Thursday, October 6, 2011

d6 Star Wars

The Star Wars Roleplaying Game by West End Games is, in my opinion, one of the greatest RPG's of all time. Released in two editions, the game was published from 1987-1999, and was based on the d6 System from the Ghostbusters RPG (1986). The game is remarkably deep while being simultaneously easy to learn and play.

Numerous books were released for the series (over 140), and established much of the groundwork of what later became the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and their sourcebooks are still frequently cited as reference material. Lucasfilm considered West End Games' sourcebooks so authoritative that when Timothy Zahn (Heir To The Empire) was hired to write what became the Thrawn trilogy, he was sent a box of their Star Wars RPG books and directed to base his novel on the background material presented within.

In addition, fifteen issues of a magazine series, the Star Wars Adventure Journal, were published between 1994 and 1998.

The Star Wars Roleplaying Game won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Rules of 1987.

A sampling of the books follows:

1st Edition Core Rules (1987)

Experience the vast scope and sweeping power of the greatest space fantasy of all time!
Struggle against the awesome might of the evil galactic Empire, fly faster-than-light spacecraft, trade blaster fire with Imperial stormtroopers, fight lightsaber duels, and tap the mystic Force which binds all living things together. Explore a galaxy of a billion suns, each with wonders and dangers of its own — a universe of dire peril, where Rebels fight desperately against the eternal night of Imperial oppression.

Gamemaster Handbook

A complete guidebook for GM's on how to bring the Star Wars universe to life.

The Star Wars Sourcebook

The first Star Wars roleplaying book ever published (1987).

Discover all the technical and natural wonders of the fantastic Star Wars saga. Here are sleek starfighters that clash with mile-long Star Destroyers, tilling the void with streaks of laser fire and blazing wrecks. Here are armor-clad stormtroopers battling desperate-Rebels across the galaxy. Here are detailed descriptions of the bizarre aliens, devastating weapons, amazing Droids, courageous heroes and cunning villains of the Star Wars universe.

Clear explanations and illustrations show how everything works: from lightsabers, the elegant Jedi weapon, to repulsorlifts that defy gravity. Stories, maps, charts and much more highlight this extraordinary guide to the Star Wars RPG.

Planets of the Galaxy: Volume One

Planets of the Galaxy: Volume One introduces GM's and players to some of the most exciting and unusual worlds of the Star Wars galaxy.

Tatooine Manhunt

In this adventure, a group of Rebel agents on Space Station Kwenn in the Kwenn system (the player characters) learn that Adar Tallon, a hero of the Clone Wars long presumed dead, is still alive on Tatooine. They also learn that the Galactic Empire has sent several bounty hunters, including Jodo Kast, IG-72, and Zardra, to capture or kill Tallon. The Rebels head to the desert planet, trying to reach Tallon ahead of the bounty hunters and the forces of the Imperial Star Destroyer Relentless.

The Abduction

In this adventure, Rebel agents have to rescue a kidnapped Shashay celebrity, Crying Dawn Singer to avoid the Alliance being discredited in Rayter sector.

Crisis On Cloud City

Chilling murder and intrigue abound as Rebel agents become detectives to solve a deadly mystery on the floating metropolis of Cloud City.

Imperial Double-Cross

Through a series of adventures, you'll run into stormtroopers, bounty hunters, and sinister Imperial agents.

The Politics of Contraband

A smuggler's life has never been easy, and with a new government, old Imperial flunkies, and gangsters all vying for power, it's more dangerous than ever to be an independent. A true smuggler wouldn't have it any other way! Travel the star-lanes of the Known Galaxy, smuggling illegal goods, clashing with infamous pirates, and trying to survive until your next pay-check.

Mission To Lianna

The Rebel heroes have been asked to deliver updated information to the Rebel cell network on the industrial world of Lianna, home of Sienar Fleet Systems, manufacturer of the dreaded Imperial TIE Fighter. What starts as a simple delivery becomes something even larger than the Rebels can imagine, as the characters discover that Lianna is where the Empire is building a secret weapon that could mean the destruction of the Alliance — a cloaking shield!

It is up to the characters to infiltrate and destroy the plans before the Empire can put the cloaking shield to work.

Cracken's Rebel Operatives

How does the Alliance get its information? If Rebels are stranded in the field, where do they go for protection? Who works for the Alliance to help overthrow the Empire?

Cracken's Rebel Operatives is a collection of saboteurs, operatives, spies, contacts and informants who work with the Rebel Alliance in its valiant struggle against the evil Galactic Empire.

Imperial Sourcebook

Discusses the organization of the Galactic Empire between the Battle of Yavin and the Battle of Endor.

