Thursday, March 30, 2023

Getting Too Fancy

 There's been a lot of engaging conversation between some of my favorite osr YouTubers and Twitterers over the last few days. Especially after WotC released hey preview of their new virtual tabletop recently. And, I wanted to relate an experience I had this week that seems relevant.

(I am including some of the most poignant tweets and videos I've seen in the article.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

"Give that guy a raise!" Hirelings and Henchmen

 In my Swords & Wizardry campaign, my players were led through a planar portal in the bottom of a dungeon. They left their airship moored in the desert a mile away, attended by their crew of NPC hirelings and henchmen.

While the PCs were fighting for their life in a ruin in the Faerie, a squadron of  the monsters that lived there assaulted the airship, hoping to take it for themselves. These monsters, the Echthroi, had:

  • 8 flying "Moths" 1 HD cyborgs that spit poison darts
  • 24 "Skulkers", 2 HD humanoids whose bionic limbs allow them to stitch a victim's limbs to their torso.
  • 1 "Knight", a 4 HD armored cyborg that makes multiple attacks with spiked chains each level.
  • 1 "Mimic", a 3 HD construct that can be made to look and sound like others, and, in a laboratory, can consume a brain to gain its memories and skills. Disguised as Zeelagur, that party Monk-Machinist.

You can find the stats for most of those in my Xen Campaign Book, which has been recently updated.

The crew of the Silver Gull includes a number of named and unnamed NPCs:

  • Corwyn - First Mate, a 5th level N human Fighter henchman.
  • Assani, a 4th level L human Fighter henchwoman
  • Barani, a 5th level L human Magic-User henchwoman
  • Joone,-ibn-Orhan, a 3rd level L human Cleric henchman
  • Cyndryl, a 3rd level C human Assassin henchwoman
  • Milosh, a 1st level L human Fighter henchman
  • One-Armed Harl, a 1st level L human Fighter hireling
  • Tarl, a 1st level C human Thief hireling
  • Kassin a normal man hireling
  • Kazmir, a 1st level N human Thief henchman
  • Baroo, a 5 HD vampire ally
  • 8 normal man crewmen.

This stood to be a pretty intense battle; I decided to run it in the background between sessions.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Silver Gull Campaign Update: Dungeon Hopping

Silver Gull Campaign as Final Fantasy Characters
Achaieria art based on image from the 1981 Fiend Folio
Backround from Final Fantasy VI
Sprites made with Universal LPC Sprite Maker
 It has been awhile since I have updated you all on my Swords & Wizardry campaign, The Silver Gull. The campaign is now in its second year and set in my Xen campaign setting.

My players have been trying to clear any remaining entanglements left over in the city of Tarvaad before moving on to Pamuk to face the Demon Mirdon who has a lein on their souls. 

After that, the plan appears to be to try and infiltrate the Tower of Silence, the home of the greatest magi in the empire, and last bastion of Imperial culture in the now-frozen province of Umbra. There, they hope to free the imprisoned goddess Irielle.

Jan. 9th - Infestation

Faced with a lich that could wake up at any second, they PCs decided to consult with local experts. They knew that Tarvaad was once ground zero of a Jahi cult: a cult led by a person possessed by a depraved undead spirit created by obsession and desire - purging these cults was the reason for the original war that created the Empire of Xen. They wondered how the Jahi had been contained.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Let's Build an RPG! Dragonette (WIP pt. 2b)

This is pt. 2b of my Dragonette project. I have bern talking a lot about making your own TTRPG lately, and when my son of 4 demanded that I run a game for him that used ALL THE DICE, I found a great opportunity to make something and share it.

Dragonette is designed with the following ideas in mind:

  • It should not require math that deals with numbers over 20 (on the player side.)
  • It should prime the player for learning D&D or OSR-based games.
  • It should be easy to keep track of.
  • It should be thematically appropriate for a 4 fear-old, but not mush or pap.
  • It should still be interesting to the grown-up who is running and teaching it.
  • It draws much of its inspiration from the works of Roald Dahl, Dav Pilkey, various kids' cartoons, and the more family-friendly Final Fantasy games. 
  • It conscientiously avoids leveling up or steep power curves.

Obviously, I have the advantage here of being a rules guy: I like taking deep dives into the structure of TTRPGs, so I could quickly decide on rules based on those desired outcomes and mash them together, 

Dragonette fuses elements from Knave, Cairn, and Index Card RPG Core2e, all open culture game engines.

In part 1, I laid down a grounding of rules and style named on my objectives.  Honestly,  I could have done better and been more opaque  by splitting that into a Part 0 and Part 1. Part 2 is the process of making content for the game.

2A focused on Monsters, as they represent the kind of challenges the PCs can face in the game.  They set a lot of the tone. I made sure there were no humans, and a mix of helpful, dangerous,  and silly creatures  side-by-side.

Dragonette is a loot-based game: like Knave and ICRPG, your character’s capabilities are based on what they are carrying. This starting Loot and what zplayers can find will fo a lot of heavy lifting.

Here is what I have come up with. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Let's Build an RPG! Dragonette (WIP, pt.2a)

Dragonette Mock-Up Cover
Art: "AI Generated Baby Dragon"
by Alana Jordan
(To be replaced when I unpack my art supplies)

 Obviously,  I have  not written out all of the needed rules for Dragonette in a clear fashion yet. I have left a lot to the assumption that my readers know how to play an OSR game, and are familiar with Cairn. In places, I have even referenced games that are either free, have a quick start, or have simple rules I have described in reviews. Assuming you can derive the rest, Dragonette is theoretically playable in this state... kind of.

Spelling it all out is step 3. First, we need some content to make it all work.

This is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to creating a game that is going to be perceived as "kid friendly" by the grown-ups considering downloading it as a gift for a kid in their life.

The mechanics, even if they are really well-designed for kids, won't attract players if the content doesn't match it. So I have to back up the engine I've cobbled together with a minimum number of spells, magic items, monsters, and treasures... and then make them work for your target audience.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Let's Build an RPG! Dragonette (WIP, pt.1)

AI Generated baby Dragon
by Alana Jordan
Pixabay License
 So, my four year-old is getting very jealous of the time I spend playing Basic Fantasy RPG with his big brother, and demanded that I teach him how to play. Naturally,  I reached for a copy of Tiny Dungeon 2e, but when I explained that he only needed the six sided dice, he protested:

"I want ALL THE DICE!"

So, I started making something up on the fly in my head that I knew would suit his tastes,  be simple enough for a four-year-old to learn, but use ALL THE DICE. And while I was at it, I wanted to make it a more-or-less OSR Compatible game for my own ease-of-use and to prime him for more complicated games later.

So I started playing and developing the rules as I went hobbledehoy from mechanics I love. It took me about 10 minutes to decide all of these things, but a couple of hours to write it all down, between sessions of packing, unpacking, cleaning and moving that has consumed my entire life for the last few weeks.

My working title for this project is: