Thursday, March 21, 2013

Now THAT'S a sci-fi spy gun!

Nick Fury, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Jim Steranko.

Final Star Trek trailer is awesome!

C'mon, it's Khan, isn't it? Just say it is already!

Opens May 17 in the US and May 9 in the UK.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Attribute modifiers: Who needs 'em?

X-plorers includes an attribute modifier table that gives across-the-board penalties or bonuses depending on how you roll up your character. Not sure if this is because it's a simulacrum and it's trying to emulate some ancient game mechanic or just for "fun". Anyway, it's in the official rules. But I'm ditching them, here's why.

Unbalancing Character Generation
For chargen, I have PCs roll four die and then--if they so choose--they can eliminate the lowest roll. It's worth noting that they haven't always opted for that. Sometimes they'll take the first three rolls out of those four--but it's up to them to do so. But then the modifiers come in during game play and mess everything up.

When I ran my first home game a month ago, we used them as-is, with the good, bad, and ugly intact. One player rolled some agregiously low scores. When the modifiers were taken into account during the game it was like adding a bag of sidewalk salt to the wound.

When I ran the game at Con of the North, I didn't like the penalties imposed on players who already rolled up low scores--seemed unnecessarily punishing. So we went with just bonuses. It was to the players' credit that power-gaming didn't ensue, but it was still unbalanced and I didn't care for the results in-game.

Roleplay With Your Rolls
I'm all for having low-attribute schmucks with laser pistols. In my eyes, that's exactly what the game is all about! But when a player rolls a 4 on four die (which has already happened in one of the games) asking them to take a -2 hit when they're already on the low end is grotesquely unfair. Attributes affect that PC's entire game experience. And a low score (again, in my opinion) is a deficiency.

More importantly though, I don't like the idea of having a blanket rule that masks whatever they rolled up. The modifiers are pushing the extremes on the bell curve, and what's the point of that? They should be able to play with the rolls they made. (And then add bonuses from the setting weve created, not the modifier table.) 
Plus, I have enough other house rules that will affect attributes that I think will be more fun to roleplay (see: Sartorial Bonuses). I hope it's more fun, anyway. I feel like foisting some weird cheat to arbitrarily supress or boost PC attributes is unneccesary. 
A Friendly Ammendment
The only two exception I can see (and actually plan on) would be:
  1. A player intentionally wants to play a character with some sort of handicap. Say they want to be Stephen Hawking with a 0 for Physique that would require some cool hover chair to get around. Fine, player's perogative, I say.
  2. The player has roled up a PC as alien, robot, or someone heavily mutated. Humans have a baseline level of ability, and I consider that to be 3-18 on the "Gygaxian Attribute Scale". Anything below or above is straying into sub or super human territory. And frankly, when it comes to some of those cool house rules--I need that wiggle room to allow for some of the fun stuff (i.e., power-harnesses vs. energy-draining manacles).
What about you? If you use attribute modifiers, how have they worked? Do you consider them a value-add to your game?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Retro future: Los Angeles, 2013 (as viewed from 1986)

The L.A. times has posted a full-length feature article they ran in a (now defunct) L.A. Times Magazine issue that looked ahead to the year 2013. The Syd Mead-ish cover artwork alone is cool enough for it's own post.

I'm a sucker for these retro/paleo future type articles. Especially when they use nifty architectural renderings of "the future". The article covers how Los Angelenos would commute, do business, and enjoy leisure in a quarter century's time. Fun stuff!

Check out the fully scanned pages at the L.A. Times.

Face it, your blog is toast...

So this is maddening. Google Reader (which I use to follow the bajillion blogs I read) is being shut down in a few months--July 1, 2013. Word has been circulating since last fall that Blogger may not be long for this world either.

As I think about it, it seems like Reader would be the natural, first-strike takedown before Blogger gets the axe. I was worried about losing the blog as early as 2011 so I took steps to purchase the domain for Exonauts (which has been live since last summer). I'm thinking it might be time to work on full site with a blog (a task which I've actually little time for, especially come this summer).

In any case, you fellas ought to look out for your blogs. And readers, now is the time to start looking at other reader apps. I use NewsRob on my Android phone, which works great. I'm a bigger fan of Google Reader for organizing though since it lets me categorize and tag blogs with ease. If you're looking for a place to start your quest, Boing Boing has a post/thread going on other services (some paid, some not).

More info:
Update: This guy knows exactly what I'm talking 'bout.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

X-plorers on sale for GM Day!

X-plorers softcover edition + PDF on sale for under $12!
March 4th was GM's Day, but DriveThruRPG is having a sale this week (and through the weekend) on digital and print-on-demand products. X-plorers is included in that list and you can pick up the PDF for less than $5 or the softcover AND PDF for less than $12. The softcover--by itself--usually retails for $12.95, so this is a REALLY good deal.

If you've been on the fence you really can't go wrong with $11.46 for a printed and digital copy!