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Thursday, March 26, 2015

I hate spell lists

Ok, I have to admit I feel a bit dirty typing this. I hate spell lists.
(A door slams violently as Otto leaves the room.)

Whopping huge lists of spells are sort of my great D&D buggaboo. I know lately I have picked on hit points allot, but honestly I have no real beef with hit points. I can look hit points in the eye and say, "Buddy no one understands you and you kind of  smell like old Doritos's but I still love ya" and be done with it.

Show me an endless list of  spells collected by "school" or in alphabetical order and I have no such  understanding. My eyes glaze over.


This cow is so much a baller.


Whats worse the  spells are one of the  great D&D unspoken sacred cows. DON'T MESS WITH THE SPELLS or for better or worse it's just not D&D any more.





I just grabbed my print version of OSRIC off the shelf the spells chapter runs from 35 to 120.

(book total is a hefty 396 pages I think that's around 21 percent of the book.)
Fifth edition Players book  has spells from page 207 to page 289. 
(That's 82 pages out of 320 pages or something like quarter of the book.)*


I know second edition is similar my point being that's about  a quarter of all  the pages in D&D players handbooks I don't really want to read.

I'm not going to suggest ripping all of the spells out of  your favorite game and rebuilding the  magic system. That would be fun, but not here.

What I think would be great, is to avoid the scenario of  the player finding a scroll of fire ball, reading it, scribbling it in a spell book and having the same damn fireball every other character and NPC has and has had since 1978. My goal as a game would be to see every player spell-caster having a suite of unique spells that are not found in that 20% of the player,s hand book.

What I am going to suggest is this. 


If your favorite game has rules for spell research, use them from the start with the players. 

Ask the  player what he or she wants the  spell caster to be able to do. Use the existing spells as guidelines, but allow the  descriptions of  what exactly the spells are and do come from the  players.

Always  ask:
BE THIS GUY! ***

  • What do you want the  spell to do?
  • What would it look like when you cast it?
  • How would you plan to use it?
The  players will hand the GM a new spell on a silver platter.




Sticking with  Fireball as a nice familiar example:
If he player says, " I want to research a spell that creates and explosion and  blows the living begee-buss out of everything in an area."

That's a fire ball. Sure.
But players rarely stop there, they come up with  crazy, amazing ideas that make a fire ball so much more than that.
  • What if the fire ball is a touch spell that effects every thing but the caster?
  • What if it leaves a camp fire behind?
  • The  fire is in the infra red spectrum so it's invisible to everyone but  those with infra-vision.
  • It's not fire it's an explosion of (could be a thousand things.) of Negative energy.
  • It's not physical damage it's and explosion of psychological energy that affects targets minds.
  • The explosion does not effect animals, only humanoids.
  • The  explosion does not effect inanimate objects.
  • The are of effect is the  size and  shape of a huge sword emanating form the caster.
  • The spell can only be cast onto an arrow fired by another.

As a GM that means having to let go, and say 'It's OK that the players have some strange spells."
remember it's OK because all this tinkering with spells opens up other opportunities for the GM.
Spell research set the  players up for having to go find rare components. A PC wizard with interesting or powerful custom spells is sure to attract attention having other wizards who may covet their spells. A thief might be sent to steal lab notes or worse yet a spell book, things could get chippy among the  wizards of the old order. Spell research  eats gold and  keeps the spell caster needing an income. The  fodder for n industrious GM is almost endless.  Lastly if the GM gives the players an opportunity to research custom spells from early on, logically the players can assume their opponents will have custom spells of their own. This blasts the  doors down  concerning what the GM can spring on the  players. If you can think it, the enemy might cast it. Then it might be the  player coveting someone else's spell book.The player having access to a web spell that explodes into searing rainbows after a number of rounds equal to their level is a small price to pay for so many adventure opportunities.

Think about using  custom magic and the rules the game you choose to play  offers for creating spells right form the start ad see where things go from there.
It has to be better than one more magic missile?**

Thank you for reading, please scribe your comments in the spell book below.

-Mark.

Another post on the same subject from "Froths of DnD"

This post From "Don't split the  Party"  Was HUGELY influential in forming the thoughts that went into this post. While It's not exactly the same thing, but it got me thinking about spells differently and that's whats important. A big thank you goes out to  Google Plus's own +Heiko Wiebe for pointing me back to that post, after I looked for it all afternoon yesterday.





