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If you’re running any WordPress sites and you still have an ‘admin’ account…

Posted by Dennis

If you're running any WordPress sites and you still have an 'admin' account (shame on you for not deleting/renaming it) on them then you would be well advised to get in there and give the account a significant password.

There's reports of a fairly massive brute force attack going against WP sites against the admin account.  Once they've got the password they install a backdoor and put code on the site that will turn your host into another node in a botnet.

You might also want to make sure you're 100% up to date.

Apparently they've taken over enough WP sites that they've got a fairly significant zombie army and as they convert more hosts they get more processing power which better allows them to take over more sites etc.

They're being used, reportedly, against financial instituations at the moment so you might want to make sure you're not using the same passwords on your WP site as your bank...

I strongly, as an IT professional, recommend that you don't use passwords but passphrases.  A string of three words with a number in them somewhere, not on the end or middle.   Using P@$$w0rd type stuff only makes it hard for 'us' to remember them.    Green13mulejumpS is significantly harder for the bad guys to figure out.

They've stolen so many millions of accounts and passwords that they have a huge database of passwords to try so you have to go the extra mile.

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Zombicide module I played…

Posted by Dennis

So after a partial day of polish on the Zombicide module I made for Vassal I played the tutorial mission with it a couple of times to kick the tires.

First attempt was total disaster.  My heroes couldn't hit for nothing and when I broken into the objective house I spawned a Fatty in every room.  Fatties come with two walkers and take two damage to kill.  The hero who came up with the fireaxe at game start had it snatched away by a zombie who also bit him.  (Snatched equipment vanishes into the nether)

This left me with no options but to retreat back to the starting point and start searching.   This reveals to me another house rule that I tried for game two.   i.e. searching a room places a Searched token on it.  Search it again and it flips over to a Searched Out token.  But for game 1 we had infinite searches but before we could ome up with any weapon that could take out a Fatty those fatties and their mooks showed up and ate everyone. Note you can only search 'once' per turn by RAW.  Each turn means the zed are one zone closer.

In short the heroes got eaten.

Game two (after some more polish to the module) went better.  WIth the 2 search limit per room we had to head out once we'd searched the building clean coming up with nothing much better than our starting gear by the way although the hero with the frying pan did upgrade to board with a nail in it.

This time Amy couldn't miss with her pistol and she kept the roads clean for us so the others could move toward the other house.

With Nick opening the door we got lucky and there were only 3 walkers inside scattered between the four rooms.

Although a Fatty did wander in from the street side, Ned took care of him with the fire axe after Amy cleaned up his minions.  Then we got two no spawn cards in a row.  This gave everyone time to get into the building and to the objective to win the game.

When luck is on your side you can play fast and loose and take chances.  When luck is not on your side you have to take it more careful and methodical but with the knowledge that every turn you spend not getting to your objective means more and more zed are being attracted to all the noise you're making.

Below is a screenshot from mid game, right after we opened the objective house.  And the end turn where we all make it to the objective as more zed are about to pour into the house.

The zoom level is 33% to get everything on my tablets small screen at the same time.  This map is only two tiles.  Most maps are 4 to 6 tiles or even more tiles. There's only one end of zombie turn spawn point while other missions may have multiples and each spawn points gets its own spawn card.    And each room in each building that you break into gets its own spawn card.

And any time zombies have two or more targets to go after you have to add enough extra zombies to make sure they split up evenly...

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Zombicide – The legendary Board With A Nail In It 

Posted by Dennis

Layout design and format copyright

Card free to use for whatever.  I felt it was much more likely that people in a zombie attack would end up with improvised melee weapons than they would with katanas, uzis and the like I'm going to bump up the search deck with a few of these.

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Posted by Dennis

Took scans of all the components and turned the board game Zombicide into a Vassal engine game.  I used my Last Night on Earth vassal module and it made it a pretty quick set up of about a day to get it working online.

I'm doing this on my tablet which is fairly low res so the virtual table top is at 33% zoom level to get enough on it to be interesting.  This is the tutorial set up or mission 00 out of the rule book.

If you haven't looked at Zombicide yet and enjoyed LNoE then you may find it of interest.  You can pick it up for $60'ish on Amazon, much less than the $90 SRP you'll see it at some places or what you probably paid for it with the Kickstarter although you'd of gotten exclusive content by Kickstarting it.

