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The island: (adventure seed)

From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view. At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

If I don't use it.... toss it. (playtest)

Source: Eve Online

There is an old saying that "If you haven't touched it in a year, it's probably safe to get rid of it."
Ok I'm not sure how old of a saying it is but I have definitely heard it before.
For the  people (person?) who read this blog that would probably  mean throwing away a painstakingly curated, thirty year old, attic full of gaming material. With that in mind I'm not going to suggest applying this concept to real life.

However in Playtesting it holds a bit more water.
We playtested (albeit super briefly) my shoot and loot style game Loot Box A-Go-Go last night. The game is an unapologetic homage to Star Frontiers, Borderlands, and perhaps even Halo / Doom. As you might expect there should be a fair amount of combat so for the  playtest we had one small encounter. Our heroes vs a small security bot.

In the course of the fight I noticed a few things.

Just like in Star Frontiers, a percentage system with combat modifiers leads to the game slowing down a bit while the players and GM figure out modifiers.
I have one rule in particular:

"If in a round you or your target move before you fire you suffer a -10 penalty to your target skill roll for each occurrence (Example: You and your target have moved the  result is a  -20 penalty) ."

Simple enough right?
Makes sense, moving things are harder to hit; shooting while moving is also more difficult.

Well I forgot about that modifier pretty much every round. And I wrote it YESTERDAY.
What that says to me is the modifier is pretty much unnecessary. Even if the rule does makes sense.

One thing that I would like to see is players choosing to move early in the round so that enemies have  a harder time hitting them, or choosing to shoot at stationary targets because it's an easier shot. That gives the players a chance to weigh the benefits of an action and make a decision. A thing I like in these kinds of games.

What I will likely do is move it to a section I maintain in the PDF for "options." Options being anything that adds depth at the cost of added complication.

Automatic fire: (this gets a bit dry, sorry)
Not going to go over the whole thing top to bottom but the end of it is this. You can choose to empty your  whole clip and attack as many  squares as your weapon's fire rate.
In our test it came up this way. The player used a full auto fire to attack the security drone. His fire rate was 3.   If he hit  the attack would do 3d6 (1d6 per point of fire rate) damage because he was focusing all of his fire rate on one target. He missed, so all those bullets ended up lodged in a wall somewhere (sucks to be level 1.)
My initial thought was the player should roll to hit once per die, not once per target. In other words the player should have rolled three times each roll doing 1d6.  As the player wisely pointed out that method would create more rolls, and also take away some of the all or nothing nature of using fully automatic fire.
After a brief talk, we agreed to leave it one roll per target, regardless of how many bullets the player is tossing towards it.
My current thought is towards giving any player a bonus of +10% to hit for each additional  point of fire rate the player uses beyond the first.
Following our current example, the player using three fire rate on one target would have had a +20% to hit bonus for sustained fire.

Effective range. Need to be longer, for most if not all guns. I have nothing else to say I will modify that today sometime.

Well that' my play test update.
I look forward to playing this one some more.
I kind of want to do an actual "scenario" or game just to see how it flys.
An hour and 15 minutes of playtesting  is just a scratch.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ape and Monkey

I hate apes and monkeys, they creep me out. I'm not sure why, but I don't find them cute or funny. I find them oddly disturbing.
Let's take this Phobia head on with what might be the most esoteric and useless charts I have ever written.

Chart 1: Body / fur / Face /Tail. Roll four times on this chart.
The  first result is the  body,
the second result is the fur,
the third result is the  tail,
and the fourth result is the Face.

ROLL 4d10 :

