artifacts, this felt unbalanced. Additionally to further complicate the idea of simply hand-waving cybernetics and treating them as Artifacts is Depletion. So artifacts were out.

So the first version of cyberware was born.

The first version of cyberware came in three flavors.

  • Simple (Simple cybernetics that can only accomplish minor things in game)
    A player was limited to 3 of this type of Cybernetic
  • Standard (Things that can only have a minor effect on game)
    A max of 2 Standard Cybernetic could be taken
  • Major (These provide “Boosts” At the time of the writing I did not know of “Power Shifts”)
    Players could only have one of these items.

About Limits:

My reason for limits largely remains the same as it was when I wrote the first blog. Shadowrun has a system of essence, wherein the body can only hold so much cyberware. This system also maintains game balance. So, for this reason, limits make perfect sense to port it over into the Cypher System. Thus keeping to the spirit of Shadowrun as well as preventing players from power purchasing their way into an unbalanced game.

There were a few exceptions if a player had enough money to afford the best gear available they could double these limits. Also, desperate players who were willing to take the risk on shoddy gear could save on money and purchase “Gutterwear” This gear comes with the cost of doubling its limit base cost as well as the risk of “Depletion” Borrowed straight from the Artifact section.

There was always to be one other exception to this rule that I never mentioned in the first blog.

Artifacts

As Cybernetics were not intended to be Artifacts I also wanted to have the opportunity to award players with Prototype, Custom or Personalised cybernetics and not be hindered later in-game by a player already having reached their limit count. So cybernetic Artifacts do not count against a players limit.

Updates and Changes

As our group sat down to start up a Cypher System Shadowrun game for the first time since I wrote the first blogs we could see there were some changes that needed to be made to dial the feel of cybernetics a bit more.

The first round of cybernetics had been organized around two key factors.

  1. The level of a modification to the body it would take to install the cybernetic gear
  2. It’s in-game effect that provides

My flaw here was that I was vague on #2, as it needed to be further defined to better represent cybernetics in the game as a whole. So, in some regard cybernetics went back to the drawing board. The new categories make far more sense as well as set the foundation for easily defined placement of cybernetics in the future.

This brought about the first change we discussed, adding a 4th cybernetic category. The newly defined categories look like the following:

 

Cypher System Cybernetics

Simple Cybernetics

Any cybernetic enhancement that is cosmetic and had no effect on the game in regard to dice rolls.
Examples: Internal Watches, Implanted Cell Phones, Shifting Tattoos
Limit: No Limit to this type of cyber implant
Character Creation Costs: Inexpensive During Character Creation.
In Game Cost: Moderately Priced in Game

 

Minor Cybernetics

Any Cybernetic Enhancement that mimics or provide skills, or assist in the completion of a skill. In short any implanted gear that would allow the player to make a Trained/Specialised check. Combat and Defense Skills are not included at this level this Cybernetic Enhancement.
(Note: Cyber Enhancement benefits still must adhere to the two-step reduction limit for tasks)
Examples: Skill Slot Jacks, Climbing Spurs, Grappling Launcher

Limit: Four Implants of this type
Character Creation Costs: Moderately Priced
In Game Cost: Expensive

 

Moderate Cybernetics

These are by design Cybernetic Enhancements that provide an Assets to the Player. These Cybernetics often come in the form of Weapon or Equipment implants. But can be any range of Cybernetic equipment upgrade that could provide the player with an Asset.(Note: Cyber Enhancement benefits still must adhere to the two-step reduction limit for Assets)
Examples: Cyber Arm Blade, Cybergun, Hydraulic Jacks, Subdermal Motors

Limit: Three Implants
Character Creation Costs: Expensive
In Game Cost: Very Expensive

 

Major Cybernetics

Major Cybernetics are so powerful that they provide players with Power Shifts. Cybernetics of this level require major surgeries and a huge amount of money. These cybernetics bestow superhuman levels of ability. In some rare cases, these cybernetic can also mimic powers.
Examples: Subdermal Platting & Bone Lacing, Wired Reflexes, Muscle replacement

Limit Two Major Implants
Character Creation Costs: Very Expensive
In Game Cost: Exorbitant


Alpha and Gutterwear

As far as Alpha and Gutterwear are concerned I have chosen to retain the same rules that I had blogged in the past and they are as follows.

To represent Gutterwear and Alphawear it turned out to be a very simple fix. If a player wishes Alphawear gear they must pay the next step up in cost for the item. This treats the cybernetic as half of the cost towards their cybernetics limit. If they purchased Gutterwear they may cut the cost of the cybernetic by one level but the item now has a Depletion of 1 in 20. Any Depleted cybernetics must be repaired before they can be used again. Repair Tasks are based on the level of the cybernetic. Simple=3 Average=5 Major=7

Monday Muse on #RPGaDay 2017 Did I feel this year was a sucess?

