Saturday, May 16, 2020

Transplantable cannon

I run a lot of games. Every Saturday the lads and lasses gather and I usually run a one shot with one of my one page RPGs. But some things are usually the same for whatever elfgame setting I am laying out. Here are a few things I have as my default mythos.

Robots and god-computers are supposed to be everywhere. I am way behind on my robot quota. In general, the world is supposed to have clues that great civilizations have come and gone, and are out there in the cosmos.

I want to seed more slow mutants too. In general, a lot of The Dark Tower octalogy exists in my world, such as "the Jesus Man" being a god and gunslingers wandering the land.

Amazons are a buff, seemingly human but definitely not human race that has nothing to do with real world Greek legends. They look like us, the bad tribes steal human men and have no interest in human women. They do have use for men in terms of baby-making, but they only have more amazon (female) children.

Lately, the amazon cannon has expanded to include hags. Hags are what evil amazons evolve into, and they steal men to make more babies, but hags give birth only to monsters. Most amazons encountered are the PCs themselves, so the evil potential of amazons has been unexplored. Good players.

Manazons also exist, but we don't know how they reproduce. Only that they seem to look like human men, but that they are not. Maybe I should look into Gargareans?

Alignment languages are not cants or code-phrases. They are writings and vocalizations that only someone of the proper alignment can parse and comprehend. If you lose your alignment, you forget the language. It can be written down, but it just doesn't make sense to those not of the way. Only beings of other worlds naturally make these vocalizations, so the PCs can't spout Lawful to an angel and hope to be understood. There is just a certain quality to it that can't be imitated by mortals. It's like that Yiddish-speaking grandma you have that you can't speak back to in Yiddish.

Orcs don't exist. Oh, a few have slipped in over the years, but I've always regretted letting it happen. Orcs are boring. The kids on twitter will call you racist. Just say no to orcs. Evil humanoids that bubble up out of the underworld's toxic plasms? Okay, that's better.

The underworld is mythic, filled with dungeon-logic. You dig deep enough, and reality starts to change on you. Here's a good source on that sort of thing.

Gnomes are a foot tall. They are David. They are not PC race material.

Elves don't age. They live forever. They have lived forever too, as far as they can remember, but they can only remember a couple hundred years. Everything feels like it happens in the blink of an eye.

Dwarves reproduce through sculpture, not something as dainty as sex. They don't make women themselves, but occasionally have been commissioned to do so ala Pygmalion. Dwarves also do not cast spells, but they can make magical rings, swords, and other artifacts. Dwarves love gold and can smell it. They turn into dragons if they amass too much wealth and don't share it with their clan.

BTW elves and dwarves, not elfs and dwarfs.

Just as every monster is best if it is unique, so too for magical items. No +1 swords in these games.

More on the cosmology is contained here. The players have only uncovered a small bit of the information in that post or this one. I like to let them discover what they like, as if they are amateur archeologists. There is probably some fancy word for this kind of world-revealing. Diagetic? Whatever the word for the opposite of a blog post is.


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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

And now for something completely nihongo

I translated a short game because it looked easy. I did not make the game in this case, even though I make an average of one RPG in my folder per week, but I did kinda alter it a bit and added a missing 8th spell. But this will be pretty useless info if you are not a Japanese reader. If only there was some way to find the original English version. If you are a nippongo-lover, here is the current version of it!



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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Son of New Elfgame Rules


It had a baby!
I've refined my DCCish old school elf game rules since the last go around. Here's what we got now. If you want to see the old post, it is still full of 90s 'tude. DCC Lankhmar rules are mentioned a lot, because I am currently running a campaign on Nehwon.




Action Dice: When you roll, you do not add bonuses (+1 &ct); we only make action dice bigger. If you have an ability score of 14-15, you roll a d22 to do actions with that score. 16-17 gives you a d24. 18 gives you a d30. We do not usually have a die smaller than a d20 (use a d16 only when dual-wielding). Saves don't exist per say; just make an ability check roll with an action die.

The hit/to-hit/class die: If you are rolling to attack or do something that fits the idiom of your class/race/background, you may add your hit die onto that roll. Roll to meet or beat an AC or DC. The DCs are 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and so on (don't use DCC thief DCs).

