Hands On Review: Fragged Aeternum A Fragged Empire Setting

Fragged Aeternum is a relatively new RPG Product in the Fragged Empires product line by Wade Dryer. Aeternum is the City Eternal, believed to have been built by Celestials even before the age of men. This Gothic “Ecumenopolis” a city spans the breadth of the planet. Some even suspect that Aeternum may go on in every direction without end.  

Before we get into this review we need to touch on a few things regarding Fragged Empire and Fragged Aeternum. I will begin by telling you what Fragged Aeternum is not. Fragged Aeternum is not part of the Fragged Empire universe, but it utilizes the Fragged Empire Core rules. It does make some modifications to speed gameplay. Because of this Fragged Aeternum is NOT a stand-alone game! The Fragged Empire Core Rules are needed to play this game. So for those familiar with Fragged Empire what changes can you expect.

0vTRUZ2

Changes

 
Simplified Rules

Aeternum has been built around dramatic combat and the use of momentum to propel the story forward. But just because things have gotten simpler they have not gotten easier. Combat is deadly and players should learn to accept that death is part of life in Aeternum. Additionally, players will see that much of the FE resources have been trimmed away. Gone are Ships, Trade goods, and Ammo. Lastly, RoF is gone along with many weapons that just would not fit the setting and there are fewer actions.

Death

As I mentioned above death is part of life in Fragged Aeternum, your players will die and die often. In Fragged Aeternum you play the role of the Tethered. Tethered individuals are bound by powerful magic of the celestials to return again and again to face the foes of humanity. Do not confuse the Tethered as divine beings. The Tethered are immortal men that face Fiends and Evils again and again. In addition to being human themselves, they wage battle against unspeakable Fiends. Immortal or not in time they can break and give into madness.  


Other Changes


Many of the remaining changes that you will encounter from FE to FA are mostly cosmetic. The Attributes are different but work the same as intended and many skills are gone, new or re-skinned from FE. The two last changes of note that I would like to point out are that Fate is gone from the FA and the mechanics of Strong hits are used for Momentum points.   

There are other changes that could be noted but these are the ones that stand out to me, the most that I feel should be mentioned if you are interested in taking a deeper look at Fragged Aeternum.

With that out of the way let’s now take a deeper look at Fragged Aeternum. In Aeternum there are four forces at play in this setting. The World itself, Tethered, Celestials and Fiends.

aeternum_cover_art_by_fragged_empire-dbcrh4d

Fragged Aeternum Setting

Now that we have touched on some of the key differences that set Aeternum apart from Fragged Empire lets take a look at what makes the world of Aeternum tick.

The World of Aeternum

Aeternum is a world-spanning gothic cityscape backdrop for a world where life is hard and death is easy. Death is not the end for a denizen of Aeternum because once your body falls to the ground and your soul claws its way free of its old shell. Then it will either drift skyward or twist and crawl the earth to become a Fiend. The grim fact is far more people who meet their end claw their way into the depths to rise as Fiends. It is up to the Tethered to keep them at bay.  

The City itself spans the known world, crisscrossed with rivers, lakes and massive district-sized parks. The districts themselves are separated by massive walls and gated entrances. Many of these districts are independent towns and in some cases, collections of towns could align with their own city-states.

Life is still not easy, yet without the careful planning of the Celestial Architects to bring balance to Aeternum, there would not be enough food or water to go around. Why they do what they do no one really knows. But they have a vision and are not interested in sharing.

When the people of Aeternum need metal they have to scavenge them from abandoned parts of the city, or in times of great need, Underneath it. In the labyrinth of ruins that the city has been built on top of for as long as humans can remember.

The Tethered

Tethered are men and women who have bound their souls to powerful artifacts known as the Great Lanterns thereby allowing them to cheat death. Granting the Tethered abilities far superior to average humans in addition to near immortality. When a Tethered falls his soul returns to the Great Lanterns and he is again reborn. Thus making Tethered the best defense for humanity against Fiends and all other horrors in the world. It is assumed that the players are all Tethered in the game.


Celestials

Beings of incalculable power rarely descending from the heavens to walk the world for any reason. So powerful are these beings that they are capable of destroying entire districts in their encounters with Fiends. The goals of the Celestials are known only to their fellow Celestials and it is rare to receive anything more than cryptic or mysterious information when they do choose to offer it.

