Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The cosmic cephalopod

The universe is a squid. Or an octopus. Or perhaps it's a cuttlefish. In fact it is all of those things but not at the same time. It's not important what it is. What is important is what it does.

The Cosmic Cephalopod keeps you, me, and the rest of Creation safe from the Lakes of Undoing by sheltering us on its arms. What are the Lakes of Undoing? They're only the chaotic mess from whence all creation sprang and is doomed to return. Luckily for us the Cephalopod has got great upper body strength.

A world is nestled inside each suction cup and each arm is a plane of existence. So instead of an Elemental Plane of Fire, it's the Elemental Arm of Fire. Planet-hopping or Plane-hopping is just a matter of taking a step out of the suction cup and walking on top of the Cephalopod's skin. This is obviously dangerous as fuck.

Technically there's an infinite number of cups and arms but here's a few known worlds:

El-Sai is a planet that looks like a droplet of gasoline floating on water. Its habitable "green zone" contrast with its red mesas, white salt flats, and tan deserts. It's summer colors are marred by the greys, brown, and blacks of the colossal junk piles.
The piles were put there by dump ships belonging to apathetic worlds. Some Elsaians curse the dump ships, calling them "scum" while others praise them, calling them "gods".
Your average Elsaian is primitive, fueled by their most basic desires. It's better that way. Food, water, and a good life are hard to come by. On El-Sai it's "fuck it, fuck it up, get fucked up, and fuck."

Opensea is exactly as it sounds. The only dry land that exists are small islands that pepper its tines. By the way, Opensea is star-shaped and the water that cascades over the edge is recycled by eons old automata. An unending hurricane spins at its center.
On this planet dragons are invaders and masters, enslaving lesser races to wage their eternal war against each other.
Of course the depths host a myriad of secrets. Sea people living in their crystal domes lead by immortal dragon turtles. A drowned king sealed deep below in a forest of kelp. A lost civilization of gold-haired albinos and the great machines they commanded.
Your average Openseaman is entangled in intrigue. Just smile, nod, and serve and maybe the dragons won't eat you. They have paradoxical last names like "Conrad Biglittle" or "Annette Squarewheel."

The City of Glass is well a city and those don't count as worlds in most textbooks. But the City of Glass is infinite. (But not so infinite that it escapes the shelter of the Cosmic Cephalopod. That's another kind of infinite all together.) It's infinite platforms stretch up and down and are infinitely long and wide. Know one knows what's beyond the infinite platforms (probably yet more platforms).
Infinity leaves a lot of room for diversity. Therefore a city block can differ vastly from the next. There are no more purebloods left; everyone's a mutt. But the city has one constant and it's its namesake. The buildings are silver like mercury and gleam with reflected artificial light--like glass.
The City might be infinite and its rulers are too. The fractal councils rule any piece of infinity that they can grab and they all hate each other, for some reason or another. Members of the fractal council are infinitely powerful and meek because they command infinite underlings and have to answer to infinite superiors.
All this infinity must make getting around rather hard, right? Well thanks to the invention of miraculous machines traversing infinity got a lot easier. Infinivators, infiniships, infinicopters (really just throw infinity in somewhere) travel at the speed of infinity so getting from one infinity to the next is a piece of cake. What's that? You need to get off half-infinity of the way there? What are you crazy!?

Deepwater is also a city but it is not infinite. So why is it on this list? Well it's a peculiar case. It's not a world but it likes to infect other ones. Like a tick out of a sauna it creeps in through the mists and latches on to a coastal region. Locals seem to be completely oblivious to this fact.
It looks like the gothic horror love child of Venice and New Orleans.
It is lead by a plutocracy of Machiavellian weirdos. One of them is literally a super-intelligent colony of vermin.
Whatever sea it suckles from krakens like to play.

by Needle16 aka Luke

Saturday, September 16, 2017


They say history isn't what happens, it's what's written down. Such was the case for Ndaalu.

Ndaalu was cruel. Ndaalu was deadly. Ndaalu was strong. But most of all Ndaalu was pharaoh.

The people cried Ndaalu's name, begged him for mercy and bled by his sword. No ruler in all of Egypt was more brutal and cunning. By his lead Egypt slaughtered all*.

But who would honor such a terrible monster, even if he be pharaoh? So Ndaalu's scribes secretly omitted his name from their records, chiseled his name from their slabs. But Ndaalu knew.

Instead of slitting all of their throats, Ndaalu schemed with his sorcerers. If history would not remember him as a man the he would be remembered as an instrument of slaughter.

The sorcerers worked tirelessly to forge a great blade that would serve as Ndaalu's next body.

And so Ndaalu would live on vicariously through the heroes of the ages that took him as their mantle.**

*The bloodying of the Nile, commonly attributed to Moses, was Ndaalu's doing as he would execute surrendering armies by slitting their throats and holding them upside down by their feet to "feed" the Nile their life essence.

**The cherub's flaming sword that guards the gates to Paradise was directly inspired by Ndaalu.


The Meat & Potatoes
Put simply Ndaalu is a flaming sword, and dms could leave the details at that and run him as such, but the following text is how I run Ndaalu.

Ndaalu is a curved bronze sword peppered with 3d20 Egyptian hieroglyphics. These hieroglyphics are familiar and obscure and it is possible that they could help further the research of the written Egyptian language. The hilt is an extension of the blade itself and is wrapped with black leather straps.

The hieroglyphics serve as runes that capture the souls of living creatures slain with Ndaalu. A filled rune glows orange and gives off ember-filled smoke. These captured souls act as charges that the wielded can be spend towards different powers possessed by Ndaalu.

Ignite: The wielder can spend X charges to ignite Ndaalu. While ignited Ndaalu bequeaths +X damage to his wielder. Ndaalu stays ignited for X turns and counts as an everburning torch while ignited.

In this state Ndaalu cannot collect souls as the magical properties of the sword are focused on keeping it aflame. However slaying a living creature keeps the ignited state ongoing at a rate of 1 soul to 1 turn.

At 5 charges Ndaalu can cut through stone, worked or otherwise. At 10 charges he can cut through metal. At 20 charges he can cut through adamantine. At 40 he can wound a god. At 60 he can cut through the fabric of reality itself, opening portals into what lies beyond our own reality.

Great Balls of Fire: Ndaalu also functions as a Wand of Fireballs at double the cost. So if a system requires 2 charges to cast fireball with its wand than  Ndaalu would require 4 charges to cast fireball. Ndaalu's fireballs are particularly deadly and deal +1 per damage die.

Increasing the level of the fireball also costs double.

