Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Death Magic Investigator

In Legend Quest, the spell casters that can learn the most via magic are the necromancers.  With Book of Wishes, they have spells like séance, clairvoyance, past vision, spirit call, and spirit sense.  These allow them to question the dead or see things that the caster never could have seen.  But these types of spells should have their limits.

Take the past vision spell - It allows the necromancer to see through the dead person’s eyes in order to figure out the last thing(s) they saw as they were dying.  Well, if you’re an assassin in this world, you should be aware that the “police” have spell casters who can do this, and you should assassinate your targets from behind.  Simple, right?

But it begs the question:  How much do the dead really know?  If you spirit called the same person who was killed from behind, would his ghost have seen the scene as it floated up and out of his body?  Could a spirit of the dead identify their killer, even if that killer was behind them?  I say no.

I think that spirits should only be able to know what they knew in life.  I have all these complicated reasons and theories, but basically in my game world, the soul has a bunch of parts.  The part that the necromancer is talking to is not your “immortal soul” that goes on to heaven (or hell).  It is more of a shadow of your life.  In my world (at least) death magic doesn’t have the range to reach the heavens, but only the “shadow” part.  So no divine intervention simply by casting spirit call.

This rule works pretty well in restricting the amount of information you can get from the dead.  If they didn’t know it in life, they don’t know it in death.  Also, if they wouldn’t tell you in life, why would they tell you in death?  There are some pretty good reasons for that including desecration of the body, threatening living family, etc.  But simply killing someone should not make them open up to you about everything.  One would think the spirit might hate its attacker.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Legend Quest Silver Anniversary Omnibus Rules

With an enormous sigh of relief and feel of accomplishment, Board Enterprises would like to announce that we have released the Legend Quest Silver Anniversary Omnibus Rules, aka The LQ Omnibus Edition.

So what is it?  We’ve had several blog posts (here, here and here) but this one is going to be the most straight forward - facts, not a sales job:

The Legend Quest Rules - The Omnibus contains the core rules, nearly exactly how they were laid out 25 years ago.  Only very minor tweaks have been made to fix issues that have annoyed the game designers for years.

Book of Wishes - The largest expansion of the magic system has been out for years, but here it is fully integrated with the core rules for easy use.

Optional Rules - The Omnibus includes every optional rule ever published up to this point, including the Optional Weaponry supplement that came out some time ago.  In addition, it includes most of the optional rules used by our play-testers as we’ve worked them out over the last 25 years.  Some of the highlights include the critical charts (both combat and magic), the fumble charts (again, both combat and magic), how to apply criticals and fumbles to other skills, talents and special skills, sweep attacks, accuracy due to size, and a huge amount more!

Modern Rules - The Omnibus rules do not include the full game The Forgotten Hunt, but they do contain all the extra rules for running LQ Modern including things like automatic weapon fire, grenades and explosions, and modern skills.

Clarifications and Game Designer’s Notes - In addition to all those optional rules, there are clarifications where we felt the original rules might not have been as clear as we wanted them to be.  Plus there are notes throughout the book from John Josten, the original designer, giving advice and guidance on what was intended or what might be the best usage of the rules.  Short of having John over to your house to game master, this is the best way to learn the game from the creator.

Prices - We’ve tweaked the price guides in the book so they now conform to the guidelines established with Grain Into Gold, so the rules and GIG are now in line.

So how much is this?  Well, the LQ rule book was about 100 pages.  BoW was about 100 pages.  The Omnibus book is about 300 pages, so this is basically equivalent to an additional rule book in size.  Plus, this is a Board Enterprises book.  We have some artwork in there to break it all up, but there are no full page art pieces wasting space that could better be taken by content.  (Well, OK, the two front covers from LQ and BoW are there as well as the original back cover art, so there are a couple of pages “wasted” to artwork”)

So what do we want you to do?  Well, we’d love for you to buy the book.  We do honestly believe it is the best fantasy (and now modern) role-playing game on the market.  Dragon Magazine agreed (“A real gem of a game.  One of the best systems I’ve ever seen.”).  Further, even if you play a different game, we think you’ll find something you love about Legend Quest.  Maybe it’s some of the spells, some of the enchantments, some of the creatures, some of the skills, some of the combat variations, or some of the optional rules - you’re going to find something that you will want to incorporate into your game.  You can check it out here at RPG Now or here at Warehouse 23 (link coming soon).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Resurrection, resuscitation and the raising of the dead

Welcome to our ghoulish October!

Most FRPGs have some way to bring the dead back to life.  I think this is a vital part of most games, because nobody wants to lose a character they’ve been building for years.  But clearly there are times when it just goes too far.

It has been a VERY long time since I played under other game rules, so I am going to focus mainly on Legend Quest.  That doesn’t mean that what we’re discussing here doesn’t work for other games, in fact I think it works quite well for most of them!

