This Blog 2019, Goals and Grommets

Inspired by the 2019 goals post over at Charles's Dragons Never Forget Blog, I figured I would do the same thing. 2018 right around ...

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Material For Phase abandon:

Another group has started playing Phase abandon, apparently a number of people have downloaded the game PDF off Drive through RPG. With that in mind I have set out to produce some short (5 pages or so) Folios which include information that may be helpful to those looking to play phase. A game which Is in my opinion pretty darn hack-able so these folios could end up being a series dedicated to Phase hacking moving towards system bashing.

My vision is that these folio's can be printed and kept to create a larger more flexible Phase campaign binder. Obviously, I'm getting way ahead of myself.(as usual)

The first of these Folio's is "The Phase Skill Folio" Which explains points about  Phase skills. Words are spent on how the skills work along with what their actual purpose within the ethos of the game.

I'm going to be offering it up on Drive through once I finish it, then have the chance create some form of suitable cover page. I might make the folio's Pay what You Want although I know that's as good as saying FREE, so I may go either way.

However because this is my blog which means anyone who reads this blog is my special friend, I'm going to put a download link here to the beta document.

Phase Skill Folio Beta PDF

This is an effort to gage reaction and interest, so any comments are as always welcome.

-Thanks for reading .

Phase Abandon, RPG, Dustpan games, Role Playing Games

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Phase Abandon Q: and A: (Skills and Skills in Challenge Scenes.)

One of my friends is starting a game of Phase Abandon, and in the course of setting it up he sent me a couple of questions. This is a good thing honestly. I have not thought about the internal workings of Phase for a while. It was written quite some time ago, and we haven't played it for a while. The end result is writing this was a very good exercise for me, and hopefully helpful for him.

Question One:
One of the players has a skill called "Gains from ones losses", He wants to write it as if when someone critical fails a roll, he can then roll that skill to regain 2 lost skill points for each success. If he critical fails then he losses two skill points for each critical failure of his choosing, I feel like the skill should have a very defined restriction since it seems to be a very powerful tool. There is the equilibrium aspect to, he could take as much damage as he gains back. I'm not sure what to think about that.

Answer 1:
First off I'm going to say the  skill is fine by the wording of the rules but here are some thing s to think about.
Some questions for the  group to ask when looking at this skill.

  • In the story  what is  "gains from One's losses" As in how does he gain .. If a character is  20 miles from his character and rolls a pile of crit fails can he gain from that, how?
  • Is it  combat specific?
  • Specific only to Combat while he's with another player's character?
  • So how does he get dice back  by virtue of another character getting stabbed in the face?

The game being a narrative game is not in anyway balanced against number fuckery. It is a problem that is  tricky to overcome, because some times people just don't even know they are committing Dice fuckery. 
Players are apt to think "Soooo I can just write my own slf heal? Or an Area of effect attack cause what-evers?" 
They start to salivate and write awesome Kewl-Powerz when all they needed was a s skill called "First Aide" (On success heals skill damage = success, Hels Heart damage = to 6's on fail heals nothing, on critical fail can not retry on this target's current wounds.

Our famous example is this skill:

Cannon in my chest:
I fire a huge cannon  built into my chest!
For each success, some one dies, for each 6 rolled a world of my choosing dies.
For each critical failure rolled I take 1 point of heart Damage, and someone else dies.

That skill is not in any way against the rules.
It's  stupid.
Very stupid.
BUt not against the rules.

In other words there is no point in taking pride in breaking or exploiting the system because there never have been any breaks written into the game to prevent it. It's like saying "look I ate the cookie! HA! I got over on you!" when the  cookie jar is open on the counter. 
Yeah .. Have a cookie.. we can all have cookies.

The only  thing holding player back from what I consider "Dice fuckery" is the social contract between players to buy into a narrative game in which the  players characters and s skills fit into the  the setting.

The group can  make it work:
My advice would be to  have a conversation with that player asking how he envisions that skill working in a story.. Is it a psy power? some anime reference that the  person loves, whatever. 
Find out the motive behind the skill then put it to the group. If everyone thinks it's ok  then work with it. 
Let it go on a trial basis see if it's  game breaking.  If I remember correctly one of Jay characters had "backstabbing" and we went through a few variations of it before it felt right. You're all players in this game trying to make a cool world with cool stories. It's not a competition, so if a skill is a bit wonky but  everyone agrees that it's OK. It becomes OK.

Also remind the  player that if he rolls 5 ones in combat he could take 10 Heart damage which will put him out of the fight (No one dies in phase unless they want to so....) instantly.
Which might not be the  best for the  group.

Question 2:

A question that's been bugging me about mechanics: Are challenge scenes combat oriented? I know there are skills that can take points of a goals or deal damage but can all skills be used in a challenge scene? 
Answer Two:

Any scene can be a challenge scene.  More to the  point A challenge can be anything the  group agrees is a challenge

Any skill can be used in a challenge scene because any skill can take challenge off of a scenes total challenge rating.

Challenge scenes are set up by each  player putting in chips then rolling a number of  D6's  Equal to the chips. Highest roller controls the opening of the challenge scene. The total challenge is determined the total of all the players rolls.

With That in mind the opening bidding process is not just about  "control" of the challenge scene. It is also about how much weight each player wants that scene to have in the game. 

A scene could come up that the table thinks should be a challenge but one of the players is not that interested in. They could concede the bid, by bidding nothing. 
That will A. mean they aren't getting control at the start of the challenge scene, and B. the total challenge in the scene will be lower. Both of which can be acceptable results.

For example Rik is bartering with a Blacksmith. This could be a skill roll, and  probably should be.  
If the  group determines that this should be a challenge scene that's also acceptable.
However the challenge should not be  very high unless the group thinks that this  interaction with the blacksmith is pivotal or that it might tip the fortunes of the party in some way.
If a challenge rating of  10 or less is rolled for the challenge scene, then Rik's player could roll well and clear it in one or two rounds of talking. It's not combat, but it may push the  group towards completing their goals in some small way.

Another good example which is more in line with your questions:
Muhadin my  Phase character had the  skills "Feats of strength" And "Brawling"
Feats of strength was not a combat skill in it's self, but if I rolled well it could take points of of a scenes challenge. I would use feats of strength all the time to  throw things (aka people) around, rather than using brawling. In-fact in a climatic fight against Muhadin's brother  his brawling was reduced to one die. By the end of the fight I was relying almost exclusively on his raw strength. As a narrative that's awesome... Ended up tossing the guy around until he surrendered.

Hope these have been interesting and helpful. 
It's a flexible and fun game but it admittedly has it's flaws, and comes at some things differently than other RPGs. 
Questions from any one who downloads the  game are more than welcome.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Thimbral Rising: Talking Ideas.

Had some ideas and want to  put them down here on the blog.

If one were to use the labels to search that person would find that the very first time I ever mentioned the  "Shards of Thimbral" setting idea was back in  2013. What that means is I have had this idea bouncing around in my head for a solid four years with nothing to show for it. I do have a "game" sketched out in my "Things Unfinished" folder. By sketched out I mean very much undone.

Yesterday I was kicking around a system to bolt my setting ideas onto. Here's my thought process. I would want something simple. I like a games main mechanic to be easy to remember. I don't necessarily need "innovation." In fact if I were strain for an innovative idea I know I would over complicate the game.

Some Setting ideas (I have shared these one form or another)

  • A world torn apart by cataclysm.
  • The world shattered into an countable number of  floating islands. The  world below rent and twisted, inhabited by creatures unfortunate enough to have been left behind.
  • Humanity took a century to claw it's back to some semblance of  society among the  floating shards of  their world.
  • None of that matters to your character however, as you grew up after the event. 
  • You live in this world of floating villages and buildings built of salvaged scraps is all you know.
  • Technology:  Roughly real world 1500's to 1540's mixed wiht magic
  • Magic, Yes but magic is intertwined with technology, more a form of fule than a thing that manifests effects. No direct casters (AKA Wizards) in fact it's highly taboo.
  • Main Fantasy  resource "Shards." A remnant of the cataclysm shards are a dark luminous green to black Obsidian like element. It is a residue of the  incredible magical forces that shattered the land which can be used as a fuel.
  • Other resources, Coal, iron , wood is in short supply in some areas. Honestly anything  people need on a regular basis.
  • The  event that ripped the world apart also imbued magical effects to many  pieces of the world. Each floating island can have it's own biome and magical effects. One island might have a spring that never runs dry and spills over the  side of the island. A jungle island where it rains all the time. A wind swept desert island cloaked In a constant sand storm. An island encased in a huge glass sphere, a island where the sun never sets. So on and so fourth.
  • I would definitely write a procedural "island generator." It would be a must.
  • Main direction of adventure. Exploring unknown islands.
    • Getting back to what happened in the cataclysm?
    • dealing whit other isolated communities.
    • Going to the dangerous surface to find relics in the ruins.
    • Pirates, Mercenaries and raiders from other communities ..oh my. 
I have not decided if I want to write a system for this or just bolt it onto a game I already have. 
The SMART thing to do would be to make it Phase Abandon setting that I could add to drive through as a support product for the free Rpg I already have posted there. (Go to Drive through RPG and search "Dust Pan Games.")
I'm not known for doing the smart thing all that often though.

