Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Armor Class VS Weapon

Despite hitting the hay a bit early last night (and tossing up a reserve post to maintain my crunch time post quota) I've made a substantial bit of progress.  I've added all the revisions, rewrites and new material since my original draft many moons ago.  All I have left for now is the equipment section and a few clarifying sections for the basic prototype.  Now that I've spoken of my success let me share one of my more recent failures.

A while back I was reading a post over on Delta's D&D Hotspot that was referencing a posting over at myArmory forums about a gentleman who decided to test some authentic or equivalent medieval weapons against cheaply made chainmail as well as a handcrafted set of the highest quality.  It's an excellent posting and experiment be sure to check it out when you have the time.  The test showed how different European weapons, as well as a katana thrown in to highlight a few differences, would perform against the most common of medieval armors, chainmail and jack (layered textile most closely related to brigadine.)  The tests provided some excellent insights and I thought I might veer more towards simulation side of game taxonomy [1] for my weapons system.  Mind you, this was before people declared with great fortitude their staunch distaste for weapons vs armor class in Jeff Rient's poll. Furthermore, I had already taken a stab at this before and the results were more trouble than they were worth.  Still I was sure this time would be different.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Now and Then, Here and There

Talking about the nihilism present in Dying Earth a while back got me thinking about other post-apocalyptic settings.  Actually, looking through my notes to find a quote from Dying Earth I found a poem that's presented at the start of each episode of a series called "Now and Then, Here and There"

Because ten billion
years' time is
so fragile,
so ephemeral...
it arouses such a
almost heartbreaking

I like to wax poetically when I first describe a setting to my players.  I think the above captures that feeling perfectly.  Of how insignificant civilization is, how in the grand scope of things what we build will never persist, what we exploit will not grow back, what we will have is a world spanning desert.

Now and Then, Here and There takes the standard boy travels into a fantasy world and turns it on its head.  Shu the protagonist is every bit the loveable idealist you're used to, the world however, is quite different.  Shu does not train with an old wise man, he does not exhibit any special powers, he's merely a boy who's been dropped into a hellscape of endless wastes in the middle of a wermacht of heartless soldiers in lockstep, many of them children.  All taking place in a giant doomsday nautilus aptly named Hellywood.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Crunch Time

Back on New Years I had made a resolution to get a working prototype done by Febtober, jokingly indicating that I wanted something done by February that could easily be dragged out till October using an old SNL Celebrity Jeopardy Reference.  Well, February has come and almost gone and I think I'd like to push myself these last three days.  Get all the new additions and revisions from playtesting down onto a hard copy rather than pushing it off even further.  To keep me in the mood and keep inspiration flowing I'm pledging at least one post per day.

To start I'd like to extoll the virtues of Notepad++.  When I first started working on my system, well before I even decided to do an independent system, I was writing down some thoughts here and there in a simple text document.  When I wrote up my original draft I put it in a full blown word processor, and later on I put that into Scribus, an open source desktop publishing application I was experimenting with.  Well if I may say, the worst part of writing an rpg system is the layouts.  Seriously.  Having something fit perfectly on one page is wonderful, having something be too long is painful as you try to cut content you felt was perfect or already tightly woven.  It's even worse when you have a new idea or a revision and you need to add something but it regrettably pushes you over your limit.  So word to the wise, save the fancy programs until you're ready to print and until then write to your heart's content and don't care about page counts or fitting in dense pockets of information.  You can cut and curtail that later in the revision process but that brings me to notepad++.

Since word-processors and desktop-publishers were a pain in the ass for adding in revisions and new content, both technically and psychologically, I had gone back to the good old notepad which was ballooning in size by this point.  I even split some off into separate text documents for various classes and core systems but that got a little unwieldy, especially when you're working off an archaic laptop with a small screen and an inability to multitask.  Notepad++ lets you view your text documents like you would in a modern code compiler, it's clean and streamlined and best of all you can open up all those tributary text documents at once and quickly switch between them through tabs (like a modern web browser).  It's lightweight and easy to use and I cannot recommend it enough even for the smallest of things.

Friday, February 24, 2012

20 Quick Questions

Courtesy of Brendan, courtesy of Jeff Rients (ah the infamous citation within a citation) here are my 20 answers to questions that may come up when running a game.

