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fmitchell

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fmitchell last won the day on September 6 2015

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About fmitchell

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    Chronological (sort of): The Fantasy Trip, AD&D, Traveller, Champions, RuneQuest II, GURPS, Call of Cthulhu, Spirit of the Century, D&D 3.5, D&D 4, Basic Roleplaying, Star Wars D6, Warhammer Fantasy 2 & 3, Star Wars (FFG), Numenera / Cypher System, Shadow of the Demon Lord, Eclipse Phase
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    Occasional tabletop RPG player, RPG system enthusiast.

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  1. Well I spent the weekend thinking about this and I think the BRP SRD is mainly geared at fans who want to produce BRP content. As someone up-thread said, Chaosium isn't in the BRP or monograph business any more, so it's (literally) license for fans to write more BRP ... as long as they avoid plagiarism and Prohibited Content. (They direct anyone wanting to write Arthurian, Cthulhu, Glorantha stuff to use their Community Content program on DriveThruRPG instead.) But I can't imagine any commercial publishers using the BRP SRD as a basis for their work, as they did with d20 or Fate. (This may be intentional.) The phrase "substantially similar" is a little too ambiguous to stake real money on, at least not without a second, more solid agreement from Chaosium. And, as the Big Gold Book proved, BRP isn't a brand that sells games. So it's a gift to the fans (which protects Chaosium's interests) ... but, unless Chaosium has something else in the works, also the end of commercial development on BRP.
  2. But that's not how the license is written. I'm not talking about playing chicken with Chaosium's business. I'm more worried how Chaosium's current management, or their lawyers, or their successors will interpret the license.
  3. That's the intent, I know. What prospective third party publishers may see might be different. Clearly I'm not a lawyer, so I did not know "substantially similar" is a legal term. What constitutes "substantially similar", however, is -- as far as I can tell -- decided case-by-case, in a lawsuit. That may be a problem. The point of an SRD (at least as far as I understand it) is to encourage fans and publishers to build an ecosystem of games, adventures, and assorted supplements with broadly compatible rules. Other "open licenses" like Wizards' OGL and Creative Commons define unambiguously what licensees may and may not do with the licensed text. To use the BRP SRD, a commercial publisher leery of lawsuits might run the prospective product by people at Chaosium, which requires time and extra effort on both sides. Even if using the BRP SRD requires no licensing fee, that extra time and effort may make commercial publishers think twice. (Older publishers and fans may remember TSR's lawsuits against independent publishers and even its own fans in its latter days. What the licensor gives without a formal contract, the licensor may take away ... particularly if its a company, not a person.) I hope I'm wrong. Maybe fan works can sustain that sort of ecosystem. Maybe commercial publishers won't balk at the potential added effort and/or risk of basing products on the BRP SRD. But in light of all the other options out there, and without some solid guarantees on what "substantially similar" means, I'm not optimistic.
  4. Having an "open" version of classic BRP is awesome ... but I'm a little concerned about the Prohibited Content clause, notably the definition of "substantially similar". Is a magic system that uses Magic Points to power small utility and tactical combat spells "substantially similar" to Battle Magic / Spirit Magic? Is any rule that adds a fraction of one skill as a bonus to another skill "substantially similar" to Augments? Are loyalties, allegiances, and/or emotional attachments expressed as percentile ratings "substantially similar" to Passions? I get that Chaosium wants to avoid "retroclones" of its old or current games using its own Open Content. But if "substantially similar" is basically anything Chaosium decides it doesn't like the look of, publishers and fans might look to OpenQuest ... or write their own rules from scratch. P.S. "... and all works related to Le Morte d’Arthur"? So anything Arthurian is off limits? (EDIT: By which I mean something like Merlin or Morgan le Fay or the Grail in another era.)
  5. While I haven't played CoC 7 yet, one mechanic I'm really interested in the advantage/disadvantage equivalent in which a player rolls two or more "tens" d10s and picks the better/worse. It seems like a quicker way to handle difficulty levels than adding/subtracting modifiers or multiplying by some factor. I've used similar techniques in other games, e.g. rolling 3d6 and keeping the higher/lower two, or adding/subtracting dice from a dice pool, and those work reasonably well at the table. I'm just a little concerned that the CoC 7 version is a little too coarse-grained ... otherwise why would they also use multipliers (the infamous Normal / Hard / Extreme percentages). I also like the idea of opposed rolls replacing the resistance table, and consequently moving Base Characteristics to percentiles, but it does mean that small differences in the Active and Resisting scores can have large effects, while large differences approach 0% / 100% asymptotically.
