Monday, November 25, 2013

A few new houserules for our DCC campaign (some may apply to any game!)

If your weapon deals 1d5 or less damage (this includes bare hands), you can use a 1d24 initiative die. If your weapon is two-handed you use a 1d16 initiative die UNLESS you are a human and go shirtless like a barbarian, in which case you can use a 1d20.

Leveling: In the past I've asked people with multiple leveled characters to choose one each turn of combat to act. I've decided to try a different approach (this is all in the name of simplicity and fast play): You have 1 main character. You use their initiative and saves for all your characters. The main character can level for real. All your other characters are lackeys and they can gain a 1d4 hit die for each 100 gold they spend on leveling. If your main character dies, you can choose one of the lackies and level them as follows:
1-4 hit die= level 1, up to 8 is level 2, and so on. It doubles each time. Lackies never get hangers-on xp for attending a party. They have to spend some gold them self. But they never roll for, and thus don't fumble, leveling.

Other rules you may not know, that may or may not be house rules:

Two-handed weapon wielders roll a d16 initiative die. Choose your weapon as combat begins and you are pledged to draw it at some point on your turn. New weapons drawn don't count for or against your initiative until you start a turn with them.

Duel-wielding light weapons can be done by anyone that's not a halfling, but use this rule: One to-hit roll, roll the damage die for each weapon. If they are both the weapon's highest value, they both count for damage!

You only get XP for gold. We always roll to see if something cool or horrible happens after you have committed your gold, but you can announce a specific goal and if it seems doable, I'll give you a time frame for how long to spend leveling (days, weeks, month, years(!)). A local economy can handle only so much partying, so not everyone can level that way at the same time, maybe.

Houserules and fluff about the campaign can be found at here
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bringing LotFP's infamous summon spell into DCCRPG

The desktop of a demon summoner
So I am a proud owner of LotFP's Rules and Magic. I usually run DCC though. It fulfills my need for gonzo. But it's such a shame that it lacks the summon spell that +James Raggi came up with. So I'm trying out a compromise tonight.

One of my players got an arcane-type DCC familiar last time. And the familiar lets the wizard know a spell or something. So I decided on summon.

The way this spell will work:
The wizard will do his spell-check. They can choose the type (I to VI) of demon they want to try to snag. The Judge will do a die drop of all the dice. Even the weird ones. Because +Harley Stroh came up with a table for DCC demons. I have my own copy so I can switch out things that have been summoned before.

The demon will have to beat the wizard's spell check (even if the spell is unsuccessful) with a Will save to retaliate. It wins automatically if the wizard gets a 1, and comes in an abstract form. It gets +1d+2 for the degree of demon it is beyond type I (for example, a type IV will roll 1d30+4+Will). If it beats it by 1-2, it simply refuses the call. If it beats it by 3-4, it attacks the wizard for the time it has in this plane (see below). If it beats it by 5 or more, it dominates the wizard as per p. 139 of LotFP. If it beats it by 19 or more, it rolls a d20 and gets empowered or possibly (on a 20) sunders the walls between dimensions.

The demon will stick around for diminishing die's* worth of rounds equal to the wizard's spell check, unless the wizard failed the initial check, in which case the monster will use a diminishing die equal to the one from the Will check.

*Diminishing die: a die that gets one step smaller each time it is rolled. In the case of this spell, the die is rolled each round. If the die ever rolls a 1, the demon has to go home.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Death Frost Doom Isometric Map

I shared this a while back in the G+ community for LotFP, but here is an isometric map of DFD, perfect for Roll20. Almost all the rooms are there, just in different places. One set of crypts is in the shape of the evil sign. I think I relocated the evil sign to the door to room 2. Click to embiggen.

As for plot, I still had a plant hanging down blocking the way to the giant skeleton room, but it does not sussurate. Instead, there is an ancient old man that ceaselessly pipes away on a flute in 21. He has an extra flute in his coat and will offer it while still playing. Any player that takes it up is cursed to play until a new flautist comes. The dead get real cranky if their music is turned off.

I made the vampire into a seductress. In my campaign, the PCs for the most part joined her and then she took them with her to be lich kings in the new undead empire.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Cosmology

Sigil is widely regarded as a microcosm
that reflects the shape of the macrocosm
that comprises the known universe. Imagine
Azathoth at the middle and you may start to
understand Our Lady of Pain.
A little something I am going to be using as my cosmology in games for a while. Each area will have some Powers (gods) and Inhabitants (monsters) detailed.

This universe is a great torus; galaxies and planets ring it, but its edges dissolve into the terrifying pseudo-matter that is The Outer Limits.

The Outer Limits
A realm where the laws of physics melt and reality bends back upon itself. It's an unfathomable distance from known space, and other realities pervade our own here. It surrounds the great torus on all edges. Dark energy pushes the torus further and further apart with the march of the aeons.
  • The Outer gods: Azazoth floats in the middle of all reality, just outside of it, attended by his pipers. Azaoth fuels the beginning and end of all things. 
  • In his mad dreams, Shub-Niggurath is ever pregnant and making cosmic horrors.

The Astral Sea
This can be thought of as the stars, planets, and galaxies close enough to our own to matter.
  • The Stars themselves: Unfathomable entities that control the fates of men and whisper strange secrets to the mad. 
  • The Great old ones: Gods in their own right, the spawn of the stars, such as Cthulhu, originate here, though they tend to be subject to the whims of the cosmic ley-lines and many of them are mercifully sleeping on some planet until they can outlive death again.
  • Astral Oddities: Githyanki pirates, Chael, Maruts, Inevitables, Shmodrons, Neogi, Beholders, Illithids, Mi-go, Greys

The Seven Heavens
A heavenly series of locales for almost any temperament. Of particular interest is Valhalla, the barrier to this reality, where warriors that please their gods are restored for feasting each night.
  • They Who Watch: Venca, Tiamat, Psionic Dragon Gods, Zagyg, the Pantheon of Law, the Igigi
  • The Heavenly Host: Cloud Giants, Angels, Daevas, Dead Heroes, Archons, Ambassadors of all kinds.