Galaxy Guide 4 - Alien Races

Alien Races provides the information you'll need on homeworlds, cultures, lifestyles and the behavior of over 30 alien species. Whether recognizable as bipeds, or insectoids with compound eyes, they make up a huge portion of the Galactic Empire.

Galaxy Guide 6: Tramp Freighters

Tramp Freighters discusses various rules for roleplaying campaigns involving independent spacer and smuggler characters, including rules for modifying freighters, dealing with loan sharks, and trading legal and illegal cargo. It also includes a description of various planets, and personalities in the Minos Cluster during the Galactic Civil War era. Adventure ideas and a five-adventure mini-campaign set in the Minos Cluster are also featured.

Battle for Endor

A solitaire board game using the Star Wars Heroic Battles game system. Battle for Endor recreates the critical battle on the Forest Moon from Return of the Jedi.

Live-Action Adventures

A Star Wars LARP adventure. There is also a LARP game masters book.

Star Wars Miniatures Battles

Star Wars Miniatures Battles is a tabletop miniature wargame system produced by West End Games in 1991 and republished in a 2nd edition version in 1993. The first edition was winner of the Origins International Game Expo award for Best New Miniatures Rules in 1991.

Star Wars Miniatures

West End Games released unpainted 25mm metal miniatures to support the Star Wars RPG and Miniatures Battles game. The miniatures were released mostly on blisters and also in numerous boxed sets (some of which are pictured above).

Star Wars Adventure Journal

The Star Wars Adventure Journal was published by West End Games between the years 1994 and 1997. Fifteen issues were eventually printed, containing short stories by both well-known and relatively unknown Star Wars authors, and adventures and source material for the RPG.

Introductory Adventure Game

The Introductory Adventure Game was designed as a soft start to the d6 system.

The adventure centers around the players' escaping pursuit of Imperial forces on the planet Edan II. The notable difference from the full West End system is combined skills (such as Melee representing Melee Combat and Melee Parry).

Gamemaster Screen

It's hard to run a great Star Wars adventure when you're busy flipping through the rulebook. Keep your game moving with this easy-to-use screen, which summarizes rules, charts and game statistics.

Mos Eisley Shoot-Out

Pamphlet-sized mini-game distributed at the 1997 San Diego Comic Con.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tunnels & Trolls: The Solo-Play RPG

Tunnels & Trolls
(1975) is among the oldest RPG's in existence, second only to Dungeons & Dragons (1974). Created by Ken St. Andre, and published by Flying Buffalo, the game was written to be a more accessible alternative to D&D, being suitable for both solitaire and group gameplay.

The thing I like most about T&T is that it supports true solo play. Just you, a rainy day, a steamy cup of coffee, some dice, and your trusty T&T solo RPG!

T&T has seen many editions, now in it's 7th Edition (7.5), remaining relevant for almost 40 years now. The 5th Edition (1979-2005) of T&T was the longest running, and most definitive version, of the game.

This RPG had never had a campaign world, opting to leave the design up to the GM's imagination, but, in 2005, Flying Buffalo released T&T 5.5 Edition, which included Ken St. Andre's house campaign setting, Trollworld (now considered the 'default setting' by many).

Flying Buffalo released many solo adventures, so GM's have quite a few to choose from, with most of the ones listed below using 1st-4th Edition rules:

Solo Adventure #1 - Buffalo Castle

The first ever solo RPG adventure, published in 1976 and designed for a warrior of levels 1-2. Explore a pretty basic dungeon, which acts as an introduction to the T&T rules too.

Solo Adventure# 2 - Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon

Step inside and adventure on the incredible Trip of the Lion - or, for the faint of heart, the Trip of the Frog. A full fledged house of horrors for characters of all types and levels (recommended for those under 5th level).

Solo Adventure #3 - Labyrinth

A scenario based on Greek mythology, for warriors levels 1-2.

Solo Adventure # 4 - Naked Doom

They caught you, and now you must go on a forced march through the Royal Khazan Gauntlet of Criminal Retribution and Rehabilitation. For a warrior, levels 1-2.

Solo Adventure # 5 - Dargon's Dungeon

There are 3 editions of Dargon's Dungeon.

Solo Adventure # 6 - Weirdworld

In Weirdworld, you are transformed into an enterprising and intrepid fighter who must brave an incredible series of bizarre adventures. Fantastic adversaries, preposterous anachronisms, rich rewards, and a proprietor with a twist to his sense of humor - all promise to make delving difficult - but exciting - for all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

AD&D 2nd Edition 'Solo' Adventures

Can't get a gaming group together? One possible solution: AD&D's One-On-One Adventures (Player Challenge Series).

