Friday, August 9, 2019

Roll Under? Nah, Brah. Roll Uber!

But actually still roll under.
The problem: Your face. Sorry. No, the actual problem is that rolling a d20 at/under your ability score to do checks and saves is fine occasionally, but not satisfying as a unified mechanic. Think about it: if your score is even slightly low, you'll suck at everything, and if its too high you'll be bored as you wade through all challenges at a leisurely pace.

One solution is to stick to rulings not rules and have roll under being a last resort or bonus opportunity on top of normal competence. "You examine the drawer. You find a jeweled torque and a bedazzled cutoff denim vest. Roll a Wisdom check for me to see if you notice the assassin creeping up on you while you do that."

But today's post is about your mom. No! Not your sweet, sweet mom. I mean, the other solution. You have a percentage chance to do an action. It starts at 60% and goes up by 1% for each point of ability score you have. Simple. You want more competence? Add your level too.

Old school mutation: Your chance is expressed on a d6. Just like the elves get when they walk by secret doors. I like this one a lot.
1/6= Ability score from 3 to 4
2/6= Ability score from 5 to 8
3/6= Ability score from  9 to 12
4/6= Ability score from 13 to 16
5/6= Ability score from  17 to 18
You can express even more competence by giving rerolls, &c to account for classes, kindred, or careers. I like to give thieves their percentage scores as a last ditch chance to do something when their ability check says they should fail.

Oh, and feel free to flip these numbers to justify the title of this post. Like I flipped your mom last night, Trebek. 
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Sunday, July 21, 2019

PCs fall, everybody dies

Here's some fun falling damage ideas. Pick one or more:
  • Falling with more than half your encumbrance slots full moves the damage dice up a step in severity. Being fully encumbered moves it up two steps, and being over-encumbered does extra damage equal to your greed. By greed I mean extra slots, but let's call it that.
  • Rolling the max on a falling damage die means you broke a bone (basically the DCC rule). Roll a d12, modified by Luck or whatever way you track the support of the fickle gods in your system: 1 or less) neck (die or paralyzed, as a Luck roll dictates); 2) spine (Luck roll decides if you are para or quadriplegic now); 3) d6 ribs (roll a d12 over that number or have a punctured lung); 4) right humerus, radius, or ulna; 5) left humerus, radius, or ulna; 6) right femur, kneecap, fibula, or tibia; 7) left femur, kneecap, fibula, or tibia; 8) jaw (can't cast spells or shout warnings, only mumble); orbit (eye either temporarily or permanently blinded, depending on a Luck roll); 9) collar bone (can't wield weapon or one side, nor wear a backpack) coccyx (can't sit); 10) right or left ankle (has to hop about to move); 11) right or left wrist; 12) nose.
  • Roll a number of d4s as close to the number of feet fallen as possible, but only if you fell 10 or more feet.
  • That splat sound engenders a random encounters check as monsters come to see what's up.
  • Each item you have has a chance to get shattered. Maybe if the falling dice roll 1s the DM chooses something from your inventory.
  • Any creature you can grab and shove under you on the way down blunts your fall by 10 feet.
  • If you fall down a truly bottomless pit, its reality warping nature keeps you alive and conscious forever. There is a 10% chance that eventually you will develop psionics after millions of years of falling with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company and then develop the ability to come back through the illusion that is space-time to give your former companions one last boon--or push one of them in the pit and see how they like it. Shoulda tried to save me, jerks!
  • Damage dice get increasingly larger for every ten feet you fall. Something like the image from this post.
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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Session Achievements: Arduin XP rethought

While perusing the Arduin Grimoires, I kept thinking about the table of things you could do to weedle extra XP out of ol' uncle Hargrave and how to streamline them a bit for my needs.

A couple things I decide to change  are not mentioning core-D&D magic items*; to go from small, more likely to come up achievements at the top and Satan's own pitchfork type things at the bottom; and to integrate the XP for slaying monsters rules that were in a separate part of the grimoires.

As this is just a homebrew homage to Arduin, things are skewed a little to my tastes too. But you might find this useful fodder for any D&D campaign.

In session achievements
25XP for being a level 4~5 rear guard during most of session.
25XP for being a level 4~5 point man during most of session.
25XP per dangerous creature of HD less than you that you helped to slay.
50XP for figuring out a trap.
50XP for tripping a trap and taking damage.
50XP for cleverly using a lesser spell.
50XP for losing more than half HP.
50XP for doing extra-dangerous risky acts.
50XP per creature of HD equal to your own that you helped to slay.
75XP for being a level 1~3 rear guard during most of session.
75XP for doing simple detection spells.
100XP for being expedition leader.
100XP for coming within 1 point of dying.
100XP for acquiring potions (100 points per dose).
100XP for casting vitally-needed spells that keep the party alive or avoid great peril.
100XP per creature of HD more your own that you helped to slay.
100XP for besting foes that had magical items or powerful abilities.
100XP per spell lvl×uses or more XP for finding magik scrolls.
125XP for finding single or limited use items that aren’t scrolls.
125XP for using up supernatural items.
125XP for finding +1 items or very simple items.
125XP for casting spells like Wizard Eye that provide vital intel.
125XP for throwing a lightning bolt that kills the B.E.M. just in time to save the party.
150XP for being a level 1~3 point man during most of session.
150XP for finding +2 items, lesser rings, amulets, &c.
150XP for doing spells of the fourth order to useful effect.
175XP for acquiring +3 items, wands, most rings and amulets.
175XP for doing spells of the fifth order to useful effect.
200XP for acquiring items that are +4 or of unusual powers.
200XP for doing spells of the sixth order to useful effect.
225XP for acquiring +5 items, or most magikal staves or rods.
225XP for using a single wish.
225XP for doing spells of the seventh order to useful effect.
250XP for being cursed.
250XP for acquiring a cursed item.
250XP for dying but being regenerated back to life.
250XP for doing spells of the eighth order to useful effect.
275XP for doing spells of the ninth or higher order to useful effect.
300XP for acquiring a major artifact.
325XP for defeating, in single combat, any creature that is HD20+.
350XP for defeating, in single combat, a demi-god or major Demon.
375XP for being the sole survivor of an expedition.
375XP for acquiring the mightiest of artifacts (Satan’s pitchfork, nuclear weapons, phasers, &c).
400XP for dying (but somehow coming back).
400XP for reincarnation.
400XP for permanently being changed into another type of entity via a curse, &c.

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*I don't like weapons with pluses to hit for pretentious reasons, so they might get axed out of this list at some point.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Translating a Solo CoC-scenario from Japanese

This is just one of the "something-limit" series
these guys put out. There is one on one,
one on two, city scenarios, and more.
Japan is really, super, unbelievably into Call of Cthulhu. It's the tentacled, 800-pound gorilla of the J-TRPG scene.

So I recently purchased the xanthic product pictured to the right at ye olde Yellow Submarine (a chain of gaming stores in Japan). It was just so unique a product I was intrigued. But my chances of actually playing one of the scenarios in Nipponese are pretty slim. That would be a lot of pressure! And I'm too lazy to read a whole scenario before hand. Play by post to the rescue!

Through Discord, I (Claytonian) ran the first scenario, Smoking-room, with Coalhada (Tom of Fear of a Black Dragon fame--hey, they talked about a thing I did) as I translated need bits of it at a leisurely pace--mostly during my commuting times. I didn't tell Tom, but the scenario is actually a comedy one. He took it like a champ though.

There is a cut-off point in this post (fingers crossed it works), so you will have to click through. It's only a seven page adventure, and Tom managed to find one of a few possible endings. A sexy dice-bot helped us.

I will say that, in retrospect, I probably should have located the smoking room more concretely on the side of a larger structure, separate, yet not separated, contrary to how I started the scenario imaging it. I also didn't get part of the translation of the clock mechanism quite right, but to catch what I screwed up, I guess you'll have to get fluent at the ol' moon-speak yourself.
This is an actual image used to
advertise this line of
horror-gaming products.
Bless Japan!

