Tuesday, March 2, 2021

An Ur-RPG

This is a game for two people. It's a little like a text adventure, or one of those choose-your-own-adventure books you read as a kid. It's about imagining a person in a situation, and exploring different ways that same situation could turn out depending on what the person does. It's played through conversation: face-to-face, over a phone call, through twitter/tumblr/instagram/discord messages, whatever. Here's how you do it:

  1. Pick who's gonna control the Character, and who's gonna control the Situation. If you can't decide, flip a coin or something.
  2. The Character player thinks a little about what kinda person they might wanna play. Then they give a brief description. Here's some examples:
    - I'm a space pirate, with an eyepatch, and a raygun!
    - I'm a teenage witch. Frizzy hair, stolen spellbook, too ambitious for her own good.
    - I'm a divorced dad in his mid - 40's who's secretly a radioactive mutant psychic.
    - Uhhh, a guy? With a sword?
  3. The Situation player thinks a little about what kinda problem they'd like to see the character face. The situation should be precarious, with many possible ways of turning out badly. Here's some examples:
    - An Imperial Space Force ship looms above. It sends a message through your communication screen, threatening to open fire if you don't turn yourself over now.
    - You're missing the key ingredient to your spell. Eye of newt, or something. Yeah anyway it's in the middle of like a weird maze filled with weird little magic fuckers. Like in Labyrinth.
    - Your ex-wife, a notorious supervillain, calls you from her evil lair. "World domination isn't working out" She says, "Wanna pay me a visit - for old times sake? I've got half a bottle of wine and a DVD box set of some trashy soap opera. I just want to talk to you again - face-to-face."  
    - A big scary monster's been tearing apart the local town, and you gotta sneak into it's cave and kill it before it kills anyone else.
  4. The Character players says what the first thing they do is.
  5. The Situation player says what happens because of that. This will end either with "The End" (if the Character has solved the problem they started with, or if they are now unable of solving it from here, for example if they died), or more often, "what do you do next?"
  6. Now it's the Character player's turn to speak again. If the Situation character asked what they do next, they answer that question, and describe their Character's next action, repeating step 4, from which point play keeps repeating in a loop until you come to an end. If the Situation player declared an End, they can either accept that as end to the story and the game, or try again. If they try again, they pick up the story at any established point of their choice and say "but instead of ____, I do ____". The Scenario player describes how the different action leads to a different result, again restarting the loop of play.
That's it! Hope it made sense. I feel like that last step might of been a bit wordy and messy, but I'm not gonna edit it right now, so I hope you figured it out somehow. :shrug emoticon:

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Ill-Advised Escapades: Generating a Random Shipwreck

Take a standard rpg dice set (a d4, a d6, a d8, a d10, a d12, a d20 and percentile dice), roll 'em, reroll some of 'em, and consult these charts to generate your very own shipwreck!

(Tables listed in descending size of dice, not based off content)

Name (d%)

