Spes Magna Games Goes Pathfinder


Product Discussion

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Well, I wasn't quite sure what direction we wanted to go, but I've decided that Spes Magna Games will produce Pathfinder-compatible products. We don't have anything for sale...yet. Instead, our first product, Rewarding Roleplaying, is provided as a bonus to everyone who subscribes to our Quid Novi? newsletter.

"But what about Spes Magna Games?" you ask. Well...

Do you enjoy sinking your teeth into crunch?

Spes Magna Games offers crunchy goodness to enhance your game with streamlined mechanics that speed up gameplay. Our Ludi Fortes line features plug-and-play products that can be dropped into nearly any game to help create richer, more enjoyable roleplaying sessions.

But what if you’re tired of crunch and want some fluff?

Our Novus Mundus line presents a campaign that melds alternate world history with tried-and-true fantasy tropes. Two types of Novus Mundus products explore a new world of adventure set against the backdrop of the 18th century. Setting Books are largely system neutral and suitable for many fantasy games, and Adventure Books are for use with Pathfinder games.


Subscribe to Quid Novi? and every two weeks this newsletter will arrive via e-mail, hot off the presses and into your in-box. Regular features include each of the following once a month:

* Making History: An article about an historical event that can be used in your game.
* Chance Encounters: A monster or NPC ready to challenge your players.
* Five-Part One-Shot: A short adventure outline using the world-wide-web-famous 5-Room Dungeon format.

Every issue of Quid Novi? also features Recommended Reading suggestions on topics related to both gaming and history. Subscribers have the opportunity to help playtest products, enjoying all the fame and glory that comes with such a noble task. This means that you can get your hands on Spes Magna Games content before it’s released to the public, starting with Rewarding Roleplaying (see the next post for more info).

The next issue hits subscriber in-boxes on 10 January 2010.


Are you a DM who wants a little more oomph from your players? Do they need some incentive to play their roles with more feeling? Even if your players are bona fide thespians, there’s likely still room for improvement. But how?

Many DMs award extra XP for “good role-playing” during gaming sessions. This can be a fine thing to do, but in my experience these rewards tend to be inconsistently awarded and most often follow the Squeaky Wheel Maxim*. In worst case scenarios, “good roleplaying” XP awards may hurt feelings. What seemed like a good idea may turn out not being very fun, and what’s the point of playing a game if you’re not having fun?

If I’ve learned nothing after more than a decade as a classroom teacher, I’ve learned that praise and rewards best motivate desired behavior. For rewards to be most effective, they need to be tangible and linked to specific criteria. The latter is key. Tangible criteria put the burden of success on the one seeking the reward.

Rewarding Roleplaying uses three criteria to encourage and reward better roleplaying. Best of all, the responsibility for establishing these criteria belongs to the players. They set their own roleplaying goals. When they meet their goals, you the DM hand out the reward in the form of an Action Point, which is then used by the player to achieve greater levels of success in the game.

Rewarding Roleplaying isn’t just geared toward DMs. It’s main focus is you, the one running a player character. You’ve created a character for the game. Your character has stats and abilities and all sorts of bonuses, skills, and feats. Clever use of these statistics during gameplay is key to your character’s success and acquisition of XP, wealth, and magic items.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were criteria by which your character could receive specific rewards that aided your character’s in-game success doing those heroic, exciting things that adventurers so often do? As noted above, Rewarding Roleplaying uses three criteria to encourage and reward better roleplaying. Best of all, the responsibility for establishing these criteria belongs to the players. You set your own roleplaying goals. When you meet your goals, the DM hands out the reward in the form of an Action Point, which you use to achieve greater levels of success in the game.

Rewarding Roleplaying is a 10-page, 8-1/2 by 11 PDF product for use with any 3.5 OGL game. Rewarding Roleplaying is currently available for free to all Quid Novi? subscribers.

*The Squeaky Wheel Maxim states that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. In RPGs, this can be seen when the loudest, most insistent player gets the lion’s share of the DM’s attention.


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I just subscribed. Besides contributing content to d20pfsrd.com, Mark has some really good stuff in his newsletters. Its free, and its open content. How can you go wrong folks? Give it a look-see and see what you think.


More Spes Magna News:

It's looking like everything is on-track for the release of our first for-sale product, a one-shot adventure entitled The Mad Monk's Revenge. It's too early to say for sure what the cost will be, but Quid Novi? subscribers will be able to purchase TMMR with at least a 25% discount.

I'm also trying to coordinate with Mission of Yahweh, a Houston-area shelter that specializes in helping homeless women and children. In these less-than-robust economic times, Mission of Yahweh is seeing an increase in people seeking their help without a corresponding increase in resources. We here at Spes Magna Games want to help out by donating at least 50% of TMMR sales toward renovating one of the mission's buildings that is currently not up to code and consequently unusable as a dormitory.

Issue III of Quid Novi? is taking shape. We're also working on the most recent round of Fencing & Firearms edits. F&F is scheduled for release to Quid Novi? subscribers this coming Sunday. There's a lot to get done before Friday since I'm going to be out of the loop at a men's retreat Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. This ought not be a problem for Quid Novi? subscribers, however. As long as everything's typed and in the queue, the automailer will handle delivery while I'm enjoying some much needed peace and quiet.

Finally, it's time for another reminder that Quid Novi? accepts subscriber submissions for any of the newsletter's regular features. We can't pay you for your submissions, but we're more than happy to give credit where credit is due.


Of course, after reading all that, you might be wondering who I am. Well, my name is Mark L. Chance. I’ve been involved in roleplaying games since circa 1978. Aside from being an avid gamer, I enjoyed a productive stint a freelance writer for Fantasy Flight Games and have done some projects for Cracked Mirror Publishing as well.

When not focusing on Spes Magna Games projects, I play with my children and wife, hang out at EN World, watch movies, and read, especially history. I game about every other weekend as a charter member of Man Day Adventures. I’m also a member of the Texas State Historical Association.

But enough about me. Let's read about why I've jumped into the PDF publisher business.

Ludo; ergo sum. I play; therefore, I am. That might seem a bit silly, but isn’t gaming a great way to make friends with whom to share good times and grand adventures? I know it has been for me.

More than 30 years ago in a desk at Landrum Middle School, I discovered the Dungeons & Dragons basic rulebook and a graph paper map of a hand-drawn dungeon done with a blue-ink ball-point pen. I shared this treasure with Fred Hawkins, my dearest friend and longest gaming partner. That “finders keepers” moment turned into decades of gaming ranging across dozens of different systems. Throughout D&D remained the cornerstone of my gaming and social life. Except for my wife, all of my best friends have been gamers. Together, we laugh and share a vision of heroism and an escape from grind of the workaday world. Today, as a husband and father, I groom the next generation of gamer. Stalwart adventurers will oppose the remorseless forces of evil long after I no longer have the wherewithal to roll a d20.

Good triumphs. That is the heart and soul of my gaming and the raison d’être for Spes Magna Games. Grab those dice! Gird your loins! Tonight, evil loses!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For anyone who cares, Mark is also an active contributor to d20pfsrd.com. You can see his stuff here.

There's some neat stuff and I recommend signing up for his newsletter. Its interesting reading and quality material.


Just a quick update today!

Issue 3 of Quid Novi? is in the final editing stage. It will go out as scheduled in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, January 10. Issue 3 includes:

* Making History: Lost in the Wilderness - Read all about Rene Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle. Marvel at his semi-competence that ultimately leads to his murder at the hands of his own men in East Texas. Enterprising DMs can take the broad strokes of La Salle's misadventures to create their own games of exploration, intrigue, and dysentery.

