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

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
Want to give feedback? Share this on g+ and give me a tag (+claytonian JP) (if you want to keep it private, share with only me).
If you spot a typo or don't have g+, you can just email me. Claytonian at the gmails.