Saturday, February 24, 2018

Making a World Map for any Fantasy Game the Lazy Way

I have started a D&D 5E campaign with a new local group. Afterward I figured I can ease them in to other games like Savage Worlds.

Interesting note, there isn't exactly a world map or digest for D&D's setting "The Forgotten Realms" the way there is for Pathfinder's "Inner Sea", and I would really like to make my own world for them to explore instead of something they could just read about on the internet.

But of course, I hate putting a lot of work into a world knowing that my players may only see a small chunk. Or making a new world for the same fantasy setting, etc. So I made a compromise. I am only ever going to make one fantasy world for D&D (and maybe even port it over to Savage Worlds). 

Well, lets start with the world map and I will explain as I go. I went over to Donjon and used their World Fractal Mapper. You could draw the coastlines by hand if you want. Then I blew it up to 15" x 30".

Note that this is just the land masses. I wanted a lot of islands and continents for my world to explore.

Then I chopped off a segment (7.5" x 10") and printed it out.

This is where my Party will start. I won't draw towns or geological features until they come up in game. My party started in a Village and had to cross a mountain range in their first adventure so I will mark the village and draw the range they had to cross on the printout. I'll just keep creating adventures where the party wants to go and fill in the map afterwards, that way there is no wasted prep! When this region is done, I will transfer my sketches onto the main world map.

Why keep track at all? In case I or the party wants to revisit a location they had been to before, like their home village, or a haunted keep they couldn't tackle the first time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Flash Gordon: a Review

Well, I finally got around to buying it and reading it over. And I thought, "I haven't posted in a while. How about a review?" So here goes.

Art & Style

  • The cover is glorious, the formatting is top notch, and any spelling mistakes have flown below my radar.
  • The book is littered with snippets of the original comic serial. They don't draw comics like that anymore...sigh.

Races and Gear

  • Not much to say here. The vehicles appear to be based on the vehicle construction rules from the Sci-Fi Companion (minus any leftover mods for further modification), and the race construction rules are from the Sci-Fi Companion as well.
  • Acid guns, and atom guns, and rust guns, and bent ray guns, and heat guns, and ice guns, and ray guns...oh my!

New Rules

  • As I understand, this is a preview of what we can expect in the upcoming Savage Worlds Black Edition. I like the skill changes, although I didn't have a problem with the skill list in SWDEX. Also I had incorporated Performance as a house rule skill long ago and this is the same.
  • The new 'States' are okay, but again, I didn't have an issue in understanding or role playing these in previous editions.
  • As for Creative Combat, well I hope it's just a setting rule for Flash Gordon. I like Savage Worlds for its flexibility and simplicity. I don't really want another table to roll on.
  • The Wound Cap was something I was already doing in a house rule with the caveat that Heavy Damage could exceed the Wound Cap.
  • I do like the idea of Power Modifiers (adding difficulty to the casting roll for upgrades like Heavy damage, longer duration, and other effects), but it has caused players to spend more time figuring out what they will do on their turn and I have had to place more than a few players on Hold while they figured it out.


There is a "hefty heapin' helpin'" of information on the world of Mongo. However, if your looking for an adaptation of the 80's movie, it isn't here. What you are getting is the original, and good on Pinnacle for that. It's not like the movie had much background to work with.

Will I play Flash Gordon in the future? It's doubtful but that isn't because I think Pinnacle pushed a shoddy product or because my players aren't interested in retro sci-fi. It is because I have Slipstream. You see the problem with Flash Gordon is Flash Gordon. You take part in a world that already has its number one hero. It's harder for my players to feel invested in saving a world while staying in the shadow of the main protagonist. Whereas with Slipstream, there is no Flash to save it, and my players know that they will have to step up and shoulder the problems of the Slipstream alone.

  • So if you are a die-hard fan or would like to learn more about Flash, it's worth buying.
  • If you are interested in running retro sci-fi, and can't get a hold of a copy of Slipstream, it's worth buying.
  • But if you have Slipstream, I recommend staying with that if only for the fact that it can be your universe instead of Flash's.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Review of New Core Rules by The GM's Table!

Here's one player's analysis of things in Flash Gordon that may also appear in the upcoming Savage Worlds Black. I must say, I am liking a lot of the changes. A few, I had already done in my own home games. Give it a watch!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Mad Quest for a Starship Design System.

Whew....where do I start?

First, I came up with a list of things I didn't like about the way the Sci-Fi Companion handled starships. Here were my issues.

1) Buckets o'dice: I don't like them and feel they slow down the game when you have a player who isn't good at math.

2) Buckets o' weapons: I don't want to spend a long time rolling a hit for each of a Battleship's weapons if possible.

3) Do I need a ship design system? Once there is a system, I found there was a desire to break it or munchkin it, even on my end. I don't want players designing their own ship, and if I intend to keep my prep down, there is no reason I should either.

4) A balance between weapons damage and ship Toughness that doesn't make things either an insta-kill or impossible to kill. Looking at the math, the Sci-Fi Companion tends to be one or the other as the scales get bigger.

So what I did was go through ships from a variety of settings and compared them to the weapons available to those settings to find the "sweet spot" or the balance point between damage and Toughness that Pinnacle designs toward. Here's what I found out.


It's all over the place! There is no sweet spot that they design for!