"These adventures are aimed at the smallest of gaming groups, one player and one DM. Perfect for giving low-level characters more experience, these balance skills at problem-solving and combat to offer high excitement...." --from a 1989 advertisement promoting the series

One player and one Dungeon Master!

These 'solo' adventures are the perfect tool for fledgling DM's to get their feet wet running adventures; for new players who want to get a feel for the AD&D game, and want to try out the different core classes; and for experienced DM's who have but one friend or a spouse to game with at the moment.

These work either as a one-shot solo adventure, or as a solo diversion from a PC group in an ongoing campaign. This series is also a good solution for helping a new member of your gaming group catch up in levels to the other players.

Give the Player Challenge series a try. These unique adventures put your players favorite class (Fighter, Wizard, Thief or Cleric) at the center of attention, and allow them to use all of their skills and abilities in an exciting story built around their characters chosen profession.

The adventures range from level 2-6, but include rules for modifying the adventures up or down a level, as needed (players can start at 1st level in the first four adventures). They also allow for up to three players to join in.

Fighter's Challenge

An adventure for a single warrior character of level 2-4

Decades ago, Sturnheim was a thriving trade town on a major caravan route. But then, disaster struck when a gold-laden caravan disappeared without a trace. Financially ruined, the town slipped into decline, and now lies almost forgotten on a route that is seldom traveled anymore.

Wizard's Challenge

An adventure for a single wizard character of level 2-5

The village of Northbank was once a haven for mages of all talents and a magnet for hopeful apprentices. Its wizards' guild was a respected center for instruction, study, and research. But mysterious circumstances caused the sudden demise of the guild several years ago and resulted in the deaths of some important guild members. And a ghostly figure now threatens the few surviving members of the guild.

Thief's Challenge

An adventure for a single thief character of level 2-4

For years, trade and travel along the river Thadysh have been peaceful. Sudd
enly a masked renegade, known only as the Gullwing Bandit, has turned the waters of Thadysh into a pirate stream! Who is this bandit? What nefarious plot is he weaving? Not even the local thieves' guild has been able to unveil the truth.

Cleric's Challenge

An adventure for a single cleric character of level 2-4

Pommeville is a sleepy little town that seems like a good place to stay for the night. That is, until the town's dead rise from their graves and begin terrorizing the village! Ancient evil threatens to overwhelm the good folk of Pommeville unless someone can find a way to comfort the restless dead.

Fighter's Challenge II

An adventure for a single warrior character of level 4-6

The kingdom of Tramilar was once a powerful state. Now, disease and dissent have left the kingdom weak. The Dreadwoods on the kingdom's northern border are a haunt for evil creatures and plots. Discord stalks the very halls of the king. Only the bravest and most dedicated warrior could overcome the obstacles hidden in the forest and lurking in the throne room.

Wizard's Challenge II

An adventure for a single wizard character of level 4-6

There is trouble in the frontier town of New Haven. A beast from the badlands is terrorizing the simple farmers, and reports say the creature is immune to the local militia's weapons. The baron of the land has called upon a wizard to solve what his soldiers could not. Can the skills of one player character wizard let him find and kill what a contingent of skilled warriors could not?

Thief's Challenge II

An adventure for a single thief character of level 4-6

Looking for opportunity and fresh pickings, a rogue hops a ship for new lands, only to leap from the frying pan into the fire. The ship is attacked on the high seas by a band of blood-thirsty pirates, and the rogue washes up on the Isle of Beacon Point, right at the center of the pirate's sphere of influence.

Cleric's Challenge II

An adventure for a single cleric character of level 4-6

Ten years ago, the village of Barlox's temple burned to the ground and the parish priest disappeared. The temple has since been rebuilt, but life has not returned to normal. A current of fear and discontent now ripples beneath the surface of this once sleepy wine-making community. Old rivalries have turned bitter, and unwittingly unleashed a force of ancient corruption.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

THAC0 Explained

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition (1989) is often described as too complex, especially when it comes to the 'dreaded' THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class 0). This game mechanic is considered easy to demonstrate, yet difficult to describe. While this mathematical formula is a bit abstract, I will attempt to teach THAC0 in a way that anyone can understand (theoretically).

Like the modern d20 System D&D (3rd and 4th Edition D&D), when you want to attack something in the Advanced D&D 2nd Edition game you roll a d20 (a 20-sided die).

But first, we need a target number (the number you need to roll on a d20 to successfully hit a monster).

When you want to attack an AD&D 2nd Edition monster, you look at your character sheet and note your characters THAC0. Lets assume that you just started playing AD&D 2E and are at 1st Level. In the AD&D 2E game, all 1st level characters start with a THAC0 of 20 (the lower your characters THAC0, the better; a 19 THAC0 makes you better at attacking than a THAC0 of 20 does).

