KIWF! is a log of my thoughts on D&D and the DCCRPG, inspired by the OSR.
Also, a place where I will post my own RPG for all to use.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

12 DCC rings to bind them

Hey, a ring engraved "DCC".
These rings all exploit something about the DCC system. They have some temperamentality to them though...
  1. Ring of Hale Ruddiness
    Your cheeks are positively shiny and red with vigor.
    Whenever you would roll an HP die (at leveling), roll two dice, drop one.

    Whenever you would roll a hit die (when being healed), roll +1d step higher.

    You must greet all humanoids with a loud "HALE FRIEND, WELL MET!" Criticisms and remonstrations that hale and hail are different words does not dissuade your genial salutations.

  2. Ring of High Wizardry
    Your ring finger grows 1d3 joints longer. It occasionally twitches of its own accord.

    Whenever you spellburn, you may add +1 to your spellcheck provided you snip off the end of this finger. This makes any spell a full round spell if it wasn't one already. The rest of the spellburn is as normal, but this one action counts for it all unless you have a patron that requires some specific action. The finger grows back after 1 hour.

    The finger removal satisfies some mercurial magic needs too, mind.

  3. Ring of High Adventure
    Your ring and your weapons sometimes glow in tandem at random intervals.

    Whenever you roll a deed die, roll 2, drop 1. If they both roll a 1, a new foe appears!

    When in single combat, you always win initiative, barring injuries caused by crits, etc.

  4. Ring of Reason
    Wearers of this ring develop an unconscious tick where they constantly stroke their beard thoughtfully. Everyone who wears this ring instantly grows a beard if they didn't have one.

    When you attempt to parley with an outsider, alien intelligence, etc, they instinctively see you as an entity that deserves some consideration, and will listen to your argument's opening statements.

    When you attempt a patron bond or invoke patron spell, you may burn Int or Per points in addition to the usual kinds. If you do, add 1 more point to your spell check.

  5. Ring of Squamous Susurrations
    Whispers constantly accompany you. This can be annoying in enemy territory...

    When a monster would score a critical hit on you, they actually end up knocking off your skin. You have shiny new skin underneath. Your molting scampers away to do deeds only your game Judge may know, but it has something to do whispering. Your new skin is slightly more vulnerable to damage, and enemies roll +1d damage dice against you for the next turn. This ring's power is unavailable for that turn.

  6. Ring of Antipathy
    This ring's wearer seems to have a slight double image. It is subtle, but unsettling.

    When you roll on the turning table, you may take the results of the row below what you actually rolled.

    Whenever you or someone else tries to use Lay on Hands on yourself, take the worst result possible from the table (but adjusted for your spell check).

  7. Ring of Undisputed Regard
    Your manner is somehow dignified while bearing this band.
    If you have a bond with a patron, it is regarded as one step higher than the original spell result. All quests the patron might ask for when invoked will apply at this new level.

    When you employ hirelings, they have +1d to morale saves.

    Beggars and thieves constantly target you, thinking you to be a rich mark.

  8. Band of Light Fingers
    The wearer's hands seem to dart about with alacrity.

    You have +1d to pick pockets or do other actions surreptitiously to objects or clothing attached to another's person.

    Your Pers modifier is effectively -3 when an issue of trust (parlay, sweet-talking, feigning innocence, trying to get a hireling to stick around) is on the line.

    If you don't try to steal something from a stranger every day in town, or within a hour of visiting one, the ring absconds itself with your purse or, barring that, whatever you have that's valuable.

  9. Ring of Martial Escalation.
    Everyone feels on edge in your presence.

    You roll +1d on your critical hits table. However, enemies always make their morale saves against your party and get +1d to hit for each crit that has happened this battle (up to using percentile dice if a d30 would be exceeded).

  10. Ring of Hobbiting
    You always want a second or third breakfast.

    Whoever wears this may spend a Luck point to succeed at any hiding, sneaking, escaping-bonds, or a riddle-solving check (a check to spot a clue or keyword to a riddle).

