Category Archives: Roleplaying

New Eeveelutions

During Pokémon League on Free RPG Day several years ago I ran an OVA one-shot in which all of the players were different Eeveelutions. Now I’m planning on running that game again in order to playtest my trpg. I adapted the original seven characters into it, and also made Sylveon. But I’d like to also offer players a couple of options that don’t yet exist. Here are the stats for the canonical Eeveelutions:

Eeveelution HP/At/Df/SA/SD/Sp Role
Espeon 65/65/60/130/95/110 Special Sweeper
Flareon 65/130/60/95/110/65 Physical Sweeper, Special Tank
Glaceon 65/60/110/130/95/65 Special Sweeper, Mixed Tank
Jolteon 65/65/60/110/95/130 Special Sweeper
Leafeon 65/110/130/60/65/95 Physical Sweeper/Tank
Sylveon 95/65/65/110/130/60 Special Sweeper/Tank
Umbreon 95/65/110/60/130/65 Mixed Tank
Vaporeon 130/65/60/110/95/65 Special Sweeper/Tank

The average stats among all Pokémon are between 80 and 88; average Attack is 95. Pokémon are generally only considered competitive if all of the stats they need to do their particular job are at least 100 (so Espeon’s 130 Special Attack and 110 Speed are ideal for a Special Sweeper). Eeveelutions always have two stats that are above average (110, 130), one that is average (95), and three that are garbage (65, 65, 60).

After spending a couple of hours spreadsheeting, I came to another realization about Eeveelutions: their top three stats are nearly always at least two of the top three stats of all Pokémon of their type, but not in the same order. For example, the highest average stats of all Electric Pokémon are, in order: SA 102, Sp 90, and SD 84. Jolteon’s are Sp 130, SA 110, and SD 95.

With all of that in mind, I used the average stats of their types to create some others so I can make them as pre-gens. I also made sure not to duplicate any existing Eeveelution, which limited my options.

Eeveelution HP/At/Df/SA/SD/Sp Role
Steel 65/130/110/65/95/60 Physical Sweeper, Mixed Tank
Dragon 110/130/65/95/60/65 Mixed Sweeper
Flying 65/95/60/130/65/110 Mixed Sweeper
Ground 130/95/110/65/65/60 Physical Sweeper/Tank
Ghost 60/130/95/65/110/65 Physical Sweeper, Mixed Tank

I might make the rest of the types eventually, but that’s it for now. It will interesting to see how close I got if Game Freak ever adds any of those types as Eeveelutions.


To Serif or Not to Serif

The debate of whether or not to use serifs in fonts has raged almost since Gutenberg invented the printing press back in 1440. What are serifs, you may ask? Serifs are the little decorative marks on letters, like the bars on the top and bottom of the capital “I”. Sans-serif literally means “without serifs”.

Since I write both fiction and rulebooks, I looked through an assortment of our roleplaying books and novels, and also some boardgame rules.

In our roleplaying books serifs are very dominant. I checked a sampling of our GURPS 3/4e, D&D 4e, OVA, and HackMaster 4/5e books, and they were exclusively serif fonts other than tables and sidebars in HM; sidebars, examples, and sample characters in OVA; and monster blocks in D&D. In other words, they use serifs unless the text is small enough that the serifs might make it harder to read.

Possibly the oldest novel in our collection is my much-loved and rather battered 1978 edition of Heinlein’s Space Cadet. It uses sans-serif for chapter headings and page headers, but serifs otherwise. My wife’s 2013 library book is the same – and some people say that’s the problem, but I’ll go into that shortly.

Boardgame rules are less cohesive simply because they come in a number of formats: sheet or two of paper, pamphlet, booklet, the box or similar material (Ultimate Stratego’s rules are written on the card used to divide the board while players set up). From what I have seen, those that print on card- or pasteboard tend to use serifs, while those on simple paper don’t. Munchkin uses fonts that fit the game’s mood, resulting in a mixture of serif and sans fonts in booklets. Pyramid Arcade includes a 75-page rulebook, entirely in sans serif.

The serif debate is as nuanced as any, but most people seem to fall into one of two groups:
* In long lines of uninterrupted text serif fonts are easier to read because the serifs help guide the eye.
* Sans-serif fonts are “cleaner”, and therefore easier to read. Serif fonts only seem easier to read because they are what we are used to.

