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gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Doresh posted:

Bestial Strength only comes in increments of +1? That's weird. I thought d20 always does this in +2 steps so you're actually guaranteed to get someting out of it (apart from lifting capacity).
Also, it's funny how the Dwarven Avatar's beefed up punches are absolutely useless against a 5th-level Primal.

Feats with odd-number stat requirements was the backwards/post-hoc rationalization for retaining the traditional stat spread despite standardizing modifiers to +1 every even number, though I don't remember if that was d20 or PF.

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gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Kurieg posted:

That's the problem with the fighter in a nutshell, more or less. I actually like feats, it's just that there are a limited amount for any one build that are actually good. It also relegated Fighter to a kind of "Feat fast-track" class rather than something that was good on it's own. If you needed some extra combat feats you dipped into fighter and then moved on with your life.

There's a Monte Cook book (harhar) out there of his 3.5 rules where he proposes giving everyone one feat per level. And then he gets to Fighters and "uhhhh maybe you should give them TWO feats per level!"

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

I haven't gotten my hands on D&D Next, but I heard feats are a bit more impactful in that one?

1. They turned goddamn CHARGE into a Feat.

2. Every so many levels, a character earns an Ability Score Improvement, which they can use to either add +2 to an ability score, or take a feat. Even if you weren't using rolled stats, it's basically an admission that a feat should be worth a +1 ability modifier, which means the balance is utterly hosed when you get to choose between "Mage Slayer" and "your Unarmed Strikes now deal 1d4 damage instead of 1"

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

That sounds... weird, and disappointing. I'd heard that feats now were basically more like feat packages? Like, one feat might give you the equivalent of cleave and power attack and stuff so that you can take that and become a bigass motherfucker who warhammers people he doesn't like, which to me sounds more interesting than just picking up mandatory features or minor stat adjustments.

Feats in Next are (1) not just small numeric passive bonuses anymore, and (2) they usually provide more than one effect at a time, but at the same time (3) they're supposed to be optional, and (4) when they are enabled, they're mutually exclusive with increasing your stat bonus by +1, so they're in this really weird place where #1 and #2 gives them the potential to be much more meaningful and powerful than 3E feats, and some of them actually are, but #3 and #4 means that most of them are very plain and uninspiring for the sake of "balance"

It was so close, even. Disappointing is right because a small set of feats and each feat gives 2-4 additional interesting effects for your character is a good direction to take feats in, but the actual feats they decided to write still work on exclusionary principles (you can't multi-attack with a crossbow without Crossbow Expert) and at cross-purposes because some feats are only there for RP flavor.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Kurieg posted:

The way it works now is every fourth level in a class (not every four levels, if you multiclass you have to wait until one advances to a multiple of four) you gain 2 points you can put into your stats, even 2 points into the same stat.

One every 4 levels is the slowest progression, but other classes get them oftener: The Fighter gets 7 ability score increases instead of 4 because of course.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Doresh posted:

Did either MiniSix or Breachworld revert to Star Wars d6 standards where you add your entire physical attribute to melee damage, instead of only half of that like in d6 Space ? They did that to avoid situations like this o_O

D6 Space and its sisters actually had a way out of that trench: the optional hit point rules. With those, your Might/Strength only increases your hit points, not your soak, making it massed fire of weaker attacks much more lethal. Minions might become less likely to be one-shotted, but you can always adjust their hit points accordingly.

This was from a couple pages back, but I don't think it got answered. Looking at my copy of Mini Six:

* for most non-mechanical weapon attacks, you do use your entire physical attribute for damage. If you have 3D Might and 4D Axe skill and you're using an axe which is +3D, then you roll 6D for damage

* if it's a mechanical weapon such as a crossbow or rifle or laser pistol, then it's a flat amount of damage to be rolled: a rifle deals 5D damage

* normal damage rules are that your Soak score is [(Might dice * 3) + armor value + other bonuses], and then that's compared to how much damage was dealt. Your damage roll needs to beat the target's Soak score by so much to move the target up through the various wound/damage levels, which is I think was the original unhittable Wookie problem described earlier

* there is an alternative Body points rule: you have Body points equal to [20 + a roll of all your Might dice]. Your Soak score is simply your armor + other bonuses. Your damage roll needs to beat the target's Soak score (which should be much easier since Might dice no longer count), then any remaining damage is simply subtracted from Body points, and getting to 0 BP means death

Apropos of nothing, but the layout of the Mini Six book is really bad. It's like it was more important for them to cut down on page numbers rather than actually explaining things in a way that's easy to follow - if you weren't already familiar with the system, you'd have to put together assumptions and implications across multiple pages.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

kaynorr posted:

I've been of the opinion that GURPS would be a great system for Monster Hunter, because of the crunchy combat and fairly detailed hit location and wounding rules. Called shots, disabling a giant spider one leg at a time, that kind of thing.

GURPS has a line of books actually called Monster Hunter that's based on that theme, although not AFAIK explicitly based on that game

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

Well, that sounds like rear end. Wait a second. SIZ stat? Percentile dice? Roll-under skill checks? This is a BRP game, isn't it? That reminds me of the first RPG I ever played, which used a variant of that system (d20 instead of d100, experience points, a bunch of other stuff) and I think (thankfully) only ever came out in my native language. It had this as the illustration for the Player Characters section in the rulebook.

Isn't Dark Heresy also a BRP/percentile-based game? The dichotomy hit me because System Mastery reviewed that too and they seemed to like it (although spellcasters in either game end up being that much better than everyone else).

I mean, not that I'm trying to apologize for Stormbringer or anything, it just made me think that they might have been based off the same engine but one ended being lovely.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

TSR was killed mostly by Dragon Dice

What was that like? I remember they even made a PC game out of it and I saw it once on G4TV or whatever the equivalent of it was in 90s and seeing 3d dice get thrown across the monitor blew my teenage mind.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

unseenlibrarian posted:

The reason why the games are designed for one shots is that enough private space and time to play is at a premium, so they tend to play in semi-public venues, like renting a Karaoke booth for a few hours.

This doesn't seem like a bad idea, actually. You get table space, a modicum of privacy, consumables for food and drink, and you don't have to clean up after yourself when you're done.

Somebody design a game where task resolution is decided by your karaoke score.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

theironjef posted:


Afterthought 2 - Listener Mail. This week, it's mostly joking and sexism.

Thanks for answering my question! Cheese dudes!

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Evil Mastermind posted:

The thing is, they're really not; in fact a lot of people accused RPGNet of being utterly anti-3.x because they clamped down on people threadshitting 4e threads and making "4e is WoW" posts against the rules.

RPGNet just has this weird confirmation bias thing with people's opinions of it. No idea why.

Isn't it just that there are enough people on RPGnet that it doesn't have any one single consensus; that there are "vocal minorities" for multiple views? I see the same thing in reddit's /r/rpg or /r/dnd where you have Pathfinder partisans, 3.5 partisans, 4e partisans and of course 5e partisans.