  1. The Grinning Pussycat
  2. The Handsome Devil
  3. Destiny's Blade
  4. The Coiled Serpent 
  5. God's Corpse
  6. The Vanquisher
  7. Ascendence 
  8. Veilpeircer
  9. Windchaser 
  10. The Mesmeriser 
  11. Queen of Hearts 
  12. Ace of Spades 
  13. Jack of Diomands 
  14. King of Clubs 
  15. The Waking Nightmare 
  16. Vengeance 
  17. Webspinner 
  18. Eclipse. 
  19. Hegemony. 
  20. The Liberator. 
  21. Lillith's Bride. 
  22. Vessel #37-12-Alpha 
  23. Nitrogen Shield
  24. The Fall of Eden 
  25. Oxygen Sword
  26. Neon Nightmare
  27. Rivals' Embrace 
  28. Man's Folly   
  29. The Reaper's Scythe 
  30. Apisaon 
  31. Echoing Scream 
  32. Demeter 
  33.  Shai
  34.  Budeia
  35.  Persephone
  36. Chloris 
  37. The Dionysian Rite 
  38.  Hedjhotep
  39.  Wepset
  40.  Shemsetet
  41.  The Scent of Nectar
  42. Young Acolyte 
  43. Arceophon 
  44. The Walled Garden 
  45. The Fallen Age 
  46. The Shadowy Mist 
  47. Clytus 
  48. The Flaming Thornbush 
  49. Heavens Above 
  50. Speak of the Devil 
  51. The Last Straw 
  52. Bird in the Hand 
  53. Insult to Injury 
  54. The Silver Lining 
  55. The Wild Goose 
  56.  Live and Learn
  57. Thin Ice
  58. Devil's Advocate
  59. Rain or Shine 
  60. Enlil 
  61. Nanna-Suen
  62. Nergal 
  63. Dumuzid 
  64. Down in Flames
  65. Eye of the Storm 
  66. The Conflagation
  67. Mother of Monsters 
  68. The Synaptic Burst
  69. Cognitive Overload 
  70. Ship of Theseus 
  71. Uncertain Pilgrim 
  72. Cunning Merchant 
  73. Kind Thief
  74. Devil's Pitchfork
  75. Eye of the Needle 
  76. Hell and Back 
  77. The Endless Staircase
  78. The Organ Player 
  79. The Spinning Dancer 
  80. The Maddened Oracle 
  81. The Drowning Maiden 
  82. Hybrid Image 
  83. Aeternitas 
  84.  The Golden Apple
  85.  Aera Cura
  86. Ad astra per aspera 
  87. Discordia 
  88. Dulce periculum
  89. Dia Lucrii 
  90. Audentes fortuna iuvat
  91. Fama
  92. Ducor duco 
  93. Mutinus Mutunus 
  94. Infantes Sumus 
  95. Naenia 
  96. Slayer of Dragons 
  97. Poena
  98. Madame Unbreakable 
  99. Prorsa Postverta
  100. Good Fortune 
Look (d20)
  1. Spartan & Sparse
  2. Dusty & Dank
  3. Rusted & Ragged
  4. Sleek & Stylish 
  5. Cozy & Comforting 
  6. Ornate & Ornamented 
  7. Lush & Luxurious 
  8. Regal & Rococo 
  9. Cramp & Crystalline 
  10. Slimy & Slippery 
  11. Pristince & Prismatic 
  12. Cluttered & Chaotic 
  13. Overylit & Orderly 
  14. Tacky & Tasteless 
  15. Weathered & Worn 
  16. Robust & Repaired 
  17. Artificial & Automated 
  18. Cold & Colourless 
  19. Noisy & Noisome 
  20. roll two: it's both.
Dangers in the Wreck (d12, use a d4 to determine the total number of dangers)
  1. A rival team of wreck robbers.
  2. A tentacled mass and it's spawn.
  3. The security system gone haywire.
  4. Mutated crew.
  5. The ship's rogue AI.
  6. The ship collapsing around the players.
  7. The horrible creations wrought by the horrific experiments that were secretly conducted on the ship. 
  8. A mind-warping oddity. 
  9.  The ship's set to self-destruct! (use a ticking clock mechanic to taunt and torture the players.)
  10.  A corrosive gas leaking from the engine.
  11. An interdimensional rift torn in the middle of the ship.
  12. A surveillance system streaming footage to governmental databases.
The Ship Was Wrecked After Falling Prey to... (d10)
  1. Space locusts.
  2. Pirates/raiders. 
  3. Alien parasites. 
  4. Meteors. 
  5. Sabotage. 
  6. A fatal flaw in it's design. 
  7. Running out of fuel. 
  8. Crashing into another ship (roll up a second shipwreck) 
  9. Navigational discombobulation. 
  10. Fall twice: it was both.
Loot (d8)
  1. Trapped survivors from wealthy families.
  2. Stock commodities
  3. Illicit substances. 
  4. Fine art. 
  5. Information/data. 
  6. Experimental technology. 
  7. Weird.
  8. Roll twice: it's both.
Official Purpose (d6)
  1. Recreation.
  2. Cargo delivery. 
  3. Exploration.
  4. Prison ship. 
  5. Private transportation. 
  6. Unstated.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Ill-Advised Escapades on the Outer Solar System - pitch

Below is the text of the pitch document I sent out to my friends for a dungeon-style science fiction campaign I plan on running next year called Ill-Advised Escapades on the Outer Solar System (or just Ill-Advised Escapades if you don't have a lot of time).

