Thursday, February 9, 2017

Product Release: "Unexpected Colony"

Pinnacle Entertainment Group just released a One Sheet Adventure I wrote for their Last Parsec setting. And it's free! Here are more details, from Pinnacle's announcement:
How did that elephant get in my refrigerator? When did I grow extra toes? Where did that settlement come from? All three of these questions are things you don’t really expect to ask yourself, but at least one of them will come up in Unexpected Colony—the new One Sheet Adventure written by Keith Garrett for The Last Parsec
When you answer the distress call of the downed cargo ship Azimuth, you were expecting a simple rescue and recovery. When has space ever been simple? 
Like most all of our One Sheet Adventures, Unexpected Colony is good for a quick adventure, easy to expand to a larger timeline, ready to be inserted into an ongoing game, or a good spot to start a campaign. Like absolutely all of our One Sheets, it’s also free! Grab it while the bits are still fresh!
Unexpected Colony PDF

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Charitable Game Promotions

Here in the US, we’re in the 3rd week of a terrible new presidential administration. The party dominating the government is the party of discrimination, selfishness, and religion, and they’re wasting no time in working to undermine the safety and security of everyone who doesn’t look and act and think the way they do.

Fortunately, a lot of us are doing what we can to resist these hateful actions and attitudes—taking actions such as calling and writing representatives, attending marches and other protests, and donating to organizations designed to help the people and institutions that are currently jeopardized.

This latter group includes some game designers, and that’s what I want to spotlight today.

Monte Cook Games

Monte Cook Games has a sale running through Friday, February 10, that also benefits a worthy charity. The sale is 10% off everything in their online store, boosted to 48% off of any print book for The Strange RPG.

More importantly, Monte Cook Games will donate 10% of all the proceeds from the sale to the ACLU. MCG’s stated reason for this sale is that “these are indeed strange times,” and they point readers to their recently released core values statement—which extolls the virtues of inclusivity, diversity, and truthfulness.

Green Ronin Publishing

Another publisher, Green Ronin, also has a special charitable deal going on right now. Why?

"Things feel different in 2017...It’s like we’ve all moved into a darker timeline, with forces thought vanquished in WWII coming back to haunt us again while a dangerous instability affects America and the world."

For the month of February, Green Ronin has discounted their recent Mutants & Masterminds sourcebook The Cosmic Handbook on their web store ($19.95 in print and $12.95 in PDF), and they’re donating $10 from each sale to the Union of Concerned Scientists. In addition to this, Green Ronin plans to have new sales every month to benefit additional charities.

"We will use these sales to highlight organizations doing good and important work that can help us all weather the coming days."


It won’t surprise me if we see more charitable gaming promotions like this, and if you know of any, please let me know and I’ll do my part to publicize them here.

Are these game publishers, and I, and the millions of people protesting and marching, overreacting? I sure hope so. But either way, I'm glad we have people in our society--and our industry--who try to help people targeted by stupidity and hate.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Palpatine's Coronation

Guest post by Zav Pulsar, BrightStar News

Earlier this afternoon in a special session of the Galactic Senate, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine declared himself Emperor, reforming the Republic into a Galactic Empire. The Senate reaction to this declaration was mostly positive, with the exception of a few minor planets already known for promoting dangerously radical policies.

Emperor Palpatine emphasized his platform of increased security from outside threats, a stronger military, and the elimination of a group of religious extremists who have been enemies of the state since this afternoon. When asked about the need for such an extreme measure as forming an empire, the Emperor assured reporters that his information about the threats we face--which must remain secret--is absolutely true, and that we can all take his word for it.

Some alarmists have spoken out against the idea of such an authoritarian and militaristic move. In a press conference after the Emperor's self-coronation, His Exaltedness attempted to assuage their unfounded fears.

"Our enemies respond to strength, and that's what we're going to show them. Take this new line of ships the Galactic News Net has been all worked up about, the Star Destroyers. That's just a name! They're destroyers that travel between stars, that's all." He chuckled. "Trust me, we can't destroy stars. We can't even destroy planets, just yet."

Our illustrious Emperor gave other examples of the improvements he will be implementing immediately, such as:

  • "Clone Troopers" will now be known as “Stormtroopers.” (The emphasis of “storms” over “clones” clearly representing a renewed focus on traditional values and environmentalism.)
  • Citizens should no longer feel obligated to say "May the force be with you." In fact, no one should say this anymore, ever. It is now classified hate speech.
  • Aliens on the capital world of Coruscant will now receive special treatment. All aliens, report to the lowest level of the city you live in and await further instructions.

