FAE or FATE Core?

Over on my personal site, I have had a number of posts in recent weeks on the two recently released versions of the FATE game system from Evil Hat Productions: the detailed FATE Core version and the FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE) version. Let’s talk about the changes and why I love them.


Dragonflight 2013 convention program

coverI’ve finished preparing the program for the 2013 edition of Seattle’s Dragonflight game convention. It will be the 34th edition of the convention, and you can expect lots of board gaming, wargames, role-playing, miniatures games, etc.

In addition to the print version which will of course be available at the door that weekend (August 9-11, 2013), you can download it as an e-book in three different formats: .PDF (good for viewing onscreen on PC, iPad, etc.), .ePub (for Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, etc.) and .mobi (for Kindle, etc.)

The files should be posted shortly to the official convention site, but you can also get them from:

  • ISSUU: Viewable online in magazine format; to download as PDF, click on “Share” in the bottom left area, then on “Download.
  • Google Drive: Here is the PDF version; and here are the .ePub and .mobi versions, zipped together including cover and metadata.

Reckless or More? Damage and Stance in Warhammer

The mechanics of the new Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying edition (WFR 3rd) are very opaque. This results in many questions about how the mechanics really work. One common question revolves around the mechanics for stance. Characters can choose to be in reckless or conservative stance and this choice can change the dice that they roll and even the outcome of the same roll result. One analysis tried comparing reckless versus conservative stance for the classic test action Troll-Feller Strike. Unfortunately, errors in the probability generator they were using made the final result more difficult to interpret. This article is an attempt to answer the question of how the reckless and conservative stances effect attacks.


For people that aren’t familiar with the mechanics.

Rolls in WFR 3rd use dice pools. These consist of dice of different sides, colors, and symbols. The basic roll uses a number of Blue dice equal to the controlling characteristic plus Yellow dice equal to the skill and possibly a number of White dice for a variety of reasons. The pool will also contain dice that represent the difficulty of the task, Purple and Black dice with negative results on them. Players can change this pool by choosing to go into what are called stances. These are either reckless, nominally representing risk taking, or conservative, nominally what it says on the tin. When they do so, they then replace a number of the basic Blue dice with either Red (reckless) or Green (conservative) dice.

As an added wrinkle, the results of the die rolls are determined by referencing a card. This card will often give different results depending on which stance the character is in. Also, even when someone isn’t in a stance, i.e. they are rolling all Blue dice, they still have to reference either the reckless or the conservative side of the card. Each character has a default side so that if they are in a neutral stance they will always use either the reckless or the conservative side depending on the character.

Basic Dice Probabilities Continue reading

The Correlation Effect

The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game 3rd edition (from now on WFR3) employs an unusual resolution mechanic with specialized dice. The results are very non-linear and the resulting probabilities are not intuitive. As a result there have been a number of good statistical analyses of the new mechanic. So why am I doing another one? One aspect of the mechanics is generally left out of these analyses because it is such a pain to deal with. So, in my fine tradition of dealing with stupidly complicated game mechanics for no good reason, I decided to see just how important this aspect really is to the game.

The Question

So what is this aspect? That takes a bit of explaining. Thanks to the different specialized symbols rather than just numbers like an ordinary die WFR3 has several axes for resolution on any roll.

What do I mean by that? The classic d20 system only has one axis. Roll a d20 and add a number to it. The result can be higher or lower but it just produces one number. This is why in d20 systems everything uses a separate roll. In contrast the One Roll Engine, as the name indicates, resolves entire actions from initiative to hit location with a single roll. Its dicing mechanic has two axes. A player rolls a number of 10 sided dice and looks for matching numbers. For example if 3 of the dice showed the number 2 this would be 3 2’s, while 2 dice showing 8’s would be 2 8’s. The number of matching dice and the number on the die give two different results to use to resolve an action. This is why I don’t care for the One Roll Engine. It only has two axes. However, those two results are used to determine every aspect of a roll leading to strange links. So an attack will have initiative, damage, to hit, and target location, four different things but using only two numbers for them. Thus the earlier an attack goes in the round the more damage it does and it is easier to avoid an attack that might hit your feet than it is to avoid one that might hit your head.  Continue reading

Review: Misspent Youth

Note: This review was also published on RPG.net.

Misspent Youth coverMisspent Youth is a game firmly anchored in the subgenre of story games. The players (the Young Offenders, or YO) and gamemaster (the Authority) work together to answer a series of questions about the setting and characters to create the setting, then play out episodes in which the Young Offenders fight off an oppressive, corrupt, or abusive Authority and generally stick it to The Man. What will they sacrifice for their ideals?

Disclaimer: I received free print and PDF copies of the book so I could playtest and review it.

Continue reading

Game Recap: Harbor City Afternoon

Harbor City News

News we haven’t made up, really.

