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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Google+ Urutsk Community is Up + Play-by-Post

Google+ has unveiled their Communities feature, which like Groups on other social media/fora, allows like minded folks a more permanent site to post their interactions.  To inaugurate the Urutsk: World of Mystery Community, I have begun a Play-by-Post game in the Latter Autumn era.  It is an exploration of a site in the Chaos Isles during a period of Cybergenics, Psionics, Empowered individuals, Mecha, and Near Space endeavours.

CYBERGENICS: The often intertwined undertaking of cell-editing eugenics, and cybernetic augmentation.

EMPOWERED: The governmental term for super-powered individuals whose capabilities appear to vary widely from historic categories of Imperial Psionic disciplines.

MECHA: Animorphic Power Frame Vehicles and Battlesuits; think Appleseed, Black Magic M66, Bubblegum Crisis, Ghost in the Shell.

NEAR SPACE: Orbital Elevators, Lagrange Point Stations, Lunar (Companion) Colony, and Red Planet (Aqmlk) colonisation.  The Western Isles Concordance (WIC), and Vrun Continental Authority (VCA) are the only real NS forces, although Aqmlk has been colonised in waves and is largely a mix of Old West mentality and Outlands technology.  C1 on Companion is the main moonbase and staging ground for sodium cultivation for NS travel.

We are still looking for a few additional PCs to investigate the deep jungle wilds of the Chaos Isles where a IR/Thermal 'hot spot' appears from orbital scans, but no Visible Spectrum source can be seen.  The phenomenon is believed to emanate from underground, and the Drivers' Isles Charter (DIC) is more than interested to determine if this poses the long island chain a treat.  A team of able bodied and singular persons are assembled to investigate and bring back what data/samples they can.

PbP CharGen Doc Link:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Urutsk Novel Underway

Travel having jarred loose something within me, I have begun the first wholly Urutsk novel, tentatively entitled, The Silver City.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Awesome Experience

Yesterday, the 31st of October, I couldn't sleep, and with a suddenly introduced dorm-mate, and then a second who arrived even later, I sat out on the Tel-Aviv rooftop after midnight and watched the Coen Brothers' remake of True Grit.  It finished at sunrise.  It was really sublime.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Well, I'm Leaving, on a Jet Plane...

Today is the day, folks.
--I'm not sure what my connectivity will be like, so I'll just say thanks for reading along so far, and I hope to be re-connected soon.

Best to you all,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Porphyry cover art

Here is Jez Gordon's beautiful cover art for the Porphyry: World of The Burn supplement/setting book for Tunnels & Trolls / Mercenaries Spies &  Private Eyes games.

Depicted is a Serefolk woman battling a chaos-thing early in the period of The Burn.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Some Important News

This isn't directly gaming related, but it may have an impact on my game-writing efforts.

I'm making preparations to travel to Israel towards the end of October, seeking employment, if possible, and fulfilling my long held desire to visit.

I don't think that the tactical-Roleplaying Game, Vanguard: Warfare on Urutsk is going to be ready for print before I leave, so I don't anticipate that there will be any disruptions on that front, and since we are living in the 21st century, I should be able to conduct all my business affairs with Heroic Journey Publishing and my artists through e-mails, etc.

What will be affected, given the 6-hour difference, is my Hangouts schedule.  :o

All of this is likely a surprise to the lot of you, but I've kept things quiet until the date neared.  I've still a lot of things to do before then, but everything is lining up nicely, so far.

So, that's it.
--Take care.  :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

In the Hands of Editors

Vanguard, the tactical RPG for the Urutsk setting, is in the editing stage at Heroic Journey Publishing.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Character Sheet Is Up

Joe the Lawyer asked for a Character Sheet, and the link is now up on the right hand system links column/sidebar.

Hopefully it will be spruced up soon.

Wounds and Fight Dice

I'm steamlining the Wounds v. Fight Dice mechanism.  I think this will be easier on the Players, too.  With those changes, the Healing process has also undergone a slight revision.  It makes the Medic ability more interactive than before.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Urutsk Update

I've handed over the bulk of the Urutsk material to my friend and editor, Brian Penn, who has the difficult job of interpolating the rules sets and mounds of pages into something linear and coherent.  He has been pushing me to release the setting as a system-free supplement and I'm leaning in that direction, but I still want my rules-vision to be known through the RPG version, as well.

Now that it is in Brian's hands, it is more likely to be released in my lifetime.


Friday, June 8, 2012

No NTRPGCon For Me This Year

Due to an emergency, I was unable to attend the Con this year.
--I hope everyone attending/attended has/had loads of fun.