I fall into that first group, but also agree that sans-serif fonts look “cleaner”, but in mixed case sans serifs can be confusing. Think of how the word Illinois looks without its serifs. In all caps or or all lowercase it doesn’t matter, but in mixed case capital “I” and lowercase “l” look exactly the same.

As a compromise I have developed the habit of using sans-serif (Arial for screen or Verdana for print) for headings, especially if they are all caps, and serif (Times New Roman) for text. Purely out of curiosity, I mocked up a fake page from my roleplaying game’s rulebook with one written completely in Times New Roman (right), and the other with Verdana headings (left).

Font Test with mock up of rpg rulebook page

So which do you prefer?

Cowboys and d6 Shooters

There are two Western-themed gaming Kickstarters going on right now by two of our favorite small game companies: Aces & Eights: Reloaded by Kenzer and Company, makers of HackMaster and Knights of the Dinner Table, and Six Shooters – Western Themed Dice by Black Oak Workshop, who we have backed twice before, for Bullseye d6, then Bullseye d4/8.

If you are a big fan of Wild West roleplaying games, then you may already be aware of award-winning Aces & Eights. What you may not know is that it was derived from Hackmaster 4e, which was itself evolved from AD&D 2E. HackMaster 5e, in turn, was adapted from A&8. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, KenzerCo is releasing a second edition, and it looks like the book will be a gorgeous, full-color, leather-bound tome like HackMaster 5e.

Even if you have no interest in the Wild West, its Shot Clock is an easy to way to resolve gunfire in a realistic manner without having to deal with cover and hit locations. Even better, the Kickstarter says it “can also be played as a skirmish-level miniatures battle.” I don’t have any particular interest in Wild West roleplaying, but we may well go for the $15 Showdown miniatures skirmish game rules.

Black Oak Workshop specializes in custom dice Kickstarters. We love our Bullseye dice, and are exceedingly happy with both the quality and how quickly they arrived. Like their previous project, this time the dice are 19mm rather than the 16mm of their previous offerings, which should make them much easier to read.

Take note that Aces & Eights is d20-based, while the Six Shooter dice are naturally d6s, but that didn’t stop Black Oak from backing Aces & Eights: Reloaded. Believe it or not, I actually heard about the A&8 Kickstarter from Black Oak Workshop before I did from Kenzer even though I’m on both mailing lists.

Happiness Jar #8 for 2017-04-09

Steve Jackson just released a newly-updated ”Munchkin Thingies”. As a result I was finally able to fill in some gaps in my Munchkin Compatibility Chart, and add in the recently Kickstarted Munchkin Shakespeare (we’re excited about getting our copy).

I’m also finally getting around to moving my files over to the desktop computer I built last summer, and it’s going pretty smoothly, in large part thanks to Box and Mega because they automated the transfer of nearly all of my documents. Going from 4 to 16 gigs of memory for Windows 10 is a dream – even more so since Windows itself is on a solid state drive (SSD), which I bought thanks to the advice of one of my best friends since high school.

Free Win7/10 tip I just learned: You can move your My Documents folder quite effortlessly by simply right-clicking on it in the folder tree in Explorer, clicking Properties, then the Location tab. That’s great because SSDs have limited read/write cycles, while mechanical drives can generally be re-used until something actually breaks. Thus if you can keep your software on an SSD and data files on a mechanical drive, your programs will run much faster, but without frequent saves wearing the drive out prematurely (my motto is “save early, save often” to avoid losing my work).

And we had several TCG-related happinesses over the past week: We got this Saturday’s Pokémon League Cup scheduled (with a Magic prerelease next week and Pokémon one the next), and I got to play in a sealed/demo for the Final Fantasy TCG. I can best describe FFTCG as Duel Masters or Kaijudo if they had been designed for adults rather than children. It moves the complexity scale a bit towards the Magic end, and even borrows some of its keywords (Haste, First Strike) and renames some others to make them better fit (Vigilance is “Brave”, Tap is “Dull”, Untap is “Activate”, etc.).

I can only make two relatively minor complaints about the game so far: the colors are too similar (Water and Ice are both blue, and Lightning is a very blue purple), making it hard to tell them apart, especially when foils get involved; and all of the power ratings end with “000” for no apparent mechanical reason – what I call the “Yu-Gi-Oh effect” or “Pokémon Effect”. In Pokémon every damaging move and every Pokémon HP is a multiple of 10, so you could erase that 0 from every card in the game and it would have no effect whatsoever. D&D 4e’s half-level bonus and 5e’s quarter-level bonus likewise serve only to make the numbers seem bigger even though they don’t actually make any difference mechanically since DCs and ACs go up right along with them.