Form of Fire: for 10 charges the wielder can enter a fire form. While in this form the wielder is under the effects of a Gaseous Form spell with the added side effect of igniting flammable objects. To exit this form the wielder must succeed at a save versus Magic. Failure means that a random body part is bequeathed in flame permanently.

Also the wielder can communicate with fire elementals while in this form.

Soldier of Slaughter: for 20 charges Ndaalu summons the soul of one of his soldiers. These soldiers are fighters of 2-5 levels and can only be hit by magic and magic weapons.

HD 2-5 AC 13 Atk bronze longsword 1d8 MV human

For every 2 charges above 20 spent increase the soldier's damage and hit points by one.

Wall of Flame: For 30 charges the wielder can cast the spell Wall of Fire as a magic user of his level.

In addition to the above boons, Ndaalu adds +1 to the hit bonus of his wielder for every week he is in his wielder's possession (max 10). Additionally Ndaalu gains +1 to his domination rolls against his wielder at the same rate (max 10).

Guns are magic

In rpgs guns have a tendency to get simulated to pornographic levels. Luckily I know next to nothing about guns besides that they shot bullet.

Or I say that. I've already taken this entire post, crumbled it up and threw it in the garbage at least two times now because I thought my systems were too complicated.

But no worries. Something about three times and this time I'm not reinventing the wheel. I'm just taking it down a different road.

So yes. Guns are magic! What does that mean? Well to be honest it means guns are reskinned spells. Now I know that sounds boring but stick with me here.

Have you ever wanted to have an on demand Burning Hands? Hmm? How about a one time use fireball that doesn't require a weird wizard to read some squiggles of a piece of parchment? What do you think of that? I don't hear a guffaw! Well shotguns and grenades are at your service!

OK that's enough of the snark. So yes guns are reskinned spells but that idea is pretty cool by itself. But what about the poor wizard? Well if he's as smart as the rest he'll be using guns too so he doesn't have to worry about his precious class protection.

What I find the coolest about this idea is that it can apply across multiple games, albeit that they have some sort of magic system. So if shotguns are Burning Hands in your games you can keep them functionally similar between your 5e game and your LL game.

However these reskinned spells must be kept within reason. After all they're just guns. 5e's Burning Hands can deal 3d6 to up 6 creatures and that's pretty powerful for an on demand shotgun, even with a save for half. I'll make it an attack instead  and the number of adjacent creatures hit a d5 to nerf it a bit.

And by grod's beard if you want exploding dice let them explode!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dwarves of El-Sai

Dwarves are made, not born. Their bodies are constructed completely from rock, the most popular types being basalt, limestone, or obsidian. They are completely hairless however most dwarves are etched with long hair and complex woven beards. They stand about five feet tall and their shoulder width is wider than that of an average man and they boast a stout physique. Their pupils glow with the bluish light of the soul forge.

A Forge of Souls
Soul forges are ancient artifacts constructed and left behind by deep dark forces now lost to mortal races. It is the crux of dwarven life. Without their soul forge dwarves would not exist. That's because the soul forge is a factory that produces dwarves and it is fueled by the souls of the living. Without proper fuel a soul forge would cease production and the secret of forging dwarves would be lost forever in its machinery.

Dwarves treat their soul forge like ants treat the queen of an anthill. Not to mention that dwarves prefer to refer to their societies as "colonies". Each dwarf has a purpose. Most go out into the world in search of souls while others dig or build or trade. Colonies are usually located underground below tall mountains but volcanoes and deep canyons are also viable locations.

Dwarves don't experience emotions. Neither is their will solely theirs. All dwarves share a consciousness with the other dwarves of their forge. They sense what they sense and vice versa.

Children of the Earth
Made from the earth dwarves are therefore one with it. Rock is no different to them as water is different to man. Therefore dwarves can submerge themselves in the rock. Walls are useless against them and proofing a structure against them requires complex metal alloys or lead. However every time a dwarf submerges he risks losing himself and becoming one with the earth from whence he came. If this happens the dwarf fuses with the earth, leaving behind an eerily humanoid shaped rock deposit and a foggy white gemstone where the heart would be.

Hearts of Diamonds
That gemstone is a dwarf's soul gem. It serves a similar purpose to a dwarf as a black box serves to a crashed plane. The soul gem contains all the experience and memories of a dwarf. Colonies will sometimes retrieve these if it is necessary. To the right collector these gems are valuable and they hold spells well if emptied.

Ghostly, not Ghastly
Dwarves do not hate all life. They simply follow the cyclic nature of their soul forge. Collect souls, to fuel the forge, to make more dwarves, to collect more souls, etc etc. They will only begin abduction, or collecting as they like to call it, when forced. Otherwise they are more than willing to provide a service in exchange for souls. In fact a popular capital punishment among settlements around dwarven ones is to punish criminals to "collection". This deal doesn't bother most settlements because the people being collected are usually undesirable in the first place and the dwarves are damned efficient builders.

If the dwarves have some sort of endgame goal in mind, no one has got a clue as to what it could be.

Race Overview:

XP Penalty: 750

Movement: 25 feet or 3/4 human

Stoneman: Chose one or both: 1) +1 HD 2) +4 AC. If you chose both add 50 to your XP penalty

Earth Swim: A dwarf can move through rock 3/day as if Phase Door was cast on its surface. If a dwarf ends his turn inside rock he takes d10 crushing damage and a further d10 every round until he leaves. If a dwarf dies inside rock his body fuses with the rock permanently, leaving behind a soul gem.

Soul Gem: A soul gem contain all of a dwarf's memories and experience. Experience cannot be collected from a slain dwarf until its soul gem is retrieved. Additionally the gem can store spells of up to X level were X is the slain dwarf's HD.

Golem Immunities: Dwarves are immune to poison and any spells that target the body's physiology. Additionally they don't require food, drink, or rest and therefore do not suffer fatigue.

Hivemind: Dwarves sense the senses of nearby dwarves. This only applies to dwarves created in the same soul forge, or soul brothers. Unfortunately this means if one dwarf is subject to an effect that targets the senses all dwarves nearby are subjected to it as well.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


So I imagine that a lot of DMs who run OSR stuff fly by the seat of their pants from game to game, relying on their abstract knowledge of D&D to guide their rulings, cook up combat, and solicit story.

What's funny is that I use to hate that particular style of DMing. I used to think that the rules were supreme and were higher than the DM himself and that betraying them was a disservice to all players at the table. But as I played more and more OSR stuff I started getting into the game that was happening at the table. I stopped caring about the game that coulda shoulda woulda been the game described by the rules. Now I find myself tapping into my knowledge reservoirs (as empty as they may be) more often at the table and keeping my books and pdfs nearby lest I really really need to look something up for some reason.

