7/2/19

Odd Planet

Odd Planet

Science Fantasy Sword & Planet Post-Apocalyptic Gonzo Weird Fantasy

You know what? I give up. It's a Hack of Into the Odd.

It has psychics, robots, mutants, sun guns, muskets, scimitars and super-tech.

It takes place on post-apocalyptic earth, transformed by the orbital gods.
The World of Dust (actually Poussière) is a strange place. The sun is a gigantic red ball of flame, two moons, one large and blue, one small and green, go around the planet and were always there and totally not created by the gods.
Yep, I think it's Sword & Planet
Boring Rules Stuff 
• I'll be using Electric Bastionland rules (still not out, but there's teasers and such on the Into the Odd Discord) with my own equipment tables (I hate doing these so they're not there just yet). Oh yeah except for the ganging up rules and general damage-related stuff, the reasons why I'm sticking to "classic" Into the Odd can be found at the end of this report).
 
• Psionnics and Sorcery are straight out of Carcosa, no serious conversion effort needed.
• Only Heavy Metal armor provides armor 1, shields aren't too common and take one hand so that can be worth armor 1 too, with both items being Bulky.
Character Generation

For your first character, I recommend you play as an Earth Man, otherwise, roll the dice of your choice:

d4     Most common man-types
d6     Less common man-types
d8     Most man-types
d10    All man-types
d12    All man-types & some weirdoes
d20    All kinds of crazy stuff

Once you’ve rolled or picked your race-as-class, roll your ability scores using 3d6 in order for STR, DEX & CHA (unless specified otherwise), roll 1d6 for your starting HP and record any special abilities or equipment. You also begin with 1d6 Px (Pix/Pixiz, Ur-Dahab coin), no Giri (social currency) and some bartering junk (enough for a night’s rest and some food).

Some Stuff that’s Good to Know
The Races of Men are weirdly colored people with an ambiguous ethnicity (actually a mix of genengineering from the “Gods”) - their skin ranges from pastel to bright, with darker hair of the same color and “technicolor” high contrast eyes and blood. While they are biologically compatible, union between different colors will not result in pregnancies.

With the exception of White Men, Robots, Hippo Men & Giant Telepathic Spiders, all the other races are mutated humans (although few would actually know that in the world of Dust). They all speak some weird, esperanto-like common tongue which Earth people pick up surprisingly fast (about a day among natives is enough to become fluent). 
All races also have their own, more insular languages.



 The Crimson Lands (n°4 on the bigger map)
1. Blue Seeker
Riding lizard (STR 12, DEX 9, 5HP, claws & barbed tail (d8)), bone spear (d6), father's skull
You are a wisdom-seeking, three-eyed, dinosaur rider from the Desert of Spires.

2. Red Warrior
Scimitar & dagger (d6, d8 if paired), sun gun (d6) and giri (social currency)
You are an honorable long haired warrior and protector of Yeghvard.

3. Green Warrior
2d6+6 STR, 2d6 CHA, giant dinosaur tooth (d10, 2H, Bulky)
You are a four-armed cannibal brute of the Skull Jungle.

4. Yellow Noble
Noble's veil & manchettes, obsidian dagger (d6), personal slave
(d4=1-Pink Dancer, 2-Green Brute, 3-Red Yojimbo, 4-Black Assassin)
You are a long-limbed merchant-king and master of Yeghvard.

5. Orange Drone
2d6+6 STR, 2d6+3 CHA, only eat minerals, pickaxe (d6), shovel (d6), clan tattoos
You are a short, stocky, rock eating slave with a deep hatred of individualism.

6. Purple Bard
2d6+6 CHA, d6 random drugs (see Narcosa), nunchakus (d6 or d8 if paired), book of stories
You are a mystical, drug-addicted, hedonistic trickster and itinerant storyteller.

7. Pink Dancer
2d6+6 CHA, 2d6+3 STR, people touching you must restrain themselves to avoid attempting to bed you, prolonged contact forces a CHA save to avoid falling under your influence,
sensual & provoking dresses, hidden shiv (d6)
You are an erotic dancer and artist with an euphoric and hypnotic touch.

