Bundle of Holding Thread

Voros

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Rather than posting a new thread for every sale of interest I thought it would make sense to make one thread that can be updated whenever someone spots something cool on Bundle of Holding.

The latest is Night's Black Agents and The Dracula Dossier, heard great things about the setting how does it play mechanically? I'm assuming Hite goodness.

Hite-NightsBlackAgents.png
 
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Rich Harkrader

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I snagged that yesterday. I'd been wanting Night's Black Agents anyway, and heard assorted people of the intertrons swoon over The Dracula Dossier.
 

Raleel

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I'll probably pick it up. I have an interest in the Conspyramid, and I've started tinkering with the gumshoe system to use it with Mythras, so I have an investigation portion (gumshoe) to go along with my black seven port (stealth missions) and bits that I can pull from leverage for heists.
 

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NBA is great. The Gumshoe system assumes that your characters are about the competence level of a TV detective show character, so if you're in a situation where a clue is available, and you're trained in that field and in a position where you could find it, you just get the clue; you can spend points from your skill temporarily to get more information as well. Characters tend to have a wide base of these investigation skills; character gen also assumes that at least one person in your team has each investigation skill, so as a group you're well-rounded, even if particular team members are more specialised. It also has Bullshit Detector, which is the best interpersonal skill. If you're trained in it, and someone is lying to you, unless they're damn good at it then you know straight away.

Your general adventuring skills are also point-bought, but in this case you want few of them but at higher levels; when you're trying to do something, you roll d6, add some points from a general skill (If you've got an applicable skill) and you're aiming for a target number (Generally 4 - 6 for most tasks). The way you spend and budget general skill points is the key to any of the game's conflict systems (Chases, melee, gunfights, etc).

Because you're burned freelance spies, the game just assumes you have a network of contacts and cover ID's around the world, and you've got a pool of points you can use for these as you need them, flashback-style.

In addition to the Gumshoe game itself, a huge chunk of the book is about running spy games (In various degrees of moral darkness), and running conspiracies against the group; while NBA is theoretically about vampires (And it describes a number of possible types of vampire origin and how they would differ as antagonists; supernatural, damned, alien, and mystical, it even contains the best set of guidance for playing a PC vampire ever published) the advice about the conspyramid, adventure design, and generally running a secretive game is well worth the price of admission. "Vampires" are really just an example of an organised conspiracy to work against.

There's an argument that Gumshoe doesn't really do anything that GM's who are good at running mystery games don't already do, and I can see that. But it does present a lot of information and guidance for less experienced GM's; it's probably harder to run a bad Gumshoe session than in most other similar games, because the game makes it as difficult as possible to get into the sorts of traps other games enable.
 

Baulderstone

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NBA is great. The Gumshoe system assumes that your characters are about the competence level of a TV detective show character, so if you're in a situation where a clue is available, and you're trained in that field and in a position where you could find it, you just get the clue; you can spend points from your skill temporarily to get more information as well. Characters tend to have a wide base of these investigation skills; character gen also assumes that at least one person in your team has each investigation skill, so as a group you're well-rounded, even if particular team members are more specialised. It also has Bullshit Detector, which is the best interpersonal skill. If you're trained in it, and someone is lying to you, unless they're damn good at it then you know straight away.
With the interesting qualifier that you still don't necessarily know what the truth of the matter is. Just that what the NPC is saying aint it.

In addition to the Gumshoe game itself, a huge chunk of the book is about running spy games (In various degrees of moral darkness), and running conspiracies against the group; while NBA is theoretically about vampires (And it describes a number of possible types of vampire origin and how they would differ as antagonists; supernatural, damned, alien, and mystical, it even contains the best set of guidance for playing a PC vampire ever published) the advice about the conspyramid, adventure design, and generally running a secretive game is well worth the price of admission. "Vampires" are really just an example of an organised conspiracy to work against.
If you listen to the podcast Laws and Hite have, they sometimes talk about how games devoid of any supernatural or science-fictional element tend to be ignored. I think Hite, being an expert on espionage both historical and fictional, really wanted to make a game about playing burned spies dealing with ominous conspiracies. He just made the conspiracy a vampire one so that he could get gamers to look at the thing.