However the printed text has a certain ethos-logos attached to it. Most players new to OSR stuff are more willing to try your weird game if it's printed on dead trees. This has half-motivated me to try and produce my own rules document. I say half-motivated because when a source book is introduced suddenly the DM isn't the only authority at the table. I'd practically be asking the potential lawyers to slap me with the white glove of rule dueling. But I think this fear can be chalked up to my own paranoia.

The hope would be that the rules would facilitate the game that's going on at the table and not the idyllic one they outline. More so since it's my rules document there's not going to be any niche rules in their that could potentially challenge my DMship and even if there is it's probably a good thing because I'm a forgetful plebian.

Now that I've decided to produce this rules document the only thing that I need to decide on is a name. Sure I could just call it Into the Weird but that sounds eerily similar to a certain designer's game and I believe I would be doing him a disservice by circulating such a document. So I've settled on "Qwik N Durti Role Playing Game" or QNDRPG for short.

Why that name? Well it certainly isn't artsie and I'm OK with that. This is a rules document not a module. In the latter's case I would take more creative liberty with the title. As for the reference to haste and filth I feel it resonates with my particular style.

An adventurer's life will be brief.

The world will be dangerous and bloodthirsty; a threat. There will be blood to spill. There will be muck to crawl through. There will be death.

Life will be quick. It will be dirty. There will be no time for philosophy or debate because someday death will be over that bend, around that corner.

So is the adventurer's life.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

E531347 - 7

That is the UPP code for the planet El-Sai on which Wundergauss is set, which I generated using Traveller's World Creation section. UPP stands for universal planetary profile and the value of each place tells you something about a planet. From left to right the places represent starport type, planetary size, atmosphere, hydrographies (basically how much water it has), population, government, law level, and tech level. (The dash is just for style.)

In El-Sai's case each value means the following:

Starport: E—basically a floating rock; no facilities or any cool space stuff.
Size: 5000 mile diameter; that's about the size of Ganymede.
Atmosphere: 5—Very Thin; you'd need breathing masks to adventure on the surface.
Hydrographies: 10%—if my math is correct that means all the water on El-Sai could fit into Yosemite Park.
Population: thousands
Government:  Representative Democracy
Law Level: 2—basically everything but energy weapons is A-OK.
Tech Level: 7—basically modern amounts of tech with a sprinkling of future tech such as hovercrafts, pulse lasers, as well as fission and solar powered engines.

I've always imagined Wundergauss being set in a land with plenty of water, green landscapes, and definitely no tech. Standard MEAL with magic stuff. (That stands for Medieval European Analogue Land.) But these results paint a way darker picture.

But first I want to address two things, the government and law level. It's no surprise that Traveller assumes unified global government and police force but for me I think it's more interesting when societies clash, so I'll largely be ignoring government and law level. Now that that's out of the way I can move on to the good bits.

Low pop, little water, alien atmosphere, little to no connection with the outside galactic civilization. This is starting to sound more like Mad Max than Lord of the Ring. But I am a little conflicted.

I've always imagined Wundergauss bordering a great sea or ocean where plenty of boat on boat action could go down. Such a setting seems impossible with only 10 percent water. But I'll take my cake and eat it too.

Not only does Wundergauss border a sea, it borders the only sea. A Lonely Sea, so to speak. It just so happens that all of the drinkable water drains into this basin. The land around it is arable and its rivers power corrupts; that's why.
prime real estate. Dozens of tribes brawl it out on this promised land for the exquisite title of Water Barons. The barons send waves of armies against their enemies and control the sea with steel ships fueled with diesel. Why would they risk polluting the only drinkable water on the planet? Well because

Sure you can live elsewhere, but who the fuck wants to suck water out of plants and pray to idols that you kill something to roast over the fire that night. It's a savage's life!

Might there be promise lands elsewhere? The caravans say so but who trusts them! They're all maniacs and low-lives. The Oil barons say here are, but they'd say anything for good coin.

The Lonely Sea awaits the people's saviors or the barons to rule it.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Wundergauss Neighborhood Map


This is a rough draft map for my city setting Wundergauss done in Zak S Neighborhood Map fashion.
For awhile now I've simply been scooping up OSR books and plucking from them the mechanics that I like, stitching them together into some Frankensteinian ruleset that rests inside my skull. However I find it's easier for creativity to flourish when I set limits for myself. This gives me a base to work with and if the confines of my established limits are too strong I can always redefine them later.

With that said I plan on taking a specific approach to my current campaign, which features my city setting Wundergauss. Now without further ado I'm going to define my chosen three rulesets and campaign inspirations.

Ruleset 1: Lamentation of the Flame Princess
Was there any doubt? It's the game that pulled me into the OSR and it just so happens to be my favorite game to run for OSR noobys. It's got nice clean-cut mechanics that aren't bloated or janky. Skills are simple and eloquent d6 roles; fighters don't suck; saves make sense; it even has rules for Property and Finance! However there are some rules in this book that just trigger me. I'm looking at you Firing Into Melee rules! And the magic item creation is more annoying than it is useful. But overall Lotfp is just a nice full package and a great base for any OSR inspired ruleset. It does lack the essentials for high adventure like treasure tables and a monster manual, but my next choice should fix all of that....

Ruleset 2: Old School Reference and Index Compilation
Or OSRIC for short....At first I was going to pick Labyrinth Lord over OSRIC but the former doesn't add as much to the equation. Meanwhile OSRIC brings more treasure and more wandering monsters to the table, not to mention more classes and Fireball! However I don't like the way OSRIC does most of these things. For example I'm pretty sure +1 against orcs and goblinoids doesn't really qualify as a racial bonus.... But from what I understand my complaints are due to the nature of 1e and has nothing to do with the creators of OSRIC being shits (because they're not!) In total OSRIC is a ruleset that will serve as a resource for the things that lotfp leaves out, and it will serve as an inspiration for homebrews down the road. I'll probably regret this last ruleset

Ruleset 3: Classic Traveller
Yup! I love this game. It's also got nifty things like guns so if I want to take my campaigns into modern land or if I just want to give the cleric a machine gun I can do that. It's got spaceships so I can take the party into space! I love that entire worlds can be randomly generated on the fly. It's got a bunch of weird and interesting races. Most of all it has sapceship combat which can easily be applied to regular boring ship with sails combat.The only downside is that I might be biting off more than I can chew. But that has yet to be seen and like I said earlier if it fucks up my game somehow I can just fix it.