* Recommended Reading: Shameless Self-Promotion - It's all about me as a I briefly highlight three places on the Internet where you can find literally hundreds of creatures and NPCs lovingly crafted for three systems: 3.5, Mutants & Masterminds, and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

* Fencing & Firearms Debut - Quid Novi? subscribers will receive a link from which they can download a zipped copy of Fencing & Firearms.

In other news, I've spoken with Ron Sterlekar, Director of Development for Mission of Yahweh. It's official! Mission of Yawheh will receive 50% of sales from The Mad Monk's Revenge, a convention-style module highlighting the Spes Magna way of gaming that goes on sale in March 2010.


Well, the roll out for Fencing & Firearms seems to have gone off without a hitch. My Internet ninjas report that about two-thirds of Quid Novi? subscribers have downloaded F&F. I've already received some great feedback, either by e-mail or on our website.

Work on The Mad Monk's Revenge continues. This convention-style module is Pathfinder-compatible and uses F&F. It's public debut will be at Con-Jour and at OwlCon, and it's still scheduled to go on sale in March. Also, don't forget: 50% of all TMMR sales will help benefit Mission of Yahweh, a Houston-area shelter that helps homeless women and children.

If you missed the debut of F&F, it's not too late. All Quid Novi? subscribers receive both Rewarding Roleplaying and Fencing & Firearms. Speaking of Quid Novi?, issue 4 arrives in subscriber in-boxes early Sunday, 24 January 2010. Issue 4 will include another monster inspired by North American lore, a 5-Room One-Shot, and more Recommended Reading.

Finally, work has also started on Magic, Mind & Muscle, the handbook for players related to our upcoming Novus Mundus campaign world. Novus Mundus blends myth, history, and fantasy RPG within the context of the 17th and 18th centuries. The Pathfinder-compatible MM&M retools character creation, races, and classes to fit Novus Mundus at the same time it presents new interpretations of psionic classes, skills, and feats.


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I did a quick skim through the Fencing and Firearms rules and boy there's some interesting stuff in there. I particularly liked the "players roll everything" concept.

For anyone who hasn't checked it out, for whatever its worth, I recommend it. If you'd like to see a sample of the Spes Magna work, see the lovely critter's he's added to d20pfsrd.com:

Afanc (CR 11)
Barracuda, Dire (CR 5)
Carnivorous Flying Squirrel (CR 1/4)
Hound of Hell (CR 3)
Jadeling (CR 6)
Madadh (CR 3)
Paper Tiger (CR 1/2)
Phororhacos (CR 6)
Wendigo* (CR 6)

Great stuff and he keeps adding more.


jreyst wrote:
I did a quick skim through the Fencing and Firearms rules and boy there's some interesting stuff in there. I particularly liked the "players roll everything" concept.

[Elvis]Thank you. Thank you very much.[/Elvis]

:)


Over the next few days, I'm going to highlight some features of Fencing & Firearms, which takes aim at 3.5E combat’s clunkier aspects. First up, a brief look at two of the most significant changes.

The Big Change #1: No Attacks of Opportunity
Probably no feature of v 3.5 combat causes more confusion, delays, and metagaming than attacks of opportunity. Players and DMs alike forget what provokes and doesn’t provoke them. Attempting to avoid them leads to additional dice rolls from tumblers and spellcasters. The latter characters effectively get one fewer skill points per level since high ranks in Concentration are widely seen as necessary for survival. Battle-scarred fighters count squares to avoid reach rather than charging once more into the breach, and everyone’s movement on the battlemat looks too much like checkers trying not to get jumped.

F&F gets rid of attacks of opportunity. Nothing provokes them because they just don’t exist.

The Big Change #2: The Players Roll Their Own Fate
In many combats, players often have little control over the outcome of events when it isn’t their turn. This can lead to boredom if a player’s attention drifts between his turns, threatening to distance him from the outcome of events. Big Change #2 takes a lot of the work out of the DM’s hands by having the players make the monsters’ attack rolls, saving throws, or caster level checks to overcome spell resistance. That frees up the DM’s attention for more important things, such as NPC tactics, special spell effects, terrain, and the like.

Conversely, it requires the players to become much more active and aware of what’s going on. No longer can players snooze through all the turns but their own: They’ll be rolling more dice than ever before – which (among other benefits) gives them the feeling of having greater control over their successes and failures.


One widely perceived problem with 3.5E combat is the drag on play created by PCs with iterative attacks. This comes beyond just the extra die rolls to determine attack success. Iterative attacks also had variable attack bonuses. I’ve seen more than one player with a mid- to high-level character have to break out a matrix to figure out his PC’s various attack bonuses. Fencing & Firearms uses OGC from Trailblazer by Bad Axe Games to help solve this problem. Here’s how it works:

If you get more than one attack per round because your base attack bonus is high enough, because you fight with two weapons or a double weapon or for some special reason you must use a full-round action to get your additional attacks.

Base Attack Bonus
If your base attack bonus is +6 or higher, you can make two attacks per round with a full attack:

* When your BAB equals +6, you get a second attack, but both attacks suffer a -2 penalty instead of +0/-5).
* When your BAB equals +11, the penalty drops to -1/-1 (instead of 0/-5/-10).
* When your BAB equals +16, the penalty drops to -0/-0 (instead of 0/-5/-10/-20).

Another perceived weakness is that saving throw DCs don’t scale well, especially at mid- to high-level play. In other words, it gets increasingly easier to make saving throws against higher-level spells. F&F gives spellcasters something like a full-attack option when casting. Let’s take a look:

Cast a Spell
If your caster level is 6th or higher, you can use a full-round action to cast any spell that has a normal casting time of one standard action. Doing so increases either the spell’s save DC or to your caster level check to overcome spell resistance (your choice when casting the spell).

* If you caster level is 6th or higher, you gain either a +1 bonus to the save DC or your caster level to overcome spell resistance.
* If you caster level is 11th or higher, you gain either a +2 bonus to the save DC or your caster level to overcome spell resistance.
* If you caster level is 16th or higher, you gain either a +3 bonus to the save DC or your caster level to overcome spell resistance.


Went to your site and couldn't figure out how to subscribe. There is something in the menubar that says "Subscribe to Quid Novi?" but it's not a link. A little helps?


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Dennis da Ogre wrote:
Went to your site and couldn't figure out how to subscribe. There is something in the menubar that says "Subscribe to Quid Novi?" but it's not a link. A little helps?

Running Firefox plus Adblock? I am and the subscribe box was missing for me too. I loaded the page in IE and the subscribe box showed up. I checked it out because I was concerned if adblock flagged it the subscription service Mark is using might have been... questionable, but its not, its legit.


jreyst wrote:
Dennis da Ogre wrote:
Went to your site and couldn't figure out how to subscribe. There is something in the menubar that says "Subscribe to Quid Novi?" but it's not a link. A little helps?
Running Firefox plus Adblock? I am and the subscribe box was missing for me too. I loaded the page in IE and the subscribe box showed up. I checked it out because I was concerned if adblock flagged it the subscription service Mark is using might have been... questionable, but its not, its legit.

There is a subscription form on the site. If you can't see it, and you're running AdBlock like jreyst pondered, that's why. It's a glitch in the system I've not figured out how to fix (assuming I can).

