Friday, August 27, 2010

Tormenta (Storm) - The most popular RPG in Brazil

So, since a friend ... okay, someone I completely don't know ... but I call him friend because he found my game! (see previous post) ... Anyway ... since this friend found my game, I've been browsing his blog site. It's an RPG news site written in Portuguese that's been around since 2002 (8 years is a pretty impressive lineage on these interwebs IMO.) He talks about Mini-Six which is a super cool free RPG that I've also mentioned here as well as others, and he talks about games written in his native language (obviously.)

One that I have never heard of (no reason why I should have) is called "Tormenta" (translated from Portuguese as Storm or Tempest.) It's a D20 fantasy game using the 3.X Dungeons and Dragons framework but it seems to be its own unique animal. And I want one.

Just look at these bullet points (Roughly translated by Google translate):

Storm D20: Player's Guide
We make a better world!

The Goddess of humanity has been transformed into a statue. The Alliance of Black goblinoids relentless advance of the kingdom. The Lords of the Storm launch storms of blood and demons. This is a world giant dragon-kings, high priests invincible and conflicts between the gods. A world that desperately needs heroes.

You agree to be one of them?

STORM is the first and largest Brazilian medieval fantasy setting compatible with the d20 System. Now updated with version 3.5 of the Rules, Storm D20: Player's Guide offers:
  • 6 new races: Centaur, Minotaur, Sea-Elf, Goblin, Nagahara and Sprite.
  • 2 new basic classes: Samurai, master of the katana sword, and the gallant Swashbuckler.
  • 10 new prestige classes: Goblin Balloonist, Goblin Engineer, Explorer of the Storm, Imperial Gladiator, Woodsman, Wizard of the Storm, Nomad, Gunslinger, Ranger Priest, and Black Cave.
  • 76 talents, including new talents and skills of regional and Samurai Swashbuckler.
  • All spells classified Pathways Elementary, and 28 new spells.
  • 21 new magical items and artifacts, including Rubies of Virtue, the Eye of Sszzaas, and the Holy Avenger Sword.
  • Rules for clerics and paladins of the twenty gods of the Pantheon, including Powers Granted.

I don't know about you, but it looks pretty awesome to me. I have been playing 4e for a few weeks now, and honestly I've become a bit disenchanted with the newest version of D&D.

I see 4th Edition this way. The rules have been streamlined to create a cohesive and consistent combat mechanic. Where ever possible the rules have tried to make every form of action work the same. A swing of a sword and the casting of a magic missile now use the same mechanic for example, but are based on different character stats. (And a magic missile can "miss" its target.) This "streamlining" and "consolidating" of systems has served to make the game more uniform. This uniformity is then "cheated" by rules exceptions called "exploits."

Exploits are everything your character can do. A wizard casts a magic missile. That's an exploit. A warrior cleaves through an enemy. That's an exploit. And there are many, many of these. Exploits each do something a little extra, above and beyond the basics of the rules. They are what makes each character unique and interesting (or at least, this is the intent.) Think of a collectible card game. There are strict rules and structure and then cards are provided to "break" the rules.

That's 4th edition. It's a collectible card game, or a board game. It's a tight structure with a simple streamlined system that is then riddled by "micro-rules." Exploits manipulate structure in exactly the same way as a card in a collectible card game might do. They don't however inspire a lot of "ideas" for ways to manipulate, change or re-imagine the effects of these exploits within the context of role play. They are only mechanical. And because everything has been streamlined to work identically and everything is "only mechanical" ... everything feels the same.

Before 4th edition we had a Fighter, a Magic User, a Cleric, and a Thief represented as an Apple, an Orange, a Pineapple, and a Pear. Now with 4th edition we have four Watermelons. Big impressive looking fruits, and painted on them is a picture of an Apple, an Orange, a Pineapple, and a Pear ... but they all taste exactly the same.

I want some tasty new fruit. Does anyone know if there are any plans to translate Tormenta into English for North American consumption? Because it looks like an amazing fruit salad of goodness to me!


Jeff Moore

Xerospace - My first RPG!

This is a science fiction role-playing game with a sort of superheroic bent. The idea is that traveling through hyper-space (Xerospace) causes mutations. It's sort of X-men meets Star Trek. It is also the first RPG that I ever wrote. My thanks to Daniel "Talude" Paes Cuter (a wonderful man who writes a RPG Blog in Brazil (translated from Portuguese - hope this link works) for finding it for me so that I can share it with you.


