Sunday, October 21, 2018

I don't know what to write

So I'm writing about it.

I've struggled with this blog. And the recent G+ apocalypse has inserted the thought of burning everything to the ground once or twice. The issue is that I have no idea what I wan't to write about.

Going into this blog I decided I wanted to produce things that I would read and use myself. But I've discovered that there's not a lot of interesting things to write about in that regard.

I run my games barebones. Here's a dungeon. Your characters are inside it. What do you do? There's no real intent behind it. It's just how I've come to DM. You see my problem here?

I can't produce things I'd read or use myself because there's nothing I need to read or use. The current way I use things is fine and I see no need to sacrifice that for producing content online.

If a situation comes up where I need to do some work I can just swipe something online. We live in an age where nothing is new under the sun. Why would I reinvent the wheel when I have a fine wheel right here?

So that's why this blog is suffering. I'm sure there's something I can write about. But I'm not sure what that is. But it feels like I'm getting close.

I don't know. I'm just going to keep churning out shit until it turns into gold.

I just fucking murdered my players

- died of blood loss after having his corroded artery ripped out by a hungry Wydarr. The last to die.

- succumbed to his injuries in battle and fainted. Dragged off into the darkness. Presumed Wydarr food. The first to die

Don Jose
- leg sliced off at the knee by hungry Wydarr. Watched helplessly as allies tried to save him. The second to die.

Jacob O'Brien
- avoided delimbing. Succumbed to injuries in battle and fainted. The fourth to die.

Lewis Hopcraft
- neck snapped by Wydarr. The third to die.

First Mate Bones
- abandoned best friend Shuren to his fate. Promoted to Captain. Enjoying wonderful sea adventures with fishman Dale.

The Creati

A Creati possesses the ability to recreate non-living objects from their body by breaking down their own fat at the molecular level.

A Creation, Book Learning
B Spot Weakness
C Creation II
D Lucky Bag, Danger Sense

You can recreate a 5' non-living object after one Round of concentration. Afterwards eat a ration or suffer 1 point of CON damage. 
You must have seen the object and understand how it works in order to recreate it. If the object is magical you can recreate its form but not its magical properties.
Your creations last for one Round per level before reverting to fat.

Book Learning
You gain two additional skill. All you knowledge of these skills come from books that you own.

Spot Weakness
Once per scene you can observe a creature for one Round. Afterwards you learn a weakness, secret, or fear the creature has. If you use this information to bring harm to a creature, it translates to +1d12 damage or an automatic failure on a Save.

Creation II
Now you can create a 10' non-living object after one Turn of concentration. Afterwards eat a ration or suffer 1 point of CON damage.
Now your creations last for one Turn per level before reverting to fat.

Lucky Bag
You can launch a small bag from your chest up to 40'. The bag contains contents that you get to determine. Up to six objects that are no bigger than a bread loaf can fit into the bag. Afterwards eat d6 rations or suffer the same amount of CON damage.

Danger Sense
If you are surprised you have a 50% chance to act on the surprise round anyway. If you do you get a free one-time use of your Spot Weakness ability.

Image result for momo yaoyorozu

Friday, October 19, 2018

I Playtested Zak Sabbath's Hero Game

....And it was great!

Zak was scouting for playtesters for his new heroes and villains game. I was lucky enough to get in.

Warning: the game is still in development. So take what I say with a grain of salt.

I played in two different games. My first character was an 80s style transformer Police Monster Truck (PMT). My second character was the kinetic absorbing kid named Punching Bag.
PMT's crime fighting career ended fast due to unfortunate circumstance. But Punching Bag ended up saving the day! But that's a story for another time. On to character creation.

Zak has released a version of the character creation rules on his blog. But there are a few aspects of character creation left out of the post. For example this system has the most entertaining way to produce your core stats.

Each character has a CAPTAIN. That stands for Calm, Agility, Perception, Toughness, Appeal, Intelligence, and Network. Each stat has a die (as in a d6, d8, d10, etc; not a number).
You generate die by rolling all the standard dice from d4 to d12. Then you arrange the dice from lowest to highest. Then you take the die with the middle number; if there's a tie you get to pick the die.
This by itself makes rolling up characters a blast! You roll your stats late in the character creation process. But I had to mention it first because its so interesting and fun.

First you roll your character's first set of abilities. Most of the entries give you a choice between two powers. For example for PMT I got to choose Weather Control of Custom Vehicle. (He was a transformer so I chose he vehicle.)
Zak stated he structured entries to appeal to two players with opposite play styles. A player who wants to play a psionic is different from a player who wants to play animal clawed villain.
The first set of abilities are Primary Powers and define your character a great deal. Punching Bag rolled Energy Vampirism/Absorption. I picked Kinetic as the type of energy. This ended up being his only power but he crushed a league of villains that had more diverse powers. So don't feel cheated if you only get a single power because it's not an arms race.

Second I'm not sure what happens, but you do some more rolling and there's a chance you'll get more powers or a Gimmick. I didn't learn much about the process for this step other than there's a d20 involved.