  1. Ability scores generation method?
    1. All stats start at 6.  The group collectively rolls 6d6 and assigns the dice any way they please (no stat above 18 of course.)  It's a compromise between die rolls and point buy equality, although it has resulted in a few players that chase 18s.
  2. How are death and dying handled?
    1.  You are dying if your HP reaches 0 or below.  Roll 3d6 (I use 3d6 D&D), if your 6's outnumber your 1's you stabilize.  If your 1's outnumber your 6's you die.  If you roll three of a kind you get back on your feet with a second wind.  If none of the above happens repeat the process next turn until it does. 
  3. What about raising the dead?
    1. A non-religious PC tried to use a raise dead scroll from a religion he blasphemed, he was killed in the process.  The other surviving PC had an on the spot conversion to the peace loving goddess (he is a repentant berserker) and luckily (as a result of a dice roll) resurrected them both.
    2. The second time they did not go to the church they had blasphemed in to request raise dead and instead opted for a reincarnation from the Druid of the old faith.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled?
    1. Hasn't come up yet but Hommlet is full of people passing through.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
    1. System of my own devising.
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
    1. Yes, on a critical hit you deal 1d6 damage to Wounds.  I should mention that I also use Wounds.  Fumbles are decided on the spot based on the situation, no table I'm afraid.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
    1. You may participate in the Naked Warrior Challenge.
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
    1. If you are not proficient with the ranged weapon you are using or if you critically miss.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
    1. I've been running the temple of elemental evil as close to the book as I can.  My PC's are fairly resilient so they generally figure out if they can handle a combat or not within the first few rounds.  But yes, there was a near TPK last session.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?
    1. They haven't come up yet but it is a possibility.  I use linear XP growth so they may simply sap experience (memories) rather than levels (for the weaker ones at least.)
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
    1. Yes, and it has already happened.  I tend to stick to the rule of three where someone needs to fail 3 progressively harder saves to die.  The idea is that poison takes its time to work through your system and petrification starts from your feet and works its way up.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
    1. Well, my PC's are currently naked on account of a recent event involving a burning building.  They had been traveling light previously.  I do require the archer to keep track of their arrows.
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
    1. Depends on your definition of an adventure.  A level up does not require training but it does require a respite.  Most of the time I've given it to them when they are safely in town, but I have given one while they were holed up in a safe room in a dungeon before.
  14. What do I get experience for?
    1. Plenty of things.  Combat (defeating or overcoming does not necessitate killing), Treasure, Exploration, Being Clever, Being Funny, Building character traits and playing to them.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
    1. Either.  I let them know if they specifically examine a certain area of the room or piece of the object they can immediately find what they are looking for.  If however, they are feeling lazy or not in the mood for pixel hunting they can always rely on dice.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
    1. I let them know they can hire retainers, that the benefits of a high charisma include more minions and that you can sacrifice a red shirt.  I've had no takers thus far.  
  17. How do I identify magic items?
    1. The town blacksmith is well versed in history and may know the origin of a particular magic weapon.  Otherwise test it out and find out for yourself.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
    1. Salves, poultices and ointments can be purchased commercially (expedited healing but not immediate).  The druid can make potions for you if you bring him the right materials, he might even show you how.  The town blacksmith will buy magic items off you.  If not he will offer to seal them for you free of charge.  (Most intelligent items have an evil streak)
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how?
    1. A priestly character can bless items and impart some holiness into items.  Someone with an enchanter styled class kit would be able to enchant weapons temporarily, and permanently as they increased in level.
  20. What about splitting the party?
    1. I'll allow it but I don't encourage it.  I've drilled it into them that old school means +1/+4 lethality vs stupidity.  I should note that their opening vignettes were solo affairs and they learned first hand their own limitations and mortality.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Run Zombie Run v0.2

So I've been looking over the zombie run rules I posted way back when and something immediately stuck out.  Of the attributes and skills, there were 5 attributes and 10 skills which could easily be organized into 2 categories:  conflict and patience.  Their names denoting when they are most often used.

So with that I thought what a perfect foundation for randomizing character creation.  And with a zombie apocalypse who knows who you are going to run into!  With that said here are the quick and dirty randomization rules.

