Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A PDF Sale on DCC Scored

The other day, the "One Book Shelf" online vendors had a crazy sale on popular rpg systems. Their servers couldn't even handle the spike in demand. I managed to slip through the matrix and download the Dungeon Crawl Classics book. I played a convention adventure hosted by M Curtis last year, a DCC module entitled Frozen in Time. It played much like basic D&D, with funky dice for new special abilities/luck. I can't call the system superlative in every way though, as I feel the spell casting classes were debilitated with severe risks.

By playing a fighting class, one understands that the trade off for reliable weapons and armor is the need to be in close range, rolling to hit for every swing. In DCC, a spellcaster has the traditional lack of equipment and brawn, yet must also roll to activate a spell. In my con game, I played a Cleric and botched many a turn by rolling below what is about a 50/50 threshold. Sure, a fantastic roll will boost a spell's effects, but you are still damn unreliable (even without the per day limits) and at risk of being corrupted. As a DM, I'd have to hem this mechanic some. Success checks would be reasonable enough if you only ask for them if the caster is in personal combat, wounded, or missing his arcane items.

There is a lot of useful stuff in the DCC book, and for the price I paid ($5) or a bit more, it is one of the best OSR products available.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spell Memory Table Concept

Over at the sepulchral blog of GORGONMILK, you can find a treatment of caster magic rendered with variable memory slots. After reading it, I put my sketching hat on and tried to visualize how a system of dice, memory boxes, and levels might appear. Below, you see the initial result, divided primarily into Wizards and non-wizards (like elves or druids). The former, being strictly academic, roll D6s for checks and have more spell slots per level. The latter have more trouble, rolling D4s and at most knowing a mere seven spell slots. By OSR parameters, I think that is a reasonable reduction for being able to use warrior equipment and enjoy racial powers.

Example: Murderkainen is 3rd level, but he found a 4th level spell in the crystal castle library. As a Wizard of the Hex Trotters, he can learn it if he rolls higher than "4" using 2D6. Once memorized, he has 4 slots left over for his other known spells.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bring this Mechazoid to LIFE

The resurgence of the kaiju film has me thinking about the giant mechs that fight them. If the "brain" of a robot combatant is a human, why does the form have to be the same? If a tiger or bear had laser cannons, isn't that better than anything on two legs? To see what I'm considering, do a search for ZOID models like this:
You can see the deadly combination of claws, teeth, and bolted on weapons. A humanoid machine would have to sacrifice its front limbs to carry weapons, and would be off balance performing any kind of leg attack. With big mechs fitting many RPG settings, I worked up a "zoid template" that could use some stats. Pictured below is a generic body surrounded by a modest selection of weapons. I'm not good at determining power levels, but I imagine that a mecha-zoid this size would be the equal of 200 regular human soldiers. Any rule set thoughts can be left in comments!

Monday, March 3, 2014

No Cute Goblins

I think the goblin design in Pathfinder isn't repulsive enough. The gaming universe can have cuddly kobolds if it desires, but goblins should be filthy imps that you'd never want to touch. I share this position with some other blogs, like Goblin Punch.

Here is specialized character creation for the goblin race. First, reduce stat dice from 3D6 to something like 2D8, producing low numbers and only modestly high attributes. Second, roll for some percentile based features:
  • 100% of goblins are detested by all other races.
  • 100% are able to see with standard infravision.
  • 100% of their actions in bright daylight are penalized 1 point.
  • 75% are born male.
  • 75% have no hair.
  • 75% are immune to non-magical diseases of the flesh.
  • 50% of goblins can smell a tiny amount of blood, like some animals.
  • 50% can howl in concert to affect enemy morale.
  • 50% can communicate with vermin, like rats.
  • 25% of goblins emit a disgusting, penetrating stench.
  • 25% can eat anything that was once alive.
  • 25% have enough sharp teeth to deliver a 1 point bite attack.
  • 10% are "froglins" with webbed extremities and slimy skin.
  • 10% have large bat ears and gain a sound detection bonus.
  • 10% of goblins can speak the human common tongue.
  • 5% of goblins know a limited number of spells.
  • 5% of goblins are "troll-kin" and heal faster than normal.
  • 5% are not afraid of baths.
There are three class/occupation types - Stabber, Chanter, and Hunter. Here are some D10 equipment lists for each (starting player picks one and rolls for another):
  • Dung-caked shield
  • Rusty dagger
  • Helmet with a nail spike
  • Bucket of bugs
  • Sling made of gut and skin
  • Owlbear claw
  • Stone mace
  • Pitchfork broken in half
  • Human made map
  • Bent hobgoblin scimitar

