DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND
The Legend ARRIVES: At last she appears! THE SLAVE QUEEN OF THE RUINED CITY makes her long-anticipated debut in the first-ever "official" DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND product -- a True20 adventure of 32 jam-packed pages, overflowinig with the pulpy goodness you'd have come to expect from Scratch Factory were we in the habit of releasing stuff.
Although Scratch Factory hasn't produced much yet, Corey has. He's the evil mastermind responsible for the following popular products:
Fire and Brimstone: A Comprehensive Guide to Lava, Magma and Superheated Rock -- SammichCon Publishing is the real force behind this baby, as notables from around the gaming world come together for the first-ever all-lava, all-the-time product that really delivers with the ooey gooey lava action.
Hot Pursuit: The Definitive d20 Guide to Chases -- One of the most popular releases ever for publisher Adamant Entertainment, this brings the action-movie aesthetic to the d20 chase scene. There's also a supplement to handle foot chases.
Gun Fu: Balletic Ballistics -- Speaking of the action movie aesthetic, Gun-Fu provides its most complete realisation in the d20 genre. One user called it, "The first d20 game that I'd consider using in the genre rather than my beloved Feng Shui." Heady company, indeed.
With the power of the Open Gaming License (and a little help from Creative Commons), we are able to offer the following cornucopia of ABSOLUTELY FREE products -- it's amazing! Colossal! Uncanny! So help yourself and enjoy.
True20 Screen Damage Condition Chart: The True20 Narrator's Screen is almost perfect. Print this guy out, tape him over top of the existing "Concealing Items" chart, and the most important chart in True20 is at your fingertips!
True20 Prehistoric Bestiary: 25 unique, fully statted monsters from the headlines of paleontology. Creatures never before represented in True20 format, with dozens of full-colour illustrations, a half-inch scale battlemap ready for use, and notes on DINO-PIRATE dinosauriness. Full of good.
True20 Ship Combat Rules: Mostly developed by True20Chick over on the True20 forums, cleaned up by yours truly and now available for you. With some added DINO-PIRATE goodness, just to give it that "frisson" of excitement.
The Infamous Swashbuckling Cards: born out of a long-lost ENWorld.org thread, newly updated and polished -- ready for use in d20, True20 or just about any other type of 20-style campaigns. Bring wacky hi-jinks to your game. Because, uh, why wouldn't you?
And now a full-blown character sheet for True20 players. Takes care of the niggling issues on the "official" sheet without changing the layout much, but includes some new handy stuff -- you can note your adept's increasing Fatigue Save penalties under the "Fatigue Save Modifier" header, and there's slots for Power Bonuses and Power Save DCs. Also a handy key to keep track of which powers require concentration, maintenance or mental contact, and which are fatiguing. Also has a slot for Grapple Bonus, which is one of those numbers I always seem to end up using more often than not.
The Modern System Reference Document: All the rules of the Modern d20 game, ready and waiting for you.
Hot Pursuit Tables: All the key tables and charts required to run Hot Pursuit chases in vehicles or on foot, brought together in one easy-to-print PDF for your convenience! Note you'll need the Hot Pursuit rules to use these tables. Not giving away the WHOLE THING, here. Still, pretty nice of me.
The Peking Opera House: This four-page PDF is a 1"-scale battlemap for use with 25mm figures, illustrating a typical opera house in the Peking style, with high beams to balance on, tables to jump up on, benches to throw and trap doors to crash down through. It's almost like fun, on a page.
The Teahouse: this PDF is another figure-ready battlemap, illustrating a classic teahouse for kung-fu mayhem to take place in. It also includes a batch of rules suggestions for improvising weapons in a d20 world.
With a Bullet: this is a full-size adventure I did to go along with Gun-Fu: Balletic Ballistics. Give it a read; it lets you know what the game is like and is funny, too. Funny ha-ha, not funny strange.
If you really want to know, here's a complete list of our game-related products and development.
Dino-Pirates of Ninja Island
In the words of the founding genius, JPL:
Ninjas, pirates, and dinosaurs. A fantasy Asia, filled with warring island nations. Samurai mounted on domesticated raptors. Bigger dinosaurs hunted by quasi-Polynesian tribesmen. Dueling factions of shadow warriors. Privateers and bucaneers battling the servants of the Imperial Navy. Fallen kingdoms deep in forgotten jungles. And I call it...
DINOPIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND!
Scratch Factory is your as-official-as-this-sort-of-thing-allows home for all things DINO-PIRATE. The first product, an introductory adventure (complete with sample PCs, all ready to go) has already been released: THE SLAVE QUEEN OF THE RUINED CITY. This adventure showcases many of the key themes and ideas of this fantastic pulp adventure setting, including all the basics of any DINO-PIRATES adventure:
It's all there, we promise! And we assure all customers that we will hold to this list of essential ingredients, and that every DINO-PIRATES adventure ever published by us will include every single one. That's a promise, kids, and you don't get many of those you can count on in this world.
Some commentary on gaming we've posted recently:
The first official adventure for the DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND game has now been updated to use the official DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND rules.
These rules feature all-new variations on skills like Diplomacy and Intimidate, a revised, streamlined damage system, and completely revamped systems for Reputation, supernatural powers and Recovery. This hard work has been done mostly by the amazing group over at the True20 forums, whose creativity and intelligence has made an already great game even better. It's been inspiring working with that crew, and the game wouldn't be half as cool as it is without their efforts.