The benefits of Zombicide is you can play it solo or up to 6 players without having to come up with zombie AI.   Here the zombies run themselves.  The rules are simple to learn but it's definitely not a pure luck of the draw game since you can lure zombies to specific locations.  Much like you can use blood lust in LNoE to 'herd' the zombies around.

Games can last from 20 minutes up to several hours depending on how big a  map the mission calls for or the objectives of the missions.

Over time as the characters level up in experience they're attracting more and more zombies to show up.  By the time they get in the orange or red experience you might see an additional 7 walkers show up or 4 fatties who always have 2 walkers in two, that's 12 new zombies on the board.

Also any time the zombies have two or more equal targets they split up.  If there aren't enough zombies to split evenly, you add more zombies until there are.  Ouch....

Before you ask, no I cannot give you the vassal module.  Or technically I can but without the images so you would have to scan your own pieces and stick them in there.   That would be a violation of copyright and theft of IP etc.

The game has a couple of quirks that I'll probably house rule fairly quickly.

1) if a survivor shoots into a zone that has other survivors and zombies the shot always hits the survivor until there are no more survivors. This is apparently a design that's aimed (pun intended) to increase the difficulty factor.   (I find it a little... let's just say I don't like it)

2) Infinite searching.  You can search a room an infinite amount of times.  This lets you avoid opening new buildings which cause a big spawn especially at higher danger levels.  And it just doesn't make much sense.   Granted you can do the same thing in LNOE but typically in LNOE it's kept in check because the heroes are underpowered compared to the zombies and have to avoid fights for the most part.    In Zombicide when gear makes a HUGE difference in power, spending your time searching the same bedroom over and over again makes sense.

My kneejerk reaction to those is to use the following changes -

1) When a survivor shoots into a zone with another survivor, misses hit the survivor.   This still makes guns that shoot multiple dice rolls very dangerous to use against zones.  But it might mean the difference between a survivor living or dying.  And has much more suspense impact, if Ned sprays some sub machine gun fire into a zone with Amy and 4 zombies and she lives?  That's much more memorable than an automatic death.

2) Limit a room to 2 searches and at that point everything good has been found.   Alternatively add in "The room is searched out cards" to the game and when drawn that room can't be searched again.

These two changes appease my sense of 'realism'.   I'll play it stock for a game or three but I think I'll end up using those two changes.

Gameplay video (Note I believe the video doesn't make mention that the two zombies that get to move two zones are Runners, most zombies move only 1 zone)

Zombicide Gameplay Introduction

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Game Design WTH moment –  

Posted by Dennis

I thought this might be good for a laugh for someone, especially anyone that thinks about design while they're doing things that prohibit them taking notes.

I spend the time from and to work primarily listening to podcasts of actual play sessions and/or thinking about game mechanics.  Listening to podcasts of people playing and making comments about how they like or don't like their system of choice is always a good source for ideas.

Unfortunately I tend to forget my ideas when I get to my destination since there's always something there that's demanding my attention.

So I've started using voice recognition on my phone to send emails to myself.

Today it ended up being particularly WTF -

"So you can run on your turn to change 2 suns um but when you do run all your actions are in pairs making a milli a tag at the end of your run can you damage is bruised so charge your phone is fucked hard I don't know if we should be around with this I'm running running should make it harder for you to eat it and that should also work well to up hello so players are the ones are going to be running so we don't...."  - The remaining text was lost in transmission.

The translation of that when cleaned up and made sense of is the following which was primarily about charging which I like because it's very cinematic.  I had a charge rule for KO but this I think is more refined actiony and allows greater narrative freedom while at the same keeping players from charging around like loons every turn:_

On a character's turn one of their actions is to move around the scene.  This can be done either as a normal move or a Charge.

With a Normal move the character move from one zone to another zone or move freely about their current zone.  They may also use it to Engage any other creature in their Close zone.

Alternatively the character may Charge. In order to Charge the character must be able to act and move normally, not be Rooted, Impaired, etc.  With a charge they can traverse two zones.  For example to move from Long range to Short range to Personal range.

Note: It is fully permissible to use Charge when Engaged with a target to charge another target or by moving away into Short range and then forward again into Personal the current target.  This movement of course is subject to the usual Attack of Opportunity mechanics triggered by leaving a hostile creature's Personal space.

Charging Impairs your Contest rolls until the start of your next turn.  If your roll is already Impaired, for example by making two attacks or using a Massive weapon, then it's also Handicapped.