But this is a Happiness jar, and that goes against the spirit of the idea, so I’ll get off my tangent now, and simply say that if you liked Duel Masters/Kaijudo but thought it was a bit too simplistic, or simply love Final Fantasy, give the game a look (they’ve got some great how-to-play videos. Even if you don’t play it, the cards are the highest quality CCG cards I have ever seen – and I owned an FLGS for three years! They are the same size as Magic cards, but significantly stiffer. If you were to look at the back of one without touching it, you would swear it was plastic, not paper. The art, of course, is amazing. So if you are an FF fan but don’t play card games, it still might be worth a look.

Happiness Jar #7 for 2017-03-27

Had several good things in the last week. One was the big 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents on Sunday – a goal far too many people these days will never reach.

I also finally got back to work on the lite game I made and then abandoned five years ago. First thing was copyediting the original post. How it got past my usual meticulous proofreading is beyond me – the number of errors was appalling. But it’s fixed now, and version .2 is nearly done.

Happiness Jars #4&5 for 2017-02-27

Got so busy I completely forgot to make happiness jar posts for the last two weeks, but since they’re related, here are both.

Happiness Jar #4

As planned, on Saturday the 18th we had our first meeting about the GURPS Fairy Tail campaign. I’d been bouncing around between which type of magic to use, but hadn’t been able to think of an actual character yet, until the GM told us about our guild. With my memory issues I can’t remember any actual details, but the guild’s focus is on time, and that led me to thinking about clockwork. Putting our heads together, the GM and I came up with the idea that my character might want to duplicate magic with technology.

Since then I’ve expanded it into this:

At some point in his past, he witnessed a non-mage getting mugged by a mage, and swore to come up with a way to give non-mages a inexpensive way to protect themselves from mages. His ultimate goal is to be able to build them cheaply enough that nearly everyone can afford one, and yet make enough profit to be able to give them to those who can’t.

We’ll iron the details of his invention later since that’s not something he’s going to have at the beginning anyway. Likely enchanting something like a bracer that grants the wearer Magic Resistance (making it harder to affect them with spells) and DR limited to Magic (so they’ll take less damage from fireballs and the like) and is powered by Lacrima.

When defending himself or someone else in combat, he relies on Requipping guns that he uses to fires magic bullets (or possibly enchant bullets/shells as he fires them, or simply uses the guns as foci through which he channels his magic; not decided yet).

That’s what I’m working no now. I’m going to build it as both Imbuements and Innate Attacks built as alternate abilities and see which I prefer. I knocked out most of the former sitting in the doctor’s waiting room this afternoon, and expect to finish shortly. The IAs won’t take me more than half an hour because I’m so prolific an IA builder (I even made Elmer Fudd’s gun (sometimes a rifle, sometimes a shotgun, even in the same scene) just to see if I could).

Happiness Jar #5

I had coincidentally been working on adapting Fairy Tail to GURPS purely for the fun of it for a couple of weeks before the GM announced the campaign, so I have pages of stuff for it now. To get things organized and to make it easier for everyone else to sift through, I posted as much of it as I could to a new section of my campaign wiki Friday afternoon. There was too much for me to be able to type it all up in one go, so I still have a good bit to do, but I got more than half of it posted.

GURPS Extra-Lite Finalized

I just uploaded what should be the final version of GURPS Extra-Lite. Other than the font and some formatting, the only thing that changed was that I finally made it compliant with Steve Jackson Games’ Online Policy for fan-made websites and game aids.

It used to say this:

The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

But in re-reading their policy several times we realized that was meant only for fan sites (which is why it remains on the Web version of Extra-Lite, and has been added to my Munchkin compatibility chart). Instead they want this for game aids:

GURPS is a trademark of Steve Jackson Games, and its rules and art are copyrighted by Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by Steve Jackson Games. This game aid is the original creation of Frank Wilcox, Jr (fewilcox) and is released for free distribution, and not for resale, under the permissions granted in the Steve Jackson Games Online Policy.

They’ll also allow you to use most of their art as long as you follow their Online Policy. So if you ever see a game aid or other fan-work for any SJ game that doesn’t have one of the above disclaimers, send the author that link. Whereas some companies are really stingy with their IPs and actively discourage fan works (I would literally be in violation of Pokémon’s online policy if I were to even link you to it), SJG welcomes them, so the least we can do is give them their due credit.