There's an argument that Gumshoe doesn't really do anything that GM's who are good at running mystery games don't already do, and I can see that. But it does present a lot of information and guidance for less experienced GM's; it's probably harder to run a bad Gumshoe session than in most other similar games, because the game makes it as difficult as possible to get into the sorts of traps other games enable.
I think the other cool thing about Gumshoe in play is that encourages players to use ALL their abilities. In most games, a PC has one or two things they excel at, and they try to use those skills as their approach over and over again. If you have an 80% skill and a 20% skill, you are going to always try to find approaches using the 80% skill.

In Gumshoe, players have a limited pool of points in a wide range of abilities. Over the course of a session, you want to find ways to use the points in all those abilities, not just bang on the one you have the most in.

Is it meta? Sure. But it leads to more creative plans, and encouraging creative plans in a game about spies is a good thing.
 

Raleel

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It seems like you could construct an adventure in this and denote a collective of skills that will be useful as the defining part of the adventure outside of the plot. Literally give your players this information at the start. Every time put in just a little past their coverage, and then they spend experience points. Encourage diversity
 

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It seems like you could construct an adventure in this and denote a collective of skills that will be useful as the defining part of the adventure outside of the plot. Literally give your players this information at the start. Every time put in just a little past their coverage, and then they spend experience points. Encourage diversity
Gumshoe character gen tends to give different amounts of investigative skill points depending on the size of the party, and strongly encourages the group to make sure that each skill is represented; NBA also has a set of "backgrounds" you can pick from, which are point spend templates suitable for a particular spy role - data analyst, wheel man, black bagger, etc - but still leaving you with plenty of points to spend as you wish. When it comes to XP, I've found people generally bump up their general skills and HP / Sanity ratings more than their investigative skills - the standard amount is usually plenty for everything except Languages, and the system is brutal when things start getting violent.

It's not so much the skills being the defining part of the adventure, more that each skill is slightly different in what you can find out with it; they're all useful, even if not necessarily right now (Although as the game is set in the modern day, you might need to do some tweaking of the techie skills; they work about as far back as the 80's, but for anything before then there probably aren't enough computers in use to make them worthwhile). For example, let's say the group has found an old-school accounting ledger in the back room of a store they believe is a front for the conspiracy.
* If you've got Accounting, you spot some irregularities in the figures
* If you've got Art History, you'll see that the ledger's marbling is off by a page
* If you've got Forgery, then you'll note that the writing on one page is different to all the others
* If you've got Bullshit Detector, you can tell that the accountant is being evasive in their answers about the book that they're trying to get you to put down

And this isn't story-gamey "if you're got a vaguely appropriate skill then there must be a clue for you", it's "you've got the skill, so you can find this clue"; the GM's still in control, if anything they're even more in control of the investigation without the dice to get in the way.
 

Baulderstone

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And this isn't story-gamey "if you're got a vaguely appropriate skill then there must be a clue for you", it's "you've got the skill, so you can find this clue"; the GM's still in control, if anything they're even more in control of the investigation without the dice to get in the way.
People also sometimes assume that not needing to roll for clues makes the game easy, but clues aren't answers. You can find all the clues and still be unsure what to do with them.

Not needing to roll for clues means you can make things harder. You can build a more complex web of clues, and you don't need to plant as many redundant clues to offset failed rolls.
 

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Rather than posting a new thread for every sale of interest I thought it would make sense to make one thread that can be updated whenever someone spots something cool on Bundle of Holding.
This is a great idea, Voros. Though it pains me that BOH gets so much of my money. :money:
 

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Voros

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Thanks for the great info on Gumshoe Ladybird and Baulderstone. I went and bought the latest Bundle. Love that the system could work sans vampires, perhaps this will be the system for the Victor Serge inspired 'Trotskies on the run from Stalin in Western Europe' game that is bouncing around in my head.

That HumbleBundle is also very tempting...
 

