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Warhammer 1st edition – fixing the “Naked Dwarf”

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“Naked Dwarf” syndrome is an oversight of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game’s toughness mechanic. That is where a creature, monster, humanoid, can reduce damage by their Toughness value. Damage is rarely more than 6 so a Dwarf with 6 or 7 toughness is very difficult to damage.

Solution: Dwarves gain +1 armor point on head, arms and body with any armor worn.

Tough as all hell

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Frayed Lands

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FRAYED LANDS

Take the magnificent flexibility of RIFTS and put it in a working rule-set. That is Frayed Lands.

fray opens up unlicensed

 

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Duration System becomes Triple Ought System

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Duration system was an effort for an action oriented contemporary and beyond game setting. It is more on the simulation spectrum than fantasy yet indulges action-movie sensibilities. Essentially you can achieve the action sci-fi adventure with the rules not preventing suspension of disbelief.

Triple Ought uses 3d10 as the core roll, where d20 would use a d20, and this gives a good bell curve that has middling results a bit more often that 2 dice based core rolls. 3 dice smooths out that curve a bit more and makes it less “digital”, or obviously granular.

Core is 3d10 + Skill + mods vs. base TN of 15. Characters typically start with +12 or more in their chosen specialty and this can be raised with gear bonuses.

BLAS:ERS is inspired by Battlelord of the 23rd Century (BL) and having a rules “lite” version. At first I cut BL down to 4 stats, from 8, and kept most of the combat complexity. Then I started analyzing probabilities to be reminded how often I forget that d100 is a flat line just like d20 (which I don’t like because it removes the expectation of an average roll value). Of course the base setting is tweaked a bit to be human only and not really about the FTL tech. A “powder only” version is actually preferable because it keeps weapons on a standard spectrum. BL has personnel weapons starting at 1d2 going up to 10d10 and higher. With armour on a similarly large spectrum. This makes it more about gear and resources (IMO). BLAS:ERS is more about skill and tactics, I hope, with the element of gear and resources tweaking it a little for surprises.

Triple Ought happens to line up with Shadowrun (SR) gear in a surprising coincidence. One can import SR gear with little effort (SR2 and SR3). So that’s a nice bonus. If you’re interested in a draft contact me through the side bar information.

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RPGs Require Art

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Inspiring art is a benchmark for a quality product in the RPG industry. Without a captivating cover the book relies on marketing and reputation to reach players. For the private publisher this requires budget. Cover-quality art is about $1000 per piece from pro-artists. It will be a gamble if the cover-art alone can net you sales to recoup those costs.

What does this say about the people we sell RPG product to?

They are visually driven. The branding of RPGs is around the imagination of the artist who illustrate the product. It also says, to me, that we gamers are far less imaginative than we believe.

Peace and giggles.

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D20 Rune Paths at RPGNOW

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Another product released; this time d20 RUNE PATHS hits the virtual shelves at RPGNow.com

D20 RUNE PATHS at RPGNow.Com

Rune Paths are quasi-dimensional trails through forests that are slightly outside of space and time. Rangers are best at accessing them but Druids can, too. Using a Rune Path can greatly speed the travel of any group and lead to a very fast traversal of the forest. The risk is losing the trail which puts the lost person in the ‘primordial’ forest which sits slightly outside of time and space. The only way back out is on a Rune Path.

It’s only $5.00 so check it out.

Rune Paths d20 cover 2b logo

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Why Mechanics & Rules Matter

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When you enter a new system there’s usually a setting attached. It doesn’t have to be provided by the publishers because it’s inherent in the way the rules allow characters to interact with their setting. If uber-powerful reincarnated gods can be mowed down by a single squad of archers when the rule descriptions say otherwise then there’s a dissonance which undermines the fundaments of the game; and that is detrimental to fun.

Of course it’ll be impossible to make perfect mechanics because of preference differences. We can see that some rulesets expect an adversarial game-table in the way they describe the game running. Others expect the GM to provide for player desires and adapt to whatever they want, implying the GM is their to provide for the players. We all come to the table to get something out of it so it is best to co-operate.

