Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pure Steam Kickstarter Rewards has accepted our proposal, and will allow us to fundraise on their site. This is huge! Projects on their site have a 50% success rate (provided they have an explanatory video, which we will). I threw together this logo for the project until we can get a professional one together.

In case you're not familiar with Kickstarter, the gist is you get individuals to donate to your project in exchange for some sort of tangible reward.  The project won't be up for fundraising for another week, but I wanted to give my followers a glimpse at the rewards:

$5: Name printed in book as a supporter.
$15: PDF download a month before release.
$25: Soundtrack download a month before release.
$35: Adventure module PDF download a month before release.
$75: Signed hard copies of book, soundtrack, and adventure module a month before release.
$150: Exclusive access to first round of beta playtest.  Your feedback will influence the design.
$250: A seat at an exclusive game session run by our team at either GenCon Indy or Origins (your choice).  Feedback from you will influence game design. (limit 20)
$500: You'll be written into the setting as an NPC.  AvatarArt will do a MASTER level illustration of you in your NPC role, published in the book (limit 10)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pure Steam is Happening

I know it's been a while since I posted.  I've been locked away with some developers making my steampunk RPG a reality.

Paizo granted us a compatibility license with the Pathfinder RPG.  That was a load off! has been working with us on some concept art.  I'm very pleased.

Con Goodwin, Ructioneer Fighter

So far, here's some of the updates...

We have two completely new classes:
Chaplain: part healer, part social adept, part buffer.  There is some overlap with the bard, but no music required.
Prodigy: In a world of tech with no magic, those with quick minds prevail.  The prodigy can focus their mind on medicine, combat, technology, or a mix of the three.

There are a archetypes fleshed out:
Fumigant Alchemist: Donning a gas mask and turning any agent into an aerosol is what they do best.
Ructioneer Fighter: Provoking and frustrating foes is this guy's forte.  He can use diplomacy to WORSEN a mood.

Plus all the steampunk tech you know you love.

Electromagnetic Belt of Deflection

More to come.  We're up on Kickstarter come January.  We'd appreciate all your support!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zombie Gunship Strategy

Joe, my magnificent friend, recommended Zombie Gunship to me via text.  I'm cheap, and paying for apps is something I seldom do.  But this game has thousands of ratings and maintains 4.5 stars in the iOS App Store, so I had to oblige.  $0.99?  Yes please!

The premise of the game is wonderfully simple: you're in an AC-130H Gunship and it's the End of Days.  You're providing cover fire for humans as they run for the safety of a bunker.  You must kill zombies before they enter the bunker.  If you kill three humans or if a zombie enters the bunker, game over, man.

I've put some time into this game in the last week, playing on the toilet until my legs go numb.  I'm doing pretty well.  I consistently kill over 1000 undead before some stupid human runs into a 105mm Howitzer shell.  Now I'm paying it forward.  Enjoy my meager strategy tips.

Tip 1: Touch and Go

"It bodes well for me that speed impresses you." -Chandler Bing
The first thing you need to know is these zombies NEVER stop.  They took that Chili Peppers song lit'rally.  And they spawn in half a dozen places.  So, you need to pepper the ground with shells when you see zombies, and then move your view to other areas.  If you try to be Johnny OCD and kill every zombie out of a group when you see him, you're going to let 30 more sneak up to the bunker.  My success comes from dropping some lead and moving on.  If a couple zombs don't drop from that, I can always swing around in a bit and finish the job.  The key here is speed and constant movement. 

The game warns you when zombies get close to the bunker with red warnings, so use that to your advantage.  Skim the outer rim early on, and shoot the junk out of groups of zombies, not worrying about 100% kills.  You only need to ensure the zombies die BEFORE they enter the bunker, so you have time.  Spending your effort on cleaning up a whole mob of these things on the outer edge of the map--only to have a group of 'em encroach on your bunker elsewhere--is akin to throwing out the baby with the irradiated bathwater.

Tip 2: Smart Upgrades

Careful reviewers will see I didn't follow my own advice.
The beauty of this game is the upgrades system.  Every zombie you kill (and human who finds himself in your bunker) earns you points which you spend on upgrades.  You can upgrade your three weapon systems, increase the points you earn from killing zombies, invest in a last-resort bunker defender bomb, and increase your radar range.  A huge key to your success is in how you prioritize these upgrades.

First and foremost, I recommend pumping up your Zombie Bounty (points per kill).  Doing this early in your career is like recognizing the value of compounding interest.  Get in on the ground floor with this so that every round you play is more fruitful (and thus easier to get the other upgrades).  

The next tip I have is to always prioritize the reload (and cooling) rate of your weapons.  Powerful weapons are no good if you're waiting for them to come back online.  

And you should be careful not to upgrade the damage radius of your 25mm Gatling Gun.  This gun is best served for sniping zombies grappling with humans (if you're into that kinda thing...see below).  And each time you upgrade it's damage radius you have to recalibrate yourself to get comfortable with sniping so close to warm bloods.

To recap: upgrade zombie bounty, then reload, and scale back the damage radius of the 25mm.  Everything else is up to you.  

Tip 3: Humans Are Expendable...

"How can you shoot women and children?!"
"Easy, you just don't lead 'em as much." least two are.

So far as I know, there is no penalty for killing the first two civilians in a round.  It's just that pesky third that jumps in front of your hail of bullets that causes Sarge to pull you out of the hot zone.  Use that to your advantage!  If a helpless soccer mom running for safety is the only thing stopping you from thrusting a 105mm round down the throats of a score of zombies, and you've killed less than two already, don't hesitate (provided you need those undead deader than dead on the quick.  Remember Tip 1 and consider coming back later.)

While on the topic of coming back later, you need to be willing NOT to snipe zombies just because they're snacking on a human.  Humans eaten by undead out there on the battlefield don't count against you.  So, if you can stomach it, and you don't want to risk having that human die by your trigger finger, just let the zombie eat him/her and blast that zombie after.  Remember: Touch and Go.

There you have it.  That's all you need to be the most efficient zombie killer. undead slipped past.  Game over!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1kXP2M: Prime Gamer Space

I just moved into a new house, and I have an unfinished basement.  I'm now embarking on the long road of creating the ultimate gamer space. 

First, I need to frame the room, and put the walls up. 

Then I want to cover an entire wall in IdeaPaint

There will be a projector which can either shine onto the game table and/or the wall.

Flooring choices are still up in the air.

I want medieval style sconce lighting with dimmers.

Also there should be sound dampening tiles in the ceiling so we can get as loud as we like.

Framed pics of the AvatarArt commissions of my favorite characters shall adorn the walls.
I want a sepia tone Faerun map framed and hung, too.

Any other ideas?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ah, Now I Wanna Play SWRPG!!!

I've been watching Star Trek: Enterprise on Netflix streaming.  It's kinda everything I expected.

But one episode had a really cool concept which was similar to one I had long ago.  The episode is Terra Nova.  The premise: the crew sees what happened to an old Federation colony.  The episode itself was meh.  Again, it was just one concept that I liked.

Terra Nova was colonized by a crew which arrived on a ship which disassembled upon arrival.  It was a one-way trip.  So, the lav became the colony's latrine.  The bridge became the comm center.  Et cetera.

I always thought it'd be cool to run a campaign that started with a bunch of level one spacers who colonize a new planet.  The whole world is new, and there's full on exploration.  The base camp can restock their inventory, and perhaps upgrade weaponry and equipment as they 'trust the PCs more,' or whatever you need to do to make it digestible.

Perhaps after enough levels we can come up with some way to get them off that rock, so they can explore the galaxy.

Of course, I'd wanna do this with Star Wars, but it'd work with any system.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh, Fudge!

I've been following Dr. Rotwang at "I Waste the Buddha with my Crossbow" since I was stuck in an office in Iraq in 2007.  It's probably a combination of the ridiculous blog title, his candor, and his penchant for all things 80s that really got me (and keeps me) hooked to his stuff.

A few times he's mentioned the Fudge RPG ruleset, amidst others I've never played.  Time and again, I was too lazy to research the game.  Today, however, I finally took a jump over to Wikipedia to get the basics.

And I like it.  It's so simple.  The emphasis is story over rules (which I dig).  And you use these cool dice:

I even read that a common theme is to have players write there character up in prose and then generate the character via the rules.  Sweet.

I want to play it.  With someone.  Now.

Has anyone out there played Fudge rules?  How'd it go?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pure Steam Update: PF Compatibility

Pure Steam was just granted a Pathfinder Compatibility License!  What does this mean?

1.  We'll be able to use Paizo copyrighted material, giving credit where it's due.
2.  We'll be able to put the Pathfinder logo on our products.
3.  A larger base will (hopefully) give our game a try.

Why is this so huge?  Well, Pathfinder is currently the biggest tabletop RPG on the market.  Yeah, suck it 4E!  I love this, because Wizards (imho) tried to screw Paizo out of business by taking back the Dungeon and Dragon magazine publishing rights.  Paizo has taken the once defunct 3.5 ruleset, revamped it, and crammed it back down Wizards' throat.

There are some great classes in Pathfinder which will suit Pure Steam well.  Examples are the alchemist and gunslinger. 

What are you looking for in a Steampunk setting?

Friday, July 29, 2011

UPDATE! Yeah, he game(d).