Inspiration 1: The Napoleonic Era
Now Jeff says to avoid generalized sources for this part of the formula. He says to use books, not wikis. Truth be told I'm not a huge fan of fiction or books in general anymore. I used to read a lot as a kid but that was more of a coping mechanism than anything else. Since becoming an adult with expectations and responsibilities, my love for fiction and reading in general has tanked. What I know about this time period has mostly been through glimpses through movies and shows such as Master and Commander and Horatio Hornblower. But in the end I think what players take away from the table are those glimpses. They remember hails of cannon fire or musket rifles, intriguing with posh nobles, or crawling through the streets of an early modern civilization. Sure you might run into one player that absolutely gushes about this stuff but your average player just doesn't care. And there's nothing wrong with that. They're here to play D and fucking D, not get a history lesson. With that said there's just so much that I like about this era: the early-modern combat, the transition from monarchy to democracy, ships of the line, the style of clothing, the etiquette and expectations placed upon not only the bourgeoisie but pretty much everyone in society. But the focus isn't going to be in reenacting history, its going to be recreating those glimpses of this era provided by those shows and movies that caused me to fall in love with the period in the first place. (BTW if anyone knows of good resources for this period, preferably not on dead trees, I would be most gracious if you could send them my way!)

Inspiration 2: Girl Genius
Now if you haven't figured out that I'm an illiterate sod then you'll probably be surprised when I say I haven't read a single steampunk novel. But comics....I can do comics. They have the perfect balance of words and pretty pictures to keep my attention and regardless Girl Genius is so entertaining that it keeps me glued to the pages anyway. Now my love of steampunk is purely aesthetic. There's just something cool about leather-clad scoundrels running around with zappy bits. Not to mention it fits in the early modern feel that I am going for.

Inspiration 3: Final Fantasy VIII
I love this game. It was my first introduction to the final fantasy series and I really like its mechanics (even though everyone else seemed to hate them). The lore it presents is interesting and the setting is a weird blend of high fantasy and near-future science fiction. Not to forget GUNBLADES. (I don't care how stupid it is the idea of hurting someone more with your gun powder (or whatever) powered sword its just awesome!)

Supplemental Stuff
So those six things will serve as a base for whatever it is I'm trying to create but I know off the top of my head that won't be enough to cover all the bases. So I'll take the opportunity now to list a few more sources that I will be taking advantage of here.

Zak's Urbancrawl Rules
These rules are just awesome and that's why I'll be using them. I don't want my players to feel like they are in constant danger, which is why prior to reading Zak's post and Vornheim, I usually treated settlements as safe havens. I think that's totally fine but when my players are drunking it up at the local tavern, I don't want them to feel like they are in constant danger, but I do want them to feel on edge—that anything could come around that corner (but it won't kill you...probably).

13th Age
I bought this ruleset awhile back on a whim and while I don't like most of it there are some aspects I enjoy, mainly how race and class are treated. I am a proponent of race and class being separate entities. The only problem with that is separate race and class is a big contributor to builds, which I despise with a passion. Some great people have offered solutions to this problem while keeping race and class separate, but they haven't been for me. However I really like how 13th Age addresses the problem and I'll probably be using their method going forward. I also like some other aspects such as the mechanics surrounding Icons but I find mostly everything else to be too bloated and it's just too much of a modern rpg for my tastes.

The Last Gasp Blog
This blog is a great resource for anyone, especially if weird fantasy makes you gush. I'm extremely fond of anything related to Maleficars and the Horwarts Can't Save You Now rules might be the best for handling magic items I've come across.

and countless other sources will server as inspiration....

In Conclusion
In elevator pitch this creation looks like a early modern setting beating to the tune of high adventure with a sprinkle of low sci-fi and a twist of high sci-fi layered on top of that.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cards & Chases

Today Gabe Jr went on a killing/crime spree that culminated with a chase. (Report coming soon.) I'd say climaxed with a chase but the truth is I handled the chase poorly and it felt dull. Several factors had contributed to this.

First I showed up to Blackforest expecting to pick up the game from where we left off last week, but a new player showed up and he really liked 5e. Also I had promised Gabe Jr that if it was just me and him I would run 5e if he wanted to play that instead of my OSR madness. Unfortunately for me I showed up completely unprepared for this situation and therefore reran the events of last session out of desperation. (Don't do this. It's bad.)

Second I don't actually have any chase rules that I can call on at a moment's notice. When I knew a chase was about to start I looked up the optional chase rules in Vornheim and cringed when I realized I had no measuring tape with me. (There was none in the shop either.) Luckily I was able to utilize a Star Wars lanyard. I ended up making each side roll a d10 and they would move that many heads across the table. (The lanyard had little heads of Star Wars characters that I was using for vague measuring units.) Whoever made it to the center of the table first won the chase, so to speak.

As cool as lanyard-based chases sound, I don't think it's my thing. But playing cards; those are my thing. So I'm going to layout a playing card based chase ruleset here. Disclaimer: the main inspiration for this ruleset is borrowed from an article, but I found it too wordy to be relied on at a moments notice. So consider this ruleset a wacky simplified version of that one.

Required supplies are simple: a deck of playing cards without the faces and something to represent the chasers and chasees.

Start by laying out d6+4 cards face down. Flip the first card over and place the chasers and chasees on there. The rank of the card is the difficulty class set for each side. (Aces count as 1.)  Each round each member rolls a d10+Dex. If the result is higher than the rank then they advance a card. The chasees escape when they reach the last card and the chasers win if they incapacitate the chasees or cut off their means of escape by reaching the end first.

If two members are on the same card they can exchange a round of melee attacks. If there's only 1 card of difference between them then they can exchange a round of ranged attacks instead. Anything more than that and the two sides can't attack each other.

Instead of attacking a member can opt to inflict a disadvantage on an adjacent member (same card or 1 card away) or provide an advantage for themselves. In the case of disadvantage a member rolls 2d10 and takes the lowest and in the case of advantage they take the higher. In order to accomplish either tasks a test of some sort is required, usually a skill check of some sorts but don't be afraid to reward ingenious thought.

If members decide to split up you can place another row parallel to the first and place the figure representing the member doing the splitting on that new row.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A handy dandy AC conversion chart

Thanks to dawnrazor!

P.S. I couldn't find the post itself, just the image. If anyone knows where that is could you send it my way?

EDIT: original post, thanks to Polydeuces Traxus! 

Surgeon's Kit image dump

Here's a list of images of what a Napoleonic Era surgeon would be packing (probably).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

So it's hard to contextualize adventurers since they're often born from spur of the moment inspirations and pod-dropped into a world their players know nothing about.