Midgard (called Aert by common man)
The realm we know the best: the proving ground of the new human race. Elves and dwarves remain from the golden age, but mankind is still struggling to decide their own destiny.
  • They Who Walk Among Us: Avatars, Earth-bound Great Old Ones, immortals, nephilim, gibborim, rephaim, old man Bahamut, Iuz the Tyrant,
  • Mundane Monsters: Wizards (suffer them not to live) and their experiments, fey, robots, dragons, the undead, the uplifted beasts
  • The kingdoms: Kings, emperors, necromancers, and khans squabble over the lands of men
  • The demi-humans: Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits withdraw into their alien societies

The Underworld
Beneath the earth lies the dungeons of things forgotten or sealed away, and mazes made for strange reasons by the servants of various entities. The City of Death is here, eager to claim new souls for Nergal to rule over, and in its catacombs (death for the dead!) is the gate to Tartarus.

The Gates of Tartarus
The Barrier that holds back the Titanomachy's losers. Devils are former servants of the gods, bound to hold the gates in recompense for their immemorial sins.
  • The Wardens: Cerebus, Hel, Lucifer, Yama, Hecatonchires, the 7 Anunnaki judges
  • The Hell-bound: The Evil Dead, Devils, Tasked-angels, Maras

The 9 Hells
These realms of torture are intended to preoccupy and imprison the most dangerous beings from primordial times. The only escape is deeper down...
  • Titans and Ashuras: Maya-demons, Vrita, Kronos, Mnemosyne
  • Horrors: Cenobytes, Slaadi, the Ancient Dead

The Abyss
A chaotic vortex in the middle of an elemental crucible that reaches down through an insanity that reflects The Outer Limits.
  • The Demon Lords: Baphomet, Orcus, Demogorgon, Juiblex, The Elemental Royalty
  • Chaos' childer: Demons, Oozes, Obyriths

The End of Creation
Tharizdun, lord of paradox, is imprisoned at the bottom of reality, in the singularity of nothingness that lies there. His release would spell the end of everything.

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If you spot a typo, you can just email me. Claytonian at the gmails.

Friday, May 3, 2013

These Help Me DM on the Fly

See these folders? They all have picture files to help me pull random stuff out of nowhere. And then I usually play online and can screen-share with the PCs' players.

When I need a random monster, I turn to my encounters folder, which has a 1,001 pictures of monsters. Some banal encounters too!

When the players want to hexcrawl, I got images for that too.

Dressing is the folder I fill with odd underworld locations. Crazy rooms and decor.

I still usually use my MMoA catalog for treasure though.

The images for these folders usually come from my tumblr.

Now my question for any Mac geniuses out there: Does anyone know how to automate a process to open a random file in a folder? That would rock.

EDIT: +Ed Heil  has come up with the best solution so far. I just punch one of these lines into my Console app:
ruby -e 'system("open", Dir[ENV["HOME"]+"/Desktop/Encounters/*"].choice)'

ruby -e 'system("open", Dir[ENV["HOME"]+"/Desktop/hexcrawl/*"].choice)'

ruby -e 'system("open", Dir[ENV["HOME"]+"/Desktop/dressing/*"].choice)'

ruby -e 'system("open", Dir[ENV["HOME"]+"/Desktop/treasure/*"].choice)'

If you end up trying this and it doesn't work for you, you might be able to do it by substituting the word "sample" for choice.

In any case, those lines are easy to pop individually into a shellscript in Automator. Saved as apps, these things are now just a double click away from providing me with goodies.
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Barony RPG Quick Start Guide

This is a little primer I am putting together to help my players as we tackle a one-shot adventure with pre-made characters. I think it will be quick to jump into. The wording is my take on Barony: Rogue Swords of the Empire.

How do I do all the things?

Well, if you have a trait or skill written on your sheet and there is little resistance, we will probably just narrate our way through it. If you don't, or the situation is a bit dramatic, roll 2d8. 2d8 is what we roll for everything. We then compare what you rolled to the action roll table.

Difficulty degree: The GM will tell you if the thing you are attempting is simple, difficult, tasking, or the limit of your abilities. Limit is reserved for occasions when the attempted use of a skill defies credibility or strains the boundaries of what would normally be accepted.

If you are attempting to do something that belongs to a skill you don't have, the degree goes up by two, but you can't attempt a skill you don't have if it would be tasking or limit before this raising. In other words, simple or difficult checks, that then get harder, only.

One roll per attempt (no rolling 3 times and hoping one of them succeeds, for instance).

Spells are not skills or abilities, but actions. Anyone can attempt them. I'll describe the process later.

Whatever you roll, there is a chance something bad (mixed or mishap) or too good (overkill) could happen. So be cautious if you are close to death or whatever.

What are these words on my character sheet?

Barony characters have virtually no numbers associated with them. Instead, you have attributes/traits and skills. Attributes are basic character traits and abilities. They do not confer specific maneuvers though. Here are the traits descriptors:

Artful: poise and finesse; comely, articulate, sure-footed and deft of hand
Bold: seemingly invincible, unyielding and without fear
Clever: resourceful, inventive and shrewd; traits of scheming, snap decisions, etc.
Durable: exceptional size, strength and/or endurance.
Eldritch: attuned to ambient mystic forces [magic use unrelated though]
Fast: superior reflexes and speedy movements, quick reactions

So, in general, improvise off of the above stated qualities. There are some actual game mechanics too:

Bold: Ignore battle pain (don't lose actions to pain, or take penalties from damage).
Fast: Can make two dodge actions during a response phase of combat, provided they have a skill or want to do a harder roll, then take the best result of the two.

