Tuesday 23 May 2017

FLEE!!! Snakes & Ladders chase mechanics

Some time ago I posted that Snakes & Ladders is the superior way of conducting a chase sequence in D&D.
Some time later, I was at an OSR game day and people agreed!

And so David Black made this doozy of a thing -

So much improvement! Find it here.

This is, of course, the tits. Some slightly different rules for my game though, as follows.


- Pursuers go last.
- Each group rolls 1d6+Speed Die of the slowest member of the group and moves that many spaces.
- Movement can be forwards or backwards.
- Distance is abstract, after each roll the DM will yell a choice at the Pursued. If they don’t answer before the Pursuer’s dice hit the table, they choose a route at random.
- Groups can split up into smaller groups at will. Doing so must be decided before the group's pursuit roll, and groups cannot rejoin until the chase is over.

Speed Dice
- Speed Dice are based on encumbrance:
  - Unencumbered - 1d10
  - Lightly Encumbered - 1d8
  - Heavily Encumbered - 1d6
  - Severely Encumbered - 1d4
  - Over Encumbered - 0

- If Pursuers catch up to the Pursued or get to the end, the chase is over and the Pursuers automatically win initiative.
- If the Pursued get to the end, they've lost their pursuers!

My alterations are pretty ghetto, but laminated to the back of the Marching Order sheet so you can flip it!

Additional Notes:

It's pretty much perfect.
Easily grasped, unpredictable, exciting, it's everything you need a chase to be.
Plus it's abstract, so you can use it for anything from dungeon chases to horseback races.

In my game, this is basically the only thing that encumbrance really matters for. I tend to just eyeball encounter roll frequency, and combat movement speeds are boooooring as fuuuuuck.
Armour is a tradeoff between protection and escape speed. Treasure is a tradeoff between money/exp earnings and escape speed. Having lots of stuff just-in-case is a tradeoff between preparedness and escape speed.
It all boils down to whether you'll be able to run away.

Ending each roll with a LEFT OR RIGHT?! or STRAIGHT OR DOOR?! is fun because it means the party's likely to get lost if they're not used to the place.
I have them flip their maps when a chase begins to make it harder. Keep up the pressure.
I mark which choice they took on a secret sheet, that way after the chase ends I can go through the dungeon map and see where they ended up. Hopefully in the lair of another monster!
The thing with splitting into smaller units means fast guys can leave slow guys behind if they want. If you've got one guy loaded up with Plate and Shield and Greatsword, you can leave him behind to fight off the monsters while everyone else escapes!
Groups can't reform until the chase is over, so if you run off on your own you've got a better chance of escaping but you'll be alone if you end up getting caught.
This is also good for when people have to flee in two different directions. Good luck finding each other now, kids!

Oh and finally, squares 20 and 21 on the table are "Quickly!" and "Slow going!".
I have these change the base d6 pursuit die to d8 and d4 respectively.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Making Magic: Spell, Potion and Scroll Creation for Wizards and Clerics

PDF here.

Main changes are adding some tables to roll on when Chaotic classes research spells, and adding a minigame where Clerics can craft Protection Scrolls by killing stuff with a blessed weapon.
Hopefully it's more interesting than the default!

So spell research! Something I'd never really thought about much.
Base LotFP has it as a time sink and a money sink. You gamble how much time (and thus, money) you're going to spend, the DM rolls how long you actually needed to spend, and if you gambled too low you lose the time and money.
As Perttu is fond of saying and Logan points out in his spell research rules, this is boring as fuck.

The reason I haven't really gone into it much is that I quite like time and money sinks.
Time sinks mean I can jump the timelines of various encroaching dooms forward, and also hopefully make game time keep up with real time.
Money sinks are because it's always nice to have another thing for players to burn money on.
Keep them poor. That keeps them hungry for more!

The other thing is I quite like the idea that a wizard spends time researching spells alone in a tower while their friends are having fun carousing in the town below.

The Last Gasp spell research stuff is pretty kickass, but I do want to keep Spell Research as a downtime time sink and my wizards have got more trad spellcasting mechanics than Logan's Maleficar.
Also I needed to put Cleric spell stuff on there.

So I basically boiled it down to this. Intended to be printed double-sided.
Costs in silver standard as normal for me, change it to gp if you use a gold standard.

