Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A DragonQuest Buffet

Some random thoughts about DragonQuest, in no particular order.

The Cover
I love the cover. It's not fancy, especially by current standards. It captures the spirit of the game very well, though. There's not a lot of fluff. A muscle-bound warrior, sword in one hand, severed dragon head in the other. What do you suppose this game could be about?

It should be pretty well known to anyone who reads this blog that I am not a huge fan of skill-based systems. I like the idea, but I can't stand endless skill lists and the fact that it limits players. It looks great on paper. At character creation the world is at your feet. "Any character can do anything!" Once play starts, though, your character can't do anything. He can only do the skills on his sheet. Granted, some games make it tolerable to try thing you don't have the skill for, but it is just human nature to avoid things that aren't on your sheet.

Anyway, some game systems offer a sort of class/skill hybrid. The Fantasy Trip is one, and DragonQuest is another. I know there are more, but citing these two is enough. In those systems there each overarching "skill" encompasses several actions. That is a decent enough concept on its own. What I really like about it, and what I think it brings to the concept of skill based characters, is flexibility.

Take GURPS, for example. Your character concept is a S&S thief. Your character can have the equivalent of Lock Picking, Stealth, Disarming Traps, and Picking Pockets. Each are individual skills, developed independently of each other. The same character concept in TFT or DQ would have Thief (or whatever it is called). It grants thiefly skills. More importantly, though, now in the back of your mind, your character is a thief. Maybe I'm overstating it, but I really believe that the proper mindset can really improve play, and fun, at the table. As GM, I would be very likely to allow the DQ thief to try thiefly things not specifically covered by the intrinsic sub-skills covered by the profession. As player, I would feel more prone to think outside the box and not feel so limited by a narrow set of skills.

DragonQuest is tactical and crunchy as gravel. It has hex grids and facing. Facing! I'm a wargamer who got into roleplaying. Hex grids and facing are biscuits and gravy to me. I know they are not everyone's horn of mead, though. So, don't use them. The earth won't spin off its axis if you play the combat without them. Just play it with scratch paper to mark positions like we always have. Bottom line: Don't let DQ's tactical combat keep you from enjoying a great game. It is much easier to take a tactical game into the Theater of the Mind than it is to add tactical detail to an imagination-driven game.

That's all for now. I'm sure there will be more.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I stumbled across this game in 1982, at the KB Toys in Parkway City Mall, Huntsville, AL. Our hobby is in the midst of a great time right now. The internet has made thing such as open playtests and retro-clones realities. Yet, the dark side of this great time is that many of our FLGS are gone. Mine in Huntsville closed 2 1/2 years ago. There was a time when retail outlets were a gaming nexus. Since there was no Amazon or Half-Price Books online, storefronts were the main outlets. You could mail order, but without dozens of reviews, unboxing videos, or forums gushing about a title, it was hard to know if you were getting the next best thing or not. So, we went to stores. We could hold the objects of our desires, read the blurbs on the back, and try to divine for ourselves if we wanted to drop the dime.

Games weren't exactly everywhere back then. But, on the plus side, the hobby was still in a period of booming growth and there was plenty of market to go around. So, games were showing up in some non-traditional places, like KB Toys and Games.

But, that's not the point of this post.

I found this game in '82. I'm not sure just when, but it was warm. Being the Tennessee Valley that narrows it down to about ten possible months. Anyway, I found the boxed set for the staggering sum of $10. It included the rulebook, an adventure, a couple of dice, and I'm not sure what else. I know I could easily look it up, but this isn't a review.

I loved this game right off. I was a huge fan of The Fantasy Trip and its combat component, Melee, back then, so the hex-grid combat was easily grasped. I remember thinking that magic was restrictive because a wizard could only belong to one college. Maybe I misread that part, I don't know.

