Sunday, 30 November 2014

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

[RPG] Quick & dirty Accelerated vampire rules - 2nd edition

I've got a friend coming to stay with myself and my wife Hannah for a week soon, Dave was one of the players in my short original test game for the quick & dirty vampire rules so it'll be interesting to see what he makes of the revised version.

These rules are based heavily on the super powered stunt rules, you can find them here in the excellent Fate SRD website.

Essentially the way the super-powered stunts will work is that players will purchase a stunt that allows them to automatically succeed at a certain task unless they are opposed by another person with an applicable stunt; if this happens then effectively whoever is willing to bid the most fate points triumphs.

As an additional wrinkle the successful use of a vampire stunt will give the GM (or the players if it is an NPC vampire) a free compel to use (ie. the compel does not award the person a fate point if accepted), that must be used to throw up some weakness of vampiric nature.

For example: If the player uses their potence vampire stunt to smash through a door, in the next scene the GM may use the free compel to suggest that the character is hungry due to the expenditure of vampiric force and that there just happens to be someone ripe for the taking in the scene.

A player can still choose to ignore this compel by paying a fate point as normal.

Please note: In the previous iteration of these rules, red fate chips were used to represent special uses of blood; in this version of the rules they are not strictly required, although using red fate chips in general looks cool for a vampire themed game :)

Vampire Stunts

These are the current vampire stunts that I have in mind:

  • Animalism - Automatically succeed at checks to calm/communicate intent to animals and tests to ride or guide animals.
  • Auspex - Automatically notice anything out of the ordinary or sense the presence of the supernatural, allows a player to ask questions about the recent past of a scene or object and have them answered truthfully.
  • Celerity - Automatically escape from a scene or act first in a test of speed.
  • Fortitude - Automatically ignore damage taken in a single turn.
  • Obfuscate - Automatically hide themselves from scrutiny even if standing in plain sight or automatically conceal an object no larger than themselves.
  • Potence - Automatically smash an inanimate object or take a foe out of action.
  • Presence - Automatically succeed on social and persuasion challenge.

I'm sure those who are familiar with the World of Darkness will recognise that my stunts are very influenced by the list of disciplines available in the WoD, this is no coincidence, i'm most familiar with those abilities and think they give a good gamut of powers for a prospective vampire game, I may expand the list of vampire stunts once I have tested them out a bit more.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

[RPG] So how did my quick & dirty fate vampire rules work?

Incase you've not seen my quick and dirty Fate Accelerated rules for vampires you can find them here:

How did the game go?

Unfortunately because of other RL factors we didn't get to actually finish the session, however the three or four hours that we did do were quite entertaining and everyone (including the couple of less experienced tabletoppers seemed to enjoy themselves).

Generated characters with Fate Accelerated was extremely easy although it took the newcomers a little while to get their heads around Aspects, once they had though the rest didn't take long at all; to keep things simple whilst also maximising the potential for plot hijinks I told the players that their characters would not be vampires at the start and that they were all on a cruise ship heading to Hawaii, I then asked them to think of reasons they were there. We ended up with a fairly eclectic mix of characters:

  • Aurelia - Cello player with a goth rock band who were on the cruise relaxing and doing some promo work after a big tour.
  • Stevie Steel - Lead vocallist of said rock group, a vain main who traded on looks more than talent and had spent most of the cruise in various dalliances.
  • Katherine - A waitress on the cruise who was later turned into a vampire by a strange fellow she encountered in the cafĂ© on the night shift.
  • Orsten Thomas - A medical researcher whose outrĂ© views and outlandish experiments had lead to unwelcome press attention that he was seeking to flee.

I ran the characters through a fairly simple sequence of events that lead to them being turned and the various complications arising from that; the aim of the game eventually would have been for them to discover that they had all be turned for a reason by the same vampire, however unfortunately we didn't have time for that.

So how did the rules work?

I threw lots of complications and obstacles at the players (probably more than I would have done normally) both to give them the option to use their vampiric side (and the demonic red fate chips) and to get used to the idea of the fate economy; it seemed to work quite well and none of the players seemed to be overly concerned that they were losing control of their characters by not being able to buy off the effects of the red fate chips.