Armor: Armor Class is your Agility score. Armor itself is ablative; for each plus it has, it can take one hit instead of you, negating one instance of damage. This damages the armor and it has to be mended. Shields usually give +1 armor. 

Damage: Arms* are flavor, for the most part, and don't affect damage. Maybe your implement of choice is important in some situations. Your HD from the to-hit roll is also counted--provided you hit-- as your damage roll.

Example: Thogar rolls to hit. His STR is 8 and his class is thief, so he rolls 1d20+1d6. He gets a 19 and a 2, for a total of 21 to hit. The 2 becomes 2 damage. The player shakes the Judge's hand for running such a fast system, but then they both get Coronavirus. 

Luck: You can burn Luck or Fleeting Luck to modify rolls up or down in your favor (you can spend Luck on someone else's roll to avoid being hit). Fleeting Luck follows the DCC L rules.

Spell-burning: Wizards can grow their hit die for one instance of casting. It grows one size for each point of ability score damage you take. Spell-burning is ritualistic, so it slows you down and your friends will have to be meat shields while you get it ready. If you know Lankhmareese black or white magic, the first point of spell-burn on those spells is free, but you have to burn more than one.

Magic: You have to roll to learn a spell (fail and you can try again next level). Lvl 1 spells are DC 10, lvl 2 are DC 15, and so on. So you might want to quest for a specific way to learn a specific spell at a lower DC (Lankhmar agent dice might work out too). When you first learn a spell, you have to roll on this table of quirks (no mercurial magic).

Initiative: If you roll higher to hit, you hit first. Most monsters are zaku (small fries). If you hit, you kill them and hit first and they don't get a counter hit. You're no hero, but you might be fit for a pulpy tale.

Deeds: Unlike in DCC where they have to wait for a precious 3+, Warriors in this house may declare a mighty deed each time they hit (don't declare, then roll; roll first) except when they roll a crit, in which case the crit becomes the deed. Tough monsters may get a save to resist the effects of a deed, in which case their DC is 10+the Warrior's level.

Get Gud: Every PC stops gaining HD after level 3, instead re-rolling all previous hit dice and taking the new score if it is higher. Thank you, Dave "Arduin" Hargrave. Another benefit of leveling is that you get to choose one ability score and raise it by 1.

Orizons, not spells: If we had clerics in DCC L, they would not have set spells, but would just beg their gods for help with a prayer roll. What a pointless bullet point this was though.

Star signs: On worlds that use them, we look at what the sign usually affects and give +1d to action dice involving that. No negative star signs, and Luck doesn't make it better or worse to have.

*: I might find a way to integrate arms into the crit tables in the future.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

DCC Lankhmar Class: The Artful Cutter

Lankhmar DCC is a great setting. It's a little rough, but has great breaks with DCC to the point where I'd say it is a kind of DCC 2nd Edition. One of the things that stands out is a lack of demi-human classes. The downside of it is that players don't have much in the way of class variety. So here is a shifty class with some inspiration from DCC hobbits.

BTW, if you choose this class, re-roll any benisons that were designed to make you a dual-wielder.

Advancement and weapons: As per the Thief class.

Abilities: Two weapon fighter. You fight as if you had Agility 16 when wielding two weapons. If your Agility is actually higher than that, use it.

Lucky guy: If you burn Luck, you get a return of two for one for each Luck point you spend. This works if you spend Fleeting Luck on someone's behalf.

Odds in your favor: You may burn a Luck point to grow your action die one size larger before a roll. Extend the weird die chain up to d50-d60-d100-d120 if you spend enough Luck to do so. I should point out the 2 for 1 boon of the previous ability doesn't apply to this one, but you may spend Luck after the roll to modify it as per usual DCC rules and with the Lucky guy boon.

Make my own luck: Note your starting Luck score at character gen. Most characters burn Luck permanently, but you do something different: you may convert any Fleeting Luck on you at the end of a session into permanent Luck up to your normal score.

Magic Dabbler: You may memorize spells you pilfer, but can only keep one in your head per day. It doesn't matter to you what color a spell it. You can read scrolls as a thief would, but are there any of those in Lankhmar?
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Sunday, April 26, 2020

D&D for hoboes but hopefully not murder-hobos

Hobos probably have access to pencils, paper, and playing-cards. So that's what we'll play with. Also, the rules are short so you don't need to have them written down.
 