I think I've pretty much sworn off the place though after I dipped my toe into a Zak S discussion.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Trilbys and Hanzo Steel Katanas and Trenchcoats

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy


Thanks for the review. Much like Death to Alignment and Nice Things for Fighters, I might never get to play 3.5/PF, but the ideas are very cool.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Everything I know about 80s Japan I learned from RoboCop 3

Another vote for Nippon Tech.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

theironjef posted:



Hey so if anyone wants that Duckman RPG, we just wrote the game (based mostly on a few notes and then our improvised "review"), added a few fixes based on you folks, and then put it on our website along with our newest Afterthought episode. It's exactly as ludicrously overcomplicated as a 90s licensed game should be and we don't recommend playing, reading, or directly handling it.

:aaa: That's a hell of a lot of work for an April Fool's gag. Kudos!

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

LatwPIAT posted:

I slightly curious as to why it seems that nobody who wrote about fictional future computers seemed to have heard of, or considered, just applying Moore's Law. Was is just that unknown back then?

My dad was teaching me about Moore's Law in 1996. Perhaps the authors just weren't that plugged into technology?

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Donald Rumsfeld, Blood Gargomancer

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

theironjef posted:

This is one of those names that sounds perfect for all sorts of things and then you look it up.

For what actually happened in the event, I'd be surprised if it wasn't a deliberate callback.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Adventure Fantasy Game is a game written by Paolo Greco and was released in Spring 2013. From the way it's marketed it tends to consider itself part of the Old School Renaissance, but personally I find the mechanics different enough from old-school D&D that it's really it's own thing, and that's good because being different means ditching a lot of the cruft that still permeates the OSR.

Before we even get to the Table of Contents, the game has a section called How to Start Quickly:

quote:

What's the base mechanic? Page 19. Read 20 too if you have a minute.

Character Generation? Starts at page 9. Checklist at page 19. Players have to roll a few dice, pick a Way and jot down details on their sheets. Good starting spells are Apprentice's Delight, Tumbleclick (p. 55), Ancestor's Mettle (p. 60), Selfess Gift of Life, Cure (p. 62), Mark of the Beast (p. 64), Twisting Root and Branch (p. 72).

Combat Rules? Pages 26 and 27. Treat FC as 0. Roll 1d6 for damage.

What about experience and growth? Pages 75 to 80.

That seems like as good a place to start as any, so I'll be tackling these in turn.

Base Mechanic

The core of the system is called 5MORE:

When the outcome is not certain, let the players describe their action and roll a d6

Modify the roll per the player's description
+1 for easy tasks, -1 for hard ones
+1 for good ideas/plans, -1 for bad ones
+1 for a high relevant stat (we'll get to this later), -1 for a low relevant stat
+1 for excellent equipment, -1 for inappropriate equipment

On a 5 or more, SUCCESS!
On a 2 to 4, the character failed but without dire consequences
On a 1, absolute failure, but be creative with the consequences


A skill/experience system is also tied into this 5MORE mechanic. If the player succeeds at a task with a natural 5 or 6, they get an Experience Roll. The player rolls a d6 again and if it also comes up as a natural 5 or 6, they get to write down the task they just did along with the first letter of EXPERT. Subsequent successful Experience Rolls for the same task let them continue spelling out EXPERT. Once they spell out the word completely, they get a +1 to all succeeding rolls for that task.

The game gives some advice on reining this in: the attempt at the task must be meaningful - no picking locks over and over; this should probably apply to tasks done under stressful or critical circumstances; perhaps one letter to be gained for a given encounter or scene.

Finally, if a player becomes an EXPERT in six different tasks, they choose to pick one of those six, erase EXPERT, write MASTER, and get a +2 bonus on rolls for that task.

Character Creation

Stats are broken up into three: PHYsique, CRAft and SPIrit. You roll 3d6 for each of these. If your roll is 13 or better, then your stat is high and you get a +1 to rolls involving that stat. If your roll is 8 or less, then your stat is low and you get a -1 to rolls instead. Anything else is considered average.

There's also a table of additional effects that stats might have, such as high PHY giving you extra damage when wielding two-handers, or low SPI making you the target of bad luck events, but in keeping with the simplicity of the system you can just use stats as they interact with the 5MORE mechanic.

Classes

If you choose the Way of Steel, you're considered a Fighter. They get additional Hits, can wear any type of armour, and have something called Secret Weapon Techniques, but those don't come into play yet for the abbreviated ruleset we're talking about so far.

If you choose the Way of Magic, you're considered a Caster. The game explicitly says that while the spell descriptions describe the effects of a spell, they do not prescribe the spell's nature. A Caster can be a mentalist, a sorcerer, a bard or even a scientist, and how they access or flavour their spells is completely up to the player's imagination.

Casters start with 3 spells: Unveil Arcana, some other spell of level 0 and some other spell of level 1. A level 1 Caster has 1 mana, which they can use to cast 1 spell. They gain 1 more mana and know one more spell per level taken in the Way of Magic. Casters cannot cast the same spell twice until the dawn, and they need 6 hours rest to regenerate all of their mana.

If you choose the Way of Arts, you're considered a Practitioner. These are the "skill monkeys" of the game: for every level taken in the Way of Arts, the player can distribute 5 letters of EXPERT across various tasks. Practitioners can also use relevant skills to engage in tradecraft and earn some money for themselves during downtime. The game makes special note that pickpocketing and theft are valid tasks for this money-generating activity.

At this point you may have noticed that I've used the phrase "for every level taken in Way of X". That's because the game supports multi-classing: you can be a Fighter 3/Caster 5. Besides the extra Hits, taking levels in Fighter will let Casters cast spells while wearing armor, although you do need multiple levels of Fighter to be able to wear heavy/plate armor, not just one.

Accomplishments

The game asks the player to write down 4 things that their characters wants to or is destined to do, with the provision that it should be easy to determine if an Accomplishment has already been successfully accomplished. This is supposed to be a guide for what the player should strive towards, and for what situations the GM should place the player in.

Hits determine the amount of punishment a character can take before being incapacitated.

At level 1, Casters and Practitioners roll 2d6 and pick the best result, while Fighters roll 2d6, pick the best result, and add 2

Every time the character levels up, they roll a d6 for every level they have (and Fighters add 2 for every level the have), and either take this new result for their new total, or add 1 to their old total, whichever is higher.

Tier

The last important number to remember is a character's Tier:
Level 1 to 3 = Tier 1
Level 4 to 6 = Tier 2
Level 7 to 9 = Tier 3
Level 10 and up = Tier 4

Equipment

All characters start with a standard set of equipment:

quote:

a set of humble clothes, a pair of cheap sandals and a hat
a long, walking stick
a belt
a knife or an hatchet
a shoulder bag, containing:
a blanket
a wooden cup
seven days of rations consisting of hard biscuits and cheese
a bundle wrapped in waterproof waxed cloth containing:
three torches
tinder and flint
a pair of warm, fluffy socks

Fighters: a melee weapon of choice
Casters: a grimoire containing their spells
Practitioners: tools for the task that they're most EXPERT in

... and then they get to roll twice on a 2d6 table for additional random gear. On a 7, a Fighter gets light armor, a helmet, and a shield; a Caster gets a Doctor's Bag; a Practitioner gets A spare set of tools. Other results include a musket and 10 shots, a spears and daggers, an intelligent crow, a treasure map, a patron, or even a townhouse.

Combat Rules

This chapter tells you right off the bat that it's not a combat game, and its rules are lightweight and very abstracted by design.

