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John Bogart
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Aggressive Inclusivity

So I'm developing an all-new edition/version/core rules set, Cortex Prime, and while the spine and muscles of it are pretty much a solo effort I'm looking ahead to a Kickstarter that should include works by other people. Other designers.

This is that weird thing where I'm like, I would really like to hire people who do not look like me to write, design, and create settings and rules plug-ins for the game, and pay them well for it, but they also need to know the game.

So if you are or you know women, PoC, LGBTQ/NB folk, designers and writers who have loved or still love Marvel Heroic, Leverage, Smallville, or Firefly, and you think they or you can handle my laid-back Kiwi management style and produce rock-solid shit-hot awesome work for me on a not-terrible schedule, let me know.

Drop me an email at seth AT magic-vacuum DOT com with your enthusiastic vision. I want to help you help me make it happen.

(Permission granted to share this around. Originally shared it to my Circles. Sorry about that.)

I was recently reading through the Mage: The Awakening 2nd (MtAw2) book and I'm considering how to borrow a mechanic for Cortex Plus (probably HRP, but possibly ARP based on Firefly orDragon Brigade).

Part of how MtAw2 does magic is that there are a five spell factors (potency, duration, scale, range, and casting time) that have variable levels. Either potency or duration is the "primary factor" and it increases based on how well you roll. But the other factors you have to set before rolling and they increase the difficulty, which in that system that means taking away dice before rolling.

There's a lot more to the MtAw2 spell casting system than that, but I'm not trying to port the whole system over--what I'm thinking about is the best way to choose factors before rolling that increase the difficulty. I'm also trying to decide it it would work well/be fun. (Also, I know this approach isn't unique to MtAw2, but it's what is fresh in my mind at the moment.)

The "primary factor" seems easy -- use an Effect Die or similar mechanic so that degree of success is determined by your roll. For example, if you're causing damage then Potency is the primary factor and you cause stress equal to your effect die.

But for the preset factors that increase the difficulty, I'm toying with adding dice to the opposed roll. For example, if you increase the Scale to a D10 level and the Range to D6 level, but leave the other factors at the default lowest level, then the GM adds a D10 and a D6 to the opposed roll.

On the one hand, that seems clean and the most in keeping with how increased difficulty is usually handled in Cortex Plus (I remember reading somewhere that it was an intentional design choice that dice are never taken away from the player but added to the opposition instead).

But would it model the desired feel of increasing the difficulty of your spell or effect before casting to get greater effects? Is it too easy? Too harsh? Too fiddly? And more importantly, would it be fun and smooth in play?

(I've really just idly playing with an idea right now and I'm not that invested in this. Any suggestions and criticisms are welcome. I'm also open to suggestions for completely different approaches to the same thing. If I'm missing an already existing system in the Hackers Guide or another Cortex Plus game, let me know that, too.)

So I've been reading the Kickstarter preview for Beast: The Primordial (you can download 99% complete but unformatted book for free before backing). I'm not far in yet, but it makes me want to play a character like a Beast/Begotten in Urban Shadows. A couple things that jumped out are the way that they inevitably cause Heroes to arise and oppose them (and the more they hunt, the faster and more often that happens), plus the way that they consider other supernatural creatures and other Beasts to be part of their Family. There's other cool things, too, but like I said I'm not far in yet.

I don't have much to say at the moment except that the B:tP preview immediately made me think of playing one in Urban Shadows. At some point I may see if any of the existing playbooks would fit and, if not, maybe take a stab at creating one.

I posted a couple days ago about thinking about reskinning BitD to run Werewolf: The Forsaken 2E. Enough people +1 or commented that I figured it was worth posting more notes.

Soon I need to write up all my notes in a more organized manner, plus I need to make character playbooks and pack playbooks, but in the meantime here is a very rough overview of what I'm thinking. I'm very open to any feedback, negative or positive. Also, the below uses a lot of terms from WtF without explaining them — I'm basically assuming you're familiar with both BitD and WtF.


The playbooks are by the characters role in the pack, rather than tribe or auspice or any of the basic WtF splats. Instead each playbook has a choice of two auspices, which grants a move (similar to races in Dungeon World). Then you can pick any tribe with any playbook Below is a very preliminary list of five playbooks.

* Killer (rahu:warrior or irraka:assassin)
* Stalker (irraka:shadow or ithauer:spirit-hunter)
* Howler (cahalith:war-howler or rahu:champion)
* Face (elodoth:mediator or cahalith:charismatic)
* Spirit-talker (ithauer:witch or elodoth:emissary)

The action and effect lists will be tweaked, but will work the same way. 

Backgrounds become place and role in the human world and work the same way. So occupation, social status, etc.