  • Black dung powder
  • Goblin glue pot
  • Flask of sour wine
  • Staff tipped in nose wax icon
  • Divination bones
  • Unholy demon mask
  • Psychedelic mushrooms
  • Cave cricket pieces
  • Human jewelry
  • Mildewed arcane scroll

  • Dung-caked small animal net
  • Worm infected pet weasel or raccoon
  • Rusty hand axe
  • Bag of moldy cheese
  • Woven reed hood
  • Human smoking pipe
  • Stone-tipped javelin
  • Orange Bat pet
  • Frayed rope and iron hook
  • Leather shoe soles

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mythological Iberia for D&D?

Last year I made a few posts about ancient Armenia, and how the location could be a change from the typical Babylonian setting. Now I have an interest in the Celtiberians, a Bronze Age nation occupying northern Spain before its inclusion in the Roman Empire. These hillmen were tough bastards, and could undertake the same kind of adventures their Celtic kin in Britain might. Naturally, this would be a low-fantasy type of campaign. Gear would be limited, and "runecasting" the only method of spell use. In actual history, these people constructed small forts and were in close proximity to both the ocean and mountain caves. Monsters could arise from the deep, or surge down from accursed caverns!

Among their known arms are the ubiquitous spear and infamous curved falcata. They also wielded slings, double edged daggers, and a short gladius that the Romans also favored. Since their tactics were more like guerrilla warfare, armor and shields were mostly light. For a RPG hack, I'd probably allow the use of bows, to give a player more choice. Magic runes would be divided into "divine" and "sorcerous" categories, advancing to maybe 4th or 5th level only. The only demi-human class might be a goblin/gnome creature called a "Trasgo".

I may finish a summary guide in OSR language, combined with those Urashtu priest warriors...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Action Planned for 2014

With this blog now untethered from a closed OSR news site, I will likely use it only to announce finished works. I am going to focus on PDF resources I can sell online, and helping other grognards do the same. In the upcoming months, my primary checklist includes:
  • Release of my Troll Dungeon Level material, indifferent to the paralyzed status of Fight On magazine.
  • Release of Argots & Armour, my D&D hack for fast/lite play.
  • Release of the XOLGMOD swords and sorcery genre island setting.
  • Completing fantasy and sci fi 28mm miniature forces.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Gaming with LEGO Heroica

Since an Uncle's job is to entertain his sibling's energetic children with cool games, I was once again playing the master of a plastic brick dungeon this Thanksgiving. Pleasantly, the kids are old enough to observe more advanced play that creativity can add to the simple system. Extra things to do in the dungeon beyond movement and attacking seem very popular. This means that the areas need to be more than just abstract terrain, and include some of the interactive things common in D&D.

First, I will show some player characters: the Fighter, Ninja, Wizard, and Archer. Weapons have two grades, dealing either one or two points of damage. The figs shown are equipped with the latter. Depending on what accessories you have, other classes can be substituted.

The dungeon itself uses my collection of gray, black and red bricks. The halls and common rooms are restricted to these colors. Special rooms and Boss Lairs are larger and utilize uncommon design pieces. The game runs best with the addition of teleporters and at least one place to heal up. Many fans of Heroica use "outdoor" bricks to make an enclave/town for players to recuperate or shop at.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lite Game with Heavy Space Troopers

I'm taking a break from spacecraft construction to revive some trooper combat home-brewing. Here is a rough layout of a player record, focused almost completely on the goal of xenomorph extinction!