*DCC Classics has  Spells form lie 127 to page 301, but honestly it's all so amazing and includes things like "The caster turns a small geographic region to stone" that I honestly can't even call it a spell list in the traditional sense.

** Our group has a long standing  tradition of letting the  caster choose what their magic missiles look like. We have had everything from  flaming skulls, to arrows, to most recently  pine cones.

*** Joseph Wright - Alchemist

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blog Update:

I have not posted for a few days,
Been working through some ideas and want to work a bit on the  blog it's self:

I plan on taking this weekend (I hope) to  tag every post in the blog and  organize them so that they can be  viewed by any one interested a bit more easily.
Also I have to cut back and redo the blog roll as it's a bit unwieldy.

I may even  fiddle with the template a bit.
Who knows.

-Mark.

Friday, March 13, 2015

My ever changing thoughts about hit points, and ever changing hit points.

The thing that keeps me coming back to  this blog, and  to the whole act of "making game stuff and sharing it" is that there seems to be no limit to the number of idea inspiring material floating around the internet.

Before I start this post I want to point out some of the things that have lead me to start thinking about hit points again.

These replies from +ktrey parker.
Such as:
"I use HD a bit differently, and Players don't roll their HP for a given battle until it starts. Definitely informs play."

And:
" I like to keep HP abstract, and combat a dangerous proposition even for a high level fighter (when all those d8s come up 1s, tactics change). Players don't  have a "buffer" when they face off with something, so combat is always a risky proposition.
Those goblins might be really tough and vicious, going in straight for the kill, or not. Not knowing until the battle starts leads to a more cautious style of play. "

(Sounds like a blast to play BTW.)
Combined with this 2012 post from Hidden in Shadows Which talks about the origins of HP as a concept. (And as stated in the article there have been a ton of posts about interpreting Hit Points over the years.)


And also:
The Tao of D&D:  BU to HP January 2015: (which if you need something pulled apart and analyzed in minute detail Alexis can always be counted on, this is a great post.)

Now that I have sited a bunch of good people, let me move on and write something they will all hate.

I made it pretty clear, in my own post (linked to above) that I don't really like hit points all that much as a concept. I have always felt that no matter how they were originally intend the whole thing ends up feeling very strange by the  time the characters reach the mid levels.

It's an effect of scale.

badideatshirts.com
GM level 1, "A hit, The Zombie jumps on you and bites your  shoulder!  you take  8 points of damage!"
Player: "Great, BlackLeaf is dead..."

GM 1evel 10, "A hit!, The Zombie jumps on you and bites your  shoulder! you take  8 points of damage!" 
Player: "I laugh at it and bite the undead bastard back, then use my second attack to decapitate it!"





Eight hit points of damage versus a level one character is a very successful even deadly hit. The same hit versus the tenth level character is only marginal, a scrape.

The problem here is not that the hypothetical character is harder to kill, it's that the DM describes the action the same way for each situation. Hit points as an overall measurement of generaly how hard the character is to kill requires the  DM to look at each "successful" landed on a character  through the lenses of hit points comparative damage potential.

Paizo
5th edition looked to remedy this by limiting the  game of bonuses available to a character, but  in fact nothing really changed. At a certain point the only option for a GM is to either scale opponent damage,  scale opponent hit points, or have a world filled with much more dangerous monsters. (An Ankeg in every pot, that's what I always say!) 


None of that is new ground, it's  ground trodden hundreds of times by smarter bloggers than I am.


Here is my simple solution which I will try out next chance I get. (next week? or in my next game design?)

  1. Make all hit points comparative.
  2. Hit points are an abstract. (from +ktrey parker ) and open to manipulation based on the situation (As per the "hidden in Shadows article sited above)
  3. Every monster starts with the same hit points as that player.
  4. For each Hit die above the players level add 10 hp.
  5. Why 10? * see below.
  6. For each Hit die below the players level subtract 10 hp, to a minimum of  4 hit points.
  7. Sum the levels of groups. For players use the highest hit single points in the  group as a starting point.
  8. the  Gm could modify monster hp  up to 20 hp either up or down to represent weakness, toughness or a tactical disadvantage.
  9. If a monster is fighting a group and one of the  group dies, the monsters hit points are re-figured immediately based on the  highest current hit points of the remaining  attackers.
Examples

