Wednesday, 17 January 2018

a fair summon spell

In the recent times, I've been trying to come up for rules for summoning.

So you give a wizard a summoning spell and what happens?

If the scope of it is too narrow (you can summon this specific demon that does X) it becomes just a hireling or even a piece of equipment.

If the scope is too wide, you have to bargain with the GM what you can do and what you cannot. How many HP can the demon have? how much light can produce, and which color? can he pick a lock? can he summon other demons?

Usually, I don't have much problem with the last option, but for the sake of grognard's folly designer's challenge I want to come up with some rules that define it's boundaries.

I wish my dogs could be summoned so easy

The first idea that I had (as seen on previous games on this blog) was to have every wizard to have a number of bonds they could call; probably a number equal or tied to the CHA mod.

This bonds could be to things to be found in game (an animal, a talking flame, a magic item, a lake, etc) and when you summon it, is that thing's force which exerts the action, or impersonates in some form. It stills leaves open things as "how much damage/hp" but can be done in the World of Dungeons style (1d6 damage, +1d6 if is specially suited to the occasion). Which for HP would be like (roll 2d6, on doubles you get armor or something).

A bond can be broken at anytime in order to bond another thing, but you need to be in the presence of the thing to get a bond, and get a friendly reaction (use reaction rules and roleplay as needed)

I like this way because the interaction with the environment reminds me of one of my fantasy staples: The Loom videogame (where you had to walk around finding spells in things)

Loom (1989) remember lucasfilm???

But it still has too many moving pieces. ¿ How many turns last? which kind of skills does a lake have? what shit you need to befriend to pick a lock for you? :S

The second idea is much more codified:

When you summon something, take your game's equipment sheet and get the item that matches your choosing. Yes, even hirelings. Yes, even the Mansion. It takes as much HP to summon as the item's cost/10, and whatever you summon has an otherworldy flair on it. Weapons do their equivalent damage in spell (a bow is a magic missile), OR you can summon the real deal for a while, if you're proficent on it.
Very expensive things might take decades to summon, little by little. Or you might call some Expert Kobold Hirelings to build that galley for you.

Opinions, Ideas, Suggestions, etc are all welcome!

from World of Dungeons. Into the Odd's one also feels very appropiate for this approach.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

1d6 tactical combat

on how to make combat have lots of choices with the simplest mechanics I can come up with. This is all so "in the air" yet, so these are just guidelines. I'm not claiming to have invented anything here or anything, I'm just taking a coffee and improvising to see how complex can one make combat from simple rules.

1. Both combatants roll 1d6 against each other, the highest one deals difference in damage to the other. Armor (+2 being rare and +3 monster-only) substracts damage after that. Probably hp for everyone should not ever be higher than 4 or 5 in order to make this not too endless. By the nature of this mechanics, commonly attacks among equal combatants will deal 0 to 2 damage; more being very weird chances. This makes up for tactics #1: Lots of times to look how the battle is going and ponder: when to run and when to keep on fighting?

2. Unless having an obvious ambush/surprise, there are no initiative rolls. So this makes up for the next point: ambush always. Attacking an unaware opponent let's you deal your damage straight. Having 5 HP as the total maximum means that you can potentially kill anyone with a lucky strike (not a cigarette)

3. Strenght modifier or equivalent adds to melee rolls. A little difference of strenght can make a great difference in combat, so if you're engaging an opponent who is visibly stronger than you, you better have a different advantage in mind.

4. Fighter class/feat/whatever can re-roll after they've seen their opponent's result; but only a determined number of times per day or combat; probably taken from their level or wisdom mod. This leaves in the hands of the player when to do it. The lowest the opponent's result, the higher chance of dealing a fatal blow. You can also potentially drive away a fatal blow directed at yourself. To even this, of course, monsters with trained fighting skills should have this ability on occassions. If this ability looks too small, we can alternativelly change to "add their roll" instead of just re-rolling.

5. Two persons engaging in combat with a third roll separately and keep the better result. Should the third person win, s/he deals the damage to any combatant s/he chooses.