Fiends

Born from the stuff of twisted nightmares, madness, and the souls of humanity it is thought the first Fiends came from a world that is believed to exist beneath the world of Aeternum. Like Celestials, Fiends are capable of corrupting and destroying entire districts if left unchecked. There is little solid understanding of the true motivation of Fiends as any that study them either go insane or are discredited and cast out and shunned.

To complicate this no two fiends are alike in appearance or motivations.

Magic and Technology

Both of these things exist in Aeternum. Clockworks, and Cogworks and even Golems can be found in the world. But Golems are things forged from magic crafted by skilled craftsmen and given life by rare magic.

Magic itself is beyond the common man; often called Warlocks or sorcerers or in some cases Witches. Magic is widely feared no matter its use or intent.

golem_on_the_bridge_by_fragged_empire-dbcrhzo

My Thoughts

Fragged Aeterum is a wonderful dark gothic setting that allows you to go to some very dark places at the table. One of the best parts of Fragged Aeternum is the fact that by its very nature players are pitted against forces, factions, and consequences that often are larger than the characters.

The Tethered are beyond death, yet they can’t just throw their life away in a conflict against the power of the Fiends. Death is not without consequence because the players are fighting to protect something worth more than their own lives. They are the first and in many cases the only line of defense for mankind. If a Tethered falls in battle frivolously the result may be the loss of an entire neighborhood or even the loss of a district. More importantly, these neighborhoods and districts are filled with mortal souls many of whom will descend only to return as Fiends themselves. Because of this, even the Immortal Tethered have to weigh the options of their actions in the game.

I know that Aeternum was inspired by the Soulborn games like Dark Souls and such. But I would like to go even more old school as an example of what it must be like to be a Tethered.

I think it’s kind of like the old video game Gauntlet. Not the new one or on a console or PC. I’m talking OLD School… That reaction you had when you dropped a quarter in the machine and took your first steps and realized that your health was already ticking down. Additionally, there was little you could do to prolong your life in Gauntlet. So each life became a race against the Reaper. Get the most of each life you had before you had to resign to death and punch another quarter in the machine to continue your quest.

When you sit down and start a session of Aeternum you know it is not a matter of if you will die, but how. Knowing this you must struggle to make each of your immortal lives matter. Unlike other RPGs where player death is the main threat, in Aeternum you may not die but comes with consequences. Depending on how you live each of your lives and when and how you die can have a vast impact on the world of Aeternum.

My Ranking

Aeternum is not going to be for everyone, but if you are a fan of dark gothic and stories that go well beyond the scope of the player characters themselves you are going to get hooked hard by this setting. It has a powerful feeling that at the table it plays in a very “go big or go home” fashion.

I know it has been cited that it was born of the Dark Souls genre, the setting also reminds me of Malifaux in its supernatural gothic artwork and vibe.

The Fragged Rules are solid and in Fragged Aeternum the FE resource system has been pulled out of this setting, I mention that as the FE resource system was a good solid mechanic but one that personally I was not a huge fan of so I see this as a bonus. Overall it’s a faster smoother game with a great backdrop for high fantasy games.

D20 #16-19Considering all of this, I have to say that my Runkles Ranking for Fragged Aeternum is Outstanding. And not just for the reasons that I have listed here, but because in its 165-page count it is absolutely stuffed to gills with information. More than I could cover in 3 blogs.

View my Rank System Here

 

 

Closing Thoughts

Much of this is because to run Aeternum it requires the Fragged Core book. This is also my only issue with Aeternum, as a Fragged Setting book you need FC to run the game. Forcing new FE players to have to make two purchases to get in on this game.

If you are interested in picking up a copy of Fragged Aeternum you can get it at the following link

DTRPG: Fragged Aeternum

If you have played FA or have any questions or thoughts on the setting please feel free to comment below

 

patreon

 




 

Mondays Muse, Run What You Love.

Today I am going to talk a little bit about one of the hardest things to do as a Game Master. Run what you love, I know it sounds easy. Yet ask a handful of GM’s and you will likely find that many of them are not running games they love. Often they are running games the group wants to play not what they themselves want to run. It’s an easy trap to fall into with more than a few ways to fall into it.

