Limitless Worlds

Limitless Worlds

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Update

Sorry about the lack of chatter on the blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working!

In honesty, I've been busy with real life. Work, getting ready to move back to college, doing music and such. It happens, I won't lie.

However, Pulpwood! is pretty close to being in a playtest form. Yay!

I have a combat system whipped up, the Adventurer class talents and such are done, and the Adept is about 3/4 done. Then what's left before I release a playtest?

  1. Finish the Adept class
  2. Finish writing the general Talents out
  3. Figure out character progression (base to hit and saving throws)
  4. Write up an equipment table/section
  5. Stat out some example enemies
And that's about it. Vehicle combat, the setting and other various flavorful bits won't be in the playtest version, but those can wait a bit. I hope to have the playtest by September. I'll be doing it on and off with my group, and you can run it with your group and give me lots of juicy feedback.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Starting a fantasy-based project

I have decided to throw even more projects on to my plate, but hopefully they will not take long.

If you are not aware, John Stater over at Land of Nod is going to soon release his awesome retroclone, Blood and Treasure. I had the good pleasure of editing this document, so I have some investment in it.

Well, I got to thinking: John's game, much like most D&D simulcrum, uses a world that is roughly based in Western European fantasy: myths from France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, and so on.

Very rarely, though, do these games cover more 'exotic' settings. The world is full of fantasy and myths, and it's not just relegated to Europe. Countries like Japan, China, India and Egypt all have rich histories and mythologies unique to their culture.

So I decided to produce the 'Worlds of Blood and Treasure'(name pending) supplements.

Each supplement will be, at most, 30 pages, and it will deal with a more 'foreign' fantasy setting: samurai fantasy, arabian nights, Native American totemic and so on.

My main goal with these is to NOT inject new mechanics into B&T. Things are going to be reflavored and molded to match the setting, but Barbarians will act like Barbarians and Fighters will act like Fighters.

I will end up reflavoring both races and classes, but I will also have a treatise on religion, mythology, monsters, cultures and magic items. Religion, mythology and culture will be relegated to a 'mini-setting' that will most likely take up the bulk of the supplements. The settings will be fictional and will mix culture, like how D&D combines together most western European cultures.

I have five supplements planned, with possibly more in the future. The first one is going to be The Empire of Red Blossoms, which will deal with Asian fantasy, with a strong focus placed on China and Japan, with hints of Mongolia and Southeast Asia as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pulpwood!'s Magic System

We're gonna take a break from setting for a bit, and go back to mechanics

I have just finished the draft for the Powers system in Pulpwood, which is the magic system. It's pretty simplistic and easy to understand, but I'll have to see how it holds up in playtesting.

The rules also assume a max level of 10, which is a pretty huge downgrade from my original idea of max level 20. I changed this for a few reasons:

1. It's much easier to get to level 10 than level 20
2. Level 20 was too absurdly powerful, and was more in the realm of superheroes than pulp heroes

I may raise the cap up to level 12 (or something else around there), but I'll have to think about it. But anyway, back to the Powers section

Though few may see it, the world is actually full of magic. However, it is a very rare thing to harness. The potential for magic is locked in all things, but it requires a special kind of person to unlock it. 
Magic and its practitioners fall into four categories, and though how their magic works is basically the same, how they impliment it is different.
Arcanists are the traditional magicians, and they have a long history dating back to the height of Greece during its Hellenistic period. Arcanists study ancient texts and magical writing, and derive their powers from that. Some attribute the new abilities to define providence or contact with spirits, but it all lies within the scripts. Many Arcanists carry around chap books that contain the writings they pull their spells from.
Mesmerists harness the psychic powers of their minds. They have almost complete control over their minds, making it both a peaceful meadow and an iron fortress. All people, even some animals, have psychic potential, but the mesmerists were unable to unlock it through sheer force of will.
Gadgeteers actually build their powers in the form of inventions, creations that are years ahead of their time. Advanced guns, jetpacks, communication devices, invisibility cloaks and more all come from these often deranged or unhinged minds.
The final type of magic is extremely dangerous, evil, and off limit to player characters. It is known as sorcery, and dates back to primordial ages of paganism and occult worship. Sorcery is characterized by blood sacrifices, chants to evil spirits, self mutilation, orgies and other evil things. Sorcerers fear no man or god, nor do they have a reason to, as their powers can even dominate any supposed 'god'.

Potential and Power Ranks
Any character who has the Arcanist, Mesmerist or Gadgetter Talent start the game with 5 Potential. Potential is what fuels powers, and it represents different things to each type of caster: for Arcanists it represents the extent of knowledge they have with their texts, for Mesmerists it represents mental fatigue, for Gadgeteers it represents power charges for each invention, and for Sorcerers it represents bodily fatigue.
At levels 2, 3, 6, 7 and 10 characters that have Potential get 5 more Potential. At levels  4 and 8, they gain a new Power Rank.
Powers come in three ranks: Novice, Heroic and Legendary. These represent the varying effects that a Power can have. The more powerful the effect, the higher the Rank. Characters with Potential all start with the ability to use Novice Powers.

