“Front-Loading and You,” or, “If it makes Sense, Throw your players a Fricken’ Bone.”

So, a while back I bought the Savage Rifts books and took a gander through them. Yeah, not gonna lie, after randomly rolling up some characters in those rules (a Cyber-Knight, a M.A.R.S. – Mercenary, Adventurer, Rogue, and Scholar- and a Techno-Wizard) I came to the conclusion that other Savage Worlds GMs have: Holy !@#!%@ on a !#@!@ Sandwich, they’ve front-loaded a lot of power onto some Novice Rank (well, seasoned in the case of the M.A.R.S. Framework) characters.

And you know what? That’s totally okay, because it makes sense in the Setting for such high-powered characters to be running around. Of course, Rifts thrives on cranking High-Powered, over-the-top Action up to 11.¬†Putting a Rifts character in your typical Savage Worlds game would be a Boom Gun-laden catastrophe.

That being said, it’s still a great idea to start your players off some extra oomph, even a Hindrance or two (with adequate compensation), as long as it’s thematic to the setting you’re running.

-If you’re running a Martial Arts game, it makes perfect sense for PCs to start with a free d6 in Fighting and the Martial Artist Edge.

-If you’re running something akin to Final Fantasy or Borderlands (high-power characters, Job/Class system), design a few ‘Frameworks’ a la Rifts- except not as high powered- with Starting Skills, Edges, and even a Hindrance or two… basically, stuff that’s considered common for each Template (ie, White Mages always have Arcane Background (Miracles) and Faith d6, while a Gunzerker always has Shooting d6 and Two-Fisted- or rework the Berserk Edge; come on… you know you want to).

-Running a Mecha game? Give everyone Piloting d6 and have a few Mecha Templates (Weapons, Armor, Features/Edges, and Glitches/Hindrances) for characters to pick from.

Now, in all reality, you don’t HAVE to do this. It’s totally acceptable to just design a game and run it without any front-loading. That being said, if you notice that there’s a common element or three in your Setting… it might be a good idea to give them some abilities they’re going to have to get anyway for the story to make sense.

Equilibrium 3B: Arcane Backgrounds

Allrighty, here’s some Arcane Backgrounds for this universe. You’ll notice that each background doesn’t have a list of powers that they can take, and I’ll be honest, that’s intentional. I think that if the player can create a reasonable justification for a character having said power… then they should be allowed to go take it. You want an Angel to have Puppet? Just call it, “Divine Compel,” and have the bossy Angel bark out an order as the means of casting it.

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ARCANE BACKGROUND (Vessel)
**This Can Only Be Taken by Humans**
Arcane Skill: Channeling (Spirit)
Starting PP: 15
Starting Powers: 2
Backlash: “Severance” – Your connection to the spirits is fickle. On rolling a 1 on your Channeling die, your Hero loses the ability to cast that power until the end of the scene/encounter or until you spend a Benny to reconnect.
Trappings: The Vessel’s powers take on the appearance (as well as any potential bonus effects) of whatever the person did in life. For instance, a Soldier’s soul who provides the Bolt power would manifest itself as gunfire, or a Healing power provided by the soul of a doctor would be represented by the healed person’s wounds being, “stitched,” up.

Special: “Inherited Trappings” – Whenever you take a new power, you get to draw a card. 2-10 Means that the power comes from a Human Spirit. However, should you draw an Ace/Royal, the power comes from the Spirit of an Angel or a Demon depending on the Suit (Diamonds/Hearts is Demon, Spades/Clubs is Angel), and thus has access to a Seraphim’s unique trappings. If you draw a Joker, they were a Mutant. Re-draw for the type of mutant… that Power- in addition to it’s normal trappings- has Radioactive Trappings.

Special: “Job to Do” – Each Spirit has an unfinished task that you need to take care of. If Channeling them helps aid in their task, you gain a +1 to your Arcane Skill roll. However, the inverse is also true: Should you be using their power in such a way that goes against the person’s wishes, you’re at -1 penalty to use that power. Whether this comes into play should be at the GM’s discretion. Should the player complete said task within the timespan of the campaign, they should redraw for the “Inherited Trappings,” as the old Spirit passes on and a new one takes its place.

===
You’ve always had a special bond with the Supernatural, and with all the cosmic activity now that Doomsday has come to pass, that connection is a little more… literal. There’s souls of people that have passed on that are looking to take care of some unfinished business, and you’re their means of doing so. In exchange for helping them take care of some business they left unresolved in this life, they’ll aid you by granting some of their otherworldly power.