So, the chap from the aforementioned post is totally a gamer.  Well, he used to play tabletop.  Now he's a WoW gamer (I'll take it).  Yay GAMEDAR!

He's into steampunk a lot, too.  He drooled at my steampunk RPG concept as I pitched it to him.  w00t!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fresh Meat!

Did you ever get that 'sense' about someone?  You know, that feeling that they game? 

I got it when I met some dudes in high school.  They had that same feeling about me.  And when we broached the subject, it was a huge confirmation that our internal geek sensors were working.  And I'm still gamer buds with those guys to this day.

It's like gaydar, but for gamers.  Perhaps it's gamedar?

Well, we got a new intern today.  And looking at him, I just got that sense.  More to come...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weapon Speed Factors and Floating Initiative

Lance and I talked a while back about weapon speed factors, and I still haven't quite shaken the idea that weapon speed factors are a great idea.  Although he and I don't agree exactly on the implementation of them, we seem to agree in principle that they can serve to add a dynamic feel to tactical round-based combat.

I read some viewpoints on this variant.  One staunch detractor was Sean K. Reynolds.  His post was interesting, and I get where he's coming from.  But he took a 'case closed' approach that I don't feel was justified.  He seemed to feel that introducing a speed variant justified revisiting other combat rules.  Well, it does, if you want to.  Heck, you can do whatever you want in your own game!  But it doesn't have to.  Attempting to bring in one factor of realism to combat doesn't require bringing in ALL factors of realism, lest we have to account for the efficacy of piercing/slashing/bludgeoning weapons versus leather/chain/plate armor, just as an example.  We don't want to do that; we want to reflect the dynamic, unpredictable flow of combat (while rewarding quicker characters with a very slight edge) without bogging down the game.

I propose something light and simple as a solution:

Weapon                          Initiative Penalty

Unarmed, spells                          0
Finessable weapon                    -1
One-handed weapon                 -2
Two-handed weapon                 -3

Now, I do agree with Mr. Reynolds in the greater body of his article that weapon speed factors become a moot point after round one.  At least they do when using the standard initiative model.  Sean says that weapon speed factors still result in 10 attacks by side A and 10 attacks by side B in 10 rounds (assuming low level characters).  Heck, almost everything about initiative is a moot point after round one.  Improved initiative is a waste of a feat, at least.

The point of this post is, then, two-fold.  I wish to justify weapon speed factors (and hopefully coax comments about them), and propose a floating initiative system, which resolves the aforementioned mootness of weapon speed factors.

I've done a floating initiative system before, in which initiative is rolled every round.  While this CAN slow combat down, it doesn't have to.  Just about every game table I've seen in the last five years has a laptop at it.  Why not open up a spreadsheet program with a random number generator formula? (E.g.,  =RANDBETWEEN(x,y) in MS Excel).  Hit F9 to recalculate every round, and use an auto sort macro to put it in top-down order each time?  A proficient user could recalculate initiative every round in a second or two.

What does this look like at the table?  Round after round, the quicker character (i.e., the character with higher dexterity, lighter weaponry, and the improved initiative feat) gets a chance to go first more often.  But there's always a chance that your foe gets two full rounds off before you get yours.  I liken this to the dynamic flow of exciting battles in novels and movies. 


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Steampunk Development Underway

So, I've assembled a team of crack(pot) developers to help me move Pure Steam (that's what I'm calling it until I come up with something better) into an actual product.

I have three game content developers on board, as well as an artist and a musician (yeah we're rolling out an original soundtrack with the core book!).

Last night, we were supposed to have a telecon (considering 2/3 of us live out of my town). I was dialed in, waiting for a couple more people to call in (Lance was already there!), when our social worker arrived (we're adopting a baby!). She wasn't supposed to visit our house until the day after (today), but she mixed up her dates. So, I had to cancel the meeting. I could imagine what kind of marks I'd get if I told her, "Go away! I'm meeting with guys to make a game!"

So, sadly, I had to cancel the meeting. But Brennan stayed, and we hashed out a few more details.

Also, Devon worked up a few (very) preliminary sketches of our cast of characters and some lighter-than-air transport. I'll post them soon.

Comment and let me know what you'd want to see in an original steampunk setting!

Monday, July 11, 2011

You Need One of These

Now, I believe we gamers have all gotten creative over the years with determining probability when the standard dice didn't quite cover it. But some of these options just get tedious after time. Yeah, I'm talkin' to you, d1. I don't know about the rest of you, but my d1 approach is such a game stopper. But you should try it sometime!

Step 1: Locate marble.

Step 2: Roll marble on table.

Step 3: Wait for it...


rolls onto floor...



ricochets off first wall...



second wall...


it's a 1!

- - -

But seriously, there are certain required probability rolls for which the game publishers never bothered to manufacture a concise solution. The most infamous is the d3. I'd say 90%+ of gamers just half the d6, but I always thought we could do better.

A couple years ago I finally found a d3! I gave it a few years to catch on, but I'm still shocked by the number of gamers I encounter who have no idea of its existence (and who salivate at the sight of one!).

Well, there is a legit d3 out there, by GameScience.

The silly letters are--I presume--a way for handless folks to adjudicate Rock-Paper-Scissors. To me, they're an acceptable distraction from the sheer awesome of having a d3.

Now your halfling, or slapfighting human, can have a proper damage die. And for that, we rejoice.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Great Old One Candleholder

This candlestick holder is exactly what I need for my new basement gaming haven.

I can see it right candles dripping wax over the suction cups, as the party delves into a howling cavern...


Monday, July 4, 2011

They Like Me! They Really Like Me!

So, me pal Lance is published! He's on with a nice column: The Art of the Small, Analyzing the "Crunch for the Fluff". After two articles published, I can say that it's solid stuff. There's already something I'll be incorporating into my game on Friday. Language barriers, ho!!!!!!

And seeing this wonderful work of art really got me to thinking, "I like writing; why don't I see if I can con someone into putting my thoughts in their 'zine?" I mustered the courage and shot a note (damn you, Lotus Notes, for that part of my vernacular) and asked if I could contribute to this user-fueled treasure trove of all things fluffy. They obliged.

It looks like the post didn't make it to the website after all, but it's in the newsletter. So, subscribe, and tell 'em to send you a back issue of B'omarr Punk's post! If you get issue 522, scroll to the bottom of this post, you'll see that they liked my character creation guidelines (which emphasize character depth and reward such with tangible bonuses) enough to copy and past them! It ain't much, but it's a start. If you read it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Airship Pirates

This track is currently giving me newfound motivation for steampunk innovation.

New RPGs

Just a quick note:

I'm working with some fellow gamers to push two RPGs out the door soon.

Metal Corps, a futuristic soldier-based RPG, will start beta playtesting next month. It uses rules similar to 4E or SWRPG Saga Edition, with plenty of fresh changes to speed up play and capture the real hopelessness of a space colony encountering some dire threats.

I have an old friend who's going to produce an original soundtrack for Metal Corps, and I am VERY excited about that!

And, I've finally found a solid partner to assist with my Steampunk endeavor. I've decided to use Pathfinder OGL rules. So, my goal is to roll out the core setting by this time next year. The Steampunk game is going to take place in Appalachia, with some pretty familiar archetypes and politics. Firearms and technology are expected to push realism (of course, there will be plenty of fantastical exceptions).

If you're interested in playtesting either of these games, let me know!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ahote, Restless One

I've settled in pretty well in Ohio, and have a solid gaming group here. I'm running a 3.5 game in Forgotten Realms. Also, I'm privileged to be a part of a Pathfinder game with the same group, and I get to just play one character (no DMing!).

My dude is a redux version of a PFRPG character from a previous game. I had to bust him down in level, but I really wanted to see what I could do with this concept.

His name is Ahote, which is Restless One in his native tongue.

Ahote is a currently a level 3 Human Barbarian/Ranger (levels 1 and 2, respectively. I'm pretty proud of the build, as I haven't seen anything like it before.

Good strength, better dexterity, and the other stats aren't much to brag about. He dual wields axes (the lighter of which is a throwing axe or tomahawk).

As a variant, the DM allowed me to use Whirling Frenzy instead of standard Rage, so I get an extra attack as opposed to the constitution boost whilst I freak out. So, at level 3, he gets three attacks with decent bonuses.

I always had an issue with the way rangers' animal companions seem to magically appear at level 4. I liked what one of my players, Brenna, did with Amrielle's horse companion. She simply started at level 1 with her horse, Star, as a pet. By level 4, the party was used to Star, and the bond between ranger and companion was already built. I am doing the same with Ahote and his companion, Little Cheytahk, his cheetah companion.

Why a cheetah? Well, Ahote gets the standard barbarian Fast Movement feature, and he makes good use of it. In the future, I hope to grab the Cheetah Tribe Sprint feat from the Forgotten Realms 3.5 Shining South sourcebook. Those with this feat can move up to 4 times their movement during a charge. This may seem crazy, but it's definitely balanced by the fact that it won't be used in dungeons (read: 90% of the game).

So, a barbarian/ranger with Native American influence, a cat familiar, dual weapons, one of which he likes to throw. Oh, and did I mention he's exiled from his tribe? Yeah, it wasn't until session 2 that I realized this guy is Drizzt and Wulfgar's lovechild.

Nonetheless, my dudes over at AvatarArt have cut me a deal to do 10 basic level sketches of him, so I can visualize him out as he levels up. Here's the first. Another one is coming soon.