Developer’s Journal 5: SW Powers = Techniques

1 Chi Point = 2 Power Points (roughly)

Holy Moly it’s almost the end of June. It’s been a bit crazy on the home front. Working through a lot of projects and this tentacle hasn’t had time to write Monday Manga or a Developer’s Journal.

So let’s do the Developer’s Journal since we just passed a Wednesday.

Expanding upon our last Journal , I have to transfer all the known powers from Savage Worlds to the Chi system. Which is pretty easy to do. 1 Chi Point = 2 Power Points (roughly).  Since SW players know what Trappings are, we look to design them differently. We go with the battle anime’s version of “Lazor Rocket 2000” or “Face Palm of Truth” as fun trappings to help set the mood.

I looked at naming conventions of Powers, which are now call Techniques. This might cause a ruckus in the area of game development of SW of “short and sweet” or “fast and furious”, but I wanted flavor than just generic bolt or burst powers. So we named Techniques after famous or legendary people, or after a “zodiac” animal of the world setting. Such as:

Crane Wing 
 Cost: 1
 Duration: 3 rounds (1/two rounds)
 Trappings: “Bare Palm Defense”, “Monkey Tail Swap”
 Those that push away swords with the palms of their hands, or samurai who practice two weapon style defense emulate a crane’s large wing span. This acts as the deflection power.

OR

Fang’s Draught
 Cost: 1
 Duration: 3 (1/two rounds)
 Range: Spirit
 Trappings: “Ex Remover”, “Poison Sting”, “Withering Touch”
 Alchemist Fang worked for one of the Imperial Families and had access to numerous resources for her studies. She also had an abusive husband who she started experimenting on. Fang’s husband was found days later in a living mummified state. Fang went on to remarry. This power acts as the lower trait power.

 

To keep in line with the Savage Worlds License you can’t reprint powers, but you can make reference to their source. And let’s be honest, I don’t want to reprint every power in the book. That cost time, money, AND page count. Like most third party references, you should always go back to the original source. This isn’t to say we haven’t come up with new powers Techniques, because we have. Like Clone and Fei’s Shout.

The Techniques give Art of War that little anime manga flavor bit to the setting, but also keeps the idea of fantastic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon running across bamboo limbs feel. The trappings are what make your home game personal vs that over there home game.

Developer’s Journal 5: Drejk

Long time freelance writer: Wojciech “Drejk” Gruchała.

Drejk

Today I want to do a brief introduction of my first and long time freelance writer: Wojciech “Drejk” Gruchała.
Drejk, as is his Paizo messageboard name, has a blog over on Blogspot called
Shaper of Worlds. He first started his freelance career for me at Amora Game when I stumbled upon a class he was designing in the “Homebrew” section on the boards. This turned into our third product (that still sells regularly); Commander & Centurion for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

He did the Commander class and Kevin Bond did the Centurion prestige class. Drejk has come a long way in his writing and style of how he writes. I recently gave him a challenge to write a low level adventure scenario for our long dead Prepare for War adventure path. Of all the people to breath a bit of life into it, I think he is the one to do it. I’m excited to see him grow over the years in his development abilities. I can say of all of my freelancers, he receives the least revisions.

Now as a publisher, that doesn’t always do well for freelancing. I’m biased when it comes to his design work that he has done for me. So it is hard for me to see any flaws in design and go back to him with feedback. I commonly hand it off to someone else to review. This is my failure as a publisher and I recognize this, I just really enjoy his work. I will do better to give better feedback directly on this adventure.

So check out some of his work.
Under the name Drejk.
Under his name credits here.
His Patreon is here that helps to fund his free Pathfinder Monster Design Blog here.

Tentacle out!