Making Magic: Lawful Version
Making Magic: Chaotic Version

For Chaos

The chief gimmick is still that it's a gamble, except unlike base LotFP a failure means you suffer some sort of negative consequence beyond just wasting time and money.
This is most notable in Spell Research itself. You could lose that spell slot forever!
On the other hand I don't want manufacturing consumable potions and scrolls to be a massive risk. What's the harm? They only get to use it once, and it's never actually come up in my game yet.

Some notes on modifiers:
  • There's no bonus per level. I don't want to hamstring low level casters, and I don't want high level casters to succeed automatically.
  • People can still just spend the maximum amount of time to ensure success. I'm ok with that, at least it means they burn a bunch of money and time.
  • You can still research spells if you can't find a big enough library, it just takes longer and/or is more risky.

Some notes on the rest.
Changes for those who aren't using all of my house rules in
  • Arcana is a skill that replaces Architecture in my game. Int score improves Arcana, as does having Identify prepared. Intelligent wizards with access to Identify can thus get a sizable bonus.
    >Just ignore the Arcana bonus if you don't use it, it's easy to get bonuses just from spending more time anyway.
  • Spell Research, second result: "Can only be cast via a spell swap" refers to my house rules. Casters can swap spells on casting, but risk doom on Last Gasp's Cast the Bones table.

    >Change to something like "take spell level in damage whenever you cast it"
  • Scroll Making, second result: "Even you need to use Arcana or Read Magic to use this scroll" refers to another house rule.
    Anyone can roll Arcana to use a scroll, even if they're not a caster. If a caster uses Read Magic on a class-appropriate scroll they can use it without needing to roll Arcana.
    >Could be swapped for something like "Scroll is half as effective"

For Law

Clerics, as the only Lawful caster class, have a less random system.
Because Law is reliable and Chaos is random. Something something thematic mechanics.
I also like that Holy Water and the new Protection Scroll mechanic require returning to the same church every day. I like this because Clerics are encouraged to stick around one church for a while, even if they adventure in the meantime.

Holy Water:
Pretty much as per LotFP. Bless the same font of water every day for ten days, receive a vial of holy water.
Differences are you can make a few at a time if you're willing to use up more than one Bless per day (not explicit in the LotFP rules), and if someone drinks it they get affected by your Denomination Spell.

Spell Scroll:
As per LotFP, without the rolling.

Protection Scroll:
Big changes! And hopefully a fun mini-game.
LotFP has some strange mechanic where you have to sacrifice creatures of the appropriate type and the total HD slain is the percentage chance the scroll is actually created.
Which is cool and all, but having to commit goblin genocide in order to reliably get a scroll that keeps them away for up to an hour is a hard sell. By the time your scroll's ready, there won't be any goblins left!

Now its a minigame where the Cleric has to kill creatures with a special knife they create, and at some point they'll have killed enough for the Protection Scroll to be completed!
You can still do this in a church, and it's still percentage based (guess I lied when I said god doesn't play dice with the universe), but the key thing is that you can make your sacrifices when you're out adventuring.
Want to make a Protection from Goblins scroll? Go out there and kill goblins! With the knife! In the name of your god! But make sure you're only killing goblins, anything else makes all your prior effort for nothing.
You could also kill just one goblin then wait around until you eventually get the Scroll. It's 50sp a day and you've got to stick around the church though.

This also leaves it open for Clerics to have multiple Protection Scrolls (and thus multiple ritual knives) on the go at once, making sure they're murdering the goblins with their Goblin Knife and humans with their Man Knife.
I don't think there's a literary precedent for this, but it sounds pretty cool.

"What if I don't want to use a knife?!"
Any minor weapon is fine, mostly so you have to remember to use it if you want those sweet sweet Sacrifice points.
Fuck, although, a wax-sealed pistol reserved for killing demons would be rad as hell. Maybe you have to put a seal on every shot?! I'd probably allow this.

this was a cool thing in Equilibrium but there are NO good screenshots of the cross-shaped muzzle flash

Tuesday 2 May 2017

So I Helped Make Secret Munticore

This is a review of a product that will blow your mind.
It is Secret Munticore.
Back in 2016, since Santicore just never happened, a bunch of us Mongrels decided to do our our shitty version of it.
What followed was a bunch of horrible requests, followed by a bunch of replies that were actually pretty good!? At least... some were.
The good David Black said he'd put it all into a pdf for us... and that never happened. So after some grousing in the group I just went at it with scissors and paper and a marker pen, scanned it in, and scooped all the trash into one purchasable trash heap.

