Friday, November 27, 2020

How did professor Barker run Tekumel games?


The first Petal Throne RPG is very close to 0th edition D&D. One of the ability scores is renamed, and they are expressed as percentiles, but there are no rules as written-type skills for them to be applied to*. Take, for instance, how we handle grappling:

 Players often ask about the possibilities of physically capturing a surprised opponent (rather than striking him). This, like many tasks requiring arduous physical or mental action, cannot be legislated easily by the rules... the character's strength, intelligence, and dexterity are added together and averaged... percentile dice are rolled, and if the score is less than the averaged figure, the action is successful.

So it similar to the roll at or under ability score that most D&D players were starting to resort to in order to figure out what happens when failure needs to be adjudicated.

 Later in the book, we get a play example, which further shows us how Barker would run games at the time he wrote the first Tekumel game.

Player: We listen at the door.
Ref: (rolling die) You hear nothing.

So it seems that Barker probably did the x in 6 method of listening at doors. Maybe an x in ten since he was so fond of percentiles though? BTW, in his book, d20s are actually numbered 1-10 twice and he feels the need to tell people how to use them to generate 1 to 20 numbers. He treats random number generation as a thing that people just weren't used to at the time, giving us lots of parenthetical advice and procedures that modern roll players ain't got no time for.

Player:  We have three men trying to open the door.
Ref: (rolling dice) The door opens.

So now I see dice plural, and that tells me either he isn't consistent with the singular die vs plural dice--but I think he is because he uses "die" a couple lines down when getting into surprise rules-- or he went with percentile chance to open a door with three dudes. Maybe he has their strength scores written down and does some mental math. I dunno.

Player: Our strongest warrior... is lying flat on his stomach and prodding the hasp [of a treasure box] with the point of his spear.
Ref: (Mentally giving the warrior a 20 percent chance of being hit by the tiny poisoned projectiles hidden in the hasp, rolling a die and finding that the spines missed...) A handful of little spines go zipping over the head of your warrior. He's not injured. The chest comes open.

So we see here that PC skill had nothing to do with avoiding a trap, it was all up to the description the players gave of their approach, as well as a little luck. Very old school.

Player: We're searching the chest for secret compartments.
Ref: You find none. That's all there is.

Once again, the players describe something, and the Ref just decides the results. No spot or search or INT checks are rolled. Let's see what happens when they encounter an obvious trap in an idol surrounded by coins:

Player: He pushes just one coin off the altar toward himself. What happens?
Ref: (Laughing fiendishly) That's all it takes to set off the trap. A great metal cage falls clanging down over all of you. I believe you were all up near the altar--nobody specified leaving any of the party behind to guard the door, and thus I assume you were all within the 20 foot square area covered by the cage. (Rolling percentile dice, giving the party a 20 percent chance to have had one or more stragglers outside the cage area...)

So it seems he was a fan of 20% chances maybe. Well, that's about all I have, but if you run across other examples of Barker's play style, I'd love to hear them.

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*raw skills seem more like backgrounds. Barker seems to have a common sense approach to them. If you have the skill, you know how to do certain things. No dice involved in doing them.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

D66 adventure generator


I've started a new project. I'm tired of all my sideways books of tables that are too complex. So I'm doing my own Judges Guild style take on Ready Reference Sheets. The first is below. Roll a few times on it with a d6 for a tens digit and another for a ones digit. 

d66 Adventure Instigator 

Incident  11 Dream or sweven 12 Last will and testament 13 Town crier 14 A contest 15 A drug-induced vision 16 A map 21 A mysterious coin 22 A trap has been laid 23 A noble 24 A curse 25 An anniversary 26 Overheard conversation 31 A juicy rumor 32 Creatures stalk the night 33 Someone has gone missing 34 An apparition is seen 35 Three witches doth prophecy 36 A crazed monk 41 The council has decided 42 A friend in need 43 You are not the father 44 An odd item has been found 45 A disease is spread 46 A survivor limps into town 51 Bad guys ride up 52 The sheriff is missing 53 Someone is on the lamb 54 Previous baddie toppled 55 Monster of the week 56 A secret society plots 61 Something has been unsealed 62 Someone has been framed 63 A secret must be kept 64 A group comes through town 65 An old friend is here 66 Rent is due 

