Saturday 30 May 2015

Investments, Business Ventures, and getting the players involved with the world.

To my surprise, several players in my game have independently decided to open businesses.

LotFP has rules for investments, but apparently that's too hands-off for players who will give me a list of the wagon prices, wages, and other sundry costs they're paying per month for their speculative mining business.

And thus, this.

Grab the pdf here and the word doc here.

As per LotFP, you choose (or if you don't know, the DM chooses) a level of risk.
Choose between Stable, Risky and Wild. This table might help.

Maximum Monthly Growth
Risk Dice

Hey woah, what are risk dice?
The idea is that more dice skew towards the middle result or whatever.
On 1d6 you've got an even chance of every result oh no.
On 3d6 you're likely getting a 9-12.

So here's the risk table.

Risky (2d6)
Risk Table
Bankrupt! Lose every last copper piece.
Terrible Catastrophe. -1d20% value.
Major Calamity. -1d10% value.
Mild Setback. -1d6% value.
Bad Omens. -1d4% value. -2 to next risk roll.
Business as usual. +1% value.
Encouraging Signs. +1d4% value. +2 to next risk roll.
Good Fortune. +1d6% value
Excellent Luck. +1d10% value.
Massive Windfall. +1d20% value.
Huge Profits! +1d100% value.

As per LotFP, an accountant gives you an extra +1d10% profit, but takes 5% of money handled as payment.
Damn accountants always know exactly how much to charge.

Isn't this still hands-off, just laid out in a different way?
Ahah! Not quite. The big advantage of this versus regular LotFP rules is that I can give people bonuses or penalties to this risk table based on their actions.
So if someone's failed career is pie making, they'll get a +1 to their pie business.
If someone dies and transfers their holdings to their successor character, a change in management is going to mean a -2 or whatever.
If there are zombies everywhere they'll get a penalty until it's sorted out. If a competitor's business mysteriously collapses, they'll get a bonus.
Just play it by ear, you're good at this shit.

If your business venture is Wild you've got way more risk but your actions will have way more impact, and vice versa for a Safe investment.

The other change from LotFP investment rules is that the investment matures every month, not every year. My campaign doesn't usually move quick enough for yearly stuff to matter, but a month tends to be every few sessions so it works out fine!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Whips, Wrestling and Other Combat Minutiae.

Combat rules yay.
An updated house rule document is coming, but for now here are some tweaks to combat in my game currently.


Wrestling in LotFP works super well.
Contested roll, 1d20 + melee bonus. Winner chooses what happens to the loser.
It's simple, it makes Fighters better at it than other classes, if you fuck it up the enemy gets to turn the tables, it's just generally a good time.

Grapply monsters get double attack bonus when wrestling.
Piling on someone means everyone rolls and you take the best.
Armour doesn't matter when somebody's got your head in a vice.

I've tweaked and codified it for players as follows:
Wrestling: Roll off against your opponent. 1d20+melee attack bonus. 
The winner decides whether they Brawl, Disarm, Hold, or Kick Away. 
Brawl means attack with a weapon or fists. Weapons must be Small size or less, normal fists do 1d2 damage.
Disarm means seize something in their hands or knock it away in a random direction.
Hold means you're trying to immobilize them. Hold someone three times in a row to pin them completely.
Kick Away kicks them in the direction of your choice.

I just looked up wrestling in pathfinder and fuuuuuuuuuuuck how do people manage.
I would also allow Disarm to steal anything the loser is wearing on their head so you can steal their helmet or fancy hat or number one headband.

Truthfully I don't know what is going on here.


I have long been satisfied by the Last Gasp weapon rules. They differentiate weapons in a way that's interesting without making them magical, and it lets non-Fighters get some little combat bonuses.
Also, weapons vs armour in a way that's not fussily actuarial, what's not to love?

But - flails.
Nobody takes flails.
Apparently nobody ever took flails?
Anyway, in Logan's rules it's like a souped-up Hammer with a disarm and a chance to nut yourself.
My players are too conservative for that, apparently.

Instead I'm replacing them with Whips.
- No damage vs any level of armour.
- Can be used to melee attack at range and initiate Wrestling from a distance
- In a wrestle the Brawl option is replaced with Get Over Here which pulls the loser to the winner.

This enables Indiana Jones shenanigans like whipping their weapon out of their hands and catching it or lassoing someone's legs so they can't move. It also means you can whip someone towards you for a shanking next round. The Kick Away option with a whip probably means you run up and power-kick them or maybe spin them like a top cartoonishly so they stumble in one direction or another.
Of course if you lose the wrestle the enemy can pull your whip out of your hands, drag you into shanking range or do these ones.

I also found Logan's "If you haven't been hit this round roll twice for damage, take the best" thing with swords to be surprisingly difficult to keep track of because I always forget and blah blah. I just made it apply to whichever side won initiative.
With some of the effects I had them apply on evens which makes it a fairly easy to adjudicate and means crits always trigger the thing. Greataxes on a charge are absolutely brutal, by the way.

Currently my adjusted weapon types go as follows:

Choppy: Axes. Damaging on evens does double damage to Light armour or less
Smashy: Hammers. +1 to hit vs Medium armour or better, damaging on evens notches armour (reducing AC by 1 until repaired).
Stabby: Swords. If your side won initiative roll twice for damage, take the best.
ShankyDaggers. If you hit someone you can grab hold and shank the fuck out of them. Auto-crit on each round you win a wrestling roll. Anyone with a Medium weapon or larger can’t attack until they kick you off.
Whippy: Whips. Zero damage against armoured foes but can be used to melee attack and wrestle from 10’ away. Brawl option is replaced by Get Over Here which pulls the loser to the winner.

If your weapon can do more than one thing (like it’s got a hammer end and an axe end) or you’re dual-wielding, choose one modifier when rolling to attack.

Thursday 14 May 2015

The Shopkeepers of Fortress-City Fate

How do you make a city unique?

My players have recently reached Fortress-City Fate.
This is the capital of my campaign's map, and I know a fair bit about it.

It's intended to be the perfect city. It's expensive as all hell. It's tightly controlled by an ever-changing system of tariffs and taxes balanced by the Royal Actuary Corp. It's the only place in the world where you can raise the dead. The palace in the centre is an enormous sundial and people give directions like "One-four at 6:45, just past the baker, you can't miss it". It's circular and got trams and drugs and a quarter of the city is taken up by a whole load of farms. Water runs everywhere under the city, a series of sewers and high-pressure pipes that keeps out the Dead and powers deeper machines.

But what do they players care about?
My players are new here. They don't know anyone. More importantly, nobody knows who they are. 
It's hard to ensnare nobodies in a web of city intrigue.

What are they likely to do here?
Get information. Buy things. Carouse.
These are the ways to ensnare them. Tie them together and with luck I'll rope them deeper into the intrigues of the big city.

To this end, I have compiled a list of various specialty shopkeepers and information-givers and proprietors of places they might like to frequent.
These are people and places to be sought out. In a big city it doesn't matter where a location is, just that you know about it. Default to Vornheim as usual if greater detail is required.
The shopkeepers sell things that are better than normal. There is no downside to not knowing them or visiting their shops, since you can buy stuff off the regular equipment list no problem. Any schmuck can head into the first clothes shop he sees and buy a shirt, it just might not be the best price or quality.
These people can sell you interesting things or offer services that are not widely available.

I printed each of these shop profiles out, and hand them the slip of paper with the shop on it when they go to visit. It's worked quite well in play since while some players are at a shop ogling wares I can interact with other people at my increasingly large table.