Attributes also add extra eponymous wound boxes (there are no hit-points in Barony, only wounds).

Skills have many different uses. Basically whatever you imagine. I'll cover the combat applications in the combat section below.

Classes unlock skills when leveling up, but keep in mind they also add eponymous wound boxes.

How do I kill KILL KILL?

Combat is divided into the Advantage (any PCs that want to act first and viciously), Opposition (enemy attacks and spells), and Response phases (PCs that wait this long have a chance to block with a skill or counter a spell). You act during one of the the PC phases once per round. No initiative rolling is done.

Some skills that come up in combat (they have different difficulties), and possible goals (don't let yourself get limited) to roll them (hope they roll high!) follow:

Luck, speed and guile, or mastery of shield: blocking skills (blocks without one of these will be two more degrees harder).

Animal Reflexes: (response phase) reduce level of one wound taken this round and inflict bruise/cut
Battle Cry: Inspire self and companions with a bonus until next turn
Battle Hard: Ignore bleeder wounds for a round
Berserk: Bonus to attacks, ignore pain
Brawl: (advantage phase) lock down an opponent, or try to stun 1d8 dudes
Concentration: (response phase) deal more deadly wounds next round
Distraction: Enemies that try to hurt you take damage
Foul Blow: (advantage phase) rob a humanoid of their attack this round
Hero's Great Weapon: (advantage) inflict a bleeder, or (either phase) inflict a bruise/cut
Irregular Blow: (either) bruise/cut, or (response) bleeder
Leveraged attack: (either) bruise/cut, or (adv) vicious, or (resp) bleeder.
Quick Blows: Make 1d8 attacks during next advantage phase!
Ranged power blow: bruise/cut from a stone's throw away. If you get a mixed result, only adv deals damage
Ranged Precision Hit: bleeder across the battlefield, but mixed result only hits during adv
Strength of Limb: Lock down an opponent
Warrior's Sidearm: Inflict bruise/cut
Wrist Speed: Try to draw and attack in same round

Monsters die when they run out of words in their wounds. Same deal for you, actually. But most wounds will be bruise/cut and then when you run out of words in that category the next (bleeder) will start to go down. Vicious are the worst physical wounds. Spirit wounds are rare, but hardest to get back...
Below is a table of possible wounds. You get any words that appear on your character sheet, and ignore the rest. Everyone gets Base and Player wounds.

How do I magic it up?
Anyone can cast magic, but be aware that you may use up pieces of your spirit (health) doing so. Most characters have at least one or two magic points to buffer this though. Also, magic points (up to 4 per spell) can be used to give +1 bonuses to any one roll for it is rolled. Magic is usually intoned through incantations.

If you are sure you want to take the risk, tell the DM what you want to do and they will determine how many laws you are breaking to determine the number of action rolls and their difficulties. The laws of Barony physics are:

I (energy/forces): Force flows through fixed channels; natural forces are immutable.
II (matter/identity): Everything is a precise, immutable blend of elemental earth, air, fire, and water (or humors).
III (spirit): Consciousness is a phenomenon controlled by something unique and untamed outside of nature that manifests in one spot (the brain).
IV (space-time): Planes of existence are distinct, separate, unmixed, and don't cross.
V (knowledge/unknown): Past events are immutable in our memories, and some things are not meant to be understood.

You can break any law(s) with magic, but know that doing the same spell more than once, ever, will make it harder in degree. This is the zeroth law of originality.

Spells sound cray-cray! How can I stop them?

You can counter a spell, if you haven't acted yet, during the response phase. Unfortunately, if multiple laws were broken, you'll have to counter each violation, but it is easier to counter than to cast.

Wizard duels are things PCs can initiate too, but you don't cast spells; you just both kinda do kamehamehas until one gets knocked out. targeting magic point-lacking targets creates feedback!

The skill Magic Immunity can potentially cancel out harmful magics in an area...

How do I level?

Gotta do some crazy things called ignobles. The DM will go through the list when an adventure ends.

How do I spend my coin*?

With a roll! Starting classes are associated with resource levels. Based on the result when you go to check your coffers, you may be out of funds...

*:coin is the plural in Barony
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Friday, April 19, 2013

These Items are Your Character. Go!

A while back on g+ I ran a game where I made up the rules on the fly, because I was running Monolith Beyond Space and Time and rules take a back seat to player decisions in that one. I had the players all choose from one of the following collections of items. This became their character and its implied class. Basically it was generic d20 fantasy. Players rolled a hit die the first time they got damaged and so on.

Recently, I've encountered more than just the 4 original ones. If you go to this site, you can get a ton of them for a more modern campaign. You are the person with a
baby! Go!
The Spagetti Western collection I found has to be approached a different way. I think the key to that one is to have players choose a character from the pictured ones.

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I would love to know if anyone has created more images like these!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More Barony RPG Awesomeness

So, desperate as I am to get more of the Conrad's Fantasy/Barony/Free-style Roleplay RPG system, that I have ordered two issues of the defunct Space Gamer Fantasy Gamer. This was not cheap, as I live in Japan, but as far as RPGs as literature I am well pleased with my purchase.

Issue #3, circa 1992 contains the following of interest to me:
Horrid, Rob Liefeld-inspired art. Well, he was pretty popular back then. Even adolescent, wanting to be a comic-book artist young me was tricked into liking Rob, though I was starting to question what the hell was up with his attempts at anatomy.

Anyways, the artwork accompanies the comic-book take at the Free-Style RPG system: Good Guys Finish Last. The interesting part is you actually play an entire comic book company. You and the other players control cool heroes too, of course. But the ignobles* and scenarios in this iteration of the system encourages you to pull publishing stunts with your story-lines and character deaths.

There is a scenario for the GGFL RPG in this issue too. Revolt in the East includes messing with timelines in both the Crisis on Infinite Earths sense and also as a thing imposed by someone who bought the comic company and decided to restructure the lines. It's a bit confusing, but sounds like it could be awesome if one pulls it off.