If that doesn't work and you still want to subscribe, I can handle it manually from my end if I have your e-mail address. You can reach me at mark at spesmagna dot com.


I just turned adblock off for your site. kinda strange. Looking through F&F.


Dennis da Ogre wrote:
I just turned adblock off for your site. kinda strange. Looking through F&F.

Excellent! Hope you like what you see. We're always open to feedback, especially the kind that points out editing gaffs and that helps make our products better.


The next issue of Quid Novi? will be delivered by Internet postal carriers in the wee hours of the morning (EST) this coming Sunday, 24 January 2010. It will include a brand new monster presented with both Pathfinder and Pathfinder-compatible Fencing & Firearms stats. There will be another Five-Room One-Shot. As always, we've got some recommended reading to finish things off.

New subscribers also get subscriber perks: free PDF copies of Spes Magna's flagship products, Rewarding Roleplaying and Fencing & Firearms. About the former, Martin Ralya of Gnome Stew had this to say: "Available for free by signing up for Spes Magna’s mailing list, I’ve read this PDF and found it quite enjoyable. It reminds me of Burning Wheel’s Artha system, which is a very good thing." Back issues of Quid Novi? are also archived for subscribers' convenience.

Sign up today!

P.S. If you're running Firefox plus Adblock, you'll not be able to see our Quid Novi? subscription form. I've not figured out how/if this can be fixed. You can load the site in Internet Explorer and see things just fine, or you can send us an email at mark at spesmagna dot com and we can sign you up the old-fashioned way.


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Adblock users can simply disable adblock for your site (one click in adblock preferences) or can whitelist your site by adding the following to their filter list

@@||spesmagna.com^$document

That works for me.


Fencing & Firearms aims to give characters more options in combat without imposing a skill tax or feat tax. F&F effectively makes certain feats available to everyone. Here’s one section from the rules that explains what this post is talking about:

Expanding BAB
Every character has a Base Attack Bonus, or BAB. F&F expands the uses for BAB two ways. First, BAB is added to your Armor Class as a dodge bonus. BAB reflects a character's general skill in combat This includes not only the ability to land a blow, but also the ability parry and dodge attacks. Furthermore, a character's BAB affords a certain amount of flexibility in combat from round-to-round as well.

Each round on his turn, a character can "shift" his up to his BAB to provide a bonus to a specific facet of combat. The same value is applied as a penalty to another facet. This bonus/penalty combinations lasts until the beginning of the character's next turn. A character can apply up to his BAB as a bonus to attack rolls, to damage rolls (for attacks that require an attack roll), or to AC (as a dodge bonus). He must apply the same value as a penalty to one of the two other facets.

For example, Horace Berkeley has a +1 BAB. He's facing three goblins in melee combat. Being outnumbered, he decides to fight cautiously. Horace adds +1 to his AC and applies a -1 penalty to his attack rolls. These modifiers remain in play until the beginning of his next, at which time Horace can keep them or change them as desired. A few rounds later, Horace has defeated two of the goblins. He goes on the offensive, applying a +1 bonus to his attack rolls and a -1 penalty to his AC.

This variable use of BAB in combat replaces the Combat Expertise and Power Attack as feats. These two feats are simply removed from play. Feats for which they are prerequisites are treated as if they have one fewer prerequisites. Thus, a character qualifies for Improved Bull Rush as long as he has at least a 13 Strength.

Universal Feats
Universal feats are feats that all characters gain. These feats give characters a greater range of options in combat. Two universal feats have a prerequisite. Characters gain these universal feats automatically once the prerequisite is met.

Aid Attack [Universal]
You may assist another character’s attack on his turn.
Benefit: If you’re in position to make a melee attack on an opponent that is engaging a friend in melee combat, you can aid your friend as an immediate action. Before your friend makes his attack, announce your intention to use Aid Attack. Your friend gains a +2 bonus on his attack roll. Multiple characters can aid the same friend, and the bonuses stack.

Aid Defense [Universal]
You may assist another character’s defense.
Benefit: If you’re in position to make a melee attack on an opponent that is engaging a friend in melee combat, you can aid your friend as an immediate action. On the opponent’s turn, before he makes his melee attack roll against your friend, announce your intention to use Aid Defense. Your friend gains a +2 bonus to his AC against that attack. Multiple characters can aid the same friend, and the bonuses stack.

Cleaving Strike [Universal]
You lash out again after dropping a foe.
Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: If you deal a creature enough damage to make it drop (typically by dropping it to below 0 hit points or killing it), you get an immediate, extra melee attack against another creature within reach. You cannot take a 5-foot step before making this extra attack. The extra attack is with the same weapon and at the same bonus as the attack that dropped the previous creature. You can use this ability once per round. This universal feat replaces Cleave. It counts as Cleave for purposes of meeting prerequisites of other feats.

Fight with Anything [Universal]
You are skilled in wielding any weapon.
Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: Reduce the attack roll penalty you face for nonproficiency by your base attack bonus. This applies to all weapons, including exotic weapons and improvised weapons. This feat never confers a bonus to attack roll penalty. For example, if your BAB is +5, you do not suffer an attack roll penalty with any weapon due to nonproficiency, but you do not also get a +1 attack roll bonus.
Special: Once you have a +4 BAB, you are considered proficient with all weapons for the purposes of acquiring other feats. Improvised weapons (melee) and improvised weapons (ranged) count as separate weapons for this purpose.

Shadow Lodge

Love the new issue of Quid Novi. I dig the 5 room encounter :)


Glad to hear that, Ogre.

The next issue heads out the first Sunday in February. I'm pushing to have a short, subscriber-only PDF product ready for download that same day.


Work continues on Spes Magna's first for-sale product, a one-shot convention-style adventure featuring the heroic Anklebiter League. I'll be running the first public playtests this weekend at Con-Jour in Clear Lake, Texas. I'm corresponding with a fantastic artist to do the cover (and maybe some of the interior).

Part of the adventure will feature a chase scene. I hunted around the Internet for d20-style chase rules and cobbled these together from what I found:

Chase Rules
A chase scene is a type of combat. All combatants are in motion, whether they be running, riding, flying, et cetera. A chase takes place round to round in initiative order, but the special conditions of the chase require a few special rules.

Actions During the Chase
Here's where the normal rules must give way to fun. During the chase, everyone is moving all-out all the time, which would normally mean you don't get to do anything else that round. How dull. Actions during a chase work differently. In addition to moving all-out, you get to perform a single standard or move action each round.

Terrain Checks
At the beginning of your turn, you must make a Terrain Check. This is a straight 1d20 roll against the chase terrain's DC. There are three categories of terrain: open (DC 3), close (DC 6), and tight (DC 9). If you fail your Terrain Check, you must draw a card from the Chase Deck*. This will probably dictate what you must do for your action during the round.

Close terrains impose a -2 penalty on Notice checks but a +2 bonus on anything to do with tricky maneuvering or hiding. Tight terrains impose a -4 penalty on Notice checks but provide a +4 bonus on anything to do with tricky maneuvering or hiding.

Actions
The basic action in a chase is to Chase. This is a Strength check against a Difficulty of 15. If you succeed, you gain on your opponent by one chase increment. You receive a +2 on this check if you have the Run feat. If your faster than your opponent, you get another +2 bonus. If you opponent has the Run feat, you receive a -2 penalty on the check. If he's faster, you get a -2 penalty as well. In place of a Strength check, you can attempt a stunt using any of your skills that you can convince the DM is reasonable.