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ARCANE BACKGROUND (Rad Scientist)
Arcane Skill: Weird Science (Smarts)
Starting PP: 20
Starting Powers: 1 (Each power has PP Equal to your Maximum)
Backlash: “Explosion” – Yeah… Mad Science Devices powered by Nuclear Batteries are volatile. On rolling a 1, your device explodes in a Large Burst Template for 2d8 Damage, which also forces anyone caught within the Blast Radius to make a Vigor Roll to resist mutation. Repairing this device requires 2d6 Hours and a Repair Roll.
Trappings: The powers that manifest from these devices are hardly subtle. They’re bright, flashy, and occasionally leave grean smears of goo around the place.
Special: “Improved Mutations” – When you suffer a Mutation, you get to draw two cards and pick the better of the two.
“Risky Recharge” – If the Rad Scientist is willing to expose themselves to strong doses of radiation for an extended period, they can cut their recharge time in half.

===
Ah, Science… what envelopes won’t people use you to push? In this case, it’s attempting to create portable devices powered by Radiation. One of the major breakthroughs during Armageddon was the invention of the Rad-Cell battery. This nifty little power cell is roughly the size of a large coin, and it has near-limitless power. The only problem is having to deal with the fallout (I’d say, “No Pun Intended,” but I’d be lying like a cheap rug at a flea market if I did) of dealing with radiation and the inevitable mutations that result from constant exposure.

Special Trapping: Radioactivity

“Mutagen”- You can spend an additional Power Point to reduce the Damage Die of an offensive Power to force the target to make a vigor Roll or undergo a Mutation.

“Rad-Resistance” – You can spend an additional Power Point to give a target of a Beneficial Power a +4 to Resist Radiation.

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ARCANE BACKGROUND (SERAPHIM)
*This can Only Be Taken by Angels or Demons*
Arcane Skill: Faith (Spirit)
Starting PP: 10
Starting Powers: 3
Backlash: “Kickback” – Rolling a 1 on your Faith die means that you’re Shaken. This can cause a Wound.
Trappings: Angelic Seraphim powers resemble a yellowish light, while Demonic Seraphim’s powers take on the form of deep red flame.
Special: “Holy/Unholy Champion” – You gain the Champion Edge for free, regardless if you meet the requirements. The effects of this Edge applies to either Angels or Demons (depending which you are).
===
You’re one of the lucky Angels or Demons that can still wield (un)holy power to your advantage. While this gives you power beyond the usual capacity for your kin, it also tasks you with the burden of unnecessary attention. You’ll likely have people coming to you as a source of inspiration, and many a Seraphim has embraced this, becoming leaders (or at least fonts of wisdom) of a settlement. Other times, Seraphim become the guardians of a particular settlement or region, earning the respect of the inhabitants and the ire of their opposition.

Unique Trapping: Holy/Unholy

“Blessed/Cursed” – A Beneficial Power that you spend an additional PP on can bestow on the target the benefits of the Champion Edge for the duration of the Power (+2 to Damage and +2 Toughness vs Angels/Demons depending on the source of the power).

“Celestial/Infernal Blaze” – If you spend up to 5 Additional PP on an Offensive Power, you can roll a 1d6 to see if the target catches on fire (with each extra PP spent increasing the risk of ignition, with a max range of 2-6)… except the fire is either Holy/Unholy.

===
**Edges**
-Divine Craftsman (Requires Seasoned, Repair d8+, Faith d8+, Arcane BG(Seraphim))
This nifty ability allows you to create Consecrated/Desecrated Weaponry and ammo. Ammunition has +4 Damage to guys from The Other Side, while the Consecrated/Desecrated weapons gain an extra 1d6 Damage against them. You need the appropriate equipment to do this, as well as 2d6 hours of time, and you also need to roll Repair at -2 (-4 if you’re making a Weapon). Keep in mind, while these weapons and ammo are considered highly valuable, you shouldn’t be too eager to supply the Post-Armageddon world with these things, lest you draw unnecessary attention.

-Killswitch (Requires Seasoned, Weird Science d8+, Smarts d8+, Arcane BG(Rad Scientist))
You’ve installed a killswitch on all your devices. Should you ever roll a 1 on your Weird Science, this allows you to make an Automatic Weird Science roll at -2 to keep the device from going Kablooey. You still waste the Power Points, however, but you’ll have dodged the Nuclear Bullet.