Tribes determine allies and may impact gear. They don't have a lot of direct mechanical impact and are mostly about tying your character to the larger werewolf society. 

Gifts are bought at the tree level. There are no individual gifts. So you might have Shadow, Nature, and New Moon, for example. They do a couple things:

Narratively, you can describe little color effects for free. You can also spend Stress to do supernatural effects (like intimidating all the lights to burn out). It's similar to the Rituals special ability, I suppose. 

You get a Gift from your auspice, one from your Tribe, and one or more from a list on your playbook. Gift lists are more tied to playbook than to auspice or tribe. 

Rites are basically just an action and then made up free-form in play. 

For shape-shifting, all the forms except hishu grant +1D to some actions (like a Background) but also count as a condition for some actions and have narrative limitations. The wolf forms (gauru and the two wolf forms) have weapons that count as fine gear. Gauru also have armor. I have no ideas on handling death rage yet. 

Regeneration is simple. Spending Stress to avoid physical harm can be described as luck, skill, or burning power to heal quickly. Also, physical harm heals one segment after each scene and heals completely between hunts. Unless it's aggravated, in which case it recovers like every other type of condition. 

The Pack sheet includes the totem, other pack mates, the territory, pack status, and relations with other packs, spirits, and other supernaturals. "Coin" is renamed, but basically covers essence and other spendable resources. 

What else? The game basically runs exactly like BitD. The pack does hunts. There are leaders and followers and they switch as usual. Heat is trouble with spirits, other packs, humans, etc. I'm thinking of somehow working the Hunter Aspects into the group hunt moves. Maybe it will be mechanical, or maybe it's just narrative (whoever is currently leading, their Aspect is in effect).

I'm basically scrapping Harmony as a separate concept, but I picture Vices playing a similar thematic role in some ways. 

There will be minor reskinning of gang tiers to be more about territory than status, but it's basically the same. Also, other "gangs" aren't just other werewolves. Spirits, hosts, and even other types of supernatural beings are all rivals and allies. Improving your territory is going to require allies and make enemies within and near your territory. 

Obviously that's not everything, but it's my high-level thinking at the moment. 

So... thoughts? Criticisms? Suggestions? 

Obviously, I'm emphasizing the parts of WtF that I like most and/or that I think for BitD best and I'm cutting or changing other things. It's very likely that in at least some areas, my priorities and preferences will differ from yours. That's fine.

So I got my print copy of Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd edition in the mail today. I've been reading the BitD Quick Start again (though I haven't run or played it yet) and I immediately thought that BitD would be a fantastic system to run WtF. I'm been tinkering with the idea all day. I think it would be a pretty simple reskin, actually. I don't know how far I'll pursue it, but if I do, I'll post details here.

(I'm fond of the WtF setting, especially with the changes in 2E, but I don't love the system these days. My tastes have shifted since I played WtF 1E years ago.)

I'm looking at all the Meetups scheduled. Are there one or more of the weekly meetups that are the best places for jumping in and getting to know people and the group? As much as I'd love to do them all, my wife's love is finite and one day a week is going to be my limit. :-)

(Also, it's still a month or more before I'll be in Houston, so maybe it's too early to be asking, but I'm excited.)

Hi all. I'll be moving to Houston in the next 1-3 months (I'll be in the Jersey Village area). I've been lurking in this group for awhile since I knew I'd likely be moving this year, but now that it's official and soon, I thought I'd introduce myself. I'm looking forward to playing games with many of you soon. 

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I like games that tell interesting, important, intense stories. I love that games give us a structure to examine and unpack things that matter to all of us, if we chose to use them to that end.

What I love more is that sometimes, the execution, form and value of a game collide in such a way that my brain grabs hold and refuses to let go.

A first time lady designer has a kickstarter going Right Now for a game that is about women's' stories. The lead designer/writer +Elsa S. Henry y)  the editor, the illustrator (I'll double back and add tags to folks if they want to be tagged in), the supplements for stretch goals? women and non-binary folks. .

The game is about McCarthy era zombie killing housewives - kinda kitschy and cutesy, right? maybe even seems a little niche and narrow. 
BUT!  Think about what the 1950s meant in America. This game is going to look at American race relations, sexual oppression, xenophobia of all sorts. What did the nuclear family mean to America? What did paranoia do to the fabric of our culture?

You guys. This game.

Go back it. These stories matter.

(full disclosure - somewhere way down on the list of stretch goals, I'm slated to write a Post Card on life on military installations during the era. but even if I weren't, I'd be excited about this product.)

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This is a great fantasy series by one of my favorite authors. 
Today, finally, is the day that the third and final book in my epic fantasy trilogy will be released. The page for book two is right here, and the page for book one, with the introductory synopsis and the links to sample chapters, is right here. If you…
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