Any Melee attack made at the end of a Charge has its damage dice pool automatically Bumped.   Attacks made 'en passant' before the end of the Charge do not get the damage Bump.

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More playing around with Unity3D

Posted by Dennis

(again the textures are just stand-ins because I had them from digitalizing LNOE awhile back"

The green capsules are zombies.  The green lines are their current paths.  Many are just random shuffling, if they don't sense or hear something in rnage they pick a random location up to their maximum walking distance and head there.

The longer ones that all terminate in the red capsule are the zombies that have sensed a nearby hero and are converging on him.

All the red dots are blocked nav mesh points that have to be pathed around.

They have a zombieHunger variable which is how far away they can sense the heroes.  There's also a zombieHearing variable for listening.  My thought on the last is that when ever there's a fight, if a player runs or searches a location, a noise marker is dropped.  The 'loudness' of the marker is how far away a zombie can hear it.  So searching a location, fairly quiet, meleeing a zombie, a little louder, using a firearm, pretty loud, using a chainsaw very loud, using a stick of TNT pulls every zombie  from across the board.   They're only pulled of couse if they dont' have a Hero targeted.

So each round the players make noise would start to pull zombies in from various distances across the board depending on how loud it was.  This could force the heroes to constantly have to flee their scavenge points.

It could also open using something loud in one section of the map to pull undead toward that area to give a couple of turns of non-interrupted searching in another spot.  And allow for 'loot cards' like "Alarm clock"  "Walkie Talkie"    etc to give the heroes resources to manage the zombies.

Mostly just brainstorming ideas.

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Eclipse Phase RPG (for frees and legal)

Posted by Dennis

Embedded Link

Eclipse Phase PDFs
The Eclipse Phase roleplaying game is released under a Creative Commons license. To facilitate access to the PDFs, I am providing a complete set of links to the current updated version of each on t......

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If you liked shaun of the dead you might like this – 

Posted by Dennis

Bite Me - "Outbreak" (Season 1 Ep 1)

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A bajillion of free (legally so) books for your kindle or kindle app – 

Posted by Dennis

Embedded Link

Freebook Sifter - A Resource for Free eBooks
We search for and display free ebooks for your reading device, updated daily

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Players’ Onus 

Posted by Dennis

(Note: that's an O, not an A)

One of the things about Karma Opposed is that all rolls are opposed (duh) and both the 'instigator' and the 'opposition' roll dice to see who wins.   No "You need a 17 to beat this" where that 17 is static throughout the scene.  Rather it would be as an example a d12+4 each time.  So it might be a 5 on some turns or a 16 on others.

With that said, I'm considering putting the onus of both rolls on the player when the player is the instigator of a contest, i.e. they're the ones who 'started the contest'.  They make their roll and make the opposition roll and make the rolls all at the same time, just with a specific color for the opposition.   I'm not sure if that adds a level of interest or not though.  It certainly would take away any chance of 'GM fudging' accusations or 'you let us win, you made us lose'.

As an example for a combat contest if Magus tries to fry a goblin with elemental fire he rolls his attack dice and the defense dice.  Then we add the modifiers and figure out who won the contest.    But if the goblin then tries to attack Magus with a spear the goblin (aka GM) rolls his own attack dice and Magus rolls his defense dice.

The idea of course is to keep the players involved in whats going on by their having to be physically involved in both attack and defense by dice rolls on their turn and the GM's turn.   Rather than a passive mental exercise of paying attention which with the vast array of crap, especially electronic crap, that players have to distract them  that can be an impediment in keeping them paying attention to what's going on because nothing matters to their character until it's their turn again.

But if the various bad guys scattered through the initiative order are constantly forcing the players to make their defense rolls, they're going to be more focused.  Or just get irritated that you're taking them away from words with friends on their phones and quit playing.  I didn't say there weren't any risks in such a mechanic.

One thing I will be doing is putting the task of remembering things they've caused on the players.  So if Magus's attack Impaired or Handicapped that goblin it's up to Magus to remind the GM when that goblin goes.

If Magus used a focus ability to add Lingering to his attack such that the goblin takes 3/4 of the damage on the first turn and another 1/2 of the damage on the next it's up to the player to remind the GM to add the damage.

Basically I'm trying to add mechanics to relieve some of the book keeping burden of being the GM so rather than focus on getting all the mechanics right, (and just fudging things when they forget) they can spend more time on the non-mechanical, i.e. narrative portions of the game.

