RPG

This page lists the most recent journal entries related to role-playing games (RPG). There are some more pages on the related German page (Rollenspiele).

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2019-03-19 Metal Armour

A discussion with @lskh and @Provinto has me come back to the question of movement rate, encumbrance, and armour.

Basically, the question is: what effect does armour have besides armour class?

Or perhaps the more important question you need to answer first is this: how is movement rate going to affect the game? Can a character that is not faster than an opponent never flee? Can an opponent that’s faster never be caught? Notice that in B/X and Labyrinth Lord, movement speed does not factor into the chase rules. Even if you’re slower, you can hide behind bushes, dive for cover, over throw carts, and so on. In those rules, the trade-off is different: splitting up into smaller groups results in better chances of finding or avoiding opponents, but if a follow-up fight ensues, there’s fewer people on your side. As for my own chase rule: I ended up scrapping it since I never used it at the table. These days I tend to think that I don’t care about movement rate.

In my game, metal armour comes up in a small number of situations:

  1. you cannot sneak
  2. you cannot climb
  3. you cannot swim

Being unable to swim means you’re drowning. This is particularly harsh in my game because it means you must save vs. death or die, every single round.

That still leaves the question of chain mail. I just explain that chain mail is what stingy bosses buy for their troops (mercenaries, guards, soldiers), or poor characters on the first session. Characters should wear leather if pirates or thieves – or they should wear plate.

I also use the old price of 60gp for plate armour instead of hundreds of gold pieces. My argument is that this will buy you the worst armour that still satisfies the requirements. It’s the post-apocalyptic version of plate armour: chain mail with some plates attached, rusty, dented, ugly as hell. And if you want a fancy full plate armour like the ones worn by kings that you can still see in a museum, well then we’re talking about magical armour, or impressive armour that has an effect on the troups you lead, and at that point you might as well be paying thousands of gold pieces for it. It’s famous armour.

60gp gets you murder clown plate armour.

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Comments on 2019-03-19 Metal Armour

I am definitely going to use the phrase “murder clown plate armour” the next time I play D&D 🙂

– Adrian 2019-03-19 14:43 UTC


😀

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-19 20:57 UTC

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2019-03-18 One Page Dungeon Contest

“Submit your entries for the 2019 One Page Dungeon Contest between now and May 1st.” – Dungeon Contest

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2019-03-18 Carcosa

I want to like Carcosa and I sort of wish I could run a campaign there. But perhaps that’s simply my imagination on fire and fueled by reading too many of those old Planet Algol session reports. Check out the sidebar section “ALGOL ADVENTURES”. Planet Algol was the best.

Anyway, have you ran Carcosa or played in it? What did you think?

James Maliszewski reviewed the revised edition back in 2012 and had reviewed it in four parts back in 2018 (1 2 3 4).

The reason my thoughts are returning to Carcosa is that I stumbled upon a review on How Heavy This Axe, Running Carcosa, where Dominic laments some shortcomings of the book. He says he’s not sure he liked it. He had to work hard to make it work. Yeah, I think I can see that. I also ended up both disappointed in the sparseness of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy and happy to be able to fill it with my own stuff, the map the few words provided to me working as scaffolding, something to inspire me, but not something ready to use by itself. As such, it barely “enabled” the campaign but didn’t really help reduce prep time.

Anyway, I still want to run a campaign in a setting where I can put Space Age Sorcery to use.

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Comments on 2019-03-18 Carcosa

I ran it for about a year or so. If you scroll back through the Carcosa tag on my blog you can see all my old posts about doing so. I am a big fan of the whole setting, warts and all.

Ramanan 2019-03-18 20:04 UTC


Hah, right! I think I’ve read your entire blog (with the exception of the Warhammer posts, perhaps) and now it comes back to me. Gotta go back and reread! When I read Carcosa and Canon I just nodded along as I read the Geoffrey McKinney quotes.

One day I will return to reading forums. Like the Carcosa forum.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-18 20:21 UTC


Heh, how strange. Just now Dungeons and Possums reviews Carcosa. Where does the sudden theme come from?

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-18 22:16 UTC


I remember reading Carcosa back when it came out. At the time, I was playing 4e but somehow I stumbled across it and it intrigued me enough to pick up the PDF.

I put a fair amount of work into prepping a campaign that never ended up happening.

Anyhow, all that to say I’m happy to see that people are still thinking and talking about it.

Matt L 2019-03-19 01:18 UTC


Did you change your mind, or did your players not want to play in Carcosa? Or was the cancellation due to other reasons?

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-19 06:15 UTC


I moved to another city before getting the campaign rolling. I’d still love to do a Carcosa game at some point.

Matt L 2019-03-19 13:08 UTC

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2019-03-15 Episode 21

Podcast Running Dungeons, when to roll for random encounters, how much XP to give for monsters, how to restock dungeons

Links:

  • The Tao of XP: “First, and most importantly, 100xp per hit die is brain dead easy. I can do all the math in my head for parties of 6 characters or less and with a jot or two on some paper I can handle more.”
  • 2017-03-04 Monster List: “While writing the book I’ve started to wonder whether I should just move away from the tricky calculation of monster XP back to the very old 100XP/HD. Sure, suddenly we’re back to gaining levels by killing 20 orcs. But is that such a problem? I don’t think so. Determining what counts as a special ability and what does not is boring.”
  • 2017-01-23 Random Encounters: “If your players are pressed for time and after two or three hours they need to leave, and thus the dungeon exploration ends, then additional random encounters don’t do much, I think. They sometimes surprise the referee and add some color, that is all. That’s how I run it. I just roll the dice when I’m bored as a minor tax on players taking too long to make decisions or listening and checking for traps all the time.”
  • 2013-08-21 One Roll Dungeon Stocking: “When I stocked my dungeon yesterday, I used the Moldvay Dungeon Stocking procedure. To be honest, my wife used it. The two tables are somewhat confusing.”
  • 2019-02-22 Magic Items: “The one hundred magic items of Old Eilif of Trazadan.” A list of generated magic items from Hex Describe.
  • 2014-04-30 Independent Existence of Imaginary Worlds: “For me, the most important aspect of using treasure tables is that there is no choice involved. Just roll. It’s like discovering the world by rolling on the table, it’s about being surprised even if you’re the referee of the game, it helps me suspend disbelief. The mechanics make sure that I’m not thinking of it as a figment of my imagination. It feels like a real thing.”
  • One Page Dungeon Contest Archive: an archive I maintain of all the entries submitted to the One Page Dungeon Contest.
  • Halberds and Helmets: my homebrew rule set with links to the PDF files

Dungeons

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Comments on 2019-03-15 Episode 21

I was looking for blog posts about dungeon stocking...

  • Random dungeon stocking on The City of Iron, where Gavin Norman talks about the “Specials” result. He suspects that it comes up a lot, which it does, but then he discovers that he likes writing something up.
  • Random Dungeon Stocking on Delta’s D&D Hotspot, where Delta writes about the method he uses, and then compares that with the instructions in various editions of D&D. He doesn’t like Moldvay’s procedure all that much because the Special result means more work for the person stocking the dungeon.
  • B/X D&D vs. Labyrinth Lord dungeon stocking on Yore, where Martin Ralya compares the B/X and Labyrinth Lord stocking tables.
  • Stocking a Dungeon on Save vs. Total Party Kill, where Ramanan Sivaranjan does what many programmers do, I guess. “I have a little program that spits out what should be in each room using the rules from the Moldvay basic book.”
  • Excel and Random Dungeon Stocking on Dreams in the Lich House, where John Arendt tells you how to do this using Excel.
  • Stocking the Dungeon on Paul’s Gameblog, where Paul quotes from OD&D and notes: “the expectation is that you place the important stuff first, and then use the random charts to fill in the rest.”

And there is more out there. Ramanan’s post has links to bunch of other posts talking about making dungeons with links to many more articles.

I guess this goes to show that I really like to think of dungeons as very simple environments. I don’t spend too much time on making them!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-15 12:19 UTC


These episodes are just awesome. Short but packed with experience and wisdom. Keep them coming! 🙂

– Björn Buckwalter 2019-03-16 14:34 UTC


Thanks! 😅

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-16 21:48 UTC

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2019-03-15 Dungeon Master’s Handbook

@Stargazer recommends The Dungeon Master’s Handbook where Chicago Wiz “talks about how to run con games, how to design and run a sandbox campaign, and many more highly interesting subjects.” Sounds like my kind of thing.

I like the sound of his voice and the quality of the recording already. 👍

As for the reuse of content irrespective of previous decisions taken – it will surely work for a convention game but it goes against my usual recommendations regarding player agency in long running games. Let’s see what the next episode brings!

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Comments on 2019-03-15 Dungeon Master’s Handbook

I followed the podcast as it happened and am sad that it stopped. Michael is articulate and thoughtful in his presentation, and patient when you contact him for clarification.

– Glenn 2019-03-16 01:19 UTC


I really liked the rule of three, just in time approach of the seconed episode. It reminds me of the Microlite Campaign approach.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-16 07:31 UTC


And his collection of suggestions for running a long campaign are spot on. This podcast is good.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-19 06:55 UTC

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2019-03-14 Best campaign end ever

The most over the top campaign end I have ever read. I need to up the ante in my own games!

“Instead we also got some of the most metal shit that’s ever happened in the campaign, including a PC becoming a Titan-Scale monster and throwing a fucking Apocalypse Dragon at the Moon. It was rad as hell!” – Titan-Scale Mass Combat, by James Young

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2019-03-13 One Page Dungeon Contest

“Submit your entries for the 2019 One Page Dungeon Contest between now and May 1st.”