The wise and mighty Emperor Palpatine did not comment on the holo-video that surfaced yesterday, apparently showing him firing some sort of electrical energy out of his fingertips and into a protocol droid after it dropped his soup. Despite the alarmist reaction of some other news networks, most citizens are unconcerned. As Outer Rim nerf herder Grav Gonnel said, "Aw, that's just somethin' that happens sometimes. Even the best of men slip up now 'n then. Besides, it was just a droid."

Responding to this issue and other criticisms leveled against our glorious Emperor, local businessman and CEO Janus Stargrafter said that critics of Palpatine should "just give him a chance." He added, "It's been less than a day since the man declared himself emperor! These whiners are judging him prematurely."

We here at BrightStar News pledge to remain open-minded and objective, and we wish magnificent Emperor Palpatine (dare we say "The First"?) all the success in the galaxy.

(Editorial note: We are also pleased to announce that BrightStar News has been chosen as the official, exclusive reporting agency for the Empire. We regret that our long-time competitors at Galactic News Net will not be reporting alongside us, as they are currently occupied with their recent financial and legal troubles.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Smuggled Goods Table For Edge of the Empire

By heydrienne (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

While running Edge of the Empire last night, I wished I had some tables like the ones that come with Savage Rifts—the ones that let you generate an adventure on the fly. Specifically, what I wanted in our session was a list of commonly smuggled items, because the players wanted to pick up a quick job.

(I borrowed “counterfeit foodstuffs” from Lords of Nal Hutta, because I found the term entertaining and wanted to see how my players interpreted it. Collectively, we decided that the cargo would be wax fruit, on its way to be sold for school lunches.)

Here's a table I put together to use next time. I didn't see anything that exactly suited my needs online, though the community support for this game is outstanding and it wouldn't surprise me if someone has done this already. Also, I don't own the smuggler book yet, so something useful might be in there. (If so, let me know!)

Smuggled Goods Table

d10 Commodity Recommended subtype (d4)
1-2 Stolen goods (1) artwork, (2) documents, (3) data, (4) artifacts
3-4 Counterfeit goods (1) clothing (2) high-tech items (3) luxury items (4) foodstuffs
5 Technology (1) droids/droid parts, (2) ship parts, (3) cybernetics, (4) other restricted tech (e.g. comms, cloaking tech, lightsabers
6 Weapons (1) archaic personal, (2) modern personal, (3) vehicle-mounted, (4) ship-mounted
7 Drugs (1) spice, (2) hallucinogens, (3) death sticks, (4) potent beverages
8 Biological cargo (1) bacterial agents, (2) animal parts, (3) live animals, (4) live plants
9 Medical items (1) medication, (2) bacta, (3) replacement parts (cybernetic or organic), (4) poison
10 Exotic (1) slaves, (2) captive(s), (3) hazardous materials, (4) something really weird (e.g. alien babies, sentient gases, transdimensional contraceptives)

If you have anything you'd like to add to this table, let me know in the comments!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Product Release: "The Subterranean Monarch"

Hey, I wrote something for Adamant Entertainment, and it’s out now!

“The Subterranean Monarch” is a Savage Worlds supplement for Adamant's THRILLING TALES Pulp Villains line. It features a scheming Baron, his mysterious Mantle Men, their weird equipment, and lots of adventure hooks. Eric Trautmann provided material too, and also did the layout, design, and some of the art. And since I didn’t do any of the art or layout myself, it won’t be egotistical of me to say: this thing is beautiful!

Here’s a link to the product page. It’s a 23 page PDF, and the price is $3. If you're into the Savage Worlds RPG and you like pulp adventure, please buy it, read it, and leave a short review on the product website!

The Subterranean Monarch on RPGNow

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Rogue One Holiday Special

Did you see there's going to be a Rogue One Holiday Special? I'm so excited! Here are the details:

"Over the river and through the a galaxy far, far away! Join Mon Mothma, Red Leader, and lots of BRAND NEW wacky characters as they celebrate Life Day--one year BEFORE the celebration shown in the original epic Star Wars Holiday Special. Just as you felt when you first saw that classic celebration of Star Wars seasonal spirit, the Rogue One Holiday Special will leave you wondering, "What just happened?!?"