Developer’s Journal 4: World Setting Rules for SW

Setting Rules for an Asian Inspired SW

So some of my favorite rules are already implemented in the Savage Worlds explorer’s edition. Like Joker’s Wild and Blood & Guts. There is one that I like that was created by the folks over at Wine & Savages posted a fun setting rule that can be used for any martial arts / anime-manga style setting. They do a fun one called Comedy Backlash Comedy Backlash. (reprinted here for journal purpose)

New Setting Rule: Comedy Backlash
When a character utilizing Magic, Psionics, or Weird Science rolls poorly enough that backlash, brainburn, or a malfunction would normally be called for, the player (never the Game Master) can instead choose to suffer a Comedy Backlash effect. The hero is Shaken, but a second Shaken result cannot cause a Wound; instead, the player describes something embarrassing happening to the character.
Examples include:
  • The character accidentally destroys their own clothes, exposing themselves to onlookers.
  • Collateral damage from the attack causes debris to clonk the hero on the head.
  • The power explodes in the hero’s face, leaving cartoon scorch marks.
  • With the other player’s permission, the hero accidentally destroys another character’s clothes, exposing them to the original character’s bashful gaze. (The other hero does not suffer a Shaken result, but may wish to suddenly realize they’re naked after the fight is over.)
  • With the other player’s permission, the hero stumbles into a nearby ally, causing unintended intimate bodily contact and getting slapped for it.

With the above ^^ copy and pasted setting rule from them, I’ve developed a hindrance that could play well with the above. Rough draft for nose bleeds are below.

woooo

Nosebleed (major, minor)
Requirements: Novice
When being flirted with or having licentious thoughts most characters have blood rush to their cheeks, your character’s blood comes straight out their nose. Dirty thoughts, catching a risque glimpse of flesh or being placed in compromising situations, it’s fairly obvious when the character catches the slightest hint of the nude form.
As a minor hindrance your character’s nosebleed causes little to mild discomfort and results in a small trickle of blood running out of his nose. It’s more of an inconvenience and embarrassment in interactions.
When taken as a major hindrance the nosebleed turns lethal due to a fountain of blood loss. Your hero must make an unmodified Vigor check (beanies may be spent to reroll). On a fail, they fall unconscious after suffering 3 immediate fatigue and suffer one wound. One a success they suffer 1 wound due to intense blood loss and must take time to stop the bleeding. On a raise your hero only suffers from blood loss, 1 fatigue wound, and will need to take a minute to stop the bleeding.

With the 1st or 4th bullet point above, another player with the Nosebleed hindrance would play off each other very well.

A player who failed an activation of a Chi technique (my campaign setting powers) or who failed to activate a magic power suffer the effects of the 1st. Causing another player near by to suffer a minor Nosebleed adding to the anime comic relief of a glitch.

     Another setting rule I developed with inspiration stolen from HellFrost and Rippers is the our rule Way of Chi (draft)

Derived Stat:

Chi: 2 + ½ your Spirit die, modified accordingly.

What is Chi
Chi is the character’s inner capability to push themselves beyond the normal physical and mental limitations of the body. It’s a derived from the Spirit die. All characters can spend Chi to do many things. It’s their chance to will their destiny. A character can use it to re-roll their wild die,  increase their initiative, take an extra repeat action without suffering penalty.  It is sometimes used to fuel extraordinary powers that are called Chi Techniques. These techniques are explained later in this book. If a character’s Chi reaches zero a character suffer a Fatigue wound. A character is unable to heal this Fatigue until they have restored at least one point of Chi. Chi is explained further under the setting rules section of this book.

Way of Chi
Besides having the ability to power Chi Techniques for those that possess the ability, Chi can be used used by any Wild Card in the game. Chi is free to spend at any point on a Wild Card’s turn to perform one of the following actions:

  • Re-roll a Wild Die: A Wild Card can spend a Chi to re-roll a Wild Die at any point but only their Wild Die.
  •  Gain an Initiative Card: When initiative cards are dealt, a Chi point can be spent to gain an additional card. The hero decides which one to keep and discards the rest. Much like a Beanie is spent for re-rolling dice, a player can spend Chi to gain multiple cards. They can only keep one card as an initiative card.
  • Take a Repeat Action: A hero can spend a Chi point to repeat an action they just took, but suffer the multi-action penalty. They can spend 2 points to negate the penalty for multiple actions on the repeated action.

