The King is Dead

Friday, September 30, 2016

Legendary Archetypes: Cinematic Swashbuckler and Sub-Archetypes



As Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Wilson wrote long ago, “Life Begins at Legendary.”

In Legendary Archetypes, the Wine and Savages blog presents ready-to-use Legendary Rank (80 XP) heroes built using only the Savage Worlds core rules. These archetypes are offered as aids for duet and solo gamers or for gaming groups ready to jump right into the big leagues.

The characters are built with an eye toward versatility (necessary in duet gaming) and so have their Traits and Edges spread out for broader competence rather than min/maxed in certain areas. Game Masters using these archetypes may wish to allow the players another 20 to 40 experience points (2 to 4 Advances) to further customize the characters beyond choosing Hindrances.



Look up "Flynning" sometime and then see if you don't prefer Tyrone Power afterward.


Cinematic Swashbuckler


Let us define the Cinematic Swashbuckler as an acrobatic hero for a setting where the sword is preferred to the gun, but where armor has been abandoned for maneuverability. We’ll take as our models such heroes as most of Tyrone Power's best roles, most versions of Zorro, the good guys in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and – of course – Westley and Inigo Montoya. The Cinematic Swashbuckler is acrobatic, quick-witted, and sharp-tongued.

I’m breaking from the usual format of these Legendary Archetypes because I need some swashbuckling characters for my current duet game and I don’t want them all to be clones of each other. They’re all built with the same basic chassis up to 60 experience points, but after that they diverge into different fighting styles. As usual, the goal is more to build a well-rounded character than a singularly-focused expert (feel free to contrast Savage Worlds’ Novice fencer archetype).


Core Cinematic Swashbuckler
Heroic (60 xp)
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Boating or Riding d6, Climbing d6, Fighting d10, Intimidation or Taunt d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting or Throwing d6, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Swimming d6, Taunt or Intimidation d8
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 7; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: ---
Edges: Acrobat, Level Headed, and one of Attractive, Charismatic, or Noble





Aggressive Duelist
More of a villainous archetype than a heroic one, Aggressive Duelists pour their energy into mastering the art of killing. This can serve a Count Rugen well for years – at least until he meets one of the rare heroic Aggressive Duelists like Inigo Montoya. 
Legendary (120 xp)
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Boating or Riding d6, Climbing d6, Fighting d12, Intimidation or Taunt d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting or Throwing d6, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Swimming d6, Taunt or Intimidation d8
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 8; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: ---
Edges: Acrobat, (Attractive, Charismatic, or Noble), Frenzy/Improved Frenzy, Killer Instinct, Level Headed/Improved Level Headed, No Mercy, Trademark Weapon/Improved Trademark Weapon






Evasive Trickster
Evasive Tricksters spend a lot of time running only a few steps ahead of the trouble they create for themselves. Sir Harry Paget Flashman and Captain Jack Sparrow are obvious examples of this sub-archetype.
Legendary (120 xp)
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Boating or Riding d6, Climbing d6, Fighting d12, Intimidation d8, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting or Throwing d6, Stealth d8, Streetwise d6, Swimming d6, Taunt d8
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 8; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: ---
Edges: Acrobat, (Attractive, Charismatic, or Noble), Dodge/Improved Dodge, Extraction/Improved Extraction, Level Headed/Improved Level Headed, Strong Willed




Innovative Improviser
As adept with fist or flagon or candlestick as with sword, Innovative Improvisers are ready for anything life throws at them. Westley is obviously one such hero, but recent film and television versions of The Three Musketeers have emphasized this quality in Porthos as well.
Legendary (120 xp)
Attributes: Agility d12, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Boating or Riding d6, Climbing d6, Fighting d12, Intimidation or Taunt d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting or Throwing d6, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Swimming d6, Taunt or Intimidation d8, +1 to any one Skill less than its controlling Attribute
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 8; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: ---
Edges: Acrobat, (Attractive, Charismatic, or Noble), Elan, Frenzy/Improved Frenzy, Level Headed, Improvisational Fighter, Martial Artist, Quick Draw


Master of None
The Master of None has turned away from perfecting a fighting style to instead improve overall skills. The Master of None gets a little bit more customization left open than the other archetypes, with two Advances open to take a pair of Combat Edges, more Skills, or perhaps another die in Smarts and Jack-of-All-Trades.
Legendary (120 xp)
Attributes: Agility d12, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Boating or Riding d8, Climbing d8, Fighting d12, Intimidation d8, Lockpicking d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Shooting or Throwing d8, Stealth d8, Streetwise d8, Swimming d8, Taunt d8
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 8; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: ---
Edges: Acrobat, (Attractive, Charismatic, or Noble), Level Headed
Special: Two unspent Advances


Wall of Steel
Swashbucklers who practice the Wall of Steel approach are masters of two-weapon fighting, capable of letting waves of foes break over their flashing twin blades. If this archetype had any wilderness survival skills, then Drizzt Do’Urden would be the best example; as it does not, then we will have to use his archenemy Artemis Entreri instead.
Attributes: Agility d12, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Boating or Riding d6, Climbing d6, Fighting d12, Intimidation or Taunt d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting or Throwing d8 (probably Throwing), Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Swimming d6, Taunt or Intimidation d8
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 8; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: ---
Edges: Acrobat, Ambidextrous, (Attractive, Charismatic, or Noble), Counterattack/Improved Counterattack, Florentine, Level Headed, Quick Draw, Two-Fisted

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Notes Towards "Los Enmascarados: Masked Heroes of Old Mexico"

A Nearly two years ago, I wrote an article for Savage Insider Vol. 2, Issue 2 called "Character Gallery: La Pantera" in which I created a Zorro-style heroine and her supporting cast. Earlier this month, Robin and I were at a loss for what to do for our weekday night duet game, so we pulled that character out of mothballs. It was kind of shaky at first -- I've wanted to run a proper Zorro-style game for ages and had a bit of stage fright -- but it's gotten much better and it's gotten me thinking again about writing a Zorroesque Savage Worlds supplement. Since I'm still deep in The King is Dead, I'm just going to jot down some of the things I've been thinking and put them someplace I know I'm not going to lose them: here on the blog.
  • For a title, I'm thinking Los Enmascarados: Heroes of Old Mexico (or maybe Masked Heroes of Old Mexico). Even though he doesn't state a year outright in the original Zorro novella The Curse of Capistrano, it takes five minutes reading a Wikipedia article on Californian history to realize the Zorro stories are set after Mexican independence, not the Spanish colonial period. Frankly, I grew up with a lot of racist assumptions about Mexico that were partially fostered by Hollywood affiliating Zorro with Spain instead of his true homeland, so I'd like to do what I can to correct that.
  • "Enmascarado" itself is a term I've lifted from lucha libre, but it basically just means "masked man." It's appropriate and helps suggest a history that runs from Zorro to El Santo (or, perhaps, from the Scarlet Pimpernel by way of the Napoleonic Wars to Don Q and then Zorro).
  • Hey! I found the art from the cover of the Time-Life Old West book The Spanish West! It and many of the other indelible paintings of Californio vaqueros are by an obscure British painter named James Alexander Walker, so they're free for use as public domain art.
  • The Vaquero
  • The Enmascarado
Please note that I do not have a proper drawing tablet.

  • Technically, the The Curse of Capistrano is out of copyright, but Zorro Productions, Inc. can be… contentious… when enforcing their dubious trademark. While I would love to contribute directly to the legacy of one of my favorite fictional characters – especially if ZPI is willing to give access to art resources and the like – I worry that the licensing costs would be more than the book would be worth. So, unless PEG or somebody else with deeper wallets comes forward to finance this thing, that means no direct references to Zorro in the book. Should I write ZPI anyway? (Probably not.)
  • Honestly, I’d prefer to some degree to do an off-model homage because I want to directly contradict the subtle racism of the usual “Spanish California” mythical setting and also because not having the real Zorro in the setting would let the player characters be more important.
  • I’ve got ideas both for how to run solo hero campaigns (start at Legendary) and group campaigns (share the masked identity between different heroes, like in some Republic serials or Team America). Heck, I’ve even got some half-formed ideas on adding horror and fantasy elements (Aztec, Mayan, and other indigenous mythology, were-creatures, etc.).
  • I can’t see this one having a Plot Point campaign, but it would have extensive adventure generators and overviews of the different regions of Mexico. Maybe 30 - 50 pages total? $3.99 price point (same as a comic book these days)?
  • I wonder if I could arrange some kind of cross-promotion with Finger and Toe Models. They've got a line of "Adobeville" models.
  • Heck, I wonder if I can reuse any of the La Pantera material. I need to ask. The history of the Yucatan is fascinating. 

I'll probably keep adding notes to this as I think of things. I know it's weird, but I do some of my best thinking in public.



EDIT: 
  • Mexican landscape artists whose work might be useful:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Legendary Archetypes: Walking Band-Aid®




As Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Wilson wrote long ago, “Life Begins at Legendary.”


In Legendary Archetypes, the Wine and Savages blog presents ready-to-use Legendary Rank (80 XP) heroes built using only the Savage Worlds core rules. These archetypes are offered as aids for duet and solo gamers or for gaming groups ready to jump right into the big leagues.


The characters are built with an eye toward versatility (necessary in duet gaming) and so have their Traits and Edges spread out for broader competence rather than min/maxed in certain areas. Game Masters using these archetypes may wish to allow the players another 20 to 40 experience points (2 to 4 Advances) to further customize the characters beyond choosing Hindrances. 



Walking Band-Aid®


Hindrances: Heroic, Death Wish, Loyal



Whether a wanderer far from his or her homeland (Durkon Thundershield, Goldmoon) or… Um… Crap. I can’t think of any other healer-type clerics – and I’ve never read the Dragonlance books so I have only the vaguest idea who Goldmoon is. Damn it!

Because it’s such an iconic part of the D&D class that inspired this archetype, the walking Band-Aid® also incorporates the Van Helsing-derived evil-repelling powers that have been part of the cleric since Gary Gygax decided to nerf a vampire player character. (Not that Van Helsing himself really fits the archetype.)

In any case, the walking Band-Aid® is the second-most thankless job in an RPG (right after Game Mastering). Maybe that’s why such characters don’t really exist in the source fiction. I guess that means that there’s a lot of space to carve out a personality for this archetype when you apply 4 Legendary Advances. Have fun!

 
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d12, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Faith d12, Fighting d8, Healing d6, Persuasion d8, Intimidation or Stealth d6, Notice d6, Stealth or Intimidation d4, Shooting or Throwing d4
Charisma: +0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: One Major, two Minor
Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Champion, Healer, Holy Warrior, New Power (x 3), Power Points (x 4)
Special Abilities
  • Power Points: 30
  • Powers: 5 (two of which are Healing and Greater Healing)



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Legendary Archetypes: Magus


As Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Wilson wrote long ago, “Life Begins at Legendary.”
 


In Legendary Archetypes, the Wine and Savages blog presents ready-to-use Legendary Rank (80 XP) heroes built using only the Savage Worlds core rules. These archetypes are offered as aids for duet and solo gamers or for gaming groups ready to jump right into the big leagues.
 


The characters are built with an eye toward versatility (necessary in duet gaming) and so have their Traits and Edges spread out for broader competence rather than min/maxed in certain areas. Game Masters using these archetypes may wish to allow the players another 20 to 40 experience points (2 to 4 Advances) to further customize the characters beyond choosing Hindrances.


Magus

Hindrances: Enemy [Major; somebody from her past is always causing trouble],
Habit [Minor; off-putting tendency toward sarcasm], Stubborn

Whether an irritable blowhard like Raistlin Majere or Tim the Enchanter, a powerful leader mlike Alustriel or Regina Mills, or a magical savant like Harry Potter or Sabrina Spellman, the magus is defined by its magical power. Unlike most previous Legendary Archetypes, the magus is focused on being the best possible at its specialization; as the Power Points Edge can only be taken once per Rank, this means that an inordinate amount of advances have gone toward increasing Power Points. Settings that do not use Power Points obviously free the Magus to diversify its abilities.
 
(The same is true of settings – like the default assumption of the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion – that allow spellcasters to learn new powers from scrolls and grimoires rather than only purchasing the New Power Edge.)
 
A magus might be a more rough-and-tumble detective or witch hunter (+1 Agility and Strength, Fighting d6, Streetwise d6), the magical monarch of a fairy kingdom or storybook land (or a former evil ruler seeking redemption) (Intimidation d8, Taunt d8, Noble), or an annoying know-it-all who pops in to offer cryptic advice and then disappear (Persuasion d8, Stealth d8, Taunt d8, Jack-of-All-Trades).
 
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d12, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d4, Intimidation or Taunt d4, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Arcana) d10, Notice d8, Persuasion d4, Spellcasting d12, Stealth d6
Charisma: +0; Pace: 6, Parry: 4; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: One Major, two Minor
Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), New Power (x 3), Power Points (x 4), Rapid Recharge/Improved Rapid Recharge, Soul Drain, Wizard
Special Abilities
  • Power Points: 30
  • Powers: any six
 
Hindrances: Delusional [Major; oh so delusional...], Mean, Stubborn

Friday, September 9, 2016

Legendary Archetypes: Strategist





As Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Wilson wrote long ago, “Life Begins at Legendary.”




In Legendary Archetypes, the Wine and Savages blog presents ready-to-use Legendary Rank (80 XP) heroes built using only the Savage Worlds core rules. These archetypes are offered as aids for duet and solo gamers or for gaming groups ready to jump right into the big leagues.



The characters are built with an eye toward versatility (necessary in duet gaming) and so have their Traits and Edges spread out for broader competence rather than min/maxed in certain areas. Game Masters using these archetypes may wish to allow the players another 20 to 40 experience points (2 to 4 Advances) to further customize the characters beyond choosing Hindrances.



Strategist


Hindrances: Heroic, Death Wish [Minor], Habit [Minor; heavy drinker]



Whether a criminal mastermind like Nathan Ford or James Moriarty, a field commander like Clayton M. Abernathy or Kathryn Janeway, or the leader of a nation like Kublai Khan or Elizabeth Tudor, the Strategist is the master of the battlefield (even when – as with the criminal mastermind -- that battlefield is conceptual rather than practical).

Citing the above examples, a criminal mastermind will have more emphasis on interpersonal skills and research (+3 Investigation and Streetwise, Charisma), the field commander will be more physically capable (+1 Agility and Strength, +1 Fighting, Shooting, Notice, and whatever vehicular skill the hero knows), and the ruler will be more of a politician (+1 Spirit, +1 Intimidation and Persuasion, Charismatic, Strong Willed).

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d10, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: One of Boating/Driving/Riding/Piloting d6, Fighting d6, Gambling d6, Knowledge (Battle) d10, Knowledge (any other) d8, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting or Throwing d6, Stealth d6, Taunt d6
Charisma: +0; Pace: d6, Parry: 5; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: One Major, two Minor
Edges: Command, Command Presence, Fervor, Followers, Hold the Line!, Inspire, Leader of Men, Scholar, Tactician



Hindrances: Bloodthirsty, Obese, Delusional [Minor; thinks his subjects and servants should regard him as a father]




Bonus Grizzled Commander!


Hindrances: Elderly, Delusional [Minor; somehow thinks he can bring back the Republic], Delusional [Minor; too trusting]
The +5 Skill points from Elderly raise the Grizzled Commander's Knowledge (Battle) to d12 and Notice to d8, as well as giving him 1 unspent Advance, but the Hindrances reduces his Strength to d4 and Vigor to d6 (Toughness 5).

Monday, September 5, 2016

ROCKALYPSE!!!



Despite my falling behind, Four-in-Hand Games’ other projects are going strong. Head honcho Eric Simon has published more expansions for Steamscapes, and now he’s expanding the company’s profile with its first non-Savage Worlds game: Rockalypse – The Fate Core RPG of Musical Conflict! With 19 days to go as of this writing, the game is fully backed and moving into stretch goals.

In Rockalypse, an apocalypse has happened (or is happening) and all conflict is resolved through battles of the bands. It’s part Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, part Jem and the Holograms, part Rock and Rule, and a big part obscure art-house action film Six String Samurai. In fact, it’s all of these things and more because – in keeping with FATE’s creed of shared world-building – it’s more a menu of options with which to build a setting than a detailed setting in its own right.

Rockalypse currently outlines five apocalyptic settings broken down into pick-and-choose aspects: The Wasteland (Mad Max/Tank Girl/Gorillaz-style post-apocalyptic mutants and hardship), The Streets of Cyber City (Rock and Rule/Max Headroom-style megacorporations), Aliens from Dimension X (FLCL/Daft Punk’s Interstella 5555), Pandemonium (Groovie Ghoulies/Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny), and Rock and Roll High School (FLCL again/Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad). A sixth setting – RagnaRock – will be included if the Kickstarter hits $3,500 (and it’s already over $3,100).

When the GM and players meet for Session Zero to create characters and build the campaign world, everyone can choose what aspects of the different campaign frameworks they want to include. As the inclusion of Rock and Roll High School intimates, sometimes the apocalypse is more a personal revelation than a world-shattering catastrophe. I’m not fond of Mad Max-style brutal futures, so I’d probably focus on this more personal apocalypse if I were to run a game. In any case, the à la carte nature of the apocalypses means you can easily build a Rockalypse campaign based on any musical inspiration you want.