Mission 11 fight the power 12 find the mcguff 13 catch a spy 14 finger a filcher 15 get there first 16 prove something 21 restore status quo 22 eradicate baddies 23 nip threat in bud 24 seduce 25 scare off 26 fulfill dying wish 31 find heir 32 unite the tribes 33 solve mystery 34 seven samurai 35 plumb depths 36 act as entourage 41 play bodyguard 42 accompany girl 43 renew/undo seals 44 hunt down 45 scavenger hunt 46 find cure 51 solve riddle 52 hold the fort 53 survive disaster 54 restore item 55 reconnoiter 56 give message 61 reclaim area 62 explore area 63 execute geas 64 break bonds 64 find ingredient 66 save the king 

But also deal with 11 g-g-g-ghosts 12 aliens 13 a double agent 14 false info 15 something broken 16 reluctant NPC 21 conflicting patrons 22 factions 23 other adventurers 24 barbarians 25 disease 26 curse 31 a dragon 32 long journey 33 sewer side-quest 34 being tailed 35 cultural faux pas 36 invincible foes 41 sky-island 42 sexy wizard 43 demonic agents 44 Fiend Folio roll 45 lost entrance 46 awakening volcano 51 you mom’s coming 52 two dates at once 53 terminator 54 someone’s body 55 fey trickery 56 one way journey 61 lesser evil 62 time constraint 63 complex ritual 64 preserve virtue 65 Sophie’s choice 66 big bad’s minion 

Journey & Destinations 11 snakes 12 strange thorp 13 guests of royalty 14 witch’s hut 15 three princes 16 cemetery 21 gassy bog 22 strange fruit 23 way too cheerful villa 24 cursed land 25 Moria shortcut 26 bustling burg 31 to the moon! 32 in the underworld 33 a dark dark wood 34 a series of forts 35 a castle 36 an abandoned keep 41 a haunted lagoon 42 micro-world 43 elemental plane 44 underwater 45 seven heavens 46 six hells 51 a doomed manor 52 the big city 53 winding canyons 54 a desert 55 a cave 56 the three vales 61 incognito 62 through a body 63 planes of dream 64 to a lonely isle 65 to level X 66 inside PC’s memories

 

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tekumel Hack to get you into EPT


So embedded below is a hack designed to get the players going (the title is a reference to the subject first post of this blog, where I talked about Ebon Bindings). I personally, as the GM, am going to be using Empire of the Petal Throne's original 1975 game rules for the most part. The goal of the hack was to bring the percentile nature of the ability scores more into the game and to unify mechanics so it's easy for beginners to grok. Roll low is good for everything in the hack except damage. Of course you want high damage. The spells are a bit better too now, if I say so myself. I wanna see some gray hands and silver halos flying about soon!

BTW I recently discovered Jeff Dee's Tekumel take and it is sweeeeeeet.

Read below or on Google Docs.

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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Fixing Drow

I was thinking about what all I should write about the drow, but a picture is worth a thousand words. So this picture is how I fixed the problematic skin color issue of the drow. Yay! Aren't you happy with your new drow? No more racism in your D&Ds. Happy Holloween!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Thin Veneer of Reality (a 1page RPG)

Sales pitch: Every action is risky, but risk is the only way to get stronger. 

It's hard to describe this one page TRPG. Your party has collective luck for dungeoneering. You have personal luck for surviving danger. If you don't push both, you'll never get anything done. Oh, and it's science fantasy. In fact, I'm hoping for some Wally Wood (NSFW link) shenanigans.

On with the embeddening! Click here if you cannot deal with a g-Doc in a Blogspot post.


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Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Bloodlines of Tiamat

You know those role-players that insist on writing down details like their eye color? Well, we're going to make eye color matter in DnDs. 

In the beginning, the Lords of Mutability Fought the Lieges of Stability. Jokulhaups, god of renewal, remained unconcerned in the fight, viewing time as a cycle and the conflict as pointless. However, the Elder Eye, a god that switched sides and was later imprisoned for it, wormed his way into Jokulhaup's heart and rent it in twain.

From the Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Dexterity, and Charisma of the divided god was born Tiamat, she of five heads that represented the five aspects. From Wisdom was born the god Bahamut. Being of a common origin, they created similar agents to enact their agendas, the dragons.

Bahamut has to play a patient game. He knows he can't beat Tiamat without eons of careful and considered stratagems.  Bahamut's most powerful creations are the psionic dragons, most of which became gods in their own right. Metalic dragons are also Bahamut's doing. In his wisdom, Bahamut has not deigned to rule his creations, but rather does parallel universe Mario64 Chess, prodding pieces into position.

