Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crimson Blades of Ara Review

My friend Carter Soles over at The  Lands of Ara has graciously posted the game system he and and friend Dave Miller wrote in 1989. You pick up the rules for "Crimson Blades of Ara" over at his blog. Although the author claims these are rough notes they are a dam site more impressive than my pencil scribbles on lined paper I call notes. As with many youthful endeavours it is chock-a-blog full with novel ideas and concepts, despite Carters claim that he was reinventing Runequest without knowing it (actually about all that Runequest and His system share are a use of a list of skills to determine abilities and percentile dice to resolve actions). Actually his character point chart with its exponential increase cost as skills move towards 100%, solves one of the great shortcomings of Runequest. Runequests advance system based on dice rolls against skills you use rewards lucky rather than skillful play, and results in great silliness amongst the power gaming crowd of continual weapon switching and trivial skill checks. All in all I was quite impressed, although I have not completed my analysis of the combat system which seems to exude a strong preference for some weapons over others. I am unlikely to attempt to run the whole game as written, but will likely borrow pieces for my homebrew rules. The crown jewel of these rules are the skill and trait level cost chart. I also enjoyed the eastern school mages who cast spells by "the creation of small,
animated beings called golems"; Orge player characters which are immensely strong but forced take quirks to compensate; and the two strikes per round combat system which allows you the ability to drop your chance to parry a opponents blow and counter attack instead. I thought having the agility stat determine who goes first, while dexterity and strength determine (for the most part, longsword is agility based) your chance to hit was wise; Fantasty trip and its successor GURPS put dexterity on both who goes first and your chance to hit biasing their games to uber dexers with nothing else. I am intrigued by the concept presented of different weapons having different caps on how much skill one can apply to ones attack, but I'll want to finish my math analysis before I can say I am in favor of it. A big thanks to Carter and Dave for sharing. Pick up a copy and check out for yourself. If you are unhappy you can always ask for your NO MONEY back.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

World of Bad Neighbor Mountain

Here are several maps of the campaign I ran from 1982-1985. My Regulars have already seen the detail map of Bad Neighbor Mountain from this campaign. I started this map by tracing coastlines out of my Altas and combining them. The bottom of this map is a backwards outline of Finland combined with the tip of India (Note: I ignored scale for the most part). I then placed the outline on a hex grid which I filled in with mountains, lakes, rivers, and settlements. The hexes are 25 miles across. Note the concept behind this map was to place it in the southern hemisphere, so the climate gets warmer as one moves towards the top of the map. The southern tip I envisioned as glaciated lake country similar to Minnesota or Finland.

Once I had the large map done, I took it to the copy store and made several copies to start laying different aspects of the campaign out. Below is an inset of the political divisions. Orange is the Anvan empire, a once great power slipping into decline. Light green is the Free city of Lirpan. Dark green are the Dwarven Holds in the mountains. Light blue is the southern elven forests. Dark purple are the towns of the sea raiders. Finally magenta is the Valley an area of small feudal states, where most of the adventures took place.

After laying out the political map on the southern tip. I noticed some issue with the map as I had drawn it. First the entire continent was completely mountainous. Second the terrain north of the lake country was completely the same repeat of mountains, rivers and towns BORING!!! So being the creator, I took the part I liked ,used a pair of scissors to cut that part away from the rest of the map, and taped it back down on a blank piece of hex paper which I then redrew as below. Now north of the valley is the Sea of sand.

Finally, I copied the map again using the enlarge function on the copier to give me a bigger map of the region I was most interested, used a light box to trace the map onto a blank piece of white paper, and worked it over with colored pencils to produce the map below, which I used as my map to show the players.

Of course almost all these steps can be done much easier with a computer graphics program these days (although I am still fond of the look and feel of my colored pencil work).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...