This lead to all sorts of incidents such as when one of the band roadies witnessed the PCs covered in blood and attempted to flee to summon security, Orsten ran after him determined to stop him reporting the incident by any means necessary (especially given that he'd woke up next to the blood drained corpse of his wife shortly after his first awakening as a vampire); Aurelia, the only vampire who had not yet fed, decided that she couldn't allow this innocent roadie to be harmed and gave into her vampiric side, tackling Orsten against the wall, I then instantly used the red fate chip garnered to say that she tackled him so hard that the two of them went through a wall into an adjoining cabin.

What would I change?

I think that going forward that rather than having the players usage of their vampiric side give the GM a red fate chip that can be used for an unblockable compel, I would give the players a seperate number of red fate chips in addition to their normal ones (based on the strength of their vampiric blood) and say that they can be spent as normal fate chips for double the benefit, however, when they are a player must feed in the following scene or some other vampiric complication will occur.

I definitely think that the rules worked fine for a quick pick-up game, having a group of new tabletoppers with only one that has any experience of the Fate system we were able to get up and running in around 5 minutes (inc. character generation) and were soon enjoying a fun vampire game, don't get me wrong it wasn't the most serious nor angst filled vampire game ever and was a bit more tongue in cheek, but compared to some other horror/vampire systems it was certainly a lot more accessible and captured some of the essentials of vampire settings. I think that if I was going to run it for a campaign then I would seek to refine the rules a little, perhaps characters having stunts to determine what they can spend their red fate chips on our to expand their utility?

(picture is use for non-profit use only, no challenge to copyright intended, you can find this picture and more at

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

[RPG] Quick & Dirty Fate Accelerated rules for Vampire

A friend of ours is coming down for the weekend and is now arriving a bit earlier that planned, quick randomly she mentioned to me that although she’s done a bit of fantasy and superhero tabletop RPGing that she’d actually like to try something a little bit darker than that; having noticed a picture of a recent vampire book sent to me by a friend she fancied giving something similar a go. Now I’m currently on a bit of a hiatus from WOD (although most of games tend towards the dark in tone), love the background, however the number of sub-systems and varying mechanics in the rules don’t really light my fire, I’m more a fan of having systems with a strong core mechanic that everything else hangs off.

Given that this is liable to be a short game and that my friend isn’t very experienced with TT RPGs I don’t want to get bogged down in lengthy character generation and explaining loads of different rules, what I want is an exciting game where character gen time is minimal and we can jump straight into telling an interesting story. So, as I find myself doing an awful lot these days, I’m planning to try and keep the background feel of the NWOD whilst jettisoning the mechanics and going for a simpler system; I’m sure it will come as no surprise to those who know me that I’ve decided to go with the Fate Accelerated system. Accelerated is very easy to create characters for, has a fairly easy learning curve and is one of my go to systems these days when it comes to running a quick game or something on the fly.

So without further ado below are the quick and dirty vampire rules that I intend to be trialling:

* * *


  • High concept (as per the book, must mention that character is a vampire)
  • Trouble (as per the book)
  • Occupation (what job the character held prior to their embrace)
  • First Victim (who was the first person they killed following their embrace)
  • Friend/contact (the name of one friend or contact that has stood by them or that they have managed to keep from their mortal days)


  • As per the book.

Vampire Edge

  • At any time (where it makes sense within the game fiction) the player can choose to increase the bonus they would normally receive from a stunt/invoking an aspect from +2 to +4 by using their vampiric powers. When this is done the GM takes a red fate chip that may only be used for that character.
  • Characters can also call on their vampiric nature to perform tasks that might otherwise seem impossible (not appearing on a CCTV camera or automatically escaping from a scene by either becoming invisible, transforming to mist or using supernatural speed) but doing so also results in the GM drawing a red fate chip.

Red Fate Chips

  • A GM may spend a red fate chip to issue a compel to a character, this compel may not be bought off with fate points as per a standard compel since it represents the vampires own innate nature overcoming their human side and reason.

* * *

I’m under no illusion that these rules are anywhere near perfect, in fact I’m pretty sure that they’re not, but it should hopefully allow us to jump into a game fairly quickly without worrying about a lot of rules and (I hope) will manage to capture that feeling that a character sacrifices a bit of themselves every time they give into their beast.

I’ll do a report for the blog on how it went after the weekend :)

(picture by Sam Briggs - used for non-profit purposes only, no challenge intended to copyright)

[Video-RPG] Video Response: Win by Failing

Video response to Blackjackrabbit1970's video 'Win by failing'

Sunday, 16 November 2014

[Video-RPG] Teaser video for our 6th Numenera session

I've alway been a fan of handouts in RPGs since I think that they give players a greater sense of involvement in a game, touching something or actually examining a torn document is far different to just describing it and help players become more invested in the game. This philosophy hasn't changed with me moving to playing more RPGs online, if anything it's come more to the forefront of my thoughts, since I can now share images/documents and such like on Google Drive, Dropbox, via Facebook, G+ and many other avenues, these can be linked to events or given to the players in advance to give them a taste of what's coming up in the session, allowing them a sneak preview or chance to look at them as their own schedule allows.

My two rules for making this sort of handout would be:

  1. Don't blind your players with information, everyone has limited time to devote to game stuff, try and keep handouts and the like short and to the point, no-one wants to have to wade through a 60,000 word dissertation before they can understand the game, ain't nobody got time for that.
  2. Don't make it vital that players have to have read or examined the handout, because inevitably someone want have done because of RL commitments or whatever, make the handout an optional extra, rather like a prologue in a book, it gives you a broader understanding of what is going on, but isn't required reading.

With that said, below is a video that I created for the upcoming 6th session of our Numenera game, at the end of the last session the players had fled from the headquarters of the Pangea agency with an Aeon Priest and the Director of Pangea in tow after an apocalyptic cult called No Hope stormed the base.

The pic above is a sketch from my session planning notes.
Inspired by this amazing pic I saw on DeviantArt:

Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the artist, if anyone out there in internet land knows, message me in the comments so I can credit him - amazing picture :)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

[Video-RPG] BrigadeCon 2014 Panel - Creating NPCs both Heroic and Foul

"Creating NPCs both foul and heroic", a BrigadeCon 2014 panel hosted by Mitchell Grubbs, Tim Kearney and myself. We answer viewers questions about creating NPCs in roleplaying games.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

[RPG] The Forgotten People

Below is a small piece I wrote and submitted to Onyx Path a long while ago, not the best thing i've ever written and I heard nothing back about it but thought i'd post it here incase anyone fancies using it, some elements of this were eventually recycled into my Numenera game.

The Forgotten People

“You don’t recognise me do you? That’s okay, you’re not supposed to remember me, no-one does; if you believe nothing else that I say, please believe in two things, that once we were close, very close and that I am not mad.

‘What does this all mean?’ I can see your thoughts written in your eyes and I’m sure that, had the drug I slipped into your tea not already taken effect, you would be saying much the same thing. Don’t be afraid, I mean you no harm, once I have said my piece then you will never see me again and no doubt that this entire business, if you remember it at all, will seem like nothing more than a bad dream.

What does this all mean and how did it start? It started with odd things, small things happening, my online grocery order not being delivered, my driving licence going missing, it all seemed like coincidence at the time and only now, looking back, can I see the road that lead to the world forgetting me.”

A huge mechanism turns behind the skin of our world, directing the destiny of the planet and the human race; vast and unfathomable history clanks forward like a great engine slowly and inexorably turning towards some unknown end. The program that operates the world is not perfect, either through design or some external influence (some say human free will whilst others whisper of renegade fallen programs within the Machine itself), occasional errors or glitches occur in the system; in the grand scheme of things these glitches are a minor occurrence that register as no more than a brief blip on the radar of the God Machine, worthy of only brief consideration and a speedy correction, however to the people and places affected they can be devastating.

It is not known precisely what causes glitches in the system, however, they traditionally have a strange effect on either a person or a place in the world; typically these rare errors are focussed on a single person or a relatively small place, a modest residence for example, although there have been incidents where areas as large as a tower block have been affected.

Glitches – Rules

Supernatural Merit – Glitch (o)
Occasionally people fall through cracks in the God Machine’s programming; normally caused by an incredibly traumatic or near-death experience, the code that defines a person’s place in the God Machine’s grand scheme “skips a track” becoming foreign and alien to the rest of the program. Those people afflicted in this way have nicknamed themselves the Forgotten People or Glitches as their old relationships, friends, lovers and enemies, all begin to fall away from them.

In order to have any glitch related abilities a character must first possess this merit; possession of this merit grants +2 to any subterfuge rolls to avoid detection by the angelic servants of the God Machine or mortals and any such attempts to track them down suffer a corresponding -2 penalty. Glitches also do not show up on photographs or any form of recorded media, however, this merit does place heavy restrictions on the social merits that a glitch may possess.