    A halfling who wears this may not be a Luck battery for the party.

  11. Band of Dwarven Dourishness
    Your stature seems to be half of what it once was, and your features take on a gruff nature.

    Illusions do not work on you, and you are immune to fear-based effects. But metaphors go over your head.

    You may spend a Luck point to keep fighting when your hit points drop to 0 or less. After such a battle is over, you start to die. Roll the Body rules are not an option, but someone might be able to heal you as per Bleeding Out rules.

  12. Ring of Rings
    There is something protean about you today.

    This ring is a different ring from this list (if you roll a 12, it's just a ring for now). It changes to a different one each day, unless you spend a Luck point or make a DC15 spell check, in which case you may keep it in its current state. 

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If you spot a typo or don't have g+, you can just email me. Claytonian at the gmails.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

How a pic and a couple ideas can make for a superior RPG city

Superior to what? To a city where you have to look at a map to see where the market district is and other junk that should just be abstract whenever possible. If you really need to zoom in somewhere, look at the pic you are going to use, or use a Vornheim trick (I've never had to use street maps, but now you have a safety net).

Okay, hit-bait title justified. Now what is the how?

  1. Choose an interesting picture. They are all over Deviantart and Tumblr. The picture is worth a 1000 words and does most of the work for you.
  2. Think of something weird to inhabit the city.
  3. Think of some local laws or customs for the players to discover.

Here's an example. The best city I ever made: Cliffkeep
Pic by some Chinese dude. Sino-artists are the bomb recently.

The weird stuff I started to think of:

  • The city is policed by waxen automatons, deputies, that can change their features to go undercover. As their goal is to prevent time, they are often walking around faceless.
  • Everyone is entitled to an allowance of a jar's worth of honey each day. There are no bees to be seen, but the unseen magistrate, called the mayor, provides it via waxen deputies.
  • The town defense is lead by a human who is a gunslinger of the Stephen King variety. He is the first NPC that the PCs encounter, and helps to introduce the rules of the town. He is nice as long as he can be.
  • The town has laser turrets to shoot incoming threats.
  • There is a dragon. By day it takes human form as a beautiful woman, and by night its visage is enchanted in a way that you forget you saw it.
  • A Chael sits on roofs and records everything the party does and says.

The rules:

  • No weapons are allowed in the city proper. Visitors can put their weapons in custody.
  • There is a curfew. Windows are to be closed and people have to be in their lodgings. Violators of the rule can't remember what happened, but they felt very scared and have chunks of missing memory.

Once you have a city like this, it acts as a hub from which to launch explorations and adventures (both in and outside the place). Cliffkeep grew in detail as the adventures gave me ideas. Fun we had:

  • Church of the God that Crawls nearby. Turrets came in handy when the PCs gave it sentience and it came calling.
  • Death Frost Doom mountain nearby.
  • Tower of the Stargazer floats by  town on an earthmote every few months.
  • A PC made the save to see the dragon, and confronted her in her human form. The dragon pushed the PC right off a cliff. Not many railings in Cliffkeep.
  • A PC killed their own grandma in a satellite town. There was a witness and then the waxen deputies fused into a truth-telling device that could summon reinforcements from the silver city on the moon.
  • A PC was deputized and got to man a turret. He shot the god that crawls.
  • Flying on kites like ninjas to get to the earthmote.
  • That snake thing became useful for city defense too; turns out it's a spell beam thingy that the Chael could instruct magic users in the use of. 

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If you spot a typo or don't have g+, you can just email me. Claytonian at the gmails.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Simple d6 Gonzo RPG (Sd6G)

Hey, I made a new RPG today, that takes the concept of rolling at or under a certain number on a d6 (ala old D&D) to 11. And it's got Vulcans and Blackulas, and combat like Dungeon World. I'm rather happy with this one. Reminds me a bit of the fun of mashing up Paranoia with Dark Sun and DCC.