6. Thieves (or anybody who has a nice dex and wants to take this chance, IDK) can just try to dodge a hit after the results have been shown. This is a binary check: either dodge or not, against their dex or whatever. If they pass, they can flee or attempt an action, no harm received. If they fail, they receive full damage. Having a shield or similar gives you the bonus here; but armor penalizes it. If you have to fight a swordsman and you're bare-handed, you HAVE to dodge first or think a way around this (maybe taking a tavern stool and hurling it at the guy, in which case we get into the next point:)

7. Ranged combat is modelled after all this premise, so let's see how well we can adapt it and still make sense: Roll 1d6 when you fire an arrow: that's the damage you deal; but on a 5 or a 6, you miss the shot. Dexterity adds to damage if dealt, or str if we're talking about the tavern stool from the previous point. Having expertise/being a fighter/ranger/or whatever still let's you re-roll as in melee attacks. On the improbable case of a duel, only the highest damage is dealt; as is considered to be also the one who shot first.

8. Magic works just like melee combat, but adding CHA instead of str, opponent rolls + CHA to resist it. On 0 hp, the opponent starts feeling drowsy, is charmed, whatever. Bypasses armor. Offensive spells work like ranged combat.

I don't know if I'll make something out of all this or not; but I'll leave it here in case I do. All thoughts on this are welcome!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

1d6 osr ultra lite + small dungeon

All rolls are made with 1d6; max level on any class is 4.
All weapons do d6 damage, you don't roll to hit, armor reduces damage.
Start with d6 hp, every rest re-roll and take the highest amount.

* fighter: you get +lvl damage and hp, chance of hitting first (if your enemy has the initiative) or number of targets you can hit on a single strike
* thief: +level chance to nimble stunts; +level uses/day of ninja tricks (log decoy, hidden weapons, perfect camouflage, a shadow double and smoke bombs)
* mage: 1+level chance in 6 of perceiving auras/scrying/casting, and lvl spells:

1. bless (mend things, bar a place, +d6 hp, +1 armor or damage, hide somone),
2. summon (Can be physical or an ethereal force; will perform an minor act or deal d6 damage and go on it's own way. Choose one: can perform greater magic; has a useful ability or you retain control after the summon (so you can banish it without effort or ask for another favor)
3. tame (roll a d6 and match target's HP: on a success, its confused, charmed or asleep. Else, deal that amount of weariness damage),
4. morph. (you get an alternate shape: it can be animal, plant-like, gaseous, monstruous or other. In this shape you get a weird related ability or +d6 temporal hp; OR you can choose to be a monster, who can morph as a human *o*)

Spells drain 1 hp; 3 on a failure. Reaching 0 HP might give the magical forces control over you.

All non-covered checks:

1 in 6 chance for difficult things
4 in 6 chance for common stunts or anything covered by your background 

1. noble/knight
2. woodsman
3. bard
4. investigator
5. doctor
6. crafter/artificer

Duplicate results: 7. MONSTER

(You can roll to see if a specific background - related object is in your person)

Awesome art by Bob Pepper

* roll 1d6 for each dungeon encounter and start counting from the Gold Square. Then, you count from the last result that came up. 
* If something seems too easy, roll again and add the result to the situation. If something feels played out, cross it and do not count it in further exploration.

* The first time victory comes up, it's a magical artifact. The second, it means that there is no more dungeon to explore.

*What exactly the rest of the squares mean is up to you.

*Alternativelly, print this image and cut through the black lines. Shuffle the 12 resulting cards and use them as random encounters. After the game, you'll also have lots of pretty cards lying around, and can even gift them to your players. You'll never be sorry to print something so badass.

EDIT: You can also check the french version of this game! courtesy of Bruno Bord.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Dungeon Crawler as an urban tribe

Something I had on my mind for a while; I'll try to put it into words in case I can make something with it later.

The game/story centers around school kids on a modern town; and how they come in contact with the guild of dungeon crawlers: a mysterious gang of kids that speak about spooky, awesome underworld. Their stories are actually true. They've heard about a dungeon hiding somewhere. Just take any One Page Dungeon and put it on one of this:

(1. right under your school - 2. On a nearby forest, where the whole school is going next week on a trip - 3. Beyond your weird grandma's cellar - 4. On one of your uncles car junk lot. - 5. On the town's supposedly abandoned mansion - 6. Under a lost bridge, behind the industrial part of town)

Not all dungeons have to be under earth; every spooky or abandoned place is likely to have dungeon-like propierties: that's why they're abandoned or unconsciously avoided by normals. Also, some portals to dungeons might open in common places if one finds out how

You get your class at the start; just like that: fighter (though you depend on a specific kind of weapon depending on your background, because kids aren't usually trained on swordmanship), specialist (that kid that knows a lot about a certain thing, you can produce things from your bag that are related to your specialty) or mage (if you're a wizard, you'll probably discover it the first time you get in a dungeon). Use the rules of any dungeon game you normally use, but for the sake of tone, getting to 0 hp means that kids are unconscious and might need to be rescued.