I took the idea of a pitch document from the Angry GM, and the idea of a small set of basic principles that govern how the game is played from the wikipedia page for the Tales from the Loop rpg.

---------- Setting Information ----------

Aliens, Humans and Robots.
Most of the characters you will play and encounter will be humans, but there are two other kinds: robots built and rejected by the inner solar system and aliens from beyond the solar system.
Most of the Aliens in the outer solar system come to the system sol seeking refuge from the terrible wars raging across the galaxy. The system sol is neutral in these conflicts, making it a relatively safe haven. Migration to the wealthier planets of the inner solar systems is strictly regulated, leaving large populations of alien refugees trapped in the outer solar system.
Robots are built in the inner solar system with limited cognitive functions, but occasionally something will go wrong and one will be built with full self-consciousness and an inner life. Various local and inter-planetary laws forbid or prohibitively regulate the enslavement or murder of concious beings, so instead of using or recycling these rejects, they ship them off to the outer solar system to fend for themselves.

Floating Wrecks
It is only natural, given both how many vessels travel in and out of the solar system, and how many raiders, meteorites, space locusts, mind-warping oddities, and other various hazards, that there are a whole lot of shipwrecks in these parts. Many of them are laden with trade goods, trapped survivors, and other miscellanea exchangeable for credits. Some of them have rare and experimental technologies, which can also be exchanged for credits, or used to your own advantage. If there’s a decent living to be made here, it’s in the wrecks.

Weird Crystals
As well as advanced tech and credits, there’s another treasure that lies in some of these wrecks: a semi-liquid, semi-crystalline substance known to the scraps and scoundrels of the outer solar system as Weird. Those who ingest it in small qualities manifest strange powers and develop mutations. Nobody knows what happens when you ingest large qualities of it.


---------- Principles ----------

Life Is Cheap
Life on the outer solar system is nasty, brutish and short. You start play as scraps, 0th level characters with low stats, not many hit points and hardly any gear. Even as you level up, play stays dangerous and death a very real possibility. The game is rigged against you, and it will take cunning and luck to win. Character generation is quick and mostly randomised, so it’ll never take too long to get back into play.

The Law is Powerless at Best, Evil at Worst.
Unlike the heavily governed inner solar system, in the outer solar system, the law is little more than a rumour. Predatory debt collectors and corporations keep everyone in constant competition, preventing co-operation or organisation by the people of the outer planets from happening on any large scale. When the governments of the inner solar systems do get involved, it is never for the better. Those shiny white vessels drift forth towards us not to protect or serve us, but to enforce corporate interests, find minor offenders to convict to indentured servitude, break up bars or demand tribute.

Science Doesn’t Really Matter
Importance is not placed on how different tech actually works, how different alien species came to be, or other such concerns. Some elements of this campaign may contradict how things would actually work. It’s a pulp sci-fi comic or a bad 80’s flick set in space, not a hard science fiction novel. Once established, rules about how things work will be logically upheld, but any resemblance to actual science living or dead is purely coincidental.

The World is Discovered Through Play
Beyond the basic information laid out in this document, and the implicit assumptions of the rules, the setting is a blank map waiting to be filled. Not just you, put I - the GM - will be discovering things as we go along. The vast majority of information of the setting will be decided about me or by random tables. Collaborative worldbuilding is great, and we might do a little of it, but for this campaign, we won’t be doing as much of it, to put a further emphasis on discovery and exploration.

The Game is Played Adventure to Adventure
Any storylines greater than a single wreck will emerge through play. I’ll prepare sessions in advance, but not a whole campaign. You’ll find plot hooks, hear rumours, encounter signs of bigger plots going on, and at the end of every session I’ll ask “what do you think you’ll do next session?” and prepare for that.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Forests of the Forgotten - Random Encounters