  • A level 1 fighter with  9 hit points squares off against a zombie 1HD they both have 9 hit points. (9 +- 0)
  • A level 1 fighter with  9 hit points squares off against a 3 HD Gnoll chieftain. the fighter would have 9 hp the gnoll woudl have 29 (9 +20)
  • A 10th level fighter squares off against 4 HD ogre. The fighter has say 80 hit points, the ogre only gets 20 (80 - 60 (difference of  6 levels))
  • Three level 3 fighters (hit points of 20 24 and 30) take on a  12 hd  level dragon. The dragon would have 60 hit points (sum the levels of the fighters 3+3+3 =9   9-12 the  hd of the dragon = 3. the difference   30 hit points from the  strongest of the  fighters as a starting hit points + 30 the difference  X 10) = 60.) 
Is this any easier than  just rolling a handful of d8's to determine monster hit points. No. 
I also would not suggest it for large player groups or large scale battles.

Still it brings an interesting dynamic to hit points. 
When a group of players takes on a enemy that enemy becomes easier to kill, it will in effect take less successful hits to bring down?
Why? 
Tactical advantage of a group, difficulty in defending multiple attacks, each successful attack  representing a more telling blow? Likely all of the above.

Kill Bill
If a 10th level fighter with 100 hp wades into a mass of  10 orcs each with  1hd. he is going to be
wading into a hell of allot of trouble as each orc will now have their own 100 hit points even to his. (tires screech.)
I know someone just picked up their mouse and flung it at their screen while screaming my name followed by the word "moron", and I'm fine with that.

look over it though.
I didn't tinker with the other balancing effects of most fantasy games. Armour, and  damage.

The orcs are going to be easy to hit and do less damage, but will be a nightmare to fight. Grappling the  fighter, encircling him, encroaching on the range of his  weapon, taking away her space to move. The  fighter will have to dodge, duck, and basically use every  trick in the book  to simply not get overwhelmed. Any hit the  fighter can land will more than likely not be clean, and hammered in some way by the mass of orc limbs and  snouts in his way. My money would be on the orcs is this situation.
My only real issue here is that the combat could turn into an interminable slog if the fighter was not present enough to get the hell out of there and try to  create some kind of advantage for herself.


However if the fighter can come up with a plan that limits the orcs to engaging two at a time, in say a choke point such as a narrow hallway, then each orc will only have 20 hit points. keep in mind in some games that fighter gets two attacks per round. Then she is in the cat bird seat just mowing down the orcs as they come to her or until they say enough of this noise were retreating.
There is a real benefit here to  intelligently engage rather than wading into the fray.

Also every time an orc does die the groups hit points are re-calculate using the fighters current value. In this example even in a huge scrum of ten vs one after three orcs die their hit points have all dropped by at least 30 points. This might  trigger a morale check as the other orcs see three of their clan mates dead and the fighter still kicking after they all ten of them assailed her.

There is also the not so fine point of if one were to try this with  D&D, it's really not D&D anymore. the result would require such a retooling of how  players see opposition the result would be characters dying simply from using  "D&D thinking" or  strategies that would be perfectly sound under the  regular HP scheme, but not under this one. (Ie: charging headlong into a group of 10 orcs)



I understand that this is way out on a limb and there will be a bunch ** of readers that think this is bat
nuts crazy. (This being the  interwebs They will not be shy telling me so.)  In my mind I think as a gamer and even more as a designer I need to settle for myself what level am I willing to treat hit points as a concrete measurement of physical resilience versus using them as an abstract measurement of a characters current situation. If I use them at all.
Translating these thoughts into the framework of a fantasy RPG *** helps me work though the idea.


Also if I get other people thinking about  how they determine their monsters Hit points and why, that's kind of awesome also.


As always thank you for reading, 
Please leave questions and  Comments on the  shelf next to the heavy bag with my picture on it below.
-Mark




* it was always my understanding (though I can't remember for where) that D8 was picked as the default monster HD because it represented the average range of damage form an average attack. SO  level 1 fighter would have pretty even chance of killing a 1HD Orc with say 6 hp with one attack. It is my experience that the  amount of damage scales pretty steeply once a player gets past say level 5 in most D&D  incarnations, so I went with 10, also  doing the math on the fly during a game would be slightly easier using a nice round 10 rather than 8.

** Like I have bunches of readers! HA!
*** (Or in the this case any edition of "The Worlds most famous fantasy RPG")






Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The South East Moors (A drop in area from my campaign).

