Sunday, November 17, 2013

DnD Sneak Preview: "Dragons of the Steel Wind"

"...the Gods have returned, and so has Divine magic and the three Moons of High Sorcery, but it is not the same anymore. The last four decades have taught us a lot. An entire generation grew up never knowing the Gods. Mortals found out that trusting themselves might sometimes just turn out to be the safest option. "

The mood turned somber and the mage spoke again; this time in a deliberate tone, laced with caution.

"The two Dragon Overlords- Gellidus, or Frost; and Onysablet, known to all as Sable- still reign over Southern Ergoth and Central Ansalon respectively, biding their time to unleash devastation onto Krynn.

" The power-greedy Minotaurs, led by General Hortak and his High Priestess wife Nepher, have occupied the former lands of the Silvanesti elves, reinforcing their position on mainland Ansalon. They will not stop until total domination of Ansalon has been attained."

"The Ogres of Kern and Blode, reluctant allies of the sea-faring Minotaurs, are emerging as a force too, their leaders gaining territory as we speak."

" Elves now roam the land as homeless exiles. Kenders and Dwarves are slowly rebuilding their ravaged homelands after enduring the horrors of the last War. The Draconians have Teyr to call their own, escaping the scrutiny and prejudice of Krynn's populace."

"Many cities- Palanthas, Sanction, Khur, Nordmaar, and Solanthus, are all trying to regain the former glory they had once enjoyed before the War. Trade routes are being re-opened and communications re-established. But the Solamnic Knights and the Orders of High Sorcery are in shambles- save for the Dark Knights of Neraka- the different factions are still engaging in endless debate on how to settle their petty differences, never being able to see eye-to-eye in their lust for control in this new age."

"Krynn is perilously perched on a thin ledge. But for all that matters, we have hope. This time, I-"

The world is in desperate need of heroes. Can YOU make a difference?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I've finally found (The Love of a Lifetime)

The party mingling with Tracy and Laura.

Hey all (and nice humming the song btw for those in the know),

Najip alerted us to the presence of the Father of Dragonlance in Singapore this week, a year before DL's 30th Anniversary. He was to conduct a workshop and give a couple of talks at the Writer's Convention.
Yesterday, armed with tickets, we made our way down to SMU to catch him in action. And boy were we in for a treat!

Tracy Hickman (popular nickname of the Father of Dragonlance), wowed the audience while recalling his past, together with his wife Laura Hickman. He talked about the various challenges involving the birth of Dragonlance and also touched on how the world came about. His speech was peppered with interesting anecdotes; his job interview with TSR in the 70s, adapting to a game company's unique work environment etc.

Brilliant stuff. I even got myself an autographed copy of his latest book - Blood of the Emperor (Annals of Drakis: Book Three) when I shot him a question during the Fans' Q&A session.

Spoils of War! The DMs on the right.
The day went by too quickly. Isnis- Najip's friend, was with us and is a lifelong fan of Dragonlance. We sat around and he started recalling the days when Najip and him were involved in tabletop RPGing. I mentioned that I used to DM (took a long break after Shadowrun and F|ND) and that I had a brand new Dragonlance module that I wrote three years ago stashed in my computer somewhere.

All of us got really excited and started speaking quite loudly.

"Let's meet up once a month for some RP!", Najip said.

"Character advancement would be slow." Isnis replied.

"Once every three weeks then." I offered.

"Once every fortnight might be better." Shane countered.

Progressive chat for the win!

I brought them back down to earth when I said that it might be a problem porting Dragonlance and its classes/spells/unique skills to the modern 4th Edition rules, and that I have to look at suitable alternatives. Signs were good though. I have an intriguing story arc planned (at least to me), and most importantly, the group looks interested enough.

So, 9d20 has been revived yet again. This time for Dragonlance, the love of a lifetime.

Watch this space and "Upcoming Releases" for further updates.

Cyall on the flip side.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

F|nDers Keepers: Illustrations! and What to Expect in 1.4.

Hey all,
The basis of F|nD -- d6.

Scouring through the net, I learnt many things. Beautiful clip arts and fonts were easy enough to find, but most of them are reserved under professional sites that charges for downloading their images.

Then, I chanced upon ClipArt ETC, which provided some of the cool images that you will see in the Core Book.

Simple, bold and makes sense. Just the way I like it.

"The Flop" -- Initiative System

The Poker Cards clip art that you see on the right looks like it could well be out of a children coloring book and it might well be, with nice think lines emphasizing the cards themselves, or Action Cards as we call them.

But combined with the fonts and raw factor of the  F|nD gaming system, it fits right in.

Round head. Chiseled features. Typical.

The dude on the left is a typical man-at-arms in our World. I reckon the World to be pseudo Middle-Age in terms of weapons, technology and the general feudal feel for settlements closer to the Lord's Castle, but Old Wild West in terms of gambling dens and bloodthirsty riff-raff bandits beyond that point of "Light".

This creates a nice juxtapose whereby the people who fell out with the Lord or the "civilized" sector of honest tradesmen will snuggle in with the huge underground gambling industry or join a life of crime as a bandit to gather some quick gold to survive in the World.

My concept of the World in F|nD is influenced again by my personal journey, this time with my favorite PC Games of all time. The World is to be a reverse-Fallout in the medieval ages, a feudal-driven Wasteland without guns.

So now, you have a rough idea of the meta-game that my game will be set in. I will expand on that in version 1.5 when I attempt to add a World section to the Core Book, so as to give the players a better idea of what they got themselves into, the places they might visit, and the necessary skills to survive and role play in the setting.

