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It’s easy to lose sight of the real enemy. Never forget.


The fact that you can say pretty much whatever nasty thing you want about them, and they’ll bend over backwards to prove you right.

“They’re spinmongers.”

“They’re bad with money.”

“They don’t pay their debts.”

“They’re writing off half the country.”

“They hate democracy.”

Sweet. Zombie. Jesus.

There’s a point when you’ve got to ask yourself,  “how the hell are these people planning on getting elected?”   Let’s make that time before the general.  Seriously.

Here’s the second in my series of ramblings about my half-baked home-brew RPG.

I’ve already covered my idea to standardize damage dealt. Here’s a taste of what I’m thinking about doing with weapons and other combat gear. Those of you who play D&D and/or Saga will notice some very strong influences here.

Choice of armament effects what sort of special options you can (or must) exercise while in combat. I’m going to try and keep the number of numerical bonuses to a minimum, with the abilities being more thematic and tactical rather than raw numbers. A notable exception is the Sword, which is generally considered a superior weapon in skilled hands. If anyone has a better idea of what to do for them, I’d be happy to hear it.

Swords: +1 bonus to dmg/Ref Def when using Power Attack/Combat Expertise

Axes/Picks: Extra die of damage on critical hit

Polearms: Reach

Spears: Set against charge, potentially thrown. (note: thrown OR reach, not both)

Dagger: Can be thrown, does two types of damage

Quarterstaff: Double Weapon, can be used to trip

Crossbow: Deals extra die on aimed shots

Bows: Fast rate of fire

Shuriken: small, can be drawn quickly (like ammo)

Flails: Extra penalties on Block rolls. (see Shields)

Nunchuku: can be used to grapple

Sai: aids in disarms

Whips: allow grapples at range (exotic)


Weapon Qualities:

Weapons could also have enhancements or abilities that fell outside their normal usage. These sorts of enhancements (Flaming, Vorpal, etc) would combine with their more mundane abilities.


Flaming: Deals and extra die of damage against creatures vulnerable to fire.

Wounding: Pushes target further down condition track.


Mechanically, shields will allow you to make Block checks (a la the talent from Saga), though I haven’t determined what bonuses are going to be used for this.

All: Make Block roll, penalties based on size/training.

Buckler: -5 penalty on Block Rolls, -1 penalty to physical skills.

Small: -2 penalty on Block Rolls, -2 penalty to physical skills.

Large: no penalty on Block Rolls, -5 penalty to physical skills.



Armor has been simplified into 3 categories, Light, Medium and Heavy. The penalties outlined will apply to things like Acrobatics, Climb, and Jump (which will likely be rolled into Athletics with Swim). Non-proficient wearers will also take that penalty on attack rolls. Note that base speed is assumed to be 6 squares.

I’ve considered making non-proficient wearers take a -2 penalty to Ref Def, just to keep from having everyone in light armor whether they took the feat or not. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I should shift around some penalties to try and keep that from happening.

Light (Leather, Chain Shirt): +2 Ref Def and DT, No penalty, no speed reduction.

Medium (Chainmail, Splint): +4 Ref Def and DT, -2 penalty to physical skills, no speed reduction.

Heavy (Plate, Heavy Hide): +6 Ref Def and DT, -5 penalty to physical skills, speed reduced to 4.

I think maybe, though, they’re some sort of bizarre light rock trojan horse from the Republicans.

Whoever it is needs to update their technology. It’s like they’re from Bedrock, splicing this with a snarky bird.


My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.

Down, boy.

If you haven’t been watching the Democratic Primary race closely, you’ve been missing some prime political theatre.

After failing to land a knockout blow on Super Tuesday (as predicted by this very blog, not that anyone reads it), the Clinton campaign has lost 8 straight primaries and is all but in free-fall.  They’ve gone from having a substantial lead (counting super-delegates) to being, by most accounts, behind the would-be challenger.

The situation is exacerbated by Clinton’s apparent willingness to through her campaign staff under the bus.  She’s already dropped her campaign manager, citing accounting shortfalls, and a deputy manager has resigned as well.  At least they’re getting paid again.

Now, they’re basically giving Barack Obama Wisconsin, and focusing on Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, because ostensibly those are “real” states.