You can forgo your Chase action in order to take a standard or move action of another sort, to include attacking your opponent. These other actions automatically cause you to lose one chase increment (unless, of course, you manage to stop your opponent).

Chase Increments
It doesn't make sense to try to count squares, draw on battlemats, et cetera, during a chase. Instead, each chaser has a distance from the pursued expressed as one of five chase increments: Point-Blank, Short, Medium, Long, and Extreme.

The DM determine the range for each pursuer when the chase begins. Characters at Point-Blank can use melee attacks against each other. Characters at Medium range suffer a -2 penalty on ranged attacks, and characters at Long range suffer a -4 penalty. For purposes of spells, if the chase increment exceeds the spell's range category, then the opponent is too far away to target. Characters at Extreme range cannot target their opponent.

* The Chase Deck is a small deck of 20 or so cards, each one with a specific, exciting chase-related event to thrill and challenge the players.


Upthread, I mentioned that Fencing & Firearms has players roll their own fate. When I introduced this to my face-to-face group, a couple of the players were mildly confused, but even my most hidebound player adapted quickly enough. Here's a look at how this change to combat works:

Attacking And Defending
PCs make their attacks just like they do in the standard rules. Their opponents, however, do not. Each time an enemy attacks a PC, the character’s player rolls a defense check. If that defense check equals or exceeds the attack score of the enemy, the attack misses.

To determine a creature’s attack score, add 11 to the creature’s standard attack modifier (the number it would use, as either a bonus or penalty to its attack roll, if it were attacking using the standard rules). For instance, an ogre has a standard attack modifier of +8 with its greatclub. That means that it’s attack score is 19.

To make a defense check, roll 1d20 and add any modifiers that normally apply to your Armor Class (armor, size, deflection, and the like). This is effectively the same as rolling d20, adding your total AC, and then subtracting 10.

* Attack Score: 11 + enemy’s attack bonus
* Defense Check: 1d20 + character’s AC modifiers

If a player rolls a natural 1 on a defense check, his character’s opponent has scored a threat (just as if it had rolled a natural 20 on its attack roll). Make another defense check; if it again fails to avoid the attack, the opponent has scored a critical hit.

A foe may have a threat range greater than one. For example, the foe could wield a longsword (normal threat range 19-20). In a case such as this, the foe scores a threat if the defense check falls within the same range as the normal threat range. To continue the example, a longsword has a two digit threat range. Thus, a natural 1 or 2 on a defense check scores a threat with a longsword.

For example, Jeremiah Dawes and his comrades are facing down an ogre. It hurls a javelin at Jeremiah. The ogre's attack score with its javelin is 12 (11 + 1 attack bonus). Jeremiah has a 12 DEX and is protected by a shield spell, giving him a +5 defense check bonus. Jeremiah's player rolls 1d20+5 and gets a 13 total. The ogre misses!

When a PC attacks an opponent, he makes an attack roll against the opponent’s AC as normal.

The procedure is only slightly different using using combat maneuvers such as bull rush or grapple. Every PC has a combat maneuver bonus (CMB) and a combat maneuver armor class (CMAC).

Saving Throws And Save Scores
NPCs and other opponents no longer make saving throws to avoid special attacks of player characters. Instead, each creature has a Fortitude, Reflex, and Will score. These scores are equal to 11 + the creature’s Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save modifiers.

Any time you cast a spell or use a special attack that forces an opponent to make a saving throw, instead make a magic check to determine your success. To make a magic check, roll 1d20 and add all the normal modifiers to any DC required by the spell or special attack (including the appropriate ability modifier, the spell’s level if casting a spell, the adjustment for Spell Focus, and so on).

If the result of the magic check equals or exceeds the appropriate save score (Fortitude, Reflex or Will, depending on the special ability), the creature is affected by the spell or special attack as if it had failed its save. If the result is lower than the creature’s Fortitude, Reflex or Will score (as appropriate to the spell or special attack used), the creature is affected as if it had succeeded on its save.

* Magic Check: 1d20 + spell level + ability modifier + other modifiers vs. save score
* Fortitude Score: 11 + enemy’s Fortitude save modifier
* Reflex Score: 11 + enemy’s Reflex save modifier
* Will Score: 11 + enemy’s Will save modifier

For example, Jeremiah counters with cause fear. He has a 16 CHA and this is a 1st-level spell, giving Jeremiah a +4 on his magic check. The ogre's Will score is 12 (11 + 1 Will save modifier). Jeremiah's player rolls 1d20+4 and gets a 10 total. Jeremiah fails his magic check, and the ogre is only shaken for one round.

If a player rolls a natural 20 on a magic check, the creature’s equipment may take damage (just as if it had rolled a natural 1 on its save).

Spell Resistance
If a PC has spell resistance, his player makes a spell resistance check against each incoming spell that allows spell resistance. A spell resistance check is 1d20 plus the PC’s spell resistance, minus 10.

The DC of this check is equal to 11 + the attacker’s caster level, plus any modifiers that normally apply to the attacker’s caster level check to overcome spell resistance (such as from the Spell Penetration feat). That value is known as the attacker’s caster level score. If the spell resistance check equals or exceeds this number, the spell fails to penetrate the PC’s spell resistance.

To beat a creature’s spell resistance, a player makes a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) against its spell resistance, just as in the standard rules.

* Spell Resistance Check: 1d20 + SR - 10
* Caster Level Score: 11 + attacker’s caster level + modifiers

For example, Jeremiah has been affected by spell resistance from a 9th-level caster, granting SR 21. A 5th-level sorcerer casts magic missile at him. Jeremiah's player rolls 1d20+11 against DC 16 and gets a 23 total. The sorcerer's attack is stopped by Jeremiah's SR.

Neat, huh? :)

Next post, I'll show you how easy it is to convert a monster to F&F style.


Here's the stat block for a standard 3.5 orc:

Orc, 1st–level warrior: CR 1/2; LA +0; Medium humanoid; HD 1d8+1; hp 5; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+3 armor), touch 10, flat-footed 13; Base Atk +1; Grp +4; Atk Falchion +4 melee (2d4+4/18–20) or javelin +1 ranged (1d6+3); Full Atk (same); Space/Reach 5 ft./5 ft.; SA —; SQ darkvision 60 ft., light sensitivity; AL CE; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will –2; Str 17, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 7, Cha 6.
Languages: The language an orc speaks varies slightly from tribe to tribe, but any orc is understandable by someone else who speaks Orc. Some orcs know Goblin or Giant as well.
Skills and Feats: Listen +1, Spot +1; Alertness.
Possessions: Falchion, studded leather, javelin.

When converting our orc to Fencing & Firearms, these are the areas that need to be addressed:

* AC: Armor works differently in F&F. It has a lower armor bonus, but converts lethal to nonlethal damage. Also, BAB adds to AC.

* Grp: F&F uses a combat maneuver system. The orc gets two new stats as a result.

* Atk: The attack bonus is changed to a DC.

* Fort, Ref, Will: These are changed to DCs.

Here's the adjusted orc (the changes are in bold):

Orc, 1st–level warrior: CR 1/2; LA +0; Medium humanoid; HD 1d8+1; hp 5; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+1 BAB, +2 armor), touch 11, flat-footed 12; L2N 3 points; Base Atk +1; CMS 15, CMAC 14; Atk Falchion 15 melee (2d4+4/18–20) or javelin 11 ranged (1d6+3); Full Atk (same); Space/Reach 5 ft./5 ft.; SA —; SQ darkvision 60 ft., light sensitivity; AL CE; SV Fort 14, Ref 11, Will 9; Str 17, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 7, Cha 6.
Languages: The language an orc speaks varies slightly from tribe to tribe, but any orc is understandable by someone else who speaks Orc. Some orcs know Goblin or Giant as well.
Skills and Feats: Listen +1, Spot +1; Alertness.
Possessions: Falchion, studded leather, javelin.

