Reviews Incoming: LotFP Crowdfunding Products

Just got a package in the mail from Finland. Unfortunately, I’m in the “Spackle and steam cleaner” phase of moving, so the review of “Seclusium” will have to wait a few days. Initial impressions: someone loves William Morris as much as I do. Repetitive but entertaining. I’ve been working on a reimagining of B1 as a Seclusium, as well: I’ll have some of that up when my internet is hookedup in the new place. Also, the contributor cover for Better Than Any Man is pretty lulzy.

OSR Survey: Trolly Troll’s Top Ten Troll Questions for Your Game.

Got five posts in the queue, but I’m moving cities over the next few days. In the meantime, I’ll do another quizzy thingy, which I got from this dude. Hey, content, amirite?
On to the quiz!

(1). Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no?
Yes and no. I do use racial classes, but I prefer to do cultural classes instead of race-classes if I can (see the Tribal class I wrote up for LotFP a while back). If you want to be an Elf who trained exclusively as a Fighter, it’s fine by me; Slap a Chaotic alignment on there and you’re pretty much done.

(2). Do demi-humans have souls?
Soul, animating spirit, what’s the difference on a mechanical level? Philosophy is a question best left to the players. That said, there are some pretty heavily classical Catholic and Aristotelian underpinnings in most of the worlds I write. So.. Maybe? Elves could very well be demons lovingly shoved into a carefully-prepared Mandrake plant, for all we know, or Dwarves autogenerated when statues are left in the Deep.
…damnit, now I have more things to work into the world.

(3). Ascending or descending armor class?
Descending/THAC0. It’s easier and faster for my old-school wargamer head to compute on the fly. Mathematically, either approach is equally easy and valid, and it’s exceptionally easy to convert, so I don’t get butthurt about anyone’s preferences.

(4). Demi-human level limits?
Never been an issue in one of my games – either the game didn’t last long enough or the character died too soon for it to be an issue. That said, I’ve always thought the whole thing a stupid mechanical patch to justify a DM’s story conceit (id est, why do Humans run pretty much everything?)

(5). Should thief be a class?
Fuck yeah. Or rather, Specialist should. But Paladins shouldn’t – that’s what a Cleric already is. I do “Priests”/White Mages very similarly to druids, only generally with a few more restrictions. Also, staying a miracle-worker requires a dedication to others that most players aren’t willing to accept, when the path of the Church-Militant is so much easier and more.. well, fun, for many.

(6). Do characters get non-weapon skills?
Yup. You can also write a background, and I’ll give you some basic skills based on it. The ones on the character sheet are life-and-death shit, not what you do around the house. You want to be an expert appraiser of pottery with an unhealthy fondness for knots? By all fuckin’ means. Hell, some games – usually the really quick-and-dirty ones – I allow players to interject with a (cue Chekhov) “I can do thet!”. You just have to tell me why and how. It’s an easy way to get players to develop the character more at the table, and it helps define them more than sifting through a 50-page “skill” section.
Also, if you have a skill, it’s assumed to be at a professional level. That means you can accomplish routine things without rolling.

(7). Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)?
It depends. See, the fighters usually have less raw power, but they also don’t occasionally explode into masses of writhing, fornicating batrachia either. Well, not unless the wizard really fucks up. The Winds of Magic have a bad habit of slapping down the arrogant, but they tend to be pretty precise most of the time. Also, wizards get a LOT of shit from the peasantry, where a Fighter can usually be a lot more local-hero material. If it helps, think Jayne/Zoe (Fighters) versus Inara (Yes, she’s a Specialist, but she gets treated a lot like a wizard. Incredibly dangerous Guild and vicious local prejudice included).

(8). Do you use alignment languages?
No, although Latin/Greek, Draconic, and Elvish are very frequently spoken by Lawful men of letters, unknowing cultists/Lemurians, and the Fae (respectively). Large cultural groups that interact regularly in a cooperative way – who, incidentally, often share an alignment for some reason – will usually have some kind of lingua franca. But the linguist in me just can’t quite tolerate the idea that all Chaotic creatures instantly speak the Language of the Fiends as soon as they bargain off their souls.