I have a little saying: “Practice the 3BCs”.

  1. Be constructive. No matter what you do try to move towards building something for your game.
  2. Be co-operative. Work with everyone else at the table. Build characters to feed of each other. Consult the GM for ways to have hooks built-in to your background, or to get place-names incorporated into your BG.
  3. Be creative. With the above provisions you can fuel the creative fires and start building an awesome campaign.

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Passing the Rift Weave

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Around Stonecrest is a rift in the weave of time and space. This makes Stonecrest a place that is slightly out of time and space of the island of Kiltayre, and perhaps other places.

Traversing the Rift Weave requires intent and power. Stonecrest is therefore the home of various wizards, sorcerors, geomancers, clerics, priests and archmages.

The mechanic for traversing the Rift Weave is a pretty simple Will save. Base DC is 20 to get through to within sight (0-5 miles) of the location (Kiltayre of Stonecrest). Failure means you’re a random distance in a random direction from the target location area and you take subdual damage equal to the failure margin – which is also the distance in miles.

Example: Base DC 20, Will save total is 14. Displaced 6 miles in random direction and take 6 subdual damage.

However, you can alter the time of arrival by 30 minutes forward or back if you pour power into the travel. This raises the DC by 5 per 30 minutes. Each SL of power added to the group’s travel, if they are tied together, adds to the Will save. A guide, or guides, can add power but not go through the rift.

Minimum power required is 1 SL per person. If time alteration is intended the minimum is 3 SL per person. There is no discount or surcharge for large or small creatures.

Example: a party is going through Rift Weave with a guide. The total SL added to the travel is 16. Each party member who is tied together can add 16 to the Will save. The guide stays behind.

If the DC is 50 or higher, then the power requirements double. This restricts time traversed to 3 hours.

Using the Rift Weave to traverse time more than your level in hours per week has some nasty side-effects– like long-term spell-energy drain (lose PP, or SL, available per day), negative levels, ability drain and in rare cases internal anti-magic matrices that prevent the recovery of any magical energy whatsoever (even Supernatural Abilities).

The last effect of traversing the Rift Weave is the energies can dispel existing enchantments. Roll 2d20 as a caster level check against each effect.

It is a potentially dangerous things and it keeps most hostile spellcasters out of Stonecrest; since they rarely want to arrive depleted.

In light of all this the Rift Weave still has secrets. The time-travel component is not widely known and there are entities within, some attracted to negative energy, others attracted to positive energy. In all it is a risky move and each trip is different.

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Simple 2d6: Weapons revisited

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It occurred to me that I’ve not tabulated, or placed in one area, the various results of the different weapons & their traits for comparison. So I whipped up the following:

Weapon Traits Example

Tork versus Dark Knight.
Tork has won the bout, with margin of 9.
Dark Knight is wearing plate (AV 4).

If Tork is using:
Dagger; 9-1 (small), vs AV 4, leaves 4 damage inflicted
Sword, mace, or axe; 9 vs AV 4, leaves 5 damage inflicted
Bastard sword; 9 vs AV 3 (4-1, large), leaves 7 (6+1, large) damage inflicted
Zweihander; 9+2 (massive), 11 vs AV 4, leaves 7 damage inflicted
Warhammer; 9 vs AV 3 (4-1, armour-piercing) leaves 6 damage inflicted
Flanged mace; 9 vs AV 4 leaves 5+1 (savage), 6 damage inflicted
Stiletto; 9-1 (small) 8, vs AV 3 (4-1, armour-piercing), 5 damage inflicted
Falchion; 9 vs AV 4, leaves 5+2 (crippling), 7 damage inflicted
War Mattock; 9 vs AV 2 (4-1-1 armour-piercing+large), 7+1+1 (large+savage), 9 damage inflicted

Angael shoots Glorbag.
Angael’s SM for the shot is 7.
Glorbag is wearing heavy plate (AV 5).