The art for PORPHYRY: World of The Burn wasn't completed, anyway, so that is yet to be released.
--Jez Gordon's map and illustrations are simply stunning, and the layout is beautiful as well.  Well worth the wait, I am certain.

Work on URUTSK is progressing apace, and this build features all ten of the major Human Ethnicities, as well as ten Non-Human PC options.  These are presented in packages (needing only a name and a few other tidbits) ready to start play.

I'm trying to help out on the Google+ Tabletop Forge front, and I owe another friend a thorough proof-read on one of his many outstanding products.

Even though I'm not at the Con, I'm finding myself busier than ever.

Best to you all,

Friday, May 4, 2012

Where has she gone? SALT?

I'm over at Google+ most of the time.  I'm running five nights a week, or more.  I'm in friends' games, including Reed Decker's Boot Hill, Ghost orbit, Carousel Delta, and likely soon, Full Clock.

Porphyry is still in the art/layout phase, and three passes of proofreading/editing later, there are sections I'm still [not] thrilled with, but had to let it go.  I'm anxious about it being in print in my hand before the North Texas RPG Con aeroplane trip, but I intend on having something printed up, even if it is an 'ashcan' edition, as it were.

After Rob Kuntz and Reed both urged me to push Vanguard back to rear-burner priority, I've once again picked up the Urutsk RPG development gauntlet, and am honestly feeling a bit daunted.  No one really seems to want innovation, they want familiarity.  I'm seemingly stuck catering to folks who want LabLord or whatever as the basis of the game engine, and everything operating as extensions of the four (three!) original classes, etc. Frankly, that really deflates my interest.

So, instead, I've been playing a lot of games that have zer0 to do with the D&Ds, and loving every minute of it.

So, anyway, there's this SALT system Jeffrey Osthoff, Duke Barclay, Michael Henry, Reed, and I have used to run games as diverse as a Car Wars-type game to outre Supers style, to mythic China, far future, etc.  It has a super small initial footprint, but its extensibility is profound, allowing any degree of customisation off the main trunk.

It operates on a bell-curve (which I prefer), has no maximum or minimum scores, and could easily accommodate polyhedrals instead of only d6.  One of my favourite sessions was running an infiltration of a remote jungle base in search of the mcguffin, and ran really smoothly in both abstracted operations and in action-by-action modes.

Osthoff liked it enough to propose using it as the basis of his ALLTERRA Multi-setting/Multi-GM collective.  It seems easy enough to translate characters into from virtually any game, and really calls to attention the over reliance upon rolling that many systems seem to operate on to define how they differ from each other.  Since the rolls in SALT are all the same sort, with the possible exception of adding in another stat to the result, the ubiquity of rolling quickly becomes droll.  This could be seen as a failing, but I've instead seen it as a great success.  It truly illustrates how much more GM/Player exchange does, in fact, drive all of our RPGs, and not just the New School talk-it-ups.

Simply gauging the numbers and the averages, a GM could easily eliminate 50% or more of the sorts of mundane rolls that clutter up any given hour of any sort of session.  Now, I hear OSRites grumbling that they enjoy the chaos of falling through weak floors, picks getting stuck in locks, etc.  I hear you, believe me, that's why the rolls can still be made.  GMs may still roll to all get out and screw the PCs over as much as they please, but the curve is so regular that it really is only the Doubles Add a Die (DAD), Snake-Eyes & Box-Cars rules that make much of a difference.

Anyway, I'm likely to release it to the public, free and clear, and then all'y'all can do with it what you want, or not, as it suits you.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Artwork: Porphyry and Other Bits-

A well-fed (unlike certain Feierlandish fiends) character as rendered by the able hand of Jez 'Stanicore' Gordon for my PORPHYRY: World of The Burn supplement for T&T5 and MSPE.

I've got a rough .pdf of the document, but have found a few tweaks that need to be made to the text, omissions to be remitted, and other li'l bits of error to be expunged. to LuLu for PoD copies before the North Texas RPG Con.

SALT is a light system I've been writing and gaming with for pickup/one-off games, and there is some talk of using it as the main system for Jeffrey Osthoff's ALLTERRA game.  One application I've put it to is for Natalie Bennett's desire to have a racing RPG, and am working on that in my spare time.

For those that read last post, I've settled on the Chart Look-up method for URUTSK: Space Age, and have recently run a game using it again (, after having taken a year off from it), with great speed and success.  VANGUARD, using a d6 die-pool, is still humming along nicely, especially after a major simplification, and I may be able to have a few copies available by time of departure for Dal/Ft.Worth area, this June.