Tiamat has five heads of five hues. Each head has endeavored to create cult and cabals throughout the cosmos. These are known as The Heads to those--usually mad prophets--who have been able to glean her designs. Unbeknownst to Tiamat herself, she is a pawn of the Elder Eye, serving as his aperture into reality and as the get out of jail card he's been manipulating for half a kalpa

So where does eye color come in? Well, if a player chose to go with red, yellow, blue, green, or black for their PC's eyes, they are already an inheritor of Tiamat's legacy. She's the dark ancestor of humanity on a spiritual level. Bahamut counts for all the other colors. No, they (probably) didn't make humans and demihumans  personally, but they have manipulated the history of the races of Midgard. 

Now this has campaign potential. At first, the GM can mention the striking eye color of certain prominent characters, then the players can start to connect the dots and get paranoid of anyone with that chroma. Then a new croma is introduced. What color were so-and-so PC's eyes again? The same color? Huh. Have you ever thought of switching sides? This agent of Tiamat would like to make you an offer, and it's really tempting... 

Of course, eye color is just a hint at what could be in the complex makeup of one's soul. In fact, when people really consciously dedicate themselves to factions, their eye colors change to match their allegiance.


The Red faction of Tiamat is all about strength. They tend to be war mongers and generals. War forever! That's the ticket! They love riling up the demihumans, especially the "ugly" ones, to keep them on hostile terms with with humanity. Keep in mind that there are many Red agents within the orc and goblinoid tribes too; they work with their human counterparts to keep tensions and racism high.


The Green faction is concerned with constitution. They are into building up their bodies to unlock strange powers. One of their favorite tools for recruitment and recreation is psychedelic substances. They hope to engineer a plague that they alone will survive. They have many emissaries in the far realms, trying to get into the good graces of aboleths and illithids.


The Black faction is about Dexterity. They operate in the shadows, seeking for a way to return the universe to oblivion. They are up for chances to defile temples, open hell-gates, and summon slaadi.



The Blue faction is Intelligence. They enjoy manipulating others into doing their bidding and acquiring arcane knowledge. Lots of evil wizards are offered the secret of lichdom for joining. Their end game is another Gigantomachy. They were behind Venca, Zargon, and Kyuss. They'll be sipping amontillado as they watch the world go boom.


The White faction is Charisma. They tend to recruit kings, barons, and other politicians. Many vampires fill their ranks. Trump is one of their representatives in our reality. Let the rabble squabble for scraps while the White faction has their cake.

It is said, let not one head known what the other is doing, and may the best faction win. However, the great high priestess of Tiamat secretly helps all the factions. She has a diadem with three gemstones of different hues in addition to heterochromatic eyes. Sometimes she loses track of herself for days-long blackouts. She assumes that Tiamat takes her over at these times, but it is the Elder Eye. His name is Tharizdun, but it's such a blasphemous name that memory of it was sealed away.

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Monday, September 14, 2020

[MAP] Tomb of Horrors for DCC funnel play and beyond

Green devil nipples ahoy! Click that map to embiggen even more. All the $ signs are for secret doors, and they tend to point to where they are with their bottom stroke.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xMGMovHFmLdy_ROokcruXCvDLSPb_hTz/view?usp=sharing
When you click this, it is gonna take you to a huuuuugely detailed file file.

First, have another map. I know. I make a lot of these and they are kinda my proud moments. 

This time, it is a North to South reversed take on the infamous Tomb of Horrors. I ran some dudebros' DCC zeros through there, and the results were very fun. I noted the upside down compass rose all over the place to remind myself, because Uncle Gygax's description used cardinal directions a lot, but it turns out that I can pretty much run the place from memory/ad libs (improvisational changes happened because I wanted to change it quite a bit and when I map out an area I can't help but change a few things). 

I'll detail the changes and tell what happened when we ran zeros through a dungeon Gary made for high level characters. A few people asked me, when I advertised the game on Discord, "How can you have level zero people do that place?" The answer is it's super easy, barely an inconvenience. We are dealing with role-players here, people that solve impossible problems every session. Sure, a lot of them died along the way, but that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Area (1): This was one of the false entrances, but I've modified the original module ones and added a few extra ones.  The players eventually explored them all. (1) was hit on a secondary outing from the town. The town was inspired by Return to the Tomb of Horrors, a TSR publication that expanded ToH into a second dungeon and added a death cult city to the tomb.