Using a Power
Using a Power is very simple. You first dictate what effect you want the Power to have, upon which the GM will work with you to determine a Rank and Potential cost. Once you reach an agreement, you pay the Potential, and then do an Academic Intelligence Action Roll. If the roll is successful, the Power works. If not, the Power fizzles away and you have wasted your Potential.

Regaining Lost Potential
Your Potential functions like your HP, in that it fully restores after a good nights sleep. Furthermore, characters can also use Second Wind to restore lost Potential in the exact same way as help. This would indicate pushing your brain a little farther, or overclocking your gadgets.

Where are the Powers?
Powers are extremely variable, and it is difficult to make a codified list that would cover all situations and ideas. However, below are some guidelines on both effects for each Rank, and suggested Potential costs.

Novice Powers
Potential: 1-3
Novice Powers are, of course, the least powerful. Many of these effects can be replicated with a piece of equipment, such as a pistol, a grenade, a med kit, or a radio. These are the Powers that should see the most use.
Effect Examples:
Blast that does 2d6 damage
Telepathic communication
Armor class bonus
Blinding/dazing enemies
Temporary skill boost
Detecting magic
Protection from environment
Temporary attack boost
Create a light source
and so on

Heroic Powers
Potential: 4-6
Heroic Powers start to get into the impossible things to do. These are the Powers that grant invisibility, flight, telekinesis and more. Still, a lot of these would just constitute really advanced 21st century technologies. These should see a good amount of use, but will be more situational than Novice Powers.
Effect Examples:
Burst (like a grenade) that does 3d6 damage
Creating barriers
Major healing
Summoning spirits
And so on

Legendary Powers
Potential: 7-10
Legendary Powers are extremely potent, and often extremely dangerous or miraculous. These are the kinds of things books are written about. These Powers will only be used sometimes, and most of these Powers should have a 'catch' to them to balance out their extreme effects.
Bringing things back to life
Controlling weather
Stopping time
Traveling through time
Travelling through dimensions
Create matter
Destroy matter
Instant kill
And so on

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pulpwood!'s Setting Pt. 3: Asia


Soviet Union: Communism and super spies!
India: Thugee, ace pilots and a floating city!
Tibet: Monasteries, kung-fu and yetis!
China: Mystical crime syndicate, Hong Kong and ghosts!
Japan: Japanese government, ninjas, Yakuza and oni!
Southeast Asia: A civilization under the waves (but not Atlantis)!

Soviet Union
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the U.S.S.R, is a giant
country headed by the Russian Communist Party.
The USSR is somewhat of an odd duck in terms of alliances. At times,
they back the allied forces (showing by their recent joining of the League
of Nations), but other times they support the rising danger of Italy and
Germany. The country's leader, Joseph Stalin, is secretive in most of his
The states of the USSR all share common languages, as well as
holding up the ideas of Communism, which exalts the ruler over the worker
and champions the needs of the many. Besides this strange idea of
government, the USSR has one of the largest armies in the world, known as
the Red Army (and sometimes Stalin's Sickle). It's composed of thousands of
soldiers with access to tanks, planes, artillery and even more dangerous
The USSR itself is an extremely hostile country in terms of
geography; everything that is not frozen is only frozen half the time. The
landscape is rough, rugged and mostly barren. Bears, moose, foxes and wolves
prowl the frozen wastes, and parts of the country could be considered the
North Pole.
Probably the most hostile area in the USSR is Serbia, which is
located on the east coast of Russia. The land is almost permanently frozen,
with animal and plant life being extremely scarce. However, hidden amongst
the ice and blizzards is the training grounds for a specialized branch of
the Red Army, known as Stalin's Hammer. These almost 300 soldiers train in
survival techniques, hand-to-hand combat, infiltration, sabotage,
assassination, and mastery of arms. They are modern super soldiers, and they
are trained by Catherine Burishkov, a deadly female assassin that reports
directly to Stalin himself. The only people who know the purpose of these
soldiers are Burishkov and Stalin, with even the soldiers themselves often
being in the dark.

India is a large country full of ancient mysteries. It has spawned 
many eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, which are now the 
majority religions in eastern Asia.
India is another one of the numerous countries in the grasps of 
British colonialism. While this does offer them chances at higher education 
and other opprotunities, their rights are still supressed. India is 
extremely poor and overpopulated, though it is full of spirit. A strong 
independence movement has formed recently, led by a peaceful and passive man 
named Mohandus Ghandi.
India is also one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Certain 
Hindu temple ruins are even older than the Pyramids, and Hinduism is 
entwined into everyday life. People worship at holy places all over the 
country, including the extremely holy (and extremely polluted) Ganges River.
India is mostly composed of flat plains and the occassional desert, 
but the northern edge of the country is extremely mountainous. In these 
mountains lies the headquarters of the famous Garuda's Children, an 
organization that collects all the world's greatest pilots in one place. 
Some people believe that this base is a hoax, though, and that the real base 
is suspended in the middle of the sky like a cloud.
Though Hinduism is a mostly peaceful religion, it does have some 
dangerous sects. One of these is the Thugee, a cult though to be 
exterminated long ago. Worshippers of the death god Kali, these murderous 
heathens have had a swell in numbers, and many locals are scared for their 

Tibet is by far the most mountainous regions in Asia. The entire
country is situated on the Himalaya mountain range, which is the tallest
mountain range on Earth.
The Himalayas are an extremely dangerous place. They are extremely
cold and isolated, with hardly breathable air at high altitudes. Abandoned
monastaries and temples abound, along with sightings of the abominable
snowman, commonly known as the Yeti.
Very little is known about the Tibetan people. Most are of Chinese
or Mongolian heritage, but they have supposedly lived on that land longer
than their supposed ancestors. They are peaceful, and they follow the way of
Buddha. Tibet holds one of the largest monk schools in Asia, known as the
Gentle Lotus Academy. Not only will students learn the concepts of inner
peace, patience and tenacity, they will become disciplined in martial
artistry to the point of it being almost supernatural.

China is currently in a giant upheavel. One of their holdings,
Manchuria, has recently been captured by Japan, and a large portion of the
country has plunged into a civil war between the Republic of China and the
Communist Party of China.
Outside of all the current military strife, China is a rural country
who is desperately trying to reach the heights of industrialization. The
rural populace is heavily religious and superstitious; they often report
sightings of ghosts and demons amongst their farms and temples. These claims
have recently been escalating, so perhaps there is a certain vailidity to
Not all of China is rural, however; several cities are just as
advanced as European or North American cities. One in particular is Hong
Kong, which many describe as the jewel on China's crown. It is a huge city
that mixes western and eastern culture together. However, like most major
cities, it is ridden with crime. The largest gang is known as the Jade Fist,
a ruthless band of thugs who specialize in the opium trade, prostitution and
human trafficing. Many of the members are trained martial artists, and the
higher ups are extremely wise mystics. The Jade Fists have many allies with
other criminal organizations, but they are completely antagonistic towards
the Yakuza of Japan.

Japan was once a docile and isolationist state, but it has recently
done an about face to have more expansionist policies. Recently, they have
been taking over many smaller Asian islands, as well as invading and
capturing Manchuria. They have also made clear their alliance with Germany,
which could make for a potentially lethal combination.
The Japanese government is secretive and ruthless, traits descended
from the shogunates of old. They send secret operatives, sometimes known as
ninjas, to infiltrate and gather intelligence on enemies. Japan is a country
full of rigid honor and respect, but that does not mean they will forego
subversive deeds in order to gain that respect.
Aside from the government, the other major threat in Japan is the
Yakuza, a very old and dangerous criminal organization. Much like the Jade
Fist, they specialize in prostitution and opium trade, as well as illegal
gambling and fishing practices. The Yakuza are very well protected, as many
of their high ranking members hold a place in Japanese government. This also
means that the Yakuza's will is strong in policies.
Many Japanese citizens fear for their life, and they often whisper
of the Yakuza actually being Oni, great horned demons from ancient Japanese
myth. Oni tattoos are common amongst the Yakuza, and some have displayed
inhuman acts of strength and energy, so perhaps these whispers are not

Southeast Asia
The region of Southeast Asia is a pretty large mixing pot of
cultures. Largely composed of strings of islands such as Indonesia and the
Phillipines, these countries have been exposed to Buddhism, Hinduism and
Islam, and are a mix of races from all over Asia. Most countries still make
a living off of fishing and trade, but not much else.
Very little is actually known about what the region was like before
Islamist traders came upon the islands hundreds of years ago. Ruins lie
within the various jungles, but many are barren. An interesting point,
though, is that some of these ruins have extremely accurate maps of the
region, but the depicted landmasses are much, much larger. In fact, these
landmasses would now be covered up by the sea. Is the 'real' civilization of
Southeast Asia hidden beneath the waves? If so, what mysteries could it
hold? Some say that it has always existed, and that people still live and
thrive beneath the waves.

Pulpwood!'s Setting Pt. 2: Africa and the Middle East

Another installment, and another quick summary

Egypt: Pharaohs, mummies and dead cities!
Morocco: Revolutionaries armed with stolen technology and sorcery!
Heart of Africa: Warlords riding on dinosaurs in the Congo!
South Africa: Racial divides, and the headquarters for Pulpwood!'s mesermist organization!
The Middle East: Dark sorcery!