Let's examine these changes:

* AC: The orc's BAB is added. This counts as a dodge bonus. In F&F, studded leather provides a +2 armor bonus.

* L2N: Studded leather also converts 3 points of lethal damage to nonlethal damage. This might seem like extra bookkeeping for the DM, but it isn't. When running F&F fights, I don't track nonlethal damage for most foes. Instead, I adjudicate on-the-fly whether the foe is dead, dying, or just unconscious once its hit points are gone.

* CMS: This is the orc's combat maneuver score. If the orc attempts a combat maneuver against a PC (such as a bull rush), the orc's CMS is the DC the player must equal or beat using his PC's combat maneuver defense bonus to resist the maneuver.

* CMAC: This is the orc's combat maneuver AC. It is the DC a player must equal or beat to affect the orc with a combat maneuver used by the player's PC.

* Atk: Each attack has an attack score. When the orc attacks a PC, the player makes a defense check. If he equals or exceeds the orc's attack score, the attack fails.

* SV: Each saving throw is a DC. When using a spell that permits a saving throw against the orc, the player must make a magic check against the appropriate saving throw score. If the player equals or exceeds the score, the spell takes affect.

So, you ask, how long did it take to convert the standard orc to an F&F orc? Well, it took me about two minutes including the time to add the bold-face and underline formatting codes. For my face-to-face group, I converted all of the monsters on the first level of The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho in about 15 minutes, including the time it took to type up a quick reference table that summarized the changes on one easy-to-use page.

Any questions?


Well, what an irritating month it's been!

First, my plans to playtest Spes Magna's upcoming adventure release at Con-Jour 2010 sort of fizzled away into nothing. I have higher hopes for OwlCon in a couple of weeks.

Second, my entire writing train got derailed by a staph infection inside my left nostril. What initially was just an irritating sort of itch-pain combination turned into stabbing pain, facial swelling, antibiotics, the challenge of applying ointment with a Q-tip, and regularly having to swab out pea-sized globs of icky discharge. I missed four days of work last week from what probably started as an in-grown nose hair. Four days!

Part of the writing train wreck was my failure to get issue five of Quid Novi? out to my subscribers. I'm going to combine planned content for what would've been issue five with planned content for issue six to create a monster-sized newsletter due out Sunday, 21 February.

On the plus side, I did get Latina Facta out to my subscribers. This short PDF includes 15 new feats inspired by famous Latin phrases and quotes. The few responses I've received about Latina Facta have all been positive, which helps make the icky discharge more bearable.

Now that I'm (more or less) recovered, it's time to get back to work. More effort on that upcoming adventure is a top priority. Also, since the revision process never really seems to end, I need to go back and start fixing/improving both Rewarding Roleplaying and Fencing & Firearms. With the former, I'm going to refine/retool the Action Point mechanics a bit. For the latter, there're several editing issues to be resolved to make the text clearer, plus some more tweaking to the firearms section. Also, with March fast approaching, I need to get to work on the next subscriber bonus PDF. I'm thinking about writing up some new sorcerer bloodlines.

I also need to finish working on Pathfinder stats for Steampunk Lincoln at over my d20PFSRD lab. Brandon Herren graciously gave me permission to use the Steampunk Lincoln Psychotronik Comics cover image.

Coming from the Crazy Idea File, I read somewhere on ENWorld that one current RPG gives XP for GP just like Ye Olden Days of D&D. I can't remember what RPG it was; I want to say, "Conan." The only caveat mentioned was that the PCs trade GP for XP at a 1:1 ratio, but the PCs can't have anything concrete to show for the expenditure. So, a PC could go back to town, blow 50 GP on wine, women, and song in exchange for 50 XP. If the PC spent that 50 GP on magic scrolls, he'd get no XP. I think I like this idea.

Well, I guess that's it for now. I'll be back in three or four days.


Steampunk Lincoln? Cool! Is this a comic that also just become released? I'd love to check that out.


Urizen wrote:
Steampunk Lincoln? Cool! Is this a comic that also just become released? I'd love to check that out.

Last I checked, it hadn't been released yet. That might have changed by now.


Gnome Stew's Martin Ralya wrote regarding Rewarding Roleplaying, "Available for free by signing up for Spes Magna’s mailing list, I’ve read this PDF and found it quite enjoyable. It reminds me of Burning Wheel’s Artha system, which is a very good thing. In a nutshell: RR creates a system-neutral mechanic whereby players set their own roleplaying goals, and are rewarded for meeting them during play."

On February 7, Quid Novi? subscribers received a link to download Latina Facta, a short, gratis PDF containing 15 new feats inspired by famous Latin phrases. Here's some of the feedback we've received regarding Latina Facta:

Renaud L.: "Thank you for the good work. The Latin feats are great :)"

Adam from Vancouver, Canada: "Thanks for creating this. They look rather cool. None of them are especially powerful, but they are all sure to provide extra individuality to a character who has any of these feats. Another fine PDF!"

Kerry M.: "I loved the Latin phrases."


It's something every candidate promises to do, but most of them are lying. Just about everything costs more because of taxes. Is it too much to ask that game systems not include taxes as well?

"Wait a minute," you might be thinking. "What on Oerth are you talking about?"

I'm talking about skill and feat taxes built into the 3.5 system. These taxes require you the player to purchase certain skills or have certain feats to do neat things. To a certain extent, this is unavoidable (much like real taxes). After all, the 3.5 system isn't free-form. It provides mechanics to quantify and resolve character actions for a variety of tasks. On the other hand, the system itself seems to spawn new taxes. Let's look at one example.

Improved Feint lets your PC feint in combat as a move action for the cost of two feats (including the prerequisite). Unless your character is human or a fighter, this feat is unavailable at 1st-level. Is the ability to feint as a move action really something that ought to cost two feats (and, for many characters, require your PC to be at least 3rd level)?

I don't think so. I think characters should be able to do more for less. This is part of the reason why I've written Fencing & Firearms to include universal feats and to give you more bang for your BAB. It's also why I'm borrowing some OGL from True20 and implementing these modifications to the way skills work.

Calculated Risk
You can take a calculated risk on one check to make a follow-up check easier. You accept a -5 penalty (or +5 DC bonus) to the first check in exchange for a +5 bonus (or -5 DC penalty) to the second check. The two checks must be related and the first, penalized check cannot be a check on which you take 20.

For example, a character faces a difficult climb. He uses Search to look for handholds along the climb route, taking a -5 penalty against the DC set by the DM. If successful, he finds a suitable route and gets a +5 bonus on a Climb check.

Or, another example: The party is split up by a chasm and are fighting orcs on both sides. The wizard has been cornered on the other side of the chasm from the rogue. The fighter accepts a -5 penalty on his Acrobatics check to move through one orc's space in order to get a +5 bonus on the check to leap across the chasm to help the wizard.

Calculated risks require some narrative imagination and common sense adjudication by the DM.

