Monday, August 31, 2009

Introducing Savage Dresden

So I talked about how much I'm in love with Savage Worlds. At the end of that post I promised that there'd be more on the topic. Well, I intend to do so much more that I didn't want to crowd out my rambles about other stuff here (beer, comics, etc.). To that end, I created a new blog called Savage Dresden to serve that content.

Seeing the title will clue in most of you to the blog's purpose: I'm creating a Savage Worlds game set in the world of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. Each post will be a specific part of the game, whether how I'm going to handle something from the books in-game, how I'm going to model Butcher's world with the game mechanics, or just in general, what I think the game will be about. Surf over there for details and to see what I have in mind, and please leave comments and weigh in on the poll!

For my second order of business, tell me what you guys like to hear me talk about here in THIS blog. I'm really trying to post more frequently, so knowing what you like to see me write about would be a big help. Should I be reading more comics and talking about them? Watching more TV? Writing more about beer? Or do you want sappy stories about my kids? If there's something you think I'm good at talking about...let me know!

Now reading: Renegades of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Savage Worlds RPG is my new favorite thing

I had a whirlwind affair this summer. No, not with another woman, but it was with my mistress - gaming. I delved into a new RPG. After hearing so many good things about Savage Worlds, I finally looked into it. I turned to my buddy, Cthulhu's Librarian, to borrow a copy of the Explorer's Edition rules. And I have to say, I may never go back to a d20-based system again.

That's not a big deal really. I like D&D (3.5 edition) just fine. It does what it does very well and it's the game that us old farts grew up with. But for my tastes, it's overly complicated and combat is agonizingly slow and barely leaves time for any roleplaying - either during or outside of combat.

Savage Worlds is built on the philosophy of Fast! Furious! and Fun! roleplaying (that's their tagline). And the Explorer's Edition of the rule book, at only $10, is the best bargain on the market. Especially given the quality of the contents. Heck, after my two experiments, I bought TWO copies of the book just because it was affordable!

So I borrowed the book, dug into the wealth of free gaming material on the publisher's website, and ran two games: one with my sons, now 8 and 10; and one with my regular gaming group. And this system gave me exactly what I needed for both games. Naturally, I want to share a little about the game with my sons.

First I asked them what style of game they'd like to play: What kind of characters did they want, and what kind of adventures did they want to have? They both wanted similar things. A character who had some kind of super powers, perhaps like Ben 10, and who was also a Pokemon trainer. And they wanted to fight Sleestak (we had just worked our way through the entire Land of the Lost series).

So that's what we did. Their characters were the newest two trainees in the Pokemon circuit. They each had one Pokemon and powers to mimic one of Ben 10's alien forms. They were on a camping trip with their instructors and one night, during a severe storm, their instructors and the other trainees were abducted.

During the day before that night, I had them make Survival skill checks to see how well they had put up their tents and built their campfires. The younger one enjoyed the outcome tremendously because his older brother, who in real life is well versed in those tasks (he graduated from Cub Scouts last year), fumbled his roll. His character ended up taking shelter with the younger brother's character because as soon as the storm hit, my oldest's character's tent collapsed and filled with smoke from his fire.

Next morning they tracked the missing people to a cave in the nearby hills. The cave led to a large cavern deep in the mountain which was occupied by a tribe of Sleestak. Their missing companions were being held in wooden cage, except for one of the other trainees, who was lashed to a spit and about to be cooked over a fire.

The boys summoned their Pokemon, activated their powers and jumped in! Combat progressed and I quickly started to see the beauty of Savage Worlds come to life. The battle raged back and forth and for a while the outcome was unsure. My oldest had given his character the "Overconfident" hindrance, and he played it to the hilt. His character decided that he wanted the magic wand that the Sleestak shaman was using to blast them with, and nothing was going to stop him from getting it.

The only reason his character survived was because my youngest had his character go back and rescue the other one after his self-assuredness got him captured and beaten to a pulp. Through the whole encounter, the boys worked together to rescue the prisoners, keep the Sleestak at bay, and have a lot of fun while doing it.

For me, I used the game session to try lots of skill checks, different kinds of combat maneuvers, and other aspects of the rules and mechanics. It was the perfect practice session to prepare for running a different adventure for my adult players. In retrospect, I probably could've run the same Sleestak adventure for them...they would've loved it too.

Instead, one of my ex-Marine buddies got to play a militant nun, the other nearly got himself turned into a werewolf, and my wife got to be the hero of the night by Acing her damage rolls on nearly every attack. And instead of Sleestak, they got to fight a reanimated t-rex skeleton in the British museum. Fun times.

I love Savage Worlds. It's my new favorite game ever. Savage Worlds is like the Nirvana of gaming.

No that's not good enough; this game system is better than eternal peace. Savage Worlds is the Led Zeppelin of roleplaying games! I'll talk more about my plans for this game soon.

Currently reading: Getting caught up on The Walking Dead and Invincible. Holy crap, Robert Kirkman is not afraid of anything.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Notes: Jeff Long's The Descent

I found this book because I loved the movie - it was a great horror movie, even if the monsters were removed. The movie is just a derivative story representative of similar vignettes contained within the novel.

The novel is SO much more than a monster movie. It's an adventure. The story takes you through a new world miles below ground. While there most certainly are monsters, most of them are human. The savage, barbaric race central to the book's story comes to life under Long's "pen." In fact, everything about the story is vibrant and realistc.

While even the author has a hard time pigeon-holing this one into a specific genre, which makes it hard to find in the bookstore, it only serves to illustrate how wide-ranging this adventure roams, and it's all groovy. I LOVED this book and immediately moved on to the sequel.