Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rolling When You Need To Roll

Still rocking the mass overtime, making updates difficult.

So let's talk about when to roll the dice. More importantly, when not to roll the dice.

JiB over at the Savage GM Hangout describes rolling as "Whenever the player and the GM disagree about the outcome of a certain action." That's a good paradigm, but I think novice GMs (and some experienced ones) need a little guiding on when to agree with the outcome.

For example: I had a GM who had us roll for just about everything. If I wanted to land the ship, I had to make a piloting roll. If I wanted to drive a hoverbike, I needed a piloting roll. But these were mundane tasks. People weren't shooting at me. There wasn't a meteor storm or earthquake going on. And heaven help me if I didn't have a piloting skill, which was a real possibility given the limited skills you could get in Star Wars Saga. Every time we attempted anything it was a nail-biting experience and that didn't feel very Star Warsy.

Honestly it didn't make any sense to me. In Star Wars everybody can drive or fly a ship or use a computer. These are ubiquitous technologies. So why then are so many characters unable to do any of these things? The answer is that the GM was doing it wrong. Per the book, anybody can perform a mundane task in Star Wars. Everybody can fly a hoverbike, but only some can make it do a barrel roll. Everyone can pilot a ship, but not everyone can fly it through an asteroid field. Anyone can use a computer, but not everyone can reprogram it. 

Mundane or easy tasks shouldn't require a roll. Unfortunately some games still have a difficulty level for Easy. The concept that a hero can fail at any task is a bit annoying. If I had to roll in order to walk across the room in D&D, then I'd always have a 5% chance of falling on my face. What happens if I roll a crit? Do we really need to test every piece of minutiae? 

Another time to let the player's have their way is when it is crucial to the story.

For instance:

  • The heroes need to find a clue to advance the plot or identify the criminal.
  • The heroes have to get passed a trap or cave in or something that blocks there path. You can make them roll to avoid damage but they shouldn't have to roll to get through.

Keep these in mind and it may help to speed up your game, or at least curb flagging player interest.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Starpunk Alien Races - Droids, Kryx, and the Nemondi

Three final alien races to round out the core concept.


Droids are sentient machines with a variety of appearances. Some appear almost human, some are purely mechanical. They are built as servants to their “masters” and typically fill the rolls of butler/maid, personal assistant, mechanical repair and construction, and in some cases they are “personal companions”.
  • Pacifier Circuits: The droid cannot harm, or by inaction bring harm to sentient beings. This gives him the Pacifist Hindrance (Major).
  • Construct: Droids are immune to poison, disease, and effects that target the mind. Droids cannot heal naturally. To heal a droid requires the Repair skill—which is used like the Healing skill only with no “Golden Hour.”
  • Programming: Droids begin with a free d6 in one skill, representing their original programmed role.


The Kryx are bipedal, insectoid aliens from the swamp world of Navereen. They are extremely intelligent and prefer cold-facts and science to “poetic license”. To a Kryx, art is the beauty of design that follows function. The regard the Swiss Army knife as the only artistic contribution made by Humans.
  • Curious: The Kryx drive for knowledge can sometimes place them and those close to them in danger. Kryx start with the Curious (Major) hindrance.
  • Intelligent: Kryx start with a d6 Smarts instead of a d4.
  • Survivor: Insectoids are evolved to handle some of the nastiest of environments. +2 bonus to resist all negative environmental effects (heat, cold, pressure, etc.)
  • Natural Weapons: Sharp protrusions in their carapace or their hardened claws can be used in combat for Str+d6 damage and grant +2 to Climbing rolls on all but completely sheer surfaces.


The Nemondi or horned humanoids renowned for their business acumen and adherence to fine print. The Nemondi culture treats everything as a business arrangement. A child is expected to negotiate and barter their way into adulthood. The practice of Indentured Servitude is alive and well among the Nemondi (however with some very strict protections for the “merchandise” and heavy penalties for abuse) and is considered a form of apprenticeship, allowing the Nemondi to collect skills and information that they can share with their homeworld. Quick witted and seductive, it is said that the best way to negotiate with a Nemondi is to have one of your own.
  • Charismatic: All Nemondi start with the Charismatic Edge for free.
  • Honor the Contract: Nemondi always honor their deals, but beware of that fine print. This is the equivalent of the Code of Honor (Major) hindrance.
  • Business Acumen: All Nemondi start with Knowledge (Law) of d6, reflecting their knowledge of contract negotiation as well as local legalities.
  • Low-Light Vision: Nemondi come from a dim homeworld. They can see in the dark and ignore attack penalties for Dim and Dark lighting.

But, but, but... what about an aquatic race?

I consider it, I really did. However I decided against it and it's all because of Aqua-man and Gnomes.

You look confused. I will explain.

Gnomes were a primary race in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons back in the day. Since then, everyone expected that Gnomes would be a playable race. However, no one to my knowledge ever plays them. The same goes for Mon Calamari in Star Wars or Aquatic characters in general.

As for Aqua-man, do you know how many crimes are committed under water that require a spandex super hero that can talk to fish? Yeah. Likewise, while adventures may occur in underwater locales the ability to breathe under water isn't going to give much of a bonus, especially since the non water-breathers will have to find the means to overcome the issue or your running a solo adventure for the Aquatic.

So I'm going to leave them out of the core races.There is always the option for a player to build one on his own as a minor race, and for the characetrs to encounter them as an npc race.