Which gets me thinking; an ambitious GM could make a campaign that reflects the true history of a comic company. Like the possibilities with making the DC universe come together from its disparate companies would be amazing. And super nerdy.

The horrible Liefeld aping is over most of the issue, but it is thankfully less obnoxious when it gets to the Barony scenario, which a classic dungeon delve, Grey Viper. There are unique monsters (crazy dead, gem-powered guardians, and waves of rats) and a Quick and Dirty† table for what happens when you fall into a room of vipers. You also get to see mention of the great Delta Zaire of character progression chart notoriety in the fiction that sets up the adventure. I want to run this.

The scenario for Era Ten (future iteration of the RPG) seems cool too. Very Aliens-esque space marines in setup, with the tantalizing finale of stealing items you need from your past self.

* :Ignobles are the experiences you need to level up in any Free-style system game.
†: Quick and Dirty is a term for random tables in the FSRPG systems. They even go as far as to ™ the term.
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

How Barony was Dungeon World Before Dungeon World; a System Review

Durable is possibly the best choice if you want a shot at all the other abilities.
Here's a summary of the Barony system, which had a few names and adaptations as an RPG over the years. Rogue Swords is the version I ended up with.

The building blocks of your character are not numbers like ye olde "Strength 13" or "Social 3 dots" or whatever, they are called attributes (or traits) and they are key words that give you an talent or two and maybe a chance to get certain skills. So it's kind of like everybody has things that set them apart from the fold. The traits are: Artful, Bold, Clever, Durable, Eldritch, and Fast. You chose one to start your character, then roll a d8 and consult the table under each one of these abilities to see what other traits you get (they all have different tables). You can afterwards gain or lose abilities through play.

Skills based of the above come next. Well, kinda. You can only choose your skills after you decide what your Title (read: class) is. The starting titles are at the top of the following workflow chart of titles, which is one of the coolest character tree system things I've ever seen. Lookie/zoomie/clickie:

So, fer instance, if you choose to be a Footman, you will start with 3PCs. That is, 3 "Physical & Combat" category skills, but only if you have the prerequisite attribute(s) they demand (this is actually really simpler than I am making it out to be, I promise). One thing to keep in mind is that even if you don't have a skill for whatever reason, you can still attempt it at an increased difficulty. So to use a skill check the degree of difficulty in its description, adjust for things like if you don't actually have the skill etc, roll 2d8, and consult the following table.

And there you see how this is really like the Dungeon World of the late 80s/early90s. I like the Barony spread a bit more though, as a fail is usually not so bad and a fumble rare if you play smart. The Overkill result is cool too. The DM may say, "Intimidate him? Yeah, you do that, and he will remember your face for the rest of his life." Then draw up some craven revenge plans for the poor NPC.

Magic is not a skill, as anyone can attempt it, but classes will give you the Magic Points to help cast them (otherwise you may end up spending your soul to cast, but we'll get to that). Magic is freeform, with a couple of restrictions: (1)it gets harder the more physical laws you break, and (2) it gets harder to cast a spell that has ever been cast before. Forced creativity is why I love this system! Of course it is ripe for abuse too, being bounded only by imagination, but as the authors recommend, you could just take 5 minutes to roll up a new world if the PCs end it. Or just say, "Stop being a prick, Player X."

Attacking and defending is not a skill either, but these are rolled likes skills and maybe informed by them.

Okay, say you got your skills chosen (or rolled up randomly which would be faster). You are ready to do things! But if you fight something, you may get chunks of your being wiped out for a while. Look at this damage chart:
Everything will damage you in one of those 4 categories. Every character has the Base and Player rows or as I will call them, boxes (as the columns separate the rows) as well as maybe something from their attributes or title (see Durable up there?). Check the boxes off until you run out of them, then go down to the overflow section and follow that. So if you run out of Bruise/Cut boxes, you have to start crossing of Bleeder column boxes and so on. Spirit you may loose depending on how hard the magic you use is and how low your check ends up; most monsters leave it alone. The Bruise/cut boxes come back after a battle, the Bleeder and Vicious ones after an adventure, and Spirit only can be cured by magic, which may be a little too hard-core, I dunno.

Monsters have their own abilities and skills and damage charts with evocative keywords that help you give them metal names. Trust me, monsters are cool and easy to make in Barony. A wee bit like Dungeon World, once again.

So there are tons of skills, but I can't reproduce them all here, sorry. One interesting way skills and abilities get used is during events. Events are not man-to-man standard combat. Sample events given by the book include a bar brawl, fighting in a battlefield (mounted and unmounted and other things), and fighting a dragon. They use playing cards to randomise the montage that makes an event. For instance, in a bar brawl:
It's beautiful! Customize it towards the skills you know your players have if you want to give them a greater sense of awesome, or just revel in the fact that no rules lawyer can stop a Dark Lord from just getting knocked out or whatever. Fighting a dragon feels pretty epic when players have to survive until the event is over through scenes dependent on where they are in relation to the dragon, like this example if you draw a 2 while in the tail zone:
Combat can be pretty strategic, though simple. It has phases and some skills let you do cool things depending on the phase. As mentioned above, there is some mass combat if you want it. This game did have its roots in a wargaming magazine, after all.

It's hard to find much history online about this game. Heck, it's almost impossible to find the game, and rumor has it the creators are like Can't find it? Tough. A barely maintained (and riddled with 1970s-feeling English) website by the creators does give some clues as to how all started. Check out the history here, and you can click through some summaries of the unique qualities the game has here.
I've barely scratched the surface of this game. Between skills, magic, and events, things can get really deep. I can't recommend it enough!
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). Also, maybe we can share ideas on how to get ahold of rare games like this. You can EMAIL me at claytonian at the gmails.
Edit: 1070s was my imagination I guess; can't find any evidence of when the system was truly first conceived.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Wandering Trees Resorces and Encounters (Awesome Forest Monsters for DCC)

The Wandering Trees is an old adventure from Dungeon Magazine (#67) that I re-purposed for a level 0 or 1 DCC Google+ group I run.