Randomized Character Creation
Attributes. (All start at 1)
  • Roll a d6 per attribute which corresponds to it's value (up to 5).
  • For each 1 subtract 1 from either Panic or Luck. For each 6 add 1 to either Panic or Luck.
    • Panic & Luck have a possible value of -5 to 5.
Skills.  (Start at 0)  
  • Roll a d6 to see how many possible skills you have.
  • Determine how many skills you have in each category. Conflict or Patience.
  • Roll a d6 for each skill assigned per category, each skill in a category is labeled from 1-5.
    • Roll a 6 and you choose the skill.
    • If you roll the same skill twice, roll again or choose a different skill.
  • Once your skills have been determined roll a d6 with a 1-5 indicating value, and a roll of 6 allows you to assign one extra point to any other skill on the list.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Adventure Hook

If it hadn't been for the box of chocolates on the table this morning I would have missed this holiday entirely.  As for my penance I'll be sharing with you an adventure born out of an intriguing premise I had read a while back, either in a forum or magazine.  Afterwards I'll have to quickly run to the store to pick up ingredients to make ravioli in a brown butter sage sauce.  Bon App├ętit

Classified Ads:  Dragon Slayers Wanted
The Premise
It's Valentin'e Day (or if your playing Star Wars it's another excuse to bring up Life Day!) and a blustery pair of lovers have gotten to squabbling as one of them may have forgotten the holiday.  The furious spouse leaves and contacts the PC's to have them oust their forgetful ex-partner.  For the writer's sake, on account of tiresome pronouns, the furious spouse will be a voluptuous woman, clad in a form fitting evening gown of varying shades of dark red.  The forgetful partner will be described as a wealthy, eccentric, balding old geezer in the suitable attire of a hermit.

The Hook
When the scorned lady approaches the PC's she tells them a story they cannot refuse.  Her and her husband were having a fight and she stormed off.  Within moments of her departure a large red dragon swooped down and decided to make their reclusive home their own.  At this point she has to stop and explain that her and her husband have chosen the hermetic lifestyle, free of societal agonies and on a quest for enlightenment concurrent with their religious views.  This would be a good point for any inquisitive PC's to glean more information on her or perhaps to notice any contradictions in her story (hope those improv lessons have been paying off DMs!)  She speaks quickly and often in run on sentences in a constant stream of consciousness (nice try writer!)

"Our home lies past the dense uncivilized jungles of the mongrel men, around the ashen lake and then deep in the mountains.  In fact, we are living in a cave, not the most luxurious of places but we reside in a simple ascetic hut located within this cave, nay a cavernous complex.  Why else would this magnificent--I mean maleficent dragon come to roost?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Zombie Muse

Oh Walking Dead, how I've missed you.

I finally got a chance to catch the mid-season finale as well as subsequent premiere.  I always find that at the end of an episode I'm struggling to understand how quickly the time has gone.  It's very well done, and if you're familiar with the comics, well there's always something new to see.  I'm actually quite glad at how much screentime Shane is getting, he's the perfect foil to Rick's untarnished hero.

Well I'm feeling inspired so it's time I update the Zombie Run rules I posted last year.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dying Earth Shattered Verisimilitude

A while back I mentioned that I would start work on my Magic Using class after I finished Jack Vance's Dying Earth series.  I have since done so and begun work and even initial playtesting but I've been silent on one thing.  I love Dying Earth, I love the setting, the tumultuous tales of Turjon and T'sais, the times I caught my breath reading the dastardly deeds and devious ploys of Cugel the Clever or his perpetual misfortune. Then there is Rhialto the Marvelous.

Rhialto's story ruined Dying Earth for me.

Now for something a little less dramatic, Rhialto the Marvellous did away with the very thing that made Dying Earth so appealing.  Its very namesake, the pervasive tone of it's inhabitants moods and actions.  The feeling that at any time the sun may go out, stirring an abject fatalism in the waning earth's inhabitants.  This message is conveyed quite beautifully, by observation of the principal characters and exposition by men of ancient knowledge.[1-2]

"...these people of waning Earth, feverishly merry, for infinite night was close at hand, when the red sun should finally flicker and go black."  [1] 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I didn't care for the blogger template I patched together when I first started blogging.  So I've decided I'm going to try some blogger themes.  I like the one up right now, although it may be a bit wispy for my tastes.  I guess I'll see by the end of the week whether I can tolerate it or not.

If you have any comments or suggestions on the theme and whether or not it makes your eyes bleed please weigh in.