C'yall on the flip side, as I reveal short sneaks of the upcoming Perks update in 1.4.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

F|nDers Keepers: Inside F|nD (Pre 1.4)

Hi all,

Sorry for not being able to post so regularly. I have been diligently working on the Core Book, and I am proud to announce that I am doing up Version 1.4 now. Work on 1.3 began after the discussion with Shane and Pong on Saturday; with the emphasis on explanation and  flow of sections, and glaring play balance issues.

If you don't already know by now, I will usually write up a version and then send it to my play-testers who will read it and then feedback to me on what they find off-putting. It can range from silly English typos and garbled standardization; all the way to not agreeing with the concept of the Ancients being a Lesser Deity of the World.

  • There were many questions I asked about 1.0  last week, as I mulled on various core concepts of the game, including Combat DVs and Action Resolution, finding them a bit too clunky.
  • 1.1 was the big Official update earlier in the week with the Magic and Piety Rules, and a new Initiative System. Races were also added. Combat and Actions were revamped, and Skills tabulated. The Character Sheet was redesigned and given a new look.
  • 1.2 was a small update that I sent over to my guys on Saturday, a day after 1.1 was released. There was more formatting done, and sections were place held on pages to reserve the slot necessary for the final flow of information to the reader. Also, some DVs were changed and terms more clearly defined.

The latest version that I sent Vek to print was Version 1.1, which was F|nD in a more complete but still raw form. I arranged the printed pages in a file, and headed to discuss the contents with the guys.

By the time we met up, Pong and Shane already had Version 1.2 loaded in their iPads. Pong was visibly distracted as he had wanted to play test the game. He had roughly seen the system evolve over the past two weeks and did not realize that many rules have either been changed or added. Not looking at the new version much, he started to comment on the lack of standardized formatting. I agree with that but as said, for those two weeks, the main idea of them going through my Core Book was to look for issues with the understanding of the game terms, the specific location and flow of the relevant sections (so that new players can easily get into F|nD) etc.

Formatting and Fonts etc would be given higher priority in at a later date. But I do have to say that I have done some formatting and worked the information in various table forms now, giving better visualization and ultimately, ease of understanding the new system.

1.1 looking unpolished.

So no worries about that. It was the first time Shane has seen F|nD, and he pored over it meticulously, raising many relevant questions, and discovering typos and boo-boos that I have left in the Core Book. I noted down the changes that I need to make, and circled out the common complaints raised by both Shane and Pong regarding the flow of the sections and what was preventing them from understanding the game easily etc.

Shane commented that the Construct race looked gimped while the generic Humans looked strongest with their Versatile Racial Ability and the added Attribute Die. He also asked me about the relevance of the Running Skill, which I deleted in Version 1.3. Pong talked about Spell Drain being too harsh, which I agreed on too.

At the end of the day, I went home happy. Armed with lots of notes and to-be-changed chunks, Version 1.3 was underway.

1.3 looking better with tables and shading.

Shaded tables came in to highlight important paragraphs rather than a crazy amount of bullets that littered the page during previous versions. Keywords were being italic-ed, and redundant lines deleted.

I also realized that the players particularly wanted a certain flow of information, and that included Summaries to give the players an idea of the concept I was about to preach in F|nD, rather than them having to always look ahead to find out about new terms.

Boom! In came Summaries for Version 1.3.

That was not all. I enlarged the size of the Skills Section to make it clearer to the reader, and added illustrations to the Core Book so as to alleviate the boredom of seeing text line after text line.

By Tuesday night, most of 1.3 was in place. Seeing everything so neat and the information being presented in a better light, I decided to embark on another big plan --

The Perks Section!

C'yall on the flip side, where I show you the illustrations of Version 1.3 and discuss about Version 1.4, where the massive Perks Update is taking place in!

Friday, October 5, 2012

F|nDers Keepers: "F|nD-nally! The Rock.. HAS COME BACK TO..."

Hey all,

At 5.06 pm today, I sent a couple of files over to Vek, who was working in his office. He told me on Whatsapp that he will look through them and print a couple for me.

"F1nD" on my computer, cos files do not take "|" ??!

Yes, the first copy of F|nD Basic Edition v1.1 and Character Sheet has been printed!

I heaved a huge sigh of relief, as tomorrow is the day that my play-testers will meet to take a look and play through some of the material presented inside. Now with some rules in place, I can happily work on the world and populate it with races and critters!

Firstly, I have to thank the influences of all the PnP RPGs out there that made this Edition possible. I borrowed heavily the sleek Health Condition Monitor that I loved from ShadowRun, the brilliant poker-inspired game system of Savage Worlds, the shift and movement ideas from DnD 4th Edition; the swift and intuitive core game-play from Star Wars (Revised and Expanded), the "straight-forwardness" of Dragon Warriors.

Sprinkle in all the ideas I was brought up on. From my childhood experience of Enid Blyton, Secret Seven, Famous Five; to all the Fantasy Game-books I bought and read at MPH and Times, sometimes even bringing my own d6 dice there as I could not afford to buy more of them.

Then, I began craving for more. Printed books were no longer enough. 300 pages of "Turn to Page Bla Bla Bla" was not enough. My imagination was too strong and too vivid. I had to do it. I had to create my own world.

I was ten then, going on eleven. Age was not going to matter to me, I didn't really care that I was not supposed to be thinking on my "own".

At home, I started making my own adventures, plot lines and World, making them come alive with the paper toy humanoids and animals (Kats, they were called?) that I made from cheap vanguard sheet and cardboard. My brother Shane joined me in several of the "Worlds" and the "Adventures" I came up with.

Yes, the paper toys were cheap and self-made. But the ideas and joy it gave me and Shane was priceless. Or at least I hope so for him. I was a geek, nerd maybe :) And Proud of It.

I still am.

C'yall on the flip side, when I reveal bits and pieces of what the heck is going on in F|nD Basic First Edition !