I like the adventure, but it is a bit overcomplicated and ambiguous as presented in the magazine, so I have made a hex grid for it. The original adventure has paths that have a probability of disappearing that was very complex and expressed on a chart with letters and whatnot that takes a bit of time to reference.

Instead, roll a d6 every time the players encounter a possible path or if they have traveled on a path for long in terms of hexes or time. On a 3 or better, any paths in the area will show up. If they are on a path when they cross a hex, roll to see if it disappears around them. Hex crossing is a good time to make an encounters check too.

You can click the map to zoom in and download it. Also, you can see how we use a shared Google doc to map out the paths the players have discovered here.

I made custom DCC encounters for this place too:

With a hex grid, it was easier to tell when I should make rolls for random encounters (1 in 6 chance each day and for each watch of the night, plus an additional chance for each hex crossed, doubling if there is no random path granted by those willy trees). Here is the  table I was using (has my attempts to make up interesting DCC stats for level one threats before the rules were finally published). In retrospect, I would roll 1d6 for number of monsters encountered each time it wasn't specifically listed; my players somehow just kept not properly dying. Otherwise, I am satisfied with myself for some of the odd crits and powers sprinkled throughout here.

1 Wood Elf Stalkers from the local wood elf community. Very Quiet. Will attempt to stab and grab. They hate kobolds, and know their scent.
Treasure: Natural material daggers, skins, elf bread.
  • Init +1; Atk dagger +2 (1d5); AC 12; HD 1d8; MV 10 Meters; Act 1d20; SP as elves; SV Fort +0 Ref +2 Will +2
2  Kobold traders from the hills. Kobolds are mischievous cave fey that will try to barter for gemstones, gold, or cobalt. Negotiations may break down unless the players could really use some cave creature regents such as umber-hulk juice. They attack dwarves and wood elves on site.
Treasure: Besides  1d10 worth of gems, A battery pack for a robot. They don't know its significance, but like the LED readouts.
  • Init -1; Atk little pike +4 (1d5); AC 11; HD 1d5; MV 12 Meters; Act 1d16; SP stoney skin absorbs 1 point of damage from weapons and dulls them; SV Fort +4 Ref -1 Will +0
3 A unicorn. It will attack any amoral characters that sport furs, but if the PCs are gooduns, it will lead the way to a grove that is safe for the night.
  •  Init +3; Atk horn +4 (1d8 [+3 if charging]) hooves +2 (roll on a lvl 1 warrior crit table for damage); AC 11; HD 1d9; MV 13 Meters; Act 1d20; SP immune to poison, disappears upon death save for its magical horn; SV Fort +2 Ref +2 Will +4
Note: A player encountered it, and happened to crit it with a demon's horn (as you do), rolling a sunder on the crits table and severing the unicorn's horn. The unicorn started to go darkside, and infected his assailant with an ebon-skin curse...
4 A pair of wolves. They are hungry, but run from pain or fire. One of them used to be a man and is slightly larger as he was cursed by a bog-witch. He will stalk the group from afar after they are first encountered if he has been driven off.
  • Init +3; Atk bite +2 (1d5 and grabbed crit:by the throat, and the target has one round to get loose before said throat is torn out); AC 11; HD 1d6; MV 12 Meters; Act 1d16; SP —; SV Fort +0 Ref +2 Will -3
A shambling moss monster desires arcane knowledge and likes a little dismemberment too.
Treasure: Kept in a nearby cave is a collection of sorcerer bones and some tomes (can learn 1d3 spells at the next leveling up with study).
  • Init +0; Atk soggy pseudopod +2 (1d4+4) Spell (see SP) +5 (as stolen spell) ; AC 11; HD 1d9; MV 13 Meters; Act 1d20; SP Any spell caster that fails a spell check in its presence “teaches” the moss their failed spell, and the monster takes on an aspect of the spell as well as gaining the ability to cast it; SV Fort +4 Ref -2 Will +4
A small barghest (lycanthropic goblinoid) and three hobgoblins on a pilgrimage to defile the Great Oak Tree in the name of urban squalor. The barghest is in his mundane form, but mutters something about “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” if PCs get cheeky.
Treasure: Barghest bile goes for a good price in the right alchemist's shop. Also, a ring worth 23 sp that has the image of a goblinoid god.
  •  Barghest (dog form): Init +2; Atk bite +3 (1d6 and grabbed crit: by the throat, and the target has one round to get loose before said throat is torn out); AC 11; HD 3d7; MV 12 Meters; Act 1d20; SP Regeneration 1d4 (recharges on a 5 or 6 as per 4e style recharge rules unless damaged by steel); SV Fort +3 Ref +2 Will +0
A lake/pond/river haunt that attempts to garrote with soggy vines.
Treasure: nearby are the remains of victims with 1d12 in riches.
  • Init goes last; Atk garrote +3 (1d5 and grabs. Must break free within 3 rounds or suffocate); AC 12; HD 1d7; MV 4 Meters; Act 1d16; SP can't be grabbed (slimy), very quiet (stealth +5); SV Fort +0 Ref +0 Will +0
A man-eating tree that tries to take a chomp against someone leaning on it. Make a reflex save+ nature check mod or lose a digit/hand/arm. The tree cannot move, but no reason to let the players in on that until their panic has died down.

