Sunday, May 24, 2020

What is a Homebrew RPG?

There I was enjoying a nice warm cup of java the other morning when the topic of Homebrew came up in conversation, as it often does. Some people were saying that they homebrewed their game by altering the rules of a popular RPG. After spewing some java out my nose, I let out an anguished cry. How can that be what you mean by Homebrew?! I asked incredulously. I was offered a few quips in reply, but nothing that was said assuaged my feeling that this really was not the right word for what they meant. So I'd like to clarify what I mean when I say "Homebrew" in relation to RPGs.

I started GMing in 1978 with my first World, and first rules system, both going by the name of Elthos RPG. The rules I created after a skim-reading of "Men & Magic", the first volume of the original three (and highly magical) D&D booklets. My rules system had a couple of design goals. One was to eliminate the odd zig-zag math used by OD&D. I wanted even charts with easy to remember values. The second goal was to centralize (what later became known as) Conflict Resolution. I created one centralized chart that pits Difficulty Level vs Skill Level for all possible skills. In this way I wanted to avoid the need for endless additional charts for all of the doodads I might want to add to Elthos over time. The goal was to create a Homebrew system that I could rely on to only change in ways that make sense for me as the GM, and to avoid being tethered to rules systems that would inevitably alter the nature of the world itself. Thus I would be able to maintain my world for a long time exactly the way I envision it, and my world's history would not be subject to the whims of TSR's rules editions over time.

These two design decisions resulted in a system that has served me well for 40+ years.

The second leg of Homebrew is the Setting. My world is my own creation. Sure, of course I borrow ideas from many sources, historical and literary, but there is no tether that is tied to any of them. As such my world's only cannon is it's own history. The reason I wanted it this way is to keep my players from being "in the know" about things in the world that would be much more entertaining as surprises, than facts they encountered elsewhere. To me this is much more fun for everyone.

So for me, the word "Homebrew" suggests a creation from more or less whole cloth by the Gamemaster. Filled with surprises and idiosyncrasies that make sense to their creators, and are not beholden or tied to some corporate behemoth. It is the freedom and versatility of Homebrew that attracts my ardor. I think from a creativity perspective Homebrew is definitely the way to go.

As for what I think the correct word for what was mentioned by my buddy online the other morning is "House Rule". Homebrew and House Rule are two different things. There is some overlap, of course, but they are really quite distinct in my mind.

What do you think? Am I right about this? What's your definition of Homebrew?

Monday, April 13, 2020

Mythos Machine - New Sci-Fi Proto-World

Latest Elthos RPG Mythos Machine News

After a super flurry of updates, enhancements and bug fixes, I got through my rather long CrimsonScorpion Feedback List, and was then ready to get to what he had asked for originally.

Introducing the new Sci-Fi Proto World in the Mythos Machine!

This world is based on my current Campaign, titled "The Way of All Flesh". It's an Epic Scale Cosmic Sci-Fi / Space Opera exploring the conflict between High Technology and Nature. The story takes place within the context of ancient histories, and the dreadful potential of a future General Artificial Intelligence gone horribly, and exponentially, wrong.

This game is designed as an Adventure Seed, presenting a lead-in to games which the GM is expected to modify and expand upon throughout the course of play. You can play the Campaign and Adventures as is, or you can modify them, add your own, or simply use it as a basis for an entirely new World of your own creation. Feel free!

In each Proto-World you will find a Campaign or two, and a number of Adventures to get you started, along with the gear, races, classes skills, and powers that are germane to the World. There are also notes along the way that allude to the direction things may take in the World to help inspire the GM with ideas of their own. Be creative, take chances, have a great time!

Good luck and enjoy!

To get started just go to ... get a free copy of the Essential Rules Book via a link off the Information Page, and give that a go. When you feel reasonably comfortable with the rules then hop on to Settings and Make yourself a GM. Everyone gets a 1 FULL Year Free Trail period! After that it's a totally affordable $3 / month for Basic GM. Anyway, once you are a GM then go to the Worlds Page and click the "Create A New World" button. You'll get a choice of one of 4 Proto-Worlds by Genre. Fantasy, Bushido, Wild West and now Sci-FI!

Enjoy! And let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Mythos Machine Demo - The World Things Holes Report

How I use the Elthos RPG - Mythos Machine to create my own Worlds, and in particular how I use the World Things Holes Report to help me ensure that my World is well designed and has everything it needs. Good stuff.


If you're interested in learning more about the Elthos Project you can find out more here: 

To go directly to the Mythos Machine:

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Mythos Machine - Demo - Equipment

Heya. Well, despite all that has been going on, we've been sticking with our Friday night bi-weekly games. We're play testing the Way of All Flesh Campaign, and I have to say, it's going quite well. Although I haven't really been able to work on it as much as I would like (super duper busy lately programming for the local children's hospital), I have been making good progress with it. It's a fun concept... though to be honest, at this point, given everything that's going on with Covid-19, it's striking perhaps a little close to the bone. But be that as it may, we are having a good time and able to meet online effectively to run the game. Nothing fancy. Just using the Mythos Machine and Discord Chat with Screen Sharing. Not bad!

Anyway, here is a brief demonstration of how I am using the Mythos Machine to manage my Campaign in relation to equipment for party members and their use of the Armored Ground Vehicle to carry their Equipment.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Defeating COVID-19 Through RPG Power

Well, we had our first COVID-19 game session, and it went well. We defeated "The Fear" and instead had a great time playing online instead of our usual around the living room table game. To do this we met on my Discord Elthos Server, where I created Text and Audio Channels for The Way of All Flesh Campaign. The chat channel and audio combined pretty well so that we could play a Theater of the Mind style game.  Elthos RPG Rules were used and that saved me from a lot of heavy lifting as the rules are nicely streamlined and the tiny math numbers making calculations really fast and easy for me. We played from 8pm to Midnight. It was a blast.

The Way of All Flesh, a Proto-World I am working on for the Mythos Machine World Marketplace, is a Cosmic Sci-Fi / Space Opera concerning the rise of the Ultimate AI and the ensuing results this gives rise to in relation to all organic life forms in the Milky Way galaxy and beyond. It starts in the year 2034 AD after the conclusion of the Ultra-War and during a period of optimism in the surviving human civilization, which adopts a Super-AI named Altissimus-X (aka Alt-X) as its Scientific and Sociological Adviser and Primary Analysis Tool. With Alt-X's help they rebuild Civilization, conduct rescue missions, and commence space exploration. Along the way they cultivate humanity's latent Mentarian Powers (think Psionics), and make surprising discoveries in the Solar System. Through successive Chapters I plan to extend each segment of the game to the next Era and ultimately the world should span something like a million years, with players playing successive generations of their own descendants.

There is a lot more to the picture than meets the eye, but that's the nutshell version. The title, "The Way of All Flesh" gives a hint as to the primary underlying theme of the world.

The adventure tonight centered on a Federation Command Rescue Team sent from Kitt Peak in Arizona to Boneville Utah to investigate a faint radio transmission that might indicate some survivors of the Ultra-War are located there. If so, they should be rescued. The team was given an Armored Ground Vehicle (AGV) outfitted with a gimbaled machine gun, and top mounted Plasma beam, Missile Deflecting Hull Armor, a Plasma Shell, and a variety of other equipment. 

Their first encounter was at the Space Port, north of Kitt Peak, where they spotted something climbing the side of a rocket.  Investigation ensued and they found that Skull Spiders could not only climb rockets, but leap, and bite with venomous fangs.  One member, Fred, the group Cybernaut, almost got killed by the horrible thing.

They headed along the North Eastern route, which would take them through Phoenix Arizona, a city that had not been investigated due to the Biological Weapons deployed there during the Ultra-War.  Federation Command had sent a team there a year ago, but they vanished without a trace.  Along the way, at Red Rock, they encountered rough terrain where a major battle had occurred.  The derelict and gigantic War-Bots were still strewn on the nearby hill sides.  The road had been demolished. While trying to maneuver the AGV onto the service road they spotted someone moving among the rocks.  Soon after they were peppered by small arms fire.  Lizard-Men, clever, ruthless and determined, attacked with Machine Guns, and Grenades.  They managed to wreck the AGV's tread, and blow up their Android Lexi while he tried to repair the vehicle.  It was a tough fight, but in the end they nailed all four of the Lizard-Men, going after the last one who had gone to get reinforcements.  They ambushed the creature by flying ahead of it with a two-man Rocket-Bike and then corralling it into "Guns" Gunderson's expert sites.  Lastly, Samwise picked up, at some danger, a surprising specimen... the branch of a red leafy plant that moved along the ground hunting rabbits.  A mutation of the new world, or a product of some dreadful biological weapon, perhaps.

And so, we beat back the dread of COVID-19 by having a fun evening online, risking no one's health, and enjoying each other's company.  Very good.  We'll do it again!

Peace Out.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Bringing Value to the RPG Market

The other day my friend Datum (Cavin) on Discord asked me if I'd participate in a video interview with Cameron Corniuk.

This was a fun conversation that covered the question of "How do we bring value to the world of RPGs?"  We go back and forth with a lot of insights and ideas.  Wherein, btw, I mention Eric Diaz' Chaos Factory Books publication, the very cool Dark Fantasy Settings

Up Shot: The value we can add to this community is to help people to actualize their creativity with inspiration and organization for world creation.

Thanks to Datum for putting this together, and Cameron for your thought provoking ideas. Much appreciated!