KIWF! is a log of my thoughts on RPGs, D&Ds and the DCCRPG, inspired by the OSR.
Also, a place where I will post my own RPGs for all to use. The official KIWF is in forever beta.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Perception rules for DCC or DnDs

Simple rules to know if PCs spot the things. 

There is always a DC to see something that is not plainly obvious in the environment. It should probably be no lower than 10, and if it is, maybe it's plainly obvious and not worth a check, but exceptions could occur (running through an area, you could overlook that DC5 thing).

If the PCs are just kinda passively going through an area, they have a check score equal to the party's cognizant members (don't roll anything unless they have elves). Roll a d3 for each elf in the party and add that result on top. If the party meets the DC, they notice the thing without having to try too hard. Easy.

The next part doesn't use the DC thing. You could find a way to pretty easily though.

If the PCs are actively searching a room, roll 1d30 (secretly). If the D30 rolls at or under the amount of PCs helping out, the group spots the thing. Add in 1d5 to the roll-under score if any PC elves etc. are present. The party can spend Luck if they want. Searching an area this way takes half a turn (5 minutes), which might matter if you have random encounters or wandering encounters.

Be prepared to consider some things:
Do henchmen count for the active roll? Maybe if they have the right job or species for it. Dogs could help spot stanky things. Dwarves could help sniff gold. I'd probably let most dwarves just know if something is fishy with architecture. After all, no roll is the best roll.

This post inspired by this one.
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Saturday, March 14, 2015

A roll-low saves system for DCC

I started a couple roll-low initiatives in DCC a few months back. One was to have players do ability checks instead of "skill checks". They just have to roll at or under their ability score on a d20 to do the thing they want. Have a more difficult challenge, or an untrained (0-level job-wise) PC? roll a d24 or d30 instead. I've abandoned this one recently because, quite frankly, I want some things to be near impossible. For instance, breaking through a porticulis in the module Silent Nightfall. I saw the DC 35, but the players went through it like paper. Rubbed me the wrong way, but I think it's still a valid resolution mechanic. However, I've abandoned it for now.

But the other roll-low thing is one I'm going to keep for a while yet. I think it's working. Saves. In normal DCC, saves are pretty much your standard 3.x DnD saves. Roll to beat a DC. Only, the highest you can roll with this system under normal circumstances is 29 (max stats at level ten with a good save), and that can be a problem when you are trying to resist a wizard spell that rolls higher. Some would say wizards that roll high deserve to auto-win against their targets. Valid point, but not one I'm happy with at this time in my development as a judge.


 So here is how roll-low works:

The judge says roll an x save, where x is one of the three (REF, FORT, WILL). The player looks at their number for that save (which may-well be negative if you are low level with low stats). They add that number to 10 and roll a d20. Rolling at or under that sum on the d20 means you made the save.

If the danger is particularly pernicious (say the wizard rolled a 42 to hex you or a dragon is being a scary dragon flaming you), the judge can ask you to roll a bigger die instead. Maybe even percentile dice.

I find this system has a certain charm as being like a reverse of old school DnD rules as I understand them. In some older editions, you have save numbers that you have to roll over to save (flavored depending on the threat). As you level up, the saves get easier, until you only have to roll a 4 or better to save against most things. The save names are different and simplified these days, but they mirror the old ones quite well when using the new saves system detailed above.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

You Feelin' Lucky, Punk? A DCC gambit houserule

I'll give a little update of my DCC luck-regain rubric at the bottom of this post. I think it works swell, but sometimes players got more Luck than they know what do with.

So here is the gambit rule. You are out of ideas. You might die. You ask the judge, "Can I get some kind of miracle here?"
"Wanna ask your gods?" She suggests with a DCC judge smile.
"Not really. The cleric has disapproval 4 right now... And Crom doesn't listen to me anyways. To hell with him!"
The judge, ever the Faustian entity, is ready with a followup: "Hmm. Sounds like you need a little deus ex machina. What's your wager?"
"Hmm... Six Luck?" You figure you can spend that much and still be okay.
"Alright. Roll a d20!" She declares.
Rattle. "I rolled... a 14?!" Your hands go to your face in shock at the lost gambit.
"Too bad. Well, hope you saved some luck for when they roll over your poor carcass."

However, in the good universe (see the law of Abed-thermo-dynamics) you rolled a 3. Which is at or under your wager.
The judge frowns, robbed of the description of your grizzly demise, but concedes your victory, "Your Luck has proved a fair loss this time, Hogarth MacMorn of the clan of feral men, for the grue advancing upon you suddenly falls to the ground. He's having a bit of indigestion. Shouldn't have eaten the party halfling. He'll be distracted for a little while, if you'd like to slink out of here now."

So yeah, spend some Luck. Roll at or under that number on a d20. If you do, the judge helps you out. You lose the luck points permanently either way. 


Anyhoo, here's how regaining Luck has been going in my online DCC games. I allow players to roll a d20 once for each of the following conditions. If their roll goes over their character's current Luck score, it goes up by one and then we can see if they have any more chances to roll. If a 1 is rolled, you are done getting Luck chances today. Sorry. If you roll a 20, you get a bonus chance!

You get a Luck chance if you:
  • Completed a "quest."
  • Saved an important thing.
  • Have done a character report in the forum since last time.
  • Have done something cool or funny (you can't petition the judge, they'll let you know)
  • Had a victory that is particularly good for your alignment's gods.
  • Showed up on time (actually I give 2 to people on time and 1 to people who had to come late just as thanks for showing up).
  • Appeared on camera (hangouts are better with humans).
  • Were voted MVP by the other players.

The catch is if you are a thief or hobbit, your Luck can never exceed its original amount with this method. Because you have too many Luck advantages already. But it at least lets you regenerate Luck quicker than normal.

In addition to the above, I stole these other things that engender chances from Dungeon World:
  • Lawful
    • Used magic to solve a puzzle.
  • Neutral
    • Discovered something about a magical mystery.
  • Chaotic
    • Used supernatural power to cause terror and fear.

Thief or hobbit
  • Lawful:
    • Pleased your client or da boss
  • Neutral:
    • Avoided detection or infiltrate a location.
  • Chaotic:
    • Shifted danger or blame from yourself to someone else.

  • Lawful:
    • Defended a teammate or love interest.
  • Neutral:
    • Defeated a worthy opponent.
  • Chaotic:
    • Killed a defenseless or surrendered enemy.

  • Helped the cause of your alignment.
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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, lay-on-of-hands etc.), 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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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 crime, 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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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 your stats (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 (initiative) 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 spiral, 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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