  1. Spider monkey like / Matted Brown / Sloth like / Bushy Prehensile
  2. Large, 200lb chimp / Sleek and long / deep set eyes, huge brow / Slim, prehensile, long
  3. Tiny and marmoset like / Short Course / Almost feline cat like eyes in a small skull / Droopy
  4. Baboon / flowing yellow with red tips, looks like fire / Flat wide face / Sweeping long haired
  5. Capuchin / Mottled spots / Mandril like / Tiny stub tail
  6. 300 lb gorilla / Thick dark fur / Proboscis monkey like / no tail
  7. Howler monkey / Tufted with  large golden mane / Howler monkey like / Naked prehensile tail
  8. Squirrel monkey / Greasy grey / Baboon faced / Coarse haired tail
  9. Early Hominid like, upright walker. / Grey and wooly / snub nosed / Droopy long  haired
  10. Mandrill Body / Pure white / Bald red skull like face / Poofy white tail.
Organisation: 1d6
  1. Lone monkey: This monkey acts alone.
  2. A Band: 1d6 males with one leader which is larger than the rest.
  3. A troop: 1d12 +8 individuals of mixed sexes and age. One individual is larger than the rest and leads the  group, there will usually be 2 lieutenants which are also  larger than the average.
  4. Bonded Pair: These two  apes are mated for life and travel together.
  5. Swarm: all 1d10 x 1d6 of these apes are half normal size and travel in a pack.
  6. Outcasts: 1d6 large individuals who are resently usurped Troop leaders.
Intelligence: 1d6
  1. Base animal intelligence.
  2. Marginal intelligence, basic found tool user.
  3. uses simple crafted tools
  4. Low hominid level intelligence, ability to plan, no written language.
  5. Human level intelligence, builders, written language. 
  6. Hype intelligent, applicable of great mental feats, perhaps even psionic.

Abilities: 1d6
  1. HOWL: These apes can let out an ear splitting  howl that can deafen targets. when done as a group it can  smash glass containers and cause physical / sonic harm.
  2. FLING: These Apes will fling rocks at high velocity with deadly accuracy.
  3. MINIONS: These apes have captured and trained / applied lesser animals such as snakes, scorpions, spiders and the like. The Monkeys will use the  venomous animals as guards, projectiles and traps. The may have also trained loud birds or small mammals to acts as living alarm systems.
  4. NECRO MONKEY: These apes don't stay dead. IS the party prepared for tree dwelling brain eating zombie-apes.
  5. WEAPONS: regardless of their intelligence level these Apes use some kind of weapons. It could just be sharp sticks or swords and Armour, depending on brain power.
  6. CAMMO: These apes can blend seamlessly into the canopy.

Motivations: 1d6
  1. Hunger: These apes need food and they need it now.
  2. Territory: These Monkeys have been driven from old or are looking for new territory.
  3. Revenge: These Apes have been slighted some how and are seeking revenge. This could be very basic such as one troop stole a food source form this troop at the lower intelligence levels, to any  perceived slights at the higher intelligence levels.
  4. Competition: The players are perceived as threats to these Monkeys social status.
  5. Curiosity: Are these the first humans these apes have seen?
  6. Conquest: These monkeys are looking for new troops to conquer and enslave.
First rolled ape type:
I rolled up one example  first set of rolls yielded.
Babboon sized and shaped with thick dark fur. A snub nosed face and a bushy prehensile tail.
They live in a troop of 13 individuals with one large leader. They possess a low hominid level intelligence, communicate with a simple language, and hunt together in a pack. They wield sharpened sticks as spear like weapons. The group seems to be motivated by taking over new territory so that they may expand the troop.

Thanks for reading

Monday, April 25, 2016

Quick Hitter: Things Game Masters can Learn from Pro Wrestling.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. One of my secret loves in life is pro wrestling. I'm admittedly not a "fan" like I was when I was a kid. I mean I don't watch as much as I used to. My watching had degenerated into that kind of smarky thing where I search out "good matches" on the internet, and bitch about the WWE. Recently however, playing The World Wide Wrestling  RPG lead to an uptick in my wrestling watching, because of that I have started thinking about it again.

I see similarities between  Wrestling and RPGs. In fact I think of Wrestling  in terms of a giant on going LARP.

Any how, this being a quick post I should get to the damn point.

The stories in wrestling work best when they are honest and  have some degree of  logical consistency.
Bad guys and  good guys should have realistic goals, and motivations.
For example: In wrestling there is alway  a championship, and  if the  main players are all competing for the  championship then the other moving parts make sense. If a wrestler is just coming out and making trouble with no clear direction, it never seems to stick. Especially if that wrestler is losing week in and week out. Recently this was Bray Wyatt in the  WWE. His schtick is that he is a spooky cult leader type who brings his hulking minions to the ring and beats people up. Never once that I know of has he even sniffed around at a championship run. Despite being portrayed as a legitimate threat when big matches have gone down he and his "family " have lost over and over again.
His results going against his booking, and the character not having a clear goal have lead to fans not embracing him as fully as he deserves. (He is good material. Decent ring presence and work rate combined with solid mic skills.)