The Southeastern Moor:
Population density and distribution: Sparse up to  20 per square mile, but concentrated in small family groups.
Humanoid groups: Gnolls (rare) Goblins (rare)
Imports: live stock, wood, finished products, any and all mettle goods.
Exports: few, their wool is well regraded as is their  knitted goods. Medicinal mushrooms.
crafts: Area is known for their fine antler and horn carvings.
Travel: A party would be wise to hire a guide to use the skills of a ranger, the  moors are dangerous to travel  when ill prepared.
Government: Uncontrolled / tribal


Lying due south of Torin, just east of the old dwarf trade road lies a vast moor. This area of broken and sodden ground stretches for miles to into the south and east, nearly to the southerner most boarder where the  land slowly drys out becomes arid.
interior of a large hill temple and home, Credit below *

Very few live within the  borders of the moor, those who do live in isolated clans of up to 20
individuals, who live a hard scrabble life farming, raising  goats or sheep, and harvesting peat. The people of the moors live behind stockades built of stone any where from three to  five feet tall in low stone huts sometimes dug into hill sides and  roofed with peat.
(See Diagram)

The locals are universally weary of strangers, will not offer shelter with in their stockades and speak a broken dialect all their own which is a mix of  common and dwarven. They will act as guides thorough the dangerous moor in exchange for trade good favoring items of carved wood and steal implements over gold. In trade lanterns and lantern oil are particularly prized.

These lands are dotted with signs of an early period of settlement, and the handy work of Dwarves. Stone circles dot the landscape and old foundations can clearly be seen in many locations. The nature of the  moors themselves have kept many adventures from fully exploring these old dwarven sights. Further complicating things the local populations have carted way many of the carved stones for use in their stockades and homes,  many locations have been lost forever.

A persistent rumor plagues the moors. It is that of the Kraterall **, also known as "Mage Slayer" or simply "old shadow" by the locals.

It is said that a creature or perhaps several creatures roam the moors at night, and take to old dwarven tunnels under the  moors in the light of day. The name Kraterall comes form the local dialect and is thought to be an assimilation of a noise the creature supposedly makes and the old dwarven word for eyes.
What is known is that few locals have actually seen the creature, though they find tracks and will have sheep disappear from their flocks.The  locals who claim to have seen the creature all agree that it is between five and six feet tall, has disproportionately long limbs, and its jet black flesh looks like bundles of dark cords or ropes. It has eyes that glow like a cats when exposed to light, and  runs stooped over much like an ape.
Over the years several  mysterious deaths on the moors have been blamed on the  Kraterall, local farmers found eviscerated in a field, or dead with a whole limbs removed will give rise to stories.
the  Alerian guild of rangers blame the deaths on  bog cats, which are present and do represent a threat to unwary travelers, but the locals disagree.

Twenty + 2  Southeastern Moor Rumors:

  1. The Kraterall is attracted to magic energies and will attack and kill travelers in an attempt to steal away any magical trinkets they may possess.
  2. The moor is the  result of an ancient  Dwarven irrigation project long left in disrepair.
  3. A black ore tower once stood in a stone circle located at the center of the  moor. After the  wars it was left derelict and was dismantled by locals and the  parts used to build homes.
  4. The stories of the Kraterall began when the  seals that bound the darkness with in dwarf hollow mountain were broken, leading some to believe the creature is a demon trapped on this plane.
  5. The moor cats that hunt in the region are just a smaller version of a much larger cat that stalks the low lands.
  6. Sheep fed inside stone circles will sure die before the wet seasons end.
  7. Never enter tunnels near standing stones for a travel will surely be lost with in them never to be seen again.
  8. Occasionally  Gnolls will take over an old ruin or crag on  the moor, they are usually  interlopers or cast offs from the larger population of gnolls which  reside in the northern mountains, they rarely stay more than a season.
  9. Close examination of  stockade and hut walls can sometimes reveal interesting markings and ancient dwarven runes left over from where ever the stones were gathered from.
  10. While gathering Pete the locals sometimes dredge up interesting and ancient objects, well preserved bodies, and often they hit very old tree trunks buried in the soil leading many to believe the moor was once a vast forest.
  11. Food wrapped in a cloth then placed in a sack with fresh wild thistle bright flowers will never spoil.
  12. Near pools in the moor if one looks under overhanging stones mushrooms may be found, mushrooms with many medicinal and recreational uses.
  13. The  wet sections deep in the moor can suddenly open up, the locals have seen goats , sheep and even whole wagons disappear in a matter of seconds, these places are obviously to be avoided.
  14. As rare as sightings of the  Kraterall are , there is yet another rarely seen race on the moor , a race of small toad like  humanoids who live in the  shelter of  Pete mounds and old ruins.
  15. If one with the sight sits next to a moor pool on a night of the  full moon and casts a small section of sheep horn into the  pools center,  a vision can bee seen in waters disturbance.
  16. Some times the  moor belches forth toxic gas, whole families have died from it, it seems completely random.
  17. Never follow lights on the more, they are neither helpful nor human.
  18. Trades from the  south used to cross the moor on occasion but it has been many years since any have been seen in the area.
  19. The  various  circles of standing stones in the  deep Moore are the crowns of long dead and buried giants.
  20. There have been goblins on the moor at times, they are rare now.
  21. No man can claim to be king of the moor, if any tries his death will follow swiftly.
  22. The deer of the moor are swifter and smarter than most, a bow tipped with their antlers and  strung with their sinew will be greater than any common bow
Random encounters: 1d10 during daylight / 1d10 +5 at night
  1. Human  farming group, 5 individuals, related, ragged, weary of outsiders, one leader may speak if approached.
  2. Hunter, following deer sign, will trade food, and  perhaps carved bone items for  iron tipped arrows, knows the surroundings well. May know some of the  rumors above.
  3. Coyotes / coy dogs 1d6 may be aggressive even durring the day.
  4. Mushroom hunters, three individuals and a boar, will get agitated by outsiders, will shoo off strangers and my  get aggressive if followed, will not trade unless the offer is very good.
  5. wild goats or deer (1d4)
  6. A small herd of  pygmy horses (1d4,) Perhaps wild descendant of dwarven horses? Bedded at night
  7. Flightless grouse (1d6) Nested at night. Plumage is valued by the locals
  8. Coyotes / coy dogs hunting pack 1d8 may be aggressive even during the day, one will be an alpha male, with additional health.
  9. Runaway sheep 1d4
  10. "Aware" moss, this carpet of moss will blow toxic spores that cause asphyxiation at anything that wonders too closely. Anyone overcome by the moss will be  consumed by it where they lay. Keen observers will notice rabbit, deer, and coyote skeletons in the  moss. The locals know to avoid this stuff.
  11. Gnoll group (1d6)  Hunting, or traveling. Will always include at least one male warrior and several lesser gnols.
  12. Goblin Group 1d8  (always hunting) A rag tag group of trouble some goblins looking to steal a sheep
  13. Will o' Whip 1d4  hovering over the distant moor.
  14. Giant owl, this Owl is the size of a large turkey they are very aggressive and will attack a person, or pack animal. It could lift a half-ling or gnome. It kills it's prey by lifting them and dropping them from height.
  15. Bedded down wild goats or deer (1d4)
  16. Bog cat 1 (use any great cat template from your game of choice.) Dark grey and silent these are the most feared mundane predators on the moor. they  always have a chance at surprise and  will attack on 

Thanks for reading .
Enjoy your day!

** The Kraterall as a creature is left up to the imagination of hte GM, in my campaign it is a real creature, with a history and motivations all it's own. It's presence in the Moor-area is coincidental to it's creation and it's drives. My suggestion would be to make it very hard to find and quite formidable if hunted. A great side quest for a druid or a ranger looking to  purge the wilds of  despoiling influences.








* Rough stone  Monument Diagram from: Rough Stone monuments And Their Builders, By T. Eric Peet
    Found here: http://scienceviews.com/ebooks/RoughStoneMonuments-Peet/index.html

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Game Design: Wrestling the Grit and Stereotypes of 1970's cinema.

So is it possible to not like your own game?

If you have been reading this blog lately you may have seen this post about Nova 74.
In that post I made a promise to co back and talk about the games subject matter in a somewhat intelligent manner.
Here it goes.

The game Nova 74 takes on gritty 70's action cinema. Particularly the kind that were set in the inner cities, and based even if loosely on the real world.
In other words the game is more “Death Wish” and “Mean Streets” and less 70's campy horror like “Count Yorga Vampire”, or even “The house that Dripped Blood.”
which means right away the game deals with a gritty real life and death aesthetic.
Because it is set in the world of 70's cinema it also drags in movies like “Shaft”, “ “Coffee”, “Super Fly”, “Black Gun” and so on.

