Saturday, April 25, 2015

On Armor and Whiffing

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Seriously, this has been bouncing around in my skull for a while now.

I don’t really like AC.

Well, it works just fine, but it’s more abstract than I’d prefer. Chainmail makes people whiff more? I know, I know: you can narrate close misses by attributing them to the armor. That is, of course, if you remember to do it that way in the middle of play while keeping track of a whole bunch of other shit. I often didn’t.

There’s another “problem”, though. The normal ablative armor tactic of damage reduction often gets forgotten at the table. At least, it gets forgotten at my table. My simulationist game, Grit, had/has* this type of ablative armor. I’ve ran shittons of Grit, and even very frequent players forgot damage reduction with an alarming (and deadly) frequency.

I think I have the solution, though. This is one thing Rifts got totally right. Armor is HP. (Not super-dooper MEGA-HP, but still.)

Your armor is an additional layer of hit points, which refreshes with each new battle.

Reasons I like this:

1.      It tracks, well enough, with what armor actually does.

2.      Tracking HP is already an ingrained in established players and easy to understand for new playes.

3.      Critical Hits are now hits that bypass armor and fuck you up straight to your meat HP. (My current rule is that any hit that lands on 19-20 is a critical hit. Armor piercing weapons extend this range to 17-20. Not wearing a helmet extends critical range down by 1.)

4.      It’s really easy to tack equipment degeneration onto this. (After a battle in which armor has been reduced to zero HP, that armor is now permanently 1 HP less effective. Repairs cost like ¼ to ½ of full price armor. Alternatively a character can improvise repairs in ways that make sense. They can only do it once though before the armor has to be taken to somebody who knows what the fuck they’re doing.)

5.      Lots of missing gets boring as fuck.

6.      Magical Armor or Dwarf Armor or Elf Armor or Whatever can get extra HP in addition to 
whatever cool thing it should do.

7.      It’s my idea.

Some other stuff you should know:

1.      I pretty much treat Hit-Points as Don’t-Get-Hit-Points because that makes the most sense to me, and all the cool kids are doing it. Hits are usually very minor bruises, lacerations, and abrasions. Going to 1 HP means you’re actually injured, 0 HP is some bad shit, and -1 HP means you’re basically dead.

2.      I usually run Lamentations of the Flame Princess so that’s what this is written with consideration to.

3.      Only Dexterity or Magic would affect your armor class which I’m now calling your Defense Number.

4.      I threw together this character sheet.

Click for PDF in all it's hasty Mediocrity...

5.      Shields should usually break first and typically can’t be repaired (but should be easy to improvise).

6.      It worked ok in actual play so far.

The Hit Points of Various Armors:

Buckler | 1 HP
Shield | 2 HP
Buffcoat or Arming Doublet | 2 HP
Cuir Bouilli Armors | 3 HP
Chain Mail or Lamellar | 5 HP
Transitional Plate Mail | 6 HP
Plate Mail | 8 HP

*I haven't played or worked on it in a long while.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Terrible Thing, Prayed to in Space

[Sounds like static and screeching crystalline minerals tearing themselves apart from within]
AKA The Irradiant Aurora of Pulsing Madness
AKA The Echoing Frequency Beyond Understanding
AKA That Horrible Radioactive Poison That Turned Me Into This
Irk'tk'skrilln is a semi-intelligent flashing orb of EM spectrum radiation careening through the universe at large, like some drunken quasar in miniature. Followed by slavish and mutated attendants in a ragged fleet of cobbled together ships, it sparks life and mutation less often than horrible death, hallucinatory madness, and slow poisoning.
Nobody said religious fanatics were a reasonable lot. 

