Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Books of the Wastes

Books of the wastes is a Mutant Future book that will allow your character to acquire new abilities from pre-war books found in the Wastes.

Books included are:

  • Alice's Gun Almanac
  • Better Living HIGH Magazine
  • "Big" Bill Hutchison's Guide to Business Influence and Success
  • Chairman Mao's Little Red Revolutionary Handbook
  • Mr. Fixit's Handy Dandy Advanced User Manual
  • Mr. Fixit's Handy Dandy Robot Repair Manual
  • The Laze
  • U.S. Army Robot Combat Manual
  • U.S. Army Field Medic Guide
  • Little Pathfinder's Wilderness Survival Guide
All these books, along with rules for learning new abilities from books for Mutant Future, for the low low price of 99 cents.

How could you possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christmas in July!

It's that time of year again: Christmas has come early to RPGNow- 5 months early in fact!

All Vigilance Press books are 25% for the length of the sale, so if there's something you've been thinking about buying, your passivity has been rewarded! Click on the banner at the top and it will take you to our RPGNow storefront.

New Modern20 Occupation: Weaponsmith

New Occupation: Weaponsmith
You are a master at creating archaic weapons.
Professional Skills: Athletics, Engineering, Weapons
Improved Feats: Master Craftsman: one aspect of a weapon can be improved to +2; Attack Focus: when using a weapon of the chosen type that you created yourself, your attack bonus is increased to +2, for example, a character with Attack Focus (longsword) would gain a +1 attack bonus with all longswords but a +2 bonus on one he constructed himself; Great Fortitude: +4 on Fortitude saving throws; Strength Training: +2 Strength

Behind the scenes: Billy, a player in my Post Apoc20 game set in the Fallout universe, wanted a tribal who was a master weaponsmith but no occupations really covered that niche. I created this occupation to fill a needed gap.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eternal War: modern USHER Dossiers adventure on the way

Hey guys! Quick update here from the Land of Vigilancia!

Just got an outline for Eternal War from Steve Perrin and it's shaping up!

Eternal War pits the PCs against the three greatest villains from two different worlds, so it's not an adventure for the faint of heart.

Trying not to be super spoilerific, though the astute will find a big clue in the title.

The adventure takes place at locales such as USHER's Liberty Tower, USHER's Rock City prison and in orbit of Planet Earth!

Also, it will introduce an entirely new team of heroes into the USHER universe. These heroes will both add to the lore of the setting as well as serve as a perfect springboard to quickly introduce the setting to new players.

Now, as anyone who has heard me say "USHER is my baby" can guess, I have been pretty involved in this in a behind the scenes way.

The initial idea was mine, and some of the events, especially in the early stages, were drawn from my home campaign.

I've also taken a hand in crafting the new hero team Steve is working on.

The rest is all Steve. He's a legendary supers designer and I've been very much enjoying seem him take on the USHER-verse, both here, and in his recently released WWII adventure Invasion: Oceania.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vigilance Press nominated for fan favorite publisher at the Ennies!

So go vote for us!

And thanks to everyone who helped get us nominated!

I got a few nods in my RPGObjects days for various things, but this marks Vig Press' first ennie nomination ever.

Actually, this is the first year I submitted product. Prior to this, I felt like I was still figuring out what the heck I was doing.

I submitted USHER Dossiers, Homefront Heroes and Field Guide Vol. 1, which didn't make it through the judges' phase to be nominated.

But the fans came through for us, and that's way cool.

On a related note, ICONS proper *did* score quite a few nominations, so if you're an ICONS fan, like I am, you should definitely give it consideration for your vote.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1998: the best year in the history of video games Part 2

Fallout 2Link
Many of the great games in 1998 I am featuring here I didn't experience until later. Why? Mostly because I spent all my game time in 1998 playing Fallout 2. In a year of great games, this is without a doubt the best.

Fallout 2 took the SPECIAL system, the underlying RPG rules set that powered Fallout, and changed it... not at all. Mechanically this is Fallout.

They changed the interface to make it easier to access what your character could do but the core rules remained the same.

Then they crafted an adventure 4-5 times larger than Fallout.

While many games talk about their moral choice mechanics today, no game did this better than fallout. You have Karma, which is more or less your overall morals on a good-evil axis, you have Reputation, which is what each specific town thinks of you and then you have specific Reputations that kick in based on certain actions.

For example, if you find a town with a graveyard, and there are at least two in the game, you can grab a shovel, dig up all the graves and pocket the trinkets buried with the deceased. But you are then a gravedigger, which will get around, and which will color how some NPCs react to you.

More dramatically, if you get into a firefight in town and accidentally mow a few kids down with your automatic fire and you are a Childkiller. This completely changes the course of your entire game, as there are whole categories of NPCs (ones who tend to be uh, moral) who won't even talk to you.

From a story perspective, Fallout 2 is not only at the top of my list, but one should more accurately talk about Fallout's stories.

There's the main plot, which has your character, proving he's "the Chosen One" in a primitive dungeon of trials, tracking down the location of "the holy 13", the vault your ancestor came from, finding the GECK (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) and then rescuing your entire village from the clutches of the villainous Enclave.