Forgotten people may not possess the following merits: Allies, Alternate Identity, Anonymity, Barfly, Contacts, Fame, Fast-Talking, Fixer, Hobbyist Clique, Inspiring, Mentor, Mystery Cult Initiation, Resources (above level 1), Pusher, Retainer, Small Unit Tactics, Staff, Status, Striking Looks, True Friend.

Forgotten people may possess any other merits, including supernatural merits, although they may not be transformed into any form of other supernatural; whatever strange processes re-write the code of their being makes them immune to such attempts, for example, a vampire attempting to embrace a Forgotten Person would result in a dead person and a confused kindred (at best).

Glitch Merits
Forgotten People, despite their many disadvantages do have some abilities at their disposal, having a face that is almost instantly forgotten by mortals and servants of the God Machine can prove useful in a number of situations although it hardly compensates for the heartache of looking at a loved one and knowing that they do not recognise you and that their memory has compensated by papering over the crack of your existence as though you never were.

In order to take any of the following merits a character must first have the Glitch merit.

Glitch merit – Forgettable (o)
Mortals have a great deal of trouble remembering specifics concerning the person; anyone who interacted with a character possessing this merit will be unable to remember all but the vaguest details (rough height, weight, gender, etc) of their appearance.

Glitch merit – Hidden in Plain Sight (o)
A Forgotten Person with this merit has been affected to such an extent that, if they stop talking or interacting with a scene, then they seem to fade from the awareness of those around them.
Possessing this merit allows a character to make a wits + subterfuge roll, as long as they do not interact with the scene in any way that draws attention, then anyone wishing to interact with them must gain an equal or greater number of successes on a wits + composure roll, failure means that they simply fail to notice the character. 

Glitch merit – Passcard (o)
With sufficient practice a Glitch can use their alien nature to bypass structures which are otherwise impassable for those still slaved to the God Machine’s program; by spending a willpower point the character can enter Twilight (following the normal rules as outline in the God Machine Chronicles) for the space of a single turn, at the end of the turn they immediately return to their normal state. Whilst not particularly useful in the long-term this ability can allow a character to pass through a wall or a solid barrier, any character who would remain encase or bisected by a solid object when the turn ends is shunted back to their start position and still loses the dot of willpower.

Glitch Merit – Forgotten People Contacts (o to ooooo)
Although they are unable to maintain normal relationships or groups of contacts due to their condition, on the rare occasions that Forgotten People meet they are generally sympathetic and attempt to maintain contact with each other. This merit functions as per the rules for the merit Contacts but represents contact details for other Forgotten People and can generally only be used to provide information of importance to the (small) Glitch community.

Supernaturals and Forgotten People
Supernaturals within the world of darkness (ie. Anyone with a supernatural template or possessing a supernatural merit) is unaffected by the any of the Glitch merits that involve perception or memory; please note that this does not include Angels or other servants of the God Machine since they are part of the program that has rejected the Forgotten People, although curiously Demons, having broken away from their programmed function, are able to perceive the Forgotten.

“I can see your eyelids fluttering, the dose is starting to wear off quicker than I thought; before I go Robert I’m going to put this photograph in your hand, you won’t know who it is and you’ll probably throw it away, but it’s our daughter, it’s Siann, she’s lost out there somewhere just like me, and I’m going to find her, whether you remember us or not.”

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

[RPG] Using Scrivener for RPG Prep

I've recently been using a piece of software called Scrivener whilst writing my NaNoWriMo novel over the course of this month (you can find the website for Scrivener here for both PC an Mac) and have been very much enjoying using the software, at it's most basic Scrivener allows you to break your novel, manuscript or whatever into a series of discrete chunks, these can then be annotated and assembled in any way you see fit and output in a variety of formats. Whilst writing my novel i've been very much enjoying the program's corkboard facility where you can click on a chapter and see all of the sections that make it up, from here you can make notes on them and drag and drop to re-arrange the order that they appear in; as so often when I use a new program on my computer one of my first thoughts was 'how can I use this for RPGs?'

The answer in this case, i'm happy to report, is 'very easily', since Scrivener is a content manager it could easily be used to divide up the notes for a RP session into sections and re-order them as necessary, Scrivener also allows you convert websites to pdfs and tuck them away in a research folder for reference as you write as well as adding other files, this might be handy for people who make use of pdf rulebooks or character sheets during a game. They could easily be put in an appropriate folder and referenced when needed since another great thing about the program is that when you save the file, your position in files also seems to be saved so that you can pick up where you left off later on, this is an absolute godsend when working through large or complex documents and you have to sign off or end your session halfway through.