Third you roll your occupation. Your occupation gives you skills from what I can tell. For PMT and Punching Bag I got "Job where you're shot at" (cop) and kid.

Fourth you roll your CAPTAIN.

Fifth and last you pick your skills. You get 3 skills along with the skills from your occupation. Your skills start at one level higher than their governing stat. So if you have a d12 Toughness and Berserker, Berserker gets a d20.
Martial Arts and Berserker ended up being the two strongest skills I encountered. A little too strong.
Zak stated that a character can't take Martial Arts if their Primary Power is based off toughness. For example Punching Bag couldn't take it since his power was Toughness based. Also it counts as two skills so...meh?
Berserker seems like a skill any character would take. It reduces a significant amounts of damage. But there was the stipulation that you can't use your noggin. Plus you take some penalties afterwards so...meh?

At any point during character creation you can spend a Boost to reroll a power or stat. You get one for free and circumstance can provide you with more.

And that's it for character creation! It's simple, short, sweet, and fun to boot. And I heard one person mention that it's a lot simpler than most superhero rpgs. So points for succinctness!
Now on to the game itself.

Zak pitted our heroes and villains against each other. He stated that the game isn't based around PvP. But PvP provided the simplest method to playtest everything.
Zak walked our characters through exploring a lair. The first lair was a defeated villain's hideout. The second was an alien satellite in low orbit. Our characters wondered through the rooms until we were face to face. Then initiative started!

I say started because initiative in this game is more complex than standard D&D. First the GM lists each player by Perception. Then each player goes in order from lowest Perception to highest. They state what their character is going to do, picking up the dice they'll need and holding on to it. Then everyone rolls at the same time. Then actions resolve from the highest roll to the lowest. It takes getting used to but it's exciting and keeps you on your toes.

I was the most confused by the recover mechanic. It kicks into gear when your character gets knocked out. From what I understand your Toughness level functions as your hit points. So if you have a d12 Toughness you can take 12 points of damage before getting knocked out. Once knocked out, you lose a round. The next round you start making recovery rolls. If I remember, you roll your toughness. Then whoever knocked you out rolls the damage of whatever they used to knock you out. If your recovery roll is higher than the damage roll you recover the difference in Toughness. Once you're back to positive Toughness then you're back in the action.

That's it for my commentary. My final verdict is that this game looks solid. I love the character creation and the combat. I can't wait to see what a campaign would look like.

Fighting Punching Bag is a lot like this

Saturday, October 13, 2018

OSR Guide for the Perplexed Questionnaire

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:
James Maliszewski's Old School Dungeon Design Guidelines encapsulates the best principles of the OSR.

2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:
"A dungeon you explore once is not a dungeon."

3. Best OSR module/supplement:
This is a toss-up between what I want and what I know.
I want to say Hubris is the best OSR module because it exemplifies everything I want from a setting book in the best way possible.
But from experience I have to say Hot Springs Island. It's a thick read and it lacks quick statistics, but it is the best playground I've run for my players in a long time.

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):
My friend Nathan has an old d6 that's chipped, making it a d7. He calls it his paradox die. Once per session a player could roll this paradox die. If they did and it landed on its seventh face some weird shit would happen next session. This has resulted in Spock and company beaming down right in front of our characters and parlaying with actual Cthulhu monsters.

5. How I found out about the OSR:
It was 2014 or 2015 and I was running 5E at my friend's comic book shop. A codger walked in with his wife. They were looking for a gift for his birthday. They saw us playing D&D and I invited them to come back next week and roll up a character. They came back and they brought a treasure trove of old school books with them. I was entranced and asked if the codger (the above-mentioned Nathan) would run a game for us. He obliged and I've been trapped ever since.

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:
I'm not sure if these count. But Discord and GIMP are my go to tools for running games these days.

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:
The heaving throes of G+.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:
I'm on Discord. Feel free to friend me (Mcgee#3580).

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:
If you think OSR is a ruleset you have no idea what you're talking about.

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:
It has a shit online presence but I still like playing 5E. Also I would like to give 13th Age a run.

11. Why I like OSR stuff:
It has character. It has avoided the soul sucking proboscises of big business.

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven't named yet:
Library of Attnam is underrated and if you think I'm wrong you should read his posts about druids.
Remixes and Revelations is also underrated and he is the only glogger that gets it.

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:
The easy answer is Jeff's Gameblog. 
But I would lock myself in a room with Fists of Cinder and Stone.

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:
Everyone likes the Time Wizard but it's shit.
I'm fond of my quick and dirty car rules.

15. I'm currently running/playing:
Right now I'm running Hot Springs Island as a part of a larger wavecrawl.

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:
I just want to kill you.

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:
This picture of a medusa from LotFP because it was the first thing I saw when I opened the book and it convinced me the OSR was rad.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Target GLOG

GLOG is the system I use to run my home games. But I don't like the fact that it's a roll-under system. I've got nothing against roll-under, but my mind is ingrained with roll-over from playing the d20 System and 5e. But I've also got my issues with roll-over.