Link to the doc if this doesn't display so well for you: LINK.

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If you spot a typo or don't have g+, you can just email me. Claytonian at the gmails.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shadows of Esteren Review

Esteren was originally a French RPG that has been translated to English. The translation is sound, but it is full of world-jargon that sounds nothing like English to me and is, I'm assuming, psuedo-celtic. So If you want to master some of the nuances of its setting, you'll have to find a way to memorize words your brain doesn't care much about. I like to think I know something about the subject of word memorization; I learned fluent Japanese over 5 years.

However, I feel in terms of atmosphere it is fairly well presented and in terms of mechanics, it really sings. My play experience is running an introductory adventure from the free to download prologue book (using the battle attitudes rules from the at-cost product).

The setting felt like a bit of Britains (pre anglo-saxons, maybe?) dealing with the influence of romans and their ideas of science and other modern civilization double-edged swords. People are clannish and druidic, but influenced by lords and new monotheistic religion.

Esteren is supposed to be presented as a cinematic experience. The adventures have graphics like a director's slateboard and indications that you should use techniques from movies like flashbacks and cutaways to things that the PCs may never know but the players will have to avoid metagaming about. I'm cool with that technique, but sceptical of the constant suggestions for specific songs.

You see, Esteren is supposed to gritty medieval horror, and I find music in horror games distracts. Players are pretty prone to making a joke out of anything they can (we laughed a lot), and music can serve to further distract, so I recommend some nice, ominous, ambient music to truly set a horror mood. Take this scene for example, it's dripping with mood:
But hey, if you want some tools, Esteren is going to suggest them for you. It's fine, but slightly distracting for an ADHD DM like me.

The scenario we ran had a fine plot, but as presented it was a bit hard for me to keep the details strait. It would be easier to run as a dead tree product than a PDF. I had to make lots of notes and charts and timelines to keep it all smooth. But I am admittedly ADHD;  a visual DM who likes to look at maps and their corresponding keys, and there were none in the scenario.

However, as I said, the mechanics were pretty cool.
There are a few basic scores that the rest of your character is built upon, and they are a range between two useful extremes each, so there is less min/maxing (metagaming the best build) in this RPG. The ability scores are pretty cool in that they give cues for character traits too.

For instance, combativeness is good for hitting things, but it also makes you a jerk or a hothead or whatever you want to write for your flaws. And if you are investing your points in it, you might also be a little socially awkward. The players had a ball playing these quirks out.

I also liked the latent dementias concept. They provide further role-playing cues as well as a path that characters who see too much horror will fall into.

Combat mechanics are pretty simple and easy to narrate. Each round you can choose a combat attitude which adds a "potential" score to one aspect of you (attack, defense, initiative, movement), while reducing another in kind. When players declare their attitude each round, they are giving the GM ideas for how the round will play out. Basically, they are encouraged to declare actions without it feeling odd.

Then everyone in the fight acts on their speed (iniative) order, which is a set number. It can be changed for a round by combat attitude, but it is really simple to run through action resolutions once you know everyone's speed. The basic PDF didn't seem to mention what to do about people acting at the same speed, but I had them act simultaneously.

Attacking is fairly simple. Roll a d10 and add an attack skill and try to beat the foe's defence skill. If you hit, take that margin you won the roll by and add your weapon's damage rating to it, then your foe takes that as damage, save for what damage reduction their armor affords them. Something elegant about that.

Wounded characters will perform worse at everything. This game has a death cycle, which can only be ignored by spending cinematic action points or whatever they are called. So fights can get serious fast.

There is a skill tree and DCs table. Everything is resolved by rolling a d10 and adding it to a skill (or trait if you don't have the skill) score. It's simple. I like using only d10s  and not bothering with any other dice--even for damage--for some reason. Oh, yeah, the reason is simplicity.