Fast Task
You reduce the time needed to complete the check by accepting a -5 penalty to check or a +5 bonus to the check's DC. If the check is normally a full-round action, it becomes a standard action. An standard action becomes a move action, while a move action becomes a free action. For checks requiring time in rounds, minutes, or longer, reduce the time needed by 25 percent per -5/+5 modifier, to a maximum 75% reduction.

For example, using Bluff to feint in combat is usually a standard action. A character could accept a -5 penalty to his check in order to feint as a move action.

Or, another example: Opening a lock is normally a full-round action. If the rogue is in a hurry, he can use fast task to use Disable Device to pick the lock as a standard action. Of course, he first wants to search for traps, normally a move action. Using fast task, he can use Perception to look for traps as a free action.

Simultaneous Tasks
You can accept a challenge in order to perform two checks simultaneously. To attempt simultaneous checks, make the challenge check, followed by a second check using the same or a different trait. Your secondary check suffers a –10 penalty or a +10 increase in Difficulty. The combined task requires the same time as the longest normal task, so if both tasks require a standard action, you accomplish the simultaneous use in a single standard action rather than two.

For example, a character being grappled by ogre can use simultaneous tasks to use Escape Artist to get out of the grapple and then use Bluff to create a distraction. Both actions take a single standard action to accomplish.

These sorts of changes to the game accomplish two goals important to Spes Magna Games. First, these changes maintain compatibility. We're not completely re-inventing the wheel. Fencing & Firearms can be used with 3.5 and Pathfinder. Second, these changes give players more options without imposing a tax on skill points and feats.


First off, I just got Fencing & Firearms. Looks pretty good to me so far after skimming thru the document. Many of the ideas have been done before, but never pulled together into one place. I agree that many of the basic combat feats should be free to players. I also like the solution to the "armor a DR" that you have approached. Works well with how you use BAB as a Base Combat Bonus. I actually would prefer using Ref saves as a bonus to AC, instead of BAB. This makes more sense to me for the type of characters that spend more time dodging to be harder to hit. It shows that while Fighters & Paladins are harder hitters, the Rogues & Rangers are a little slicker at not being hit to begin with. Barbarians, please do not be offended by being left out of the prior statement. Also, I see the AC system as a way to make Modern & Fantasy setting more compatible in this area.


xorial wrote:
First off, I just got Fencing & Firearms. Looks pretty good to me so far after skimming thru the document. Many of the ideas have been done before, but never pulled together into one place. I agree that many of the basic combat feats should be free to players. I also like the solution to the "armor a DR" that you have approached. Works well with how you use BAB as a Base Combat Bonus. I actually would prefer using Ref saves as a bonus to AC, instead of BAB. This makes more sense to me for the type of characters that spend more time dodging to be harder to hit. It shows that while Fighters & Paladins are harder hitters, the Rogues & Rangers are a little slicker at not being hit to begin with. Barbarians, please do not be offended by being left out of the prior statement. Also, I see the AC system as a way to make Modern & Fantasy setting more compatible in this area.

Thanks for the feedback, xorial.

I went for BAB to AC rather than Reflex (for example) because when I get around to putting out the players guide for Novus Mundus it will be standard for players to pick two good saves for their characters, regardless of class. I didn't want to weight any single save more than the others in terms of utility.

Regarding the armor changes, I find it works well in actual play. It makes armor-wearing characters a bit harder to kill, but not harder to knock out. I am, however, leaning toward just dropping the armor bonus entirely. Since AC already scales up with level (due to BAB) and the expanded BAB rules make it possible to bump AC a bit more, I'm thinking that keeping the standard armor bonus as well might be a bit too much. Jury's still out on this one, however.

If there's anything else you observe, don't understand, et cetera, don't hesitate to less me know.

:)


Mark Chance wrote:

Thanks for the feedback, xorial.

I went for BAB to AC rather than Reflex (for example) because when I get around to putting out the players guide for Novus Mundus it will be standard for players to pick two good saves for their characters, regardless of class. I didn't want to weight any single save more than the others in terms of utility.

Regarding the armor changes, I find it works well in actual play. It makes armor-wearing characters a bit harder to kill, but not harder to knock out. I am, however, leaning toward just dropping the armor bonus entirely. Since AC already scales up with level (due to BAB) and the expanded BAB rules make it possible to bump AC a bit more, I'm thinking that keeping the standard armor bonus as well might be a bit too much. Jury's still out on this one, however.

If there's anything else you observe, don't understand, et cetera, don't hesitate to less me know.

:)

I would still keep some armor as AC. You can argue that blows sometimes glance off without the armor actually absorbing any damage. I like to think they provide both. Makes it easier to differentiate modern from medieval armors in this fashion too. Especially when getting into futuristic armors. (I like systems that stay basically the same across genre.) I can see your point on Ref saves in that case. I will probably use Ref saves for my stuff, because I will keep assigned Saves. The high ACs are mitigated using Ref saves, as those saves top at +12 when a good save.

Something to consider: As per RAW, armor has a max dex bonus. It is not unreasonable to change that to a max dodge bonus, under your system. The max bonuses can be raised, say +2 across the board, if you did that. I can see that, since there is NO WAY a guy in full plate, even mithral, should ever get a +20 dodge bonus to AC, lol. That would also add some more weight into the Fighter's armor training class ability.


xorial wrote:
It is not unreasonable to change that to a max dodge bonus, under your system. The max bonuses can be raised, say +2 across the board, if you did that. I can see that, since there is NO WAY a guy in full plate, even mithral, should ever get a +20 dodge bonus to AC, lol. That would also add some more weight into the Fighter's armor training class ability.

Ooh, good insight regarding the fighter's armor training. I need to review that and revisit the idea of capping the BAB bonus to AC, especially in light of the Expanded BAB rules.

Part of what's going on behind the scenes is getting F&F ready for use with the Novus Mundus campaign setting, which will be a lower magic world using something akin to Ryan Stoughton's excellent E6 rules. Consequently, I've not focused much attention at all on higher level play and balance issues related to it.

The Exchange

I will probably be sorely tempted to use your rules for my next campaign Mark. I'm getting progressively more and more frustrated with many of the 3.x (and by extension PF) core assumptions/mechanics.

Even if I run PF for my next game it is likely to be substantially altered. I had already been considering several ideas that you seem to have already developed and tested, which will save me time and heartache later.

Thanks for all this effort. I'm very excited to see this sort of thing :)


d20pfsrd.com wrote:
Thanks for all this effort. I'm very excited to see this sort of thing :)

You're quite welcome!

And now, for some more posting:

Well, Giant Boy and I are off to OwlCon tomorrow and part of Sunday. I'm running two rounds of Spes Magna's first for-sale adventure, tentatively titled The Mad Monk's Revenge (which is one of a few titles I'm considering; perhaps I should do a poll?). After the con, I'll write up a report of how things went.

In the realm of Spes Magna announcements, we have these:

Fencing & Firearms/Rewarding Roleplaying

Both of these products are undergoing revisions and corrections, thanks in no small part due to the feedback I've received from a few subscribers plus members of my face-to-face group here in Houston. It's looking like a good idea to bundle both revised PDFs into a single package for sale to the general public. As is the case with anything Spes Magna sells, Quid Novi? subscribers will receive a substantial discount.

Speaking of The Mad Monk's Revenge

We've been pretty quiet about this convention-style adventure due to go on sale in March. Due to health issues, we're behind the curve a bit on producing the sale-ready module. Fortunately, work is progressing. I've contracted with the excellent Darren Calvert to do the cover art and some interior illustrations. I couldn't possibly be more psyched about Darren's involvement. He is one of my favorite freelance artists, and his enthusiasm for the project and professionalism both tickle me pink.