I loved the open-endedness of it, especially from a GM's point of view. Back then I was more prone to try to shoe-horn my campaign work into the rules I was using, rather than house rule the system to fit my campaign work. So, open ended games that allowed me to just create campaign stuff without being concerned with how it would fit with the rules was a huge boon.

I ended up buying an adventure made for the game, and the "campaign" for it. It was a map and some of the most barebones descriptions of the entries on the map you will ever see. It is freely available on the net. It is pretty neat as a starting point, and with the minimal development included, you can morph it into whatever you need without worrying about invalidating any critical components.

DragonQuest had a number of unique ideas, that at the time were cutting edge, if not revolutionary. It was its own game, based on its own ideas. I still love it and enjoy reading it. I doubt I'll have a chance to play it, considering that those I am most likely to play with would be put off by the level of tactical detail. Still and all, I love it now for the same reasons I did then. Mainly that it is easy to develop campaigns for.

The official 2nd and 3rd editions can be downloaded here along with an unofficial revised edition. As far as I know, the site is legit, it has been up for a while with (apparently) no corporate bullying. Since KB Toys and Games is no longer in Parkway City Mall (and in fact the mall is gone, as well) I highly recommend you stop by the site and download the copy of your choice.

Personal Insight

This should be brief, but we all know what happens when I say that.

I am always trying to understand myself. I'm always looking within, trying to better understand my motivations, and without trying to understand the forces outside myself that drive me. It is a never-ending process. Well, today I further refined my understanding of my ADD a little. Essentially, it takes two shapes.

One is simple reading. When I am in the grips of this ADD I am into reading games for the joy of reading. It is sort of a manic time, seeing me bounce from title to title. I am easily swayed by the least little thing, such as the mention of another game or even a mechanic from another game, a song that was popular during a favorite campaign can also trigger a change.

The other type is when I am trying to settle on a system to work with. One I can tinker with house rules and setting stuff, like maps and custom rules tweaks. This one isn't quite as helter-skelter. It usually centers around a small number of similar systems. Eventually, it will settle on one system and all will be right with the world.

Right now I am in a Reading Phase, so be prepared for a whirlwind of titles the next few days. At least I hope it isn't more than a few days . . .

Monday, June 25, 2012

Next Thoughts: Spells

I've done an initial read-through of the playtest docs. I think I like what I see, so far. There are some things I am uneasy about, but I'll save that for another post, after I've had time to reread and reconsider.

For now, I want to talk about spells, two in particular.

Next casts cantrips as at-will spells. I'm ok with that, in concept, because I think magic-users should be able to use magic in a fairly organic way and not only in the burn-your-balls-to-cinders way. One of the cantrips, though, is Magic Missile. It is relatively unchanged from any previous version, doing d4+1 damage, at a range of 100'. I don't like it being auto-hit and at-will. The damage may not seem like much, but d4+1 adds up, and the caster gets an extra missile every three levels. So, at 6th level, the caster is automatically inflicting d4+1 on up to three separate targets, or all on a single target. No to-hit roll, no saving throw. If the spell is going to remain a cantrip, I would say require a to-hit roll, otherwise make it a level one spell and require it to be prepared. In that case, maybe add the caster's magic bonus to the damage.

The other spell is Sleep. Maybe they had a good reason to castrate the venerable Sleep spell, I don't know. Good reason or not, castrate it they did. They reduced the range, as well as limiting the effects to a 20' radius sphere. As if that weren't enough, rather than effecting a number of creatures based on HD, it now will not affect any creature with more than 10 HP. The most grievous change of all, though: now targets are allowed a saving throw. I think this weak-ass version of Sleep is more suited to being a cantrip than Magic Missile.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Step Right Up, Dungeonslayer!

Awesome news. The English translation of Dungeonslayers 4E is finally available. It is 172 pages(!) of booklet formatted goodness. Oh, and did I mention it is free? Well, it is. Hopefully, I'll be posting more about it this week as I read through it. I really liked 3.0/3.5, I was always concerned with its ability to handle long-term character development. It seemed that after a while characters would start looking too similar as remaining development options dwindled. That is something I'll be looking at in this edition. I am confident that with 172 pages to work with, the one-off nature of the previous editions has "grown up".

