Saturday, April 8, 2017

Apocalypse World character sheets

While I've been on vacation in Canada I've been working on this project in my spare moments: character sheets for 2nd edition Apocalypse World playbooks

For now I only have the Angel finished (link to download) but the template I worked up in scribus is easy for me to modify, it's only a matter of time before I have all of the basic playbooks finished. If you'd like a copy of the scribus files, contact me and I'll email them to you.

Now I have to go update the playbooks page with this link as well

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Apocalyscotia 3: some shit goes down!

confronted Gnarly to pay for protection but Gnarly told him "the money comes from Tum Tum, take it up with him"
she took her beef directly to Tum Tum and led her gang into Partyville
boarded Tum Tum's pleasure barge and declared "I'm not paying you shit!"
before Tum Tum could raise much of an objection, she opened fire and annihilated Tum Tum's gang
trapped in his cabin, Tum Tum attempted to negotiate for some kind of truce but BLAKKSNAKE stormed the room, killing Tum Tum and ending the fight... for now

stormed a rebel stronghold with Brock and managed to walk away with no injuries
brought 5 prisoners to Jere-Mi's infirmary
struck out on her own, hiring Tesla for a ride to Fresh Fruit
Pliny offered to sell her a stolen bike, but she began walking instead, ultimately hoping to make her way to Partyville

woke up on the rocks outside Rutherford
worked their way back and found Hardtack bleeding to death, Hardtack spoke of wolves before being abandoned to die
crossed paths with Snow and Brock, Brock ordered Jere-Mi to return to their infirmary
when they returned they cleaned their blood-stained and ransacked infirmary, though nothing of value was missing
found 2 of Brock's prisoners were infected with the same disease that killed Foxtrot
opened their brain and found that the "party favors are the disease"


Crushed V?
neglected Angelique, who leaves for Bolivia
travels with T-REX to Rutherford

argued with Crushed V
traveled to Rutherford looking for car parts, but the only ones available are in Bolivia

is that it?
Snow got infected by the same disease that killed Foxtrot
Tum Tum's gang dispersed, but they won't forget what BLAKKSNAKE did
Nutmeg was seen stumbling about, bleeding from the stomach, nobody helped him
Prince, a member of BLAKKSNAKE's gang, picked up Tum Tum's rifle-chainsaw
the wind read Crushed V's mind
Jere-Mi, Crushed V, and T-REX all headed back to Partyville

how many NPCs died during this session?
between 35 and 40

how many of those NPCs had names?

what happens next?
how widespread is the disease?
where did Dart disappear to?
what are the "wolves from your soul"?

The Black Wing Furled

The high priest of Tiamat, Thord Skül, led his congregation of a dozen disciples in their ceremony. The helmet weighed heavily upon his shoulders, crafted from a giant's skull and dipped in iron then riveted with spikes around the temples. He struck an imposing figure in the crackling glow of the sword. Encased in its own protective shield of lightning, the Sword of Cuiraecen hovered in the center of the chamber but was impossible to reach without being scorched by the thunderous light around it.

The Termaxian sorceress, Ellora, watched from atop the highest ridge within the cauldron of black volcanic rock. Her fingers brushed the dirty pages of her spellbook, hanging from a strap across her shoulders and wrapped in the skin of an elf wizard she had slain herself. The demonic hounds she had summoned patrolled the ridge around her, to give warning of any interlopers who might interrupt the ritual. She finished chanting the incantation which would enshroud Thord's staff with a poisonous aura.

The disciples of Tiamat faltered, their droning chant shattered by the scream of an attacking swordsman, "I'm gonna cut your balls off!" He had launched himself from above Thord, along one of the ridges above the flat disc of volcanic rock where the sword hovered. The blonde warrior landed, sinking his axe deep into Thord's shoulder.

Our "heroes" confronted the cultists as they were performing a ritual and though they were split by the terrain and circumstance, and very nearly died in the attempt, the cult was slain.
Ooplar Junior beheaded their leader, Thord Skül, and compelled a surrender by throwing Thord's head at a group of disciples.
Big Bertha strategically retreated while pelting her pursuers with arrows.
Edgar Childbanger kept his friends alive with healing and made prodigious use of Atgir, the spear of Saint Sigrid
Two disciples were taken prisoner and marched back to Silverhead Keep, where they were barred entry. The Castellan had issued an arrest warrant for Sir Richard Fitzwell III, charged with assault of a militia officer. be continued!

The Lightning Sword of Cuiraecen
1d10 damage, close, 1 weight
...anyone of Chaos or Good alignment may pick up the sword freely, other alignments suffer 2d6 damage upon first touching the sword
...while carrying the sword, the bearer has the Chaos alignment in addition to any other alignment they already have; if the wielder is already of Chaos alignment they receive double XP awards at session end
...when you point the sword at a foe and speak the name of Cuiraecen, roll+STR
on 10+, lightning arcs out of the blade, striking your foe and dealing 1d10+STR+WIS damage, ignoring armor
on 7-9, lightning arcs out and deals 1d10 damage
on a miss, the arc of lightning strikes something else unexpectedly

Friday, March 17, 2017

"really, are you sure you want to do that?!" something I found myself asking repeatedly during the last session.

from left to right
Sir Richard Fitzwell III
the Ranger and his wolf companion, Killory Klinton
Ooplar Junior the Fighter
Edgar Childbanger the Cleric
Big Bertha the Thief

They got ambushed by goblins, and during the fight Ooplar got trapped down a ravine. Big Bertha and Sir Richard spent their time performing trick shots to pick off the goblins while Edgar stuck to healing his comrades.

Ooplar explored the goblins' home, which was very obviously a former wizard's underground lab, while Big Bertha interrogated and tortured the last living goblin above ground. They pretty much ditched the place when they found the last remnants of that wizard's experiments. Edgar cast Speak With Dead quite a bit, so maybe I should keep littering areas with corpses - he discovered a teenager who had been murdered by his "friends" but the whole group collectively sighed and moved on to the caves.

They re-entered the caves where they rescued Mariya from and explored further, finding a library and a tomb - both of which I ripped off from Servants of the Cinder Queen but repurposed as a Rjurik paladin who served Cuiraecen. They BURNED DOWN THE LIBRARY after reading one book and waking the Stone Guardian. Then they plundered the Tomb without heeding any warnings.

We left off with them hearing screams of dying men and the howls of dogs coming from the corridors outside of the tomb...

As a GM: I kept the goblins simple and didn't make their attacks particularly threatening. I could have made the first scenario a lot more deadly but in the moment I felt like that would have been cruel. Even the surviving goblins in the underground lab acted defensively and never engaged the PCs. I won't hold back next time.
When they burned the library, they ended up missing out on some magic scrolls, a magic item, several maps, a secret passage, and several books that explain what's important around here. Kind of amusing since I know one of them has read my advice for playing.
I think the next session will have to serve as some kind of finale. Either they will have to definitively stop the Termaxian wizards, stop the Tiamat cultists, or they'll all have to die in the attempt. They also managed to piss off Cuiraecen, the deity who is most influential in this region, that will definitely have come up in the next session!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Apocalyscotia 2: read the sitch

what is it?
the current map for my Apocalypse World game

what are these places?
Gofuckyourself is a lighthouse where the Battlebabe lives
Rutherford is a smallish town run by Brock, some dude who does not inspire a lot of loyalty, the Angel lives here
The Lodge is the former home of the Christmas Cult, now the Chopper's gang (and the Driver) lives there
Fresh Fruit is a small community (6 houses) with a hydroponic farm, owned by Gnarly
Partyville is run by Tum Tum and his gang of murderers, he maintains control by throwing parties almost every day and keeping people drugged up, also the Savvyhead lives here
Bolivia is run by Royal, he's more disciplined and discerning than any of his neighbors

from left to right

what's up with the Skinner?
Crushed (V)elvet spent all her time in Partyville, dancing and partying, since Tum Tum knows how to have a good time, she spotted a mercenary named Angelique up from Bolivia and seduced her

what's up with the Savvyhead?
T-REX spent most of his time walking back to Partyville from Bolivia and when he got there ended up having sex with Crushed (V)elvet (while Angelique watched) instead of working on his laser battery