  6. BRP is both flexible and forgiving. If a particular setting wants to posit a magical (alchemical?) technology, especially one involving immovable wards against intruders and certain forms of magic, it's not too hard to add a skill. Costs in time and materials could replace POW sacrifices. Penalties (maluses?) might grow slowly with area, so a rich merchant or petty nobleman might be able to protect his bedchamber and treasury with two separate enchantments, but only an emperor working with an arch-wizard could protect his entire castle. Or you could adapt "Glyphs" (formerly Runes) in Advanced Sorcery (formerly The Bronze Grimoire), wherein each effect is a distinct pseudo-spell.
  7. P.S. On the subject of limiting magic items: You may want to look at Numenera or the Cypher System Rulebook, although its systems probably won't translate easily to D100. It breaks its "magic items" into three categories: oddities (which do weird things but nothing useful), one-use "cyphers", and "artifacts". The latter two have "levels" which may influence the strength of their effects but mostly determine which devices override which. Artifacts also have "depletion rolls": after every use, the player rolls dice (d6, d10, d20, or d100) and if the dice show a 1 the artifact becomes useless. Depletion rolls are easier than tracking charges, and keeps players from becoming too dependent on their fancy technosorcery. For that matter, the prevalence of randomly assigned one-use magic items does give players powerful "desperation moves" that don't permanently unbalance the game.
  8. By "enchantment" you mean the creation of "magic items", correct? (Warning: vague advice and pontification ahead.) You might want to adapt the rules for "invention" or "research" in other RPGs, notably science fiction and/or "mad science", or rules for ritual magic. Usually they work as follows: 1. A player decides what they want to build. 2. The GM (somehow) determines how much time the PC must spend, what special tools or material they need, and the difficulty of the task. Something "routine" like holy water or a one-use scroll might simply require time and raw materials, while forging Anduril (the first time) might be insanely difficult even for an immortal Elvish weapon master. 3. Assuming there's some risk or uncertainty involved, the player makes one or more skill rolls, adjusted by the difficulty of the task, to actually create the magic item. Failure means wasted effort and possibly spoiled materials; a Fumble might cause an explosion. The tricky bit is deciding the time, materials, and difficulty for a particular item. I have no simple tables or charts to offer. If an item reproduces the effect for a specific spell, e.g. a "spell matrix" in RuneQuest, one can simply make those parameters a function of the spell's MP cost, "level", etc. Otherwise the GM will have to gauge the "power" of the item. The (ritual) magic system in Barbarians of Lemuria, for example, divides all magical effects into four categories: Cantrips (minor narrative effects), "First Circle" (whatever a trained human could do with the right equipment), "Second Circle" (beyond normal human ability), and "Third Circle" (world-shaking rituals most often used in swords-and-sorcery as the thing Our Anti-Hero is trying to prevent). Their alchemy rules have similar coarse-grained categories. See also its multi-genre derivative Everywhen and its suitably generic "Invention" rules. Also note that the prevalence and power of magic items will set the tenor of your game world. If items that grant +5% to +15% bonuses are easy PCs will stock up on as many of these things as they can. (It also stands to reason that NPCs with sufficient gold and/or connections will also load up on as many of these things as they can.) The end result, at least in my experience, is that magic becomes just another technology. If powerful magic items that anyone can use become too common, it might trigger an "arms race" between PCs questing for super-gear and NPCs (or at least a harried GM) seeking defenses against them. The local evil overlord, hearing of thieves that can teleport into his treasury or bedchamber, will find a way to stop them, particularly if he knows (or is) a sorcerer. My own preference is for low-magic worlds where uncommon "masterwork" gear -- mundane or magic, if there's a difference -- grants small bonuses and true "magic items", made with lore now mostly forgotten, are unique and dangerous to use. But it's your game.
  9. (Arise, stale thread! Arise!) Unfortunately I spent way too much on the Aces & Eights Kickstarter, mainly because of the Shot Clock. I'll probably regret it. Any comments about the Western system itself?
  10. Not having played it, I think it provided a "Platonic ideal" of RPGs, or at least something close to The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work. It tossed out all the wargaming mishegoss of hit points, armor points, movement rates, damage dice, modifiers for every little situation, and so on. Did you roll better than your opponent? Then you Did the Thing! If it's an extended contest, you each roll to Do the Thing until one person Did It more than the other and/or Did It the required number of times first. Granted, the "cancel masteries and roll low then calculate a success level" mechanic isn't as intuitive as "roll high, beat a number". And there's something to be said for fixed difficulties. And it's been done before: White Wolf got pretty close, S. John Ross's Risus is HeroQuest Lite with d6s and funny stick figures, Fudge and D6 were leaning that way. and I'm sure somebody else got there and didn't know it.
  11. A crazy idea I had two weeks ago, but which I thought it ate: Off the top of my head, what if we always rolled 2d6 - 2d6 for damage, adding a fixed positive damage modifier for a weapon (and +db) and a fixed negative damage modifier for armor? E.g. a Scimitar (1d8+1) would have a +5 damage modifier; with a decent Damage Bonus (+1d6, for example), that would be +8. Leather and Ring armor (1d6+1) would take away -4 of that damage. So the average damage would still be 4, but the standard deviation would always be +/-3.42. or roughly 3. That is, about two-thirds of the time you'd get the sum of the modifiers +/-3 ... but possibly anything from +10 to -10 (each 0.08%). Even against full plate armor, (1d10+2) there's a slight chance that a dagger does significant damage, but a very large chance it doesn't. Conversely, there's a small chance that a greatsword might just nick an unarmored opponent. (I noticed the dX vs dY effect as I was designing kobold-like creatures that had an average -1d4 damage modifier. If a short sword does 1d6, then the creature only does damage 58% of the time. I'm tempted to declare that they've created properly scaled knives and spears that eliminate the damage modifier but do two die steps less, e.g. 1d3-1 or 1d2 damage. But then that eliminates the stunning successes. It might be better to keep the 1d6 - 1d4 but declare that every attack always does at least 1 pt of damage. They'd do more than that only 42% of the time, with 25% chance of 3 or more points and 4% chance of 5 points.)
  12. Unless your Glorantha includes a Time Turner.
  13. Maybe also with a section on making monsters, because that's what I end up doing anyway (when I'm not making humans or stock monsters weird/creepy despite their familiarity).
  14. FWIW, Numenera has a limit to the number of one-use "cyphers" a character can carry. Beyond that, they react unpredictably and start losing power / melting down / going off. The number ranges from 2 to 5 (6?), but cyphers can literally do anything. In another hypothetical game maybe there's a separate, higher limit for health potions, minor amulets of luck, and the like. For that matter, you could look at D&D spells not as mystic potential but as little gizmos that "magic-users" carry around.
  15. While most of us like the variety of d100 magic systems, sometimes a setting or set of players would like one system that stretches from the minor buffs and curses of Battle Magic to the heights of Sorcery (or Divine Magic). Battle Magic at first blush seems like a good basis for such a system; just convert spells from Sorcery or elsewhere to a fixed or variable MP cost. However that cost may be huge, and a master magician will need pockets full of Magic Point Stores. Ways to mitigate that cost that I've thought of (i.e. stolen) include: Instead of using their own MP, master magicians can draw power from their surroundings, at a cost. See S. John Ross's Unlimited Mana for one such system, originally designed for GURPS. Master magicians have a special skill that reduces the MP cost of all spells by 1 MP per 10%, to a minimum of 1, much like Wizard levels in Tunnels & Trolls. Master magicians cast more powerful spells in downtime, then "freeze" them before they go off. At dire need, they "thaw" the spell and direct it at the necessary target. There's probably some limit to the number and strength of frozen spells, based on, oh I don't know, their "level" ... BTW, I started with Magic World but ran into the same conceptual difficulties as with Battle Magic. Their solution is to summon and bind demons, as in Stormbringer. Sorcery is the next candidate: simply port Battle Magic spells without Sorcery equivalents (e.g. Create Magic Point Store) to Sorcery, and build from there. Sorcery is a little more fiddly, though, so it's probably suited only for worlds where only a few people know magic, and sorcerers are specialists. I'll skip Divine Magic. A world of only priests sounds kind of dreary, but it might be some people's cup of tea. More exotic possibilities include stealing the Witchcraft/Island Magic/Dragon Magic/Mythos Magic base mechanic from Renaissance, porting Chaosium's Enlightened Magic, or creating yet another variation of Ars Magica/Mage improvised magic. I could also rip the systems from Classic Fantasy, either the original Chaosium release or the new Mythras version. All of those sound like a lot of work, both in ensuring they have a good spread of spells (or equivalent) and in documenting them for players. Is there some other OpenQuest-ready magic system I missed? Are one of the possibilities above not as clunky as they seem? Or should I start with the first principles of the setting -- in my case, an Arabian Nights / Crusades / Indiana Jones mashup with a few powerful sorcerers and a larger set of apprentices and "natural talents" -- and Frankenstein something together?
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