Voros

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I have the first Bundle already, thinking about the second...
 

opaopajr

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Argh! I sorta kinda really want the Frog Gog Games bundle! I only have 2 days to decide whether to drop the $17. :weep: My frugality... it hurts!:beat:
 

Ronnie Sanford

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Argh! I sorta kinda really want the Frog Gog Games bundle! I only have 2 days to decide whether to drop the $17. :weep: My frugality... it hurts!:beat:
I know the feeling... Pre- orders are being taken for Delta Green A Night At The Opera and that $40 is burning a hole through my pocket.
 

noman

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Bundle of Holding is having two Cypher System bundles: The Strange and a Cypher System bundle.

EDIT: I have Predation, and it's excellent.
 
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Rich Harkrader

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Bundle of Holding is having two Cypher System bundles: The Strange and a Cypher System bundle.
I'm really thinking about the Cypher System bundle. Has anyone used Cypher for a modernish type game? I'm thinking possibly a post-apocalyptic game a la Fallout with a tech level approximately equivalent to what we have now.
 

noman

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I'm really thinking about the Cypher System bundle. Has anyone used Cypher for a modernish type game? I'm thinking possibly a post-apocalyptic game a la Fallout with a tech level approximately equivalent to what we have now.
Very quickly, yes. CS could easily emulate what you're describing.
 

noman

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Getting back to the Cypher System bundle for a moment.

Predation is a setting where the PCs are the descendants from time travelers from earth who ended up in the late Cretaceous Period. A sort of post-apocalyptic, hard-scifi, Land of the Lost, kinda setting. There's no magic at all. But everybody gets dinosaurs! All PCs start with a dinosaur pet that they can customize. Because the writers realized the setting was so dangerous, the PCs needed an edge. So, yeah. Cyberdinos running around while the PCs run amok in a almost-high-tech Land of the Lost.

Gods of the Fall is what happens when somebody says, "You know, I like Exalted. I also like Godbound. Let's mash them together, give them a light-ruleset, and turn the danger level up to eleven!" And Monty Cook be like, "Make it so." Gods of the Fall's setting makes Godbound look like Dragonlance. I'm not kidding. It's dark and scary. Real scary. I'm so scared of it I can't wait to run it! I plan on running this thing if and when I finish my PTG campaign.
 

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I have no real interest in the Cypher System, but a big batch of books for The Strange could be useful to mine for ideas. I'm on the fence for the moment.
 

Voros

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Getting back to the Cypher System bundle for a moment.

Predation is a setting where the PCs are the descendants from time travelers from earth who ended up in the late Cretaceous Period. A sort of post-apocalyptic, hard-scifi, Land of the Lost, kinda setting. There's no magic at all. But everybody gets dinosaurs! All PCs start with a dinosaur pet that they can customize. Because the writers realized the setting was so dangerous, the PCs needed an edge. So, yeah. Cyberdinos running around while the PCs run amok in a almost-high-tech Land of the Lost.

Gods of the Fall is what happens when somebody says, "You know, I like Exalted. I also like Godbound. Let's mash them together, give them a light-ruleset, and turn the danger level up to eleven!" And Monty Cook be like, "Make it so." Gods of the Fall's setting makes Godbound look like Dragonlance. I'm not kidding. It's dark and scary. Real scary. I'm so scared of it I can't wait to run it! I plan on running this thing if and when I finish my PTG campaign.
Stop making me want to spend more money!
 

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Dark Heresy 1e is up at the moment.

The fluff and the artwork are good...
 

Voros

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I'm so clueless regarding Dark Heresy I should have my nerd credentials revoked.
 

Ladybird

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I'm so clueless regarding Dark Heresy I should have my nerd credentials revoked.
Basically : Call of Cthulhu, in horrible spaaaaaaace, using an evolution of the WFRP2e game engine. It's set in the universe of the Warhammer 40,000 series; the players are distant parts of the retinue on an Inquisitor, a member of a shadowy organisation that roots out and deals with internal threats to the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Mankind using any means possible. You're hunting down agents and cults of the four dark chaos gods; infiltrating alien monstrosities and their awful extended families; untrained human psychics who literally have an open portal to hell in their minds; and maybe even a rebellious planetary governor or other utterly mundane threat.