what's up with the Driver?
Dart helped BLAKKSNAKE take over Fresh Fruit, but then drove into Partyville to fix his muffler, he got laid, then he went to check on a brewery that BLAKKSNAKE's gang had taken over but found everybody dead or dying, upon exiting he got ambushed (and captured) by Tum Tum's gang

what's up with the Chopper?
BLAKKSNAKE's gang doesn't like hanging around one place, they're incredibly nomadic and sometimes they're split up or members are just plain missing, whenever he wants them to do something he's gotta make sure they're all there, but he managed to get all of their attention to ride into Fresh Fruit and offer "protection" to Gnarly

what's up with the Angel?
Jere-Mi is running an infirmary for Brock, but she found an infection going around and some people have already died from it, when Brock got ambushed by some of the rebels Jere-Mi just hid in her infirmary and took some drugs but then opening her brain knocked her unconscious and she woke with some weird bruises and blood on her hands

what's up with the Battlebabe?
fearing that she may get attacked at the lighthouse Snow has decided to stock up with some heavy weaponry but without much luck, Brock tried to get Snow to fight his battles for him and doesn't care how Snow does it, but Snow won't waste time unless Brock coughs up serious coin, meanwhile Honest Jon has anchored just off Gofuckyourself and sold Snow a gun for a fair price

what were the big things you did as MC?
1) tried to give everyone equal time even though they're split up across the map
2) talked about how a tabletop role-playing game is essentially a conversation, so if one person doesn't pay attention it's up to everybody else to bring them up to speed and corral their errant behavior

what story elements did you introduce?
1) somebody named Indigo has been asking about BLAKKSNAKE's gang
2) expanded Royal's guards so they're more like a mercenary force, right now they're hunting T-REX
3) looked through crosshairs at the rebellion against Brock's rule
4) made both Tum Tum and Gnarly seem like real chill dudes in their own ways

what rules did you introduce?
1) gave BLAKKSNAKE a new move
where's the beef?: when you call your gang's attention, roll+cool. On a 10+, they're all here, more or less. On a 7-9, some of them are off somewhere, it will take time to get them all here, -1 to pack alpha or fuckin' thieves. On a miss, more than half of them are off somewhere, -1 to Size until you find a way to get them all back (minimum Size of Small).
2) gave Snow a new move
bad news bears: when you defend Gofuckyourself from attack, roll+sharp. On a 10+, pick 2. On a 7-9, pick 1:
- you're prepared, you deal +1 harm during the fight *
- you're fortified, +1 armor *
- choose a stat that is not highlighted and highlight it *
* all of these bonuses end once Snow exits Gofuckyourself or Gofuckyourself is breached
On a miss, no bonus, because Gofuckyourself is getting breached right now!
3) introduced a brain-eating disease
but you don't need to know any details about that right now!

Monday, March 6, 2017

it's not *technically* D&D

I was asked if I would DM a game of Dungeons & Dragons for a group of friends (who're also standup comics), many of whom had never played before, and I agreed, but wavered on which rule set to use for awhile. I told them I was thinking of running Swords & Wizardry and a few of them revealed that they didn't like the talk about math and probability that I was launching into. I hadn't really prepped for a role-playing game in months, almost a year, so I started looking at all of my possibilities. I wanted to make everything simple so we could just get set up and start playing right away with little explaining of rules and a minimal list of choices.

I had almost given up and just said to myself "Fuck it! I'll just run 5th edition, complexities and all!" but my urge to play a system I enjoy won out... Dungeon World is a D&D-shaped hack of Apocalypse World, and Freebooters on the Frontier (FotF) is an OSR hack of Dungeon World, so... I'm running Freebooters for them! Using slightly modified versions of Maezer's character sheets, I've been running a game for about a month now.

Ooplar Junior is the Fighter
Edgar "IT'S JUST A LAST NAME!" Childbanger is the Cleric
Big Bertha is the Thief
Sir Richard Fitzwell III is the Ranger

During character creation I made use of Dyson's Totally Not A D&D Fiasco to tie all of the characters together. This worked really well, and everybody enjoyed it! - even as the choices became more limited.

Ooplar Junior fought in the militia with Sir Richard Fitzwell III
Sir Dick was in an assassin cult with Big Bertha
Big Bertha and Edgar Childbanger both carry a curse they acquired from an angry witch they robbed
and finally, Edgar shares a home with Ooplar

Then to start them off I read this:
The war in the south is threatening to spread northward. The duchy to the east has begun to grumble about past grievances, and the regent needs all of her most trusted advisers and scholars to counsel her in these troubling times.

You are not one of them.

Mariya Saisset is a sage that the Queen wants to consult with and, due to a personal connection you have with her, Count Oliver has commissioned you to venture north to Silverhead Keep to track her down. She traveled to the northernmost province some months ago and hasn't been heard from since. A message sent to Silverhead Keep has not been replied to and the worst is now feared.

You have been tasked with finding the sage, Mariya Saisset, and returning with her to Castle Haestead in the capital city, to an audience with the Queen. If Mariya has perished then her remains should be secured and brought back to the castle. You are being gifted a small retainer of silver coins and a riding horse to accommodate your travels, and will receive 100 gold coins from the Queen's coffers upon a successful return to Castle Haesrien.

Then I let the players draw randomly from a set of cards I had written with random backgrounds of how their characters knew Mariya, with little bonuses for them once they found her.

  • Big Bertha had traveled with Mariya deep into the elven forests of the southeast, finding Mariya would reward a permanent +1 to Wisdom
  • Edgar Childbanger had trained under Mariya's guidance for several years, finding Mariya would reward a permanent +1 to Charisma
  • Ooplar is only eight years younger than her and he grew up alongside Mariya, finding Mariya would reward a permanent +1 to Luck
  • Sir Dick is a close friend and confidant and was named the godfather of Mariya's daughter, finding Mariya netted double XP (effectively) for the session

  • With minimal prep and a short setup, we had a standard "go rescue this NPC from danger" kind of quest. Over the last three sessions, the players made their way to Silverhead Keep, got a venereal disease from a prostitute, got cured by a friendly elf sorceror, broke into an undead elven tomb (and then ran away with an artifact!), explored a nearby cave, stumbled upon cultists prepared to sacrifice Mariya and her two assistants, almost drowned in a flash flood, got into a fight with guards at the Keep, ran into members of Big Bertha's cult, and are about to be ambushed by goblins.

    I'm not running an adventure, per se, but I'm using the castle from Keep on the Borderlands, a nearby mountain with a dungeon and Termaxian wizards from Dwimmermount, and Tiamat cultists from Zak Sabbath's blog pretty much following what would be a prequel to Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and all of this is set within my own version of the Birthright campaign setting!

    Right now they're keen on destroying those pesky Termaxian wizards but, as I said, they're about to be ambushed by goblins!

    Here's the current map:

    Sunday, February 26, 2017

    a new edition; a new game

    There's a new edition of Apocalypse World, and with the new edition I felt like maybe I should update the playbooks I wrote. I haven't (yet) but what I have done is start playing again. I was told by one of my friends that Apocalypse World was her favorite tabletop RPG and so I offered to MC a new game as long as I didn't get too many players - the last time I GMed there were 8 people playing and that's just too many in my opinion. Somehow I only managed to whittle it down to 6 players, but yeah, I'm playing/MCing Apocalypse World again.

    I wanted to keep the game simple at first by only using the core 11 playbooks - Apocalypse World Basic - since half of the people in this game have never played Apocalypse World, or tabletop RPGs in general, before. I did a little prep for the game by making little intro cards for each playbook. I took the first few pages of the Basic Refbook and edited out the page numbers, then printed them off, cut them out, and taped them to index cards. Like so:

    One player was disappointed he couldn't start out as a Show, but in all honesty I hadn't even looked at the Extended playbooks yet and I wasn't comfortable using the extra stuff until after we had established a basic game, he ended up choosing a Skinner.

    the Cast
    Jere-Mi as the Angel
    Snow as the Battlebabe
    Crushed (V)elvet as the Skinner
    Dart as the Driver
    T-REX as the Savvyhead
    BLAKKSNAKE as the Chopper

    Using a similar technique to when I started the Apocalyscotia game I handed a stack of picture cards to the players and said "Take a picture, lay it down, and tell us something about this location" and we went around the table - each player placing their picture next to an already-placed picture - defining a few communities as we went.

    It was a fun first session, with lots of good details brought in. I tried to keep my questions directed at the characters rather than the world or what was in it. And I got contradictory information from some players which helped generate a few of my 'first session' stakes questions.

    Bringing it, MCing the fuck out of this #apocalypseworld game!

    A post shared by Patrick Henry (@nerdwerds) on

    In preparation for upcoming sessions, I read through the Extended playbooks - Apocalypse World Extended - and noticed that the Basic playbooks have advice for playing them but the Extended playbooks don't, so I wrote a few extra lines for each card before I printed them off. But there are only 6 Extended playbooks, and 4 fit on a single page, so I wrote up quick advice descriptions for two of the playbooks that I've written...

    ...and that sort of commits me to updating these playbooks now!

    Also, what sort of advice did I write for the Extended playbooks? I'll show you.

    Faceless are the scariest dudes. Their moves are brutal and unrestrained, and make them blatantly indestructible. If you want to strike fear into the hearts of others, play a faceless.
    Warning: you might play off your mask as an eccentricity, but don't be surprised if you still don't make too many friends. Even avoiding it, your mask will make trouble for you. Stay vigilant.

    Waterbearers are unique, controlling an abundance of water, or maybe it controls them. If anybody plays a waterbearer, the game’s going to have an immobile treasure that removes thirst. If you want to be the one who controls it, it better be you.
    Warning: don’t be a waterbearer unless you want the responsibility. Or maybe just keep the water for yourself.

    Quarantines have memories that slowly open new opportunities and possibilities. Your stasis facility can also give you power and independence. If you want to have a say in how the Apocalypse shaped this World, play a quarantine.
    Warning: you're a fish out of water. Being from the Golden Age means you may be cornered by questions you can't, or won't want to, answer.

    Child-things have really creepy but strong abilities, and a couple of fun moves that push what characters are capable of. Child-things also get, in the form of their den, a small measure of safety and security starting out. If you want everybody else to be a little spooked by you, play a child-thing.
    Warning: the fucking wolves are coming!

    The news runs a radio studio, with all that implies. They're more fun to play than a hocus and less powerful than a hardholder, but more dangerous to the status quo. Play a news if you want to change the world.
    Warning: problems are going to find you. Running a radio studio means people will be listening.

    The show is a vibrant and messy thrill seeker. Their music is potentially game-changing, but they're symbiotic, forever linked to another player's character. If you want to be the center of attention, play a show.
    Warning: you always have a leash, and the holder reaps what you sow.

    Monday, January 30, 2017


    I quit playing games, cold turkey. I cancelled the game I was GMing and stopped making any attempts at attending other games. I switched jobs and am no longer working the graveyard shift. Why? In June of last year, I started performing standup comedy and writing & performing jokes has increasingly occupied more of my free time.

    There are only a few consistent open mics where I live but after months of attending them with new material every other week I think I could probably perform 10 minutes of comedy if I was prepared. I doubt how good the entire routine would be, some parts are strong and some are weak, but if I had to fill time then I'm confident I could fill 10 minutes with jokes that I know, that have mostly worked, and have a tenuous connection to one another.

    The central problem to performing standup is that at the main comedy club open mic (where normal non-comic people go) I only get to perform in quick 3-minute chunks. When I write I often have a bit that lasts beyond 3 minutes, and when I rewrite I'm often spending time trying to whittle it down to 3 minutes. Crafting one-liners, or lots of laughs in a short amount of time, is the hardest thing to do and I do the opposite of that. I have been compared to Norm Macdonald more than once. That is, my bits are long and rambling and usually punctuated with cute or witty affectations leading to a primary punchline for the entire bit. The other open mics throughout the week offer more than 3 minutes, but only 4 or 5 minutes, and since I am always crafting material to work within 3 minutes I often find myself calling the MC back up to the mic before my time is done.

    For a few weeks I was writing pieces with rather weak jokes and I felt like I had already hit a rut. I think perhaps I am still trying to find my standup "voice," but increasingly I've tried doing things that are weird or esoteric. I changed my shirt during one routine and I pretended to order a pizza and get into an argument with the person taking my order in another routine, and recently I started doing a set where I pretend to have an angry flashback. These were at least entertaining even when they weren't getting laughs.

    I have had several comics tell me they're initially confused when I begin a routine that doesn't seem like traditional standup. To that I usually reply "Well, you're gonna have to raise your game a little then." Except it is entirely understandable. Doing something strange or confusing can throw people off and it takes time to analyze a piece before it can really rest on the stage. And thus the dilemma, performing strange material within a 3 minute time period that can be grasped quickly and still manage to be humorous.

    When I first started I felt like maybe I just suck at the comedy game. I can get laughs at the comedy club, but with the other comics most of my material falls flat and I began to feel that if I can't get the comics to laugh then maybe I'm just a hack. Then, in October, when I was considering quitting, Louis CK walked into the comedy club, he settled into a seat literally arm's reach from where I was sitting and I barely had time to process what was about to happen: I was about to perform standup comedy in front of Louis CK. I had just enough time to think about whether I should change what I was about to do. I had material that I knew would work, but I wasn't prepared for it and I had less than 3 minutes before I would be called up to the stage. I had prepared to do my weird "order a pizza" bit and then this thing about the election where I have a conniption and the words coming out of my mouth all begin to slowly cohere into a single shouted growl. I decided to just do what I had prepared for and if it bombed, oh well.

    I got laughs, it worked better then I expected, and I was emboldened after the pizza bit because I could hear Louis CK guffawing loudly at the back of the room. When I walked back to my seat he reached out and stopped me in my tracks, shook my hand, and said "That was great! Good job." and all I could do was sheepishly say "Thanks" and sit back down. I got the impression he wanted to say something else to me, and I felt like saying more, but by now all of the comics knew he was in the club and they had begun gathering near or behind his seat like a crowd trying to glimpse their new prophet, and I didn't want to be just another comic intruding on his space. But to have the guy who is considered the top of the industry stop me to tell me he liked what I did, you can't imagine how great it feels.

    I've been doing this for half a year now and I've always wanted to write sketch comedy, my old youtube account is a testament of my wrecked attempts at this, but somehow I feel closer to doing that now than ever before in my life. All it took to get my muse back was standing on a stage to tell a few jokes.

    Saturday, July 2, 2016

    how much does that castle cost?

    There is a fascinating project being undertaken in France where a group of archaeologists and engineers are building a medieval castle using only the tools and technology that would have been available to the builders of such a castle from the period. Even the workers are only allowed to wear period-appropriate clothing and eat at a local restaurant which opened to serve period-appropriate food. They started the project in 1997 and they're not sure when they'll be done, sometime in the 2020s. The castle employs 55 people who work year-round designing and building and maintaining the building and grounds. This castle is not that big and not grandiose by modern standards, but it is weirdly gratifying to see how progress has been made on the project year after year. There's also a wikipedia link that gives a decent summary of all of the available information.

    Employing this to a tabletop game, depending on the game system, you could extrapolate the costs of building a castle from this information. Assuming silver as a standard unit of currency and occupying a healthy mix of professions into the construction of this castle, you can expect to spend about 20 silver every day or 600 silver every month. Over a 20-year period of time, that amounts to 144,000 silver pieces. If gold is your currency standard then you can increase that to 1.4 million silver. That's just to pay people to build the castle, that doesn't include building materials or tools or all of the hiccups that might occur along the way like labor disputes, foul weather, running out of materials, bandits, wandering monsters, war, or anything else that might delay or stop construction. The construction times listed in the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide are very forgiving.

    Using magic could speed up the process or make some aspects of construction easier, but there are few low-level spells with utilitarian aspects. The 2nd edition of AD&D gave gold piece costs for a wizard to cast a spell, but this was a list devised to part PCs from their gold and nothing more as some spells on the list had no material components whatsoever. A PC spellcaster should be able to speed up the construction of their own castle, or be able to assist a non-spellcasting PC in exchange for money, services, or a free room in the finished keep. As a sample spell from 2nd edition that would be useful for constructing a castle, Wall of Stone is a 6th-level permanent spell that only requires a small block of granite as a material component.

    You could buy the Castle Guide and plot out exactly how much stone, how much gold, and how many workers with a very good basis of management and flexibility using a gold standard, but most of the people I play with find that attention to detail boring. If that's the case for you as well, then...

    Handwave it!

    No castle is typical or average, each must be specially designed. The smallest of castles will take 15 years to build, larger castles might take upwards of 25 or even 50 years to build. Every year of uninterrupted construction costs 7200 silver pieces for labor, assuming stone is relatively easy to quarry and wood is readily available from a nearby forest or grove. An NPC wizard will need to be paid in order to help, but a PC wizard can be handwaved into assisting and dramatically reduce construction time. For each NPC wizard who assists with construction increase the cost by 50% and divide the construction time by their level (or combined levels); PC wizards simply divide the construction time by their level unless the players have negotiated a wage between their characters.

    For example, Brienne's castle is huge and is likely going to take 35 years to build costing 252k silver. She has a 12th-level wizard assisting her so the total cost will end up being 378k silver but will only take 2.9 years. If another 10th-level wizard helps, the cost increases to 567k silver and will only take 1.6 years.

    Further Reading
    Castle by David Macaulay
    Life in a Medieval Castle by Joseph Gies
    Medieval Castle Layout

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016

    Death Frost Dumb

    I ran a session of Death Frost Doom last Sunday and the highest Intelligence score amongst any of the PCs was only a 5. Which meant that many parts of the module were indecipherable to the characters, since they couldn't read. They didn't find half of the stuff that they could have found, and what they did get access to still left one of them dead and one of them almost dead. It was still a creepy adventure for them.

    Saturday, June 11, 2016

    Cruel Shoes

    This is a really simple but dirty trick to play on somebody in a game of Apocalypse World. In the first session, you are usually asking the players to describe their characters and in part of this it is assumed that the player will describe what their character looks like. The playbooks give some hints as to how to describe one's appearance, but often players won't go beyond the basic summaries provided and it's the MC's job to help them flesh those bits out.
    Your Driver has utility wear? How would you describe it? Is it like a jumpsuit or overalls or something more archaic or more advanced?
    Eventually, everybody around the table will get used to your questions about their appearance. They'll be thinking more about the overall look their character has, and you can start asking "What kind of shoes are you wearing?" Somebody might say sandals, somebody might say nothing, somebody might say sneakers, but you're looking for somebody who says boots or steel-toed shoes. The more protective the player describes the shoes, the better.
    In the very first fight this character is in and they miss a roll, simply declare "One of your boots rips, the stitching has ripped and the sole is loose from the leather around your toes." Now, every time that character misses a roll you can escalate the harm that is happening to their feet. The shoes get wet mud stuck inside, and between the character toes. Blood and oil and dirt of all kinds will spill into the hole, trapped between the toes and the fabric.
    Now you can write this as a countdown clock, or have one prepared already:
    3 o'clock: foot swells, skin wrinkled
    6 o'clock: rash, foot itches badly
    9 o'clock: painful swelling, hard to run
    10 o'clock: can't run
    11 o'clock: can't walk
    Midnight: foot's a goner

    It's a pretty simple escalation, and it also has a simple solution: buy new boots (if you can find them) or simply throw away the broken boots. In Apocalypse World, or any post-apocalyptic world, every possible thing can break and eventually cause serious problems if they're not taken care of. I like to use simple things to blindside players because they are often focusing on he crazy maniacs of the world and overlooking these things.

    Thursday, May 26, 2016

    fighting goons

    This one time, during D&D, the players were trying to strategically retreat from the dungeon and they had to go through a series of rooms where gargoyles were guarding the passageway and preventing anything from moving through them. The gargoyles ambushed the characters and the lead fighter engaged them head-on. After about 3 rounds, I realized that the only way the gargoyles could hit the fighter was if they rolled a 20, which made the battle quite lopsided. Because we were playing 5th edition D&D, there were no specific rules for pulling unique tactics and the whole fight just turned into a slog. Featureless hallway, an enemy that refuses to retreat, players who insist on killing their adversaries however boring the process. A perfect cocktail for traipsing through a swamp of dice rolling. I figured out that it would take about 16 rounds, on average, for the fighter to work his way through the gargoyles and then just rolled 32d20 for the gargoyles to see if they would ever get a hit in. On average, they should score at least once, but they didn't roll a 20 at all and so I simply said "it takes you a few minutes, but eventually you defeat the gargoyles and continue onward."

    This was the point where I felt that combat should be taking up less of the game, and XP should not be coming from combat at all.

    I've run into this problem a few times in previous games as well. The players just get up to a certain level and low-level challenges become boring and tedious because the enemy simply cannot hurt the characters. There is always a way to make these fights interesting or challenging, but when you're running a module your available palette of colours is quite limited. For example, I could have replaced the gargoyles with something else, but the gargoyles were part of a faction and their existence was predetermined by certain story elements from the module I was running. Changing what the gargoyles were would have changed other elements from the module that I wasn't prepared for, and in the moment I found a different solution. In retrospect, I could have just moved the gargoyles to somewhere else in the dungeon that was more interesting, where the fighter wouldn't be able to box them in and their attacks could be more meaningful.

    When faced with a truly one-sided battle with enemies who are not a serious threat I've tried to think of other ways I might dispense with drawn out fight scenes and try to sum up the challenge with a single roll, or a simpler solution. The word "goons" could really be defined by anything that the PCs encounter that they are also willing to kill: low-level bandits, gargoyles, orcs, kobolds, goblins, possessed children, city guards, tax collectors, etc.

    Roll as normal vs the enemy's Armor Class
    ...if the PC hit then the goons are all killed and they never got a hit in
    ...if the PC misses by a margin of 5 points the goons got a hit in before they all got killed
    ...if the PC misses by a margin greater then 5 then the goons got a hit in and they aren't all killed

    The goons hit one, some, or all of the PCs before they are defeated. Ask the player (or players) to decide one:
    • some of the goons survived and ran away, but the characters are not inconvenienced by the fight
    • none of the goons got away, but the characters have spent a lot of time here possibly wasting resources

    Roll 1d20 and add your attack bonus. On 20+, choose 2. On 11-19, choose 1.
    • you kill all of them
    • you don't get hit
    • you don't get slowed down by them
    On a miss, you don't kill any of them, you get hit, and you are most definitely inconvenienced by them.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    bribery doesn't always work

    Some rules allow you to attempt to bribe NPCs and one of the things I've always taken for granted with bribery is that it is not just a matter of how adroitly a character offers a bribe but also whether or not the NPC accepts the bribe. Trying to bribe a paladin to let your criminal character go loose when you're in the wilderness far from a civilized township might be difficult, but is still a lot easier there then bribing that same paladin when you're on a major street in the capital city of his Theological empire. Some people have principles, after all, and try to live by them even when they know they could break their own internal code.

    In Andy Kaufman Revealed, Bob Zmuda tells a story of how a script doctor he worked for bribed the staff at a bakery to give him all of their clothes. Every employee, except for one, had stripped down to their underwear, and this script doctor kept offering more and more money for this older woman's clothes but she adamantly refused. He was offering her ten grand, and she kept shaking her head, tears streaming down her face, while her co-workers egged her on "Take the money Helen!" Some people have principle, and even if they want to take your bribe, they simply won't.

    how much?
    I dislike bribery in Apocalypse World because it's too easy. If you've got 1 Barter you simply offer to it an NPC for something and they do it, or they give you what you want. That's boring. Failure is always more interesting. Principles can take a back seat to greed, and with a system like Apocalypse World the barter involved is so loosely defined that it doesn't seem like it should always work. If the barter were clean water then maybe that would work all the time but if you've established in your game that barter is comprised of pristine dildos then offering one in exchange for everything makes little to no sense.

    I've worked in a hotel as a night auditor for eight years now, and there's this thing that drunk people do where they're looking for food and I'm telling them what pizza places deliver to the hotel at 3 in the morning and they'll hand me the menu I've shown them and say "You order it for me." Imagine a drunk man, he's always white, pushing a menu at you and with an annoyed drawl bordering on belligerence commanding, not asking, you to "Order me a pizza." Fuck you drunky! Order it your goddamn self. I did this for a guest once, and it was such a convoluted game of getting information from the guest and the pizza employee, and relaying it to both of them back and forth that I will never do it ever again. Unless that drunky pays me first.

    The size of the bribe is also important. Two gold might convince a guard to look the other way, but two copper is likely to make him clobber you upside the head before you have a chance to increase your offer. How much is a copper worth though? Because if it buys his food for the day, maybe its enough. Most people could probably be bought quite easily, these same people probably work jobs they don't really like in order to take money home to pay bills or buy things they want. Nobody ever really wants to be as a garbage collector, but garbage collectors can potentially make a lot of money and it unskilled labor. Garbage collectors in Long Island can make six figure salaries. I bet you're thinking about becoming a garbage collector now. Shit, I'd do it for less than that! But some people, you couldn't pay them a million dollars to pick up other peoples' trash.

    the thin green line
    There's a fine line between greed and principles. As a GM, you can ask yourself how much a particular NPC could be bought for, and ask yourself honestly: are they willing to accept the bribe offered? If you can't decide, that's what a roll is for. If the roll is purely one of character skill, apply it like a Charisma check. If the roll is a narrative choice, then success could give the PC a new NPC contact or open up a new story. But just throwing money at an NPC shouldn't get them to accept a bribe. Failure is a very real part of bribery that makes the whole exchange interesting.

    I'm not a thief, but technically I have stolen from an employer by allowing a customer to steal. I worked at a shitty clothing store more than two decades ago and we kept tip jars next to our registers. Working for minimum wage was pretty bad and the tip jar usually paid for lunch, or sometimes a night out drinking. I had a couple come through my register and they were buying more than $100 worth of clothes and as the man pulled out his wallet, thumbing through his cash, I said "If you put a 20 in my tip jar I won't charge you for these two items" pointing at two things that were essentially half of what they were buying. They looked at one another, shrugged. There was a moment where he paused, like he was weighing his options. It occurred to me in that moment that he could just take the items and threaten to report me to my boss if I objected. Perhaps he was considering his own level of risk in simply taking the clothes without putting money into my tip jar. Then he put a 20 in my tip jar. A bribe. Or did I bribe them?


    This is the part that I find most interesting. In Bob Zmuda's book, the woman can't be bribed into taking her clothes off, it doesn't matter how much money she's offered. When the drunk guys try to get me to order their pizza, I refuse citing my own personal liability for handling their credit card. If nobody were willing to be paid to pick up trash we would live in a very messy world. And if that man in the clothing store had simply taken the clothes what can of worms would have been opened? That last scenario could have played out in so many ways because we both essentially wanted something from the other person, free clothes versus 20 bucks. Have you noticed that the last scenario described is really the only one where the bribe worked?

    Bribery is very close to begging, and begging doesn't always work, but we have systems for that too.

    Saturday, May 7, 2016

    I hate Rite Publishing

    Every publisher on DriveThruRPG has an option where you can choose to follow them, which essentially just means you get blasted with advertisements from them about new products. I funded a few of dtRPG's charity driven bundles and I think doing that caused me to automatically follow any publisher who released product within the charity bundles, so I get a lot of email from publishers on dtRPG and I would estimate I delete about half of them without looking at them. But Rite Publishing always sends out these emails for inane products like 101 3rd-level spells and Monster Template: Headless Horseman... like, how the fuck is that a monster template? Isn't that just a ghost with no head? Why does somebody need to spend three dollars to read a 4-page pdf that probably is just summarized as "add a ghost template and then take away it's head"?
    This publisher seems to be the acme of slapdash throwing shit together to make a quick buck. Some of the descriptions for these products seem as lazily written as the concepts themselves. I have a couple of their books, specifically 101 NPC Grudges and Wyrd of Questhaven, and if the names of those two books don't send a shiver down my collective readers' spines then you are reading the wrong gaming blog. 101 NPC Grudges does not even list potential grudges an NPC can have, and the number of NPC ideas it does give you is only 48, so right away with the title they're lying! The book is so sloppily put together that it's difficult to understand how anybody thought it would be a good idea to publish this trite piece of crap, and there were four people listed in the credits who all could have said "You know, I don't think this is that good of a product, maybe we should work on it a bit more" but instead it's a 17 page pdf, 5 pages of which are used for credits, ads, and the OGL so really its only 12 pages, listing 48 NPCs. The most detailed of whom seem to have very specific backgrounds and justifications for their existence within what is supposedly a generic RPG product (a city guard captain who is also a gargoyle, points for originality but this guy just screams I'M A GM WHO TROLLS MY PLAYERS WITH THINGS THEY DIDN'T EXPECT OR CAN'T ACCOUNT FOR).

    This week I opened my email to see an ad from Rite Publishing for their new 10 Barbarian Magic Items pdf. A buck fifty for a list of items that you could probably write yourself since they list the items (without stats) in the product description, and I think I'm going to just show you the product description and write my own stats (spelling errors are not mine).

    Adversity's Bulwark armor and shield special ability: Use your rage to overcome detrimental effects, so you can get on with the beat down you are giving.
    Okay, a suit of armor that prevents an enemy's special attack or magic. When you successfully hit an opponent you can make another saving throw against any spell or magic affecting you that hasn't ended it's duration.

    Felling Storm weapon special ability: If you hit an opponent while raging perform a bonus combat maneuver, because you want to do more than just exchange blows.
    A warhammer that when you hit an opponent with it they must save vs spell or be knocked prone, if they're capable of being knocked prone.

    Boots of the Wild Rust: Be the first to reach your opponents, charge through rough terrain, or even across vast chasms.
    When you declare a charge as your first action in combat, your movement is increased by x4.

    Bracers of Epic Deeds: Perform unique combat manevuers with great alacrity to astound friend and foe alike.
    When you hit an opponent, all of your other opponents who see this must make a spell save of be dazed for 1 round.

    Gauntlets of the Breaker: Hinder an opponents natural attacks, natural armor, and an opponents full plate, plus deal more damage to objects. Because sometimes its more fun to maim than to kill.
    +3 AC vs attacks from natural weaponry, +3 to hit against enemies with natural armor or anyone wearing full plate mail, +3d6 damage when striking inanimate objects

    Helm of the Nomad: Take a 10 or sometimes even a 20 on some of the barbarians most useful class skills, even in the most dire of circumstance it my just save your (or your allies) life.
    You can always find 1 ration worth of food from hunting and can always build suitable shelter from the elements for 1 person with only 40 minutes of work, also you never get lost.

    Ring of Spritual Spite: use your rage to protect you from magical damage, so you can show spellcasters the power of hate.
    Every time you successfully hit, the amount of damage you deal out can be removed from the next magical attack that hits you - this resets with every successful hit.

    Baldric of Restraint: Sacrifice your rage to heal your wounds, and live to hate another day.
    A belt that heals you of 1d8 hit points whenever you take a completely defensive action during a fight, in other words declare that you are defending yourself and get 1d8 healing.

    Mantle of Thorns: Do you like to grapple or are you tired of being grappled, swallowed or raked, then this garment is for you.
    A cloak that makes you immune to being grappled. Simple.

    “The Fell Hammer” Legacy Item: Let your magic item level up with you, and provide you with the ultimate tool of savagery!
    Add your current level as a damage bonus to this weapon.

    There. Save yourself a buck fifty and use those.
    And if you're running 5th edition D&D just use "spend 1 use of Rage" instead of "hit an opponent" for any item that is described as "Use your rage"

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    the Criminal


    STATS: choose one set
    • Grace+2 Might+1 Moxie+1 Insight=0 Magic-2
    • Grace+2 Might-1 Moxie+1 Insight+1 Magic-1
    • Grace+2 Might=0 Moxie+1 Insight-2 Magic=0
    • Grace+2 Might=0 Moxie=0 Insight+1 Magic-2

    You start with 3 extra dialects, plus Thieves Cant.
    You are illiterate.

    By default, your guild is composed of disparate entrepreneurs that can be found in half a dozen locations scattered around a city or the countryside, and they're not fucking friendly at all.
    Then, choose 2:
    • your guild is widespread. can call upon them in any town or city you travel to.
    • your guild is well-armed. ...when using Rumble, on a hit you can trade your current weapon for a new one.
    • your guild is well-armored. ...when using Rumble, on a hit you can get your armor repaired or replaced for free.
    • your guild is greedy. ...when using Guildwork, mark 1 xp when choosing to pay money for their help.
    • your guild acts like fucking nobility. ...when using Guildwork, mark 1 xp when choosing to perform a favor.
    • your guild recruits regularly. ...when using Guildwork, mark 1 xp when choosing to deal with an upstart.