So as we draw to a close on #RPGaDay2017 I have decided like last year to put my thoughts to a page about the experience. I do this as I find myself a few days behind at this point in the whole thing and there is nothing wrong with that. Honestly, there is no solid time frame out for #RPGaDay just the intent to get gamers talking. Over all now this is the 4th year of RPGaDay, and I have taken part in every one. What are my thoughts on this year compared to previous years questions? As well as Am I still having fun doing them? Will I do

What are my thoughts on this year compared to previous years questions?

Overall, I found myself not as thrilled by the provided questions. I have enjoyed many of the previous year’s questions by comparison. Many of them were this year were intended by request to be a little less deep. I personally think that while a few “softball” questions are fine, this year was too many. Additionally, as my blog turned out to show many of the questions were such softballs that it was hard to bang out more than a few paragraphs worth of blog content for my answers.
I even saw some simply answer inside of the length of a tweet! when you can sum up the reply to several of this year’s questions in 140 characters. Now I know that is a bit lazy and not in the spirit of RPGaDay. But it is worth mentioning that if you can answer a RPGaDay question easily in under 140 characters is it really a good question to ask bloggers and vloggers to talk about for the day?

Am I still having fun doing them?

Yes, I am for the time being. again like years past this one seemed to speed up on me and found me very unprepared. The last two years were much nicer having gotten the questions nearly a week in advance. I think I will set a reminder to be on the lookout for them to get the questions a few days before the start again. It makes things much easier in the long run.

Will I do take part again next year? 

As of this moment, my answer is yes. Might it change? That entirely depends on a few factors. First, next years questions will need a bit more depth to them so that there is something of substance to write about each day. Lastly, if the questions are Meh my current plan will be to answer the ones I like and repost my Fav question of previous years on the other days.

Final Thought

I think my concern with this years #RPGaDay was the lack of interaction. compared to years past my page got far less #RPGaDay traffic and comments than in any year past. I can say that I had some good conversations last year on #RPGaDay but this year I may have only had two commenters on the blog at all. Due in part the questions and a few were talked about on social media and not here.

What it comes down to is can my blogging efforts be better spent on other topics that will bring more views and interest to my page. At the moment I think the answer is firmly in the yes other projects would bring much more traffic to my page as my stats confirm.

If I do these next year I think I will be doing them in a new fassion, vlogging or audio. something other than text. Maybe that will put them into a fromat for me the I will find exciting again.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

#RPGaDay2017 24th Day: Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more. NONE (Read, Why)

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This one is probably going to surprise some readers. I love PWYW products and myself, often 9 times out of 10 Pay more than the suggested price for PWYW products. Now, this may come to a surprise and I might be wrong about PWYW in the overall scheme. But over the last two years, I have read several blogs by producers of RPG content that have sold items for both Costs as well as PWYW. Surprisingly several of them have said that while they have had content priced as low as 3 dollars for a PDF, while prices as PWYW it outsold the priced cost sales. This is because you often will have customers that will pay you more than the

Surprisingly several of them have said that while they have had content priced as low as 3 dollars for a PDF, while prices as PWYW it outsold the priced cost sales. This is because you often will have customers that will pay you more than the price you set. Additionally, often with these creators, PWYW products are a Tastes of their work. In a

Additionally, often with these creators, PWYW products are a Tastes of their work. With a huge number of products out there by creators, PWYW product’s help makes you stand out and get your work seen.

Here is a very good article about PWYW by EVIL HAT games.

#RPGaDay2017 Day 19: Which RPG Features the Best Writing? #Numenera #MonteCookGames

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Numenera

With an interesting setting coupled with Monte Cooks excellent layout decisions. MCG set the ground work that would give birth the Cypher System. It is hard to argue that Numenera is not an excellently written RPG. In Ptolus we see the perfection of the layout and writing style of Monte Cook. In Numenera we see the evolved rule system that Monte Cook had been considering and I think may have even suggested from 5E D&D before he left the creative team.

Numenera is fresh take on using a D20 at the tabe for everything, and a whole new take on character creation. This was refreshing and eagerly embraced by the fan base. Cyphers themselves were by design constantly rewarding the players with items that they could use to influence the game. Polishing the whole experience off by telling the GM to just focus on the game and not worry about rolling dice. Over all at least in my opinion it was a wild success at writing an RPG.