Archives for: October 2009
October 28th, 2009
Published on October 28th, 2009 @ 03:59:52 am , using 1005 words, 409 views
After nearly a year, we are ready to talk about one the most important concept in the history of this company, Ladders. Very few companies out there have made a serious effort to radically alter the rules of 4th Edition D&. Of course, when I mean alter, what I mean is, amend and add to. Already, we made a huge step with the addition of modern and futuristic firearms. It wasn't enough to just give them damage values and ranges; we needed to construct a system which had to be rigorously tested (and still is).
NeuroSpasta implements a change as radical as modern firearm rules are with Amethyst. The reason we didn't incorporate this system with Amethyst was twofold. For one, it didn't exist yet, but more importantly, making the character generation of modern characters more complicated than their fantasy counterparts in the same campaign setting may discourage people from attempting those roles. But if we separate this element into its own game, away from fantasy, it makes this additional level of complication easier to swallow. Of course, for players still wanting to slot in these new rules, they can.
This new system is called the Ladder system. We hope that this bundle of new GSL-compliant rules would be universal for all DEM products and as such, all Dungeons & Dragons products. We could implement the ladders not only with NeuroSpasta, but every other campaign world we release using 4th Edition mechanics.
As some of you have previously read, the ladder system implements two important concepts.
1: It thoroughly reduces the number of available powers for classes. Where a fantasy class would have 70+ powers from levels 1-30, a class using our system only has between 30 and 40. Thus, we can include more classes in our books. The majority of these classes are also single builds. So if we were making a ranger, there would be two distinct ranger classes, a dual wielding blade master and an archer. Think this is limiting? Wait.
2: The inclusion of ladders. Ladders define what your character is like rather than the role he or she plays. It represents abilities and powers based not on your vocation in life, but your natural talents either chosen or bestowed from birth. As such a ladder does not have a boiler plate of defining a role, proficiencies, hit points or healing surges. In fact most ladders give you none of these.
Originally, ladders were only meant to offset the lack of scaling magic in a modern setting like NeuroSpasta with the intent of drastically reducing the obsessive need to always acquire money. The ladder offered you free "magic" effectively as you developed. This later expanded to include level 1 abilities as well as alternate powers, all based around a common theme with the ladder you've chosen.
So, at first level1, before choosing a class, you select a ladder. Each ladder focuses on two dominant attributes. We chose two instead of one because we didn't feel focusing only on one would be fun or realistic.
Here are our ladders:
Born Leader: Charisma, Intelligence
Juggernaut: Constitution, Strength
Runner: Dexterity, Wisdom
Savant: Intelligence, Wisdom
Veteran: Charisma, Wisdom
Warrior: Dexterity, Strength
Each ladder first lists features a character gains at 1st level. These initial abilities are huge, as they not only alter your character's outlook, the actually altar the class you will later choose. If you select warrior ladder, you can use Dexterity for all your melee attack powers regardless of what your class indicates. If you select the juggernaut ladder, you can use Constitution for your ranged attacks when employing two handed or heavy weapons. Pushing this further, a savant ladder is able to drop attack powers in favor of more utility powers. Nearly every ladder has some feature which allows you to alter your class. In addition, there are also alternative powers as you progress. A warrior has more alternative attack powers while a savant would have more utility powers. In all, each ladder offers about a dozen+ alternative selections.
Not only that, at 3rd, 6th, 11th, 16th, 21st, and 26th level, you gain the option to acquire a free new ability or opt to acquire a financial windfall which you can put towards better weapons or gear.
So let us turn back to the ranger example. As stated, a ladder-based ranger would be two classes, a swordmaster and an archer. Those are two character builds. With the six ladders we have included thus far, you now have twelve...twelve different distinctive variations of those two classes. Twelve different ways you can approach a ranger. Wanna make a ranger that can run across tree branches scale over buildings like a parkour master, select the runner ladder. Want a ranger that is also the leader of armies and the proud icon of authority, select the born leader.
The initial fear was that certain ladder/class combinations were obvious choices for power gamers. Although we knew this couldn't be prevented, we discovered, to our amazement, that nearly every class didn't have one obvious choice. Our playtesters discovered new strengths with combinations we never knew existed. With NeuroSpasta's 10 classes and 6 ladders, that introduces 60 combinations in just a little more space than that of the PHB's class chapter.
When we asked our testers if this added level of complexity was too much despite the variety, we discovered they were welcomed with open arms. Of course, the ladder system is designed only to work with the modern classes we are making for NeuroSpasta and others future games. There are currently no plans to go backwards and start playing with fantasy classes, though this could change. Future products could add more ladders but would most likely add new classes, as each new class would represent six new builds.
So what do we have in our gaming group?
Born Leader--Combat Authority
And you can now see why the ladder system will require almost as much playtesting as the original DUNGEONS & DRAGONS rules. And yes...playtesters are still welcome...
October 25th, 2009
Published on October 25th, 2009 @ 03:43:26 am , using 873 words, 197 views
In addition the properties listed in the Dungeons and Dragon's PLAYER’S HANDBOOK, Weapons in NeuroSpasta and Amethyst can also carry these additional features:
Auto: A weapon with the auto property can fire one round of ammunition per attack roll with any ranged attack power without an auto keyword. You fire five rounds of ammunition per attack roll with attack powers with the auto keyword. An auto weapon is not a heavy auto weapon. Heavy auto weapons are weapons with much higher firing rates.
Burst: Burst weapons, when they impact on a target or a square, do their damage as burst 1 or more. Burst weapons are specialty weapons.
Special: You can use blast weapons only with a ranged basic attack.
Conceal: These weapons are so small, they offer a +2 bonus to Sleight of Hand checks to conceal them.
Gauss: Coil and rail weapons involve a process by accelerating metal shells using magnetism. The specific process is complicated and both coil-based and rail-based technology fire their shells using different means. These weapons discharge extremely fast and deliver astounding kinetic potential.
Property: Gauss weapons reduce cover penalties by 2. Additionally, if you roll the maximum result on any of your damage dice on a hit, all other damage dice on that same hit gain a +1 bonus to damage. This is cumulative if other rolls are maximum as well.
Rail special rule: If a rail (rail only) weapon shell kills a target with a critical hit, the shell continues on a straight path from the weapon, making a single free attack on one target in direct line of attack in the weapon’s range. This may only occur once per round of ammunition. This is a ranged basic attack and cannot be part of a power (or an at-will power being used as a ranged basic attack)
Grenade: Grenades use their own form of attack that depends on the specific grenades. Refer to grenades later.
Guided: These weapons assist in aiming after being fired and can even make a secondary attack if the first one misses.
Power (Encounter): No Action. Before firing, you can either grant your attack a +5 power bonus to attack or allow a reroll if the attack misses.
Heavy Auto: These larger weapons have no single shot option. They always fire at least ten rounds of ammunition per attack roll, regardless of the power being used. If you fire a heavy auto weapon with a non-auto power, the additional ammunition used is wasted. Some attack powers have additional abilities when firing weapons with the heavy auto property. Heavy auto weapons not mounted require a Str 13 to use. Heavy auto weapons are all heavy weapons.
Property: Heavy auto weapons inflict additional damage as the firer becomes more experienced using these kinds of weapons. A heavy auto weapon inflicts a +1 enhancement bonus to damage with every successful strike. At 21st level, it increases to +2 damage. This is in addition to extra damage from the Burst Fire feat. You must be proficient with the weapon to gain this damage bonus.
Pincher: These weapons deliver an electromagnetic pulse that disrupts any item that requires a battery or an electric current to operate.
Property: This weapon delivers lightning damage with every strike. If any lightning damage penetrates past AP and is inflicted on the target you can activate one of the following powers (you can only do one per hit):
Power (At-Will): Free action. Target suffers a -2 penalty to all saving throws until the beginning of your turn. This penalty does not compound.
Power (Encounter): Free action. The target is stunned until the beginning of your turn.
Power (Daily): Free action. The target is stunned (save ends).
Power (Daily): Free action. Targeted vehicle suffers a -5 penalty to all Vehicle Operation skill checks (save ends). The vehicle brakes every round until it saves.
Shotgun: Shotguns impact with tremendous force at close range, but this stopping power diminishes rapidly. They are fairly distinct and few models are on the market.