The same goes for  Role playing games.
As a game master your big bad should have a goal. A clear goal. A motivation that guides its actions. The players don't need to know it overtly, but when they come acrossed the big bad, that enemy should be consistent and  successful at moving toward its goal. Don't "book your heel weak."
The only reason the  big bad should exist is to  reach it's goal. The only force which should be able to stop it are the players. That's why we are hear, to engage the players. Make sure they know they are the  ones who are going to be in the big match when the showdown comes.

Lastly let's take the  wrestling metaphor back a few years and show what happens when it works.
Wrestlemania three held in 1987 was a different time, but the  hero epic has not changed for thousands of years. The  people of the  then WWF used all of the traditional aspects of the hero vs  rival story to near perfection setting up the  main event.
 Hulk Hogan , the  hero had a best friend named Andre the Giant. Andre had been unbeatable for years. Traveling the old territory system Andre had drawn huge crowds, every one wanted to see the  "8th Wonder of the  World."
The  WWF cooked up a story that Andre had gone undefeated for 15 years in the WWF.  For this astounding (and I think false) achievement Andre was presented a small trophy. At andres cerimony Hogan came out and made a spectacle of him self steam some of the lime light form good old Andre.  A few weeks earlier Hogan, had been given a huge trophy for being champion for three years.
The seeds of jealousy crept into Andre and  he fell under the  sway of the evil Bobby Heenan. (The true big bad in this story)
Heenan was obsessed with getting the belt from Hogan, so he used Andres Jealousy to influence Hogan's old friend the unbeatable  Andre into confronting him, and challenging him for a title shot.
Leading to this, perhaps one of the best segments of the time.

The  motivation is Heenan's desire to get the belt off hogan and on to a guy he manages. He had tried before with other wrestlers. (King kong bundy, Big John Studd, Ken Patera)  So here we had a big bad who had a clear motivation, and had consistently, successfully enlisted credibly  threatening challenges to throw at the hero.
No one other than the hero was going to stop Andre, hell no one had in "15 years."
The eventual clash between the two was the greatest spectacle in the industry up to that time.

This is not so unlike betrayals common in literature going back thousands of years.
Hogan is our Siegfried, who  offended Brunhild (Heenan), who went out and got someone nearly unbeatable to take him out, Hagan (Andre). The only thing  keeping the analogy from being spot on is the end result with Hogan Vs Andre, but still the form is there.

It works .

WWE / WWF used that for over again several times (notably with Randy Savage I mean they did the SAME THING) but never with quite the success they had in 1987.
Primarily because the  pieces were never so good. Andre was a near unbeatable foe, even at the end of his WWE run. Hogan was Siegfried at the time having vanquished every opponent up to that point. Lastly  Nobody was better in their role as Big bad puppet master than  Bobby Heenan.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Star Frontiers:

Meet Tot, He's Dead, Tots been Dead a long time.

If Anyone who ever gets their hands on my Loot Box a-go-go game has even passing knowledge of Star Frontiers, that person will see the obvious influence the former had on my game.

I don't deny it. In fact the whole thing could almost be looked at as a hack of Star frontiers. (Hak is more trendy right?)
I have basically  taken the  old star frontiers game and trimmed the character generation down and  moved that complexity over to  the concept of Burn Chains. I touched on those in the last post.

Some things like the d100, roll under a target, and good things happen if you roll doubles resolution system, just work.
It is simple to use.
Can cover many situation without a lot of tinkering.
Has enough  numeric"space" to  allow for a myriad of modifiers.

Basicly I want a die system that is simple enough that I can just run the game and make this happen.

Clyde Caldwell(source
Because that level of Crazy kind of has to be a thing.

Which brings me to Humanity:
I am thinking about giving every player character a pool of 100  "humanity points" which can be spent to  install cybernetic "stuff. Nothing groundbreaking there. I don't really want Loot box to become a game about cybernetics and  the fact is games that include cyber stuff, often get lumped in with any other game that does cyber stuff. (It's like Cyberpunk ... but..)
in other words I have to be careful and limit the cyber portion of the  game to perhaps only certain burn chain abilities or special circumstances.
In a perfect world I would come up with some novel way Cyber abilities work, A way in which they are different than most games. I'm not sure that's going to happen. The science fiction, post human form tropes have been well established and well tread by people much smarter than I am.