8. Black Assassin
Pigments of various colors to disguise yourself into another race, long knife (d8 in your hands, d6 otherwise), attacked against unsuspecting targets bypass HP.
You are a grim follower of the Death Cult of Rajhan, the nomad people of the Nightmare Wastes.

9. White Giant
d12+6 STR, immune to sun-based weaponry, instantly recognize and know how to use most ancient tech, emotionless sociopath.
You are a 10’ tall, hairless, black eyed mute, wielders of ancient technologies.

10. Bone Man Sorcerer 
Darkvision, summoning-name of a ghost, sacrificial dagger (d6) and knowledge of sorcery.
Everything except your skeleton is transparent.
You are a ghost-worshipping, troglodyte, loathed sorcerer of the Depths.

11. Mutant
A member of the ten races of men (roll d10) touched by the Hanma [Gift/Curse].
Some see them as less than human, others believe them to be the Gods’ favorites.
Roll 1d4! -1 (minimum 1 for each roll, explodes on natural 4) mutations from there:


12. Mantis-Man
2d6+6 DEX, whip (d6), barbed net and flintlock pistol (d6).
You are a cruel bounty-hunter and loner who values survival and individualism.

13. Snail-Man
Very slow, start with a business and gang with basic stats.
You are a huge slimy bastard, mercantile ruler of the Silken Conclave.

14. Simian
Translator box, Sun gun (d6), you can easily understand both ancient technology and hypergeometry (although practice of the latter is frowned upon among Simians).
You are a highly advanced and sophisticated (some would say snobbish) ape.

15. Plant-Man
Armor 1, whip vines (d6), taking roots for a day restores all ability scores.
You are a gentle, long-lived, pondering sentient plant.

16. Corvian
Rapier (d6), understand all birds, pet Crow (1 hp, 3 STR).
You are an enigmatic bird-person of the Petrified Forest, you can glide but not fly.

17. Hippo-Men
Sun rifle (d10) or Flintlock pistol (d6) & sabre (d8 in your hands, d6 otherwise), armor 1
You are a gun-loving militaristic mercenary from Outer Space.

18. Robot
d4-1 Armor, 3d6 HP but needs repair instead of Rest, roll a Random Robot or pick details.
You are a machine given thought and will to power. You hate fleshy meatbags.

19. Giant Telepathic Spider
CHA save to read minds (on a fail, they notice your attempt), you’re a giant spider.
You’re a giant telepathic spider from another dimension. You’re stuck here now.

20. Earth Man
Slick Pajamas & sun gun (d6)
You woke up from a deep sleep with no memory of where and when you come from, into a strange and hostile world that seems oddly familiar. You recognize and know how to use most ancient technology in a matter of minutes.

Delta Green #2 - Music from a Darkened Room (part 2) (quickie + update)

Haven't updated the blog in a while now, was focused on IRL stuff.

Session #2 of Delta Green went pretty well, although not a lot happened.

• Some information gathering (played out when I should have just handed out the info!*)
*: the lesson I learned was that unless there is a serious challenge - beyond just being friendly or pulling badge - everything should be summed up and told directly to the players, so that pacing doesn't suffer too much. Procedural crime investigation is more fun on TV because we're constantly seeing stuff that matters either to the investigation or the characters. In RPGs, most of the time you're either looking at stuff that matters to the investigation, or stuff that doesn't. I want to eliminate focus on that latter part, screw realism.

Some interesting information gathering with a big scene around an Alzheimer-stricken kindly old lady who lived in the House on Spooner Avenue - she talked of some italian crone and talked about the (then already deceased) first owner of the house, Isabelle Wheeler. Said she was a whore.
Had a lot of fun playing a character whose general "feel" switched from funny to sad to creepy and then back again to sad in around 15, 20 minutes tops. Somehow managed to not be too cheesy.

• Players met with a friendly asset, a parapsychologist who seems to know what he's talking about. He pushed for an exorcism at night inside the house, and they agreed, that's what we'll play out next game.

I ran a few other things but didn't really see much point in writing session reports for them. I also noticed that the less RPGs I play, the harder it is to get back into them, but once I'm interested again, inspiration flows. I took a break out of IRL needs and to recharge my creative juices, and it seems to have worked.

Next article coming right up to introduce my new Into the Odd thingie - Odd Planet.

5/7/19

Odd Carcosa - Fungoid Gardens of the Bone-Sorcerer

Last sunday on Discord, we played some Carcosa using Into the Odd's rules.
I really wanted to use the adventure in the LotFP edition, which, as it turns out, makes Carcosa a complete "old-school" sourcebook, in my eyes: it has a huge hex map, a smaller packed hex map for one specific hex, and within that hex there is a settlement that can serve as a home base, and a dungeon that hints at deeper levels, begging to be expanded upon.
That dungeon is the Fungoid Gardens of the Bone-Sorcerer.

Who's Who?
Our three heroes survivors are all Blue Men from the same primitive tribe, sent on a quest to retreive precious artifacts that will aid the tribe, or die trying, this is how you earn adulthood in my Carcosa.

• Pastaman played The Grinding Stone of Seasons, or Morkoth - A Lore-Keeper
• Foursticks played Lousy Hyena, a Bone-Crafter
• Lu played Lazuli, a Dino-Rider (sans Dino, sadly)


What Happened?
As an introduction, I explained how the trio had met a bone-men dressed in rich vestments and a plate armor on the road, accompanied by armed men. The party was offered some sort of job opportunity, drinks, and drugs. It turned out to be a trap: the drinks were spiked, the drugs were more potent than expected...something bad happened and they lost consciousness. Then we started the game proper:

• Waking up in a damp cave, with no gear and only their raggedy clothes, the players investigate a hole in the ceiling with light coming from it. Lousy Hyena nearly breaks his ankle trying to climb on his own before Morkoth offers to build a human pyramid, with the light-weight Lazuli on top. The hole leads outside but is too narrow, they'll have to find another way out.

• A giant slug slowly creeps towards the party - Lousy Hyena quickly crafts two make shift bone daggers with some human remains on the floor, Morkoth grabs a big rock, but after some quick thinking the party decides to avoid the slow monster entirely, and it leaves them be, seemingly friendly.

• Exploring the caves, they reach a large area littered on bones - they get on all fours then crawl while staying close to a wall to avoid getting lost in the dark.

• Later, Lousy Hyena notices some ulfire mold growing in a corner of the cave, and decides to grab some, using his loincloth as protection for his hands. He soon realizes the spores and substance are corrosive, and has to throw away his pants. Bats are also noticed in the area, and promptly ignored.

• They then find a small cache with barrels of wine and crates of dried food. Further ahead is a pair of armed and armored ulfire men (chainmails and steel swords!) - neither have noticed the party, so the PCs prepare an ambush, with Lousy Hyena screaming as bait. It works!

• The fights goes well. There's a lot of stabbing, lots of clever manoeuvering (saves!) and nasty hits descriptions. Nobody that matters gets really hurt (only HP loss), one of the men is left to die from the many stabbings he suffered while the other is interrogated (DO NOT SLAY! I WILL INFORM), bound and stuffed in a barrel. The blue men learn that there are two exits: one through the lair of the amphibious ones, and one known only by the bone-sorcerer. They decide they want to pay a visit to that bone dude and maybe pay him back for drugging them with the bad kind of drugs.

• Now that they have steel weapons and armor, they feel much safer exploring and go investigate a fungi forest to the north, that seems filled with strange plants that the lore-keeper recognizes as rye ergot and other plants used in the manufacturing of psychedelics and deliriants, often used by sorcerers to fuel their dream quests and attempt to learn more of the dark arts. There's also a harvester-bot here that casually informs them that disturbing the harvesting process will be harshly punished, but has no qualms about letting them know where the sorcerer is. Following the machine's indications, they cross a lake of jale slime before finding the Sorcerer's "laboratory".

• There, they see a terrible monster, half horse, half scorpion, the sorcerer himself and a sort of semi-conscious, zombie-looking little white girl in a cocoon. A clever plan is devised to bait the Sorcerer out of his lair, but he's less stupid than his followers and catches on, retreating as soon as he notices the ambushers. The party charges towards him to prevent him from releasing his beast or using his laser pistol, and after a short struggle, Morkoth ends up with the gun in his hand and holds "The Cruel Master of the Deep" up with his own weapon. The Master then reveals that if he dies, the monster will go on a rampage and won't be stopped, and lets the party know that he doesn't need them that much - he'll lead them outside in exchange for his life. They agree but require their gear to be surrendered to them too.

• The Master then guides the party out through a maze of smaller trapped and empty caves, followed closely by his Beast and, weirdly enough, by the friendly giant slug, who's taken a liking to the party.
After reaching the outside, Morkoth stays true to his word and lets the Sorcerer go despite his taunts and overall wickedness. The Cruel Master of the Deep leaves them to the scorching white sand of the Blighted Lands, with no food or water, but their lives and artifacts to bring back home, with the universal sign for peace: the index and middle finger raised with the rest of the hand closed.

• Sadly, the giant slug cannot survive in the desert and quickly retreats back to the caves.

That's All Folks!

• I was a bit worried about the game lasting only two hours - although this was a one-shot and the players had simply handled most of the challenges they faced very well, avoiding a lot of trouble.

• There was no mapping, I believe, but navigation wasn't an issue as the map itself isn't too complicated, and it fit what was happening in-fiction as the trio wouldn't have had the tools to make a proper map, let alone take measurements in the caves.

• Into the Odd worked extremely well for bloody and small skirmishes - things were vivid, tactical, and fast. I made some good use of Scars from EB too, although only NPCs got badly hurt. What I'd really like to see in a campaign would be a scarred important NPC that the PC meet later on, so that he can go "YOU DID THIS TO ME!" and fly in a rage or something.

• Man, Death is the New Pink makes me want to run something more gonzo/post-apocalypse than sword & sorcery. Since Geoffrey McKinney has stated that Mutant Future/Gamma World would work great with Carcosa and that "you can't swing a dead cat without stumbling on ancient tech", I'm tempted to run the next potential games on Carcosa using this ItO hack. It has guns and mutations and stuff.

5/4/19

Thoughts on a Carcosa Campaign

Deleted the posts on my God-Thing idea as I wasn't satisfied with the stuff.
The more I look at it, the more it seems to me like Carcosa is the perfect "base" for a D&D campaign:

• There's an hex map with a bunch of stuff in it for when the players go somewhere unexpected.
• Alongside that, the Carcosan Grimoire provides encounter tables in the 3LBB's style for all terrains.
• All these monsters and shit? They're way more interesting to deal with than orcs and goblins.
• Spawns in particular are great since they provide an explanation for the weirdest, unique stuff.
• There's only Fighting-Men (and Sorcerers, but they're mechanically similar).
• It's human-only, yet the thirteen races of men give me a lot to work with.
• The tech level is around 6th century england (no whiffy plate armor!) with cool science-fantasy bits.
• Things are grimdark yet the potential for silly gonzo shit is high - variety of tone: check.
• The setting is only painted in broad strokes, so I won't feel weird building upon it/changing things.
• The rules are 3LBB (I can still use the LotFP edition for its additional content, though).

Really, all I need to do before I start playing:

• Draw a small hex map using my pocket dimensions (37 hexes shaped like a bigger hex per page!)
• Draw a starting settlement map and write down necessary info on the map directly
• Dig a Carcosa-themed dungeon and ruins nearby
• Maybe alter the starting equipment list slightly (no plate armor, and chainmail should be 100gp)

Tomorrow, I'll be running the Fungoid Garden of the Bone Sorcerer using Into the Odd (for a change of pace from my usual D&D), but I'll most likely use my heavily edited Delving Deeper v4 booklet for this one.

4/26/19

[Session Report]Castle Redvald #6 - I Have No Mouth

Last saturday was the sixth session of my ongoing, open table OD&D game, Castle Redvald.
This time, the party went Downwell, to another dungeon I'd had just drew and tied to a dumb-simple adventure hook: the Duke's son has been abducted, creatures were seen going down a well in the ghost town - Wickerbury, with a child-sized bag that struggled and cried.