Critical: On a critical hit, the target is knocked prone.
Special: Shotguns do +2 damage if fired at 2 squares or closer. At long range, they only deliver half damage.
Sniper: These weapons contain advanced targeting systems for long-range fire.
Power (Daily): Free action. If you hit, add +5 to attack for the purposes of Marksman Talent.
Special: Sniper weapons list two bonuses for proficiency. You only receive the full proficiency bonus if you use a move action to aim. The full proficiency bonus ends if you move or are moved. The effect does not expire otherwise.
Self Propelled Projectile (SPP): SPP weapons are small rockets fired from pistols or rifles that continue to accelerate after an initial air compression push fires them from the shell. Although more expensive, they proved useful for engagements when range mattered. The ammunition for SPP weapons are known as sabot rounds as the shell ejected breaks apart and the contained self-propelled projectile ignites, breaking from its seal. All SPP weapons can fire underwater, though their range is half. They have definitive advantages, such as explosive warheads and guidance systems.
Power (Daily): Free action. Before firing, you may decide to re-roll a miss or gain a +5 to your attack roll.
Oh yeah, there are more...
October 18th, 2009
Published on October 18th, 2009 @ 04:46:38 pm , using 1156 words, 241 views
I won't offer names, but one of my playtesters blows up stuff, more likely works with people who blow up stuff. I can say this career is legal, upwardly mobile, and part of the government. That being said, we have been working hard in exploring the options available for explosives. This includes the setting and disarming of bombs. We had added in recently rules for wiring explosives together and catching collateral explosives (like gas barrels) in the initial blast. You can even set an explosive which requires a skill challenge to disarm...
Here are examples from our entries from the Weapons chapter and Skills chapter...these rules are going into both NeuroSpasta and Amethyst.
They are, of course, still being playtested.
GRENADES & EXPLOSIVES
All planted explosives require a detonator. With many, they detonate on contact by compressing a trigger or breaking a seal, which creates the charge. Others detonate with a signaled charge relayed from an implanted or remote source.
Most explosives listed can be either a grenade or a planted explosive. Grenades can be thrown or loaded into a grenade launcher and they detonate upon impact.
You can use a grenade or explosive only with powers listed with Explosive keyword. There are basic explosive and basic grenade powers. These do not count as a melee or ranged basic attack.
Planted explosives require a detonator and a demolitions roll. For every additional block of explosive used (all the explosives wired to the attack), add an additional +1[W] damage and +1 AP. For every two additional blocks wired to an attack, add an additional +1 to area burst. There is no blast radius limit but there is a damage limit based on your level: Heroic 3[W] damage; Paragon 4[W] damage; Epic 6[W] damage. This applies for each detonator.
You can trigger several detonators you have control over with a single power activation, but resolve each detonator/wired block individually.
You can use any explosives with an explosives attack, even grenades. If you use grenades as a planted demolition, use Demolition skill rules and detonate using an Explosive attack, not a Grenade Attack.
Special Rule--Damaging Structures: If planting explosives around structures (buildings, bridges, dams, etc), there is no damage limit. In addition, these structures are considered helpless. This does not apply to non-structures caught in the same blast. In this case separate the attacks and damage values between the structure and normal targets.
Detonating Collateral explosives: Explosives caught in the area of detonated explosives have a chance to explode as well. There is no hard yes/no rule and is up to GM discretion on each unique situation whether explosives caught in the pressure and heat of an explosion detonate. A moldable explosive may not go up but a tank of gasoline might. If so, the collateral explosive is included in the initial power only if the collateral explosive is located in the same square as the primary explosion. If in a separate square, the collateral explosive is handled as a separate attack.
Eg: If you strap a grenade to a tank of gas, the tank can be considered part of the primary explosion. Therefore, it adds damage and increases blast radius of the initial power. If caught in a separate square, it explodes as well, but it is handled separately.
Listing: These are the types of improvised explosives one might during an encounter. All collateral explosives have an area burst of 1.
Trained skill only.
You can set and disarm explosives. This includes all manners of mechanical and electronic detonators.
Placing an explosive for maximum effect against a structure calls for a check, as does disarming an explosive device.