Egypt was once the head of a vast desert kingdom that spanned thousands of miles. Ruled by the god-king called the Pharoah, Egypt became reknown for it's architecture, religion and culture.
Now, Egypt is smaller and a shadow of its former self. It is under the hold of the UK, and now serves mostly as a tourist location and a large trading port for most of Africa. Irregardless, the ruins of the Sphinx, the Pyramids and the various necropolises scattered across the country are both impressive and terrifying. Egypt also holds the mighty Nile River, which is the longest river in the world. It provides necessary water to the crops around the capital of Cairo.
Most people go to Egypt to see the various tombs of ancient regals, diplomats, and priests. However, not even a fraction of these tombs have been discovered. These tombs can be huge in size, and they are often filled with great treasures and dangerous traps. The most recent one is the discovery of the boy king Tutankahmen.
Egypt is also full of supernatural creature sightings: mummys who have come back to life, skeletons of slaves, giant animated statues, and even phyiscal manifestations of the old Egyptian gods, such as Sobek and Anubis. Some say these old gods still exist beneath the pyramids and dead cities of the lands. Others also say that some of these tombs hold entrances to the Hollow Earth.

Morocco is a strange country, as it combines cultural memes from both Islamic states and European states such as Spain, Portugal and France. Morocco used to be part of the Byzantine Empire.
Morocco is positioned firmly under the thumb of France, even though they are only deemed a 'protecterate'. The French Government restricts their rights to free speech, the right to gather in public places, and other basic human rights. They are also supressing the native Islamic religion, along with forbidding natives to visit French-exclusive areas of the country. Some militant groups have begun to rise up to attempt to overthrow the opressive French, and though their goal is noble, their methods are not. The main resistance force, named Nekor after the first Moroccan kingdom, uses stolen weapons and blasphemous sorcery from ancient Assyria. Morocco is quickly becoming a battle grounds for independence, but Nekor is getting nowhere fast.

Heart of Africa
As your journey south in Africa, after you pass the great deserts and savannahs, you will eventually come upon the dark and sinister core of Africa. Often deemed the Heart of Africa, this place is rise to the alternate term for Africa, the Dark Continent.
The Heart of Africa is actually very similar to Brazil and the Amazon rainforest; it is full of unknown cities, uncontacted tribes, twisting rivers and dense forests. It is a dangerous place to journey into. However, there have been no sightings of giant primitive animals.
Instead, there have been numerous reports of dinosaurs. Though hard to believe, the proof exists: massive reptilian tracks are found in the mud, giant forests are made into clearings by some strange force, and even some lost tribes have been hunting more 'unexplainable' game.
Along with the dinosaurs, another potential threat is the various warlords scattered through the jungle. Most African nations are still under British influence, but their hold is weak at best. Militant leaders, either native Africans or corrupt foreign rulers/buisnessmen, can quickly grab a hold in the region. They terrorize and plunder villages, they illegally mine for precious diamonds, peat and coal with slave labor, and often crush anyone under their iron fist.
The largest militant group, simply known as Zulu, is ruled by a native Britain named Archibald Calendar. Archibald holds thousands of natives under his sway, has a massive compound full of slaves and consorts, and runs a nice racket on resource mining. He jacks up the price on these goods dramatically, but no one dares oppose him. Many claim the Archibald 'lost himself' in the Heart of Africa, and this 'person' is a shadow of his former self.
Archibald has recently been bragging that he has captured and tamed a few dinosaurs of his own. If the dinosaurs are in fact real, this could give the Zulu enough sway to possibly take over the whole of the Heart of Africa.

South Africa
South Africa probably has both one of the smallest and largest problems in Africa. South Africa has long been under the control of the UK, but it has recently been given its independence. It is a country with varied peoples, as a large percentage of a population is white. The democracy and culture is strongly European, and it also serves as a major trade hub to southern Africa.
However, the tensions between white immigrants and black natives is slowly escalating. Race wars are common, and hate crimes are committed against both ethnicities.
Aside from this racial tension, a place of note is the headquarters of the world-wide mesmerists organization, known as His Majesty's Society for Gifted Minds. Located in Johannesburg, the Society delves into matters of controlling one's mind, the depths of the human psyche and matters of philosophy. However, many mesmerists dig too deep, unlocking a part of their mind that is better left alone.

The Middle East
The Middle East is home to three major things: giant deserts, oil reserves and religion. Different areas in the Middle East are all holy to the world's three largest religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Currently, most of the countries are Islamic.
Many Middle Eastern states have been held under the colonial grip of the British Empire, and many are starting to shake off the shackles. Many are very angry at their former masters, and thus many are siding with Hitler's ever growing regime. The only country that is still friendly to the west is Turkey, though it has had independence for many years.
In addition to the various holy ruins and relics scattered through the deserts, the Middle East used to be the home of the ancient and strange Assyrian Empire. Their ruins are also prevalant, but few venture into them. Assyria coincides with dark magics; awful alchemy, worship of strange gods, blood magic and more. Some 'sorcerers' still exist in the Middle East, and Nazi Germany has an intense interest in them. The largest sorcerer organization is known as the Disciples of Pazuzu, who keep a front as a Islamist rights group in order to distract people from their devilish doings.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just a quick thanks!

I just noticed that recently I have been steadily breaking the 20 visits a day mark, so I'd just like to thank my readers for supporting me, even if comments are extremely scarce.

These views mean a lot to me, and it shows that you are interested in what I'm doing, and that keeps me going when I get down. I appreciate every one of you, and I just wanted to thank you!

But we are just getting started! Soon, you'll get the next part of Pulpwood!'s setting: Africa and the Middle East. Asia is after that, and most likely Europe or N. America will follow that, with Australia and Polynesia coming in at some point. That's right, every continent is getting a little loving. Give me a smooch India, you are looking lovely this evening.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pulpwood!'s Setting Pt. 1: The Hispanic Americas

So, I've decided to include a setting with Pulpwood. While it will be pretty easy to morph into any setting you want, it serves two purposes

1. For someone who doesn't want to create a setting, they can easily use this
2. It allows me to build the world I want to play in, as well as gives me notes to build a bestiary upon

The bestiary is important. I need monsters, but I don't know what I need. If I actually write out what monsters and creatures are where, I'll get a good sense of what I need to write up.

So, I present the first section I wrote for the setting, which is the Hispanic Americas. This deals with the Caribbean, Mexico and parts of South America. To give a quick rundown of each area:

Northern Mexico: Drug cartels everywhere, and they are in league with the Mafia!
Southern Mexico: Aztec cults, ruins, and the walking dead!
Caribbean: Modern day pirates, along with mind controlled 'zombies' (instead of the real ones)!
Peru: The Inca actually discovered space travel and took to the stars! Channeling a lot of TORG's Space Gods supplement here, but these Inca are just technologically advanced humans. They also probably got the tech from Atlantis (whoops, spoilers for a later edition ;D)
Amazon: Lots of lost world/King Kong stuff! Giant ants, mysterious tribes, all that good stuff.

Mexico is a very long and varied country. Though most view Mexico as an arid badlands, this only really applies to the northern most areas, near the border. The coasts are mountainous and full of beautiful beaches. A lot of these areas are ruled under a huge drug cartel, known as Los Nueve Gatos. The leader goes only by the name Calico. They often make raids on small, defenseless towns in search of supplies to grow cocaine. Though cocaine was originally used as a pain medicine, this cocaine is raw, unrefined and extremely dangerous. Calico is known to be heavily invested in many other major criminal syndicates, such as the Mafia and the Jade Fists. They've recently also started extending their influence into the Caribbean.
As you journey south down Mexico, the deserts slowly give way to dense and inhospitable jungles. This was once the home to the mighty Aztec civilizations, who were all but destroyed by the Spanish, but their massive ruins and pyramids are still scattered amongst the jungles. However, many indigenous people still practice their ancient Aztec traditions. Some even venture too far, forming a cult following around them. One of these people is Jorge Rivara, now known as Jaguar With Two Hearts. He claims to be the reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl, and he has built up quite a following. He promises his disciples eternal life, and some natives have given reports to the Mexican government of 'Muerte Camino', or 'walking dead'.

  The Caribbean is a large island chain just off the coast of the United States. They used to be the battlegrounds of the Spanish, Dutch, French and English during the Age of Exploration, but mostly all of the islands are now independent nations. Their mixed heritage shows in the food and culture of each island.
However, piracy is not dead. Several rogue bands still run around, longing to live out the days of yore. Though their equipment is high tech, their methods are not. The pirates often raid cargo vessels headed for New Orleans or Miami, and with the rise of the drug trade from Mexico, the Caribbean can be a dangerous place to tread if you value your life.
        The Caribbean is also the heart of the Voodoo religion. Voodoo worships death and the afterlife, and many priests and priestesses deal in hexes, curses and evil potions. Some potions are even said to put people into a zombie like state, where they become slaves to the owner's will.
        Baron LaCrux is probably the most famous Voodoo priest on the islands, along with being one of the richest men. He's also the head of a large pirate fleet, though you may end up missing a few body parts if you tell anyone. People say his crew is composed of mindless zombies, and given the Baron's reputation, this is not unlikely.

Peru is on of the most mountainous country in South America. These giant mountains, inhabited mostly by goats and grasses, was once the home of the mighty Inca civilization.
The Inca, unlike the Aztecs, are relatively unknown. The few details are told through their giant mountain peak cities and their mastery of astronomy and the stars. They actually developed a calendar that accurately kept dates for over thousands of years! Though much of the indigenous population of Peru has Incan heritage, few don't know (or either won't say) what happened to their ancestors: mostly all the discovered cities are in too good of a condition to have been destroyed as the result of an attack, but if this is the case, what happened? Some theorize that the Inca had managed to build spaceships and head towards the stars.
This may actually have some credance to it. There have been reports of strange light shows in the mountains near Cusco, and other reports of robed figures and shadows around the ruins of cities such as Machu Picchu. Could the Inca have finally returned from wherever they ran off from? And if so, why did they come back?

