Saturday, April 28, 2012

From the forums...

I posted the following in the forums for actual play on the fantasy rules I'm working on, but...

1. I write a lot about design here... and
2. No one goes to my forums (although I'm working on that...)

So, I'm posting here too...


I have been struggling with the names of some abilities; for example, I like reason for the supers game as an ability, but I don’t like it as much for the fantasy game; I want lore to be a more common application, because I’m seeing this getting a lot of mileage in the fantasy game. Already, I can see at least one way the heroes could have used lore, and maybe 1-2 more it could have been helpful- and that was in one session of one real scene. It hit me today that maybe I could have it both ways... you use reason in supers gaming, and you use lore (for the same fundamental ability) in the fantasy game. You know when you crossover between editions (a dragon can show up in both places), you know going in that these two abilities are used in the same ways... a dragon uses lore, because that’s how dragons think, while Kang the Conquerer uses reason, even when he time travels into King Arthur’s Camelot. I’d have to make this clear in various versions of the game where both abilities of the game could appear, but it seems that only reason/lore and armor/invulnerability are going to run into this overlap; otherwise, you have no real problems here.

I have to layer this over my existing characters, changing Luthiria’s Reason +3 to Lore +3. I also want to change the dwarf’s race ability from a might bonus to an invulnerability bonus. Honestly, this was the way I had things set up in RTSR, but I forgot to look it up and just went with might from memory - which was wrong! I used might for trolls and armor/invulnerability for dwarves. I make those adjustments, and my heroes now look like this:

Luc’ the Leprechaun Rogue (10 CPs)
Armor +1; Backstab (free); Burglary +2; Evade +2; Intuition +1; Luck +1 (racial bonus); Prowess +2; Stealth +2; Weapons +2
Purpose: To accumulate great wealth
Limitation: His desire for treasure clouds his judgement (+2)
Gear: Short sword +2; short bow +2; leather armor +1; basic pack

Luthiria the Moon Elf Mage (10 CPs)
Arcane Bolt +3 (eldritch); Evade +2; Lore +3 (2 CPs; +1 racial shift); Resolve +2; Signature Spell (free: eldritch shield)
Purpose: To gather ancient lore
Limitation: She is tempted by power, and could pursue evil in search of power (+2)
Gear: Spell book; traveling staff; basic pack

Shard the Storm Dwarf Fighter (10 CPs)
Armor +3 (2 CPs; +1 racial shift); Might +3; Prowess +2; Resolve +2; Weapon Specialist Axes (free); Weapons +2
Purpose: To earn fame for his deeds in battle
Limitation: He is easily riled up and drawn into conflict (+2)
Gear: Studded armor +2; hand axe +2; javelin +2, basic pack

Sari the Chosen Human Cleric (10 CPs)
Armor +2; Healing (+2; linked to Resolve); Intuition +1; Prowess +2; Rebuke Unhallowed (free); Resolve +4 (4 CPs; +1 shift); Weapons +1
Purpose: To help others whenever possible
Limitation: She will never leave a friend behind, even to her own peril (+2)
Gear: Studded armor +2; club +1; sling +1; basic pack

This actually makes Shard a little less offensive and slightly more defensive, but actually fits for how he’s being used- he has to soak up all of that nasty damage. I almost want to make the dwarf ability a +1 shift to toughness for just this purpose; they simply have more wounds than other races. I’ll stick with the armor bonus for now, but I’ll keep the toughness bonus as an option out there for when I roll out the half-ogre race...

Back to designing my dungeon (which I also like quite a bit, too).

During construction, Vishan employed a company of twelve dwarven miners who were especially rowdy and especially hard-working. They worked hard and partied hard, but didn’t really care for interactions with other races, meaning that most of the people of the Crossing had no idea they even were there- they had their own tavern (that actually traveled with them- more about that in a moment). As they got near the end of their work, they were betrayed by Vishan, and he went to have them all killed- he succeeded with three of them, but the others managed to escape. Two simply died, one became a ghost who continues to haunt (sort of) the dungeon, and the other nine were inflicted with an unhallowed curse that would turn them into ghouls, however... they managed to retreat to their other-dimensional pocket realm containing their tavern. An unexpected benefit of this tavern (which they had no idea about) was that the tavern actually exists outside of the time stream, meaning that they do not age while within- and nothing progresses. Therefore, anything linked to time itself- for example, a poison that deals damage over time or regeneration that ticks every round- cease to function within the tavern. The dwarves are within minutes of becoming ghouls- as soon as they step back into the time stream. The tavern may be accessed with a special key (each of the twelve originally had a key, and all but one have been lost somewhere- I think the heroes already have one now!) I think it’s thematically perfect that the dwarf is the one to find the key. They’d want him to have it! There is at least one key hole on every dungeon level (and the bigger levels will have multiple keyholes; the dwarves would work for the day, pop open the door to their traveling tavern, and head in for the night).