Attacking with Explosives: Using Demolitions involves setting an explosive prematurely to an engagement or during one.
Setting Explosives: Each Demolitions skill roll takes standard action.
Wiring Explosives Together: DC15 for every additional block wired up. Additional blocks increase damage and burst (See Grenades and Explosives). Only one detonator is required per wired block but the blocks must be all in one spot. You can string several explosives at several locations up to be triggered at the same time but the detonators must all be the same. Each location must have one detonator. You roll to wire blocks to a detonator, not when wiring detonators together. Detonators wired together do not all have to be triggered at once. You can choose to trigger any detonators you have control over with your action.
Timed Detonator: DC15. Timed explosives detonate at a set time and cannot be prematurely detonated.
Remote Detonator: DC15. You may detonate an explosive by using a minor action. You may also detonate it as a readied action.
Triggered Explosives: DC20. These detonate on their own and do not require a minor or a readied action. They go off when a target either crosses over it, or before it moves out of its burst area.
Eg: Kathryn Lindune wants to set off two blocks of explosives each at ten different locations, all at once. They must all be the same. She makes them remote detonated. One remote detonator must be placed at every location but the two blocks at each location only require one detonator. Kathryn can trigger any number of detonators with a single action but each detonator triggers two blocks of explosives. She can, if she wishes, trigger all ten with a single action.
Failure: Failure means that the explosive fails to go off as planned. The explosives are not lost. Failure by 10 or more means the explosive goes off as the detonator is being installed. You cannot accidentally detonate explosives when wiring them together, only when implanting the detonator. A failure with wiring explosives together means the extra wired explosives will not go off.
Proper Placement: You can carefully set the explosive in such a way to do maximum damage. If you beat the DC roll by 10 or more, you gain +2 damage from the explosive. If you beat the DC roll by 15 or more, you gain an additional +3 damage from the explosive. Your final Demolitions skill roll is also the DC someone other than you needs to beat to disarm your explosive.
Disarm Explosive Device: Disarming an explosive that has been set to go off requires a demolitions check. The GM can set the DC or make a Demolitions skill check of who planted the explosive. The DC to disarm is equal to the Demolition skill roll made when the explosive was set. If you fail the check, you do not disarm the explosive. If you fail by 10 or more, the explosive goes off.
Effective Training: If you are trained in Demolitions, you gain a +2 proficiency bonus to attacks with the Explosive Keyword.
Special: You can take 10 when using the demolitions skill in the setting of explosives, not in the disarming or when in a combat encounter. The GM may allow you to take 10 in disarming if there is enough time to do so.
October 13th, 2009
Published on October 13th, 2009 @ 03:19:18 am , using 359 words, 323 views
Have you ever wondered how the world would ACTUALLY change in 80 years? Look back 80 years from today as examples. Countries we hear about every day, like Israel and Iran, were both declared in this time period. In my lifetime alone, we saw the largest single nation on Earth shatter into a half-dozen smaller republics. After that, another country, far smaller, got drawn into a civil war which created splinter nations of only a few hundred thousand people. Other countries were considered property of a monarch, including my own. We have the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of Japan as an economic superpower, and seen the transfer of power from kings and military juntas to democracies across the world. We have witnessed the greatest nations disintegrate and the rise of superpowers from the brink of collapse.
As NeuroSpasta's rules chugs along in playtesting, I have returned to working on its setting. I realized to make a sensible timeframe, I need to explain everything, at least for my own personal records. In aid in that, I have started writing a brief history of every country of consequence over the next 80 years. From the creation of the republic of Palestine to a reunification of Korea, I've left no stone unturned. I imagine this may take a while. I understand some choices may seem bizarre, others may appear blatantly controversial. Some countries won't be mentioned as they are not expected to change (like France...seriously, what would you expect). However, I do go into minute details if they affect the overlying geopolitical landscape. I understand readers may not be interested in the goings-on between Bangladesh and India or why Lebanon regained the title of "Paris of the Middle East". No one asks what goes on in Ghana in today's news. I hope, by creating this rich tapestry of political conflict, it will serve to inspire adventures with some credence to them.
I am currently still debating if I should divide the United States or not. I sunk half of the Netherlands and shattered the economy of Kuwait. You may think that's cruel, but this afternoon, I wiped out Maldives.
October 10th, 2009
Published on October 10th, 2009 @ 11:44:28 pm , using 467 words, 279 views
So, as promised, I am releasing detailed information on our modern combat system. This should give you an idea which way are heading. For those that acquired our Hearts of Chaos module, you will notice differences. These have been revised from feedback...
The weapons covered here are grouped into categories based on their general utility:
Heavy Weapons: These are large weapon systems that require a tripod, a base, a platform, or any other stable point from which to fire. Examples include sentry weapons, and a variety of artillery emplacements and turrets.
Properties: Heavy weapons grant opportunity attacks to adjacent squares if fired. Because of their cumbersome nature, if you move or are moved any distance you suffer a -4 penalty to attack rolls with heavy weapons until the beginning of your next turn (meaning you can shoot first and then move to avoid the penalty).
Special: These weapons may be purchased for a large user (e.g.: advanced armor). If so, heavy weapons become two-handed weapons. They are no longer able to be used by medium users.
Small Arms, One Handed: These are single-handed firearms which are renowned for their ease of use and compact style, making them an easy choice for those preferring stealth.
Properties: One-handed small arms do not grant opportunity attacks if fired. These weapons include basic pistols and small machine guns. They cannot be wielded by large creatures (i.e.: advanced armor).
Small Arms, Two-Handed: These are larger, slightly clumsier weapons usually preferred for longer ranges and high stopping power. With the development of technology, the latter became less a factor but two-handed arms have the capacity for larger clip capacities, greater accuracy, and the option of fast automatic fire. These include machine guns, most sniper rifles, and assault rifles.
Properties: Two-handed small arms grant opportunity attacks to adjacent squares if fired. Because of their cumbersome nature, if you move more than 1 square or are moved more than 1 square, you suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls with two-handed small arms until the beginning of your next turn (meaning you can shoot first and then move to avoid the penalty).
Special: These weapons may be purchased for a large user (e.g.: advanced armor). If so, these become one-handed small-arms. They are no longer able to be used by medium users.
Specialty Weapons: These are weapons with a unique function that require specific training. These include sonic weapons, pincher weaponry, and rocket launchers. There are one-handed, two-handed, and heavy specialty weapons.
Properties: Specialty weapons can only be used with a ranged basic attack (ranged basic attack, not a class/ladder granted basic attack). They also count as one-handed, two-handed, or heavy weapons and all rules applying to those weapons apply to specialty weapons as well.
I'll talk about weapon properties next...
October 4th, 2009
Published on October 4th, 2009 @ 10:16:03 pm , using 343 words, 277 views
Me and the powers that be have been discussing matters over our two product lines, Amethyst and NeuroSpasta. As we have already revealed, playtest feedback from the Hearts of Chaos FreeRPG module prompted us to address certain lingering issues with our firearm combat rules. With the advent of our significant playtest size for NeuroSpasta, I have been able to incorporate even more revisions without the need of a pesky errata. These are not broken rules, something I need to make perfectly clear. These are expansions and concepts we didn’t believe needed to be addressed. Feedback from our playtesters has convinced us there would be no reason in keeping them out. One such concept, as some have read prior, is for damaging structures with explosives. There are many more trickling in. For those still patiently waiting for our seminal GSL cyberpunk, testers are still in character creation. I foresee an extended playtesting period. So, for those hoping for a definitive release date, I don’t want to lead you on with such a locked date.
As for Amethyst, with the expansion of the main book from 256 to 288 pages, we are doing more than just making pictures bigger (although we are doing that), we are going to be expanding elements of the game taken from the aforementioned NeuroSpasta. This will involve going back a step and playing with the layout to fit these revisions into place. The cover is still chugging along and I sincerely hope to have that available for all to see quite soon.
The promotion of Amethyst will also be revving up soon. We are going to be recording another podcast along with sending out preview copies to various websites to look over and report on. Next week, I am going to be posting hard crunch rules on Amethyst’s combat system and how it has evolved from the version seen in Hearts of Chaos to the revised edition seen in both NeuroSpasta and the final Amethyst-Foundations sourcebook.
Oh yeah, and this is awesome...