The game has two different sets of combat rules: the simple 5MAIL and a more advanced FIGHTMORE. I'll be discussing 5MAIL for now.

5MAIL uses a number called Fighting Capability (FC), which is your Tier - 1, and then Fighters gain additional FC based on their additional +2 Hits per level. A starting Fighter would have an FC of 1, while a Caster or a Practitioner would have an FC of 0.

Combat is divided into 4 phases followed in strict order: Melee, Missile, Manoeuvre, and Magic. A character chooses which phase they want to "use" for their turn, and that's when they act.

Melee Phase

The character rolls a d6 and then adds their FC
If the target is wearing no armor, +2 bonus to the roll
If the target is wearing light armor, +1 bonus to the roll
If the target is wearing heavy armor, -1 penalty to the roll

Much like the 5MORE skill system, if the result of the roll is 5 or more, the character hits and then rolls for damage.

The section also mentions a Charge maneuver to gain a bonus to the roll if the character is not engaged yet, and that a character using a shield can do a 5MORE Shield Block roll once every round to negate a melee attack against them.

Missile Phase

If the character was hit by a melee attack in the previous phase, they can't act in this phase.

The character rolls a d6 and then adds their FC
If the target is wearing no armor, +2 bonus to the roll
If the target is wearing light armor, +1 bonus to the roll
If the target is wearing heavy armor, -1 penalty to the roll
If the target is at a distance, -1 to -3 penalty to the roll depending on how far they are
If the target is using a shield and/or is in cover, -1 to -4 penalty to the roll depending on the circumstances

Manoeuvre Phase

This is where you close in to melee with a target without charging, or to leave melee reach of a target you're engaged with

Magic Phase

This is where a character can cast their spells. If it's instantaneous, then it takes effect immediately during this phase. Otherwise, a spell that takes more than one phase to cast will be declared here, then will take effect on the next magic phase. If the caster is wounded before the next magic phase, then the spell that they declared is disrupted and will not take effect, and the Mana they spent on it is lost.

The game says that Melee, Shield Block, Missile are all tasks in and of themselves, and so like 5MORE skill rolls, can result in Experience Rolls and EXPERT and even MASTER status.

Special Note on Monsters

Because of how the combat rules and stats interact, creating monsters is fairly simple:

Tier = same as the players
Level = should be about the same as the players, plus or minus within their Tier
Hits = Level * d6
FC = Tier - 1
Damage = 1d6

The rest is "special abilities" that you can make up on the spot, such as a monster being particularly heavily armored, or sneaky, or having a breath weapon, or having poison, and so on.

And that's it for part 1. Next time I'll talk about spells, experience gain and character development.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

A Fancy 400 lbs posted:

The one thing I don't like about AFG is the stat system. If it's simplified down to +1, 0, -1, why even bother rolling 3d6? Because D&D does it? It seems like 1d6 with 1,2 = -1, 3,4 = 0, 5,6 = +1(or 1 = -1, 2,3,4,5 = 0, 6 = +1 if you want a different distribution) would be a decent simplification, or even just assigning each one to one stat.

I agree, although it's such a small part of the system that in game review terms it wouldn't really register as an issue worth "half a star" or something.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

wiegieman posted:

So why should anyone takes more than 2 levels of fighter? As far as I can see, that gets them to +5 hits, which gives success against anything in melee.

The bonus to FC (and therefore bonus to attack rolls) does not scale 1:1 with bonus Hits:

+2 and +4 Hits, you get +1 FC
+6 and +8 Hits, you get +2 FC
+10 and +12 Hits, you get +3 FC
+14 or more Hits, you get +4 FC

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Adventure Fantasy Game, part 2

In part 1, we covered the core mechanic, character generation, and basic combat.

Experience and Character Growth

AFG makes it clear right off the bat that it does not use experience points. Instead, it relies on three things:
1. Practical use of skills, as we've seen in the core mechanic's EXPERT and MASTER progression
2. Accomplishments, which we've covered in character generation as short statements that a player writes down as something that they want their character to strive for
3. Plundering, which is the more traditional method of looting dungeons

Plundering

quote:

A typical way to gain a level playing AFG is to get your character's party to recover treasures and bring them to a safe place. Recovering treasures from dangerous places is one of the main tropes of the fantasy and adventure genres.

Dungeons contain Treasure Troves (capitalized, as in that's a specific in-game mechanic). If a party enters a Holding (again, a keyword) that is equal or higher level than they are, and they recover a Treasure Trove from it, and they bring the Trove out to safety, the party members all gain a level.

Every significant place that the players adventure in should have anywhere from one to three Holdings. Each Holding should have a Treasure Trove, whether it's a powerful magical item, or a plot-critical MacGuffin, or even just a ton of gold, but also that each Holding should have its share of encounters such that a Treasure Trove should only ever be gained with "considerable work from the players". It's mentioned throughout this section that whatever you do with the Experience/Growth rules, the point is that players should only advance if they're done something significant.

Finally, this section comes with a footnote:

quote:

If you are wondering if this makes AFG an heist-oriented game then, dear reader, you are perfectly right.
.. which I find refreshingly honest.

Accomplishments

If you recall, back in Character Creation I mentioned that while characters have Levels, they also have Tiers:

quote:

Level 1 to 3 = Tier 1
Level 4 to 6 = Tier 2
Level 7 to 9 = Tier 3
Level 10 and up = Tier 4

And that Tiers are important because your Fighting Capacity in combat is [Tier - 1]

The way this works is that while Plundering will increase your levels, you can only advance to the highest level of your tier via Plundering. In order to get to the next Tier, you have to fulfill one of the Accomplishments you wrote down when you created your character.

Advancing to Tier 2 might entail a pilgrimage to the holy city of a character's faith, or perhaps gaining street cred within the setting's large, sprawling imperial capital. Advancing to Tier 3 could be gaining ownership of a plot of land (OSR's Name level, essentially), and so on.

The game also mentions that players will eventually use up all of the initial Accomplishments they wrote down, and so they should form new ones as the need arises, as well as to further serve as guides for a campaign's development as it evolves.

The game also acknowledges that since only three Accomplishments are needed to get to the fourth and final tier, the group can use Accomplishments to trigger other sorts of rewards as well, particularly in the realm of increasing one's stats. It also mentions that the Accomplishments that players write down and seek out can steer the tone and flavor of the game, and that the GM should make full use of these as plot points. A player that wants to avenge his father's death at the hands of a Mad Baron can serve as inspiration for the GM to make a Mad Baron archvillain right then and there.

Finally, players that manage to get to the very end of progression as level 12, tier 4 characters can undertake Endgame Accomplishments, which is when they cross into becoming the stuff of legends. Accomplishments of this scale should be things like uniting the Seven Kingdoms and actually becoming the Emperor, or turning an entire mountain into the vast sprawling capital, or becoming the Greatest Sorceror of all time, or communing with the gods and serving as their personal Prophet, and other such feats.

Holdings and Treasure Troves

(I had originally intended to cover spells next, but I'm going to go into Holdings instead since it was mentioned in the Plundering section)

quote:

Holdings are not the only places where adventures, combat with monsters and treasure-hunting happens. They are, however, the only places that hold treasure that confers an experience level when successfully plundered. A Holding's physical space is best described as a cohesive, stylistically recognisable and circumscribed set of locales. Holdings can be the entirety or portions of castles, forts, dungeon levels, hideouts, ruins, crypts, cairns and lairs: it's possible to have Holdings within Holdings.