note: One player lost their hand in play, and bargained with his patron to replace it. He now has a wooden hand with a mind of its own.
A Mossy walking skeleton that moans, “Beware the caiiiiirrrrnnns” but otherwise has no intelligence that can be accessed by mundane means. A ritual to speak with the dead may reveal more.
1d10 Will o’ Wisps or Japanese-style ghost lights (as appropriate for terrain) swarm in (1d5).
  •  Init goes last; Atk enervating touch +0 (1d3); AC 10; HD 1d3; MV 4 Meters; Act 1d16; SP only takes damage from supernatural sources, can be turned; SV Fort -3 Ref -2 Will -2
Obendar, a minor god of trees and vines. He knows about everything that happens in the forest,  and call many things to his defense. He can only be compelled to speak by heroic PC deeds he has heard wind of or when threatened by certain species of tree-eating beetles which he has a phobia of.
Treasure: a wealth of spell regents (2d16 gp on the market).
  •  Obendar: Init +3; Atk slam (1d6 crit: knocked out of the fight and vines will kill you if you aren't saved by someone afterwards); AC 17; HD 3d6; MV 3 Meters; Act 2d10 (crits if either come up as a 10); SP can lay on hands as a cleric (+8), weapons must do 4 damage or more to hurt Obendar; SV Fort +3 Ref -2 Will +3
Ensnaring vines try to choke 1d3 PCs. Make a reflex save or be grabbed by the neck. Damage as a garrote. These vines hiss and scream when cut (3 hp).
A vine-ensnared, slightly rusty robot at the foot of a tree. If investigated, a panel in the front will drop open.Any magical object placed within the revealed compartment will power the robot. The robot's temperament will match the alignment of the object. If its not evil, it will serve the PCs until it breaks its programming by learning about this thing you humans call love, or something.
  • Init +0; Atk ram (1d6), laser (4, crit=head-shot and death)(recharges every other round); AC 20; HP20 ; MV 4 Meters (hover); Act 4d5 (crits on 3 6s); SP vulnerable to logic bombs ala Captain Kirk; SV Fort+7 Ref -2 Will +0
A swordopus itching for a fight with land-lubbers.
  • Init +2; Atk sword+2 four times (1d6); AC 20; HD 1d6 ; MV 10 Meters; Act 1d20; SP camouflage, telepathy ; SV Fort+0 Ref +2 Will +1
I am satisfied with this table to a degree that I won't do the adventure's suggested swamp random encounters... unless I run through the whole table somehow. Then I'll scramble to stat a catoblepas.
 I am satisfied with this table to a degree that I won't do the adventure's suggested swamp random encounters... unless I run through the whole table somehow. Then I'll scramble to stat a catoblepas.

There is also a green knight guarding the Southernmost bridge. He takes all challenges to single-combat and curses groups that try to overpower him with numbers or sorcery (curse: 50% chance of getting lost even if on a trail. Incidentally, the knight cannot die, but he is rather honorable and will yield if bested in single-combat. He does not pursue trespassers past the bridge. Uses hobgoblin stats cause I'm tired.

In the north swamp is a bog-witch that cursed her former lover to wander as a wolf until the treasure of the druids is found. Rolls a d30 for Charm and Polymorph effects.

Creatures of the forest not listed above :

Wereboar (pig form): Init +0; Atk charge +3 (1d4, critted targets are gored (1d5) and slowed); AC 13; HD 1d6; MV 11 Meters; Act 1d20; SP Regeneration 1d4 (recharges each turn w/a d6 roll; on a 5 or 6 as per 4e style recharge rules unless damaged by horns, teeth, or tusks); SV Fort +1 Ref +1 Will -1

Entling: Init -1; Atk slam +3 (1d5, crit: target gets an eye poked out unless they have goggles or a helm); AC 12; HD 1d8; MV 6 Meters; Act 1d18; SP animate entangling roots; SV Fort +1 Ref -1 Will +2

Phooka (humanoid form stats are as DCC beta kobold with a club)  tree form: Init -1; Atk slam +3 (1d5, critted targets get an eye poked out unless they have goggles or a helm); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 6 Meters; Act 1d18; SP only damaged by cold iron or magical attacks; SV Fort+1 Ref -1 Will +2

Pseudodragon: Init +0; Atk sting +2 (1d3 +save or 1d3 poison, lose a finger if you roll a 1); AC 12; HD 1d4; MV 7 Meters; Act 1d20; SP camouflage (+3 stealth); SV Fort -1 Ref +2 Will +0

Dryads:  Init +1; Atk slam +2 (1d5); AC 13; HD 1d8; MV 10 Meters; Act 1d20; SP charm (will save or do what the dryad wants); SV Fort +2 Ref +0 Will +2

Giant Crayfish: Init +1; Atk claw +4 (1d5, grabs on a crit); AC 14; HD 2d8; MV 9 Meters; Act 1d20; SP— ; SV Fort +0 Ref +1 Will -3

Owlbear: Init +0; Atk claw +4 (1d8, blinds or KOs on a crit); AC 12; HD 3d8; MV 12 Meters; Act 1d20; SP —; SV Fort +2 Ref +1 Will -4

Upside-down-human-faced giant centipede (Chitter): Init +0; Atk bite +1 (1d3, save versus poison or become paralyzed) AC 12; HD 1d3; MV 6 Meters; Act 1d20; SP— ; SV Fort +0 Ref +0 Will -2

Slightly humanoid face-bearing giant spider (Mank):  Init +2; Atk bite +3 (1d3, save versus poison or become paralyzed) AC 14; HD 1d6; MV 10 Meters; Act 1d20; SP Cast web (reflex save or immobilized) ; SV Fort +2 Ref +2 Will -2

Wraith (more interested in talking about silver keys than fighting):  Init +0; Atk touch +3 (1d3 and player makes an attack at a companion ) AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 10 Meters; Act 1d20; SP can only be harmed by magical attacks or sunlight, torches do 1d2 dmg ; SV Fort +0 Ref +2 Will +2

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Connections Will Make You a Better DM

Let's face it, DM's gotta make calls about what is happening or will happen that preserve the verisimilitude of a fantastic reality. One of the best ways to help with that is to have a vast wealth of knowledge of how things work. Reading is of course a good way, but for my money the best knowledge to time ratio may be found in the frames of Connections. The playlist below starts with the 8th episode of the 1st series, because it has some good information on polearms that will hit you square in the garygygaxes of your heart.

