Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"Fatigue"-based Magic System Thoughts

Hey there everyone! Not very active here, am I? Well, such is life, but it doesn't mean that I don't still have ideas racing around in my head on this little project.  I still intend to do a "straight" cyberpunk ruleset as the initial phase of CHROME, but the fantasy bits will come, and the idea for a way to handle spell casting has more or less come together in my head over the last couple of days.  The rambling essay below is more to get it on paper than anything else. Thoughts and feedback are certainly welcomed.

Ok, so I've got this idea for a more free-form magic system than the "stock" D&D version. I might well be right off my rocker on this. It's inspired by a few things - the idea of a spell point system rather than strict Vancian memorization, the S&W/Akratic Wizardry magic house rules where spells burn hit points as a measure of fatigue, and an optional bit tagged on the end that harkens back to Shadowrun's dice pool & spell fatigue concepts. Kind of. I want a more 3E sorcerer feel to magic - a limit on available spells, but more freedom to cast them at will. 

MUs gain a pool of spell points equal to their level, and spells cost one SP per level to cast. Casting will first use the points drawn from this pool - an arcane "battery" if you will, that represents them being stronger in magic as they increase in level. You'll note however, that a third level MU has just 3 points - that's just 3 first level spells, or one first and one second, compared to 3 first and 1 second under the standard system. So, on top of these spell points, the MU can continue to cast spells by burning HP instead of designated SP. This method assumes you look at hit points in the abstract sense of being a measure of luck, fatigue, nicks & scraps rather than real damage. As you use up HP, you become more fatigued, finally falling unconscious at 0. In my games, death doesn't occur at zero, but rather at -HP equal to level + CON bonus, representative of "real" damage below zero.

Since MUs have relatively low HP this doesn't seem too overpowered to me, but allows them the option of casting more spells per day if they are willing to pay the price. If they end up in more combat later on, they are already down on HP and easier to kill.

Casters still use the MU spells memorized table for the spells in their head, available to cast at any given time, and they can change what they have memorized after a nights rest. I'm thinking they also can have a number of additional spells memorized equal to their INT modifier, that can be used for any level of spells they are able to cast. So, a third level MU with a 17 INT would memorize 3 first level and 1 second level spell, plus two more of either level, for a total load-out of six spells available to cast.

The last piece of the puzzle is the idea of a dice pool as a further power balancing mechanic. Since I've allowed them to memorize more spells than normal, there should be a chance to lose those as well - a skill check sort of thing. After casting a spell, the MU rolls a number of d6 equal to his level. If he rolls at least one 6, then the spell is cast, SP (or HP) burned and he retains the spell in memory to be cast again. If the roll comes up ALL 6s, it's a critical success and the spell goes off WITHOUT using up any spell points. Conversely, if the roll comes up all ONES, it's a critical failure and while the spell is cast successfully, it is lost from memory until re-memorized the next day. I'm iffy on this part - not sure if the spell should fail as well on a critical failure.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More Cover Concepts

Just noodling around with my covers on a lazy Sunday morning - it's what I do for inspiration.  Curious what people think of them.

On the OD&D front, I realized I used the image off the cover of "View From the Edge" and not the  CP 2013 box art.  I also made the red color a bit darker and changed the TSR "Wizard" logo to a small image of Alt from the CP books.

Since I had gotten some feedback about the name "cyber74", I'm trying something else.  How does just plain "Chrome" strike you?

Will have some time this afternoon to do some writing.  Going to try and work through an outline/table of contents, and get some other thoughts out on paper.  Will keep you updated!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Trauma Team Saves the Day!

It's been a looooong time, Choomba, but contrary to the rumors, I'm not dead.  Not yet, anyway.

It turns out that cyberpunk and Shadowrun are going to be pretty hot through 2013.  It isn't the world that we imagined back in the 80's, but it's still pretty amazing living in the future. A new Cyberpunk video game, Cyberpunk 2077, is being developed by CD Projekt RED, the folks behind The Witcher. Set in the world of Mike Pondsmith's Cyberpunk RPG, I gotta say I'm pretty stoked to see what comes of this one. Meanwhile, Catalyst Game Labs has announced a whole slew of Shadowrun awesomeness for 2013.  A new 5th Edition of the RPG, MMO action, minis games - all sorts of stuff.

So where does that leave us?  Well, there's been some interest in the OD&D/Swords & Wizardry CP supplement I've talked about quite a bit, but haven't produced yet.  Given it's 2013 and all, I can't help but feel the time is right to finally crank this puppy out.  I gotta new gameplan and everything!

First, a purely fan-based effort:
Supplement for Dungeons and Dragons - Cyberpunk. A free OD&D-ized CP supplement to the original game. Theoretically, it's pretty quick and dirty to crank out and get some feedback on.

From there, I move on to the S&W version I've talked about before, Cyber74.  This one will be properly OGL. There was some feedback on the name - maybe "74" throws off the 80's CP vibe.  I'm considering just calling it "RetroCyberpunk" since S&W is a retro-clone of white box OD&D. Dunno yet.

