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BAFF! Basic Action Final Fantasy

david-adhinarya-lojaya-combs

Those who follow my blog know that I love crossovers and conversions- and have in fact already converted concepts such as Pokemon and the Steven Universe characters to the BASH (Basic Action Super Heroes) role-playing system. And given that Final Fantasy is one of the greatest science fantasy franchises ever -which incidentally is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary- the time seems right to try a BASH conversion of it as well.

Of course, given that nearly every FF game, series or movie takes place on a different world, it is impossible to describe all of them here. But we can discuss the themes that keep recurring; you can go from there. You’ll of course need a copy of BASH Ultimate Edition as well.

The Elements

These are forces or substances that provide powers to certain monsters, characters or items. There’s always at least four- Earth, Wind, Water and Fire– and often Ice, Lightning, Holy and Dark. Sometimes Poison is considered an Element as well. In BASH terms these are considered damage types. Powers or attacks that do not use any of these are referred as Non-Elemental.

Affinities

Creatures and objects often have Elemental Affinities, so that they take less (or more) damage from certain Elements. This is usually based on which elements are “opposed” in the setting. See a typical list of opposites below:

Earth vs Wind

Water vs Lightning

Fire vs Ice

Holy vs Dark

Poison has no opposed element, but its damage may still be resisted or increased by certain abilities.

The affinities, and their corresponding BASH traits, are:

Absorb – Absorption Power

Immunity – Immunity Power

Resistance – Resistance Power

Vulnerable – Damaging Weakness* (double damage)

Weakness – Devastating Weakness (triple damage)

* = not the BASH Vulnerability Weakness

The Summons

Known by many different names -Espers, Eidolons etc.- most Final Fantasies include these- creatures of enormous power from a far realm that can be summoned for help in combat. In some versions, they just appear, deliver a magical effect, and vanish- making them no more than a vision that takes place during an otherwise-normal spell. But in some settings, they actually materialize and take part in the battle. To simulate this, use the Summoning Power with the Limitation: Summons Only. All Summons are creatures with 60 Hits and at least one Power that fits their “theme”. For example, Shiva The Ice Goddess always has Diamond Dust, a Special Attack that does ice-based damage. The basic form of this Power gets you a specific Summon; for 1 extra character point you can call three of them, and for 2 extra points you can summon any of them. Note that Summoning often requires Magic Points to use (that is, it has the Energy Cost Limitation.)

Limit Breaks

Most main FF characters can use these: abilities that can exceed their personal limits, usually in dire circumstances. Typically they are attacks, but they can be any Power, even Healing. A Limit Break must be high in Level -at least 4 or higher- and always has the <Situational> Limitation (Usually, Only when Hits are below 25% maximum).

Spells: As in most classic Fantasy, FF spells always have the Limitations <Casting> and <Energy Cost>.

Spell names: traditionally, level 2 spells have the suffix “a”; 3-level spells have the suffix “ga” and 4th level spells have the suffix “ra”. Example: Fire, Fira, Firaga, Firara. 5th Levels spells have unique names.

Status Effects: These effects are caused by certain abilities, spells and items. There are two types: “negative” statuses that hinder the target, and “positive” status that are beneficial. These are some of the most common:

Negative Statuses

Status – BASH equivalent

Berserk – Boost (Brawn, only while berserk) [Usable on Others] Linked to Mind Control <Only to cause the target to attack using only physical attacks>

Blind– Confusion

Charm– Mind Control

Confuse- Confusion [Friend from Foe]

Fear– Daze [repels enemies]

Transform- Shape Shifting [Usable on Others] <Only into a harmless animal such as a frog>

Petrify- Immobilization [Target Only] Linked to Increased Density 1 [Usable on Others]

Poison– Continual Damage (Poison)

Seal– Nullify

Sleep– Daze

Slow– Slow [Lethargic]

Stop– Immobilization [Target Only]

Stun– Daze <one Page only>

Zombie– Shape Shifting [Usable on Others] <Only into a zombie>

Positive Statuses

Status – BASH equivalent

Auto‐Life– Healing [Usable on Others] <Delay (only when target reaches 0 Hits)>

Flight– Flight [Usable on Others]

Haste– Super Speed [Usable on Others]

Invisible– Invisibility [Usable on Others]

Protect– Armor [Usable on Others] <Physical Attacks Only>

Reflect– Deflect [Double-Maker] <Spells only>

Regen– Healing [Usable on Others, Regenerative]

Shell– Resistance (Spells) [Usable on Others]

EquipmentWeapons, Armor, Shields, Accessories and other Items are considered Standard Equipment unless they have magical or technological properties- in that case they are Special Equipment, possibly boosted with Equipment Enhancements (see Awesome Powers #6.) Particularly powerful items might be Powers with the Gadget Limitation.