My first idea is that anything the  Scrappers could afford to build into their bodies would have to be ultra functional and key to their survival.  Money is tight. A person who lives their life scavenging the  fringes of known space, would most likely not waste it  on one trick items like a gun in their hand. Full on Eclipse Phase cyber tech might be a bit out of reach in the  world of loot box.
Cyber punk-ish equipment is also a step away form the Star Frontiers swashbuckling dungeons in space feel I was going for. That's also a consideration.
So I have to give it a bunch  more thought.

-Well that's where its at, Thank you for reading


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sci-Fi Stir Fry.

My experience with Science fiction is  limited, but not completely  nonexistent. I'm familiar with the big two, Star Trek and  Star Wars. On the Star Trek side I am mostly familiar via osmosis and playing Star fleet battles back in J.r. high. Star Wars on the other hand I have seen the movies and simply don't care that much about them, just not to my taste.
Other than that, I was a huge fan of Robotech and Battletech when I was younger. Battletech in particular has had a grip on me over the years. I still harbor a glimmering fantasy that someday I will run a game where the players pilot giant robots and  beat up aliens.  Lately we have been playing a Sci - Fi Rpg of "Stars Without Number" which truth be told I haven't  read up on the rules beyond making my character Luckily  the GM has been kind enough to say things like "Just roll and add 5, tell me what you get" and nursed me along a bit. I have been having fun with the  game even if my mastery of the rules set is sub-par. (and that's being gentle) I have never been a hard Sci Fi  fan either. No Traveler 2000, no Larry Niven, no dancing around singing,  "The Ringworld is unstable." Much like Star Wars, just not my thing.

Most of my Sci fi roots are firmly planted in the soil of campy  60's films about giant iguanas and  alien invaders who mostly look like us.
As an example I rank "The Forbidden Planet" high among my  favorite moves.

My other big exposure to Sci - Fi is through video games. X-com, to a lesser degree Fallout, Gears of War, Halo, Mass Effect, Destiny, and especially, the Borderlands series are all sci fi based properties I have enjoyed over the years.

With  all these influences in mind I have been fiddling with my own thing based loosely on the  borderlands style shoot and loot concept, mixed with a bit of space hulk, and some tabletop miniature wargaming dropped in for good measure. *

Not so much a storytelling game, unless the story being told is about characters making aliens blow up. More of a Smash and Grab combat focused RPG. I'm calling it "Loot Box A-Go-Go" for now.

Here's the selling point and naturally I'm not selling anything. I'm just kind of brain dumping on my  blog as usual.

With this game I am embracing the  one shot game in that each character has load out of abilities that can be changed every game, are activated sequentially during an adventure, and reset when the adventure is over. In concept it's like going from level 1 to level 15 in D&D every game if the  player rolls well enough.
While embracing the  one shot, I am also embracing  development over time , by making  most of charater statistical improvement linked to gear. Gear is found during an adventure and  is conceptually similar to guns found in Borderlands.

  • A character's level will not make it easier to hit, but a better scope will. 
  • You might find a new gun that is better than your old one. Or find a new attachment that makes your old gun situationally superior.
  • Your shield is your hit points, improving your shield can/will save your life.
  • Gadgets can help fill the gaps where a team does not have relevant skills.
  • You roll to hit based on your skill level, these are guns we are talking about trying to die out of the  way or what ever is not going to work all that well all that often.

The initial key thought here was this: Space is  incomprehensibly vast. The  Strongest adventuring  human , as compared to the weakest adventuring human is not  that big a difference when compared to that vastness. Traditional Stats take on a less important roll. The Character's survivability is going to be based more on what tools they can find and what decisions the players make as a group, rather than their actual innate abilities.

The biggest challenge for me is creating the  charts and such to randomly generate loot. To use the Borderlands example again, that game has a loot generating algorithm to do the dirty work quickly and efficiently. I don't. I need to use paper and dice to hopefully produce some information ritch results. My gut tells me to make guidelines and then tell the Gm to make up loot to stock the game. It would work. (has worked for all these years of D&D right?)
My heart tells me random loot drops are AWESOME-SAWWSSSS and I want to make that a working aspect of the game experience.