Okay, see you on Google+.  :D

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Development Question: U:SA-

URUTSK: Space Age-

In returning to the 2d12 task resolution system I have used for years with Urutsk (from the d6 Die Pool of Vanguard), I find that I want a bit more peculiarity in the results, and have been toying with a Doubles Add, Roll-Over (DARO), ported straight over from Tunnels & Trolls.  No doubt this is from my work on Porphyry, and seeing how much joy the occasional DARO brings to the beleaguered Players.  However, 2-24 expanded to an open-ended range presents new design considerations, namely, what are the implications of over achieving on a T# on the output of a Effect Roll?

In Porphyry, I've added the effect of half the difference of Ranged Combat adding to damage.  This seemed to work well in T&T, even with Ranged Combat modifiers included in the already high ranged weapon damages (firearms, and even arrows, kill in Porphyry).  Would this work as well in U:SA, and on technical Task Resolution, such as repairing a starship drive?  Reducing Time, finding Work Arounds/reducing the number of steps, and Improved Quality are all clear possibilities for use with the one-half Overachieve mechanism.

My Spectral Index mechanism is a feature that GMs and Players either enjoy, or hate, and I've come to learn that many find chart look-up a deal-breaker, even if only the GM ever needs to do so.  I'm certain that Overachievement can be substituted for the SI, but it also increases the maths needed to perform Task Resolution, possibly an even swap in look-up v. calculations.

Which do you prefer?  A GM chart, or Player maths?

Lookining forward to your input.  :D

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Lot of Games I'm Running or Playing-

A lot has been happening, and I've not yet found the time to set up the pages, but, I still intend to.

Last IM I had with Jez Gordon, the Tunnels & Trolls product, Porphyry, is on target.

I've started gaming in the Urutsk: Space Age, where colonial sleeper-ships are aimed towards prospective worlds.  The PCs have already had a meet-n-greet with a Peoples' Automatic Union sphere ship, and taken aboard a cybernetics-free human woman who was materialised out of thin air by nanobots as the PCs watched.  The young woman, Melinda, indicated that instead of PAU, they were calling themselves the Mode Frequency.  The team that explored the spherecraft determined that the ship was at least 8k relative years old, while the PAU have only left Urutsk ('Homeworld'), a generation ago, like the rest of the ships, due to the Shorrannin invasion.  With information gifted by the Mode Frequency, Captain Reynolds has sent ahead an exploration/contact team on a modified shuttle.  The planet in question is code-named: Emerald Heights, due to its enormous space-scraper trees.  Emerald Heights is inhabited, and some of the cultures are Starfaring.

The Urutsk: Space Age is envisioned as the core Urutsk game, written with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in mind, and the other eras would be expansions off this hub.  I'm writing up Generalist class, and knocking the XP tables down one level, so that everyone starts at 0th and graduates to 1st.  The Starship Crew Positions get a Class and Profession treatment.  Advanced armour and arms and gear will feature things such as Blasters, Light Battlesuit Armour, and Networked Dataslates. Etc.

Sunset Lagoon, my Villains & Vigilantes via Tunnels & Trolls game of SuperPunk/CyberPower is set in a variant of the Blade Runner/Prometheus/Alien shared universe, and is a bit weird to explain.  At present, the PCs are playing actors portraying explorers of a Lost World found inside a mountain cyst, but are actually exploring likesame, and contacting alien biotech and other weirdness.  The character range from Night Wolf, a lawyer turned vigilante, to a battlesuit operator sent by the ElectroMagnetic realm as an Apostle of the Singularity, to Amber Magic, a botched genetic test tube baby who can open teleport doors and has a scorpion tail.  All of my players rock!

Porphyry is on Friday nights, and the PCs have recently left Casperburg, the riverine pirate stronghold, and are headed back to Ownys, to confront the witch who has been plaguing them with nightmares and random wilderness encounters since they disrupted her human sacrifice gig and nearly killed her.  It is a dark setting, but has a lot going for it, especially for Players with initiative and a drive to forge connections, rebuild, and make something of themselves.  It is at the crossroads of Old and New School, but is still a brutal game of easy death and cheap life.  The Burn has really screwed the world, Porphyry, up, but Humanity still has a chance.

My Man, Myth & Magic, Urutsk: Summer Era game (Sunday nights) has landed the PCs on an island on another world, and they are grid-crawling their way through a cliff-side city roughly equivalent to Phonecian or early Greek tech.  One PC has already been chosen by a Dryad to serve as her priestess, and the party are exploring a geocentric map translated into the layout of the sky temple.

I'm playing in Jeffrey Osthoff's Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon game, which is due to transition to BRP, but is currently operating under OSRIC/AD&D.  My Grey Elf Paladin of the White Lady/Druid is 2/2, and together with her great companions, is hex-crawling through a cool, low-magic, high-fantasy setting.