The Party
Pastaman played Marvin, Acolyte of Huehueteotl-Xiuhtecuhtli (Aztec God of Fire and Time)
Jack played Krugman, previously associated with Eko's Merchants' Guild (with 18 CHA!)
And Carlos played Klondike, a veteran clad in plate armor, haunted by the techno-ghosts of connectivity issues.

They took some dwarves with them - Mole, Vole & Garfunkel.

What Happened
• A quick exploration of the ruins of Wickerbury led to the discovery of the old well, which had some kind of large cave at the bottom. The party threw a torch a it landed on some sort of steel living statue with red eyes. It claimed to be a Space Cop and required them, in a metallic tone, to come down anFd surrender, for they were all under arrest. They sent a rope and helped the creature up, tried to negotiate a bit, then Marvin brandished his obsidian mirror and the Cop started glitching as he talked to his reflection and eventually tried to shoot it, blowing his own head up in the process. Marvin acquired the laser beam robo arm.

• Down the well, two paths laid ahead. The party went north, and after a while came upon a really weird brown-ish rock formation on the ceiling. Krugman poked at it with his 10' pole, revealing it to be a giant camo camel spider! The party valiantly fought off and killed the beast without suffering casualties. Then they reached a stuck door and couldn't manage to get it open, so they backtracked.

• Another way led to old prison cells, containing strange things: a skeleton holding a fresh apple, another one with a chalice, dying electric eels "hung to dry" on wires, and a bottle with a label saying "DO NOT OPEN". There was also a corpse with a box for a head, buzzing, which they ignored.
Using the laser-beam arm, they cut open the locks and checked inside the cells.
They left the apple, that looked wicked when reflected in the holy mirror of Marvin, and kept the bottle and chalice. They also found a vaguely hidden passage behind one of the cells, pushing away a few loose bricks to reveal a natural cave.

• Deeper into the cave, they stumbled upon something - wild humanoid beasts, as-of-yet unidentified, fornicating. They backed off and avoided their notice. Another path in the caves led to noises of even more of the beasts. Fearing they'd be discovered and have to face what sounded like more than a dozen creatures, they abandoned the caves and went back to an earlier fork.

• A small room filled with electronics was discovered - quick thinking led to the party dismantling most of the stuff to bring it back home as mysterious artifacts and loot for the Antiquarian/Alchemist, Vespero.

• Further ahead, they walked around in circles, then eventually found a downward slope (Dwarves!) and went down a level to see what was deeper within.

• Some more exploration revealed a strange room with a painting of blue dwarves laughing under a grinning green moon, which is when the party heard a strange humming noise coming from the dark. Marvin raised his mirror out of divine prescience/dumb luck (I still don't know why he chose to do so, but it was a great spur-of-the-moment idea) right before a red ray of light beamed from the dark, bounced off the mirror and went back to its source, with a loud thud of rock landing on rock following. After investigating, they found a huge stone eye, about the size of a grown man, with an expression of agony and terror (one giant eye can be very expressive).

• Another corridor had a lever and way too much blood, so they left it alone. Then there was a strange door made of some bone structure, lined with a silvery substance - they took the silver, forced the door open to reveal a bunch of lasers in a room with two more strange exits, and decided they had enough loot and didn't want to stumble upon more dangerous monsters, so they backtracked all the way to the entrance, and went home.

P.S. : right before leaving, actually, they went back to that stuck door, forced it open, and revealed a room full of floating, multi-colored, palette switching jellyfishes. Krugman grabbed one, got stung, saw his whole body filled with a strange shimmering light, then suddenly all of his bones melted and he was just a pile of human-looking sludge. Klondike pierced his brain as a mercy kill. That's actually the third PC death in six sessions of 3LBB OD&D, and the second one technically attributed to another player character (the first was a misfire that hit a guy stuck inside a giant mimic). This means either my dungeon is too nice (which I doubt), or the over-the-top lethality of old-school gaming is highly overestimated by modern gamers (yeah, you can die, but if you're cautious, you can probably keep your character around to see higher levels of play).