Most often we are just running the games that the group wants to play and someone needs to be the Game Master, Welcome to the trap.

The group has decided to run a game system that everyone knows rather than one that you as the GM know best. Welcome to the trap.

You are going to have to learn how to run the system some time this is your chance, Welcome to the trap.

The list goes on.

Granted there is a case to be made that there is nothing wrong with any of this. But in reality, if you want to be a game master for years to come head my advice and run the things that you love.

Everyone that runs games has enough to do with juggling game prep, manning the helm during the game and coordinating everything else in between. Why heap on the added weight of motivating yourself to even get into the mindset to run something that you are not enjoying. Because let me tell you if you struggle to find the motivation to run the game for your players. Everything else becomes exponentially more difficult.

So I wrap up my short little muse tonight stressing that if you or your group want you to try your hand at running games or tag you to run a game, Wonderful! Jump at the chance, embrace it and take it on with all that you are because it is one of the most rewarding parts of playing games you can do.

JUST RUN WHAT YOU LOVE and have faith that if you love it, your players will too!

Until next time.

Review: Spy Master RPG by CM games

IMG_0451

Spy Master

By: CM Games Author(s)
SymattCarl Matthews
Rules System: System 21
Page Count: 79
Get it on DTRPG
PDF Cost: $9.95
Soft Cover Cost: $29.99 (currently On sale for $19.95)

Spymaster RPG
Recently I have had the pleasure of being given a copy of the RPG Spy Master to read.  It was given to me for review and at the time I had a lot on my plate between a convention, the holidays and real-life work and out of state visitors. I politely informed Symatt that it would take me a little time to get to the review and it definitely did.

Straight off I can tell you, my readers, Spy Master was more than worth the wait. I am glad that I sat down to read this book when I had the time to fully take it in for what it is and I totally enjoy it and what it brings to the table!

Spy Master is a rules-light setting where you are playing International spies. Right off the bat, this caught my eye as I do enjoy some good spy games antics. Yet sadly, often they are bogged down with too much crunch to enjoy. Refreshingly, this is where Spy Master stands out from the crowd!

Spy Master is at its heart a love letter to the James Bond era of suit wearing, casino royale backdrops of cash guns and high stakes adventure. Spy Master thrives in a world where your so good you not only confront the bad guy at his own party, you sit down with him over drinks and tell him just how you are going to take him down to his face over a game of cards.

How is it played?

Well, the absolute best possible way that a 1970s spy movie game could ever be played that’s how WITH CARDS! You read that right, In Spy Master, if you want to complete a task in the game you’re playing Black Jack against the Director (GM) that is some awesome shit right there! Honestly, I tweeted out when I first saw the cover of the game that if this game did not play with cards I was going to be heartbroken.

Spy Master characters have 4 Attributes Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs & Spades each represents something different in the game.

  • Diamonds: All Intellect skills
  • Hearts: All Emotional Skills
  • Clubs: All Physical Skills
  • Spades: All Dexterity Skills

img_0452-e1513390867701.png

When you make your agent you simply draw 5 cards and place the best 4 where you wish. These are assigned they are the base card in any task you attempt in the game. So if you have a 10 in Clubs. Before you draw any cards you always will have a 10 base skill in physical tasks.

Agents also have 4 chips! During a scene, a player can opt to throw a chip and discard a card that they have drawn and draw a new card to replace it in their hand. Each scene these chips refresh. You can only cash in chips once per card but you can spend as many chips as you like during a hand or scene.

Agents (players/Main Characters) have 21 health. All other Thugs (minions) have the value of the card they draw in health.

Setting the Scene

The Cards handle all the heavy lifting in the game from assisting in setting the scenes and how everything from bribery to fisticuffs is resolved. Yet the understanding that not every action needs to be a game of Black Jack between the Director and the player’s Spy Master also makes use of Static Difficulties to keep the pace of the game moving. At any time the Director can instead set a static target that they players simply need to draw against to complete a task. This is a great tool to keep the pace of the game going between dramatic moments at the table I think.

My Thoughts

This book could easily have been only 10-15 pages of content and still been very good. One of the reasons why this product is very good is because of its length. At 79 pages The team took their time giving plenty of detailed example of gameplay for many aspects of the game. This is tremendously helpful. It hand delivers the game feel of Spy Master to the reader so you can fully understand what they are giving you beyond just, Hey here is an RPG that uses Black Jack instead of D20’s.

The last half of the book walk Directors through writing adventures in the Spy Master setting with plenty of tables and even more examples to help you along the way. Much of the content in these pages of the book is ripe to be minded for just about any modern game. A lot of thought went into what is presented to the reader. The book wraps up with a sample adventure, examples of SOLO play, leveling up and how to use Dice if your too stubborn to use cards.

Runkles Ranking

It has been a long time since I have been this impressed by a DTRPG product sent to me out of the blue and I have had many sent to me in the 4 years I have been writing these reviews. I love the feel of this setting and system. While I am not sure how well it would hold up to extended gameplay in part due to its rules-light system. I love it for its rules-light system!

D20 #17I am going to give it a 17! It is an Outstanding product,  Any product with a rank of 16-19 is a cut above the rest. These are must-have products. Often products of this level strike a chord with their audience and Spy Master will hit that sweet spot for Bond loving Spy gamers. The book is an easy read & page-turners that you find yourself reading from beginning to end.

If you are a fan of rules-light systems, Spys and Black Jack. You would be a fool not to give Spy Master a Try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kickstarter Pre-Review: SINS RPG

7ed45bb45183906a589570d9a919d183_original

The Setting

The world of SINS is a grim harsh place where is Man is no longer masters of their world. A century from now mankind is on the very brink of extinction and struggling to survive. Surprisingly mankind did not burn in the fires of a nuclear holocaust. After the death of the modern world and the rise of a new space age, mankind was in the position to venture once more into space beyond our moon. Then the “Black Rain” fell from space and changed it all. Dubbed “Shards” this opaque void glass crystal plummeted to the earth and changed the world forever.

After the Rain, the dead began to rise and mutate into terrifying killing machines. Before the nations of the world were able to get a handle on what would come to be called the “Brood”, the second wave of death and destruction fell on mankind. This destruction would come in the form beings were called the Reapers. Reapers were beings with powers like that of gods, wielding power so immense they were capable of destroying entire military bases by themselves. When things had reached their most desperate the nuclear option was taken. The result, only one Reaper was slain, in time the remaining Reapers would vanish. To this day no one knows why.

a27f793030cfe40346e57434dc32b1db_original

Mankind once more began to rebuild in their new dying world, ravaged by the nuclear scars and infested with the brood. In time, from the infected wastelands come dark heroes. Once fallen beings who were brood and yet eventually retained their consciousness and evolved into something new called “Nemissaries”.  Some possessing powers rivaling that of the Reapers of old, yet these were the beings were on the side of humanity. Nemissaries harbor a dark power and they contain a great dark power inside themselves as well. Nemissaries live in constant conflict with their dark nature.

There are places in the world free of the brood, these places exist where the Black Rain fell. The Shards that brought this horror to the world seem to repel the brood. Humanity has dug into these locations in an effort to start new again. But living near Shards has a cost.

Welcome to SINS…

The System

SINS uses its own rules engine for its game that they call the HOPE engine. HOPE is a D6 Dice pool system using exploding D6 with varying degrees of success. Target numbers are 7 minus skill level.  Your Dice pool is determined by Skill+Atribute+Fate, with a difficulty determined by the DM of 1 or more success. Each Sucess over the threshold is called an Outcome. The number of Outcome points that you get may be used to activate other effects.  If you do not have a relevant skill point the DC is 6, with double the needed target number and you get no benefit from any outcome points you may roll.

Players have 4 core traits in SINS these are Fate, Attributes, Skills, and Specialties. There are 5 attributes, 75 skills, Traits, and Qualities as well as over 100 specialty powers.

Players do not gain experience in your standard leveling up process. Instead, they have motivations that they seek to achieve. These achievements give them points that they can use to improve their character. Providing a more narrative level driven path. Thus by design even with Nemissaries possessing immense power. Players must role play to advance in level.

My Thoughts

NOTE: When I first sat down to write my review I initially had some difficulty with how I absorbed this product. You have to understand that for me this was a cold off the shelf review. I did not have a Kickstarter video or Dev Diary and such available to me. So I did not post my review at first.  Instead, I chose reached out the creators and had a talk with them to clear many of my questions up. Shortly after getting the answers to my questions the world tossed a Hurricane my way causing an annoying delay.