d20 Random Encounters in the Forests of the Forgotten
  1. A tall woman dressed in feathers with a silver mask. She has a bag full of vials of water dyed different colours that she tricks people into thinking are potions so she can sell them.
  2. A fox wearing a hat. Due to faerie magic that's been woven into the fabric of the hat, he appears to most people as a handsome young man. He charms lone travellers and lures them into his den  so he can eat them. Wearing the hat as a human makes you look like a handsome young fox.
  3. A travelling folk band of 1d6+2 skeletons. Their melodies are at once comforting yet sinister.
  4. A talking cat. At first wary of the pilgrims, but warms up quickly when offered food, petting or especially catnip.
  5. A determined yet ineffectual matchmaker, comforting their lovelorn friend. The matchmaker will attempt to set their friend up with at least one of the pilgrims.
  6. A devil from the pits of hell, looking for a soul to steal.
  7. A group of lost travellers gathered around a campfire, telling stories from long, long ago. If approached, they will insist you sit with them and share your own stories.
  8. A bored faerie, looking for some humans to meddle with.
  9. 1d3+1 trolls caught in a furious argument over the best way to prepare and eat human flesh.
  10. A magic fountain. Drinking from it will trigger a roll on the below table. Tossing a coin in before you drink allows you to roll twice and choose the better result.
    1d6 Fountain Effects
    1. You turn into a newt, insect, mouse or other small animal of the GM's choosing.
    2. You fall into a deep, deep sleep.
    3. You begin to see things that aren't really there.
    4. You learn a new language of the GM's choosing.
    5. The fountain gives you a gift - perhaps a sack of coins from a far-off land or a salve that soothes the heart's pain. It floats to the top of the water.
    6. The fountain tells you a secret, whispering it from inside of you.
  11. An old man carrying a strange metal implement. The implement is an eyeball plucker. The old man seeks to steal the Pilgrim's eyeballs and sell them to a necromancer.
  12. A lost child who wandered off into the woods and ended up in the Forests of the Forgotten.
  13. Vines that tangle around one of the Pilgrims and begin to drag them into a dark pit in the ground.
  14.  A merchant with a wagon selling a variety of strange items she's found at the bottom of lakes.
  15. A talking snake carrying papers in its teeth, who will try to get the Pilgrims to sign a contract.
  16. A bumbling detective on the case for a missing pair of silk slippers.
  17. Spirits that take the form of floating orbs of light, seeking to draw the Pilgrims deeper into a dangerous part of the Forests. 
  18. A talking swarm of bees gathered around it's hive. (Note: it is the swarm itself that talks, not any of the individual bees) The swarm is good-natured and very polite and will offer some of it's fine honey in return for rare flowers.
  19. A family of rabbits gathered around for a picnic, complete with a wickerwork basket, blanket,  watercress sandwiches and toffee. Note: they are normal rabbits and as of such cannot talk, at least not in any human language.
  20. A twelve year old child with a sharpened stick and telescope pretending to be an Intrepid Adventurer. The child's pockets contain a pocketknife, crude map of the surrounding woods, a pack of playing cards with 2d6 cards missing, a broken pencil, a lucky copper coin, five pieces of toffee and and 1d8+4 marbles.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Forests of the Forgotten - Abandoned Towers.

Any pilgrim who wanders long enough through the Forests of the Forgotten is sure to sooner or later find themselves before one of the many abandoned towers that litter those woods.

When your group of lost pilgrims encounters one of these towers, you can roll on the below tables or decide on your own answers to flesh out the details of what the tower looks like.

The tower was originally... (roll 1d12)
1. A watchtower to keep a lookout for roving bandits and invading armies from.
2. A temple to a god who is now long forgotten.
3. A folly, a decorative building built as a way to give workless labourers something to do.
4. A place for gliding scouts to jump off from.
5. A granary, with special charms to keep out thieves and vermin.
6. A sanctuary for weary travelers.
7. A fortress for a warrior-king and his subjects.
8. A prison to keep particularly heinous or devious criminals.
9. An attempt to build a spire high enough to touch the heavens, abandoned long before completion.
10. A library that scholars from across the lands could borrow books from.
11. A thieves' den, filled to the brim with stolen loot.
12. A magnificent home for a powerful and wealthy merchant.