Speaking of narrative, KO will continue my push to have mechanics that the player's narrate the effects of their successes, the GM will just narrate/elaborate on them as necessary or for failures.  Since good narration opens the player up to getting bonus dice (which is determined by the other players, not the GM) then there's a definite carrot to go with the stick of having to narrate.

So rather than the GM going "Your sword cuts his arm and blood sprays" for the 18,000 time the player gets to narrate just how awesome their maneuver was.  And increasing your narrative pool by a factor of 5 by bringing the players into can't not make for more interesting narrative.

I think the dividends you get from making every player a narrator in what's going on are pretty large.  It enforces the concept of co-op narration rather than a passive source of random values by rolling dice.

Player narration/inclusion is also the driving force behind the Spectacular mechanic in KO which is a narrative golden ticket for both sides of the table.

I find there's a huge difference between games with a diverse and complex tactical engine in them and light mechanic engines for tactical scenes in terms of how involved and 'in person' the players are.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy 4th Edition DnD combat, for example, but as a mechanical engine of decisions and tactics and combinations rather than an organic one for driving the story.   Players spend a lot of time choosing what to do based on the mechanics of their class which leaves them little time or apparent energy to be 'spectacular' in their narration on any given turn.

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Now this is a strange one

Posted by Dennis

A tablet/smart phone touch screen that can extrude buttons up out of the surface to turn the touch screen keyboard into a real physical keyboard.

Embedded Link

Watch This Touch Screen Transform Into a Physical Keyboard [VIDEO]
Tactus has developed a tactile user interface for touch-screen devices: transparent physical buttons that emerge from a tablet or smartphone's surface on demand.

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Samsung Galaxy S2 USB

Posted by Dennis

After quite a bit of screwing around I finally got my Galaxy S2 to be properly recognized under Windows 7 x64 for the purposes of using ADB.  While this is primarily for software development, it's also important for flashing non-OTA firmwares, rooting etc.

If you have a Galaxy S3 I hear they have the same problem.

Note: This has nothing to do with mounting the SD cards in the phone as mass storage in My Computer so you can access them like a thumb drive.

If you have Debugging Options turned on in your phone and get a CDC_Serial and Android (or SAMSUNG_ANDROID) unknown devices when you plug in your phone in a x64 Win 7 machine then try this -

Download and install KIES from Samsung, this is the safest way to get the USB driver pack, rather than assuming all those links on the internets to strange locations are valid.

Run the USB Driver setup application located in program files (x86) samsung USB Driver.  Install them where you want, they don't install per se, it's more an unzip process.

Plug your phone in.  In Device Manager right click and Update Driver (after the fruitless search for drivers has failed).

Select Browse My Comptuer for driver software.

Select Let me Pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.

Click Have Disk

Select a file in the Escape_25 folder.  You may have to try this step more than once, took me two different .inf files to get it to work.

You'll get back a list of Manufacturers (Samsung duh) and then the sub components on the right.

Pick the Samsung Mobile USB Composite Device in the right pane.  You may to go through each Samsung entry in the left to find it.

Say yes when it warns that we're not sure this driver is for this device.  Give it time to install, you can watch the process by the installation icon in the system tray.  Just double click it to open it.

Repeat the process for the other unknown device.    Let it install.

Now you shouldn't have any unknown devices in Device Manager and more importantly you should be able to do a -

adb start-server
adb devices

and get the hardware ID of your device showing up.

Hope that saves someone else a few hours of WTF'isms.

Key words -
Device not listed when using ADB Devices
Unknown Device CDC Serial  CDC_Serial Android  SAMSUNG_Android
Samsung Windows 7 x64 USB Driver installation failure

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13th Age podcast being run by Rob Heinsoo

Posted by Dennis

 I wish more designers would do this. They can do a whole lot to clarify the RAI versus RAW and to fill in the blanks.  Of course sometimes when *cough 4E cough* the system may be so complicated that even the designers get things wrong because they've gone through so many iterations of the rules.

Embedded Link

BJ Shea's Geek Nation - 13th Age - Part 1 | 99.9 KISW The Rock of Seattle Header - KISW Right Col - KISW Footer - KISW
Welcome to part one of the 13th Age special! The Reverend En Fuego, Brandon Jerwa and special guest, from the Backroom Comics Podcast, Greg Upton ( are led into the world of ...