I decided to leave my initial thoughts in the review and add the conversation I had with the developers to the review. My reasons for this is I think many of my first thoughts are still valid ones. As anyone that were to cold purchase this product in the future would feel much like I did at first I think.

On Setting

Now I love Rifts and thrill of playing insanely powerful characters, I get Gonzo gaming and maybe that is where I am finding a disconnect. Because SINS is intended to be a narrative driven story about powerful beings in a dying world. So gonzo is not the intent, it sounds grimmer than that. According to the SINS RPG book the inspiration for the game sides with me on my confusion.
For example, some of the Inspirations for SINS are:

  • Watership down
  • Various HP Lovecraft works
  • Dracula Brom Stokers
  • World War Z Novel
  • The Walking Dead COMIC
  • John Carpenters the THING
  • 28 Days Later (Cited as a HUGE inspiration)

The setting for me is not one that I am personally excited by, I find myself more interested in the events of this setting past. As well as the characters that in this book strike me as more of an afterthought. I want to know more about the Non-Nemisareis that manage to survive the horror of this world and struggle to scrape by day to day and rebuild. Furthermore playing the lowly human in a world where you are nothing more than an insect to everything around you makes me feel the like it embraces the concepts of Watership down or works of Lovecraft. For me, its seems a stronger platform for narrative story telling than the immensely powerful Nemisaries.

CaptureYet players take up the role of Nemisaries, incredibly powerful nigh incurable beings. I just find it hard to take in the dangers of this world. When it is said right in the book that Nemisaries are pretty Blase about being wounded in the game. Unless you are struck by a fire or supernatural attacks you likely will shrug off the wounds because of you are simply immensely powerful. If a player finds themselves in dire need of healing they can even spend Focus to recover baleful supernatural damage as a standard action!

Further aggravation on the subject of wounds rested in the section about recovery from damage. You are given a very detailed explanation of how of long it takes to heal from an injury. There is an entire page of quality detailed explanation regarding the time frame it will take to heal as well as the rolls needed to recover from each stage of injury that you can receive in the game.

HealingAFTER you read all of this you are presented with a small side post “Informing you” that they are sorry to say this but this is just an example of how healing is for the normal humans in this setting. Because of this sadly everything you just read is pretty much irrelevant to the way you as a player will heal !~! OMG…

 

 

Now to be clear this is not an exaggeration, all Nemisaries possess regeneration and can further fuel that regeneration with Anima that they possess. All Nemisaries have Anima (they fuel their powers with it).

NOTE: Here is where I decided to stop and get some clarification from the creators. After reading the inspiration for the setting and the wounds I was going to need to talk to the team before I moved over. So that they could help connect the dots for me.

So I asked them…
RunklePlaysGames
I am at a bit of a disconnect with the setting and the power base of the players in a post apocalypse world that is not meant to be gonzo in style but the sheer amounts of damage that they can take make the game seem gonzo. Can  you help connect

SINS
“The world after the Fall is influenced by a need to survive, but having powers seems to.make this easier? Far from it, although Nemissaries that hold these powers can face physical pain better. But they are haunted by emotional and mental disturbances that normal humans don’t feel. With the power gained a darkness can very easily consume the player. If you play Nemissaries, you can still be hurt, maimed or killed. But you also have to stay mentally engaged and aware to avoid falling into the abyss and having setbacks or destruction. Many players will want to be powerful, we understand that, but no character type is immune to the wasteland and the dangers. It depends on what you are willing to do to survive.”

This to me helped make much of the rest of the setting a bit more clear. All Nemissaries have a dark side, a monster trying to crawl to the surface and destroy every last shred of humanity that remains within them. So in this world damage is not as important, it’s almost an afterthought. It’s more about battling your inner demons. I would compare it more to the old WRAITH by White Wolf Games. As it is even suggested that other players at the table play your dark hollow whispering things to you all game long in an attempt make your Nemissarie break. 

As to my critic on the lovely side blurb after the healing portion, they did give me a promising reply to this as well.
(I do not expect them to move anything, understand this book is already laid out and such a task would be an expensive frustrating nightmare)

RunklePlaysGames
In the advanced wounds section, you go into great detail about healing in the world of SINS and I found it well done and helpful only to find when I got to the end a sidebar that told me all of that was pointless to have read because Nemissaries heal differently. I nearly threw my Ipad.

