Summer is almost over. My wife is back to work at a new library. The kids go back to school in a week. Time for another big shake up of my schedule, hopefully in a good way. It may make blogging a bit easier. We’ll see.
So awhile back, if you recall, I posted my thoughts on running a B/X D&D and just how easy it felt. It still feels easy, fresh, and fun. Enough so that Witch Hunter feels a bit clunky by comparison. So as an exercise, I starting playing around with home-brewing a system that would give me the same easy breezy feeling but include all the stuff I want and need for heroic swashbuckling fantasy. And that’s what I stumbled right back over All For One: Regime Diabolique, by Wiggy of Triple Ace Games.
For those of you unfamiliar with the game, All for One (AFO, hereafter) is a roleplaying game set in early 17th Century France, where the players assume the roles of the King’s Musketeers, protecting King and Country from the threats foreign, domestic, and…supernatural! Demons, vampires, werewolves, and all manner of other things that go bump in the night lurk in the dark shadows of Paris, and in the catacombs below. Now if that doesn’t sound like a dead ringer candidate for game of the year for this GM, I don’t know what does?
I used AFO a few years back as the basis for another campaign for my library program. At that time, I was pretty wrapped up in the Savage Worlds system and the Savage World of Solomon Kane, so the Ubiquity system went in the hopper and was hastily converted to SW mechanics. This was, of course, before Triple Ace Games (TAG) did me the courtesy of releasing a SW adaption on their own. Boy, would that have saved me some work. That campaign has long since wrapped, but I’ve kept AFO on my Witch Hunter resource bookshelf for ideas and inspiration. So it isn’t like I found my dog-earred copy in the garage.
Now maybe you haven’t heard, but as much as I like the new 7th Sea game, it has some aspects that present a bit of a barrier to me as a go-to game. But what started out as an exercise in stripping a game for parts became sort of a startling rediscovery of the Ubiquity system. Understand, I never disliked Ubiquity as a game system, it was just a non-starter for me. The whole even/odds thing felt gimmicky, and most folks compare its play with Savage Worlds.
Flash forward a few years and I have a sudden epiphany that Ubiquity could be the bad ass d10 dice pool game 7th Sea is never going to be for me. Even better, it’s a rosetta stone. You can easily map that parts of 7th Sea 2nd edition you like to it, due to the Hero Point/Style Point economies both games share, and still maintain a more traditional conflict resolution mechanic. Oh sure, it’s not a perfect fit, but it’s pretty damn close. It seems like a pretty hard game to break, too. And the tone and style of the game flirts with covering the same territory as witch hunter (supernatural monster hunting) while at the same time opening itself to a more sandbox approach. In fact, its a perfect fit for those who want to run a game akin to D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker Chronicles.
After four years of playing Witch Hunter, I’ve got the system ALMOST where it needs to be. So I’m not about to pitch the whole thing and jump ship to Ubiquity, but DAMN if it isn’t tempting. A lot of the lore of Witch Hunter could easily be mapped to AFO, as could the setting material for Savage World of Solomon Kane. Personally, I like that Witch Hunter is a more global game. Where if you want to throw together an adventure in India, or Egypt, or the Far East, you are good to go. But there are parts of the system that just feel like dead weight compared to what Ubiquity offers.
I would make a few changes off the top, however. These ideas may not sit well, or may seem superfluous, to hard-core Ubiquity fans. But if I play it, they are going in.
- d10 dice pools. Successes on a 6+ (instead of standard evens/odds)
- Exploding dice! Rolling a 10 on any die lets you reroll.
- Rule of 10. dice pools are capped at 10. For every two dice extra, the player gets a free success.
- Static Defense. At the very least for NPCs, do away with defense rolls and just reduce attacks by the Average defense.
- Brute squads/Minion Bands! Gotta have rules for mobs of bad guys. Someone has probably done this for Ubiquity already, but I’m thinking Threat Ratings 1-5, roll 2 dice per Rank. Defense is equal to Rank. Defense Rolls against brute squads don’t suffer the usual -2 for multiple opponents (they are brutes!).
- Cinematic Health: On paper, the game looks a bit more gritty than I’d like for a pulp game. But having not played before, I’m hesitant to change that.
- GM Procedural Rolls. I’m gonna have a whole blog post on these, as I’m coming to realize they are the secret sauce that makes O/B/X D&D click. Any GM roll against a player skill is done with 1d10. A roll equal to or less than the average rating succeeds. Yes, sorry, the high-low thing. But these are only for the GM, so…
And that’s more or less it. Ok, I might add some special stunts for Fencing Schools, but I suspect those are already out and in the wild.
So if you’ve been following along with this blog and thinking, yeah, swashbuckling monster hunters sounds fun! Or if your one of the many people who cracked the new 7th Sea game and said, “what the…um…” then DEFINITELY do yourself a favor and check out this gem. The game line is well supported and mostly complete, so no supplement train to worry about (feature or negative, your choice). Plus, the guys at TAG are fantastic folks who threw a lot of support to me when I was using their stuff for my library program.