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Podcast of the FFG Star Wars Edge of the Empire beta rpg

Posted by Dennis

There is a serious 'gotcha' with the system to me (aside from setting).  This is that the system is being released like the Dragon Age where the first book will only get you levels x-x, then you have to wait an expected year after release to get levels x-x and then yet another year to get levels x-x.  Kind of like Dragon age gave you levels 1-5 in the first release, 6-10 in the next release and then finally 11-20 in the last release.

I just prefer having a complete core system myself.

You can get a free (FFG wants $5 for their smart phone apps) dice rolling app here since you can't buy the dice yet although you could mark up a big set of existing dice (6's, 8's, 10's, 12's from what I can understand).

Just to note, you cannot buy into the beta at this time.  All the beta copies are sold so looking at the free adventure -

or listening to a podcast is the only way to learn anything significant about the system.

Based on what I've picked up the dice mechanic is kind of like Elder Scrolls or Zombie Dice dice.  Each die has a set of symbols on it with your basic +'s or -'s ala Fate/Fudge.   The success and failure symbols cancel each other out until there's one type or the other are left over.  That dictates your success or failure at the quest.   Some dice types have a higher percentage of successes or failures on them depending on if they're good or bad dice.   Exactly like the Red / Yellow dice in Scrolls/Zombie.

Additionally there are special symbols that are designed to encourage effects that aren't flat success and failure.

I had to laugh out loud, the dark side / light side mechanic they use is exactly the same thing I use in Karma Opposed.   i.e. when the players spend their light side force points (i.e. Bennies, Hero, Plot, Fate chips) the GM gets them to spend for the non-player characters.   Then when the GM spends them, they go back to the players.   I don't randomize them the way that EotE does.

But the dice mechanic is interesting, I'd have to do the math to see what the chances of success for the player are on various combinations to see where it breaks but the mechanic is certainly non-genre specific and could power other settings.

Embedded Link

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire - Dice Roller | Daemonstorm
With the release of Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) latest RPG, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, comes another need for some players. The game system uses its own custom dice with unique symbols to handle th...

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One of the mechanics of KO

Posted by Dennis

One of the mechanics, actually the base, bedrock level, mechanic I'm putting in K.O. is that all rolls are opposed rolls.  There are no static DC/TN's to beat.

In that same vein, characters (mostly players and bosses, mooks will ikely have one defense for ease/speed of GM control) choose how they're going to defend against an attack (mental of physical although mental is still back of the mind).  There are three D's to defense, Dodge, Deflect, Dull.  When a creature is attacked they choose which way they're going to avoid getting hurt by a) getting out of the way b) directing the attack somewhere else or c)  reducing the impact of the attack.   The type of defense they choose, if they're successful opens up a small list of resource based options.   For example a Dodge might let them Disengage and not suffer OA's from their attacker, a Deflect might let them direct a melee attack against an adjacent target and a Dull might let them shield bash their attacker and force them to disengage.

One of the bigger problems I have with experienced (read jaded) players is when it's not their turn in  a tactical turn based situation, they disengage from what's going on because they can't do anything in the vast majority of game systems and nothing happens to them that they can do anything about.   If they get attacked they typically can only see how badly it is, not do much about it.  And it's hard to blame them because after a million fights it's hard to get excited to watch someone else (especially at the start of a fight) "I roll to hit, I hit?  I roll damage, okay it takes xx damage.".  Especially in systems that are damage sink attrition mechanics where it can take 20 successful attacks to deal enough damage to reach a point where a blow might matter.

With K.O. I'm trying to 'fix' that 'problem' by letting them make active and valid choices when it's not their turn when they're attacked.  And using the various resource systems I'm going to make it possible for them to interpose when it's not their turn by taking advantage of opportunities.  For instance if an enemy they're engaged in becomes impaired then by expending resources they may be able to take advantage of that by making a OA or disengaging or using a focus ability etc.

Additionally the combat system or rather the health / damage system is going to fall more on the brutal side than the gradual attrition side. One thing I noticed with systems ala Savage Worlds where it was possible to be killed in one roll due to exploding dice, players paid a lot more attention to what was going on.  Not so much with 4E (until I made some changes anyway) where it was impossible to 'die' from even 3 or 4 attacks.

Anyway, that's one of the many things that are going through this jaded old gamer's mind these days as he tries to advance gaming on a personal level.

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ICONs Podcast

Posted by Dennis

Found an interesting little podcast for a 4 color superhero game system which is vaguely FATE based (i.e. heavy narrative, not numbers).

