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Aaron Allston's Strike Force and the Champions RPG

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I found my copy of Aaron Allston's Strike Force in a box a few weeks ago. I hadn't read it since in came out in 1988 so I set it aside to re-read. Reading it reminded of how much I enjoyed running Champions games back in the early 1980s. I read Aaron's review of the first edition of Champions in The Space Gamer and had to have a copy. Fortunately, I had a couple of friends who were selling comics at the Eisenhauer Road Flea Market (a few blocks from my house) who went up to a distributor in Austin every Friday to get the weeks comics. I asked them to see if their distributor had a copy of Champions and get one for me if they did. I was sick with something flu-like that Friday, but I dragged myself down to their stall to await their arrival. They came back with 56 page rulebook, sold it to me and sent me home cause they did not want whatever I had.

While I had some issues with the rules, I was soon running Champions games in addition to my ongoing Empire of Arn (a homebrew fantasy game). I bought everything for 1st edition, then for second edition, and for third Edition -- although by then Marvel Superheroes (FASERIP) had become by standard superhero game as Champions was going more and more complex. I remember purchasing the fourth edition of Champions -- a 350 page hardback book -- and thinking I could use it as a weapon. I read the book, decided Champions had become far more detailed and complex than I was interested in, put the book on the shelf and I don't think I ever played or ran Champions again. By that point in my gaming "career" I was coming to the conclusion that more complex and detailed made most RPGs worse instead of better -- even my own Empire of Arn homebrew seemed more complicated than it really needed to be and I started rolling it back toward a B/X D&D complexity level. I kept all my Champions stuff (of course) but other than my third edition rules books, everything was in boxes.

Back to the present, having found my copy of Strike Force, I was reading it when players started arrived for my Sunday game a few weeks ago. One of my players saw it and got very excited as he had never seen a copy. I didn't know he had any interesting in Champions. It turns out he had purchased the sixth edition rules when they came out 8-9 years ago hoping to either run or play in it but never found a game. To show you how out of touch I with Champions am, I didn't even know there was a sixth edition. We went on with the Sunday game but there was a lot of Champions discussion on our mailing list that week

The next Sunday, Paul brought his sixth edition books so I (and others) could look at them. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw that there were three books need to play -- Hero System Rules Volume I, Hero System Rules Volume II and Champions 6e and they totaled just short of 1100 pages. My comment was that I could see why he never found a game as no one who wasn't already a Hero system expert would be likely to be willing to even try to play in a game -- let alone run a game. I could tell there was a lot of interest in a superhero game (and they really wanted it to be Champions, unfortunately), so I offered to run a monthly session of Champions 3rd edition -- under 150 pages of rules. Given that I was the only person with a copy of those rules, that was a non-starter. Side Note: This is one of the reasons I prefer games where players don't really need a copy ofd the rules to play.

Middle of last week I got an email from Paul. He had checked RPGNow to see if Hero Games was selling the third edition rules. They were not. However, they now sell something called Champions Complete. This supposedly has all the rules (i.e., it's a complete game, not an addon that needs the 700+ page Hero System 6e rules books) in about 250 pages. Does anyone have any comments on Champions Complete 6e? It's still over 100 pages longer than Champions 3e, but I might be able to live with it -- although I'd really rather run some like FASERIP as it is a far less annoying system than the Hero System (IMHO).

BTW, I just noticed that this is my 800th post!


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" RetroRoleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ Silver, $100+ Gold, 200+ Platinum, 300+ Electrum, $500+ Adamantine) -- see the sidebar for a list of donors so far. If you would like to sponsor BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.

Technologist Class for 0e Coming in Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome Revision

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I've been asked to officially write up my technologist class for 0e. A techno studies spells to figure out how to recreate them with (steampunk style weird) science. He can then build devices which more or less duplicate the effects of the spell. Most start out as huge, non-portable devices (think: fill a room). However, with more study, they can be made semi-portable (think: will fit on a horse-drawn wagon) and with even more study they can be made truly portable. This "class" was created for an NPC in the game I was running when I lived in Waco. However, that group talked me into writing it up so that PCs could use it. I basically added an experience table and leveling info to my notes and gave it to them a couple of years ago -- just after I moved to the Dallas area.

I've now been asked to actually write it up coherently and publish it so others can use it. After some begging, I have agreed. I'm going to take this opportunity to slightly revise my Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome and expand it with this Techno class, psionics rules, and a few more odds and ends I developed for Microlite74 but can easily convert back to 0e. This revised version of Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome will, with luck, be available before the end of the month. The hardest part of this project will be the layout.

A version of this class might end up in the BX Advanced Admanatine Edition. No promises, however, as it does not really fit the way I'm currently planning to handle technology there.


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" RetroRoleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ Silver, $100+ Gold, 200+ Platinum, 300+ Electrum, $500+ Adamantine) -- see the sidebar for a list of donors so far. If you would like to sponsor BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.

RetroRoleplaying Games Community on Google+

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I've started a Google+ Community to discuss all the games I've published or plan to publish. I'm hoping that it will better utilized than the current forum which attracts a lot of potential spammers but not much activity. So I dicided to try going where old school players seem to hang out instead of trying to get them to come here.

You'll find the new RetroRoleplaying Games community here: https://plus.google.com/communities/110722856982282076779.

Upcoming Game Design Projects: What I'm Working on Next

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With the Gold Edition of BX Advanced finished, I'm moving on to other design projects:

First, I'll be working on the Admanantine Edition of BX Advanced with all the new material. And by popular request, the first new material added will be mutations. The mutation rules will be "cause of mutations" neutral as that is something for the GM's setting to decide. The rules will work with just about any fitional cause of random mutations from the traditional "after an atmic war" to "exposure to too much magic or chaos". Just about any mutation cause you can dream up should work fine with the rules. The mutation rules will make heavy use of the Experience Rank system introduced as an optional system in the Gold Edition to provide some balance between characters with mutations and characters without. Rules will be included for mutating monsters.

Second, I'll work on the tablet/digest edition of Micolite81 Advanced to complement the currently available tablet/digest version of Microlite81 Complete.

Third, I'll be working on getting a printed version of the BX Advanced Gold Edition. There is a lot of interest in this. I'd like to make it available vis RPGNow/DriveThru but may end up goin with Lulu if turning out the Indesign version needed for RPGNow's print process proved beyond me. I was able to turn out great magazines with Ventura Publisher in the 1990s, but have never been able to do much with DTP programs that use Pagamaker's paste-up paradigm -- which Indesign unfortunately uses.

Last, but far from least, I will be working on a version of The Black Hack aimed at the nasty sword-and-sorcery setting (blood magic and Lovecraft style unfriendly deities) one of my friends from Texas has asked me to design.

I'll be working on this project "at the same time". That is, I switch from one to another as my current muse takes me. I have no idea which project will finish first, however, I do want the Admanantine Edition of BX Advanced out this year, preferably by the end of summer or early fall, so it will be my "default project."

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The Pay-What-You-Want (aka Free) no-art version the Gold Edition of BX Advanced: First Edition Through a B/X Lens is finally available!

The BX Advanced Gold Edition is designed for people who want a classic experience without a lot of the gonzo material that many people added to their 1980s games. The Gold Edition is pretty much classic 1e using the B/X rules system. The BX Advanced Gold Edition includes a number of optional rules systems, but they are fairly tame in what they do to the game. The Gold Edition includes a sample dungeon and a complete small campaign setting. The upcoming BX Advanced Adamantine Edition will take the game into new realms with optional systems for things like technology and mutations, many additional classes, spells, monsters, and treasure, and much more.

The pay what you want no-art version of the BX Advanced Gold Edition has all the text of the game. However, it has no art except for the cover art and the sample dungeon map and two wilderness maps in appendixes A and B -- just lots of blank space where there is art in the paid version. The paid version includes the missing art (and the 20 pages of maps missing from Appendix F) and is only $9.95. While you are welcome to download and enjoy this "No Art" version for free (just enter a zero for the price you want to pay), a few dollars would always be appreciated. You can download a copy of the pay what you want version of the BX Advanced Gold Edition from RPGNow or DriveThruRPG:

BX Advanced Gold Edition (No Art) on RPGNow

BX Advanced Gold Edition (No Art) on DriveThruRPG

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors can download a password protected zip file with a copy of the paid "with art" version at the usual "donor download" place with the usual donor password.


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" RetroRoleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ Silver, $100+ Gold, 200+ Platinum, 300+ Electrum, $500+ Adamantine) -- see the sidebar for a list of donors so far. If you would like to sponsor BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.

BX Advanced Gold Edition Now Available (Paid Version with Art)

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The Gold Edition of BX Advanced: First Edition Through a B/X Lens is now available!

The BX Advanced Gold Edition is designed for people who want a classic experience without a lot of the gonzo material that many people added to their 1980s games. The Gold Edition is pretty much classic 1e using the B/X rules system. The BX Advanced Gold Edition includes a number of optional rules systems, but they are fairly tame in what they do to the game. The Gold Edition includes a sample dungeon and a complete small campaign setting. The upcoming BX Advanced Adamantine Edition will take the game into new realms with optional systems for things like technology and mutations, many additional classes, spells, monsters, and treasure, and much more.

This version of the BX Advanced Gold Edition has 282 pages, includes art -- including color art for the covers and each of the nine sections in the book, and sells for $9.95. A "Pay-What-You-Want" version without art should be available in 5 to 10 days. A 20 page preview is available. This includes the table of contents, the introduction, and information on attributes, races, and two classes. You'll find the BX Advanced Gold Edition on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG:

BX Advanced Gold Edition ($9.95) on RPGNow

BX Advanced Gold Edition ($9.95) on DriveThruRPG

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors can download a password protected zip file with a copy at the usual "donor download" place with the usual donor password.


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" RetroRoleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ Silver, $100+ Gold, 200+ Platinum, 300+ Electrum, $500+ Adamantine) -- see the sidebar for a list of donors so far. If you would like to sponsor BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.



BX Advanced Gold Edition Coming Very Soon

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BX Advanced Gold Edition Playtest 0.75 CoverI'm happy to announced that the release version of the BX Advanced Gold Edition will be arriving soon. Soon as in early next week. However, I'm unhappy to report that I screwed up a bit and will not be able to release the free version at the same time. I did the final proofing and layout oif the free (no art) version a couple of weeks ago and then used used a copy of that version as the base document for the paid (with art) version. Unfortunately, while doing the layout for the paid version, I discovered a major formatting problem with about 60% of the tables in the book. I corrected them as I went along, but this means the free version that I had finished first needs to be completely redone. Unfortunately, my wife has a number of doctor's appointments in the next couple of weeks (and I'm her transport as she can no longer drive) -- which means my "game design time" is limited and will have to work around these appointments.

I could delay the the entire release, but have decided to go ahead a release the paid "art included" version early next week and then release the free version as soon as it is ready. That will hopefully be late next week or early the following week. The paid version is 282 pages and has a first for my games: color art. The covers and the header art for each section are color. The free version will probably have 20 to 25 fewer pages.

For new readers, here's some info on the BX Advanced Gold Edition:

The BX Advanced Gold Edition rules are based on the 1978 advanced first edition edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game with the less complex game systems of the 1981 B/X edition. In other words, this is a modern version of the fantasy roleplaying game many people played in the 1980s. They started playing with the B/X edition and just added the races, classes, spells, monsters and treasures from the first Advanced edition, instead of using all the more complex rules from the Advanced Edition. All of the first advanced edition fun without all the often complex and fiddly rules.

In BX Advanced, you may play a first edition style assassin, barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, illusionist, magic-User, monk, paladin, ranger, or thief in an old school game of exploration, treasure-finding, and fast to play combat. While B/X systems are used instead of the more complex first advanced edition rules, many of the limits of B/X have been removed: there are 20+ levels instead of 14; race is separate from class, spells go to 9th level instead of 6th, and there are many more monsters and treasure items than in B/X. Be a hero or a rogue: your decisions determine whether your character will retire rich, rule a kingdom, or die before his time.

This modern version also includes many optional rules: psionics, some of the house rules the author used in the 1970s, and selected ideas from other roleplaying games. While a sample adventure and campaign setting are included, these rules can easily be used with all of the old adventures designed for B/X or 1e and the many new adventures published for these games in the last few years – or you can easily create adventures of your own.


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" RetroRoleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ Silver, $100+ Gold, 200+ Platinum, 300+ Electrum, $500+ Adamantine) -- see the sidebar for a list of donors so far. If you would like to sponsor BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.