Okay, deep breaths. I'll just have to make one for myself. I created charts of all the various dice combinations (2-6 dice, d4-d12 with explosions accounted for) And decided to place my sweet spot at about 75% chance to get a Shaken result and about 50% chance of Scoring one wound.

Then I recorded the resulting sweet spot Toughnesses. And guess what? They were nearly identical to the vehicle design rules in the Sci-Fi Toolkit. Those figures were also used in Daring Tales of the Space Lanes: Starships of the Galaxy. Wiggy had already dialed into what I wanted.

DTotSL also had a bunch of other rules I intended to copy for starship combat, like Shield Pods and Batteries. Since a there were already a good spread of Starships pre-designed in the book... okay there was no point in reinventing the wheel. I decided to save myself from my growing headache and just use the Daring Tales of the Spacelanes rules. By the way, this is a conclusion it took me 2 months to arrive at. 2 Months of math, study, re-concept, and return.

I considered applying to make Starpunk an official setting, and even asked Wiggy for permissions to use some of his rules. He never got back to me. It's just as well. I think Starpunk should just be a fan setting adaptation for Daring Tales of the Space Lanes, if that's okay with him. So from here on out, everything this site produces related to Starpunk will use DTotSL.

I bow before your skillz, Wiggy!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Can Savage Worlds do Anime?

This question has been asked a few times, and the answer isn't easy. You see, Anime is not exactly a genre. It is a format.

An anime horror story is basically the same as any other horror story, but the characters have big eyes.
An anime Fantasy story is basically the same as any other fantasy story, but... you get the idea.

Now that said, there are certain tropes in anime that don't often appear in western storytelling. Including these tropes in a setting will give it more of an anime feel.
(Please note that I will not be discussing Hentai tropes.)

1) Harem Anime:  Not a hentai trope! Harem anime involves a main character, usually a boy but it can also be a girl in high school, who winds up surrounded by members of the opposite sex that want the main character's affection. For some reason, he or she can't express his/her feelings for any of them and comedy ensues. Examples: Tenchi Muyo, Ouran Host Club, Uresei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, Rosario + Vampire.

2) Human Piloted Giant Robots: Strangely this isn't a big western phenomenon. The giant robots in our cartoons are sentient and usually transform into cars and things. The typical Western Piloted Giant Robot is a big, slow, clunky thing that looks more like a chicken-legged tank. In anime, the robots are more like a super-suit of armor: a 30ft tall Iron Man. In fact, I would classify these types of stories as the super-hero genre. Our hero faces daily life and drama, but must always change into his "super-suit" to defeat the evil of the week.

3) The Futility of War: Having two nuclear bombs dropped on them has imprinted heavily in the Japanese psyche. So much that Japan, or even the entire Earth routinely gets destroyed despite the heroes attempts to save them. You can see in many anime war stories that the line between good and bad is often shifting and the longer the war drags on, the more the innocent casualties pile up. In Knights of Sidonia, not only do we see hundreds of teenagers splat against a building's surface like falling rain but they dedicate an entire episode to a single character introduction only to kill her by the episode's end. Examples: Gundam, Knights of Sidonia, Macross, Evangelion.

4) Japanese Mythology: One thing about Japanese horror stories are that they draw from Japanese mythology which has its own unique takes on ghosts and vampires.

Can Savage Worlds do these? Well, yes. Any system can, because these are not effects that require a game mechanic. These are plot themes and trappings.

So if you truly want to give your players an anime feel in your game, make sure to have plenty of anime imagery (printouts and character images). That may be all you need

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I'm Back! Making your own Wet Erase Maps and Tiles

I know I have been gone a long while. Things have kept me busy, mostly arts and crafts so let us start there.

As I have posted before, I have several terrain tiles available on drivethrurpg. But I have been struggling to find a way to use wet-erase markers on them. I have tried polyurethane sprays, modge podge, laquers...the results either destroyed the printouts and paper or let the wet erase ink bleed through. I tried Contac sheets but can never find the permanent adhesive version in stock anywhere. And the wet-erase inks didn't sit well on the coating.

Looking on the internet, the typical advice was to get the items laminated, but heat lamination doesn't actually adhere to the page. You have to keep the plastic border so that the front and back laminations stick together. If you are trying to make a large map, you would have to pay a lot for a full sized print and then a lot more for giant sized lamination. It's going to be somewhere around $40. I needed a way to laminate several 8x10 pages into a relatively seamless map.

Then I discovered that there is a way to cold laminate. This may not be news to some people, but I can say that no one on the internet had suggested it before in my research.

These are 9x12 sheets with a PERMANENT adhesive backing. Print a tile image onto cardstock, then apply one of these sheets, then trim. The result is remarkably like Paizo's Gamemastery tiles in feel and finish. I have already done an overnight test with black, red, green, and blue wet-erase inks and all erased cleanly the next day.

With this technique, I was able to print up 9 8x10 sci-fi terrain pages, laminate them, then tape the backs together to get a sci-fi wet-erase deck plate map that is 24x30 inches and fold-able. If you have seen the Paizo sci-fi flip-mat, you will know why I felt compelled to make my own. Theirs is too dark for black ink to show up well when drawing the walls and chambers. Now I have a wet-erase sci-fi map for all of my Savage Sci-Fi adventures. (PS: The tile set will be available soon on drivethrurpg. As usual it will be pay-what-you-want. I'll let you know when it launches.)

That's all for now, but expect more posts soon.