The writing continues to be very honest about its genre tropes: entering a Holding should be a deliberate transition, with the most common one being a special dungeon door, while an outdoor holding might cause a sudden shift in the surrounding foliage, light level, and wildlife noise. Such transitions are necessary in order to telegraph to the players that they are now in "Exploration mode" to find Treasure Troves and that hostile encounters might ensue.

At this point we get to some guidelines:

* A Holding should be as the same level as the players, or higher.
* The monsters in the Holding should be of the same level as that of the Holding (and by extension of the players).
* There's a table listing how many monsters there should be for a Holding of any given level. A level 1 Holding should have 7d6 residents, and then it goes down by roughly 1d6 per level, until Tier 4 Holdings only have 1d6 residents, ostensibly to reflect that by then the players should be tackling few-but-individually-very-strong Dragons, Frost Giants, Liches and the like
* At the end of every Holding there should be a Treasure Trove, containing [Level ^ 2 * 3d6 * 10] thalers (AFG's currency) worth of Treasure. 20-70% of the Trove's value should directly be in thaler coins, while the rest should be in valuable goods
* Each Trove should also have a single Special Item that the GM can roll for via table

Remember that since combat consists mostly of Hits and Fighting Capability, Holdings should be fairly straightforward to fill out with monsters: A level 1 Holding might have 30 skeletons with 1d6 Hits each and 0 FC, spread out over a bunch of rooms, culminating in an encounter with a 2d6 Hit/1 FC Necromancer at the very end. Reskin the skeletons as goblins and the necromancer as a warchief. The game even presents an example where a castle is split up into three different Holdings.

Finally, from the Special Item section:

First, do a 1d6 roll to determine what kind of item it is:
1 gives you a Plot Device, or an item that has a marginal monetary value but is critical to advancing the plot of the setting
2 gets you a valuable trinket worth 2d6 * 100 thaler
3-5 gets you a Magical Item
6 gets you a Great Item from a d66 table. Examples:

quote:

Magic Broom. Can be ridden by two people and fly at 100'/round. A rider must spend 1 Mana for each hour of travel.

Barbed Sword of Slaying. This magical two-handed sword deals double damage (after factoring armour protection) against a specific type of creature

Shard of Hell. When the holder casts Hellgate the five lowest damage dice results are rerolled, but only for results that are not sixes. Note that this not only improves the damage but also greatly increases the chances of releasing a demon.

By now you might be wondering why I haven't posted any art from the book. That's because there isn't any.

On a personal note, this is my first time doing this kind of write-up, so any feedback would be appreciated

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Chris Gonnerman, who made one of the earliest retroclones with Basic Fantasy RPG, recently released Iron Falcon, a retroclone of 1974 OD&D.

* Stat generation is 3d6 in order

* STR gives a bonus of up to +2 to-hit and +3 damage, and determines encumbrance, and determines the chance to open stuck doors
* INT determines your chance of learning a spell from a scroll, how many spells you can know at a time, and your maximum learnable spell level
* WIS does nothing specifically besides being the primary stat for Clerics
* CON gives a bonus of up to +3 HP per hit die, your chance of being resurrected successfully, and chance of surviving "system shock" effects like stoning, paralysis and the like
* DEX gives a bonus of up to +1 for missile attacks, and up to 4 AC
* CHA determines how many retainers you may have and their loyalty

* Prime Requisite rules are in place: Fighters use STR, Magic-Users use INT, Clerics use WIS and Thieves use DEX to gain a bonus to experience gain
* Characters can also trade their secondary stats to gain higher primary stats, usually at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio

* All classes gain 1 hit die per level up to level 9, at which point they just gain flat amounts of HP
* Fighters can use every kind of item and use d8 for hit dice
* Magic-Users cannot wear armor, can only use daggers for weapons, and use d4 for hit dice. Standard Vancian magic is in place
* Clerics can wear all armor, but cannot use bladed weapons. They use d6 for hit dice. Standard Cleric Vancian magic is in place.
* Thieves can use any weapon, but cannot wear anything heavier than leather. They use d4 hit dice. They have the Backstab ability to gain a +4 to-hit bonus and double damage when striking an unaware enemy, and old-school percentile rolls for Thief skills are in place: Open Locks, Remove Traps, Pickpocket/Move Silently, Hide in Shadows and Climb Walls

* Dwarves can class into Fighter, Thief, Fighter/Thief, or Cleric. Fighter level is capped at level 6-8 depending on STR, Cleric is capped at level 7, Thief has no limit. They notice architectural details of the dungeon, have a to-hit and AC bonus when fighting larger enemies, have infravision and make saving throws as if 4 levels higher

* Halflings can class into Fighter or Thief. Fighter level is capped at 4, Thief has no limit. They have a to-hit bonus when using slings and make saving throws as if 4 levels higher

* Elves can take all four classes, and any combination of Fighter/Thief/Magic-User, including all three. Fighter level is capped at level 4-5 depending on STR, Magic-User is capped at level 8-9 depending on INT, Cleric is capped at level 6, Thief has no limit. They have a to-hit and damage bonus when using bows and swords, and they have infravision.

* Half-Elves can take all four classes, and any combination of the four classes, limited to three. Fighter level is capped at level 6-8 depending on STR, Magic-User is capped at level 6-8 depending on INT, Cleric is capped at level 6, Thief has no limit.

* Only non-humans can multi-class, and multi-classing means dividing any exp gained evenly across your classes and using the best feature of each class.

* Alignments are Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic

* Encumbrance rules are in effect, with characters rated as being able to carry so many coin-equivalents and items being weighed in coin-equivalents.

* Weapon damage dice at variable, ranging from d4 daggers to d10 halberds

* Initiative is determined by a d6 die roll for the whole side

* The game uses descending AC and an attack matrix

* Morale rules are in place using 2d6 rolls. Monster statblocks do not have morale adjustments, only that "mindless creatures will fight to the death"

* Experience is gained via gold recovered AND killing monsters

* There is no system for "skill checks" or generic task resolution beyond the explicit Thief and Fighter skills, as in OD&D.

* There's a full bestiary included, as well as random encounter tables for a dungeon, the wilderness, and the city
* There's a full treasure/loot section
* There are fairly solid hireling/retainer/mercenary rules

* There's are explicitly optional sections of the book with rules for Exceptional Strength, to-hit adjustment based on weapon type vs armor, a Paladin sub-class, and Intelligent Swords.

* The author has a section at the very end where he explains how to use certain rules or sections of the book to manipulate the gameplay experience:
- no Thieves
- use some of or all of the optional sections (depending on how much of a "purist" you supposedly are)
- how spells are learned by Magic-Users
- how to make the game less lethal
- changing how stats are rolled
- changing whether STR / DEX bonuses apply to Fighters only or to all classes






Overall: The increased power/usefulness of the stats does not sit well with me. I'd personally prefer them to be limited to just +1/-1 at the higher/lower ends if this was supposed to be emulating OD&D. I also think that a section on randomly generating and filling out a dungeon is conspicuously missing.