That's it for now.
I will provide a bit more by way of Looty information once the  game is being tested and tried.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, April 18, 2016

My 200 word rpg, 2016.That did not make the contest

Last year I entered a game into the 200 word game contest found here.
This year I got lazy and missed the deadline.
I had the  game written , I just never did anything to format it and never sent  it in.
Que Sera, Sera.

So here it is the contest  entry that never was.
Thanks for reading.

Tracy’s last ride:
Tracy is dead.
You are on the way to the funeral.
Play this game in a car, on a trip.
Turn on the radio.
The next song reminds you all of Tracy, a favorite song.
The driver starts, look around at the traffic.  Say something about Tracy based on the cars you see.

Oncoming cars are negative, Cars in you lane are positive.
The Person speaking must pick a car then tell.

Cars Oncoming / Same lane

  • Red car: A time you angered Tracy / Tracy angered you.
  • Yellow Car: Something Tracy loved / something you loved about Tracy
  • Black Car: Something bad Tracy did / something bad you did to Tracy.
  • White Car: A memory you made with Tracy Positive / negative
  • Green Car: A Trait Tracy had you admired/ Trait Tracy had you disliked

Any other color: A short quip about Tracy.

Speakers go clockwise though the people in the car.

When the song ends:
What kind of person was Tracy?
Who in the car was closest to Tracy?
Who in the car should have skipped this funeral?

Tracy not a good name? Try one of these: 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Awe and Wonder:

Are we there yet?

I am very bad at some aspects of Game mastering.
I am horrible at horror. I don't like horror movies and the like to begin with. I think because I have not exposed myself to horror the methods and subject matter I would need to master to instill a sense of dread in players are pretty foreign to me.
That's just one example. There is something I find even harder to instill in players.


How do you describe it when a group of players round a bend and the  great salt tower, gleaming, crystalline,  massive, and,  solitary in the center of a now dry lake bed? This is one of the wonders of your  world, There is quite literally nothing else like it. A spire of carved salt that rises into the clouds. People go on pilgrimages to see it , and stories are told about it around camp fires all over the known world. 

So the players write it down and decide their next move. 

Describing awe is one thing, you can say  "You are all overwhelmed by the solitary beauty of the spire." However getting the  players to actually be  impressed, to actually think, "Wow... this is something special!" Creating that feeling is far more difficult. 

For me, I think using visual aids, is a great way to  move things towards awe. Describe the grand canyon. No description does the actual location justice. Then look at a picture, especially one that has people in it so  a viewer has a sense of the canyon's vast scale. Suddenly a sense of wonder can creep into a viewer's brain. The  same can be said for location in an RPG. If I were to draw the salt tower as this massive, bleak yet beautiful, then I might be able to put the seed of awe in the players minds.

Unfortunately I'm not much of an artist.

Even with visual aids however, players who have been playing for years might look at special locations as just so much backdrop to what they are doing.

Awe needs to felt as much as understood.

My feeling is that awe is one of those things that is missing from many RPG's. Some times designers tend to focus n the  strange and the  odd. Which is great, but not if it's is in the player face constantly. A player can only  experience some thing as awe inspiring or  out of the  ordinary if the  world around what every they are experiencing is present ed as far more ordinary, If every boat flies a flying boat is just another vehicle. If every wizard casts lighting bolt, players will never be impressed by the smell of ozone and the crack of thunder produced by a lighting bolt spell.  There can be no Awe without the ordinary.
My theory is the  only way t inspire awe with our really  amazing  ideas is to make sure we pay close attention to the ordinary day to day details of our game worlds. Take as much care as a GM describing the inn keeps, scullery maids and farmers huts as you do the cloud Castle of Sshazalara. It might not happen right away but eventually all that ground work and  description will pay off.
It will pay off when your players eyes light up as you describe something truly different, something truly awesome.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ideas I want to run, but will never find the time.

I'm just going to throw a whole bunch of stuff against the internet wall. Just ideas of  games I would like to run, but am never going to be able to find the  time for.
Perhaps one of the folks I game with will see one and say, "YASSS ... WE HAVE TO DO THAT!"
Or another reader will see something and think. "Hey that's not bad. I can take that and run with it."

Here is a list in no  order.

