Tag Archives: gumshoe

Other Open Gaming Thoughts

Besides the buzz about D&D Next possibly being OGL, there’s other news in game licensing land.

First of all, the GUMSHOE system used by Pelgrane Publishing in many of their games is released under both OGL and Creative Commons! You can download the SRD in Word format there. Very cool.

Second, Numenera has a license and it’s not quite open. One product has been released so far though, Celestial Wisdom. But here’s why this concerns me.

Numenera is an innovative game in a very weird setting. A setting that could benefit a LOT from third party material. It’s going to be intimidating to some people to actually run, because of the weird nature of the setting and adventures.  The more the better, and any bars there limit it somewhat.

In conjunction with that, the Monte Cook brigade are now off on their second Kickstarter for a similary ambitious game called The Strange.  This does not give me a lot of confidence that Numenera is going to see lots of support from Monte Cook Games itself.  Given the worry that they’re just going to be happily Kickstarting one neat new idea after another and then moving to the next without focusing their effort on sustaining each one, does it make sense from any perspective to put limitations on people that do want to?

13th Age has, on the other hand, released under the OGL with their SRD located here on the Pelgrane site. That makes me a little more hopeful about ongoing support.

GUMSHOE Is Coming… To Pathfinder

I came across a very interesting post on the Pelgrane Press site today, where they are soliciting playtesters for “Pathshoe,” a Pathfinder supplement that incorporates the GUMSHOE rules for investigation into the Pathfinder RPG.Apparently I missed this tidbit buried down at the very bottom of the Pelgrane state of the union I reported on just a couple days ago! I need to learn to read better or something.

This is a very interesting concept. If you’re not familiar with GUMSHOE, it’s Robin Laws’ newest game system and was designed to fix the chronic problems with investigative scenarios in RPGs. Most trad game skill systems make it so there’s a lot to go wrong with them – you plant a clue and give some DC skill check to find it.  But what if the character with the right skill isn’t around?  What if he fails? Well, you have to either say bye bye to your investigation or build layers and layers of clues in so that they end up being pulled back on track. It especially haunts investigation-centric games like Call of Cthulhu (which is why the GUMSHOE-based Trails of Cthulhu is their biggest line). What GUMSHOE does is make it so that the “core clues,” the ones PCs must have to proceed along the plot, are always found, but skill checks indicate how much useful additional info you get from them.

Pathfinder has this problem too, as it focuses on exploration and investigation in equal share with combat in its normal mode of employ. I was contemplating this problem just this week reading the new Paizo adventure Cult of the Ebon Destroyers, where the PCs are tracking down an assassin cult in Jalmeray. The whole first part of the adventure is a careful dance to provide clues but if the clues fail basically have someone run up and blurt out the next step. If only bad guy organizations would stop sending understrength incompetent hit squads with notes in their pockets indicating where they’re from against every PC party in their area of operations, they’d get away with a lot more shenanigans! I’m not knocking Ebon Destroyers, it’s good, but this is a problem that is very tricky to solve in most scenarios.

I’m really interested to see how they plan to add the GUMSHOE concept seamlessly to Pathfinder!

Steve Jackson, Posthuman, Pelgrane, Green Ronin States of the Union

Steve Jackson Games’ annual report says they’re doing well, and it’s all Munchkin all the time. No new RPGs and GURPS gets a small part of the overall update. Ah well, we still have one GURPS diehard in our gaming group that still gets the stuff.

Posthuman Studios’ annual report says they’re doing real well!  Releasing Eclipse Phase as a Creative Commons product (free on BitTorrent!) has, as usual, proved the “Piracy Kills!” crowd wrong as their sales are brisk. The only fly in the ointment has been fallout from leaving Catalyst Games, whose embezzlement scandal is well documented (I’ve been ignoring it lately, I assume there’s no big news there). Several people in our group are interested in Eclipse Phase but we have a bit of a “where do we start?” problem.

Pelgrane Press was worried about 2010 and is fretting about print but it seems to have worked out well for them, a lot of GUMSHOE out and more on the way including the slick-looking Ashen Stars.  Hint – keep publishing those adventures!  Whenever I buy some weird  high concept game, the thing I want right after it is adventures – that’s why Hard Helix sold 50% of the Mutant City Blues run.  I got it, and I got Little Girl Lost for Esoterrorists. And I see you have adventures coming hard on the heels of Ashen Stars, which is absolutely the right thing to do.

Green Ronin’s Message from the President indicates that they’re doing well, but the subtext is disturbing – they’re not doing much with their own games (True20, Freeport) and are focusing on the licensed properties – DC Adventures, Dragon Age, and Song of Ice and Fire.  But they note that those properties are tough because the licenseholders often dick them around (my translation).  I’m worried about such a large part of their product strategy being tied up with stuff like that; it seems like it would only take one of those deals going real bad to send them into a death spiral. Hopefully they’re sufficiently spread out. M&M Third Edition hopefully will bloom a lot – right now most of what’s for it is DC but that line seems somewhat unsatisfying in that it’ll be “four books then done…” I liked the original Marvel Super Heroes because of the adventure support…

Recently Returned Roundup

Hey all, back from vacation and working up a bunch of back session summaries.  Here’s a quick roundup of stuff that I thought was interesting in RPG land from over the last week…

The Plutomancer, a three-level prestige class for Pathfinder, by Erin Palette (I consulted on it some).  I like mini-prestige classes.  Too many existing p-classes seem like three levels of concept stretched out into ten levels of grind.

Public voting is now open for the ENNies.  Go vote, ideally how I tell you to!

There’s a cool new supplement for Mutants & Masterminds, the OGL superheroes game, called Mecha & Manga.  It brings a mess of anime tropes to the excellent M&M system.  Many of the better old manga-ey systems (Big Eyes, Small Mouth most notably) have passed away, so this is a welcome addition to the strong M&M line.  There’s a bunch of previews to look at over at mutantsandmasterminds.com.  Take feats like “Bishonen” or “Kawaii”!  Or even “Ninja Run” or “Sense Murderous Intent,” for your other genres.

There’s also an awesome supplement (though has everything in it to run standalone) for Hero/Champions called Lucha Libre HERO, where psychotronic hits the mainstream!  I liked octaNe and ’45 Hot Rod Retropocalypse, previous psychotronic RPGs which included luchadores as one of their many zany elements.  This one, using the Hero 5th Edition rules, focuses on being a Mexican wrestler and after reading the RPG.net review I have to say it sounds boss.

The short list for the 2009 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming is out.  Dominion (card game), D&D 4e, Jeepform, Mouse Guard, and Sweet Agatha are in the running.

Oh, and a late addition – just went by my FLGS and they had Hard Helix, an adventure supplement for Mutant City Blues, Pelgrane Press’ RPG of low level supers law enforcement, so I snapped it up.

You are now more well informed if not actually smarter.  Congratulations!