SINS
That’s fair! We put those rules in for the sake of comprehension and for players who might want to play characters who can’t regenerate (regular humans) or need the rules for if advanced healing is necessary. Obviously, they’re pretty ingrained into the layout of the book and taking that out now would be quite the “Jenga” effect on everything thereafter, but rest assured as the next book is planned to focus on humans, then those rules will be revised, condensed and reworked for both brevity and more use!

Now, this is more than understandable about not moving things around. To do something like that could literally screw up the whole book. That aside, it is very good to know that I already know for a fact that they are working on the next book as this blog is being read and that these great rules will come into play.

My last issue that I had a concern with in the SINS system was how wounds are tracked. In SINS there are 3 types of wounds that you can receive in the game. Normal, Impaling, and Baleful. On your damage track, you will either fill in the damage take in the game with an “X” if you receive a normal wound. An “I” line represents impaling damage. And an “X” with an “I” through it if you have received Baleful damage such as damage from supernatural damage fire or void glass.

Damage Typles Normal Impaed Baelful

This drew a huge mechanical concern for me as a DM and a player as I worry about the reality that this could turn into a hot mess on a sheet where damage will flow quickly. I have concerns due to repeated erasing that confusion might arise in cases where as a player you might wonder I have impaling damage or regular damage on this circle. just a few poorly erased marks and this is a real concern. Now, this is not a tremendous issue, I suggested removing the impaled wounds and adding a check box to represent an Impaled status. Mind you this was not just the opinion of RunklePlaysGames. I asked several outside sources and all of them agreed it would be good to point this out to the creators so I did.

Do I have impaling damage or regular damage on this circle?

Just a few poorly erased marks and this can become a real concern. Now, this is not a tremendous issue, I suggested removing the impaled wounds symbol from the damage boxes and instead of adding a check box to represent an Impaled status. Mind you this was not just the opinion of RunklePlaysGames. I asked several outside sources and all of them agreed it would be good to point this out to the creators so I did.

RunklePlaysGames
The wound track concerns me with how they are tracked is X I and X+I. I have concerns as to it being easily messed up or becoming a did I erase that or not hot mess. I love impaling damage concept. Could it serve to put an impaled status above the wound track and clear that potential up?

SINS
That’s all fair and well-thought out feedback. We’ll definitely put that’s a wanted clarification to our maths and mechanics guy.

Since this discussion I had a further thought, since you can not heal past an impaled wound until the object is removed you could always place the Impaled line between injury bubbles. ( 0 I 0 ). If I were to play or run SINS, I would strongly recommend this homebrew fix if you agree with my above thoughts.

Honestly again since the book is already laid out and pretty much ready to go to print, I doubt that this will be addressed in this book. Maybe this will be addressed in an upcoming product.

Traits Qualities & Songs

Traits
Traits and skills are used to determine the dice pool a player will have available to roll.

Qualites
There are three types of Qualities in SINS. Primary, Background and Meta Qualities. Qualities are much like Feats in other games. Many of these have requirements that you must meet before you can take them.

Songs
Songs are the powers that Nemissaries use to create powerful effects in the game. Each song as six ranks each more powerful than the last. The list of songs are the following The Song of Blood, Bone, Brood, Flesh, and Will.

System Mechanics

I find the basics of the HOPE D6 dice pool system is one that I like. I think it feels smooth and once you get used to it I think there is a lot that can be done with it. It’s not revolutionary but it does not need to be. It does the job and does it well. I like the intent of the “Outcome” mechanic. With Outcome, every success beyond the target number improves the outcome of the action. In combat, Outcome can be used for added damage or optionally used to create maneuvers like disarming or pinning attacks.

Often in Dice Pool systems you only get one action per game round, unless you are willing to sacrifice a die to all your dice pools for the added effort. In SINS this is the case as well. Resulting refreshingly in a dice pool system where the player is not rolling a mountain of dice and can still sack dice for additional actions.

Layout and Art

The PDF review copy of SINS that I was provided was fully laid out with artwork already in place. So I can comment on the design layout and artwork. I can also tell you that SINS it beautiful.