(9). XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc…)?
XP for gold, XP as a carrot for good behavior and smart play. Objective-based XP makes for shitty dungeons, because of the choices you wind up having to make with it.
On the one hand, if you want to be fair it can force you to design bite-sizer one-shots, or otherwise set it up so that every convenient “chunk” of the adventure has sufficient challenges for everyone to get the “necessary” XP. But then the players have to go to exactly the right spots to get what they “need”; this philosophy leads to railroading. Plus, the players will inevitably go off the rails, and then you have XP imbalance anyway.
Secondly, it encourages competitive gameplay and punishes players for not doing the perfect Five Man Band (Wizard, Fighter, Thief, Cleric, and a Token Minority). Fuck that. I want 5 Fighters to be able to go in and walk out with the same XP as the “balanced party”, if they play and roll just as well.
Then, if you don’t give a fuck about fairness, you wind up screwing over players in a way they feel is high-handed and arbitrary (and rightly so). Losing XP because they had to ditch gold to flee the orcs is one thing. Being 3 levels behind because the party isn’t finding traps and running heist missions is bullshit.
…also, this question assumes that the role of the Thief is disarming traps. With Specialist, that’s far from a fucking given.

(10). Which is the best edition; ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E ADD, 4E DD, Next ?
(I consider 3e to still be an inheritor of AD&D)
Of what’s presented, Holmes.
ODD and 1e are both complete, nearly unrunnable clusterfucks, 2e pushes Moral Panic bullshit. 3e is detailed to the point of meaninglessness, and suffers severely from the same splatbook explosion as latter-era 2e. 4e.. I’m just gonna shut up on that one.
I prefer Holmes to M&M mostly because I like his writing style and gaming philosophy.

Bonus Question: Unified XP level tables or individual XP level tables for each class?
I prefer individual XP for its elegance, but frankly it doesn’t make any damned difference for the first few levels of play. Think about it: 5000 XP, and you’ve got a L2 Wizard, Cleric, and Fighter, or a L3 Thief. Wooo. Add less than another grand to that and it really doesn’t change the party dynamic. Also, I find having varied character levels makes the players engage more. They have to make a whole different set of resource decisions when the party’s guide across the Lemurian Plains is a level 1 Specialist with a crossbow and the leader is a level 3 Mage, compared to a time when the leader’s a L3 Fighter and they’re uninvited in Elf territory with only a L1 Cleric.
Back, you filthy heathens. BACK I SAY.Peter Cushing image provided by Hammer Films, no challenge, no authorization, yadda yadda.

Battletech sculpting/conversion update.

Got some ‘Mech modeling done over the last few days. First off, I got sick of the heavy-duty sculpting work I’ve been pushing the last few weeks, and started on a lance of Donegal Guards – specifically the 17th Donegal. They’re set up to be legal for play from the early Star League all the way through to post-Jihad, and most of the designs are acceptable in the late Age Of War.

L-R: COM-1D, BNC-3S, WVR-6R, LCT-1S

L-R: COM-1D, BNC-3S, WVR-6R, LCT-1S

Composition: BNC (Steiner variants), Locust (1-S), Commando (-1 series), Wolverine (Stock, can use minor variants and upgrades). Runs just shy of 4k BV, or 4500 with the Jihad-era variants. Basic idea is, the WVR hangs back with the Banshee while the Locust and Commando zig-zag across the line of advance. When they find a target, the Commando falls back to snipe and bodyguard the ‘Shee as it advances to engage, while the Wolvie and Locust flank the target and pressure it. Been experimenting with loading the Commando with Inferno rounds so it can set fires and deal with vees, but I never manage to use them up in a fight. The strategy seems to work okay in Megamek, although the lance is a good bit more explosive than I’m usually comfortable with. I’m really proud that I managed to keep resupply easy (only 3 different types of ammo, and mostly they eat up 6-packs of SRM like Skittles), and still kept a reasonable theme going.