Some Issues
• One of the players disappeared before the game began, which is at best a bother and at worst worrying, as there is really no way of knowing what's up when you're playing with strangers on the Internet.

• Connectivity issues and cuts can make it difficult to keep the flow of the game, although noone in particular is to blame in these cases - but that's another thing you have to take into account when running Internet games.

What Worked Well
• Despite having a relatively small party, the group explored more in one sitting than with prior expeditions to Castle Redvald. A lot of it is due to the players being organized and efficient in their exploration, but I do want to believe that the map of Downwell also helps. After reviewing my old dungeon levels for Redvald, I realized how much of a bitch it is to describe and map, and that this actually doesn't contribute that much to the "fun" part of the game. So now I'm doing maps that are still, hopefuly, tricky enough that you can get lost, but overall way easier to read and map for the players.

4/19/19

[Session Report]Warhammer #3 - Mistaken Identity

Introducing two more players to the game, I decided to go with Small But Vicious Dog this time, a B/X & WFRP 1E mash-up featuring very fun descriptions and a few interesting rules for handling disease, fear, insanity and other niceties that I like in all of my D&D games, really.

The Party
Snori Durak, the Dwarf-at-Arms
Carina aka "Karla Liedeburg", the Trapper
Maltael the Elf Outrider
and Furanzel the Hobbit Rustler

• Last time, we stopped with the party reaching Altdorf's Koenigsplaza and meeting a pair of weird dudes. That's where we started after some chargen (went well, explained why Sephiroth wasn't an appropriate name for any character but no hiccups overall).

• It was decided that the Elf and Hobbit had been traveling together for a while, and that the Hobbit was an old friend of the Dwarf. Thus, the party met and roleplayed for a while, reminiscing about the good old times, introducing each others and establishing some character relationships (elf haughty, dwarf hates elf, hobbit nice, etc.) until Josef the Boatman, Carina's brother arrived to the scene and happily dragged his sister and everyone around to Der Reich Adler, a nice and cozy inn by the docks.

• The party was first interrupted by Max Ernst, the infamous protagonist, but kept their cool. Two young noblemen accompanied by bodyguards harrassed them, one of them puking on the elf, to the great joy of the dwarf, and Max's insistance eventually led to a brawl, ending with the protagonist fleeing the premise and the nobles leaving with a hearty laugh at a nice, if surprising, spectacle. Josef feared Max might come back with friends, and suggested the party leave to rest at his river barge, the Goldfish. He also mentioned needing guards to escort his boat alongside the Reik up to Bögenhafen, he's current destination.

• On their way to the Goldfish, the dwarf noticed they were being followed - everyone hid after turning a corner and waited to see who their enemy was, but they instead heard bolts being loosed, body falling and glimpsed at a runaway, broad-shouldered man in the distance, who left them with two suspicious corpses: those were the weirdoes from before! And, as Carina suspected, they bore the same purple hand mark as the corpse of the real Karla Liedeburg. After looting the recently deceased, they dumped the corpses into the river and went to bed on the boat, having accepted Josef's proposition since it meant reaching Bögenhafen faster and being paid for it.

• The next morning, Josef informed the party that he was leaving early with them in the hold as the watch was looking for them - one of the noble from last night had been found dead, and adventurers are a suspicious lot. Luckily, there was no problem with getting out of Altdorf, and the roadwardens the party crossed later on had no idea who they were. Considering the justice system is more about finding someone to punish than figuring out who's actually guilty of a crime, the heat should die down in a few days.

• Before reaching Bögenhafen, the boat had to make a small pause at Weissbruck, a tiny fishing village, where the party noticed the broad-shouldered, crossbow-wielding man again. Some "negotiation" with the locals revealed that he was Adolphus Ksutsos, a bounty hunter of some renown, and had rode from Altdorf last night. After some snooping around, the Dwarf overheard their hunter preparing an assault on the party at night with a bunch of hired thugs, so the group warned Josef and they left Weissbruck earlier than expected, reaching Bögenhafen a day earlier than predicted, and evading the Bounty Hunter's wrath...for now.