So, go on, grab a copy, and if you haven't ever rummaged around their site, check it out. There's a lot there, all of it free, as far as I know.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Babies, Bathwater, and House Rules

I hate to admit when I'm wrong about something. Not like a date, or a math problem, but wrong in my thinking. So, here I am to own up to some wrong thinking.

I've been unfair about the latest iteration of D&D currently in playtest. I'm not at all happy with calling it Next, and everytime I did, it was with a sneer (I know you couldn't see it, but trust me, it was there). I haven't given it my fair and honest opinion based on its own merits. Rather, I've been basing my opinion on the opinions of others, and my own preconceived prejudices. I may come to love it like no other. I may hate it more than I hate admitting when I'm wrong. Either way, my feelings on it will be based on what it truly is to me.

Great, so where does the title of this post come from?

Basically, it comes from the same thing that motivated my feelings on Next (I'm calling it that for clarity and expediency). In my current ADD funk (yes, I'm still in it), I was just casting about for something to fixate on, and decided to give the playtest another look. In glancing over the character sheets I noticed that all the characters need 2000 XP for 2nd level and 6000 for 3rd. I groaned. Another run at a unified XP table. I'm not a fan. I'm not all wrapped up in the idea that classes need to be balanced at each level. I prefer individual XP charts to reflect the power each class provides, as well as the dedication needed to attain that power.

It was then I was struck by an epiphany. I've been playing some form of D&D for over 35 years. I've never played it as written. In every single version there has always been something I didn't like, sometimes a lot of somethings. I worked around it and kept going. I didn't wring my hands or gnash my teeth. I didn't look around for the tallest soapbox I could find, just so I could shout about how that version was total shit. I worked with it. I either modified what I didn't like, cut it out, or accepted that even if I didn't like it, it did in fact work as part of the whole.

I didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

And another thing . . .

I think we all game to have fun. At least the majority of us. I also think we can all agree that drawn out combats suck, even if you prefer combat-heavy games. In that spirit, I really don't have a problem with the Next Fighter doing damage even if he misses. I've played a lot of fighters, and one thing that has always frustrated the hell out of me is when my dice go cold. So my guy, who is supposed to be a sword-swinging badass, misses more than Mark Reynolds in '09. Meanwhile, the other, non-combat types, are mopping the floor with the bad guys. I'm all for some randomness and excitement, but I don't want to have my character taken from me by a frigid d20. I play fighters because I like to crack heads. Period.

That lead me to another thought. I started thinking about my kids. They've played some, but they're Gen X-Box, so pen and paper is not their go-to medium. They do enjoy it, though, when I can coordinate a time with two teens. Incompetency, as expressed in their character failing at something on their turn, is not something they enjoy. They're not brats, they know they'll miss a roll sometimes, and they understand that mastery is something they have to work toward with their characters. Yet, even understanding that, they play to have fun, and failing utterly 70% of the time is not fun.

It wasn't for me, either. I distinctly recall a 1st level magic-user I rolled up. It was during my very first forays to the community room on the Navy base at Millington, TN, where I first learned to play. I rolled my d4 hit points, wrote down my 1st level spell (Magic Missile) and proceeded up a dusty back stairwell while the rest of the party made a more frontal assault. Something attacked from the shadows, which I blasted with the MM. I'm still not sure what it was, but it had enough hit points to take the missile and knock my ass back down the stairs.

I know my guy was no master wizard, and that 1st level mortality was high back in those days. Those mitigating factors notwithstanding, that was not a fun gaming experience. There were no other games I could get into, those guys weren't allowing second characters, so I went home disappointed. Sure, there were a number of ways that could have been different. I'm not busting on the experience or the edition of D&D. What I am saying is that one of the ways the experience could have been different, and better, would have been more competence at lower levels.

