Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Orcs have lousy memories.

No. That's not right.

Orcs have superb memories that retain far more detail than that of the average human. If you ask an orc about his breakfast, he's likely to be able to tell you how many bites it took him to eat it.

That's assuming he didn't take a nap in the meantime.

For orcs, sleep works as a memory diffuser. It works gradually. An orc will remember yesterday about as well as a human. A couple of days before that will be fuzzy. Anything before the last week is a blur.

Unfortunately for orcs, this has made them prized as slaves - for both labor and warfare. After the first week of slavery, they barely remember another life.

Reminders help, though. Stories. Visual cues. Notes. They'll dig up old memories (or at least memories of old memories) that the orc can't normally access. This is why so many orcs get tattooed. If there is something that they want to remember, they mark themselves with it. When they see the tattoo, the memory comes back to them.

This is also why orcs, at least the literate ones, keep diaries.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Destined: Too Many Spells?

My working title for my FATE/d20 mashup ruleset is Destined. Why? Obviously because it's derived from FATE and it has two Ds in it.

My current game design conundrum, like my last one, focuses upon the nature of the magic system. I have a few options:
  1. A ton of spells of various power levels. This is the D&D option.
  2. A few spells, most of which are available to beginning characters, but:
    1. would have more powerful/customizable effects depending on the result of your spellcasting roll (more powerful characters will tend to do better on this...)
    2. include explicit support for customizing/skinning spells (the Bolt spell could be a Fire Bolt or an Ice Bolt or a Force Bolt... and each of these would function slightly differently.)
    3. include feats that give extra options to basic spells (the Necromancer feat might let you use Charm to affect undead)
    4. include rituals (already part of the system, though often used as plot devices) that give new options to the spells you have (a ritual might allow you to prepare an object so that when you cast a spell like Mage Hand that doesn't normally allow fine manipulation you can effectively animate that object).
    5. Some combination of (a) - (d)
I was originally looking a (1)... with some of (d) added on. The more I thought about it, the more I'm tempted to go with (2)+(a) - (d)... or at least (b) - (d)... though (a) seems like a good idea for the inclusion of divine magic.

Some people like to play wizardy types because they want to manage the spells. I suspect that just as many people (at least) avoid playing wizardy types for the same reason. If I just had a few basic spells and the system was designed so that you could effectively play a wizard with just those... but you had the option of tweaking a few dials... that might be ideal.

What do you think? What sort of spell lists do you like to see in games?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti: How To Help

I know that I'm not the only one who has watched the devastation in Haiti, shellshocked... and not knowing what to do. My current financial situation hasn't really allowed me to make the donations that I'd like to make.

What I can do, however, is encourage others to help. If you are still looking for a way to do something, Drive Thru RPGs is matching donations to Doctors Without Borders. They are also offering a huge PDF bundle for $20. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this bundle will go to relief efforts through Doctors Without Borders.

I'm proud to have contributed to a couple of the titles in the bundle. There are a ton of things in there - including full RPGs (Serenity, Roma Imperious, QAGS, Shambles, Seven Leagues), supplements full of additional material for several systems, adventures, setting material, maps, and more. It is advertised as being over $1000 worth of material, but it is important to realize that a lot of these PDFs are very inexpensive to begin with... Check it out.