Thursday 30 September 2021

Everybody's Kung Fu Fighting

You know what they say. Teach a man to be a Dungeon Master, and you can sell him modules and supplements for years; show a man enough cool tricks, and he'll be able to make new ones for himself, at home, for nothing, with only a small aubergine. 

Take martial arts and fighting styles. Sure, Marvel Super Heroes had "Martial arts A" and "Martial arts E" and all that, and it was kind of okay, I guess?.. But not too exciting. 

I didn't think much about it because I didn't know there was anything that could be done to make fighting styles more interesting. 

And then came Zak. 

"Here, have Lucky Number kung fu", he said. And it was simple (the simplest, in fact, that Zak could think of), it was fun, it was definitely bringing something new to the table. It left me in the position of a monkey who had just picked up a really cool stick - I like it, I can do stuff with it that I couldn't have done before, and I have absolutely no idea how to make another one like this. But who cares - check out my cool stick! 

 Then Zak said "Hey, have some more fighting styles" (The Lucky Number, because it works, and five more, equally simple and fun). And my monkey was even happier, but also started thinking. When you have six fighting styles, you start asking yourself: What if you use this one against that one? How do they work against each other? How do they work together? 

It's a funny thing - knowing that there can be several very different styles in your game. You start looking for new stuff. I picked some moves from Xena Warrior Princess (the show and the RPG, it's an oldie but it's fun), and one interesting style from "Veins of the Earth", which was a fun book, though its authors, Patrick Stuart and Scrap Princess, later behaved like shameless lying abusers. 

And then Zak said "Hey, buy Cube World #37 in The Store, it's got The Assassin's Opera",  and this time it was slightly different, because there was more than just different fighting styles - each of the Assassins had his or her own appearance, stats and weapons. And their styles tied in with what they were, looked like, and used.
Cool, I thought. I was just assembling a group of female brigands for my players to run into, and I wanted each woman to have her own style and special abilities.
And I used a couple of Zak's styles, and the rest I just invented as I looked at the figures I had ready. It turned out to be really easy. Look at her, imagine what could she do to gain an advantage, translate it into game mechanics. Done, next.

I still use Zak's kung fu now and then, because being able to invent something doesn't mean you shouldn't use the cool stuff that someone else invented for you. In fact, it's even more fun this way.

Saturday 25 September 2021

The best game I could possibly have

Imagine a tabletop game created for superheroic adventures.
It has easy to read and understand rules.
It has a cool system of character generation that makes sense, and lets you put together powers and abilities and personal backgrounds that work well together, so you end up with, like, a high-flying freak with infrared vision who grew up in the streets because he was born a freak, a master illusionist with an arsenal of magic spells who lives in a tower hidden from normal humanity, doing things that normal people can hardly imagine in her spare time, or a shapeshifting actor/actress who plays in one B-movie after another because apparently you can't just shapeshift into being a good actor. That's what three people got when they read the rules for the first time and just rolled the dice - the game helps you to come up with something cool.
It has an excellent initiative system that depends on the characters' abilities, and plays them out realistically.
It has a combat system that easily incorporates possible advantages and disadvantages, including those that result from ballistic advantages of firearms on various distances, and yes, it's easy and it makes sense, too.
It has cool rules for crime and police involvement.
It has an experience system that works pretty much as well as FASERIP's Karma (in my opinion, nothing works better than that).
It has interesting options for invention and gadgeteering.
It's written by an award-winning author who had read a lot of comics, and knows a lot about superhero games and what works well and what doesn't in them.
It's got good art to illustrate it.

It's really frustrating that neither I, nor you, nor anyone else can have this game.

Because it's "I Am The Weapon" that Zak S. was making.
And before he could finish, he was attacked by a group of people that tried long and hard to smear Zak badly enough in accusations to ruin his career. When Zak's ex-wife claimed that she was abused in their relationships, the group took this chance and were successful in using it.
Now, some facts.
There has never been any evidence of Zak abusing any woman. No documents, no witnesses, no court decisions.
There is at least one case that I know of when the court recognized one of the people who attacked Zak, one known in roleplaying circles as Ettin, guilty of spreading misinformation, and made the person publicly apologize and pay the compensation to Zak.
Among other people who attacked Zak, about a dozen have been since outed as liars and abusers (including and not limited to Olivia Hill, Adam Koebel, Luke Crane - here's something about Koebel and Crane).

Now, my opinion on the situation.
Family abuse if one of the worst things a person can do. Falsely accusing someone of family abuse comes close.
Zak S. was accused of being an abuser by people who had no proof. There is such a thing as presumption of innocence. Therefore, Zak was falsely accused of a terrible crime.
Every person who took part in the campaign against Zak, every person who claimed "I don't need any proof, I believe Mandy!", every person who repeated the lies participated in a terrible thing, which is also, by the way, against the law (as "Ettin" found out).

Think of the man who grabbed a gun and started shooting in a pizzeria because of lies about "satanic pedophilic orgies" that he heard and read a lot. He discovered that there were no suffering children that needed his help, and that he became a criminal for no reason other than listening to liars.

Think of the Central Park Five who went to prison because they were falsely accused of attacking a woman. It's a fact that they were innocent, proven by the confession of the real attacker, proven in court, and widely known now.

These things keep happening all the time. And the thing we need to do - you and me both - if we don't want to live in a world where liars and abusers destroy lives, is act against the liars.
If you see someone that makes false accusations, stop them. Ask for proof. Expose their lies.
Basically, do the right thing.
Don't nod, don't look away, don't keep quiet.
Because chances are good that the next victim will be someone that you care about.
I, for one, care about Zak.

Thursday 16 September 2021

A couple uses for a Tarokka deck


1. Use it to play a horror vatiant of Zak's STACK game, which is "fast, light, cheap instant RPG for long train trips".

2. Use it in Ravenloft to make things more dramatic. Make a pause and put the "Beast" card on the table before announcing that the moonlight triggers the lycantropic transformation in the character who was recently bitten by a wolf.
Or give them to players as rewards, let them use them to boost their actions. A "Paladin" card could help with some noble deed, like disarming a cornered enemy or persuading a jury to free the wrongly accused, a "Rogue" card could help with sneaky stuff.

Answering Jeff Rients's twenty questions for our Krynn game

We're still stuck in Spidernesti, so this is what I mean when talking about "land".   What is the deal with my cleric's re...