Physical Intervention:
Fighting game characters exist in the  real world, AKA somewhere there is a guy like Ryu who can fight and shoot Hadouken spirit balls at mutant dudes like blanka. Somewhere there is a huge pro wrestler like Wolf Hawkfield who can toss people around like sacks of potatoes. The players are  a group of these kind of super humans. they  enter tournaments and  such to investigate the bad guys of the world. Kind of like a low level super power, spy, kungfu mash up.
SYSTEM: Phase Abandon, or perhaps I would buy the game FIGHT, if I Really wanted to get nitty gritty, Fate might work.

A Corpse Takes up no Space in the Void:
Sci Fi game based  not so loosely on  Borderlands, and Space Hulk. Players play scrappers who  go into old abandon human  vessels to reclaim  technology and resources. Naturally it's never that easy  shenanigans ensue.
SYSTEM: This would have been the game I was writing  "Loot Box a-go-go" had I kept at it. With that out of the  picture I think I would use Original Star Frontiers, or Even Gamma world 3rd edition from 1986. Anything wherein the players could start out soft and get a lot of gear. Gear-centric is how I would describe this idea. Lots of fiddly little modifiers helping push the  characters through obstacles.

The voyages of Noonan:
Players  Journey  among islands via ship. exploring islands as they go.
This would have to be mostly custom , as I would want the islands to be very random and  explorable. The whole thing is kind of amorphous in my mind, but I am picturing hex maps and  each hex having qualities and secrets that are determined on the fly. In effect the whole group, GM included would be exploring.
SYSTEM: Any D&D variant would do, but the simpler ones would be better. Red box, or  5th ed seem to fit my needs the  best. 7th sea would work as well. Most of the "OSR" games and Haks out there would also serve well. The  fact is the real nuts and bolts  would all have to be built on so the actual game would matter less.

Manhattan is Dead:
Simply because postapocalyptic games have not been done to death. Climate change, fuel shortages, famine, disease, and, war have decimated most of the US, and the world. The last vestiges of organized humanity cling to a crumbling half flooded Manhattan. Naturally the  people of Manhattan are still fighting among each other, and there are threats from tribes outside the island. The players play as retrievers, men and women who leave the island and look for other pockets of civilisation.
SYSTEM: Phase Abandon, or Possibly Fate. Some system flexible enough to handle a lot of situations and  give the  players some  control in a big threatening world. Cipher system would be a good choice for this one as well.

This one is just a tiny seed:
I don't have a context yet but I would love to run a game of  DC heroes (mayfair's exponential version) where the "powers" are derived from  mechs the characters are piloting.
I think that would be a beast of a game. I'm just not sure exactly  what the setting would be.
SYSTEM: Mayfair's exponential system. (Blood of heroes most likely)

Party of Five:
I would like to run a D&D 5th ed game where everyone is the same class. They can be a variety of that class, but everyone plays part of a troop of some kind. A pack of rogues, a unit of soldiers, a wizards moot. Whatever.

I know this is kind of ending on a sad note. I'm never going to see any of these ideas through to fruit. It's about having time and that time thing has been hard lately. Playing games in 2 hour chunks over the internet is just not conducive to what I think of as campaign play. Playing on weekends is tough because it's spring and  we all have houses, yards to groom,  jobs, and, wives All that stuff is what  makes life worth living but it still gets in the way of  hobbies. I have to face up to the fact that at this point in my life my window of  "running games" is slowly  closing like the eye of a drowsy cat. Board game and good company  seem to be a more efficient way to spend the days we can get a group together. It makes sense honestly, little to no prep, the same type of geeky fun and  the game itself is responsible for every ones good time. None of my lazy DM'ing can louse it up.

Well, I have once again drifted off on a tangent. It's time to stop.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Old school, classes.

If there is one thing the  internet is suited for its reinventing the wheel. The  web retains ideas, and  any of those ideas can be pulled out of the freezer, thawed and , chewed on  over and over again. Often times nothing new comes of it, other times someone finds a new way to look at an old idea, regardless we are reinventing the wheel.

I give you, The most METAL wheel ever reinvented!
Now rejoice!

When I start to think about the uses or non-use of  classes in an RPG I always get that feeling of "here we go again." Every  iteration of class , meta-class, non-class, template, archetypes, or, whatever classity-class-class combination has already been done.  So with that said in my last post I naturally go and rewrite a class.

For this post I'm just going to propose one very old school solution to classes.