Well, this has turned into something closer to a rant, which is not my desire, so I'm going to wrap this. I will be talking more about that auto damage thing, but in a post dedicated to that topic. Until then . . .

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WFRP and Pink Floyd

For some reason I can't explain, and have no interest in trying, Pink Floyd is and shall always be my WFRP soundtrack. Most especially the song Sorrow from A Momentary Lapse of Reason. The lyrics of the song and David Gilmour's peerless guitar work are perfect for conjuring visions of the Old World. Pink Floyd's music has a certain haunted, all-is-not-well quality to it that quietly screams Warhammer to me. Always has, always will.

A sample of the lyrics should illustrate my point (if you need convincing):

The sweet smell of a great sorrow lies over the land
Plumes of smoke rise and merge into the leaden sky:
A man lies and dreams of green fields and rivers,
But awakes to a morning with no reason for waking

He's haunted by the memory of a lost paradise
In his youth or a dream, he can't be precise
He's chained forever to a world that's departed
It's not enough, it's not enough

His blood has frozen & curdled with fright
His knees have trembled & given way in the night
His hand has weakened at the moment of truth
His step has faltered

One world, one soul
Time pass, the river rolls

It's not enough it's not enough
His hand has faltered

And he talks to the river of lost love and dedication
And silent replies that swirl invitation
Flow dark and troubled to an oily sea
A grim intimation of what is to be

There's an unceasing wind that blows through this night
And there's dust in my eyes, that blinds my sight
And silence that speaks so much louder that words,
Of promises broken 

About Endgames and Character Goals

My reading of WFRP2 has shown me something I find very interesting. There is not always a clearly defined reason for characters to adventure. On a per-system consideration, that is.

D&D had its so-called endgame, in which characters become rulers of their own holdings. It's sort of the like the American Dream. Work hard, don't give up, and your perseverance will carry the day. Of course, adventuring is the "hard work" in this paradigm. It can be its own reward, with fabulous wealth being the goal. It can also be much more, if the player decides to leverage all that wealth into a position of power and authority for his character.

Then, there are games like WFRP, which have no endgame. It is certainly not the only RPG out there like this, but since it is the one I'm currently reading, it is the one I'll be referring to. It states implicitly in the rules that characters will not get rich adventuring. In fact, if they live long enough to reach their fourth career or beyond (something akin to making it to 12th level or so in D&D), it is accepted that they will have:

  • Run afoul of the law and be considered criminals
  • Be scarred and/or missing limbs, organs, or appendages
  • Possess more than a couple of mental disorders from run-ins with horrific creatures and brushes with death
  • Be mutated to some degree, if they are wizards
  • Be hounded by Witch Hunters (in reference to the previous two entries)

The rules make it plain that there is no financial future in adventuring. The creatures of the Old World do not have a "Treasure Type" or "% in Liar". Nor are they pinatas waiting to burst forth with coin at the first solid whack of a sword. There is no promise of land grants upon achieving a certain level of competence, not even for the Noble or Knightly career paths. The only thing the adventuring life offers is an ignominious and painful end.

So, why do it? From the character's point of view, that is. In the case of WFRP, the answer is simple: because no one else will. The characters begin gaming life as everyman-types, and usually find themselves in precarious situations not of their choosing. Yet, they are also in a unique position to do "some good". Once that happens, the "because no one else will" attitude develops. This is rarely acted out at the table, being more taken for granted as the character's rationale.

Of course, WFRP isn't the only game that doesn't have a D&D-like endgame. I find there to be an interesting duality, though. Many games decry D&D's "kill it and take it's shit" foundation. They make it a point to remove that as a motivation, removing treasure types and tables. Many also do not possess the land-grant endgame. Yet, the character creation and development in such games is designed to produce characters who are more than capable of carving their names in history and ruling vast domains. At least WFRP takes the everyman paradigm and really sticks with it, all the way through a character's life, and never flinches from it.