I'm trying to stay away from simple Gridhouse “Best Friends”, “Delirium”, (anything pumped out by Crown International) because I’m not a fan. Which throws the focus right back on the “splotation” Films which include crime drama it turns out that includes mostly all of them in one way or another.


So get stuck with two questions:
The easy question, is the game too gritty to be enjoyable?
The the hard question, is it OK in 2015 for a forty year old white guy to be role playing a 1970's movie pimp who is a no hold bard stereotype?”

Question 1:
The game did not seem too gritty for me in the first play test. Then in the second play test my view slipped a bit. Perhaps it was because all of us were either tired or had much bigger real life things going on in the background. Our moods might have bleed though a bit. There was more in character talking (which is how I built the game so it's not a complaint.) and a much slower pace than the first play test. The players were interacting with the npc's in a way that they had not in the first game, we were learning more about the world and it was throwing long shadows, none of the NPC's had particularly happy stories.

I looked at my notes for NPC's we had a drifter named Lip Baum Bill who drinks a bit too much, a
pimp names Reggie Washington Jackson who just had his place of business fire bombed. Two big bad guys, Frankie the Flush Funkhouser, a mobster who runs the neighborhood, and Doc Johnson a drug-dealer who wants his cut left alone. Several other minor drug dealers one of which is the sworn enemy of a PC, who received dangerous tainted cocaine from him. A friendly bartender, a go-go dancer and, some prostitutes round out the town so far. By the end of the second game a full blown turf war was about to erupt catching the players in the middle.

So here is where I run into an issue. The way I wrote the combat, it's deadly. It's wiser to interact with NPC's before a fight breaks out. When the interaction happens the payers and the NPC's start to learn more about each other, everyone is bleak. This is true to the source material, everyone has skeletons in those old movies, but in an RPG, learning that Charles the player character is a drug addicted Vietnam vet who is looking to off a drug dealer who gave him bad coke. Or that Harley is after Doc Johnson not because Harley is a bounty hunter, no it's because Doc killed his brother. everyone take pause and say “whoa that's some real shit.”

I'm not accustomed to looking at real issues in my games, not even slightly. I'm not sure the players were ready to be sympathetic towards Charles. It's emulating the genre a bit too well, at the risk of being less fun to play.
(I know “Fun” is a bad word in some circles. Not in this circle.)


The second Problem is more difficult.
First let me lay it out there. I am a big fan of 70's blacksploitation movies with funk sound tracks, over the top characters an over saturated colors. I was the only kid in high-school (Grad, 1993) who had the “Truck Turner” sound track on Vinyl, and the shaft sound track on CD. I have seen and enjoyed many of those films which I have let inform the Nova74 game .
That fandom doesn't equate to being comfortable playing the hyper stereotyped characters from those movies as NPC's in an RPG twenty some years later. We made the Joke after I got done playing a conversation between the local pimp and one of the player characters that he was “The WORST* NPC ever.” I agree. However the source material is all stereotypes, white stereotypes, black stereotypes, female stereotypes, overblown macho male stereotypes. Name anything and it's stereotyped in those 70's action movies. Ignoring that would be bad design, and playing the characters differently would be dishonest.
I still don't like it.
I'm not a sociologist, I'm certainly not an expert on any of the social "isms" out there in the world. What I am is a guy who tries not to perpetuate social negativity in my daily life.

Would it be better if the game had some way of examining the use of stereotypes in 1970's cinema as a vehicle for empowerment?* Yes it would but who the hell wants to play that? It's a game not an film studies class. My only real option is to move the target as far as source material goes. More Charles Bronson and less Richard Roundtree movies as it were. (not that there aren’t glaring stereotypes in Bronson's flims.) Also cranking up the action focus more on movies like “The Outfit” or “DA” which is to say make the game whiter and more boring. (Not to mention I would have to rewrite the combat system to include prolonged gun fights where no one ever gets hit until the end. I don't want to copy GURPS.)
NAH
So I'm at an impasse as to how to proceed. I know the next play-test is going to be filed with more action, which tends to make these other problems seem less, but that's a bluff.