Followers of Irk'tk'skrilln
Number Appearing 1d100
Appearance : Humanoid-ish, Horribly Mutated, Covered in Radiation Burns, Adorned in Brightly Colored Strips of Cloth.
1 HD, 12 AC, MV 40, # Attacks 1, Damage 1d3 (Claws, Thorn Tentacles, Teeth-hands, etc) or by Weapon, Special Abilities: Clerical Magic, Extremely Radioactive.
Clerical Magic – There is a 25% chance that 1 of the Followers present can cast 1 randomly determined Level 1d4 Cleric spell. Spell casting is usually accomplished through self mutilation.
Extremely Radioactive – Being within 10’ (3 m) of a Follower requires a Sv. vs. Poison to avoid taking 1 damage per round spent in proximity to any Follower. The same applies to being inside their ships, but no save is allowed.
Goals : Gather new faithful  and mutate into a perfect being.
Disposition : Alternates between violent frenzy and obsequious, fawning worshipfulness.
Possessions: Weapons, Brightly Colored Strips of Cloth, Radiation Meds, Psychedelic Substances, Halitosis.
Being within 1 mile (1.6 km) of the being forces a Sv. vs. Poison each round or roll on the following chart:
[Excellent Shields can get you to within 100’ (30.5 m) safely. Being outside of a ship and that close simply obliterates you.]
1 | Roll on campaign’s mutation chart.
2-10 | Charisma is permanently reduced by 1d6 due to horrific scarring, gain permanent +1 to all Radiation Saving Throws. Character is riddled by beatific visions and unable to function for 1d4 rounds.
11-50 | 1d12 Permanent Damage to a Randomly Determined Ability Score.
51-100 | 2d6 Radiation Damage.
This being cannot be harmed, nor can it communicate. It doesn’t understand why it’s being followed, nor does it much care. It is a completely alien being. If it does have actual thoughts, they are too inhuman to be relevant.
None of this stops folks from praying to Irk'tk'skrilln.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Summoning It is Speaking Its Name

There are many things out there,
dancing in the wilds,
 past the realms of Men,
 screaming through the Feywode,
 begging, to be, let in.
O, bringer, bringer, bringer beware.

The most (relatively) common creatures from the places outside reality exist in the nearest of the outside realms, the Feywode. Such beings can be thought of as symbols made physically manifest. Angels are virtues and graces. Demons are vices and passions. Fairies are mischief and surprise. Goblins are pettiness and loathing. There are many other such things.

It’s important to remember that these creatures don’t necessarily have these qualities, but instead exist to perpetuate these qualities. This is what makes them all equally dangerous.


The Summon spell simply broadcasts a mystical imperative out into the multiverse at large. It spits out a huge deal psychic energy in all directions with two simple commands attached to it: “Come to Me.” & “Obey Me.” Anything may answer this call.

It’s a wonder this effort ever pays off.

True Name Summoning makes use of much the same energy reserve, but directs all the efforts towards a singular being with the singular command, “Come to me.”

In its simplest form, True Name summoning requires only that the Name of the creature be spoken imperatively thrice. Doing so will always draw the attention of the being and invites it to come into this world. If it decides to show forth, it will be free to do as it will and stay in our world.

A would be summoner can also build certain mental images, exquisitely wrought psychic landscapes and scenes, to help draw in the creature. For instance, a demon of languid pleasure may be drawn to the image of a reclining nude wrapped in red silk and devouring an overripe plum. A goblin of schadenfreude may be called in by the image of man trying to hide his smile in a funeral procession.

Further, one seeking to summon such creatures can increase one's chances by having present symbolic items or states of being associated with the creature’s central concept(s). For example, ripe fruit, fine wines, and being in the afterglow of an orgasm would all work well to attract the pleasure demon. An insincere note of condolence could serve as bait for the goblin mentioned above.

If a summoning circle is drawn, the creature will instead be trapped inside, should the creature answer the summons. (This possibility is why creatures are so reticent to accept invitations from strangers.) There are many designs for such, and most are constructed from chalk, blood, gold, silver, or iron.
The creature will remain trapped within the circle until the circle is broken or the summoner releases him/her/it. It’s common for a summoner to barter with the trapped being for its release. Usually a set term of servitude, a specific task, or a magical boon is requested. The creature will obey only the letter of such agreements, and many will actively attempt to subvert the summoner’s goals.


(This is all written with LotFP in mind.)

Summoning has a basic 1/6 chance in success.

Creating at least one mental landscape per HD of the creature increases the odds by 1/6.

Having at least one piece of symbolic bait per HD of the creature increases the odds by 1/6.

Being a Magic User increases the odds by 1/6.

The odds are also increased or decreased based on the summoner’s Charisma modifier.