I will deal with each nugget of geniousness in order.

Apps by Oli Palmer
A whole list of pretend fantasy smartphone apps to assist your players with their lives.
Do they not have smartphones?
They do now!
Why do they have smartphones?
Post-apocalyptic something something!

Basement Referee by Nick LS Whelan
A terrifying "monster" encounter where YOU THE REFEREE are the monster.
A referee who lives in a basement and makes things terrible for everyone around them.
Gives true ultimate power to whoever defeats it.

Bears by Gregory Blair
Greggy-boy's first foray into the making-things-for-other-people santicore-style melting pot.
He put a heap of effort into this as a result. God knows why.
Anyway, you've got a big TWELVE new bear-based monsters for horrifying your players with.
I decided to try and doodle all the bears which is why I ended up illustrating more. Poor bears.

This bear is made of herpes
Beers by James Young
I don't know who this James Young guy is but he fucking nailed this one. 26 beer ingredients, each with flavour imparted and in-game effects!?
Holy shit this guy is amazing.
And he did all the interior art!? What an animal!

Bordello, Orc by Evey Lockhart
A short but juicy (the wrong sort of juice) table for spicing up the inevitable whore-fights in your D&D games.
My players end up in Orcish whorehouses at least twice a session so this is going to be massively useful.

Christmas Party by Tore Nielsen
Nobody asked Tore to do this, and he did it anyway.
An encounter table of things that could happen at a mongrel christmas party.
We got animated tinsel.
We got a diabetic.
We got whoever Waylon Jennings is.
We got the best party, basically.

Elderly Lady by Tore Neilsen
Tore's "real" entry involves the goings-on behind the closed doors of the elderly lady in 4a.
She's up to all sorts, let me tell you.
Can easily be reskinned to a space opera setting if you replace the elderly lady with an elderly alien sitting on a space chair watching space telly.

The thousand yard stare of those who've seen too much
Familial Complications by Jarrett Crader
In the most personally-affecting entry in the Munticore rankings this year, Jarrett delves too deep into his own soul and experiences to portray a dire portrait of a family edging close to ruin behind a fantasy veneer.
Liminal spaces are crossed, boundaries are transgressed, and your sister is inseminated by your grandad's evil twin.
A harrowing journey into the id, where the question of self is constantly brought into question.
Plus discover whether you win D&D.

Jarrett Bum by David Black
David Black shows us exactly what's been hidden from view for too long.
There are many strange things up there, but in true D&D style we use the oracular power of dice to discover what was truly there all along.
The capacity for a single random roll to change the fiction in such a massive way is something to be celebrated.

Mongrel Carouse by Reece Carter
Given the prompt of "a carousing table with meth on it", Reece crafts gold.
Iconoclasm. STIs. No less than seven results that involve smoking something weird.
An easy addition to any carousing table, maybe to roll on if someone rolls a mishap they've already had?

Mutant Pet Table by Richie Cyngler
Boy, we've had the Esoteric Creature Generator and the LotFP Summon spell and the Guests in Red and Pleasant Land, but they all quail before the mighty Roll-All-the-Dice mutant pet table.
Does YOUR random mutant/demon tables have such wonders as the Hard-Face Fake SLime Dominator that devours goodwill or the Mysoginist Gnome which is so foul it defies even description?
That is the sort of shit you're getting from this crazy table. If anything, this is the thing that's worth the price of admission.

I don't think anyone's having a good time in this book

Unicorns by Christian Kessler
Delving deep into the ancient layers of mythology, Christian reinvents unicorns for the modern age.
Also many of the results may be useful for manticores.
We've got some crazy shit in here, like a rad motorbike unicorn mutation and a unicorn whose blasted-off skin makes you invisible but ALSO forces you to hunt down and kill the rest of its still living body.
Grim shit.
Also a unicorn with a dick for a horn, obviously.

What are we doing?! by Ben L
Given possibly the most difficult prompt because Evey couldn't get her shit together to ask a proper request, Ben L still manages to put on a good show.
This would be a sick way of starting off a new campaign. "You all got fucked up and ended up.. roll dice!" and now you've just got to deal with the consequences.
Go wild!

this is all performance art

So there you have it! A thorough review of the worst best the OSR has to offer.
You can buy it here.
My mum bought 5 copies and has stopped talking to me.