Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Few Brief Thoughts on the OneDice System

I titled this post A Few Brief Thoughts on the OneDice System and then went blahhhhh all over the page.  So here are my few brief thoughts.  If you are interested in the blahhhhh you can read that afterwards.

  1. I really like the OneDice system.  Simple and effective even if it's not innovative.
  2. In addition OneDice Universal there are many setting/genre books.  Including a very complete quickstart.  (Everything but the magic.)
  3. You don't need any of the setting books if you are creative and have time but if you are lazy like I am they are wonderful.
  4. Each setting/genre book has the complete OneDice rules modified to fit the setting.  I think this is a very astute choice.  Others may be interested in only one setting and thus only need to buy one book.  I like the various setting and will buy more when they come out.  (I'm looking at you Space!)


Quit reading now if you don't want the blahhhhhh.

My love of rules-lite games continues.  I really like the OneDice system put out by Cakebread & Walton.  (I also like the name Cakebread, but that's a different story.)

The system is really simple.  Character creation is point buy, three stats, a couple of derived stats and skills.  Roll over a target number using one six-sided die (hence, OneDice) + stat + skill.  It isn't new or groundbreaking but it is simple and functional.  Advancement is a level system with fixed bonuses at each level or an optional free-form system where you trade your garnered experience points for higher stats or skills.

They system was first presented in OneDice Universal.  One of the nice things is that at the end of  each book (at least of those I have) the author presents several "skins".  Skins are a brief overview of how to use the rules for a certain genre.  OneDice Universal, for example, includes three skins, Fantasy, Supers and Space.  All in 15 pages.  These aren't full settings but contain enough to get you going.

C&W have also come out with several OneDice books devoted to specific settings/genres.  I have the PDFs for OneDice Universal, Pulp, Steampunk and WWI.  I plan to acquire Supers, WWII, Fantasy, Space (when it comes out) and Robin Hood (just published today.)  In addition to these C&W currently offers Cyberpunk, Raptors, Cold War, B Movies, Martinis and Masterminds, Cold War, Hauntaway, Twisted Tomorrow, Urban Fantasy and Pirates and Dragons as well as two licensed settings, Abney Park's Airship Pirates and Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World RPG.  So the really cool thing about all of these is that they are all self-contained.  Each volume contains the complete OneDice rules suitably modified for the genre.  No need to juggle various books to look up a particular rule.

It is this last point that actually got me started on this paean of a post.  C&W has many genre books for the system and more planned.  Thinking about it though, a person doesn't need any of these genre books.  All they need is Universal and some imagination and inventiveness.  You can take the simple basics and twist them into whatever shape you want.  You just need the time and energy.  But I think C&W have come up with a winning strategy for those who lack time and imagination or for those who are lazy (like me).  And by including the full rules in each volume you only need to buy the one you are interested in.

If you are interested they also have the OneDice Quickstart our for free.  Although they call it a quickstart it contains pretty much the full rules.  You can find it here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Kingdom of Richard

The Kingdom of Richard is a setting by +David Okum of Okumarts Games.  Here is my brief take on it.

Likes:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Statted for Swords & Wizardry White Box.
  • Slim, only about 35 pages long.
  • Comprehensive.  Covers the highlights of the titular kingdom including history, significant places and people as well as religion and politics.  Heck, it even has a brief section on local colloquialisms.
  • Religion is significant.  There is even classes based on religious orders included.
  • Relations between humans and demi-humans can be and are poor and prejudice exists.  It always bugs me a bit when everyone is living cheek to jowl, happy happy.  Humans can't get along with each other very well a lot of the times.  Why would distinct species?  I mean they not only look different but have different cultures, beliefs, outlooks, tastes and they probably even smell different.
  • A distinct external threat exists.  Love to hate those gublins and orcs.
  • Mystery and adventure seeds are strewn liberally about.
  • Cool, slightly cartoony pen and ink artwork insight with an artificially aged looking cover piece.  The campaign world is apparently based on the authors D&D campaign from the early '80s.
Dislikes:
  • Not much.
I really like The Kingdom of Richard.  It pushes many of the right buttons for me.

Okumarts already has an adventure out set in The Kingdom of Richard called The Ghosts Woods Adventure.  I hope Okumarts will produce further expansions of this line to further detail the world's lands and kingdoms.




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Campaign Plan Changes

I've been slowly putting together a sandbox-ish campaign for The Hero's Journey.  Slow going chiefly because of my large capacity for self-doubt.  However, it all may be a moot.  I introduced one of my co-workers to Beyond the Wall.  We spent a lunch hour making two characters and a village.  She loved the playbooks.  I mean loved them.  And really liked creating the village too.  I lent her the rule book and she took it home and went through the character creation process with her husband.  He really enjoyed it.  He's big into world building so he particularly like building the village.  She likes the magic system too.  She really wants to play Beyond the Wall and experience character/village creation with a larger group.  Since she is kind of the key to the nascent group, I believe we will be using Beyond the Wall for the campaign.  I made sure that she was cool with ultimately having only three actual classes.  After all, she was the one excited to play an acrobat and looked forward to founding a carnival.  And, since I have Further Afield, after the first adventure we will be making a shared sandbox for the setting so at least some of the setting pressure will be lifted.