Unlike the cheesy movies where pretty actors saunter on Earth-like worlds with open helmets and Mattel guns, my goal is to show some understanding of future warfare. No human, regardless of athleticism, can raid an alien base without an exoskeletal suit and a formidable weapon. Once a soldier's armor fails, the bugs have a major advantage. Fortunately, any of the weapon types kill critters by the die roll. The die type depends on the enemy size, and the roll equals the number of them killed in a hit. This was a rule I picked up from a game called Carnage Amongst the Stars.

Earning medals propels a PC towards his next rank a pinch faster. The fruit salad is for missions completed, targets killed, and campaigns concluded. To help survival rates, each soldier can medicate himself, weld a suit together, or bait targets once per planet drop. Rolling well on actions is important as usual. A grunt has training in the following operations:
  • CODE: exerting willpower to uphold orders and follow regulations
  • DATA: ability to operate electronics and provide engineering support
  • GUNS: self-explanatory
  • JUMP: tactical movement in a suit, often in variable gravity situations
  • HELM: Upon leveling to sergeant, the ability to pilot a combat vehicle.
  • READ: Upon leveling to major, using insight to maximize attacks against one bug type
I'm working on an illustration of trooper armor, the Kinetic Augmentation Powered Exoskeleton. Other equipment carried will be minimal, since all the weapons are 2-handed and require a backpack for ammo or energy. I'm deciding whether a squad needs a "robot mule" for mobilizing extra supplies or rescuing victims.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cosmo Navy Cruiser PDF for Sci Fi Gaming

A cool space RPG should have blueprint sheets for their vehicles. Nothing is less exciting then telling players that they are riding in something "Battlestar-ish" or "X-Wingy". There are other tech resources that don't involve furry alien pests or gigabytes of canon. My recent inspiration was the Battleship Yamato 2199 animation, with its fleet of intergalactic retro cruisers. To play a scenario aboard such a ship, I made the following design using rules from Stars Without Number:

In SWN terms, this hull type fits between a patrol boat and a frigate. It is just about as small as you can make a vessel that can hold a landing shuttle. In my version of the game, any ship with heavy weapons or a "jump drive" requires cooling panels to keep from overheating. Ergo, the design has wings that perform that function and provide attitude control.

The Scout Shuttle is a customizable craft with a "lifting body" wedge shape and surface-to-orbit engines. Its cargo bay only holds about 10-12 tons, enough for some of the fittings delineated on the sheet. The SWN rules say a shuttle can hold 200 tons, which sounds way to high. That is like lifting off the ground with five semi-truck trailers attached. The combat buggy would look like an evolution of this armored vehicle:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cosmo Navy Ships for Stars Without Number

Inspired by the recent return of Japan's Space Battleship Yamato franchise, I'm starting a hack of SWN ship design based on the industrial designs of that show. My adaptation will also involve some changes to the fictional technology put forth by the SWN rulebook.

Much like the structure of STAR TREK, the heroes of the story have stations and rank in a "cosmic navy". Any ship capable of FTL travel between star systems is no smaller than a light cruiser about 200 feet long. In fact, there is no fighter combat above planetary orbit. There are a lot of good reasons why only big ships would go into a stellar war zone. Hence, for my Cosmo Navy, there are only three hull types: armored shuttle, frigate, and battle cruiser. Here is profile sketch and fan art of the frigate class:

Game stats place it in the middle, slightly better than the patrol boat hull. In Yamato, the FTL drive is called the Wave Motion Engine, which contorts tachyons to slip into a warp dimension. The spike phase game rule in SWN will be replaced by a traditional energy shield (Langston Field). Due to this change, weapons will also be revised.

The combat shuttle would only be used in the game for planet/space base action. That leaves the hefty battle cruiser, which mounts about double the armament of the frigate and looks like this: