The King is Dead

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Savage Rifts® is Pretty Danged Cool


It’s not like the Savage Rifts® Kickstarter needs my help to meet its goals, but there may very well be other Savage Worlds fans (and licensees) out there who are – as I was – skeptical about the use they might get out of the books. To them I simply say, this is the most beautifully hackable version of Savage Worlds yet.

It’s not exactly a secret that I’ve always chafed at the relatively low power of Savage Worlds characters. Most normal Savage Worlds characters at Legendary Rank feel more like “name level” AD&D 1st Edition characters in terms of powers and capabilities than they do “epic level” D&D 5e or Pathfinder characters. This works well for some kinds of games, but it’s always bugged me that you’d have to be 100 experience points beyond Legendary for your hero to catch up with Fafhrd or the Gray Mouser. Savage Rifts® not only brings the mega-damage, it brings eminently theft-worthy options for ways to front-load Savage Worlds characters into less pulpy, more cinematic heroes.

I’ve been friends with Sean Patrick Fannon since last year’s Chupacabracon (though I have apparently utterly forgotten to blog about his work), so it was a delight to join Robin, fellow blogger and Pendragon writer David Larkins, Dungeonesque Red Box developer Stan Shinn, and several SW super fans in playing one of Fannon’s Savage Rifts® games. 

Yes, the one that was filmed and is up on YouTube now.



Rod Grit’s Horatius-like attempt to hold the bridge singlehanded was actually not so much a brilliant tactic as it was a failed attempt to get my character killed so I could try out the Blaze of Glory setting rule. It worked pretty well for the team, though.

Making myself a target also gave me time to study the character sheet in greater detail. There’s lots of neat stuff on there for fans of both Savage Worlds and Rifts®, but the most intriguing thing to me was one of the results on the Heroic Journey Rolls (a way of adding some of the old Rifts® randomness into Savage Worlds). It’s a result called “Underworld” that grants the Thief Edge and three Skill Points to distribute amongst Climbing, Lockpicking, and Stealth. A bonus Edge and bonus Skills all wrapped up as a present for a Novice hero – just like I’m trying to do with The King is Dead.

In fact, most viewers watching the game probably don’t realize that all of those characters slaughtering hordes of Coalition Deadboys and blowing up mechs were all NOVICE RANK CHARACTERS! Well, technically Robin’s character wasn’t, but that’s only because she got a boost to Seasoned as part of the character creation rules for relatively normal humans like Seras Byrd. 

It’s been hinted that some of the new mechanics developed for Savage Rifts® will affect Savage Worlds moving forwards; I can say definitively that they will affect The King is Dead. Sean Patrick Fannon has also solved a design problem for a Savage Worlds anime setting that’s been kicking my butt, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Savage Rifts® to try it out. I am going to hack the heck out of these books.

Shoot, I’m pretty stoked for Rifts® itself now. It has Vampire Hunter D-style vampire kingdoms and a crazy-ass Japanese setting. Maybe it’s right up my alley after all. 


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

PWYW for this thing I wrote!

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/182216/The-King-is-Dead-VARGR?affiliate_id=10771


Well, we finished the final touches on VARGR last night, got it off to Eric Simon at Four-in-Hand Games, and it's up on DriveThruRPG! I've been writing about The King is Dead here for a couple of years, so it's a great feeling to finally share it in some professional capacity with the world at large.

VARGR is both a short adventure and a teaser for The King is Dead setting, offering a look at the secret societies of Malleus and their related mechanics, the sorcerous vampires of TKiD, and some of the setting rules. As I wrote for the DTRPG blurb:


In an 18th century that never was, revolution rocks the nation of Malleus! Secret societies of rebels strike to unseat the vampire aristocracy with pen and sword, inciting long-dormant dreams of freedom in their fellow humans while driving stakes through the hearts of their oppressors. Frontiersmen, highlanders, mad scientists, occultists, slaves, and more unite to overthrow the immortal regime!

In VARGR, the heroes join the hunt for a mad killer, only to find he holds the secrets to defeat the vampires. Can they save him from the assassins hunting him? Can they save him from himself? Can they save themselves from the wrath of the vampire overlords?

VARGR requires Savage Worlds and the Savage Worlds Horror Companion to play.

Watch for The King is Dead campaign setting in the summer of 2016!


It's pay what you want, so you can have it for free (but please consider throwing a dollar or two our way -- and if you buy it through my affiliate link, we get a kickback from that, too). Thanks!



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to DHAMPIR


Robin's probably going to make me rework the cover a bit.
In fact, I think I just figured out how to solve a design issue.

I wrote a different adventure instead. Robin and I are both running some TKiD games at Chupacabracon in Austin in a couple of weeks, and Robin felt she had a better grasp of the plot and nuances of DHAMPIR than she did the other adventure we planned to run, so I wrote the other one instead. It’s called VARGR, and it’s about a bloodthirsty cannibal you have to save from the vampires trying to kill him.

(Yes, “save.” I can't seem to stay away from moral ambiguity even though the setting was supposed to be "The French Revolution except there's no guilt over killing the aristos because they're vampires.")

Hilariously, VARGR is a sequel to certain events in DHAMPIR, but the connection is invisible if you're not one of the five people who has played DHAMPIR. The adventure is pretty short, but including all the pre-generated characters, NPC stats, new crunch, and introductory material plumps the whole thing out to about 30 pages. Unexpectedly writing a different adventure and final tweaks to the layout and art means there were delays and so we probably won’t be finished until tomorrow, meaning it probably won’t be published until Thursday.

Robin’s doing a lovely job on layout, and using period art is turning out to be more evocative and fun than expected – though choosing particular pieces has sometimes been a pain. (I suddenly find myself fantasizing about using some kind of weird, mash-up collage style for the interior art. I doubt the larger Savage Worlds audience would enjoy it.) The increased professionalism of the final product is one of the elements slightly stretching out the completion date.

Hopefully, it will be available on May the Fourth -- which would be funny because of some vague Star Wars allusions in the latter part of the adventure. Wish us luck!