Obligitory links to series 2 and 3

Fun DCCish type jobs and suffering can be found in the frames of another series, The Worst Jobs in History. I don't like the production values or the host nearly as much as Connections, but it was still pretty fun and taught me all sorts of uses for urine.
This playlist starts in the Dark Ages episode.

Now that you got those series taking care of some of your trivial knowledge, you can devote your reading time to fantastic magic rules and monsters, like those presented in Tales of the Dying Earth or Planet of Adventure.
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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Shmodrons: The Secret Polyhedroid Wars

First, let's cover the usual Shmodrons, which happen to be shaped like the dice most commonly used in this hobby, and who represent one faction of an insane holy war between mechanical monsters.

The Tetradron (represented by a d4), the Hexadron (d6), the Octadron (d8), the Decadron (d10), the Dodecadron (d12), and the Icosadron (d20) are the most plentiful and well known of the Shmodron race. They all have an obsession with perfection, and seek to make the multiverse function like clockwork. Sometimes biologicals get caught up in their jihad, and the result usually isn't pretty.

Any time a Shmodron attacks, the Judge rolls a pseudo-deed die that shares the same sides with it (a d4 for a tetradron and so on). The bonus die gets added to the to-hit and damage rolls for the Shmodron. If the maximum value is rolled on the bonus die, a roll on the Shmodron criticals table (below) is done (use 1dx, where x is the modron's size). A Shmodron can also roll a crit with it's normal to-attack die (which uses the same table), but it doesn't ever double-crit or something. A Shmodron rolls a die the same size as itself on Shmodron Crits table as well.

Shmodrons  may roll a die that has the same number of sides as themselves for normal attack damage (add in their deed damage) if the DM wants them too; they can have a lot of arms...

1. No extra damage but a number (roll again) is burned into the target's flesh.
2. Target gets smashed into 2 dimensions for a round. They can't move or be smashed further, but Tetradrons and other pointy Shmodrons are really good at poking such characters for double damage.
3. Target is forced into the shape of a tetradron for one round. They can hop (5' movement), but are pretty useless.
4. Target steps on a tiny helper Tetradon they didn't know was there. 1d4 extra damage.
5. Hellfire erupts from an allied lawful evil dimension. 1d5 extra damage and on fire.
6. Target is cursed! Until they roll a six, they cannot hit anything. To comical ends this goes.
7. Seven-faced worms pop out of the target's flesh for 1d7 Personality damage.
8. Character must save or be time-stopped indefinitely.
9. A door to the nine hells opens. A lusty devil will grab any one properly lawful evil target and drag them down the underworld, or toss a pitchfork at any goody two shoes.
10. 1d10 years are added or taken from the target's age.
11. Target is stretched across 11 dimensions. Save or die.
12. A dozen rocks fall. 1d12 damage to everyone that doesn't save.
13. 13 becomes an unlucky number for the target. It is cursed to always fumble on a 13.
14. A Tetradecadron (shape of a d14)is summoned. It attacks the target immediately.
15. 15 bones break in the target. Start at the bottom of the target.
16. Target is knocked 16 weeks into the future.
17. Target must save or morph into a random Shmodron. Determine which by taking one of each die kind you have and seeing which one rolls the highest.
18. Target's head turns into a random shape (see 17) and falls off. Body is dead but the head can communicate like a glowing Star Trek sphere.
19. Target must save or have 19 rounds to live.
20. Target reduced to a chalky white cuboctahedron. Like that other Star Trek episode.
I'll leave 21 to 30 and beyond to your imagination.

So the Shmodrons that are not made out of faces that are all identical shapes are the other faction of Shmodrons, and they cultivate chaos to make complex, fractical-order in inscrutable systems and scales. Basically, they are orderly and insane. They crit in much the same manner as all Shmodrons.

They are led by Hebesphenomegacorona, The Crowned One. Hebes, as he is known to imaginary friends, does a custom crit if it rolls a 21 on its crit die: its crown transfers to the target, who's eyes burn out from insane energies and then the target is an undying thrall of Hebes for the rest of the fight, after which it's gibbering husk collapses, quite insane. Hebes is always interested in finding minions to do his work, and can be used as a Patron in DCC.
The crown of Hebespenomegacorona
In case you are worried about our round pals, d1 Shmodrons are baby Shmodrons. Shmodrons mature as their mechanical hormones get the message that there is a need for them to. All Shmodrons pop off of the surface of the All-sphere, which is actually a hundred-sided being who's faces are covered with prime numbers. The All-sphere does not seem to take sides in the cosmic conflict.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Things that the players might find in a giant's bowels

1. A stool.
2. 2d10 people! They were never properly digested and have been living as parasites in a mysterious giant organ. Of course, they have gone quite insane, blind, deaf, and mute.
3. Three sets of armor, imbued with an elemental power that the giant had an affinity for. One of them is cursed, and the other two are haunted by a horrid stench.
4. A gigantic parasite. It is quite sentient and will insult the PCs' impropriety as it thrashes them to death for destroying its gravy train. Suggest it have a crit that sucks a humanoid's head clean off.
5. A trichobezoar that, if arduously cut through for 30 minutes, reveals a core of gold-laced ore.
6. An elemental of a type that the giant would be likely to have an affinity with. The elemental is diamond-hard if that makes sense for its element (ice or earth), very runny if that makes sense (water), spicy if that makes sense (fire), or very smelly if that makes sense (air).
7. A chain of skeletons that all have hands firmly tied together like paper dolls.
8. An odd tube that actually contains some magically shrunken creatures that were operating on the giant from the inside. They will return to normal size at their convenience, and demand compensation for their dead client. They have a shrink-ray-gun.
9. In a gilded cage: an imp that was sent to these forsaken bowels as punishment for offending its boss.
10. Members of a species of goblins that evolved to have a symbiotic relationship with giants. They have trouble breathing without feces smeared on their neck gills.
11. A strange man in vaguely Arabian garb and a turban with red spots on it. He will thank the party, but inform them that the princess is in another giant.
12. A chaos-stone, which is a highly-sought after and valuable item that is only to be found in the urinary tracts of giants, formed over a thousand years. Weighs 1d3 tons.

