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.

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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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.

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fan Map for Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror

Want to run Bone Hoard in style?
This map is meant to address a couple things that dumb game judges like me can benefit from. It shows a couple monsters near where they might be encountered (just out of site of fog of war if you are using Roll20), including the heretofore unillustrated [in the original module] dancing horror itself.  The hordling is near a room where the adventure suggests it make itself known. There are a couple of traps illustrated too. I hope it enhances your experience. Click to embiggen. You might enjoy my fan map for Death Frost Doom too.

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

XP for Gold revision 100: Montage

This is an embed of a revision of my XP for gold DCC rules, which my players quite frankly hate but I stubbornly think add something to the game. Enjoy.

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.