THOUGHTS & STUFF
• I had been considering using Bloodstone, but it turns out that I just really like the simple fun and familiarity of D&D over any other systems, at this point. SBVD is good, but it's B/X, so I'll probably cut down on some of the crunch to have its interesting house rules apply to a 3LBB base instead (the PCs probably won't notice).

• I'm particularly interested in seeing how crazy the exploding damage dice might get, although we didn't make use of it this session, all fights being "harmless" unarmed brawls.

• Nothing much to see here, t'was as regular as gaming sessions can be.

• So I've read Shadows over Bögenhafen, and like: ok, it's a fun adventure, but 70 pages, for what it has to say, is a lot. My initial idea was to just make shit up based on the elevator pitch, and frankly it'd result in more-or-less the same stuff as what's written down in that book. Maybe it's its age that's showing, or maybe it's just that modern OSR modules are just so much better in substance and presentation, that there's really no need for the old stuff unless you're in dire need of inspiration or somehow completely genre-blind regarding fantasy tropes. Death on the Reik is the next Warhammer book I read, and if it's as disappointing, I'll just stick to homebrew stuff or adaptations of LotFP modules and setting-appropriate ventures.

• Also, more of my Castle Redvald campaign this saturday - looking back at my dungeon maps, I kind of want to make another, better built dungeon though. These super-duper-old-school maps are terrible to describe, and the getting lost part of exploration isn't actually that fun.

4/14/19

A Game With No Name - Bloody Murder & Insanity

Disclaimer: I have no idea either about the formatting, it's just a Blogger thing I think.

Thanks to Norbert G. Matausch for providing a ton of insight into how he runs Free Kriegspiel/Freeform games and how it has influenced his design, and for patiently discussing basically every aspect of this here with me both in private and on the Into the Odd server.

This is more stuff for my Game With No Name big bundle of procedures. It's a sort of modular toolkit and set of rules to run my own Free Kriegspiel games as I slowly lose the shackles of my old favorite (D&D) to do what it says people should do in the introduction (yup, Men & Magic):
My own thing. And of course this being the age of information, my own thing is a frankenstein of ideas pulled together from everywhere at once and made into something cool.


Combat

When combat happens, all I want to know is:
1. who wins the exchange
2. how badly is the loser hurt

And I want this to be fast, sufficiently out of my hands that I don't feel like a dick for murderizing player-characters, and easy to make rulings around it to deal with stunts and other interesting things that should be happening in combat. I've settled on using 2d6 or 1d6 for most stuff, because it's simple, feels good to roll, and the bell curve is simple enough for my thick head.

Zaibatsu being a big inspiration, I first considered using a first roll to hit, then another on a damage table, but this is two rolls we're talking about. That's unnecessary bloat right there. Putting the damage table on one roll isn't great either: either it'll be too brutal, or there'll still be a great deal of whiff factor, if say, attacks don't do anything if you rolled 2-6 on 2d6. Enters the opposed roll. In any exchange (what we nerds like to call "rounds") in melee, both fighters are trying to hurt each other, and there's usually a winner. Maybe it's not much - you end up slightly less tired than your opponent but noone's really hurt. Maybe you fucked the other guy up and the rest of the fight is just "wrapping things up". Thus, the Gore Dice. One of the 2d6 is colored, and it tells me how strong a hit it was, which is 1) exactly what the OD&D damage roll is about in the first place and 2) basically the luck roll from Into the Odd, which dictates that HIGH ROLLS ARE GOOD, LOW ROLLS ARE BAD, which you can't really mess up. Anyways, here's how it goes in practice:

Haans Fiddlewurm is a poacher in my Warhammer game, whom I've used as the crash test dummy when experimenting with different systems to handle combat. He will be fighting a Goat-Thing in the woods, today.

Round 1 - Goat-Thing charges at Haans, trying to gut him with its horns and pin him to a tree.
Fiddlewurm, being a bastardly fella, swings his axe down, aiming for the head, and prepares to roll out of the way.