Something inspired by “Cold Slither” – the episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero where Zartan and the Drednoks pose as a band to send subliminal, pro-COBRA messages – might concentrate on the imminent apocalypse and paranoia of the Cold War, rather than the aftermath of nuclear fallout. Combine it with the outrageous fashions and quest for fame of Jem and the Holograms and we have:
  • They look just like us. The aliens resemble humans at least superficially. But there must be some way to tell the difference, whether through special sunglasses or by peeling off their artificial skin... (Aliens from Dimension X; the agents of the COBRA expy hide in plain sight amongst the patriots and upright citizens of the country, echoing Cold War fears of infiltration).
  • This is our big break! Underlying all the trials of high school is the hope that one day you’ll be able to escape it. That chance may come even sooner if you can somehow become famous or successful right now... (Rock and Roll High School; the unfortunate heroes who get caught up in this war of secret propaganda are just a young band trying to make it big)
  • Wolverines! There are small but surprisingly plucky pockets of resistance to the alien authority, and they could use your help. If you want to save the world, it starts right here! (Aliens from Dimension X; only a top-secret specialized combat force knows about the secret invasion – and it needs you to help!)

Rockalypse is utterly and thoroughly a FATE game and my personal ambivalence with the system is well-chronicled. Thankfully, Eric Simon has been playtesting Rockalypse for a while now, and this shows in the thorough GM advice and updates to the FATE Core rules to emulate the musical conflict central conceit. Melody and Rhyme are the attack skills, Harmony sets up advantages for your allies, and Rhythm is used for defense. New stunts like Counterpoint and Always in Tune not only play up the genre conventions, but also give some cues on how to think in musical terms for those of us who aren’t musically-inclined.


A public beta test document for Rockalypse is still available on DriveThruRPG for those who want a closer look at the project before backing it. Eric is also chronicling some of his influences with 30 Days of Rockalypse over at the Four-in-Hand Games site. If the project intrigues you at all but you need more convincing, head on over to either of those two links for more.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Legendary Archetypes: Scoundrel


As Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Wilson wrote long ago, “Life Begins at Legendary.”


In Legendary Archetypes, the Wine and Savages blog presents ready-to-use Legendary Rank (80 XP) heroes built using only the Savage Worlds core rules. These archetypes are offered as aids for duet and solo gamers or for gaming groups ready to jump right into the big leagues.



The characters are built with an eye toward versatility (necessary in duet gaming) and so have their Traits and Edges spread out for broader competence rather than min/maxed in certain areas. Game Masters using these archetypes may wish to allow the players another 20 to 40 experience points (2 to 4 Advances) to further customize the characters beyond choosing Hindrances.



Scoundrel



Hindrances: Overconfident, Loyal, Wanted [Minor]




The scoundrel differs from the secret agent in that – while both archetypes represent broadly-skilled characters capable of handling combat, investigation, and social encounters – the scoundrel relies on dumb luck and evading danger more than the secret agent’s competence. Whether a fast-talking pirate o r smuggler like Han Solo or Jack Sparrow, an active or reformed treasure hunter like Indiana Jones or Rey [Last Name TBD], or an old-school fantasy world rogue like Cugel or Mirt, the scoundrel slips through life one step ahead of danger.

The scoundrel is a flexible basis for numerous character types. The scoundrel might be expanded into a swashbuckling rogue (+2 Boating and Swimming, Block, Improved Extraction), an expert-for-hire (+1 Smarts, Jack-of-all-Trades, 2 Advances to spend however), or even a novice space savior (Arcane Background: Psionics, +1 Piloting, +2 Psionics, boost/lower trait, puppet, telekinesis).

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: A vehicular skill (Boating, Driving, Piloting, or Riding) at d6, Climbing d6, Fighting (or Shooting) d8, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Repair d4, Shooting (or Fighting) d6, Stealth d8, Swimming d4, Taunt d6, Throwing d6

Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 5 or 6; Toughness: 6

Hindrances: One Major, Two Minor
Edges: Attractive or Charismatic, Elan, Extraction, Luck, Strong Willed, Thief 


Hindrances: Heroic, Delusion [someone's coming back if she just waits], Loyal