My only have two hangups with this.  The first is that I really like The Hero's Journey and Swords & Wizardry Whitebox as a rule-sets.  I like that you essentially just use d6s and d20s.  I like the unified savings-throw.  So I'm thinking I will somewhat hybridize Beyond the WallBeyond the Wall and The Hero's Journey/ S&W WB are not too different so it shouldn't be too hard even for me.  Beyond the Wall only lists 10 levels so I will stick with that.  It also has ascending AC and a To Hit Bonus system, which is my preference.  It will be easy enough to unify the savings-throw.  But classes have different hit-dice and weapons do different dice damage.

So, it's advice asking time.  With BtW having different hit dice for each class, should I stick with BtW rules-as-written?  Or should I use THJ/WB stats?  Weapons do variable dice damage so changing that depends on the hit-dice used.  Or vice-versa.  I've really been wanting to try The Hero's Journey rules for armor damage reduction value.  That's one of my favorite parts along with the increase in the utility of the shield when it comes to armor class.  So should I fold that in?

My second hangup is whether or not I have the improvisation shills to handle a setting not completely in my control but unless someone has advice about that I'll have to deal with it on my own.

Oh, I guess I should ask.  Has anyone mashed up THJ/WB and BtW?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Single Picture Inspiration

There is a discussion titled, "What makes Sword & Sorcery for you?" in the forums at RPG.net right now.  Someone stated that Big Ass Snakes are a part of the genre, which I agree with.  Then someone else posted this picture.  In a way this picture sums up what I think of as S&S in a single image.

https://illustratornate.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/frazetta-conantheusurper-1967.jpg

Friday, April 21, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2017


Here is my small contribution to Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.  


My current favorite of the Swords & Wizardry family is The Hero Journey Fantasy Roleplaying by James Spahn.  It is an offspring of S&W White Box and is flavored with a bit of The Lord of the Rings.  In THJ, Magic weapons are not only forged but can be created in a special way.  They can become infused with the magic of the heroic actions of their owners.  And sometimes they take on an aspect of a heroic deed.  So, a weapon that becomes magic when it is used to slay the orc chief may become particularly effective against orcs and gain the moniker “Orc-Bane”.  But what about weapons that are used by villainous non-humans? Do they absorb the essence of the vile actions of their owners?  I say yes!


Here is a d4 table of magic weapons that became magic through the actions of their horrible owners:


1:  Crotchsplitter (Shortsword +1/+2 against opponents more than two feet taller than its owner.)  This sword was used by the famed goblin king Gobsmack who led his goblin horde against the humans and fought the Battle of Snakeskin Pass.

2:  Spear of Morphos (Spear +2.  Allows its wielder to cast the Sleep spell once a day.)  Used by the hobgoblin warrior Grindtooth during his battles against the Cult of the Morphos, god of sleep and dreams.  It gained the power of sleep when Grindtooth spitted the high priest of Morphos at the altar of the largest Temple of Morphos in the world.

3:  Brainspatter (Mace +1)  Used by Grunzen the orc warrior to repeatedly, well, spatter brains.

4:  Backbiter (Dagger +1 Humanbane)  The favorite weapon of Bocaraton, the wererat, Scourge of the Eastern Cities.  Bocaraton embeded his dagger in the back of countless victims during his infamous career.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Martos the Scholar Redux

Almost 7 years ago I created a character named Martos the Scholar for Barbarians of Lemuria.  You can read about him here.  I was going through some old documents and discovered that I had written a bit of fiction about him.  I do not remember writing this at all and I don't know why I didn't include it in the original post.  Probably because it sucks.  What I wrote is the first part of Martos' conversation with the chancellor.  This leads to the second, unwritten part in which the chancellor orders Martos to Qeb to find the scrolls.  Of course the Valgardian will serve as the guide.  Anyway, here it is:

    "Lord Chancellor, the Lecturer Martos," the servant announced as he opened the door.
    Martos entered the chamber, eyes downcast as custom dictated.  The room was smaller than Martos had imagined it would be.  It was lined with stuffed bookcases and almost cozy.  The Chancellor sat behind a surprisingly utilitarian desk.
    "You summoned me, Milord?"
    "Yes, Lecturer.  How goes your history of Qeb"
    "Well, Milord.  It is nearly finished.  But..."  Martos paused, thinking about the the history he hoped would gain him a coveted professorship.
    The Chancellor raised an eyebrow.  "Continue."
    "It is the sources." Martos said as he unconsciously began to pace in front of the desk.  "They are so few and fragmentary.  And the translations are a crime.  I've had to retranslate everything in order to glean the true meaning of the writings."
    The Chancellor raised his hand.  "Be still, Lecturer."
    Martos stopped in midstep and looked about with a start.  "I'm sorry.  I..."
    The Chancellor smiled slightly.  "Do not worry.  We all become enthralled by our studies.  Look here."
    Martos stepped closer and looked at the lone sheet of parchment on the desk.  He unconsciously adjusted the reading lamp burning there and examined the sheet.  It was obviously old, crumbling at the edges.  He slowly began reading the faded script.
    "Ygddari," he muttered.  He continued to read then his eyes widened and he looked directly at the Chancellor.  "Can it be?  This is...Is it?"
    "Yes, it is."
    "How?  Where?"
    "It was one of those Valgardian barbarians who are always poking around in places best left undisturbed."
    "In Qeb?"
    "Yes, the brute was looking for trinkets to sell to help slake his prodigious thirst for wine and ale.  He actually found a few minor pieces and used this to wrap them.  The illiterate didn't even know that the scroll was the most valuable item he had found.  It was the merchant he sold the trinkets to who recognized it for what it is.  He sent it to us.  For a price, of course."
    "Milord, this is wonderful!  When can I translate the piece properly?  I'll need to make revisions to my manuscript.  This could change many things.  I wonder what..."
    "Martos," the Chancellor said quietly but firmly cut him off.  The fire in Martos' eyes faded as he refocused.  "Martos, there is more."
    Martos smiled.  "More, Milord?"
    "We tracked down the Valgardian.  There are more scrolls."
    Martos could not stand still.  His excitement was such that he began to pace again.
   

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Analysis Paralysis

So, I mentioned before that I have semi-committed myself to running a campaign for a group of co-workers.  This is the first time in nearly 20 years at my work location that there is a group of RPGers.  They are all in there twenties and have a Pathfinder background with there current campaign being 5e.  I'm always blathering about old-school this and OSR that and they called my bluff so here I am.

I still love this cover!
They all like The Lord of the Rings so I plan to use The Hero's Journey as the rules-set as it gives off that vibe.  I want to use my own setting so I have some basic, cliche background ideas.  Basically, 500 years ago the Golden Empire was assailed by the forces of the Dark Lord™ because, you know, Dark Lords can't abide peace and happiness.  The Dark Lord™ was ultimately defeated but the Empire was shattered and the land fell into a dark age.  Now, with civilization crawling back towards the light, the successor kingdoms are reclaiming and re-inhabiting land once ruled by the Empire.  The PCs have been gathered by the most prominent wizard in the kingdom to help a young, newly-minted baron tame the underpopulated borderland territory he was enfeoffed with.  The king charged him with uniting and civilizing the area.  This will be a cool place for the players to adventure in.  Plenty of ruins to explore, competing factions, threats from beyond the border as well as from within.  And did the wizard mention something about a resurgent evil?  Something about him suspecting the Dark Lord is making a comeback?  I even have a rough idea what the map of the nascent barony will look like.

So, here's the problem.  As is my nature I am overthinking this.  When it comes to drawing the map and populating it I go into analysis paralysis in a couple of different forms.  I haven't created a "formal" campaign since I was a kid.  I want to do it right.  As is also my nature I research.  There are lots of good articles and posts about setting up campaigns.  So I get lost in the research.  Then, some of the articles have contradictory advice.  Which do I follow?  How should I do this?  Then, throw in my Gamer ADD and I have a real mess.  I just read a post about using central Asia and the Silk Road as the inspiration for a campaign.   Cool!  Maybe I should chuck my initial idea and do this!  Then I read something else and want to add or subtract or otherwise modify what I am doing

Arrgh!

You can see my problem, right?  I've taken what is a relatively simple task and overthought it and over complicated it.  Why the hell do I do this to myself?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mazes & Minotaurs on DriveThru/RPGNow

I don't think I have mentioned this yet but you can now get the fantastic Mazes & Minotaurs on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!  And it's still free!  They started with the Revised Edition and are adding more as time goes by.  If you aren't familiar with M&M it is a fully playable game that speculates what the original RPG would've been like if Gygax and company were inspired by classical Greek mythology instead of the Medieval.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Black Pudding #2


So, the second issue of the 'zine Black Pudding has come out.  I described it elsewhere as "delightfully quirky".  And the second edition certainly is.  Here is an example of the inventive content that both delights me and cracks me up.   This is the description for a new 10 level class

Fey Savage

You are the child of a dainty fairy and a human barbarian.  The combination has resulted in extremes of behavior that make your friends uncomfortable.  You are about 3' to 4' tall and you smile a lot, especially while in bloody battle.  Life is good.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Dare the Stars!


Man!  I absolutely love this cover for some reason.  And Dare the Stars! is based on White Star so it's definitely on my to-buy list.  I've always had a weakness for pulpy adventures of the spacey kind.