When a character’s Chi reaches zero they suffer a Fatigue wound. A character is unable to heal this Fatigue until they have restored at least one point of Chi to character’s Chi pool. The process of recovering Chi during a session is fairly simple. It requires the hero in game, to spend some time meditating. This meditation requires roughly an hour where the hero takes no other action except that of concentrating and centering themselves. If they take damage from any source or fall under an effects caused from of an outside source, they lose their focus and must start again. If distractions are avoided,  a successful Meditation roll, regains 1 Chi point, and on a raise they recover 2 points.

 

So that wraps up our (almost) month of silence since I got back from Japan. That blog of that is coming soon, as is the 4 draft reviews of Manga series I’ve finished.

Tentacle Out! ~TG

Developer’s Journal 2: Rise of the Tiger Clan

Rise of the Tiger Clan

In this edition of Developer’s Journal we look at the 2nd draft copy of the history section of one of the three clans found in our forthcoming RPG Art of War.  This focuses on the the rise of the Tiger Clan


Tiger Clan

Clan Family Names: Date, Huang, Khan, Lao, Luo, Luong, Ma, Sakai, Shingen, Sun, Yu, Zhang, Zhao

Common Tenets: Benevolence, Harmony

Common Concepts: Buxist, Youxia

Common Descriptors: Caregiver, Elemental, Fluid, Monk, White-hare

Clan Technique: Deflect Arrow, Ground Breaker, or Moon Rabbit Leap

Rise of the Stripped Tiger

The story of the Tiger Clan begins just as any other points in history where the oppressed bind together to stand against tyranny of any form. The clan comes from the former nomadic traditions of the vibrant communities across all of the Hanxia Plains. Farming villages that hold to seasonal festivals to celebrate the life of the common people. They believe in the practice of a balance of living in harmony with nature and each other.

They came into their own when the surrounding barbaric warlords threatened their quiet life with raiding and pillaging. Warlords living in the Wylds looking to expand their territory ravaged the land with constant displays of violence. Sending hordes of raiders to raze crops, demolish rival warlord’s villages, the slaughter livestock, enslave those who didn’t pay tribute and desecrate sacred shrines of the Enlightened Way.

It was the keepers of these holy places, the Buxist of the Enlightened Way, were the first to speak out against the imbalances of oppression. These monks of virtue trained in the use of chi, developed physical techniques to align with the mind to perform great feats of marvel. The Buxist taught the basics of these techniques to the local villages in order to help defend against the raiding bandits. They trained while they harvested and fortified their homes with the offerings that the Plains provided to them.

It wasn’t long until the warlord by the name of Black Jade heard of a village that learned the secrets of the balanced path and looked bend it to his will. Arriving in the village, Black jade, went looking for the senior monk that is said to have mastered shattering swords with his fist. To his dismay, the monk had moved onto the next village, leaving behind only his wisdom. Black Jade pressed the village elders for the location of the scrolls the he had left. Offering first with money, than protection from the other warlords, and finally he used intimidation.

Those that were present during the initial altercation are said to have been divided. Some stood in fear, unable to move, while others instinctively responded with flight. Then there were those that responded with a type of aggression of vengeance. Vengeance against those who didn’t follow the basic tenets of balance, those that followed corruption, power and tyranny.

Those that responded became known as the 13 Heroes of the Cleansing Jade. They traveled from village to village spreading their interpretation of the old teachings and training them in defense against invaders. These teachings united villages into larger communities that began to take the names of the heroes as their own. Bring about the 13 established families.

As news spread of the fall of warlord after warlord, so did the Emperor’s eye turn toward the plains. Rumors and fear of revolt spread throughout the court, and under encouragement of Kitsune Samurai of the court, the Emperor dispatched a royal military unit to suppress any threats of the empire. Upon arriving at the village of Lao, it seemed as though life was proceeding as normal. The troops of the Kitsune Clan attache were welcomed with loyal cheers. When village elders meet with the diplomats, they informed them that a resolution was already in hand, and all the Hanxia Plains villages remained loyal to the Empire.

