Shining a Spotlight on: Foundry VTT (Featuring Astral Tabletop)

I’m going to be writing this a little differently than my other posts, since this is a first impressions of a Virtual Tabletop than it is me playing a game or testing out an RPG or Engine. Particularly, first impressions using Foundry as a soloist. 

The Virtual Tabletop is called Foundry, and what I can say is its claim to fame is mashing up the robustness and depth of Fantasy Grounds with the approachableness and API-integration of Roll20. It has a bit of a price, asking for $50 dollars, but the benefit to it is that you’re able to have as much, if not more, control over your campaigns than if you were to pay for a subscription on Roll20 and you (as in the GM) only need to pay once.

Starting up the program, you are greeted with a few menus arranged in a sleek array. The first is Worlds (your games), then the Game Systems, then Add-On Modules, and finally, Configuration and Update Software. You’ll have to download a Game System in order to make a Game World, but that’s as easy as going to Game Systems and picking one from a list to download and install.

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Blue’s Clues, but Lovecraft wrote the episode

It’s time for me to make up for missing Halloween last year. This is One-Page Cthulhu, which is, you guessed it, one page. Perfect for a last-minute game! As for my Engine, it’ll be good ol’ CRGE-Kai, but with the Horror theme.

Right, time to slap my character together… My character’s really good at finding clues (+2), good at hiding (+1), is meh with forbidden knowledge (0) and is utterly terrible at fighting superior foes (-1). We will name him… Steve.

Oh… Oh God… I have an idea. Steve… from Blue’s Clues! But everyone’s an eldritch abomination!

Ooooooooh, okay. This is good. So, I ran an episode of Blue’s Clues to figure out what sort of plot is gonna happen (as well as remember how it goes), and I’ve decided that’ll be the adventure. Steve is a private eye who does investigations who recently came across a dog called Blue who helped in investigations. He is compelled to investigate the secrets of the world because there has to be more out there than just the wife concerned about a possible unfaithful husband. I’d say something about the connections to other investigators, but this is a solo story.

 So… Here… We… Go!

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Reviewing All The Engines I Used In The Past

Back when I started Solo RPG Voyages, there were only a few available Engines one would normally need to play solo. There was at least five that most people pointed to, to which I made one of my very first posts a five-day marathon of playing the same game, same setting, same story, but the difference was how the Engines worked.

This was what I called the Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week and it was a means for me to get out of my comfort zone with the Mythic GM Emulator and try out Engines in a controlled environment so I could look exclusively at the Engines and not let any outside force like how the game plays or a plot point causing the game to drag distract from the Engine’s overall quality.

However, as soon as I made that, I was given the request to review another solo Engine called CRGE. One month later, I find another solo RPG Engine for me to play with… and another… and another… Eventually, I wanted to do a second Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week, but I kept doing other things that occupied my time.

Now it’s almost impossible to pick just five Engines for a sequel. With solo gaming becoming more mainstream than ever before, more and more Engines are made to cater to various degrees of player. There’s even one author that creates Engines tailor made for certain RPG systems. What adds to this increase is how easy it is to make solo Engines.

For instance, I can take dice from the Genesys RPG system and use the symbols to interpret yes and no answers. Easy. I even made a system using the lowest numbered dice called the Coin, Tumbler, and Caltrop system or CTC for short. A coin is used for yes and no, a d3 (a tumbler) is used to see if it’s a “but”, “and”, or neither, and a d4 (a caltrop) would be a controller to see if a plot twist would be coming.

So now I have the situation of having so many Engines to try out and not enough games to pair them with. Granted, some are easy to pair, like PPM’s Engine or even cases like Ironsworn where the Engines come packed with their own games. However, it’s come to a point where it feels more pragmatic to read the Engine and make conclusions to how it plays rather than devote entire sessions to playing around with it.

Earlier, I made a review scale for RPG games based on how soloable they were, under the idea that any game can be played solo. The problem was that I had way too many variables and scored it on a ten-point rating. Worse still, it shot my own ideas and mission statement down and even made the system as a whole feel like more busywork than a two-paragraph review.

So, with this, I feel like it should be a little more restrained. Instead of numbers, I’d bring the Engine into a few categories based off ease of use, if the Engine is focused on mechanics or story (more on this later), and whether the game has a twist system. Rather than grading it, I feel like it’s more appropriate to see what sort of people would enjoy the Engines.

I’m not going to go into all the nitty gritty details like the odds of getting yes vs. no or how often you trigger an event, since that’d be edging towards reviewing and I’m only making recommendations for this list.

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Apocalypse’s Oracle (Part 2)

When we last left off Zero, he infiltrating the Horakthy, a hoverbarge. He noticed that its owner, Ra, has turned it into his own personal kitchen and cooking up humans. Ra kicked Zero’s ass and has left him to be cooked. As I said before, this will launch the next phase of the playtest, which explores the four tables I didn’t touch previously.

Two of these tables are for Dungeon and Hex Crawling, while the other two generate NPCs and Plot Points. For the context of this game, the Dungeon is the Horakthy and the Hexes are everything going on outside of it.

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Apocalypse’s Oracle (Part 1)

I’m going to be testing out the Apocalypse Oracle (made by archon1024 from Reddit’s Solo Roleplaying group) by using There Is No Spoon, much like how I used it to test CRGE. The idea I have is a hovercraft that’s operated by only two people. They’re a vigilante group seeking to discourage people from abusing the Matrix to their whims and desires. This is set sometime before the Matrix and perhaps around the time of the There is no Spoony Veteran game.

My character creation is simple. Two points to the Matrix Stat for 3 and four to make the Katana skill a 6. Zero’s Deal will be determined by the Oracle, which I shall now go into detail talking about.

The Oracle is designed in a sleek, ergonomic layout that echoes that of katamoiran’s RPGs. There’s only four pages and two of them are needed to use and play a game. The overall intent is to minimize as much flipping through pages as possible and compared to using Mythic or CRGE, it works efficiently.

For Mythic, I had to flip a page or two to get to Actions and Descriptors, but for Apocalypse Oracle, I just need to glance to the right side of the first page. It’s card-based resolution for the complex categories had me puzzled at first, but as I noticed how it ties in the suits to mean different things on top of the rank, it started to click.

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That Time I Had To Save Scientists From Rats But Got Killed By Zombies

While RPG Solo wasn’t the best at generating adventures, what got me hooked onto it was how well it kept my interest by offering an instant “copy to forum” option, which enabled me to paste into my Actual Play thread. The ease of how everything worked made me want more, and so, I made a second campaign under this system: Being an Energy Rider is Suffering. This was set during a zombie apocalypse, like the first full-fledged campaign I tried to run.

Unlike the other campaign though, this is your typical, run of the mill zombie virus infecting people. The big twist though is that zombies can be controlled. Unfortunately, these zombies are being controlled by gangs who would rather use these zombies for crimes. The only hope to stop them lies in the Sonic Arrow, a bow and arrow that has its frequencies tuned to the same kind that controls the zombies, thus overrides and even disables them.

This Sonic Arrow was made by Hope’s Peak, a scientist haven where they’re working round the clock to find a cure. The weapon is given to someone who found this zombie apocalypse thing to be the perfect excuse to try and be a hero.

I made this with a sort of time-keeping system in mind. The way it works is that I kept track of my character’s health, infection rate, food, the weather, the time remaining, and even fame. In my opinion, I liked this system a lot more than the simple hero ranking system, since there’s a lot more info to extrapolate from it.

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That Time I Killed A Bunch Of Superheroes To Be #1

A year before I created this blog, I logged two campaigns on RPG Solo. It was a site that, much like RanDM Solo, would facilitate solo play by allowing the user to a built-in array of rollers, generators, and even custom tables. Back then, it was something that any solo player can just hop in and play. Nowadays, we have more options, like RanDM Solo and even AI Dungeon 2, the latter of which has had so many quality of life changes since I played with it.

However, there was a special sort of magic that came with having an entire suite of solo gaming at your fingertips and RPG Solo scratched a much-needed itch of mine. As a sort of tribute to it (it’s not dead, just dormant), I will retell the campaigns I had from this site, starting with my first: Being a Beat Rider is Suffering.

It seems funny that almost every one of my first attempts at Solo Playing always have the genre of superheroes. There was me reading with Marvel FASERIP’s system in my early days of discovering RPGs, one of the first solo RPGs I recorded for Solo RPG Voyages was a game of Capes, and now this is set in a superhero universe where heroes are ranked based off their… well, heroics.

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Stat It: A Maid, a Butler, and a Master

I figured to do one more Stat It before I get back to playing. In this case, it’ll be Maid RPG. I played this before, but that was just a small session in a larger campaign. I want to play an actual game of Maid RPG. And, to my luck, it’s an RPG that comes with its own scenario in its Corebook. Tons, in fact. But, I’m gonna stick to the common “Happy Birthday” scenario.

Like with the Marvel games, I’ll make three characters. A Maid who I created, a butler who will be randomized, and the premade Master, Nejiri, or given where I’m going to set this game, Torsion.

Right, I should explain where I’m going with this. Originally, I wanted to make this a surprise, but… Yeah, I kinda need to give you context. See, while Maid RPG is inspired by Japanese pop culture and thus Japanese names are given, I decided to set this in Spain, right alongside Hot Guys Making Out… See where I’m going with this?