That's what the "Macrabre Misfits" part of the map refers to. The PCs are from that town, and some players really relished the role of fatalist PCs. Anyhoo, room (1). If the lever is messed with while no one is on the flushly-raised-with-the-floor, helical stairwell, it doesn't budge. If someone is standing on the stairs, the lever can be operated by someone else and the stairs will lower... very swiftly and hundreds of feet down into hellfire. Yeah, hell is under the tomb and red devils in hardhats work here.


The devils were relatively friendly in a water-cooler shlub kind of way, but not at all on the players' side. One was convinced to give some hints in order to get a PC to put in a good word with the PC's goat (devils dig the goat horns). But the devils actually have clipboards with information on how things work with special notes to give to the PCs sometimes. The notes are lies. The devils are evil after all, and PCs are like bothersome rats messing up a dungeon that the devils will have to clean and fix it again.

So here are the other false entrances. You may recognize the sliding rock one (2), which is modded with death flames for people that are insistent on messing with those knockers on the green devil's knockers.

The pincher: I ended up putting a couple daises with hand-prints on them at the two east-west ends of the room. Nothing happens if just one is pinched. Two PCs work together to put their hands on the two prints, the devil faces slide closed in a macabre make-out session, and the PCs are trapped inside until they die of hunger. Actually, if I run this again, I think I will make the kissing devils steam up the room, steaming trapped PCs to death.

I don't need to explain the rocks fall room, right?

During the first trip into the tomb, the PCs threw rocks at this statue, a god of death effigy. Some devils taking a lunch break on top of the tomb leaned over and yelled at the PCs about that. Was a good way to introduce the devils. Later an old lady made a Japanese style pilgrimage to the statue (clap and pray). She gave the PCs some advice. She was a death cultist, so it was bad advice.



So this is the actual entrance. Of note is that I put a P where the door painting is. I put PT symbols to remind me to see if PCs trigger a pit-trap as they are walking through. Since I didn't want to worry about exactly where the PCs are stepping (in the original, the path means almost nothing), I just had quantum pit traps here. The PCs detected almost all of them with guile and goats. What I did have the path do was be a Morse-code so the smartest PCs get the poem that gives vital clues to keep them getting deeper and deader into the tomb.

But before we jump through that portal, lets talk of the catoblepas. This loathsome beast wanders the swamp. PCs that walked up to it made a save. Failing would spell death (all my players were lucky), but passing the save still gave spooky glimpses of horrible deaths possible in the tomb. Nobody died in the way foretold. Doesn't matter. Was a great mood setter.


This is the place the PCs tried before they learned to love the portal. The monster was not a "mutant gargoyle" but a four armed, winged, snake demon frozen in temporal stasis till a PC opened a door. It killed many people. I forgot to mention it's necklace to the players at first, and went back and re-illustrated it. DON'T FORGET THE NECKLACE!


Okay, so once the party finally got through the portal, the entered (11) (statue room, nothing to do at first because I forgot to mention the necklace) and then the hall of spheres. I hate the name because it sounds like "spears" and we have players from around the world so we really have to take pains to use clear language. And besides, there are spear traps in the original module. Also, heck, how can you use the word sphere for a 2D image. That's a circle, man. So, to avoid at least one aspect of that confusion, I changed the spear-trap doors to the ant trap and gas trap. The gas gives super-plague buboes within moments of inhalation, and the super army ants can eat a henchman in 10 seconds flat. Both were triggered.
One thing to note about the secret but necessary passage that leads to the cathedral is I switched the entrance side to the other wall of the hall. It's pretty annoying to work around passages that go under other areas when you are using a virtual tabletop and fog of war. I added a pit that was bottomless and one detour loop too. Players did not really go for either, sensing rightly that it would be bad for them. There was a hand-print dais here, and the PCs wisely did not touch it.

Adding fun green devil bits was very fun for me. The players encountered this green devil ass and wisely chose to shove a whole cheese wheel up it. This brilliant move saved them from the fear gas. They killed the false lich shortly thereafter.


  a sarlacc pit, basically


I asked the players to just role-play the effects of the idiot gas here. I didn't ask for saves. They role played the heck out of this and raced to fulfill the sea-devil's demand. I was so proud of them. One sacrifice later and we had the PCs transferred to (25) as a reward. You may note the OG module's siren is missing. I relocated her to the room of despair.