An aside -  In Courtney Campbell's Numenhalla there is a whole dungeon sector dedicated to being a shopping district. The first time I joined a game and rolled up a new guy I asked what the deal was with buying gear.
"Awwwww no don't say that, I wanted to get stuff done today" said one person. We went elsewhere and I geared up from the various magical refuse that had built up in Mad Bill Danger's tower.
In a later session we actually visited the place. Way cool! So much stuff! Magical weapons and armours and trinkets to buy! Whole lists of stuff! Everything an adventurer might need!
But midway through hearing the rope merchant's rope stock of various weird and wondrous ropes, I realised that sometimes all you want is 50' of no frills hemp bought out of the equipment list vending machine so you can get back to the dungeon.
That's the main reason why these shopkeepers are optional extras with benefits, not gatekeepers to regular items.


Here is a pdf of the shops and locations for printing.
Here is a spreadsheet of the locations, shopkeepers, and personalities.
Here is a crude map of Fortress-City Fate.

Directions in the Fortress-City

The city is shaped like a sundial, with the enormous palace in the middle as the gnomon. That's the sticky up part of the sundial, so's you know.
It is a rigidly structured and stratified city beneath a rigorous, almost fascist, system of taxes and administrators that ensure the city is always as perfect as it can possibly be in the eyes of the Fated King.
More on the city itself some other time. This post is meant to be about the shops and stuff.

You will note that the city is split into sectors along the hour lines. While these labels are not strictly true, there are temples and shops and housing all over the city, they tend to congregate in the correct districts due to encouragement from the taxation system.
The second and third rings are tram lines. Automated trams apparently magically animated constantly move on rails around the rings in both directions. They are spaced maybe 5 minutes apart and do not slow down to let people on, you've got to jump on while it's moving.

Directions are given as a couplet of Time and Arc.
Time is how far around the city the place is, as measured by the hour lines of the sundial.
Arc is how far from the centre the place is, as measured from the inner circle. The innermost circle is 0, the next is 1, and the outermost is 2.

The Thermae (marked "f" on the map) is thus at Arc 1.2 and Time 08:18, said like "One-Two at Eight Eighteen".
This will hopefully confuse the players at first which is sort of the point. They'll be able to ask people though.

The populace would probably be more accurate than this and break the time down into seconds and the Arc into longer decimals, but that's by the by.
In general the closer you are to the centre the more prestigious the place is.

This is mostly useless information unless a citycrawl becomes necessary.

How to Use

The ways in which players find out about these places are the important part.
I've been delivering knowledge in the following ways:
- Rumours
- Requests
- Requirements

The way I do rumours is to have a few global rumours the players will hear anywhere, then individualised results for specific locales.
Big cities are locales all on their own, so if they go listening for rumours in Fate they'll hear Fate-specific gossip. If they hear about a shop or landmark in a rumour I give them the slip of paper. They find out the address and can go there at their leisure.

Requests are when a player asks "I want to buy a horse" or "I really need to cure this disease". In this case I require a reaction roll (a la Vornheim) and give them pertinent slips of paper depending on how well they did.

Requirements are stuff where they'll just come face to face with it as a matter of course. Everyone entering the city is going to see the giant stables complex of the Fifth Labour and the towering Sciotherico, and anyone Carousing away more money than they have will awake to find themselves in debt to Slim Jimmy and his small army of thugs.

I should note that in the case of the various landmarks I have noted the ultimate boss of the place, like the Arch-Bishop of the cathedral or the CEO of the bank. These are people the players are unlikely to meet but tied to the place in the city's pop culture, their names never far from talk of the places they work.

When they players enter a shop or other location, check it out on the spreadsheet. I mostly give NPCs animal personalities because they're a good shorthand for a range of traits and include exaggerated mannerisms.
A reaction modifier is included which may improve or sour over time depending on how the players act. Charisma is the god stat in a city.

If and when my players start getting to know the shopkeepers better I'll start tying them together in little webs of intrigue. I'll wait to see who they like most first though.

Contacts and Shopkeepers in the Fortress-City

Slim Jimmy’s Reputable House of Credit

Pre-loved adventuring gear
Treasures bought and sold
No credit history necessary

Slightly damaged arms and armour available for loan at 50% cost price.
Lines of credit extended to honest gentlemen (and ladies) at 30% monthly interest.
Items of uncertain provenance and dubious value fenced for a 20% cut of profit.

Gunman and Son

Highest quality firearms
Custom weaponry made to order
Concealed weaponry a specialty

Firearms will never explode when broken.
Proprietary breech-loading technology reduces reload time by 2 rounds.
Arms and armour can be purchased with a built-in pistol for +500sp.

The Body Shop

Cadavers sold by the pound.
Every corpse certified fresh and ethically sourced.
Public dissections every Wednesday.

Vials of blood, bone powder, etc – 50sp ea.
Whole cadaver – 20gp ea.
Experienced physician halves injury recovery time for 10gp/mo.

Lamister’s Roost

Specialist tools sold
Spelunking equipment in stock
Keys cut while you wait

Specialist’s tools grant +1 to Tinkering rolls
Range of specialised ropes on offer
Keys cut without original for 5gp

The Spükhaus

Bodysnatching crime ring

Delay someone’s resurrection by a month – 10gp
Inconvenient corpses disappeared – 20gp
Fresh cadavers purchased at 10gp ea.

Derring & Do

Ruffians available at short notice
All staff trained in Torchbearing 101
Find the henchman that’s right for you

Torchbearer – 4.2sp/day. Labourer –  5.6sp/day. Man-at-arms – 10sp/day.
Employee Life Insurance – 50sp/mo
1d4 first level characters of random classes available per week

The Emporium of the Odd

Purveyor of potions of love and health.
Mysterious items of grim import identified.
Experienced alchemist

Love potions – 5gp ea. Health potions – 10gp ea.
Items identified (takes 1 week) – 5gp ea.
Alchemist prevents lab explosions – 400sp/mo.

Flower’s Bower of Power

Protective charms and gewgaws for sale.
Anti-paranormal weaponry available.
We buy monster parts.

Charms grant a one-time 50% chance of instantly passing a saving throw – 4gp ea.
Silver and cold-forged iron weapons can be purchased here.
Will buy monster claws/teeth/glands/etc for 1gp per hit die per monster.


Dogs of the world.
New and unusual breeds imported weekly.
Dog armour custom fitted.

All dogs are loyal and well trained. Know Attack, Heel, Stay and Roll Over.
Choice of two dog breeds per purchase.
Leather dog armour with spiked collar – 30sp.

Honest Bill’s Used Horse Dealership

Budget mounts for the discerning rider.
Low mileage, high quality, all inspections passed.
For when your horse is knackered TM

Half price horses, mules and ponies. Random flaw each.
Horse loans available at 10% monthly interest.
Will buy horses in any condition for 50sp

The Whip & Bridle

Beautiful thoroughbred riding horses.
Fast, graceful, elegant.
Quality leather riding equipment.

Horses cost triple but are legitimately beautiful and impressive.
Unencumbered horses have +60’ movement rate, +12 miles/day overland.
Riding gear allows maximum movement rate in most off-road conditions – 6gp

The Fifth Labour

Pets pampered and beasts unburdened.
Safe and simple self-storage supplied.
Free for citizens of Fate.

Per person’s belongings stored – 1sp/day or 5sp/week
Per animal stabled – 2sp/day or 10sp/week.
Per axle per vehicle stored – 5sp/day or 25sp/week.

 The Wild Inventoria

Marvels commissioned
Impossibilities realised
Pushing the limits of Science

Builds heretofore unknown marvels at your request.
Prices and build times decided on a case-by-case basis.
You will likely have to test the prototypes.

The Beaming Barber

Stylish haircuts at the forefront of fashion
Range of dyes, wigs and extensions
Sorry, no bloodletting

Haircuts grant +2 to your Charisma score within Fate.
Haircuts count as a helmet for Death and Dismemberment purposes.
Men’s haircut – 1sp. Women’s haircut – 10sp

The Happy Haberdasher

Hats and headgear from the protective to the pompous
Mystery headpieces available in association with the Beaming Barber
I’m not mad!

Standard helms and helmets – 2sp ea.
Hat or haircut chosen at random – 5sp.
Fancy headgear may be sacrificed to pass a single saving throw.

Wizzbang Will’s

Rare and wondrous mind-altering substances
All drugs certified to have no post-rebirth impact
Guided experiences available

Bawlers, Cacklers, Howlers and Blinders – 5gp/dose.
Range of specialty substances rotated monthly.
Vision quest shaman gives +2 to saves vs bad trips – 10sp/hr

Panacea Parlour

A physick for every malady.
Humours balanced, bad blood bled
The Suppository of All WisdomTM

Diseases diagnosed – 1sp.
Treatments administered at varying prices.
Side effects possible.

Atrox Morbus

I will cure you
Do not question my motives
I am a Golden Chirurgeon from afar

I will diagnose your malady for a single gold piece.
I will administer several treatments if I deem it necessary.
I will cure you. I will set the price. You are safe. You will be whole.

Royal Post

Messages delivered across the land
Pigeons trained to fly to all major cities
PO Boxes available for rent

Messages delivered to any civilised locale.
Carrier pigeons can be bought for any city.
PO Box – 2gp/mo.

Landmarks of the Fortress-city

One of the other advantages of having shops on slips of paper is that I can lay them out on the table as a vague representation of where they are in relation to each other.
To this end, I put several landmarks and pubs and non-shops the players might be likely to investigate (or end up in) on slips of paper too -

The Figgin & Yelp
Upper class establishment.
Proprietor: Susan Sassafras
Posh drinks and cocktails.

O’Flannagan’s Eirish Fuckhoel
Raucous alehouse.
Proprietor: Billy O’Flannagan
The best of the worst.

The Copper Bucket
Surprisingly quiet pub filled with grim men stoically drinking.
Proprietor: Ralph Stubbs
Never any fights.

The Stone Starling
Gambler’s pub.
Proprietor: Edmund Cote
Lots of ways to lose money.

Trendy pub.
Proprieter: Harry Pelvister
Sells dark, intense, horrible ales in china cups.

The Sullied Maiden
Traveller’s brothel.
Proprietor: Madame Charlabelle
Weird stuff costs extra.

Male brothel.
Proprietor: Griff Husky
Get cocky.

Posh brothel.
Proprietor: Max Busty
Classy gals for classy gents.

Voluntary Conscription
Sergeant major: Basil Wotsit.
We turn your girls and boys into MEN.

King Construction
Manager: Dave King
No job too small!

The Thermae
Public baths for citizens of Fate.
Manager: Richard Landwick
Hit the showers.

The Impound of Flesh
Head warden: Edward Hyde
A fate worse than life.

St Cuthbert’s
Chief of Medical: Jenny Joy
28sp/day or 280sp/mo. Free for Fate’s citizens.

Fortress Bank
CEO: Cedric Ernest Obermann
Put your cash in our hands.

Alchemist’s Cradle
Head Alchemist: Fergus Fizz
20sp/day to use potion-brewing facilities.

The Glob
Chief Playwright: Billiam Shanks-Pierre
Popular with the masses.

The Church of Nine Corners
Archbishop: Reginald Cage
The seat of the Nonanist faith.

National Library
Head Librarian: Catherine Quinn
20sp/week for use of library facilities. Free for Fate citizens.

Sortitus College
Chancellor: Hubert Mews
A beacon of knowledge in a world of ignorance.

The Sciotherico
Monarch: The Fated King
Est. 1066

Huge marketplace
Landlord: Tesco Sainsbury
Rations bought here heal +2HP when you take a break.