Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Thursday, July 30, 2020

John Robert Lewis, 1940-2020


America buries an undeniable hero today.  It's only relatively recently in my life that I realized what an amazing person we had living and working among us.  I hope that I can continue to learn from Mr. Lewis...and maybe one day achieve some small piece of the courage, peace, and love that he lived by.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Tweaking Ghostbusters to play nice with the OSR

I've now run three mini-sessions (plus a Session 0) of the "Ghostbusters meets Urban Arcana" game (which I will attempt from here on to refer to simply as the Department-7 game, since that's the organization that's the focus of it) with my friend Josh, who has been an immeasurably good sport in letting me blindly lead him through a set of mechanics and setting tropes that are being figured out as we go along.

From my seat, it's been a ton of fun.  Agents B.J. Flech and Johnny Fix have done a great job so far taking care of the giant ants invading a giant picnic and managing to also handle the group of kobolds living in the ants' lair.


They're now off to Colorado Springs to investigate some odd visitors that have made swim practice impossible the past couple of days at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (they're prepping for the 1990 Goodwill Games, y'know)...


My goal with this game has been to mash up Ghostbusters and D&D in a couple of different ways.  First, they're scrambled together thematically, as the PCs are just investigating something strange in the neighborhood, it's just that their brand of strange is stuff that's made its way to our world from a fantasy realm.  I also wanted a mechanical mashup, though, taking the basics of the Ghostbusters RPG and working in monsters from fantasy games pretty much as written.  Here's how things are shaping up thus far...

The game is still very much attribute + skill based and built on dice pools, with stats changed from Ghostbusters' Muscles/Moves/Brains/Cool to the very, very similar Might/Dexterity/Intelligence/Presence.  I like that breakdown of abilities, I like that DEX and INT can be preserved from D&D, I like Might (which is used in Mini Six) and Presence as STR-CON and WIS-CHA combos.  I should maybe just use the GB names but figure these alternatives will work fine for now.  Twelve points are divided up among the attributes, with a starting range of 1-5 for each.  We're dealing with whole dice only...no pips to "complicate" things like in later D6 games such as Star Wars.

In Ghostbusters, starting characters get a single talent (or skill) for each of the attributes.  When the talent applies to a roll, the player rolls three additional dice.  We've gone the same route with Department-7 but are only throwing two additional dice in for rolls that include the talent.  This keeps them from being so game-swinging at the start and aligns things more with "standard" D6 System games, where seven skill dice seem to be the norm at character creation.

I've dropped Brownie Points and just given the characters straight-up hit points instead...10 plus a Might roll.  Counting down on these seems like a nice way to keep the spirit of Ghostbusters' Brownie Points (a simple number rather than a wound system), and I think it adds to the D&D feel.

Task resolution, including combat, is where I'm trying the hardest to integrate the systems smoothly.  As I have now rambled on way longer than I thought I would at this point, I think I'll save that for another post to come along soon...

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

2 Tone Tuesday: My favorite video on YouTube


If not my favorite, it's pretty darn close.


Is Buster Bloodvessel the greatest entertainer of the 2 Tone era?  I'm really starting to think so.  Here's Bad Manners performing the song at the height of ska's second wave...


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Geeky SKAturday: Rancid's Skeletim ReAction Figure

I would call myself an "enthusiastic observer" of Super7's ReAction Figures.  The design and character choices are pretty awesome, and I really enjoy seeing new additions to the line, but they aren't something I see myself sinking much (if any) money into anytime soon.  It was pretty intriguing, though, to check out their site recently and stumble upon a new figure based upon legendary punk band Rancid's Tim Armstrong:  Skeletim.


I would rate Armstrong up there as one of my favorite musicians ever.  The 1995 Rancid album ...And Out Come the Wolves had a role in the return to the mainstream of both punk rock and ska in the 90s, and it certainly played a role in the transitioning of my most ardent musical leanings from a general interest in alternative rock to an unshakable love for ska.

While not solely a ska album, ...And Out Come the Wolves features amazing ska numbers like this classic...


...and it was a bit of a return to ska form for frontman Armstrong and bassist Matt Freeman, who were previously in legendary ska-punk band Operation Ivy, purveyors of a whole host of 80s punk anthems...


And if that weren't enough, Armstrong would eventually go on to team up with LA reggae band The Aggrolites to release his debut solo record A Poet's Life (initially as all free downloads), which I would seriously consider a candidate for best album ever.  Check it out if you can.  (Here's a sample...)


Skeletim isn't the first ReAction figure with a musical origin, as the line has featured toys based on the evocative imagery of bands like Iron Maiden and the Misfits.  It's seemingly based upon Armstrong himself by way of artwork used by the band.



Apparently, Skeletim has also previously been featured as a bobble...er, Throbblehead, with is also...well, kinda cool, I guess.  I wasn't aware that these were even a thing; here's a pic of the second version for the bobblehead lovers among you:


Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Adventures of B.J. Flech

This past weekend, former Ghostbuster B.J. Flech finally returned to action protecting our world from extradimensional threats.


In the first session of a new campaign with my friend Josh, B.J. and his partner Johnny Fix headed to 1990 Norfolk, VA, to see what shadowy shenanigans may be in store for the 8th Annual Fourth of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks.

It was a giant picnic, so naturally the threat was a colony of giant ants.  Overall, I'd say it was a success.  I mean, it's still up in the air how the ant problem is going to be solved, but when your game session includes things like a character riding on the back of an ant as it carries a huge bag of hot dog buns stolen from a food truck back to its colony, I figure you're doing something at least a little bit right.

As I mentioned last time, the game is a bit of a mashup of Ghostbusters and Urban Arcana.  I'm enjoying playing with some rules here, as the base is mostly a houseruled version of the GB RPG, but I want to pull monsters from D&D and D&D-based RPGs and use their stats meaningfully in this game (I pulled the ants from Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game).

Ultimately, I think I might want the focus of the setting to be on an organization that feels a little more like the Ghostbusters than the X-Files, but for now, Flech and Fix are agents of the D20 Modern staple agency, Department-7, as taken pretty much directly from the Urban Arcana SRD.  There's still a lot to explore here.  More to come as I make my way through it...!