I suppose it comes down to a question of how do you want your glory. In D&D, it is writ in the legends of the world. Your character has the potential to become truly legendary in the great scheme of things and have his name spoken of in awe for a thousand generations. In games like WFRP, it is likely that no one will ever remember your character's name but his companions, and his tales of glory will die with them. But your character, and his companions, will know he fought the good fight and went down swinging. It may not be glorious, but you can bet your ass it's valorous.

Monday, June 18, 2012


So, my ADD went sideways. All the wind went out of my BtPG sails, and rather than a shifting focus, I became unfocused. That lasted a few days, then I discovered a copy of WFRP 2nd edition. In spite of the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the 2nd edition (even from the 1st edition grognards), I was always an elitist prick about the whole thing.

Well, I have seen the light. This is a fantastic update to an already fantastic system. I skimmed it back when it was released, and didn't notice enough differences to make me feel like it actually was a 2nd edition. Based on that wholly incomplete exposure, my impression was that they had updated the presentation, and little else.

It is true that the changes are subtle, almost house rule like in nature. In fact, that really is what they are. Sand paper for the rough spots of the 1st edition. There were rough spots that needing smoothing, though. The end result here is that the original is wholly intact and made better by the changes. Sure, they are very subtle when reading, but their effect on play should result in serious improvements.

So far as I can tell with this reading, the magic system is the only thing with wholesale revisions. To be honest, I'm not sure about that, either. I like what they did, but I'm not entirely sure I like their backstory for it. Allow me to clarify: I like the backstory, I don't like it being the only backstory. There are some treatments on the net meshing the old "philosophy" of magic with the 2nd edition version. I need to check those out.

It is quite likely that my next few posts may have something or other to do with Warhammer. I'm a little uneasy about that, to tell you the truth. Warhammer is not: D&D, free, or old school. It is one hell of a good game, though, and it has my attention. At least for now.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A "New" Blog

I ran across this blog today: RPG World Building. This is a subject near and dear to my dark little heart. October is doing some great work, and her site is well worth the trip.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where to from Here?

Well, I know BtPG is far from being a final product, but with the core skeleton in place my ADD is demanding a change. To be honest, a lot of what's left on that project is stuff I consider either things that would be specific to a given campaign (such as encounter tables) or stuff that I consider downright tedious and just as easy to poach from another system.

So, I find myself in that in-between angst, unsure of direction. I've had a brief flirtation with DCC, but I'm having a hard time getting past all the dice. I understand how to use my d8 as a d7 and all that, it's not a worry about having the weird die types. I don't want to have to keep straight when to use which one, let alone teach someone. After almost 36 years of D&D, the usual dice are hard-coded into my brain, but to learn when to use a d14 vs a d16, or how radical the odds shift when I add +1 to a 3d5 roll is more than I want to deal with.

I started thumbing through ACKS again, since it was cut short by my design efforts. I was thinking it may be fun to sketch up a map and randomly generate a kingdom or something. I have the hex-map random terrain article from Welsh Piper which should compliment the stuff in ACKS pretty well, so I may work on that and post about my progress. Who knows?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

BtPG Magical Catastrophe Table

Here is the Magical Catastrophe Table. Remember, it is only used when a caster attempts spells beyond his normal capacities, and even then, only if the casting roll is a "2". Magic has the potential to be dangerous, if misused. It is not like handling raw plutonium unprotected.

Magical Catastrophe Table
Roll (2d6)
Deformity (1)
A randomly determined physical deformity (horns, red skin/eyes. Boils/warts, etc)
Mindwipe (2)
Caster loses all spells. They must be restudied before they may be used again
Caster suffers damage equal to Rank of failed spell
The caster may not cast another spell for a number of turns equal to the Rank of the failed spell
Mindburn (3)
Caster loses spells equal in Rank to the Rank of the failed spell
Soulburn (4)
Caster permanently loses 1 hp
Visions (5)
Caster is given horrific visions of the fate that awaits all who work magic. Reduce WIZ by 1.