If Angael is using:
Short Bow; 7 vs AV 5, 2 dmg.
Long Bow; 7 vs AV 4 (5-1 large), 4 (3+1 large) dmg.
Lt. Crossbow; 7 vs AV 4 (5-1 AP), 3 dmg.
Crossbow; 7 vs AV 3 (5-2 penetrating), 4 dmg.
Hvy Crossbow; 7 vs AV 2 (5-3 large+penetrating), 6 (5+1 large) dmg.
Arbalest; 7 vs AV 1 (5-3-1 over-pen-large), 8 (6+1+1 savage, large) dmg. AND anything behind Glorbad is struck for 1 dmg.

Doing this I realised that weapon-traits are bit of a pain to refer to and not actually achieving what I set out to when I designed that part of Simple 2d6. Thankfully I’ve been revising the rules with help from Chris West at www.buygameshobbies.com and all this is being clarified and improved greatly.

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(Un)Structuring a Campaign

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I don’t know how many prepared modules I’ve tried to run that are too structured to allow any deviation. They are reliant on having two dungeon walls as railroad tracks to keep the party on the plot. Often the plot is not even revealed. Prepared modules are without assistance in how to join the main events together and that is why my new product in the works will attempt a different structure to what is on the market.

Thinking about the structure of a campaign guide being presented as "Event Points" and a general sequence of those points – then adding in various ideas and scenarios to link each event point. Kind of like boxes that line up but need constructed linkages to get between each box.

The assistance that is lacking in modules is the linkages. Often they are contrivances if they even exist. It seems implicit that players are railroaded to the next scene and that really shatters free choice. Sure, a GM can adapt a game so no matter what they choose the players end up at the next scenario and there are ways that is done badly. What I hope to achieve are a bunch of linkages that are not awkward or tyrannical.

For instance: the Kiltayre campaign was intended that the players get to Dwarftown and have questions about the next line of the prophecy-rhyme.

Five swords of bone

The party would try to research it with libraries and Gather Info. checks in the taverns and inns, leading them to either the Iron Tower or the mouth of the Greywynd River. However, one of the players steered the group into the arms of the Church and then confessed his necromancy thinking he could win them on side and prevent his Uncle from achieving a nefarious plot involving armies of undead. So I had to improvise and it wasn’t the best, but it did work, and get them to the Iron Tower. Sure it involved a demon ship of stone that was manned by the Amorrensis Trade Guild, already foreshadowed through the Uncle’s journal, and got them to the Iron Tower as well as introducing an antagonist (Fenris “Nightwolf” Morgane).

What I’m driving at is that not every conceivable scenario can be presented in a module, let alone a full campaign guide, but background information and methods which do link important event points together ought to be provided. GM’s will be able to wing it without relying entirely on their experience and have the back-story related information to make better improvisation which is on-theme with the game to date. Hopefully my vision works out.

complex plot flows

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User Pays

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Machier often thought of himself as an object. If he knew much about psychology it was subconscious and so it was hidden from him that his abuse at the hands of his step-parents was why he disassociated so well. Still, he had developed a “talent” and that was an affinity for stealth and explosive deadly violence. It didn’t help that he was smaller than most of the other neighbourhood kids so he had to learn how to be more vicious and if a fight started he had to be able to end it quickly, or he’d be the on in the gutter being stomped on.

One day, years ago, Machier was approached by another small boy, Haim. This was different. It wasn’t urged on by the bullies of the street, people like Bonegrinder and Smash. Haim wanted Machier to help him and he had coin. Machier liked coin and all the things he could buy with it so he agreed to take on Smash.