Leveling Up– If you are planning on running a FF campaign rather than just a few sessions, you should use the Optional Experience Points rules (UE, page 130) to allow the PCs to level up. Preferably, use Method 2 to simulate the games more closely.

Credits: My thanks to the Final Fantasy Wiki and the fan-made Final Fantasy D6 role-playing game for providing inspiration and ideas for this article!

Art by david-adhinarya-lojaya-combs.

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Why I hate Flashpoint

flashpoint-comics-cover-dc-number-1-one

I might seem to be in a bad mood lately. In my last blog entry, I picked on a little girls’ cartoon (Little Charmers) and now I’m outright saying I hate a comic book story. But at least in this case, I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Flashpoint is a major story plot affecting the DC comics superhero, The Flash. It is better known as ‘‘The Reverse-Flash killed Barry Allen’s mother” plot; you may have seen it as part of the (current) version of that character’s TV show. In it, The Flash learns it was his foe who went back in time and killed his mother. So naturally, he too goes back in time and stops him. And, somehow, this ends up screwing up history. Not just his personal history- ALL heroes’ origins! Instead of Bruce Wayne’s parents dying, HE dies, and his father becomes Batman- and his mother, THE JOKER! Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s peoples fight a war that ends up sinking Europe, etc. In the end, Allen realizes he must stop himself from saving his mother so everything can go back to normal. And it does- kinda; there were differences, which is how DC explained its “New 52” reboot. (Though recently they are claiming there was another cause.) Flashpoint got adapted into an animated movie, and was a mayor plot point for the first season of The Flash, and (spoilers) the finale of the second season has brought it back AGAIN.

Let’s look at the things that are wrong with it:

-The story tries to set itself up as a ‘noble sacrifice’: Allen must allow his mother to die to save the world. Except a) she only died because a time-traveling villain killed her, it isn’t as if Allen had prevented her preordained death and b) The story doesn’t make sense!! At most, saving his mother might have prevented him from becoming the Flash (tough I don’t see how) but it definitely wouldn’t have affected the lives of everybody else on Earth unless they are saying that ANY change in history would be this chaotic (ala The Butterfly Effect) and that has never been the case before in DC (in fact it pretty much makes time travel useless.)

-The story is basically writer Geoff Johns stroking his own ego. You see, Johns is also one of the three people Warner Brothers put in charge of DC comics years ago. His obsession with The Flash is well known. In Flashpoint, he introduced an (unnecessary) tragic element into Allen’s past, and attempts to pass it off as something epic that eventually had universal consequences. And he got accolades -the most obvious of which are the multiple adaptations of the idea- for it! The fact he is effectively The Boss and What He Says Goes seems to escape many people.

-The story partially seems inspired by a previous Flash storyarc from the 1980s in which Reverse-Flash also murdered someone close to Allen- in this case it was his wife, Iris. It was one of the first major “dark”, post-Silver Age stories (for DC) as it led to Allen killing the culprit and then standing trial over it. Ultimately it turned out she wasn’t dead after all (time travel was involved) so it had a happy ending, unlike Johns’ imitation.

Flashpoint is ultimately, a poorly-written, over-hyped storyline that Just. Won’t. Go. Away. While not my most hated comics story (not even my most hated DC story) I certainly cannot recommend it to fans of good superhero stories.


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More Steven Universe stuff in BASH!

GemasAugust2015

Now that Steven Universe has begun producing new episodes, I’ve decided to start converting characters from the show in Basic Action Super Heroes rules again (see earlier blog entries for the main characters.) I realized however that it would be easier if I started by designing the Gem race Archetype first. So, here it is! I hope you find this useful or interesting.

Please keep in mind that there are likely still many facts about the Gems yet to be revealed. I plan to update this as time goes.

(Once again, thanks to the Steven Universe Wiki for the data!)

Background: The Gems are an alien race of sentient gemstones. They have the ability to form a body around themselves, but as long as the gem itself isn’t shattered, they cannot die.

Thousands of years ago, the Gems developed advanced technology and began traveling to other planets, robbing them of minerals to make more Gems, not caring how this harmed other lifeforms.

Until a Gem named Rose Quartz opposed the Homeworld Gems in their attempt to plunder Earth. After a terrible war, Homeworld abandoned its plans for Earth, but Rose’s surviving warriors -The Crystal Gems- were left exiled on the planet.