  • + Spell Rank
  • Caster's WIZ

  1. Each time this is rolled it is either a progression of a former deformity, or the beginnings of a new one. A single deformity may only go through three stages. At the first, it is concealable or explainable, the second stage results in -1 to CHAR, with the third stage resulting in a -2. A caster may have no more than three deformities at stage one. If he has three at stage one, any subsequent deformities will be progressions of those already manifest.
  2. The study time for this is not reduced by INT.
  3. The caster may select the spells to be lost. They may be restudied after the caster has rested.
  4. Permanently reduce the caster's hp by 1. Nothing short of a Wish or divine intervention will restore hps lost in this fashion. The pain of this catastrophe never fully fades.
  5. These visions haunt the caster until the end of his days. They fill his dreams and quiet waking moments. The WIZ lose is permanent, and in addition, the caster never again reduces his study time for any reason.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Rather Radical Setting Idea

I'm mainly writing this here so I don't lose it or forget it. It was inspired by this pic.

A setting/world/corner of the world. Magic was long ago outlawed for whatever reason seems appropriate. After many generations almost all knowledge of magic, or the ability to work it, is gone.

The only "people" left that know anything of it are . . . goblin shamans. Their "learned" status has lead to them having more open minds than their kin. In fact, for reasons known only to goblin-kind, they eventually drifted apart from the clans, becoming reclusive and living in self-imposed exile.

Now, they are almost like specialists in adventuring parties. If a party perceives a situation where magic may be necessary, they will often seek out a reclusive goblin shaman and attempt to entice him into joining their enterprise. The shaman is rarely trusted, mainly because when they agree to such things, it is for reasons of their own. They have their own agenda for the adventure and they never tell.

Oh, and one more thing. They can't teach their magic, so even if a non-goblin student showed up, it ain't happening. The goblin mind is wholly alien to anything other than other goblins, and goblin complex thought processes are not compatible with any other mind.

An Open Question

I love the idea of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Weird/horrific fantasy seems really cool to me. So, I started thinking about adding some horrific elements to my BtPG RPG. Well and good, but then I started thinking (always a dangerous thing). That leads us to the Open Question:
Other than some sort of Sanity/Insanity rules, what mechanical ties to the system does weird fantasy need?
I can't think of any really. Maybe a slightly more detailed Fear/Fright system. It just seems to me that scary roleplaying is more about setting and adventure design than about mechanical support.

So, what are your thoughts on the subject?

D&DNext Fighters

I'm nobody's expert on Next. I'm signed up for the playtest, and I've read the first release of the playtest rules. I don't follow all the development blogs and interviews, news and soundbites, though. Well, I sort of follow them, by way of the Grumpy Dwarf over at Tenkar's Tavern. In his latest post we find this quote from a Legends and Lore article by Rodney Thompson.

"Instead, we represent the difference in characters of various levels primarily through their hit points, the amount of damage they deal, and the various new abilities they have gained. Characters can fight tougher monsters not because they can finally hit them, but because their damage is sufficient to take a significant chunk out of the monster's hit points "

If you recall from my post from December of last year, I proposed that a Fighter's increasing ability should be tied to damage output, not necessarily to the "to hit" bonus. I apologize if I sound boastful, but it really is vindicating when I am on the same page as the designers of the flagship for the hobby. I'm just a guy with an outdated computer and severely restricted resources, and I forwarded a design paradigm six months ago that the "professional" designers have just gotten around to.

Monday, June 4, 2012

BtPG Saving Throws

Just like it says on the tin. Also, I put a persistent link to the most current version of the rules in my "Free Swag" links section, lower right.