(25) is where the tale ends for our adventurers, because a PC, still under the effects of idiot gas perhaps, made a wish with the monekey's paw diamond it turned the party into a bunch of atomic bees doing a plank-length vigil over the tomb's true treasure. Was a bit of a shame; I wanted them to experience the doors bleeding like The Shining's elevator. Ah well, I'll probably run it in a few years again.

Speaking of which, if you want to join any of the games on my discord, email me at claytonian at the gmail.coms and I'll send you an invite. This is what I currently run:
Carcosa 

Tokyo, Japan Weds at 08:00 JST
New York, USA Tues at 19:00 EDT
London, United K Weds at 00:00 BST
Los Angeles, USA Tues at 16:00 PDT

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Monday, August 10, 2020

Double Ds for Doors and Dungeon Crawling

I love my d6 in a d6. It's so easy to find in my box of weird dice and very handy. I've previously shared a table for d66 things in pockets. Here's how to use a couple d6 for doors and wandering encounter tables. I recommend using the PDF and Print buttons I've added to each post here at KIWF, or better yet, writing these down in your DM notebook of doom and adjusting it to your taste.

2d6 what's up with this door? 2d6 encounters and occurrences
Dice match:
  • ⚀⚀: trapped
  • ⚁⚁: loud or creaky or screamer fungi will be disturbed
  • ⚂⚂: slimy or unpleasant
  • ⚃⚃: rigged to show passage (hair taped to frame) or to make an alarm ring
  • ⚄⚄: locked (33% of keys for locks are items from a previous room [get that statue's arm to shake this knob], 33% are on wandering monster's person or in their cache, and the rest are lost)
  • ⚅⚅: odd; mimic, portal &ct
Dice are one number apart:
     Rusted, Jammed, or Blocked from the other side like in so many video games
Dice add to seven
     Random encounter is hanging out just beyond this door.

Dice are random (not any of the above)
Normal door, no problem. Still, ask about who is in the front or back of the line to keep that tension taut











Dice match:
     Encounter happens with at least rolled number of enemies. Roll a yes/no die; if yes, total the 2d6 together, if no, go with the number they matched on (i.e. two 1s and a no would mean one monster).

Dice are one number apart:
     Spoor (tracks, sounds, &ct of some monster that wanders these environs)

Dice add to seven:
     Something is up, so roll 2d6 again and total them.
  • 2: Wandering Boss!
  • 3: Bodily need: 1 character is struck with either hunger, a need to sit down and rest, or must use the bathroom
  • 4~10: Fuel source is sputtering out and needs to be replaced within a minute (use a 3 result instead if this result seems to be too soon)
  • 11: Wandering neutral party; an austral merchant perhaps
  • 12: Wandering god (I recommend pulling out Judges Guild's Unknown Gods)

Dice are random:
     Nothing, but you should furrow your brow, ask a player their Int score, &ct


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

TRPGs in Japan! Exploring Double Moon TRPG (Part 1 of many)

So, let me share Double Moon with you. I've been fanslating it for a while now (link), and our Sunday group has been using it to explore Stonehell.

 Double Moon was a few play by post games and TRPG systems. I'll talk about the main one that came out in book for here. The Double moon system was published as part of the CompRPG magazine's Comp/Collection series. The series was kicked off with the first iteration of Record of Lodoss's RPG rules. Record of Lodoss's history is an epic in its own right, but we're talking Dub Moon today, which has more in common with D&D than the percentile beast that Lodoss was at that time.
Double Moon is the one on the bottom right


 The production value is great. This could have been a very short book, because the rules aren't that complex and most of the text would have been spell descriptions, but it is chock full of commentary, advice, characters describing how things work, comics, and scads of art by Hotspace, a group that seems to have also designed video-game books like this one (link), a book which has a lot of the hallmarks in DubMoon (these came out the same year), but Hotspace did way better when they worked on Comp/collection series of books. Comp/collection are all video game related. Double Moon started as a game book series of articles, became a Famicom game, then finally this RPG. The other comp/collection books kinda have this graphic design style in common.

One of the super charming things about this book is that the sample adventurers all have well developed personalities, and these characters talk a lot throughout the book, star in comics, &ct. They are also all from the Nintendo game, but preceded it. In the optional classes section, we will meet some new characters.
A very zoomed out view of the world. We have places likeLancaster, the Misty Forest, and the White Desert (the reason why it is white has a lot to do with an ancient basilisk). The world is divided into two continents by the Raidis straight. This map says the Double Moon of the title refers to the forces of swords and magic. The southern continent is the abode of the dark godess Lorefiel. Other places feel the influence of more gods, benign and beneficent.
Title: The Battle with Samoiren the Demonic

Samoiren leads the Five Evil Stars, a group that worships the dark and terrible god Damon. He heads the 13 Black Magicians and schemes to rule the world of Double Moon. However, even terrible evil must pass in its time, and Samoiren found his downfall at the hands of Mueller and the magic sword Wintia. One stroke felled him. "Don't think this is the end," Samoiren's decapitated head warned with a grin. "I have many backup vessels"
Challenging the new foe, Solomon

Solomon the black mage is the head of Lucifion, a dark and mysterious organization. Safis donned the magical armor Black Dome and confronted Solomon with his party. "This is the destruction I desire!" said Solomon. "I will be refined in the fires of hell." Perhaps Solomon intended to resurrect the legendary beast called Dark Dragon. This story will be played out in days to come.


Caption: And endless adventure awaits.

Why were the continents of Double Moon really created?
Yeah, I figure this stuff is all a bit clearer if you play the Nintendo game or have access to the magazines where play by post happened...
The table of contents
Next time we'll tackle chapter 1: What's an RPG?
It'll be good, I promise.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

d66 things in this unlucky stiff's pockets

(note that this post won't look good on mobile)
 

First, roll a d5 for location where this dude kept their good stuff: 1) Purse, 2) inner vest pocket, 3) Boot, 4) Hat, 5) Britches.

Second, roll a brace of sixers. I have some sub-tables for the items marked with *.
11 1d4 rations                           21 a statuette*                           31 a fan with a gang symbol*
12 twelve copper*                   22 a bonito log                         32 a very small "shower" spell scroll
13 thirteen copper*                23 a lump of purest green      33 someone (known)'s undies
14 ten copper, one silver*     24 a robot's battery                 34 an I.O.U. from "Big Paula"
15 two silver*                          25  a map to a dungeon           35 a deed to Tegel Manor
16 five gold*                            26  a tijuana bible                     36 scrip: a demon's secret name

41 an ear and a lizard            51 faerie in a jar                  61 letter from this dude's love
42 a wand (might backfire) 52 oil lamp (empty)           62 intercepted scandalous missive
43 a hymnal                            53 jewelry*                          63 note on where a cult is meeting next
44 a kung-fu manual            54 a key                                64 a monogrammed handkerchief
45 a prophylactic                   55 a court summons          65 letter written in PCs own hand?!
46 Matyroshka dolls             56 spool of thread              66 last will & testament of "Bad Bob"

Coinage sub-table (1d7): 1) shmeckles, 2) CHUD currency, 3) devil lucre (sabbat franca), 4) obols (good for deals with Charon, so maybe leave a couple for this poor stiff?), 5) coin of the next realm over, 6) coins from the future, where one of the PC's royal visage has been minted, 7) 1990s USA currency

Statuettes sub-table (1d8): 1) cat god; 2) unknown woman; 3) eldritch entity (sanity check!); 4) a member amongst the PCs!; 5) an unknown gods god, preferably a known one; 6) a pontif; 7) a king, 8) duck on top, key on bottom

Statuettes sub-sub-table of materials (d10): 1) dolomite, 2) gold, 3) pewter, 4) lead, 5) wood, 6) crudely carved wood, 7) wax, 8) copper, 9) brass, 10) melted coins

Jewelry sub-table (1d12)(roll a d6×10×danger of acquisition to find monetary value): 1) earring, 2) earrings, 3) eye-patch, 4) nose-ring, 5) necklace, 6) torque, 7) diadem, 8) sheriff's badge, 9) rapper's grill, 10) blinged knuckle-dusters, 11) codpiece, 12) a band (a ring).

Hey, maybe the players discover something before they even get to that pocket.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

I give this RPG a B+ (1½ page rpg)

The one with all the Bs.

"Yarrr!
I have nothing to do with this RPG actually!
Isn't that scary?"

Elevator pitch: Only ability scores, no separate modifiers (beginner friendly).

Very simple. Lots of fun surprises in character gen.

Your stats are your health, but there is hardly a death spiral. It is a resource that you can manage with cleverness and wisdom.

We have failure=XP like like in Dungeon World to help make bad rolls fun.

 Check it out on Google Docs (where you are honor-bound to point out typos). Or embedded in this post, down below.



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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 understand yet 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 hobos 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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