When I look at older games, (and for now I'm going to ignore the  class Vs race dynamic of demi-humans.)
I see this :

What's to stop a player from choosing to play a fighter, using a bow and saying "my character is a woodsman and a tracker!"
So yeah that's a ranger, when the player tracks an animal he can make a wisdom check or the  DM can just decide based on the condition and the  age of the tracks as compared to the character's stats.

The  player picks a cleric and says, "I want all my spells to be  rooted in nature and as I worship nature and its majestic balance rather than a god.'
 Ok that's a druid. Be creative with the  descriptions of spell effects. Ask the player, "How is the spell is rooted in nature? This comes from a guy who just wrote a druid class in his last post for no reason other than I think the normal 5th ed druid is a bit off. If one of my players said, "I Want to play a normal cleric who happens to live as a druid." I could get behind that idea.

I'm not saying anything new here, I think players and DM played the game this way for a long time before splat books, and "complete guides."

The side effect of this kind of thinking is that no two fighters are ever the same as characters while they might be statistically similar. In my mind character and statistics are different animals, separate and running parallel to each other. A fighter as a fighter has a certain mechanical effect on the world because the fighter can hit things at a higher rate and take more damage before falling in a fight. A wizard has a certain mechanical  heft because of  its versatility and  damage out put potential at high levels and its relative weakness at lower levels. These mechanical weights have nothing to do with character. Character is the  history of the fighter. Where the fighter learned to fight, who the fighter loves, why the fighter is sworn to kill all the grey skinned, emu, herding monks. If  classes are the framework that determine mechanical weight with in a game then Character is what the  player pours into the game. let the player do that work.

"Fighter, Cleric, Rouge, and Mage" Image found HERE by bakerart, used without permission. This pic is awesome.

Here's the thing, once a group starts to move away from using a plethora of classes, options, or, kits and  pairs down to just the big four classes, things start to happen. Those things might be taking liberties with  what a character can and can't do. Inventing fiction that supports a character's background or out look. Players are inventing explanations and descriptions for things like attacks and spells as they go and in turn are manipulating the game world in their wake. If enough of this goes on the game starts to look more free-form and less like what I think of as "Old school." The further back one goes before they hit the  inevitable "chain-mail" wall, where war game became role-playing game, the less options are to be had. In fact a great deal was left to the devices of the  payers and the GM back then. The past looks more like  the DIY, creative play pen then most things that today would be called a "New" role playing game.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Part 2 of “playing the warrior druid.” 5th ed druid option

The traveling Druid.
Part 2 of “playing the warrior druid.”
A while back I wrote a post about druids. In particular I had a guest poster and player from the games I run, Russ write about druids. Russ plays druids and he knows more about druids while he is sleeping than I know about them while I am awake.

My contention is this. An actual druid has no reason to leave the grove and the lands that he or she is protecting. I can’t see any reason why a druid in the traditional sense would ever wonder away from the grove and go delving into a tomb with a bunch of adventurer types. In my own game I had to go back into the archives of what has happened over the years in my campaign and give the druid a quest to reestablish lay lines all over the place. In effect he has to move around to get this done.

The 2nd edition druid had that whole, you have to challenge a higher level druid to go up levels aspect. This is a good way to get the upstart druid out of the grove and into the world, which is good. Though in my mind it also hems in the group to having to do the druids “thing” for at least one game at lower levels. At higher levels finding and beating the highest level druid of the lands might be a whole quest in it’s self. It kind of paints the group into a leafy corner.

A player character druid in most D&d games would be more of a traveling druid which has yet to establish a grove. An adventurer druid as it were, with a personal quest.
Given that information I’m going to write up my image of this sort of druid as a glass for D&D 5th edition.

The Warrior Druid:
The embodiment of the balancing forces found in nature, the warrior druid travels the lands fulfilling an oath made to the highest of powers.

Class Features:
Hit points: 1d8 per level
Hit Points at first level: 8 + Your constitution bonus
Hit points at higher levels: 1d8 or (5 + your constitution modifier pr druid level after first.)

Armor: Light armor Medium armor and shields, any non metallic armor.
Weapons: Any weapon that is non metallic. Druids may only use metallic balded weapons that were originally built for harvesting (Scythe, Sickle, Pitchfork)
Tool: Herbalist kit,
Saving Throws: Constitution, Wisdom

Skills: (Choose two from the following)
Arcana, Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Nature, Perception, religion, and Survival.