    And choose 1:
    • your guild is shiftless and lazy. +poor
    • your guild's loose-knit, with members coming and going as they choose. +desertion
    • your guild works in the service of somebody more powerful. +obligation
    • your guild thrives in the gutters. +disease

    MOVES you start with Guildwork, Rumble, and Sticky Fingers
    Guildwork: when you turn to your guild for help or assistance, roll+Grace.
    On 10+, you get what you want without a fuss.
    On 7-9, choose 1:
    • you have to pay for their help (the Oracle will set the price)
    • you can't call upon the guild again until you perform a favor for them
    • somebody challenges your membership, you won't get help until you deal with this upstart
    On a miss, your guild demands your obedience and if you don't give it, you're out of the guild.

    Sticky Fingers: when you are close to somebody and brush against or past them, roll+Grace. On a hit, choose 1:
    • you lift something from off their person
    • you place an object into one of their pockets
    • you swap an item off of them and replace it with another similar item (take +1forward)
    On 10+, nobody notices you doing this. On a 7-9, the Oracle chooses 1, but doesn't need to tell you what they choose:
    • somebody (not your target) notices your odd movement
    • your target will feel something is off and search their pockets
    • the object you took is not what you thought it was
    On a miss, you're caught red-handed.

    Rumble: when you can recruit members of your guild to fight for you, roll+Moxie. On a hit you can recruit 15 guild members to back you up in a single fight (Damage:2 Armor:0 gang small), you don't control them but you can lead them in the fight and they will back you up and protect you within reason. If more than half of them die, they flee. On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1:
    • they show up in greater numbers (Medium instead of Small)
    • they show up with decent weapons (+1 Damage)
    • they show up in armor (+1 Armor)
    • they fight to the death, instead of fleeing
    On a miss, you can still recruit them to fight with no options, but your guild also demands obedience as if you failed a Guildwork roll. You might not be calling the shots when the fight happens.

    Be Prepared: when you plan a robbery or burglary with a crew, roll+Insight. On a hit, you get Marks which can be used during the heist. These Marks allow you to roll extra dice and add the results to your roll for a move during the heist. The Marks can be used after seeing the result of a roll. On a 10+, mark 2. On 7-9, mark 1.
    On a miss, you gain no benefit and the Oracle makes a move after your next 10+ roll, during the heist, or immediately after the heist, their choice.

    Doubleback: when you are being chased or need to hide, roll+Grace. On a 10+, you get away clean, quickly, and quietly. On a 7-9, you get away but choose 1:
    • you left a trail that can be followed
    • you need to spend time to get away
    • you hurt somebody in order to conceal which way you went
    On a miss, they know exactly where you are and they're closing in.

    Education in Earnest: you can attempt to read script, even translate ancient or dead languages, by spending time, roll+Grace. On a hit, you understand the basic message of the script. On a 10+, you translate it quickly and the Oracle will give you good detail. On a miss, you have wasted time with these scribbles and the Oracle may bring consequences with it.

    Lost & Found: when you call out to the shadows for help, roll+Magic. On a hit, the shadows come to life according to your desire. On a 10+, pick 2. On a 7–9, pick 1:
    • the shadows hide you from sight until you move into bright light or attack another creature
    • the shadows quiet your footfalls and movement until you leave the area or attack another creature
    • the shadows hold you up so you will not fall, even from the tiniest ledge, and will slow your descent so that you will take no Damage even if you do fall
    On a miss, the Oracle can choose one option for an NPC in the area.

    Mysterious Figure: you can attempt to Convince or Manipulate an NPC without them even knowing who you are.

    The Fagin: when you use Rumble you get +1 option, even on a missed roll.

    When another player helps you get away (or similarly protects you) from the authorities, you get +1 Bond with them.
    When you steal something worth 1 Gold or more and give it to your Guild without taking a cut, mark 1 xp.

    EQUIPMENT: you get
    • 1 Gold
    • Armor:1
    • 1 serviceable weapon
    • 1 dagger (Damage:1 AP melee/thrown)

    • scimitar (Damage:2 hand valuable messy)
    • short sword (Damage:2 hand)
    • crossbow (Damage:2 AP ranged reload)
    • dagger (Damage:1 AP melee/thrown)
    • hand crossbow (Damage:1 AP ranged)
    • whip (Damage:1 reach grapple)

    Tell everyone to mark you at -1 Bond.
    Whatever numbers they tell you, add 2
    Additionally, you may ask "Which one of you cheated me out of money?" subtract 2 from whoever says they did.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2016

    the Merchant


    STATS: choose one set
    • Grace=0 Might+1 Moxie+2 Insight+1 Magic-2
    • Grace-1 Might+1 Moxie+2 Insight+1 Magic-1
    • Grace+1 Might=0 Moxie+2 Insight+1 Magic-2
    • Grace+1 Might-1 Moxie+2 Insight=0 Magic=0

    You start with 4 dialects.
    You are literate.

    A Vardo is a kind of wagon, a mobile home that also functions as a shop. At start, your Vardo is pulled by two mules.
    What kinds of things are in your Vardo? (pick 2 or 3)
    • weapons, armor & shields
    • jewelry
    • artwork & mementos
    • intoxicants, delicacies & poisons
    • books & maps
    • plant & animal specimens
    • castoffs & knick knacks
    • something else?
    Your Vardo begins play with Size+2 (min. -2, max. +4)
    If your Vardo is Size=0 or smaller, take -1ongoing.

    As long as your Vardo is Size 1 or higher, you can spend time on the side of a road, in a bustling market, or between sessions (if there is appropriate downtime) to sell wares from your Vardo, spend time and roll+Size. On a hit, you earn 1 Gold by reducing the Size of your Vardo by -1, you may do this down to Size=0. On a 10+, you earn 1 extra Gold, even if you don't reduce your Vardo's Size at all. On a miss, you only earn 1 Gold and your Vardo is reduced to Size=0 or gets -2 Size, whichever is worse.

    As long as your Vardo is Size 1 or higher, you can go into your Vardo and look for something useful (according to the things in your Vardo). Describe what you are looking for and roll+Size. On a 10+, you find it and your Vardo’s Size holds where it is. On a 7-9, you find it and your Vardo gets -1 to Size. On a miss, you spend time looking for the item but it isn't there, and the Oracle can make a move if she chooses to.

    When you stockpile wares for your Vardo from a maker or distributor of goods, spend 1 Gold and roll+Moxie.
    On a 10+, it's a good deal and increase your Vardo's Size by +3.
    On a 7-9, it'll keep you going, increase your Vardo's Size by +2.
    On a miss, increase your Vardo's size by +1, but the Oracle also makes a move.

    MOVES you start with all of the moves associated with your Vardo, then choose two more

    Acquisitive Eye: when you see, hear about, or otherwise come to know of a thing you want, roll+Insight. On a hit, ask the Oracle questions. On a 10+, ask 3. On a 7-9, ask 2:
    • How can I make this mine?
    • Who will stand in my way?
    • Who will try to take it from me?
    • What is this truly worth?
    On a miss, ask 1 but your face and body language betray your interest in the thing to anyone who's paying attention.

    Bammed Booze: name somebody who might have just finished or just be about to eat, drink, or handle something that has had your attention and roll+Might. On 10+, you've poisoned them, and they suffer 4 Damage AP (soon or within the next day, your call). On a 7-9, it's 2 Damage instead. On a miss, you've poisoned somebody else by accident, maybe several somebodies, the Oracle says who, and they suffer 3 Damage AP right now.

    Confidence Game: when you attempt to impersonate somebody of importance (whom you are not!) through sheer guile or bluster, roll+Moxie. On a 10+, your deception works, for now, but the Oracle may test you again later or if your assumed persona begins to slip. On a 7-9, they suspect you're a phony, choose 1:
    • They maintain the upper hand if your disguise collapses.
    • They are wary and alert for any misstep.
    On a miss, they see through you and the Oracle makes as hard a move as appropriate.