Magic exists, but it only works in dungeons. When attempted on the surface, it acts dulled at best; and is easily dismissed by non-dungeoneers as tricks or sleight of hand. This happens to magic objects and, to a lesser degree, to any kind of treasure you recover from there. When a monster manages to escape from a dungeon, it's powers get subtler and must rely more on invisibility/stealth/cunning.

Normal people treats dungeon crawlers like they did with Goth Kids, Bronies, Emos, etc IRL: they mock them and despise their stories; attributing them to imagination. They're outcasts among kids, while the fashion trends awkwardly tries to appeal to them making artists and clothes about dungeons that miss entirely the point of what dungeons are about.

PC party getting back to the underworld after recovering HP

The underworld raw power of dungeons prevents cellphones and cameras from working, and jams most electronical devices. This prevents you from taking a selfie with a wight to prove your adventures to your friends. The most complex devices might even get hostile towards their wielders (your spotify list is suddently filled with hate messages from your loved ones; a GPS will lead you to the nearest chasm. Lanterns are usually OK, but you can never be sure if they're going to treacherously shut down right as you get into the troll's lair)

Dungeon subculture spreads mainly through drawings (mistaken by kid's edgy art), logs (mistaken as fanfic), grimoires (mistaken as new age books) and chansons de geste about their expeditions (mistaken for incredibly deep metaphors for teenage angst). Due to the inevitable impossibility of talking about dungeon experiences with normal people, there is a strong sense of comraderie between dungeoneers; though of course there are dicks who try to prevent new people from getting into it ("this kids only delve because they want to be cool, we old school delvers have been delving all the summer break and we know what dungeoning it's about"), tricksters ("treasure inspector, may I see your treasure?") and phonies ("Have you been to dungeon X?" yeah. "Dungeon Y?" yeah. "Dungeon Z?" yeah. "I've actually made up the last two" y- y- yeahhhhh of course I knew that)

* Beware: Deep speech ahead! *

Dungeons may appear anywhere; and they do not have any kind of supernatural cover up or anything (In fact, most of them might want to be noticed in order to grow). The only thing that prevents common people from knowing the magical reality is their very own drive to deny everything that clashes with their confort zone. The very zealotry of modern science (understood as denying weird options rather than acknowledging the unknown in order to investigate it) and the importance given to what society thinks we must instead of embracing the mystery of life is what keeps normal surfacers from the twisted horrors and treasures of the underworld. The importance of seeing the truth for oneself is a good theme to be enforced here.

Should a mountaineer discover the tomb of an atlantean king; the headlights on the news would be "Mountaineer goes crazy, pics from the madhouse on page 49" and handwave the whole tomb location automatically, is not like anyone is going to double check it; except dungeon delving kids who know where to read between the lines. No matter how many half-assed proofs you'll present or how good you are convincing people: No one will ever ever believe that dungeons exist unless they either see something strange with their own eyes (and cannot succesfully deny it using a weak pseudoscientific explanation) or really, really want to see a dungeon for some reason.

(If you're using a system that tracks sanity, maybe you need to be under a certain threshold to be operative on a dungeon)

there are those who have trouble adapting to a normal world after they've found the hobby

unexpected twists:

1 - you find out your mother never left you; she was in fact a fairy unable to escape the dungeon, but left you on the surface world to be raised as a human by your father.
2 - you're arranged in matrimony with a merfolk king of the underground sea. He'll whisper love letters to you through any kind of sink you visit.
3 - That mysterious fire that burnt the sawmill that year? a giant fire salamander. That earthquake? a troll
4 - proofs that one or many from this shirt are false.
5 - Goblins kidnap you or somebody you love in order to force you to become their king.
6 - An evil force wants to destroy the whole town in order to expand the dungeon into the surface.

example adventure hook

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Troll trifle at the Goatherd Inn

A storm is about to rage, and the PCs are on their way to a nearby Inn.

They find a man riding on the opposite way. If asked, he had a room booked back there, but he isn't spending the night under that roof; not after what they've just brought in. The baron and his men, who had went hunting deers, have hunted a troll instead and they've hung its head on the wall; like a trophy. But that thing still looks alive.