There you go. You should do it.

I know it’s weird but the Submission Guide must be downloaded from RPG Now or on MeWe, which means you can’t get it anonymously. 🤔

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2019-03-12 Twenty Questions, Again

It’s been a long time and a recent podcast episode of Daydreaming about Dragons reminded me of Necropraxis’ twenty questions about rules.

Some of my answers have changed! Previously in 2012 and in 2014.

  1. Ability scores generation method?
    3d6 in order.
  2. How are death and dying handled?
    When you reach 0hp and every time you are hit thereafter you roll on the Death and Dismemberment table; this rule also applies to retainers, if players ask for it.
  3. What about raising the dead?
    High-level clerics are very hard to find and require days of travel. If you find them, they will cast the spell in exchange for suitable favors. Essentially I will exploit the situation for plot hooks.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled?
    Start with 0 XP at level 1, or one of your retainers.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
    Group.
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
    On a natural 20, you do max damage.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
    Yes; some entries on the Death & Dismemberment table have less severe results for helmet wearing victims.
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
    No.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
    You will need to run.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?
    Yes.
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
    Yes.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
    Not. I use the “rule of cool.” Just don’t be ridiculous.
  13. What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
    It can happen at the end of a session which is when I hand out XP for monsters defeated or during the game when a character wastes an appropriate amount of gold.
  14. What do I get experience for?
    About 90% is for treasure spent: Building houses, erecting statues, sponsoring parties, donations, salaries paid to employees. The remaining 10% is XP for monsters defeated.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
    There are very few traps. I try to make them “in your face” obvious. They are triggered by rushing through and committing other foolish mistakes.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
    Yes. They roll morale when asked to do things they consider to be too dangerous. If you play this right, they never roll. Enemies roll morale when the first enemy drops and when half the enemies are down; two checks at most.
  17. How do I identify magic items?
    I will allude to their properties as soon as you examine them. It will be obvious from the description.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
    No buying of magic items. Occasionally a village will have an alchemist with a fixed set of potion recipes. These cost 300-500gp each. Other magic items require barter or quests.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how?
    No.
  20. What about splitting the party?
    Sure.

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2019-03-12 Traditional spells from an old NPC

Decided to polish the entry for Lady Gerdana, one of the NPCs that goes back a very long time by now. It all started in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy and the village of Longbottle which had an elven ruler called Lady Gerdana. Her spells are very traditional because back then I didn’t really want to write new spellbooks. A source of classic spells for my campaigns, of course. I mentioned her in a blog post back in 2010.

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2019-03-12 The RPG Blogosphere at a glance

I really like my RPG Planets. I currently have two of them: Old School RPG Planet and Indie RPG Planet, and the all-in-one combo, RPG Planet. Recently, I was asked about other systems via email. What about the 5E? Cypher System, Savage Worlds, all the others?

Previously I said:

What’s independent and indie in this context? As all RPG companies are very small, one could argue that the term is meaningless. I can just say what I was thinking of: things like Powered by the Apocalypse, Mountain Witch, Mouse Guard, Fate, Lady Blackbird and the like. But really, where do we draw the line? I have no idea. Is D&D 5E already Old School? Is Shadowrun small enough to be indie? Is Pathfinder the only one that’s mainstream? I truly don’t know and hope that people will self-sort and as if by magic we will all be happy.

What are our alternatives: story games, narrative games? For me, indie is what started at The Forge, right at the time when print-on-demand via Lulubecame viable, when selling PDFs via RPG Now became viable, when more people started looking for alternatives to the d20 system.

Conversely, I like to think that starting with 6 abilities to define a character, saving throws to avoid mishaps, hit points, to-hit rolls using a d20, damage rolls using smaller dice, xp for gold and levels is 100% OSR. There are things that are close in execution, or close in spirit, or just define themselves to be close (thinking of Into the Odd). So that’s the OSR.

I’m still hoping that Savage Worlds and Cypher System are essentially Indie because what ties them to Shadowrun, Savage Worlds, World of Darkness, Pathfinder and the like? I have no clue.

So I’m falling back to the idea that they must be “Indie” and 5E players ... I don’t know. Are they really in a category of their own? Should I just add them to the “unlabelled” RPG Planet? Should I add a “mainstream” Planet?

How would you do it?

(I’ll post the results of that email conversation, should find a way!)

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Comments on 2019-03-12 The RPG Blogosphere at a glance

I try and look for cool ideas on blogs regardless of what the actual game is. So for me, I would love a “planet” with just everything thrown in. It is easy enough to skip over something that isn’t interesting to me.

Froth 2019-03-12 16:09 UTC

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I like your scripts they can be very handy. Since you are old school you might also like to check: https://www.rulerofkings.com

ROK 2018-07-13 18:42 UTC


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