It is built of... (roll 1d20)
1. Polished stone which still gleams under moonlight.
2. Living wood, sturdy and strong and still growing over time.
3. Multicoloured crystal, created through long-lost alchemical methods.
4. Hundreds and hundreds of human skulls.
5. Pure chaos, imported all the way from the underworld.
6. The exact same stuff dreams are made of.
7. Dull, half-rusted metal, cold to the touch.
8. Row upon row of bricks.
9. Ice which stays frozen in even the most blazing of heat.
10. Withering flesh.
11. Interlocking brightly-painted statues.
12. Rose-tinted glass.
13. Broken promises.
14. The shared hallucination of everyone who claims to see it.
15. Mud that's been hardened by the heat of the sun.
16. Countless interwoven threads.
17. Precious metals and rare gems.
18. Clouds that were given weight and taken down to the ground.
19. Interlocking cogs and gears, moving around, serving no clear purpose.
20. Coins from many worlds, stuck together to form walls.

Is it inhabited? (roll 1d6)
1. No.
2-4. Yes, roll once on inhabitants table.
5. Yes, roll twice on inhabitants table.
6. Yes, roll three times on inhabitants table.

1d20 Tower Inhabitants
1. A family of talking birds.
2. An eccentric old hermit.
3. A kindly witch, content to spend her days growing her little garden and only occasionally eating children.
4. A disgraced faerie prince.
5. A king who got lost in the woods.
5. Spirits of melancholy and despair.
6. A swarm of bats.
7. A charming noble, most definitely not a vampire.
8. Not just a family of rats, but a whole clan.
9. Otherworldly versions of the pilgrims.
10. A group of children who seem to share one mind.
11. A mystery cult who have turned the tower into a temple to their deity.
12. A traveling circus.
13. An up-and-coming detective company.
14. A young alchemist, still learning her trade.
15. A band of highwaymen.
16. A sleeping child who's dreams leak into reality.
17. A necromancer, looking for some new bodies to work with.
18. A tinker, working away on some secretive project.
19. A lonely skeleton, looking for a friend.
20. A fortuneteller.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

New B/X Class: The Bushranger

Ned Kelly is arguably Australia's single most iconic historical figure, appealing to Australian ideals of rebelling against authority, wearing sick amour and freeing people of their debts by burning the records of them in banks he robbed. Now you can play as your own iconic Australian bushranger. This class is mostly based off of Ned Kelly, but feel free to look into and be inspired by the many other bushrangers from Australia's early days including example, example and example.

The Bushranger

Level progression: As cleric.
Saves: As thief.
To hit/attack progression: As fighter.
Gear: Bushrangers have no restrictions to amour or weaponry.
Starting Equipment: Instead of rolling 3d6 coins and buying gear, or whatever the GM's perfered default method is, bushrangers start with a gun (2 hands, ranged weapon, 2d8 damage) with 1d4 bullets, their broken shackles and 1d6 gold pieces.

Class Abilities

Level 1: Den.
After countless weeks wandering through the bush you found a place to make camp - your den. Your den is in a secret location the authorities and rival gangs don’t know about and is a safe place to rest, store loot and otherwise. If your den is discovered it takes 1d12 days of wandering through the bush for you to find a suitable location for a new den.

Level 2: Handmade Armour.
You have managed to make your own makeshift suit of amour out of whatever scrap metal you have access to. This suit of amour gives you the benefits of wearing plate amour, as well as all the disadvantages, and the additional disadvantage of lowering your Dexterity by 1 while wearing it due to it's clumsy construction. If you are hit while wearing your handmade amour, you can have the amour absorb the hit. When you this, your suit of amour falls apart and is once again a pile of scrap metal, now to damaged to make a usable suit of amour out of. When you have a pile of scrap metal and tools you can spend a day focusing on making a new suit of amour and make a replacement for your destroyed suit of amour. If you make such a suit of amour out of enchanted or otherwise special metal, the resulting amour should have some special feature, as negotiated with the GM.
Ned Kelly's amour

Level 3: Commanding Presence.
Your fierce reputation inspires and terrifies in equal measure. While you are present, the party’s henchmen and retainers have +1 morale and its foes have -1 morale. 

Level 5: Beacon to the Bolters.
Well known in the colonies as a bolter success story, 1d6+1 convicts have bolted from their colony to form a gang under your leadership. Every time you level up, an additional 1d4 convicts bolt and join your gang. Each of these bolters are your henchmen. When they join you, they are level 1 bushrangers, and they level up each time you do. When a gang member reaches level 5 they leave you to start their own gang.