This post brought to you via a request from +Pearce Shea. Because +Ian Johnson made an odd request anything post.
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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Luck Rubric (a DCC RPG Thing)

At the end of my DCC RPG sessions, I've been giving out the opportunity to earn luck. Basically, if you get a chance to earn luck, you just have to roll a d20 and beat your permanent score.

The rationale is that the gods watch the players and slip them luck when they put on a good show.

So here are some things that engender a chance each:
  • You burned luck this session (this is the most important one, I've found)
  • You are voted MVP for the session by a blind vote (my players keep nominating characters for some reason, and the sometimes vote for NPCs. Hurm.)
  • You have fulfilled a quest (sub-parts of a quest listed below; they overlap for one chance)
    • Cleared a dungeon
    • Retrieved a relic
    • Defeated an evil
    • Saved an NPC in distress
    • You did something important to the cosmic struggle between Law, Chaos and Neutrality (overlaps with quests though) 
  • You have role-played an insanity or curse to a notable degree
  • You have done something truly clever
  • You leveled up (and didn't already get bonus luck from a high level-up role that my house ruled leveling involves)
  • You did something that was obviously a bad idea and survived (Chaotics only)
  • You saved someone at risk of almost certain personal peril (Lawfuls and Neutrals only; combat maight not count)
  • Faithful obedience to a god or maybe a patron (leveling actions don't count)
  • Pleasing a powerful supernatural (fickleness not withstanding)
  • You do an in-character report on the last session
However, you might lose luck (as suggested by the core rules) if you  can't roll at or under your Luck score! To make matters worse, these are rolled with a d24. If your Luck score is 13, you fail automatically. Things that engender bad luck rolls:
  • Offending a devil, demon, or god
  • Betraying your alignment
  • Refusing a patron's edict
  • Not spending any luck this session (use it or lose it).
Edit: Finally, I am considering doing the Fate points thing, after a fashion. If you have a vice and the DM knows about it, they can offer you an additional chance to gain luck if you indulge in that vice. These kind of indulgences will have to be at dramatic junctures though...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A KIWF RPG update?

Well, basically. I am writing this to see how it sits with me. This is a change to the attack system. Previously it was written as roll 3d6s and hope to roll high. You can gander at the current draft of the rules by clicking the link on þe olde sidebar.

I think now I want to do it like this:
To attack, you choose an appropriate trait (usually, this will be your Prowess). And roll three dice, plus one for each hit die you still have, and for any combat combat dice (see below) or other bonuses. Each die that rolls at or under that trait's pips is a success. Your target rolls for a trait they want to defend with in the same manner. If the attacker's successes beats the defender's, they can roll a d6 for damage against that target. If the defender wins, they can do a counter attack (if the referee determines its possible) with one extra die and no chance for reprisal if they lose their attack.


Karl, level 1 healthy fighting man of Hen Ogledd, tries to bring his sword down on a dragon's head. He rolls 3d6, and 3d6 for his combat dice (coming below, patience!), and an ad hoc 1d6 for hitting a much huger target, and a 1d6 for his remaining hit dice. His pips are 3 and his results are 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 6,  and 1, which means he gets 4 successes. The dragon rolls 3d6 for its 4 pip Coordination to dodge the attacks, but its heavy armor rating reduces this by 2 dice. However, it has 8d6 to roll due to remaining hit dice. In total it rolls 9d6, getting a success for each one that rolls at or under those Coordination pips for a spread of 4, 4, 2, 6, 2, 5, 2, 3, 4 which is 8 successes. It turns out it is really stupid to fight a dragon with many times your hit dice.

But say Karl had 8 hit dice, and a die pool of 15d6. This time he may roll 11 successes. The dragon only rolls 7 successes. It takes 1d6 damage! Once armor gets worn away, this kind of thing will probably lose it a hit die or two and the dragon will be just that much weaker when it comes time for it to defend or attack again.

Other factors that affect the pool:
Combat dice. Each class has a certain amount of combat dice dependent on level that may be used for things like attacking or blocking. Where they can apply them is dependent on class. [idea source]

Ad hoc: The DM gives bonus dice depending on circumstances. This will hopeful encourage player creativity.

Teamwork: If you help a friend, you roll dice equal to your remaining hit dice, compare it to a trait, and count your successes towards your ally's pool.

Fumbles: 3 ones is an auto loss of all successes, unless you also roll 3 sixes. Multiple groupings of 3 ones need equal triple sixes to neutralize them.

Crits: 3 sixes is a critical success, but the crit is neutralized if you also roll 3 ones unless you roll more triple sixes than triple ones. Improbable, but that's how it works. A crit can also be neutralized by a defender criting on their defense roll. A crit means you hit, and you roll an extra damage die for each point of the attack trait you have.

Soft Crit: rolling a triple of a 2, 3, 4, or 5 nets you an extra damage die for each point of your attack trait, as above, but you still need to actually hit. Soft crits don't count for anything if you are rolling a defense roll.

Let's go back to the 1HD Karl example:
Karl would get a soft-crit for his performance above if it had actually hit (for the three 4s in the 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 6,  and 1 spread). But say he got 3 sixes instead of 3 fours. Now he automatically hits the dragon and does 4d6 damage to the beast! Dragons are well armored, but still, that's gotta sting.

Now then, I'd like to consider how mutant dice could work as a module...