So that's what I;m kicking around.
-Thanks for reading.

Perhaps by the end of the week I'll post something table usable. Though I have to admit my mind has not been in the  D&D zone for quite a while.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Is Combat always the default mode of interacting with the world?

No AAIE Update this week... Nothing new going on, at least not that I know of.

I love fantasy RPG's.
I also really dig Sci fi games, even though I haven't had the chance to play all that many of them over the years.
The one thing I see repeatedly game after game is a similar theme of blowing shit up. D&D devotes a large portion of it's 5th edition hand book to combat. Not so much In a rules way, the  combat rules in the players hand book only range from page 189 to page 198. I mean more in theme. The idea of adventuring is couched in the  idea that there will be fighting. The  idea that there is magic is  tied to in the idea that many of the  spells are going to be dedicated to  damage dealing. The equipment pages contain  many mundane items, but the weapons get the awesome illustrations. The  New Starfinder book takes this even a bit further. It's Sci-fantasy  setting is  presented as a place where pretty much every one is armed to the teeth. The artwork is good for the most part, but I'm not sure there are any pictures where there's not at least one gun or sword sticking out somewhere.

Not that I have any  problem with any of that. One of my own games (AAIE) is expressly about marching under prepared characters towards a near sure and mostly inexplicable death.   In other words I'm no RPG soft hand. I like building a bad ass warrior to murder-hobo with as much as anyone does.

Though  lately, and it just might me getting old, I don't know.

This post was inspired by two products I saw today. The first a product new to me.
Blood and Bone:
Blood and Bone is a dark and gritty fantasy roleplaying game.
Play as a ragtag company of sellswords, a savage band of raiders, or a gang of outlaws and thieves in the unique and deadly world of Ossura.
Create rich characters, driven by human desires in stories fueled by war, intrigue, and exploration.
And  A game which has come through my  time lines a few times, but I have never actively pursued in any way.
Ryuutama: Natural Fantasy
The characters are travelers in a world without classical fantasy wizards and warriors. Instead, the characters are minstrels, merchants, healers, hunters, artisans, farmers and nobles who decide (or were fated) to leave their towns and explore the world. Using a light rules system based on polyhedral dice where the randomness in results leads to more story development, Ryuutama provides a framework for travel-focused stories fun for adults and enjoyable for all ages. 
I'm not knocking either game they both look very good however, one of those games would have gotten my money instantly  five years ago. One of them might get my money today. They are not the same game. Both games look good, but my perspective is quickly changing.

The nice things about  RPG's is that the  group is free to explore what ever themes make the  game fun for them. I have run D&D games where the party has not thrown a die in anger for the whole session, and those games were still fun. I'm looking for  games where adventure is the theme, but wherein combat is not the default method of interacting with the world.

(Feel free to click those links ... I don't do the  affiliate thing)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Magic, A creeping abomination.

Magic, creeping abomination.

An oily pool.


Magic insinuates itself into everything we do.
Slides into cracks, coats hidden surfaces.
Collects in the low places.
It squirms, Slithers, amoeboid, pseudopodia.

Magic ruined the world.
Stain is everywhere.
Magic left us behind.
Now we hunt Magic.
Stench on our skins.

(How I would have treated Magic in Shards of Thimbral had that ever happened.)