Illustrated by Will Kirkby the book has a distinctive feel and that feeling is AWESOME. The book feels and looks solid and professionally presented. The only thing that I did not have was a hyperlinked PDF. But the staff has assured me that the final version of SINS will be fully linked. Trust me with a book cranking up over 350+ pages you WANT links. Many will find it hard to believe this is a first time outing at RPG design for this team. The book is highly polished and ready to go. When you pick up SINS you definitely know this is its own RPG.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not for Everyone

SINS is not a product for everyone, so much so they even put a word to parents notice on the inside of the book. I feel I should mention that here as well because is intended for mature player groups.

Final thought and Ranking

The more I read this book the more it reminded me of an apocalyptic Vampire the Masquerade and Wraith game rolled into one. Now that is a compliment as White Wolf is an excellent product with an excellent system.

Much like Wraith, this game is not going to be for everyone, It is designed to not be intended for younger audiences and there may be others that do not want to play an RPG as well. I have known many games over the years that love this type of game. I also have known a large number of players that simply HATED Wraith because of the Shadows. Shadows behave much like Hallows in SINS. And I think that this will turn off some gamers. But like I said this game is not for everyone.

The setting is well thought out and very well written. It is a very easy read with an excellent layout and top notch art. It is easy to see that a lot of heart and soul was poured into this product. Just for comparison back in the open game D20 system area I saw and own many printed products that pale in quality and comparison to SINS RPG.

Granted there was one technical concern I had with the product and one layout grumble but neither of these things actually have much impact on my ranking due to the fact that they could easily be addressed in an errata later. Or simply ignored because they are very minor things overall.

As I have said I would prefer to play a straight up human and you can choose this at character creation as noted in a provided sidebar but it is not suggested. This concern will also be addressed further in book two that is being written as I type this.

Taking all of these things into account I will give SINS the RPG a 14 out of 20. I wish there would have been more incentive to maybe start the game as a human and play through to your death and eventual return or stronger rules for just human players in the SINS RPG book. That and the mature setting that may have some players uncomfortable with their fellow gamer heckling them as their hollow. Keeps it from reaching a ranking of 15 for me.

D20 #11-14

(I would mention that I think this same reason is why Wraith never got a lot of traction is for the very same reason in the white wolf line.)

SINS has about 4 days left on Kickstarter and is going strong as well as more than funded.  You can find their project HERE. Head on over and give the game a look and be sure to check out their Dev Diary!

5cb86a62470436ad1254e28e4e07dfe3_original

 

GM Inspiration Dice & GM Compells House Rules

Today I decided to that I would like to share with you a favorite Homebrew Rule of mine for 5E D&D. This is a Homebrew rule that I developed because you see I love the Inspiration mechanic. Inspiration is simple and elegant in its both its intent and its use in the game. I have found that one constant with all players is that they love to roll dice. What is better than rolling one dice, rolling two! Inspiration is a wonderful carrot to encourage your players to roleplay and act on many or all of their background aspects.

As much as I love Inspiration, from the moment I read it I felt many GMs would miss the opportunity to not do more with this wonderful game enhancement. From the start, I feared that they would be treated more like Hero Points of old. Only to be used as a last ditch effort to pull one good roll and save a characters life. Sadly from what I have seen across many game tables. That is exactly how they are widely used by both players and GM’s alike.

Inspiration is a wonderful carrot to encourage your players to roleplay. Rewarding them for acting on many or all of their background aspects good or bad. In my opinion, inspiration was intended to be given fast and free to promote and reward roleplay. Hence why it is limited to only one point. When I look at how inspiration is written I think I see what the issue here might be. If you only focus on the first portion of the rule it sounds as if inspiration is given to you by the GM when you do something compelling or roleplay to one of your traits. Yet it goes on to say that the GM will tell you how you can earn Inspiration in the game. This is a key thing that I think may GM’s overlook.

Inspiration

Your GM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, GMs award it when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way. Your GM will tell you how you can earn inspiration in the game. You either have inspiration or you don’t – you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use.