Overall ICONS is significantly simpler than hero or even Mutants and Masterminds which has the tag line of (80% of the depth of Hero system with 20% of the work).  It's not about ads and disads, adders and such, it's about the big view picture of being a super and doing super type stuff.

If I was to ever run a supers type session, this would certainly be at the top of my list of systems to choose from.

You generate your character at random and then have to come up with the raison d'etre.  In the podcast they're using it less like a 4 color Hulk Smash!, Xmen style and more a average guy with some above average abilities and going after normal humans.

Mechanics -

The mechanics are pretty simple, you roll two d6's of two colors.  One is a negative and one is positive You figure the total on the dice so a negative die of 4 and a positive die of 5 = 1 as a result.  You add your value to the result for a final "Effort"

Subtract the DC for whatever you're trying to do from the Effort and if you have anything left over you get an Effect.

So a die result of -2 + an ability of 5 = 3 Effort.  Against a DC2 yields a 1 Effect which is a Moderate success, the minimum needed to do whatever it is you're trying to do.

DC's range from 1 to 10 with a 1 the equivalent of beating up a small child and a 10 beating up someone in a purple hat.   Human ability runs from 1 to 6 at the lowest and peak points of possibility.   So picking the lock on a good safe or making a 1000 meter shot would be a DC 4 or 5 for example.  Of course if you're trying to make that 1000 meter shot with a 22 pistol then it would likely be a DC 9 or 10.

Pretty simple stuff really.  On your turn you narrate what you're trying to accomplish and then use your powers or stats to achieve it.

For damage, the amount of Effect you end up translates to damage against the target's Stamina.

The random character I rolled up has 9 stamina.  Let's say he gets in a fight with some security guards at the library of congress as he plans to steal the necronomicon.   He bzzt's one of the guards but there are four more and before he can have the guard start shooting the other guards open up on him with AR's loaded with penetrator rounds.  (Library of congress doesn't screw around).  Those count as damage 6,  and the guards have a Coordination of 4 which covers shooting things.  They all attack after Wes mind controls their friend.  They roll a 2, -1, -1, 3.  Add their coordination and get an effort of 6, 3, 3, 7.    We subtract Wes's coordination of 2 (he's below average) and get results of 4, 1, 1, 5.  Well that's not good.  All four guards hit.  Wes's forcefield of 5 is subtracted from the damage 6 and he takes 4 x 1 point hits, dropping his Stamina from 9 to 5.  In one salvo he's almost halfway down.

Wes unfortunately had assumed they'd be armed with pistols, damage of 4 which his force-field 5 would have ignored. Too bad for Wes.

Now he retaliates by having the mind controlled guard shoot one of his friends.

Hopefully he can keep stay up long enough to get them all down and get the necronomicon before the whole library is roused, he's stunned or is forced to fly away.  If he had any Determination he could

So in a quick test, game play is pretty quick and simple, just some basic and straightforward subtraction and addition for the most part.

Test Character

In trying the system out, using purely random results, no fudging other than I picked Flight as my free birthright power of choice because I didn't roll a movement power, I ended up with a guy 'who's seen the dark places of the universe and it didn't end well for him' kind of character.

Origin - Birthright
The hero was born with or destined to develop superhuman
powers. The character gains your choice of one additional power, which
should be innate, and not a device, or +2 to a rolled power level.

Attributes - (ironically they use most of the same attributes I chose for K.O., swap Social in for Prowess)

These range from  a low of 1 to a high of 8.

Prowess  6
Coordination  2
Strength 4
Intellect  5
Awareness 4
Willpower  5

Powers - (I rolled max powers of 5, you can start out with as few as none, same 1-8 range)

Mental - Mind Control 6 (uses up two slots)
Defensive - Force Field 5
Control - Telekinesis 5
Offensive - Life Drain 5

4 powers = 5 slots because bzzzzt is pretty powerful stuff.

And I chose as my free Birthright power a movement power although I could have boosted one of the above by 2, but what's a super without a movement power?

Movement - Flight 6

Specialties (I rolled 3 slots and chose from a fairly basic list of what would be skills in most systems.  A specialty gives you a +1 when you try to do something associated with that specialty) -

Occult - Because at this point the mind control and life drain was leading me to a dark cultist kind of figure.
Medicine - A dark cultist who did autopsies of the things he found in the shadows to see how they tick.
Investigation - Trying to uncover the dark and mysterious clues to the other world I now sense is trying to enter our own.