And finally the golden ring of my carousel of CP projects - the full Shadowrun-inspired game, compatible with old-school D&D (by way of Labyrinth Lord) - Sixth World.

Will any of it actually happen this time around?  I hope at least some of it does.  One step at a time...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Cover Preview

I find I need some visual stimulation to keep the creative juices flowing.  For that reason, I'll spend way too much time fiddling with maps or graphics and stuff before I ever write a word of something.  This project is no exception.  I've trolled through Deviant Art and Elfwood and Google Images with a gazillion search terms (at least!) to find some artwork that jumps out at me for a possible cover.  Well, I finally found just what I wanted and even got permission from the artist to use it! Being a S&W: WhiteBox supplement, I wanted a black & white piece for that. This one just screams cyberpunk! to me (as opposed to Shadowrun!), and I love the starkness of the black & white with some red just there to accentuate it, as opposed to a full-color piece. He has some others, too.  One is a Shadowrun elven mage that I love, but I'm not sure how to use it.  I really was envisioning a color cover for that project. We'll see...

So here's a gander at the mock-up of the cover for cyber74. Impressions?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What's in a Name??

I have so much trouble coming up with names.  Lots of ideas I like floating around in my head, but so  hard to settle on something.

The S&W supplement:
cyber74 - still like it
S&W: Cyberpunk - not sure if I can use it
Retrocyberpunk - maybe not right for the ruleset

The Shadowrun game:
Mages & Megacorps - enough with the alliteration, I think
Sixth World - latest idea, harkens to SR canon
Awakened World - canon again

Just throwing some ideas down on "paper" for now...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where It All Began

NOTE: This post is copied over from my other blog which I had originally created as a place to build and share Trevail, my D&D gameworld.  Once I hatched the idea to create a cyberpunk-inspired ruleset, I felt it deserved it's own home, and thus is born Retro-Cyberpunk.

So, welcome!  I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labors...

I hate it when I get an idea in my head and it WON'T GO AWAY. I always loved the idea of Shadowrun - and yes, I know a lot of people hate it just as much, if not more. But for me, the meshing of fantasy - magic & monsters, elves & dwarves - with cyberpunk - guns, cyborgs and virtual reality - just ROCKS. I played a bit on and off while in college. We were playing mostly 2nd Ed. AD&D and needed a break, so switched to Shadowrun for variety. We loved it, but the rules? Meh. Too much a change from what we were used to, I guess.

So now we fast-forward to 2009 and The Rise of the Retro-clones. The OSR is in full swing. I've fallen back to Classic D&D rather than the newer, more complex versions, and play around with Swords & Wizardry, too. Did I mention in an earlier post how much I love the simple elegance of S&W? I did, didn't I.

This is when the bug bites me. The OSR doesn't have a cyberpunk clone yet. Maybe it doesn't need one, but there it is. Obviously, somebody needs to write that puppy - so I'm stepping up. It will be a looooong process, I know, but I think it will be fun (mostly) and worth while in the long run.

Using Swords & Wizardry White Box Edition as my base, I need to first write a cyberpunk variation on the ruleset. Some of the things that need to be worked up include guns, cybernetics, computer hacking stuff, and some basic vehicle rules. For inspiration and research, I'm slowly working through the original - Cyberpunk 2020 - as well as Shadowrun (2nd Ed), GURPS Cyberpunk and even a bit of d20 Modern. I'm re-reading some William Gibson, too. Oh yeah, and watching Blade Runner at some point.

THEN, after the basic Cyberpunk/Modern rules are done, I'll need to put all that back together with the fantasy of base S&W. For the proper Shadowrun feel, I'll need to add in some additional new magic rules - most importantly Astral Space and a drain-based spell casting system.

So there it is. It will be a long, tedious process but I think it can be done. S&W has proven itself to be adaptable to other genres - look at Mike "MikeD" Davison's Ruins & Ronin, David "grubman" Bezio's X-plorers or Michael "chgowiz" Shorten's The Seige Perilous - Ultima RPG. There are also "in the works" things (poke around S&W's forums page) for a superheros conversion (Hideouts & Hoodlums), Westerns (Fantasy Wild West) and pulp science fiction (Anacreon Zeta). Some projects are further along than others, sure, but they still show the flexibility of the system.

Wish me luck! I'll be posting bits here and at the S&W forums for comments and vetting.

If anyone cares to comment, I'll initially ask one question. How should these rules be released? I see three options to choose from.
1) Offer the generic cyberpunk supplement (no magic or fantasy elements) first. It will be compatible with S&W, obviously, so people can add the bits they like from it into whatever modern or cyberpunk-esque game they want to run. Then follow that with the "full" Shadowrun clone version.
2) Offer it as a cyberpunk supplement and put in the magic rules in as optional, in an appendix or something.
3) Just go all out and do the thing as SR right from the start, with the fantasy fully integrated. People who don't want the magic bits can still use what they do like.

S&W: Cyberpunk first, or go right to Mages & Megacorps? Thoughts?