A few years ago, Rose met the human, Greg Universe, and they fell in love. They had a child, Steven, but because he needed her Gem to survive, she was forced to discorporate to allow him to be born. Since then, Steven has been raised by Greg and the other Crystal Gems.

Recently, the Homeworld Gems have become aware of the Crystal Gems’ presence on Earth again. There have been several clashes between them, and more are likely to happen.

GEMS

Stats

Brawn: variable Agility: variable Mind: variable (variable points)

Powers

Healing 1 (1 pt)

Immunity 4 (starvation, asphyxiation, lack of sleep, changes in gravity) 4 pts.

Shape Shift <Concentration, retains colors, -1 pt> 3 pts.

note: all Gems can project light from their gem, and contain small objects in force bubbles; these uses are worth no points.

Weakness

Devastating Weakness (to having their gem damaged) -4 pts.

Advantages

Immortality

Instant Change (must fuse with another Gem)

Membership (for the Crystal Gems)

Pocket Dimension

Disadvantages

Duty (for the Homeworld Gems)

Freak (skin color, embedded gem)

Outsider

Skills

Technology/Invent (mainly Peridot class Gems, but also others)

Basic Cost: Stats (variable) + Powers 8 – Weakness 4 = 4 points or higher.

Variations: Apparently every Gem has individual powers or skills above those listed. Design them as if they were Heroes (or Villains) using any points leftover.


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SaGa Frontier: a unique role-playing game

sagaf1title1

SaGa Frontier (no I don’t know why it’s spelled that way) is a role-playing video game that came out in Japan in 1997 and in America the following year. It’s actually one of the first RPGs I ever played, and it remains one of my all-time favorites.

The seventh game in the SaGa series, like the others this one features not a single protagonist but several that you could play as, each with his or her own quest to fulfill; it was possible to encounter the other playable characters in the course of each adventure and in some cases even recruit them for your party. After completing all 7 quests, a special section of the game was unlocked allowing you to fight the best Bosses again and to meet the game’s creators.

Before I begin describing the characters and their quests, I feel some world background is in order. I’ll try to avoid spoilers but this game is complicated and even finishing all the quests doesn’t give you all the facts (this was because the game was rushed out unfinished; there was in fact an 8th quest that was left out.) The setting is “The Regions” which are not well explained but seem to be planets in a solar system; thousand of years ago a couple of highly advanced civilizations existed there but were destroyed in a war. Their ruins and artifacts play important parts in some quests.

Each Region has its own culture (often based on one of Earth’s), level of technology, and form of magic. Of special note is that each magic type has an opposite- Light vs Shadow, that sort of thing- and it’s not possible for the same person to learn both. Also, there’s free travel via ships between the Regions (with a few exceptions.) The races the players belong to are: human, mystics (basically vampires), monsters (shapeshifters) and Mecs (robots.) Curiously, there is a trend in this game about stealing abilities from others: Monsters can do it from defeated monsters, Mystics can also absorb monsters (but only a few at a time) and Mecs can steal programs from other Mecs.

The main characters are:

Asellus, a human girl that was turned into a Half-Mystic by the Lord of the Mystics against her will. She escapes from him, only to be chased around the Regions by his minions. The player has the option of deciding if she returns to being human, becomes a full Mystic, or remains as she is (each choice leads to a different ending.) Asellus was one of the game’s favorite characters; not only was her story well written, but it featured “controversial” (for its time) elements (namely, due to having the Charm Lord’s blood in her, certain female characters were attracted to her.)

Blue is a mage sent by the Magic Kingdom (no not Disney) to learn as many types of magic as possible so he can defeat his twin brother, Rouge. There is a surprisingly good reason for this, but I don’t want to give it away. The ending is also confusing, but again, I cannot reveal it here (Google it up.)

Emelia was a human supermodel whose boyfriend was an agent of IRPO (The Inter Regional Police Organization) but she found him dead one day, killed by the masked criminal Joker (seriously!) However she got the blame and was sent to jail. Rescued by agents of the secret organization GRADIUS, she joins them as she tries to find out who is Joker and what he’s up to.

Lute is a bard who gets kicked out of his house by his mother for being lazy. He has no real quest at first, and is free for the player to use to explore the Regions with, until he finds out who killed his father; then he must find and defeat him. You can do this very quickly but you’d better save it for after you have done a lot of grinding with your party or you’ll get crushed.

