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.


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.


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...

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