And the last stats -

Stamina 9 (Str+Will)

Determination 0 (6 - starting power slots of 6, determination is the ubiquitous fate points, bennies, karma chips, hero points, awesome sauce, plot poitns etc etc etc)

Background -

Wes Artimus was a normal kid, or as much as normal goes when you occasionally see things in the shadows or tentacles in the toilet (I said tentacles!).

As he grew older, such sights become more recurring and led him to many an ancient tome of mysterious and dark lore.  Reading those pages by flickering candlelight bent and twisted his mind, giving him visions of the elder gods and bestowing upon him the faintest of tastes of their powers even as they insidiously wore away at his sanity.

As the encounters grew more frequent he started to find motionless bodies of those things he saw in the corners and using his ever present leatherman... well let us just close that rather crimson chapter in his background and move on.

Wes now provides for himself as a Ghost Hunter, using his powers to create the things that the slack jawed cattle stare at in amazement as plates rock about and doors slowly close.

But no, not not forever as soon the great old ones  will break down the walls between the here and now and the great void they're trapped in and then truly will the aether shiver with the great spawning!  MUWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA,

Wait was that camera on? *bzzzzzzt* destroy that memory card and then forget everything you've heard and seen for the last 5 minutes.


He's very tall, 6'6" but a permanent hunched posture drops him down to 6' 2" most times and gives him a secretive cast.  Very slight of frame, he's often been compared to a q-tip thanks to the massive shock of white hair at the top of his head which he seldom tries to rein in.

Wes dresses in casual but tough clothing as he frequently has to go into dingy and dirty locations.  He frequently wears a watch can as a token prison for his hair and always a pair of gold rimmed glasses perches on his nose from behind which is dark brown, almost black eyes see the secret world around him.


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KO Math 

Posted by Dennis

The current game mechanics for melee combat for KO (falling somewhere between a dice almost don't matter narrative system and a count the squares take 4 hours to level up system) are coming up fairly balanced between two otherwise identical melee fighters.  The system currently uses d6/d12/d20 or potentially a d6/d10/d20 system, the d12's give a little better 'feel' than the d10's although the d10's give slightly better balancing numbers.

After creating my own deadliest warrior simulation, after 10,000 fights (small enough to be fast, big enough to work around random skews) I get this with d12's between warriors A and B.

It's also balanced reasonably well between the heavy tank and the dex monkey with the needle like rapier.  Currently the intended advantage of being heavily armored up is granting you the ability to be a meat sack, a fight between a Dread Pirate Roberts and a Fezzik is still balanced but the fight will take roughly 2.5 times longer.

The guy wielding the 2 Handed weapon is always a slight underdog but it could be balanced by allowing slightly better/different focuses when they hit with it.

A 1H + Shield vs B 2 Hand
Player A Win %53  (5342)
Player B Win %46  ( 4658)

A 1H+Shield vs B Dual Wield
Player A Win %50  (5017)
Player B Win %49  ( 4983)

A Dual Wield vs B 2 Hand
Player A Win %55  (5522)
Player B Win %44  ( 4478)

The system may or may not support advanced weapons, specifically fully automatic firearms and heavy damage weapons like shotguns and large calibre rifles which are always a PITA to try and balance unless your system  heavily enforces ammo limits and carrying capacities etc. If you're not counting ammo and taking actions to change clips/mags then why would you go for a Glock 17 when you could have a Glock 33 as a Just in Case?   I prefer a system to offer choices rather than 'no brainers' or worse 'you're an idjit if you don't take this' when it comes to gear.

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Randomness in Modules

Posted by Dennis

Reading through a module I picked up, it reminded me to chat about a philosophy of mine and that's don't make everything in your module the result of a random die roll.

i.e. don't let your players actions be dominated by random dice rolls.  Give them the information they need to further the plot, the information that's just obvious, don't make them roll to change a television channel (true story from a pod cast I listened to a few weeks ago).  Don't slow the story and the game down with lots of random dice rolls.

In all the game systems I've designed that have skill systems in them, I use a three tier information/action system.  There's for lack of a better generic term, the Primary/Gimmee, the Secondary/Resource based, and the Tertiary/Random Luck.

The break down is Primary/Gimmee are things that the character can learn/notice/do simply by being present in the scene.   They don't need a roll or a skill.  They just 'get it'.