Without getting into the metaphysics of the soul (that’s like a three page paper that I haven’t bothered to publish yet), raising the dead effectively places the soul of the deceased back into their own body, thus returning that body to life.  Let’s talk first about the body.  In LQ, you cannot return life to a body (resuscitate) if that body is incapable of life.  For example, if the head was cut off, then the body is incapable of supporting life and you cannot resuscitate it.  So if you want to prevent your enemies from being raised, you chop off their heads - right?  Well, a restore spell (at Power level 6) can restore a head to a body and then you could resuscitate it, but these are pretty rare spells, so you should be OK.

So what stops the body from supporting life?  Well, rotting.  A rotted body cannot be resuscitated.  Stop, actually it can, but then the newly revived character has a disease similar to leprosy, most commonly called “the rots”.  So what does work?  Well, acids or disintegrate spells quite often work.  Even destroying a portion of the body should be enough to prevent life returning (we’re thinking chest or head), though powerful enough magics ought to work.

You know what method of body destruction seems to work and no magic I have thought of can reverse?  Consumption.  There is a character in one of my games who has a habit of dropping bodies (or parts of bodies) into pig pens in order to destroy the evidence as well as prevent returns.  I haven’t come up with any way that a body that has been consumed can be restored. (I guess wishes in that other game would work.)

So does that make it too hard on the players?  I don’t think so.  None of us have the time to try and get into all the possible things you could do in hopes of preserving the body and then restoring life into it to avoid the rotting, but basically it means if you die and someone with you has a resuscitate spell, you’ll be OK.  If they can get you back to civilization in a couple of days, probably fine, especially if it’s cold or they took some measures.  Otherwise, you’re staying dead.

What else can work?  Bodies that cannot be recovered.  Falling happens a lot with these - especially into lava pits.  But simply having the body fall into the ocean during a storm, and the others being prevented from going after it.  Or off a bridge.  Or dragged away by animals (though that probably leads to consumed).  No body, no resuscitation.

What about the soul?  This is trickier!  Would there be characters who’s souls were so desired by the divine entities that they wouldn’t let them go?  Yes!  You sell your soul to the devil and then die, he might try to do something that would prevent your friends from dragging you back to life.  In my game world, most people die and then they go to stand in line to be judged.  Therefore, they haven’t been shuttled away to their final destination just yet, so typically they avoid the whole devil-holding-onto-their-ankles thing.

Would you want to come back?  Some innocent kid might prefer heaven to life!  Maybe some virtuous folks would too, though there are not many virtuous folks in my campaigns.  Can you imagine how much it would suck if you were brought back to life as a kid, ripped out of heaven, then during your life you “were forced to” make choices that eventually damned you to somewhere else?  Yeah, that would suck!  Do they learn anything in heaven?  Are they returning with any messages?  Maybe a clue about the mission at hand?  I mean, if you die, go to heaven, are greeted by angels and/or people you loved in life, wouldn’t they say, Hey there’s a huge dragon behind the next door!

Maybe it’s easier to not think about some of these things.  Maybe the GM just follows the rule book and says the spell returns people to life, done.  But knowing more about your game world, including its afterlife, can make things a whole lot more fun!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pull Back the Curtain

 Pull Back the Curtain is intended to be one of the “articles” that will appear once we start doing the crowdfunded Fletnern we talked about in the last post.  It is intended to give examples and input on how I go about doing game design.  As it is less informative and follows some other posts I’ve put here, I thought I’d include it now.  Sort of an example, but more because the timing is just right.

    It’s nine days before the date I have had set in my mind to release the Legend Quest Omnibus rules.  I recently noticed that I have a previous version of the Omnibus rules dated over two years ago, so I assume I have been working on the omnibus for at least 30 months.  I think it likely closer to 40.  And yet all I can think about is the crowd funding project and how I want it to work and what the best way will be for it to be laid out.  I’m having great difficulty focusing my energies into the final edits of the rule book.

    Why?  Well, I’m easily distracted - clinically, chronically distractible.  But it is more than that.  It would seem like the Omnibus book would be easy.  It has been published before.  Well, not really.  The original books (Legend Quest and Book ofWishes) were both about 100 pages.  The Omnibus is over 300, so clearly I’ve written another “book”.  Plus, LQ and BoW were never intended to be merged, so getting everything lined up and even cutting things that were redundant has been a job.  Of course I haven’t put 40 hours a week into it, but it has been actively worked for over two years.

    But it has actually been actively worked for 25 years.  These are the original core rules, expanded with the Book of Wishes and all the magic and spells in there.  Probably more importantly, it includes optional rules - many of which we’ve used for years, but have never been “ready for prime time” (meaning that while I understood them, I had never written them so someone else could).  Plus I have 25 years of play testing experience, and some of the things in the original book needed to be changed.  I hate to change anything in the rules, and every change was an agonizing one for me.  I don’t want the Omnibus rules to be different than the earlier rules - I always hated when game companies did that.  So this is NOT a different game, but the original game with a couple of minor tweaks.  Honestly, I doubt most people will even realize them.

    What else?  Well, Grain Into Gold came out during those 25 years.  You know what I realized?  When I wrote LQ, I put some real time and effort into understanding the time and effort that went into making steel weapons and armor.  I winged it on everything else.  So now with GIG out there, I have had to adjust the rule book to what I know to be a far better system.

    My point is that after working on this book for 25 straight years, I’m not as passionate about getting it out the door.  To a degree it is already out there; this is just a different version.  But it really isn’t just a different version; it is something much bigger.  With the optional rules and the Game Designer’s Notes sprinkled throughout the book, I really think this is the book where I am teaching you how to play the game the way I play it (we play it - the play-testers and I).  To some, the notes and clarifications might seem a bit chaotic, but truth be told, so am I.  This book, as it is now, makes perfect sense to me.  I just hope it will make sense to the other game masters and world builders out there!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The News from Board Enterprises

As many of you know, Board Enterprises is celebrating its 25th year in business.  Yep!  1991-2016.  Probably older than a number of you reading this.  Well, for us, this year has been all about The Legend Quest Silver Anniversary Omnibus Edition.  We are still shooting to have it out before the end of October, so please keep your eyes open for that!  You can see some of our info about it here.

We have also just released Speed Characters, because we know that trying to create point based characters can be very difficult.  Check out our write up of it here or just go and buy it here.  (and thank you if you do!)

So what’s in store for next year?  Well, we’ve been planning that and we think we may have actually come up with a plan.  Here’s the outline:

First, we really do want to support the Omnibus edition and anyone who is trying run a game with it.  So we’re going to release a Campaign Starter Kit that should lay out an entire campaign for some starter characters.  Everything is provided here (really!  everything!).  Plus if the background and history in the CSK isn’t enough for you, we’re going to put out the companion piece Open Spaces describing the “kingdom” that campaign takes place in in even more detail than you got in the campaign book.  It’s a little piece of fake Ireland in our fantasy world!

But wait, there’s more!  We’re going to bundle everything together plus add in some of what we use to give out as our “Game Masters’ Guild” set.  This will have some simple encounters, lots more starting characters, and who knows what else.

So OK, once we feel we have truly given Legend Quest and the game masters the support they deserve, we are going to switch gears a bit.  We had thought about doing the omnibus book as a crowdfunding thing, but it didn’t feel right.  We thought about doing Fletnern as a crowdfunding thing, and it seemed impossible.  I mean the book would be about 1,600 pages at least.  I’ll never get that done.  So here is what we think we’re going to do, and we’re open to comments!

Rather than keep releasing books like A Baker’s Dozen Villains, Urban Developments, and City of Rhum, we’re going to release pieces of everything all together.  How do we think we’ll sell that?  Well, as a crowdfunding thing.  The strategy shakes out like this:  For every dollar you kick in every month (we’re probably using Patreon), you get a vote as to what the theme of the next month will be.  Every month, we’ll keep putting out these blogs!  Every month we’ll keep putting out more entries for World of Fletnern.  But every month we’ll be putting out the types of things that would have filled books like Coins of the Road (transportation and trade goods), Facets (gemstones, including their magical aspects), Lifestyles of the Magical and the Mundane (how life works in the big cities, including monetary stats for players and GMs to use), and on and on it goes.  

I had planned to bill this as a surprise box.  You never know exactly what you’re going to get inside, but it’s going to be a ton of stuff!  When I’ve explained it to a couple of you blog readers, it came back translated as, “Wow, that’s how Dragon Magazine used to be when it was good.”  Since Dragon Magazine called Legend Quest; “a real gem of a game.  One of the best systems I’ve ever seen”, we absolutely love Dragon Magazine!

The overarching “plot” of this is to legitimately get us communicating with you, our content consumers.  What do you want?  What don’t you want?  You will be voting on content, so we should be pleasing the majority of you.  Feel free to start communicating with us now!  Honestly, we’ll listen!  We may not do what you say, but we’ll listen to you!  If you make sense, we will follow your advice!  Board Enterprises really wants to be your favorite place to come for content on table top gaming, game mastering, and world building, never forgetting character creation!  But to be that, we need to hear from you!

We’ll have a survey up pretty soon about what everybody is hoping for on themes.  We think the theme thing will help, especially when you’re going back over things later on and want find specific stuff.  Oh, and did we say that every dollar you give us on Patreon will also grant you $1 worth of product?  Yep, you’ll have your own private Board Enterprises account and we’ll send out product whenever you want to spend those BE Bucks.  It really is a two-for-one sale that never ends!!