NAGADEMON: Neverwhere RPG

I was hoping to have this more done before posting it, but here we are at the end of November.

My wife and I have talked about running a Neverwhere game as co-GMs for a while now, and it came up again at about the same time as I found out about NAGADEMON, so I decided to make some custom rules for it.

They’re pretty simple.

The rules are here.

The character sheet is here.

That’s it for now, folks! I hope someone finds it useful/fun/inspiring/cool/not awful!

Infinity: Attrition League

OR Introducing Resource Management to Infinity the Game by Corvus Belli

I asked the guys over at MayaCast for their thoughts on a Resource Management mechanic for Infinity, and it ended up generating a lot of chatter both in their listener emails and on Facebook, so I decided to put what I ended up doing out for the public to see.

I have not tried these rules yet, as I had been busy with Extra Life events, and now we’re coming up on the Holiday season and people’s schedules are crowded.

What I decided to do is a four round series of 300 point ITS missions, with bonus objectives tailored to the narrative. There is a fair amount of bookkeeping between rounds, so my intention is to do these either over 2 weekend days, or 4 week nights.

In any case, here are the rules I ended up with:

  1. Create two 450 point lists, following ITS rules for SWC, AVA, etc.
    1. Send them to the TO
  2. For each round, create a 300 point list from your total of 900 points selected earlier.
  3. At the end of each round, following medevac/cubevac rolls, remove dead units from the total units available.
    1. Roll under the Physique of each dead model. Cube grants +1, Cube 2.0 Grants +2. A successful roll revives the unit. With a failed roll the unit is lost.
    2. Send a list of what units died to the TO
  4. After 2 rounds, 150pts of Mercenaries can be hired.
    1. Send the list of which mercenaries were selected to the TO

The big question for everyone I talked to about this, or heard talking about this, was what to do with Cubes. If Cubes get an edge, Ariadna suffers comparatively. If Cube 2.0 gets the edge they have in Paradiso, ALEPH just ignores the whole point of the exercise. So I went away from both the Paradiso rules, and standard Infinity math. +2 hopefully won’t break things too much for ALEPH, but they’re a little less likely to lose their precious named characters. And presumably they’re paying for that Cube 2.0 somewhere in their point costs, even if it’s only a point or two. If this doesn’t work, I’ll revise it.

 

And for those who want to play along at home, I’ll be posting my “narrative” when I run it here. Since this is all about the new list building mechanic, the narrative is pretty light – just a little fun and an explanation of why you can’t get reinforcements easily.

Idea Board: Agents of RPG

My wife and I both came down with a pretty nasty cold, so we’ve been spending a lot of time on the couch. Yesterday, we finished Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I always imagine everything I watch or read as an RPG, so that of course happened during watching, but it wasn’t until later that night, while falling asleep, that I was struck by a sudden idea. I have foolishly neglected to leave a notepad by my bed, so I trusted the memory to fate and decided to write it down first thing in the morning. As it turns out, fate was on my side.

What I have so far is just a first thought at character creation. It’s probably inspired mostly by the MechWarrior Roleplaying Game. The first thing I thought of was providing special abilities by enrollments in programs. I actually had a specific program in mind that I did forget, but for an example I’m generating right now: “I was enrolled in the Icarus Program, so I know how to use this experimental jetpack.”

Projects and Programs could be infinite and they would cost character points of some sort to purchase.

The character points thing made me think of GURPS, but I’ve always really liked the aging your character and developing your background character creation method that I first encountered in MechWarrior. There might also be a little Numenera in there. This is what I ended up writing down this morning:

I’m a…

  • Human

With a knack for…

  • Psioncs
  • Marksmanship
  • CQC
  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Computers
  • Alien Tech
  • People Skills

Trained as a…

  • Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Technician
  • Specialist
  • Leader

For a while, I was involved in the…

*Programs and projects provide specific bonuses in exchange for character points.

