Thursday, August 31, 2017

A great interview with James Raggi, Zak S, and Patrick Stuart in which they talk about LotFP and the OSR.

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!