Red is basically a Japanese superhero in the style of Kamen Rider. He’s a teenager whose family was killed off by the evil organization, Black X. Granted powers by another superhero, he must keep his identity secret (you cannot even transform in battle unless your party members are all unconscious!) as he investigates and destroys his enemies.

Rikki is a raccoon-like monster (his Japanese name was Coon, but you can guess why they changed it for the American release) whose native Region, Margmel, is dying. To save it, he must find six magic rings scattered across the Regions. Taking the form of a human boy (sort of) he’s helped by a Chinese-like lady in his quest.

T-260G is an ancient Mec re-built using scrap. It has forgotten its original mission, only knowing that it is urgent. At first, it lives with and protects the boy who found it, but eventually leaves and discovers its long-ago mission, which turns out to still be relevant.

Note: there’s a character named Fuse, an IRPO agent, who shows up in a few quests. He was supposed to star in the 8th quest that got canceled.

Also, do not mistake this game for its follow up SaGa Frontier II. It’s completely unrelated and in my opinion, not as good.

Recommended for: fans of RPG video games, Science Fiction, and Fantasy.


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Battle For Terra: doing message stories right

Battle for Terra

This 2007 animated movie was one of those films that “fell through the cracks.” It received very little publicity and has now been mostly forgotten. Which is a pity, because I feel this is one of the best “message movies” I’ve seen.

To be specific, it has two messages: a pro-environmentalist one, and an anti-militaristic one. We have seen this done, in films like Avatar (the James Cameron one) but such films tend to be very one-sided- one side is Right and the other is Wrong, period- and that’s just not realistic. Also, the message tends to be hammered into the heads of the audience, instead of letting it be evident in the story.

This film takes the old “alien invasion” plot and inverts it- instead of aliens invading Earth, it’s humans invading an alien world. But although it seems at first like the militaristic humans are evil and the nature-loving aliens are victims, we soon learn important facts: the humans have no choice- they are dying and need the planet’s resources to survive. And yet, they hesitate to take over some other race’s world. Also, not only the aliens have technology themselves (unlike in most takes on this subject) but they know about war, having suffered its ravages once; they are not innocents. I like that the issues are not presently in a simple fashion, and neither side jumps to conclusions. Of course there is a villain and things eventually escalate, but this is a movie so that’s to be expected.

But the best part are actually the characters. The main ones are a human soldier and a female alien, who become friends and try to sort things out between their peoples (and no, they don’t fall in love- their friendship is based on the admiration of what each does for the other.) There’s also a wacky robot because I guess every sci-fi film must have one, but I don’t mind because of its sarcastic sense of humor. Heck, some of the best scenes are provided by it!

I also really like the designs for this film. In particular, the “drifters” as the aliens are called by the humans, are legless beings who fly instead of walking. Everything about their world is strange, yet beautiful. I wonder if these FX are the reason the film (which was originally going to be done in live action!) was done in computer animation.

About the only part of Terra I’m not completely happy with is the ending. Make no mistake, people die in this film. It isn’t a kid’s film, it had a PG rating. And yet, I agree it made sense, and gave the film even more gravitas.

If you can find this film, by all means give it a chance. Maybe you’ll like it too.

Recommended for: fans of Science Fiction, Animation, and message movies done right.


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Amethyst in BASH

And now for the last (current) member of the crystal Gems: the outrageous Amethyst!

Background: Unlike the other Crystal Gems, Amethyst was “born” on Earth- specifically, on “The Kindergarten”, a facility for making Quartz-class warriors. But something wrong happened and she came out smaller than she was supposed to be; apparently because of that, she was abandoned there. By the time she woke up, the place was empty. The Crystal Gems found her, and she’s been with them ever since.

Amethyst is the Gem who likes to interact the most with humans; she used to be a close friend of Greg until some incident happened (rumored to be her having shape-shifted into Rose to play a prank on him.) She also turned out to be a friend of Vidalia, the mother of Onion (the strange little boy who pesters Steven.)

Amethyst has a devil-may-care attitude that may actually be a way to hide the insecurities she feels over her origins. Recently learning that she was a “defective” Gem in particular hurt her feelings. She also chafes under the authority of Garnet and Pearl, and has been known to do everything from joining Steven in his shenanigans to running away from home.

Brawn 3 Agility 2 Mind 1 (12 points)Amethyst_and_Whip_2

Powers

Healing 1 (1 pt.)

Immunity (asphyxiation, lack of sleep, starvation) (1pt.)

Martial Arts Mastery (Grappling Style) (1 pt.)