"I don't care if you laugh at me" Says the hurried man. "They all did already. I'm fine with getting soaked"

Night is upon you as you reach the tavern's light. Around the fire, some drink and make jokes under the sight of the hairy, growling head. The young Baron and his hunting party are celebrating, and being cliché dicks in general.

The inn's keeper isn't very pleased with this, but hey, It's money. His wife actually wants to burn the head on the fireplace as soon as the baron is drunk enough.

How will the baron's men react when this happens? Could the baron be persuaded the morning after that actually he did it, last night, in a brave intent for defending everybody when the head started moving and attacking them all?

Merchants and their families, pilgrims and shepards take turns to watch it from afar; some of the bravest kids touching it even, trying to impress their audience.

A lone hunter (a local, not one of the baron's thralls) doesn't drink. He's tense and crossed. Should you befriend him he'll tell you about that one time that he found a troll's hand in the woods. It crawled and stumbled around just like a big, wounded bear would; until it jumped and tried to reach him. He shot his arrows in awe until the thing stopped, just like it had to catch some breath. Then he actually saw something bigger approaching: the very troll had followed the trail of his hand, and he grabbed it with the other and put it back on the stump; and the wound magically sealed in a whim. Later he found out that the troll had got his hand cut off by a bear trap he had set.

Will you believe him? Would you spend the night in there? Which measures would you take if you did?

The troll is actually watching the scene, and concentrating all his might into trying to drive his massive body towards the inn (he'll succeed at some point!); tear the roof apart and get his head back. Then eat everybody out of spite and anger.

Did the baron really cut the troll's head, or did he just found it at the base of a canyon? How will he react when this happens? What about his hunting party?

What do you know about trolls? Do you know what injures them, what repels them, how they track you? How tall do you think the troll was, based on the head size?
Will it be able to smell you in the forest, in the darkness and under a raging storm?
Will you stand to protect the innocent when the troll comes?

credits: the troll severed hand story is taken straight from arnold K's bestiary! the picture from the Trollhunter movie.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

when on a hexmap

roll 1d12 to find out what's on this hex. Then roll again, to see what also is this place beyond the layer of appearance. Let your subconscious give it a form.

1. The great city; where rival gangs conflict and everything can be found.
2. The harsh land; that must be conquered or understood.
3. The scenic town, that is built around something specific and hides something unique.
4. The stop in the road, where many stories meet and everyone is up for adventure.
5. The castle, where a great evil reigns and/or is plotting how to.
6. The deep unknown, where everything is dangerous, crazy and unmapped.
7. The workshop/wizard tower, where there is an oddity that is just what you need.
8. The temple; worshipped, abandoned or corrupted; there is something different in the air.
9. The war zone; where battle is raging and one will bite the dust.
10. A beautiful landscape where to enjoy and relax.
11. The gate; where the veil between the worlds is thin.
12. A string from a PC's background is waiting to resolve here and now.

bonus track: some sketches for tattoos I did just because.

wraith, asterisk and lady

hair without black lines looks better or is just me?

Friday, 11 August 2017

village generator

Roll 3d20 to find out what's remarkable in this town.

1. A specific harvest of some kind; and commerce built around it. Is it food? medicine? drugs?
2. A mine of resource X. Is the economy booming? is the resource dangerous somehow?
3. A factory. Who runs it? do they make something really valuable or just crap?
4. A theater. What do they perform there? Sports, plays, movies, combats?
5. A radio tower, or an editorial. What kind of things they promote? are they legal after all?
6. Somewhere to eat and to meet people. A cafe, a food stall, a restaurant.
7. A great work of architecture. A bridge, a statue, a wall, a mausoleum.
8. A guild of hunters of something (be it fish, game, treasure or comets)
9. An Inn or hotel.
10. Transport connections (airport, train, vehicle rental, etc)
11. Ranger's Office (sheriff, forest rangers, whoever is in charge of safety)
12. A shopping center (a building, an alley or a merchant route)
13. A very specific store of something; probably something that casually a character needs.
14. Somewhere where the kids to go for a walk (a forest, a garden, a beach, a cemetery)
15. A school of any kind (a dojo? arts academy? university? the city's crafts?)
16. A doctor. (an hospital? a shaman?) Is s/he vocational or wants something in return?
17. A holy place; be it a church, a shrine or a wonder. Is it corrupted? Is it worshipped?
18. A sign of the law. (a noble palace? a courtyard? a tax office?)
19. A den of evil (a pub for the local gang? a brothel? a rebel hideout?)
20. A guy who fixes broken things and needs a specific thing for an amazing project.