As the royal army traveled to secure further territory from the savagery of the remaining warbands, they found similar stories with each village. The royal emissary called for each hero to return with the Kitsune Clan as honored guest to tell their story to the Emperor. Those that agreed, arrived in the capital to a grand ceremony with an audience to appear in front of the royal family. It was here that, the Emperor annotated each of them minor noble standing. He called the collection of heroes representing each village in attendance the Tiger Clan for their calm and fierce demeanor. All members of the Tiger Clan were assigned the duty of protecting the realm from injustice, preserving the code of BuXia, and keeping the kingdom in balance.

icon-2-tiger-clan-monk

Developer’s Journal 1: Art of War

In this tentacle’s free time it makes RPG supplements or hires freelancers to do so under the company name that you can find in the widget to the right of your screen (click the logo).  Now we have made several different type of products, mostly focusing on the Pathfinder Compatible system. This tentacle originally wanted to create an Asian fusion campaign world inspired by anime, Three Kingdoms of China and the Warring States of Japan.

This project was originally called Project BuXia and was to be developed for the Pathfinder d20 system, but as things went along the mechanics didn’t feel proper for world setting. So we started to look at other gaming systems. One was Savage Worlds, which offers a free from character development and would be fast and easy to jump right in. The issue was multiple types of dice. This tentacle wanted to keep the system simple. Multiple dice served their function for the system of Savage Worlds really well, but we didn’t want players worrying about having to keep track of different dice.

We looked at OVA: the Anime Roleplaying System from Wise Turtle Games. It uses a d6 base and already has rules centered around anime fun. This tentacle loves this system, and everyone has d6s lying around from either Monopoly or Yahtzee. However trying to squeeze the world we wanted into this system felt forced. So we tried again.

We looked back at past systems to find Big Eyes, Small Mouth 3rd Edition. A classic system using an updated rules from the Tri-Stat System which we loved using growing up. Again it had everything we wanted and the game is designed for the Anime/Manga RPG fans alike. Expanded skill sets for customization of characters and templates for anime influenced build outs. The ability to scale the dice to the power level you wanted is great from GMs and Players alike. Our issue was the point build numbers were to large and as this tentacle fleshed out the world it wanted to create, we realized this was too anime. Our flavor text and world merging ended up more based on the martial arts films and samurai tragedies of the movies.

This shifted our focus to drop the anime feel and focus on a rich dynamic setting. We wanted to keep the original goal in mind of having a simple system using the same die type and no more than a handful of them. The game mechanics should be simple, open, and easy to  understand while offering enough character customization to have in depth backgrounds. So we looked at the base rule set of the standard Tri-Stat system and found our answer.

A simple 2d10 base mechanic system with a modified point build structure for character and rules. We came up with a house ruled system we call BuXia. This gave rise to the writing the introduction to the book (soon to be kickstarter) Art of War. The opening (unedited) text is below. It includes a brief introduction, theme & tone, along with what we call BuXia Code, similar to the Bushido or Wuxia code.

—————————————

Welcome to the world of The San Empire.

Art of War is a world setting where bushido meets wuxia. Martial arts, katas, and Chi are as commonplace to the farmer as it is to the Emperor. Youxia wander the lands protecting its people from burdening lords, as the samurai hold their ground against the Oni warlord armies. Feats of wushu masters running up bamboo trees and punching holes into walls, while a ninja clan moves swiftly along the moon clad roads skirting patrols as they infiltrate a castle. Elemental benders of the village summoned by the council to intercept and negotiate with the demon possessed monks that torment local farmers, all while avoiding hungry ghost of the forest.

Join me for an evening of listening to the guqin and shamisen. If we are lucky, we might see a geisha dance this time.

Theme and Tone

The Art of War takes place on the continent of XX, which is home to many bright cultures and traditions. Art of War focuses only one of these empires, the San Empire that is made up of three states joined under the current reign of the Emperor Wu Zhang. Under the Mandate of Heaven, he directs the sacred lands of the people controlled by the three Great Clans: Kitsune, Tiger, and Serpent.

What is the Art of War influences?

Art of War is a 32mm narrative miniatures skirmish game that pulls its inspiration from parts of Eastern History. The first being the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history that took place between the end of the Eastern Han and beginning of the Jin Dynasty. This period is often referenced as the Three Kingdoms period of Wei, Wu, and Shu.