Secondary/Resource based are things that a character can learn/notice/do because that have 'any' skill/training/resource at whatever it would take or because they have something that would let them do it.  They 'get it' because they have the ability to do so.

And then lastly and least importantly is the Tertiary/Random information/actions.  These I use when I'd like to see possible branching solutions to a problem.   i.e. a PC when making their way home may notice that the crowd seems tense as they walk  through the streets, or they may spot the two figures standing in the shadows near your steps, or a neighbor may decide to give them a warning or whatever.  It's not critical to the story that the various rolls succeed.  It merely provides alternate paths if they do or don't.

Not to point fingers but here's a paraphrased quote from an unspecified module with way too many random rolls -

Getting into the house will require them to use the Lockpicking skill, or break a window which requires a Strength check with a bonus if they use an object to do it.

Anyone else see the problems with this?  There's a chance that a PC might not be able to break a standard house window due to random chance.  I don't know about your windows but I can pop one of mine from a rap with an fist or elbow, much less a rock I pick up anywhere in the street.

Additionally the vast majority of house doors in the U.S. can easily be booted open with a few kicks, door jambs especially tend to be that flimsy.

Under my design this wouldn't even be an entry for this encounter, it falls into the 'gimmee action'.  YOu don't really need to put stats in for everything, just a "The house doors are locked, front and back." and let the players figure out how to get in would suffice.

And the point of the encounter is to let them get into the house, why put obstacles in that path for no purpose other than roll dice?

Earlier on, they also needed a random roll to notice moving NPC's that aren't in any cover or taking any care to conceal their motions during the light of day.   That would fall into the 'primary information' gained. Rather than, "Sorry you had your eyes closed, you missed the ones out in the open because you failed your dice roll."  just add it to the scene description, "You see several moving figures, taking a few seconds to count, you come up with eight of them.."

Anyway, that's been my little discourse (rant) on module design and how much randomness is necessary to have a good story.

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Game Math – 13th Age

Posted by Dennis

Note that there are ancillary benefits that aren't accounted for here.  Fighters are harder to hurt with higher armour and deeper health reserves.  Casters have other tricks than pure damage etc or attack alternate lower defenses, clerics have the ability to heal their damage giving them longer life spans during a fight.

Some preliminary melee damage number simulations using level 1 characters with the exception that the Ranger had to spend a class talent to get the 'roll a second attack on any even roll on the first attack'.    Basic dual wield allows a second attack roll only on a 2.  Ranger talent allows a second attack on any even roll when dual wielding.  This is roughly a 25% damage boost by itself making it a must have in terms of power gaming.

The Rogue entry spent a Talent to pick up Lethal which increases crit range to 18+ (this adds 30% more damage FYI for a single talent expenditure which makes it a must have again from the power gaming perspective).  And the numbers reflect that the rogue is always assisting another ally against a target so they always get their sneak damage.

All weapons used in the simulation are 1d8's (even the rogue's short sword is a 1d8 for them) except the 2 handed stats which are a 1d10, the largest damage die weapon in the system at the moment.  There are other sized weapons, the 1d4 and the 1d6 but they offer no mechanical advantages to using them although for many classes (i.e. casters) a 1d6 is the best they can use without taking 10% attack roll penalty for a 25% damage boost.

Sneak damage is a bonus 1d10 when the rogue attacks a character that's already engaged with someone else.

Versus a AC 15 (Arbitrary number)
Base Dual Wield Stats:
Hits: 26489     Ratio: 0.26489
Damage per turn: 1.43824
2's rolled: 5080
Rogue with Lethal Talent and Assumed Sneak Damage Wield Stats:
Hits: 26275     Ratio: 0.26275
Damage per turn: 3.33512
2's rolled: 5027
Ranger Talent Dual Wield Stats:
Hits: 25012     Ratio: 0.25012
Damage per turn: 1.95777
Evens: 50064
Single Wield Stats:
Hits: 24932     Ratio: 0.25012
Damage per turn:  1.34493
2 Hand Stats:
Hits: 25108     Ratio: 0.25108
Damage per turn: 1.65612

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13th Age Kickstarter

Posted by Dennis

Our group bought into the 13th Age Kickstarter and frankly I like what I"m seeing.

They have several (although not necessarily unique really once you've amassed a large collection of game systems) systems in place that should lighten up 4E without going back to the old days of 1st Edition.

I haven't had a chance to play it but I'm really liking what I see so far and I've seen a LOT of systems.

That is all.  🙂

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