Otherwise, my impression of the book is good. It's very readable, with none of the heavy prose or bad organization or outright missing rules from OD&D, but also very few modifications to the game. The last retroclone that I liked this much for being just a clear restatement of old rules was Blueholme Prentice as a rewrite of the Holmes Blue Book, but that's limited to just level 3 as in the original.

Obviously if you're going to be playing (OSR) D&D that comes with a lot of baggage and assumptions in and of itself, but if you did want to play it regardless, this is a solid rulebook to use, and free too.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Night10194 posted:

In D&D, you say "CURE LIGHT WOUNDS!" and it happens like clockwork, and you know why and the Gods are mostly a protection racket run by assholes, nothing more. The lack of mystery is just lethal.

Effect on gameplay not withstanding, I find that D&D-style magic that has been made "grittier" such as in Crypts and Things where it has a chance of blowing up on you or turning you insane or in FantasyCraft where you have roll against a spellcasting DC is better from an ontological standpoint because it's not 100% reliable all the time.

Alternatively, perhaps the spell shouldn't be absolutely reliable when you cast it, either. The fantasy heartbreaker I carry around in my head would reduce spells to "you can make a skill check that you normally couldn't because you're not trained in it, or you can replace the normal stat required for that skill check with your INT"

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Young Freud posted:

Yeah, I remembering thinking about how 4e broke things down and that it would be totally boss if everyone had access to a flight spell at some point, even guys with Martial powers. It would mean you are so good at swinging a sword, you just cut the air in front of you and keep going to your target like a loving Vanguard in Mass Effect. Or you turn yourself into a human helicopter.

http://community.wizards.com/content/forum-topic/2383616

quote:

Right, but we're talking about martial characters. How can you do enough push-ups or fire enough practice arrows so that when you fire an arrow it will turn into a field of acid?

Why can't a fighter just swing his sword really hard and summon an angel? Or why can't a rogue just slice open his wrists and shoot acid blood into the eyes of his eyes from 50 feet away?

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Pre-3rd Edition Wizards started with a random or DM-determined spell list, and had a maximum number of spells they could ever learn, and had to roll a percentile dice to scribe a spell from a scroll into their spellbook. 18 INT would give you a 95% chance to scribe spells and lift the cap on the number of spells you could learn, but RAW you couldn't guarantee yourself an 18 INT.

Finding scrolls of spells was also a total crapshoot if you were doing it RAW since the DM was just rolling off of random drop tables. Maybe you'd find a Scroll of Sleep ... except the scribe attempt fails, and then maybe you'd find a Tenser's Floating Disk and that one you get to scribe. This would lead to the D&D computer games with optional rules for guaranteeing successful spell scribe attempts (on top of max HP per level-up), since you couldn't just grind dungeons until you got the scroll you wanted and you couldn't bribe the non-existent DM into just giving you what you wanted. The fact that the DM was the sole arbiter of what spells were available also made it easier for the DM to ban whatever it was they felt you shouldn't have: it just wouldn't ever drop.

There was also that whole thing about the number of pages of your spellbook that was consumed by scribing a spell getting exponentially higher with higher-level spells, to the tune of the Wizard having to spend several thousand gold on new spellbooks for higher-level spells, and since you could only carry so many books, you had to pick and choose which ones you'd carry with you even if you had all of them scribed already.

By the time you got to AD&D 2nd Edition, Wizard specialization kits were a way to somewhat alleviate all this pressure: you'd get an extra spell of your choice in the spell school you specialized in, so you could at least guarantee yourself a Sleep or a Magic Missile so you weren't completely useless for the first couple of levels barring more DM bribing. The Sorcerer was essentially a way of making a Grand Bargain: you could choose what spells you had for sure, in exchange for the ability to learn everything.

It was 3rd Edition that really busted down the walls of this whole system because now the Wizard could learn whatever spells they wanted as they leveled up, and they were guaranteed to learn them.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Thesaurasaurus posted:

I guess that's an improvement over a la carte but otherwise unrestricted access to reality-breaking superpowers, but I'm not sure it's much of an endorsement that the primary balancing mechanism for spells was the same as that of the Deck of Many Things.

The thing is, you're right - much like material components and different experience levels across classes, the method of spell acquisition might have been effective from a purely mechanical standpoint, but it certainly didn't make for very good gameplay.

The other other thing that contributed to caster supremacy was that Fighters were supposed to have a posse of footmen and knights with him while inside dungeons and a literal army while outdoors. The Wizard might have a spell to unlock a door, but a Fighter would be able to accomplish the same thing just by having a half-dozen dudes use a literal battering ram on it.

It's just that, again, having to manage a dozen NPCs wasn't a great idea because the game never had any rules for abstracting them, which meant that you either had to run all of them RAW or you dropped the whole thing entirely.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Bieeardo posted:

Regardless, that does raise a question I've never found a satisfactory answer for: what is the intended magic level for a baseline 1E/2E game? Gygaxian pearl-clutching about Monty Haul campaigns aside, I've never seen anything official. There's mutterings about not massing wizard artillery on one hand, and towers of sorcery on the other. There's an implication that PCs should retire at around 9th level, but both the level scale and bestiary continue from there, increasing in innate potency for caster types. The Realms certainly aren't low-magic, and while Dark Sun is metal poor, people are still enchanting their breaks-on-20 cactus bats. The only really magic-poor settings that I encountered were weird one-shot Conan and Lankhmar books. There may have been occasional opinion pieces about how every plus is precious, but the basic treasure tables had a chance of tossing some seriously potent stuff out at random.

This is just pure conjecture on my part, but between Wizards having their roots as artillery units in Chainmail, the rules for establishing holdings and land ownership on reaching Name level, Chainmail itself, and later BattleSystem, it seems like you were supposed to play D&D in dungeon-crawling, single-character-per-player mode up until 9th level, and then play a mass combat game where the Fighter is instead a whole legion of men lead by the single Fighter you used to play as while the Wizard is a still a single character but with (more abstracted?) powerful magics that'd make them the equivalent of the whole legion. As well, the scope and challenge of the game should shift into kingdom management, world-destroying threats, and other such legendary actions.

It's just that people didn't want to stop playing D&D, which is fine and understandable, so instead the writers have to keep making bigger monsters and larger threats for higher levels, which throws the whole thing off kilter if you only ever play as individual dudes, especially when there's this vast gulf of "normal" play between level 9 and BECMI's godhood rules or AD&D 2e's High Level Campaign rules.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

wdarkk posted:

Since we talk about Pathfinder in here, did anyone ever make a Warlord-alike for it to go with the Tome-of-Battle-alike and the Tome-of-Magic-alike?

Dreamscarred Press' Path to War made a base class that's literally named a Warlord (link to the PF SRD), although I'm not sure how close it hews to the 4e ideal.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Adventure Fantasy Game, part 3

In part 1, we covered the core mechanic, character generation, and basic combat.
In part 2, we covered experience, character growth, accomplishments, treasures and dungeons

This time I'll talk about FIGHTMORE, the more advanced combat system.

FIGHTMORE is divided into 4 distinct phases: Melee, Missile, Manoeuvre and Magic. Combat always cycles through these 4 phases in a strict order. At the beginning of every a phase, a player declares if they are acting during that phase, and that precludes them from acting in any other phase.

Melee Phase

Every character acting in this phase selects a target they are in melee range with to attack.

If it's just one character attacking another, then both characters roll a d6 and add their Fighting Capability. If the attacker's roll is equal to higher than the defender's roll, the attacker hits and rolls for damage.

If it's two characters attacking each other, then both characters roll a d6 and add their Fighting Capability. Whoever's roll is higher gets to hit and rolls for damage. If it's a draw, both of them hit each other and both of them roll for damage.

Other options:

Charge! lets you move up to twice your movement speed and do a melee attack in the same phase if you're not in melee range of anyone yet. You get bonus damage if you need to charge more than 20 feet to get to your target

Shield Block will let you avoid damage if the attack rolls are a draw.

Unarmed Combat will give you a -1 penalty to your rolls, unless you are a Fighter in medium or heavy armor, or a monster with nasty claws or fangs and the like. If you didn't have a weapon at the start of this phase, you can spend this phase to draw a weapon and attack and suffer a -1 penalty, or draw a weapon but only defend, avoiding any penalties on your rolls.

Missile Phase

If you were damaged in the Melee Phase, you cannot act in this phase anymore

To make a missile attack, roll a d6, add your FC, apply a -1 to -3 penalty for medium to very long range, apply a -1 to -4 penalty for the defender using a shield and/or hiding behind cover, and get a 5+ on the result to hit and roll for damage.

Manoeuvre Phase

You can move up to twice their movement speed during this phase, although moving farther than your movement speed disables the benefit of your shield until the next round.

Magic Phase

This is where you can declare casting spells and when spells take effect. There's an exception though: if it's an instantaneous spell, then it's declared during this phase and then happens immediately after declarating.

However, if the spell takes 1 round or more to cast, then the casting should be declared at the start of the round (as in before the Melee Phase), and then only when it gets to the Magic Phase does the 1 round elapse and the spell takes effect. The reason for this is that if the caster is damaged during the Melee or Missile Phases, then the spell fizzles and the mana is wasted.

Rolling for Damage

Whenever you successfully land a hit, roll a d6. Then:
Roll a bonus d6 for every 1 FC you have
Roll a bonus d6 if you're using a two-handed weapon and your PHY stat is high
Roll a bonus d6 if you're using a magic weapon
Roll a bonus d6 if you charged more than 20 feet in the Melee Phase
Roll a bonus d6 if you charged more than 40 feet while mounted

Out of all the d6 that was rolled, choose the one with the highest result. That's your base damage.
Look at the remaining d6 - every other d6 that rolled a 5 or higher adds 1 to the base damage.

Armor

Whereas in basic combat, armor acts as a penalty modifier to the 5MORE roll to hit, armor is considered flat damage reduction in FIGHTMORE. Light armor reduces the damage taken from any hit by 1, Medium reduces it by 2 and Heavy reduces it by 3.

In closing

FIGHTMORE differs from the basic 5MAIL combat in a few aspects: melee combat is an opposed roll instead of a 5MORE roll, damage is higher and potentially more lethal, and armor is damage reduction rather than a reduction in hit chance. I can't say I really see the benefits of FIGHTMORE though. Opposed rolls are, at least to me, harder to eyeball the probabilities of, and the increased damage seems like it'd throw off the survivability curve of HP that's all d6 based.

There's another chapter on optional combat rules that I'll cover in a later part, but those are supposed to be equally applicable to both 5MAIL and FIGHTMORE, so FIGHTMORE by itself does not really feel like it delivers on being more "advanced" when it comes to combat. It's marginally more complicated, but I just don't see the point.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

I don't think there was anything that people didn't try to turn into d20, just because they could.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

theironjef posted:



It's mostly discussion about punk genres and answering questions about Tim Curry and Superman this week. Here's Afterthought 5: Rock, Punk.

I find myself now reading GURPS Low-Tech and Mesopotamian sources to make a setting for a Stonepunk game.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Has there been an F&F review of Talislanta? The OSR Google+ community I visit linked a site that has all of it for free and it talks of the series with a sort of old-school reverence, but I know nothing about the game.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

No, I don't recall you guys ever having said anything bad about FATE, either.

Also, what's the background behind that quote? Who's trying to make a FATE CRPG?

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

I came across a Heartbreaker made in TYOOL 2015 while stumbling through /tg/

The author calls it "Dungeons and Dragons Redux", and they draw from a bunch of different sources: BECMI classes, AD&D Player's Option's initiative system, DCC's Mighty Feat die for Fighters, 5th Edition's entire skill check system, 3rd Edition's +1 ability modifier every 2 ability scores, but then you get to this part:

quote:

To begin, you generate ability scores randomly. Roll three, 6-sided dice and record the total on your character sheet as your character’s Strength score. Do this five more times, once each for Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma in order.

3d6-in-order for a game where the difference between 10 and 18 is a +4 :fuckoff:

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Lightning Lord posted:

Is the game worth ignoring that part, or is it a general mess?
With a closer reading, it feels like a mess.

The author took B/X and then:

converted the ability score system to 3rd Edition
converted to ascending AC
bolted on the Inspiration, Background, Ideal/Flaw/Bond, Advantage/Disadvantage, Proficiency, skill check s, Hit dice healing, and Short/Long rest mechanics from 5th Edition
bolted on the Mighty Feat die from Dungeon Crawl Classics to the Fighter
bolted on the Backstab die and "burning Luck" mechanic from DCC to the Rogue
bolted on the spell corruption/spell check mechanic from DCC to the Wizard and Cleric
used the "saving throws are also your attributes" system from 5th Edition/Castles and Crusades
claimed that combat takes place in Theater of the Mind but, like 5th Edition, still spells out mechanics in 5 foot increments
took many of the basic combat actions from 5th Edition, such as Disengage, Dodge, its version of Grapple, etc

Looking back on it, it's probably faster to say they pared down 5th Edition to just the 4 basic classes, removed feats, and replaced the class features with DCC's

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Traveller posted:

Yeah, motherfucker. E&E heroes don't gently caress around.
Without giving away too much, the awesome thing about E&E heroes is that you might be rolling on an OSR random encounter table, come up with 6d10 Goblins, and still steamroll the gently caress out of that fight.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Adventure Fantasy Game, part 4

In part 1, we covered the core mechanic, character generation, and basic combat.
In part 2, we covered experience, character growth, accomplishments, treasures and dungeons
In part 3, we covered the advanced combat system

This time I'll talk about the optional combat rules, which can be applied to both the basic 5MAIL and advanced FIGHTMORE systems

Saving Throws: a character has 4 different saving throws:

Alertness
Toughness
Stubbornness
Morale

Whenever a character runs into a situation that would necessitate a traditional TRPG saving throw, such as Alertness to dodge out of a fireball or Toughness to swole through some poison, make a 5MORE skill roll against the saving throw, but include a -2 penalty and a bonus equal to the character's Tier. If the 5MORE roll succeeds, then the character avoids some of the badness, else he takes the full brunt of it.

The saving throws are spelled out separately because they're supposed to be able to develop EXPERT and MASTER status, just like any other 5MORE skill.

