ACTION X is dead … Long live GRIT & VIGOR

Cover art by George Bellows

I tried. So help me I tried. But I just couldn’t get into the thing.

The idea was to do to the Modern SRD what I did with the fantasy SRD – i.e. turn it into a modern version of Blood & Treasure. The problem – I just couldn’t find the hook, the energy, the right feel that would make the thing gel. It’s tough to make something good if you don’t love it, you know.

And then the revelation.

I was musing on what kind of RPG Ron Swanson would play. I know – ridiculous – but an hour on a treadmill can send the mind into all sorts of odd places. Of course, the answer is that Ron Swanson wouldn’t play an RPG. He is, however, the closest thing modern America has to a folk hero, and symbolic of a movement by modern men to get in touch with their roots. I needed a subject that I found interesting, fun and inspirational – and by Ron Swanson’s mustache, the manly adventure of yesteryear was going to be it. Surviving in the wilds, steering tall ships, plunging into the mysterious corners of the globe in search of loot, hunkering down in a trench, preparing to dash into the oncoming bullets of the hun! – that was the ticket.

So, Action X is dead, may it rest in peace. I’m replacing it with GRIT & VIGOR – BOLD VENTURES FOR RUGGED FELLOWS. I’ve been writing the crap out of it for the last week, and think I can begin play-testing it on Google + in January and publishing it sometime in the Spring or Summer.

GRIT & VIGOR draws on the literature of Kipling, Conan-Doyle, Conrad, Hemingway, REH, London, Burroughs and their ilk. It’s about larger than life men going on adventures in search of money, power and freedom. Yes, women can play G&V – either as male characters (it is role playing, after all), or by flipping all the pronouns in the book from masculine to feminine – any woman worth her salt will do anything she likes with my game rules – she doesn’t need me to give her permission or molly-coddle her.

A FEW SPECIFICS

Characters, also called “rugged individualists” in G&V, do not belong to a permanent “class”. Special abilities, skills and weapon proficiencies are handled with feats. You get several at first level, many of them are rolled randomly on one of four tables meant to represent your character’s background (you can Go Rogue, Go to School, Go to Work or Go to war), though the referee could allow players to simply choose them if they preferred. All of the feats are given one of four classifications – Mental, Martial, Red-Blooded and Underhanded.

Whichever of those categories the majority of your character’s feats fall into determines your character’s “class” at that level, with their class determining what dice they roll for hit points, and what ability scores they can boost at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, etc. So, at 1st level, a character with mostly Martial feats is classed as a Fighter, and rolls 1d10 for hit points. By level 3, he may have more Red-Blooded feats than any other, so now he’s classed as a Daredevil that rolls d8 for hit points. Other than that, attack bonuses and saving throws are the same for everyone, though they are modified by ability scores and feats.

Combat, saving throws and task checks work as they do in Blood & Treasure, as do hit points, Armor Class, ability scores, etc. Aerial combat and vehicle rules will be included, of course. Psychic powers are included in the game, but are optional. For opponents, the game primarily uses animals and human beings, but a few monsters (vampires, werewolves, morlocks) are included as well for those who want a paranormal or science-fiction element in their game.

The game will also include what I’m calling an Almanac of Adventure. This will be a series of articles covering different time periods and genres that referees (Venture Masters) can use to build their campaigns. One might be “Wild West”, and will provide some tips and information relevant to that era, as well as any additional rules or equipment to run that setting. Another might be “Mystery”, and will discuss running mystery-oriented games. Hopefully you get the idea. There will also be “Steampunk”, “Atomic Super-Science”, “The Jazz Age”, etc.

I’d also like to include an element of taking the manly virtues expounded on in the game and applying them to one’s real life. Maybe XP awards for overcoming real life challenges that players can apply to their characters – a good chance for members of a gaming group to support one another outside the gaming table. Sounds corny, I guess, but I am corny so I don’t give a damn!

That’s the plan, ladies and gents. I’ll let you know when the playtesting is about to begin, in case you’d like to join in.

Invasion of the Pod Jellies

While writing the new hexcrawl, I scribbled these lovely fellows out and thought folks might find a use for them …

Several (3d4) large seed pods float in the ocean here, and might be seen (1 in 6 chance) by a vessel passing through this hex. The pods are about 6 feet long and consist of a very thick, green hide (Armor Class 18). The pods should be treated as having 20 hit points. They are vulnerable to fire, but immune to cold.

Within the pod, there is a strange, gelatinous life form that, through its mental powers, can understand and duplicate any sentient humanoid. Each pod jelly picks a single humanoid to make its own, using its ESP to choose a likely candidate, and each day absorbs a portion of their being (i.e. 1d6 points of constitution damage) while turning itself into a clone or replica of that person. The pod must be within 30 feet of its victim to do this, and victim receives a Will saving throw each day to resist the effect. When the original’s constitution is reduced to zero, the clone bursts forth from the pod and the original’s body disintegrates.

The pod jellies duplicate the original’s body (i.e. hit dice and physical ability scores) and mind (intelligence and charisma scores, though wisdom is never higher than 6) perfectly, knowing all they knew and having the same general special abilities. They cannot, however, exhibit emotion or faith, and emotion based powers (such as a berserk rage or a cleric’s divine powers), are duplicated and therefore they are not possessed.

POD JELLY
Medium Ooze, Chaotic (NE), Average Intelligence; Invasion (3d6)

HD 2
AC 16
ATK Touch (1d4 acid)
MV 20
SV F15 R15 W15
XP 200 (CL 3)

These are the abilities of a pod jelly in its native form, outside the protection of its pod-like shell and before it has taken on the form of a humanoid. In humanoid form, it loses its resistance to acid, though it retains its ESP ability and can still utter a psychic scream (i.e. psionic blast) once per day, though this takes the form of an actual shrill scream as well as a mental effect.

Special Abilities: Resistance to acid

Spell-Like Abilities: At will—Detect thoughts (ESP); 3/day—Psionic blast

I suppose I need to include them in ACTION X.

What’s more frightening, the psionic blast or that damn perm?