Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Franchise Play

A couple of years back I found myself excited about playing in various franchises (or IPs), and wanted to run games in about fifty different genres. I ended up running games in the universes of Tron, Judge Dredd, and Dune.

At the time Tron had no RPG, Dune was out of print and out of my price range, and Dredd was represented by an old Games Workshop game I disliked intensely, and a Mongoose version that I rejected because of the high cost of entry (you had to buy Traveller and their Dredd publication, and I just noted the Dredd book isn't for sale on DriveThru anymore).

What I did was to fall back on the FATE system. FATE is generic and generic systems usually lack all the flavour and weighting of odds to make a session feel like you are really in the universe of the IP you are playing. BUT! Fate overcame that problem for me. In each case I produced a bunch of IP-based skills and a small collection of IP-based feats and tags. I also produced themed character sheets with art that set the scene. 

The sessions were a success, and I think that's because the "taste" or "feel" of the world was modelled in the changes I'd applied to the core FATE system through skills sheets, and tags. I would generally suggest that you should go with a franchises actual rules if available as usually (we always hope) the author has put the flavour into the game mechanisms, but a generic system can work as a fall back.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Availability of Adventurer gear, and adventure seeds

Imagine the situation. Playing Basic Fantasy, or OSRIC, or even RuneQuest, your PCs walk into a small town, a couple of hundred people live here, and it serves as the local hub for outlying villages and farmsteads. Now your Elf character looks around the town square, wanting replacement arrows. the Dwarf too, is seeking repairs to his armour.

Let's "f" with the players.

There is a blacksmith, so Dwarf heads in and shows that his helm needs repairs. The blacksmith looks at it. "The linings come away, torn off the rivets. The lining's is leather bring me some leather and I can rivet it in."

Instantly we have a scenario brewing. They need some leather, where an they get it from? Is there a leather worker, is there a tanner, do they have stock, can they cut up a leather belt? Let them know that if they don't have the proper thickness of soft leather its going to rub, hurt and otherwise be a pain in the butt-head.

What about the Elf's arrows? Sure there's fletcher in the town who can put the arrows together, BUT... there's no twine to bind the feathers to the shaft, the blacksmith is on a rush armour job and won't break off to make arrowheads, the goose-herd has no feathers cos a bugbear ate his flock, the coppiced wood that provides the arrow shafts has been infested with Orcs.

Monday, October 03, 2022

How long to get new plate mail?

Does the blacksmith have a full set of armour he can just sell you off the shelf?

In mediaeval reality the answer to that would be no, as armour worth its salt has to be tailored to the individual. Yet in every fantasy RPG I've noted, they just give you prices with no delivery time. 

Now consider it takes a long time to make armour, even using modern machine shop tools which can be months. Consider doing that with a blacksmith's hammer and anvil, it'd take an age. Mind you advanced mediaeval blacksmiths would have access to water-wheel driven power hammers which would help. So lets assume that the PC can return to the armourer for repeated fittings, 

I estimate that it should take about 6 months to produce a full suit, provided that the armourer is ONLY working on that one suit and is provided with access to all the quality metal he needs. This scenario is only likely to be the case if the armourer is in the employee of the PC, your average trader will be having to service other customers in order to make enough money to live, and this could easily double the time it takes to make the armour.

Of course someone at sometime would have been knocking out mail shirts with a one size fits all, yet I think this should come with a penalty, perhaps a -1 DEX mod. If the armour isn't tailored then that crease, or fold, or articulation is going to be in just the wrong place!

Okay, lets assume that the local armourer has 1 or 2 helmets for sale, perhaps a set greaves, maybe one gauntlet from a customer who died before paying for the second one, so where does that leave you when trying to work out the AC? Clearly you shouldn't get the benefits of full plate, but a few solid sheets of metal over some vitals should offer some in-game benefits, and do so in a way that doesn't slow the game too much.

Lets assume you PC is wearing a full suit of chain, but has started adding elements of plate armour to their gear. A quick way to do handle this could be to roll a D6 at the start of every battle, scoring a success on the die means the PC uses a slightly higher AC for the duration. What constitutes success on that die, could change over time depending on what upgrades there have been. 

Greaves 1 in 6

Greaves, vambraces  2 in 6

Greaves, vambraces, helmet, 3 in 6

Greaves, vambraces, helmet, chest plate 4 in 6

...and so on.

Sunday, October 02, 2022

REDD Head Guide, released

It's time announce the third product in my REDD Judge line. I've recently release "REDD Head Guide" which is kind of a DMs guide for this pocket system.