This main story, even if you sprinted through it, alone, is much larger than the story of the original Fallout game but if you do a "speed run" to save your village, you're only seeing about 20% of the game.

There's Vault City, a beacon of light and civilization in the Wasteland... that's also racist and classist and practices slavery.

You can help it, deciding the place does more good than evil, or you can try to tear it down and hand it into the waiting arms of the New California Republic. You can wholeheartedly embrace First Citizen Lynette and her arrogant, racist ways, or you can undermine her by dealing with other members of the ruling council.

There are at least 4 major adventures centered around Vault City alone, and numerous smaller tales there. I'd wager that your total play time just doing everything you can do in Vault City equals the entire original Fallout game.

You can fight a dangerous raider gang in what might be your toughest battle yet. You can donate sperm to help combat Vault City's genetic stagnation (more XP if your Int is higher!) you can help one of your followers repair his relationship with his estranged daughter, or you can learn about cybernetic combat implants and turn your character into a nearly indestructible Wolverine-wannabe, at the cost of your Charisma stat.

From there you head to New Reno and again you have a hub for probably a dozen adventures, some large, some small, and some plain silly.

Want to join a crime family and become a made man? Check. Want to step into the ring and become the heavyweight champion of New Reno? Check. Want to step in front of the camera and become a, uh, porn star? Um, check.

Just on the made man front, there are four very different crime families in New Reno to choose from and each has something to offer your adventurer. The Wright family, a big clan that takes in homeless kids and specializes in booze over meth, is your choice if you want to be a mobster and stay moral.

Then there's the Bishop family, who will embroil you in New California's machinations to take over Vault City. Since they're mobsters, their way of playing politics isn't karma-friendly. Make a few pesky politicians have "accidents" and you're a made man.

Though, if you sleep with the boss' wife... or daughter... and father illegitimate children with him, he might make you a made man and then kill you. Or maybe he never finds out, and your illegitimate child becomes the next head of the Bishop Family.

Then there's San Francisco, where your character can destroy a weird little cult building a spaceship, help the Brotherhood of Steel and be rewarded with access to their local bunker, which makes a lovely base of operations for your 20-30 level adventuring btw and you can even join in the battle of good vs. evil between two martial arts teachers, becoming the student of one and the enemy of the other in a hand to hand fight to the finish.

And then, when the game is over, Ron Perlman comes in and tells you how your actions affected each of the towns you passed through in the far future. This is how you know the fate of your illegitimate child with Boss Bishop's daughter (and/or wife).

These endings just add to the replayability of the game. Sure, you helped those plucky ghouls of Gecko in the short term, but is there anyway to stop them from getting shredded down the line, conquered and enslaved for their nuclear power plant you helped them fix? It seems not.

Such is the way in the world of after the apocalypse, but playing the game again, making different choices, and hearing Ron Perlman give you a glimpse of how it all worked out is just one of many things that makes Fallout 2 the best game in 1998.

Which, given that you already know how I feel about 1998, I suppose would make Fallout 2 the best game of all time.

Problem solved I guess!

Or maybe not- tune in next time with a game I am some out there would argue belongs on the pedestal with Fallout 2, if not above it: Baldur's Gate.

Tech stuff- animated GIFs

Does anyone know how to save an animated GIF to blogger so its, you know, animated?

The above banner is supposed to have a few frames talking about RPGNow's Christmas in July sale.

It's animated when saved to my desktop, but only the first image shows when I upload to Google.

Any pro tips?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thoughts about Nuclear Sunset

So I have begun work on Nuclear Sunset: Northeast and it's got me excited all over again about the project in general.

And apparently, I'm not alone, as the first book, Nuclear Sunset: Southwest is still in the top 15 list at RPGNow. That's an unusually long stay for me.

But I digress into weird proud poppa mode.

One of the things that popped into my head while Darrin and I were brainstorming this, was to have each region be its own genre to make each sourcebook feel truly fresh and not just the same campaign slathered over different geography.

I started in very familiar PA territory- namely, the gonzo Western. Now Western as post apoc story goes at least as far back as Mad Max and recently made a triumphant return in Book of Eli but what I did was a gonzo Western, which has no less a hallowed history in the post apocalypse genre, thanks to Fallout.

BTW- Fallout 2 one of those things that makes 1998 the greatest year ever in gaming- though I'd forgotten that little series had you?

If you want to have a gunfight with pimps and mobsters in New Reno, Fallout 2 has your back. On the other hand, if you want to fight mutant cyborgs and aliens, Fallout 2 also has your back.

But the tabletop genre had moved away from the gonzo. I have no idea why, except a brief idea that RPG writers like to take themselves very seriously. There's nothing wrong with this, just don't let it get in the way of the fun.

And btw, I am definitely guilty of taking myself too seriously. Maybe right now.

So, while the Southwest really grabbed me first, mostly because of this Marshall Chronicles idea floating around my laptop in various files as a novel/novella/game/who the heck knows, I also had an idea to do something really different, which is what I'm working on now.

Post apocalypse as superheroes.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. You have all these mutants running around a post apocalypse landscape. It's almost as if we were telling the stories of pasts of future days... future days of the past... eh... it'll come to me.

And we still have the gonzo because these latter day mutants (and yes, I would welcome a pamphlet from the Church of Latter Day Mutants, thank you) are getting the idea that they need colorful costumes, code names and a nemesis from "historical documents", aka comic books.

Cue the Galaxy Quest theme.

And the Northeast makes perfect sense for that, because that is still ground zero for the comic book industry.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New from Vigilance Press: Invasion Oceania! (ICONS)



The year is 1941 and the Nazi menace looms across Europe.

Britain stands defiant but has been pushed to her limits. Without the support of her allies in Canada, America and Oceania, Hitler is convinced Britain will finally be brought to her knees.

However, even Hitler's mighty U-Boat fleet cannot stand against the undersea kingdom of Oceania, staunch ally of Britain through WWI and now WWII. Hitler has decided the first step to control of the Atlantic must be-

Invasion: Oceania!

The noose is tightening ever more around stalwart Britain. Only by coming to Oceania's aid can she be saved. Who will descend into the depths to defend Oceania?

Check it out!

BBC Transcript to be read in case of a nuclear attack

As Dan Akroyd said in the Twilight Zone movie, "Want to see something scary"?

BBC TRANSCRIPT TO BE USED IN WAKE OF NUCLEAR ATTACK

This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.

Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your
homes you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger.

If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which followed a nuclear explosion, is many times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open. Roofs and walls offer substantial protection. The safest place is indoors.

Make sure gas and other fuel supplies are turned off and that all fires are
extinguished. If mains water is available, this can be used for fire-fighting.
You should also refill all your containers for drinking water after the fires
have been put out, because the mains water supply may not be available for very
long.

Water must not be used for flushing lavatories: until you are told that lavatories may be used again, other toilet arrangements must be made. Use your water only for essential drinking and cooking purposes. Water means life. Don't waste it.

Make your food stocks last: ration your supply, because it may have to last for 14 days or more. If you have fresh food in the house, use this first to avoid
wasting it: food in tins will keep.

If you live in an area where a fall-out warning has been given, stay in your
fall-out room until you are told it is safe to come out. When the immediate
danger has passed the sirens will sound a steady note. The "all clear" message
will also be given on this wavelength. If you leave the fall-out room to go to
the lavatory or replenish food or water supplies, do not remain outside the room
for a minute longer than is necessary.

Do not, in any circumstances, go outside the house. Radioactive fall-out can kill. You cannot see it or fell it, but it is there. If you go outside, you will bring danger to your family and you may die. Stay in your fall-out room until you are told it is safe to come out or you hear the "all clear" on the sirens.

Here are the main points again:

Stay in your own homes, and if you live in an area where a fall-out warning has
been given stay in your fall-out room, until you are told it is safe to come
out. The message that the immediate danger has passed will be given by the
sirens and repeated on this wavelength. Make sure that the gas and all fuel
supplies are turned off and that all fires are extinguished.

Water must be rationed, and used only for essential drinking and cooking
purposes. It must not be used for flushing lavatories. Ration your food supply:
it may have to last for 14 days or more.

We shall repeat this broadcast in two hours' time. Stay tuned to this
wavelength, but switch your radios off now to save your batteries until we come
on the air again. That is the end of this broadcast.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

1998: the best year in the history of video games

As gamers, there's games we all should play. As game designers, there's games we should study, games whose principles and techniques have shaped the games that came after.

When a game is both of these things, it's a game that gets talked about. Other games get compared to it, often unfavorably. Games like this are so good, they even make continuing the franchise difficult.

For game like that, 1998 might be the single most important year in video games.

Resident Evil 2

Maybe the best survival horror game ever released. Certainly the best until Resident Evil 4 (Alone in the Dark fans can register complaints over here).

Venerable Japanese gaming magazine weekly Famitsu lists the game as the 4th best Playstation game, and this game has shown up on numerous "100 best games lists", such as Electronic Gaming Monthly, IGN and Game Informer.

Why you want to study this game: Atmosphere. Horror games are ultimately about atmosphere and Resident Evil 2 pulls that off in spades.

Final Fantasy Tactics

This game came out the next week for the Playstation. Turning Final Fantasy into a strategy game seems like an odd choice and it certainly was a challenge, but the design team proved no only that they were up to that challenge, but maybe it wasn't such an odd choice after all.

Electronic Gaming Monthly called it a "classic" right out of the gate and it was IGN's Editor's Choice 1998, and its esteem in the minds of gamers and critics has only grown over time.

For example, Gamespot has awarded Final Fantasy Tactics its "Best Games of all Time" award, something no other Final Fantasy game has received from the site. Final Fantasy VII and X can eat it.

Why you want to study this game: The design of the battlefields. They're big, they're intricate, they look good and they offer numerous tactical possibilities.

That's all for now.

1998 is just too big to cover in one post. Stay tuned!

New Adventure for AZ on the Way

So, Adventure Locale #1: White Star Trailer Park is coming soon! It's a location based adventure for my zombie apocalypse game, AZ: Afte...