As already announced, 50% of the sales generated by this module will do directly to Mission of Yahweh, a faith-based shelter that "has empowered homeless and abused women and their children for over 47 years." As someone who's been unemployed three times in the past four years, I can certainly appreciate the need for community support programs such as Mission of Yahweh.

Awesome On-line Radio

Okay, this one really isn't a Spes Magna announcement, but it's too good not to share. If you like on-line radio, check out Pandora. It's free and you, the listener, are the station manager. You enter artists and songs that you like, and Pandora searches through its music archive and the Music Genome Project to program what you want to hear. If you don't like a song, you can give it a Caesar-like downward-pointing thumb and never hear it again. If you like the song, give it an upward-pointing thumb to put the song into your rotation.

Pandora could very well be the best thing since sliced bread, and I say that as someone who eats a lot of sliced bread.

I especially enjoy it since my musical tastes are rather eclectic. Sure, there's a very short commercial every fifth song, but that's still more music aired than a traditional radio station plus the added bonus that I get to hear what I like instead of what some corporate music programmer thinks I like. For example, here are the last ten songs Pandora picked just for me:

1. Don't Be Cruel by Elvis Presley
2. In the Middle of a Heartache by Wanda Jackson
3. Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys by Willie Nelson
4. You're Lookin' at Country by Loretta Lynn
5. Short Supply by Tracy Chapman
6. Can't Find My Way Home by Alison Krauss
7. Do You Need the Service? by Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army
8. Dead Heaven (Live) by Gary Numan
9. After the Snow by Modern English
10. Burning Down the House by the Talking Heads

Well, that's it for this post. I'll be back in a few days after OwlCon with something else to while away a few minutes.


Ogre, xorial: Hope you're watching this thread. Could you please email me at mark at spesmagna dot com. I'd like to ask you about using some of your posts as blurbs for my site (http://spesmagna.com/what-folks-are-saying).

Thanks in advance!

And now for some company news!

The editing process for the next iteration of Fencing & Firearms is almost complete. Thanks to playtesting and feedback from readers, a number of areas were fixed, improved, clarified, and/or added. The quick list of changes include these:

* Fixed some errors in Table of Contents. Due to incorrectly formatted headers in a few places, the ToC was incomplete. This will also fix the bookmarks in the PDF.

* Cleaned up terminology to be more internally consistent and consistent with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. For example, I replaced references to Tumble with Acrobatics.

* Changed Expanded BAB rules to be more in line with conventions of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Now the rules work more like Combat Expertise, Deadly Aim, and Power Attack.

* Added and clarified some feats. This was especially important since I didn't hit every feat in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that had attack of opportunity effects. For example, I rewrote Combat Casting and Disruptive.

* Cleaned up the language for modified feats. For example, feats previously listed as General that were available as fighter bonus feats have been redesignated as Combat feats.

* Clarified the rules for 10-minute rest mechanic.

* Reverted size modifiers to combat maneuvers to comply with standard rules of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. In retrospect, I really didn't see a reason to complicate things by changing what really is a pretty solid rule. I also fixed some of the combat maneuver verbiage and math in the text and examples.

* Modified firearms rules, removing accurancy and penetration as unnecessary complications. Standardized reload times. Adjusted damage, prices, and range increments. Changed critical threat ranges for matchlocks and flintlocks.

* Added rules for grenades, for crafting munitions and gunpowder, and for special alchemical gunpowder types.

* Added skill use options.

* Clarified nonlethal damage, et cetera, to better comply with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

All in all, F&F is a much more solid product now. The basic goals and framework remain the same, but the cleaner engine ought to run with fewer hiccups.

In addition to finishing up The Mad Monk's Revenge (I'm still not sold on that name.), the editing process for Rewarding Roleplaying is a go. F&F and RR are going to be bundled into a single product along with a fully-realized Five-Room One-Shot adventure written to highlight the Pathfinder-compatibility of the products. We're looking at putting the entire bundle on sale in March for $7.50 US (or $5.00 US for Quid Novi? subscribers).


Well, OwlCon has come and gone for 2010. My son Giant Boy and I were at the con bright and early Saturday morning in time to play a Truth & Justice event featuring pre-gen characters that were mash-ups of comic book heroes. I played the Black Vision, a Luke Cage-Vision combo. Luke Cage was an ex-con who intervened during an assassination attempt against the King of Wakanda while he was in New York City. Cage was mortally injured. To save his life, the king's scientists transferred Cage's consciousness into a synthezoid body. Giant Boy played the Scarlet Spider, who gained his powers when bitten by a Gypsy witch who had been driven mad after being bitten by a radioactive spider.

The other players ran Captain Thor (Captain American and Thor), the Atomic Manhunter (the Atom and Martian Manhunter), Bat Lantern (Batman and Green Lantern), and Wolfeye (Wolverine and Hawkeye). Our mission was to save the multiverse from the machinations of the Leader (Reed Richard and the Leader mashup) and Dread Clea (Dormammu and Clea mash-up, which really isn't a mash-up because Clea did assume the mantle of Dormammu at least once).

The event wasn't anything terribly elaborate. It was basically three super-fights strong together with some narrative transitions. We did battle with various mash-up villains, such as the Abominaut (Abomination-Juggernaut) and Gorilla Polaris (Gorilla Grodd and Doctor Polaris). It was an amusing four hours. Truth & Justice uses the PDQ system, a narrativist RPG with a lot of flexibility and room for creative use of character abilities. I'd read a bit about the PDQ system before hitting the con. You can get a free taste by visiting Atomic Sock Monkey's freebies area. I'm not sure I'd want to GM the system, but I wouldn't mind being a player using it every now and then. It has a lot of potential.

The Black Vision had two highpoints during the game. The first took place when he was mind-controlled by the Ace of Hearts. Hearts ordered the Black Vision to fight his fellow heroes. The GM explained that I could attempt to break free from Hearts's control, but I opted to roll with the setback for at least one round after Captain Thor nailed Hearts with his mystic uru shield.

I looked Cap's player in the eye and announced, "Mama said knock you out!"

The Black Vision nailed Captain Thor pretty good, and I got some bonus Action Points for opting to let the villain keep the upper hand.

At the end of the game, it became necessary to insert something mystical and something high-tech into the Sphere of Doom created by the villains to remake reality in their own image. Captain Thor tossed in his mystic uru shield. Atomic Manhunter, our resident super-scientist, explained that the high-tech component needed to be extremely high-tech. So, the Black Vision hurled himself into the Sphere of Doom, thus destroying the villains' plan and saving the multiverse.

Not bad for a day's work.

After Truth & Justice, I ran an event featuring The Mad Monk's Revenge. Giant Boy and two friends, Eric and Angela, were part of the event along with three folks I'd never met before. I repeated the event Sunday afternoon for six other players, including the fellow who ran Wolfeye in the Truth & Justice event. Both playtests went well. It looks like my basic set up is pretty solid. I identified a few gaps in some NPCs' motivations that I need to plug. I also noted a few areas where I need to offer some DMing advice. The adventure has a definite goal, but it's structure is pretty flexible in terms of how the players go about accomplishing that goal. Consequently, the two groups took different approaches (in a few instances, very different approaches). I think this is a definite strength of the module, but it also makes writing it more difficult. It's impossible to prepare for every possibility even in a scenario that is a hardcore railroad in terms of plot structure. The looser the plot, the more complicated laying out the plot becomes.