The basic problem with it is the WFRP2e game engine. WFRP works great for peasants beating each other with metal sticks! Unfortunately, the Dark Heresy version of the rules starts there, and then adds high-tech weapons and armour on top that the system just doesn't cope with very well, and then it stacks psychic powers and low-level superhero-esque powers on top of that if your characters advance long enough to become more important to your Inquisitor, or you even become one yourself.
 

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Rogue Trader (EDIT: the original wargame/RPG), IMO, is certainly a more gameable version of the setting... less self-serious, more open to exploration and variation. It's got a much more adventurous spirit to it and is less about military wank and grim grimdarkness.

But I've never been clear what is so awful about the Dark Heresy system... the complaints I've read are inconsistent. It's too low-powered or it's too high-powered, it's too much centered on the Imperium (no Eldar PCs!) or it's not Imperium-centric enough (no Space Marines PCs!).
I played it a bit back when and had fun... nothing stood out as awful.
 
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Ladybird

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Rogue Trader, IMO, is certainly a more gameable version of the setting... less self-serious, more open to exploration and variation. It's got a much more adventurous spirit to it and is less about military wank and grim grimdarkness.
I kinda agree; it's a setting where you can't save everyone, forever. But you can save some people, for a while, and that's important too.
 

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On thing I loved about the original Rogue Trader was that it encouraged you to use toys and models you already had, and even gave you guidelines on statting them up. It was like the last gasp of the old, fun Games Workshop before their sole purpose was to sell you minis.
 

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On thing I loved about the original Rogue Trader was that it encouraged you to use toys and models you already had...
One of my favorites is the drawing of a caravan where the guards are riding the lower half of a Robotech mech... which was an easy conversion if you had one of the toys.
Of course there's also the famous deoderant case grav-tank!
 

Baulderstone

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One of my favorites is the drawing of a caravan where the guards are riding the lower half of a Robotech mech... which was an easy conversion if you had one of the toys.
Of course there's also the famous deoderant case grav-tank!
Oh, yes. There were Robotech conversions and deodorant tanks in our early 40K battles.
 

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Bah! Dark Heresy isn't worth nerd cred. If you want nerd cred, you need to post about how Rick Priestly's Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is the only pure vision of the setting, and Dark Heresy is but a pale shadow.
The one W40K RPG that can do something close to the original Rogue Trader is Dark Heresy. The new Rogue Trader is megalomaniac Traveller; Deathwatch is Spess Mureens bug hunt; Black Crusade is "I had an idea, let's be bad guys!".

The power level in DH is just right. Fatmarines anyone?
 

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The one W40K RPG that can do something close to the original Rogue Trader is Dark Heresy. The new Rogue Trader is megalomaniac Traveller; Deathwatch is Spess Mureens bug hunt; Black Crusade is "I had an idea, let's be bad guys!".
If you've got 3:16, you don't need Deathwatch. Again though, great art and fluff.
Although... Rogue Traders and Black Crusade...rs... are interesting as PC's because they're amongst the few groups in the Imperium who actually have the autonomy to decide their own adventures.
You could probably base a good game on the AdMech and the Quest for Knowledge, but that might be too limited in the types of PC available; I'm not sure it could sustain an entire game line.

But I've never been clear what is so awful about the Dark Heresy system... the complaints I've read are inconsistent. It's too low-powered or it's too high-powered, it's too much centered on the Imperium (no Eldar PCs!) or it's not Imperium-centric enough (no Space Marines PCs!).
Dark Heresy is explicitly about low-level members of the Inquisition, but that isn't what people wanted to play, because those aren't the characters GW's stories are about. People want to play Eisenhorn or Meh'lindi or even Cain (He's close enough), not Geoff of Hive Bottom who is okay with a rifle... but the system is designed and scaled around Geoff, so if you want to play someone who is a Big Deal you've got to stack on special rules and modifiers to get past the system's tight range of character stats, and an equipment list that has to scale from a big-standard knife through to anti-vehicle weaponry with meaningful distinctions in-between, and... then you're pretty much just playing a cross between D&D 3.5 and Rocket Tag.