In a normal dungeon crawl this is fine but in my current weekly campaign Gabe Jr has a fine taste for story games and roleplay. So I want to provide him some opportunities to learn about the setting and flesh out his character without throwing ham-fisted explanations and exposition at him.

So the big question is how do I go about doing that? Well if the players control their characters' actions, personality, and background, the dm controls everything else. I literally have an infinite list of npcs, monsters, and encounters at my disposal. To be honest that feels a little intimidating on my part so I'll start small and hopefully that will get the ball rolling.

If you've ever moved to a new town with no friends or family near by then it's probably intimidating or down right scary to go out and mingle. The same can be said of pcs.

So I decided to use Zak S's contact rules from Vornheim and give Gabe's character a friend. Now all I know of this npcs is their name and profession. I'm leaving it up to Gabe to decide what this person means to his character. He could be a distant relative, lover, co-worker, etc.

Random Encounters
Who you pass by on the street or what kind of homeless people or street performers you see can influence your perspective of a place and I think the same is true for adventurers.

I think I'll start small and go from there. I'll keep the combat encounters low because I don't want pcs to feel like they are in constant danger above ground.

Wundergauss isn't an ancient or mysterious city but it is sprawling with numerous factions playing The Game. However the land beneath it is as ancient as time itself and plays host to an assortment of underworlds. So I want the encounter table to reflect that. Plenty of secret entrances to lost dungeons, hideaways were nobles get high and order hits, seedy dens for dregs, etc.

And of course I'll support these things with improvised lore and info as it comes up in play. I might do a short write up about notable houses, the current dynasty, and the local religion but other than that I really prefer winging the rest during gameplay.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tomb of the Toad God Session 1 Report: Dont Ooze and Cruise

So I planted myself in the dm's chair once more after a long hiatus, deciding to run Lamentaion of the Flame Princess and Tomb of the Forgotten Toad-People.

Blackforest Comics has open gaming every thursday so I posted an ad earlier in the week on their Facebook page.

Unfortunately only two people showed up, Gabe Jr, the owner's son, and Timmy, the owner's friend. Gabe Sr, the owner, was around and joined the game later but he had to go run his own game at the library for some kiddos.

Regardless of the small party the session ended up being pretty eventful.

I brought some pre-gens for potential noobys but Gabe Jr and Timmy decided to roll up their own.

In the first room the party got tpk'd by a Black Pudding after they tarried too long in its lair by collecting coins scattered amongst the 3 feet of bones lining the floor.

Then they rolled up some more characters, this time with random levels for a slight advantage, and tried the tomb again.

In the next room they discovered a floating toad-person in the lotus position that exploded into a cloud of dust when the pcs touched it.

Slightly disturbed they continued to the next room and encountered some yellow mold (that they lit on fire), fought some zombie toad-people, and discovered the cockatrice statue.

In the next room Timmy's character almost died horribly after triggering a poison gas trap but he was able to bash his way out of the room. After that they surfaced to rest up.

At this time we braked for pizza and Gabe Sr joined the fray.

They dived back in, fought some more zombies, who were suspiciously more dwarvish, and Timmy's character got eaten by a Gelatinous Ooze in the next room. After that the Gabes retreated and we called it a night.

Not sure what the state of the campaign will be next week because Timmy is having to go out of town for a few months. I might just do one-on-one with Gabe Jr. If that doesn't work out I might try to get something going online once I move into my new digs.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Things I Love

I just read this Tumblr post by Kiel Chenier and have become motivated to post a collection of things that I love lest I lose the path of an aspiring game designer to memes and social media.

I love anime

Yup even her
Ever since the Toonami era of Dragonball Z, Voltron, Robotech, Ronin Warriors, Gundam, Outlaw Star, Trigun, Zoids, Yu Yu Hakusho and Rurouni Kenshin, I have watched countless anime from Jojo's Bizzare Adventure to Steel Angel Kurumi. I freaking love anime. I love it more than movies. I love it more than books. I love it more than video games.

I'm not sure why I have such a strong love for anime. It could just be because I was exposed to it at a young age. Or it could be because it gave me an eye into a culture not my own; it taught me that there's more to the world than just what's around me; that there's adventure out there and things to be discovered. It could be that it was just available as the only source of entertainment for me during the late 90s and early 2000s. I grew up middle class but the crash of 08 really tossed my family in the pits. I didn't have the leisure of going out to the movies or buying the latest boxset; I didn't even have cable. All we had was an internet connection and anime was all over the net. So anime kept me entertained and emotionally safe during tough times and my love for it blossomed then.

I love rpgs

of the video game variety. I think I'm in a rare percentile of gamers because I didn't discover trpgs until I was at least 18 and even then my first experience wasn't that great. Ever since I had an on-and-off again relationship with trpgs until it cemented itself and my favorite hobby.

A majority of my childhood free time was taken up by video games, more specifically rpgs. I remember spending hours upon hours playing Final Fantasy VII, X, X-2, and even XII for a short stint. Next to that was Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, God of War, and probably countless others that I've forgotten since.

I've never really gone public with this information because its emotionally taxing. But a man's blog is a man's soul so if I can't put it here then I can't put it anywhere. OK. So I lose my mother at age 11 and it fucked me up pretty bad. I dropped out of school and society and my dad didn't really know what to do with me because he was about as fucked up from my mother's death as I was. I was essentially agoraphobic and, truth be told, video games kept my mind off the fucked up the intrusive shit brewing inside my skull. It sounds silly now but video games were my lifeline until I got the help that I needed and pulled myself together.

Now I don't even own a video game system and I'm not exactly happy with the state of the gaming market today. But chances are I can get one of those games on steam and relive those all too familiar moments that not only influenced my muse, but also kept me safe.

I love wrestling

Survivor Series 2003. Undertaker versus Vince McMahon in a Buried Alive match. No disqualification, no count out, no ring out, no submission; the only way to win is to bury your opponent six feet under—killing him.

Fucking wow. That was the first wrestling match that I watched that hooked me into the world of professional wrestling. The sight of Vince—the guy who runs the whole shebang—bleeding all over the place. The twist at the end where Kane, Taker's brother, buries him alive. Holy shit they just killed a dude! I was hooked.

And boy was it a great time to be into wrestling. I remember fondly Evolution and the build-up to Wrestlemania XX. There's probably countless other wrestling moments that I've since forgotten.

I love history

As a teen I read fiction constantly but as an adult I find that history is more interesting than fiction. I'm probably not the most literate history fan but I find my interest gravitating more towards the Age of Sail than anything else and my interest has only bee piqued since discovering Lamentations of the Flame Princess. And on that note....

I love D&D!