Shield-smashing: if a character uses Shield Block as their action and an attack lands, roll for damage regardless. If the damage is 7 or more, the shield is damaged and cannot be used until repaired. Magic shields cannot be damaged.

Morale: When a battle turns bad, a character will have to make a Morale saving throw in order to keep fighting, or else they will flee. A battle turning bad is defined as [if your side has lost 25% of their total Hits], [lost 50% of total hits], [lost 75% of total hits], or if one side is totally outmatched.

Special weapon effects:

Swords and Long Blades - if the character wielding the sword is engaged with multiple enemies, any successful attack can be leveraged to deal damage to any enemy currently engaged, even if they were not the one that the attack was rolled against
Axes, Maces and Unbalanced Weapons - the target's armor is considered 1 grade worse
Flails and Chains - cannot be blocked by shields
Lance - when you use a mounted charge, add another damage die when rolling for damage (on top of the additional one you get simply for doing a mounted charge)
Spears and Long-Hafted Weapons - characters using these weapons always go first during the melee phase
Knives, Daggers and Short Blades - gain a +2 bonus to 5MORE skill rolls to conceal these weapons, and they can be drawn within the same round without taking a penalty. If the target is unarmed, add another damage die when rolling for damage.
Long Staves - characters using this weapon can use the Shield Block move as if they had a shield
Bows - characters using this weapon have a -1 to Fighting Capability (to be fair, the game outright admits that these special weapon rules are supposed to nerf ranged attacks)
Slings - these weapons have a -1 penalty to damage against armored targets
Crossbows and Firearms - the target's armor is considered 1 grade worse and Firearms deal 1 additional damage die, but Crossbows need 1 full round to reload, and Firearms need 3 full rounds

Critical Wounds:

If a character reaches 0 or negative Hits, roll a 1d6 and refer to a table for additional damage. These are things like taking scars or deep cuts at the low-end of the table, all the way to losing a whole leg or arm, or to just confirm your death in an especially gruesome manner if your Hits go negative enough.

Tweaking the Combat Math:

The ratio between additional damage dice and FC is 1:1. It's suggested to change this to 1 additional damage dice every 2 FC in order if you want armor to retain effectiveness even at high levels.

The ratio between [Levels + Additional Hits] to FC is 4:1. It's suggested to change this to a lower ratio to make the Way of Steel have a larger effect in combat effectiveness.

As an alternative way of calculating FC, divide the character's maximum Hits by 10 without adding Additional Hits and round down. This has the opposite effect of making the Way of Steel more "plain", although I'm not sure why you'd want to do this.

Finally, if you're using FIGHTMORE's opposed rolls for your Melee phase, there's a suggestion to use 3d6+Level rolls for "grittier" combat or 1d20+Level rolls for "swingier" combat, instead of the normal d6+FC.

Tweaking Initiative:

If you move Magic to the first phase, casters will never fail spells, making them much more lethal.

If you move Missile to the first phase, characters will always be able to take at least one ranged shot before becoming engaged in melee.

In Closing:

The saving throws are cool and would fit into a "normal" game pretty easily. I don't know that the combat here really needs the Morale check rules, since the math looks tighter and less lethal than the rest of the OSR. The special weapon effects and critical wounds rules add a bunch of chrome, but personally I think they just add complexity for complexity's sake.

What impressed me was the suggestions to tweak the combat math: It shows that the author really had a mathematical basis for the system in the first place, and understands it well enough to lay the assumptions bare and tell you how to jigger with it.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

The next parts of Adventure Fantasy Game are going to be long and fairly standard, so I wanted to knock something nice and short and in keeping with the Kevin Crawford power hour

Black Streams: Solo Heroes



Solo Heroes is a free supplement for Labyrinth Lord released by Kevin Crawford in 2014, as a sort of preview to Scarlet Heroes. It's a set of rules you can layer on top of Labyrinth Lord or any other OSR game in order to make the game more friendly to running an adventure/module with just a single player-character without the GM needing to significantly rework the adventure as-written.

The First Rule: Damage Dice

Whenever damage is rolled:
A roll of 1 does no damage
A roll of 2 to 5 deals 1 damage
A roll of 6 to 9 deals 2 damage
A roll of 10 or more deals 4 damage

Further, an effect such as a trap or a scripted spell that deals a flat amount of damage instead deals 1 damage for every 4 points noted in the text. Anything that deals less than 4 damage doesn't even scratch the Solo Hero

The Second Rule: Inflicting Damage

Damage taken by the Solo Hero subtracts from their Hit Point count. If an Orc with a 1d10+2 Greataxe rolls a 6 for damage when attacking our Solo Hero with 10/10 HP, our Solo Hero would be down to 8/10 HP after the attack.

However, damage dealt by the Solo Hero kills off an entire monster Hit Die per point of damage dealt. If our Solo Hero with a 1d6+1 Short Sword rolls a 2 for damage when attacking an Orc with 1 HD, he kills the Orc straight dead with that one attack.

This rule also adds a new feature for Solo Heroes, called the Fray Die. The Fray Die is simply a damage die that the Solo Hero can roll every turn to attack enemies with equal or less Hit Dice without needing to roll to hit. If our Solo Hero wants to attack normally, then they do get to make their attack on top of rolling the Fray Die for even more damage. The Fray Die is supposed to represent "mighty hewing, punching, kicking, biting, object-hurling, and other assorted fisticuffs or short-ranged combat spells delivered toward an enemy that does not clearly outclass them in skill."

The other thing to note is that Solo Heroes do get to roll their Fray Die even if they did not make an attack roll that round, to represent the havoc they might be wreaking even while, say, opening a stuck door or backing up a corridor.

Fighters roll a 1d8 for their Fray Die, Clerics, Thieves and "other non-strictly-martial-classes" roll a 1d6, while Magic-Users and other spellcating classes roll a 1d4.

The final note for this rule is that any damage dealt by the Solo Hero can carry over across multiple targets. If our Solo Hero rolls a 10 for their damage, then they could kill 4 different 1 HD goblins with that single attack, provided that the attack roll could have hit the AC of all the targets. The same applies to Fray Die, on top of the fact that a Fray Die's damage does not need an attack roll at all (although you cannot use a Fray Die against an enemy with more Hit Dice than the Solo Hero). The only time that this "cleave" feature doesn't apply would be if, for example, our Solo Hero is attacking with a melee weapon and one of the potential targets is supposed to be way out of reach, such as on a high balcony.

[In Scarlet Heroes, there is a note for Magic-Users that they can always shoot an enemy with their 1d4 Fray Die, as the assumption is that they're using bolts, rays and other magical projectiles to destroy their enemies at range]

The Third Rule: Healing

This is just the inverse of the second rule: translate the roll of any healing effect according to the First Rule, then it restores that many Hit Points to the Solo Hero. If the Solo Hero rolls a 6 when they drink a 1d6+1 Healing Potion, they gain 2 HP.

Further, a Solo Hero can take 5 minutes to bandage their wounds and catch their breath after every encounter, and this will restore up to 2 HP, but never more than what the Solo Hero began the encounter with.

The Fourth Rule: Defying Death

Since OSR adventures tend to have "save-or-die" effects and traps and whatnot, and since the prior three rules still don't guarantee victory in combat situations, Solo Heroes still need a way out.

