Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Commit! Commit!

Based on Jeff Reints' acceptance of Rob Conley's say-so, I've committed to answer RPG questions over at Stack Overflow. I think this is a great way to use the IntraBrain, and I'm hopeful it'll help broaden the interest in and connection to the Old School Renaissance.

However, they need more people to commit to the RPG topic before it can go live---sign up! Commit! Share your experience (or admit your ignorance!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Paying attention, or "Bertram the dungeon possum"

So, while playtesting the primordial_odd rules yesterday, my six year-old son, Max, began to get bored. Now, this isn't unusual, but while he initially said he wanted to know "when we're gonna fight something", he still wandered away even during combat.

At first I got irritated, mostly because I was trying to keep the playtest running as smoothly as possible after a delayed start of making/porting characters and other things, which didn't help. Luckily, however, the characters were exploring the Upper Caves of the Darkness Beneath from Fight On! 2, and that means eight-legged dungeon possums. I should also mention that Max was playing Rex, a large, three-headed talking dog he based off of an old miniature of mine.

Rex is the first to notice the possums, due to his sense of smell. When he bounds over to them, they understandably cower in fright. Max decides that Rex is going to try and talk to them "in animal language." Um, okay. Got nothing planned for that, but he's suddenly interested. After a bit it becomes obvious that Max would really like one of the possums to be his "minion" (yeah, we saw Despicable Me, which was actually pretty good...) Again, my initial reaction was "Ugh. No. Please no more stuff to keep track of!", but again, I thought, well, this is what he wants from the game, right now, as a player. So, again, okay. One of the possums, whom I name Bertram, wants to get out of this podunk cave and see "The Big Light in the Sky", of which his ancestors tell so many frightening tales, for himself. He jumps up on Rex's back, and away we go...

And that was it---Max was hooked for the rest of the adventure. He even talked about Bertram on the way home, and how since Rex and all his other characters (Mudskel, Fire Skull, Bloodarex and others) all lived together, Bertram would become friends with them, too, and so could always come along on adventures. This was for me a big reminder of paying attention to the players---as far as I'm concerned, most of my fun comes from paying attention to what they're grooving on at any given moment and making that thing manifest itself fulling in the game. Max's inattention made me pay attention; it let me know I wasn't doing my job.

Thanks, Bertram. I have no doubt you'll become an actual character some day---you know, when you finally learn to speak "human language"...

Friday, August 6, 2010

primordial_odd: A Work in Progress

Alright, here's the newest iteration of my attempt to write a simulacrum of the Fantasy Supplement from Chainmail:                                   


There are still lots of holes, but I've made a couple of breakthroughs that I'm pretty excited about.    

  1. I replaced the attack and defense terminology of Light/Heavy/Armored with Cunning/Fierce/Masterful. The more I studied the original tables, the more it became obvious to me that they really weren't so much about armor as they were a gestalt of force and skill. This is especially obvious when you look at the way the terms are used for monsters in the FS. That kind of abstractness appeals to me, so I just pushed it one step further. Armor as such still matters in the Dueling Table, but not at all in the Combat Table.
  2. Which leads me to my next breakthrough, which is the, well, not so much re-creation but interpretation of the three main combat tables in the FS, the Combat Table (kept the same name), Man-to-Man (now Dueling), and the Fantasy Combat Table (now Wondrous Combat). I made some significant changes, especially in the Dueling Table, but overall I think they closely adhere to the spirit of the originals. I can honestly say when I was madly designing "indie" games three and more years ago, I would laughed out loud if you'd told me I'd design a game with three good-sized, cross-referenced, combat resolution tables---the world is funny like that, I guess. :)
For the tables themselves, which still woefully lack any sort of instructions or examples, so here's a short crib:

  • The Combat Table uses single d6s, and the formula is dice/rank(target number to score a hit); e.g., 1/2(6) means one die/two ranks, with a 6 needed to score a hit.
  • The Dueling Table uses 2d6, and at least right now, the low rank in the duel is subtracted from the high rank. The high rank in the duel uses that "duel number" as the number of 2d6 combos he rolls. The low rank in the duel rolls their rank, unless it's higher than the duel number, in which case they use the duel number, too. Opponents of the same rank each roll one 2d6. E.g., a 4th rank character faces off in a duel against a 1st rank character. 4-1=3, so the high rank rolls 3 2d6s combos, while the low rank character only rolls 1d6. If the low ranking character was 2nd rank, then both opponents would roll 2d6.
  • The Wondrous Combat table uses single rolls of 2d6 for each opponent. Damage can be dealt in one of two ways: each successful roll equals one hit of damage, or a successful hit equals an actual kill---that'll learn ya' to take the Wondrous lightly! The scores needed to hit are listed, for instance, as "7/5". The character's score to hit is on the left, the monster's on the right.
  • Characters themselves have hits equal to their rank. They can actually be knocked down to zero hits and keep fighting. Once below zero, they make a Saving Throw---if they make it, they're unconscious, if they fail it, well, even heroes die. After a combat, all hits are restored. If knocked down past zero and only rendered unconscious, when revived, hits will go back up only to the character's rank minus one, until the Adventure's over (or they spend a few days resting.)
I'm happy to field questions, and if someone's willing to give the combat tables a spin, well, that'd be fabulous. I'll be playtesting it this Sunday for Otherness: Session 13. Already sounds like we're going to have weird characters, so stay tuned...