The FATE system uses something very similar mechanic. Called Invoke and Compel. When a player wishes to gain the benefit of one aspect of their character they can invoke that characters Aspect. Much like inspiration they then gain a bonus to their next action. FATE then goes on to describe that the GM can also compel a player. If the FATE GM compels a player and they accept the compel they are given another FATE point (Inspiration) if they chose to accept on the compel. A player may choose not to act on a compel and play as they wish, but they will not get the FATE point.

Compelling

If you’re in a situation where having or being around a certain aspect means your character’s life is more dramatic or complicated, anyone can compel the aspect. You can even compel it on yourself—that’s called a self-compel. Compels are the most common way for players to earn more fate points.

 

So my homebrew rewrite of Inspiration is not really needed but helps to make clear how Inspiration works in my game. Reads as follows.

Inspiration & Compelling.

The GM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, GMs award it when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way.

If you’re in a situation where any of your traits make your character’s life more dramatic or complicated, anyone can compel the you. You can even compel it on yourself. Compels are the most common way for players to earn more insperation. You may refuse any Compel but you are not awarded inspiration if you do so.

You either have inspiration or you don’t – you can’t stockpile multiple “inspirations” for later use.

Even my rule say that you can not Stockpile inspiration. I still wanted to encourage my players to use their Inspiration often. It is often hard to pry that D20 out of their hands unless it is a clutch roll. That and I often find that I have given out inspiration for good roleplay and my players just can’t burn it fast enough.  Enter the GM inspiration Die

GM Inspiration Dice

If my players do something creative or commit an act of good RP.  I award them an Inspiration point. The trouble I had was that Often my players had Inspiration and I still want to give them something. After some thinking, I decided to do the following. This is also a nice little alternative for some of the GM’s out there that prefer using inspiration as a “Hero Point” The benefit is smaller but players seem more willing to burn it over Inspiration often.

  • If the player has no Inspiration. I reward them with an Inspiration point.
  • If the player has a point of Inspiration I award them a “GM Inspiration”.
  • “GM” inspiration dice is not a D20 with advantage. It is treated like a Bardic Inspiration dice. It can be used at any time to add to a D20 roll.
  • The GM Inspiration Die is a D6.
  • Players can be awarded more than one, but only one dice may be spent at a time.
  • Once used it is gone it’s only useable for one roll.

Lastly, GM inspiration dice go away at the end of a session. USE EM OR LOSE EM!

 

#RPGaDay2015 Day 3 Favorite new game of the last 12 months?

RPG a day 2015 - Twitter

 

My favorite New game in the last 12 months pick is going to be Dungeons and Dragons 5th Ed. For many people this was the edition that gave the setting a breath of life again. For me it was like welcoming a old friend back to the table. I had played 4th edition and I did not have many of the complaints that others have had over the years. Actually 4th Ed brought me back to the game table that I nearly walked away from entirely. But as I always have said for years. 4th Ed was a good game but it would have done better if it had never been dubbed D&D. Calling it Fantasy Tactics or Epic Encounters, anything other then D&D and the system would have been a better success then it was.

So why 5th E? It goes a long way to get back to the basics that made Dungeons and Dragons great. As well as wisely keeping many of the features from its predecessors that were good rules and applied them in was that felt right. I think one of the main reasons why D&D is as good as it is falls entirely to Wizards of the Coast taking the chance on the fans of Dungeons and Dragons. Reaching out to your community and saying we want your input on the game every step of the way. Made all the difference in the product. You can feel that input when you read these books.

If you have not taken the time to pick this product up because you are one of the many gamer’s that feel they were burned by 4th Ed. Do yourself a favor, give this edition the chance, pick it up give it a fair chance. I mean its FREE ! why not just take a look at it. I am willing to bet you will be very happy that you did if you do.

 

 

#RPGaDay 25 Favorite RPG no one wants to play

#RPGaDAY

Day 25 Favorite RPG that no one else wants to play.  Well the one good thing about my RPG group is that there pretty much are no games that we will not play. But there are one or two that I would LOVE to see get more or any table time. And it’s just because we have other great games on the table that we just do not have the time to get these into the rotation. So my pick of my favorite RPG that no one else wants to play is Star Wars Edge of the Empire.  And like I said for my group it is mostly that this great system gets put to the side while we are playing other great games. If we had another Day to play …more days in the week.. we already play Friday and Sat. and most of our group meets with other groups on at least every other Sunday. So at least for now the empire goes unchallenged by our group.