Next, take note of the monsters Armor Class (AC). In AD&D 2E, AC runs from 10 (the worst armor class) all the way to -10 (the best AC). So a creature with an AC of 0 (zero) would be right in the middle range of AC. A creature with an AC of 10 would not have any armor at all. A creature with an AC of -10 would be nearly impossible to hit successfully.

Armor Class is not an indication of a creatures literal 'suit of armor,' being rather an indication of how hard it would be for your character to successfully strike (hit) the creature. Note: Some Dungeon Masters won't tell you what the AC of a monster is, and will simply tell you if you hit or miss the creature (thus maintaining mystery).

Let's attack (and attempt to hit) a Gelatinous Cube.

Take a look at it's monster stats (click the image for a larger view, if needed):

You will note that it's AC is 8. Your 1st level character has a THAC0 of 20. In order to calculate the target number you need to roll on a d20 to hit the beast, you will need to subtract the Gelatinous Cube's AC from your THAC0 (20 minus 8). 20 - 8 = 12. So you now know that you need to roll a 12 or higher on the d20 to successfully make a hit.

Yes, it's really that simple! But there is a little bit more to it than that.

For instance, if the creature you're attacking has a negative AC (for example, a -2 AC) you would then add this number to your THAC0 before calculating the target number. If your THAC0 is a 15, you would then have a new THAC0 of 17 when attacking a -2 creature.

The weapon you're using may have a modifier (most weapons have a modifier). Lets assume that the sword you're using is well crafted, and has a +3 modifier (this attack-roll-modifying-number helps you to hit targets). So subtract the swords +3 modifier from your THAC0 of 17; which is now a 14 (15 THAC0 vs. -2 AC = 17 THAC0 - +3 modifier = Target Number 14), so you need to roll a 14 or higher on a d20 to hit the beast. Note: there are also other types of modifiers that can come into play.

For example, lets assume your character (THAC0 15) is attacking a -2 AC monster, and with the +3 sword you're using your THAC0 is a 12. Since this monsters AC is -2, you add it to your THAC0; you have now calculated that the target number is 14 (THAC0 15 - +3 sword modifier = THAC0 12 vs. AC -2 = target number of 14).

Remember to add a targets negative AC number to your THAC0 as opposed to subtracting a targets positive AC number from your THAC0 when calculating the target number you need to equal or beat in order to hit.

When you hit, you then roll for damage according to the weapon you're using (for example, if you attacked with a dagger, you would roll a d4 to determine how much damage you deal). Each weapon or spell that you can attack with will list the type of dice you use when rolling for damage.

Another way to determine if your character hits a creature is to roll a d20, and add the creatures AC to your THAC0. If the total is equal to or greater than your THAC0, you hit. For example, lets say you're attacking an Orc. You roll a d20 and get a 12. Lets assume your THAC0 is 15. The Orc has an AC of 4 that you add to your attack roll of 12 and thus calculate a 16; a 16 is equal to or greater than your THAC0, so you hit!

Hope this helps to dispel the myth that THAC0 is extremely difficult to comprehend. In actual fact, 2nd Edition AD&D's THAC0 and 3rd/4th Edition D&D's 'd20 System,' are mathematically equivalent; the former using descending AC and the latter using ascending AC, but both reaching the same mathematical conclusion.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons Retro-Clones

A Retro-Clone is any modern role-playing game based on older Dungeons and Dragons game systems, such as Original D&D, Basic D&D and Advanced D&D. The modern renditions of these older D&D game mechanics are often based around the licensed d20 System (with many offering a choice between using that system or a variant of the older THAC0 system). The best are listed below, and all have been published in print (mostly hardbacks).

Basic Fantasy
Emulated System: Basic & Expert D&D, based on the 1981 'B/X' sets.

Castles & Crusades
Emulated System: Basic & Expert D&D, with a mix of Original D&D & Advanced D&D 1st Edition rules (supported by Gary Gygax, and from the author of OSRIC 1st Edition; see below).

Dark Dungeons
Emulated System: Basic & Expert D&D, based on the 1991 Rules Cyclopedia.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
Emulated System: Advanced D&D, with a mix of Original & Basic D&D, as well as newly designed systems. The stated goal of the games developers was to create a 'pre-1982' Dungeons & Dragons style and feel.

Emulated System: Advanced D&D 1st & 2nd Edition.

Labyrinth Lord
Emulated System: Basic & Expert D&D, based on the 1981 'Red Box' rule set, with separate Basic and Expert rules.

Myth & Magic
Emulated System: Advanced D&D 2nd Edition.

OSRIC (Old School Reference & Index Compilation)
Emulated System: Advanced D&D 1st Edition.

Swords & Wizardry
Emulated System: Original D&D.