Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beacon: what's in it for you?

I've been posting for a year and a half on this blog and discussing ideas for changes and rules tweaks, thoughts on draft releases and playtest session reports.  I've tried to stick to Beacon as a design topic but I have posted on other topics because things can't exist in a vacuum and a lot of time some idea from a movie or a book will influence game design.  I've noticed a couple traffic spikes when I announced a rules update or mentioned Laser Ponies or some other topic that drew some interest.  Today I was reading a couple blogs and realizing just how hard it is to get a sense of an overall topic in the blog 'rolling posts' format.  Do people coming here read a post and attribute it to Beacon or to gaming in general or to d20?  Do they know what I'm trying to do here?  I do have an 'About' page, but unless you go back to the beginning of the blog and read you might not get a sense of what Beacon is about.  I thought it might be a good idea to make a newer post talking about why someone might want to try out Beacon as opposed to other great games.

So why should you play Beacon?

System specific answer:
Pathfinder/3e:  If you like Pathfinder or 3rd edition D&D but find them a bit heavy with feats and situational rules or if you want something closer to old school D&D but with familiar D20 mechanics then try Beacon.
Microlite:  If you like Microlite but want a bit more class progression and/or more customized content folded into it then try Beacon.
OD&D:  If you like OD&D (or clones like Labyrinth Lord, Castles and Crusades or Swords and Wizardry) but want your characters to start out a bit meatier or would like to try point based spell mechanics then try Beacon.
Gurps Fantasy/Rolemaster/BRP/Palladium/etc.:  If you want to try some d20, maybe run one of the old d&d modules you picked up but never re-statted for your system then try Beacon.  It should be pretty quick to get up and running.
Legend of the Five Rings:  If you want something diverting to play during Winter Court or on the wall between combat drilling and Oni attacks, or if you want to recreate historic tales of the Unicorn clan then try Beacon.
Traveller/Star Frontiers/Star Wars:  Well you're probably not even reading this, or if you are then the sci-fi One Page Dungeon you are looking for is here.
Horror:  Oh my God what's that scratching in the closet!?!
Bullet list answer:
  • Beacon is a d20 system, it is pretty much out of the box compatible with other d20 materials and pretty compatible with materials for older versions of d&d (with minor conversion).
  • Beacon has races and classes tied into a simple skill system. Player creation is fast and simple so new players can grasp it very quickly
  • Players can direct their character progression.  The leveling system includes skill point assignment for players to choose how their characters evolve. 
  • Beacon is rules light and narrative driven.  There are rules here for resolving actions with the focus on how you describe the actions.
  • Combat is simple but still somewhat tactical.  Group initiative streamlines play.  Combat rounds consist of two phases, missile and melee, and movement can happen in both.  Spells must be prepared and can be interrupted.  There are simple modifiers for terrain.  Minis or tokens can be used but are certainly not required.
  • Hit points measure fatigue and physical damage is reflected by stats.
  • Spells are more common, magic items less so.  Magic is draining.  There are no daily use limits, however casting spells uses HP which cannot be healed magically.
  • Monsters are simple to stat up and run, you really just need to remember their hit dice and any really special abilities.  No need to remember an creature's claw vs bite damage, its all derived from HD so pile them on.
  • Your mom wants you to try it.  Seriously, she just called me.

1 comment:

  1. Well I've tried Beacon and I like it. It plays like how I remember OD&D used to play, without ruining the memory by actually having to play OD&D, if you know what I mean.

    I've never been into rules heavy rpgs, but I do like a certain amount of structure and tactical choice and Beacon has that. It's easy to learn which means its easy to get into. It's simple enough to play one shots with the kids, and hearty enough for a larger campaigns with the "grown-up" group.

    I think you should put it up on DriveThruRPG and see where you get!