Whenever the Solo Hero is confronted by a situation that might otherwise kill them, they instead Defy Death: roll a number of dice equal to the player's level, and then translate that into points of damage. If the damage would be enough to reduce them to 0 HP, then they are instead left at 1 HP. Anything that takes the Hero to negative HP can still kill them, otherwise they just take the damage. The die size used in the Defy Death attempt starts at 1d4 and goes up to the next size for every succeeding Defy Death attempt in the same session adventure.

Example: Our level 3 Solo Hero with 19/21 HP fails a Save vs Poison, which the adventure text says is supposed to kill them. Instead, the Solo Hero rolls 3d4, and they get an 8, which translates to 2 damage. The Solo Hero takes 2 damage instead of completely dying and so if left with 17/21 HP. The next time they need to Defy Death, they're going to roll 3d6 instead, and then 3d8, and so on.

This is also supposed to cover situations that are "unsolvable", such as an altar protected by a magical ward that the adventure says should be dispelled by a Magic-User, or a killer trap when the Solo Hero isn't a Thief. If the player can't get through such barriers by any other narrative means, the GM can make the Solo Hero take a Defy Death attempt as a cost to bypass it.

The Fifth Rule: Experience and Henchmen

Simply put, a Solo Hero only earns 25% of the experience from any kills, treasure or quest reward, to account for the fact that such rewards are usually scaled to be divided up between four or more players.

If the player wants to bring henchmen along with their Solo Hero, the henchmen are to be treated as monsters: any damage dealt to them converts into full HD, so a 2 on an Orc's damage roll can kill a 1 HD footman. The idea is that the rest of the rules are supposed to buff up the Hero enough that they shouldn't feel the need to bring henchmen at all, on top of avoiding the book-keeping overhead of managing henchmen when it's just 2 players at a table.

Finally, there's a fairly obvious warning that using these rules when you have multiple players may trivialize the content.

What it all means

These rules are intended to address four main issues when trying to run an OSR adventure with just a single player-character:

1. Hit points deplete too quickly - now monsters will kill players much slower; they might need to score 3 to 4 successful hits as opposed to just one or two
2. Enemies don't die quickly enough - a player will, on average, be able to kill off 1 HD worth of monsters every round just via the Fray Die
3. Instant death and incapacitation effects can wipe out lone heroes - the Defy Death mechanic will prevent instant and unavoidable game-overs, but without letting the player just brave them blithely nor asking the GM to make up rulings on the spot, since they now have a firm framework to adjudicate the effect of a spiked pit
4. Lone heroes lack the wide range of skills and abilities possessed by a party - as I mentioned in The Fourth Rule, a Defy Death check can be used to get through an encounter that demands a particular class, skill or spell when the player doesn't have it, but such a bypass is never for free

Optional Rules and Guidelines

At this point we get a set of additional rules that might not necessarily be needed for the framework to work

Enduring Protagonists

If the player wants to play their Solo Hero through multiple sessions/adventures/modules, then the GM might want to make additional adjustments to better ensure survival.

First off, players start with maximum HP for their level and class.

Second, hitting zero HP never means death. It might mean getting knocked unconscious, or being left for dead, or being able to escape the battle through an unlikely plot contrivance. If the Solo Hero was on a time sensitive quest, then being defeated and thrown out of the dungeon might mean failing that quest, unless the hero perhaps chooses to instead be taken captive so they can continue the fight from inside the dungeon, provided they can facilitate a breakout of some form and are willing to give up their inventory (until you can retrieve it, FPS-style)

Converting Other Games

The author mentions that these rules should work just as well when playing other OSR/retroclones, specifically the author's own post-apocalyptic Other Dust and sci-fi Stars Without Number systems. [In fact, a supplement similar to this one exists for Stars Without Number - Mandate Archive: Stellar Heroes]

However, significantly different systems might give level 1 PCs 12 HP or more, at which point it's recommended to revise HP gain per level to a maximum of 10 for the toughest archetypes, and perhaps a maximum of 4 per level for less martial characters. The other note is that games that award additional attacks-per-round might be better converted into a larger Fray Die size or additional Fray Die rolls rather than additional normal attack rolls.

Automatic Initiative

If normal initiative rules are followed, and the Hero rolls badly on initiative, and a (half) dozen goblins all get to take shots at the Hero before the Hero gets to react, the Hero might still be taken down rather easily even with the reduced damage intake of these rules. The optional rule therefore is to simply let the Hero always win initiative except when narratively special. Not only will this prevent hordes of monsters from killing the hero without a chance to respond, it'll give the Hero the respond with "discretion is the better part of valor".

In cases where the Hero really does flub his way into an ambush and gets walloped? Defy Death applies.

Extra Fray Die

Giving players additional Fray Die rolls is mentioned as an additional tool that the GM can leverage whenever circumstances permit. Whereas a GM in a "normal" game might give a player a bonus to their attack roll for having the high ground or attacking from stealth, it might translate to extra Fray Dice in a Solo Heroes game.

One Pair of Hands

Since adventures are written with the assumption that they will be played by multiple players, some "puzzles" or encounters in such adventures might assume players being in two places at the same time, whether in the form of two levers at opposite sides of a room that need to be pulled simultaneously, or a wilderness that'll spawn random encounters for parties that don't have anyone standing watch.

It's recommended to either modify these encounters to be doable by a Solo Hero, such as moving the levers next to each other or assuming that the Solo Hero's keen senses can catch any night intruders. The assumption is that avoidance in hardship/difficulty by handwaving away such issues is more than made up for by the other difficulties inherent with just a single character in play.

The supplement then closes out with a short, 2-page, 9-room dungeon for a level 1 character called The Yellow Toad God's Well

So there you have it - something that could potentially let you run through, say, Keep on the Borderlands with just you and one other friend, sibling or significant other. Translating the damage rolls into yet another number might take a bit of getting used to, but since you're only playing with just one other person the rest of the overhead is much lower too.

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gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

I've been trying to listen to RPG books lately, using the text-to-speech feature on the PDF viewer of my tablet. Tonight I was driving home while listening to GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2 - Dungeons.

One of the early sections covers pre-dungeoneering activities, and one of them is "Scoring Extra Cash". Characters can panhandle, gamble, engage in busking, or even dredge gutters and mud-pits for loose change. Less scrupulous heroes can try cheating at gambling, or pickpocketing villagers, or:

quote:

Debasing Coin: Really depraved scum can debase (shave or add impurities to) the King’s coin. Start with honest coin up to $1,000 and then roll against Counterfeiting. Success increases the sum by 10%. Failure means ruined coin or lost metal, costing the crook 20% of his stake. Critical failure means the King’s men stick his hand in molten silver, giving him One Hand.

A couple of pages later, the book is now talking about actually being in the dungeon and exploring it. The book goes on to talk about Mapping:

quote:

Traditionally, the GM describes what the PCs see and the players attempt to map it. Players and GM alike should read Player-Made Maps (p.B491) to understand how this works.

For the players to be allowed to make a map in the real world, a party member must serve as “mapper” in the game world. He requires ink, paper, and two free hands. He can’t carry a ready torch, shield, weapon, etc.

Both times made me go "wait, what?!" like I was still listening to System Mastery.

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