The SLAVE QUEEN OF THE RUINED CITY has been run at numerous events, in cities around North America, and it's never failed to provide a great afternoon's entertainment. This package includes maps, sample characters, handouts -- along with the online rules it's everything you need to start playing DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND.
Well, except for some friends. You have to provide those yourself.
The DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND complete rules are now available online. This is a full-blown system reference document for the game, and includes absolutely everything you need to run your own DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND adventures. Create characters, resolve challenges and get on with the cool part of the story-telling. All you need is here. Now. Free.
Except of course for the setting. That's still underway.
But this is a big step for the DINO-PIRATE faithful. Combined with the release last year of SLAVE QUEEN OF THE RUINED CITY, you can now play this legendary game in the comfort of your own home. Without needing to invite me over.
Although I am available for most of January, if you have a last-minute booking you want to make. My rates are very reasonable.
- Wireless Connectivity at GenCon sucks like something that sucks a lot.
- Hurray for Paul coming all the way from AFGHANISTAN just to help me demo a very cool game that I'll be talking a lot more about Real Soon Now.
- REFORM SCHOOL NINJA GIRLS was actually MORE fun than it sounds like. I know you're skeptical, but I was there, and you weren't, so I know. MORE fun. Where else can you have ninja chicks cutting boats in half, dressing up like geishas, and building giant transforming Godzilla robots? Only in DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND, I'm telling you.
- I'm not as good at improvising adventure stories at three o'clock in the morning as I wish I were.
- I am, however, a phenomenal impersonator of Scooby-Doo. I may have found my life's calling.
- It's important to know you can't recreate improvisational greatness. Trying to do it again, once it's been done, is a fool's game.
- I missed JD.
- It's entirely possible to spend almost nothing at GenCon on anything game-related and still have a great time. Assuming you spend a sufficient quantity on alcohol. Or, even better, your roommates do.
I also picked up a comic book for Steph that has turned out to beat expectations: Artesia. I met the creator and seemed like a nice enough guy, and the art was very compelling, so I picked up a hardcover compiled and brought it home and I've just now read it and I have to say, I'm planning on collecting the rest. Mark Smylie has really done his research and produced a fantastic story that feels deeply rooted in a world that operates on different assumptions than ours.
Too often fantasy authors produce cultures that operate according to the assumptions that drive our modern world, with ideas on justice or morals or social structure that don't reflect the trappings of the world they're supposed to be a part of. I'm no historian (Hi Stuart!) but even a little bit of research can make most modern fantasy writers pretty much unreadable.
So DON'T LEARN ANYTHING, for crying out loud! It only leads to trouble.
Unless you're Mark Smylie. You keep reading, Mark. Anyway, Artesia was a welcome acquisition and marks a new story for us to obssess over. Hurrah.
In other news, the game we demoed that I'll soon be telling you all about received a solid going-over and some basic usability issues were uncovered that determined craftsmen are even now working hard to eliminate. Determined. Hard. Honest.
And finally, the rules for DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND have finally begun to stabilize. The stunt mechanic is solid now, as is the damage system (thanks, Baduin), and I'm working now with the clever crew over at the True20 forums to normalize the powers and the Fatigue mechanic. Once we're reasonably sure we have something that works, the full rules will become available online, and then ANYONE can play this game. Oh, yeah. DINO-PIRATES for everyone.
Also a quick shout-out to the Boston gang for some fantastic games and good times. Especially K and J, who were kind enough to put me up for a couple of nights. They did, however miss the comical moment where I was walking around downtown Boston and suddenly said, "Hey! This is the same Boston the Bruins play in!" Carl was amused.
So there you have it. GenCon 08. Nothing but good.
I've been re-reading Harrison Owen's Open Space Technology, which describes a type of meeting ("Open Space") that I've been dying to run for years. Yeah, it's weird. I wouldn't really care what the meeting was ABOUT, I just find the process so thrilling to consider that I just really want to see what it's like in "real life".
"The job of the facilitator is to create the time and space in which the group can realise its potential."
Also Steph was talking about what she loved about the book club she was part of back in Vancouver: that it was a place where each and every person was given time and space to speak and to share their ideas. She loved helping the group create that space, and found it extremely rewarding to be part of what they created.
Naturally I immediately thought of Dungeon Mastering.
I don't think it's quite as big a leap as it may appear to be. The job of the DM, after, is to create space and time for the players -- both in the imaginary sense by describing the scenes and characters encountered, but also in the actual, "real-world" sense. When the players come together at the table, and begin to interact, the DM has to manage the social situation, making sure that everyone around the group gets their chance to shine. While at the same time describing scenes that will give the players chances to do what they each long to do.
Great DMs listen to their players and identify what they need in order to realise their potential. EVERYONE at the table will have more fun if EVERYONE at the table has more fun. The biggest challenge a DM will face is making sure that all the varying definitions of "fun" around the table are manifested without destructively conflicting with each other.
The first step is understanding those definitions, and embracing them without demanding they conform to one's own. No player is ever going to have exactly the same definition as I do, and so it's futile for me to try and bend my players to MY definitions of fun. All I can do is try to understand what my players think is fun, and match that.
Of course, if my players think throwing dice at each other is fun, maybe the whole thing is doomed from the start.
I've remarked before that Dungeon Masters are a strange breed: like goalies, drummers and QA Analysts, DMs must have a very narrow set of skills, traits and interests in order to be good at the job, and not many people come with that mix. But how many other pastimes allow you to create space -- on two levels at the same time?
Photo by Barun Patro