The second influence comes from the warring states of Japan, known as the Sengoku period. Before the unification by the Tokugawa shogunate, the years of these warring states spans from the beginning of the Onin War and ending with Siege of Osaka. This setting also pulls elements from the Nara and Kamakura periods of Japan’s history.

The Kingdom of Joseon of Korea, the Tru’ng Sisters of Vietnam, the Tibetan Empire, and many other parts of history have inspired the tapestry in the creation of this imaginary world.

This is an imaginary world pulled and created from many aspects of history, but is in no way a representation or a perfect mirror of these rich cultures. It is a make believe place that is a mesh of ideas, thoughts, and historical aspects sewn together to created this project.

What is the BuXia Code?

BuXia takes its names from both the Bushido Code of the samurai and the Wuxia Code of the martial arts. Combining these two codes and infusing it with a mix of anime inspiration, kung-fu epics, and ronin sagas we create the world of Art of War. A world where individual members from one of the major clans come together to prove their might against each other to earn honor through experience or to face a good death. The following are the prominent tenets of BuXia.

1.     Benevolence: Those who follow the Path of BuXia look to help others whenever possible. It is a warrior’s duty to protect and guide those in need. In its simplest form, benevolence teaches that offering military protection against bandits, tending to the poor, helping farmers mill the fields when drought or sickness overwhelms them, and helping friends when in need. This tenet is the most prominent and widely respected of the all codes of the Path.

2.     Courage: The tenet of courage to a warrior is the willingness to confront hardship, pain, danger, intimidation and and the uncertainty of death to do what must be done. In BuXia, courage sometimes meets conflict on the battlefield for some warriors. Samurai concept hold courage as a central focus of their belief and are more prepared to fight and die without hesitation, be it by orders or from an unavoidable situation. However one of the shinobi concept will recognize that having a path to retreat takes courage when backed into a corner and fighting against unfavorable odds. A youxia recognize surrendering and accepting defeat in a duel takes more courage than losing face by not standing back up when knocked down.

3.     Harmony: Balance in the world, everyday living, between the body and mind are notable ideals that are not always obtained. Perfect Harmony is the highest state of enlightenment that very few have achieved in the world that surrounds the warrior and is is difficult to achieve. The practice of a kata but never wanting to use it if possible is the most common struggle for a warrior given that they are drawn to seek justice, which often lends to violence.

Those along the Path seek to achieve at least one aspect of their life to be in balance. A fortune and glory hunter will often lean heavily on their following of the Benevolence code handing their riches ones that need it. A swordsman may master deadly chi techniques, yet only use non-lethal force on others of lower skillsets.

The kingdom as a whole will balance their living with that of nature by incorporating gardens into their cities and only expanding when they need to for population purposes. The empire builds roads around thick woods to preserve a species of bird, and will knead the soil of the plains to cultivate farm land. Daily life supports the give and take needed to have harmony.

4.     Honor: Honor teaches that every warrior stands in judgment over himself at all times regardless of the circumstances. A warrior cannot truly follow the Path of BuXia if he acts as one expects, and not as his own sense of honor dictates. A warrior with true honor will follow the philosophy of BuXia even as every aspect of society around him falls corrupt. He will act justly even if he is commanded to behave dishonorably by a superior.

5.     Respect and Courtesy: The showing of admiration to wise elders, peers that battle alongside a warrior, or even those that may be less skilled but strive to be great are worthy of some respect. This virtue is a trademark of the Code in the San Empire. Concept Warriors are civilized heroes and are unlike the savage barbarians.  Respect and courtesy with proper manners at all times sets concept warriors apart from animals. A warrior who shows excess undue emotion and rudeness not only violates this code but can result in losing face, while respecting those around them and shaming himself.

Respect is a virtue that mixes with honor and plays a vital role in court. A warrior who suffers a failure of respect from those of higher status, demonstrates honor by enduring provocations and avoids drawing attention to other’s failures. In order to maintain face, many make a point to shun those that engage in uncouth spectacles and improper behavior, since to draw attention to discourteous behaviors can make matters worse.