And to top it all off, her best fundraisers, having long since given the maximum they can, are looking into starting a series of 527’s (non-affiliated campaign groups) so that they can spend more of their money advertising for her, because she’s having trouble bringing in that oh-so-elusive small donor base.

Now, she’s got Ed Rendell telling me that I’m not ready for a black president.

The wheels are really starting to come off now.   Not that it’s wise to count Clinton out just yet.  Not while she’s still breathing.

Let the swift-boating commence.

This is the first of the design diaries for my homebrew RPG. I’m posting this here mostly because I want to be able to collect it all in one place, but if any of my (2, maybe 3) readers want to chime in with questions or suggestions, feel free.

One of the things that has always bugged me about the design of combat mechanics in roleplaying games is the disparity between any two character’s ability to deal damage, and how much of that is dependent upon what type of equipment or weapons they happen to have. It makes sense that an individual with a longsword should be able to do more damage than one without, but what makes the average dagger/club less dangerous in well-trained hands than a battle-axe?

The same could be said for more modern weaponry in games that feature it; a bullet is a bullet, and if you get hit with it you’re probably going down no matter what caliber it was. Some weapons put more out in order to ensure a hit, some pack more powder to punch through defenses, but in essence one red-hot high-speed metal projectile is the same as another when it actually contacts flesh.

For this reason, I’m going to attempt something that hasn’t really been done in RPG design so far; character based damage. Each character gets a damage algorithm, based on level and specific attributes which can then be altered via taking certain options, with the weapon itself playing no part in actually determining the damage.

I like the Saga system of adding ½ of your character level to damage dealt, so I’m going to borrow that. In order to allow for some variation (because rolling dice is fun, let’s be honest) we’ll also assign a die step (d4, d6, d8) based on character level. Here’s how it would look;

Base Damage = (level based die size) + ½ character level.

In specific instances (like melee combat) attributes would add directly onto this (Strength, in this case).

Having both a static number and a die type involved opens up a lot of design space for possible bonuses, without it becoming all about the weapons themselves. There would be abilities available that added static bonuses (like Weapon Specialization, for example) and others that added dice to your damage roll (think Saga’s Burst Fire and Rapid Strike).

The weapons themselves would confer new options, rather than being purely damage. Light or one-handed weapons could use Dexterity to attack, for example, other weapons would provide reach, etc. Magical enchantments like Flaming or Ice would allow the wielder to overcome the defenses of specific foes more easily, they wouldn’t add to the damage directly though.

I’ll flesh this out a little more in another post, which will probably also include my basic combat rules and how attack bonuses are determined.

Note: This post is about the VS System Trading Card Game. More information can be found at, and a wonderful supportive community for the game can be found at

The intense demand for Marvel Legends and DC Legends has created a bit of an issue for a lot of players that happen to be strapped for cash. Some of the more popular Rares, your Batmans and Black Mantas for example, are extremely hard to come by. In all honesty, unless you have them they’re going to be incredibly hard to get a hold of, unless you can manage to find a case or two of unopened product.


There is hope, however. I’m here to help you make the most of your non-Manta-level Rares. They may not be tournament level now, but that’s just because we haven’t broken them yet.


For the first installment in this series, I’m going to start with Sunburst. In case you, like the apparent majority of players, didn’t realize this card existed, I’ll lay it out for you here;


(Big shout out to DocX and his search engine. If you don’t have this thing bookmarked yet, you’re hurting yourself when it comes to deckbuilding.)


Plot Twist
Cost: 2

To play, exhaust an Injustice Gang character you control.

Ongoing: At the start of the recovery phase, each player returns a stunned character he controls to its owner’s hand.


So, what have we learned? Well, we’re dealing with an Ongoing Plot Twist that’s team-stamped to the Injustice Gang and which has the reciprocal effect of potentially removing one character from each player’s board each turn while simultaneously putting cards in hands all around the table. What does all this mean? Let’s break it down.


The best place to start is probably the fact that it’s an Ongoing Plot Twist. This has a couple of important implications. First, it means that it’s going to take up space in your Resource Row.

Sometimes, this is a downside, like when you’re trying to keep your row tidy for specific effects (like Heroes in Reserve or the various Gotham Knights cards that trigger based multiple same-cost resources) or if you want to get multiple versions online quickly (since they can’t come from the hand).