    Friends In Low Places: whenever you enter a bustling marketplace, you may choose to roll+Moxie.
    On a hit, people here have heard of and recognize you, and you say what they've heard; the Oracle will have them respond accordingly.
    On a 10+, choose 1.
    • somebody here owes you money
    • the marketplace is ripe, you can restock your Vardo here
    • someone brings you rumors of trade and plunder
    On a miss, they've heard of you, but the Oracle will decide what they've heard.

    Greed: when you're defending your Vardo from thievery or destruction, you have Armor:2. If you're already wearing armor, use that instead.

    Honor Among Thieves: when you're surrounded by bandits or worse, if they can understand what you say then you can Manipulate them using your friendship as leverage.

    The Best Investment: when you make a Vardo move, you can choose to skip the roll and take a miss result. Each time you do this make a Mark. These Marks can be spent to add +1forward to later Vardo move rolls. There is no limit to the number of Marks you can accrue.

    Words Are Weapons: when you Intimidate, you may roll+Moxie instead of roll+Might.

    When another player wants something and you get it into their hands for free, you get +1 Bond with them.
    When you swindle an NPC out of money or property, mark 1 xp.

    EQUIPMENT: you get
    • 1 Gold
    • a Vardo
    • 2 weapons

    • flail (Damage:3 reach area)
    • short sword (Damage:2 melee)
    • longbow (Damage:3 ranged)
    • crossbow (Damage:2 AP ranged reload)
    • spear (Damage:3 reach)
    • darts (Damage:1 thrown endless)
    • dagger (Damage:1 AP melee/thrown)
    • hand crossbow (Damage:1 AP ranged)
    • whip (Damage:1 reach grapple)

    Tell everyone to mark you at +1 Bond
    Whatever numbers they tell, add 1 to it
    Additionally, you may ask "Which of you has worked for me?" add +1 to whoever says they did.

    Friday, April 15, 2016

    the Mercenary

    STATS: choose one set
    • Grace+1 Might+2 Moxie-1 Insight+1 Magic-1
    • Grace+1 Might+2 Moxie+1 Insight=0 Magic-2
    • Grace+1 Might+2 Moxie=0 Insight+1 Magic-2
    • Grace+2 Might+2 Moxie-1 Insight=0 Magic-2

    You start with 3 dialects.
    You are illiterate.

    MOVES you start with Favorite Weapon and then choose two more
    Favorite Weapon: When you have your Named Weapon in your possession you cannot be disarmed or have your weapon taken away, unless you are knocked unconscious or you give it away freely. No magic or illusions will separate you from your Favorite Weapon.

    Bloodthirsty: when you inflict violence and roll 12+, you can declare your opponent defeated and at your mercy, maimed, or dead.

    Defend to the End: in battle, when another character suffers damage, roll+Might.
    On a 10+, you protect them from damage by taking it yourself and reduce it by -1.
    On a 7–9, choose 1:
    • you reduce the Damage they take by -1.
    • you protect them from damage by taking it all yourself.
    • you protect both yourself and them from the damage, but your armor is destroyed by it.
    On a miss, the Oracle will declare that you both suffer the Damage or something equally bad.

    Desperate Cry: when you pray in the heat of battle, roll+Magic. If you've suffered 1 to 3 Damage then take +1 to the roll, if you've suffered 4 or more Damage then take +2. On a hit, the Oracle must answer questions about what or whom you're fighting. On a 7-9, one question. On a 10+, all three:
    • how can I survive this encounter?
    • what do they want?
    • what is their weakness?
    On a miss, nothing gained, and the Oracle doesn't make a move either.

    Fearful Presence: when you try to Convince or Manipulate an NPC, you may roll+Might instead of roll+Moxie.

    Field Medicine: when you treat the wounded, roll+Insight. On a hit, you stabilize them. On a 7-9, they choose 1:
    • they fight you from the pain, take 1 Damage and adjust Bonds accordingly.
    • their course of recovery will be slow. All natural healing takes 1 extra day of recovery.
    • they owe you for your time, attention, and spent trappings. Tell them to add a +debt to you.
    On a miss, they're not stabilized and they take 1 Damage AP right now.

    For Hire: when you put the word out that you're looking for work, the Oracle might tell you to spend time, but either way roll+Insight.
    On a 10+, you get as many job offers that the Oracle can think of, but she can choose one for each job offered. On a 7-9, you get one job offer and you choose two, the Oracle will tailor the job description based on your choices:
    • it's dangerous
    • it doesn't pay a lot
    • it'll take a long time
    On a miss, you get one job offer and all three.

    I Wasn't Always Like This: take a move from another playbook. (During initial character creation, choose it from a playbook that isn’t otherwise in play.)

    Merciless: when you deal damage, inflict +1 Damage.

    When another player fights to preserve your life without promises of payment, you get +1 Bond with them.
    When you satiate your lust for carnal knowledge, mark 1 xp.

    EQUIPMENT: you get
    • 1 named weapon
    • a piece of armor worth Armor:2
    • 2 Gold

    NAMED WEAPON: give a name to your weapon, then choose options
    Base (choose 1):
    • staff (Damage:1 hand +reach)
    • haft (Damage:1 hand)
    • handle (Damage:1 hand)
    Options (choose 2):
    • blade (+1damage)
    • chain (+area)
    • heavy blade* (+2damage +messy)
    • large (+messy +reach)
    • long blade* (+2damage)
    • ornate (+valuable)
    • spiked (+1armor +messy)
    * counts as 2 choices

    Tell everyone to mark you at +1 Bond
    Whatever numbers they tell, add 1 and write it next to the character’s name.
    Additionally, ask yourself which of the other players' characters you trust the most, set your Bond to them at +3.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    the Black Hack

    It was a fast read, and I like a lot of the streamlining. You can tell the author loves D&D but doesn't like getting bogged down with minutia and fiddly rules. It's still basically a D&D game, but it's a lean, fast beast. Even leveling up is simple and quick. When I finished reading the spell lists it made me want to run Dwimmermount again.

    For less than $5 you can get the Black Hack and two supplements with a "procedurally generated" village and extra classes.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2016

    the Alchemist

    this is just a preview

    STATS: choose one set
    Grace+1 Might=0 Moxie+1 Insight+2 Magic-2
    Grace+1 Might+1 Moxie=0 Insight+2 Magic-2
    Grace-1 Might+1 Moxie=0 Insight+2 Magic=0
    Grace+2 Might=0 Moxie-1 Insight+2 Magic-2

    You start with 2 extra dialects.
    You are literate.

    MOVES you start with Make Do and then choose one more
    Make do: when you don't have access to your Alchemy Bag or its all out of stock you can still make a Healing potion, you need to spend 2 Gold for supplies in a town or spend time foraging in the wilderness. Roll+Insight on the Alchemy Bag move.

    Arcane Alchemy: when you spend time with a magical object and your Alchemy Bag, the Oracle will tell you what the magical object does.

    Barber surgeon: when you attempt to save the life of a critically wounded person (4+ Damage), roll+Insight. You can spend Stock from your Alchemy Bag to assist the roll 1-for-1, as much Stock as you want. On a hit, you prevent their current injuries from worsening by stabilizing them, and choose 2 (on a 10+) or 1 (on a 7-9):
    • the pain, incense, and salves make them babble the truth. Ask them what secret they spill and increase your Bond with them by +1 (for NPCs, you simply learn a secret).
    • their body is eager to be healed. Heal them of 1 Damage.
    • their damage is not as bad as you first believed. Heal them of 1 Damage.
    • their course of recovery teaches you something about your own skills. You get 1 xp.
    • they owe you for your time, attention, and spent trappings, and you’re going to hold them to it. Tell them to add a +debt to you.
    On a miss, they're not stabilized and they take 1 Damage AP right now.

    Developed Immunity: you cannot be poisoned, and can detect the presence of a poison by smelling or tasting it.

    Expert opinion: when you try to detect magic, you can roll+Insight instead of roll+Magic.

    In the Nick of Time: whenever someone you have a Bond with is in trouble (your call), you may decrease your Bond with them by -1 (to a minimum of 0) to have you already be there, with the proper tools and knowledge, with or without any clear explanation why.

    Of All Trades: you never have to make Unskilled rolls if you don't want to

    Opening Doors: whenever someone you have a Bond with dies, you get +1 Magic (max +3).

    Your Alchemy Bag has all kinds of crap in it: scissors, rags, tape, needles, clamps, gloves, oils, wipes, alcohol, herbs, salves, leeches, maggots, phials, tonics, potions, splints, bandages, razors, pliers, charms, crystals, poultices, narcotics, incense, salts, powders, ointments, hooks, horsehair, screws, brazier, mortar & pestle, flint & steel, several dozen alembics, flasks, dishes, retorts, measuring devices, a scale, and braces. It is big enough to fill your saddlebags and satchel. When you use it, spend its stock; you can spend 0–3 of its stock per use. You can resupply it for 1 Gold per 2-stock if your circumstances let you trade for medical supplies. It begins play holding 6-stock.
    Only characters with an Insight of +2 or higher can use an Alchemy Bag, otherwise they are rolling Unskilled.
    To use it you need to spend time near an open flame (either from a fireplace or campfire): roll+stock spent and choose an elixir to brew.

    On a hit, you will brew the elixir, but the Oracle will choose 1 (on a 10+) or 2 (on a 7–9):
    • while mixing chemicals the fumes threaten to overwhelm you; you’re acting perilously
    • during the later stages your mixture compresses; spend 1-stock more.
    • the potion needs to settle for 24 hours before it can be of any use
    • the potion needs constant attention (stirring or cooking) for 36 hours or else it spoils
    • the potion is not as potent as it could be; add weak
    • the potion requires one more special ingredient before it's complete; almost always an organ from an animal, but could also be something more prosaic
    On a miss, the potion does not cohere and both your time and stock are wasted.

    You can brew simple concoctions to speed the recovery of someone whose Damage has stabilized: don’t roll but spend 1-stock. They spend their Damage in days miserable and immobile, but heal completely by the end.

    Alchemy Bags can cost anywhere between 2 to 10 Gold to build from scratch.

    acid: used to burn through an object, if thrown onto an enemy can cause 3 Damage
    antitoxin: counters effects of poison
    clairaudience: drinker can hear sound from another distant location (ingested, duration)
    clairvoyance: drinker can see into another distant place (ingested, duration)
    ESP: drinker can hear the thoughts of those they look at (ingested, duration)
    fire resistance: drinker does not take Damage from heat or flame (touch, duration)
    glue: when applied to two objects will hold them fast until a solvent is applied
    healing: will stabilize Damage and heal 1 Damage or heals 2 Damage (ingested, instant)
    invisibility: makes user invisible to sight (ingested/touch, duration)
    love: falls in love with the next person they see or hear, your choice (ingested, permanent)
    luck: next roll+Grace hits at 10+ (ingested, duration)
    persuasiveness: next roll+Moxie hits at 10+ (ingested, duration)
    poison, paralytic: target becomes insensate and immobile (one dose, applied, instant)
    poison, sleep: causes target to fall asleep (one dose, applied, instant)
    poison, toxic: causes 3 Damage to target (one dose, applied/ingested, instant)
    smoke oil: produces a large cloud of smoke that lingers if there is now wind, attempts to Sneak in the area of the smoke become Adept
    sweet water: when added to another liquid, purifies it and turns it into water, adding this to potions ruins them (touch, instant)
    water breathing: drinker can breathe water as if it were air (ingested, duration)

    +instant: takes effect immediately
    +permanent: makes a permenent change to the drinker
    +duration: Oracle moves trigger expiration, player gets a warning before the effect is about to expire
    +weak: potion could expire at any time, or has a lesser effect (e.g. healing potion only heals 1 Damage, love potion gets duration, luck potion hits at 7-9, etc.)
    +applied: as in, applied to a weapon
    +ingested: must be consumed to be of use
    +touch: effect is triggered upon contact

    When another PC asks for a potion and you give it to them for free, you get +1 Bond with them.
    When you successfully make a potion and then sell it to an NPC, you get 1 Experience.

    EQUIPMENT: you get
    • Alchemy Bag
    • a horse
    • 1 practical weapon
    • 1 Gold
    • fashion suitable to your role, including at your option a piece worth 1 Armor (you detail)


    PRACTICAL WEAPONS (choose 1):
    • hammer (Damage:2 hand)
    • handaxe (Damage:2 hand messy)
    • mace (Damage:3 hand)
    • quarterstaff (Damage:2 hand reach)
    • sap (Damage:2 hand ko )

    Tell everyone to mark you at a Bond of 0.
    Whatever numbers they tell, give it -1 because you try not to get too attached.
    Additionally, you may ask "Which of you is a close friend and has seen everything that I've seen?" add +2 to whoever says they are (instead of -1).

    Sunday, March 27, 2016

    some religions of Kosranon

    the Holy Order of the Three Kings
    The Three Kings were gods who passed a living birthright along to their followers. Their scripture requires that all follow the lords and ladies of this Divine Heritage and they have only three holy commandments. Obedience, followers of the Divine Heritage must obey the commands of their lord or lady; Loyalty, once service is pledged to the Divine Heritage it must be kept until death; and Protection, all must educate themselves in the Divine Heritage so that they be diligent in safeguarding the lives of their charges and attend to all of their charges' commands.

    The church of the Templars, the Holy Order of Three Kings, consider all other gods to be false, and refer to any who do not follow the Three Kings as cultists (if the Templar is nice) or heathens. The Holy Order have declared all cults as heresy and actively pursue cultists with the intention of wiping out their beliefs, or destroying the cultists if they have to. Some Templars go straight to destroying the cultists without attempting to convert or torture them into accepting the Three Kings. In the Holy Order's eyes, when their work is done only the Divine Heritage shall remain.

    the Hidden Goddess
    The most prolific cult hiding from the Templars is also the hardest to find. Those who worship the Hidden Goddess, a deity of secrets, are called to her service by hearing her name. In fact, when her name is spoken aloud to a non-follower the only thing they hear is "the Hidden Goddess" because even her name is held secret against the uninitiated.

    Simply speaking her name is enough to initiate one into the cult, as she only allows her name to be heard by those who are both willing to follow her and those she wishes to serve her desires. Those who worship the Hidden Goddess know instantly who can hear her name when they speak it, and who cannot. In this way, each worshipper of the Hidden Goddess shares a common secret: they know who worships and serves her.

    Cultists of the Hidden Goddess have powers of insight and observation, but she also allows them to remain mysterious and obscured from others' prying eyes (including fellow members of the cult). All followers of the Hidden Goddess are given one secret to carry with them which they are commanded never to reveal, else the Hidden Goddess will disown them.

    The Windcallers worship the spirits of air and wind, that much they know, but the spirits of air and wind worship the sleeping god Raselom. They only answer to the Windcaller because they see something in them that resembles Raselom. This could mean that the spirits are confused, since they think they are serving an aspect of Raselom. Windcallers are oblivious to this, and regard the spirits as fickle but powerful benefactors. They offer up sacrifices to the spirits in exchange for magical blessings, and are often rewarded for their sacrifice, even when the spirits know they are not serving Raselom directly.

    Windcallers do not advertise their worship, and they do not maintain temples or fraternities. They are often hunted by Templars and learn to keep their powers discrete or die young. Very old Windcallers have learned to hear the sleeping god's whispers as he exhales dreamily, deep beneath the earth.

    the Sages of the Peerless Sea
    There was once a god who looked into the future and saw how his people would live, and he wrote of their fortunes on the waves of the ocean. He hid these messages there to hide them from the spirits of wind and air, for he knew they would not be able to read them nor would they be able to destroy them. As he departed the world, he told his people how to read the messages and the very skilled and tranquil among them were able to see the messages as clear as sunlight.

    Across the Peerless Sea there is an island, a fertile plateau that stands tall above the ocean and never crumbles against the ceaseless waves and tides. The people who live on this island, the Chiryō, are isolated, but blessed with the knowledge that they can read and hear from the waves of the ocean that surrounds them, they thrive. Sometimes they sail west to the continent to trade for crafts and goods they are unable to come across at their home. When these sailors arrive, a few among them may seek knowledge or fortune from "the continent." These Chiryō are called Sages, and they offer their wisdom to those who ask for it. The Sages never travel very far from the ocean, as many of their devotions rely upon meditating on the messages in the waves.