Storytelling is very important to the hobo-tradition. If your characters tell a room full of hushed NPCs of their exploits and then each draw a card higher than their current level, they level up. You start at level 0. No story may be told more than once.(Each player draws separately.)


Chargen: Draw a card for each stat. Royalty count as 10s, and aces count as ones. The stats are murder, defend, breathe, consciousness (awareness), and brilliance.

Tests: When you try to do a thing, draw a card and if the drawn card is equal to or less than your stat, you do it. In this case, the royal cards all count as 11 when drawn, and spell a fumble. Aces mean you do critically well. Jokers mean a success, but something odd is also ad-hoced by the HM for the players to deal with.

Dying:
You can take a number of hits equal to your level without much consequence. When you take a hit beyond that limit, you draw a card and apply it to a stat. As long as that card is equal to or less than the stat, you can keep going, but keep the card. If the cards applied to a stat ever exceeds it, you lose access to that stat and fail all rolls with it (failing to breathe is deadly, so only an ace or joker can save you if you lose that stat).

Classes: Choose a class. Each class may have abilities or advantage on draws. Advantage means you draw twice and take the more advantageous card.
  • Fighters have advantage to murder, defend, or breathe. They play harmonicas.
  • Stabbers have advantage to murder and consciousness. They can sense traps are present without a check. They can play Three-card Monte with the Hobo Master to do legerdemain. They play mouth-harps.
  • Wizzers have advantage to brilliance. They may cast spells (or use psionics); they draw a card each morning and have that many spells to use that day. Spells are made up on the spot, but if players wish for the moon they'll get a monkey's paw. They play banjos.
  • Hippies have advantage to breathe. They have a faithful mutt with its own stats. Hippies can scrounge up either a day's rations or healing erbs (remove 1 card of damage from someone's stack) each day (player has to choose which). Such food or herbs don't last more than a day. They play cowbells.

Monsters are all unique. When one is generated, the HM draws a card for each stat and keeps it face down until it is tested (not even the HM knows how tough a monster is). However, a monster reveals a new weird ability each time it acts, or uses a previously revealed one. Monster abilities just work, and the players have to deal with them, usually with defense draws.

Initiative is done by drawing cards. Lowest cards go first (aces are ones). Starting with the HM, a player will reveal their initiative card and declare an action. Any player (including the HM) may interrupt another by revealing a lower card; otherwise the action is tested for success or failure, then play proceeds to the left until everyone has done an action. Running about it an action.

Will work for food: The world is one in which your characters are misfits and outcasts. But it is the kind of world with monsters and other problems that need to be dealt with. People post jobs, bounties, and commissions to bulletin boards that anyone can peruse. There is competition, so if you pass on a job, it's likely gone forever soon.

Hobomasters: The totality of your game prep should be writing interesting jobs to put on the boards. Each situation should have a number of steps equal to a card you secretly draw and note. If the players have done that many rooms/encounters/traps/&ct, or if they seem bored, wrap it up and get them back to the barrel-fires where they can spin their tales for the other adventure-hoboes.

This post was inspired by another dude's post.
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Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Party Actual Play Report


A while back, I made the game The Party, which is basically a list of odd characters and one paragraph of rules. If I do say so myself, it's the ultimate pick up and play TRPG. We've played it a couple times now, and I'm here to tell you how the latest session went.

We played a version of Night of the Walking Wet. Here, have the map I drew for the overland. Then scroll down to the report below it.
To do things, roll a d20 and the GM will roll one too. If it seems to be something you would be better at than other classes would be—exempli gratia, a warrior rolling to hit—you can roll a d30 instead. If you roll higher, you do the thing. If the GM die rolls close to yours though, maybe you didn’t do the thing so smoothly. If you failed, there is some bad thing that happens now and makes sense for the danger you have blundered your way into.

That's pretty much all the rules up there. So we started with a thief that poses as a blind umbrella salesman (we've rolled this result in a past session so I tweeked it, and thru play the PC became more exotic-umbellateer than thief), an Amazon out to find the dragon that razed her village, and an eye-mage (they were a leprechaun, but that didn't come up). I had the players roll d30s on the char-gen table because I felt like having an odd session.

