Wednesday, October 30, 2013

[Zombies] Zombies!

I thought up some mechanics for zombies a while ago -- almost two years ago, according to Google Docs -- so I figured I'd post about it on account of it almost being Halloween and all. I'm talking about aim-for-the-head, brain-eating shamblers here, so don't try to apply these to, I dunno, voodoo zombies or 28 Days Later zombies or whatever.

So first of all, zombies don't have the same skills PCs do. Instead, their skills represent body parts: Claws (attack, create advantage), Legs (overcome, create advantage), Teeth (attack), Body (defend), and Head (defend).

The typical zombie might rank them like this:
Fantastic (+6) Head*
Great (+4) Body
Good (+3) Teeth
Fair (+2) Claws
Average (+1) Legs
*I'm fully aware of how dirty this sounds and regret nothing.

When you attack a zombie, you choose how it defends -- Body or Head.

A successful attack on the Body deals a consequence. Zombies don't have stress tracks, but they do have two mild consequences (or Arms consequences) and one moderate consequence (or Legs consequence). When a zombie's taken two Arms consequences, it loses its Claws skill. When it's taken a Legs consequence, it loses its Legs skill. But a consequence is the best you can do when you attack the Body. Well, you can get a boost if you tie or succeed with style, but the point is, even if the zombie's taken all three consequences, even if it's lost its arms and legs, it's still alive.

So, my God, how do you stop it? A successful attack on the Head takes the zombie out. (I'd fluff a tie against the Head as blowing its jaw off or something, thus the boost, but leaving the brain intact. Related: I'd also severely limit, or even eliminate, Weapon ratings, because all it takes is one shift on a headshot to take out a zombie. Like, shotguns and katanas are Weapon:1, but almost everything else is Weapon:0, and I don't mean Wolverine.)

Putting those two things together, obviously no one's going to attack a zombie's Body if it already has three consequences (or even two or probably one), but that's how these things usually work, isn't it? And mechanically, there's no reason to go for the Body once it's taken a consequence, because you can invoke it for free to cancel out the Head's higher skill rating.

It might seem odd for zombies to have a Great (+4) skill for defense, but it's not that they're so great at dodging or anything. On the contrary, they're easy to hit. They're just not necessarily easy to damage in a substantial way. So that's how I'd color that in play. Most failed attacks against their Body are actually going to be "narrative hits," in that I'd describe them as on-target but mostly harmless.


Friday, October 25, 2013

[Atomic Robo] Character Creation Example

A couple days ago, ARRPG layoutist Adam Jury sent me a two isolated pages to review, and after I did that reviewing, it occurred to me that they'd make a pretty good preview snippet for a preview-hungry public. They're not the most art-intensive two pages in the book, but they do a good job of showing you one or two ways in which we're swiping elements of the medium (of comics) for our own gamey purposes.

So here it is: an example of E-Z No-Math Character Creation. Enjoy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

[Fate Core] Fate Core Day at Villainous Lair

This Saturday, October 26th, is Fate Core Day at Villainous Lair Gaming! Games start at 1:00 pm.

I do not know what my game will be. All I know is that it'll use Fate Core.

Let me be clear here: This isn't some kind of stunt. I really don't know. I've been busy with other things and haven't had much time to figure out a gimmick for this one, and usually, my one-shots are highly gimmick-based. Part of the problem is that I want to run something as close to RAW as possible to give people a good idea of what Fate Core (as written) is like, but RAW isn't really... something I do with Fate.

Now, if I were going to do my usual -- that is, a hack -- I have all kinds of ideas. I need to playtest my Sparks Nevada hack. I need to playtest my latest Fate supers hack. I have really weird ideas for a Fate/Rolemaster crossover. And of course, I could run Atomic Robo!

So... any ideas? I'm open to suggestions.

Oh, and if you're in the area, you should obviously come out and play!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

[Atomic Robo] "It's In Layout!"

"It's in layout!"

That's been my stock answer for the past few months whenever someone's asked me what's up with Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game. And it's the truth, and it's been the truth, but honestly, that's all I knew until... well. Suffice it to say, there's a little more to it than that, and I think it's high time you fine people who've been waiting so patiently for its release (I am one of you, BTW) were let in on some of the details. Fortunately, Fred Hicks agrees, so we actually get to open up a bit about it.

Now, Fred wrote this and posted it on the Evil Hat website, but I'm going to repost it here because it's, uh, just, like, a lot easier than paraphrasing it all.
So, we've been saying that the Atomic Robo RPG is in layout for a while now, and that's still true. The reality runs a little more complicated than that once you get into the details, though!  
The editing and layout process has been intricate. We're looking to present a number of our examples visually, sourcing them straight from the events of the comics, and that can be slow going. We've had to rework chunks of text, a little bit here, a little bit there, over the course of it all, in order to make sure it all fit best with the layout.  
Probably our biggest speed-bump, however, has been imposed upon us by life. Our editor/layoutist found that the freelancing lifestyle wasn't paying the bills on its lonesome and, completely understandably, got himself a job to address that concern. This involved a move to a different state (time consuming), and then a focus on that new job that's kept him busy a good 72 hours a week. Due to the aforementioned intricacies of the layout, the layout wasn't done in time for these events to befall him, but it all added up to there being no more time to work on the book except for a few hours squeezed in every Sunday.  
We recognized this as unsustainable, and brought in a replacement layoutist, the incredibly talented Adam Jury. Adam has been vigorously coming to terms with the layout files as they stand (which is always rough; it seems no two layout folks do things the same way, so it's akin to getting tossed into a foreign country and asked to speak the language with no prior experience), and he's moving it forward as quickly as he can. 
The bottom line is that with the speed bumps we've had, and the spin-up time necessary to bring on new talent, we're likely to miss the end of year/Novemberish publication date that was our goal, and instead launch in early 2014. 
This isn't all bad, though. The fourth quarter of the year (October through December) is usually a very weak time for a company to launch a new game. Sales tend to be down significantly across the board. We believe a launch in early 2014 is going to give us a much stronger performance for the Atomic Robo Roleplaying Game than we would get if the time fairy waved his magic wand and made the book suddenly ready to publish in 2013. Ultimately this will all make for a stronger, better game without all that much more waiting (December's coming up fast)! 
Thanks to everyone for their time, talent, and patience in bringing the Atomic Robo RPG to fruition. We're past the rockiest part of the road, and just need time to cross the remaining distance.
So the bad news is, obviously, that the release date has been pushed back to 2014. None of us is happy about that, and I'm especially bummed about it, but it is what it is. The good news is that forward progress is still being made. Things are happening. I'm helping Adam source more art from the comics and I feel privileged to work with him, so despite the delays, the old cliche of "but the book will be better off for it!" is absolutely true.

Anyway, there you have it. It's in layout!