Xerospace was written and laid out with Word Perfect 4.1 (I think?) on a Tandy Computer running MS DOS 5. It was a 286 with a 20 meg hard drive. My internet provider was Mindspring (dial-up) and they provided me with a little space to host my files. I built a simple web page and linked the document to which had one of the biggest collections of free RPG's on the web at the time (in fact, the ONLY one that I knew of.) It was 1997 to 1998. I had thought I had lost this work forever! The internet is an incredible place. Thanks, again Daniel!!


Jeff Moore

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Five by Five Review (hopefully first of many)

Rob Lang over at the FreeRPG Blog has reviewed my game Five by Five!

Thanks, Rob!!

The Free RPG Blog: Five By Five by Jeff Moore, making me excited abou...: "'Hold it right there, limey ginger guy! You don't like generic systems very much. You say there is nothing between them and need a setting t..."

Monday, August 09, 2010

Tim Minchin: Not Perfect

I am a huge fan of Australian comedian / musician: Tim Minchin. I realized as I was sharing his unique vision with a friend this weekend that I had never bothered to mention him on my blog ... so, I'm here to remedy that.

The song that I link above isn't one of his humorous ones so much as it is one of those that makes you think, and it's a personal favorite of mine. If you choose to pursue Mr. Minchin further be aware that his open disdain for religion and things of that nature might hit some people the wrong way, and he is a free user of the more tabooish elements of the English language (What Spoke would call, colorful metaphors.)

Still, I think Tim Minchin F** ing Rocks! And, I felt compelled to share.


Jeff Moore

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Five by Five - All the Rest ...

The Setting ... Game Master Section ... Appendix ... Back Cover.

Those are the elements that I haven't yet covered, and the order in which they appear in Rob Lang's Free Guide to Organizing Your RPG. I completed work on my Five by Five rewrite this weekend, so here then is my final blog entry on following the guide.

The Setting

The next section following mechanics that Rob not only recommends, but pretty much demands that you put in your RPG is the setting. Rob argues that a free RPG lives and dies on it's setting. The thought is that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of commercial and free RPG's already available that cover the topic of the role-playing game. He argues that persons who are surfing the interweb looking for a free RPG are going to be hooked by a unique and interesting setting, because it is only through a unique or interesting setting that a free RPG designer can truly offer something special.

I disagree with this view pretty much full stop. Settings and backgrounds are more widely available than any other form of gaming resource. Why? Because when gamers choose a setting, they don't restrict themselves to looking at role-playing games. They look to books, movies, television ... the entire embodiment of adventure and dramatic fiction is available to the game player as a source for settings inspiration.

When I look for free RPG's on the web, setting isn't a concern ... it's playability. I look for a system that looks fun and easy and accessible. Commercial games are generally tied to their settings in such a way that they can't be separated from them, or they are based on the same d20 system that everything else is based on ... and I don't want to play that. I want a GAME that I can apply to MY Setting. A game that's lite and accessible that's not strangled by someone else's idea of a setting and that isn't overblown and over written to sell volume after volume of gaming book.

I created Five by Five to be a lite and easy system that gamers can apply to the setting of their choice and play with a minimal learning curve. I believe I have succeeded in offering something special by creating a truly usable and fun game system. It's my hope that my system will attract those who are looking for another way to play.

All this to say ... Five by Five is a generic rules toolkit. It doesn't have a setting. So, this section is omitted, and those are my reasons why I don't think that is a bad thing.

The Game Master Section

The original Five by Five didn't have a GM's section, and it needed one. With a game that is as open to interpretation as Five by Five, some general guidelines on ways to control and adjudicate the use of traits is sorely needed. I have added some of that here and also a brief discussion regarding selecting a setting. This section could use some more work, but it's just been added and I think I will let it be for awhile and perhaps revisit it for a rewrite later on.

For now the GM section serves the rules in a positive way and that's good enough for me. There is no sample adventure here for much the same reason that Five by Five doesn't have a setting. Down the road it might be fun to include a number of sample settings and adventures to go with them that could highlight the versatility of the system, but for now I have decided that I would rather do without that stuff all together rather than do it half way.


Ah, finally a place for my equipment list and for a generic list of possible traits. These were both in line with the rules text in the original Five by Five but moving them to the back as Rob suggests truly does help the document flow.