If that wasn't obvious....I love to run the game. It's an indescribable feeling and it gives me great joy to be behind the NPCs and monsters. I'd say it's my one true calling if I was to be so bold. I more so love the OSR and DIY communities and the great creators pushing their projects farther ahead than the corporate/modern games.

Alright! This has been a short list of things that I love and hopefully my future projects will be filled with a little bit of everything from this list. I'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lucky 7s

Brian Ashford wrote a great short essay on rules in OSR games. In his essay he showcased the Thief and the wrench it threw into the game's mechanics.
He talks about how he fixed the problem in his games and makes a good argument that rules should "do more" i.e. encompass the whole game and not just a single class or niche.

I have to agree.

Take ODND style thieves as an example. Their portfolio is comprised of the ability to move with great stealth and climb nearly sheer surfaces. These abilities are fine but what happens when another class decides to attempt these feats? Are they disallowed by the Thief's right of niche protection?
I think most referees have solved this issue by giving each class thief abilities while allowing the actual thief an advantage, as showcased by one of Brian's examples. As you can see these rules introduced from the Thief's inception actually caused more issues and required a more broad encompassing rule to fix it.

So Brian's point that broad and encompassing rules are more efficient than smaller niche rules is a sound enough design philosophy. So let's apply it to another common issue in OSR games: the relevance of the Fighter.
"Fighters are linear and Wizards are quadratic," is a timeless adage that showcases the problem with fighters' relevancy. While the wizard is throwing 3d8 fireballs the Fighter is still swinging his dinky d8 longsword. And as the trend in OSR games to shy away from power escalating items such as +1 weapons grows the fighter's relevancy decreases. So how is this problem fixed?

I believe the popular solution to this problem is to provide the Fighter with multiple attacks per round. There's nothing wrong with this solution but, like the Thief, it brings up a question. If a fighter can attack X times per round how many times can another class attack per round? Surely even my anemic emaciated sleep-deprived wizard is capable of swinging his dagger more than once per round.
Well I'm trying to be broad and encompassing here so I'm going to ignore the finer details like weapon type, physicality, etc and focus on the bigger picture of the roll itself. Here's what I've come up with:

When rolling to attack, if the result is a multiple of seven, you can immediately roll another attack after resolving the first one.

I really like this rule as a base for what I'm trying to accomplish. Translated from ruleset lingo basically this means anybody can attack multiple times if the result is a 7, 14, 21, or 28. (I include 21 and 28 because I make use of a dice chain in my games and therefore the use of a d24 and d30.) It adds a second chance mechanic to attack rolls. Now players don't have to fear the dreaded single digit because there's a chance that zero follows a seven. More importantly this rule is broad and encompassing, which is just what I was looking for, and it makes fighters more relevant with their multiple attacks. But I don't want to stop here; I want to make fighters even more relevant.

It's obvious that fighters desire a high strength score. They hit more consistently and deal more damage. So I'll  apply this trend to my new rule:
When rolling to attack, if the result is a multiple of seven, you can immediately roll another attack after resolving the first one. If your character has a Strength score of 13-15 decrease the result required by 1. If their score is 16-17 decrease it by 2. Finally if it's 18 decrease it by 3.
Now fighters of peak human physical condition can attack again on a multiple of 4 and I think that's awesome. Overpowered? Mayhaps but I haven't played around with it enough to be sure.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

How to be a Lizardfolk

So this is my attempt to do this, except with Lizardfolk because they are my favorite humanoid.

Roll up stats and chose a class. Whenever you level up you can spend one or more of your rolls on this chart.

01 Nothing! It ain't easy being a lizard....

02-11 +1 to hit

12-21 +1 to all saves

21-30 +1 damage

30-50 Your hide gets harder. +1 unarmored AC.

51-53 You get really good at climbing. Now you can now climb at normal speed without restriction on what you can wear or wield. Also you take half fall damage. Re-roll this result if you get it a second time.

54-56 Your scales sprout sharp spikes. Your non-weapon, non-spell attacks deal 1d4 extra damage and foes that hit you must save versus Breath Weapon to avoid your spikes or take the extra damage. Rolling this result again increases the damage to d6, then d8, and then d10. After that re-roll this result.

57-59 You gain an extra d6 hit points. If you roll this result again increase the hit points gained to d8, then d10, then d12, and finally d20.

60 Once per day you can transform into a crocodile for 1 turn (AC 14; HD 2; 1 Bite for 1d8 dmg). When you roll this result again you gain +1 to AC, HD, or damage for your croc-form. After rolling this result three times you can spend your +1 to add weird shit like flying wings or extra appendages.

61-63 Now you can consume the flesh of another creature to be imbued with the secrets of the flesh. Next time you encounter a creature of the same species as the one you devoured you'll learn their statistics (AC, HD, etc) and what they want, why they are here, etc. After that you lose all benefits. Rolling this result allows you to repeat the process again.

64-66 +1 Con. If your Con is already maxed out your size category increases by one increment. For example if you're Medium you are now Large. After a second size increase re-roll this result.

Being struck in combat now has a chance of inducing a blood rage within you. Every time you're hit roll % and subtract the damage from the result. If it's 20% or less then you're officially in a blood rage. While blood-raged you can make a number of attack per round equal to your hit dice, dividing your to-hit bonus evenly, and you can move at running speed. Rolling this result again increases the chances by 5%.

70 The next time your party makes camp you can recount a tale passed down through your tribe from ancestors to ancestors. The people, places, and things featured in this tale are henceforth 100% factual and your GM must incorporate them into his or her setting. 

71-73 Your Bite/Claw/Claw attack increases to 3d4 damage. Re-rolling this result increases the damage to 3d6 then 3d8. After that re-roll this result.

74-76 Your scales evolve to blend in with your surroundings. Once per day you can cast the invisibility spell on yourself for 1 turn. Re-rolling this result increases the duration by 1 turn.

77-79 You can shed your scales, effectively making a suit of armor with AC equal to your unarmored AC. Also if you have spikes, camouflage, or any other special abilities associated with your scales the suit gets those too. The shedding process takes a full day and your scales regrow after 1 week has passed. Re-rolling this result lets you do it again.

80 You can shed your tail to avoid one hit against you. It takes you 1 week to regenerate your lost tail. Re-roll this result if you get it a second time.

81-83 Your Bite attack is now imbued with your own naturally produced poisons. After a successful Bite attack your foe must make a Poison save or suffer the consequences. Re-roll this result if you get it a second time.

84-86 You can projectile launch steams of blood from your eyes like a horned toad at a cost of 6 hit points. Your foe must make a Poison save or be blinded (-6 to hit). Re-rolling this result gives your foes an additional -1 penalty to their save.