Without further ado, I give you your smoke break!


coalhada06/17/2019
What's the most generic modern Japanese name possible? Male or female, either way

Claytonian06/17/2019
Akira (both genders)

coalhada06/17/2019
Akira, slightly portly OL, 30 years old, amateur boxer. STR 15, CON 9, SIZ 16, INT 11, POW 7, DEX 8, APP 10, EDU 12 // SAN 35 / Luck 35 / Know 60 / Idea 55 / HP 13 / MP 7 / Damage bonus +1d4
180pts for Occupation skills (I'll use the Lawyer template), 60 for general skills
Occupation Skills (points spent/total with starting score): Accounting +40/50; Credit Rating +20/35; Fast Talk +40/45; Library Use +40/65; Psychology +40/45.
General skills: Punch +10/60 (damage = 1d3+1d4); Electrical Repair +10/20; Mechanical Repair +10/30; Read/Write Japanese +10/70; Spot Hidden +20/45
.. and that's all, I think.

Claytonian06/18/2019
Okay, office lady Akira. You've been out on some business, and are now looking for a designated smoking area so you can take a break. You've managed to find a nice, new one in an urban area where many of the buildings are new too. It has frosted-over glass, and as you slip in you note there are benches, ash-trays, and vending machines. The usual. A couple of guys have been in here for a little while it seems. As you start to sit, you overhear a curious conversation:

Claytonian06/18/2019
"Hey, it's probably about time we head out.."

Claytonian06/18/2019
"Oh. Yeah! It's time! If that magic circle becomes active, we all will be able to take our place at the side of our god."
"Well, we can't be late. Let's get back"
Perhaps this peaks your curiosity. Before you can say or do much, these guys rush out the door.What do you do?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Gonzo Brilliance of "She"

If you want to get that DCC or 0D&D vibe, I think "She" works pretty well. I mean, it feels a lot like a science-fantasy campaign, with murder hobos and odd situations in every hex. It's bad, but MST3K-level good-bad. You, you just gotta see it for yourself. NSFW.



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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sandy Peterson in Hell

Holy fork-balls, I just found out that Sandy Peterson of Call of Cthulu the RPG and d6 Ghostbusters fame designed The Chasm, which is one of the most loathed challenging levels in Doom history.

For a hot second, I was also confusing him with the Hickmans, because of the Mormon thing, but I got that figured out. Also, reminds me of how Paul (now Jennell) Jaquays went on to become a video game industry person too. Jaquays came back to our fold, but I don't know if Sandy has done RPGs recently... Fill me in on this in the comments.

Read up on Sandy here. And, since I mentioned them, read up on a fun campaign idea that uses the Mormon Columbia at Rient's blog here.
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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Arduinian Room Dressing tables and Thoughts on Caliban

this map is not accurate, but you could use it if you want to
So we've been playing Arduin using a custom system that I'll release when it's a little more done. Ah, heck, you can view it now if you want.  We tried out Caliban because it's one of Uncle Davey's famous dungeons, but the thing about Caliban is it really only has keyed rooms described. And it's huge. That's a lot of space that the DM should find a way to make interesting. Any hints, Dave? Well, yes, he made very gonzo rooms descriptions for the actual keyed areas. It would be real obvious that these rooms have treasure if you didn't expand on the "empty" rooms everywhere else, so take Hargravian descriptions and table-ify them! Don't forget to scour Arduin grimoires and All The World's Monsters for wandering beasts to help obfuscate those treasure guardians' purpose.
Obviously, lots of the ideas for these tables came from reading Arduin dungeons. I can't separate Jeff Rient's DNA from this (I don't know if he actually added his own stuff into his tables, which I consulted). 