Back Cover

I actually had a few unsolicited testimonials from the original Five by Five that I put on the back cover. It makes my game seem like something someone has played rather than just something I work on in my parents basement for my own amusement. Life is good.

The Future

Five by Five version 2 is done. I am going to be play-testing this with my friends and I am excited about this new version.

When I wrote Xceptional I was trying to marry Five by Five with Powers Brawl. That was a mistake. Five by Five is a free form rules-lite RPG designed for story telling. Powers Brawl is a strictly mechanics driven, structured combat miniatures game designed for strategy. I was hoping to mix the two and create something that was the best at both. Instead I ended up with something that wasn't as good as either one. I call it a failed experiment.

That being said, I am done reinventing the wheel. I have written one half-baked game after another looking for the magical cookie-dough recipe that would make me happy and I think I have found it in Five by Five.

Five by Five is the first game I've written a revision for. It's the first game of my own design that I have felt strongly enough about to bring it back to the drawing board. It's a game that I want to bring to my gaming table and play. It's a game I believe I will be able to promote and pursue beyond it's very basic beginnings.

I am offering Five by Five to the world under the creative commons attribution license in the hopes that the game might become the mechanical vehicle for settings and back grounds created by others. I see Five by Five supplements for fantasy, science fiction and super hero genres appearing in the future, authored by other game designers than myself.

Pretty much moments after I had finished Xceptional I looked at the finished product and frowned. Despite the hyperbole of my own creation here in my blog, it didn't take long for me to realize that I had missed the mark with that game.

Five by Five is different. I started with a game I felt very good about and improved it. I fought hard not to allow myself to change the things that worked, and worked just as hard to be honest with myself about the things that didn't. I feel like every choice I made has made the game stronger. But, I also feel like I was successful in not changing too much.

This version of Five by Five is available in my free RPG list for download. Please give it a look. If you are so inclined, compare it to the original to see what I have changed. I think you will see that the evolution of the game from version one to version two is a beneficial one.


Jeff Moore

Classic Movie Night - Father Goose (1964)

This week's classic movie was "Father Goose." It stars Cary Grant and Leslie Caron and was chosen by one of my friends who doesn't consider himself a classic movie fan. That said, the choice was rather awesome. Set during World War II and specifically the campaign in the Pacific, Father Goose looks at a man stationed in one of many small islands in the Pacific who is positioned there to observe enemy movement through the region. That said, Father Goose isn't a war movie at all.

Father Goose is Cary Grant, a cantankerous old American bullied by the British Navy (and an old friend played by Trevor Howard) to serve as a sentry on one such island in the Pacific. Grant's character knows the islands well, and the British Navy is spread thin. The set up which has Howard tricking Grant into doing his bidding by hiding Grant's whiskey feels painfully contrived but is forgivable once the real fun of the film begins.

Another sentry on a nearby island is endangered and Grant is pressed to go to that island to rescue his counter part, promised that should he succeed, the rescuee will take Grants place on his island and Grant will be free to return to his normal life as a bounder. Grant goes to the island to find the other sentry dead, and something else. A school teacher (Leslie Caron) and several young students (all girls.)

Grant manages to get the entire group back to his island, but is seems that it will be weeks before Howard can get a rescue team to the war sieged island to recover the girls. The rest of the film features Grant trying to cope with intrusion of the girls and Caron specifically.

There is an "opposites attract" chemistry between Caron's seemingly prudish schoolmarm and Grant's seemingly uncultured old goat. Each reveals a hidden depth that betrays their outwardly demeanor and Grant not only bonds with the young schoolgirls under his care, but also Caron. In the climactic final scenes of the film, Howard marries Caron and Grant via radio while Japanese planes strafe the island with machine gun fire.

The film is meant to be a comedy, I think. But, the comedic moments aren't so much "laugh out loud" funny as they are "put a smile on your face" amusing. The film has a charm that kept the audience engaged and entertained from start to finish and the overall opinion from our group was a positive one.

Next week my girlfriend the "I hate old movies girl" chooses a movie ... and wait until you find out her choice ...


Jeff Moore

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Five by Five - The Mechanics

Rob Lang's Free Guide to organizing your RPG defines the next section of your RPG to be: The Mechanics. Most of what Rob suggested belongs in this section actually comprised the majority of my original text. In fact everything from this point forward that I talk about while following the guide will be new material, because everything from the original Five by Five that I have written that isn't about character creation belongs in here.


I love game mechanics. Tinkering with differing methods for resolving randomized tasks using different dice or different ways of reading dice is what this game designer is all about. I did find as I was importing my original Five by Five text into this new edition that the text didn't flow very well. I read through what I had a couple of times, moved a few things around, pushed the piece about equipment further to the back as it still didn't fit, and added some new explanations and transitional text.

The biggest change here was with combat. As I read over my original text I realized that I didn't really explain combat at all. I explained how to roll "to hit." I explained how to roll "damage." But, I didn't place these instructions into any sort of context.

I added a specific section for combat and introduced new initiative rules (that I think are brilliant) that treat initiative the same as any action roll to complete a task.

To roll initiative you DON'T play "high card" with the other players and go in order from highest to lowest. It's a task roll and you try to roll equal to or lesser than your initiative trait as you would when attempting any task roll.

That the initiative mechanic works the same as all other task rolls and doesn't use it's own special rules is a "win" in my book and I don't think I've ever seen another game handle things quite this way. It's a simple and I believe eloquent approach to a legacy mechanic that's remained unchanged for ages.

Task Resolution

Task resolution itself remains unchanged. It's the strong point of Five by Five and it's where the game gets its name. To review it works like this:

All task rolls are trait tests. To complete a task first determine what trait is most appropriate for completing the task at hand.

Roll 5x5

If the number rolled is equal to or less than the value of the related trait the action succeeds.

A 5x5 roll is a roll of 2d6 multiplied together with one special qualification, if either die rolled shows a "6" the result of the roll is "0."

Trait values range from 2 to 16 with anything undefined having a value of 0.

The graphic this time around is the page that talks about the dice and basic task resolution, give it a look if you are curious or click on "My Free RPG's" at the top of the page and down load the original version of Five by Five and give it a look. Everything is described there.

Despite being the least changed section from the original, this section has taken me the longest to pull together and format thus far. That said, I expect the next portion to require even more work. It has never been written.

Next: Rob says "Setting" ... I say "GM section."


Jeff Moore

Monday, August 02, 2010

Classic Movie Night - Funny Face

Funny Face was chosen by my fellow classic movie fanatic. She is a fan of musicals, and of dance movies in particular. Funny Face is just that, a big, beautiful, dance / musical. Honestly though, I am not sure how much I really liked it.

Audrey Hepburn is absolutely beautiful in the title role and her dancing is superb, but she can't sing. Fred Astaire is also not the best of singers and generally more remembered for his dancing. The two strong dancers produce some very nice dance numbers. But the musical numbers are mostly weak and forgettable.

I have stuck in my head another Astaire dance vehicle with Leslie Caron called Daddy Long Legs that he had done a few years earlier and I seem to remember liking that one so much more although I think it was very similar to this film in many ways. I think this film is so warmly remembered specifically because of America's love affair with Audrey Hepburn, who certainly is lovely ... but for me it wasn't enough.

The story is a woman who runs a bookstore is recruited as the new face in fashion because of her "Funny Face." She agrees to go along with the scheme because it means a trip to Paris to meet a personal idol of hers. She gets to Paris and her idol has his hands all over her. She is rescued by the fashion photographer who she has fallen in love with and after a bit of a contrived game of cat and mouse / hit and miss, they end up together in the end.

There's no real chemistry between Astaire and Hepburn and the plot is just an excuse to string some dance numbers together. I felt like I was watching an 80's porn movie and suffering through the inane dialogue to get to the next sex scene. At least, unlike the sex scenes in most 80's porn, the dance numbers here are good.

I do however seem to be in the minority in my opinion here. The rest of the group enjoyed the movie and my girl stayed awake all the way to the end which she claims is testament to the fact that "Funny Face" was better than "Harvey."

I think it might have something to do with how tired she was, but maybe I'm just being too hard on "Funny Face" ... it is a recognized classic among classics and loved by many. So, on this we will agree to disagree.

For our next film we allowed one of our "non-classic movie watchers" to pick. He was up to the task and picked a classic he remembered enjoying as a kid ... "Father Goose."

This is a Cary Grant movie, that also stars the aforementioned Leslie Caron. I haven't seen it, or at least I don't have a strong memory of it ... so, I look forward to our next classic movie night.


Jeff Moore