87-89 Your tail grows a club, giving you a bludgeoning attack for d6 damage. Whenever you hit with this Bludgeon attack your foe must make a Paralyze save or be knocked prone. Re-rolling this result increases the damage to d8 then d10. Afterwards re-roll this result.

90 You're really good at swimming. You can effectively hold your breath three times as long and swim as fast as you can walk/run. Re-roll this result if you get it a second time.

91-93 You're really good at running. You can move at running speed while being able to attack/interact normally. Additionally you can run over water for a distance equal to your walking speed before falling in if you get a 10 foot head start. Re-roll this result if you get it a second time.

94-96 Now you can regenerate lost limbs (arms, hands, legs, etc.) at a rate of 1 limb per week. If you have no lost limbs you regenerate 1 hit point every turn. Re-rolling this result increases the regeneration by 1 point.

97-99 Your jaw becomes larger and more alligator-like. Now whenever your hit with a Bite your for must make a Paralyze save or be pinned between your jaws. While in this state your foe takes a -2 to all actions except Poison and Magic saves and takes 1d4 crushing damage from your fierce grip every round. However your foe is allowed a save at the end of each round to escape your clutches. Re-rolling this result gives your foe an additional -1 penalty to their saves.

100 You enact the ancient Lizardfolk ritual of scale-inscribing. Through the use of an ink-mixture, your own blood, and a lot of drugs, you etch a rune into one of your scales giving it magical properties. In game terms you gain a random first level spell from a random spellcasting class that you can cast once per day. Re-rolling this result allows you to repeat the process. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

D6 Roulette

So your party has been captured by cyberpunk orcs, post-apocalyptic halflings, or some other brand of fucked up sicko and forced to play a friendly game. The losers lose everything, i.e. die, and the winners win it all, i.e. live. We're talking about Russian roulette of course. But how does a GM run this situation? Like this of course!

Spin the cylinder: A player can spin the cylinder an infinite number of times. (However you should punish players trying to "buy time" by abusing this fact.) When they do this they roll a d6 and the result is the number that will kill them when they pull the trigger. For example if Jostalph spins and the result is 6 when he pulls the trigger and the result is 6 he's just coated the wall with a fresh coat of brains.

Pull the trigger: Roll a d6. If the result is your spin the cylinder number you're dead. By default this number is 1 if a player decides not to spin at all.

The d6 is a metaphor for the revolver but this short system can apply for any item capable of randomly killing the player. Playing a friendly game of toss the lit bomb? How about that spooky jar you found that sometimes summons an otherworldly maw to chomp your head off? In that case this system is just what you are looking for!

Friday, July 28, 2017

I'm Back!

Let me fist start off by pointing out the obvious. I haven't made a post on this blog since well over a month.

My attention over this past month has been snatched by my second love in life MMORPGs. While old fashioned pen and paper RPGs are still my queen, it's nice to sneak out of the metaphorical house and full around with the virtual digital variety once in awhile.

The MMORPG I've been pouring my most into was a World of Warcraft private server by the name of Felmyst. Unfortunately the project died on arrival and I've been in a sort of shell shock since.

I don't think I would be in this state if it wasn't for the fact that I've been off of work since Tuesday morning. Right now I have an interesting schedule were I work a week straight then get to enjoy another week of luxury. Did I mention I work overnights? It is a weird schedule but at the moment it's the only way I'll get the hours I need to survive and deep down I don't really mind it.

The one downside is that I have a metric ton of free time. I'm the kind of person that gets satisfaction out of a full days work. I work my 9 hours, fiddle around a little bit at home, go to sleep, and repeat the process. But with work cut out of the equation I've found my recent days to be fleeting. I thought all this time off would be invigorating but instead it's just boring.

So I thought I would return to some old projects (of which one of is this blog) and work on them to enrich my life a little. I don't know what I have planned next. Maybe a review of Swordfish Islands since the pdfs have been sitting in my hard drive for weeks and I've already received the zine.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

13th Age character write-up: Barbarian

Another 13th Age character; this time a hot elf barbarian chick!

Althana Wurmscale
13th Age's Barbarian is billed as the easiest and rule-free class to play. I can't help but agree. Their lists of "moves" only includes Talents. Simple enough so I'll get started.

Wood Elf Stuff:
Elven Grace (each turn roll a d6; if it's less than or equal to the escalation die you get an extra standard action and increase the die by a step)
+2 Dex or +2 Wis.

Barbarian Stuff:
Hit Points: (7+Con)x3
Total Feats: 1 adventurer
Class Talents: 3
Ability Bonus +2 Str or Con
AC: 12 (Light)+middle of Con/Dex/Wis+Level
PD: 11+middle of Str/Con/Dex+Level
MD: 10+middle of Int/Wis/Cha+Level

Now Ability Scores:


(I used the point buy system here.)

Now I'll distribute them and factor in the bonuses:

Str: 16+2(class bonus)=18
Dex: 16+2(race bonus)=18
Con: 14
Int: 8
Wis: 10
Cha: 8

Now I'll plug it all in:

Hit Points: 27
AC: 15
PD: 16
MD: 9

Now it's time for gear: 1 Greataxe, a (half) suit of chain mail, and 40gp.

Now I'll figure out the rest of my options

Talents: Building Frenzy, Slayer, Whirlwind
Feat: Toughness
Backgrounds: Wurm slayer (+2), wasteland survivalist (+2), pit fighter (+4)
Unique: I am destined to take the Elf Queen's heart
Icon relationships: High Druid (1+), Elf Queen (1-), Orc Lord (1-)


That about sums it up. So the complete Althana Wurmscale looks like so:

Str: 18
Dex: 18
Con: 14
Int: 8
Wis: 10
Cha: 8

Hit Points: 30
AC: 15
PD: 16
MD: 9
Basic Melee: +4, 1d10+3
Basic Ranged: -
Talents: Building Frenzy, Slayer, Whirlwind
Feat: Toughness
Backgrounds: Wurm slayer (+2), wasteland survivalist (+2), pit fighter (+4)
Unique: I am destined to take the Elf Queen's heart
Icon relationships: High Druid (1+), Elf Queen (1-), Orc Lord (1-)

Upon her birth the stars proclaimed that Althana would take the Elf Queen's heart. Whether she would take it romantically or physically is lost in interpretation. Regardless, Althana spent her youth wondering the wasteland with her tribe, preying on the colossal wurms native there, until they were attacked and overrun by marauding orcs. The orcs captured Althana and threw her in their fighting pits. Little did they know that their entertainment forged Althana into a furious warrior. One day she escaped and not only swore vengeance on the orcs for their transgression but also to fulfill the prophecy the stars with witch the stars burdened her.

