Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Space Magic in Rad Astra

First, a confession...

This is one of those posts that I initially dread writing. Mainly because I over think it. I've been mulling over ideas for space magic for a loooong time. Problem is I'd read spellcasting rules for other games as inspiration and that would just end up as an exercise in disappointment once I realized it wouldn't work in a rules-light game like X-plorers (the ruleset I'm currently using for Rad Astra) or other similar systems.

I'd decided a long while back on how I wanted the character class to work, but that didn't give me much of a clue about how to structure the underlying system. Until I decided to just let go and use X-plorers as my divining rod and snip off ideas from other sources without (hopefully) borrowing from them whole-cloth. Either way, this stuff still needs to be playtested.

This is a long winded way of saying, I'm not entirely sure this will work, but it's a start. I had originally planned to run a new spells system and space warlock/wizard class at Con of the North in 2015 but I was still hashing out details. So maybe consider this the first in a series, with this first post explaining how magic works (in a broad, rambling sense!), and an upcoming post will outline how the new class works.

This is all to say, it's going to take me a few tries to get this right. All right, let's begin...

How Magic Works in Rad Astra

In the beginning of spacetime, before the birth of the old gods and the plucking of the universal filaments to create the vibrations that would give way to the multiverse, there was only... the Krackle. The original source of all things that cracked, sputtered, spit, and hissed with raw power. Pure and potent, it's energies were first discovered by the eternal titans of the cosmos. Not only did they weave eternal geometries it into galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae, but likewise did they pour its essence into the "reverse" of spacetime fabric: hyperspace, astrality, and the dark dimensions. Hence, its application is unlimited. It can be pooled or tapped and called forth, fueling cosmic and arcane might. But those gifted mortals who seek to tame the blood of the universe are cursed to crave it evermore! 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cypher system returns for Feb. Saturday Night Space Opera!

I'm super excited about this one--THE STARLIGHT FILIGREE is an original adventure by Jenifer Doll that is practically ripped from the headlines. Jen has done an amazing job writing and GMing these big, cosmic mysterious for us to unravel. Having one set amidst an alien megastructure while we're all running around inside our mechsuit/bodies/robopants sounds pretty fantastic.

If you've yet to try the Cypher system, come to this game. It's very story-centric and uses some wonderful, elegant mechanics for resolving combat, skills, etc. Plus, Jen is always on top of her game with player aids and pre-gen material so you can fashion a character in short order. Here's her synopsis:

The Descendants have lost Earth, their mortality, and their fear of the unknown. But then they found the Starlight Filigree, a mass of alien architecture encasing an entire star system--dwarfing their own Dyson spheres. They have sent you, mechwarrior and master of timespace, to enter the structure and make contact with whatever built it.
6:00 pm / Saturday, February 6
Source Comics + Games
RSVP now and let us know you're coming!

You also can RSVP on the SNSO Google+ Community page. Click the image below:
  • BYO dice (d6, 2d10, and d20)
  • Pre-generated character templates
  • No prior experience with Cypher rules necessary
  • Check out this free preview of Cypher rules

    Illustration: Jenifer Doll

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sign up for Saturday Night Space Opera games at Con of the North!

I'd posted this on the SNSO site, but totally forgot to make sure to post it here--go check out the full list of Saturday Night Space Opera Games we'll be running next month! I've posted a list of all the games, complete with descriptions, GMs, dates, and times.

I think online registration is closed, but you can still register onsite. And there's TONS of other tabletop RPGs, board games and card games. The Twin Cities has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to capable GMs and games for every taste. It really is a blast and if you live within driving distance you should come join us!

Details, including hotel and parking info at Con of the North's official site.


Last year, after Con of the North, I'd had this dumb idea to bring a big, shabby tagboard hobo sign that says GAME AT ME BRO! and set up shop at empty table. I'd egg on passers by to sit with me and craft an RPG on the spot. Had things not gotten so busy with Saturday Night Space Opera, I might have still done it. Anyway, here were my thoughts:

Total development time cannot exceed 60 minutes. Tasks to be completed include:

  1. MECHANICS - Game must have a basic mechanic for resolving conflicts/problems/combat, etc. Doesn't matter if it's dice, cards, hand signals, staring contest, etc.--but there needs to be some sort of action in play, other than storytelling. This can be an existing ruleset, if both GMs agree.
  2. SETTING - No more than 10 minutes permitted to brainstorm on genre and setting using the infallible Jeff Reints alchemical game creation proposal (omitting part 1, but using parts 2 and 3). Difficulty = using only resources available at the Con (any books on hand or immediately available via electronic device or memory)
  3. CHARACTERS - Game must include at least 3 player-character types. (I don't want to say "classes" or "races" that's up to the GMs to figure out).
  4. DETAILS - Once setting is established, GMs divide up duties of fleshing out as many foes/monsters, locations/maps, treasure/gear, what-have-you as the remaining time allows. Using existing resources from step 2 is totally acceptable, as long as some cross-pollination of sources was accomplished in that step. 

After one hour, the sign gets flipped around on the table. The GMs write the name of the new game on the tagboard with the added note of "WE JUST MADE THIS GAME. SEEKING PLAYERS TO PLAY NOW." Once at least three people show up to fill out the party, GMs can flip a coin to see who runs it. Anything not created ahead of time (e.g., rules, setting, etc.) is made up on the spot.

The game is played right then and there, for better or worse. It might suck, but everyone has a story to tell about that one time they played an insane game that was invented minutes before they sat down at the table. This could be a fun activity at a smaller con too--make it into sort of tournament style game design. Maybe something like this has been tried (I have no idea).

Even if none of this actually ends up being finished or made usable in 60 minutes, you'll end up having an awesome conversation with total strangers about games and what you love about them. Maybe your tastes will be totally incompatible. Or maybe you'll strike creative gold.

Either way, you're not stuck reading the same books, having the same boring debates about rules, or trudging along your same, overly-trod gamer paths.

In the time it usually takes you to sit down with a stack of RPG books and try and come up with next week's adventure, you've completely given yourself over to gamer ADHD and made something half-baked, but spontaneous. Ugly, but beautiful. Uneven, but exhilarating. Isn't that worth 100 real-life XP?