Okay, I need some rules for reactions. I’ve not created reaction rules for my last few game systems, because I always resolve this through role playing. However, I can see the interactions with the dwarf ghost and the dwarves of the tavern being tricky and important to have a concrete way to manage as we go... I want to keep this simple (like all things), so reactions are a simple D12 roll, with two modifiers to it... one based on the approach the heroes take and the other based on the natural inclinations of those they encounter. I’d say that a character with leadership gets to add his or her leadership to the roll result automatically. (Basically, this is a leadership role with two built-in modifiers, and a scaling situational result).

Your Approach Is:
+4 Overly friendly. You are going out of your way to play nice.
+2 Friendly. You clearly come in peace.
+0 Neutral. You have your guard up from the outset.
-2 Unfriendly. You assume there’s going to be trouble.
-4 Hostile. You are looking for trouble here.

The Target’s Natural Inclination Is:
+4 Very Friendly. They’d want to see you.
+2 Friendly. They wouldn’t mind seeing you.
+0 Neutral. They don’t care about you either way.
-2 Unfriendly. I don’t like you... and my friend doesn’t like you either.
-4 Hostile.

Your Leadership roll decides the outcome:
1 or lower My sword will say things my tongue doesn’t care to.
2 to 5 Be careful, kid. Them’s fighting words round here.
6 to 7 We don’t get many people like you in these here parts...
8 to 11 Pull a seat up and rest a spell, stranger.
12+ You must be hungry! Let me get you something...

Let’s Star Wars this... Luke walks into the Mos Eisley cantina and has his guard up (-2). He has no leadership yet; he’s just a simple farm boy (leadership +0). He runs across a goon at the counter (unfriendly, another -2). He rolls at a total of -4 and gets 7-4=3. This thing is about to get very ugly if Luke doesn’t handle it right. However, Obi Wan steps in. He’s got some leadership (say +3) but he’s dealing with someone who is now at -4 (hostile), so he takes an overall -1 to his roll. He offers to buy a drink (+2) bringing his total modifier to +1. He should be okay, but he rolls a natural 1, bringing him to a 2. The blaster comes out (which may or may not get used here- probably will) and he decides a lightsaber is the quickest way to end negotiations...

This is maybe a page of rules, but it’s something that could conceivably get a lot of mileage. It guides role playing, and creates a way for referees to quickly resolve a lot of social interactions with NPCs beyond just playing it out. I especially like this for the amount of solo play I do, because I can decide what the modifiers are and let the dice decide the results of social interactions. ‘Nuff said.

What do the tavern patrons need?

Food, beverages, and some fuel for their fireplace. They have to have some way to keep these things going. Sure, you can live here for eternity, but you are going to get VERY hungry...

Healing! They are going to be a very banged up lot- unless they have access to magical healing (and I haven’t decided on this yet), they are going to be in a world of hurt. I think they need a healer among them (a priest would be logical as part of a company like this). This guy could also conceivably have access to rituals to summon food and water, so they’d be okay. Although the ability to distill alcohol might be another matter entirely. Oooh. I like this as a hook.

Here’s a for instance. The heroes meet the tavern patrons and learn of their plight. The first thing they do is make friends, and ‘rent’ a permanent room so they have a place to camp every time they want to in the dungeon (assuming they are close enough to a keyhole). The dwarves welcome them, maybe invite them to box or wrestle... they learn more and offer to get some ‘real food’ and some mead for the dwarves. Returning with a keg of ale and some ‘real food’ beyond the pasty stuff they can summon for sustenance. Eventually, the heroes bribe them into bartering treasure (for cool stuff from their treasury), maps of sections of the dungeon, the locations of hidden sub-levels, and the functions of unusual items they find.

One more thing for this brainstorming session (my daughter just woke up, so it’s time to wrap up for the day)... the ghost of the dwarf can be summoned by pouring alcohol on the ground. Roll D12 + the gold value of the total alcohol you pour (DT 13). This is SOOOO Odyssey and I love it, and has something that makes the heroes invest. Then, every time they call him up, they get a bonus to their interactions with him equal to the number of successes; if they need a particularly valuable piece of information (for example, they want to know how a specific device works or where a hidden door is), they might invest into a great bottle of wine for the occasion. The idea is that every time they summon up the ghost, he is just realizing (for the first time again) that he’s dead. He will have no memory of his previous encounters (good or bad) with the heroes. Each time he’s called up, he starts by asking if he’s dead, and going from there. He’d have a +0 innate reaction to non-dwarven demi-humans, a +2 to dwarves he has never met, -2 to humanoids, and -4 to undead or anyone he’d associate with Vishan. They take their leadership bonus, the success bonus, and a modifier based on their demeanor, and from there we go. He can only be called up once per day.