-Otherworldly Insight (Requires Seasoned, Channeling d8+, Notice d8+, Arcane BG (Vessel))
This nifty little Edge allows the Vessel’s otherworldly patrons to provide him with some insight as to the current circumstances. Once per Session, you may Spend a Benny to gain access to some information relevant to this situation. Keep in mind, there are times where even the Spirits don’t have an inkling of an ideas as to what’s going on… In which case, the GM should give you the Benny back.

Equilibrium 3A: Setting Rules

Okay, so here’s the Setting Rules, including two optional rules (simply for giving out Bennies), and a few, “Non-Negotiables.” I was originally planning to make ‘Corruption’ a mechanic for people playing Angels or Demons… but it just seemed way too convoluted, so I just did something simpler and adjusted how Mutations work in this game compared to Hell on Earth.

“Equilibrium,” is sticking around, though… mostly because the Setting Rule is sort of the setting Basis (basically, SPOILER ALERT, a massive “Equilibrium” Incident was what happened at the Battle of Armageddon), and it’s also very relevant to a particular group’s goals.

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**Optional Rules**
These Setting Rules are optional. You should include these when you either have trouble giving out Bennies, or just want them to keep flowing.

“Joker’s Wild” – Anytime a PC draws a Joker in Combat, all the PCs get a Benny. This road goes both ways, though… so if a non-friendly NPC gets a Joker, then the GM gets a Benny.

“Benny for your Hindrance?” – If a PC role-plays their Hindrances in such a way it’s inconvenient to them, you should give them a Benny. Of course, this can lead to a little problem called, “Hindrance-Milking,” but if a player wants to string themselves up for a shiny little token… hey, it’s their funeral.

**Mandatory Rules**

“Micromanaging Not Needed” – You don’t have to worry about mundane equipment. Unless it’s narratively relevant, it can be safely assume that you have the bare essentials. You should still keep track of things like Ammunition and Power Points, however.

“Scavenging (Hell on Earth)” – The rules for Scavenging are in play here

“Mutations (Hell on Earth)” – Mutation works a little differently here…
-You cannot die from mutation. Instead of death when you draw a 2, you just have to draw two cards and take both Mutations instead (for good or ill).
-You must keep track of how many Mutations you have overall. If this amount ever exceeds 2 + half your Spirit Die, you can no longer withstand the effects of the Radiation on your body and mind, becoming a Feral Mutant (thus an NPC under the GM’s control)
-To offset this, Mutations can be cleansed via the Healing and Greater Healings powers. The person must make an Arcane Skill roll at a penalty equal to the number of Mutations the recipient has (Greater Healing makes the same roll at no penalty whatsoever). For a success, and every Raise thereafter, you remove a Mutation. Keep in mind, this starts with the most recent mutations received, so it doesn’t discriminate between, “Beneficial,” and, “Harmful,” mutations.

“Equilibrium” – Whenever a Mutant Angel and a Mutant Demon get near each other, there’s always a risk of something called, “Equilibrium,” occurring. Basically, they each have to make a Vigor Roll every round that they’re melee range of each other. Should one of them fail, a Holy/Unholy/Radioactive explosion occurs centering on the combatants, dealing damage equal to 2d10 + the Number of Mutations each character has. The size of this explosion is equal to double a Large Burst Template (so 12″ in Diameter). This also forces people in the Blast Radius to make a Vigor roll or undergo a Mutation. This also counts as a Heavy Weapon, should such consideration be necessary.

Bringin’ this Puppy Back Online

Yeah, it’s kinda tough to keep a consistent schedule for blogging. But hey.. .could be worse.

This time around? I’m gonna see about focusing my lights on Gaming. Specifically, of the Pen and Paper Role-Playing variety. A while back, I asked a Skype chat that I’m a part of to give me some writing ideas for Plot Point Campaigns*. Boy… did they ever deliver.

Now that I’ve hammered out a fair chunk of at least one of these ideas, and having promised to share, I figured I’d better find a way to publish these ideas.

I got to thinking… don’t I have a blog that I started but never really got to doing anything with?

So here we go. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll probably still post a snarky rant or two here and there… but this place is mostly for Pen and Paper RPGs.

*What are Plot Point Campaigns? I’m glad you asked. The explanation can be found here¬†at Pinnacle Entertainment’s Website. For those too lazy to read, a Plot Point Campaign is basically a complete setting with an overarching story that still gives GMs and players enough leeway to tell the kind of stories they want.