All are converted plastics from the boxed sets, as follows:
• The Commando uses the laser designator from a 1/72 Apache’s Hellfire rack. I integrated it with the recarved SRM wrist rack.
• Banshee: Sculpted SRM rack, with a heat sink in the back. Drilled gunbarrels in the waist, added a salvaged Whammy arm from my adventures in ebaying 3e plastics.
• Wolverine: Didn’t like the way it was clearly facing the wrong side of the base, so sawed and pinned the waist. Minor GS work to fix a miscast on the back.
• Locust: Cut out the center “barrels” on the arms, drilled the bottom and added a quick-and-dirty paperclip and GS laser. Top barrel sanded round, will be jeweling it as a laser lens for the SLs later. Cut off the underslung Martell, saving it for a Taurian locust conversion later (over-under linked barrels. It’ll look great or completely shite).

Pic is after 1hr of painting. I managed both base and highlight coats on the three painted ‘Mechs, but didn’t have time to ink the Bug or work on the Wolverine. I really need to fix that sloppy-ass highlight on the Banshee’s barrel, too.

I’ve also resumed my “unfuck the 5e boxed set” project. Everything from simple reposes (Panther, Jaegermech, Vindicators) to model changing (Clint -> Clint IIC for my Spirits), heavy-duty reposes (Jenner, Dragon), and weapon swaps/sculpting (Banshee, Zeuses).
Boxed Set Mods #1Working from Left to Right;
• The Hunchback was a simple gun cleanup; the other one I own is in the midst of a Swayback (SRM) transition.
• Panther: a simple saw-and-pin on the arm.
• Dragon: heavily reposed, rebased, and guns drilled. It’s still waiting on radio antenna and a reworked arm laser before it sees primer. I loosely based its pose on an old illustration I have somewhere.
• Whitworth: Arms reposed, with the lasers respositioned to the correct angle and the micro-missile box on the left arm beefed up to better proportions. Still debating whether to make the missile hatches open or closed.
•  Clint: just started its rebuild; still needs a hand actuator and a head/arm/leg repose to match the Loose illo in 3060.
• The primed Zeus is one of my earliest gun rebuilds in the scale, and needs a little rework now that I’m more comfortable. Its unprimed sister is set to become the ZEU-6Y experimental model from the Succession Wars, because I am a whore for Blazers.
• The Jaegermech has had the barrels cut, rotated, and pinned. I can’t find my JM-6A conversion right now, alas.

There are several more conversions on the way, with six 3e plastic ‘Mechs waiting for primer and another five 5e models, but I felt like throwing these up to remind myself I’m making progress. Especially with the Thunderbolt’s reactive armor still kicking my ass.

Definitely not using the foil backdrop again, though, yellowed the fuck out of my pics. Time to try postcards, I think…

Mecha Artist dump

In keeping with my tradition of putting stuff here for my own use, here are some of my favorite mecha artist’s pages. I may come back through later and add in stores, this was just me tossing something up there.
Pixiv:
Captain 06 – Battletech and Nuetech, with a side in realistic military and flying lolis without pants.
T-TA – Mech redesigns, mostly of Nuetech, and a little fanart
Mecha Fighter – Renders, multiangle. Good sculpting reference.
S. Shimizu – Largely conventional 3/4 lineart, but a wide range of subjects and decent references

Deviantart
Alex Iglesias – AKA Flyingdebris. Doug Chaffee’s replacement for covers.
Anthony Scroggins – AKA Shimmeringsword
Dave White– Mecha Master
Kristian Borg – digital art of BT
Eric Ou – Tanks and other fun things
Mike Jackson – Sourcebook artist with a side in covers and card art
Justin Nelson Bad shading, good fundamentals. Did the Re-Re-Reseen primitives.