My biggest issue with roll-over mechanics is the prevalence of Difficulty Class. In the end DCs are arbitrary because they rely on the whims of the DM instead of the mechanics of the game. So my goal was to make a roll-over system without DCs. But Delta of Delta's D&D Hotspot beat me to it with his Target 20 system.

Target 20 is intuitive and simple. The main mechanic is:

d20 + level + modifiers ≥ 20

That's it! Attack Rolls, Saving Throws, and Skill checks are based off this simple mechanic. But there's a caveat.

Delta did the math and came to the conclusion that Target 20 deviates by "1 or 2 pips.". In other words it deviates by 5% or 10% from the system it was based on. This deviation is positive for the most part. PCs take a hit to their early level saves, but they "closely match the book at middle levels; and are more generous at the highest levels." DMs might scour at this, but this deviation is also positive for monsters. So there's really nothing to cry about.

Target 20 was based off OD&D. So it will need to be tweaked to fit GLOG. The +level approach wouldn't suit GLOG because Attacks and Saves are made with secondary scores. Also it would be easier to modify the target number 20 with Defense than adding/subtracting it from the roll itself. So to hit an opponent with a Defense of 11, you'd need to roll a 21 or higher (because 11 minus 10 is 1.) Also the micro-math natural to GLOG  needs reduction or elimination.
Target 20 Compatibility Mark

This is my first hot take:

Ability checks/saves
d20 + Ability Score ≥ 20

Attack Rolls
d20 + Attack Score + STR/DEX ≥ 20 + Target's Defense

d20 + Save + CHA ≥ 20

d20 + 12 + DEX ≥ 20

d20 + 5 + DEX ≥ 20

I haven't figured out Opposed Checks or Combat Maneuvers yet. But I figured most situations are resolvable with a roll-off. A success wins. In the case of a tie, the highest roll wins.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Break me a 21

I'm in the middle of an existential crisis right now. So I look towards the warm bosoms of math to comfort me.

In my current campaign I use a roll under as a resolution mechanic. But roll under is the most over-used method in old school gaming, and for good reason. It works. roll under is square-one of resolution mechanics. It requires no math. It requires no arbitrary decisions. It's binary; you fail or you succeed. 

On the other end of the spectrum, roll over is the least-used method, and for good reason. Most roll over methods require math and arbitrary decisions. It is also the flagship mechanic of the mediocrity that is modern elf games.

If I had to pick between the two, I would choose roll under. But that's the easy choice. And this post isn't about doing things easy.

I want to explore the possibility of a roll over mechanic that is simple and intuitive.


The traditional roll under mechanic uses a variable that the player rolls equal to or under in order to succeed.  That variable is an Ability Score most of the time. Allow me to introduce Kenned.

Kenned is a first level fighter. He's got dreams and aspirations; and he's got a Strength score of 16. Right now all that matters is Kenned's Strength Score. (Fuck your dreams and aspirations Kenned.)

In the traditional roll under mechanic, Kenned has an 80% success rate for Strength tests. But if we flip to a roll over mechanic, Kenned looks a bit more scrawny. In the roll over mechanic, Kenned only has a 25% success rate. Now most people would abandon the roll over idea here because they think it means restructuring D&D. But this isn't the case.

Both mechanics have two things in common. They both have a dice roll. And they both have a target number. However in the case of the roll under mechanic, this target number is an ability score most of the time. This just doesn't work in a roll over mechanic because the maxim of "high score be good" is broken by the nature of the roll over mechanic. And since we can't change the dice roll, we have to change the target number.

But changing the target number comes with a stipulation. The success rates have to be the same. In other words a score of 16 has to have a success rate of 80% in a roll under mechanic and a roll over mechanic.

After a lot of mad scribbling I've come to a target number of 21.

In order to keep the maxim "high score be good" we have to invert the roll under mechanic. One would think this would result in a target number of 20, but this proves to not be the case. This is the result of adding the score to the roll. In a roll under mechanic there's no math. So by introducing a modifier the target number increases by one. But the success rates check out. A score of 16 has an 80% success rate in both systems.

So the basic mechanic in this roll over system would look like this:

d20 + modifier ≥ 21 = Success

The modifier varies depending on what is tested. Ability Scores modify ability checks; skills modify skill checks; etc; etc.

The key to this mechanic is to modify the target number instead of the roll. Instead of applying a -4 penalty to the roll, add 4 to the target number.

Let's go back to Kenned. He's got some leather armor. Leather armor has an AC of 2. So we add that to any attack rolls' target numbers. So Kenned would have an "AC" of 23 (or 25 if he's got good DEX.) 

This method means players don't have to do multi-step math. It's roll and add. That's it. Only the target number fluctuates, and it's easy for the DM to communicate the target number.

I'm no math-man, but I think this works out. Regardless it's a basic start and I'll explore it further later after I've accepted nihilism.