I hate to say it but I'm starting to like everything about 13th Age that doesn't have to do with the core of the game, i.e. the Icons, Backgrounds, and Uniques. This level of character creation just doesn't rub me the right way.

Players literally have a smorgasbord of options presented to them upon character creation and in my experience that does more to repel players than it does to attract them (unless they're that far in, of course.) I'd rather just roll Ability Scores, distribute them optimally depending on my class and get into the meat of things. No equations. No averaging.

My beef here isn't with min-maxing. You can min-max and still roleplay. My beef is that this system seems so convoluted that it's beyond playable. Not to mention a majority of the powers revolve around combat.

I've always disliked systems that revolve around combat. Not because I dislike combat or think it dissuades roleplay, or anything of that sort. But when your mechanics center around combat so much you're pretty much required to include it in your games unless no one minds blowing 15 minutes creating a character.

I'm just ranting at this point. Regardless I'd still like to run or play 13th Age.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Thoughts on Progression and Player Choice

I've been concerned with character generation lately. More so concerned with character progression and the concept of player choice within class features. By class progression I mean how classes change overtime via gaining experience and levels. By player choice I mean significant choices players can make to effect their class and gameplay.
Here's a graph representing how I see class progression across three games: Lamentations of the Flame Princess, 13th Age, and D&D 5th edition.

Lamentations is probably the most simple and straight forward. No player choice at all; it's a straight line to the top baby. However specialists, magic users, and clerics have some form of choice. The first gets skill points. The second and third get more spells. However I'm not sure if this level of freedom fits within my definition of player choice. Player choices should feel significant and effect gameplay and I just don't feel that the choices offered by these classes is either. They feel more like an illusion of choice, i.e. you're making a choice that ultimately doesn't matter.

13th Age is probably on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Lamentations; choices are abound. For some classes the choices are tiered; Talents are different from Maneuvers witch are different from Feats which are different from etc. etc. The choices here are significant because they basically let you cheat. Missed an attack? Nope! Roll you're weapon damage anyway. However you only get to do it once per combat which I think is fair. Upsides are that each player's character feels unique; even if you lay up two barbarians next to each other they'll probably be very different. Downsides are the big lists which bring min-maxing to mid. Which feat is the best? Which isn't? And that kind of thinking can be unwanted at the table.

5th edition does something unique in that it doesn't eliminate player choice at all and it doesn't overwhelm players with dozens of options. Instead at a certain point it makes you make a decision and you're set on that path permanently going forward. This lets players explore their options without feeling overwhelmed nor does it let them feel oppressed by being stuck on a single path. Good Stuff.

My ideal game would fall somewhere in between 13th Age and 5e. I love the customization of 13th Age but don't care for the big lists. At the same time I like 5e's method, but would love to experiment with customization more.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

13th Age Character write-up: Styles the Human Fighter

In order to better understand 13th Age's character creation system, I thought I should actually create a character and I figured I should work through it here.

First a character concept. I've been watching a lot of Age of Sail historical fiction lately so lets rip a character from the Horatio Hornblower series: Styles.

Styles is a big, dumb, brutish sailor with a loyal heart; however trouble likes to follow him wherever he goes.

Ain't he a darlin
First of all Race and Class.

Humans get +2 to any ability score and a bonus feat. Therefore they start with two feats as opposed to one. They also get the Quick to Fight racial power which gives them advantage on initiative rolls

Fighters get +2 to Strength or Constitution, 3 talents, and 3 1st level maneuver. They have the following base stats:

Hit Points: (8+Con) x3
Physical Defense: 10+middle mod of Str/Con/Dex+Level
Mental Defense: 10+middle mod of Int/Wise/Cha+Level
AC: 10+middle mod of Con/Dex/Wis+Level. (Armor isn't that useful against muskets and pistols so I'm using the unarmored base here.)
Now I'll roll up Ability Scores:

Mostly average. But hey he's only a sailor in the Queen's navy (for now at least.) Now I'll distribute them like so:

Strength: 16 (+2 from Human racial bonus)
Constitution: 15 (+2 from Fighter class bonus)
Dexterity: 11
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 11
Charisma: 13 (he's got a pretty smile)
Now that I have the scores lets turn those base stats into combat stats:

Hit Points: 30
Physical Defense: 13
Mental Defense: 11
AC: 10
At this point lets go ahead and figure out Style's basic attacks:

Melee: +4, 1d8+3 (cutlass)
Ranged:  +1, 1d6+1 (hand crossbow reskinned as a flintlock pistol)
Now I'll figure out the rest of the fighter stuff by choosing talents and maneuvers: 

Talents: Cleave, Power Attack, and Tough as Iron. Styles is a sailor fighting the enemy on slim frigates so Cleave is nice for those situations. He's also big and tough so Power Attack and Tough as Iron fit nicely.
Maneuvers: Carve an Opening, Grim Intent, and Brace for It. Styles is a big brute so all his maneuvers focus on dealing extra damage and avoiding death in the process.
 Now I'll figure out Style's one unique thing. I'll keep with the big brute theme and say his father was an ogre so Style's is the only half-ogre in the Queen's Navy.

Now I'll define his Icon relationships. Style's is loyal to his duty and the Queen but he's prone to trouble. We'll give him a 2 point conflicted relationship with the Emperor (the Queen in this case) and a 1 point negative relationship with the Prince of Shadows since his crimes land him in jail most of the time.

Now I'll figure out Style's background. I've got eight points to distribute among his backgrounds. I'll say Styles had a few criminal careers in the past that didn't turn out great and his parents probably taught him a few things; his mother taught him basic alchemy and his father taught him how to hunt:

Criminal: 4 points
Alchemist: 1 point
Hunter: 3 points
Lastly I'll chose Style's two feats. I'll chose Toughness since he's so big and strong and upgrade his Tough as Iron for the same reason.

And that's it. So in full form my Styles looks like this:
Hit Points: 34
Physical Defense: 13
Mental Defense: 11
AC: 10
Basic Melee Attack: +4, 1d8+3
Basic Ranged Attack:  +1, 1d6+1
Talents: Cleave, Power Attack, and Tough as Iron.
Maneuvers: Carve an Opening, Grim Intent, and Brace for It.
Backgrounds: Criminal 4, Alchemist 1, Hunter 3
Unique: the only half-ogre in the Queen's navy
Icon Relationships: Emperor+-2, Prince of Shadows-1
Feats: Toughness and Tough as Iron (A)