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment grated by your background.
(a) A simple weapon or (b) a wooden shield.
(a) a scythe or (b) any simple weapon.
Leather Armour, and a druid focus.

Wild Signs:
You know the secret language of the Druids and Rangers. Used to leave trail marks that anyone else who knows the language will notice the marks automatically. Others spot the signs on a Wisdom (Perception) check of 15 or better, however others can’t decipher the signs without the use of magic.

Druids call on the energy found in nature. Players hand books chapters 10 and 11 for spell casting and druid spells respectively.

At first level, you know 2 cantrips from the druids spell list.

Choose a number of druid spells:
Choose a number of spells from the druids spell list equal to your Wisdom modifier + your druid level (minimum of one spell.) The spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots.
You may change you list of spells after a long rest.

Spell Save DC = 8 + proficiency bonus + you Wisdom Modifier.
Spell Attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

Ritual Casting:
You can cast any druid spell as a ritual as long as the you have the spell prepared and it has the ritual tag.

Spell casting focus:
You may choose one of the following items:
Hazel, Adler, Ash, Oak, or, birch staff.
Holly, or mistletoe Sprigs.
As a focus this item my be worked into your clothing or weapons and acts as a physical component to any druid spell cast.

Druid Circle:
At level 2 
You may Become a wandering druid: 
Level 2 abilities:
Innate cartographer: During a long rest you may  create maps of any area you have traveled during the past 12 hours. These maps can be used to guide the party back to a location or though hazardous terrain with a check against DC12 - (character wisdom  + Proficiency bonus)
Attune: Once per long rest you may meditate For a turn to attune yourself to your natural surroundings. You gain a 1d6 which may be rolled and added to any saving throw while you're in the area (with in 1 mile.) (This D6 does not stack with  Bardic inspiration dice.)
Druids Brand: At level 2 you may choose any druid weapon or any one single handed melee weapon, even if it is outside of the  normal druid  limitations. You gain this weapon at level 2 and are not proficient with this class of weapons but only this particular weapon. It is known as your druid's brand. your brand is an individual often named item. If it is ever lost or destroyed it can not be replaced.

At level 6:
Sustaining magic:
You gain the ability to cast the following cleric spells once per day for free and at will:
Purify Food and drink.
Find Traps: (Only in natural settings)
Create Food And Water: As per the spell on page 229 PHB except the weight of food and gallons of water is equal only to the druids proficiency bonus.

Brand Augment 1:
Choose 1You may  add +2 damage to attacks with your druids Brand 
You may cast any touch spells though the druids Brand.

Land Stride: As defined on Page 69 of the PHB.

Level 10:
Primal Augment:
The effects of land stride also effect you animal forms.
You may also expend 1 spell slot of any level to add 1d6 to any damage rolled when attacking in an animal form. While in wild form you are immune to all poisons and disease.

Brand Augment 2:
Choose 1:
Your druids brand now acts as a spell focus.
You may use your wisdom bonus when attacking with your druids Brand

Level 14:
Wise Traveler:
You gain an innate knowledge of the areas you travel. This knowledge manifests in a deep understanding of your  surroundings.
On a roll vs DC 12 - Wisdom bonus you may do the following a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus per long rest.
Know the weakness: You grant all allies +1d6 to damage rolls against any one native creature or creature type for the duration of their current encounter.
Mix a Herbal cure: To any poison from the surrounding area.
Charm animals: Any example of a mundane animal native to the area will accept simple non-combat related commands from the druid.
Sheltered traveler: You can guide a group of individuals numbering up to your  proficiency bonus though any area you have already traveled. This group will not leave a trace, will move silently, and will moves as if hidden with a DC equal to your original roll. 
Wild call: You may call mundane animals to you. Up to 1d6, local and native animals of a chosen type will move to your location as quickly as the train allows.

Brand Augment 3:
You may present the druids brand to foes once per day casting one of the following effects:
Fear: as described on page 239 of the players hand book.
Aura of Purity: As described on page 216 of 
the players hand book. 

Ability score improvements: (as defined in PHB page (67))
Wild shape: you may use wild shape (As defined in the PHB 66 to 67.)
Timeless Body: (As defined in PHB (67))
Beast spells: (As defined in PHB (67))
Arch Druid: (As defined in PHB (67))

Thank you for reading