I did struggle with this product, wondering if I wanted to expand the system at all, as the main aim of the system is to avoid complication. So... what this guide ended up containing is not new rules, but rather tools for the referee (Head), tables for generating names, crimes, blocks etc along with a few tips for playing. 

REDD Judge is a post apocalyptic RPG where players take the role of lone lawmen trying to bring law and order to the tough streets of one of the few remaining cities. 

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Trying out Note Quest

I thought I'd try out a solo game today that has had some good reviews in a few places. It's called "Note Quest", and is a fantasy game that takes you on an adventure using procedural mechanisms a similar fashion to Four Against Darkness.

The first step is to generate a character. Which is done with a couple if 2D6 rolls.
My first roll gave me a Human with 20 HP. My second roll turned my blank Human into a Locksmith, able to open locked doors, and with an additional 2HP, bringing total HP to 22. I also got given 10 torches and a dagger that does 1D6-1 damage. The torches are a clock, if they run out while the character is underground your PC is dead.
Three more rolls and I was going into a dungeon called "The Sanctuary of the Broken Rest".  I named my character "Jon".
Jon opened a trap door and descended to a door which opened onto a corridor with two doors. This first move burns a torch. Jon opened the first door to another staircase which he then descended to another door. Beyond the door a short corridor with two more doors.
Jon opens the door onto a small room with another door at the far end. The walls of the room are lined with statues but one plinth is no mere statue. It turns out to be a Sentinel Angel. Jon attacks but rolls a 1 which the -1 for a dagger reduces to zero. This 1 on the die activates the Angel's Sorcery ability. The Angel does 3HP damage but sorcery adds 1D6 (2 in this case), and Jon is reduced to 17HP. Jon fights back and his dagger brings down the Angel.
Wondering what the Sentinel Angel was guarding Jon searches for a hidden door (burning a torch in the process) but instead of a door, find a dart trap that stings him for 1HP, reducing him to 16HP.
Open the door at the far end, Jon finds a room lined with pillars with a splashing fountain in the centre. Worse, three fungoids move out from behind the spray of water. Jon attacks, inflicting 2HP damage on the first beast. The 3 of them attack back inflicting 2HP each reducing Jon to 10HP. He attacks once again, but only inflicting 1HP which isn't enough to kill even the first fungoid. They attack once more pounding Jon back to 4HP. Jon realises he can't win this fight and runs for the surface!
So there you have a session report. It is very simplistic and mechanistic, perhaps even more so than Four Against Darkness. The fun is what you make of it, the story once again is what you inject into it. The rules themselves are pretty bland, and I feel like its a stepping stone for first time soloists to get onto the ladder of game complexity.

Friday, September 30, 2022

REDD Judge, in the wild!

As a game author, it's always wonderful to see, hear, or read people playing your game, John over at Terminal Goblin Games has done just that! He did some audio work for me as a promo for REDD Judge, and then decided to take the scenario from that audio and turn it into a solo play game.

[sniff] So proud. 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Experience Points in Traveller

Experience Points are a staple of the role playing genre, but of course being a huge fan of the original Traveller, which was my first played game, I played without XP. In fact I've never really got the taste for XP railroad. I don't even get a hit of self-affirmation when a character I'm playing goes up a level. That's all because I started with Trav' and didn't hooked on the XP crack!

At this point I actually see XP as a concept that I reject in principal. Whatever its original purpose may have been, XP has devolved into a "reward" system that players "earn". It has become a focus, a driving force in the game play. Players make decisions based on XP that can be earned as opposed to what makes sense in the game. Yuk.

But I go even further!

Later versions of Traveller started doing the "training" thing. So you could spend "N" weeks studying and gain a new skill level. This still turns my stomach a little but for no real reason other than it will lead to skill bloat, which is a separate complaint I have with later versions. However its waaay better than giving players chocolate peanuts treats (XP). Players may have their character "train" during jump which is generally much better than encouraging the chasing down of the last orc to get a few extra XP. It certainly effects play considerably less.

When I create a Traveller character I consider it to be "fully formed", with only life to be experienced ahead. I don't look to, or to seek and "improve" the character, I'm playing to tell a great story. So I rarely consider the mechanics of improvement as worthy of consideration.

Back in the last long running Traveller campaign I started issuing XP to the players, as a joke. The points had no effect whatever in the game and they were totally arbitrary. In my opinion, that's the full extent  to which character improvement should exist in Traveller.