Gunfight at Harbor City Prison

One prison guard was killed and several wound this morning when a firefight broke out at Harbor City Prison. An unidentified woman claiming to be a lawyer for the Highway Kings biker gang apparently smuggled several firearms into the prison. Reports are mixed on whether she was attempting to bust the Highway Kings out of prison or kill them. A dozen members of the motor cycle gang were killed as well as a super powered member known by the name White Lines. The super powered biker calling himself Skull that lead the group that took the deputy chief of police hostage on Wednesday, as well as the mystery woman, vanished in the chaos. The police have warrants out for both suspects and anyone with information about the attack or their whereabouts should contact the Harbor City police department. They are considered armed and dangerous.

Giant Robot Attacks School!

Yesterday a giant robot calling itself Omnipotron and claiming to be an alien invading Earth attacked the Jean-Baptiste Lamarck grade school. Despite the Mayor’s announcement and the events of Wednesday and Tuesday several ‘heroes’ arrived to battle the robot as well as the recently formed police Unusual Situations Group. While many children were injured in the incident the only serious injury was to Captain Lewis, commander of the USG. Even with most of his team defeated Captain Lewis was instrumental in bringing down the robot. He is presently hospitalized but reported to be in good condition. The robot turned out not to be an alien invader or a rogue Garibaldi or Goliath Corporation robot but a robot vehicle built and piloted by a local inventor. As a minor the perpetrator’s name is being kept out of the press but sources indicate that the U.S. Army weapons development group is attempting to recruit them in exchange for a commuted sentence. Seahawk, a local professor and part time ‘hero’ was arrested at the scene for vigilantism. His lawyer is arguing that he was just pulling children to safety and that his actions fall under Good Samaritan laws. Also identified at the scene were masked vigilante The Confessor and Bitch Seat, wanted in connection to a series of homicides related to biker gangs.

Deputy Police Chief out of Intensive Care

The deputy chief of police was released from intensive care this morning, though he still remains hospitalized. The deputy chief was one of fifteen people held hostage at Anne’s Restaurant on Wednesday. Only two cooks managed to escape the situation unharmed. The other hostages were hospitalized with the deputy chief and four others, including two children, critically wounded. Members of the Highway Kings biker gang lead by two super powered individuals calling themselves Skull and White Lines took the hostages demanding the release of their fellow gang members in exchange. Several members of the Highway Kings had been arrested Tuesday in a gunfight and firebombing of a bank in downtown Harbor City. This was the first test of Mayor Pennywise’s new Unusual Situations Group, a team of veteran police officers equipped with high technology weapons donated to the city by the Garibaldi Corporation. Unfortunately several ‘heroes’ lead by the Brick intervened and almost brought down the building resulting in hostages being shot and buried under rubble. After the incident, the Brick and well known ‘hero’ the Ultimate turned themselves over to the police.

The Brick Recants Actions as Vigilante

Today the ‘hero’ known to the nation for decades as The Brick spoke before a crowd at city hall announcing his retirement. “After many conversations with Mayor Pennywise I have come to agree with him and regret my actions as a vigilante,” said the Brick. “People with powers should pursue less dangerous activities. Put their abilities to good use in trades like construction.” The Brick apologized to the people of Harbor City and the hostages harmed by his actions and their families. He said that he was giving up vigilantism and encouraged others to do so. “If you have to continue fighting crime, please take up the mayor’s offer and get police training,” he implored his fellow ‘heroes’. According to counsel the Ultimate, also arrested after Wednesday’s incident, will fight the charges. A nationwide letter writing campaign by the Ultimate’s fans is already underway.

Some PDQ Thoughts on Combat

WhitecoverI’ve been playing around with a DnD like port for PDQ. In doing so I started thinking about something like ‘GM tips’ on setting up combats using PDQ. Here are some of my ideas on setting the defensive skills of the opposition and how much damage they should be able to take.


In order to damage an opponent in combat a character rolls 2d6 and adds their attack ability, which will be divisible by 2 so 0, 2, 4, etc. The defender rolls 2d6 and adds their defensive ability, also done by 2’s. If the attacker’s total exceeds the defender’s the defender takes one point of damage for every point that it is higher. So if the attacker rolls a 10 and the defender a 7, the defender takes 3 damage. The damage comes off of a character’s abilities. Once a character runs out of abilities to damage they are defeated.

One wrinkle is that there are several editions of the rules. In some if there is a tie then both characters take a point of damage and they roll again until one has a better roll than the other. This analysis will be slightly off for anyone using that rule. Some editions have attackers take damage for every point that they miss by. So if the attacker rolled a 7 and the defender a 10, the attacker wouldn’t just miss, they would take 3 damage. In PDQ sharp characters get 3 dice for combat and can use 0 – 3 of them for their attack and the rest for defense. Either of these rules significantly alter combat and this analysis just can’t apply to games using one of those rules.

Continue reading

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