Saving Throws
It often happens in the course of adventurous affairs that adventurous sorts must rely on divine providence, dumb luck, and the smiling of Fate herself to carry the day. These necessarily tense times are handled by Saving Throws. There is one base range of Saving Throws for all classes. These are modified by the attribute most related to the attempt and the class of the character.

Roll Required (2d6)

  • + Relevant Attribute
  • Class-based modifier +2
    • IF STR or CON are relevant attributes AND class is MIGHT
    • IF INT or WIZ are relevant attributes AND class is MAGIC
    • IF DEX or CHAR are relevant attributes AND class is MIEN

Some examples of relevant attributes:

STR anything related to pure muscle power
CON anything related to the character's vitality or anything that alters thr character physically, ie polymorph or petrification.
DEX anything that can be avoided by moving out of the way
CHAR there aren't many Saving Throws that benefit from CHAR
INT anything that affects, alters, or attempts to directly control the target's mind
WIZ any other spell or spell-like effect not specifically related to one of the other attributes.

A roll of “2” always fails, regardless of modifiers.

Saving Throws as Task Resolution
While it would lack the “feel” of the Good-At system, there is no reason Saving Throws could not be used to resolve more mundane situations, as well as life-or-death situations. It would be a simple matter of assigning the task a relevant attribute and making a Saving Throw. Want your Mien character to scale a wall? Make a Saving Throw with the DEX mod and class mod. Many tasks could come under more than one attribute, fostering the player to think like their character, seeking any natural advantage they could find in any given situation.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

BtPG Overkill™ Table

It may have occurred to some of you that the amount of hp available to characters is quite small. I think that plays well with the combat system as a whole, plus it really fits with a grim-n-gritty S&S feel. Not to mention it speeds up combat. Now, before anyone gets ready to comment on that, let me say that this combat needs a little speed. Most opponents in combat are only going to score a point of damage 16% of the time. This is offset by tossing a few dice at the problem, but still, if everyone ran around with 30 or 40 hp it would take forever.

Still and all, I never intended it to stay "dead at 0" for PCs. I've always loved the way WFRP handled hit points, death, and critical hits. For as long as I have been trying to develop a complete game from Chainmail, I've been trying to implement a similar system. So, here it is, with a snappy name and all. Note that in most cases, the positive and negative mods will wash, or at least get close to it. I really wanted it to basically be a crap-shoot once a character is reduced to this point. He is at the mercy of the Fates.

I've updated the pdf to include this table. It is accessible from the link I provided in the previous post.

The Overkill Table

Whenever a player or important NPC is reduced to 0 hp they are essentially at the mercy of their attacker. Any active defense they can muster is wholly inadequate and my well be met with scorn and ridicule.

The following Overkill™ conditions are immediately in effect:
Defense Type is reduced by one category
The character no longer gains any benefit from DEX
Each time he suffers damage while at 0 hp, roll on the following table:

Roll Effect
0 > Invigorated Character's hp reset to 1hp and Overkill™ conditions no longer apply
1 Providence The character narrowly avoids a fatal blow.
2 Scarred The character is scarred permanently. There is a 50-50 chance of a +1 or -1 to CHAR.
3 Hobbled The character's DEX is reduced by -1. This may be either healed magically or through one complete month of rest.
4 Crippled As Hobbled, but may only be healed magically.
5 Dead The character is killed instantly.
6 + Ruined The character is not only killed, but his body is utterly ruined as far as any sort of resurrection is concerned.

  • + CON
  • + Armor (0 thru 6)
  • + HD (not counting additional hp)
  • Damage suffered this round
  • Weapon Type (0 thru 6)
  • HD of opponent delivering Overkill™ attack

BtPG RPG Update

I've updated the pdf to include "Starting Good-Ats" and How to Read the Combat Table. The document has, in the footer, a version number and "rolling" date. These should help anyone interested in making sure they aren't looking at an older version.