Michael Henry's INDO game is set on an Indonesian island, in what appears to be the '30's, and is a blend of native mythology and '30's Pulp Action.  I'm playing a Psionic Monk who adores Ushas, the goddess of the dawn.  We've got an OD&D Elf, Dragoslav, played by Duke Barclay, an Arduinian Shaman, plyed by Jeffrey Osthoff, and other wandering PCs.

Okies.  Catch you good folks later.  :D

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How I Run Games-

I don't claim to understand the Old School v. New School war's central division, and when I read posts about The Forge v. DIY OSR v. Indie, or Prog Rock v. Improv Jazz v. Garage Rock, I just wonder where my games fall along the spectrum.

If any of you have played an orthodox game of The Morrow Project, I think that will go a long way to describe where Urutsk is coming from. It is about military, scientific, and back-woodsy folk joining together to work towards pulling society back from the post-apocalyptic world that Ed Marrow foresaw as an inescapable inevitability of the future. These folks weren't paid oodles and gobs of money; why would they be? The cash would be worthless. Instead, they all followed the dream that putting together what good was fallen and broken was more important than fame or fortune. That's not the picaresque ideal of Adventurers. It may not even be Old School. Furthermore, these folks have no mechanical skill set as part of the game system. No list of d% chances to fix a bicycle or build an engine. All of that comes from the Player. That is Old School. The rest of the time one is standing around in their combat overalls not shooting giant wolverines, deadly flies, or radiant blue undead, one is expected to be chatting-up the locals -- descendants of the PCs and the era from whence they came. That sounds kinda New School to me.

If you've played a game of Skyrealms of Jorune, you feel where I'm coming from. You're not from here, but your people have been here for so long that the place you came from is just a myth, and if you were to make the trip there, it'd be a lifeless ball of slag. So, you live among the genetically engineered animals of that other place, among the world-altered fellow humans who now see and can weave the Chi of the planet Jorune due to their ability to conduct it masterfully, or others who can dull its effects through their sheer grounding ability. Aliens, too, have long been stranded on this crazy world, and haven't had as fine a time of it because they don't savvy teamwork and diplomacy; instead, they have slaver empires, are murderers who hide their blood madness with dyed forehead nodes, or are capitulators working only to save their twin-eye-stalked heads. The place will kill you dead in no time flat. Tech is super scarce. The few remaining indigenous Humanoids rightly fear your kind and sequester themselves away in mountaintop monasteries or deep jungle temples, gazing at the many colourful moons that dictate which Chi powers are in ascendancy. Going forward means making a go of it here, using native means, with non-Humans as allies and the occasional Human as a political enemy. OId School? New School?

If you've played Metamorphosis Alpha or Gamma World, you feel the burn of the past in your bones and blood. The changes that have been wrought are irrevocable, but not incapable of being overcome. New civilisations have arisen. Ruins may be abandoned and scavenged through, but new trade towns are growing in population behind walls. Merchants ply the trackless wastes to make contact with distant population centres, and dumb-ass adventurers are hired by barons to scout out distant dangers and bring back Ancient loot. Alignment Factions live their crazy creeds and kill to protect their secret languages and codes, either despising the former world or the new civilisations; the blight come upon humanity and the animals/plants, or embracing the chaotic radiance; hearing the voice of mad computer gods, or recognising the superiority of the android, the cyborg, the robot. Scavenging like cockroaches, or building something new; demolishing or wandering. New School or Old School?

I am a Simulationist GM with Narrativist sensibilities. Folks talk about their dreams and regrets, and then get their leg blown off. Everything is too real and surreal. The long term goals versus the immediate goals of survival. The diplomatic bungles and the limited ammo count. The utterly depraved, and the commonalities of intelligent aliens. Life and death.

This is how I define my games, and Urutsk in particular.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Do Declare...-

PORPHYRY: World of The Burn, a Tunnels & Trolls 5th Edition and Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes RPGs Setting and now in the hands of Jez Gordon for Layout & Artwork.

As soon as it is ready to transfer to LuLu and OneBookshelf (DriveThruRPG/RPGNow), I'll be letting you folks know.

In retrospect, I've had 19 characters, run by 16 Players, in the Porphyry setting, and I've only had the thing going since late December or early January.

I'm resting up a bit before giving Urutsk a similar minimalist treatment, then back to work on Porphyry regional sandbox guides, etc.

A plan to add Pages to this blog is in the works, so as to help sort things out so that the different games and settings will be more easily accessible to those interested.