Melee is now an opposed roll of 2d6 vs 2d6, with one standard and one colored die - the Gore Die.
Goatman rolls 2/3, Haans rolls 6/3 and wins the first round. With the Gore Die showing 6, it's a bloody mess, a hit that would kill a normal man for sure, but this is a beastman we're talking about. Monsters, and probably player-characters, to speak in wargamey terms, have multiple "kills". That is, you need to score a killing blow more than once to end their lives, the former because that's what makes them monsters, the latter because they're always participating in the fights that go on in the fiction while most NPCs and monsters only show up once - a way to even the field a bit for players. I like videogames too so three kills for players sound good, they can even put three little hearts besides their names on the character sheet, this way.

The beast screeches madly, the axe stuck in its skull. It stumbles around the tree, spraying blood everywhere.

Round 2 The beast is flailing with rage, trying to get its hands on the enemy but blood is running in its eyes. Haans sneaks closer and closer to land a killing blow.

Haans rolls 3/1 but the Beastman just rolls snake eyes, indicating a complete failure to fight back. In another situation, maybe that 1 "damage" wouldn't have been enough, but here the beast is clearly fucked, no reason to keep rolling dice.



Noticing the foul creature is blinded by blood and pain, Haans runs towards it and forcefully pulls the axe's blade out of the beastman's skull, breaking it in the process and staining his shirt with humors and brain matter. The goat-thing stops screaming abruptly as it falls limply on the forest floor, twitching and drooling.

My favorite part about this is that I don't need any non-diegetic info. No stats needed (although I still like ability scores very much to inform the fiction, and will probably use them on the coming up character sheet for this) means I can focus 100% of my prep on the fictional world, and need to write down even less. But at the same time, my inner barbarian is satisfied to know there's no wishy-washy narrativist combat in The Game With No Name, it's all very mean and players will have to use their own tactical skills to navigate violence efficiently.


More insights from/discussion with Norbert result in the following addition/revision regarding the Gore Die: consider separating fictional damage - which are described as various injuries, which in turn affect the dice rolling and thus have mechanical weight, albeit weight depending on rulings instead of hard rules and tables to memorize - and Hits to Kill, which are a transparent, reliable way players can know how close they are to death (they don't need to know about NPCs and monsters' HK though). In a nutshell, this means the gore die will always be relevant when describing an attack, and will make inflicting further hits on the victim easier (say, a 6 on the gore die might result in the loss of an eye, which means penalties to fight and generally perceive stuff). It is tempting to turn this into a table that lets you know what result does what specific damage, but we want these to be informed by the fictional situation, so instead we'll use specific numbers for specific foes.
Here's stats to illustrate.

Goat-Thing (2 hits to kill)
On a 4, spears you in a limb. 
On a 6, guts you with horns.

Insanity

Fictional crazy is fun. Cthulhu Dark does the job but is a bit too tragic as it is, here's how to make it better for serious campaigns about serious people that don't just go around being murdered by ghouls and deep ones.

You get a d6 called the Insanity Die. It starts at 1.
Whenever you encounter something that messes you up (what counts as messed up depends on the setting, but also on what the character has become desentized to, ala Unknown Armies hardened boxes but more relying on gut feel than ticked boxes), roll that Insanity Die, and add 1 if you roll higher than your current score, and roleplay your fear. Once you reach 6, you go cuckoo for the rest of the session and are a mess. If you surive, you manage to find the time to chill out but gain a permanent disorder or quirk to let people know you're unhinged. Also now your Insanity Die starts at 2. If you ever reach a point where your minimum Insanity Die is 6, you've gone STARK RAVING MAD and are removed from play. That means the crazier you are, the harder it is to really disturb you, but the closer you are to becoming too crazy for even your messed up murderhobo friends.
I would allow current but not permanent Insanity to be decreased through sanity-restoring actions such as destroying sanity-blasting eldritch artifact or, for Warhammer, burning mutants and cultists at the stake, for that extra Grand Inquisitor feel.

Warhammer Referees should also keep a secret Corruption Die that works the same way but with Chaos Mutations...