Each room has a base structure. There is a 1d4th chance that they have some sort of of extra material paneled on, specked in, scratched in, etc. Consult the Other Features table below the first for that.
Base Composition (usually just the walls) [d12]:
  1. Igneous rock: 1) basalt, 2) granite, 3) foidolite, 4) obsidian, 5) porphyry, 6) tachylyte, 7) living stone (tough, but can bleed), 8) carved into statuary, which can be pushed to open secret doors.
  2. Sedimentary rock: 1) sandstone, 2) limestone, 3) shale, 4) dolomite, 5) silt-stone, 6) fossils, 7) coal, 8) stardust-silt.
  3. A prismatic wall or walls: 1) half-way from the PCs' entrance, 2) making a tunnel, 3) bisecting the area vertically from a height of 1d6 feet, 4) running perpendicular or parallel to another prismatic wall, 5) filling the room as a mist or sparkly motes, 6) that forms a few rounds after a PC has entered the space, 7) in front of each exit, including secret ones, 8) making a maze.
  4. Meteoric rocks: 1) stacked, 2) built into stonework and radioactive, 3) in a crater this room was built around, 4) as flagstones that may glow.
  5. Stonework: 1) dry stone, 2) mortared, 3) simulated by cutting into natural rock, 4) relief-carvings, 5) stacked as to conceal any secret doors 6) just stacked, 7) flagstones that conceal a pit or secret tunnel .
  6. Earthen works (prone to cave-ins if ill-built or damaged enough).
  7. Metal (may be burnished or rusted): 1) brass, 2) copper, 3) iron, 4) bronze, 5) tin.
  8. Jade: 1) blood-red, 2) green, 3) random color.
  9. Crystals (random color): 1) giant, 2) 1cm nodules, 3) tiny and sparkly, 4) thick  and flat enough to act as transparent panels.
  10. Chalcedony (random color of): 1) agate, 2) aventurine, 3) carnelian, 4) chrysoprase, 5) heliotrope, 6) moss agate, 7) chrome, 8) onyx.
  11. Futuristic material: 1) plastic (random color, might give off weird gas if burnt), 2) carbon fiber, 3) tension sheets, 4) pykrete, 5) circuit boards, 6) asbestos, 7) red tape.
  12. Void: 1) cosmic (if you jump too high, you will float away), 2) darkness left over from the before times, 3) a bottomless pit lies beyond the confines of the floor.
Other Features [d20]:
  1. Paneling: 1)Cherry-wood 2), amber, 3) mirrors, 4) wrought metal, 5) pine, 6) plaster.
  2. Arrases, Tapestries, or Hanging scroll-paintings: 1) pastoral, 2) apocalyptic, 3) demons, 4)  götterdämmerung, 5) creation myth, 6) dungeon history, 7) dungeon clue, 8) faded beyond recognition.
  3. Bones on floor or embedded in walls: 1) elves, 2) men, 3) demihumans, 4) monsters, 5) animals, 6) cryptids.
  4. Graffiti: 1) prophecies, 2) faction banter, 3) obscene 4) murder-hobo pictograms.
  5. Abandoned attempt by someone to break through wall or uncover a secret door.
  6. Fur: 1) animal hides, 2) [insert animal here]-skin rug, 3) strange (blue fur carpeting everywhere, etc.
  7. Filled with: 1) mist, 2) steam, 3) gas, 4) trash, 5) jungle, 6) shadows, 7) holograms, 8) diminutive monsters.
  8. Lots of fungus: 1) giant, 2) psychedelic, 3) ambulatory, 4) screamers, 5) sleep-spores, 6) culinary, 7) on ceiling only, 7) squeak when stepped on, 8) glow for d6 hours after plucking
  9. Covered in lichens, moss, and slime.
  10. Pillars: 1) doric columns, 2) caryatids, 3) standing stones, 4) a menhir, 5) ionic columns, 6) columns with relief carvings, 7) a monolith with clues or mystical powers.
  11. Something up with the ceiling or floor or both: 1) same as the walls, 2) covered in glass, 3) covered in 1 exploding d6'' of liquid, 4) blood pool or stain, 5) spiked, 7) a catch for a secret door, 8) rocks, ready to fall.
  12. Supernatural fire (random color and effect, much as prismatic walls).
  13. Traps: 1) trap triggered, 2) trap obvious but un-triggered, 3) hidden, 4) hoax-trap or illusion.
  14. Dusty, cracked, or both.
  15. Swirls, speckles, or veins (random color or material or both from the top table).
  16. Drapes (random material and color) large enough to conceal things behind.
  17. Ancient civilization junk: 1) mummies stacked up all about 2) teracotta soldiers, 3) scrolls, 4) litters (paliquins), 5) boat or boats, 6) sarcophagi, 7) pottery, 8) musical instruments.
  18. Everything polished or transparent (even if transparency is usually impossible.
  19. Site of a battle: 1) recent, 2) old, 3) ancient, 4) haunted.
  20. Gilt: 1) vermeil, 2) silver-leaf, 3) gold-leaf, 4) gold-flecks, 5) silver-flecks, 6) electroplated with copper.
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