On Thursday the 17th, I'll be part of a Game Designers Discussion Panel.
--More on that in a bit.

See you for plenty of gaming on Google+

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Over at Google+

The power is back on in the arcology. They now have a genuine flying saucer, originally piloted by aliens -- cat-like aliens. Along with that, they've got a flying pack, and a scramjet rocket launcher. There is a trip to the Black Crown, to allow the FLAILSNAILS dwarf to roam the mountain halls.

Most of my activity is going on at Google+, and there is a weekly Thursday Urutsk game at 8PM EST (-5 GMT).

I'm also running a Villains & Vigilantes game using a modified Tunnels & Trolls version on Wednesday nights (same time slot), and the PORPHYRY: World of The Burn game on Friday nights (ditto).

Rumours of a Man, Myth & Magic game on Sundays may be confirmed at a later date.

Friday, February 3, 2012

FebRUary 2nd Update-

The PCs are back to the Marnharnnan 'Megadungeon', a subterranean emergency colony of the Ancients. In the past, an endless stream of Runners (fast zombies) would emerge from a tunnel into the initial site, but since the Orthodox Wodic priests have been brought on site, that problem has been brought under better control.

A new area with worker dwellings, like Japanese 'coffin motels', apparently set up for the folks who used to run the behind the scenes infrastructure was explored and reclaimed, although Runners and Hyenamen are still a bit of an issue. From there, the PCs chose to head into a mall-arcology with apartments above two floors of shops, and two sets of monorail tunnels on either side.

An earlier session saw the PCs visit, and take books from the climate-controlled bookstore, falling back to held territory. Tonight's session went from there, where the first sector, Phoenix Spoonbill, was explored.

Contact with Runners recently dressed out in clothing and gear of the Ancients were engaged and deactivated, and these peculiarities were noted, including monorail tickets punched and worn on leather necklaces, etc. Pressing on, it became clear that folk were selectively removing items from various shops, and using them to outfit the mindless undead.

Moving into Water Badger Sector of the miles long mall, a group of humans were met who first contacted the party through a dog, the native psychic using the critter as the envoy, and peaceful relations established. These Water Badger tribesfolk held the eating establishment closest to the edge of their sector, 'where it is always the end of the work week', and were pleased to offer selections based upon the menu's photos. The Water Badgers' leader, Shaulm, a Khem woman, explained how each sector had its own tribe whose generational duty was to maintain their portion of the arcology. Other tribes included the Golden Egret, Snapping Lungers, Spitting Spinefish, and Jungle Howlers.

'The Walkabout' is the name for the fungal-based undead infection, and the tradition of honouring the dead simply transitioned to those who died of the black fungus. Jungle Howler apparently has the most dealings with the Walking Ancestors, and contact has yet to be established with them or the Spitting Spinefish, who appear to be vassals of the JH. Water Badger warned that Jungle Howler were tricksy and demanded tribute, and that the SpitSpine were prone to ambush.

We held it there.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why My Writing a Tunnels and Trolls Product is Good For Urutsk-

You see, now that PORPHYRY: World of The Burn is nearly complete, I've a better idea of how to frame Urutsk products than before this.

I've read the comments you folks have left over these years, and I've taken them to heart, believe it or not.

Something playable should be out for the big U sometime this year.

And, if you dig on the T&T, you'll have that much less to wait.

Weekly games continue to be played on Google+: Wed & Thu are Urutsk, and Fri is T&T


Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15th UPDATE-

The PCs, after battling Anime-inspired baddies in the mining town, took their shopping goodies (including Transceivers and desk-set radios) back with them on the express train. Along the way, there were interesting stops, scheduled and unscheduled, and fauna to fight and/or collect. A Capacitor and Batteries from a Tube Car Line were got, and after all that, the last of the Anime baddies nearly killed the PCs, who are now tattoo'd with Yaesh script describing the wounds they inflicted upon them -- all save General Roland Peltier, the Immortal, who cannot easily be tattoo'd.

After running a game for Mike Fernandez last Monday night, there is a new zone to investigate, and a strange glop of Elemental Glass-Silt that looks good for all manner of circuitry.
--This Monday night Pacific time game will run from 9PM Hawaii-time to whenever I fall asleep at the computer, or breakfast Tuesday (-5 GMT) time. He's already wrangled three other players.

I'm working on something else, and it has taken a bit longer than I thought it would to finish, but I'm a few yards from the finish line on it. It is for Tunnels & Trolls.

Also, once I'm confident the VANGUARD Alpha Rules One Sheet is saying what I intend it to, I'll post the link to that. I'll take this opportunity, though, to point out that VANGUARD characters can quickly be created by clicking on THIS and THIS link.