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Stat It: Fairy Tail

Funny story. I use Roll20 to help with solo roleplaying, in part due to how the site utilizes character sheets. People make character sheets for a variety of RPGs for other players to use for their campaigns. More often than not, it’s a sure-fire way for me to get introduced to a new RPG.

Why is this funny? Because FATAL had a character sheet for Roll20, but it disappeared when I was trying to do the Stat It for FATAL. Of the sheets I found that started with FA, I found one that caught my interest from the name alone: Fairy Tail. Now, when the title of an RPG is some sort of cute wordplay, like substituting tale with tail (looking at you, Tails of Equestria), it will grab my attention. However, upon looking on the sheet, it’s clearly a D20 sheet with an odd bird-like symbol… So, what gives?

Well, this is a D20 Adaptation of the famous anime/manga known as Fairy Tail. What’s it about? Well, it’s a fantasy anime with a ton of different magic systems so robust and unique, that just one of them can easily become a magic system for its own story. It also contains guilds that go on quests, of which one of them is called Fairy Tail. In a way, this anime is essentially an RPG setting just waiting to be explored in some form of system and what better way to explore it than the father of all RPGs (since grandfather would be OSR), D20.

Back in the 2000’s, D20 was the go-to system to create just about any RPG. You want to make a Star Wars RPG? D20. You want your RPG set in contemporary times but don’t want vampires or werewolves in your story? D20. You want to have a sexy RPG? You can bet your sweet ass D20 got you covered. In fact, it was because of that sexy RPG that the license used to have people make D20 games had to be updated and led to an eventual decline in D20-focused RPGs. Of course, there are exceptions, including the now leading competitor Pathfinder, but for the most part, D20 was a flash in the pan.

So… What’s the tale with Fairy Tail? Well, like with Titan World and Snakes on a Plane, this game is fanmade, using the basis of an already easy to understand system and putting the skin of Fairy Tail on it. However, unlike those two examples, this game has a sadly common outcome: it’s incomplete. Now, looking at the webpage, there’s obviously a lot of pages missing. There’s an older version that, while way more complete, still has some rough patches here and there. Particularly with the Advanced Classes, which are this game’s version of Prestige Classes.

Of the ninety Advanced Classes, only thirteen Advanced Classes have fully statted up class tables. A little under 15% of one section of the book is actually complete. Now, granted, that section is about 7% of the entire book and other than that, the book is pretty much complete, but I felt like this needed a mention. Not that it really matters much, since thirteen Advanced Classes is still a lot. Compare to Pathfinder’s ten Prestige Classes in the Core Rulebook and 3.5’s fifteen Prestige Classes, and Fairy Tail manages to hit a happy medium in spite of how many others are empty.

Again, not that it really matters, as I want to take a look at the Races, since they’re very unique to the Fairy Tail lore. You have two human races, one from each universe (long story short, there’s basically a mirror universe to Fairy Tail’s universe) and the difference between them is that one’s more adept at magic and the other’s more tech-based, bringing to mind the Artificer from 5e.

The real icing on the cake, however, are the three non-human races. You have a Fallen Celestial, children of the stars who have been barred from their realm and must live amongst humans, the Exceed, cat people that were revered as gods in the aforementioned mirror universe, and lastly, Demons. It is these three races in particular that I’m going to delve into, rather than make characters around the prestiges like I did with Testament. It’s even easier that way thanks to two words: Level Adjustment.

Simply put, the races are so overpowered that the only way they would be balanced out is if they were to be viewed as a higher-level character. Allow me to use an example: The Fallen Celestial has four stats that get a +2 and has 1d3 powers that tie them to their star of origin. The only drawback they have is that they have an extra mana pool (this game runs on mana points instead of the Spell Slots system) that doesn’t replenish like normal and, if depleted, results in the character being wiped from existence. But, hey, an extra mana pool! As a result, the best way to balance this race out is to have a Level Adjustment of +5, or better put, the race is seen as a 5th level character, if all the levels are put into empty classes.

This, however, is a complex and overall weak way to hold back races and later versions like 5E and Pathfinder never went back to the Level Adjustment and instead make each race balanced overall or adding a points system that denotes how strong the race is overall.

For this, Stat It, however, we will definitely play around with this. Because our highest-level character is at 5th level, that naturally means everyone else will be 5th. In fact, I’ll start things off with the Fallen Celestial, as they have the Level Adjustment of 5.

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Stat It: A Certain RPG…

Alright… Buckle yourselves in… We’re going to be tackling a certain roleplaying game. Oh yes, that roleplaying game. Some of you are probably anticipating what I’m about to unveil on a day commonly associated with tricks and troll moments, so I’m going to cut the crap and give it straight to you.

I’m taking a look at A Certain Roleplaying Game

What? Not all April Fool’s Day pranks have to be long, drawn out skits. Sometimes the best trick is one that doesn’t need to be one.

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