Shapeshifting (4 pts.) <Concentration, -1 pt.> (3 pts.)

Special Attack (explosion)(+1 to Dam, Close Range, 2 pts.)[ Small Burst 1 pt.] <Gadget (whips) Easily Taken, -1 pt.> (2 pts.)

Trample (spin dash) (3 pts.)

Weapon Technique (+1 to Dam with whips) (1 pt.)

Weaknesses

Vulnerability to damage on her gem (-2)

Advantages

Immortality

Instant Change (into Alexandrite, must fuse with Garnet and Pearl)

Instant Change (Into Opal, must fuse with Pearl)

Instant Change (into Sugilite, must fuse with Garnet)

Membership (in the Crystal Gems)

Pocket Dimension

Disadvantages

Arch Enemy (Jasper)

Freak (purple skin)

Unskilled

Skills

Perform/Play instrument (drums)

Mental Malfunction: Overcompensationwild behavior to cover insecurities

Equipment: two whips [Summon Gadget (whips) 1 pt.] (2 pts.)

Breakdown: Stats 12 + Powers 12 – Weakness 2 + Equipment 2 = 24 pts.

Setbacks: +3

This is the last Steven Universe conversion I’m doing for now, I have some other stuff I want to work on. However I’ll definitely continue soon, probably when the new episodes start airing. Hope you have enjoyed reading this! (and kudos to the people behind Basic Action Super Heroes for such a great game!)


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Garnet in BASH

And now I turn to the Crystal Gems’ current leader, Garnet! (Again, in Basic Action Super Hero game rules.)
Background: Garnet is actually the fusion of two other Gems, the short-tempered Ruby and the kind Sapphire. While Gems usually only fuse as a combat option, these two have such a close relationship they stay fused most of the time. (Note: despite their similarity to human females, all Gems are genderless.)

Garnet aided Rose Quartz and Pearl during the war against those Gems that would use the Earth as a breeding ground for their kind regardless of its effects on the planet. They won, but there was a lot of death as a result; the gem monsters the Crystal Gems fight may come from the remnants of those Gems.

After Rose passed away, Garnet became the default leader of the team (despite Pearl’s protests that they are all equal). One of her main concerns is that Steven be raised properly.

Her power to see possible futures is both a blessing and a curse; note that if she doesn’t know all the facts, her visions will be imperfect (for example her not knowing it was Pearl rather than Peridot who kept rebuilding the latter’s communications tower kept her from seeing it in her visions.)
Brawn 4 Agility 2 Mind 2 (16 points)Garnet
Powers
Armor 1 (1 pt.)
Clairvoyance (future) (1 pt.)
Electricity Mastery 1 (1 pt.)
Gadget Bundle (Gauntlets) <Ammunition (Burn-Out) -1 pt.> [Summon Gadget, +1 pt.][Multi-power] (120 Hits, 60 Soak) (final cost 4 pts.)
* Deflect 2 (1 pt.)
* Growth 2 <arms only -1 pt.> (2 pt.)
* Special Attack 1 (+1 to Dam with Brawn, Touch Range) (1 pt.)
* Special Attack 1 (+1 to Dam with Brawn, Close Range, 2 pts.) <loses use of hands -1> (1 pt.) (rocket gauntlets)
Healing 1 (1 pt.)
Imbue 1 <Clairvoyance only -1 pt.> (1 pt.)
Immunity (to heat, starvation, sleep deprivation, and asphyxiation) 4 pts.
Shapeshifting (4 pts.) <Limited Duration, -1 pt.> 3 pts.
Weaknesses
Vulnerability to damage on her gem (-2 pts.)
Advantages
Alter Ego (Ruby and Sapphire)
Immortality
Instant Change (into Alexandrite, must fuse with Amethyst and Pearl)
Instant Change (into Sardonyx, must fuse with Pearl)
Instant Change (into Sugilite, must fuse with Amethyst)
Instant Change (splits into Ruby and Sapphire)
Membership (leader of the Crystal Gems)
Pocket Dimension
Disadvantages
Arch Enemy (Jasper)
Freak (three-eyed)
In a Relationship (Ruby and Sapphire)
Outsider
Unskilled
Skills
Craftsmanship/Construction
Perform/Play Instrument (keytar)
Mental Malfunction: Intuitive- Garnet’s quiet demeanor may be due to letting herself be guided by her visions
Breakdown: Stats 16 + Powers 16 – Weakness 2 = 30

Setbacks: +3

Special thanks to the Steven Universe Wiki, which has been an invaluable reference source!