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and is also home to the mighty Amazon River and it's surrounding jungle. The Amazon accounts for about half of the rainforests in the world. It is dense, deep, and forboding. While traveling through the Amazon, you are never far from the Amazon River, which is one of the largest in the world.
The Amazon is relatively unexplored. It is extremely easy to get lost amongst the trees, river branches and dense canopies. All types of terrifying creatures lurk within: tales of giant apes, ants and beetles the size of cars, and uncontacted native tribes who would not hesitate to kill or capture any 'white man' that enters their territory.

Pulpwood! Mint Condition class: Scholar

What is Mint Condition, you may be asking? It's my term for the new direction that Pulpwood is taking, mostly in terms of classes.

The game is still called Pulpwood!, but to distinguish from older posts, I am going to use the tag 'Mint Condition'. Pretty simple, right?

But for now, I present the first of the three classes, the Scholar.


Hit Dice: d6
Skill Points per Level: 4
Favored Save: Wits
Class Skill: Academics

The Scholar is the master of all things research and education oriented. Having spent years of their life improving their minds, they know more than the average Joe could learn in a life time.
Scholars are not only masters of research, but a select few have managed to tap into the arcane energies that fill the world. Some derive magic from ancient texts (called Arcanists), some have unlocked the powers of the mind (called Mesmerists), and even some have created technology that is centuries ahead of its time (called Gadgeteers).
Scholars are a force to be reckoned with, both in the lab and on the field.

Scholar Talents

Arcanist- The Scholar gets access to Powers in the form of magical spells. If he takes this Talent, he can not take the Mesmerist or Gadgeteer talent. In addition, once per day the character can make a Wisdom Action Roll to communicate with Creatures from Beyond the Veil. The character can then ask any question to the Creature, and the Creature will answer to the best of its ability. However, sometimes the Creature doesn't know the info, is not willing to give it up unless the Scholar offers something in return, or is just plain antagonistic. The attitude of the Creature should be up to the GM.

Mesmerist- The Scholar gets access to Powers in the form of psychic abilities. If he takes this Talent, he can not take the Arcanist or Gadgeteer Talent. In addition, once a day per every 4 levels (can use once per day at level 1), the character can attempt to read someone's mind. This is an opposed Wisdom Action Roll against the target. If the Scholar succeeds by a small margin, he will now the surface thoughts and emotions of the target. If he succeeds by a significant margin, he can read deeper thoughts. If he fails, the target senses their mind being tampered with.

Gadgeteer- The Scholar gets access to Powers in the form of supernatural gadgets. If he takes this Talent, he can not take the the Arcanist or Mesmerist Talent. In addition, a character can have a number of 'incidental' gadgets per day for every four levels (one gadget at level 1, two at level 4). This gadget can take any form, but should only replicate tools, such as lockpicks, flashlights, medkits, climbing gear, or anything else. After the tool has completed its use (the door is unlocked, you enter into light, the character is healed, you climb the mountain), the tool breaks and can't be used again.

Item of Power- The Scholar has a magical item or small gadget he found or made. The item holds one Novice Power. The Power can be used a number of times per day equal to the character's Wisdom modifier. However, unlike regular Powers, you do not need to roll to make sure the effect happens (though you may need to make an attack roll if the effect is a damaging one).

Specialist- Your Scholar has become a specialist in the field he works in. Whenever there is a non-combat test where the specialization could come into play, the player adds a +2 bonus to the Action Roll. The player must detail what the character is specialized in upon taking this Talent. This Talent can also be taken multiple times, each time choosing a different specialization.

Example Specializations:

Languages- Your Scholar has spent most of his time learning foreign languages. In addition to the languages you start with, when you take this Talent you gain two additional languages.

Researcher- Your Scholar knows the Dewey Decimal System like the back of his hand. When doing research on something, the Scholar adds a +2 to help in his search for knowledge.

Herbalist- Your Scholar knows the ins and outs of plants, herbs, fungus and what they can do. A Scholar can do an Intelligence Action Roll to determine the possible properties of any plant he encounters. Similarly, he knows how to make basic medicines and salves out of these plants. These salves do small things like heal minor injuries, cure simple poisons and so on. The GM should be the final arbitrator on these kinds of things.

Appraisal- Your Scholar has spent a lot of time learning about ancient artifacts and lore. Though other characters have to find out what an Artifact does through guessing and experimentation, the Scholar can do an Intelligence Action Roll to determine what the Artifact does and how it does it.

Decipher- Your Scholar has learned the ins and outs of ancient Heiroglyphs, runes and dead languges. The Scholar gets a +2 bonus when trying to decipher heiroglyphs or writing in an unfamiliar language,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Success with Talents!

Coming up with Talents was WAY easier than I imagined.

Each class has 10 talents, and then there are 25 General talents to choose from.

Also, the Expert has become the Adept, and he has become the stealthy/sneaky character, who can deceive, investigate, and all that other good stuff. It will be good if you want to play a spy, a gumshoe, a cop, or some other kind of man of mystery.

Here are some changes I made, to give you a peak at how the old classes now fit in the talent structure

1. The Paragon was originally a superhero archetype that didn't really fit the Brains Archetype. He was also my attempt to shoehorn in a clerical character, which kind of sucked.

The Paragon is now the 'Mysterious Power' talent for the Adventurer. Since pulp heroes did not really have too many powers anyway, this will keep them at a good power level without having to fill a specific roll.

2. The Adventurer, Pugilist and Marksman have all been paired down and consolidated into the Adventurer talents. There is Martial Arts  and Quick Reflexes for Pugilists, Dual Pistols and Sharpshooter for Marksman, and Two Fisted Weapon for Adventurers.

You could even make a somewhat Wuxia character with the base Adventurer talents. Take Quick Reflexes, Martial Arts and Mysterious Power, and you've got a man from the Far East who can perform crazy roundhouse kicks and run up walls.

3. The Arcanist, Psychic and Gadgeteer have all been turned into Scholar talents. In addition to letting you use magical abilities, the Arcanist lets you contact spirits and creatures from beyond, the Psychic allows you to read minds, and the Gadgeteer allows you to create one-off gadgets that break after one use.

4. The Scoundrel and the Investigator make up most of the Adept talents.

5. The Pilot, Socialite and Pilot abilities have gone under General talents, for the most part. Some lie in the Adept talents, but not many. Still, you could take the Famous, Rich and Exceptional Attribute (Charisma) talents to create your Socialite very easily.

All in all, I'm happy with it. I have a total of 55 talents that are pretty distinct from each other and can allow for a lot of different kinds of characters.

Stay tuned for more!

Changing the direction of the Pulpwood! game

So, it has come to my attention that I've kind of been going about producing Pulpwood! in a different way than I want to. Like most things, I have been overthinking it, and making it more than it SHOULD be.

After looking at my notes, I have realized that characters are both

1. Not flexible
2. Too combat oriented

Almost every ability revolves around inflicting damage of some kind, with very few actually being skill or narrative oriented. I also realized I am making the classes a little TOO distinct from each other, and some are generally more powerful than others.

So, I'm changing Pulpwood!, but not very much. It will be the same game, but here is what I am doing instead:

1. The class list will be reduced to only 3 class (Adventurer, Scholar and Expert)
2. Magic, gadgets, psychic abilities and superpowers will take on a more free-form approach instead of having a big list
3. A talent system will be implemented

The talents are basically the equivalent of feats, boons, edges or whatever you want to call them. Each class will have a list of class specific boons, and then there will be general boons.

So, do you want to be a Mesmerist? That's a talent. Do you want to have a helper robot (or monkey)? That's a talent.

This will effectively drop the entire Darb system, which was honestly a bit of a headache anyway.

The things I am keeping though are the following:

1. Action Rolls will be unchanged
2. Fortune will drop the Moment of Inspiration effect, but will remain unchanged otherwise
3. Combat, movement and encumbrance will stay the same
4. Skills and attributes will be the same
5. Levels will be the same, though modified to account for Talents

The first order of business is to think up a list of Talents. This will require research, but shouldn't be too difficult. I was thinking 10 talents for each 'group' (Adventurer, Scholar, Expert and General). I was originally going to do 20, but unless I have outside help, I can't really think up 20 for each :X

Hopefully these changes will be for the better! Also, if you have some ideas for Talents, don't hesitate to leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review of A Wanderer's Romance

Imagine an ocean world created by the gods, where the largest landmass is only a few dozen miles wide. Thousands, perhaps millions, of these islands dot the oceans, and each can be radically different from its neighbors. Some gods descended to the Earth in mortal form, and became your ancestors. Now, you wander these islands, looking for adventure, discovery and self-fulfillment.

This is the world of A Wanderer's Romance.


A Wanderer's Romance is a rules lite wuxia RPG written by Cristopher McDowell. In it, you play a martial artist travelling between the aforementioned isles. And that's about it.

The setting is not much, but it gives you what you need: a basic backdrop in which to expand upon. Some games through gobs of useless and heavy setting bits at you, and you have to struggle to fit in your custom-made faction. In this way, the bare bones setting is actually a boon. It also allows you to just use the rules as is, and play in a feudal Asia setting with little hassle.


The mechanics for AWR are extremely simple: you roll two dice, add the appropriate stat(s), and try to beat wither 10, 12 or 14 (depending on difficulty). There are some slight variations, such as the application of the Balance stat, but nothing is too radically different than these basic rules. The stats, and mostly everything in the game, revolves around the four classical elements of earth, water, fire and air.

Since AWE is a wuxia game, you should expect fighting styles, and AWR delivers. They have about 54 offensive styles, and 24 defensive styles, each with 3 levels of advancement. Magic based on the elements is also present, but you won't get the generic 'fire magic = fireballs' thing. Instead, fire magic allows you to instill a strong emotion into someone, along with other similar effects.

Combat is resolved through contested rolls, upon which the defender actually rolls the damage, not the attacker. This adds a good bit of stress to damage, so nothing stays boring for too long.


The writing is very simple and flavorful. I was never lost at any point, and the small story excerpts really gave you a feel about the world, in that it is both an elegant and dangerous place. McDowell is a great writer in that he does not fluff up the mechanics behind strange language. He also has several text boxes detailing his decisions on rules, so you can see his reasoning behind things you may question.


AWR is only 45 pages, but they are a great 45 pages. The calligraphy headers used, and the amazing artwork by Pavel Elagin, really give off a sense of style. The cover itself is just gorgeous to stare at. The only gripe I have is the lack of a character sheet, but seeing as each character does not have much info associated with it, you could fit everything you need to know on an index card. I just think they could have produced an equally great looking sheet, is all.

Final Verdict

Honestly, A Wanderer's Romance is one of the most elegant and tasteful wuxia games I've ever read. It's easy to understand and to teach (great for first time RPG players), and it allows the characters to really come to the forefront. A lot of different types of environments and settings can be culled from the default setting, which is great if you have a hard time keeping plot lines strung along.

AWR is definitively not 'high flying' wuxia, though. I see it more as an elegant samurai story. It's more Ruroni Kenshin than Dragonball Z, for sure. So if you want to check it out, keep that in mind.

I give it a 9/10, with my only real problem being the lack of a character sheet.

Where to Get

A Wanderer's Romance is available for the low, low price of free from the Stargazer Games' website, found here:

Considering moving Pulpwood away from its status

Yes, I'm still working on Pulpwood!

No, I haven't had much time.

Yes, I'm sorry.

However, there is some news with Pulpwood: I am strongly considering moving it from a development blog to a pure gaming blog.

What this means is that in addition to having updates about Pulpwood! or any other game I am working on, I'd also talk about things related to RPGs: events, game reviews, campaign ideas, and so on. It'll be a less quality Grognardia, basically.

I think for reviews, though, I'd go for mostly smaller press games. There are 7 million reviews out there for Pathfinder, but not many for Remnants, A Wanderer's Romance or Aegis (the first two are great, the former needs to convince me). I'd also post links to interesting fan settings or adaptations, just anything in general that would sway my interest.

It will most likely go into effect soon, so look forward to it (or not, whatever).

Alrighty! I'll see you later.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Well shoot

I finished the pocketmod game, Nephilim, in under 24 hours! There is a link to it in the sidebar under the new 'Games I've Made' heading.

However, it's not TOTALLY a pocketmod. While it does come under 8 pages, the word length is probably too long to fit on a traditional pocketmod. However, you are more than welcome to try.

It is also lacking a character sheet and cover art, along with 'good' layout. I don't have much time to do that stuff (I may do some cover art), but if you'd like to do some layout or something else, shoot me an email.

Also, don't be afraid to leave comments/criticisms/rules questions. This has zero playtesting, so please go whole hog. You'll notice I took a lot of notes from the Storyteller system, with a base in Ubiquity, but it should function just fine.

Anyway, have fun! I hope you like it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A quick update on progress

I am still around! I actually have some classes written up that I plan to post, but first, I have an experiment:

Sometimes, when I'm faced with a big project, new projects keep flooding my mind. I want to do other things, even though I like all the things I'm doing.

Currently, I have a couple ideas for rules-lite RPGs, and I'm going to do something about them: Make a Pocketmod game

A Pocketmod, if you are not aware, is a small booklet with 8 pages that you can print out on one piece of paper. Some RPGs are this small (Weird West comes to mind), and I'd like to make a game so I can say I have 'finished' something.

So, I'm going to make a modern occult horror action Pocketmod game. In it, you play as Angels and Demons sent to Earth to combat the horrors of purgatory. It will be Lovecraftian, heretical, violent, beautiful and simple.

What it will have
14 races - 7 angels, 7 demons
Magic- very narrative in essence
Equipment- including suggestions for magic equipment, and even vehicles
Combat resolution, skills and tests
A bestiary and setting suggestion
Maybe art, if I get up the gumption to draw

I hope to write this up in about a week or two, and probably post it here. Get excited, because after that, it's back to the Pulpwood! grind.