In other cases, it’s a boon. The Revenge Squad, for example, loves this card in the right team-up deck.

Ongoings are also a lot harder to deal with via negation than are Non-Ongoing Plot Twists, with cards like Pathetic Attempt in the meta to stop most forms of blue-cardboard KO tech.

Lastly, the Ongoing portion of the card means that if you get it out early, it’s going to be going off repeatedly. That kind of staying power is something you just don’t get out of Finishing Move.

Reciprocal Effect

What next? Well, how about the fact that it’s a reciprocal effect, meaning that it goes after both you and your opponent. In general, it’s hard to sell a reciprocal effect to TCG players.

One reason for this is that we tend to think in terms of “to.” We do things “to” others, like damage, forcing discard, KO’ing characters, etc. The idea of playing something that can potentially effect us in the same manner is a little scary, though often worth it.

Another reason reciprocal effects tend not to see play is that they give your opponent something for nothing. Whether it’s shared life gain, card draw or KO tech, it’s somewhat disconcerting to think that they might profit off of something you effectively paid (via raw deckspace, if nothing else) to do.

When done well, though, these types of effects can be gamebreaking. Sunburst is a good example of this, since it’s custom-made to go into an Injustice Gang control deck.

Injustice Gang Stamped

The last thing I’m going to look at right now is the team-stamp. Sunburst requires the exhaust of an Injustice Gang character to play, so in that way at least it’s comparable to a team-stamped Death Trap or Finishing Move; an exhaust to remove a character from the board. That’s really nothing special on it’s own, but when taken with the rest of the tricks available to IG, it’s pretty significant.

One of the first things that jumps out at you when you look at Injustice Gang cards is that they like your opponents to have cards in their hand. KO effects, burn, ATK and DEF pumps, control elements, IG has all sorts of crazy effects that work best when the guy across from you is holding half his deck in his hand. Sunburst helps feed that theme, and does it in one of the most aggravating ways possible, by taking characters off of the board. Before long, a curve player is going to see their hand fill up with character cards that they just can’t get rid of, and all your card-counting effects are going to get stronger and stronger as the game goes on.

Another, somewhat tangential thing that the IG team-stamp has going for it is the huge numbers of low drop concealed characters that you can field in an Injustice Gang deck to pay the exhaust for Sunburst; 3 1 drops (Catwoman, Shade and The Penguin) and 3 2 drops (Barracuda, Superwoman and Johnny Quick). This means they’re always going to have extra bodies around to exhaust to it, so it’s never a dead card. Unless of course you fail to stun any opposing characters, but that’s something we’re going to deal with next time.

And speaking of “next time,” that sounds like a great place to segue out. In our next installment, I’ll present some decklists that I feel do a very good job of making the most out of Sunburst, at least one of which will include no other rares.

Until next time, some indeterminate Bat Time, same Bat Channel.

The Clinton’s lent their campaign $5 Million today, and a good number of their senior staff are going without pay for the month of February in order to try to balance the books after massive spending for Iowa, New Hampshire and the Super Tuesday states.

Edit: In the interest of fairness, the Clinton campaign has apparently raised $3 million dollars this week, in an effort to offset the cost of the loan.  Not bad, but it’s not $7 Mil in a little over 24 hours.

On the other side, The Obama campaign raised $2 million during my walk home from work. They’ve got a solid shot at topping Ron Paul for highest one-day online fundraising, $6 million which came during one of his “money bombs” late last year.

But if you ask the Clinton camp, Obama’s out of momentum.

Spin, spin, spin. Makes me dizzy just watching.

Edit: The Obama Campaign has been updating their donation graphic all night;

Apparently, the Feds are stepping up their campaign to leave vets out in the cold.

Lawyers, hired by the American Government are currently making the case that all veterans’ medical programs are

completely discretionary, that even if Congress appropriates money for veterans‘ health care, we can do anything we want with it.

In civilized countries, when you ask someone to go die for you and they manage to come back, you help them live a good life.  In America, you try to pretend they don’t exist, unless it makes a good campaign commercial.

Days like this, I can’t believe this is the First World.