Obviously more or less of any of those steps could be available, or more or less steps could be available. If you wanted to get complex I would add steps for how you grew up (on the streets vs fabulous wealth) and what kind of education you had (None, BA, PhD, Boot Camp, West Point, etc.)

You could overlay this on to pretty much any system you like, too. The easiest way would be to just provide bonuses for all the choices e.g. if we’re talking about 5e DnD “With a knack for Alien Tech” would give them advantage any time they’re working with alien technology. Or it could be more complicated. Trained as a… could be custom classes in the DnD example. Honestly, most of my ideas end about here, but if I were to run this I would probably use a custom GURPS-like system for it. I like the dis/advantage system of 5e, and I could use that to modify In Nomine’s d666 to roll 2d6 to measure success and 2d6 for degree of success, high or low winning out depending on your background. Character points are awarded instead of experience, and the players buy new programs or upgrade their very simple stats. As far as settings go, it’s open ended enough for any paramilitary organization. It also doesn’t have to be all for the same organization. If I’m sticking to settings I’ve used before, it’d make for a nice modern day or near future Malleus game.

As always, gentle reader, I am interested in your thoughts.

Play Report: The Siege of Pale

The group playing the custom Malazan rules I’m working on with /u/prerus met and played through the first scenario, the Siege of Pale. They all seemed happy with how it went.

I’ve decided to go ahead and put details into these play reports, because I’m not planning to run this again or for other people concurrently.

Dramatis Personae:

2nd Army, 11th Mage Cadre:

  • Svea – Fenn Shaman (Ranger)
  • Caitriona – Human Healer (Wizard – Denul)
  • Boris – Human Mage (Wizard – Serc)

2nd Army, 10th Infantry Squad:

  • Kint – Barghast Heavy Infantry (Fighter)
  • S’ki’ps – Human Sapper (Rogue)

The Session started out with the PCs being escorted through the Imperial Warren, to finally arrive in camp outside of Pale. They are quickly whipped up into the ongoing combat when an injured soldier rushes them to defend some sappers working on the wall.

While guarding the sappers, they were attacked by 8 guards of Pale and a Demon. The Demon had damage resistance to everything physical, so the limited spellcasting definitely had an affect on how tough it was for them. The guards themselves were not an issue. Two NPCs were killed by the guards, and the Serc mage was rendered unconscious by the Demon, but the healer brought him back. I modified Spare the Dying to give 1 hit point, rather than only stabilize. That seemed to help. The healer was also the first to invent her own spell. We haven’t typed up and finalized Ranger yet so nobody outside of that table has seen it, but Svea was given a war dog (a mastiff she named Euphemius) as an animal companion at 1st level instead of 3rd, and will not be getting a fighting style at 2nd level, or Foe Slayer at 20th. Euphemius helped a good deal with the guards.

As the party and the sappers were preparing to move back from the wall, a chunk of Moon’s Spawn fell onto the wall, detonating the charges. The sappers were all killed in the blast. The PCs looked for survivors in the rubble. Svea found an 11th Mage Cadre corporal and took a necklace invested with Telas from his body. S’ki’ps found a dying sapper who explained the mission to him, and gave him munitions for the job.

The party was now charged with sneaking through the hole in the wall and into the tunnels under Pale, in order to strategically place charges to punch a hole in the wall of the inner keep. They would know the place under the keep walls by the otataral dust in the mortar.

The party proceeded through the hole in the wall, and into the tunnels under Pale, successfully evading notice of any guards. They moved a ways forward and then started resting. Rest was interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps, so Svea and Kint, who were uninjured, moved forward and allowed the rest of the party to finish their rest. They encountered a single mage on patrol and Svea shot her through the throat before they were seen, killing her silently. They brought the body back to the crossing the others were resting at and left it there.

They continued again together, and ended up in front of another patrol. They decided to hide on either side of another crossing, and wait for the unsuspecting guards to stumble into their trap. The first guard was nearly liquified by their combined assault, and the other two made fairly short order with as well.