To call it a fair fight is to prove you didn’t see what Machier did. He sneaked into Smash’s small room and bound the boy to the bed. Smash screamed and screamed but no sounds escaped that night. Machier could block sound. His stepfather was a drunk and a horrid bully but he was also a sorceror and Machier had picked up a few tricks. He’d not used them in earnest until Haim paid. Machier beat that boy, Smash, until his hands bled and worst of all he liked it. Before he left he whispered over and over again into the barely conscious Smash’s ear, “Touch Haim again and I will come back. Touch Haim again and I will come back…” Then Machier left to spend his coin.

Haim was the first of many but it was Teltonn that led Machier into the Guild. They had many other names, Assassins, Knives for Hire, Darkcloaks, but members just called it the Guild. Teltonn became Machier’s mentor and helped him refined technique as well as acquire jobs. Machier made some mistakes but with Teltonn’s help, and extra guild fees, he remained free.

“The user always pays,” was the guild motto. Machier agreed. He was a weapon and the user always paid.

http://cdn.obsidianportal.com/assets/37107/Nighthawks.jpg

Eclipse Build

Machier is a level 3 character. The premise is a stealth oriented character with some spells to aid the skills as well as sneak attack, and a strong mind. The BG has to be covered in the build, too, so Mentor will come into it early on (L2).

Basics: Human, with Fast Learner, +1cp/lvl.

Disadvantages: Valuable (bounty from previous crimes), Secret (identity as assassin & guild member) for 6cp gained. Duties (to the Guild) for 1cp/lvl.

Machier starts with 48cp (L1) + 6cp human bonus feat, +3cp from Fast Learner (L-2, L-1, L0), +6cp from disadvantages, giving total of 63cp.

Abilities, L1

Proficiencies: All simple, martial weapons. Light armor & shields, 15cp.

Warcraft, +1 BAB, 6cp

Adept (Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth), 6cp

Fast Learner (specialized for skills, +2skill points/lvl), 6cp

Inherent Spells:

  • Silence, 2/day, 6cp
  • Invisibility, 2/day, 6cp
  • Unseen Servant 2/day AND True Strike 2/day. 6cp

Magic Levels: Wilder, dbl spec: no spells gained, only use PP on inherent spells and purchased spells, spec: dbl PP, 2cp/level

Purchased Spells:

  • Conceal Thoughts, 3cp
  • Hustle, 1cp (not augmentable and Wilder available, so no extra cost on this one)
  • Spider Climb, 3cp

Augment Attack, sneak attack conditions, 1d6 damage. 3cp.

Leaving 15cp to be spent on HP, skills and saves.

That gets Machier to the point where he could achieve his background and entry to the Guild.

L2

Resistant: spec, at night, Mind-affecting +4, 3cp

Mentor: Teltonn (guild), +10% xp gained, only on Guild missions and business, 4cp

More saves, Magic levels, skills and Augment Attack (2d6)

L3

This level Machier becomes quite a bit more effective in toe-to-toe.

Warcraft, +1 BAB, total +2, 6cp

More magic-level (CL3, base PP of 11), saves, and HP.

Reflex Training, Improved Feint, 6cp

Augment Attack: Shortsword expertise, +1d6 damage, corr: light armor & light encumbrance req’d. 6cp

Mentor: buy off corruption (Machier has learned to apply all the advice to life), 2cp

Resistant: buy off specialization, 3cp

Remainder on skills.

Summary

Machier is particularly good at what he’s built for. He’s not overpowered in the amount of damage that can be inflicted, or by using various immunities (there are none), but he can fight quite well against one or two other opponents. He has little in the way of defences and with only 18hp will certainly not be a frontline fighter. Combined with the control mechanisms (Duties, Valuable and Secret) any GM could make use of this character with relative ease. The one “dicey” thin is the double PP. That allows Machier to use his powers, inherent spells and purchased spells, quite a lot compared to other characters. However, it must be noted that they are still subject to the same limitations (eg. his own Silence) as other casters.

Future: Machier will need to either develop an immunity to his own Silence effects, or utilize Power Words, or even Metamagic: Triggering. A standard action to dispel his own Silence is tactically costly.

Tell me what you think and leave a comment.

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