Another aspect of the program that would be of potential use for the budding RPG planner/GM is that there are a number of template documents set up within the software, of course most of these are based around the needs of authors but many could also be applicable to RPG session planners; two that spring to mind are the location and character documents which give you a prepared blank document with headings to fill in. For example the place template has the following headings:
  • Role in story
  • Description
  • Plots involved in
  • Thematic Relevance
And the character template has the following headings:
  • Role in story
  • Physical description
  • Personality
  • Plots involved in
  • Relationship with other characters
These could easily be used to detail important locations and NPCs in a session and, since the templates themselves are saved as accessible documents within the project file they could easily be duplicated or changed to suit the particular needs of your campaign.

A project created in Scrivener can be set to automatically make a backup at regular intervals (I currently have my novel backed up to my Dropbox account so that if the worst happened and my computer blew up i'd still be able to get at it once i'd re-gained access to the internet) with the backups being essentially Zip files with all of your documents and materials stored in them. You can also compile a document into a variety of formats; i've only really experimented with the formats suitable for novels at the moment, but if you wanted to distribute your setting either during or after you've finished your game then you could easily compile it into a single PDF file from within the Scrivener software.

Over the next few days i'm going to be moving the notes for the Numenera game that i'm running online via Google+ Hangouts (you can find a link to the actual play videos here) onto a Scrivener file to see how useful it is during play and whether it will eclipse Tiddlywikis as my RPG information management tool of choice.

Scrivener costs $40 USD and is available for a 30 day free trial; as one of the sponsors of NaNoWriMo they are offering a special trial edition for participants (available here); all participants can get a 20% discount if they choose to buy the final product and, if they complete the November target of a 50000 word novel, can get a 50% discount off the final product.

Monday, 3 November 2014

[Video-RPG] Numenera session 4 - Falling Away

4th session of our Numenera game, what is the secret of the blood white worms and just who is the mysterious director of the Pangea agency?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

[NaNoWriMo] Starting NaNoWriMo

I've been aware of the National Novel Writing Month for a few years now and have always fancied giving it a go, but I've always either left it too late or been too busy when November rolled around; this year though a post on a friends facebook reminded me about it in the dying stages of October and, with my life not likely to get any less busy in the forseeable future I decided to give it a go this year. After all, what's the worse that could happen (as Dr Pepper commercials are so fond of reminding us)? For those not aware NaNoWriMo ( is when a lot of people get today online and encourage each other, over the course of the 30 days of November, to each write a 50,000 word novel. 

I've always fancied the idea of being a writer, the dream for me would be to be able to make a living doing it, that might never happen but having started NaNoWriMo I feel like I've taken a tiny step closer to realising that dream. As of this post (on the first day of the month) I've already written over 2300 words on my novel 'The End of You' and am on target for my 50000 by the end of the month; as the month continues I'll be posting updates to my blog, all the entries will be preface [NaNoWriMo] to seperate them from my RPG content. 

 Good luck to everyone else taking part :)

New link to Rogue Trader Fate Hack

It's recently been bought to my attention that the link to my Rogue Trader Fate Hack no longer works properly, you can find a new (working) link to it here:

Closing off my LARP blog

As some of my readers may be aware I did have a seperate blog concerning LARP (live-action roleplay) on my main G+ account, it originally started off as a series of in-character diary entries/event reports however due to a sizeable number of character deaths on my part and a general falling out of love with LARP I let it slide and haven't posted anything to it in a while. However, my recent involvement in NaNoWriMo has rekindled my interest in writing, at the same time that a move to a new faction and a new character has really boosted my interest in LARP.

Reading through a friends Wordpress blog this morning has made me think that I really should do some more blog posts about LARP, after all it's a hobby in which both myself and my wife invest an awful lot of time and effort (not just playing, costume making, etc); however, given that my free time is limited I don't want to split my efforts, so i'm going to start incorporating future LARP posts into this blog going forwards and will be closing off my old LARP blog.

Currently I am playing a Redcap in the Unicorns Faction of the Lorien Trust system, i've only been to one of the faction's events so far but am looking forward to getting involved more in the future :