Actually, the previous links point to the most current version, I just repost the link for convenience.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quite a Week

This has been a fantastic week for the blog. First off, I made my 200th post this week. I'm not sure if I ever thought I'd make it this far. Secondly, I just reached 10,000 hits. That is just amazing to me. I can not thank all of you enough for helping me reach these milestones. I know that without continued interest and support I would have never made it to this point. Finally, last but not least, I have at long last managed to get a workable system based off Chainmail put together. I am very happy with it and I hope all of you who are reading it are happy with it, as well.

Ok, enough celebrating. Let's get on with the next 200 posts, 10,000 hits, and maybe finishing Beyond the Pale Gate RPG and getting a supplement in the pipe.

BtPG Starting Good-Ats PLUS Combat Table Key

There were a few oversights in my rush to update for the weekend. The first one I want to address is this.

Starting Good-Ats

New character start with a number of Good-Ats equal to their Attributes (which will be 3,4, or 5). Note that this is the Attributes and not the amount of points spent on them.

These beginning Good-Ats should be relevant to the Attribute that granted them. So, a character of Mien might have Attributes of DEX+2, CHAR+1, INT+1. Two of his Good-Ats would be DEX related, one would be CHAR, and one INT.

It is a good idea to use these starting Good-Ats to reinforce the character concept. Taking cues from existing D&D classes is a viable option, but really anything that provides a mechanical hook to the role playing concept of the character is good.

Combat Table Key

I realized I forgot to put a key on the Combat Table.


A=d6 Rolled
B=per xHD
C=Number needed to score a "hit". Each hit + 1 point of damage.

So, an 8 HD attacker wielding a Heavy Weapon attacks an opponent with a Defense Class of Armored. The entry on the Combat Table is:

1/2 (He rolls 1d6 per 2 HD)
 6   (He needs a "6" to hit)

This means the attacker will roll 4d6 and score one hit for each "6" rolled.

Friday, June 1, 2012

BtPG PDF Update

I have updated the pdf for my Beyond the Pale Gate RPG. The updated pdf includes the fundemental combat rules, the combat table, and the monster stats. With this update, this is a playable system. It is definitely still very rough, but the major systems needed for play are there. If you want to try it out, you'll still need access to some form of basic D&D, preferably the LBBs. You'll need it for things like treasure tables, spell lists, and equipment, for the most part. Those are all things I am going to be addressing as the project continues.

I especially want to work on spell lists unique to the BtPG experience. I feel so pretentious saying that, but I want to provide a unique magical environment for the game. That has always been a design desire of mine, and I think I am at least off to a good start with it here. I want the spells to reflect the idea that I put forward in the rules, about wizards tailoring a casting to achieve a variety of effects based on the efficacy of any particular spell. Sort of a combination of pre-defined spells and free-form casting.

If any of you read this pdf, please tell me what you think. If you actually manage to give it a try, I would love to hear how it handles for you. I know it is very raw, but I've seen enough one-man retros to know it is as complete as a lot of them out there. So, please, give it a look and let me know. I am very excited by this. I want to not only keep its development going, I want to make it the best game it can be.


OK, I know I said I wouldn't do this, but I'm an idiot. At first I thought this "project" would be a few of my ideas bolted onto someone else's system. It has morphed more into my take on a separate evolutionary branch of Chainmail. That's ok, because it's something I've been trying for years. Now, this thing has a life of its own. So, I've collected what all I have so far into one document.

The only thing, system-wise, missing at this point is combat. I have that, but I'm currently editing it to bring it more in line with my attribute/character rules. I may have it done this weekend.

Also, I've installed Dropbox. Sharing these writings of mine has been a major thorn in my side, so I'm hoping Dropbox simplifies things. If you do follow the download link, pleas let me know how your Dropbox experience went, so I can gauge how useful it will be moving forward.

And, now, I give you . . .

There is updated stuff in here from the blog posts, it's not just the posts all collected and pdfed. Feedback would be awesome.