On Jeff Grubb leaving TSR…

Jeff Grubb released an article yesterday on his reasons for leaving TSR. As you of course know, Jeff Grubb has worked extensively on the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, Spelljammer campaign setting for D&D, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and a slew of other projects from Warcraft novels to Heroclix sets.

The article really grabbed my interest though, partly because anything about the history of the hobby appeals to me, but more because of the mention of Mystara. Mystara, the Known World of the D&D game boxed sets, was the my home away from home as a child. I would spend hours reading about that world, and cross checking information about it. Then many more hours writing adventures there and running them for my friends. In fact I still do every Tuesday night on Roll20.net

You can read the article Mr. Grubb posted on Grubb Street, here;
http://grubbstreet.blogspot.com/2017/06/why-i-left-tsr.html

It wasn’t surprising to see that the transition of Mystara from Frank Mentzer’s classic boxed sets and the gazzeteers under the supervision of Bruce Heard over to a new format for AD&D 2nd edition was a disaster. I have ranted many times about how the 2nd edition products were the death throes for the world of Mystara. They took possibly the most in depth and complex world in their product line and reduced it to audio disc adventure learning tools for First Quest players. It was a disgrace.

And before you go on saying “Forgotten Realms is more detailed and complex than Mystara” as many do… Consider this quote from Jeff Grubbs article

 “Unlike the Realms, which had empty space where Ed hadn’t any stories/games in (Sembia, for example), there [Mystara] was a very complete world to start with here [and] I wanted to embrace the complexity.”

There is a joke about Boxed Sets – “How much does it cost to produce Boxed Sets? More than what you make on them.” (I didn’t say it was a funny joke). But I believe the financial crisis that the company faced shortly afterwards was not only the result of too many boxed sets, but a growing tendency to make bad decisions about what was good for the hobby and what was good for the fans of the product lines. Every time I read an article like this by one of the great game designers and their past with that company, I am more convinced that they drove the company into the ground with complete foresight of what was happening. The products became cheaper, the art was being re-used over and over, and the product lines and teams working on them became smaller and smaller.

I am glad the hobby survived through the 90’s and the rise of video game systems that were becoming ever more advanced. Today we see a thriving community of Retro-gamers bringing back the old school feel, as well as many companies taking new concepts and turning them into amazing new game systems. And we have even seen the phoenix-like rebirth of Dungeons & Dragons, first through the Open Game License of 3rd edition, then on to the massive multiplayer onli appeal of 4th edition. And now with the 5th edition of the game they have learned from the community that less is more, and a return to the roots of the game was in order.

The hobby has certainly had it’s ups and downs, but with so many games out there now, digital products, diceroller apps for phones, virtual online game tables, youtube, twitch, podcasts, and even professional quality television shows like Titansgrave, Critical Role, and Harmon’s Quest… It truly is a GREAT TIME TO BE A GAMER!

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Return of Scholastic Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

Scholastic Book Club is what introduced me to Choose Your Own Adventures, Endless Quest books. It was in those Endless Quest books that I saw the same ad over and over, for the D&D red basic boxed set. When I was 11 I used my birthday money to buy that set and RPGs became my new passion. My entire life was shaped by that.

Gaming has lead me to lifelong friendships, job opportunities, and romantic relationships. I wouldn’t have met the mothers of my two kids without gaming, and my twenty year old son would probably not be coming over on weekends if he wasn’t into gaming and painting minis with his dad. It has led to an interest in science and history that has kept me learning all these many years. I developed all of my communication, social, and leadership skills from gaming. And I really don’t know who I would be without this hobby that is such a large part of my life.

I am thrilled to hear that Scholastic and the classic Fighting Fantasy gamebooks are making a comeback. Maybe some nerdy little kid like me can have their life changed forever. Read more about it on Beasts of War.

http://www.beastsofwar.com/fighting-fantasy/books-relaunching-scholastic/

 

Marvel RPG System Revised

Here are some of the house-rules I use when I run Classic Marvel Superheroes on Roll20 for my game group. If you play in my games bookmark this page, otherwise enjoy this sample, there is more to come. 

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Marvel RPG System Revised – Feat rolls and Time & Movement

Feat Rolls general rules. Most feat rolls have a stated Intensity. A character may assist another if they have Abilities within one rank for a +1CS (p.19).

  • If the Intensity is MORE THAN 3 Ranks lower than your Ability, the feat is automatic.
  • If the Intensity is LOWER than your ability, you need a GREEN feat roll.
  • If the Intensity is HIGHER than your ability you need a RED feat roll.
  • If the Intensity is MORE THAN 1 Rank higher than your Ability, the feat is impossible.

Resource feats house rules: Each resource feat made reduces the resource rank for the week. The Resource rank is restored (all penalties removed) at the end of each week when the characters funds are replenished (TGIF).

  • If an item’s cost is more than 3CS lower than the Resource rank, the feat is automatically successful and the Resource rank is now at –1CS penalty.
  • If the Cost intensity is lower than the Resource Rank, then a Green FEAT roll is required and the Resource feat is now at a –2CS penalty.
  • If the cost intensity is 1CS higher as the Resource rank, then a Red FEAT roll is required and the Resource feat is now at a –6CS penalty.
  • If an item’s cost is more than 1CS higher than the Resource rank, the feat is automatically failed and the Resource rank is now at –1CS penalty.

Movement in “Areas” is based on Endurance or on a Movement Power. NOTE; 40 Areas = 1 mile

  • Feeble = 1 area/ turn.
  • Poor – Excellent = 2 areas / turn.
  • Remarkable or higher = 3 areas / turn.

Movement through a window or door costs 1 area of move. (If this ends the character’s move then he is standing in the window or doorway).

Breaking through a door, wall or other obstruction requires a Strength feat against the material strength of the obstruction and costs additional areas based on the material.

  • Up to Poor cost 1 area.
  • Up to Excellent costs 2 areas.
  • Up to Incredible costs 3 areas.
  • Greater than Incredible causes the character to stop movement and lose all momentum.

While moving the character can turn up to 90 degrees without losing momentum. Any turn greater than that cuts movement in half (possibly ending the move). Taking another action while moving reduces the move by half (minimum one).

Time is based on 6 second “Turns” (about the time of one comic panel).

  1. Judge determines actions of NPCs and other events.
  2. Players state their intended actions for the turn.
  3. Initiative is determined on 1d10 + Intuition modifier.
  4. Dodge, Block, Evade and Change Action* rolls are made.
  5. Each participant now takes their actions in initiative order.

​Changing an action requires a YELLOW Agility feat and then all actions thereafter are made at a –1CS penalty.

​On a green the character may choose to take no action.

​On a white the character must follow through with the original intended action.

Multiple actions in a turn:

A character may move half speed and still take one action without penalty.

Moving at full speed uses the entire turn (character may Charge an opponent).

Multiple “non-combat” actions in a turn are increased in difficulty by one color rank (p19).

Multiple targets; A single attack using Slugfest, Energy, or Force may affect multiple adjacent targets with one roll at –4CS. This may also be used to Escape multiple grapplers at –4CS.

Multiple Attacks Characters may make additional attacks with a successful Fighting feat roll:

  • Remarkable intensity for 2 attacks,
  • Amazing intensity for 3 attacks.
  • If this roll is successful the attacks are made at –1CS each.
  • If the roll is failed only one attack is made at a –3CS penalty.