Summoning of a specific being can only be attempted once every lunar cycle.

Remember that these beings are for all intents and purposes eternal, waiting around for a few centuries trapped in a circle may not be a big deal to them. Especially if this will mean that they are free to roam the world once the circle is broken. (Killing a creature only sends it back to its own realm. Gotta kill 'em on the other side to be rid of them.)

Trying to summon an actual god this way decreases the base chances and modifiers to 1/100. Summoning a god can only be attempted once. Assume gods have 10 HD for the purposes of mental landscapes and symbolic bait. Gods are NEVER happy that you have dared to try this; welcome to curse city.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Shared Nightmares: d10 Rumors You heard on the Playground

Shared Nightmares is a setting for Into the Odd.

1 | Kelli Dunston says that in the houses with no children, no one ever turns on the lights.

2 | Children who die in their dreams will soon show up to school with black stained fingers. The next day, their families move away.

3 | Billy Reed says he saw a feathered dragon soaring through the sky at dusk.

4 | Pet birds keep trying to escape their cages and go outside. (If left locked in, they will slam into the bars until they die.)

5 | If you wake up early enough after a shared dream, you’ll find your front steps covered in reptiles, turtles, and snakes.

6 | Clouds of black dust billow out of the Deepwell Experimental Mining Project both day and night. (Most of the mommies and daddies work there.)

7 | Jesus Jimenez says that there are a bunch of spiny alligators down in the bottoms by the river.

8 | All the plants near the old strip pits have started dying off.

9 | Amanda Blinkhorn keeps finding bloody sparrow’s wings on her walk home.

10| All the books about dinosaurs have been checked out of the library for months.

More on Into the Odd.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Shared Nightmares

I wrote this really creepy short story the other day. Writing it was a harrowing experience for reasons of which I am still not certain.

Anyway, childhood fears have been on my mind lately. This got me to thinking about roleplaying games because well, fuck, everything does. So here is a rough outline for an alternate Into the Odd setting.
This is a Blake piece I mutilated.

Shared Nightmares

Everybody plays a child.

For reasons no one understands, children in town have been occupying the same darkly surreal dreamscapes as they sleep. While sharing a nightmare, the children are in complete control of their actions and aware of how fucked up this is, they can do anything they can normally do (sometimes even functioning more powerfully than in real life), they remember everything though they will wish they didn’t, and the children sometimes bring items out of the dream worlds and into the grey light of day (these are all Arcanum).

Your STR is your age, with a minimum and maximum at 7 and 13 years old. (If you roll 16 STR, you’re 13 years old. If you roll a 3, you’re 7. Your STR is still whatever you roll.) Your starting package items are instead things a child might own. So a sword is your flimsy plastic ninja sword, a rifle is your Red Ryder BB gun, modern armor is your Boba Fett Halloween costume, etc. However, in the dreamscape the things function as they would if real. If an animal or lighter boy is called for, it’ll be a stuffed animal or an imaginary friend in the dream. Be creative here, but nothing really changes mechanically.

If a child dies in a dream, they stop talking in real life. The dead children go through their day to day routines like mindless drones. Within a week, the child and his/her whole family will move away. Adults don’t seem to notice any of this. Teachers and parents refuse to acknowledge anything is happening.

Jimmy down the street has actual, functioning Sunblessed Bands. His dad acts like they’re just another toy… when he acknowledges Jimmy at all. Jimmy and his dad used to be really close before this all started.

It rains six days a week. It has been cool outside for six months. All the children are really scared. It seems to be completely random who dreams together each night.

Some kids say that instead of dreaming they wake up still paralyzed with sleep. Sally said a whole bunch of birds were staring at her through the window.  Kenny says there are grey men that look at him when he sleeps. Jon just cries all the time. No one knows what’s happening. Dogs bark all night long, and cats won’t go outside anymore.

Six Things to Remember about the Dreamscapes

1| The dreamscapes are twisted nightmare distortions of the town.

2| The children always begin the dream next to a structure they are familiar with.

3| The structure is always larger on the inside.

4| Being outside is just as dangerous as inside.

5| The Monsters know your secrets.

6| Ghosts of those who’ve “moved away” sometimes haunt the dreamscapes.