My thought for both issues is to think on the design after the next play-test, and work out some form of “path to a happy ending” for the characters. As it is there seems to only be a downward spiral. The character plays they accumulate danger, they get hurt, their life gets shittier. Eventually the city grinds them down. In order for this to be a game and not just an activity we observe as we take part, there has to both sides to the coin. Having the possibility of getting to a light at the end of the tunnel will soften the grit in the game and give the story being created a kind of direction. Mind you I have no idea how I'm going to do this yet, but that besides the point.

How does this help my issue of implied racism and stereotypes in the game? How better to destroy stereotypes then to allow the NPC's and Players to transcend them? To move past them. I need to put work into a system for creating NPC's that is tied to Both the Danger and the “redemption”(?) system of the game. A system that allows each NPC to have several layers of layers which are revealed as the characters get closer to them. So that while the Bodega owner might be a stereotype when the game starts after a while she will be an NPC with motivations and interests of her own that transcend the limits of sterotype.  Making those things mater mechanically will be the challenge. Honestly it's either that or can the game.




Mind you the  answer to all of this might be "loosen up Moron you had a bad night." However it has
been on my mind and I think not thinking about Therese things while working on a game that is genre specific, woudl be doing myself, anyone whoever tries the game, and the game a disservice.

Please comment bellow.
Thank you for reading,

-Mark
* "Worst" in this case means most offensive, which admittedly for me, covers allot of ground.
*A thing I read before I wrote this:
Afro Thunder!: Sexual Politics & Gender Inequity in the Liberation Struggles of the Black Militant Woman
Another thing I read that is basically opposite to the link above, though this one is dated and reads like a dated article.




Thursday, March 5, 2015

Combat is Visceral, make them feel it.

Try this once.
Don't track hit points.
Every time a player character is hit by an attack  describe the wound the player takes.
Tell them some negative effect it has.
  • You took a wound to your sword arm you have to switch to your off hand, what do you do?
  • You took that wound to your leg your movement is halved, you're bleeding, what do you do? 
  • That blow hit your back pack, you can hear a potion bottle or oil flask shatter, what do you do?
  • You shield has cracked what do you do?
  • You have been disarmed what do you do?
  • The left most shoulder strap on your chest plate has been severed. It's hanging limp and  impeding your  actions, your going to have to refasten it to loose the chest plate, what do you do?
  • You take a stiff blow to the  chest knocking the wind out of you, what do you do?
  • A minor cut to the cheek, that's going to leave a mark, what do you do?
  • The enemy has caught i't weapon in your cloak tangling the two of you momentarily, what do you do?
  • The enemy has brushed aside your guard leaving you open for attack, what do you do?
  • The  sundering blow smashes the radius of your  shield arm, it now hangs limp at your side, what do you do.
  • Your lip is busted open, teeth go flying, what to you do?
  • Spear to the hip, blood everywhere, What do you do.
  • Your armor turns the blade, but  the impact may have broken your collar bone, what do you do?
I'm sure you can come up with about a hundred more effects that are better than the examples above.

Always ask the  player after he gets hit "what do you do" if if they stall the monster attacks again.
Tell them up front that this is going to happen, apply the rule evenly, openly, and fairly. If you want to use a 20 second stop watch, use one.

For each hit on a player character, access a minus -1 to the player characters to hit rolls.

When the Player character can no longer mathematically hit the target then the next successful attack accessed against the character is the death blow.

Healing  and long rest remove these penalties and injuries. (By long rest I mean  real recovery times, if the characters radius breaks, a nice night in the inn is not going to do it, they need a few weeks and honestly may never be quite the same again, or they need a priest with cure moderate wounds.... or your games equivalent.)

Do the same when a character hits a monster do not worry about rolling damage. Describe HOW the hit landed, and WHAT effect the hit has.
  • Be as descriptive and visceral as possible.
  • Throw away  any critical hit or fumble  rules.
  • Feel free to give characters and Monsters second free attacks when it fits. 
  • Run this as fast as possible.
Monsters die after a any number of hits, it's the GM's discretion. (I would suggest keeping it at around  5 or under.) *EDIT: Or one hit per Hit Die.

In the end  want my players to be out of breath and sweating after the fight.
I want them to think twice about fighting again.
Never forget that every damn time that character draws steal or starts to cast a spell, someone is going to die, it's a fight, a real fight.
The characters are RISKING THEIR LIVES, THEIR HEALTH, AND THEIR FUTURES.
Make them feel it.

-Thanks for reading
Mark.