Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sertorius Playtest Report

Here is the latest Sertorius playtest report:

Friday, December 20, 2013


I’ve mentioned that we will be doing a number of free PDFs with new spells called the Books of the Archon for our upcoming Sertorius roleplaying game. I’ve also mentioned these are more than just additional spells, but provide completely different ways to approach the game. The second Book of the Archon goes one step further and establishes a whole new game loosely based on the core system (the spells will still be 100% compatible with Sertorius however). Book of the Archon II: The Legend of Ogre Gate, will be our first venture into Wuxia, using the Sertorius engine. 

Before I go any further, I want to emphasize this will be a free PDF, so it will simply be our first effort toward an actual Wuxia RPG that we will release down the road. Our free PDFs will have some art, but not a lot, and won’t have many of the other bells and whistles. But they won’t cost you a dime and we will put as much effort into designing them as we do our core products. If people like The Legend of Ogre Gate, and there is enough demand, then we will re-work and expand it, hopefully releasing a print edition within a year or so. 

Making a Wuxia RPG is actually a project I’ve wanted to do for a while and it is exciting to finally have the chance to do so. I love martial arts movies, especially the classic wuxia from the 60s and 70s and the more recent stuff in the last decade or so (which just seems to have more fantasy elements). After the holidays we’ll start work on The Legend of Ogre Gate, but I can provide some tentative details here:

  • Our wuxia RPG will be set in an alternate reality or dimension that connects to the core Sertorius setting via a place called Ogre Gate. We laid the groundwork for this bridge while developing Sertorius.  
  • It will use the core mechanics and cosmology of Sertorius but in very different ways. For example, in Sertorius, magic is inborn, people either have it or they don’t because it is a feature of their souls. In Legend of Ogre Gate, magic (while it has the same source) came about differently, so its energies permeate everything and martial arts masters can cultivate it, using it to enhance their combat techniques and abilities.
  • Ogres will also feature prominently in the setting, but their nature will be more malevolent (and again this ties into the particulars of how magic emerged).
  • Characters will have more room to grow and increase their powers than in Sertorius. For example, in Sertorius there are the four emotions and these are set ranks, you cannot change them. In Legend of Ogre Gate there are four ways and these can be lowered or raised through training.
  • Spells in Legend of Ogre Gate will essentially be martial arts abilities like you see in wuxia movies. Some will be supernatural such as the ability to leap great distance or slice an enemy with your sword from hundreds of feet away. Others will be mundane techniques enhanced by mystic insight.
  • It will contain many new or altered mechanics, plus a partial setting (the free PDF will suggest a broader setting but that will only be explored if people really want a complete Wuxia RPG book from Bedrock). This won’t just be a book of spells, but a book with chapters on Wuxia Rules, Setting, Monsters, etc.

Really looking forward to working on this one.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Steve Fillmore Interview

I usually only write about gaming stuff here. Very rarely we examine something more serious. The other day a story came to my attention  (via The Main Man) about a 30 year-old gamer named Steve Fillmore who has Stage III-B colo-rectal cancer. Not only has this terrible illness required surgeries and chemo-therapy, but it has taken an enormous financial toll on him and his fiancé, Lindsay. In fact, they had to launch a Giveforward campaign to pay down some of his medical debt, to avoid cancelation of insurance and termination of his treatments. Steve’s story really struck a chord with me, because of my own struggles with Crohns disease (a far less serious condition I have talked about here in the past, but one that occasionally requires similar treatments). Thankfully, I have never run into a problem with insurance. But I can only imagine what it would be like to have to deal with the reality of a life-threatening illness while also fending off the debt it generates. So I thought it might be a good idea for him to talk about his Giveforward campaign here in a brief interview. I encourage readers to give what they can. This is a genuinely good cause and you can directly impact someone in a positive way.

(Steve’s Giveforward campaign can be found here: GIVEFORWARD CAMPAIGN)
BRENDAN: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview Steve. How are you feeling and how are you and Lindsay holding up?
STEVE: Thanks for the willingness to do the interview. I am feeling good. I had the surgery recently to reconnect my small intestine to my rectum, so that means that I no longer have an illeostomy bag. Lindsay and I are doing fairly well. It has been stressful and I know she is tired, she has been working way more hours than someone should to help make ends meet.
BRENDAN: Can you tell our readers about your Giveforward campaign and what you are hoping to achieve?
STEVE: The Giveforward campaign was established by some friends of mine. Gamer friends in fact. I had never actually met them in person until this past Thanksgiving. Andre and Jennifer Martinez, good people. They started it to help Lindsay and I have the ability to pay down doctor bills. I don't know what we are hoping to achieve. Anything, any amount that the site raises is great. It is all going to pay down debt after this ordeal. Well not all of it. A part of it I am donating to Rock Solid Foundations. It is a local organization that builds playgrounds for children with cancer. And that is something I can get down with.
BRENDAN: For those who might not understand what it is like to treat a serious illness, can you tell people why the medical costs became such a burden, even with insurance?
STEVE: Well the hard part of this is that the treatments have been worse than the disease. So even with insurance paying for a good portion of my treatments I was not able to work for a large portion of that time. In fact I almost lost my insurance. Even with the insurance the bills have piled up. I have been through Radiation, Chemo-therapy twice and have had at this point I think 6 surgeries. All of which have multiple bills associated with them and that’s not even counting the doctor visits. So you keep getting more and more bills and working less and less. Lindsay has been a blessing beyond belief, when I couldn't work she really stepped up.
BRENDAN: If you lose your insurance, what options do you have for treatment?
STEVE:None. I was turned down for partial disability, citing that my condition was not debilitating. I challenge the lady that told me that to go through a month of my chemo.
BRENDAN: You work two jobs. Where do you find the strength to remain so active?
STEVE: I find the strength in my family, my friends and Lindsay. She has been amazing. We had only been engaged for 4 weeks or so when I found out I had cancer. She didn't have to stay, she had every right to say that this was not what she had signed on for and run, but she didn't. She has stood by me, through the sick, the tired, and even the mean.
BRENDAN: I did notice you are a gamer. Has your relationship with gaming changed during the illness? Do you find it helpful to game?
STEVE: I haven't gamed in a long time in person. It has all been through Google Hangouts, so that part has changed. I have always had a love for the hobby, my dad is a gamer. But I have really come to learn that there are some incredible people out there. You hear the hobby being talked poorly about all the time, but I would again issue a challenge to people to see what these folks have done for me, how they have rallied behind me, come to be my friends, to love me and be loved by me. How many of you can say that about your hobby?
BRENDAN: What has the hardest part of all this been?
STEVE: The hardest part? 1) My dad telling me that he felt guilty about it because it was his job to protect me and he couldn't. 2)Seeing my mom hurt by it. 3) Perhaps the worse. The shear amount of anger I have taken out on people like Lindsay when they did not deserve it. I came really close to losing myself. Not physically, not talking about dying, but mentally. I was not who I wanted to be any more.
BRENDAN:  What would you like people to know about cancer? Is there anything you’ve learned that you want to share? 
STEVE: Its real folks! Sit there and say not me all you want, but yes even you. Please Please Please, men, get checked. I was 29 when this started, this is an old man's disease and I was 29. The other thing I will share, is be patient. It has been said before but I will say it here. You do not know what the person next to you is going through. Please be patient and try and share a kind word.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


The map for Sertorius was done by Robert Conley, who also did the map for Arrows of Indra. A preview of the map and of the setting chapter is up at Geek Native:

Monday, December 2, 2013


Sertori carry the spirit of a god within them, and it is tangible, manifesting as spells but also as an overall level of power and might reflected in their Divinity score. As your Divinity increases in Sertorius, you gain new spells and special abilities called Thauma, which are basically miracles (spells on a much grander scale). Divinity goes up as you acquire followers, and they are the subject of today’s article.

Followers are drawn to Sertori by a combination of awe and devotion. Initially, your following is small, only a handful of people. But over time this grows until it becomes a movement with the potential for structure and sectarian conflict. Quite simply, Sertori become the center of a new religion.
Your followers may see you as a god, but this isn’t always the case. Some Sertori prefer to be thought of as teachers or prophets, loyal to a deity greater than themselves. Others claim divine lineage. How you choose to present yourself is entirely your choice.

In time, as the following grows you can anoint disciples, special followers with whom you share a mystical connection. You can commune with your Disciples over great distances through this spiritual link. They can also help you to direct your will upon the broader community of followers (this becomes particularly useful when followers break into sects).
Once your movement reaches a large enough size (roughly one thousand people or more) it becomes harder to maintain a unified belief system. This is expressed mechanically as a roll you make each month to see if how your community of followers develops (does it split into sects, raise new leaders, etc). The closer you are to them physically, the greater your control over this. It is quite easy to stomp out heresies when you’re there to personally explain your creed or requirements. But when you and your disciples are not present, the chance of change within the community increases.

The monthly roll is not intended to replace roleplay, or serve to restrict the GM. It is simply a tool, and can always be ignored, altered or adjusted by the gamemaster to conform with events in the campaign. But it is quite useful and it leads to interesting developments. These include the emergence of new leaders in the community, conflict between your followers and other people (or within itself), the rise of new sects and heresies, and even your followers turning against you.  This can all be tracked on a handy chart at the back of your character sheet.
Beyond the mechanics of the monthly roll, movements like this can have an enormous impact on the game. They give Sertori clout and influence, they are a potential source of income, and they could be used as personal army if need be. But followers can also be lost, and if you lose enough, your power will diminish. So this becomes an important part of the game as campaigns grow.

We found followers added a great deal to play in our own games. When you acquire enough of them, the emphasis of the campaign tends to shift toward managing your base of power. Building temples, resolving disputes with rival movements, and leading thousands of people to glory become the focus. Still, it is entirely possible to put followers in the background if you just want to keep adventuring.