I recommend this RPG. I would like to try adapting some LotFP modules or something to it, though those are a bit too fantastical for this RPG, maybe. I'm not even sure if the boogeymen of the setting are even real yet, but there are fantastic things out there like druidic mysteries and psuedo-scientific magic.
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If you spot a typo or don't have g+, you can just email me. Claytonian at the gmails.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

J RPG Fluff product: Considerations of the Fantasy World

Found this lovely thing at Yellow Submarine today. It's a compilation of columns from Role & Roll magazine about misc. fantasy RPG topics by Yūya Kobayashi  (小林裕也). It's all system-agnostic stuff featuring the creatures, items, and locales one could find in your standard high fantasy setting. It's available on

I liked the section on mounts. Reminds me I need to include those humanoid mounts from the Dying Earth stories. Horses need to become rare in my campaign. 

Some Fantasy anatomy is explored in these pages about birdmen and centaurs.

Inviting copy from the book obi (belt, also called koshimaki)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

1d12 Things for you to stat

1: Aunt men
2: Orgone Energy Guzzler
3: Flat dragon
4: Manhandlers
5: Slime-clops
6: Rammun's Melting Revanent
7: The First Heart
8: Space Spore Spirits
9: Electric Bugalootron 4000
10: Child Riders
11: Endagering Chillofax
12: Moose from Hell

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In a Fevered, Trance-like State, I Fixed the Bard

Bards and skalds can be found in any court. But those that adventure have a certain set of skills. This is pretty generic; I imagine it would be good for 0D&D, B/X/LotFP, DCC, etc.

  • They can remember things others forget. This is because they use rhyme and verse to memorize epic tales, news, bon mots, and other things that get them fed. If a bard wants to see if he knows something about the thing that the party really wants details on, the DM can roll 2d6 and add in the Bard's Int mod as well as a circumstance mod. High rolls give clues.
  • They can weave magic into their lyrics. This does not work during a fight.  That takes too long and you will be cut, Jack. It might work during a battle, if the bard is, like, say, playing on a mountaintop while armies clash below. It will work on a captive audience. Literally tied up is best, but the partons at a quiet pub or a lord's court will do.
    • You learn one song each level. It just comes to you.
  • They can be blind, yet skillful swordsmen. This is a choice you make at character generation. 
  • You can conceal a weapon in your instrument, should you decide to become a wandering assassin bard. This isn't a rules thing; I just wanted to remind you that bards are  a lot cooler when they aren't about singing in a fight. 

Here are the bard songs of power:

  • Ballad of Bravado: give each listener a d30. They can roll this during a fight, provided it happens by the next dawn, and replace any to-hit or stunt roll with it. Then it turns into a d24, and works its way down the die chain.
  • Canticle of Kings: Listeners might kowtow to the regal might of a hero of sufficient character and bloodline.
  • Carol of Cheer: Listener has a chance to shake off any melancholy or insanity
  • Chant of Chivalry: Induces listeners to take up causes, enforce justice, or go to war for a pretty face.
  • Coronach of Canceled Time: Reduces listeners to a metaphysical melancholy that will ensorcel them into a state of suspended time.
  • Dirge of Dancing Dead: Placates mindless undead into a swaying stance-- even if they don't have auditory organs left.
  • Jeremiad of Justice: Listener likely to admit guilt that the bard suspects them of. 
  • Keen of Killers: All listeners are enraged and do an extra die of damage.
  • Modony of Manipulation: listeners are charmed. +4 to reaction rolls against the bard.
  • Serenade of Seduction: Listener may become ridiculously enamored of the bard
  • Threnody of Thoughts: Listeners hear the secrets of the dead spirits of this place. Let the players ask a question each. 
I'll think up more someday if this post seems to have garnered interest.

Want to give feedback? Share this on g+ and give me a tag (+claytonian JP) (if you want to keep it private, share with only me).
If you spot a typo or don't have g+, you can just email me. Claytonian at the gmails.