The party found a place under the wall and S’ki’ps placed the charges. They decided to proceed back the way they came before lighting the fuse. All but S’ki’ps proceeded to the landing point under the grate they entered the tunnels through. S’ki’ps waited until he could no longer see the burning fuse and climbed up to the surface with the rest of the party in time to see the Malazan forces pushing their way through rows of Pale’s defenders at the hole in the wall left by Moon’s Spawn and the explosives. One guard heard the players behind him just in time to turn and see the detonation underground shake the keep and bring part of the wall down. The players joined the rest of the 2nd Army and successfully overcame the guards and took the keep. Moon’s Spawn fled, presumably with the Governor of Pale who was never found. The Moranth were given their terrible Hour of Retribution. Another city belongs to the Malazan Empire.

All players received 175xp and a reward card noting that they can increase the level of a character they choose to use in any given session if their level is lower than the next lowest character selected.

D&D 5th Edition Starter Set Play Report

This play test happened on Sat Aug 9th, but just now getting around to finishing the play test. I’m going to keep the adventure details very vague since it’s a published adventure and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who may be planning to play it. Additionally, I’ve only played 4e once so when I make comparisons I’ll be comparing to 3e.

I ran this for two people, using the characters that came with the Starter Set. The characters were Thoradin Rockseeker, Dwarf Cleric, and Eldon Greenbottle Halfling Rogue. The adventure was The Lost Mine of Phandelver (comes with the 5e Starter Set.) We got about half way through after 9 hours

We were all concerned with how combat would run with only two PCs, but went ahead and gave it a try. The adventure doesn’t specify anywhere, that I saw, what number of PCs it is expecting. The first combat was the first real test of the system. We had gone over the character sheets and had some exposure to the new rules, and were able to get through combat with only having to look up one thing. I think that’s a good sign, so far. The first combat was challenging for only two PCs. Afterward the adventure provides for two options, one which suggests more danger and one which suggests safety, and given that pursuing more danger is an expected outcome I don’t believe that first combat was meant to be challenging. The PCs did both survive, but needed a rest and so pursued the option of supposed safety.

They arrived in town safely, and made contact with some of the NPCs and gathered information around town. They elected to, after resting the night, attempt to recruit help with continuing their quests. I selected a fighter, who I named Hesiod, from the other character sheets included in the set and provided them with the assistance of an NPC. From here on combat went much more smoothly. It actually felt a little too easy to me, but the PCs both seemed happy with the pacing. I will try to get them to provide me with some input that I can share with you, gentle reader.

I noted a few things about the combat. First, it seems like a lot more damage is slung around in 5e. I don’t consider this to be a bad thing, and it seems to be well balanced, but it does feel like combat goes faster, with a lot less repeatedly bashing on the same monster. There would be even more damage if criticals don’t need to be confirmed. The rules in the starter set don’t address confirming criticals, but we continued to use that rule. I have not yet read the new PHB despite owning it for several days now and needing to before tomorrow when I’m going to be trying out the local Adventurers League group at the local game shop.

Something adjacent to combat is the perception check rules. I like that perception is one skill. Having both listen and spot always sat strangely with me. I also like the passive perception check because it means I as the DM don’t have to raise suspicions by making a bunch of rolls or asking for rolls and then saying nothing happened. There were times, however, when I wanted better chances of success with perception checks. I assumed that the intended way of running the adventure, should the PCs choose to be sneaky, is to use the monsters passive perception checks against their sneak checks, but the monsters almost universally failed using their passive perception checks. I could, of course, make the decision to roll those checks instead and I may do that, and see if it escalates the challenge level when we continue this adventure.

Another thing adjacent to combat is the short vs long rest mechanic, which I believe to be entirely new in 5e. I remember 4e contained mechanics for each class to suddenly heal themselves, I think they were called healing bursts. It felt very hokey to me, but I like the short rest mechanic. It allows for the same little boost without having to spend an entire day in game, but restricts it to non-combat situations, and has a better thematic explanation for it. That was useful for my small party.

By the next combat situation, I brought another NPC along who was part of the story and it seemed reasonable to include him. The adventure didn’t seem to expect the aforementioned NPC to go along with them, but it seemed reasonable for that point in the story. That next “dungeon” was more challenging than the last, so adding the fourth combatant seemed to mostly keep it at about the same level. The PCs and my NPCs all took hits, and needed to use that short rest about half way through, but it didn’t have the deadly edge I tend to like personally. My players seemed happy with it though, and that’s more important. That was the last combat scenario of that day.

Another thing I did that may have made the combat encounters easier was that I allowed them to level up immediately, rather than needing to rest or to rest in a safe place. I do not know what is intended to happen in 5e, but the difficult beginning lead me to try to ease things up a bit.

Overall, I enjoyed running the game and my players enjoyed playing it, the system was smooth and easy to use. In addition, while I would make my calls to keep the game going smoothly anyway, the new rules encourage doing that, and I like that. In addition to just being smooth and easy to use, everything has a good production quality in a lot of ways. The quality of editing is good, and there is a handy index on the back of the adventure telling you what page in the starter set rules to reference for each mechanic referenced in the adventure. I can’t quite get over how great that is. The quality of the materials is nice too. Quality paper, a nice texture on the new books. I’m generally very impressed with the thought, time, and effort that went in to all the 5e materials, rules, and the Phandelver adventure itself. It’s easy to follow, I haven’t ran in to any inconsistencies, the NPCs provided in the adventure have enough detail to portray easily, there are compelling side quests, and the adventure doesn’t feel like a railroad. It leads the PCs down a clear path, but doesn’t drag them, they have freedom of choice and will end up where they need to end up, most likely.

 

I don’t know when I’ll be able to finish the adventure, but when I do I intend to write another report with additional thoughts. If you’ve played this adventure, or done anything else with 5e, or even just looked at the rules, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tarot Roleplaying

Here’s something different. I know a couple people who are getting into doing Tarot readings and working on becoming more familiar with the spreads and card interpretation. So this morning, after having readings being done in my house last night, it occurred to me that I can gameify that and come up with Roleplaying rules using a Tarot deck.

So here goes:

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Version 0.0.1

by Terrordactyl

notimeforicosagons.wordpress.com

 

Goal:

To create a quick and easy roleplaying system which simultaneously encourages exploration of the Tarot for improved familiarity and understanding.

 

Abstract:

Challenges are resolved by drawing a three card spread to describe the past/present/future, opportunities/challenges/outcome, or situation/advice/outcome, or, or, etc..

Tarot Roleplaying

 

A Tarot Roleplaying game is meant to be started and completed in one setting, nothing is written down, and characters are not preserved. Of course, that doesn’t have to be how it is.

 

Making your character:

Draw a Celtic Cross spread. This describes your character. Your archetype is determined by your “Above” and “Below” cards – either choose a suit of the two or a combination of the two.

Cups – Leader/Clergy  Pentacles – Mage  Swords – Warrior  Wands — Wanderer/Adventurer

The High Arcana in the above or below represent the interest of the Ascendants. This could be good or bad. Two High Arcana show a close interest, and provide a mastery of one of the suits. Choose any one of the four. (Alternatively: High Arcana are wildcards, OR no HA = Choose 1, 1 HA = Choose 2, 2 HA = Choose 3)

 

Playing the game, example:

 

Combat between two wizards:

The PC draws a three card spread to determine the resolution of the challenge.

 

Ace of Wands Ten of Cups The Fool
Lots of potential opportunities in this conflict The challenge is harmony – necessary calm to control your magic The outcome requires a leap of faith – draw one more card

 

Ace of Pentacles – Manifestation of goals, you succeed the challenge

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So there’s the quick draft I hammered out during a coffee break. I’m interested in feedback regarding both gaming and fortune telling. If you’re interested in seeing the further development of this before I release a production quality rule set leave a comment saying so and I’ll keep you in the loop.