They proceeded south in hopes of selling umbrellas to Thracian goat herders (this map goes all in on Judges Guild stuff), but soon became distracted by the sight of a dragon soaring in the sky. Eye mage decides to try to obscure vision of the dragon. This is definitely an eye-magey thing to do, so I grant them a d30 and roll a d20 for the opposition. We both get natural ones! The mage attracts the dragon's attention, but is hit out of nowhere by a rogue UFO. Maybe I shoulda had more consequence for the mage than that, but oh well.

So the players track down where the dragon crashed and finish it off with an umbrella up the intestines. Too bad, because from the looks of it, that dragon was the brother of the dragon the amazon was looking for. They start harvesting organs, so I ask if they have a clever way to preserve them long enough to get to someone who can actually afford it (Startsville has a poor economy since the lands to the south got full of zombies and odd humanoids about a hundred years back, when the "comet" crashed). Well, I have jars of piss (ammonia) says one player. We roll to see if they are big enough, and they roll high, so yes, yes they do have those jars.

The players also decided to scope out the karst believed to be the dragon's lair. Turns out the roost is like sixty feet down a cliff. Umbrella dude is like, "No prob, just take one umbrella in each hand and float down, friends." Others are like, "After you." Natural 1. Splat!

So that player rolls up a dwarf into rune-priestcraft and is encountered by the other PCs as they are back in town to hawk piss-pickled dragon organs. Okay, long story short, dragon blood is harvested too, magical research (think carousing table) is undertaken, and a little stone dragon familiar joins the priest. Slime missionaries try to convert the party with paper-airplane flyers. Das PCs end the session by fumbling their journey roll and thus cornered on the karsk by a small army of weird humanoid monsters, who they shake off by creating a rune-earthquake and giving lots of pinkeye to.

So yeah, good game and fun system. If you want the character table, go here. The only revision I've really done to the rules is to emphasize that natural 20s can beat higher numbers than 20 on the opposing die.
 
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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Free-form magic via spell components

She didn't giggle much, but the birds teetered a bit.
People who have kept abreast of me for a while know a few things about me: I like humor in RPGs, I like resource management, I like free-form magic systems, and I giggle a little when I write words like "abreast."

Pause for giggle break.

Okay, so I'm combining some of those things into the following spell-casting system.
  • There are no spell slots, so you can cast all day.
  • Component casting is the only kind of casting. I want greedy wizards scouring dungeons and flea-markets alike.
  • To cast a spell, you sacrifice one or more spell components (they melt like cotton candy in the mouth of the æther). You also need the ability to speak and gesticulate.
  • You have to roll to see how effective your spell is.
    • The higher you roll, the better.
    • Rolling a 1 means the spell backfires or consumes more components than you were expecting. Also, I say have a table of like 120 spell mishaps and you have to re-roll that spell die on it, cause great hubris preceedeth the fall.
    • More valuable components give larger dice for you to roll. A whole fleece is better than a bit of wool. A dragon's blood is worth at least a d60, doncha think?
    • In D&Dish games, where some sort of spell save could be mustered, you can roll your spell die vs the target's relevant save inverted (old school) or 10+stat+level (new school) and try to roll high. If you do, the spell affects them.
  • Magic circles, sacrifices, extra casters, and cauldrons could bump up your spell's die-size. The costlier the better.
  • The caster tries to justify a magical effect (the spell) based on the components they sacrificed to it as well as their scarcity/value. Puns and jokes are absolutely allowed, nay, nigh-requisite. For instance (some of these are adapted from a popular RPG):
    • A copper penny to read someone's mind.
    •  Combining sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter to make an explosion.
    • Socks to make an electric shock.
    • A tower model that helps you babble in any tongue.
    • Chalk or dust to see invisible things.
    • Sand to induce sleep.
    • A dousing rod to gain the favor of a water elemental.
    • A steak to command a carnivorous animal, or a leash to command any kind.
    • A whistle to summon the hounds .
    • A bit of fleece to trick someone or induce slumber.
    • Beans to create a gust of wind.
    • A bit of gold to create a zone of silence.
    • Wire or a mother's bell to create a message over great distance.
    • A log to make a shadow-clone.
    • An abacus might counter a  spell.
    • Shrooms to undergo an astral journey.
That's about it. Any component ideas or holes in the system? Make a comment!
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