I also used both events for more playtesting of Fencing & Firearms and Rewarding Roleplaying's Action Point system. In both cases, the rules seemed to work well. All in all, I'm pleased by the way these products have shaped up. Best of all, everyone who played in the events seemed to enjoy themselves, and isn't that what gaming is really all about?

While I was running my second event, Giant Boy ventured off on his own to play in a Draw! event. Draw! is a wild west RPG that uses poker chips and decks of playing cards for action resolution. I'm not real clear on how this works since I wasn't there to watch, but Giant Boy had fun playing the game. I gave him some handy westernisms to help him out. He managed to work "vittles" and "varmints" and "slap leather" into his in-character dialogue.

Next time I get to do the con scene, I'm going to have to keep an eye out for Draw!. I've also liked the western genre, and I had loads of fun with the original Boot Hill RPG back in the day.

OwlCon was a good time. Now, it's back to work to get caught up on my writing. Busy, busy. I'll type at you again in a few days.


Spes Magna Games is running a contest for Quid Novi? subscribers. Get your fellow gamers to subscribe to Quid Novi? before April 1, 2010, and get free PDF products. Contest details at this link.


Mark Chance wrote:
Spes Magna Games is running a contest for Quid Novi? subscribers. Get your fellow gamers to subscribe to Quid Novi? before April 1, 2010, and get free PDF products. Contest details at this link.

Mark,

Either you already do and I've subscribe to it, I'm too dense to locate it, or you don't have one -- do you have FB fan page to support SMG? I already subscribe to the newsletter.

Thanks!


Urizen wrote:
Either you already do and I've subscribe to it, I'm too dense to locate it, or you don't have one -- do you have FB fan page to support SMG?

No FB. It's on my list of things to do, which unfortunately seems to get longer faster than it gets shorter.


More Spes Magna News:

It's March 9 already, and I'm still behind with writing, editing, and some website-related work. It isn't helping that I've finally discovered Hulu. In particular, I'm thoroughly enjoying The Lone Ranger. I used to watch the adventures of that fabulous masked man in syndication when I was a kid. I remember owning Lone Ranger, Tonto, and Silver action figures. I don't think I had Scout, so I'm guessing my Tonto walked everywhere. Fortunately for my time management, Hulu only has twelve episodes of The Lone Ranger available, and I'm just about half through them.

On the work front, I am done with Rewarding Roleplaying and Fencing & Firearms. I've started on the Five-Room Dungeon that will be included with F&F. Darren Calvert emailed me yesterday and told me he is getting ready to put finishing touches on the cover for The Case of the Purloined Princess. I've looked at the roughs he's done, and they're delightful. I really need to upload some images to the site for the world to see. That's one more thing for my list.

Speaking of The Case of the Purloined Princess, work has slowed to a crawl on my end. I've got to get back on track. I've been saying product would be released for sale this month. At the rate I'm going, that's going to end up happening closer to April and than to February.

I'm also working on the Quid Novi? subscriber bonus PDF for March. It should be available with the March 21st issue. This month, I'm offering an alternate version of the bard's Versatile Performer class feature. The Versatile Performer class feature for bards is a bit confusing. It's meant to make the bard better at certain skills that seemingly correspond with different types of Perform, but the actual mechanics of the class feature are muddled. Versatile Performer is also a bit on the uninspiring side. It's an attempt to boost the bard's role as skill monkey while keeping to the theme of bard-as-performing-adventurer, but Versatile Perfomer just sort of seems to miss the mark.

The new subscriber-only PDF presents an alternative system for Versatile Performance that draws upon terminology related to music, dance, acting, and rhetoric. For example, a bard could learn Accelerando. This ability lets the morale bonus provided by Inspire Courage also apply to Reflex saves. Furthermore, when the bard reaches 5th level, affected allies gain a +5-foot bonus to base speed.

Speaking of Quid Novi? subscriber PDFs, it looks like Monsters & Magic Items of Greek/Roman Myth is the winner for April. I'll add the other two to the project queue for May and June. Also, don't forget about the subscriber-drive contest that's going on right now.

Well, that's it for this post. I'll be back in a few days.


The Mad Monk's Revenge, a convention-style, Pathfinder-compatible adventure due out later this month, has officially been renamed. Here's a preview of The Case of the Purloined Princess. First, the cover's teaser text:

On the eve of her birthday celebration, impossibly well-trained apes kidnap the Princess Teena. It's up to the Anklebiter League to track the beasts to their lair and thwart the evil plans of their vengeful master. This action-packed, all-halfling adventure includes thrills, chills, athletic drinking contest spills, and a damsel-in-distress dressed in frills.

The Case of the Purloined Princess is a convention-style adventure for 2nd-level characters that includes almost everything you need for a single session of rip-snorting roleplaying as the most famous band of halfling heroes around. Grab those dice! Gird your loins! Tonight, evil loses!

An excerpt from the introduction:

While The Case of the Purloined Princess is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, there are some differences. This adventure has been written to showcase Fencing & Firearms and Rewarding Roleplaying's Action Point system. Neither of these Spes Magna Games products are required to run this adventure. In fact, you can run it as is without any modifications at all. The Case of the Purloined Princess comes with two sets of characters, NPCs, and monsters. One set has been built using standard rules for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The other set -- the set used in the playtests -- has been built using Fencing & Firearms and Rewarding Roleplaying. Either way you run it, it's a good time waiting to happen.


Ratchet up the drama and excitement of your game today. Buy Rewarding Roleplaying for $1.50 US (or $1 US for Quid Novi? subscribers).

This isn't the playtest Rewarding Roleplaying that Quid Novi? subscribers helped fine tune. This is the new, improved Rewarding Roleplaying that links player-created roleplaying goals to a robust Action Point system.

How does it work? Easily and well!

You, the player, define certain roleplaying goals for your character. These can be traits, personality quirks, and objectives. Your DM works these goals into upcoming adventures. When you play your character in such a way as to act and react based on your goals, you get Action Points.

Action Points are powerful tools that help your character accomplish heroic feats. They soften the fickle whims of Fortune and give you greater control over your character's fate.

And Rewarding Roleplaying isn't just a boon for players. It's good for DMs too. With Rewarding Roleplaying, DMs have a fair system to reward players for roleplaying. The Action Point system helps alleviate the perceived need for DMs to fudge dice rolls. Now when a player's unlucky roll threatens disaster, that player can Action Point a way out.

Rewarding Roleplaying is compatible with 3.5 and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

One-half of sales from Spes Magna products are donated to help the Mission of Yahweh, a faith-based shelter located in Houston, Texas, that empowers, enriches, and restores the lives of homeless women and children and provides outreach services to low-income families in our neighborhood.


Urizen wrote:
...do you have FB fan page to support SMG?

Just for you, I do now. :)


Mark Chance wrote:
Urizen wrote:
...do you have FB fan page to support SMG?

Just for you, I do now. :)

Well, it's your personal page and not a fan page, but I sent you a msg. :)


Urizen wrote:
Well, it's your personal page and not a fan page, but I sent you a msg. :)

Yeah, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone. Time will tell if I come to regret the world of Facebook.


"I'm ready for my close-up...."


Okay, Urizen, I got around to setting up the Spes Magna Games fan page as well. I'm a bit of neo-Luddite, so I'm not too sure about all this technology stuff, but it really seems to have caught on, hasn't it?

:)

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