"Although Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford couldn’t make it this year, you'll be convinced that they DID, thanks to the magic of CGI! Enjoy extended close-ups where you can see every lifelike pore on Luke's face, Leia's alabaster skin and painstakingly-rendered hair buns, and Han's devilish smirk--all of them up to 92% accurate!

"Joining the famous rebels this year are a fun batch of new additions to the Star Wars canon, including:

  • K-2S0 (that's "zero", not "O"!), K-2SO's evil twin (featuring an LED mustache).
  • Red Leader's family, Martha and little Johnny Leader.
  • The Imperial Marching Band. (They may not hit all their notes, but these musicians are real troopers!)

"Finally, you won't want to miss a few special treats we have for your human eyes and ears. Singer-songwriter Sia joins us to sing "The Twelve Parsecs of Life Day" (sure to be an instant classic), and a new animated short will introduce this year's hot new action-figure-tie-in character: Darth Fett.

"You won't find this magical show on just any old streaming service this year--in fact, you won't find it on any streaming service at all! In order to recreate the magic of the most famous 1970-era science fantasy holiday special of all time, we're releasing the Rogue One Holiday Special on unlabeled VHS tapes and distributing it directly to fan conventions and comic book store discount bins.

"Happy Life Day!"

-Image created at

Friday, December 9, 2016

Star Trek Adventures: First Playtest Session

Our holiday centerpiece

Last weekend I ran my group through the first playtest adventure for Star Trek Adventures (which I talked about earlier, due out next summer.) I don’t want to spoil the adventure for others who might be in the playtest, so my discussion here will be general.

Basic Rules (as of this writing)

This is a playtest, so a lot of details about the game may change before publication. But I wanted to give you a brief overview of what playing the game is like.

Star Trek Adventures uses the 2d20 system, which Modiphius uses in some of their other games such as Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition and Robert E. Howard's Conan. I’m not familiar with those, but in the STA version, you add an attribute to a skill, then roll 2d20 and hope one or both are equal to or less than that number. The game gives you ways to add more d20s (up to 5), and rolling a 1 or rolling under your skill’s specialty gets you an extra success. The number of successes you need depend on the difficulty of the task (usually 2).

Here are some other notable rules from the current playtest draft:

Momentum: When you roll more successes than you need on a given task, you can spend the extras for added effect--or save them in a group Momentum pool that everyone can use on later turns. Momentum points let you do things like add a d20 to a roll, or make a roll harder for an enemy.

Threat: Kind of the opposite of Momentum, Threat points are a pool that the GM can use to help out the bad guys. Players can choose to voluntarily add to the Threat pool to gain an extra die to roll, thus helping themselves out in the short term by risking more trouble later on.

Another chance to use my action tracker cards!

Determination: Each PC starts with several of these tokens, and they work like hero points or plot points or bennies in other games. You spend them to do cool things, and earn them by being a good player. In STA they're more powerful than Momentum points, but it does feel like there's some overlap.

Values: Each PC in the playtest had 3 Values, things like "Fortune Favours the Bold," "No Love of Violence," and "Outspoken and Argumentative." The playtest rules spell out one positive use for this and one negative. If you're rolling on something your Value might help, and you spend Momentum on it, you can get an extra Momentum point for free. And on the negative side, you can choose to gain a point of Determination if you accept a Complication from the GM. (Kind of like a GM Intrusion in Monte Cook Games's Cypher System.) It sounds like more uses for Values will be included in later rules. I think this has the potential to be core to the game's "Star Trek" feel.

Challenge Dice: When rolling damage or similar results, you use special 6-sided dice. For now we don't have specially printed dice, so we use regular six siders with the following values: 1-2 count as normal, 3-4 count as nothing, and 5-6 count as 1 plus a bonus effect. The effect differs per weapon; an example would be a knockdown effect when you're punching someone.

Injuries: Every character has a Stress track, and damage will usually come off of this. If you run out of stress, or take a lot of damage at once, your character is Injured, which in this game means you're out of the fight. You can, however, spend Determination to soldier on.

Group Impressions

Happiness is a table full of dice and playtest notes.

I enjoyed reading the playtest rules and running the game. In play, we felt that some of the rules need tweaking--especially extended tasks, which were extra hard to understand and really slowed us down--but I am optimistic about the game's future. There's a lot to like here: the system is (mostly) simple, there aren't a ton of skills, players have a lot of control over their destinies, and there's a focus on encouraging problem-solving and not just fighting.

I'm expecting the second playtest adventure in a few weeks. I hear it may include starship rules and/or character creation. Can't wait!