Oh, and if you're playing a psyker, hope you don't get unlucky and get sent to the Perils of the Warp table, because that's a character-fucker, with all the usual "fuck you, magic user" stuff ranging from minor mutations and wierd random shit through to summoning daemons and getting sucked into the Warp. And I know that's a part of the setting, that's why psykers are treated how they are, but from a play point of view it's rubbish because using your special power, the entire reason you were recruited into the group, and potentially screw over the entire game through no fault of your own. You don't need to simulate everything.

For the other complaints, a lot of people wanted a 40k RPG, rather than an Inquisition RPG; but the setting's so wide in scope that any system trying to model all of it in one book will end up missing out so much that you'd need a bunch of supplements for playing it anyway. I think the "multiple game lines" model is a sound one, because the various "levels" of people - Inquisitorial acolytes, Rogue Traders, Space Marines - just don't interact that much in their usual lives, they may as well be living in different universes.

Nobody's saying you can't or won't have fun - I've had fun playing it! - but it... wouldn't exactly be my first choice of sci-fi adventure game.
 

Simlasa

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Dark Heresy is explicitly about low-level members of the Inquisition, but that isn't what people wanted to play, because those aren't the characters GW's stories are about.
Once again I'm the weird-boy because those ARE the characters I wanted to play... or even lower, the bottom feeders trying to operate despite this huge oppressive monolith of an Imperium. It's the stuff of a lot of the scenarios in the back of the original Rogue Trader game... like hired guns trying to protect a holo-vid star from kidnap gangs, or lowlifes trying to make it big in a Hive, rebels accidentally hiding out in Ambull tunnels... backwater planets full of scum & villainy and a relatively small Imperial footprint.
The original Rogue Trader book managed to get that setting across in wide swaths that sent my imagination flying... so I think a general 40K RPG COULD have done the same, if allowed to.
I never got why anyone would want to role-play a Space Marine, or any significant Imperial agent, really.
 

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Once again I'm the weird-boy because those ARE the characters I wanted to play... or even lower, the bottom feeders trying to operate despite this huge oppressive monolith of an Imperium. It's the stuff of a lot of the scenarios in the back of the original Rogue Trader game... like hired guns trying to protect a holo-vid star from kidnap gangs, or lowlifes trying to make it big in a Hive, rebels accidentally hiding out in Ambull tunnels... backwater planets full of scum & villainy and a relatively small Imperial footprint.
The original Rogue Trader book managed to get that setting across in wide swaths that sent my imagination flying... so I think a general 40K RPG COULD have done the same, if allowed to.
I never got why anyone would want to role-play a Space Marine, or any significant Imperial agent, really.
I do agree with you, I think somewhere like Necromunda's underhive would be a great place to set an RPG - plenty of scope for politics, dungeoneering, combat, a ready supply of factions, scope to both rise and fall in society - but that's not the way the fanbase or the setting has really developed. I'm not sure people necessarily like the Imperium, and those that do are Missing The Point entirely, but they definitely want it to be there.
I think 1987 Rogue Trader is a fantastic book for what it is, it's full of imagination and swagger and is clearly a labour of love, and curry, but it is a lot more focussed on the military aspect than the "what's it like to live here" material that an RPG really needs.
 

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IOh, and if you're playing a psyker, hope you don't get unlucky and get sent to the Perils of the Warp table, because that's a character-fucker, with all the usual "fuck you, magic user" stuff ranging from minor mutations and wierd random shit through to summoning daemons and getting sucked into the Warp. And I know that's a part of the setting, that's why psykers are treated how they are, but from a play point of view it's rubbish because using your special power, the entire reason you were recruited into the group, and potentially screw over the entire game through no fault of your own. You don't need to simulate everything.
Seems to me that psykers that are sent into service as opposed to just being burned or fed to the Emperor are the one that were actually pretty good at controlling their powers. I'm not saying it should be totally safe for PC psykers, but they should be able to use their powers moderately with minimal risk, with the temptation of doing more powerful stuff risking the Perils of the Warp table.
 

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I should have mentioned this earlier but frog God games is doing the 12 days of Christmas free PDF giveaways. It's already day 9 but drop by their site to the Free Downloads section and pick some free stuff up!
 
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